On 4 May 2023 Brittany Ferries announced the name of its forthcoming hybrid ship, which will sail between Portsmouth and Caen.
Guillaume de Normandie will be the joint-largest hybrid vessel at sea when she joins the Brittany Ferries fleet in May 2025, sailing alongside sistership Saint-Malo.
She will also be the fourth vessel in the fleet to be fuelled by liquefied natural gas (LNG). Powered by two 13,740 kW engines, she will be configured to run on LNG, on battery power or on a combination of the two in hybrid mode.
Guillaume de Normandie will replace Brittany Ferries’ Normandie, a loyal servant sailing since 1992. The change will mark the final step in the largest fleet renewal journey in the company’s 50-year history. Five new vessels will have joined the fleet between 2020 and 2025.
The name was confirmed at a press conference held in Caen, where Guillaume de Normandie (William the Conqueror) is buried. And, in the spirit of a partnership that has endured and strengthened since the first Portsmouth-Caen sailing in 1986, the event was hosted jointly by Brittany Ferries and the Normandy region.
Today Caen-Portsmouth is the company’s busiest route. Three departures a day in each direction carry two in every five passengers travelling with Brittany Ferries.
Around 30 per cent of those who arrive in Normandy ports stay in the region, to visit the Bayeux Tapestry, the famous cliffs of Étretat and the Palais Bénédictine outside Fécamp.
Many thousands use the route to pay homage to the brave souls who landed on five Normandy beaches during D-Day in June 1944.
Guillaume de Normandie’s hybrid technology will work like a hybrid car, running on fuel, electricity, or a combination of the two.
Powered by cleaner LNG at sea, she will switch to LNG-electric and full-electric mode mainly on the approach to harbours and at quay.
Preliminary studies suggest a fuel consumption reduction of up to 9 per cent when in service, thanks to her hybrid technology.
She will also be plug-in ready, meaning zero-emissions when alongside. The aim in Caen is to have shore-side power in place by 2027 thanks to investment by the Normandy region and Ports de Normandie. Portsmouth International Port is investing too.
When Guillaume de Normandie’s huge batteries can be charged at quay in Portsmouth and Caen, there will be a further estimated 15 per cent reduction in climate change emissions. That’s in addition to a 20-25 per cent reduction in CO2 emissions that comes courtesy of more efficient combustion in an LNG engine.