|High speed craft builder Incat remains the preferred choice of European operators when it comes to fast ferries with no less than 22 Wave Piercing Catamarans in operation across the Continent in 2002.
Some of the largest names in the ferry industry will operate Incat-built craft this coming summer, true testimony to the versatility and popularity of the Incat Wave Piercing Catamaran for varying ferry services.
At Dover, Sea Containers’ Hoverspeed service to Calais will be operated by three 74 metre craft, Hoverspeed Great Britain, Seacat Danmark and Seacat France, replacing three monohull vessels. The three “SeaCats” will provide an ‘On the Hour every Hour’ service from 0600 to 2100 for the fastest channel crossing in just 50 minutes berth to berth.
The craft have just completed a complete interior refurbishment with new seating supplied by Beurteaux of Australia and improved services to provide a unique experience. The level of service will be greatly enhanced with a table service to every passenger. Speed, style and service will continue to differentiate Hoverspeed from other cross channel operators.
The 81 metre Diamant resumes operating on the company’s Dover-Ostend service on 25 March.
On the Irish Sea, Sea Containers has moved the 81 metre Rapide to the Belfast-Heysham service providing extra car and passenger capacity at 145 and 630 respectively. This is a larger vessel than Hoverspeed Great Britain, which previously operated the service.
SeaCat Scotland continues to serve the Belfast-Troon route, which celebrates its third anniversary in April. The craft has recently undergone a refurbishment programme, which includes a new look passenger interior, bar area and shopping facilities. The SeaCat Isle of Man, under the flag of the Isle of Man Steam Packet, will provide fast ferry crossings on Sea Containers’ Douglas to Belfast, Heysham, Liverpool and Dublin routes starting on 27 March.
Within the first two years of their operation, Incat-built catamarans helped Stena Line boost their Irish Sea business by some 20%. Today the company operates the 81 metre Stena Lynx III on the Fishguard to Rosslare crossing where her speed cuts the crossing time of the conventional ferry almost in half.
P&O Portsmouth’s fast craft service to Cherbourg sees the innovative 91 metre Portsmouth Express cross to France in just two hours and 45 minutes. The faster option gives travellers time to explore this historic town with its variety of restaurants, cafes, bars and shops. Completed in 1998 as the Catalonia she held the Blue Riband for the fastest crossing of the North Atlantic by a passenger ship, winning the Hales Trophy and also becoming the first vessel to sail more than 1000 nautical miles in a day.
Brittany Ferries’ fast craft service from Poole to Cherbourg will operate again this Summer utilising the Condor Vitesse. Speeding from Poole to Cherbourg at over forty knots in just 130 minutes, the 86 metre craft shaves valuable time off the journey for those preparing to drive to the south of France. With a conveniently early daily departure time of 7.30am, holidaymakers can be in Cherbourg by 10.45am. Returning sailings are at 11.30am putting the craft back in Poole at 12.45pm just in time for her Condor Ferries’ sailings to the Channel Islands.
Running alongside the Condor Vitesse on the Channel Islands operation is sister craft Condor Express and in 2002 Condor Ferries welcomes back the 74 metre Condor 10 from the southern hemisphere. Condor 10 will introduce a new car carrying service between Guernsey and the French port of St Malo.
Trasmediterránea has continuously developed high speed services since 1988 and in 2000 took delivery of their first Incat craft, the 96 metre Evolution 10B Milenium. Entering service on the 150 nautical mile route between Barcelona and Palma, Milenium signified the first step by Trasmed. into high speed catamarans. She was followed one year later by Alborán which today continues to operate between Algeciras and Ceuta. The 96 metre craft can accommodate up to 890 passengers, 260 cars and 330 metres of freight and offers up to seven round trips daily.
Buquebus Espana SA
Introduced in 1997, Buquebus Espana continues to operate the 20 minute crossing between Algeciras and Ceuta with the 74 metre Patricia Olivia. The craft is popular with regular travellers on this busy route, with a high reputation for efficiency and reliability.
When Fred. Olsen introduced the 96 metre Wave Piercing Catamarans Bonanza Express, (1999), Bentayga Express, (1999) and Benchijigua Express, (2000), Canary Islands transport experienced a revolution similar to that of 1974 when their first ferry, Benchijigua, made her debut. The company maintains the belief that communication between the islands should be undertaken by ferries between the nearest points and, moreover, at the fastest possible speed which allows for a high level of comfort. The three craft operate two routes, La Gomera to Los Christianos and Agaete to Santa Cruz de Tenerife
Operating between Napoli and Palermo the 86 metre Sicilia Jet offers a capacity for 776 passengers and up to 200 cars on SNAV’s four hour crossing.
Incat 045, trading as Winner, will enter service this summer for Tris (Traghetti Isole Sarde) on the Genoa – Palau, Sardinia route. Well known as the former Royal Australian Navy craft HMAS Jervis Bay, Winner has a capacity for up to 900 persons and 200 cars and can travel at speeds of over 40 knots. Sailing from mainland Italy at 8.45 am, arriving in Sardinia at 2.15 pm, Winner will return at 3 pm with an arrival in Genoa at 8.30 pm. On Mondays the vessel will call at Porto Vecchio, Corsica.
With the charter of Winner Tris is bringing a new way of thinking to ferry operations in
Italy where routes up to 200 nautical miles with fast craft can be very competitive compared with conventional medium speed tonnage currently operating 8+ hour crossings. In service Winner will save passengers between 3 and 5 hours per crossing compared against other services.
Operating on the Danish domestic service between Aarhus and Odden is the 91 metre Mads Mols, current holder of the Hales Trophy for the fastest crossing of the North Atlantic. The company is also planning to operate on a route in southern Denmark this year with sister craft Max Mols.
Incat Chairman Robert Clifford says “with 12 ships around Great Britain, two in Denmark, eight in Spain and the central Mediterranean giving a total of 22 ships in Europe, it is not difficult to see why Incat maintains an office in Copenhagen and a residence near Heathrow Airport.”
The 22 Incat craft operating in European waters in 2002
1. SeaCat France (Incat 023)
2. Patricia Olivia (Incat 024)
3. Hoverspeed Great Britain (Incat 025)
4. SeaCat Isle of Man (Incat 026)
5. SeaCat Danmark (Incat 027)
6. SeaCat Scotland (Incat 028)
7. Condor 10 (Incat 030)
8. Rapide (Incat 038)
9. Stena Lynx III (Incat 040)
10. Diamant (Incat 041)
11. Condor Express (042)
12. Sicilia Jet (Incat 043)
13. Condor Vitesse (Incat 044)
14. Winner (Incat 045)
15. Portsmouth Express (Incat 047)
16. Max Mols (Incat 048)
17. Mads Mols (Incat 049)
18. Bonanza Express (Incat 051)
19. Alboran (Incat 052)
20. Bentayga Express (Incat 053)
21. Benchijigua Express (Incat 055)
22. Milenium (Incat 056)