Construction begins on Stena Line’s hybrid ferries for Belfast – Heysham route


Swedish ferry company, Stena Line marked a milestone on its journey towards sustainable shipping with the Steel Cutting ceremony for the first of its ‘NewMax’ hybrid ferries as construction begins in Weihai, China.

Last year, Stena Line announced that two new hybrid freight ferries had been ordered from Stena RoRo destined for the Belfast – Heysham route, with the first due to enter service in autumn 2025.

The ‘NewMax’ vessels are of a unique design with the most efficient hull form to maximise freight volumes and their addition to the route will boost freight capacity by 80% compared to current ship capacity.

The new hybrid ships will play a key role in Stena Line’s journey to sustainable fuel as they will both be able to operate on methanol fuel. Stena Line is currently working closely with the supply chain of methanol on securing future volumes of e-methanol to fulfil its strategic ambition of shifting to renewable fuels.

In addition to the multi-million pound investment in the ships, Stena Line announced last month it had signed an agreement with Peel Ports to operate in Heysham Port until the end of century, reaffirming its confidence in the continued success of the route.

As part of the new agreement, Stena Line and Peel Ports will aim to secure the shore infrastructure to provide additional electrical capacity to facilitate the future goal of powering the new ships by shore power. The new vessels will have in-built technologies that can take advantage of both battery propulsion and shore power. The ships will be futureproofed with a progressive propulsion configuration that ultimately will allow the vessels to be decarbonised.

Paul Grant, Trade Director Irish Sea, Stena Line said,We’re excited to announce that the steel cutting has taken place for our state-of-the-art ‘NewMax’ ships for our Belfast to Heysham route – a landmark moment for the service. An important trading corridor across the Irish Sea, we have seen significant growth in the service in recent years and the extra boost in capacity that the ships will provide will help us to meet customer demand. The capabilities of these new hybrid ships to operate on alternative fuel will also be instrumental in reaching Stena Line’s ambitious sustainability targets and achieving our goal of establishing futureproofed fossil free shipping corridors.”

Phil Hall, Mersey Port Director at Peel Ports Group, said:  We have worked in partnership with Stena Line for over 25 years, and this latest investment in the future of the Belfast-Heysham route is testament to the success of that partnership. We share a commitment to making our operations more sustainable, and we’re very excited to explore ways to use our port infrastructure to power these new vessels from the electrical grid, which will be a major step towards achieving our ambition to become a net-zero port operator by 2040.”

Michael Robinson, Port Director at Belfast Harbour said,  Enhancing capacity on the Belfast – Heysham route whilst at the same time reducing its emissions will make these new ships a welcome addition to Belfast’s shipping connections with Great Britain. We are committed to continuing our work with Stena Line to enhance facilities and invest in infrastructure to help deliver more sustainable shipping services for the local economy. The arrival of these new ships will stimulate the methanol supply chain by providing a long-term demand for this alternative fuel in the Irish Sea and in doing so, will provide opportunities for other vessels to transition to this more sustainable fuel in the future.”

Stena Line is the largest ferry operator on the Irish Sea, with the biggest fleet providing up to 238 weekly sailings offering the widest choice of routes including: combined passenger and freight services from Belfast to Cairnryan and Liverpool, Dublin to Holyhead, Rosslare to Fishguard, Rosslare to Cherbourg, in addition to the dedicated freight only route from Belfast to Heysham and the new Dublin – Birkenhead which is due to start in February.

Stena Line is one of Europe’s leading ferry companies transporting 6.5 million passengers with 39 vessels across 17 routes in Northern Europe operating 27,000 sailings each year.


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