Welcome Côte d’Opale

Today, we welcome our newest addition to our fleet, Côte d’Opale, that was delivered to Stena and handed over to us six weeks ahead of schedule. We have signed a long-term charter agreement with Stena RoRo and the 216-metre-long ferry will become the longest ferry operating on the English Channel.  

To mark the delivery, a ceremony with representatives from Stena RoRo, DFDS and the shipyard was held on site and the ferry will soon embark on its maiden voyage to Europe where she will be set in service on the Dover – Calais route during the summer.

With capacity for 160 trailers and space for 1000 passengers and crew, the Côte d’Opale is a fine example of how we combine cargo and passenger traffic without compromising the onboard experience. Stena’s E-Flexer design has made it possible to adapt the ferry to the wishes associated with the short English Channel crossings.

Côte d’Opale will be able to offer our passengers a comfortable journey and an extraordinary shopping experience while accommodating growth and increasing operational efficiency. Due to the large capacity, energy consumption per trailer transported will be significantly decreased compared to Calais Seaways that will be replaced by Côte d’Opale.

Instead of cabins, there are extra-large areas so passengers can spread out, relax and enjoy the great onboard facilities. The bow and stern are especially designed to fit the quayside facilities in both ports, and in addition, it is equipped with a third bow thruster to facilitate the many daily manoeuvres in port.

Finally, I want to recognise the huge efforts of Jeppe Halkjær Pedersen as observer at the shipyard for the last couple of months. Recently, Jeppe was supplemented by three French crew members who also joined as observers after 23 days of quarantine. They have all done an incredible job. Thank you.

About the Côte d’Opale  

Length: 215.9 m

Draught: 6.6 m

Beam: 27.8 m

Capacity: 3100 lane meters + 120 trailers, 1000 passengers and crew

DFDS invests for the future with new Volvo FH trucks

DFDS upgrades its vehicle fleet with 57 new Volvo FH trucks. With improved fuel-efficiency and driver safety, the new trucks will help us optimize logistics flows and reduce the environmental footprint of road transport. 

Volvo FH matches DFDS’ top priorities

Our long-standing relationship with Volvo Trucks continues with the investment of 57 new Volvo FH trucks. Fuel efficiency, driver safety, and reduced emissions are our top priorities and one of the reasons for the investment. The new trucks will be used for regional transport in Sweden.

Saving fuel and reducing emissions

Over the years, DFDS has made strategic decisions to invest in trucks with the highest Euro-class engines to reduce exhaust emissions and ensure optimal safety and efficiency. The Volvo FH engine meets the Euro 6 regulation and makes full use of the available energy at every stage.

The new Volvo FH trucks will be powered by HVO, a biodiesel made from 100 percent renewable raw materials. Combining HVO with the low emissions of Volvo Trucks’ Euro 6 engines will reduce fuel consumption and emissions heavily. By upgrading the fleet with the new trucks, we will reduce our fuel consumption by 40 000 litres per year.

Improving driver experience and safety

The Volvo FH trucks are designed to be safe and comfortable over long distances. Dynamic steering helps the drivers avoid skidding and unintentional lane changes. Drivers can set the steering wheel preferences or use remote steering control.

An investment for the future

“It is great to once again partner with Volvo Trucks on the journey towards more sustainable road transport. The new investment will support DFDS in staying on top of the emission regulation while at the same time improving fuel efficiency and driver safety,” says Niklas Andersson, Executive Vice President & Head of Logistics Division.

Johan Selvén, Sales Director at Volvo Trucks Sweden, says, “We are very happy with this deal with DFDS. We have optimized our Volvo FH trucks for these routes with, for instance, smaller engines and a bigger focus on aerodynamics. It gives DFDS a more sustainable and efficient solution, including the service market. Similar engines and optimization of all trucks leads to lower fuel consumption and less environmental impact.”

DFDS launches new unaccompanied freight service from Sheerness to Calais

The service will start on 1st June and will offer one daily sailing in each direction between the two ports.

It will be operated by the Gothia Seaways, which can carry up to 165 unaccompanied freight units (trailers or containers without drivers).

The port of Sheerness, part of Peel Ports’ London Medway cluster, is located in northern Kent and operates 24 hours a day and is fully open/accessible seven days a week. This flexibility offers our customers congestion free access to drop and collect trailers, with no standage charges applied for the first 48 hours. The port benefits from close proximity to the M25 orbital ring (approx. 40km closer to the M25 than Dover), which is ideal for goods heading to the London area and the Midlands.

The new route expands our existing network of services between the UK and Europe and comes in response to growing demand for unaccompanied freight services.

It is the latest in a series of investments we are making to improve our services. A brand-new freight and passenger ship, the Cote d’Opale will join our Dover to Calais route in July this year, increasing capacity on the route and enhancing the passenger experience onboard its fleet.

Wayne Bullen, Freight Sales Director, said: “We’re really pleased to be adding a new unaccompanied freight service to the extensive route network that DFDS already offers. Sheerness benefits from excellent road links with a close proximity to the M25 orbital ring, which is ideal for goods heading to the London area and the Midlands”.

“Sheerness promises to be a superb ‘partner port’, with an ambitious plan to grow its services over the next decade. We also continue to cement our partnership with the port of Calais and are excited to be expanding our services to the port as it marks the fulfilment of its multi-million-pound expansion project”.

“Launching a new route at this time is a strong indication of our commitment to our customers, our confidence in the popularity of DFDS services and an investment that will help to boost both the UK and French economies. It aligns with our business strategy, helping us to expand our freight network and offer solutions that help our customers, communities and our own business to grow.”

Jean-Marc Puissesseau, Chairman, Port of Calais, said: “We are very proud that DFDS, first RoRo operator in Europe, chose the port of Calais to propose its new unaccompanied route to the UK. It is a clear sign of confidence in the ability of the port to create value for our clients. This new service will perfectly fit with the rail motorways in operation in Calais coming from Italy, Spain and southern France”.

Richard Goffin, Port Director, London Medway said: “We’re delighted to welcome a new unaccompanied freight service from DFDS. This is the first ferry service since Olau Line ceased operating in 1994. Over the past year, we have Brexit-proofed a number of our ports, including London Medway, increasing resiliency to handle additional cargo to help reduce delays and maximise efficiencies for customers to provide a more attractive proposition and UK entry point over other southern ports. Our strategic location provides proximity to market benefits, and we are continuing to drive forward with planned investment in our people, processes and technology, creating further opportunities for our customers through diversification, as well as the creation of up to 100 direct and indirect local jobs.”

The combination of challenges posed by Brexit and Covid-19, has exposed drivers and haulage companies to vulnerabilities in supply chains worldwide. This has resulted in many cargo owners and carriers re-assessing their transport plans and choosing different ports, different shipping methods, and switching transport modes in order to preserve supply chains. Given current restrictions surrounding international travel, stricter border controls and COVID-19 threats, one of the most standout benefits is that by using driverless methods, the risk of delays associated to those particular challenges is reduced.

“Our dedicated RoRo facilities can accommodate unaccompanied freight, providing a huge opportunity for RoRo operators to gain uncongested access to London and the South East easily through London Medway, saving on steaming time. The announcement of this new service is indicative of this shift and the growing demand for unaccompanied freight services to support market changes and adapt to the changing demands of cargo owners, haulers and shipping lines alike.”

“This new service will exploit capacity partly enabled by resilience funding from the Department of Transport (DfT) in 2019.”

Newbuilding for the Baltics soon ready for sea trials

A lot is happening at Guangzhou Shipyard International in China where our new combined freight and passenger ferry for the Baltic Sea is being built. On Friday 19 March, another milestone was reached as the inclining test was successfully carried out.

Steen Haurum, Site Manager, says: “An inclining test’s purpose is to establish the vessel’s centre of gravity. Since this is a crucial parameter when calculating stability, it is of course important that the value is accurate, which is why the vessel must be almost finished. This means that the hull must be finalized, and all major equipment installed.

Steen adds, “With the inclining test completed and interior well underway, we now we have another huge task ahead: commissioning of all onboard systems and finalization of the 230-metre-long ferry including sea trials”.

Impressions of the interior design 

The ferry will have capacity for 600 passengers and 270 trailers. Passengers can choose between standard and deluxe cabins.  Two new cabin types have been introduced – allergy friendly and family cabins. The 120 m² onboard shop is three times bigger than on current Baltic vessels.

Drivers can also look forward to their own buffet-restaurant with a lounge area, as the Road Kings brand is re-introduced on our Baltic Routes.

While the final look and feel is still months ahead, the interior design is already taking great shape. The first ship is expected to be completed in the second half of the summer.

Close to sea trials 
Captain Mindaugas Nosavičius, Mechanic Arvydas Maksimavičius and Second Mechanic Mantas Jokšas have left Lithuania and are currently on their way to the shipyard.

Captain Nosavičius, says: “One of the goals for this trip is to get acquainted with the ferry’s machinery, equipment and technology. We’llalso take part in the extensive sea trials which, if all goes well, should take place in the middle of April and last several days. These trials test speed, manoeuvrability, equipment and safety features.“

The trip to China is a challenge in itself. They will have to do eight Covid-19 tests and 21 days isolation in China.

They are planning to stay until mid-May and will be replaced by Captain Vytautas Valteras, Chief Mechanic Pavel Chandogin and Second Mechanic David Viršila.

Q&A with Steve Newbery about Côte d’Opale

Côte d’Opale is our upcoming combined passenger and freight ferry that is destined for the Channel. It is currently under construction at the AVIC WEIHAI SHIPYARD CO LTD in China. With the launch getting closer, we thought we would catch up with our Onboard Commercial Director, Steve Newbery, to find out more about this ship which will be setting sail with us this summer.

What are you most excited about for the new Côte d’Opale ship? 

I’m excited about the impact it will make to our customers. With additional freight capacityspacious interior restaurants, new Duty Free shop and relaxation areas, it will be a fantastic ship for both our freight and leisure customers.

What makes this different to the Calais Seaways which she is replacing? 

The Côte d’Opale is much longer in length. In fact, it will be the longest ship on the channel, meaning freight capacity will be significantly improved. Plus, there will be plenty of room to relax, have a bite to eat and take in the sea air on deck. The Côte d’Opale has half the number of engines as Calais Seaways so will be much more environmentally friendly with improvements in fuel consumption and carbon dioxide emissions compared to the Calais Seaways. She will also offer a very smooth crossing with her active stabilisation.

What can passengers expect to find onboard? 

The Côte d’Opale will have the largest Duty Free retail space on the channel with 1100 square metres.  Our onboard shop will offer Duty Free savings of up to 50% on a range of premium perfumes, wines, spirits and more! 

It will also offer a choice of three restaurants with various dishes, some inspired by the Côte d’Opale region itself.  

As our ferries run 24 hours a day, there will also be dedicated spaces onboard for passengers to relax. Our Premium Lounge will offer an exclusive, laid back space for passengers to spend a peaceful crossing with scenic sea views and complimentary refreshments. But I think everyone will notice the relaxing space onboard available to enjoy the journey.  

Not forgetting our freight drivers, the Road Kings lounge will offer complimentary dining, showers and a place for drivers to rest.  It will be the largest Road Kings and provide everything our valued drivers need to relax and refresh.  

Describe the Côte d’Opale in three words. 

Spacious, modern and exciting.

When will the Côte d’Opale set sail? 

The Côte d’Opale will set sail this summer, just in time for those long-awaited summer holidays, and all the DFDS Channel team look forward to welcoming her.   


Steve Newbery