Santoña has been named as the third new Brittany Ferries vessel to be powered by Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG).

The vessel is being leased from Stena as part of a €550 million fleet renewal scheme and will become the French firm’s third ‘E-Flexer’ class ship when it enters service in 2023.

The first LNG ship, Honfleur, is being built in Germany and is due to start sailing early next year on the line’s busiest Portsmouth to Caen route.

Second ship, Salamanca, will arrive in 2022 to carry passengers and freight on long haul routes between the UK and Spain.

LNG burns more efficiently than diesel, so promises “significant improvements” in air quality as well as a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, according to the ferry company.

Combustion produces no sulphur, virtually no particulates and 95% less nitrogen dioxide than diesel.

LNG is also up to 28% better in terms of greenhouse gas emissions according to findings of an independent, peer-reviewed report published in April.

The E-Flexer ships will be among the largest in Brittany Ferries’ fleet. Each will be 215 metres long with 3,000 garage lane metres for freight vehicles and capacity for around 1,000 passengers.

The company will run four return trips from the UK to Spain each week, instead of five on the current smaller and less efficient vessels.

“This means a significant saving in fuel consumption and emissions, while still promising a 10% improvement in passenger capacity and 28% increase in freight space,” Brittany Ferries said.

“These savings, combined with improved efficiency thanks to better hull design and modern engines, and the use of LNG to power vessels, will realise an estimated saving of around 46% CO2 per passenger compared with current vessels on the company’s long-haul routes.”

Fleet and port operations director Frederic Pouget said: “Brittany Ferries is committed to LNG as the most environmentally-friendly fuelling solution currently available for shipping.

“Despite the significant investment made in scrubber technology for our ships, we know that the best way to respect the environments in which we operate, and to exceed emission reduction targets, is to commit to LNG.

“This is what we have done with an investment worth half a billion euros.”

Kerry will be the name for a conventional ferry to be chartered for a year from November to cover the Cork-Santander route.