The sea route between Incheon and Jeju, closed after the 2014 Sewol Ferry disaster, will resume on September 20.
The Incheon Regional Office of Oceans and Fisheries has recently announced that the construction of Beyond Trust, the ferry that will connect Incheon and Jeju, is 83% completed. The first sail date is tentatively set for September 20th.
The ferry route from Incheon to Jeju has been cut off for more than seven years since the Sewol Ferry disaster. Chonghaejin Marine Company Ltd., which had operated Sewol (6,825 tons) and Ohamana (6,322 tons), had its license canceled in May 2014.
In 2016, the Incheon Regional Office held the first public bidding for the Incheon-Jeju car ferry, two years after the Sewol Ferry disaster. Although one company participated in the bidding, it was not selected because it fell short of the base evaluation score of 80 points.
The bidding was held again in April 2018, and Daezer Construction was selected as the final operator, as it has experience in running passenger ships from Pohang to Ulleung (Jeodong Port). To ensure safety, Daezer decided to appoint Oriental Pearl 8, a 24,748-ton car ferry over three times larger than the Sewol.
However, the ferry is so huge that it could not use the cargo ship terminal next to the Incheon Coastal Passenger Terminal that Sewol Ferry used to berth. In the past, the Incheon Regional Office had assigned vessels larger than 10,000-ton class to berth at the International Passenger Terminal 1 in Incheon Port.
At the time, the International Passenger Terminal was used by car ferries to and from China and leaving no berthing facility for Oriental Pearl 8. It was finally available when the International Passenger Terminal at the coastal pier relocated to the new International Passenger Terminal in the south port of Incheon.
The new International Passenger Terminal was delayed one year from the initial target date, opening in June 2020. Because the timing of securing a berth in the Incheon Port was delayed longer than expected, increasing the financial loss, Daezer Construction returned the operator's license in half a year. Once again, the ferry service from Incheon to Jeju lost its operator.
In October 2019, the Incheon Regional Office opened public bidding again and selected Hydex Storage as the operator from Incheon to Jeju. A conditional license was issued in November. Subsequently, Hyundai Mipo Dockyard started building Beyond Trust to be introduced in August last year.
Beyond Trust is a 27,000-ton vessel, over four times larger than Sewol and Ohamana. With enhanced safety, the length overall is 170m, and the width is 26m. It can accommodate 40 crew members, 810 passengers, and 350 passenger cars.
In terms of containers, it can transport 200TEU (one TEU equals one 20-foot shipping container). The maximum speed is 23.2 knots.
The car ferry consists of 96 rooms, including family rooms and guest rooms dedicated to the mobility-disabled. It is also equipped with various amenities such as a dining hall, bar, lounge, nursing room, convenience store, confectionery shop, and a large multi-purpose auditorium.
The construction is 83% completed at the moment and will be finished in June. After completing trial operations until August, it has been decided tentatively to set sail on September 20.
The new car ferry will depart from the old Passenger Terminal 1 in Incheon Port instead of the previously utilized Coastal Passenger Terminal. It will operate 138 times annually (three times per week) and depart from Incheon at 8:00 pm every other day (Monday, Wednesday, Friday). The journey is 420km one-way and takes 13 hours. It will arrive in Jeju Port at 9:00 am on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday and return to Incheon on the day of arrival at 8:30 pm.
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