‘William the Conqueror’ to cross the Channel (again)

2023-05-12T17:02:22+00:00 May 12th, 2023|Ships|

Brittany Ferries has named its latest hybrid ship – ‘Guillaume de Normandie’ (‘William the Conqueror’).

She will sail between Portsmouth and Caen, France and will be the joint-largest hybrid vessel when she joins the fleet this month, sailing alongside sistership ’Saint-Malo’.

She will also be the fourth vessel in the fleet to be fuelled by LNG. Powered by two 13,740 kW engines, she will be configured to run on LNG, on battery power or on a combination of the two, in hybrid mode.

‘Guillaume de Normandie’ will replace ‘Normandie’, which has been operated by the company since 1992.

The change will mark the final step in the largest fleet renewal programme in the company’s 50-year history. Five new vessels will have joined the fleet between 2020 and 2025.

Today, Caen/Portsmouth is the company’s busiest route. Three departures per day in each direction carry two out of every five passengers travelling with Brittany Ferries.

Around 30% of those who arrive in Normandy ports stay in the region, to view the Bayeux Tapestry, the cliffs of Étretat and the Palais Bénédictine outside Fécamp. Many thousands also use the route to tour the five Normandy beaches used during D-Day in June, 1944.

“I think this name perfectly captures the enduring partnership between Brittany Ferries, the region of Normandy and the British people,” said Christophe Mathieu, Brittany Ferries CEO.

“Guillaume was the favourite son of the Normandy region, but he was also the first king to be crowned at Westminster Abbey. So of course, while this is a nod to the past, it is also a celebration of our present and future together. It’s something I hope all our British friends will appreciate as they celebrate the King’s coronation.”

‘Guillaume de Normandie’s’ hybrid technology will work like a hybrid car, running on fuel, electricity, or a combination of the two. She will switch to LNG/electric and full-electric mode mainly on the approach to harbours and at the quayside.

Preliminary studies suggest a fuel consumption reduction of up to 9% when in service, thanks to her hybrid technology.

She will also be plug-in ready, meaning zero-emissions when at her berth. At Caen, the aim is to have shoreside power in place by 2027 thanks to investment by the Normandy region and Ports de Normandie.

Portsmouth International Port is also investing in the technology. Plans are progressing well on funding and infrastructure development, Brittany Ferries said.

When the ropax’s large batteries can be charged at the berth in Portsmouth and Caen, there will be a further estimated 15% reduction in emissions. That’s in addition to a 20-25% reduction in CO2 emissions that comes courtesy of more efficient combustion in an LNG engine.

As well as her innovative propulsion system, ’Guillaume de Normandie’ benefits from the latest innovations in naval architecture. Her hull design, for example, is long and sleek (33.5 m longer than the ship she will replace) reducing energy consumption by up to 10%, as well as cutting noise pollution and offering a smoother ride for passengers.

Air quality pollutants will also be cut to a minimum. Whether operating in LNG or hybrid mode, her stack will emit no soot (particulates) and virtually no sulphur. There will also be a significant reduction in NOx emissions, compared with a diesel-powered ship.

She will be capable of carrying 1,310 pax; 460 cars; 120 lorries (or 52 cars plus 63 lorries) with 2,390 lane metres.

The ropax is fitted with 220 cabins, including six Commodore suites, 32 Commodore Club cabins, five accessible cabins and 48 freight driver cabins. Of these, 21 are pet-friendly and 12 kennels will be carried.

For passengers, four restaurants and bars will be available, plus a VIP lounge, two boutiques and two children’s play areas.

Today, the Normandie farming community still remains the largest shareholders in the company.