Over the first four months of 2017, a carefully choreographed sequential series of dock visits by all seven of Stena Line’s ships which operate across its Belfast to Cairnryan, Liverpool and Heysham services has been delivered to an extremely demanding timetable with the minimum of disruption to passengers and sailing schedules. The last vessel in the sequence, the Stena Precision, went back into service on the 15:30 sailing from Belfast to Heysham on Tuesday 2nd May 2017.

Each vessel had its own unique menu of works with some vessels requiring over 90 separate jobs to complete, ranging from passenger facility upgrades to more complex tasks such as propeller tail shaft inspections. Stena Line worked on the project with its Clyde-based sister company, Northern Marine Ferries, who helped co-ordinate the huge logistical task of sourcing and co-ordinating over 150 highly specialist contractors to carry out the work to an extremely demanding timetable.

Paul Grant, Stena Line’s Route Manager (Irish Sea North), said: “Our refit programme is a key aspect of our ship management operation to ensure that we run our vessels as safely and efficiently as possible. This year we have successfully dry-docked all seven of our Irish Sea North vessels which is a significant first for our region. The timing of the dry-docking programme also coincided with the roll-out of our new external ship livery for our European fleet … Connecting Europe for a Sustainable Future.”

Paul added: “Having the world-class facilities of Harland and Wolff on our doorstep is a big advantage as is the skills pool and co-ordination expertise offered by our colleagues in Northern Marine Ferries. … Good communication and excellent customer service ensured the process was extremely smooth from a customer perspective.”

Stuart Wilson, Harland and Wolff’s General Manager (Ship Repair), said: “The working partnership between our company and Stena Line, including its ship management company, Northern Marine Ferries, is very important not only to the company but also to the local economy through its associated supply chain. This year’s refit programme, running from early January to May, has been more extensive than previous years. However, as a result of close working co-operation between all parties and the commitment of our workforce, contractors and the customer’s on-site representatives, the programme has been successfully and efficiently executed within the planned schedule despite a number of logistical challenges and frequent adverse weather conditions.”

Over the last 5 years, Stena Line has supported the local ship refit and repair industry to the tune of approx. £20m with a range of refit, upgrade and maintenance projects which has helped to secure the retention of key ship repair skills in Northern Ireland for the longer term.