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Dover – Zeebrugge Timeline – Past and Present (Request)

Dover – Zeebrugge Timeline

“For many years Townsend management had been trying to establish a ferry link into Belgium from Dover, but state-owned Belgian operator Regie voor Maritime Transport/Regie des Transports Maritimes (RMT/RTM) had blocked any rival operations. Eventually the company were able to establish a service to Belgium in March 1966.”.


March 17th 1966:FREE ENTERPRISE II opened the new service to the Belgian port (4 hour crossing time). The original berth was in the entrance to the Baudouin Canal and vehicles were off-loaded over a floating pontoon called AUTO-CARRIER.”.

© John Hendy  © John Hendy

© John Hendy (Both)

Courtesy of Arjan van Gelder

© Fotoflite  © John Hendy

© Fotoflite (Left) © John Hendy (Right).


February 1st 1967:FREE ENTERPRISE III ran her inaugural crossing to Zeebrugge, then took over the runs . During 1966 just 2,687 freight vehicles were carried by the three Townsend ferries, while 1967 saw a leap to 17,250 – an increase of 600% – three quarters of which were carried on the Zeebrugge link.”.

© Ted Ingham  © Ted Ingham

© Ted Ingham (Both)

© John Hendy  © John Hendy  

© John Hendy

© John Hendy (All)


August 30th 1967:AUTOCARRIER first sailing Dover – Zeebrugge. On her return journey she developed engine troubles and was only firing on 9 of her 24 cylinders. She took 9½ hours to complete the journey.”.

© Fotoflite  © Ken Larwood

© Fotoflite (Left) © Ken Larwood (Right)


1968: Townsend European Ferries joined with Thoresen Ferries to become Townsend Thoresen European Ferries


November – December 1968:VIKING II appeared on the Dover – Zeebrugge route after a road tanker containing liquid nitrogen had leaked aboard the FREE ENTERPRISE III and split her deck.”.

© Ken Larwood

© Ken Larwood


November 1967: “Freighter VIKING IV entered service Dover – Zeebrugge. ”.

© Ken Larwood

© Ken Larwood


December 1967 – March/April 1968:STENA DANICA (I) chartered for the route.”.

 

Nigel Thornton Collection


1968:VIKING IV in service Dover – Zeebrugge.”.

© Ted Ingham © Bob Scott

© Ted Ingham (Left) © Bob Scott (Right)


June 1st 1969:FREE ENTERPRISE IV entered service Dover – Zeebrugge. Following her success four more of the class were added to the fleet.”.

© Fotoflite  Courtesy of Arjan van Gelder

© Fotoflite (Left) Courtesy of Arjan van Gelder (Right)


May 27th 1970: “The new FREE ENTERPRISE V undertook a special sailing to Zeebrugge with an army convoy and returned full of freight. She displaced FREE ENTERPRISE III ”.


May 31st 1970:FREE ENTERPRISE V commenced regular services Dover – Zeebrugge.”.

© Fotoflite

© Fotoflite


April 1st 1972:FREE ENTERPRISE IV officially opened the new £300,000 Townsend Zeebrugge terminal.”.

Courtesy of Jim Ashby

 

Courtesy of Arjan van Gelder


1972: Townsend Thoresen” was added in small white letters on the hulls and TTF logo appeared on funnels in pale green.


July (early) 1972: After teething problems with her exhaust system FREE ENTERPRISE VI  commenced regular services Dover –  Zeebrugge.”.

Nigel Thornton Collection

Nigel Thornton Collection


December 22nd 1972:FREE ENTERPRISE V collided with the British coaster REDTHORNE off Zeebrugge and was covered by FREE ENTERPRISE III.”.


December 17th 1973:FREE ENTERPRISE III covered overhauls on the route, but suffered engine problems. FREE ENTERPRISE I deputised.”.

© Fotoflite

© Fotoflite


1973:” …………together with Dover – Calais, FREE ENTERPRISE VII entered service on the route.”.

© Fotoflite

© Fotoflite


March – December 1974:SCANDINAVIA ro/ro chartered for the route.”.

© John Hendy  © John Hendy

© John Hendy (Both)


1974: All ships had hulls painted dark green with company name in large white letters.


April 18th 1974:FREE ENTERPRISE VIII enters service.”.

© Fotoflite

© Fotoflite

Courtesy of Arjan van Gelder


October 1975: “Second of the “European Class” (Freighter) EUROPEAN TRADER entered service.”.

© Ken Larwood

© Ken Larwood

Courtesy of Arjan van Gelder


1976 – 1977: Thoresen” orange was adopted for all ships hulls and funnels eventually became dark green with orange TTF  company logo. Initially some funnels did not have black tops.


February 15th 1976: “After initially operating between Felixstowe – Europoort, the third “European Class”, EUROPEAN CLEARWAY commenced Zeebrugge services.”.

© Bob Scott

© Bob Scott


April 29th 1978: “Modified “European Class” EUROPEAN ENTERPRISE entered service.”.

© Alex Duncan

© Alex Duncan


September 1977 – April 1978:VIKING VISCOUNT switched to Dover – Zeebrugge link in order to cover the annual refits of the Townsend ships.”.

© A G Jones

© A G Jones

Courtesy of Arjan van Gelder (Both)


January 14th 1980:  “…………together with Dover – Calais, (the first of the “Spirit Class trio) SPIRIT OF FREE ENTERPRISE entered service.”.

© Fotoflite

© Fotoflite


May 29th 1980: “…………together with Dover – Calais,  (the second Spirit Class) HERALD OF FREE ENTERPRISE entered service.”.

© Ken Larwood

© Ken Larwood

© John Hendy

© John Hendy


November 23rd 1980: “…………together with Dover – Calais, (the third Spirit Class) PRIDE OF FREE ENTERPRISE entered service.”.

© Fotoflite

© Fotoflite


1984: A new TT logo, in white, was introduced on funnels.


1985:FREE ENTERPRISE VI (June) and VII (November) rebuilt in Bremerhaven.

© Fotoflite  © Fotoflite

© Fotoflite


July 1985 – December 1985:GAELIC FERRY brought to Dover to assist with freight on the Zeebrugge link.”.

© Ken Larwood   © Ken Larwood

© Ken Larwood (Both)


March 6th 1987:HERALD OF FREE ENTERPRISE, en-route to Dover, capsized outside Zeebrugge.


1987: Following the “Herald” disaster, from spring onward, a pale blue funnel with P & O logo was introduced.


October 1987: There was a change to  P & O European Ferries navy blue hull and funnel.


March 18th 1991: “ Townsend vessels sold to Howill Shipping and bareboat chartered to P & O.”.


December 31st 1991: “…..Zeebrugge service was closed to passengers.”.


October 7th 1991: “Having previously conducted berthing trials at the port EUROPEAN SEAWAY entered service on the Zeebrugge route.

 

 

Nigel Thornton Collection


January 4th 1992:EUROPEAN PATHWAY (now PRIDE OF CANTERBURY)entered service Dover – Zeebrugge ……”.

© John Hendy  © Andreas Wörteler

© John Hendy (Left) © Andreas Wörteler (Right)


June 16th 1992:EUROPEAN HIGHWAY (now PRIDE OF KENT) entered service Dover – Zeebrugge ……”.

© Andreas Wörteler  © Andreas Wörteler

© Andreas Wörteler


October 16th – October 28th 1996:PRIDE of BRUGES (ex PRIDE OF FREE ENTERPRISE) again served the route….”

© Andreas Wörteler

© Andreas Wörteler

Courtesy of Arjan van Gelder


January 17th 2000: “…before being laid up in Dunkerque,  P & OSL PICARDY (ex PRIDES OF BRUGES/PRIDE OF FREE ENTERPRISE) operated Zeebrugge services….”.

© Andreas Wörteler   © Andreas Wörteler

© Andreas Wörteler


December 2002: “Route closed.”.


December 15th 2002: “…EUROPEAN SEAWAY operated her final service between Dover – Zeebrugge and transferred to Dover – Calais.”.


March 24th 2010: Media announcement: “A ferry service from the port of Dover to Zeebrugge in Belgium has been revived eight years after it was shelved by P&O. The freight-only vessel, EUROPEAN ENDEAVOUR (ex MIDNIGHT MERCHANT), will run a return trip each day from 7 April. The ship, which can carry up to 100 articulated lorries, will complete each crossing in four-and-a-half hours.”

© Andreas Wörteler

© Andreas Wörteler

April 7th 2010 (17.35 hrs): Inaugural sailing Dover – Zeebrugge (one sailing only) then reverted to Dover – Calais. The revived link was not a success!


(For individual histories, please “Click” on the ships name (in blue) above)

All information is believed to be correct and no responsibility is accepted for any errors or omissions. All items included in this article are subject to © copyright. We would like to take this opportunity of thanking: Arjan van Gelder and Andreas Wörteler for their assistance in producing this feature.

Special thanks to Terry Conybeare , John Hendy and all photographic contributors.

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

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