MV Calais Seaways
ex Norman Spirit, Ostend Spirit, Norman Spirit, Pride of Aquitaine, PO Aquitaine, POSL Aquitaine, Stena Royal, Prins Filip
© Andreas Wörteler
Steel twin screw motor vessel, built by Boelwerf of Temse, Belgium (Yard No. 1534), for Regie voor Maritiem Transport (RMT) in 1991 as a passenger and roll-on roll-off car and commercial vehicle ferry
- Length: 163.4m overall
- Breadth of Hull: 27.7m overall
- Draught: 6.20m
- Tonnage: 28,883 gross, 11,299 net, 4,050 deadweight
- Engines: Four Sulzer 8ZA S40 diesels
- After rebuild (2015): Two Sulzer 8ZA S40 and two GMT Sulzer 8ZAL40S diesels
- Power: 21,120 kW
- After rebuild (2015): 22,460kW
- Speed: 21.0 knots
- Capacity: 1400 passengers, 710 cars or approximately 120 freight units
- MMSI number: 228006800
- Call Sign: FGXF
- IMO Number: 8908466
- Registry: Oostende, Hamilton/Bermuda, Dover, Ramsgate, Le Havre/France
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May 2nd 1990: Keel laid
© Bernd Crause
Bernt Anderson Collection
© Jean François Berden, Courtesy of Boelwerf Blog
May 24th 1991: On the same day as RMT crew decided to protest and picket the builders yard she was officially named by the Belgian successor to the throne, Prins Filip.
September 2nd 1991: Left for sea-trials.
September 6th 1991: Arrived in Dover for berthing trials.
September 8th 1991: Returned to her builders after her owners claimed that there were vibration problems with the vessel.
September 21st 1991 : Sailed for further sea-trials before returning to Ostend on the 22nd.
October 10th 1991: Docked in Antwerp and it wasn’t until February 10th, 1992 that she left for Boelwerf Vlaanderen (Boel Yard Flanders) (the former Cockerill’s yard) carrying 40 tons of steel (in an attempt to alleviate the vibration problems), for the necessary repairs and alterations.
April 26th 1992: Left Hoboken for Ostend.
Simplon Postcard (© Phillipe Holthof, River Scheldt, Antwerp, 27/04/1992) (Left) and © Brian Fisher (Scheldt, May 1992) (Right)
May 4th 1992: Delivered to Regie Voor Maritiem Transport (RMT), Ostend, Belgium. (Ship Finance N.V Oostende, Belgium).
May 12th 1992: Made her maiden voyage between Ostend and Dover.
© Gary Davies (Maritime Photographic) and © Fotoflite, Stéphane Poulain Collection (right)
May 15th 1992: She was introduced between Ostend and Dover.
© A G Jones (Dover, 15/08/1992)
1993 (end): Announced that the Belgian company did not intend to renew its marketing agreement with P&O. Instead it concluded a deal with Sally Line. With effect from January 1994 RMT became known as Oostende Lines , transferring all its Ostend services, including Jetfoil operations from Dover to Sally Line’s base at Ramsgate.
January 27th 1994: She made her maiden voyage from Ostend to Ramsgate. The weather conditions were not favourable, with winds WSW blowing between 30 to 45 knots. She duly arrived and whilst swinging off the berth she was caught by the wind on her port side, she drifted sideways and ended up across the entrance to the old harbour with her stern on a mud bank and her bow resting on the west pier. Two tugs attempted to push her away. One of the tug’s engines overheated but after 90 minutes the vessel berthed safely.
“New” Bernd Crause (Ostend, 23/05/1994)
© Ken Larwood
January 30th 1994: Commenced regular service Ostend – Ramsgate.
September 14th 1994: Whilst preparing to sail from her berth in Ramsgate the foot passenger gangway collapsed onto the upper deck leading to the death of six people and seriously injuring seven others. This was one of the most serious onshore accidents in the recent history of the ferry industry.
© Andreas Wörteler (Ostend 22/06/1995)
© Ken Smith (Ramsgate 05/09/1995)
February 28th 1997: Completed her last crossing between Ostend and Ramsgate.
© Andreas Wörteler (Ostend, 15/02/1997)
April 29th 1997: Laid-up in Dunkerque, France.
Nigel Thornton Collection
© Pieter Inpyn (Dunkerque, 01/05/1997)
© Simonwp (01/06/1997)
May 1998: Sold to Stena Ferries Ltd (Stena RoRo), Hamilton, Bermuda.
June 2nd 1998: Renamed STENA ROYAL whilst continuing to lay up in Dunkerque.
© Pieter Inpyn (Dunkerque, 01/09/1998)
© Ted Ingham (left) and © Robert “Bob” Smith (Dover, 29/11/1998)(right)
© Ken Larwood (Dover, November 1998)
November 20th 1998: Bareboat chartered to P&O Stena Line, England and introduced as a freight ferry between Dover and Zeebrügge. P&O Stena Line was a British private sector company, 60% owned by the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company and 40% owned by Stena Line AB of Sweden. The new company took over the Dover and Newhaven services of P&O European Ferries and Stena Line in March 1998.
May 14th 1999: Renamed P&OSL AQUITAINE and introduced between Dover – Zeebrügge.
1999: Rebuilt at A&P, Falmouth for use on the Dover-Calais service. She resumed service from Dover on November 1st.
© Ken Larwood (left) and © Andreas Wörteler (Zeebrugge, May 1999)(right)
April 27th 2000: Following a technical failure approaching the port of Calais the P&OSL Aquitaine entered the harbour and was unable to reduce her speed. This resulted in a collision with berth 7. As a result of the collision 38 people suffered minor injuries.
April 27th 2000: She was then sent to Dunkerque for temporary repairs.
ARNO Dunkerque © Jean-Guy Hagelstein
May 5th 2000 – May 31st 2000: Underwent repairs at A&P Yards at Falmouth .
June 1st 2000: Resumed between Dover and Calais.
© Stéphane Poulain
© Carsten Dettmer (Calais, 29/12/2000) (Left) (Calais, 28/12/2000) (Right)
April 2002: P&O announced its intention to buy out the 40% stake in P&O Stena Line owned by Stena AB.
August 2002: P&O Stena alliance ended with P&O purchasing Stenas 40% share in the P&O Stena Line business. The Dover-Calais fleet adopted the appropriate P&O “Pride of ….” names, losing there P&OSL prefixes. All vessels had their Stena house flag removed from their funnels, along with the deletion of the name Stena from their hulls. In future the company would trade as P&O Ferries.
© Andreas Wörteler (Calais, 09/02/2003)
March 3rd 2003: Renamed PRIDE OF AQUITAINE and resumed service at Dover in the new livery of P&O Ferries.
© Craig Nelson (left) and © Nigel Thornton (right)
© Pieter Inpyn (Calais, 01/08/2004)
May 2005: As a part of P&O’s fundamental business review it was announced that the Pride of Aquitaine would be withdrawn from service along with the Pride of Provence. The Aquitaine was to see out the remainder of her charter laid up in Dunkerque, France before a return to Stena Ro-Ro.
May 5th 2005: “PRIDE OF KENT returns to service, after refit, ex Dover on 5/5/05. PRIDE OF AQUITAINE’S last journey is 1315 ex Dover. Return 1620 ex Calais is cancelled that day.”
© Ed Connell
“To be withdrawn on or as from 5th May 2005 once the PRIDE OF KENT returns from refit. She will proceed to A&P Falmouth for refit, then to Dunkerque (again!) to await her next call.”
May 6th 2005: A delay in return from refit of PRIDE OF KENT gives her a seven day reprieve.
© Nigel Thornton
May 18th 2005: ‘Left Dover for A&P, Falmouth to be refitted and rumoured to be renamed STENA ROYAL.
May 19th 2005: Arrived in Falmouth.
Nigel Thornton Collection
June 2005: Due to sail to Dunkerque via Portsmouth. There was much speculation about her future with rumours abound (one that she would sail for TransEuropa from Ramsgate).
June 5th 2005: Arrived in Dover mysteriously flying two flags indicating “I offered help, but was declined!” She had not been renamed.
June 7th 2005: Sailed to Dunkerque (“Port Autonome De Dunkerque” code 108035, name PRIDE OF AQUITAINE, agent AGENA TRAMP, berth F08/1 SUD, from PORTSMOUTH, arrival date and time 07/06/2005 11:00)
© Andreas Wörteler
September 2005: Bareboat chartered to LD Lines, France.
September 13th 2005: Signed over to her new owner / charter @ 1500hrs.
October 2005: Renamed NORMAN SPIRIT flying the Italian flag.
© Robert Fournier
October 1st 2005: LD Lines (Louis Dreyfus Lines, headquartered in Paris) announced a new cross-channel “no-frills” service. The daily service would depart from Portsmouth, UK at 2300 arriving the following morning in Le Havre, France at 0730. It would then sail from Le Havre at 1700 arriving back in Portsmouth at 2130.
October 2nd 2005: Left Dunkerque bound for Portsmouth.
October 2nd 2005: (1600 hrs) Arrived in Portsmouth.
October 3rd 2005: Anticipated entry into service between Le Havre – Portsmouth.
© Fotoflite, Stéphane Poulain Collection
October 2005: Purchased by LD Lines from Stena RoRo.
Nigel Thornton Collection
October 3rd 2005: Commenced service.
December 8th 2005: French seafarers blocked Le Havre ferry terminal yesterday, preventing her from berthing. The CFDT union members were angry that the ship had been flagged under the Italian second registration, which allows the company to use cheaper non-European staff. She had to stay off port all day and was only able to berth in the evening.
2006: Registered owner: Louis Dreyfus Ferry, France. Registered manager: V Ships Leisure, Monaco
June 2006: Transferred to British flag, home port Southampton.
November 13th 2006: Arrived at ARNO Dunkerque for overhaul.
© Robert Fournier (Dunkerque, 13/11/2006)
© Robert Fournier (Dunkerque, November & December 2006)
December 4th 2006: The Norman Spirit is due to depart ARNO Dunkerque at 22:00
July 8th 2008: The Port of Boulogne Authority and the Boulogne Chamber of Commerce, announced the introduction of a new freight and passenger ferry service between the ports of Dover (Eastern Docks) and Boulogne to be operated by LD Lines.
It was understood that the Norman Spirit would transfer to this service in the Summer of 2009. As it happened she remained at Portsmouth after LD Lines decided to use the Norman Arrow between Dover and Boulogne.
October 2nd 2009: It was announced that the Norman Spirit was due to leave the Portsmouth-Le Havre route and would take up service on the Dover-Boulogne route in place of the Norman Arrow as of the 8th of November 2009.
November 8th 2009 (10.30 hrs GMT): Arrived in Boulogne for berthing trials prior to taking up service.
© Jean-Guy Hagelstein
November 8th 2009 (14.52 hrs): Arrived in Dover for berthing trials.
© Nigel Thornton
Boulogne 14/03/10 © Manuel Dhondt
8th February 2010: LD Lines and Transeuropa Ferries announced a commercial agreement to commence a collaboration on the Ramsgate – Ostend freight and passenger ferry service, initially operating one vessel together. Starting between 15th and 30th March 2010, the two companies will co-operate on commercial aspects of the route with LD Lines taking a lead in the development of the tourist passenger business, whilst Transeuropa Ferries will continue to build its focus on freight traffic and ship operations. The agreement also included fleet changes with LD Lines’ Norman Spirit transferring to the route, which Transeuropa Ferries will operate on a long term charter basis. Norman Spirit will be re-named Ostend Spirit, operating two return sailings daily, with a crossing time of four hours. The ship is expected to replace one of the current Transeuropa Ferries’ fleet later in 2010.
Zeebrugge © Michael Moons
18th March 2010: Arrived in the Port of Zeebrugge for an underwater inspection.
18th March 2010: Arrived in the Port of Ostend.
© Tobias Stuyts
21st March 2010: Renamed OSTEND SPIRIT with a new port of registry, Ramsgate, United Kingdom. Whilst alongside in Ostend she is repainted in the joint livery of Trans Europa Ferries and LD Lines.
26th March 2010: Departed Ostend for Ramsgate and berthing trials.
27th March 2010: Entered commercial service between Ostend and Ramsgate.
First weekend in service at Ramsgate © Mark Leiper (left) and © Ray Goodfellow ( right)
Ostend © Michel Elias
1st April 2010: Owing to an incident involving the NORMAN ARROW at Portsmouth the NORMAN BRIDGE was transferred to operate the Portsmouth – Le Havre service. The Ostend Spirit was sent to Dover to cover the Boulogne route.
2nd April 2010: Arrived in Dover to take up the 0700 sailing to Boulogne.
Covering on the Boulogne service seen departing Dover on the 05/04/10 © Ray Goodfellow
5th April 2010: Operated her last crossing to Boulogne. She was due to re-enter service between Ramsgate and Ostend on the 6th April 2010.
© Manuel Dhondt
April 6th 2010: Returned to Ostend
April 29th 2010: To Dover again to cover for the NORMAN BRIDGE.
May 10th 2010: Sailed to Ostend from Boulogne and resumed Ostend – Ramsgate.
May 15th 2010: Sailed from Ostend to Dover to cover for the NORMAN BRIDGE.
May 15th 2010: Boulogne – Dover service.
May 28th 2010: Sailed to Ostend.
May 28th 2010: Ostend – Ramsgate.
May 29th 2010: Boulogne – Dover
May 31st 2010: Resumed Ostend – Ramsgate.
© Carsten Dettmer (Ostend, 10/10/2010)
© Andreas Wörteler
January 3rd 2011: Arrived in Antwerp, Belgium for refit.
March 2011: It was announced that the trading agreement between Trans Europa Ferries (TEF) and LD Lines was to end with the Ostend Spirit returning to LD Lines.
March 14th 2011: Departed Ramsgate for the Remontowa shipyard in Gdansk, Poland.
April 2011: Renamed NORMAN SPIRIT and re-registered in Le Havre, France. During the course of her overhaul LD Lines adopted a new livery based on the Tricolor.
May 1st 2011: Arrived in Le Havre.
May 2nd 2011: Re-entered service between Le Havre and Portsmouth.
July 27th 2011: DFDS A/S and Louis Dreyfus Armateurs make a joint bid for the assets of Seafrance
“If the bid is successful DFDS and Louis Dreyfus Armateurs will form a jointly owned company, with DFDS as the majority shareholder, to acquire the assets of SeaFrance. It is furthermore the intention to transfer DFDS’ Dover – Dunkirk route and Louis Dreyfus Armateurs’ ferry shipping activities, LD Lines, to the joint company.”
November 16th 2011: DFDS A/S and Louis Dreyfus Armateurs bid for certain assets of Seafrance is declined by the administrators.
November 28th 2011: It was announced that the Norman Spirit would be chartered to DFDS Seaways to offer additional capacity on the Dover-Dunkerque service following the collapse of Seafrance.
November 29th 2011: Departed Le Havre for the ARNO Shipyard in Dunkerque, France so she could have her ramps adjusted.
November 30th 2011: Departed ARNO’s for Dover.
December 1st 2011: Entered service from Dover to Dunkerque for DFDS Seaways.
© Ray Goodfellow
December 3rd-4th 2011: Returned to ARNO Dunkerque for further ramp adjustments to enable her to achieve a better fit with berths 2 and 6 in Dover.
Arriving at Dover in storm force conditions © Ray Goodfellow
December 4th 2011: Returned to service between Dover and Dunkerque.
Loading in Dunkerque © Ed Connell
December 12th 2011: DFDS A/S and Louis Dreyfus Armateurs announced that they will not be making a further bid for the assets of Seafrance.
“the underlying industrial logic of DFDS’ and Louis Dreyfus Armateurs’ joint venture remains intact. Furthermore, we believe that the joint venture is in a unique position to create a sustainable, attractive, and profitable workplace for a majority of the present employees of SeaFrance, including the deployment of French flagged ships. We will continue to monitor the situation and evaluate any future opportunities that may arise for the joint venture.”
January 10th 2012: DFDS Seaways and LD Lines announce that they intend to open a new route from Dover-Calais to fill the void left by the collapse of Seafrance.
“DFDS and Louis Dreyfus Armateurs formed a joint venture in 2011 that bid to acquire certain assets of SeaFrance, but the bid was rejected by the commercial court of Paris in December 2011. As previously stated, the underlying industrial logic of DFDS’ and Louis Dreyfus Armateurs’ joint venture has remained intact throughout the process. Furthermore, our joint venture is still in a unique position to create a number of sustainable French jobs, including the deployment of French flagged ships.
We can, therefore, confirm that we have continued to pursue opportunities to establish a new route between Dover and Calais. Our intention is to operate two ships under the French flag to be manned with French seafarers. To open a new route, and provide an attractive service for customers, we aim to hire about 300 staff and expect to be able to start the recruitment process soon. The new route would be operated by vessels currently owned by the joint venture or vessels available on the market.”
January 28th 2012: Completed service on the Dover-Dunkerque service and proceeded to ARNO’s at Dunkerque to be readied for Dover-Calais service.
ARNO Dunkerque © Ray Goodfellow
February 10th 2012: Departed Dunkerque bound for Calais. Upon reaching Calais she underwent berthing trials.
February 17th 2012: Entered service between Dover and Calais. The service was launched by British actress Kelly Brook, Carsten Jensen, senior vice-president of DFDS Seaways and Christophe Santoni, managing director of LD Lines.
© Ray Goodfellow
12th August 2012: Off service with “Technical” problems.
14th August 2012: Returned to service between Dover and Calais.
2nd October 2012: Operated one round trip to Dunkerque due to industrial action at the port of Calais.
© Carsten Dettmer (Calais, 15/10/2012)
March 1st 2013: Withdrawn from service and sailed from Calais to Gdansk for refit.
March 3rd 2013: Arrived at Remontowa Shipyard, Gdansk.
© Jakub Bogucki
March 12th 2013: Renamed CALAIS SEAWAYS.
© Gdansk, Jakub Bogucki
March 14th 2013: Left Gdansk destination Calais.
Ålsgårde, Denmark en-route from Gdansk to Calais (© and reproduced with kind permission of faergegalleriet.dk)
March 17th 2013 (05.08 hrs): Arrived in Calais.
First arrival in Dover © Paul Smith
March 17th 2013 (10.34 hrs): Resumed service Calais – Dover.
© Nigel Thornton (19/03/2013)
27th March 2013: Developed technical problems on her 20:00 sailing from Calais. Eventually arriving in Dover 5 hours later with the assistance of port tugs DHB DAUNTLESS and DHB DOUGHTY. Once she had discharged her traffic she was moved to the Eastern arm for repairs.
Alongside the Eastern arm on the 28/03/13 © Craig Nelson
Onboard Calais Seaways © Julien Carpentier (all)
29th March 2013: Resumed service between Dover and Calais.
Departing Calais on the 29/03/13 © Craig Nelson
January 25th 2013: Reportedly caught by a 75 knot (approx 90 mph) wind as she entered Calais. Sustained Damage while berthing requiring repair.
January 27th 2014: Resumed service.
© Ray Goodfellow
January 28th 2014: Arrived in Vlissingen for refit.
February 8th 2014: Completed refit and departed Vlissingen.
February 9th 2014: Arrived in Calais and resumed service.
April 3rd 2014: Owing to industrial action at the port of Calais the ‘Calais Seaways’ operated a couple of crossings to/from Dunkerque. The industrial action was called off mid afternoon and the vessel resumed service from Dover to Calais.
Departing Dover via the Western entrance on the 13/04/15 © Ray Goodfellow
April 22nd 2015: Stood down from service ready to de-store before an extended refit in Poland. During the refit the vessel will be fitted with a new engine following serious technical problems with one of her Sulzer main engines. The MALO SEAWAYS would operate her schedule until her return to service.
April 22nd 2015 (21:30): Departed Calais for Gdansk, Poland. ETA in Gdansk is 0700 on the 25/04/15.
Gdansk © Kim Viktor
May 29th 2015: Left Gdansk after refit.
June 1st 2015 (04.21 hrs): Arrived in Calais.
June 1st 2015: Resumed service.
Departing Dover for Dunkerque 29/06/15 © Ray Goodfellow
June 29th 2015: Owing to Industrial Action/Port Closure at Calais commenced service Dover – Dunkerque.
July 21st 2015: Resumed service between Dover and Calais.
July 26th 2015: DFDS Seaways suspended services between Dover and Calais due to ongoing industrial action by the Maritime North Union. Vessel now operating additional sailings between Dover and Dunkerque.
July 28th 2015: Resumed service between Dover and Calais.
© Ray Goodfellow
February 26th 2016: To Damen yard, Dunkerque for refit.
Calais Seaways © Robert Fournier
Calais Seaways © Nathan Burt (left) and Martin Appleyard (right)
March 6th 2016 (02:49 (UTC +1):Left Dunkerque east.
March 6th 2016 (05:24 (UTC +1): Arrived Calais.
March 6th 2016( 14:07 (UTC +1): Resumed Calais – Dover.
Calais Seaways © Nigel Scutt (Dover-Marina.com) (left) and © Simonwp (right)
Calais Seaways © John Bryant
© Carsten Dettmer Calais, May 2016)
February 13th 2017: Sailed from Calais to the Damen Shipyard in Dunkerque for a major interior rebuild to bring her passenger facilities in line with that of her Calais-Dover fleet mates, the CÔTE DES DUNES and the CÔTE DES FLANDRES. She is due to return to service at the end of March 2017.
Calais Seaways © Julien Carpentier (Damen Dunkerque 19/02/17)
March 30th 2017: Left Damen Dunkerque.
March 31st 2017: Arrived in Calais to resume service Calais – Dover.
© Julien Carpentier
March 8th 2018: To Damen, Dunkerque for refit.
Calais Seaways © Robert Fournier
March 26th 2018: Refit complete, left Dunkerque.
March 26th 2018: Arrived Calais to resume service 27/03/2018.
Calais Seaways © Ray Goodfellow (Dover and Calais 29/03/2018)
© Julien Carpentier
March 3rd 2019: Owing to a combination of industrial action by French Customs Officers and excess traffic, made several sailings Dover – Dunkerque. She then returned to Dover – Calais
Calais Seaways © Julien Carpentier
March 14th 2019: Came off service and sailed to Dunkerque (East)
Calais Seaways © Julien Carpentier (Damen Dunkerque 21/03/19)
March 23rd 2019: Completed refit and sailed to Calais
March 24th 2019: Arrived in Calais to resume service Calais – Dover
All information is believed to be correct and no responsibility is accepted for any errors or omissions found. All items included in this article are subject to © copyright. We would like to take this opportunity of thanking: Martin Appleyard, Micke Asklander (Faktaomfartyg), John Bryant, Nathan Burt, d, Bethina (Faegre Galleriet.dk), Jakub Bogucki, Julien Carpentier, Ed Connell, Bernd Crause, Gary Davies (Maritime Photographic), Carsten Dettmer, Manuel Dhondt, Michel Elias, Brian Fisher, Robert Fournier, Jean-Guy Hagelstein, Phillipe Holthof, Ted Ingham, Pieter Inpyn. Mike Jackson, Ken Larwood, Mark Leiper, Nicolas Levy, Michael Moons, Craig Nelson, Stéphane Poulain, Nigel Scutt (Dover-Marina.com), Ken Smith, Simonwp, Tobias Stuyts, Paul Smith, Robert “Bob” Smith, Tobias Stuyts, Kim Viktor and Andreas Wörteler for their assistance in compiling this feature.