Since publishing our recent update on the former STENA GALLOWAY (presently LE RIF, originally GALLOWAY PRINCESS) and STENA ANTRIM (Presently IBN BATOUTA, originally ST. CHRISTOPHER) and their fellow Belfast-built part-sisters, further information has come to light.
IBN BATOUTA is expected to return to service before the end of the year between Italy and Albania as EUROPEAN STARS following a lengthy refit in Albania, Turkey, and most recently Greece. As previously thought she is owned by the operators of RED STAR 1 and ST. DAMIAN (though these vessels are technically owned and operated by separate companies, they are marketed together). It is not yet clear whether she will be used as an additional vessel or replace one of the existing vessels – ST. DAMIAN dates from 1972 while RED STAR 1 originally entered service way back in 1965!
With regard to LE RIF it appears things aren’t quite as rosy as previously thought. We have been told by a reliable source that she was towed from Naples to La Spezia after her refurbishment at Jobson Italia was completed due to ongoing issues with her engines. She is also apparently having problems getting a classification certificate, though she is still believed to be for sale or charter. When she was laid up as a result of the financial collapse of her previous owner IMTC in 2013 it was rumoured she had major mechanical issues. Since her purchase at auction by new company DWLM in 2016 LE RIF has also had a prolonged refit, in both Spain and Italy, with the shipyard changed from Malaga to Naples following a reported dispute about the cost of the work to take place. She has also had a previous period at La Spezia as well, and had been expected in service before the end of last year. However refurbishment work has continued throughout 2018, though the reported issues could explain while we are still awaiting a renewed date for her to start service.