Stena Line, a major ferry operator in Europe, has announced plans to build two new purpose built roll on roll off cargo vessels for its growing Belfast-Heysham cargo service in the Irish Sea.
The 147 meter vessels, known as the NewMax class, have been designed to maximize cargo volume and offer a capacity of 2,800 lane meters each, an 80% increase over current vessel capacities. They can also carry 12 passengers and 26 crew members.
Stena Line’s new ships will run on methanol. Stena Line says it is working closely with the methanol supply chain to secure future volumes of e-methanol with the goal of switching to renewable fuels and reducing CO2 emissions by 30% by 2030.
With the conversion, Stena Line was the first ferry operator to operate a ferry with methanol Stena Germanica in 2015.
Designed for future electrification, the NewMax vessels feature integrated technologies that can utilize battery power and shore power where available.
Stena Line CEO Niclas Mårtensson said the investment demonstrates the company’s commitment to sustainability and its strategy to switch to sustainable fuels. “The NewMax vessels also cater to growing customer demand and provide significant capacity to allow logistics operators to expand their business in the region,” he said.
The ships have been designed with a bespoke marine technology configuration to make them more resilient to Heysham’s tidal systems, which can present a challenge. They will be fitted with three bow thrusters for better maneuverability and reliability, as well as a specially designed engine/propeller configuration to improve berthing ability in extreme weather conditions.
Construction of the two new vessels will begin in Weihai, China by Stena RoRo and both vessels are expected to enter service on the route from Stena Line’s Port of Belfast in Autumn 2025.
Stena Line is currently the largest ferry operator on the Irish Sea and offers several service routes including a freight only route from Belfast to Heysham. The company’s fleet offers up to 238 weekly sailings between the UK and Ireland.
Stena Line also offers a direct service from Rosslare to Cherbourg and will be introducing a modernized vessel, Stena Vision, on this route this summer, making this route the busiest route from Ireland to France, with 12 weekly sailings.