Feature, Freight News, Sea

End of an era on the Irish Sea

[ October 28, 2015   //   ]

The high speed vessel Stena Explorer has made her last journey on the Irish Sea before heading off to a new owners in Turkey. Once hailed as the future of sea transport and one of the few fast ferries in the world able to carry full-sized freight vehicles, the 40-knot HSS Stena Explorer and her two sister ships operated Stena’s routes to northern and southern Ireland and Harwich Hook with journey times around half those of a conventional ferry. However, rising fuel costs made them increasingly uneconomic and the Explorer made the last commercial voyage by an HSS for Stena Line in September last year.
Stena Line’s route manager (Irish Sea South) Ian Davies, said:  “Whilst the HSS class was a unique and highly innovative development for Stena Line at the time, the market has evolved significantly since her introduction in the mid 1990’s and today’s business model requires a more balanced mix of freight and car traffic all year round.” Vessels like the Stena Superfast X introduced onto the route this year have over 2 kilometres of vehicle lane capacity.
Captain Andrew Humphreys recalls vividly bringing the vessel into Holyhead on 6 February 1996.  He said: “The Stena Explorer was the most beautiful and innovative looking vessel we had ever seen and to have the opportunity to Captain this superb vessel was an honour that I will treasure for the rest of my life. I’m delighted she has found a new lease of life working in Turkey.”