Stena Line marked a milestone on its journey towards sustainable shipping with the Steel Cutting ceremony for the first of its ‘NewMax’ hybrid ferries as construction begins in Weihai, China.
Last year, Stena Line announced that two new hybrid freight ferries had been ordered from Stena RoRo destined for the Belfast – Heysham route, with the first due to enter service in autumn 2025.
The ‘NewMax’ vessels are of a unique design with the most efficient hull form to maximise freight volumes and their addition to the route will boost freight capacity by 80% compared to current ship capacity.
The new hybrid ships will play a key role in Stena Line’s journey to sustainable fuel as they will both be able to operate on methanol fuel. Stena Line is currently working closely with the supply chain of methanol on securing future volumes of e-methanol to fulfil its strategic ambition of shifting to renewable fuels.
Stena Line has also signed an agreement with Peel Ports to operate in Heysham Port until the end of the century. As part of the new agreement, Stena Line and Peel Ports will aim to secure the shore infrastructure to provide additional electrical capacity to facilitate the future goal of powering the new ships by shore power.
Paul Grant, Trade Director Irish Sea, Stena Line said, “An important trading corridor across the Irish Sea, we have seen significant growth in the service in recent years and the extra boost in capacity that the ships will provide will help us to meet customer demand.
“The capabilities of these new hybrid ships to operate on alternative fuel will also be instrumental in reaching Stena Line’s ambitious sustainability targets and achieving our goal of establishing futureproofed fossil free shipping corridors.”
Phil Hall, Mersey Port Director at Peel Ports Group, added: “We have worked in partnership with Stena Line for over 25 years, and this latest investment in the future of the Belfast-Heysham route is testament to the success of that partnership.”
And said Michael Robinson, Port Director at Belfast Harbour: “Enhancing capacity on the Belfast – Heysham route whilst at the same time reducing its emissions will make these new ships a welcome addition to Belfast’s shipping connections with Great Britain. We are committed to continuing our work with Stena Line to enhance facilities and invest in infrastructure to help deliver more sustainable shipping services for the local economy.”