19 September 2016

Mercandia IV in Helsingborg, 13 April 2016

Mercandia IV

IMO 8611685
Name history: Superflex November, Mercandia IV
Built 1989, North East Shipbuilders Ltd. Southwick, United Kingdom
Tonnage 2 296 GT
Length 95,80 m
Width 17,00 m
Draught 3,61 m
400 passengers
170 cars or 16 lorries and 85 cars
10 Cummins diesels, combined 2 750 kW
2 azimuthing pods at both ends
Speed 14 knots

The Mercandia IV is a member of the ubiquitous superflex class, a total of 15 examples of which were delivered by the North East Shipbuilders of Southwick and Appledore Ferguson of Appledore for the Danish company PZ Trading between 1987 and 1990. Our ship was laid down as the Superflex November in May 1988, launch the followed December and completed in February 1989. However, there was no need for additional tonnage of the superflex type at this time, and the ship was laid up at the builders. In May the ship was sold to Mercandia, and in July it was moved to Fredericia, Denmark, for further layup. Around the same time the ship was renamed Mercandia IV.

Eventually, the Mercandia IV was activated in November 1990 for service with Kattegatbroen (a Mercandia subsidiary) on the Danish internal service between Juelsminde and Kalundborg. The ship remained on that service until the end of May 1996, when it was transferred to a different Mercandia subsidiary, Sundsbroen (literally "The Sound Bridge") for service between Helsingborg and Helsingør, extering service from the beginning of June.

In April 1997, Sundsbroen was taken over by a newly-formed Danish-Swedish company and renamed HH-Ferries. As the only competitor to the state-owned Scandlines consortium, HH-Ferries marketed themselves as "the monopoly breakers". The new operator took the Mercandia IV, and its sister Mercandia VIII sailing on the same route, under charter. In March 1999, HH-Ferries purchased both ships, only to be bought out themselves by Stena Line in autumn 2001. Stena had also taken over as the Swedish partner of Scandlines in 2000. Never the less, it was not until 2009 that an official collaboration between Scandlines and HH-Ferries was came to be.

The Mercandia IV appears to have remained on the Helsingborg-Helsingør -route since 1996, albeit not without incident: in September 2006 it collided with the Sundbuss Pernille. The Mercandia IV suffered only minor damage to its bow visor, but three people on the Sundbuss Pernille were injured. In January-February 2012, meanwhile, the Mercandia IV was rebuilt with a new cafeteria. In April 2015, both the Scandlines and HH-Ferries ships sailing on the Helsingborg-Helsingør -route were taken over by the Australian investment company First State. For the time being, this has not had an effect on the ships' day-to-day operations, and the dual brands of Scandlines and HH-Ferries still remain in use.

The photos below show the Mercandia IV arriving at Helsingborg's Knutpunkten terminal on the evening of 13 April 2016, photographed from the breakwater outside the port. Click on the images to see them in larger size.

Arriving at the terminal, with the Tycho Brahe visible in the background on the left.
Noticethe windows of the 2012-added cafeteria on the right. I also got a fairly neat shot of the Mercandia IV and Tycho Brahe together soon after this one - but a big drop of water had landed on the lens soon after taking this shot without my noticing it, rendering the subsequent shots largely unusable.
Kships will return.

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