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TonyMWeaver

Baie de Seine to leave BF Fleet/ Stena Eflexer to replace

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Just to clear up some confusion here as there are a few red herrings creeping into what is really quite a simple story.

The stories in the French press (which originate from a Worker's Council meeting - a very reliable source of a developed if not confirmed plan) are pretty clearly indicating a Stena E-flexer.  August 2020 delivery suggests ship  3 or 4 of the series.

http://www.ouest-france.fr/bretagne/morlaix-29600/brittany-ferries-un-navire-ro-pax-en-2020-5119756

http://www.lemarin.fr/secteurs-activites/shipping/29050-brittany-ferries-va-negocier-la-location-dun-ropax-neuf-aupres-de

Earlier in the year Stena did indicate that the first four of this series would go to Belfast but little has been said since.

Most believe they offer far too much capacity for Cairnryan and the announcement was possibly to "assist" with negotiations with Tallink to buy Stena Superfast VII and Stena Superfast VIII. In actual fact the charter for these ships currently expires  before even the first of the Avic ships arrive.

The current reliable rumourmill suggests the first two newbuilds will replace Stena Lagan and Stena Mersey on the booming Belfast - Birkenhead route (said to be the most profitable in the Stena network), the third going to Dublin -  Holyhead to replace Stena Superfast X  which is really proving a bit inadequate for the route.

So I would say most likely ship 4 will go to Brittany Ferries to  replace the Baie de Seine.   (Which I would say will be used by DFDS to upgrade capacity on their expanding Baltic ropax routes).

Shippax has reported that Stena are also taking up the first of their options on four more of the class. (I would say all 8 will happen).

Also remember Stena have a history of building ships they end up deciding to charter or sell instead of using themselves.

Could we maybe see another replace the Cap Finistere?  Such a vessel  would bring significantly better efficiency  but with significant increases in freight capacity  and a similar working passenger capacity.

As for the old-timers in the BF fleet, I predict life extension work to keep the Bretagne, Normandie and Barfleur around for many years.  This is a new trend for Northern European  ferries as seen at P&O Hull and Viking Line and even more  so with the huge work planned to the Stena Europe next year.   (Talk of similar for the Stena Danica and Stena Saga).

 

 

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2 minutes ago, Jim said:

Going further...

2 Superfast added instead of PA to increase frequency of Spanish sailings and providing similarities to the CF.
PA replaces Bretagne on St Malo
Normandie maintains Le Havre (with or without Etretat)
Bretagne leaves

Purely hypothetical, of course... but I expect the Bretagne's days will not extend beyond the next couple of years.

Interesting...

I think both Superfasts would be ideal for Spain as well as maintaining PA on the route too, there's demand for four vessels.

I agree that Bretagne hasn't long left in BF colours mainly because there are many companies who would see her as an ongoing asset and would be happy to pay 20m+ in her current state rather than leave it too long and have her driven onto a Bangladeshi beach.

I'd like to see Normandie tried on the St Malo route, she's similar cabin wise to Bretagne with the added advantage of easier vehicle loading. Etretat could be replaced by another of Stena's Visentini's which have had a lot more done to them in terms of passenger comfort.

Again though and purely hypothetical, I thought the GNV's would have taken the Spanish routes by storm and Silja Europa would have enhanced the St Malo route...

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I thought Cap Finistere was deemed inferior for Spain compared to Pont Aven due to lack of her ability to supplie facilities to cabins and deck/food configuration although she certainly seems popular but I wonder whether that's through necessity not choice, I wouldn't have thought BF would want another Superfast as they have had the chance to have other ones before.

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Honestly cant see BF taking on more Superfasts.  Their inefficiently is well known, and they aren't getting any younger either.  Life extension work on the current purpose built tonnage sounds more sensible to me than acquiring second hand tonnage and making it fit in any case.  

I agree with Rick regarding BF getting E-Flexer 3 or 4.  Anyone with any knowledge of the NI ferry market knows that anything bigger going to Cairnryan is going to be wasted.  It's a declining route if anything, in contrast with Birkenhead and Holyhead.

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It seems these topics get a bit like "Game of Thrones" with all sorts of forecasts some of which might actually be correct!   I just wonder for how much longer BF will have Western Channel and Spanish routes all to themselves and what is going to happen.  The most carefully thought out prognostications could be totally thrown out!

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Silja Europa (referred by some as the "white elephant") is an extremely inefficient and expensive ship to operate.  I believe the only reason Tallink have decided to operate her is because literally nobody wants her!  Many of these ships for sale website are in fact themselves speculative anyway.  Do people really think the likes of BF, Stena Line, and DFDS acquire ships worth millions of Euro's from publicly accessible websites?

The Stena E-Flexer name is no mistake.  From the outset these vessels have been designed to be both efficient and flexible (both in terms of where they can operate and their facilities). Stena have decades of experience in both ship building and chartering as well as working with yards and designers (and designing themselves).  BF could do a lot worse than sourcing a new vessel through them!  IF as previously announced the 4 initial ships go to Belfast they will be serving 2 very different routes suggesting 2 will be day ferries and 2 night ferries. What's to say BF haven't specified a totally different configuration?   As rick says it's been reported (by Shippax) that Stena have exercised an option for a 5th hull from AVIC.  They still have another 3 options on top of those 5 vessels.  Should Stena return the two Superfast's to Talkink I understand they would need to be returned in pre-converted form, something that will cost a lot of money (on top of the fortune spent converting them for Cairnryan and the money invested since their introduction).  Likewise they wouldn't be much use to the likes of BF in their current form.  The changes Stena have made are not just cosmetic either. Should add though I'm only speculating here and perhaps Stena can return them whatever way they like (or part of the deal was that Stena paid for the conversion to day ferries).

The charter of Stena Baltica and Etretat are unrelated to this arrangement.  As for Baie de seine, I've heard well informed whispers that DFDS need her to boost capacity on existing routes.  Any speculation of the UK-Denmark link reopening is just that (some would say it's dreaming).  The market for such a route is limited in the current climate.  It's also worth bearing in mind that the UK's trading relationship with the rest of Europe (including Denmark) up in the air at present.

Edited by tarbyonline
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14 hours ago, tarbyonline said:

 Any speculation of the UK-Denmark link reopening is just that (some would say it's dreaming).  The market for such a route is limited in the current climate.  It's also worth bearing in mind that the UK's trading relationship with the rest of Europe (including Denmark) up in the air at present.

You guys know me by now, and would know that I am 100% for the UK to Denmark ferry, and I've campaigned for it for a very long time. I feel there is demand, and by 2020, duty free sales COULD be back, which was one of the reasons the route closed. Over the past few years, I have had countless emails from people, saying about how glad they are that someone is campaigning for the ferry, and I have been seriously surprised and honoured with the support the campaign has received. 

BUT

I can't see a  new route being operated by DFDS with Sirena Seaways. My first thought would be that the vessel will end up being a accommodation ship somewhere in the North Sea. IF DFDS follow their usual pattern, of caring about the margins of profits, and abandoning their heritage, then I can't see DFDS caring much about where the ship will go. ALTHOUGH I would not be surprised if she replaced King or Princess on Newcastle / Amsterdam, and King or Princess were sold. 

 

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As reported on niferrysite, Stena RoPax have now purchased Stena Superfast VII and VIII outright.  As someone much wiser in these matters than me once said "there are no coincidences in the ferry industry". If we assume these vessels are staying put (bearing in mind the cost to convert them for use elsewhere), Stena now have the 2 ships allocated to the Cairnryan route spare.  In addition to the 5th option if it has been ordered as reported by shippax.  

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1 hour ago, tarbyonline said:

As reported on niferrysite, Stena RoPax have now purchased Stena Superfast VII and VIII outright.  As someone much wiser in these matters than me once said "there are no coincidences in the ferry industry". If we assume these vessels are staying put (bearing in mind the cost to convert them for use elsewhere), Stena now have the 2 ships allocated to the Cairnryan route spare.  In addition to the 5th option if it has been ordered as reported by shippax.  

Published: 2017-07-12 19:01:46 CEST
logo?dpId=1029
Tallink Grupp
Company Announcement 

Sale of the Superfast vessels

 

Tallinn, 2017-07-12 19:01 CEST (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Sale of the Superfast vessels

The subsidiaries of AS Tallink Grupp, Baltic SF VII Ltd and Baltic SF VIII Ltd have concluded the sale agreements with Stena Ropax Limited for M/S Stena Superfast VII (ex name Superfast VII) and M/S Stena Superfast VIII (ex name Superfast VIII). Value of the deal is 133.5 million euros. The vessels will be delivered to the buyer in December 2017. Until then vessels continue operations in the UK waters according to the charter agreements concluded in August 2011 by Stena Line Ltd.

The cash flow from the sale of the vessels will strengthen the group's financial position. The profit from the sale of the vessels is not significant to the consolidated results of AS Tallink Grupp.

 

         Veiko Haavapuu
         Finance Director
         
         AS Tallink Grupp
         Sadama 5/7
         10111 Tallinn, Estonia
         Tel. +372 640 9914
         E-mail veiko.haavapuu@tallink.ee


This news release was distributed by GlobeNewswire,www.globenewswire.com – a Nasdaq company

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Related but not strictly on topic but my question doesn't merit another thread.

Was Superfast X modified to the same extent as Superfast 7/8?

If she was and Stena place a Chinese new build on Holyhead - Dublin could Superfast X move to Fishguard?

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30 minutes ago, nick hall said:

Related but not strictly on topic but my question doesn't merit another thread.

Was Superfast X modified to the same extent as Superfast 7/8?

If she was and Stena place a Chinese new build on Holyhead - Dublin could Superfast X move to Fishguard?

No, X wasn't modified to anywhere near the extent of her sisters.  As for Fishguard, on paper X has far too much freight capacity in addition to being an expensive vessel to operate.  Personally I don't see her going to Fishguard myself (one of the displaced visentinis from Birkenhead may make more sense on all but peak periods - much more economical vessels to operate), but I'm sure Stena have something in mind.  

 

Word is Stena Europe is to have major life extension work in the next couple of years to keep her at Fishguard.  We can only speculate what the longer term plan is for the route, but it does seem to be a route in decline and the current vessel is already paid for.  The real growth on services to Ireland is on the routes from England and Holyhead.  This has been at the expense of the services to the North and the South of these areas.  Which is why to those of us familiar with the actual volumes being carried said E-Flexers for Cairnryan didn't really make any sense unless the announcement was part of a negotiating tactic to get the current vessels at a better price, just as Rick suggested above.  It would take a major change in the marketplace for the North Channel to need more capacity in the foreseeable future.

Edited by tarbyonline

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19 hours ago, tarbyonline said:

As reported on niferrysite, Stena RoPax have now purchased Stena Superfast VII and VIII outright.  As someone much wiser in these matters than me once said "there are no coincidences in the ferry industry". If we assume these vessels are staying put (bearing in mind the cost to convert them for use elsewhere), Stena now have the 2 ships allocated to the Cairnryan route spare.  In addition to the 5th option if it has been ordered as reported by shippax.  

There are suggestions  online today that the Shippax report is incorrect  and a 5th newbuild has not been confirmed  yet.

Meanwhile, the picture described earlier in the week is building. There could well be announcements from Stena sooner rather than later.

Getting  off topic but I couldn't give an educated guess what is ahead for Stena Superfast X, aside from doubts about her suitability, the life extension work to Stena Europe seems to rule her out for Fishguard.

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On 12/07/2017 at 08:57, Danish Ferry Person said:

You guys know me by now, and would know that I am 100% for the UK to Denmark ferry, and I've campaigned for it for a very long time. I feel there is demand, and by 2020, duty free sales COULD be back, which was one of the reasons the route closed. Over the past few years, I have had countless emails from people, saying about how glad they are that someone is campaigning for the ferry, and I have been seriously surprised and honoured with the support the campaign has received. 

BUT

I can't see a  new route being operated by DFDS with Sirena Seaways. My first thought would be that the vessel will end up being a accommodation ship somewhere in the North Sea. IF DFDS follow their usual pattern, of caring about the margins of profits, and abandoning their heritage, then I can't see DFDS caring much about where the ship will go. ALTHOUGH I would not be surprised if she replaced King or Princess on Newcastle / Amsterdam, and King or Princess were sold. 

 

DFDS' Baltic ropax services are growing so I would be totally shocked if the Baie de Seine doesn't appear on those routes as additional tonnage or to replace older/smaller ships.

She won't replace the King or Princess Seaways, the Dutch route is a major passenger route and it would be commercial suicide to move to something with many fewer cabins.  I think the existing ships there are also candidates for life extension work and could be around for quite a while yet.

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At the moment there does seem to be a bit of a cosy set-up on the Western Channel, the obvious chief beneficiary of which is BF.   How long this will continue for I don't know.  Maybe ferry operators ought to have their eyes on the various competition authorities lest they start getting suspicious.  With this in mind maybe Stena are once again considering a return to the Channel.  This was rumoured when they took over Celtic Link Ferries but nothing then happened, other than BF chartering Cotentin to Stena.  It would seem from the discussions in this thread that they could have some suitable ships for such services in the not too distant future.  Maybe their Superfasts could be used between Poole and Cherbourg.  I personally would not advise a direct challenge to BF's dominance at Portsmouth and anyway I have always maintained that Cherbourg is best served from the English south coast from ports west of the Isle of Wight and anyway BF don't seem that interested in Poole.

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2 minutes ago, Hawser Trunnion said:

At the moment there does seem to be a bit of a cosy set-up on the Western Channel, the obvious chief beneficiary of which is BF.   How long this will continue for I don't know.  Maybe ferry operators ought to have their eyes on the various competition authorities lest they start getting suspicious.  With this in mind maybe Stena are once again considering a return to the Channel.  This was rumoured when they took over Celtic Link Ferries but nothing then happened, other than BF chartering Cotentin to Stena.  It would seem from the discussions in this thread that they could have some suitable ships for such services in the not too distant future.  Maybe their Superfasts could be used between Poole and Cherbourg.  I personally would not advise a direct challenge to BF's dominance at Portsmouth and anyway I have always maintained that Cherbourg is best served from the English south coast from ports west of the Isle of Wight and anyway BF don't seem that interested in Poole.

There is little doubt Stena Superfast VII  and Stena Superfast III will remain on Belfast - Cairnryan  for at least 10 years now.

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If BF can hardly make a profit in recent times having the near monopoly AND pedigree, - I doubt many others are eager to jump in?!

Edited by hf_uk
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1 hour ago, hf_uk said:

If BF can hardly make a profit in recent times having the near monopoly AND pedigree, - I doubt many others are eager to jump in?!

I would'nt be so sure about that. 

One of BF's biggest costs is crew.

If some other operator arrived with a foreign-registered vessel and non-EU crew, they could operate on the Western-Channel at a lower cost. 

 

 

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2 hours ago, zuludelta said:

I would'nt be so sure about that. 

One of BF's biggest costs is crew.

If some other operator arrived with a foreign-registered vessel and non-EU crew, they could operate on the Western-Channel at a lower cost. 

 

 

But would they be welcome in French ports?  Even if they are allowed in could the unions make life difficult if they see French seamen threatened.

Edited by Solo

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6 minutes ago, Solo said:

But would they be welcome in French ports?  Even if they are allowed in could the unions make life difficult if they see French seamen threatened.

Well, 25 years ago who could have imagined that Irish Ferries would be using Roscoff - BF's home port?

If an operator like Stena started, lets say, a Portsmouth to Cherbourg service, I don't think there would be much that the French unions could do. Of course they could start a blockade and a few fires at the port but EU legislation would not be on their side. 

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I just used Stena as an example! 

It could be any operator especially one with scale.  

With Brexit on the horizon, the Western Channel will prove an attractive proposition to many operators who want to avoid possible hold-ups at Calais. 

 

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4 hours ago, zuludelta said:

Well, 25 years ago who could have imagined that Irish Ferries would be using Roscoff - BF's home port?

If an operator like Stena started, lets say, a Portsmouth to Cherbourg service, I don't think there would be much that the French unions could do. Of course they could start a blockade and a few fires at the port but EU legislation would not be on their side. 

Celtic Link did try to start a Cherbourg-Portsmouth service on two occasions.  The first failed because their ship, Celtic Mist, was in an unbelievably bad condition, so much so she was not allowed to operate.  The second with Norman Voyager foundered on the issue of the transport of live animals i.e. cattle, pigs, sheep which Portsmouth didn't want but without which it's been suggested CLF would not have been able to make the service pay.  I don't know if this would have been an issue with Celtic Mist had she been allowed to operate.

Thus I would guess whether or not any rival services to BF's would thrive would depend on what sort of services they chose to operate, high end or more middle-of-road, day ships or with overnight accommodation.  

As regard to access to ports as far as I am aware all the ports likely to be involved have to operate an "open port" policy.  Thus if they can accommodate a new operator they have to.  In 1975 the French Govt was prepared to draft in the riot police to ensure Mary Poppins could dock in St Malo with her multinational crew and Cypriot registration despite local objections.

Edited by Hawser Trunnion
Adding further thoughts.

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