The former Sealink ferry MOROCCO SUN (ex LE RIF / STENA GALLOWAY / GALLOWAY PRINCESS) has arrived at Tangier Med on Saturday (July 27), ahead of inspections by the Moroccan and Spanish authorities in order to gain clearance to re-enter service on her former route between Algeciras and Tangier Med. The former Larne and Belfast to Stranraer ferry, which served the same route across the Gibraltar Strait between 2002 and 2013 for previous operator IMTC as LE RIF, has been out of service for over five years. She was laid up in 2013 as a result of the bankruptcy of IMTC and reported technical issues before being sold at auction during 2016 to new operator DWLM. Her new owners embarked on a substantial refit of the vessel at yards in both Italy and Spain, but appear to have had problems obtaining an operators license and reportedly experienced financial difficulties. These financial problems were made worse when LE RIF broke free of her moorings during a storm when tied up at La Spezia, causing significant damage at a nearby marina resulting in a court impounding the vessel following a claim for millions of euros in compensation. Eventually an agreement was reached so that the vessel could be released, after which she sailed to Genoa for further work to be completed including a second full repaint.
A number of potential operators were then linked with the vessel, including would-be Ramsgate to Ostend operator Seaborne Freight, before Africa Morocco Link secured a reported five year charter of her. Renamed MOROCCO SUN, it is intended that she will operate alongside MOROCCO STAR and AMMAN on the Tangier Med to Algeciras route.