04 February 2017

Stena Saga in Oslo, 24 January 2017

Almost two weeks ago, I had the pleasure of visiting YSA Design (perhaps better known under their old name Yran & Storbraaten) in Oslo and interviewing the company's owners and staff for an article that will be featured in the next issue of Cruise Business Review. I had hoped to take some ship photos during my time there, but for the most part the weather was atrocious with a thick fog that made taking any photos of quality impossible - that is, until my last few hours there.

Stena Saga

IMO 7911545
Name history: Silvia Regina, Stena Britannica, Stena Saga
Built 1981 Wärtsilä Turku, Finland
Tonnage 33 3967 GT
Length 166,10 m
Width 29,06 m
Draught 6,70 m
Ice class 1 A Super
2 000 passengers
1 601 passenger berths
510 cars
4 Wärtsilä-Pielstick diesels, combined 22 948 kW
2 controllable pitch propellers
2 bow thrusters
1 sterns thruster
Speed 22 knots

The Stena Saga started life as the Silvia Regina, the second of Silja Line's "Futurum" ferries for the Helsinki-Stockholm line. Although contracted by Rederi AB Svea and named by her namesake, Queen Silvia of Sweden, the ship was, in fact, delivered to Suomen Yritysrahoitus and registered under the Finnish flag. For the first six months of her life, the ship carried the black-and-white funnel colours of Rederi AB Svea; but from the beginning of 1982 Svea's shipping operations were taken over by their parent company Johnson Line, and the Silvia Regina's funnel received Johnson's blue-and-yellow on black funnel markings. Soon afterwards, in February of the same year, the ship sailed back to her builders for a radical reconstruction of her bow, the original bow lines having been found to perform poorly in rough seas.

In late 1986, Johnson Line bought the ship outright and she was re-registered under the Swedish flag. The Johnson ownership turned out to be a short interlude, as in spring 1988 she was resold to Stena Line, but chartered back to Johnson until the delivery of the Silja Symphony. The construction of the latter ship was radically delayed by the bankruptcy of Wärtsilä Marine in 1989, and thus the Silvia Regina could be taken over by her owners only in May 1991. During a refit at Bremerhaven, the ship was renamed Stena Britannica and in June she was placed on the Hoek van Holland-Harwich service, which Stena has taken over when they bought Stoomvaart Maatschappij Zeeland in 1989 - amusingly, one of the other bidders for SMZ had been Johnson Line.

Sailing parallel to the Koningin Beatrix, which had been purpose-built for the route, the Stena Britannica did not prove to be an unqualified success. On the other hand, Stena came to realise the Stena Britannica would be well-suited to their more cruise-oriented routes. Thus, in early 1994, the Stena Britannica was renamed Stena Saga and moved to Oslo-Frederikshavn(-Göteborg) route. Swapping routes with her was the previous Stena Saga, which was now renamed Stena Europe.

The Stena Saga proved a success on the 24-hour cruise route from Oslo and has remained there to this day. In 2008, her funnel was altered with the removal of the 'spoiler' aft (made nescessary by the installation of new, stability-altering equipment onboard). Another refit in 2011 saw the addition of a new spa area in the forward superstructure, further altering the ship's appearance.

The photos below show the Stena Saga in Oslo in the afternoon of 24 January 2017, photographed from the Oslo Opera House and Sørenga. As per the usual, click on the images to see them in larger size.

The Stena Saga shares the quay with DFDS' Oslo-Copenhagen ships, which means there's some moving around as the ships are simultaneously in port.
Here, the Stena Saga rests at the cruise quay (there are, in fact, two quays at the shared terminal - I have no idea why only one is used).
And of course, at the time when the light would have been perfect, the ship shifted quays. So it was time for some arty long-exposure shots.
Resting at the terminal...
...with the little harbour sculpture in the foreground (again).
Notice that Oslo harbour had ice when Helsinki did not.
Kships will return at latest in about a week, when we'll look at photos from onboard Viking Line's refitted Viking XPRS.

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