A new RO-RO freight service linking Portsmouth with Spain and Belgium was inaugurated on 15 May. Transfennica has added the UK port to its existing Zeebrugge-Bilbao connection to meet demand from transport companies. The service will operate with the StenaRoRo-owned vessels, MV Stena Forerunner (2003/24,688 gt) and MV Stena Forecaster (2003/24, 688 gt).
Each ship has a capacity of 3,000 lane metres for a combination of trailers and double stacked containers. There are 12 cabins available for driver accompanied vehicles. The Chinese-built pair will call at Portsmouth twice-weekly en route from Spain to Belgium.
The sky was lit-up with fireworks and the air filled with blasts from ships horns as Cunard brought all three of their ships together at their homeport of Southampton. The occasion was the 10th anniversary of Queen Mary 2 (2003/148,528 gt) becoming the fleet flagship. Thousands of spectators lined vantage points around the harbour to revel in the atmosphere of a bygone age.
On completion of the nocturnal fanfare, Queen Mary 2 led Queen Elizabeth (2010/90,901 gt) and Queen Victoria (2007/90,049 gt) out of harbour to go their separate ways. The three ships will gather again in Liverpool on 25 May next year to salute the city that was home to Cunard for 127 years, between 1840 to 1967.
The first cruise ship visitor of the new season has called at Portsmouth International Port. MV Azores (1948/16,314gt) will make three calls this year, the next being on 28 April and again on 7 September. Owned by Lisbon-based Portuscale Cruises, the veteran cruise ship has been chartered by the German operator, Ambiente Kreuzfharten, under the Portuguese flag.
MV Azores, her tenth name, will always be associated with an incident on 25 July 1956, when as Swedish America Lines’ MV Stockholm, she collided with SS Andrea Doria (1953/29,083gt) in thick fog off the coast of Nantucket. The Italian liner later sank.
French ferry operator, Brittany Ferries, has introduced a no-frills service branded ‘Brittany Ferries économie’ with the chartered ropax, MV Etretat (2008/26,904gt). The new budget service will offer a weekend freight-only connection between Portsmouth and Santander in northern Spain and five weekday return crossings between Portsmouth and Le Havre.
The Visentini-built ferry is no stranger having previously serviced the Portsmouth – Le Havre crossing for LD Lines/DFDS Seaways as Norman Voyager since November 2008. Popular with ferry operators for their lower running costs, the ships are less luxurious and offer fewer passenger facilities than typical channel ferries.
ABP Southampton’s SCT5 opened for business on 11 March with the 13,100 TEU Hyundai Tenacity (2012/141,770gt) becoming the first ship to use the new facility. Developed on the site of the former 201/202 berths, the new quay is 500 metres long and has five cranes with a lift capacity of 65 tonnes, able to handle box ships of 24 containers wide.
The multi-million investment will enable Southampton’s container terminal – a joint venture with terminal operator DP World – to continue to handle the new generation of ultra large container vessels (ULCCs), cementing the port’s position at the forefront of global container trade.