Update on Le Rif (former Galloway Princess)

Chantry Classics postcard of Stena Galloway in Sealink Stena Line livery. (Steven Tarbox Collection)

Reports from Spain indicate that former North Channel favourite, Le Rif (ex Stena Galloway, Galloway Princess) has yet to enter the Andalucia dry dock at Cernaval’s Mario Lopez shipyard in Malaga, despite it being a month since her arrival in the Spanish port.  It appears that the delay has been due to the ship requiring more work than previously thought to prepare her for entering the dry-dock for a €2.5m refurbishment concentrating mostly on her hull and mechanicals.  It is understood that onboard power is currently being provided by a generator on the dock side. With the above in mind, and the fact that the ship will need to be re-certified by the appropriate authorities, it is very unlikely that Le Rif will enter service before the end of 2016.  Reports on local sites last week suggested Le Rif was to enter the dry-dock before the end of August, but at the time of writing, her … Read more

Former Stena Galloway to re-enter service?

Stena Galloway at sea in Stena Line colours. Copyright © Scott Mackey.

Le Rif arrives at Malaga for dry docking Recent reports that Le Rif (ex Stena Galloway, Galloway Princess) had been sold for scrap appear to have been untrue, as the former North Channel favourite arrived in Malaga on Saturday for a dry docking.  The ship (including 4 crew and a Captain appointed for the trip) was towed from Tangier in Morocco where she had been abandoned in 2013, though she had been moved to a different berth in the port since then.  Initially the Harland and Wolff built ship will undergo an assessment of her condition taking around 10 days and involving 14 people.  A budget of around €2.5m has been set aside for the overhaul and refurbishment, which will involve significant technical work and is expected to take around 2 months.  The work will be undertaken at Cernaval’s Mario Lopez shipyard in Malaga. Le Rif had been laid up following a major technical … Read more

Stena in Belfast – Celebrating 20 years of Stena Line operating from Belfast.

Stena Superfast VII and Stena Superfast VIII passing in Belfast Lough. Copyright © Alan Geddes.

20th anniversary of Stena Line switching the historic Larne – Stranraer service to Belfast. Today marks 20 years from the last sailing of what was then Stena Sealink Line, into the Port of Larne from Scotland, with tomorrow the anniversary of the first Stena ferry sailing from Belfast. Few could have predicted at the time that 20 years, and 2 bespoke Belfast-Scotland terminals later, Stena Line would also offer services from Belfast to Birkenhead and Heysham, as well as operating a pair of 203 metre long ferries to Scotland from Belfast.  Just six weeks after the switch, on the 31st December 1995, the “Sealink” name would disappear altogether with all UK operations being rebranded as “Stena Line”. Of course, things have also changed dramatically at Larne. No longer Northern Ireland’s premier ferry port, Stena’s rise at Belfast has been somewhat mirrored by P&O’s decline at Larne. The services to Fleetwood and … Read more

Image of Le Rif being towed a “false alarm”.

Stena Galloway leaves Larne in the short lived Stena Sealink Line livery. Copyright © Gary Andrews.

The former Galloway Princess / Stena Galloway is still in Morocco. The image of the former IMTC ferry Le Rif (ex Galloway Princess, Stena Galloway) being towed last month, which caused many (including NIFS) to believe she may be on her final journey, appears to have been a false alarm.  As recently as yesterday (15/8/15) she has been spotted at Tangier Med II.  It appears, therefore, that Le Rif was simply being moved within the port last month, rather than being towed to either further operations, or as thought, to a beach for dismantling / recycling.  It has been reported by some sources that Le Rif has been sold to interests based in Dubai, however this has not yet been confirmed.  As reported by NIFS a few days ago, former fleet mate and part-sister ship Ibn Batouta (ex St Christopher. Stena Antrim) has left Algeciras under the tow of tug Brucoli, with a … Read more

Former Stena Antrim towed to Albania, unknown destination for the former Galloway Princess.

IBN BATOUTA (ex ST DAVID, STENA ANTRIM) leaving Algeciras on 12/8/15 under tow of the Italian registered tug Brucoli. Copyright © Juan Gabriel Mata.

Could further service beckon for Ibn Batouta? The Ibn Batouta (ex St Christopher, Stena Antrim) left the port of Algeciras under the tow of the tug Brucoli on Tuesday, having been helped from the position she was occupying in the port by local tugs VB Twenty and VB Algeciras.  Her apparent destination is Durres in Albania. Ibn Batouta had been sold at auction earlier this year for just €1,027,000, having been laid up since Janurary 2012 following the collapse of the COMARIT group (of which her operator COMANAV was a part).  It is believed that Ibn Batouta may be the only one of the group of 4 COMARIT group ferries which have left Algeciras in the past few weeks not purchased for breaking, with the purchaser rumoured to have been the owner of the Italy-Albania ferry Red Star 1 (1965).  Bari (ex St Anslem, Stena Cambria, Isla de Botafoc), a sister ship of the … Read more

The ex Stena Galloway/Galloway Princess put up for sale.

Stena Galloway leaves Larne in the short lived Stena Sealink Line livery. Copyright © Gary Andrews.

Could the former Stena Galloway be heading for scrap? Following the bankruptcy of her owners last year, the Le Rif (ex Stena Galloway, Galloway Princess) is to be sold at auction, the proceeds of which will be used to settle unpaid bills.  Bids are to start at 4.6 million Moroccan Dirham, equivalent to about £300k.  NIFerrySite believes that Le Rif suffered a major technical failure before she was laid up, and has deteriorated inside in the meantime with no-one to look after her.  Unfortunately, given the condition of the vessel and the low start price, her most likely buyer is probably a ship breaker.  Launched in 1980 as Galloway Princess, Le Rif was the first of the final 4 passenger ferries built by Harland and Wolff, and consequently also one of the final ships ordered by Sealink before privatisation. EDIT: Click here to see the latest (as of July 2016) … Read more

Some former North Channel Ferries in photographs

Pride of Rathlin (Chantry Classics Postcard).

This post has been replaced by a new dedicated page here. Photographs of some of the ferries which previously plied their trade in our waters.  Note, that due to the age of these photographs (many of which where originally taken with film cameras and scanned), picture quality is sometimes not up to modern standards.

Bad news about the former Stena Antrim (updated)

In particularly sad news for Belfast and Northern Ireland, one of the final passenger vessels built by Harland and Wolff could soon be headed to a beach somewhere for scrapping.  The Ibn Batouta (ex Stena Antrim, St Christopher) is one of 4 ferries which have been laid up in Algericas for over 2 years following the failure of owners COMARIT.  The port authority is now pushing for them to be declared abandoned so they can be removed and auctioned to the highest bidder.  The most likely destination considering the age and condition of the 4 ships is for scrap.  Between 1991 and 1996 Stena Antrim served to Stranraer, first from Larne and then from Belfast when Stena moved there in 1995.  Of the other veseels (Al Mansour, Banasa, and Boughaz) Al Mansour also served in Irish waters as Stena Nautica for both Sealink and B&I line between Fishguard and Wales. … Read more