Pont-Aven is a cruise ferry built in 2003 by Papenburg’s shipyard Meyer Werft for the SOMABRET and Brittany Ferries. Delivered in 2004, she replaced Val de Loire on the Irish and Spanish services. Her name comes from a small city, famous for its painters, located in southern Finistère.
|M/V Pont-Aven (2004 onwards)|
|Launch||27th February 2004|
|Maiden Voyage||24th March 2004|
|Shipyard||Jos L Meyer Werft, Papenburg, Germany|
Roscoff - Plymouth
Roscoff - Cork
Santander - Plymouth
Saint-Malo - Portsmouth
Santander - Portsmouth
|Port of Registry||Morlaix, Brittany, France|
|Gross Tonnage||41,758 GT|
|Engines||4 MaK 12VM43 - 12 cylinders each|
|Speed||30.00 knots (max) - 27.00 knots (service)|
|Passengers & Cargo|
|Passengers Capacity||2,415 passengers + 185 crew members|
|Cabins and Seats||650 cabins (2,008 berths proposed) + 45 seats|
|Garage Capacity||650 cars or 85 lorries|
On 11th September 2000, Brittany Ferries ordered a large RoPax ferry for its route linking Ouistreham and Portsmouth in order to cope with the growing traffics and to renew the fleet. It was soon decided to replace the old Coutances, the oldest ship of the fleet, serving on the Cherbourg-en-Cotentin – Poole route. Therefore, a new RoPax ferry was ordered in 2002.
This ship was to replace Val de Loire on the Irish and Spanish routes, enabling her to be transferred on the Saint-Malo service and on a new Cherbourg-en-Cotentin – Portsmouth, actually offering an alternative to freight drivers from the Poole service from Cherbourg-en-Cotentin, enabling the decommissioning of Coutances.
The new ship was called “Bretagne 2 Project” as she was to be a very important landmark in Brittany Ferries’ history as Bretagne was. Alexis Gourvennec, Brittany Ferries’ chairman wanted to create a ship that would offer a level of comfort never seen on a ferry. Her design was also to be more curved than what we usually see on a ferry.
Her size was also to be impressive, since she is 184.3m long (making her the longest French cruise ferry), 30.9m wide (close to the wide of the post-panamax Cruise Ships) and with a tonnage of 41,757GT, making her the biggest ship of the company.
The new ship was launched at winter time on 7th February 2004, with the shipyard surrounded by snow. She then performed her EMS-Conveyance (the name of the crossing new Meyer Werft-built ships have to perform on river Ems to reach the harbour of Eemshaven from Papenburg). Once arrived, she performed sea trials during 15 days.
She was delivered to Brittany Ferries on 27th February 2004, and began her crossing between Eemshaven and Roscoff where she arrived on 1st March. She was then christened Pont-Aven, and performed berthing trials in Cork, Plymouth and Santander. Pont-Aven then went for two weeks in Plymouth were open days were held. She performed her maiden crossing on 24th March 2004 from Roscoff to Plymouth.
However, she failed on 10th August 2004 when her auxiliary engine room was flooded due to a faulty valve. She was recognised as faulty the following days by its supplier. On 12th, Pont-Aven set sail to Brest to enable repairs, and was re-introduced on 14th.
During Winter 2004-2005, Pont-Aven operated crossings on the Saint-Malo – Portsmouth route. In order to accommodate her, important dredging works were done in Saint-Malo.
After a year without notable incident, Pont-Aven hit a rogue wave wave on 22nd May 2006 whilst she was sailing from Plymouth to Santander. This 19m-height wave, about half of Pont-Aven’s height, hit her on her bow, breaking the bow window she had on deck 6 whilst cabins were flooded. Captain decided to reroute her to Roscoff where her passengers were unloaded. Repairs were made between 23rd and 26th March 2006, the destroyed bow-window was replaced with metal cover (on which smaller portholes were later installed).
On 18th March 2009, Pont-Aven established a new regular service between Portsmouth and Santander. The service proved to be popular and she was joined the following year by Cap Finistere on this route.
In late-2013, Brittany Ferries announced that in order to comply with the latest European Regulations regarding ship’s exhausts, Pont-Aven would be equipped with LNG Engines and replaced by a new ship, called Pegasis as a project on the Spanish and Irish services. Pont-Aven was to be transferred to the Saint-Malo service from 2017. However, Brittany Ferries has been unable to fund the project, and it was eventually decided that Pont-Aven would be equipped with scrubbers.
From early-January to 31st March 2016, Pont-Aven went to Remontowa shipyard in Gdansk to be equipped with those scrubbers. This implied the widening of her funnel to install large Hybrid Scrubbers. However, this resulted in a loss of stability. It is still rumoured that Pont-Aven would operate the Saint-Malo service from late-2017.