In Waters New Update – featuring the former Stena Antrim, Stena Caledonia, Stena Galloway, Lagan Viking, and Express!

Summary: As operators prepare for the summer season, we take a look at the status of some former North Channel and Irish Sea regulars.
Stena Caledonia in Sealink Stena Line livery. Copyright © Scott Mackey.
STENA CALEDONIA in Sealink Stena Line livery. Copyright © Scott Mackey.

Liverpool Seaways sold to French Operator?

LIVERPOOL SEAWAYS at sea. DFDS
LIVERPOOL SEAWAYS at sea. DFDS

According to reports in the French media, DFDS has agreed to sell LIVERPOOL SEAWAYS to Mediterranean operator La Méridionale. LIVERPOOL SEAWAYS was originally LAGAN VIKING (i), the second of two new Ro-Pax ferries delivered to Norse Irish Ferries from Cantiere Navale Visentini in 1997 for the Belfast to Liverpool route. She became LIVERPOOL VIKING ahead of the arrival of LAGAN VIKING (ii) and was moved to the Dublin to Liverpool route. DFDS took over the ship after acquiring what was by now the Irish Sea assets of Norfolk Line in July 2010 and renamed her LIVERPOOL SEAWAYS during a refit the following month. Following the closure of the Liverpool to Dublin route on January 31, 2011, and the agreement to sell the remainder of the former Maersk Irish Sea business to Stena Line, DFDS moved LIVERPOOL SEAWAYS to the Baltic. Currently, she operates on the busy Kappelskar [SE] to Paldiski [EE] route. At the time of writing there has not yet been any direct confirmation of the reported sale from DFDS, who recently announced the sale of another former Irish Sea vessel ANGLIA SEAWAYS.

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The original LAGAN VIKING in her original colour scheme, 1999. Copyright © Scott Mackey.
The original LAGAN VIKING in her original Norse Irish Ferries colour scheme, 1999. Copyright © Scott Mackey.

Express becomes Super Express

The former P&O Larne to Cairnryan and Larne to Troon fast craft EXPRESS was renamed SUPER EXPRESS (not to be confused with her P&O predecessor SUPERSTAR EXPRESS) at the start of the month. It was reported earlier that she would be used by a new joint venture between Golden Star Ferries and Fast Ferries in Greece, however, this partnership has since been dissolved and it appears that ownership of the vessel transferred from the Golden Fast Ferries joint venture to Golden Star Ferries on May 10th.

From June 6th SUPER EXPRESS is currently scheduled to run from Rafina to Siros, Mikonos, Paros, Naxos, Koufonisi and Amorgos. She is currently undergoing maintenance at Salamis having been moved from Perama under the assistance of the tugs CHRISTOS XXX and 1967-built ATLAS.

Former Stena Antrim back in action this year?

The former STENA ANTRIM became EUROPEAN STAR earlier in the year having been known as IBN BATOUTA since 1998. She has apparently been undergoing refurbishment since 2015 when she was purchased at auction for her scrap value of $1,027,000. This followed the collapse of her former operator COMANAV/COMARIT during January 2012. She was originally towed to Durres (Albania) in the months after her purchase, but not a lot appeared to be happening to her prompting fears she may have been abandoned. She was understood to be in a very poor state prior to her auction with no maintenance having taken place in the three years previous. In February 2018 however, NIFS reported that she had been towed to Tuzla in Turkey for a dry docking which included a repaint in a striking yellow paint scheme.

By August 2018 she had been towed to Perama in Greece where she had remained until May 18th when she left under her own power for Brindisi (Italy), arriving on May 20th. She appears on the Red Star Ferries timetable from July 16th, operating a once-daily service from Brindisi to Vlore (Albania) with each crossing taking around seven and a half hours. She was built as ST CHRISTOPHER for the 90 minute long Dover to Calais crossing but it is not yet clear what if any changes have been made to prepare her for a much longer voyage. EUROPEAN STAR‘s season currently appears to end on October 1st.

STENA ANTRIM arrives in Belfast April 25, 1995. Copyright © Alan Geddes
STENA ANTRIM arrives in Belfast, 1995 in Stena Sealink livery. Copyright © Alan Geddes.

Its the former Stena Caledonia, but not as We Remember Her!

PORT LINK (ex STENA CALEDONIA / ST. DAVID) has undergone significant work this year, with an accommodation extension and reconfiguration of her bow. The original bulbous bow was added for Stena Line during a major six-week refit in 1999 at what is now Cammell Laird when ducktail sponsons were also fitted to the stern of the vessel in order to make her compliant with then upcoming SOLAS requirements. Pictures uploaded to her Facebook page indicate that the originally fitted bow rudder (which had simply been welded up and covered over by the added bulbous bow) has now been totally removed, allowing the now shortened bulbous bow to be refitted.

The new accommodation is directly adjacent on either side to what was originally the “Lounge Bar” on the vessel, latterly the “Sports Bar”, which appears to have been gutted during this refit. This means that the outside deck’s aft on both sides of deck 7 are now covered from above, with both lifeboats aft on either side removed!

In her element. STENA CALEDONIA passes Corsewall Point in a fresh northerly. August 2010. Copyright © Gordon Hislip.
In her element. STENA CALEDONIA passes Corsewall Point in a fresh northerly. August 2010. Copyright © Gordon Hislip.

This gives the vessel a somewhat different appearance from that which she had in her North Channel years. The additional space appears to have been used to create a “VIP room” on the port side. The work was undertaken at the PT SMI (Samudra Marine Indonesia) shipyard at Bojonegara, Serang (Indonesia), where PORT LINK arrived in late March and left on May 14th. PORT LINK remains with ASDP Ferry to whom she was sold to by Stena Line back in 2012.

Le Rif to go to Africa Morocco Link after all?

LE RIF, better known to local readers as STENA GALLOWAY / GALLOWAY PRINCESS, has again been linked to Africa Morocco Link (AML), with suggestions the company is negotiating a purchase of the vessel with a view to returning her to her former Algeciras to Tangier Med route as ‘MOROCCO STAR’. The former North Channel favourite remains in Genoa (Italy) where she was towed to in January and subsequently dry docked and repainted.

It appears that debts incurred during the renovation of the vessel and a subsequent incident where she broke her moorings and drifted into a marina are proving a stumbling block to her purchase. It also appears that the vessel has not moved under her own power since she was last in service back in early 2013.

'Ferrycards' postcard of STENA GALLOWAY leaving Belfast in Stena Line colours. Copyright © Gordon Hislip
‘Ferrycards’ postcard of STENA GALLOWAY leaving Belfast in Stena Line colours. Copyright © Gordon Hislip
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