LNG breakthrough on cross-Channel market

'Honfleur' will be distinguished in the Channel ferry market by an LNG-electric power installation (credit: FSG) 'Honfleur' will be distinguished in the Channel ferry market by an LNG-electric power installation (credit: FSG)

Brittany Ferries is set to break new technical ground in the cross-Channel market next year through the introduction of a 42,400gt ro-pax vessel incorporating electrical propulsion and LNG dual-fuel machinery, writes David Tinsley.

Currently under construction by Flensburger Schiffbau-Gesellschaft in Germany, and due to make her operational debut in July 2019, the Honfleur will provide capacity for 1,680 passengers and up to 550 cars plus 64 trailers, or an all-freight ro-ro payload of 130 trailers. She will be assigned to the Caen-Ouistreham/Portsmouth route, the Breton company’s busiest route.

A pioneer in fostering cruise ferry standards on the western Channel, Brittany Ferries is now championing a drive towards ‘sustainable’ transport in the shortsea arena. Honfleur encapsulates that strategy. The nomination of LNG for the €200m (US$227m) newbuild follows a €90m (US$102m) investment in sulphur- and particulate-reducing scrubber technology for six of the existing fleet.

Cleaner-burning LNG will meet the company’s own environmental goals as well as tougher exhaust emission limits. In addition, the multi-engine, electrical power and propulsion system will ensure greater operating flexibility and redundancy on the all-year crossing. It also promises increased passenger comfort due to a quieter power delivery and lower vibration levels.

The 22-knot Honfleur will have a primary power concentration of approximately 30,000kW by way of four main gensets driven by dual-fuel engines, delivering electrical energy to a pair of shaft propulsion motors, turning two fixed-pitch propellers. The configuration allows for a range of operating configurations according to schedule requirements.

Total Marine Fuels Global Solutions (TMFGS), an affiliate of the French oil major Total, has signed a multi-year contract to supply LNG bunkers to Honfleur.

TMFGS has partnered with two other French firms to implement a logistic chain whereby LNG will be hauled by road tankers from Dunkirk to the port terminal at Ouistreham, and driven direct on to the ferry’s open aft deck. Onboard cranes will then hoist the LNG tank containers into position in cells adjacent to a fixed storage tank at the rear of the superstructure. Once empty, the tanktainers will be offloaded during the next call at Ouistreham and replaced by filled units.

The deal for the construction of Honfleur was the first project to be financed under the €750 million (US$853m) Green Shipping Guarantee (GSG) programme implemented in 2016 by the European Investment Bank, the EU’s lending institution, as a means of promoting low carbon investments. Innovative elements of the Honfleur’s design and engineering have also received a degree of public funding support through the French scheme entitled Investissements d’Avenir (Investments for the Future), overseen by the French Agency for Environment & Energy Management (ADEME).

Honfleur will join the 35,600gt, 2002-built Mont St Michel on the Ouistreham/Portsmouth run, from which the 26 year-old, 27,500gt Normandie will be transferred to the Le Havre/Portsmouth service.






Draught, maximum


Gross tonnage


Passenger capacity


Passenger cabins


Ro-ro capacity

2,600 lane-metres


130 trailers, or 550 cars + 64 trailers



Propulsion system

LNG dual fuel-electric

Main generator engine power

Approx. 30,000kW


22 knots


Bureau Veritas




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