Lack of maintenance blamed for loss of the former P&O Larne to Cairnryan vessel.
According to reports in the Indonesian press, the KMP BSP III (former Pride of Rathlin, Pride of Walmer, Free Enterprise VII) sank at around 13:00 (local time) on 11/7/15. A photograph was published at the time showing the vessel lying on her side in waters approximately 9m deep. There were reportedly no casualties during the incident, with the ship apparently at the PT Samudera shipyard for repair at the time.
Banter Raya reported that the 1973 built former Free Enterprise VII had suffered from a lack of maintenance, with the hull thought to be very brittle and easily cracked. This publication (and others) reported that cracks in the hull caused a leak, which ultimately resulted in the ship sinking. The ship had been heavily modified since starting her career in Indonesian waters, with new bow and stern ramps fitted in front of the original doors, a port-side side-loading ramp installed, and several large (ventilation) holes cut in the upper parts of each side of the hull. She had reportedly not operated in service for 2 years before her sinking. According to sources in Indonesia, the 43-year-old vessel remains in the same place with no apparent attempts being having made to salvage the wreck.
A brief history of BSP III/Pride of Rathlin
KMP BSP III was originally built by the IHC Werf ‘Gusto’ yard at Schiedam (near Rotterdam) for Townsend-Thoresen services operating out of Dover as the first of 2 sister ships, themselves part of a series of 5 similar ships which started with the Free Enterprise IV (later GT-Link’s Falster Link) and ended with Free Enterprise VIII (later P&O’s Pride of Canterbury).
She was “jumboized” along with her almost identical sister Free Enterprise VI (later Pride of Sandwich, Pride of Ailsa, Pride of Al Salam ’95) in 1985/6 in order to increase freight space on the Dover – Zeebrugge route, which gave her a somewhat ungainly appearance.
In 1991 P&O closed the Dover – Zeebrugge passenger route, and in 1992 transferred Pride of Walmer and Pride of Sandwich to Larne to operate to Cairnryan, replacing the older and lower capacity Ionic Ferry and Europic Ferry. Following the introduction of the newly built European Causeway in 2000, Pride of Rathlin was offered for sale at a price of $1m. She left Larne for the last time on the 13th of November that year, having been sold to Indonesian owners for less than the asking price.
The initials KMP BSP in the ships final name stood for Kapal Motor Penumpang (Motor Passenger Vessel, the Indonesian equivalent of M/V) Bukit Samudera Perks (The ships owner).
Title image: Pride of Rathlin off Cairnryan in 1994. Copyright © Scott Mackey.
Article: Copyright © Steven Tarbox/NI Ferry Site 2015. With thanks to Arjan van Gelder for the original story, via the Ferry News Facebook group.