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 AIS indicates she is still alongside the same dock she has laid by for the past month.
As previously reported on NIFS, Le Rif was acquired few months ago by a concern going under the name of DWLM (Detroit World Logistic Maritime) for 9m Moroccan Dirhams, approx €830,000. Given the low purchase price, it had been expected by many she would be broken up rather than brought back into service as now appears may be the case. It has been reported in the Spanish and Moroccan media that it is intended that she will re-enter service across the Strait of Gibraltar following her refit, though it unclear if this will be for an existing or new operator.
Le Rif was built by Harland and Wolff in Belfast as the first of a series of 4 passenger and vehicle ferries built for then British Rail owned Sealink. From entering service on 1st May 1980 until she was sold in February 2002 to the Moroccan company ITMC for operation between Algeciras and Tangier, she almost exclusively served the North Channel service from Stranraer to Larne and later Belfast, for first Sealink and then Stena Line and its subsidiary companies following the takeover of Sealink during 1990/91. Following ITMC going bankrupt in 2013, Le Rif had been left to deteriorate for around 2 years before being purchased by DWLM at auction earlier this year, finally leaving Morocco under tow for refit in Spain.
Title image: Chantry Classics postcard of Stena Galloway in Sealink Stena Line livery. (Steven Tarbox Collection)