Freighter giant is back home sailing from port of Poole

THE largest freighter linking the UK with France is back in her home port of Poole after eight years away. Brittany Ferries' Cotentin, capable of carrying 120 lorries, has been secured in a deal with the Department of Transport, to help the UK as it emerges from the end of the Brexit transition. Built for the Poole to Cherbourg route in 2007, the Cotentin had been operating in the Baltic.

Now the ship, registered in Cherbourg and flying under the French flag, is back sailing the Poole to Cherbourg route - making her first departure from Normandy to the Dorset port on New Year's Day. Brittany Ferries chief executive officer Christophe Mathieu said: "We are delighted to welcome Cotentin back to the fleet. "Having the right mix of vessels for our fleet gives us a fighting chance of emerging from the current crisis in good health.

She returns as we operate services on two routes under a new UK government contract, the third such contract we will have won to provide support. "These contracts underline the value of a rich western Channel route network, beyond the Dover Straits, to passengers, freight companies, governments and the regions we serve." Cotentin is specifically designed for the transport of freight vehicles.

The vessel is crewed entirely by French seafarers. The contract between the UK government and the ferry firm guarantees space on two Brittany Ferries routes, for goods like medical supplies leaving the European Union destined for the UK. In addition to Cotentin operating from Poole to Cherbourg, the contracts guarantee freight space for the UK government on the service connecting Portsmouth to Le Havre.

Cotentin will serve Poole to Cherbourg until the beginning of April. She will depart from Poole each morning at 08.30 and arrive in Cherbourg at 2.00pm. For the return journey she will depart Cherbourg each evening at 6.15pm except Tuesdays when she will leave at 9.45pm.

In April, Barfleur will make a welcome return to the Poole to Cherbourg route. Cotentin will switch to cover the Portsmouth-Le Havre route, replacing Brittany Ferries' Etretat, which will return to Swedish Stena RoRo as her charter ends. At 168m long and 27m wide, Cotentin has 10 decks and can sail at speeds of up to 26 knots thanks to the 32,000 horsepower delivered by two giant engines.

For her drivers she offers a self-service restaurant, spacious TV and rest lounges, a bar, boutique and 116 cabins.

Cotentin left the Brittany Ferries fleet in 2013, and was chartered to Stena Line, for whom she sailed between Gdynia (Poland) and Karlskrona (Sweden) bearing the name Stena Baltica.

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