DFDS Seaways is closing its longest established North Sea passenger/vehicle service with a final departure from Harwich to Esbjerg by ro-pax ferry Sirena Seaways (2002/22,382gt) on 29 September. The route has a long history with sailings, principally carrying cattle on the hoof, started between Esbjerg and Thameshaven in 1875 with DFDS moving to Harwich in 1880.

Refrigerated cargo facilities from the 1890s brought an end to livestock transportation and, during the 1920s, DFDS were early pioneers of diesel propulsion with Parkeston, introduced in 1925, and near sister England (1932) having a long association with the route.

Harwich-Esbjerg saw its first car ferries in the 1960s with England (1964) joined by Winston Churchill three years later. Through to the 1990s there were daily sailings in each direction, but single-ship operation started when Sirena Seaways, then Dana Sirena, came on stream in 2003. For DFDS a final nail in the Harwich coffin is the introduction of new sulphur emissions rules next year which would add £2 million to route costs.

Chief executive Niels Smedegaard commented: ‘The route is of particular historical significance to DFDS so it’s a very sad day for us all. Our regrets go to passengers who must now see the last passenger ferry route between the UK and Scandinavia close. It’s also regrettable that up to 130 jobs will be affected by the closure.’

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