FerriesLD LinesNorfolk LineNorse Merchant FerriesPast and Present

MV Aquarius Brazil (ex Brave Merchant) – Past and Present

IMO Number: 9147306

MV Aquarius Brasil

ex ARV3, Norman Bridge, Ave Liepaja, Blanca del Mar, Brave Merchant

© Frank Lose

© Frank Lose

Steel twin-screw motor vessel built in 1999, by Astilleros Espanoles S.A. (AESA) Seville, Spain, (Yard No. 288) for Cenargo (owners of Norse Merchant Ferries plc) as a passenger roll-on roll-off commercial freight ferry

Technical Data

  • Length: 179.95 m (overall)
  • Breadth of Hull: 25,24 m (moulded)
  • Draught: 6,50 m
  • Tonnage: 22,046 gross (22,152 1999), 6,614 net, 6,300 deadweight
  • Engines: Four 9-cylinder Wartsila diesels
  • Power: 23760 kW
  • Speed: 22.5 knots
  • Capacity: 200 passengers, 114 (13.5 m) commercial trailers
  • Call sign: MYXR6, CQKZ 
  • MMSI Number: 255804790
  • IMO Number: 9147306
  • Registry: Douglas/Isle of Man 🇮🇲, Liverpool/United Kingdom 🇬🇧, London/United Kingdom 🇬🇧, Liverpool/United Kingdom 🇬🇧, Douglas/Isle of Man 🇮🇲, Madeira/Portugal  🇵🇹
  • Sister Vessels: Dawn Merchant (287), Midnight Merchant (290), Northern Merchant (289), Murillo (291)

Current AIS Location

Please note that this specific vessels AIS position data may be over an hour old and that the vessels position will only be displayed when it is within range of the VesselFinder AIS system. The AIS transponder/ship position data featured on this page is intended for information purposes only and it is in no way related to the 'Safety of Navigation at Sea'. All the AIS ship position data featured within this article is provided by VesselFinder and we are therefore not responsible for its content or its accuracy.


The ‘Racehorse’ class quartet of ro-pax sisters were built between 1997 and 2000 for the Cenargo Group. The first pair came into service with Merchant Ferries who named the vessels after the well known racing thoroughbreds ‘Dawn Run’ (Dawn Merchant) and ‘Dancing Brave’ (Brave Merchant). These vessels, at 22,046grt, where slightly smaller in tonnage terms compared to their 22,215grt Norfolkline chartered sisters Midnight Merchant and Northern Merchant. The Murillo built in 2002 for the Spanish shipping company Trasmediterranea was based on the same design.

May 28th 1998: Launched.

January 26th 1999: Delivered to Cenargo International Ltd, Nassau, Bahamas.

Nigel Thornton Collection

January 29th 1999: Sailed from Seville to Liverpool.

© David Whittworth

© David Whittworth (Whittworth.com) (Canada Dock, Liverpool February 1999)

February 5th 1999: In Liverpool, during a storm, she broke free from her moorings and damage was caused to her bulbous bow. Repaired at Cammell Laird, Birkenhead.

February 15th 1999: Introduced by Merchant Ferries between Liverpool – Dublin, freight only.

1999: GT 22,152

© Ian Collard 

© Ian Collard (Langton dock on the Liverpool – Dublin service)

March 1st 1999: Passengers now being conveyed.

April 2002: Commenced service for Norse Merchant Ferries between Liverpool – Dublin.

© Frank Lose

© Frank Lose

February 3rd 2003: Final day operating between Liverpool – Dublin.

© Ian Collard  © Ian Collard  

© Ian Collard (All)

© Ian Collard  © Ian Collard

🆕 © Ian Collard

February 4th 2003: Chartered to the British Ministry of Defence (MOD) for service in the war in Iraq. Sailed from Liverpool to Antwerp, Southampton then to Kuwait.

July 11th 2003: Returned to Marchwood for commercial service. Then to ARNO, Dunkerque for refit.

July 2003: Chartered to Norfolk Line. Commenced service between Dunkerque – Dover for one week relieving DAWN MERCHANT (away on refit).

© Ray Goodfellow  © Nigel Thornton  

© Ray Goodfellow (Left) and © Nigel Thornton (Right)

August 4th 2003 – August 30th 2003: Chartered to P&O Ferries. Commenced service between Rotterdam – Teespor© Simonwp (Teesport, 01/08/2003)

© Simonwp

© Simonwp (Teesport, 01/08/2003)

© Rob de Visser  © Rob de Visser  

© Rob de Visser

© Rob de Visser (Rotterdam, August 2003)(All)

September 1st 2003: Commenced service between Belfast – Birkenhead

September 8th 2003: Service between Liverpool – Dublin.

© Trevor Kidd

© Trevor Kidd

November 2nd 2003: Had to be withdrawn for emergency dry docking following underwater damage caused by a wire round her propeller when leaving Birkenhead’s Twelve Quays terminal. She entered Canada dry dock in Liverpool on 29th October.

© Trevor Kidd

© Trevor Kidd

November 10th 2003: Resumed service.

July 1st 2004: Announcement was made that Norfolk line’s three Channel Ferries would be run by a newly-formed shipping group in a multi-million pound deal. Indo-China Ship Management (UK), which won the contract to operate and crew the ships.

© Mikkel © Mikkel 

© Mikkel (Dublin, 03/08/2005)(Both)

August 18th 2005: “Norse Merchant Ferries sells BRAVE MERCHANT and DAWN MERCHANT. With two new ro-pax ferries entering service this year on its Irish Sea routes, Norse Merchant Ferries announced that it has sold two of its four Spanish-built ro-pax vessels, BRAVE MERCHANT (built 1999) and DAWN MERCHANT (built 1998), to a company nominated by New Paragon Investment Ltd, a Hong Kong based company advised by Epic Shipping Ltd.”

© Ian Collard

© Ian Collard (Mersey, 15/10/2005)

December 12th 2005: The planned Italian charter for the BRAVE MERCHANT and DAWN MERCHANT fell through. The DAWN MERCHANT was in dry-dock in Siros whilst the BRAVE MERCHANT was due to depart the Mersey on 28th December. The vessels’ owners were seeking a new charter for the pair.

December 23rd 2005: Retired to Brocklebank Dock for the Christmas holiday period.

January 3rd 2006: “To be renamed BLANCA DEL MAR for her new career with Iscomar – the vessel is due to leave for Spain next week, being handed over on Monday or Tuesday. Operating the Barcelona – Palma route the ship will be in direct competition to the Balearia operated ferry PAU CASALS (her sister DAWN MERCHANT)”

January 10th 2006: Left operation with Norse Merchant Ferries at Liverpool and sailed for Siros where she was expected on 16th January.

January 2006: Bareboat chartered to Iscomar, Spain. Registered to Brave Shipping, Liverpool

© Carlos Moreno Trobat  © Carlos Moreno Trobat  

© Carlos Moreno Trobat (Palma de Mallorca, 11/02/2006)

February 2006: In service Barcelona – Palma de Mallorca

June 19th 2008: Service between Barcelona – Ibiza

June 2008: Charter completed.

July 10th 2008: Anchored/laid-up off Gibraltar.

© Daniel Ferro  © Daniel Ferro  

© Daniel Ferro (Gibraltar, 06/10/2008)

October 16th 2008: According to an announcement in the government’s officials newspaper Latvijas Vestnesis, the cargo-passenger ferry “Blanca Del Mar”, operated by the company AVE Logistics, will commence Liepaja-Travemünde route starting from November 4th this year, on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays.

October 24th 2008: Sailed from Gibraltar.

October 26th 2008: “Media reports indicated her name would be AVE LIEPAJA and that she was being repainted in Brest. She would remain UK flag.”

November 11th 2008: Passed through the Dover Straits bound for Travemünde, Germany.

November 13th 2008: Arrived in Travemünde.

© Dirk Jankowsky  © Dirk Jankowsky  

© Dirk Jankowsky

November 19th 2008: Commenced service Travemünde – Liepaja.

© Sebastian Ziehl  © Sebastian Ziehl  

© Sebastian Ziehl (Travemunde, 04/12/2008)

December 10th 2009: Laid up at Fredericia anchorage.

January 7th 2010: Left Fredericia for Gdansk.

January 9th 2010: Arrived in Gdansk and again laid up.

February 8th 2010: It was announced that the Ave Liepaja has been chartered to LD Lines to operate between Dover and Boulogne in place of the Norman Spirit.

1st March 2010: Ave Liepaja entered the Remontowa dry dock in Gdansk, Poland.

2nd March 2010: Renamed NORMAN BRIDGE.

11th March 2010: Departed Poland.

13th March 2010: Arrived in Boulogne.

© Andreas Wörteler  © Manuel Dhondt  

© Andreas Wörteler (Left) and © Manuel Dhondt (Right)

18th March 2010: Enters service between Dover and Boulogne.

© Ed Connell  © Ed Connell  

© Ed Connell

1st April 2010: “Owing to an incident involving the ‘Norman Arrow‘ at Portsmouth the Norman Bridge is transferred to operate the Portsmouth – Le Havre service. Her place on the Dover- Boulogne route is covered by the ‘Ostend Spirit‘.”

© Ray Goodfellow  © Ray Goodfellow  

© Ray Goodfellow

2nd April 2010: Arrived in Portsmouth and took up service to Le Havre.

© Collaroy  © Collaroy  

© Collaroy (Departing Portsmouth for Le Havre)

5th April 2010: Returned to Boulogne to take up service to Dover.

30th April 2010: “Owing to a technical problem with her port rudder the Norman Bridge proceeded to Cruise Terminal 1 to make repairs.”

© Mike Jackson

© Mike Jackson (Dover Cruise Terminal One 30th April 2010)

1st May 2010: Commenced sea trials off Dover which proved unsatisfactory, she then proceeded to dry dock in Rotterdam for repairs.

9th May 2010: Returned to Dover to take up service to Boulogne.

14th May 2010: Returned to Rotterdam to receive further attention to her faulty rudder.

27th May 2010: Returned to Boulogne sporting the full LD Lines livery and took up service to Dover.

© Andreas Wörteler

© Andreas Wörteler


© Robert J Smith (Dover, 19/06/2010)(Both)

16th August 2010: LD Lines announced that due to poor traffic figures the Norman Bridge was to be removed from the Dover-Boulogne route on the 30th August. She would instead be used to inaugurate a new ‘Motorway of the Seas’ route across the Bay of Biscay from St Nazaire (France) to Gijon (Spain) for GLD Atlantiques (a joint venture between Louis Dreyfus and Grimaldi Lines).

© Manuel Dhondt  © Manuel Dhondt  

© Manuel Dhondt

23rd August 2010: LD Lines announced the closure of the Dover-Boulogne passenger service. The last sailing would be on the 5th September 2010. The company were said to be considering running a freight only service to Boulogne but at this time no decisions had been made.

© Ray Goodfellow  © Ray Goodfellow  

© Ray Goodfellow (Seen at Dover shortly before being withdrawn from service)


© Andreas Wörteler (Boulogne 24/08/2010)(Both)

29th August 2010: Sustained significant hull damage and was withdrawn from service. Proceeded to ARNO Dunkerque for repairs. The Norman Bridge departed Dunkerque for St Nazaire on the 3rd September 2010.

2nd September 2010: It was announced that LD Lines were to withdraw all operations from Dover on the 5th September 2010. The suggested freight only service was deemed ‘unfeasible’.

6th September 2010: Departed Dunkerque and arrived in Dover to take on stores before departing for St Nazaire.

7th September 2010: It was announced that Grimaldi Lines had withdrawn their co-operation on the new St Nazaire to Gijon route before it had even began. The route would therefore be an LD Lines only operation.

8th September 2010: Inaugural sailing between St Nazaire and Gijon. It was reported that there were 7 trucks, 17 cars and about 50 passengers onboard.

18th April 2011: Owing to the success of the St Nazaire to Gijon route she was replaced by a larger capacity vessel (BALTIC AMBER) and she was returned to her owners.

22nd May 2011: Anchored off the Port of Falmouth, Cornwall, United Kingdom.

2nd June 2011: Entered dry dock at A&P Falmouth.

4th June 2011: Laid up on the River Fal.


© Tony Garner (Falmouth, 14/09/2011)(Both)

22nd December 2011: Sold to Equinox Offshore Accommodation Limited, Singapore for conversion to an Accommodation and Repair Vessel (ARV) for use in the offshore oil sector. The vessel will be renamed “ARV3

“Equinox Offshore Accommodation Limited, Singapore 22nd December 2011.

Equinox Offshore Accommodation Limited (“Equinox” or the “Company”) is pleased to announce that it has entered into a contract with Petrobras for the provision of an accommodation and repair vessel to support works in Brazil for a five year firm and up to a five year additional optional period.

The Company will convert a new unit to fulfill the contract. The vessel will be named “MV ARV3”. The vessel conversion candidate and all long lead items have been sourced and the Company will convert the vessel at Sembawang Shipyard, a subsidiary of Sembcorp Marine Ltd. Engineering and project planning by the Company and yard and all major equipment suppliers is advanced.

The completed ARV3 will be a diesel electric DP2 high specification vessel accommodating up to 450 charterer’s personnel. The vessel will be provided with 8 generator sets, with a total power of 31 MW driving 3×3.5 MW Azipod propellers aft, 3×1.65 MW retractable azimuthal and 2×1.3MW tunnel thrusters forward. Additionally the vessel will also be provided with a Marine Aluminium offshore gangway, a 50t knuckle boom crane, a D22/12.8t helideck as well as extensive project management, workshop and storage facilities.”

23rd December 2011: Departed Falmouth for Singapore, via the Suez Canal.

14th June 2012:  Noted as having been seen Singapore Shipyards 1-5.

1st May 2013: Renamed AQUARIUS BRASIL.

© Edson de Lima Lucas

🆕© Edson de Lima Lucas (Guanabara Bay, Rio de Janeiro 13/05/2013)

18th June 2013: Called at Cape Town, for bunkers, en-route to Rio De Janeiro, Brazil.


© Edson de Lima Lucas (Rio De Janeiro, 04/07/2013)

© Edson de Lima Lucas  © Edson de Lima Lucas  

© Edson de Lima Lucas

© Edson de Lima Lucas (Rio De Janeiro for repairs, September 2015)

© Edson de Lima Lucas

© Edson de Lima Lucas (Anchored at Maua Shipyard Niteroi Brazil. 08/02/2021)

February 11th 2022: Arrived Rio de Janeiro Anchorage.

April 15th 2022: Arrived at PETROBRAS 66 Offshore Terminal, Marshall Islands.

Petrobras 66 – 

© Edson de Lima Lucas

© Edson de Lima Lucas (Rio De Janeiro, 13/03/2023)

© Edson de Lima Lucas

🆕© Edson de Lima Lucas (Anchored at Brazilian Navy dock,  Guanabara Bay, after repairs. 18/05/2024)

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: Ian Collard, Collaroy, Ed Connell, Daniel Ferro, Tony Garner, Mike Jackson, Dirk Jankowsky, Trevor Kidd, Frank Lose, Edson de Lima Lucas, Mikkel, Simonwp, Carlos Moreno Trobat, Robert J Smith, Rob de Visser, David Whittworth (Whittworth.com), Andreas Wörteler and Sebastian Ziehl for their assistance in compiling this feature

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


  1. I was lucky enough to work on this ship on the very first day of service out of Canada dock to Dublin as a tug driver for Merchant Ferries. They were the days.

  2. Hi Ray, I have a photo of the Dawn and Brave together prior to their coming into service at Liverpool 1999. It’s a photo that I took so copyright isn’t a problem. May I upload it or email it to you for use?

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