© Brian FisherMV Horsa, Past and Present

MV Penelope A

ex Express Penelope, Penelope A, Stena Horsa, Horsa

© Brian Fisher

© Brian Fisher

Steel twin screw motor vessel built at the Arsenal de Brest , (Yard No. CF 2), for the British Railways Board in 1972

Technical Data

  • Length: 118.09m (387.3 ft) (overall), 110.19m (361.5 ft) (between perpendiculars)
  • Breadth of Hull: 19.84m (65 ft) (extreme),  19.20m (63.2 ft (moulded)
  • Depth: 11.23m (36.8 ft)(moulded)
  • Draft: 4.117m (mean loaded)
  • Tonnage: 5,590  gross,  2,008 net, 1,030  (deadweight)
  • Engines: two 16-cylinder Pielstick PC2V400 four-stroke single-acting diesels
  • Power: 11,030  kW/15,000 s.h.p. @465 r.p.m.
  • Speed: 19.5 knots
  • Cabins: 24
  • Capacity: 1,400 passengers and 256 cars (or 38 lorries and 80 cars)
  • Call Sign: GQAV (1972), SZNZ (1992 – )
  • IMO Number: 7205075
  • Official Number: 358513
  • Registry: London (1972), Piraeus/Greece (1992 – )
  • Sister Ships: Hengist, Senlac

History

Nigel Thornton Collection  Nigel Thornton Collection

Nigel Thornton Collection  Nigel Thornton Collection

Nigel Thornton Collection  Nigel Thornton Collection

Nigel Thornton Collection  Nigel Thornton Collection

Nigel Thornton Collection  Nigel Thornton Collection

Nigel Thornton Collection

Courtesy of Jim Ashby  Courtesy of Jim Ashby

Courtesy of Jim Ashby

April 29th 1972: Launched.

British Railways Board  British Railways Board

British Railways Board

July 30th 1972: Delivered to Sealink UK Ltd, Folkestone, England (British Railways).

August 2nd 1972: Commenced service between Dover – Boulogne.

August 5th 1972: Commenced service between Folkestone – Oostende.

August 19th 1972: Commenced service between Folkestone – Boulogne.

Courtesy of Jim Ashby  Courtesy of Jim Ashby

Courtesy of Jim Ashby  Courtesy of Jim Ashby

Courtesy of Jim Ashby

January 1975: Collided with LORD WARDEN in Calais.

April 10th 1977: Collided with the quayside in Calais. Minor damage and able to continue.

August 1977: Commenced service between Dunkerque – Dover.

January 1978: Became entangled with the offshore wires after she had dropped anchor while attempting to berth at the Admiralty Pier at Dover. At low water, and with a heavy swell running the ship was unable to move and battered her bow against piles and dolphins at the ramp. She was eventually towed off and sent to Calais for repairs, the berth being out of use for over a month.

January 20th 1978: Returned to service.

Courtesy of Jim Ashby  Courtesy of Jim Ashby

Courtesy of Jim Ashby

Courtesy of Jim Ashby

June 17th 1978: Damaged, and put out of action Folkestone’s link-span. Dover’s Western Docks ramp fell foul of the same ship earlier in the year but this time she sustained no damage to herself and continued to operate as a passenger only ship for several days until the link-span was repaired.

© Roy Thornton

© Roy Thornton (11/07/1983)

July 18th 1984: Sale of Sealink U.K. to Sea Containers Ltd, Bermuda. Company changed name to Sealink British Ferries U.K.

© Roy Thornton  © Fotoflite

© Roy Thornton (left) and © Fotoflite (right)

July 1984: Commenced between Folkestone – Boulogne.

© Ken Larwood  © Ken Larwood

© Ken Larwood

July 27th 1984: Registered to Sea Containers Ltd, London.

1984: In readiness for privatisation, on their re-appearance from overhaul, units of the Sealink UK Ltd fleet all appeared without the B.R. double arrow logo on their funnels. The vessels gradually appeared with white hulls. From that time the company would trade as Sealink British Ferries and a subsidiary company British Ferries was set up for Channel Island operations.

© Ken Larwood

© Ken Larwood

March 1985: Final service between Folkestone – Ostend, returning to Folkestone – Boulogne.

© Ken Larwood

© Ken Larwood

1985 (winter): Received £1 million refit. The ship’s aft docking bridge was removed during this period.

© Brian Fisher  © Brian Fisher

© Brian Fisher

February 26th 1985: Ran aground in thick fog off Copt Point, Folkestone. All blades on both screws were bent and dry-docking at Chatham was required.

February 16th 1986 – March 20th 1986: Refit at Swan Hunter Yard Hebburn.

November 1st 1987: Had to put back to Boulogne after departing substantially overloaded. A combination of circumstances ie, the cancellation of hovercraft sailings and vehicles being switched to the ferry, whilst the boat train arrived from Paris with 740 through passengers instead of 134 as previously advised. The vessel had been under way for 10 minutes until a ticket count revealed the error and she immediately turned back to discharge 238 passengers

January 31st 1988: Arrived on the Tyne for refit.

© Ken Lubi

© Ken Lubi

January 1990: Sold to Stena Line, Ab, Göteborg. (Registered to Stena Equipment Ltd. London) Commenced service for Sealink Stena Line.

May 23rd 1990 – September 4th 1990: Operated between Holyhead – Dun Laoghaire.

© Aubrey Dale  © Aubrey Dale

© Aubrey Dale  © Aubrey Dale

© Aubrey Dale (all)

1990: Renamed STENA HORSA

© Fotoflite  © Fotoflite

© Fotoflite

October 15th 1990: Commenced service between Folkestone – Boulogne.

© Mike Jackson

© Mike Jackson (sheltering from storms at Dover)

1991: Stena full takeover of Sealink U.K. Ltd for a sum believed to be in the region of £259 million. The fleets livery was changed to reflect the fact.

February 12th 1991 – February 14th 1991: Operated between Holyhead – Dun Laoghaire as cover for STENA CAMBRIA.

February 1991: Returned to Folkestone.

December 31st 1991: Closure of service between Folkestone – Boulogne.

© Andreas Wörteler  Nigel Thornton Collection

© Andreas Wörteler (left) and Nigel Thornton Collection (right)

Nigel Thornton Collection  Nigel Thornton Collection

Nigel Thornton Collection (Last weekend at Boulogne)

January 4th 1992: Left Dover for Milford Haven.

January 5th 1992: Laid up in Milford Haven.

February 15th 1992: Sold to Flanmare Shipping Inc, Piraeus Greece, renamed PENELOPE A. Left Milford Haven for Piraeus.

February 23rd 1992: Arrived Piraeus.

1992: Began operations with Agoudimos Lines between Rafina – Andros – Tinos – Mykonos.

© Ton Grootenboer  © Ton Grootenboer

© Ton Grootenboer

November 1999: Sold to Minoan Flying Dolphins, Piraeus Greece. Renamed EXPRESS PENELOPE.

2000: Operations for Hellas Ferries.

© Andreas Wörteler  © Andreas Wörteler

© Andreas Wörteler

© Aleksi Lindström

January 2004: Sold to Mimis Agoudimos, Greece. Renamed PENELOPE A. Commenced services between Rafina – Andros – Tinos – Mykonos.

2004: Services between Rafina – Andros – Tinos – Mykonos.

© Aleksi Lindström  © Aleksi Lindström

© Aleksi Lindström (both)

December 5th 2004: Collided with EVIA STAR in Rafina and damaged her bow.

© Andreas Wörteler  © Andreas Wörteler

© Andreas Wörteler (both)

© Ken Larwood

© Ken Larwood (02/06/2009)

December 28, 2012 (18:30 Rafina): Owing to “financial difficulties” her services ceased. Set sail for the New Molo, Drapetsona.

September 2013: Crew seized the vessel in Rafina (owing to non-payment for a period of nearly six months).

© Gerolf Drebes

© Gerolf Drebes

December 2013: Remained in Rafina.

January 2014: Crew left the ship which was promptly arrested.

“Prosecutor Panagiota Fakou has ordered an investigation into the allegations that the port authority of Rafina requested that the “Penelope A” ferry boat be removed from the port due to concerns of staff safety and environmental pollution.

The Panhellenic Merchant Navy Union (PENEN) had previously revealed the Rafina Port Authority’s allegations and request from the ship owners to remove the “Penelope A” immediately. The PENEN argued that the abandoned ferry boat’s anchor ropes broke due to strong winds last Sunday, increasing the chances of an accident or pollution.

The merchant navy union has demanded that the ship owners claim their responsibilities regarding the ship and noted that they have not yet paid the Rafina Port Authority fines worth 122,000 euros from port fees and refuse collection. Furthermore, the 56 crew members of the “Penelope A” who live on-board the ferry boat without electricity and running water have not been paid for up to 10 months.

The 56 crew members however will be paid three months worth of wages from the Merchant Seamen’s Fund, due to the ship owners’ non-payment of wages.”

© Petros Psarras

© Petros Psarras (19/07/2014)

August 2014: Remains under arrest, in Rafina. Noted as being advertised “For Sale”.


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: Brian Fisher, Gerolf Drebes, Ton Grootenboer, Mike Jackson, Ken Larwood, Aleksi Lindström, Ken Lubi, Petros Psarras and Andreas Wörteler for their assistance in compiling this feature. A special thanks goes to Jim Ashby and Terry Conybeare.

Article © Nigel Thornton and Ray Goodfellow (Dover Ferry Photos Group)


12 Comments

  1. Still in service between Rafina and Mikonos where she has plied her trade since leaving Folkestone.

    1. Hi Andrew,

      Thank you for your comment and thank you for bringing it to my attention that comments were not working on the site.

      Amazed that these ships are still going but that’s what classic BR design has and that’s longevity.

      I agree that it would be great to see the Horsa back at Folkestone but unfortunately there isn’t much of a port for it to come back to. The link span was removed a number of years ago and more recently all the ports buildings have been raised to the ground.

      I must try and get over there at some point to get some photographs showing how the port looks now.

      Best Wishes
      Ray

  2. 17 Nov 2014
    Rumours heard that the Penelope A/Horsa HAS now been sold – possibly for scrap (sad).
    Anyone have any info???

  3. October 23 2015. Realible source says Horsa (laid up ) and Hengist (as end of season) have now both been sold for scrap…

    Any further info??

    1. Hi Andrew,

      Thanks for the update. I am in the process of updating a lot of the pages on the website at the moment, both technically and for the ones I can research, historically as well and little snippets of information such as this are most helpful.

      Best Wishes
      Ray

  4. I looked up the whereabouts of MV Horsa on my iPad. I served on the said vessel from 1974 until 1979. I started as 4th Engineer then promoted to 3rd Engineer, after that I was offered a position on another new ship called the St Anselm. Sometimes I holiday in Greece but unfortunately I have never clapped eyes on my old ship. It holds fond memories for me. She used to run like a little sewing machine, backward and forwards across the English Channel, she was dream to work on and I was abit sad when I was transferred to the other ship, but that’s progress I suppose. I have also found out just recently that her sister ship MV Hengist is in a bad way with a nasty starboard list. Unfortunately these ships cannot go on for ever.
    Best regards.
    Terry Skinner.

    1. Terry,
      Thanks for all your comments.
      I’m afraid the “good ol’ days” are long gone!
      Sad to hear about Gerry Sutton.
      See you at the next Marine Officers dinner?

      Take care
      Nigel T

      1. Nigel,
        What is the latest on Horsa -is she still laid up in Elefsis? Hopes are fading (for so many reasons including the obvious one) for Tuxedo Royale/Dover. We have accomplished so much and assembled a great team -and we don’t wish it to be in vain- we could need another ship-preferably operational and Sealink heritage – any suggestions apart from Horsa. I presume its too late for Hengist? Regards Richard Moffatt – Dover Steamship Co.

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