Construction starts on Stena Line’s first methanol-ready NewMax hybrid ferry
Swedish ferry company Stena Line has marked a milestone on its journey towards sustainable shipping with the steel-cutting ceremony for the first of its methanol-ready ‘NewMax’ hybrid ferries.
The construction began at China Merchants Jinling Shipyard in Weihai, China, last week.
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 147-meter-long ‘NewMax’ vessels have an efficient hull form to maximize 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 said it is currently working closely with the supply chain of methanol on securing future volumes of e-methanol to fulfill 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 the 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 with 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 decarbonized.
“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,” Paul Grant, Trade Director Irish Sea, Stena Line, commented.
“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.”
“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,” Phil Hall, Mersey Port Director at Peel Ports Group, 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,” Michael Robinson, Port Director at Belfast Harbour, noted.
“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 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.