For this weeks “Blast from the Past” we look back to 2007, and the surprise visit of P&O’s Dover to Calais ferry PRIDE OF CALAIS. The visit was all the more surprising as PRIDE OF CALAIS had just returned from a lengthy dry-docking and refit at Falmouth days earlier. However following technical problems post-refit it was discovered that there was damage to the bow end of the vessel below the waterline.
PRIDE OF CALAIS arrived in Belfast at approx. midday on 16th February to examine and repair damage to her forward rudder skeg which was taking in water. She left just two days later, the problem rectified. Belfast was chosen due to the unavailability of more local facilities which could accommodate the vessel at the short notice needed due to the urgency of the repair. This was the only time either PRIDE OF CALAIS or her slightly older sister PRIDE OF DOVER visited Belfast, or the Irish Sea for that matter.
Overview of Pride of Calais
Like her sister, PRIDE OF CALAIS had been ordered by Townsend Thoresen in 1985, Both vessels entered service in 1987, though PRIDE OF CALAIS did so in P&O colours after Townsend Thoresen was taken over by P&O. Labelled “The Chunnel Beaters” due to the impending construction of the Channel Tunnel and its perceived threat to cross-channel ferry services, they were designed specifically for the Dover to Calais service and as a result were highly successful and well-liked vessels by the public.
At the time they were the biggest ferries to ever serve the Dover to Calais route, and were so large that their hulls were actually put together at a different shipyard to that which did the construction. This was because the winner of the contract, Schichau Unterweser, could not physically fit the hull of the vessels on their slipway. Instead hulls were constructed in sections in Bremerhaven and brought down the River Weser by barge to Bremer Vulcan on the outskirts of Bremen for assembly together! While PRIDE OF DOVER was launched with hardly any superstructure at all, meaning it had to be lifted on by cranes and welded while the vessel was afloat, the superstructure of PRIDE OF CALAIS was largely complete when she was launched at Bremer Vulcan before she was towed to Schichau Unterweser for fitting out
PRIDE OF CALAIS was replaced in late 2012 by newly-built SPIRIT OF FRANCE. Initially it looked as though she might avoid the same fate as her sister-ship PRIDE OF DOVER which had been sold for scrap in November 2012, when a charter was agreed with Transeuropa Ferries in late 2012 and she was renamed OSTEND SPIRIT (ii). By the time OSTEND SPIRIT had been repainted in the colours of her new operator and began service between Ramsgate and Ostend early in 2013, Transeuropa were in deep financial trouble. As the company had defaulted on two successive charter payments for her, OSTEND SPIRIT was repossessed and left for Tilbury on the 18th April. On the 25th of April Transeuropa Ferries went into administration. After a layup at Tillbury with no other operators showing any interest, she was sold for scrap and left the UK for the last time on 30th October to be beached in Turkey. For the final leg of her journey to the beach at Aliaga on 13th November 2013, the destination on her AIS transponder was set to “Nirvana”.
The very reason she and her sister had been such successful and popular vessels, their size and bespoke design for the Dover – Calais route, ultimately made them less unattractive to potential purchasers. Both vessels were beached having only ever served Dover Strait services. Earlier vessels also built for service from Dover, such as the former CHAMPS ELYSEES (later STENA NAVIGATOR and currently POETA LOPEZ ANGLADA) and ST ANSELM (later STENA CAMBRIA and currently BARI) remain in service elsewhere however.
|Name||PRIDE OF CALAIS|
|Design||James Ayres and team
|Building Yard||Schichau Unterweser, Bremerhaven, West Germany
(The hull and most of the superstructure were assembled at: Bremer Vulkan, Vegesack, Bremen, West Germany)
|Entry into service||14.12.1987|
|Machinery||3 x 14-cylinder Sulzer CCM 14ZA40S Marine-Diesel engines producing a total of 23,100kW
3 x controllable pitch propellers
2 x bow thrusters and one bow rudder
650 cars or 100 x 15m freight units
More information about Pride of Calais
Dover Ferry Photos page: http://www.doverferryphotosforums.co.uk/mv-pride-of-calais-past-and-present/ (external link)
Hendy, J., 2015. Remembering the Chunnel Beaters. Ramsey: Ferry Publications.
Smith, D., 2014. The Transeuropa Years. Ramsey: Ferry Publications.