British Railways Board (BRB)FerriesPast and PresentSealinkSealink British Ferries (SBF)

MV Cambridge Ferry – Past and Present

MV Sirio

ex Ita Uno, Cambridge Ferry

Courtesy of Jim Ashby

Courtesy of Jim Ashby

Steel twin screw turbine steamer, built by Hawthorn Leslie (Shipbuilders) Ltd, Hebburn, England, (Yard No. 754) for the British Railways Board in 1965

Technical Data

  • Length: 122.84m (overall)
  • Breadth of Hull: 18.70m (extreme)
  • Draught: 5.79m (maximum)
  • Tonnage: 3,061 gross, 1,007 net, 1,854 deadweight
  • Engines: 2 x 7-cylinder Mirrless National Ltd diesels
  • Power: 2,736kW
  • Speed: 13.5 knots
  • Capacity: 100 passengers, 35 rail wagons/200 cars
  • Call Sign: GMOB (1963 – 1992)
  • IMO Number: 6400044
  • Official Number: 305493
  • Registry: Harwich (1963 – 1992), Panama


Roy Thornton Collection  Roy Thornton Collection

Roy Thornton Collection  Roy Thornton Collection

Roy Thornton Collection

November 1st 1963: Launched.

Courtesy of Jim Ashby

Courtesy of Jim Ashby

December 1963: Delivered to British Railways Board being the first British ship to be fitted with Flume stabilisation system and the first ship in the fleet fitted with controllable pitch propellers.

Courtesy of Jim Ashby  Courtesy of Jim Ashby

Courtesy of Jim Ashby  Courtesy of Jim Ashby

Courtesy of Jim Ashby  Courtesy of Jim Ashby

Courtesy of Jim Ashby (all)

Roy Thornton Collection  Roy Thornton Collection

Roy Thornton Collection

January 2nd 1964: Commenced service as a train ferry between Harwich – Zeebrugge.

Courtesy of Jim Ashby

Courtesy of Jim Ashby

1972: Both the CAMBRIDGE and ESSEX FERRY undertook ten unusual sailings from Harwich to Dublin’s North Wall with rolling stock for Córas Iompair Éireann (CIÉ).

1973: Sealink trading name painted on hulls

April 24th 1975 – May 8th 1975: Operated between Stranraer – Larne.

Roy Thornton Collection  Roy Thornton Collection

Roy Thornton Collection

April 6th/7th/9th 1976: Used to transport film (motor) props for the film “A Bridge Too Far” Falmouth – Zeebrugge.

Roy Thornton Collection

Roy Thornton Collection

October 16th/17th 1976: Used to transport film (motor) props for the film “A Bridge Too Far” Zeebrugge – Falmouth.

March – April 1977: Received a £91,000 extension to her boat deck to allow 25 more trade cars to be carried. Modifications were also made to her stern to allow her to fit the Dunkerque link-span.

© Kevin Hoggett

New” © Kevin Hoggett

January 1st 1979: Registered to Sealink UK Ltd, London, England.

April 17th 1982: Last trip Harwich – Dunkerque

April 18th 1982: Last trip Dunkerque – Harwich.

May 1980: Operated between Holyhead – Dun Laoghaire.

© Bob Scott   © Fotoflite

© Bob Scott (Left) and © Fotoflite (Right)

November 29th 1982 – December 1982: Berthing trials at Dover, then tested Admiralty Pier linkspan and after modifications at Dunkerque operated between Dover – Dunkerque West, assisting the pre-Christmas fruit traffic. Then returned to Harwich – Zeebrugge.

© Tim Webb  © Tim Webb

© Tim Webb (Harwich 1983)

July 18th 1984: Sale of Sealink U.K. to Sea Containers Ltd, Bermuda. Company changed name to Sealink British Ferries U.K

© Tim Webb  © Tim Webb

© Tim Webb (Harwich 1985)

Roy Thornton Collection  © Brian Fisher

Roy Thornton Collection (Left) and © Brian Fisher (Right)

© Ken Larwood

© Ken Larwood

 © Simonwp

© Simonwp (Harwich 01/07/1986)

December 20th 1986: Last trip Dunkerque – Harwich

December 30th 1986: Left Parkeston Quay for Hull

December 31st 1986: Arrived at Humber Ship Repairers, Immingham for overhaul and modifications to fit the berth at Dover.

© Egg Bramhill © Egg Bramhill

© Egg Bramhill © Egg Bramhill

New” © Egg Bramhill

31st January 1987: Harwich service terminated and sailed to Dover.

February 2nd 1987: Carried out berthing trials at Dover’s train ferry dock.

March 25th 1987 (01.35 hrs): Two miles east of Dover Western Entrance, suffered entire electrical failure. Fault repaired and the vessel resumed her approach to Dover.

May 1st 1987: Involved in a collision with the ST ELOI 700 yards off the Breakwater at Dover, both vessels were badly damaged.

 © Ian Lillford   © Ian Lillford

 © Ian Lillford

© Ian Lillford

© Mike Sartin  © Mike Sartin

© Mike Sartin  © Mike Sartin

© Mike Sartin (all)

© Dennis Hopkins

© Dennis Hopkins

May 6th 1987: Arrived at Smiths Dock, North Shields for repairs costing £78,000.

May 18th 1987: Repairs complete and sailed for Dover.

Roy Thornton Collection  © A G Jones

Roy Thornton Collection (left) and © A G Jones (right)

© Brian Fisher  © Michael Woodland

© Brian Fisher (right) and © Michael Woodland (right)

© Ken Larwood  © Ken Larwood

© Ken Larwood

© Fotoflite  © Mike Sartin

© Fotoflite (left) and © Mike Sartin (right)

December 31st 1987: Last trip Dunkerque – Dover, thereafter laid-up in Dunkertque.

© Pieter Inpyn

© Pieter Inpyn (Dunkerque 01/08/1988)

September 1988 – October 13th 1988: Operated between Dover (ferry dock) – Dunkerque, after the new train ferry berth on the Admiralty Pier had failed.

© John Hendy  © John Hendy

© John Hendy (October 1988 @ Dover)

© Fotoflite   © Fotoflite

© Fotoflite (both)

October 1988: Laid up in Cornwall on the river Fal.

© Ted Ingham

© Ted Ingham

November 4th 1988 – December 1988: Service between Rosslare – Fishguard.

March 1990: Laid up at Milford Haven.

April 1990: Assisted Stranraer – Larne.

© Aubrey Dale

© Aubrey Dale

June 1990 – September 1990: Operated between Rosslare – Fishguard then laid up.

December 1990 – January 1991: Operated between Rosslare – Fishguard.

January 1991: Assisted Stranraer – Larne.

© Aubrey Dale  © Aubrey Dale

© Aubrey Dale (Larne, 1991)

February 1991 – February 19th 1991: Operated between Holyhead – Dun Laoghaire.

March 15th 1992: Final day in operation between Stranraer – Larne. Thereafter laid up at Milford Haven.

April 21st 1992: Sold to Sincomar, Valletta, Malta. Renamed ITA UNO, left Milford Haven for Malta and rebuild.

© Frank Heine  © Frank Heine

© Frank Heine (Bari 13/07/1992)

1993: Renamed SIRIO laid up in Bari.


© Aleksi Lindstrom

© Frank Heine

© Frank Heine (Bari, 29/07/1996)

© Frank Heine

© Frank Heine (Bari, 10/07/2001)

May 2003: Sold for breaking in Turkey.

May 26th 2003: Arrived at Huzur Gemi Sokum Ltd, Aliaga, Turkey for breaking.

© Selim San

Aliaga, Turkey © Selim San

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: Egg Bramhill, Aubrey Dale, Brian Fisher, Frank Heine, Kevin Hoggett, Dennis Hopkins, Ted Ingham, Pieter Inpyn, A G Jones, Ken Larwood, Ian Lillford, Aleksi Lindstrom, Selim San, Mike Sartin, Bob Scott, Simonwp, Michael Woodland and Andreas Wörteler for their assistance in compiling this feature.

Special thanks go to Jim Ashby, John Hendy and the World Ship Society (East Kent Branch).

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


  1. What a sorry state for this old ship. I worked as ETO on her fill in duties, it took so long to get to Northern Ireland the crossing was cancelled.
    We have no interest in the past, money has become everything.

    This ship had so much about it as a rail ferry….

  2. So sad to see the end of this fine old lady, many a happy time spent aboard her, I hadn’t long been out of school and was a galley boy for 18 months or so.
    With only a shallow drought boy did she roll seasickness was killed or cured on her.
    She was the best of the 4, Cambridge, Essex, Norfolk and the Suffolk.

  3. So sad to see the old girl looking so sad, Spent some memorable weeks on her as Bosun on the Fishguard – Rosslare run. Great Crew, we called her the royal yacht she was built for comfort and would rock you to sleep. Best job ever, strangest thing was I worked on the St Eloi in Falmouth dry Dock and painted repairs caused by collision with C/F within days of returning home to Fishguard I was sent to C/F in the graveyard on the Fal to bring her to Fishguard, Great Memories.

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