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MV Darnia (Ex Stena Topper) – Past and Present

IMO Number: 7501297

MV Neptunia

ex Nord Neptunis, Darnia, Stena Topper

© Simonwp

© Simonwp

Steel twin screw motor vessel built in 1977 at Österreichische Schiffswerften AG, Korneuburg, Vienna (Yard No 710) for Stena Line Ab, Göteborg as an ice-strengthened passenger and vehicle ferry.

Technical Data

  • Length: 114.38m (overall)
  • Breadth of Hull: 18,14m (extreme)
  • Draught: 4,60 m (maximum)
  • Tonnage: 2,807 gross (1976), 3,455 (1977), 3,549 (1991)/ 978 net (1976), 1,636 (1977), 1,530 (1991),/3,357 deadweight (1976), 1,791 (1977)
  • Engines: Two 12-cyl, Klöckner-Humboldt-Deutz diesels
  • Power: 10,200 hp (7502 kW)
  • Speed: 18.0 knots
  • Capacity: 12 (1976), 92 (1977), 412 (1982) passengers, 255 cars (1976)
  • Call Sign: SCFU,  ZDEL3
  • IMO Number: 7501297
  • Registry: Stranraer/UK 🇬🇧, Stockholm/Sweden 🇸🇪, Valletta/Malta 🇲🇹,Gibraltar 🇬🇮
  • Sister Ships: Stena Tender (709), Stena Timer (711)


June 23rd 1975: Keel laid and built as STENA TOPPER to replace the DALRIADA.

June 22nd 1976: Launched. Second of three similar “Seaporter” class, built in sections then floated down the Danube to Galatz where she was welded together. She then went to Constantza, Romania where she was fitted out.

May 1977: Delivered to Stena Line Ab, Göteborg

Jim Ashby Collection

 Jim Ashby Collection

June 1977: Sold to Barclays Mercantile Industrial Finance Co Ltd, Stranraer, England. (Management, Sealink UK Ltd, Stranraer, U.K.), James Fisher. At this time she was rebuilt at Harland & Wolff, Belfast, Northern Ireland and renamed DARNIA. Modifications included bow and stern doors (to allow double-deck access), bow visor with waterproof door, the fitting of stabilisers and the provision of a hydraulic lift to take vehicles from the main deck (the existing 1 in 8 ramp was considered unsuitable).

Sealink News

August 5th – 6th 1977: Conducted sea trials where a speed of 18.5 knots was noted.

August 7th 1977: Berthing trials at Stranraer.

© W J Harvey (Nigel Thornton Collection) (Both) 

August 10th 1977: Chartered for 15 years to British Rail and entered service (00.45 hrs) between Stranraer – Larne.

© Michael G Patterson  © Kenny Kane

© Michael G Patterson (Left) and © Kenny Kane (Right)

January 10th – 20th 1979: Owing to national driver’s strike laid up in Belfast

February 2nd 1979: Off service for two weeks for engine repairs.

April 11th 1979: Left for first refit at Holyhead.

June 7th 1979: Twin level loading ramp opened at Stranraer and in conjunction with dredging work in Loch Ryan vessel was now able to be used to full capacity.

September 10th – 19th 1979: At Govan for engine repairs.

March 10th 1980: To Holyhead for refit.

November 27th 1980: Off Larne a freak wave hit her and a chained container broke loose and caused a 30 degree list plus £50,000 of damage. The ship was, for a time, broached and in danger of capsizing, but arrived at Stranraer safely 8 hours late.

1981: Plans announced to increase passenger capacity to 300 – 400.

February 21st 1982: Left Stranraer to rebuilt at Humber Graving Dock Co, Immingham, U.K. and passenger accommodation increased. Passenger accommodation added aft on upper decks. Two lifeboats were added on each side.

© Tim Webb © Tim Webb  

© Tim Webb (Immingham 18/07/1982)

July 1982: Anticipated return to commercial service.

© Kenny Kane

© Kenny Kane

August 9th 1982: Returned after rebuild and commenced service between Stranraer – Larne. New passenger certificate of 412 was granted.

January 27th – February 4th 1983: At Govan for engine repairs.

March 24th – 29th 1983: At Govan for engine repairs.

1983: Two ballast tanks added to solve instability problems caused by the accommodation extension.

March 4th 1983: Crew on strike over accommodation.

© Alan Geddes

© Alan Geddes

© Jim Prentice

© Jim Prentice (29/11/1983)

1984: In readiness for privatisation, on their re-appearance from overhaul, units of the Sealink UK Ltd fleet all appeared without the B.R. double arrow logo on their funnels. The vessels gradually appeared with white hulls. From that time the company would trade as Sealink British Ferries.

1985: An additional crew cabin was added during her refit.

© Alan Geddes

© Alan Geddes

May 11th – 14th 1985: Bow visor repairs at Belfast.

January 23rd – February (mid) 1986: Annual refit at Govan.

© Brian Fisher

© Brian Fisher (Stranraer, May 1986)

November 22nd 1986: At Govan for repair to leaking stern gland.

December 1st – 4th 1986: At Govan for repairs to damaged stern door.

February 8th – 21st 1987: At Govan for annual refit.

November 13th 1987: Emergency repairs at Belfast.

January 23rd – February 12th 1988: Refit at Birkenhead.

February 28th 1988: At Belfast rope tangled in her bow thrusters

© Alan Geddes

© Alan Geddes

March 1st March 2nd 1988: Off service for repairs.

April 19th April 21st 1988: Off service for repairs to cracked cylinder liner.

May 18th – May 26th 1988: Sent to Fishguard to cover for the broken down ST BRENDAN

February 4th – February 24th 1989: Birkenhead for overhaul.

November 15th 1989: Grounded in Loch Ryan.

December 27th – December 29th 1989: Propellers and bow thrusters repaired at Greenock.

January 31st 1990: Left Stranraer to operate between Holyhead – Dun Laoghaire together with Rosslare – Fishguard.

February 3rd 1990: Commenced service ex Holyhead.

© Justin Merrigan © Justin Merrigan

🆕© Justin Merrigan (Dun Laoghaire, February 1990)

© Aubrey Dale    

© Aubrey Dale (Larne, February 1990)(All)

Nigel Thornton Collection

March 6th – March 21st 1990: Refitted at Swansea after engine trouble caused her to go to dry-dock.

© Brian Fisher  © Aubrey Dale  

© Brian Fisher (Left) and © Aubrey Dale (16/07/1990) (Right)

September 1990: Plans to bring her up to new Department of Transport regulations were abandoned. Her charter was terminated and she was placed on the “For Sale” list.

September 1990: Sold to Nordström & Thulin Ab, Stockholm for delivery in March 1991.

© Aubrey Dale

© Aubrey Dale (02/02/1991)

February 21st 1991: Completed last sailing Stranraer – Larne.

February 22nd 1991: Left Stranraer for Hamburg.

February 23rd 1991: Arrived at Norderwerft, Hamburg for rebuilding (sponsons etc.,).

© Christophe Podlucky

© Christophe Podlucky (River Elbe, 23/02/1991)

April 5th 1991: Handed over to her new owners.

April 9th 1991: Renamed NORD NEPTUNUS.

© Fotoflite, Dover Ferry Photos Library

© Fotoflite (29/01/1992)

April 1991: Commenced service for Gotlandslinjen between Nynäshamn – Visby – Oskarshamn.

January 20th 1992 – March 1992: Chartered to Sally Line Ltd. Operated between Dunkerque – Ramsgate as cover for the overhaul periods.

© Ted Ingham  © Ted Ingham  

© Ted Ingham (Ramsgate, 1992)

© Ken Larwood  © Ken Larwood  

© Ken Larwood 

© Ken Larwood (all)

March 1992: Laid up in Dunkerque.

© Ton Grootenboer

© Ton Grootenboer (Dunkerque, March 1992)

April 1992: Left Dunkerque for Nynäshamn

© Michael Neidig (Rendsberg, Kiel Canal, 12/04/1992)

June 1992 – August 1992: Operated for Gotlandslinjen between Nynäshamn – Visby – Oskarshamn.

June 1993 – August 1993: Operated for Gotlandslinjen between Nynäshamn – Visby – Oskarshamn.

September 14th 1994 – September 26th 1994: Chartered to TT-Line. Operated between Travemünde – Trelleborg.

September 26th 1994 – May 3rd 1995: Chartered to TR-Line. Operated between Trelleborg – Rostock.

September 10th 1995 – June 11th 1996: Operated by Estlines between Stockholm – Tallinn.

June 1996 – October 1996: Operated by Gotlandslinjens between Nynäshamn – Visby – Oskarshamn.

October 1996 – June 1997: Operated by Estlines between Stockholm – Tallinn.

© Frank Heine  © Frank Heine  

© Frank Heine (Tallinn, 24/10/1996)

June 1997 – August 1997: Operated Gotlandslinjens between Nynäshamn – Visby – Oskarshamn.

August 1997 – October 30th 1997: Operated by Estlines between Stockholm – Tallinn.

November 1997: Sold to New Neptune Shipping Co. Ltd., Tallinn, Estonia. Renamed NEPTUNIA.

December 15th 1997: Operated by Estlines between Stockholm – Tallinn.

1998: Commenced service between Kapellskär – Tallinn.

© Dirk Jankowsky

© Dirk Jankowsky (July 1998 @ Stockholm)

June 1998 – August 1998: Operated by Estlines between Stockholm – Tallinn.

August 1998: Commenced service between Helsinki – Muuga – Riga.

© Aleksi Lindstrom

© Aleksi Lindstrom

2000: Registered to Neptunia Navigation Ltd., Valletta, Malta.

February 11th 2000: Chartered to Falcon Seafreight, London, England. Commenced service between Boulogne – Folkestone.

© Andreas Wörteler  © Andreas Wörteler  

© Andreas Wörteler (February 2000 @ Boulogne)

© Ken Larwood  © Ken Larwood

© Ken Larwood

March 2000: Registered to Falcon Marfreight Ltd., Gibraltar.

November 13th 2000: Collided, in the English Channel, with the tug PIETER. Sailed to Boulogne for minor repairs to her port quarter.

June 8th 2001: Final crossing between Folkestone – Boulogne.

June 9th 2001: Final day in operation for Falcon.

June 2001: Arrived at Arno, Dunkerque, France for rebuilding.

June 2001: Inaugural sailing between Guadeloupe – Martinique on Marfret´s Caribbean services.

© Benoit Donne

© Benoit Donne (Fort De France, April 2005)

November 2006: Suffered engine problems which eventually saw her demise.

© Yvon Perchoc  © Yvon Perchoc  

© Yvon Perchoc (both) (Fort De France, 14/03/2006)

2007: Sold for breaking in Turkey.

© Ton Grootenboer  © Ton Grootenboer  

© Ton Grootenboer (17/01/2007 @ Martinique)

July 19th 2007: Towed, by tug SUN LONDON, from Fort De France to Aliaga, Turkey for scrapping.

© Yvon Perchoc  © Yvon Perchoc  

© Yvon Perchoc (Fort De France, 19/07/2007)

September 2007: Beached at Aliaga

© Selim San

© 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: Jim Ashby, Aubrey Dale, Benoit Donne, Brian Fisher, Alan Geddes, Ton Grootenboer, W J Harvey, Ted Ingham, Dirk Jankowsky, Kenny Kane, Ken Larwood, Justin Merrigan, Michael Neidig, Michael G Patterson, Yvon Perchoc, Christphe Podlucky, Jim Prentice,  Selim San, Tim Webb and Andreas Wörteler for there assistance in compiling this feature.

Special thanks go to Fotoflite and Trevor Kidd for his support.

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

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