[Updated] Former Dun Laoghaire and Swansea – Cork Ferries Bound for Demolition

By: Steven Tarbox
Last updated:
STENA CAMBRIA arriving at Dublin from Holyhead while providing cover for STENA CHALLENGER in March 1998. Image: Gordon Hislip
STENA CAMBRIA arriving at Dublin from Holyhead while providing cover for STENA CHALLENGER in March 1998. Image: Gordon Hislip

Update 02.12.21: ASARRAH (ex ST. COLUMBA, STENA HIBERNIA, STENA ADVENTURER, EXPRESS APHRODITE, MASARRAH) was beached at Gadani, Pakistan, this morning. ALTAIR (ex ST ANSELM, etc) is at anchor off Chittagong, Bangladesh, awaiting her fate. MAHABBAH is currently at anchor off Jeddah having returned to service despite the announcement of her sale.

Update 18.11.21: ALTAIR (ex ST ANSELM, etc) left Colombo this morning for her final destination, Chittagong (Bangladesh).

Three former Ireland to Wales ferries have been sold for recycling after lengthy careers outside of Northern Europe.  Two of the ships were built for Sealink and represent the final generations of large ferries built for that organisation.

The first of the trio, MASARRAH (ex ST. COLUMBA, STENA HIBERNIA, STENA ADVENTURER, EXPRESS APHRODITE) has been sold for US$ 525 LT LDT.  She is to be delivered as-is to Khor Fakkan (UAE).

MASARRAH. Image: Namma Shipping.
MASARRAH. Image: Namma Shipping.

The MASARRAH will be joined by Namma Shipping Lines fleetmate MAHABBAH, which fetched the same price.  The ships will then proceed for demolition at Alang, India. The latter ship also has an Irish Sea connection, having previously been Swansea Cork Ferries’ SUPERFERRY.

SUPPERFERRY approaches the berth at Cork Ringaskiddy. Image: Ralph Rawlinson, Ralph Rawlinson / Ringaskiddy ferry terminal, Cork Harbour, County Cork. / CC BY-SA 2.0

The third ship, ALTAIR, was until recently known as Ventouris Ferries’ BARI.  She is better known in Northern Europe as Sealink’s Belfast-built ST ANSELM and later Stena Line’s STENA CAMBRIA.  

Two of the three ships being scrapped enjoy a shared history.

As STENA as HIBERNIA (MASARRAH) and STENA CAMBRIA (ALTAIR) the two ships maintained Stena Sealink’s Holyhead – Dun Laoghaire route together from 1991 until Autumn 1995.  

STENA HIBERNIA. Image: © Scott Mackey,

The two ships were split up ahead of the introduction of the HSS STENA EXPLORER in April 1996. The STENA CAMBRIA moved back to the Dover – Calais route for which she was originally built.  Stena Line had also introduced a new more freight oriented route to Holyhead with the modern STENA TRAVELLER in November 1995.  This used Dublin instead of nearby Dun Laoghaire, and so two conventional ferries were no longer required at Dun Laoghaire.

STENA CAMBRIA in Stena Sealink Line livery. Image © Scott Mackey
STENA CAMBRIA in Stena Sealink Line livery. Image © Scott Mackey

After providing extra capacity during the summer season and a month of layup at Dun Laoghaire, STENA ADVENTURER moved to Belfast for further lay-up pending her sale. She was sold during April 1997, not long after her 20th Birthday, for further service in Greece. 

Renamed EXPRESS APHRODITE she remained in service until 2006.  The following year she was sold by then owners Hellenic Seaways to Namma Lines of Egypt for services between Egypt and Saudi Arabia.  

STENA ADVENTURER laid up at Belfast, 3 November 1996. Image: Aubrey Dale, CC BY-SA 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

In the intervening years there have been periods of inactivity for the ship, giving rise to speculation that she could soon be destined for recycling.  Until now, however, this speculation has been inaccurate with the vessel having returned to service.  Today’s GMS Weekly Bulletin, however, confirms that the former ST. COLUMBA has been sold for scrap along with the former SUPERFERRY.

No reprieve this time for BARI

Earlier this month, rumours started to circulate that BARI, which has not seen service this year, had been sold for demolition. Ventouris Ferries themselves posted a farewell message to Instagram. Renamed ALTAIR and flying the flag of St. Kitts and Nevis, the ship started to head south.  

The Ventouris Ferries ferry BARI at sea.  Image: Ventouris Ferries.
BARI. Image: Ventouris Ferries.

This is the second time that this particular ship has been reportedly sold for scrap.  Following her sale for service in Spanish waters in 1999 she was renamed ISLA DE BOTAFOC.

ISLA DE BOTAFOC in UMAFISA livery.  Image: © Scott Mackey.
ISLA DE BOTAFOC. Image: © Scott Mackey.

During 2010 she was listed for sale by Baleària. She was reportedly already on her way to be beached at Aliaga as WINNER 9 when Ventouris Ferries purchased her for service between Italy and Albania.  Renamed BARI, the ship would see another decade of service with that operator. 

ALTAIR departed Durres on 5 October and slow-steamed through Suez before anchoring off the East African port of Djibouti 22 – 23 October.  She is now making slow progress across the Gulf of Aden towards Alang.  Her indicated destination is simply “BY ORDER”.  


With MASARRAH and MAHABBAH also expected on the beaches of Alang, it is quite possible that the former running mates and the ex Swansea – Cork ferry will end their lengthy careers together on the same beach. 

As well as Alang, the demolition beaches at Aliaga, Turkey, are currently seeing a large number of old ferries being sent for recycling with scrap prices at very high levels and the ferry industry continuing to see the impact of Covid-19.

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