Maritime FeaturesPast and PresentPort of DoverRequests

Jetfoil Terminal Basin (1981)

Jetfoil Terminal Basin

In January 1981 it was announced that a contract for the construction of a £2m Jetfoil Terminal at the Admiralty Pier, Western Docks, Dover had been awarded to Mears. Dover Harbour Board, Sealink and R.M.T. (Regie voor Maritiem Transport) would share the £2m cost.


The designated area for the terminal was at berth No. 1, between berth No 2, the southern end of the pier ( “Dragons Teeth”) and the Train Ferry Jetty.



The civil engineering works at the Admiralty Pier commenced on January 5th 1981 and involved the construction of a sheet pile wall 66 metres in length, 10 metres wide and 16 metres high. Its purpose was to form a protective breakwater and create acceptable tide conditions for the Jetfoil to berth alongside a purpose built pontoon.


    © Fotoflite

🆕 ©  Fotoflite (Last)

On the outside of the wall, 10-tonne blocks were placed to form a wave absorbing slope. This was decided as a result of hydraulic model study wave tests to absorb the swell at the Admiralty Pier and still provide acceptable sea conditions at No. 2 berth where passenger ferries continued to berth.


Steel piling was provided by British Steel’s Middlesbrough Plant and the concrete wave absorbing blocks were cast on the Channel Tunnel site on the western side of Dover Harbour.

Delay in the decision about a dedicated terminal resulted in arrangements being made for the Jetfoil to berth while the civil engineering works were completed and on 24th April 1981, a temporary pontoon terminal was installed.

Jetfoil services were to compliment the existing services by conventional ferries between Dover and Ostend.


Special refurbished trains ran between London and Dover, Marine Station and then between Ostend and Brussels to carry passengers

The services started on Sunday May 31st, 1981 and the inaugural arrival at Dover was by GTS (019) PRINCESSE CLEMENTINE

followed by GTS (020) PRINSES STEPHANIE on July 27th 1981.

In February 1982, the temporary berthing pontoon broke away from the Admiralty Pier stranding 21 passengers on the recently arrived Jetfoil. The bolts holding the securing chain – between the pontoon and the quay – sheered off and one end of the pontoon drifted out. It was prevented from drifting too far because the other end was still secured. Because of the widening gap the gangplank – not being used at the time – fell into the sea where it prevented attempts to haul the pontoon back into its correct position.

A large crane was eventually called in and the gangplank removed from the sea. The passengers were then able to continue their journey to London.

This incident emphasized the impracticalities of the temporary pontoon.

After her final sailing on 9th October 1981, the second-last passenger vessel REINE ASTRID (I) (for more terminal pictures “click” the link) had gone to lay-up in Ostend where, sometime later, that it was decided to convert her to become the new jetfoil terminal in Dover.

In 1983 the structural work was completed at Kon, Maats, De Schelde, Vlissingen, Holland. Her engines/propellers/rudder and most interior fittings were removed and her bow and stern were cut away, reducing the length overall by 78 metres. On the former sun-deck a passenger gangway was built to connect to the Dover Marine railway quay.

    © Michael Woodland  

© Michael Woodland (left)

The interior was replaced and completed at Ostend in order that she could continue as a “barge” and on May 30th 1983 she was towed to Dover.


June 6th 1983 transferred to the “Basin”.


Construction of the walkway between Quayside and Dover Marine Station   



© Cambridge Digital Library

In July 1984, Sealink UK Ltd was de-nationalised and purchased by Sea Containers who immediately reappraised their whole organization, including their relationship with RMT.

October 25th 1985 saw the Belgians enter into negotiations with Townsend Thoresen (later P & O European Ferries) and from January 1st 1986 an agreement was concluded.

At the end of 1993 it was announced that the Belgian company did not intend to renew its marketing agreement with P&O European Ferries, instead concluded a deal with Sally Line. With effect from the following January RMT became known simply as Oostende Lines, transferring all its Ostend services, including Jetfoil, from Dover to Sally’s base at the Port of Ramsgate.


Company livery timeline

In March 1994 the Terminal Building was towed to Ramsgate and again used for Jetfoil services.

© Mike Sartin

© Mike Sartin


© Nigel Scutt (Dover Strait Shipping)

   © Mike Jackson © Mike Jackson © Mike Jackson © Mike Jackson © Mike Jackson

                                                                                © Mike Jackson   © Mike Jackson 

“Hole in the Wall”

“The final pictures shows the ‘hole in the wall’  [the new concrete] where the Train Ferry Jetty was cut through to permit access to the inner docks when Dover Western Docks Revival (DWDR) fruit berth [WD5] was extended across the Wick. A dogleg is now needed for anything wanting to use the Wick.”

Since being vacated the “Basin” acts as a short term storage and lay-by for smaller vessels

                              © Mike Jackson   © Mike Jackson   © Mike Jackson   © Mike Jackson

  © Mike Jackson

As for the future of the “Basin”…………….?

© Google Earth (16/05/2019)

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: Mike Jackson, Dover Strait Shipping, Mike Sartin and Michael Woodland  for their assistance in producing this feature.

Special thanks to Fotoflite

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

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