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Thursday, July 22, 2021 

Brittany Ferries has released more details of the two E-Flexer ro-paxes which are being built in China and will be added to the fleet in 2024/2025 to serve routes connecting Portsmouth, UK, with the French ports of St Malo and Caen.

As well as significantly cutting emissions, the hybrids will deliver lower noise and vibration for passengers and represent a step towards future-proofing the company.  At sea, the ships will be powered by LNG fuel. But in a first on the English Channel, they will also operate partially or completely on battery power– for example when arriving and departing ports. Furthermore, they will be ready to plug in to shore-side power when this is available in ports. This will allow recharging of onboard batteries and power for systems like air conditioning, heating and lighting while at berth, cutting funnel emissions to zero.

The ships are chartered from Stena RoRo on a ten-year agreement, with a purchase option after four. They will take the place of Normandie and Bretagne, both around 30 years old. The move is all part of Brittany Ferries’ fleet renewal plan, following the deployment of LNG-fuelled Salamanca in 2022 and Santoña in 2023 on the UK-Spain routes.

“Fleet renewal is not a choice for Brittany Ferries; it is an imperative to secure our future,” said Christophe Mathieu, CEO Brittany Ferries. “Our customers rightly demand cleaner, greener vessels and our port partners expect us to be good neighbours. Furthermore, we will certainly face tighter regulation in the years ahead. The future of our company depends upon our ability to rise to the challenge today, to prepare for tomorrow. That is why I am so proud to announce these new vessels.”

Each ship has been carefully designed to suit the route on which it will operate, taking account of future trends in both passenger and freight traffic. To begin with, the garage will be longer and higher which means greater freight capacity. However, they will also be better adapted to new types of passenger vehicle, including increased vehicle sizes, and provision for in-voyage electric charging. Additionally, there will be more cabins, to cope with demand for overnight crossings.

The hybrid ships will have two propellers, each connected via a shaft to a separate gearbox. The gearbox manages power supplied from one LNG engine and to one reversible electric motor. The electric motor is used to either drive the propeller, or charge batteries and/or power onboard systems in port. When driving a propeller, the electric motor is fed by batteries. But it can also be boosted by power from the second LNG engine, configured via the gearbox for the second propeller. When operating in reverse, the electric motor charges batteries. Depending on charge, the batteries can be used to power onboard systems such as air conditioning, heating and lighting when in ports.

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