Stena RoRo Orders More E-Flexer Class RoPax Incorporating Hybrid Power

Stena RoRo  orders hybrid RoPax ferries
Stena Embla was the third member of the class entering service in 2021 (Stena Line)

Published Jul 22, 2021 6:47 PM by The Maritime Executive

Sweden’s Stena RoRo announced plans to expand its fleet of next generation E-Flexer RoPax ferries with charter agreements both to Canada’s Marine Atlantic and France’s Brittany Ferries. The unique ferry program developed a basic concept which the company is adapting to individual applications and in the latest ships plans to further enhance their sustainability with new fuel and hybrid capabilities.

The latest orders for three additional ships bring to 12 the total ships in the class. The vessel that will be operated by Marine Atlantic is due to enter service in 2024 running in eastern Canada between Newfoundland and Nova Scotia. The other two will be used as replacements for older ships in the Brittany Ferries fleet entering service in 2024 and 2025 and operating between the UK and France. Brittany currently has one of the vessels of the class operating between the UK and Spain, with a second due at the end of 2021 and a third in 2023. With the latest agreement, Brittany’s fleet will include five E-Flexers on long-term charters from Stena.

First introduced in 2020 with the Stena Estrid, the class was recognized as among the most advanced and energy-efficient RoPax ferries. The design for the E-Flexer class vessels features a more efficient loading and unloading operation, increased freight capacity, and Scandinavia design in the passenger areas. The optimized hull design, propellers, bulbs, and rudders helped the vessels to be up to 30 percent more fuel-efficient than existing vessels. At a length of 705 feet, the first vessels have a capacity of 3,100 lane meters and the space to carry an additional 120 cars and 1,000 passengers and crew.

One of the unique elements of this program is that the E-Flexers, while all being built at the Chinese shipyard CMI Jinling (Weihai), the vessels are being modified and incorporating further advancements as the program progresses. 

"Our focus is on adapting ship design to our customers' specific wishes and in this case (Marine Atlantic), our E-Flexer platform is very well suited, as it meets the customer's requirements for an optimal hull form combined with efficient dual-fuel engines and a battery-hybrid solution to minimize emissions," said Per Westling, managing director for Stena RoRo. 

The tenth vessel of the class, which will be under charter to Marine Atlantic, will be approximately 665 feet long. It will have a capacity for 1,100 people along with 2,571 lane meters including 476 lane meters for private cars.

The other two orders are different as the vessels will each be 638 feet long with a capacity for 1,400 people along with 2,377 lane meters including 176 lane meters for passenger cars.

The four most recently ordered ferries are equipped for LNG operation, entailing that they can run on LNG, biogas, or other new fuels such as ammonia. In addition, the ships now ordered will also be equipped with a large battery hybrid package for energy consumption of 10 MWh for propulsion and maneuvering in port. They will also be equipped with an 8 MW electric shore connection for charging the batteries. The large battery capacity enables speeds up to 17.5 knots on battery power alone.

"The advanced and future-proof propulsion system developed for these vessels means that they can be operated with several different types of fuel," says Per Westling, managing director for Stena RoRo AB. "This makes them well prepared for the new fuels not yet commercially available, but that will need to be developed and used in the future."

Currently, a total of five E-Flexer RoPax have been delivered. Three of the vessels operate for Stena Line, while one sails for Brittany Ferries, and one for DFDS. Four more, counting the new orders, are under charter to Brittany Ferries, while Stena Line expects two extended versions in 2022. The other ship of the class is the new order chartered to Marine Atlantic.