Belfast Steamship CompanyBritish and Irish Steam Packet Company (B&I Line)FerriesP&O European FerriesP&O FerriesP&O Irish SeaPandoroPast and PresentStena Line

MV Bison – Past and Present

IMO Number: 7361570

MV Ant I

ex Stena Pioneer, European Pioneer, Bison

© Brian Fisher

© Brian Fisher (Birkenhead, Dec 1983)

Steel twin screw motor vessel built in 1975 by J.J. Sietas KG Schiffswerft G.m.b.H. & Co, Hamburg (Yard No 755) as a Passenger/RoRo Cargo Ship

Technical Data

  • Length: 125 – 140.81m (overall) 111.99 – 128.81 m (between perpendiculars)
  • Breadth: 19.05 m
  • Depth: – 11.99 m
  • Draught: 3.785 – 4.7 m
  • Tonnage: 3453 –4377 – 4259 -14387 gross/1103 – 1695 – 4316 net/5805 – 4170 – 7078t deadweight
  • Engines: 2 x 4SA -12 cylinder Klöckner-Humboldt-Deutz 12M540 diesels.
  • Power: 8827 kW/11990 bHP
  • Speed: 18.5 knots
  • Capacity: 12 – 76 – 60 passengers, 93 – 110 vehicles
  • Call Sign: GUNH, ZCBJ8, ERMU
  • IMO Number: 7361570
  • Official Number: 363569 (Bison)
  • Port of Registry: London/UK 🇬🇧, Hamilton/Bermuda 🇧🇲, Giurgiulesti/Moldova 🇲🇩
  • Sister Ships: Buffalo (756), Union Melbourne (757)


October 31st 1974: Launched

© Fotoflite (Trials)

January 24th 1974: Delivered to Stena Ab, Göteborg.

January 24th 1975: Delivered as Bison for The Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company Ltd (P&O Short Sea Shipping, managers). Commenced service for P&O Pandoro Irish Sea Service.

© John Clarkson © John Clarkson  

© John Clarkson

© John Clarkson © Trevor Kidd

© John Clarkson (Left) and Courtesy of Trevor Kidd (Right)

© Trevor Kidd

Courtesy of Trevor Kidd

October 8th 1975: Registered to Hain Nourse Ltd (Belfast Steamship Co Ltd) London, England (P&O Group) (already stretched before being acquired by P&O).

© Fotoflite © Clive Jackson  

© Fotoflite (1975) (Left) and Courtesy of Trevor Kidd (© Clive Jackson) (Right)

© Paul T

© Paul T (Liverpool, early 80’s)

1975: Commenced service between Fleetwood – Larne.

March 7th 1978: Registered to P&O Ferries Ltd, London, England.

March 1981: “Lengthened by Tyne Shiprepairers Ltd to match the capacity of PUMA by providing additional deck-houses for the extra drivers now carried. An additional bow thruster was also installed. Re-classified as a passenger ferry.”.

© Paul T

© Paul T (Liverpool, 01/02/1983)

December 31st 1984: Registered to POETS Fleet Management Ltd, London, England. Commenced services between Fleetwood – Larne.

© Aubrey Dale © Robbie Cox  

© Aubrey Dale (16/08/1986) and © Robbie Cox (Berth 26 North wall Dublin 25/12/88)

November 1988: Bare-boat chartered to B&I Line, Dublin, Ireland. Commenced service between Dublin – Liverpool.

© Gordon Hislop

© Gordon Hislip

© Aubrey Dale © Robbie Cox  

© Aubrey Dale (Left) and © Robbie Cox (Right)

July 29th 1990: Dry docked in Dublin to repair reported rudder damage.

December 1st 1990: Ownership transferred from POETS Fleet Management Ltd to Pandoro Ltd.

October 1st 1991: Lengthened.

1993: Completed charter to B&I Line.

June 21st 1994: Re-measured.

July 21st 1994: Widened by Coastline Industries Ltd, Birkenhead. Redelivered after refit with a breadth of 21.00m (68.9ft) and a capacity of 98 x 12 metre units.

© Aubrey Dale © Aubrey Dale © Aubrey Dale © Aubrey Dale © Aubrey Dale © Aubrey Dale

© Aubrey Dale (All, 1990’s)

July 1995: Rebuilt at Cammell Laird, Birkenhead, England with an extra trailer deck.

November 5th 1996: Struck a submerged object when entering Fleetwood, a diver’s inspection showing damage to one screw.

November 7th 1996: Left Fleetwood on one engine escorted by tug Collingwood to dry dock in Liverpool for repairs.

© Aubrey Dale

© Aubrey Dale (27/08/1995)

August 4th 1995: Commenced service between Fleetwood – Larne.

March 2nd 1997: Registered to P&O Ship Management, Hamilton, Bermuda.

January 1998: Renamed EUROPEAN PIONEER. Commenced service for P&O European Ferries Irish Sea between Fleetwood – Larne.

December 1st 2000: Whilst departing Fleetwood, in force 4 -5 winds, went aground in the Fleetwood Channel. There were 187 people on board. The vessel sustained no damage and was re-floated. MAIB Report

20th April 2004: Sold to Stena Ropax Ltd (Stena Line Ltd, managers) registered at Hamilton, Bermuda.

April 25th 2004: Renamed STENA PIONEER.

© Trevor Kidd

© Trevor Kidd (19/06/2004)

August 27th 2004: “Larne harbour area; Switchboard fire caused by mechanical breakdown within a generator breaker.”.

November 12th 2007: Stranded, for five hours, on a sandbank in the river Wyre. Re-floated with damage.

© Alan Geddes © Alan Geddes 

© Alan Geddes (Belfast, 30/06/2009)

© Gordon Hislip

© Gordon Hislip (Belfast fresh from dry-docking (06/03/10) 

March 23rd 2010: “Departed her berth in Fleetwood for an overnight crossing to Larne. Early in to the passage, the vessel turned wide, left the deepwater channel and grounded on a bank of sand and mud. The vessel met with superficial damage to paintwork and refloated without assistance approximately 45 minutes later, proceeding to Larne without further incident.”

© Simonwp

© Simonwp (Larne, 01/08/2010)

© Dave Rimmer © Dave Rimmer  

© Dave Rimmer

November 27th 2010: En-route to Fleetwood, suffered an engine room fire which was quickly extinguished  and she was able to complete her journey.

December 23rd 2010: Final day in service Larne – Fleetwood.

December 2010: Laid up at Harland & Wolff repair Quay, Belfast.

© Aubrey Dale

© Aubrey Dale

May 2011: Sold to Anship LLC, Moscow, Russia.

June 2011: Renamed ANT-1.

June 18th 2011: Left Belfast for Sevastopol.

© Evgeniy © Evgeniy  

© Evgeniy – Sevastopol, 27/07/2011 (Left) and 21/09/2011 (Right)

September 2011: Registered owner; Selket Ventures Inc,Moscow..

2012: Services Zonguldak – Kavkaz.

February 2014: Arrived Aliaga, Turkey for scrapping.

February 13th 2014: Beached and scrapping commenced.

© Selim San

© Selim San

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: Aubrey Dale, Brian Fisher, Fotoflite, Gordon Hislip, Alan Geddes, Trevor Kidd, Dave Rimmer, Robbie Cox, Selim San, Simonwp,  Paul T, Andreas Wörteler and Evgeniy for their assistance in producing this feature.

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


  1. Never did find what we hit in 1996!!
    Was a fine ship until she mutated into an ugly duck in 1995

  2. Great report for a fantastic ship and outstanding crew. Yes she could be challenging at times but never ever let us down. So proud to be her Senior Master

    1. Hi David,

      Thank you for taking the time to comment on this article. The amount of feedback we have received from ex crew members on social media has been quite amazing. It sounds like she left a lasting impression with a lot of you.

      My late step-father was a second officer with Townsend Thoresen/P&O here at Dover and he always used to say it was the crew that made a ship but it certainly sounds like the ship helped in this respect.

      Best Wishes

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