zoomImage Courtesy: Irish Continental Group The European Investment Bank (EIB) is providing EUR 155 million (around USD 176 million) to finance two new passenger and vehicle ships for the Irish Continental Group’s (ICG) subsidiary Irish Ferries.The two ferries, expected to increase passenger and cargo capacity on routes to Ireland, will replace older and smaller vessels and reduce emissions from the Irish Ferries fleet.The newbuilds are planned to be used on both the Dublin-Holyhead and Dublin-Cherbourg routes.The announcement was made as the W.B. Yeats cruise ferry made its maiden commercial voyage from Dublin to Holyhead on January 22. The largest ever EIB support for Irish shipping was announced during a visit by Andrew McDowell, EIB Vice President and Eamonn Rothwell, CEO of ICG.The latest addition to the Irish Ferries fleet, the new W.B.Yeats, was partly financed using EUR 75 million from the EIB. Delivered to its owner in December 2018, the W.B. Yeats can transport 1,800 passengers, 300 cars and 165 trucks.The second ship, expected to be completed in 2020 and unnamed as yet, will likely transport 1,800 passengers and crew and 1,526 cars or 300 trucks. EIB is providing EUR 80 million for this vessel which will be the largest cruise ferry in the world in terms of vehicle capacity and provide Irish Ferries with an effective 50% increase in peak freight capacity.“The EUR 155 million financing facilities agreed with the EIB, alongside financing from leading Irish and international banks, for the two new cruise ferry ships demonstrates the EIB’s commitment to support transformational corporate investment such as this in Ireland, enabling ICG to deliver on its growth strategy and strengthening the tourism and cargo trading links in and out of the country,” Rothwell said.The long-term loan to ICG represents the first support approved by the EIB under a new Green Shipping financing initiative that supports investment in new and existing ships to reduce emissions and improve fuel efficiency.The W.B.Yeats ship incorporates emissions scrubber technology to reduce sulphur oxide pollution and ballast water systems which meet current and known future environmental regulations and is expected to deliver optimal fuel consumption and efficiencies.“Shipping connections are crucial for Ireland and the European Investment Bank is pleased together with ICG to support two new ships that will both transform maritime transport to and from this country and cut harmful emissions. The EUR 155 million long-term EIB loans will support EUR 309 million of new investment in best in class vessels that will serve Irish routes for years to come,” McDowell commented.“The new W.B. Yeats … together with the second vessel will transform freight capacity and passenger travel from Ireland to the UK and continental Europe. The first approval of financing under the EIB’s Green Shipping initiative reflects firm commitment of ICG to cut emissions and improve fuel efficiency. Increasing maritime transport capacity reflects increased demand arising from Ireland’s export driven recovery and the potential need for flexibility in the event of disruption on UK routes,” he added.