The arrival of the largest ferries ever designed for service on the Dover Strait has moved a step closer with the first of two new ships being built for P&O Ferries taking to the water.
The Spirit of Britain, which will become the largest cross-Channel ferry when it enters service next year, was rolled out of its construction dock at the STX Europe shipyard in Rauma, Finland this week.
The 49,000 tonne super-ferry will operate on P&O’s Dover-Calais route from January 2011.
Construction will now begin on a second P&O mega-ship, which will be named Spirit of France and enter service in September 2011.
Helen Deeble, chief executive of P&O Ferries, said: “The two ships represent a major investment of more than €360 million by P&O Ferries and are designed for a life span of 25 years so we are taking a long term view.
“Their design incorporates a number of world firsts, particularly in terms of hull design and in being the first ferries to comply with new Safe Return to Port regulations.
“It was only last August that I attended the keel-laying of the first ship so to witness its float-out is breathtaking. We’re proud to be associated with everybody at STX Europe which is a truly world class operation.”
Picture shows: Captain David Miller, senior master of the Spirit of Britain, celebrates the floating out of the new ship at STX Europe in Rauma, Finland.