FerriesPast and PresentSealinkSociété Anonyme de Gérance et d'Armement (SAGA)Société Nationale des Chemins de fer Français (SNCF)

MV Compiegne – Past and Present

IMO Number: 5077905

MV Al Ameerah

ex Katerina, Freedom I, Queen Virgina, Ionian Glory, Compiegne

Matt Murtland Collection

Matt Murtland Collection

Steel twin screw motor vessel built by Chantiers Réunis Loire-Normandie, Rouen (Yard No. 310) in 1958 for French National Railways (SNCF) Calais-Dover cross-Channel service. Engined by Societe Generale de Constructions Mécaniques, La Courneuve

Technical Data

  • Length on Deck: 115.03m (377 ft) (overall), 109m (357.6 ft) (between perpendiculars)
  • Breadth of Hull: 8.35m (60.1 ft) (extreme),(58.3 ft) (moulded)
  • Depth: 6.4m (21 ft) (moulded)
  • Draught: (13.1 ft) (maximum)
  • Tonnage: 3,467 gross, 692 net, 700 deadweight
  • Engines: Two 16-cylinder Pielstick four-stroke single acting diesels
  • Power: 9,000 bhp
  • Speed: 20 knots
  • Capacity: 1,000 passengers, 164 cars
  • Call Sign: FNAX, HQJW7
  • IMO Number: 5077905
  • Registry: Calais/France 🇫🇷, Piraeus/Greece 🇬🇷, Valletta/Malta 🇲🇹, Honduras 🇭🇳


June 10th 1957: Keel was struck.

March 7th 1958: Launched, the first such French ferry boat to ply between Dover and Calais, and also the first of its type to be built in France

Nigel Thornton Collection Nigel Thornton Collection  

Nigel Thornton Collection (both)

July 3rd 1958: Ran her first trials.

July 7th 1958: First arrival at Calais.

Nigel Thornton Collection  Nigel Thornton Collection  

Nigel Thornton Collection (both)

Nigel Thornton Collection


Nigel Thornton Collection

July 7th 1958: Delivered to Société Anonym de Gérance et d’Armement (SAGA), Calais, France.

July 8th 1958: Further sea trials and berthing trials at Dover


Nigel Thornton Collection  Nigel Thornton Collection  

Nigel Thornton Collection  Nigel Thornton Collection  

Nigel Thornton Collection  Nigel Thornton Collection  

Nigel Thornton Collection  Nigel Thornton Collection  

Nigel Thornton Collection  Nigel Thornton Collection  

Nigel Thornton Collection  Nigel Thornton Collection  

Nigel Thornton Collection (all)

“………one of the first anywhere to be fitted with the now standard variable-pitch propellers and bow thrusters directly controlled from the bridge. COMPIEGNE had the usual complement of passenger amenities, including bar, snack bar, restaurant and duty free shop. The cost of lunch in the restaurant was 7s 6d (9 shillings if you wanted the pate de foie gras). Afternoon tea could be taken on board for 2s 6d, served to you at your white-linen-covered table.”

Stéphane Poulain Collection  Stéphane Poulain Collection  

Stéphane Poulain Collection

Nigel Thornton Collection  Nigel Thornton Collection

Nigel Thornton Collection

“The COMPIEGNE boasted a second unusual feature in that she was fitted with a stern bridge for use in navigating astern in Calais and Dover. From this vantage point, the Captain would be able to see the ships stern and link-span towards which he was directing his vessel. “Full Ahead” could be ordered at the appropriate time in order to stop the ship, moor her and to lower the link-span onto the vehicle deck for disembarkation……..

© Skyfotos, Nigel Thornton Collection  Nigel Thornton Collection  

© Skyfotos, Nigel Thornton Collection (Left) and Nigel Thornton Collection (Right)

The view from the traditional bridge wing position (forward) did not always allow the Master a clear view of his ships stern. For added safety and manoeuvrability, the COMPIEGNE boasted a third innovation in that she was fitted with bow-thrusters which pushed the ship gently away from or towards the quayside when berthing. Again this is now a standard fixture on all modern vehicle ferries but the French vessel was the first in the Channel to be so fitted. Fourthly, the new French ship was the first Channel ferry to be built of all welded construction – a tremendous advance that allowed a degree of prefabrication .”

July 18th 1958: Maiden voyage Calais – Dover

July 22nd 1958: Made a short trip around the Goodwin Sands for guests and harbour officials of the two ports then commenced service between Calais – Dover.

Nigel Thornton Collection

Nigel Thornton Collection

October 12th 1958 – January 1959: Operated between Boulogne – Dover.

Nigel Thornton Collection

February 1965: Her black hull was painted blue with a red funnel.

© A G Jones  © A G Jones  

© A G Jones

© A G Jones (all)

November 1969: It was announced that British Rail’s Shipping and International Services Division (S.I.S.D.) had adopted the new brand name Sealink and as a consequence all vessels would, in the future, be painted in the new house colours. Her funnel was painted red and her hull blue.

Courtesy of Colin Hartley Courtesy of Colin Hartley

Courtesy of Colin Hartley

© Ted Ingham   

© Ted Ingham

October 2nd, 1969 – January 1970: Owing to the increase in commercial traffic it was found that the ship could not accommodate vehicle trailers and, as a direct result, she had her car deck raised by 50cm and widening of her stern door at Chantiers de Normandie, Le Havre, France.

© Bob Scott  © Philippe Brébant

© Bob Scott (Left)  © Philippe Brébant (Right)

September 1st 1970: Made her 10,000th crossing.

February 2nd 1972 – February 4th 1972: Operated between Newhaven – Dieppe.

October 1st 1974: Taken over by Société Nationale des Chemins de Fer Francais, Dieppe, France. (SNCF)

Nigel Thornton Collection

Nigel Thornton Collection

July 1976: Took over from NORMANNIA on the ill fated new venture Dover – Dunkerque West

January 1978: HORSA became entangled with the offshore wires after she had dropped anchor while attempting to berth at the Admiralty Pier at Dover. At low water, and with a heavy swell running the ship was unable to move and battered her bow against piles and dolphins at the ramp. She was eventually towed off and sent to Calais for repairs, the berth being out of use for over a month. The HENGIST was slipped into her sister’s roster. The SNCF ship COMPIEGNE filled in for her while the NORMANNIA was hastily recalled from Newhaven until the HORSA  returned on January 20th.

© A G Jones  © Ken Larwood  

© A G Jones (Left) and © Ken Larwood (Right)

© Simonwp

© Simonwp 

May 1980: She was off service with engine trouble for the first half of the month.

© Gary Davies (Maritime Photographic)  © Kevin Hoggett

© Kevin Hoggett (Left)  © Gary Davies (Maritime Photographic)(Right)

© Ken Larwood  © Ken Larwood  

© Ken Larwood (both)

© Cees de Bijl  © John Hendy

© Cees de Bijl, Nigel Thornton Collection (Left) © John Hendy (Right)

September 27th 1980: Last sailing from Dover (Eastern Docks) to Boulogne, after which she sailed directly to Calais for lay-up.

September 30th 1980: Required to stand-in at Folkestone until the HORSA returned on October 7th.

© Karel Goutsmit © Karel Goutsmit

🆕 © Karel Goutsmit

October 7th 1980: Final service between Calais – Dover. Thereafter laid up in Calais.

Courtesy of Jean Marc Baratte

Courtesy of Jean Marc Baratte

February 1981: One final fling, covered for the CHARTRES and then the CHANTILLY when she went off for her refit. The latter was due back on February 21st ,when the COMPIEGNE was to resume her lay-up awaiting sale.

February 1981: Operated between Dieppe – Newhaven for a brief period.

February 26th 1981: Finally finished her service with Dover to Calais then continued her lay-up pending sale.

© Ted Ingham

© Ted Ingham

May (end), 1981: The Calais-Dover vessel CHARTRES damaged herself in her home port and retired to the local dry dock. Resulting from this , the CHANTILLY was switched to take her roster and out of retirement yet again came the COMPIEGNE for a 10-day spell. Expected that the vessel will be retained as a stand-by until September (1981).

June 12th 1981: SAINT GERMAIN went off service with engine troubles and did not return until June 27. This brought about the transfer of the Dover-Calais vessel CHARTRES as from June 17 while the CHANTILLY came across and stood in for her. Out of retirement for the third time came the COMPIEGNE which substituted on her Dover and Folkestone schedules.

August 1981: Sold to Calypso Shipping, Monrovia, Liberia with delivery to take place on October 20th.

September 27th 1980: Final day in Channel operation. Had made the crossing 22,712 times.

October 20th 1981: Taken over by her new owners. Renamed IONIAN GLORY.

Courtesy of Jean Marc Baratte

Courtesy of Jean Marc Baratte

October 24th 1981: Left Calais for Piraeus.

1982: Transferred to the Greek ships register.

June 11th 1982: Commenced service for Strintzis Lines between Brindisi – Corfu – Igoumenitsa – Patras.

Nigel Thornton Collection

Nigel Thornton Collection

December 1983: Helped to evacuate Palestinians from Beirut.

July 1984: Commenced service between Patras – Zakynthos – Simi – Kefalonia – Brindisi.

1987: Operated between Ancona – Split.

1988: Chartered to Seven Island Lines, operated between Patras – Kefalonia – Paxi – Igoumenitsa – Corfu – Brindisi.

© Frank Foerst

© Frank Foerst (Patras 04/07/1988)

1989: Sold to Vergina Lines, Limassol, Cyprus. Renamed QUEEN VERGINA. Operated between Piraeus – Haifa.

© A. Scrimali  © Philippe Brébant

© A. Scrimali (Left) © Philippe Brébant (01/04/1990)(Right)

1990: Sold to Liano Shipping Ltd, Valletta, Malta. Renamed FREEDOM I.

© Simonwp

© Simonwp

© Ton Grootenboer    

© Ton Grootenboer (Left) and Nigel Thornton Collection (Right)

© Fotoflite Ref 98254

🆕 © Fotoflite (26/05/1990)

May 29th 1990 – April 19th 1991: Chartered to Malmo District Authority as a refugee accommodation vessel in Malmo.

1991: Arrived in Greece to be laid up.

1994: Owners went bankrupt and she was sold in auction.

© Frank Heine © Frank Heine © Frank Heine

© Frank Heine (Piraeus 15/07/1994)

1994: Sold to Sparbanken, Stockholm, Sweden.

1994: Sold to Raneem Shipping & Maritime Transport, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Renamed KATERINA. Operated as a pilgrim ship around the Red Sea.

1995: Sold to Waad Shipping Co. Ltd., Honduras. Renamed AL AMIRAH.

1995: Laid up in Alexandria, Egypt.

199?: Renamed  AL AMEERAH.

© John Wilson

© John Wilson (15/11/2008 @ Alexandria)

June 2012: Information suggested that she was in the process of being “broken up” in Alexandria.


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: Jean Marc Baratte, Philippe Brébant, Frank Foerst, Fotoflite, Karel Goutsmit, Ton Grootenboer,  Colin Hartley, John Hendy, Frank Heine, Kevin Hoggett,  Ted Ingham, A G Jones, Ken Larwood, Matt Murtland, Simonwp, Stéphane Poulain, Bob Scott, John Wilson and Andreas Wörteler for their assistance in producing this feature.

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


  1. Dear Sirs,

    I made a very sentimental crossing on the mv ‘Compiegne’ on the afternoon of Aug. 13th 1961, from Calais to Dover, and would like to know who I should contact for obtaining a few photos of this vessel – inside and out.

  2. Fascinating. I remember her as the ferry most truck drivers avoided because you had to back on to drive off. Always get on at short notice and have a great crossing. I seem to remember it was Folkestone – Boulogne some time between ’76 and ’78. Is there any record of her on this route too?

    1. Adrian,

      Thanks for the comment

      As I always say, these histories are only “pen pictures” and are based upon information readily available to me. To do complete histories would take much more time and research.

      Accordingly I only readily know that, as mentioned in the article, that she was at Folkestone in Jan 1978 as a relief for Horsa.

      Nigel T

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