BREXIT - In January 2019 P&O Ferries announced that its UK fleet would be reflagged from Dover, UK to Limassol, Cyprus in response to the United Kingdom's exit from the European Union in 2019 "For operational and accounting reasons". Cyprus is a member of the EU and a flag of convenience; the reflagging will allow P&O to continue to benefit from EU tax arrangements. According to the Rail, Maritime and Transport union, the reflagging is "pure opportunism", saying that the firm's "long-term aim has always been to switch the UK fleet to a tax haven register".

On 20 February 2019, DP World announced it had repurchased P&O Ferries from Dubai World in a £322m deal.



P&O originally established ferry services in the United Kingdom in the late 1960s in the North Sea and the English Channel. In the late 1970s P&O was affected by a reduction in traditional shipping activities which saw the sale of a number of its businesses and assets. This continued into 1985 with the sale of its cross-channel ferry activities to European Ferries, which at the time consisted of services on the Port of Dover–Boulogne and Southampton–Le Havre routes.

P&O began ferry operations in Dover in the 1960s with a route to Boulogne in France under the Normandy Ferries brand. This route was sold to European Ferries on 4 January 1985 which rebranded them, along with its Southampton–Le Havre route, as Normandy Ferries Ltd. Following the purchase of European Ferries, P&O operated routes from Dover to Calais in France and Zeebrugge in Belgium, initially trading under the Townsend Thoresen brand; however, due to the bad publicity that the Herald of Free Enterprise disaster brought to that brand in March 1987, the services were subsequently rebranded to P&O European Ferries, with most vessels named with the prefix Pride of.

P&O's Portsmouth operations began with their acquisition of Normandy Ferries' Portsmouth-Le Havre route, branding it as P&O Normandy Ferries and offering a twice-daily service, initially competing with both Brittany Ferries and Townsend Thoresen. In 1985, P&O sold its ferry operations to European Ferries before returning to the market in 1987 with its takeover of European Ferries the same year, this time employing the P&O European Ferries brand.

P&O's involvement in the North Sea ferry routes began with a 35% stake in North Sea Ferries owned by its subsidiary General Steam Navigation Company. North Sea Ferries had begun operations on 17 December 1965 sailing on the Hull–Rotterdam route, a route which critics predicted would not survive. The numbers proved them wrong, however, and in the first year, 54,000 passengers were carried. By 1974, demand for capacity was greater than could be supplied, and two vastly bigger vessels, Norland and Norstar, which were at that time the largest ferries in the world, were introduced to the route. 

In 1971 P&O purchased the remains of Coast Lines which had been operating in the Irish Sea since 1913. In December 1974, P&O founded Pandoro Ltd to provide transport operations to Ireland. A number of different routes were started and ceased operating as the 'Troubles' affected the car/passenger market to Northern Ireland.

In 1993 Pandoro added a service operating between Rosslare, Ireland, and Cherbourg, France, to its Ardrossan–Larne, Liverpool–Dublin and Fleetwood–Dublin routes.

P&O Irish Sea was formed in 1998, following the merger of the Cairnryan-based service of P&O European Ferries (Felixstowe) Ltd and Pandoro Ltd (who operated routes between England, Scotland and France to Ireland). The following year (1999), the new P&O Irish Sea announced its intentions to purchase a purpose-built Ro-Pax (roll-on, roll-off, vehicle/passenger) vessel from Mitsubishi of Japan for the Liverpool to Dublin route. This would see the transfer of European Leader (ex Buffalo) back to the Fleetwood route.

In 2004, P&O closed its Fleetwood – Larne services with the sale of all interests. In addition to the service rights, European Leader, European Pioneer and European Seafarer were sold to the Swedish Stena Line group. At the same time, P&O announced the closure of the Mostyn – Dublin service due to low passenger numbers. This led to the sale of European Ambassador and European Envoy for further service in Europe. In 2010, P&O Irish Sea was absorbed back into the parent company.

In January 2016, it was announced that the seasonal Troon to Larne service would cease with immediate effect due to the unprofitability of the route. The service had ended for the 2015 season in September of that year. 






Coastal tourism depends on people being able to get to the coast from inland conveniently, and in some cases to hop across the water from one coast to another. Cross Channel ferries were born to cater for those who wanted to experience the sea and see life on the opposite side of the English Channel, or Le Manche as it is known in France. The EuroTunnel is another way of getting to the other side of the Channel, with claims to be low carbon but has limited service for passengers.


Ferry services are needed to get from Ireland to England via St George's Channel and to and from the Isle of Man across the Irish Sea, from England to the Isle of Wight and umpteen other islands, such as Skye and Mull in Scotland. Roll on roll off ferries allow drivers to tour in their own vehicles.


Ferry services operate all over the world to transport passengers to and from the myriad islands, transporting passengers and goods. Such services are essential transport for goods apart from coastal tourism, the trade for which exotic locations in on the rise calculated in the $Billions of dollars, despite a 2018 Report telling us that global tourism is responsible for 8% of carbon emissions, much of which is blamed on the burning of aviation kerosene, the equivalent of the old sulfurous bunker heavy oil fuels now outlawed by the IMO's MARPOL regulations.


Coastal tourism is also popular for sailors who want a long weekend on the water and for those who want to explore the coasts of Europe, the Adriatic, Baltic, Bay of Biscay, Black Sea, and Mediterranean Sea.




FERRY ROUTES - Apart from Dover to Calais and Newhaven to Dieppe, there are many other longer sailings that give you a choice of destination in France. These are some Brittany ferry sailings.





Brittany Ferries -


Eurotunnel -

HoverSpeed -

StenaLine -

P&O Ferries -





The English Channel stretches for about 350 miles and is 150 miles across at its widest point, while the narrowest is a mere 21 miles at the Dover Strait.


The cross channel ferry route you choose is sure to be influenced by multiple factors. Cost of the fare is one of the main priorities as is speed of transit. But there are other considerations that could save you money and time in the long term.


Sometimes the shortest route isn’t the most convenient for accessing much of France. What you save in cheaper ferry fares you might pay for in diesel and petrol fuels for conventional ICE cars, and tolls because of a longer land journey. The heralding in of electric vehicles with supporting infrastructure will change that, as will the 2030 targets set by the IMO for lower shipping emissions begin to take effect as they are gradually implemented.


Assuming that these targets are met, more local coastal tourism will be far more sustainable than global tourism reliant on flying to exotic destinations, no matter how alluring the thought of white sandy beaches and clear blue tropical seas.






As part of EU's Blue Growth strategy, the coastal and maritime tourism sector has been identified as an area with special potential to foster a smart, sustainable and inclusive Europe. It is the biggest maritime sector in terms of gross value added and employment and, according to the Blue Growth Study is expected to increase by 2-3% by 2020. In 2012, Cruise tourism alone represents 330,000 jobs and a direct turnover of €15.5 billion and is expected to grow.


European Maritime Day (EMD) 2013 focused on coastal and maritime tourism and was the opportunity to introduce the results of a public consultation launched to prepare a communication on coastal and maritime tourism. The EU Commission adopted a Communication on "A European Strategy for more Growth and Jobs in Coastal and Maritime Tourism" on 20 February 2014, presenting a new strategy to enhance coastal and maritime tourism in Europe in order to unlock the potential of this promising sector.


The extraordinary beauty, cultural wealth and great diversity of EU's coastal areas have made them the preferred destination for many holidaymakers in Europe and abroad.


This sector employs over 3.2 million people, generating a total of € 183 billion in gross value added and representing over one third of the maritime economy. As much as 51% of bed capacity in hotels across Europe is concentrated in regions with a sea border.























Cross Channel Ferry



SOLAR & WIND POWERED FERRY - The Cross Channel Challenger (CCC) was a project on the drawing board in 2019 looking for backing to develop a coastal cruiser that is zero carbon just like the hydrogen projects, but where the vessel converts energy from nature onboard for propulsion without risk of hydrogen leaks or fires.


This was a toe-in-the-water project that the Foundation could not move on, using budget off the shelf equipment to keep the costs down. Hence, the theoretical performance was lower than might be achieved but higher than the current benchmark. It could have been a useful stepping stone to medium range ferries and eventually bigger ships with longer ranges. Solar combined with wind power could be the winning combination. Comparing the two technologies will be interesting. For sure, the solar powered ferries could have lower operating costs.


Since 2019, a study in July 2021 has shown that the hull design in basic, could be adapted to cross the Atlantic on hydrogen power alone, with solar assistance, as a top up power source. Food for thought for Waterborne and Zero Emission Waterborne Transport (ZEWT) advocates in Europe. The aim would be to adapt the concept to practical ZESTA ferries, especially for island nations who depend on shipping for their economies. The proposed design is also safer, leak wise.




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