Commodore Shipping


Commodore began operations in 1947 as Commodore Cruises, when they operated a number of ex-Royal Navy Fairmile ‘B’ craft that were used on excursions from South East England resorts. In 1950, the first cargo vessel joined the fleet. Ownership of Commodore passed to Mansfield Markham in 1960. In 1962, the Alderney Tramp Shipping Company was acquired. British Railways withdrew their ferry Brittany in 1963, and a new company, Condor Limited, was formed to operate high speed services to France with a hydrofoil. Control passed to Jack Norman in 1965, who then acquired Channel Transporters (Portsmouth), allowing Commodore to become major players in the Channel Islands freight markets. Sealink (British Railways) introduced its first car ferries to Channel Island services in 1973, followed by multipurpose ferries capable of carrying freight vehicles in 1977. A major Sealink freight customer was Mainland Market Deliveries (MMD), who were specialised fruit carriers. They transferred their business to Channel Islands Ferries in 1985. Channel Islands Ferries made significant inroads into the Sealink traffic to the islands, and in 1986 a joint company British Channel Islands Ferries (BCIF) was formed. However strike action by Sealink crews prevented Sealink ships from joining the new company, and Sealink eventually lost its entire shareholding. Following the failure to provide a joint service with Sealink to the Channel Islands, BCIF were left to operate services on their own. However, they chose to concentrate all their services on Poole, abandoning Portsmouth and Weymouth, and leaving MMD without a service from their port of choice, Portsmouth. In collaboration with Commodore, MMD chartered a ship and began a freight-only ro-ro service. On 1st August 1989, MMD were taken over by Commodore. In 2004, the group was rebranded with Commodore Ferries coming under the Condor Ferries group name. The group was sold once again in 2004 to the Royal Bank of Scotland’s venture capital arm for £240 million. In August 2008 the Macquarie European Infrastructure Fund 2 (MEIF 2) announced that it had agreed to acquire Admiral Holdings Limited, the owner and operator of the Condor Group.

Commodore Shipping Archive

© Steven Brown

MV European Mariner – Past and Present

MV European Mariner, ex European Highlander, Lion, Merchant Valiant, Salahala – Steel twin screw motor vessel, built in 1978 by Rickmers Werft, GmbH, Bremerhaven, Germany. (Yard No. 390) as a RoRo Cargo ship

MV Purbeck – Past and Present

MV Maria Rosario, ex Purbeck – Steel twin screw motor vessel built in 1978 at Ateliers et Chantiers du Havre (ACH), Le Havre, France (Yard No 247) for Truckline Ferries France S.A. Cherbourg, France as a passenger and commercial vehicle ferry

MV Merchant Victor – Past and Present

MV Tiger A, ex Sevenhill, Moondance, Merchant Victor, Emadala – Steel twin screw motor vessel, built in 1978 by Rickmers Werft, GmbH, Bremerhaven, Germany (Yard No. 395), for Emadala Shipping Co. Hamilton, Bermuda as a passenger and commercial vehicle ferry

MV Clare – Past and Present

MV Clare, ex Dana Baltica, Vinzia E, Norcrest, Wesertal, Meyer Express, Wesertal – Steel twin screw motor vessel, built in 1972 by  Rickmers Werft, Bremerhaven, (Yard No 367) for J.A. Reinecke & Company, Germany as a passenger and commercial vehicle ferry.

MV Norman Commodore – Past and Present

MV Fjardvagen, ex Norman Commodore, Pride of Portsmouth, Mads Mols, Mads Trader, Merchant Trader, Sir Lamorak, Lakespan Ontario, Lady Catherine, Lune Bridge, Norcliff, Anu – Steel twin screw motor vessel, built in  1972 by Ankerlökken Verft A/S, Florø, Norway  (Yard No. 90 ), for Alander Frachtschiff GmbH, Hamburg as a roll-on and roll-off passenger and commercial vehicle ferry.

© Brian Fisher

MV Cornouailles – Past and Present

MV Sveti Stefan, ex Havelet, Cornouailles – Steel twin screw motor vessel built in  1977 at Trondhjems Mekaniske Verksted Trondheim Norway, (Yard No 735) for Brittany Ferries, Morlaix ,France as a passenger, car and commercial vehicle ferry.