FerriesPast and PresentSealink

MV Earl Granville (Ex Viking 4) – Past and Present

IMO number: 7310258

MV Express O

ex Express Olympia, Earl Granville, Viking 4

 © Jurgen Stein

© Jurgen Stein

Twin screw motor vessel built in 1973 at Jos L Meyer Werft, Papenburg-Ems, Germany (Yard No. 570) as a passenger and vehicle roll-on/roll-off ferry

Technical Data

  • Length: 108.70m (overall), 96.70m (between perpendiculars)
  • Breadth: 17.2m (extreme), 17.56m (overall)
  • Depth: 3.061m
  • Draught: 4.80m (maximum)
  • Height on vehicle deck: 4.20m
  • Tonnage: 4,477 gross, 4,358/1,982 net, 1,983, 1,998/1,180 deadweight, 894
  • Engines: Two14-cyl, Smit-Bolnes V314HDK diesels
  • Power: 10.080 bhp/11.5600 bhp (8,532kW)
  • After engine rebuild: Two12-cyl Crossley-Pielstick 12 PC 2V Mark 5 diesels (1980)
  • Power: 2 x 5,800 bhp at 482 rev/min
  • Speed: 19.25 knots
  • Capacity: 1,200 passengers, 260 cars or 32 x 12m haulage vehicles
  • Call Sign: OIBY,GBRW, SXMU
  • IMO number: 7310258
  • Registry: Mariehamn/Finland 🇫🇮, London/UK 🇬🇧, Piraeus/Greece, Ulan Batour/Mongolia 🇲🇳
  • Sister-ships: Apollo (560), Viking I (562), Viking 3 (565), Diana (566), Coromuel (568), Puerto Vallarta (571), Viking 5 (573), Azteca (575)


Constructed between 1969 – 1974, the nine so-called ‘Papenburg Sisters’ were all built at Jos. L. Meyer Werft shipyard at Papenburg-Ems, West Germany.

June 1st 1972: Ordered.

March 16th 1973: Launched.

June 16th 1973: Completed and delivered to Rederi Ab Sally, Mariehamn, Finland.

June 19th 1973: She was officially name by Sylvia Siltanen.

June 20th 1973: Introduced for Viking Lines between Turku- Mariehamn – Stockholm.

© Kurt Wengel  © Kurt Wengel  

© Kurt Wengel

© Kurt Wengel (all)

June 22nd 1973: Hit the quayside when she berthed in Stockholm. Suffered minor damage.

1978: For two months, in the spring, she ran services between Stockholm – Helsinki.

June 1st 1979: Commenced services between Nådendal – Mariehamn – Kapellskär.

© Jurgen Stein

© Jurgen Stein

April 1980: Sold to William & Glynn Industrial Leasing Ltd, London, England for £10 million, for delivery in August.

April 1980 – July 1980: Operated between Stockholm – Mariehamn – Turku.

July 1980: Laid up in Mariehamn.

August 25th 1980: Taken over by her new owners and renamed EARL GRANVILLE

Kurt Wengel, Andreas Wörteler Collection

© Kurt Wengel, Andreas Wörteler Collection

September 1980: Arrived at Seebeck Werft, Bremerhaven, Germany, to be fitted with AEG Denny-Brown stabilizers.

September 4th 1980: Chartered to Sealink UK Ltd for 10 years.

September 1980: Arrived at Jos. L. Meyer, Papenburg for extensive refit and alterations costing in the region of £10 million. She was also re-engined for her new duties.

February 23rd 1981: Conducted sea trials.

March 20th 1981: First arrival in Portsmouth.

Dover Ferry Photos Library  © William Macdonald

Dover Ferry Photos Library (Left) © William Macdonald (Right)

March 26th 1981: Inaugural VIP voyage from Portsmouth – St Helier.

March 29th 1981: Commenced service between Portsmouth – Jersey – Guernsey.

June 10th 1981: Suffered generator problems which caused her to have no electrical power for 30 minutes.

June 22nd 1981: A fire was discovered in the domestic boiler room only 12 miles south of the Isle of Wight and the ship had to return to Portsmouth. Withdrawn to Husband’s ship repair yard at Southampton.

© Jim  Ashby © Jim  Ashby © Jim  Ashby © Jim  Ashby © Jim  Ashby

Interior © Jim  Ashby

July 16th 1981: Returned to service.

July 20th 1981: Failed to stop whilst approaching the link-span at St Helier and running into the ramp, pushing it back several feet. Cars had to be craned off as a result of this incident. A quick round trip to Guernsey was attempted, but on her way back a further fire broke out on board. The damage was minor and the vessel continued in service following temporary repairs.

October 9th 1981: Whilst on a trip from Guernsey to Portsmouth caught in heavy storm which resulted in several cars being damaged on her car-deck.

January 21st 1983: Sailings cancelled while repairs were carried out on her bow visor.

July 2nd 1983: Operated first crossing services between Weymouth – Cherbourg.

Courtesy of Chris Thorne

🆕 Courtesy of Chris Thorne (Arrival at Weymouth)

© Ken Larwood

© Ken Larwood (Weymouth, January 1984)

© Ken Larwood

© Ken Larwood  (Inbound to Chatham, February 1984)

February 1984: Refit at Chatham.

© Ken Larwood

© Ken Larwood (Chatham Dockyard, February 1984)

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 and a subsidiary company British Ferries was set up for Channel Island operations.

© Brian Fisher

© Brian Fisher (Portsmouth, June 1984)

January 26th 1985: Departed for Ålborg, Denmark to be rebuilt.

July 27th 1984: Registered to Sealink British Ferries U.K., London, England.

April 28th 1985: Alterations completed for new “Starliner” service and re-delivered to her owners.

April 28th 1985: Left Ålborg for Portsmouth, calling at Dover for bunkers/water.

© Fotoflite

© Fotoflite

April 29th 1985: Arrived at Portsmouth.

April 30th 1985: Commenced service between Portsmouth – Channel islands – Cherbourg.

© Gary Davis

© Gary Davis (Maritime Photographic)

© Simonwp

© Simonwp (01/06/1985)

July 2nd 1985: Propeller shaft problems with a failed bearing which persisted for several days.

July 9th 1985: Arrived in Portsmouth on one engine and after discharge sailed to Vosper at Southampton for repairs.

July 12th 1985: Resumed.

February 19th 1986 – February 23rd 1986: Moored in London, beside HMS BELFAST, as an exhibition centre to advertise the Channel Islands and other Sealink routes.

Nigel Thornton Collection

Nigel Thornton Collection (Left) 🆕 Sealink News (Right)

February 24th 1986: Resumed Portsmouth -Cherbourg.

© Ken Larwood

© Ken Larwood (Portsmouth, May 1986)

© Frank Heine © Frank Heine  

© Frank Heine (Cherbourg 04/08/1986) (Both)

September 30th 1986 – October 18th 1986: Cherbourg laid-up (crew sit-in) over planned joint venture between Sealink and Channel Island Ferries.

October 19th 1986 – February 10th 1987: Laid-up at Portsmouth.

February 11th 1987 – February 25th 1987: Survey at buoys, Portsmouth.

February 25th 1987: Sent to Falmouth for a minor refit.

February 26th 1987 – March 4th 1987: Dry-dock at Falmouth.

March 5th 1987 – March 11th 1987: Southampton on overhaul.

March 14th 1987: Began charter to Ministry of Defence for NATO exercises in Norway during the spring.

March 30th 1987: Completed charter.

Nigel Thornton Collection

Nigel Thornton Collection

March 31st 1987 – April 14th 1987: Laid-up at Southampton with exception of V.I.P. Cruises 10th /11th April.

April 15th 1987: Commenced Cherbourg service.

© Brian Fisher

© Brian Fisher (Portsmouth, April 1987)

September 28th 1987 – October 6th 1987: Laid up in Weymouth.

March 30th 1988 – September 30th 1988: Commenced services between Portsmouth – Cherbourg, also with trips between Cherbourg – Guernsey.

November 1988: Services between Liverpool – Dun Laoghaire.

© Justin Merrigan

© Justin Merrigan

January 8th 1989 – January 19th 1989: Relieved between Harwich – Hook of Holland.

© Ken Smith  © Ken Smith  

© Ken Smith (Felixstowe, January 14th 1989) (Both)

February 1989 – March 1989: Chartered to MMD/Commodore. Commenced services between Portsmouth – Channel Islands.

March 1989: Dry-dock at Southampton.

March 30th 1989 – September 30th 1989: Operated services between Portsmouth – Cherbourg, also operating trips between Cherbourg – Guernsey.

© Simonwp

© Simonwp (11/05/1989)

1989: Planned sale to Mercandia A/S, Copenhagen, Denmark for Bornholms services between Ystad – Rönne fell through.

August 19th 1989: Struck a uncharted rock off the entrance to Cherbourg harbour resulting in a 14m long tear in her hull. Taken out of service for repairs.

Dover Ferry Photos Library  Dover Ferry Photos Library  

Dover Ferry Photos Library (Both)

August 19th 1989: To DCAN (Direction des Constructions et Armes Navales ) Cherbourg for immediate dry-dock.

September 2nd 1989: Left shipyard.

September 6th 1989: Left Cherbourg for Le Havre, under tow of ABEILLE LANGUEDOC.

September 7th 1989: Repairs at Siren Yard, Le Havre, France.

February 22nd 1990: Completed repairs/dry-dock/trials sailed from Le Havre for Falmouth.

February 25th 1990: Sailed from Falmouth for service at Stranraer.

February 26th 1990: Sheltered in Belfast.

© Aubrey Dale

© Aubrey Dale (Belfast, 04/03/1990)

March 4th 1990: Commenced service between Stranraer – Larne.

© Aubrey Dale

© Aubrey Dale (Larne, 10/03/1990)

April 4th 1990: Laid-up at Falmouth.

Dover Ferry Photos Library

Dover Ferry Photos Library

July 14th 1990: Preparing for service Portsmouth – Cherbourg

July 19th 1990 (07.30 hrs): Left lay-up for Portsmouth and charter to Hoverspeed for Portsmouth – Cherbourg cover.

(Portsmouth, 24/07/1990)

August 14th 1990: Laid up in Southampton.

November 1990: Sold to Aegan Pelagos Naftiki Eteria, Piraeus, Greece for $9.4 million.

December 10th 1990: Taken over by her new owner and renamed EXPRESS OLYMPIA.

December 12th 1990: Left Southampton for Piraeus.

1991: Commenced service between Piraeus – Syros – Paros – Naxos – Ios – Santorini – Anafi.

1992: Transferred to Agapitos Express Ferries, but operated the same services.

© Bernd Crause 

© Bernd Crause (Left) 🆕 (Right)

© Carsten Dettmer  © Ton Grootenboer

 © Ton Grootenboer (Left) © Carsten Dettmer (01/07/1996)(Right)

© Benoit Donne

© Benoit Donne

November 1999: Sold to Minoan Flying Dolphins, Piraeus, Greece. Commenced operations with Hellas Ferries services.

© Ton Grootenboer

© Ton Grootenboer

June 2001: Commenced services between Piraeus – Ikaria – Samos.

© Aleksi Lindström  © Ken Larwood  

© Aleksi Lindström (Left) and © Ken Larwood (Right)

© Carsten Dettmer © Carsten Dettmer

© Carsten Dettmer (Vathi, Greece 28/07/2004)

2004 (winter): Withdrawn.

January 2005: Company adopted the new name of Hellenic Seaways, Greece. The fleet were re-liveried with blue hulls.

April 2005: Sold to Indian breakers

June 2005: Renamed EXPRESS O.

June 28th 2005: Left Piraeus for Alang, India under Mongolian flag, home port Ulan Bator.

July 21st 2005: Arrived Alang for breaking.


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: Bernd Crause, Aubrey Dale, Gary Davis (Maritime Photographic), Carsten Dettmer, Benoit Donne, Fotoflite, Ton Grootenboer, Frank Heine, Ken Larwood, Aleksi Lindström, William Macdonald, Justin Merrigan, Simonwp, Ken Smith, Jurgen Stein, Chris Thorne, Kurt Wengel and Andreas Wörteler for their assistance in producing this feature.

Special thanks go to Terry Conybeare.

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


  1. Interesting article on the life and times of this ship, I only looked it up due to the brief appearance of the “Earl Granville” in the background of a TV episode of “Bergerac” It must have been either approaching, or departing St Helier. The episode was from the early eighties.
    Presumably, the ship was scrapped after 2005?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Back to top button