28 November 2010

Superfast VIII, 17 November 2008

Superfast VIII

IMO 9198953
Built 2001, HDW Kiel, Germany
Tonnage 30 285 GT
Length 203,30 m
Width 25,42 m
Draught 6,60 m
Ice class 1 A Super
626 passengers
626 berths
661 cars
1 920 lane metres
4 Wärtsilä-Sulzer diesels, combined 46 000 kW
2 propellers
2 bow thrusters
1 stern thruster
Speed 28,9 knots

Superfast VIII is one in a series of four ice-reinforced vessels (Superfast VII through X) built for Superfast Ferries at HDW Kiel in 2001-2002, planned for Superfast's conquest of the Baltic Sea, the company having previously operated in the Mediterranean. Superfast VII and VIII were placed in a service linking Hanko (the southernmost port in Finland) to Rostock in Germany, in indirect competition with Finnlines' Helsinki-Travemünde ships and Silja Line's Finnjet that sailed between Helsinki and Rostock. Superfast IX and X meanwhile started a Södertälje-Rostock service, but this was less than successful and the ships were soon moved to a new Rosyth-Zeebrugge service.

In 2006 Tallink, who had reportedly been planning to start a Finland-Estonia-Germany service of their own, acquired the Baltic Sea operations of Superfast Ferries, taking posession of the Superfast VII, VIII and IX (the latter having been transferred to the Finland-German yservice the previous year). The ships were re-registered in Paldiski, Estonia in place of their original home port Piraeus and soon afterwards their route was changed into Hanko-Paldiski-Rostock. Since Estonia was not yet at the time a member of the Schengen treaty, this nescessitated adding passport control on the service. Due to this and presumably other reasons the service change was unsuccessful and after lass than two months the intermediate call at Paldiski was removed. Around this time the ship's original Superfast hull markings were amended into "Superfast operated by Tallink".

From the beginning of 2007 the route of the Tallink Superfasts was again changed, now to Tallinn-Helsinki-Rostock. This route variant lasted until late 2008, when Helsinki's new freight harbour in Vuosaari was opened and all ships sailing from Helsinki to German ports were moved there. Now the Superfast VII and VIII (IX having been chartered to Marine Atlantic in Canada) begun sailing only between Helsinki and Rostock. This has remained the ship's route since then, but during the winter 2009-2010 and now again 2010-2011 both the Superfast VII and VIII have been laid up, the service not being profitable during the winter months at least in part due to increased competition from Finnlines.

The photograph below shows the Superfast VIII in Helsinki's Länsisatama on 17 November 2008. Click on the image to view full size.

Nocturnal Superfast. Apart from replacing the Superfast hull and funnel markings with their own, Tallink retained the ship in her original Superfast Ferries livery - including the red hull, which caused many people to confuse the ships with those of Viking Line.

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