Wave goodbye to controversial ship

SHIPSPOTTERS at Felixstowe will be able to see one of the most controversial but certainly most spectacular vessels to sail out of Harwich Harbour for the last time next week.

SHIPSPOTTERS at Felixstowe will be able to see one of the most controversial but certainly most spectacular vessels to sail out of Harwich Harbour for the last time next week.

The high-speed superferry Stena Discovery will be making its final trip on Monday before being withdrawn from service and probably sold.

The ultra-modern white football-pitch sized catamaran has been sailing from Harwich to the Hook of Holland for nine years but high fuel costs and declining numbers of passengers mean it is no longer viable.

It is being replaced by new Stena Line services, with the company investing £70 million to improve and lengthen two ferries to take more passengers and vehicles on twice daily services.


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HSS Discovery will be leaving for its last sailing at 10.40am.

Over the years it hasn't always been plain sailing for the ship. It was dubbed “the wave machine” after its jet turbine engines regularly caused a series of waves which could turn a calm sea lapping peacefully onto Felixstowe's pebbles into a waist-high flood which could knock adults off their feet and sweep away possessions in seconds.

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Stena was swamped with compensation claims as the sudden waves swept away cameras, sunglasses, clothes, fishing equipment, beach chairs, picnic hampers, radios, and pushchairs.

More than 60 metal triangular warning signs were put along Felixstowe seafront to tell residents and visitors of the wave danger, and a flashing light and warning siren was ordered.

Changes had to be made to the ship's speed and route but this lengthened its journey times to three hours 40 minutes.

Pim de Lange, Stena Lines area director North Sea, said the company was going from the fastest crossing of the North Sea to the most comfortable - and promised an excellent experience for passengers with the new ships.

He said: “In order to maintain and develop our part of the passenger market we have decided to improve our two superferries because I believe that the low cost airlines will get more expensive and there are people who prefer to travel by sea.

“If you travel by sea, you can relax and have something to eat. If you taken an overnight sailing then you can sleep and wake up at your destination.”

What do you think of the withdrawal of the HSS? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk

FASTFACTS: HSS Discovery

The superferry was built in 1997 by Finnyards in Finland.

It weighs 19,638 tons.

It is 127 metres long, 40 metres wide, and can do about 40 knots.

The vessel can carry 1,500 passengers and 360 cars.

It is powered by gas jet turbines.

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