Passenger shipping company Attica Enterprises yesterday launched a new service connecting the north German port of Rostock with Sodertalje in Sweden, representing the second stage of its expansion into the Baltic Sea. Attica expanded into the Baltic Sea last year when subsidiary Superfast Ferries launched a route connecting Rostock with the Finnish port of Hanko on May 17. Two vessels, Superfast VII and Superfast VIII, currently service the itinerary. Unlike the majority of Greek ferry operators, Attica has in the last two years preferred to expand outside of the domestic market and the traditional Greece-Italy route, eying first the Baltic Sea and subsequently the Scottish market. It launched a 45-million-euro, three-year convertible bond in October last year, with the funds raised to be used principally for its expansion. Announcing the launch of the new service to Sodertalje, Superfast Ferries Managing Director Alexander Panagopoulos said the company «is the first ferry operator in the European Union to traverse the European seas, uniting cities and changing the face of European sea transport.» Olympic silver medalist swimmer and world recordholder in the 50m and 100m freestyle Therese Ashammar yesterday christened the ship Superfast IX before it set off on its maiden voyage. A second ship will be deployed on the same service early next month. The vessels can each carry 626 passengers, 110 trucks and 115 cars. With a maximum speed exceeding 30 knots, the ships can cover the distance between Rostock and Sodertalje in a record 18 hours. Attica said it will deploy two Superfast vessels in May for the new route connecting the Scottish port of Rosyth with Zeebrugge in Belgium. It said the daily crossings will take just 17.5 hours.