Normandie Express is Brittany Ferries’ only High Speed Craft. Built by Incat in 2000 and operated by Brittany Ferries since 2005 she operates a summer high speed service between Cherbourg-en-Cotentin and Portsmouth.
|HSC Normandie Express (2005 onwards)|
|Shipyard||Incat Tasmania, Hobart, Australia|
|Owner||Bretagne Angleterre Irlande SA|
|Routes||Cherbourg-en-Cotentin - Portsmouth|
|Port of Registry||Caen, Normandie, France|
|Gross Tonnage||6,581 GT|
|Engines||4 Ruston 20RK270 engines|
|Transmission||4 Reinjtes VLJ 6831 gearboxes|
|Propulsion||4 Lips 120E waterjets|
|Speed||46.50 knots (max) - 38.00 knots (service)|
|Passengers & Cargo|
|Passengers Capacity||850 passengers|
|Garage Capacity||267 cars or 380 lane meters of HGVs and 80 cars|
Incat Tasmania was built in 2000 by Tasmanian shipyard Incat, in Hobart. She was part of the third generation of Wave-Piercing catamarans built since 1993 by Incat. Named Incat Tasmania, she was used in mid-2000 has a floating hotel during Sydney’s Olympic Games. From 2000 to 2003 she was named the Lynx, operating services for Stena Lynx.
In 2004, Brittany Ferries decided to take over P&O Ferries’ former routes, and especially its High Speed Services. Thus, the company decided in late-2004 to charter in Incat 057 to operate High Speed Services between Ouistreham and Cherbourg-en-Cotentin to Portsmouth. During her crossing to Europe, Incat 057 brang humanitarian help to Indonesia, that was devastated by a tsunami on 26th December 2004. Then, she carried from the Azores Roland Jourdain’s ship Sill Veolia, damaged during the Vendée Globe sailing race. She eventually arrived in Roscoff to be shown to Brittany Ferries’ managers. Then, she was sent to Brest for refurbishment and performed berthing trials in Ouistreham, Cherbourg-en-Cotentin and Portsmouth. She was introduced in March, as Normandie Express.
It was initially planned that Normandie Express would operate a daily crossing to Weymouth from Cherbourg-en-Cotentin, operating then an afternoon sailing to the Channel Islands in partnership with Condor Ferries. However, the deal has never been concluded and it was decided to allocate her on sailings from Portsmouth.
When introduced, Normandie Express was registered in Nassau, a famous flag of convenience, which was in opposition with the company’s usual practices. However, due to a strike of Brittany Ferries’ trade unions, the vessel was re-registered in Caen for summer 2006.
Satisfied of Normandie Express, that proved to be very profitable, Brittany Ferries decided to purchase the ship from Incat for £30 millions in early-2007, buying its first high speed craft. She remained allocated to the Ouistreham – Portsmouth and Cherbourg-en-Cotentin - Portsmouth services at summer, being laid up at winters. However, due to the increase of the price of oil, it was decided in 2008 to operate Normandie Express at slower speeds (35 knots instead of 42 knots) whilst she kept being operated less and less days every years since. Therefore, she is now operated between late-April and early-September each year, whereas when introduced she was operated from March to November.
In 2010 and 2014, Normandie Express was chartered for the departure of the Route du Rhum sailing race, serving as boat for people wanting to be at sea to watch the departure of the ships.
Normandie Express operated services between Cherbourg-en-Cotentin and Poole between April and May 2015 to replace Barfleur, which was being equipped with scrubbers at the time. In September of the same year, Normandie Express went to Arno Shipyard (Dunkirk) where her accommodation deck was refurbished, and her engines overhauled. She was also repainted, to wear a livery closer to the one the other ships of Brittany Ferries. She was then laid up in Le Havre.
On 11th December 2015, whilst the trade unions were refusing to sign an agreement about the labour organisation, Brittany Ferries threat to register her in England for summer 2016, a flag which is 20% less expensive than French one, if the deal was not signed. Wanting the deal to be signed, some salaries of the company, leaded by Captain Jean-Pascal Richard, created another union to put the trade unions under pressure, forcing them to sign the deal. Eventually, the deal was signed and Normandie Express had not been registered.
On 19th March 2016, it was announced that Condor Ferries would charter Normandie Express to replace Condor Liberation in case of disruptions during Eastern. However, the deal had not been concluded due to operational reasons.