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HSS Stena Explorer

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swift

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Captain Simon Coates, Dun Laoghaire Harbourmaster, today on RTE Radio 1's "Liveline" with Joe Duffy said that the HSS Stena Explorer will resume one sailing per day in April and the service will continue until September. He further said that he believes that 2011 will see the end of the vessel operating on the Dun Laoghaire - Holyhead route based on his discussions with Stena Line. ;)

Fast Ferry Fan

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I suspect he is probably right, though it is interesting they are bringing it back 7 weeks earlier than last year.  This could be that it's simpler and cheaper to run one vessel than chop and change.

The problem Stena have is how to convince most of their remaining loyal fastferry customers to continue to travel with them through Dublin port on a conventional ferry, especially when Irish Ferries swift sailing continues to run twice a day.

Dun Laoghaire Harbour have been getting €6.5m for the last 7 years from Stena.  Stena just are not going to pay anywhere near that.  But they might be prepared to pay something to retain their USP, and it's down to whether DLH think they can make more money from the other options they've been exploring compared to what Stena are happy to pay.
Last Edit: February 20, 2011, 10:56:19 PM by Simon.Manby

giftgrub

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From the Irish Times

http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/ireland/2011/0223/1224290628617_pf.html

Stena Line agrees cut in Dún Laoghaire charges

TIM O'BRIEN

Wed, Feb 23, 2011

STENA LINE has negotiated a reduction in berthage fees at Dún Laoghaire Harbour in a move which will allow the ferry company to bring its high-speed service back into service for the summer.

However, the company has told staff at the port that even with the reduction – which is subject to ratification by the board of Dún Laoghaire Harbour Company – the service may become seasonal from September.

Neither side would confirm the reduction in annual fees, but it is understood to be a drop from €6.5 million to €2 million. If approved by the harbour company board next week the agreement would come into effect on April 1st and last for three years.

Stena has been divesting itself of its high-speed ship (HSS) in recent years and is actively looking for a smaller vessel on the Dún Laoghaire-Holyhead route.

The HSS has been mothballed in Holyhead over the winter and has been replaced on the route by the smaller vessel, the Stena Lynx, on loan from the Rosslare to Fishguard route.

A significant difficulty is that facilities at St Michael’s pier in Dún Laoghaire are not configured for conventional car ferries. Any replacement ferry would have to be another fast craft and the business case for such a fuel-dependent vessel is understood to be uncertain.

Stena has two conventional ferries serving Dublin port. There are also Irish Sea crossings to Britain from Belfast and Rosslare.

In the light of declining traffic on the Holyhead route, the harbour company has made no secret of its interest in the cruise line business.

Chief executive Gerry Dunne has said plans were being made to attract cruise liners with a capacity for up to 5,000 passengers.

The plans are being supported by Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council as well as the local chamber of commerce, retail and tourism interests and will be advanced by a new master plan being drawn up for the harbour.

A spokeswoman for the harbour company said a statement on the future agreement between the harbour and the ferry company would be issued after the harbour company board meeting next week.

© 2011 The Irish Times

Fast Ferry Fan

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Stena must be delighted to be out of that nightmare contract that they had the misfortune to re-negotiate early in 2004, ahead of the date the previous contract actually ran out in 2006.  Whoever was in charge of that at Stena probably cost them a small fortune.

I suspect the late start this year of the service is at least in part political, giving themselves time to negotiate a much better contract, and potentially walk away from any deal that wasn't good enough.

The sum agreed sounds like it should allow Stena to make the route profitable.  If they are only paying €2m, whether or not they run after September, presumably it makes sense to run a year round service.  And hopefully the times will be tweaked to better co-incide with trains at Holyhead.
Last Edit: February 25, 2011, 12:26:34 AM by Simon.Manby

Fast Ferry Fan

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I see that the Lynx arrived in Dun Laoghaire today.  Is she really going to be moored there until she starts her summer season into Rosslare or have they got an extra shift organised for her out of Dun Laoghaire?

Kieran

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Quote
I see that the Lynx arrived in Dun Laoghaire today.  Is she really going to be moored there until she starts her summer season into Rosslare or have they got an extra shift organised for her out of Dun Laoghaire?

No extra services, she is to lay up in Dún Laoghaire until she takes up summer sailings as far as I know.
Last Edit: March 04, 2011, 11:56:43 AM by admin

Fast Ferry Fan

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That's a shame.  Much as I'd like to see her operating, she's going to be a bit of a blot on the view across the harbour from Marine Road if it's going to be for the next 4 months.
Last Edit: March 05, 2011, 10:40:41 AM by Simon.Manby

giftgrub

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Lots of publicity in the papers for the Explorers final weeks:

http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/breaking/2011/0830/breaking53.html

A major ferry operator is pulling its fast service between Ireland and Britain next month.

Stena Line said its HSS craft will be suspended on the Dun Laoghaire to Holyhead route from September 13th until later next year.

Michael McGrath, area director for Stena Line’s Irish Sea services, blamed the cutbacks on the high cost of operating the two-hour sailing.

“The fast craft service operating between Dun Laoghaire and Holyhead has traded at a financial loss for several years,” he said.

“The high operating costs of the HSS Stena Explorer, particularly in terms of fuel costs and gas turbine maintenance, has been a major factor in this and despite all our attempts to reduce operating costs over the last few years, it has not been possible to return the route to profitability.”

Stena said the high-speed HSS craft will now operate as a seasonal service only.

The operator will continue to run two traditional ferries year-round between Dublin Port and Holyhead.

“The vast majority of revenue from the fast craft service is generated from car and coach guests and is received during the peak summer trading period,” said Mr McGrath.

Last year, almost three quarters of Stena’s business on the HSS Irish Sea service was between May and September, the company said.

Unlike the other services, there was very little year-round freight business on the high-speed route, Stena added.

“We regret that this decision will have an impact amongst our ship’s personnel and our port operations staff in Dun Laoghaire but this is a decision that has to be taken,” said Mr McGrath.

The HSS Stena Explorer currently operates one sailing a day.

Stena said 88 staff working on the high-speed route will be affected.

These include 24 involved in Dun Laoghaire travel centre and ship handling as well as general operatives and clerical staff.

Another 55 crew working on board will be impacted.

The company begins a 30-day consultation period with trade unions Siptu, RMT and Nautilus tomorrow.

A Stena spokesman said workers would be offered voluntary redundancy or redeployment within the company, but declined to say how many lay-offs were expected.

http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/ireland/2011/0831/1224303237213.html

Ferry firm to end winter crossings from Dún Laoghaire


THE OPERATOR of the ferry route between Dún Laoghaire and Holyhead is ceasing the once-daily winter service, it was confirmed yesterday.

Stena Line said the move was a result of rising costs associated with the high-speed ship (HSS) fast ferry, particularly increased fuel costs, along with competition from low cost airlines.

Some 24 staff based at Dún Laoghaire are to be affected by the reduction to a seasonal service, along with a further 53 crew based in the UK.

The company, which employs more than 1,800 people in Ireland, said about 26 staff will continue to work all year round at Dún Laoghaire, while the crew may be redeployed.

The summer schedule is set to end on September 12th, when the change will be brought in, and it will resume next April or May.

The company is to discuss the situation with workers’ unions. A spokesman said redeployment and redundancy terms will be offered. Stena will continue to operate two services daily from Holyhead to Dublin Port, as well as services between Rosslare and Pembroke, and Belfast and Stranraer.

Business interests in Dún Laoghaire expressed disappointment at the news, while Dún Laoghaire Rathdown Chamber said the retention of the harbour as a port was very important to the region. Chamber chief executive Hal Ledford said the cessation of winter services was not entirely unexpected, but was regrettable.

Local Fine Gael TD Mary Mitchell O’Connor said she was “extremely sorry” for the staff involved. “This was an operational decision for the company which has the potential to adversely affect the local economy in and around the Dún Laoghaire area,” she said, adding the decision “will be widely viewed as an unwelcome one”.

Stena, which has seen declining winter traffic for a number of years, is understood to have been effectively paying 12-month costs on five to six months of income.

HSS Stena Explorer , introduced in 1995, offers travel at 40 knots, completing the journey in just 99 minutes with a capacity of 1,500 passengers and 350 cars.

HSS ships have a heavy fuel consumption, however, and Stena has already sold, or offered for sale, a number of the HSS Explorer ’s sister ships across Europe.

Last year HSS Explorer was replaced during winter months by the smaller Stena Lynx II . From January to April the service was temporarily suspended.

Stena has recently signed a new agreement with Dún Laoghaire Harbour Company to operate the service in the summer months for the next two years. It is understood there is an option on a further two years.

A regular ferry service has sailed between Dún Laoghaire and Holyhead for more than 150 years.


Image below from http://www.drimnagh-road.com/020411hssexplorer.htm


Lots more images available here also

http://www.flickr.com/photos/scottmackey/sets/72157623466755204/
Last Edit: August 31, 2011, 09:32:50 PM by Ferry_Fan

DublinPeter

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From RTE.IE/NEWS this evening:

Increased terms for Stena workers recommended

The Labour Court has recommended that the Stena Ferry Company should increase redundancy terms for 39 workers at Dun Laoghaire operation - but has rejected a SIPTU claim that they should be entitled to redeployment to Stena's Dublin port centre.
 
The redundancies were first announced in August for operational staff and October for support services.
 
This followed the reduction of Dun Laoghaire services to summertime only, and the transfer of other services to Dublin Port.
 
Stena Line argued that because it is only operating from Dun Laoghaire between April and September, there is no work for the staff.
 
However, SIPTU had claimed that under agreements signed in 2007 and 2009, Stena had undertaken to redeploy Dun Laoghaire staff to Dublin Port in the event of a downturn.
 
The Dublin Port operation is now being run by a subcontractor Ro Ro Services Dublin Ltd, which Stena said had no vacancies.
 
The Labour Court said the Stena should increase the redundancy term previously offered to staff.

In 2009, staff had received 3 weeks per year of service inclusive of statutory redundancy.

In addition, they had received ex gratia payments of E18,000 plus an additional E500 per year of service.

However, the Labour Court recommmended that the E500 per year of service payment should be increased to E1050 per year of service.

in addition it recommmended that the company should confirm in writing that displaced staff in Dun Laoghaire would be given first call on the jobs that will be created latyer this year when the seasonal High Speed ferry service commences - whether through direct employment or through a contracting arrangement.
 
The company should also engage with the union on terms and conditions for those jobs.

The ruling is binding on the union but not on Stena.
 
A Stena spokesperson said the company was considering the recommendation.

DublinPeter

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Staffing arrangments are now being made for the return of the HSS to Dun Laoghaire for the Summer Season. 

Unsurprisingly, seasonal staff will be used on 6 month contracts - hopefully some of the staff who lost their jobs at the port recently will be able to get sorted out, although the terms will be very different!

Explorer herself is off to H&W Belfast in the next few weeks for refit and then back to Holyhead for staff training before taking up service a couple of days earlier than planned on Friday March 30th with the 10am sailing to Dun Laoghaire.

Pete

DublinPeter

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No refit for Stena HSS Explorer this year due to the various delays with Mersey/Lagan but good to see Dun Laoghaire ferryport come back to life this weekend with the arrival of a little convoy of Stena vehicles and all the bits necessary to get the show on the road before Friday. Ticket desks etc will be up and running by Tuesday and first arrival due at 12 on Friday. Odd to see the new faces after so many years of familiar Stena staff.

Pete

giftgrub

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Amazing to think the Explorer has been laid up since last September and is going straight back into service without even cleaning the hulls underwater, there has got to be plenty of seaweed and stuff, growing on the bottom of the hulls which will surely have a negative effect on fuel consumption.

Fast Ferry Fan

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Amazing to think the Explorer has been laid up since last September and is going straight back into service without even cleaning the hulls underwater, there has got to be plenty of seaweed and stuff, growing on the bottom of the hulls which will surely have a negative effect on fuel consumption.

Presumably they'd reved up the engines / turbines a few days before.

Not that surprising there has been no refit given it's only doing one trip a day for 5 1/2 months of the year.  The continuing hike in fuel can't be doing anything to increase the likelihood the Explorer will operate beyond the end of this year.  Stena do not seem to be using the tag line they have used for the last few years: "The best is back" to market its one remaining HSS; this is presumably very telling.

Now approaching its 16th anniversary of service it has easily seen off the Discovery and Voyager in time, though not necessarily "miles on the clock".

On a separate note, I see Stena's Dublin port bus service is no longer free after 1 April.
Last Edit: March 28, 2012, 06:34:24 PM by Simon.Manby

DublinPeter

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Explorer got a decent run over to Dun Laoghaire on Monday and spent a couple of hours doing berthing trials. Did some decent speed on the way over (up to 40 knots) which will have blown some cobwebs off! "Best is back" posters up in the terminal and on the press release I got on Monday. First year in many years that it didn't come from Eamon Hewitt in Stena Hq in Dun Laoghaire. Almost all admin now done from Belfast as is the PR. Lot depends on the success of this years seasonal service. Bookings apparently healthy so far for Jun-Aug at least.

Pete

maehara

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Now approaching its 16th anniversary of service it has easily seen off the Discovery and Voyager in time, though not necessarily "miles on the clock".
Vaguely surprised they didn't move Voyager down to do the route - having been on both Explorer and Voyager last year, Voyager's noticeably better 'equipped' in the passenger areas.  Especially if you're travelling with kids.  Explorer is a tad more spartan.