SEATRUCK Ferries has celebrated the christening of the first of five new ferries, the Clipper Point, at Astilleros de Huelva in Spain.
When it enters service early
in 2007, the Clipper Point will be by far the largest and most powerful vessel to operate from Heysham. Working on the Seatruck route to Warrenpoint, Northern Ireland, the vessel can carry over 120 units, doubling the capacity of the current Seatruck vessels. Service speed will be an impressive 22 knots, reducing crossing times from 9 to 6.5 hours.
To cope with the new vessel, Heysham Port is undertaking a significant investment in new facilities, including the provision of a brand new double-width ramp to permit more efficient vessel handling.
The Clipper Point is the first in a series of five new vessels ordered by Seatruck and will be joined by sister vessel the Clipper Pace later in 2007. Construction of the Clipper Pace has already begun at Astilleros de Huelva.
Seatruck CEO Kevin Hobbs says the company is “currently investigating a number of different deployment opportunities in European markets for the additional three vessels.”
Emphasising that Seatruck has great faith in its low-cost, freight-only model, Kevin Hobbs explains, “With the support of our parent company, Clipper Group Ltd, we are committed to making a major investment in new tonnage which will move traffic faster and more reliably on this key route.
“These new vessels will transform the Seatruck service by providing a new level of capacity, speed and schedule reliability to the growing unaccompanied market. The increase in capacity will undoubtedly bring more jobs both direct and indirect to the local areas.
“The vessels are great news for Seatruck, great news for both ports and great news for the continued economic development of the local regions on both sides of the water.”
Seatruck was established in 1996 to meet the Irish Sea transportation needs of the haulage industry
. It started with just one vessel, dedicated to filling a gap in the market for a freight operation serving Ireland, “We have come a long way since then,” says Alistair Eagles, Seatruck Commercial Director
. “The backing of our parent group, Clipper, has been a major factor in our development, but we have remained close to our core customers, the haulage industry, which regards us as a friendly company with huge corporate backing. We offer the best of both worlds, and will continue to do so.”
The christening of the Clipper Point, which was held on October 7, was attended by over 230 guests. Lady sponsor Mrs Andrea Hobbs, wife of Seatruck CEO Kevin Hobbs, gave a speech in both English and Spanish, much to the delight of local dignitaries and employees of the shipyard. After a blessing by the local priest, the traditional breaking of a bottle against the ship’s hull was greeted with huge cheers. Live entertainment and lunch on board followed, much enjoyed by all under a clear blue sky.