'Crew checked for virus' as new ferry arrives in Belfast from China

The new multi-million pound Stena Edda sailed into Belfast Harbour for the first time this week, having undergone checks for coronavirus
Gary McDonald Business Editor

STENA Line's newest roll-on/roll-off passenger ferry has arrived in Belfast from China ahead of being put into service on the Irish Sea next month, having undergone rigorous checks for coronavirus.

The Stena Edda, which has been six years in planning and construction, will operate on the Belfast to Liverpool route, replacing the Stena Lagan.

It was built at the AVIC Weihai Shipyard in north-eastern China, which is 1,000 miles from the Wuhan province, where the coronavirus outbreak has its origins.

And it emerged that, since the vessel left Weihai four weeks ago, it has undergone a series of checks along the route to ensure it is carrying no traces of the potentially deadly virus.

Paul Grant, Stena Line's chief commercial officer, said: “It is now a little more than six weeks since we took delivery of the latest addition to the fleet, Stena Edda, and we are very proud to welcome her to the Irish Sea.

“The well-being of passengers and crew is always our primary focus. Therefore, during the long journey from Asia to Europe the crew's health has been constantly monitored for any flu-like symptoms.

“They have also been checked by authorities during stops in Singapore and Spain, and we are glad to report that everyone on-board is healthy, safe and look forward to welcoming guests and colleagues on-board this great new addition to the Irish sea fleet when she starts service in mid-March.”

The Stena Edda will now undergo trials to check engine performance, fuel consumption, radio equipment, manoeuvrability, speed, safety and emergency systems before it welcomes its first passengers.

Offering 40 per cent more deck capacity, 40 per cent more cabins and 30 per cent more fuel efficiency than current vessels on the route, it will accommodate up to 1,000 passengers, 120 cars in a dedicated garage deck and 3,100 lane metres of freight.

It is one of five vessels Stena has purchased for its UK and Ireland operations (Edda's sister ship the Stena Embla will also operate between Belfast and Liverpool from early 2021).

Last month the Stena Estrid begun operating on the Dublin to Holyhead route.

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