HSC Stena Explorer

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Stena Explorer at Dún Laoghaire
Stena Explorer berthing in Dún Laoghaire
Name: Stena Explorer
Operator: Stena Line
Port of registry: United Kingdom London
Route: Holyhead (GB) - Dún Laoghaire (IE)
Builder: Finnyards, Finland
Cost: £65,000,000
Yard number: 404
Laid down: June 1994
Launched: May 1995
Completed: February 1996
In service: April 1996 - 5 September 2010
Identification: IMO number: 9080194
Status: In service
General characteristics
Class and type: HSS 1500
Developed by: Stena Rederi AB
Tonnage: 19,638 GT (gross tonnage)
Length: 126.6 m (415 ft 4 in)
Beam: 40.0 m (131 ft 3 in)
Draught: 4.8 m (15 ft 9 in)
Installed power: COGAG Turbines:
GE LM2500
GE LM1600
Propulsion:Kamewa Type S Waterjets
Capacity: 1,500 passengers
375 cars
800 lane metres

Stena Explorer is a high-speed ferry owned by Stena Line and operated on their HolyheadDún Laoghaire service. It is a member of the HSS 1500 class of high-speed ferries introduced and developed by Stena Line from 1996 onwards. The HSS 1500 class vessels are the largest catamarans in the world.[1]

Design and construction

Stena Explorer was constructed by Finnyards in Rauma, Finland,[2][3] at a cost £65 million.[4] Construction commenced in June 1994 and was completed in February 1996,[2] before entering service in April 1996.[5]

The vessel is a catamaran, and was designed with the aim of providing a comfortable and fast service.[6] The sailing time between Holyhead and Dún Laoghaire is 119 minutes.[7]

Power is provided by four GE Aviation gas turbines in a twin COGAG configuration.[8][9] The vessel employs four Kamewa waterjets for propulsion.[9]

The HSS class of ferries were designed to allow quick turnarounds at port. A specially designed linkspan provides ropeless mooring and allows quick loading, unloading and servicing. Vehicles are loaded via two of the four stern doors and park in a "U" configuration. When disembarking, vehicles drive straight off via the other two doors.[10]

Onboard facilities

There are numerous catering facilities on board the Stena Explorer, including a bar, coffee shop and quick service restaurant. The "Stena Plus" business lounge is available at an additional cost to the passenger. Also available are shopping facilities, a video games arcade and seating areas. Passenger cabins are not available due to the short journey time.[7]


Stena Explorer has spent the majority of its career sailing on its original route between Holyhead and Dún Laoghaire.

Due to increasing world price of oil the Stena HSS has recently had her crossing time extended to around 119 minutes in a bid to trim the Stena HSS's fuel bill.[11][12]The Stena HSS's timetable over the years has gradulally been reduced from five round trips a day to just one.

Stena Line plan to replace the vessel with the Stena Lynx III, which will run twice daily from March 15th 2010 to the end of 2010 apart from July and August, when the HSS Stena Explorer will run the route once daily to relieve the Stena Lynx so it can run on the Fishguard-Rosslare route. Stena plan to start the HSS Back on the 26th May. A month Earlier [13] [14]


On 20 September 2001, Stena Explorer suffered a generator fire in one of her pontoons. Whilst reversing to dock at her berth in Holyhead, a fire was detected in her auxiliary (generator) engine room in the port pontoon. Shortly after, the CCTV system, normally used for visual docking, cut-off. Knowing that just-completed checks showed that fire doors (lasting at least one hour) were closed, permission to shut off the engine in question was (correctly) denied by the Master of the Ship until final approach line up with the Linkspan was confirmed. At this point the failing Cummins generator was shut-off.

In lieu of the CCTV system, docking distances were relayed to the bridge by portable radio. Berthing was complete within 5 minutes of the original fire alarm and fresh water was taken on board to replenish the Hi-fog fire suppression system whilst all 551 passengers were safely off-loaded. The fire brigade attended and the Hi-fog water mist was deactivated at their request. A nine-month Marine Accident Investigation Branch investigation found the fault to be incorrect fitting of a compression-fitting used for a high-pressure fuel line leading to fuel spraying and igniting upon contact with the hot turbo-charger unit.[15]


  1. Bowen, David (5 May 1996). "Forget the tunnel; all the talk on the high seas is of 50mph super ferries. And Britain doesn't make any of them". The Independent (United Kingdom): p. 1 (Business Supplement). http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/forget-the-tunnel-all-the-talk-on-the-high-seas-is-of-50mph-super-ferries-and-britain-doesnt-make-any-of-them-1345677.html. Retrieved 26 December 2009. "The HSS is the biggest catamaran in the world..." 
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Stena Explorer". DNV Echange. Det Norske Veritas. https://exchange.dnv.com/exchange/main.aspx?extool=vessel&subview=summary&vesselid=18235. Retrieved 26 December 2009. 
  3. Mott, David (11 May 1994). "Stena orders fast ferry". Lloyds List (United Kingdom): p. 18. ISSN 0144-820X. http://www.lloydslist.com/ll/news/stena-orders-fast-ferry/20012489148.htm. Retrieved 26 December 2009. "The order for the 1,500-passenger, 40-knot vessel has gone to Finnyards in Rauma, the yard which won the first two craft, for Stena Sealink last summer.". 
  4. McDonald, Frank (20 December 1993). "New ferryport planned for Dun Laoghaire". The Irish Times (Ireland): p. 8. "Major ferryport costing £15 million is being planned for Dun Laoghaire Harbour to cater for a new generation of high speed catamaran ferries, and it is expected that the Department of the Marine will make a planning application for the scheme this week. The ferryport would be located at St Michael's Pier, which was completed in 1969 but is rarely used. It is designed to cater for a Stena Sealink HSS (high speed service) ferry now being built in Finland at a cost of £65 million, which would be half as wide and nearly as long as the GAA pitch at Croke Park." 
  5. "Stena Explorer". Sealink-Holyhead. http://www.sealink-holyhead.com/stena/ships/explorer/home.html. Retrieved 26 December 2009. 
  6. "The story behind the building of the first Stena HSS". Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company. http://www.dlharbour.ie/content/stena/hss_story.php. Retrieved 26 December 2009. 
  7. 7.0 7.1 "Our Ships: Stena Explorer". Stena Line. http://www.stenaline.co.uk/ferry/our-ships/stena-explorer/. Retrieved 26 December 2009. 
  8. GE Aviation (2002-09-09). "GE Marine Engines' LM Gas Turbines Exceed 600,000 Hours Operating Aboard 16 Fast Ferries". Press release. http://www.geae.com/aboutgeae/presscenter/marine/marine_20020909.html. Retrieved 26 December 2009. "Each semi-swath fast ferry has two LM1600 and two LM2500 gas turbines in a Combined Gas and Gas (COGAG) turbine configuration." 
  9. 9.0 9.1 MacLennan, Graeme (15 December 1993). "Powerful propulsion for Stena catamaran ferry". Lloyds List (United Kingdom): p. 6. ISSN 0144-820X. http://www.lloydslist.com/ll/news/shipyard-week-propulsion-powerful-propulsion-for-stena-catamaran-ferry/20012480596.htm. Retrieved 26 December 2009. "The HSS will be propelled by four KaMeWa equal-sized waterjets (two in each hull, and all with steering and reversing heads). These will be powered by two father-and-son configurations comprised in each case of a Kvaerner-General Electric LM2500 and LM1600 gas turbine, driven through Maag combining and splitting gears.". 
  10. King, Mike (28 May 2003). "Ro-Ro: A question of size rather than speed". Lloyds List (United Kingdom): p. 16. ISSN 0144-820X. http://www.lloydslist.com/ll/news/a-question-of-size-rather-than-speed/1034683346020.htm. Retrieved 26 December 2009. "The HSS concept allows simultaneous discharge and loading through all four sterndoors. Car lanes are located as close as possible to the ship and arranged into four lanes to speed turnaround. The linkspan mooring arrangement removes the need for ropes, and passengers, stores, fuel and water are all loaded at the same time, typically cutting loading or unloading times to 10-15 minutes.". 
  11. Webster, Ben (24 June 2008). "Future of fast ferries in doubt as cost of fuel soars". London: Times Online. http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/industry_sectors/transport/article4200087.ece. Retrieved 24 May 2010. 
  12. "Stena Lines ferries face rising fuel prices". France24. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wk2ErjHdOlU. 
  13. "Stena Line timetable". Daily Post (Wales). 7th January 2010. http://www.dailypost.co.uk/news/north-wales-news/2010/01/07/high-speed-holyhead-ferry-is-axed-55578-25545147/. "High-speed Holyhead ferry is axed." 
  14. Naughton, Gareth (20 December 2009). "Struggling Dun Laoghaire Harbour firm to reduce staff". Sunday Tribune (Ireland): p. 2 (Business Supplement). http://www.tribune.ie/article/2009/dec/20/struggling-dun-laoghaire-harbour-firm-to-reduce-st/. Retrieved 26 December 2009. "Passenger numbers at the harbour are already set to fall significantly next year when the HSS Stena Explorer is replaced with a smaller vessel by the ferry operator in February." 
  15. "Report on the investigation of the fire on board HSS Stena Explorer entering Holyhead on 20 September 2001". Marine Accident Investigation Branch. 2003. http://www.maib.gov.uk/cms_resources/stena-explorer.pdf. Retrieved 26 December 2009.