Stena Pegasus glides past Stena Parisien at Newhaven on a warm summer evening in 1996.
While the catamaran was all the rage in the fast ferry industry, other new forms of high speed vessel were tried. The Italian built Stena Pegasus was leased to replace Stena Lynx on the Newhaven/Dieppe crossing during 1996. She was a slim monohull ferry with water-jet propulsion similar to that deployed by catamarans. Her sharp prow and shallow draft enabled her to achieve thirty five knots, but sadly her operating days were restricted to calm weather. She was not to return the following year. After P. & O. Stena gave up the Dieppe route, Hoverspeed stepped in with a sister of Stena Pegasus, named Superseacat Two, although she was not a catamaran.
Builder: Fincantieri-Cant. Nav. Italiani S. P. A., Riva Trigoso, Italy.
Yard number: 5,965.
Dimensions (length, breadth, depth): 95 x 16 x 2.89 metres.
Tonnages (gross, dead weight): 3,750, 705.
Engines: Four M. T. U. diesel.
Power: 24,000 kW.
Speed (knots): 36.
Passenger certificate: 580.
Car capacity: 173.
29.5.1996: Delivered to Ocean Bridge Developments S. A., Brindisi, Italy. Chartered to: Stena Line. Renamed Stena Pegasus. Entered service: Newhaven/Dieppe.
27.10.1996: Laid up at Le Havre. Renamed Pegasus One.
5.1997: Chartered to Consolidada de Ferrys CA (Conferrys), Venezuela.
2002: Renamed St. Matthew. Registered in Gibraltar.
11.2002: Laid up at Gibraltar.
& Superseacat Three
In order to accommodate larger quantities of traffic on its 'Seacat' services, Sea Containers decided to opt for a slim, shallow draft, one hundred metre long mono hull design which had first been seen on the Channel in the form of Stena Pegasus. The choice of 'Superseacat' as a brand name was questionable because the vessel was clearly not a catamaran! To get round this technical discrepancy, an association was made with the feline variety of 'cat' by featuring entertaining depictions of Persian pussy cats on the hulls of the 'Superseacats'.
The first to be delivered was Superseacat One in 1997. She made her debut on a new fast ferry service between Liverpool and Dublin. An identical sister arrived the following year and was used on the Dover/Calais route. Superseacat Three emerged in 1999 and was of a slightly modified design, featuring broader twin funnels, and slightly more seating capacity.
As with the five original 'Seacats', the three 'Superseacats' chopped and changed routes frequently. One could never be certain which vessel would turn up from one season to the next. Superseacat Two inaugurated the first Hoverspeed service between Newhaven in Dieppe in 1999. Superseacat One operated this route the following year, whilst Superseacat Three was engaged at Liverpool. In 2001 all three vessels were based at Dover, operating to Oostende and Calais. A year later they were all back where they were in 2000. Hoverspeed abandoned Newhaven in 2004, and the following year ceased trading on its sole remaining route from Dover. The Superseacats had already found new employment with other operators further afield.
Superseacat One, Superseacat Two & Superseacat Three
Builder: Fincantieri-Cant. Nav. Italiani S. P. A., La Spezia, Italy.
Yard numbers: 5,999.
Dimensions (length, breadth, depth): 100 x 17.1 x 2.68 metres.
Tonnages (gross, deadweight): 4,662, 340.
Engines: Four Ruston diesel.
Power: 37,390 kW.
Speed (knots): 38.
Passenger certificate: 782.
Car capacity: 175.
2.1997: Superseacat One launched.
5.1997: Delivered to Sea Containers Limited.
18.6.1997: Entered service Göteborg/Frederikshavn.
23.12.1999: Laid up at Göteborg.
10.1.2003: Laid up at Birkenhead.
6.1997: Superseacat Two delivered to Sea Containers Limited.
14.6.1997: Arrived at Dover.
26.6.1997: Entered service Dover/Calais.
2002: Laid up at Portsmouth.
3.1999: Superseacat Three delivered to Sea Containers Limited.
8.4.1999: Entered service Liverpool/Dublin.
20.5.2003: Transferred to Silja Line Helsingfors/Tallinn.
Superseacat One appears to cut effortlessly through the sea as she slows down to enter Newhaven Harbour.
Superseacat Two storms across the Dover Straits at full speed.
Superseacat Three makes a sleek and stylish sight as she backes towards her berth at Dover in May 2001. Note the persian cat illustration on her bow.