27th March 2015
Condor Liberation enters service
Condor Ferries created a bit of a fanfare when it introduced Liberation, its brand new trimaran. It spent £50m on what it described as a “state of the art high speed ferry” that would “increase capacity and give our guests a much greater level of comfort”.
In a blog post, Condor said the ferry would be more reliable and able to cope with much higher waves.
Condor configured the craft to carry up to 880 passengers in three different classes, along with 235 vehicles, with a planned service speed of 35 knots (40mph or 64km/h).
Liberation naming competition
The craft had sat idle for four years before Condor bought it, which it did when its licence to serve the Channel Islands was extended through to 2020. It had been built by Austal in Australia under the name Austal 270. When Condor bought it, it briefly renamed it Condor 102 (it’s 102m long), and launched a competition to give it its final name.
More than 7000 people submitted an idea in the hope of winning a year’s free travel, by sea, to and from the islands. The winning name was announced on the dedicated Condor 102 blog and in the Guernsey Press and Jersey Post.
“Liberation” had been suggested by several entrants, as the ship was entering service 70 years after the Channel Islands had been liberated following the occupation. Condor put all the Liberation suggestions into a hat and picked out the winner. It was 49-year-old Guernseyman Clive Davies, who was invited to Poole to see the name being painted onto the ship.
Upon launch, the Bahamas-registered vessel completed its mainland to Guernsey crossings in around three hours, which compared favourably against the seven hours taken by a conventional ferry. However, on its second day of operation, when berthing at St Peter Port in high winds, it struck the harbour and had to be taken out of service for a week.
Passengers were quick to point out that the crossings could also be turbulent, in even fairly small swells.
However, a report prepared for the States of Guernsey and Jersey by Houlder, an independent marine engineering firm, found that the Liberation had no stability issues. It said that it rolled less frequently than a catamaran would (although it may roll to a larger roll angle). Houlder also said in the October 2015 report that damage the vessel had sustained was not uncommon on high speed craft.