Refurbishment of the former Galloway Princess nears completion.
Reports from Morocco indicate that LE RIF (ex Stena Galloway, Galloway Princess) is expected to return to service soon, following an extensive refurbishment and overhaul. The Belfast built former Sealink ferry has been out of service since 2013 when previous operator IMTC collapsed. A new entrant to the market, Moroccan company DWLM (Detroit World Logistics Maritime), intend to operate LE RIF on her former IMTC route between Tangier Med and Algeciras across the Gibraltar Strait.
Originally the 1980 built vessel had been towed to the Mario Lopez shipyard in Malaga for work, following a lengthy layup whilst awaiting sale at Tangier Med. But following costs increasing from the €2.5m originally quoted, LE RIF was moved to the Jobson shipyard in Italy. The final cost of the refurbishment is almost 70m Moroccan Dirhams (around €6m), a significant expenditure considering the purchase price for the vessel at auction was just 11m Morrocan Dirhams. However useful ferry tonnage is has been in short supply in recent years. The cost of building new vessels continues to escalate, and a number of companies have invested in older vessels recently which less than a decade ago would have been sold for further use or sent for recycling.
The former Sealink ferry now sports a colour scheme not dissimilar to her original colours, with a blue hull and red funnel. She retains her former name and home port of Tangier in Morroco, is expected to return to service in September. DWLM have stated they intend to operate a second route from Almeria to Nador once they find a suitable vessel. DWLM is 100% Moroccan owned and is understood to be controlled by Moroccan businessman Hakim Rahmouni, who has interests in logistics the construction industry and agriculture.
The company have a facebook page here where you can keep up with the latest developments.
Title image: LE RIF nearing completion of her refurbishment in Italy before being reintroduced to service on the Tangier Med to Algeciras route. © DWLM.