Dover-based ferry company P&O Ferries took delivery of the first of 2 new “fusion class” ships for its Dover (England UK)-Calais (France) route on February 28th.
P&O Pioneer, built by Guangzhou Shipyard International in China, is expected to leave for the United Kingdom soon.
The new ferry is designed to accommodate ~1,500 passengers and has 10,000+ square metres (107,640 square feet) of passenger space. A standout feature is the large glass areas on either side of the vessel. These span 2 full decks, flooding the guest spaces with natural light. P&O Pioneer ferry is scheduled to enter service on the Calais (France) service ahead of the summer season.
P&O Pioneer is the largest double-ended ferry in the world and carries one of the biggest battery installations ever fitted to a ship. The ship has been designed without the need to turn around in port, thus saving time/fuel, which is a first for cross-channel service.
P&O Ferries revealed it intended that P&O Pioneer would operate entirely on battery power while manoeuvring in port. The batteries, with a capacity of up to 8.8MW hours, will be recharged by the ferry’s 4 Wartsila diesel engines during the passage. P&O estimated that in service Pioneer would use 40% less fuel than its existing cross-channel ferries.
Once charging facilities become available in Dover/Calais, the ferry (designed to be converted to plug-in all battery operation) would eliminate the need for the 4 main engines, which would be replaced with more battery packs, and make the ship zero-emission.
Another first for an English channel ferry is that propulsion will be provided by 4 ABB-supplied electrically powered azipods giving unrivalled manoeuvrability and removing the need for bow/stern thrusters and rudders as each of the pods can be independently rotated 360 degrees.
Pioneer will also be the first Dover-Calais ship to be fitted with 2 pairs of stabiliser fins, with a different pair deployed depending on the direction.
Later in 2023, P&O Ferries is due to take delivery of P&O Pioneer’s sistership, P&O Liberte. The pair represents an investment of EUR 260 million by the Dubai-owned/Dover-based company and is expected to replace Pride of Canterbury and Pride of Kent.