On 10 May 2023 Stena Line announced that it is to increase capacity on its expanding Heysham-Belfast freight service by a considerable 80 per cent.
In a multi-million pound investment, the company is constructing two new bespoke ferries on the route, the first of which is due to enter service on the route in autumn 2025.
Each of the two new 147m vessels has been designed to maximise freight volumes and will provide 2,800 lane meters of capacity which is an 80 per cent increase on current ship capacities.
The new vessels, the first of which is due to enter service on the route in autumn 2025, will be equipped to carry 12 passengers and 26 crew.
The ‘NewMax’ vessels will be able to operate on methanol fuel. Stena Line is currently working closely with the supply chain of methanol and has secured future volumes of e-methanol to fulfil its strategic ambition of shifting to renewable fuels and cutting 30 per cent of its CO2 emissions by 2030.
Future proofing of the new vessels for electrification will also be another priority during construction providing in-built technologies that can take advantage of both battery propulsion and shore power, where this is available.
The unique tidal systems prevailing in Heysham can be challenging, so each vessel will be fitted with a bespoke marine technology configuration making it more resilient to the prevailing weather conditions.
Three bow thrusters will provide optimum manoeuvrability and reliability and a specially designed engine/propeller configuration will further enhance berthing capability in extreme weather.
Paul Grant, Stena Line Trade Director said: “This is very significant day for Heysham-Belfast freight traffic. By adding an extra 80 per cent capacity to the route, Stena Line has responded to growing demands from customers.
“We have operated a very popular service on Heysham-Belfast for several years now but with restricted capacity it has been challenging to meet increased market growth. With the extra capacity, we will now be able to significantly enhance our service on this route and complement our Birkenhead, Cairnryan and Holyhead services.”
Phil Hall, Mersey Port Director at Peel Ports Group, said: “The Heysham-Belfast freight service is extremely important to the Port of Heysham.
“The construction of Stena Line’s two new ferries will go a long way towards meeting increased customer demand, while the additional capacity will allow for enhanced services for our port users.
“It’s a fantastic project to be supporting, and we look forward to delivering a bigger and better freight service for our customers from 2025 onwards.”