20 March 2011

SuperSeaCat Three, 5 October 2006

SuperSeaCat Three

IMO 9141871
Name history: SuperSeaCat Three, Speedrunner III
Built 1999, Fincantieri Riva Trigoso, Italy
Tonnage 4 697 GT
Length 100,00 m
Width 17,10 m
Draught 2,70 m
800 passengers
175 cars, 2 buses
4 Rouston diesels, combined 27 500 kW
4 KaMeWa waterjets
2 bow thrusters
Speed 38 knots

The SuperSeaCats are perhaps best known internationally as fast ferries sailing on the English Channel. However, three of the ships also appeared on the Baltic and there was a short-lived ferry operator SuperSeaCat operating between Helsinki and Tallinn.

Sea Containers had in 1997 taken delivery of two MDV1200-type fast monohull ships from Fincantieri. The company decided to execute their option for two further vessels, which were delivered in 1999 as the SuperSeaCat Three and SuperSeaCat Four, respectively. As a gift to Sea Containers' owner James Sherwood's wife, images of the Sherwood's cats were painted on the bows of these two sisters, a grey cat for the SuperSeaCat Three and an orange one for the SuperSeaCat Four.

The SuperSeaCat Three initially sailed on the Liverpool-Dublin -route when delivered in 1999, switching to the English channel in 2001 and sailing on the Dover-Oostende and Dover-Calais routes. In 2003 Sea Containers decided to switch the ship to their Baltic Sea subsidiary Silja Line, who had already operated the sister ship SuperSeaCat Four from 2000 onwards. Operating between Helsinki and Tallinn, the ships were marketed as Silja Line SuperSeaCat. Due to the ships not having ice-reinforced hulls, both ships spent the winter months laid up.

By the mid-00s Sea Containers were in trouble financially, and Silja Line was put for sale in 2006. In July 2006 Silja Line was sold to the rival Baltic Sea operator Tallink - however, due to restrictions placed by competition regulators, Tallink could not take over Silja Line's Helsinki-Tallinn services, as this would have given them a dominant market position. Resultingly, the two SuperSeaCats in Helsinki-Tallinn service were demerged into a new, separate company SuperSeaCat which remained under Sea Containers' ownership.

In January 2008 SeaContainers also sold the SuperSeaCat company, to the Greece-based Aegean Speed Lines. Subsequently the ships were painted with ASL funnel symbols, but otherwise there were no changes for the time. However, in October 2008 the SuperSeaCat service between Helsinki and Tallinn was closed down, presumably due to increased competition after both Tallink and Viking Line had taken delivery of new, larger fast ferries. The SuperSeaCat Three and SuperSeaCat Four were laid up in Poland for the winter 2008-2009. In May 2009 the SuperSeaCat Three was renamed Speedrunner III and placed on Aegean Speed Lines' Pireus-Syros-Tinos-Mykonos -route.

SuperSeaCat Three at Helsinki's Eteläsatama on 5 October 2006, having just departed for Tallinn. Click on the image to view full size.

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