P&O Ferries’ second Dover-Calais route newbuilding Spirit of France set off on a maiden cross-Channel sailing a few minutes after noon on 9 February. The 47,600gt vessel, and sistership Spirit of Britain, which was introduced early in 2011, are the biggest ferries yet built for the Dover Strait and, at a cost of €360 million, represent P&O’s largestever investment.

Spirit of France was formally handed over during a ceremony at the STX Yard in Rauma, Finland on 23 January and was brought into Dover for the first time by Captain Steve Johnson after a four-day voyage from the Baltic on 28 January, before crossing to Calais for berthing trials two days later.

Originally scheduled for delivery last September, Spirit of France was delayed while vibration problems were rectified and it is reported that Spirit of Britain, which was dry docked at Falmouth at the beginning of the year, will return to Rauma in April for attention to similar troubles.

Spirit of France, carrying up to 2,000 passengers with 3,746 lane metres of vehicle space, is expected to be formally named at a ceremony in Calais sometime during in the spring.

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