Brittany Ferries, the French line that links the UK with Spain and France, has celebrated the launch of its cruise-ferry “Galicia” and the start of work on another LNG-powered vessel, the “Salamanca”, at the Avic Weihai shipyard in Shandong in eastern China.
The newbuilds are part of the Breton company’s 550 million euros ($607M) fleet renewal programme.
Its very first LNG-powered ship, the “Honfleur”, is currently under construction at the Flensberg shipyard in Germany and will enter service on the route from Portsmouth in the UK to Caen in France in 2020.
The “Honfleur” and the “Salamanca” will be joined a year later by a third LNG-fueled sister ship to be named “Santoña”.
“While ‘Galicia’ will be fitted with funnel exhaust gas cleaning systems, ‘Salamanca’ and ‘Santoña’ will be amongst the first ferries of their type to be powered by LNG, offering significant environmental advantages over traditional marine fuels, burning more efficiently and producing no sulfur, virtually no particulates and 95 percent less nitrogen dioxide,” said Brittany Ferries.
“The 215-metre long hull of ‘Galicia’ was majestically floated out at a traditional Chinese ship-launching ceremony,” said the company.
“Then, alongside in the building dock the very first steel was cut for fleet mate ‘Salamanca’, marking the beginning of the ship’s construction,” it added.
When complete, the two ships will serve Brittany Ferries’ long-haul routes connecting Portsmouth to Santander and Bilbao in northern Spain, with “Galicia” due to enter service in late 2020 followed by “Salamanca” in the Spring of 2022.
“It gives me great pleasure to be here in China to celebrate the launch of ‘Galicia’ and the start of work on ‘Salamanca,” said Brittany Ferries Chief Executive Christophe Mathieu at the ceremony
“Our customers rightly expect our fleet to be modern, comfortable and efficient, with the promise of minimal environmental impact from operations and we can only achieve this aim with the very best, innovative new ships,” added Mathieu.
“The ‘Galicia and ‘Salamanca’ are perfectly suited to our long-haul Spanish operations, and will allow us to further enhance our service to holidaymakers and hauliers taking advantage of these routes,” stated the CEO.
Mathieu also mentioned the uncertainty facing the company over Brexit, as a long-time and popular ferry company for British passengers and freight.
“As a French company operating ferries between the UK, France, Spain and Ireland, we are, for sure, concerned by the current political uncertainty in Europe,” he said.
“But we are certain of the course that Brittany Ferries will follow in the years to come. And these brand new ships are tangible evidence - in steel - of our confidence and optimism looking ahead,” added Mathieu.
The three 42,200-tonne “E-Flexer” class ships will be among the biggest in the fleet of Brittany Ferries, measuring 215 metres long, with around three kilometres of space for cars and lorries.
Brittany Ferries currently has 11 ships carrying between 2.5 million and 2.7M passengers each year travelling in approximately 900,000 cars.
Freight trucks number 210,000 annually and there is one freight-only route linking Bilbao in Spain with Poole in the UK.
The company’s services cover 11 ports: Spain’s Bilbao and Santander, the UK’s Portsmouth, Poole and Plymouth, the Irish port of Cork and the French ports of Caen, Cherbourg, Le Havre, Saint-Malo and Roscoff.