MV Sally Star – Past and Present

MV Wasa Express

ex Betancuria, Thjelvar, Rostock, Thjelvar, Color Traveller, Thjelvar, Sally Star, Travemünde Link, Travemunde

© Jürgen Stein

© Jürgen Stein

Steel twin screw motor vessel built by OY Wartsila Ab Helsingfors, Finland (Yard No. 432) for Gedser-Travemunde Ruten A/S, Gedser, Denmark, as a passenger, car and commercial vehicle ferry in 1981

Technical Data

  • Length: 141 meters
  • Breadth of Hull: 22.61 meters (extreme)
  • Draught: 4.90 meters (maximum)
  • Tonnage: 17,046 gross, 5049 net, 4150 deadweight
  • Engines: Four 12-cylinder Wartsila 12V32 4SA diesels
  • Power: 14,866 kW
  • Speed: 19.5 knots
  • Capacity: 1500 Passengers, 440 Cars, 84 Trailers
  • Call sign: C6DS7 (1992),LMMW (2004), DEBT2 (Rostock), SJKA (Thjelvar), EAMH (Betancuria) OJQB (Wasa Express)
  • MMSI Number: 230636000
  • IMO Number: 8000226
  • Registry: Gedser (1981), Nassau (1992),Larvik (2004), Visby (2006), Rostock, Sweden, Spain (2011), Vaasa/Finland (2012 – )

Current Location

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December 21st 1979: Ordered.

August 5th 1980: Keel struck.

January 30th 1981: Launched.

June 15th 1981: Delivered to Gedser-Travemünde Ruten A/S, Gedser, Denmark.

June 17th 1981: Christened by Princess Benedict in Copenhagen.

June 19th 1981: Introduced between Gedser – Travemünde.

© Simonwp

© Simonwp (Travemünde, 13/06/1984)

June 18th 1986: Collided with a breakwater in Travemünde.

© Frank Heine  © Frank Heine

© Frank Heine (Travemünde 21/07/1985 (left) 06/08/1985 (right))

1986: Owners changed name to GT-Linien A/S, Gedser.

Andreas Wörteler Collection

Andreas Wörteler Collection

© Frank Heine  © Frank Heine

© Frank Heine (Travemünde 10/05/1986)

March 1987: Owners went bankrupt.

March 13th 1987: Sold to ASX 10969 A/S, Gedser for continued service.

April 26th 1987: Sold to Sea-Link Ab, Nassau, Bahamas (Sea-Link Ab, Nacka, Sweden ). Transferred to GT Link A/S, Nassau, Bahamas.

April 28th 1987: Renamed TRAVEMÜNDE LINK.

Andreas Wörteler Collection

Andreas Wörteler Collection

© Frank Heine  © Frank Heine

© Frank Heine

© Frank Heine (Travemünde April 1987 & May 1988 showing full name on Bridge Deck)

© Ken Larwood  © Ken Larwood

© Ken Larwood  © Ken Larwood

© Ken Larwood  © Ken Larwood

© Ken Larwood  © Ken Larwood

© Ken Larwood

© Ken Larwood (all) Tilbury November 1988

December 6th 1988:Sold to Rederi Ab Gotland, Nassau, Bahamas. (Rederi Ab Gotland, Visby). Chartered to Sally Line Ltd.  After refit at Tilbury renamed SALLY STAR for services from Ramsgate.

© Ken Larwood  © Ken Larwood

© Ken Larwood (06/12/1988 Berthing Trials at Ramsgate) (both)

December 6th 1988: Berthing trials at Ramsgate

December 7th 1988: Commenced service between Ramsgate – Dunkerque.

© Andreas Wörteler

© Andreas Wörteler

December 20th 1988: Two and a half miles off Ramsgate with 373 passengers on board when a fire broke out in the engine-room. The crew immediately sealed it off and alerted the fire services with 25 firemen being airlifted by helicopters from RAF Manston, while several lifeboats stood by. The passengers were evacuated to the upper decks where they remained calm and were fed by the crew. Attempts by THE VIKING to take her into tow failed and the vessel eventually arrived in Ramsgate under tow of a tug.

© Ken Larwood  © Ted Ingham

© Ken Larwood (left 20/12/1988) and © Ted Ingham (right)

December 21st 1988: Towed to Dunkerque for repairs.

January 26th 1989: Left repair yard for sea trials and trial berthing at Dover Eastern Docks to confirm that the vessel would be able to berth there in an emergency, then returned to Dunkerque, via Ramsgate, in the evening to take up service the following day.

January 27th 1989: Resumed service.

© Ken Larwood (26/02/1989)

© Ken Larwood (26/02/1989)

December 27th 1989: Left Ramsgate for extensive refit and alterations at Humber Ship Repairers Ltd., Immingham

January 19th 1990: Having returned from her 16 day refit relieved the SALLY SKY which left for a refit lasting almost three months.

© Andreas Wörteler

© Andreas Wörteler

1990: New livery with an extra red band on the upper white section of the hull.

© Ken Larwood   © Ken Larwood

© Ken Larwood  © Ken Larwood

© Ken Larwood

© Ken Larwood  (all)

1990: Passenger certificate reduced to 1,050.

© Ted Ingham

© Ted Ingham

August 25th 1994: Inward-bound on a freight run from Dunkerque West when, eight mile off Ramsgate, a explosion caused a serious fire in her engine room. The fire quickly took hold and smoke and flames could be seen from the shore. The vessel was evacuated and firemen were lifted in by helicopter to prevent the flames from spreading. Towed to Ramsgate for further evacuation and fire extinguished. She was later towed to Arno Shipyard, Dunkerque for repairs.

October 14th 1994: Resumed service.

© Fotoflite, Nigel Thornton Collection

© Fotoflite, Nigel Thornton Collection

1995: The company revamped its image with a new logo and the adoption of Silja Line (parent company) seals head on the hulls and funnels of the ships.

March 9th 1997: Involved in a minor collision in Ramsgate harbour with catamaran HOLYMAN DIAMANT. Left later the same day for repairs at Arno Shipyard, Dunkerque.

© Andreas Wörteler

© Andreas Wörteler

April 13th 1997: Completed her final crossing between Dunkerque – Ramsgate.

© Ken Larwood

© Ken Larwood (13/04/1997)

May 1997: Transferred to Finland Levantlinjen Ab, Mariehamn, Finland (made up of a consortium between Rederi Ab Hoburgen, Visby, and Rederi Ab Gotland, Visby).

May 8th 1997 – September 14th 1997: Chartered to Silja Line, Åbo, Finland. Introduced between Vasa – Umeå under the trading banner of “WASA EXPRESS”.

© Dirk Jankowsky

© Dirk Jankowsky

September 15th 1997: Left Vasa for Bremerhaven.

September 18th 1997: Arrived at Lloyd-Werft, Bremerhaven for rebuilding with catalytic converter and stern sponsors, additional cabins, new cafeteria and general upgrading.

November 1997: Transferred to Rederi Ab Gotland, Visby, and renamed THJELVAR.

© Andreas Wörteler

© Andreas Wörteler (Bremerhaven, December 1997)

December 14th 1997: Departed shipyard for Visby.

January 1st 1998: Commenced service for Destination Gotland between Oskarshamn – Visby and in the summer period served Oskarshamn – Visby – Nynäshamn.

June 1999 – August 1999: Only services between Visby – Nynäshamn.

June 2000 – August 2000: Only services between Visby – Nynäshamn.

© Andreas Wörteler  © Andreas Wörteler

© Andreas Wörteler (Oskarshamn, 25/96/2001)

November 21st 2003: Bareboat chartered to Color Line, Oslo, Norway. On her first day in service she was transferred to the Norwegian ships register.

November 30th 2003: Final day in service for Destination Gotland Visby – Oskarshamn – Visby.

December 15th 2003: Taken over by Color Line.

January 8th 2004: Left Visby for rebuilding in Fredericia, Denmark.

February 10th 2004: Registered to Thjelvar A/S, Larvik, Norway. Renamed COLOR TRAVELLER.

March 10th 2004: Commenced services between Larvik – Hirtshals. (only being able to carry 150 passengers) .

April 21st 2004: Maiden crossing between Larvik – Strömstad.

© Dirk Jankowsky

© Dirk Jankowsky

June 2004 – August 2004: Commenced service between Larvik – Frederikshavn. (allowed to carry 1000 passengers)

August 2004: Commenced service between Larvik – Hirtshals.

June 2005 – August 2005: Operated between Larvik – Frederikshavn.

August 2005: Introduced between Larvik – Hirtshals.

December 15th 2006: Final day in service between Larvik – Hirtshals.

December 15th 2006: Left Larvik for Fredericia.

December 2006: Completion of charter to Color Line and re-delivered to Rederi Ab Gotland. Renamed THJELVAR.

December 28th 2006: Arrived in Visby and laid up

January 17th 2007: Remained at berth 3 in Visby.

May 10th 2007: Moved from Visby to Slite for further lay-up.

July 1st 2007: Left Slite for Öresundsvarvet, Landskrona for repairs and alteration.

August 2007: Chartered to Scandlines.

October 1st 2007: Renamed ROSTOCK. Managed by Scandlines A/S and transferred to German registry (home port Rostock).

© Andreas Wörteler

© Andreas Wörteler

October 4th 2007: Left Landskrona for Rostock.

October 5th 2007: Berthing trials in Gedser.

October 15th 2007: Commenced service between Rostock – Gedser.

© Frank Heine

© Frank Heine (Rostock, 22/10/2007)

November 8th 2007: Operated a single trip between Rostock – Hangö – Rostock.

© Andreas Wörteler

© Andreas Wörteler (Warnemunde, 01/08/2008)

March 2008: On a journey to Gedser she lightly grounded.

© Simonwp

New” © Simonwp (Arriving Warnemunde, 01/09/2008)

October 3rd 2008: Arrived Örskov, Frederikshavn for hull inspection.

October 2008: Taken out of service and laid up in Rostock.

October 2008: Moved to Sassnitz for further lay-up.

April 2009: Moved to Puttgarden.

June 2009 – 2010: Sub chartered by Scandlines to Comarit for services between Almeria – Nador.

© Daniel Ferro

© Daniel Ferro

© Juanfra Monzón  © Juanfra Monzón

© Juanfra Monzón (06/08/2010 at Almería)

August 2010: Charter completed.

August 20th 2010: Left Almeria.

August 24th 2010: Seen in the English Channel with destination showing as Landskrona, Sweden.

August 27th 2010: Arrived in Landskrona.

© Frank Heine

© Frank Heine (Landskrona, 05/09/2010)

September 15th 2010: Refit completed having been repainted in Destination Gotlands livery. Renamed THJELVAR and re-registered to the Swedish flag.

October 5th 2010: Left Landskrona for Norrköping.

October 6th 2010: Arrived Norrköping and laid up.

June 2011: Remains laid up in Norrkoping.

© Dirk Jankowsky

© Dirk Jankowsky

August 2011: Chartered to Lineas Fred Olsen SA.

13th August 2011: Departed Norrkoping for Vigo, Spain.

August 19th 2011: Arrived in Vigo and reportedly renamed BETANCURIA.

August 20th 2011: Left Vigo for Las Palmas.

August 22nd 2011: Arrived in Las Palmas.

September 2011: Chartered to Fred Olsen between Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and Fuerteventura (Puerto del Rosario)and Lanzarote (Arrecife)

© Bermaxo

© Bermaxo

© Eerik Laine  © Eerik Laine

© Eerik Laine (Lanzarote, 25/11/2011)

August 23rd 2012: Arrived in Las Palmas and laid-up. Charter completed.

© Alex Marrero

© Alex Marrero

October 18th 2012: Left Las Palmas destination Vaasa, Gulf of Bothnia. Purchased by Swedish-Finnish NLC Ferry Ab Oy, for services between Umea, northeastern Sweden and Vasa, western Finland.

October 28th 2012: Arrived at Vaasa.

October 31st 2012: Renamed WASA EXPRESS.

January 1st 2013: Trials

January 4th 2013: In service between Vaasa and Holmsund (Umeå, Sweden)

© Marko Stampehl  © Marko Stampehl

© Marko Stampehl

May 2013: Marketed as Wasa Line.

© Frank Heine  © Frank Heine

© Frank Heine (Holmsund 16/06/2013)

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: Bermaxo, Daniel Ferro, Frank Heine, Ted Ingham, Dirk Jankowsky, Eerik Laine, Ken Larwood, Alex  Marrero, Juanfra Monzón, Simonwp, Marko Stampehl, Jürgen Stein and Andreas Wörteler for their assistance in compiling this feature.

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



  1. An old favourite of mine, sailed on her as Sally Star many times, I think I can also remember sailing on her again towards the end of her time ( and Sally Lines) time, as things looked rather “closed down ” on board.

    Sky and Star were great ships. Good to see they both see active service.

    1. Hi John,

      I have fond memories of both the Sally Line ships as well. Had many an enjoyable crossing to Dunkerque and I seem to remember the Sally Star’s Friday night sailing from Dunkerque to be quite a raucous affair thanks to the free disco and cheap booze, happy days.

      Unfortunately the Sally Sky is currently out of service with TEF and with there current issues I fear for her future.

      Best Wishes

      1. I know, how sad… I’m learning so much from this site, become a bit of an addict. Keeping an eye on the AIS app on both my phone and iPad, larkspur not moved yet.

        Sally line re indeed cool, one of a kind company. Much like TEF too…….

        Any updates on the ex star?

        1. Thank you for the kind words re the site John, it’s a labour of love for both myself and Nigel, I suppose in many ways it keeps us out of trouble 🙂

          Last update I had re the Star is after a period of time in the Canary Islands she is now back in the Baltic operating across the Gulf of Bothnia between Vaasa in Finland and Umea in Sweden.

          The choice for the enthusiast to cross the channel are diminishing yearly so it definitely a case of use them before they are gone.

          All the best

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