An eco-friendly ferry connects Bilbao to Portsmouth

by Lorraine Williamson
eco-friendly ferry

The first ferry powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG) now travels twice a week between Bilbao and Portsmouth in the UK. The ‘Salamanca’, owned by the French shipping company, Brittany Ferries made its first crossing at the end of March. 

The new Brittany Ferries vessel joins the connection that has been in place since March 2011 and which now includes 10 weekly voyages between the ports of Bilbao and Santander with the United Kingdom and Ireland. The “Salamanca” will connect Bilbao and Portsmouth twice a week (Tuesdays and Saturdays) and a weekly route between the English port and the French port of Cherbourg. 

“9 out of 10 users are British” 

Furthermore, according to Christophe Mathieu, CEO of Brittany Ferries, “9 out of 10” users of the vessel are British. This also applies to the line connecting the port of Bilbao with Rosslare in Ireland. That means, according to him, that “fortunately, the effect of Brexit plus the effects of Covid have now been resolved”. 

Around 600 passengers and heavy vehicles embarked on the first crossing from Portsmouth. Due to the transport strike in Spain, the number of loaded trucks was lower than normal. 

The Salamanca 

The “Salamanca” has room for roughly 150 trucks in combination with light vehicles. It is 214.5 metres long and 27.8 metres wide and displaces 41,716 tons. Moreover, its ten decks fit up to 1,015 passengers in 341 cabins, 22 of which are adapted for pets. And the crew consists of 85 people. 

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Sustainable ship 

Brittany Ferries CEO reaffirmed the “commitment to sustainability” of this new vessel. Next year the same ship will be added, the “Santoña”. Later in 2025, two new hybrid vessels (LNG and electricity) are expected to connect the Channel, between the ports of Portsmouth with St Malo and Caen. The line of sustainability is also pursued by the Port of Bilbao. Furthermore, it recently presented its “green port” strategy. 

In the port of Bilbao, the “Salamanca” will charge 500 cubic metres of gas twice a week. Gas company operators are already completing this installation on the dock and are conducting final bunker testing. In addition to the Brittany Ferries vessel, this facility will also serve other LNG-powered vessels that need to refuel in the Port of Bilbao. 

Clean and quiet 

The ferry “Salamanca” is powered by LNG. That is today the best option to reduce the environmental impact of shipping companies. It is not only more environmentally friendly but also more comfortable and quieter for those on board. The ship’s long, slender hull and bow contribute to a high level of hydrodynamic performance. The anti-kickback stabilisers make the ship even more stable, which is especially useful when navigating the usually rough Bay of Biscay. 

Interior of “Salamanca” 

The interior of the “Salamanca” and the dishes served in the restaurant are inspired by the city that gives it its name. On deck ten there is an outdoor terrace full of works of art, three children’s playrooms, numerous lounges, restaurants and bars, and two large shops in the heart The “Salamanca” also has more than 200 individual works of art, spread over the three main decks. 

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