MV Al Andalus Express
ex Nord Pas-de-Calais, Seafrance Nord Pas-de-Calais, Nord Pas-de-Calais
© Ton Grootenboer
Steel twin screw motor vessel, built by Chantiers du Nord et de la Méditerranée SA, Dunkirk, (Yard No 325) for Societe Nationale des Chemin de Fer Francais (SNCF), Paris in 1987 as a multi-purpose passenger and roll-on roll-off ferry for lorries and railway vehicles
- Length: 160 metres (overall)
- Breadth of Hull: 23 metres (extreme)
- Draught: 5.65 metres
- Tonnage: 13,727 gross, 2493 net, 4,800 deadweight
- Engines: Two 16-cylinder Sulzer ZAV 40 diesels
- Power: 24,500 HP / 18,022 kW
- Speed: 22.45 knots
- Capacity: 80 passengers, 45 lorries and 600 metres of rail freight or 75 lorries
- Call Sign: FNBN, 5BMH4
- MMSI Number: 209011000
- IMO Number: 8512152
- Registry: France, Cyprus
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July 17th 1985: Ordered.
Nigel Thornton Collection (all)
April 15th 1987: Launched without ceremony.
Roy Thornton Collection (left) and Ton Grootenboer (right)
December 12th 1987: Entered service Calais – Dover ro-ro.
January 1988: Laid up for a short time owing to a strike by French seamen over crewing arrangements.
© Fotoflite, Stéphane Poulain Collection
May 9th 1988: Operated Dover- Dunkirk until its closure on 22nd December 1995.
© Brian Fisher (left) and © Nigel Thornton (right)
© Ken Larwood (both)
© Pieter Inpyn
1989: Transferred to SNAT (Société Nouvelle d’Armement Transmanche), Calais, France.
September 21st 1989: When she completed her 500th day of service, Railfreight Distribution marked the occasion by presenting the ships Master with a brass plate identifying the ship as a British Rail locomotive. ‘In BR’s freight computer systems the ferry journeys were represented as trains and the ships as locomotives. The NPC was therefore included in BR’s records as locomotive No. 99001’
© Ken Larwood (all)
July 12th 1995: Agreement between Stena Sealink Line and French partners SNAT would terminate from December 31st 1995. From that time onwards SNAT would trade as SeaFrance.
© Fotoflite, Stéphane Poulain Collection (left) and Stéphane Poulain Collection (right)
December 22nd 1995: Suffered a small fire whilst en route between Dunkerque – Dover Western docks. Minor damage.
© Fotoflite, Roy Thornton Collection
January 7th 1996: Renamed SEAFRANCE NORD PAS-DE-CALAIS and introduced by SeaFrance between Calais – Dover. She was used in a Ro-Ro capacity to convey road vehicles and dangerous loads which are banned from the tunnel.
© Ray Goodfellow
July 3rd 1996: Laid-up at Dunkerque and remained there until November 29th when she was introduced as an ordinary freight vessel between Calais and Dover.
July 27th 2003: “a minor technical problem”. She finally sailed to Dunkirk East on the evening of 1st August for an estimated Euros 1 million worth of engine repairs and the replacement of a broken propeller shaft.
© Robert Fournier
April 2005: Refit at ARNO Dunkerque
2006: In service, freight only, Calais – Dover.
27 December 2006: It was reported that there was a minor fire in the engine room. This was latter discounted by Seafrance stating that it was an overheating generator transformer.
“Ferry suffers overheating problem
An emergency operation was on standby for a ferry in the middle of the English Channel after the coastguard received reports of a fire on board. But SeaFrance said the incident on Wednesday involving its Nord Pas-de-Calais vessel was only an overheating generator transformer. Coastguard surveyors were said to be ready to board the ferry after it docked at the Port of Dover. The lorry-carrier had 58 freight passengers and crew on board. There were coast guard reports on Wednesday afternoon of the ferry sailing being interrupted by a power failure caused by a small electrical fire. But SeaFrance said: “A transformer connected to one of the generators overheated and this was dealt with by qualified staff immediately. “It was not necessary to stop the sailing and the ship is continuing in service.”
13th January 2007: Entered the ARNO dry dock facility at Dunkerque for 48 hours of maintenance.
© Robert Fournier
15th January 2007: Re-entered service from Calais to Dover.
© M Fournet
April 4th 2007: To ARNO Dunkerque.
April 5th 2007: Resumed service.
May 7th 2007: To ARNO Dunkerque
June 3rd 2007: Resumed service.
The NPC seen dressed overall in honour of the Tour de France on 4/07/07 © Stéphane Poulain
July 17th 2008: Made her 50,000 crossing, leaving the Port of Dover at 1440 hrs local time ( 1540 hrs French time).
August 2nd 2009: Arrived at A & P, Heburn, Tyne for refit.
© Richard Athey (left) and © Neil McBride (right)
August 24th 2009: Left Tyne for Calais.
August 25th 2009: Arrived back in Calais.
© Andreas Wörteler
March 6th 2010: Arrived in Rotterdam for bow thrusters repairs. Estimated one week.
March 14th 2010: Repairs completed and left Rotterdam
March 15th 2010: (01.19 hrs) Arrived at Calais and resumed.
August 4th 2010: Laid up in Dunkerque due to a downturn in freight traffic.
September 5th 2010: Resumed service on the Calais-Dover route for Seafrance.
Laid up in the Port of Calais 11/11/10 © Paul Smith
December 10th 2010: Suffered an engine failure before departure from Dover. She had to offload her Calais bound freight before sailing in ballast for Calais on reduced power. With the Rodin at refit in Poland the Berlioz and Moliere increased there crossings to 6 trips a day to compensate.
December 15th 2010: Arrived at the Port of Dunkerque for repairs at the ARNO shipyard.
February 4th 2011: Back in service between Dover and Calais.
July 2011 © Ray Goodfellow
October 21st 2011: Seafrance announced “Following a call for industrial action by one of our trade unions, we regret to inform you of the possibility that our services may be disrupted on Tuesday 25th October”
October 24th 2011: The European Union announced that they had blocked the recapitalization of Seafrance by the parent company SNCF as it contravened their rules in relation to state subsidies.
October 25th 2011: All services suspended due to industrial action.
October 26th 2011: Services Resumed.
November 14th 2011: Seafrance suspend channel operations pending a court hearing in Paris. “We are approaching November 16th, the date when the decision of the Court of commerce will dictate the future of the Company, the Board of SeaFrance has decided, in liaison with the French National Authorities, to suspend the ship operations on the 15th of November at 04 00 hours. The suspension of service will last for 48 hours pending the decision of the court. We have taken this decision, with full knowledge of the consequences, to safeguard the security of the passengers, crews, vehicles and ships. We are conscious of the inconvenience this situation is causing and we apologise for this. We will keep you informed of any changes in the present situation”
November 16th 2011: It is reported that Seafrance is to be liquidated. The Seafrance Nord Pas de Calais remains in the Port of Dover. Following the announcement the crew displayed banners on the ship stating “Crew in Hostage” and other effigies showing that the crew have been hung out to dry.
© Ed Connell
© `Ferry Boy’
November 27th 2011: Departed Dover for Dunkerque and lay up.
© Ed Connell
Laid up in Dunkerque © Jean-Guy Hagelstein
January 9th 2012: Seafrance declared bankrupt. All assets are seized pending sale to recoup money owed to creditors.
June 11th 2012: It was announced that the assets of Seafrance (including the Nord Pas de Calais) had been purchased by Groupe Eurotunnel (Eurotransmanche) for €65 million ($84 million). It is intended to charter her to a cooperative of former Seafrance workers (SCOP), trading as My Ferry Link.
Dunkerque July 2012, now flying the Eurotunnel house flag © Jean-Guy Hagelstein
July 2012: It was announced that she would re-enter service for the new French ferry operator My Ferry Link between Calais and Dover as of November 2012.
October 27th 2012: To ARNO, Dunkerque for full refit and livery change
Dunkerque 28/10/2012 © Robert Fournier
Dunkerque 14/11/2012 © Robert Fournier
November 17th 2012: Departed dry dock.
© Jean-Guy Hagelstein
November 26th 2012: Departed Dunkerque for Calais.
Calais © Marc Fournet
November 28th 2012: Entered service between Calais and Dover.
© Ed Connell
© Nigel Thornton (left) and © Carsten Dettmer (right)
© Andreas Wörteler
December 16th 2013: To DAMEN/ARNO, Dunkerque for refit.
© Robert Fournier
January 25th 2014: Left Dunkerque.
January 26th 2014: Arrived in Calais.
January 27th 2014: Resumed service Calais – Dover.
Departing Calais 10/11/14 © Ray Goodfellow
May 20th May 2014: CMA (UK Competition and Markets Authority) ruled that the Eurotunnel could no longer operate ferry services from Dover. Scop SeaFrance pointed out a potential conflict of interest: an ex accountant of DFDS was now a member of UK Competition Commission, and appealed.
Departing Calais 15/04/15 © Ray Goodfellow
May 2015: The Appeal court broke the ruling on the grounds of “fair competition”, but the CMA appealed to the UK Supreme Court.
Arriving in Dover © Ray Goodfellow
June 29th 2015: MyFerryLink workers went on strike in protest against expected job losses. Vessel remained in Dover
June 30th 2015: Vessel ordered to leave Dover or face arrest, she sailed to Dunkerque and was laid-up.
Port of Dunkerque © Jean-Guy Hagelstein
July 1st /2nd 2015: MyFerryLink services ceased at midnight.
Laid up in Dunkerque © Julien Carpentier
© Carsten Dettmer (03/10/2015)
December 16th 2015: Announcement made that the vessel had been advertised as “For Sale”.
Laid up in Dunkerque 20/12/15 © Julien Carpentier
May 5th 2016: Internet sources indicate that the vessel is now registered in Cyprus and photographs show her as flying the “FRS Iberia” House flag.
© Julien Carpentier
May 10th 2016: Internet sources indicate her new name is AL ANDALUS EXPRESS.
May 13th 2016 (00.36 hrs LT): Left Dunkerque bound for Algeciras.
© Christophe De Langhe
May 16th 2016: Docked in Algeciras at 09:46 local time.
© Daniel Ferro (Off Algeciras 16/05/2016)
May 24th 2016: Refitted in Algeciras.
© Juan G Mata
© Eddie Walker (left) and © Justo. Prieto (right)
© Juan G Mata
June 15th 2016: Services between Montril – Tangier.
March 18th 2018: Arrived in Las Palmas for a two months charter to Naviera Armas. Services Las Palmas – Puerto del Rosario.
© Mikhail Burenin (aka BMW) (Las Palmas de GC 16/04/2018)
February 2019: Still operating between Las Palmas – Puerto del Rosario.
© Christian Eckardt (Fuerteventura, 21/02/2019) (Left) and © Alex Marrero (Las Palmas, 12/05/2019)
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: Richard Athey (www.tyneships.co.uk), Ferry Boy, Mikhail Burenin, Julien Carpentier, Ed Connell, Christophe De Langhe, Carsten Dettmer, Christian Eckardt, Daniel Ferro, Brian Fisher, M Fournet, Robert Fournier, Ton Grootenboer, Jean-Guy Hagelstein, Pieter Inpyn, Ken Larwood, Alex Marrero, Juan G Mata, Neil McBride, Stéphane Poulain, Justo. Prieto, Paul Smith, Julien Carpentier, Eddie Walker and Andreas Wörteler for their assistance in compiling this feature.