A few weeks ago, the president of the executive board of Brittany Ferries' announced that the future of the company has been blurred by the Brexit, owing to the uncertainty it has created on the cross-channel market. Therefore, nonetheless the age of two of the company's ships, the company announced it is unable to order new ships to replace them.
However, it is now reported that the company would have decided in its last meeting of its supervisory board, its subsidiary SOMANOR would order by early-2017 a new ship for its Ouistreham - Portsmouth route. This ship, that may be powered by LNG-engines, is likely to be introduced at Spring 2019.
A ship for the popular Ouistreham route
According to our colleagues from Le Telegramme, Brittany Ferries would have voted a few days ago the purchase by its subsidiary, the SOMANOR (which owns Cotentin and Mont-St-Michel), of a new ship for delivery at Spring 2019. This ship would replace Normandie on the popular Ouistreham - Portsmouth route.
This new ship would be 185m long and 31m wide, mensurations that are also Pont-Aven's ones: is this a coincidence? However, to accommodate such ship, works would have to be undertaken in Ouistreham, whose harbour is too shallow to enable a ship bigger than Mont-St-Michel to berth. These works have been asked by Jean-Marc Roué, president of the Supervisory Board in an interview given during the celebration of the 30th anniversary of this route.
The new ship would provide 2,400 lane meters for freight, enabling her to carry either 132 lorries, or 550 cars, or a mix of both. On the other hand, Normandie can carry 648 cars or 85 lorries. Therefore, it seems that the company is looking for a ship that would carry more freight to go with the growth of the freight traffic, rather than focusing on the passenger traffic which is the more likely to suffer badly from the Brexit. Besides, she would have room for 1,680 passengers, a figure which is to be compared with Normandie's 2,100 passenger certificate. Nevertheless, the new built would provide 950 berths, almost 200 more than Normandie's 774.
Besides, although the announced number of passengers is smaller than Normandie's one, this does not mean that the new ferry would actually carry less passengers. Indeed, during overnight crossing, when the ship's passenger amenities are the most crowded, Normandie does not carry more than 1,187 passengers. Indeed, all passengers have to book during night-time crossings a berth or a seat (of which Normandie has 1,187), something which is not mandatory on day crossings. Therefore, the new ship will very likely (provided she retains the same number of seats) be able to carry more passengers than Normandie at overnight crossing. Moreover, a lower passenger certificate will enable the company operating this ship with less crew on board, generating savings.
Yet, the most innovative part of the ship is it is very likely that she would be LNG-powered, upon a requirement of owner, the SOMANOR. This announce comes whereas this project of a LNG-powered ship was thought to have been given up by the company since the postponing of the Pegasis project in late-2014. The ship's engines, that would be close to Pegasis' specifications, would develop 31,500 kW, enabling her to reach the 22 knots rather than the Normandie's 20 knots. The LNG engines would enable the company decreasing dramatically its fuel costs and its emissions, respectively by 20%, 80% and 99% for CO2, fines particles and sulfur emissions.
A modester project than Pegasis
The ship, that may be built under STX France's supervision in a sub-contractor shipyard, is to replace Normandie on the Ouistreham - Portsmouth route. Normandie, which remains despite her age, a very modern and comfortable ship, would be moved to the Le Havre - Portsmouth route, replacing Etretat. This would enable the company providing greater capacity on a route that becomes more and more popular.
However, it remains unclear if Etretat would remain in the fleet, perhaps replacing MN Pelican, or would be sent back to her owners, Stena RoRo.
Moreover, this new ship is to be smaller than the project that was initially considered by the company. Indeed, Brittany Ferries has been wishing for the building of a bigger ship, of Pegasis' size, for its popular Spain - Great Britain route, and that would have replaced Bretagne in the fleet. Nevertheless, the company has been unable to fund such ship, because of the uncertainty that prevails regarding Brittany Ferries' future owing to the Brexit.
However, this ship remains a project which has not been officially confirmed yet by the company. Therefore, further announcements are to be made regarding her actual order. But if this ship was eventually ordered, she will be the first one under French flag to be powered by LNG, enabling Brittany Ferries to benefit from a €80 millions subsidy from the French state, a subsidy dedicated to the ships of the future.
- Le Télégramme, 24th October 2016. Available at www.letelegramme.fr. . "Brittany Ferries. Un 12e navire en projet",