Brittany Ferries has announced during a press conference hold on 19th June it has ordered to the German shipyard Flensburger Schiffbau Gesellschaft its new state-of-the-art cruise ferry for its popular Ouistreham – Portsmouth service.
The new vessel, which is to be launched in November 2018, will be christened M/V Honfleur on 30th April 2019 prior to her introduction on the Ouistreham route in June of the same year. She will replace M/V Normandie which will be moved to the Le Havre – Portsmouth service.
Honfleur is the name of a village close to Le Havre, south of the Seine estuary, and famous for having inspired many painters (including Claude Monnet). Hence, the town has four museums. This name has already been proposed but not chosen due to its similarity with “Barfleur” to christen M/V Mont-St-Michel, M/V Honfleur future route mate.
M/V Honfleur will be able to accommodate 1680 passengers on 11 decks (offering 257 cabins), and will be 187,4m long and 31m wide for 42 200 GT. This makes her the second longest ferry of the fleet and the largest that has ever called in Ouistreham. M/V Honfleur will feature a 2600 lm-garage, leaving enough room for 130 trailers; or 550 cars and 64 trailers. Regarding her facilities, she will offer a self-service and a à-la-carte restaurant in addition of a bar. Besides, M/V Honfleur will propose a “culture-café”.
M/V Honfleur will be the first vessel on the English Channel to be propelled with LNG-powered engines, which is “the energy of the future” according to Brittany Ferries. Hence, there is no denying that all Brittany Ferries’ future ferries will be equipped with this technology. Compared to diesel and heavy fuel, M/V Honfleur will emit 25% less carbon dioxide, almost no nitrogen oxide and fine particles; and will use a sulfur-free fuel.
Brittany Ferries has been considering building such LNG-powered vessel since 2014 when it disclosed its concept-vessel Pegasis that has eventually never been ordered. Since then, the company wants to invest in new technologies in order to “respect the environment around us".
The four main LNG engines will be paired with alternators, that will provide electricity throughout the propulsion system. Therefore, the propeller shafts will be paired to electric engines. This will enable the ship to produce less noise and vibrations whilst using much less fuel at low speed.
However, as there is currently no infrastructures to supply the ship with LNG in the ports M/V Honfleur will serve, Brittany Ferries has made a partnership with Total in order to develop a solution that will enable the company to refuel the ship by using containers. These containers will be brought from the LNG-terminal of Dunkirk by lorries and then loaded aboard in Ouistreham; in order to refuel the ship’s own 350 m³ tank.
Eventually, in compliance with Brittany Ferries digitalisation program, M/V Honfleur will provide a completely different passenger experience. For instance, WiFi will be available throughout the ship, including cabins. The Information Desk will also features new services using the NTIC, enabling passengers to prepare their holidays, to get informed about connections with national rail services...
This order confirms Brittany Ferries’ commitment to “develop the regions we serve, link the peoples and to reduce the environmental footprint of our fleet”, and its confidence in its future although the Brexit has shaded its perspectives of development. Indeed, the company is investing up to 200 millions Euros in its first new built since the launch of M/V Armorique (2) 10 years ago. Nevertheless, this order does not confirm the raising of all the doubts which currently carry weight on Brittany Ferries in so far as the company will still operate ships who will have at least, nay more than 30 years or so ; and whose replacement does not seem to be at the order of business, despite the announcements that have been made last year.