FerriesPast and PresentSeaspeedSociété Nationale des Chemins de fer Français (SNCF)

HSC Cote d’Argent (LV.365.832) – Past and Present


HSC Cote D’Argent (LV.365.832)

Paul Wells (www.doverpast.co.uk)

Paul Wells (www.doverpast.co.uk)

SEDAM type N500 naviplane Hovercraft built in 1976 by Sedam, Pauillac, France (Yard No 1) for Societe des Nationale des Chemins de fer Frances (SNCF), France. Launched November 15th 1976.

Technical Data

  • Length: 50.0 m (overall)
  • Breadth of Hull: 23.0m (extreme)
  • Skirt length: 2.10m/3.60m
  • Height on cushion: 17.0m
  • Length of cargo deck: 46m (inside)
  • Width of cargo deck: 22m (inside)
  • Cargo deck area: 960m²
  • Cushion area: 320m²
  • Cushion length: 45m
  • Cushion width: 22m
  • Vehicle entry door width: 10m
  • Vehicle clearance height: 3.8m
  • Sides: 2.1m
  • Tonnage: 260 tons gross, 118 deadweight
  • Engines: 5 American Lycoming TF 40 (3 for propulsion, 2 for support ) Gas Turbines
  • Power: 32,00 bhp./ 2,386 kW (continuous), 2,535 (burst)
  • Speed: 75 knots (max)
  • Endurance: 5 hours
  • Operational limits: 1 – 1.5m (Sea State)
  • Operational limits (Wind): Force 6
  • Capacity: 385 passengers, 45 cars
  • Sister: Ingenieur Jean Bertin (BL.341.931)


Two N500 were built nearly simultaneously at the yard of Sedam in Pauillac, France.

Paul Wells (www.doverpast.co.uk)  Paul Wells (www.doverpast.co.uk)

Paul Wells (www.doverpast.co.uk)  Paul Wells (www.doverpast.co.uk)

Paul Wells (www.doverpast.co.uk)

November 15th 1976: Launched

May 15th 1977: Due to enter service.

April 19th 1977: First trial on the Gironde and was out for two hours, running at 40-45 knot (74-83 km/h). Unusually it was a twin deck craft with the passenger seating area above the car deck giving it extra headroom for Continental coaches and freight. The craft was also more fuel efficient than its British counterparts.

Nicolas Lévy Collection

🆕 Nicolas Lévy Collection

Stéphane Poulain CollectionStéphane Poulain Collection Stéphane Poulain Collection  

Stéphane Poulain Collection

May 3rd 1977: As the craft was lifted on jacks and mechanics worked on the skirts, an exploding light bulb set fire to a glue bucket. Fire took hold underneath and the craft was completely destroyed.

Nicolas Levy Collection Nicolas Levy Collection  

Nicolas Lévy Collection

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: Nicolas Levy, Paul Wells (www.doverpast.co.uk) and Stéphane Poulain for their assistance in compiling this feature.

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

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