Brittany Ferries pulls out of Honfleur LNG-fuelled ferry contract

The company says that with ‘the surprise announcement’ that the Flensburger Schiffbau yard in Germany had been placed under the protection of the Commercial Court in May 2020, and following ‘unsuccessful discussions’ with the current management of FSG and its main creditors, Somanor and Brittany Ferries ‘acknowledged that they had lost confidence in the yard’s ability to complete the vessel within a reasonable period of time’.

In a statement, Brittany Ferries said that it had confirmed the termination of the contract on 17 June, together with Somanor SAS, which is a semi-public company bringing together the Normandy Region, and the Calvados and Manche Departments

Progress on the construction of the Honfleur has been beset by delays. Work on the vessel began in 2017 and the 42,400 GT vessel was launched at a ceremony in December 2018.

The Honfleur was originally scheduled to enter service in June 2019 but delivery of the vessel was postponed several times due to ongoing problems at the FSG yard, including ‘financial setbacks’ relating to penalties for the late delivery of the Irish Ferries’ vessel, W.B. Yeats.

Earlier this month, Irish Continental Group, owner of Irish Ferries, announced that it had cancelled an order for a second vessel placed with FSG which had been due for delivery in September. Back in February, the Tasmanian state-owned ferry company, TT-Line, also pulled out of an agreement with the German yard for two 48,000 GT Ro-Pax ferries and went on to place the contracts with Rauma Marine Constructions in Finland.

Confirming the Honfleur cancellation, Brittany Ferries also noted that the change of main shareholder in FSG last September, with the arrival of Lars Windhorst and the Tennor group, ‘did not allow the yard to return to growth and competitiveness’.

It is understood that the German yard is currently discussing a potential sale of its business to Pella Sietas, which is owned by the Russian Pella Shipyard.

A spokesman for Brittany Ferries said that there was ‘no change to other ships in construction’ for the company. Three E-Flexer gas-fuelled ships are currently being built at the AVIC Weihai yard in China. The Galicia is due for delivery later this year, the Salamanca in 2022, and the Santona in 2023.

Lesley Bankes-Hughes

Lesley Bankes-Hughes