Connemara is a RoPax vessel operated by Brittany Ferries on its Economie routes linking Cork (Ringaskiddy) to Roscoff and Santander. She takes her name from a famous Irish region located in Galway. Connemara is the first vessel of the company to be named after a region which is not located in France.
|M/V Connemara (2018 onwards)|
|Shipyard||Cantieri Navale Visentini, Donada, Italy|
|Owner||Stena RoRo AB|
Roscoff (FR) - Cork (Ringaskiddy, IE)
Santander (ES) - Cork (Ringaskiddy, IE)
|Port of Registry||Limassol, Chyprus|
|Gross Tonnage||26,904 GT|
|Net Tonnage||7,000 t|
|Engines||2 diesel engines MAN B&W 9L48/60B|
|Propulsion||2 controllable pitch propellers|
|Maximum Speed||24.50 knots (max) - 23.50 knots (service)|
|Passengers & Cargo|
|Accommodations||121 cabins and 36 seats|
|Garage||195 cars and 2 255 freight lanemeters|
Connemara is one of 17 sisterships built by the Cantiere Navale Visentini in the late-00s for Epic Shipping Ltd. However, the vessel was sold during completion to Swedish company Stena RoRo AB, which would charter her to other operators.
Launched in 2007 as Stena Ausonia, the vessel began service on 20th May 2007, when she was chartered out to Balearia. The company introduced her on its route linking Barcelona to Palma.
In 2010, the vessel was chartered to AVE Line for service between Travemünde (DE) and Ventspils / Riga (LV) as Baltic Amber. As the service didn't last long, she was later chartered to DFDS Seaways for service between Kiel (DE) and Klaipeda (LT) during winter 2010-2011.
In March 2011, the vessel was chartered to LD Lines, the company which would operate her for the next 4 years. She began operation on the Marseille (FR) - Tunis (TN) route before shortly been moved to the Montoir de Bretagne (FR) - Gijon (ES) route. She replaced Norman Bridge on this EU-subsidised "Motorways of the Seas" service. She became Norman Asturias in June of the same year.
In 2013, replaced by Norman Atlantic on the Montoir-de-Bretagne - Gijon service, Norman Asturias was moved to a new Santander / Gijon (ES) - Poole (GB) service. However this service lasted only until September 2014, when LD Lines stopped operation and was took over by DFDS Seaways.
The vessel then sailed back to the Mediterranean, where she has been operated on the Algeciras (ES) - Tanger (MA) (2015) then Valletta (MT) - Patras (GR) (2016 - 2017) routes. The later was an ANEK Line service, for which the vessel was renamed Asterion.
On 16th January 2018, Brittany Ferries announced it was to launch a new service linking Cork (Ringaskiddy) to Santander. This was the conclusion of a 14 year-long lobbying of the Commercial Manager of the Port of Cork, which was supporting a new direct link to Spain. This new link enables hauliers to make significant savings on their Spain - Ireland operations, especially after the Brexit which will make harder transit to Spain via Great Britain.
For this new service, Brittany Ferries signed a two-year chatering agreement with Stena RoRo, with Asterion being the vessel retained for the service.
After having been slightly refitted in Patras in February 2018, the vessel arrived in Santander for further works and repaint on 26th April 2018. Named Connemara, the vessel is due to operated a twice-weekly service between Santander and Cork as well as an additional mid-week service on the popular Roscoff - Cork service. Such service has not been proposed on this route since the late-1990s and the sale of Duchesse Anne. By the way, Connemara's introduction celebrate the 40th anniversary of Brittany Ferries' operations from both ports.
In order to "reconcile development and risk control to protect the shareholders and the current employees of the Company", Brittany Ferries however decided to register Connemara under the Cyprus' flag. This makes the ship the first since 2006 not to be operated under French Maritime Regulations by French crews. However, would the service be successful, Connemara would immediately be reflagged in France.
Connemara made her first commercial sailing on 6th May, when she cast off Santander bound to Cork. She arrived the following day in Cork, where was undertaken an inspection by Maritime Authorities. After that, Connemara was allowed to sail to Roscoff for her first service to France. However, due to a strike in Roscoff harbour, she had to be diverted to Brest.