Normandie is a ship operated by Brittany Ferries built in 1991 and introduced in May 1992 on the Ouistreham – Portsmouth route. Her name comes from a French Western Région, where Ouistreham is located.
|M/V Normandie (1992 onwards)|
|Launch||5th October 1991|
|Maiden Voyage||18th May 1992|
|Shipyard||Kvaerner Masa-Yards, Turku, Finland|
|Routes||Ouistreham (FR) - Portsmouth (GB)|
|Port of Registry||Caen, Normandie, France|
|Gross Tonnage||27,542 GT|
|Engines||4 Wärtsilä-Crepelle 12V32E engines - 12 cylinders|
|Speed||20.50 knots (max) - 19.00 (service)|
|Passengers & Cargo|
|Passengers Capacity||2,123 passengers + 134 crew members|
|Cabins and Seats||220 cabins (771 berths proposed) + 416 seats|
|Garage Capacity||575 cars|
|Garage Linear Length||1,720 lane meters|
In 1989, Brittany Ferries launched its first super ferry, Bretagne, on the routes linking France to Ireland and Great Britain to Spain. She became soon very popular and successful, thanks to the changes she brought to its customers. Therefore, she proved to be able to cope with the growing traffics. Therefore, the company decided to order another superferry to Finnish shipyard Aker Yards for service between Ouistreham and Caen. They were at first to be two sister ships (the other was supposed to be operated on the Poole - Cherbourg-en-Cotentin service), however due to the lack of spaces at the shipyard it has been impossible to built both.
This new superferry, longer than Bretagne was to be introduced on a route that was becoming more and more popular, the one linking Ouistreham to Portsmouth and created in 1986. This route has been operated since 1988 by two ships, but they proved to be too small to cope with the growing traffic and therefore a superferry was needed to provide additional capacity.
Brittany Ferries decided to do as with Bretagne, by giving the superferry another symbolic name, Normandie. Moreover, this name recalls the former Ocean Liner SS Normandie, built in Saint-Nazaire and launched in 1935 for service between Le Havre and New Yord that proved to be France’s glory.
Normandie was to provide much comfortable accommodations than Bretagne, although she has been made as a day ferry. She has also been designed to offer additional freight and cars capacity, and she therefore proposes 4 full-length car decks. She can load trucks and cars at the same time via (whereas she is berthed by her stern or her bow) decks 3 and 5, something new to Brittany Ferries’ ships that required works to be done in both Ouistreham and Portsmouth, in order to built double-deck link spans.
Normandie was launched on 5th October 1991, before being delivered to Brittany Ferries on 5th May 1992. She was officially named on 14th May in Rotterdam, and arrived to days later in Portsmouth. Normandie then operated a mini-cruise. Her maiden voyage took eventually place on 18th May 1992, from Ouistreham to Portsmouth and has always been operated on this route since. She has however operated a few sailings from Cherbourg-en-Cotentin, when Ouistreham was not available.
In late-2002, Normandie was joined on her route by Mont Saint Michel, a larger superferry that replaced Duc de Normandie, enabling the company to operate on the route two ships that has a similar layout regarding their car decks and accommodations, although there are differences between both.
She was overhauled in Gdansk in February 2006. During this dry docking, she was fully repainted to wear Brittany Ferries’ latest corporate identity. Nevertheless, she kept her blue and red stripes on her bow door. In 2008, she was sold by the SOMACAL to the SOMANAR, however it did not have an impact on her operation. She was repainted in 2012 and lost her blue and red stripes on her bow door, alongside the blue stripes she had on her stern.
In 2013, Brittany Ferries announced that Normandie would be equipped by 2014 with exhaust scrubbers, in order to enable her to comply with the latest European regulations regarding sulphur exhausts. She was sent to Astander shipyard in Santander on 18th October 2014 to perform the installation of those scrubbers, implying also a general overhaul and refurbishment of her accommodation decks. This installation implied the replacement of the top of her final by a new one, more rectengular. She resumed service on 2nd January 2015.
During March 2015, Normandie's crew went on strike for a few days, claiming better wages and the hiring of extra-staff.
On 6th May 2015, it was Ouistreham’s dockers' turn to went on strike for similar reasons. Normadie was therefore diverted to Cherbourg-en-Cotentin until 10th May, because she was unable to berth in Ouistreham due to Mont Saint Michel being taken hostage in the harbour, preventing other ships from mooring. Indeed, after Mont Saint Michel’s liberation by Brittany Ferries’ shareholders, the dockers of all ports the company serves refused to welcome her and Normandie had to be diverted to Roscoff to unload, and was then anchored. Once the conflict was resolved, Normandie resumed service on 13th May.
In an interview given in April 2016, Brittany Ferries’ chairman, Jean-Marc Roué told that the company was to order three new ships by the end of 2016 to replace Bretagne, Cap Finistere and Normandie. The replacement of Normandie would be made by the early-20s. Moreover, on 6th June, it was announced by Jean-Marc Roué that this replacement would not be possible until works were made in Ouistreham in order to enable the docking of larger ships, and that port authorities have to keep up to date its harbour. Without those works to be done, it would be impossible to replace Normandie by a larger ship.
Eventually, on 19th June 2017, Brittany Ferries organised a press conference during which it was officially unveiled the company commissioned a new 185m-long RoPax ferry that would replace Normandie on the Ouistreham - Portsmouth. The new built, which is to be named Honfleur, will be the first ferry of the company to be powered by hybrid LNG-electric engines, enabling the company to make important fuel savings on this service. With Honfleur expected to be introduced in June 2019, Normandie will then be moved to the less taxing Le Havre - Portsmouth until she finally gets retired.
The Department for Transports has awarded a £46,6 millions contract to Brittany Ferries to operate 19 further weekly crossings from 29th March from Plymouth, Poole and Portsmouth in case of a without-deal Brexit.