UPDATE 08.01.19: LE RIF went into dry-dock this morning.
UPDATE 07.01.19 @ 20:00: LE RIF is now on the move! After months at La Spezia the North Channel and Gibraltar Strait veteran is currently under tow. Her destination appears to be Genoa. It is not clear if this is at all related to Seaborne Freight.
According to information received by Channel 4 news and tweeted by their Chief Correspondent and Presenter Alex Thomson, Seaborne Freight are in negotiations over LE RIF, the former GALLOWAY PRINCESS and STENA GALLOWAY!
Although the tweet says otherwise, LE RIF will be 39 years old this year and has capacity for (up to) 60 trucks. NIFS last reported on the former North Channel favourite back in our September 2018 news roundup when we revealed that her owners had reportedly been refused a licence to operate her. Earlier in the same month we reported that despite a lengthy refit and refurbishment she had to be towed from the Jobson Italia yard in Naples to La Spezia for layup due to reported engine problems. Due to her age it is likely LE RIF would have difficulty getting approval to run in the UK where rules are very strict on older vessels, particularly those in their 30’s, even if her technical problems have been rectified. She should however fit comfortably within the confines of Ramsgate’s restricted ferry port which is currently being dredged, and her internal ramps mean she could load and discharge vehicles from either a single tier or twin tiered ramp if required. Part-sister PORT LINK (the former STENA CALEDONIA and ST. DAVID) required expensive upgrades such as the stability sponsons which dramatically altered her appearance aft to stay in UK service up until 2011, and it would seem likely this would also be the case with LE RIF which has not received the same upgrades. Seaborne Freight have also said previously they were looking for Ro-Ro ships without significant passenger accommodation which would make LE RIF a strange choice given she has passenger capacity for 1,000 passengers!
As mentioned above, LE RIF had an extensive refurbishment of her passenger accommodation just last year. The results of this can be seen in the video below:
Seaborne Freight are one of three companies to be awarded contracts to provide additional ferry capacity between the UK and Continental Europe in the event of a “No Deal” Brexit. The others are established operators Brittany Ferries and DFDS. The award of a contract to Seaborne Freight has proven controversial and has attracted significant media coverage due to the fact the company have no ships and have never operated a ferry service before, though a number of their directors do have significant ferry industry management experience. Seaborne Freight intend to re-open the former link between Ramsgate and Ostend in Belgium which closed following the collapse of previous operator Trans Europa Ferries in 2013.
Updated 07.01.19 @ 20:00: Added refurbishment video. Also added update to top of the page stating LE RIF is now on the move. Title modified and title image replaced with more recent image.