Final voyage for P&O Larne-Troon Express service

P&O Express.  INLT 41-685-CON
P&O Express. INLT 41-685-CON

P&O Ferries Express service between Larne and Troon has made its final voyage, after the company decided not to renew its hire of the ship.

The 300ft, wave piercing catamaran, which has been operated out of Larne since 2006, will now be relocated to Sweden.

The ship underwent a major interior refurbishment in 2013 as part of a £20m investment by P&O Ferries in its Irish Sea operations. Prior to service with P&O, the Express set the Atlantic eastbound record, sailing from New York to Spain in three days, seven hours and 54 minutes.

Keen shipping photographer Robert Stanley travelled on the final commercial crossing across the Irish Sea on Wednesday, September 30.

Recounting the voyage, he said: “On the two-hour passage back to Larne, apart from some fixtures and fittings having been previously removed, there was no obvious sign that this was the final crossing.

“The onboard crew busied themselves with the small number of passengers onboard maintaining their friendly and upbeat attitude despite the uncertainty they face over their future.

“Before making our approach to Larne the Commander, Captain Val Plant made an public announcement to mark the occasion and paid an emotional tribute to all his crew down the years.

“Ironically like the fog during the final sailing, the future of the Larne-Troon service seems increasingly unclear, with no replacement vessel having been acquired to operate the service in 2016.”

However a P&O spokeswoman has told the Times: “We are still searching for a replacement fastcraft for next year, and are also considering a number of other vessel deployments.”

The Express departed Larne for the final time on Friday, October 2 for dry dock in Belfast prior to sailing with its new owners to Sweden, where it will take up service to the Island of Gotland from the Swedish mainland.