A quick news roundup featuring some vessels which previously plied their trade in NI waters.
LE RIF: Could the former STENA GALLOWAY/GALLOWAY PRINCESS soon be back in service?
The last purpose-built vessel for the Larne to Stranraer service could soon be back plying her trade in the Mediterranean. Last month LE RIF (ex Stena Galloway, Galloway Princess) was moved from La Spezia to Napoli. The vessel had previously been purchased at auction by the mysterious new Moroccan company DWLM who had intended to refit her at Malaga, however the vessel was moved to La Spezia amid reports of a dispute with the Malaga yard owners over costs. Reports from Italy suggest that the vessel may now be under the control of the group of companies that own Mediterranean operator Moby Lines. Moby themselves have been acquiring a number of elderly vessels in the past couple of years, including the now MOBY KISS (ex Banasa, Mette Mols which had already been beached in Turkey when they saved her. They could have their work cut out with LE RIF though (if indeed she is now under their control), as it was reported she was seriously deficient in several basic areas following an assessment when she was in Malaga. As much of Moby's fleet dates from the 1970's, 1980 built LE RIF could be considered a modern acquisition by their standards.
EXPRESS: The final fast ferry to operate between Northern Ireland and Scotland gets a new operator in the Baltic.
As reported in this weeks industry news update, EXPRESS is now operating for Finland's Viking Line under the marketing name Viking FSTR (Viking Faster). From pictures posted by both Viking Line themselves and enthusiasts it appears that despite being with her second operator since finishing service with P&O, she is largely unchanged inside. Still officially named EXPRESS, the InCat catamaran now sports a very eye-catching mainly red and white colour scheme. EXPRESS was of course the last in a long line of fast craft to operate between Northern Ireland and Scotland including Stena's HSS Stena Voyager, a number of 'SeaCat's', and P&O's Jetliner and Superstar Express.
STENA NAVIGATOR: Former North Channel and Calais favourite continues to ply her trade in the Med after dry dock.
Baleària's POETA LOPEZ ANGLADA (ex Daniya, Stena Navigator, Seafrance Manet, Stena Parisien, Champs Elysées) again visited the dry dock at Astilleros del Guadalquivir in Seville this year for her dry docking. The vessel operates between Algeciras (Spain) and Tangier Med (Morocco).
On the 17th of March POETA LOPEZ ANGLADA was involved in a minor collision when she hit the starboard side of Trasmediterránea's CIUDAD DE MALAGA in Algeciras. Thankfully there was no major damage done.
PORT LINK: Better known locally as STENA CALEDONIA, the last passenger and vehicle ferry built in Belfast continues to ply her trade a long way from home.
The ship many of us remember as Stena Caledonia (ex St David) continues to ply her trade in Indonesia as PORT LINK. Not only was she the final former Sealink vessel to operate from Northern Ireland, but she was also the final passenger and vehicle ferry built by Harland & Wolff as well as the final vessel purpose built for Sealink service. She was launched in 1982 as St David and originally designed to operate between Holyhead and Dun Laoghaire, but spent much of the 1980's operating out of Dover. From 1991-2011 she was based on the Stranraer service until she was displaced by the current vessels.
IBN BATOUTA: Former STENA ANTRIM/ST CHRISTOPHER is still laid-up in Albania.
Whilst 2 of the 4 Sealink ships built in Belfast continue to operate (BARI, ex Stena Cambria, St Anselm continues in service for Ventouris in the Med), and another looks like she might just make it back into service, the future doesn't look quite as bright for the remaining ship of the quartet. As the picture above taken last month shows, IBN BATOUTA still sits alongside the same pier at Durres (Albania) with little to no work appearing to have taken place since she arrived there in August 2015. BARI currently operates between Bari and Durres, meaning the two sisters meet in port regularly despite their different situations.
FOYLE VENTURE: Former Magilligan to Greencastle ferry in service across the River Suir near Wicklow.
NIFS can reveal that the former Lough Foyle ferry FOYLE VENTURE (ex Shannon Willow) is currently operating the Passage East ferry service across the River Suir in the absence of the regular vessel FBD TINTERN. Until last year the veteran double-ended ferry had maintained the seasonal service across the Foyle from Magilligan to Greencastle (Co. Donegal). It is expected that FOYLE VENTURE will be the vessel used by the new Scenic Carlingford Ferry company when they start their service across Carlingford Lough later this year.
Title image: Stena Galloway at sea in Stena Line colours. Copyright © Scott Mackey.
Article Copyright © Steven Tarbox for NIFerrySite