Irish Ferries has announced the addition of the roll-on/roll-off passenger ferry Blue Star 1 to its Rosslare to Pembroke Dock service. It will be the fastest passenger ship of its kind on the route.
The ship is being chartered from the Attica Group and delivery is expected in early April.
Blue Star 1 was built in 2000 by the Van der Giessen de Noord shipyard in the Netherlands, the same shipyard that in 1997 built Irish Ferries Isle of Inishmore, currently servicing the Rosslare to Pembroke Dock route.
The Blue Star 1 has the capacity to carry up to 1,500 passengers, 100 freight vehicles and up to 700 cars depending on freight volume.
The ship offers a host of facilities including 192 cabins for freight drivers/passengers, self-service restaurant, café/bar, club class lounge, onboard duty-free shop, children’s play area and spacious outdoor decks.
The tripling of cabin numbers will facilitate more single occupancy cabins for freight drivers.
Andrew Sheen, Irish Ferries managing director, said: “We are very pleased to add a quality ship of the calibre of the versatile Blue Star 1 to the Irish Ferries fleet.
“This ship will be the fastest roll-on/roll-off passenger ship operating between Britain and Ireland and this will help ensure schedule integrity.
“The introduction of this ship underlines our commitment to the Rosslare to Pembroke route, the primary shipping corridor between Ireland and South Wales.
“It also underlines our commitment to the significant contribution that this route makes in facilitating trade for both exporters and importers as well as facilitating essential passenger movements and future tourists as the country re-opens post Covid-19.”
Separately, Irish Ferries, which is a subsidiary of Irish Continental Group, has announced a new service on the Dover-Calais route.
The service is planned to start in June 2021, with the transfer of the Isle of Inishmore to the route. Additional capacity will be added in the coming months.
The company added it is intended to offer passenger services on the route, but that the initial level of passenger services offered will be dependent on the easing of Covid-19 travel restrictions.
“We are very excited about launching our services on the best short sea ferry market in the world and we believe we can bring more choice for customers in the years ahead,” said Irish Ferries.
“As part of our commitment to the movement of freight on and off the island of Ireland to both the UK and Europe, this additional capacity on the Dover-Calais route will significantly strengthen the capacity and reliability of the land bridge for exporters and importers.
“Hauliers will now have one operator providing an inclusive service on the Dublin-Holyhead, Rosslare-Pembroke, and Dover-Calais routes.
“This will allow exporters and importers easier, cheaper, and quicker access to our European markets via the Common Transit Convention.”
Port of Dover chief executive Doug Bannister said: “We are delighted to welcome Irish Ferries to Dover.
“This announcement gives the millions of customers across the UK and the Republic of Ireland who value the intrinsic benefits of the shortest sea crossing to Europe, the prospect of even more choice.
“We believe the inclusive land bridge product will be popular with Irish exporters and will strengthen the just in time supply chain into the European Union.
“This is a clear signal of market confidence in the Dover route and will complement the resilient services currently provided.
“We wish Irish Ferries every success and look forward to having them on the route in the summer and working together as part of the Dover team building the future success of the Short Straits.”
Jean-Marc Puissesseau, Port of Calais chairman, said the commencement of the service “emphasises the strategic position of the Port of Calais in the trade between Ireland, the United Kingdom and the continent”.
“It is a clear sign of confidence just a few weeks before the opening of the new Port of Calais,” he added.