Epic Shipping (UK) will expand its RoPax fleet with the purchase of three newbuild vessels to be delivered mid to end of 2008 and 2009.
The three vessels are to be constructed by Cantiere Navale Visentini in Italy
, and will be 186.5 min length, with a 25.6 m beam and have a deadweight of 7,000 tons. They will have an operational speed of up to 24 knots.
Each vessel will have a cargo capacity of 2,300 lane metres for freight plus space for 195 cars. There will be 107 cabins onboard each vessel and passenger capacity, including crew for each vessel, will total 880 on short voyages and 400 if employed on longer international voyages. One of the vessels will be built to Ice Class 1A standard and the other two will be Ice Class 1C.
Derek Sloan, a consultant for Epic Shipping and former CEO of Norfolk Line says that Epic intends to time charter the vessels and that the company is in discussions with several parties to this end. Meridian Marine Management Limited in Liverpool, UK (an EPIC joint venture ship management company) has been contracted to technically manage the vessels.
A spokesman for Epic Shipping said, ‘This is an exciting move for us. We believe that there is a strong market for these vessels with high quality operators. We have worked in conjunction with the vessel’s architects and with Visentini to ensure that we will take delivery of really first class tonnage. EPIC is also very confident that with Meridian Marine as technical managers, the ships will be operated to the very highest standards, building on Meridian’s strong reputation in this sector. ’
The addition of these three vessels will bring Epic’s ro-pax fleet to a total of five. Epic Shipping currently
operates two 2000 lane metre ro-pax ferries, at present on charter to European ro-pax service operators, trading between Spain and the Balearic Islands.
Epic has the strong support of its financial backer, the Belgian investment bank, Petercam S.A, and expects to further increase their ownership of ro-pax vessels as new opportunities arise. This reflects the expectation that the European ro-pax sector will expand strongly. Epic’s focus on safety, quality of service and environmentally responsible marine operations is well suited to the development of this trade.