Brittany Ferries has marked a double milestone in its €550 million fleet renewal.

The 215 metre-long hull of of new ferry Galicia was floated out at its shipyard in China.

Work started at the same time on the construction of sister ship Salamanca at the AVIC Weihai shipyard in Shandong.

The two vessels are set to serve long-haul routes from Portsmouth to Santander and Bilbao in northern Spain.

Galicia is due to enter service in late 2020 followed by Salamanca in spring 2022.

They will be joined a year later by a third sister ship to be named Santoña.

The trio of 42,200-tonne ‘E-Flexer’ class ships will be among the biggest in Brittany Ferries’ fleet, measuring 215 metres long, with around three kilometres of space for cars and lorries.

Galicia will be fitted with funnel exhaust gas cleaning systems, while Salamanca and Santoña will be powered by Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG), claimed to offer “significant environmental advantages” over traditional marine fuels.

LNG burns more efficiently, producing no sulphur, virtually no particulates and 95% less nitrogen dioxide, according to the company.

The line’s first LNG-powered ship Honfleur is under construction in Flensberg, Germany and is to enter service on the Portsmouth-Caen route in 2020.

Brittany Ferries CEO Christophe Mathieu said: “Our customers rightly expect our fleet to be modern, comfortable and efficient, with the promise of minimal environmental impact from operations and we can only achieve this aim with the very best, innovative new ships.

“Galicia and Salamanca are perfectly suited to our long-haul Spanish operations, and will allow us to further enhance our service to holidaymakers and hauliers taking advantage of these routes.

“As a French company operating ferries between the UK, France, Spain and Ireland, we are, for sure, concerned by the current political uncertainty in Europe.

“But we are certain of the course that Brittany Ferries will follow in the years to come. And these brand new ships are tangible evidence – in steel – of our confidence and optimism looking ahead.”