The European Investment Bank (EIB) is providing €155 mill to finance two new ropaxes for Irish Continental Group’s (ICG) subsidiary Irish Ferries.
The two new ferries will increase passenger and cargo capacity on routes to Ireland, replace older and smaller vessels and significantly reduce emissions from the Irish Ferries fleet.
They are expected to be used on both the Dublin/Holyhead and Dublin/Cherbourg routes to reflect demand for a greater choice of services from Ireland to Britain and direct to continental Europe.
The announcement was made as the ‘WB Yeats’ cruise ferry made her maiden commercial voyage from Dublin to Holyhead recently during a visit by Andrew McDowell, EIB Vice President and Eamonn Rothwell, ICG CEO, (Pictured).
Built by Flensburger Gesellschaft, ‘WB Yeats’ was partly financed using €75 mill from the EIB. The ropax can accommodate 1,800 pax, 300 cars and 165 trucks and following her delivery in December, commenced sailings on the Dublin/Holyhead Route.
The second as yet unnamed ship, also being built at Flensburg, is expected to be completed in 2020 has been designed to transport 1,800 pax and crew and 1,526 cars or 300 trucks.
Rothwell said; “Significant new investment is essential to expand the Irish Ferries fleet and better serve our customers increased demand for passenger and freight transport. The €155 mill financing facilities agreed with the EIB, alongside financing from leading Irish and international banks, for the two new cruise ferry ships demonstrates the EIB’s commitment to support transformational corporate investment such as this in Ireland, enabling ICG to deliver on its growth strategy and strengthening the tourism and cargo trading links in and out of the country.
We were delighted to take delivery of the superb ‘WB Yeats’ in December. The ship is the next level in terms of the experience it offers our customers. After operating on the Irish Sea, the ‘WB Yeats’ will move to service the busy Dublin/Cherbourg route in the coming months.”
McDowell added; “Shipping connections are crucial for Ireland and the European Investment Bank is pleased together with ICG to support two new ships that will both transform maritime transport to and from this country and cut harmful emissions. The €155 mill long-term EIB loans will support €309 mill of new investment in best in class vessels that will serve Irish routes for years to come. ]
“The first approval of financing under the EIB’s Green Shipping initiative reflects firm commitment of ICG to cut emissions and improve fuel efficiency. Increasing maritime transport capacity reflects increased demand arising from Ireland’s export driven recovery and the potential need for flexibility in the event of disruption on UK routes.
In the context of EIB’s ever-increasing support for Irish private businesses, these two loans also demonstrate the value that EIB loans can provide to Irish corporates through beneficial pricing, long tenors and flexible loan structures,” he said.
‘WB Yeats’ is fitted with emissions scrubber technology to reduce sulfur oxide pollution and ballast water systems, which meet current and known future environmental regulations and will deliver optimal fuel consumption and efficiencies.
EIB is providing €80 mill to finance the construction of the second vessel for ICG’s Irish Ferries operations.
Due for delivery in 2020, once operational, she will be the largest cruise ferry in the world in terms of vehicle capacity and provide Irish Ferries with an effective 50% increase in peak freight capacity.