European Ferries Group (EFG)FerriesP&O European FerriesP&O Irish SeaPandoroPast and PresentTownsend ThoresenTransEuropa Ferries (TEF)

MV Via Mare (Ex European Clearway) – Past and Present

IMO Number: 7411258

MV Via Mare

ex Begonia, Regina I, European Pathfinder, Panther, European Clearway

Roy Thornton Collection

© Cees de Bijl

Steel twin screw motor vessel, intended primarily as a commercial vehicle ferry, built and engined by Schichau Unterweser A.G., Bremen (Yard No. 2263) in 1975 for the European Ferries Group.

Technical Data

  • Length on Deck: 118.15m (388 ft) (overall), 111.56m (352.9 ft) (between perpendiculars)
  • Breadth of Hull: 20.27m (66.5 ft) (extreme), 19.9m (65.3 ft) (moulded)
  • Depth: 11.65m (38.2 ft) (moulded)
  • Draught: 5.81m (19 ft)(maximum)
  • Tonnage: 8,023 gross (ITC 69), 1,070 net (pre ITC 69), 2,406 (ITC 69), 2,387 deadweight, 3927t
  • Engines: Two 5,700 bhp 9-cylinder Stork-Werkspoor TM 410C four-stroke single-acting diesels
  • Power: 8386 kW/5700 bhp
  • Speed: 18.5 knots
  • Capacity: 132 passengers, 76 x 15m commercial trailers
  • Number of crew: 36
  • Call Sign: GUYN, J8B2698, ESRL, 5B7147, TCA9018
  • IMO Number: 7411258
  • MMSI Number: 271055018
  • Official Number: 366034
  • Registered Number: 03930Y
  • Registry: London/UK , Hamilton/Bermuda , Kingstown/St Vincent and Grenadines , Tallinn/Estonia  , Sierra Leone , Turkey
  • Sister Vessels: European Trader (2258), European Enterprise (2275), European Gateway (2256)

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 third of the four “European Class” designed as standard Roll On – Roll Off ships which could be adapted for Townsend Thoresen use.”.

October 10th 1975: Launched.



Courtesy of Arjan Van Gelder

 Courtesy of Arjan Van Gelder

Courtesy of Derrick Packman Courtesy of Derrick Packman Courtesy of Derrick Packman Courtesy of Derrick Packman Courtesy of Derrick Packman Courtesy of Derrick Packman Courtesy of Derrick Packman Courtesy of Derrick Packman Courtesy of Derrick Packman Courtesy of Derrick Packman Courtesy of Derrick Packman Courtesy of Derrick Packman Courtesy of Derrick Packman

Courtesy of Derrick Packman

Steve Salter Archives

Steve Salter Archives

January 16th 1976: Delivered to Townsend Car Ferries Ltd., Dover (Monarch Steamship Co, Ltd), England.

January 18th 1976: Arrived at Dover

© Fotoflite

© Fotoflite

January 19th 1976: Sailed to Felixstowe

January 21st 1976: Maiden voyage between Felixstowe – Europoort.

© Cees de Bijl © Cees de Bijl  

© Cees de Bijl

February 15th 1976: Returned to Dover for Calais/Zeebrugge services.

© Michael Woodland

© Michael Woodland

February 18th 1976: Commenced service between Dover – Zeebrugge.

© Bob Scott

© Bob Scott (Dover, 27/10/1980)

© Ken Larwood  

Chatham dockyard, November 1982 © Ken Larwood (both)

© Peter Wearing

© Peter Wearing (Zeebrugge, April 1983)

© Simonwp

© Simonwp (Dover 01/06/1983)

1984: A new TT logo, in white, was introduced on the funnels.

1984: Refitted at Thames ship repairers at Chatham Dockyard. Had her fans on her main vehicle deck fitted with a reversing gear thereby enabling exhaust fumes to be pushed out rather than just sucking fresh air in.

© Brian Fisher  © Brian Fisher  

© Brian Fisher

© Brian Fisher (1986) (All)

198? (Information Required): Collided with the Dover Breakwater:

“The incident was attributed to a fault in the starboard Main Engine propeller pitch control system, which led to a false full ahead signal being sent to the variable pitch propeller instead of the Full Astern signal transmitted from the bridge control. This fault in turn was attributed to a piece of metallic swarf in the propeller hub’s hydraulic oil which blocked an aperture and effectively reversed the command signal. Earlier, there had been a few similar but less dramatic incidents of unexplained propeller pitch faults in both the European Clearway and her sister the European Trader.”. (“Master on duty at the time”)

Courtesy of Derrick Packman Courtesy of Derrick Packman Courtesy of Derrick Packman Courtesy of Derrick Packman Courtesy of Derrick Packman Courtesy of Derrick Packman Courtesy of Derrick Packman Courtesy of Derrick Packman

Courtesy of Derrick Packman (Dover & Flushing)

1987: Following the “HERALD” disaster, from spring onwards, pale blue funnels with P&O flag logo became the norm.

© Brian Fisher

© Brian Fisher (Dover, July 1987)

August 28th 1987: After overhaul, returned to Dover in half new livery (dark blue funnel with P&O flag, P&O letters below the bridge wing and a horizontal dark blue stripe along the white superstructure. The ship’s hull was still orange.

Trevor Kidd Collection (Larne Ferry Web)  © Fotoflite Ref 63971

© Fotoflite

October 1987: There was a change to P&O European Ferries navy blue hull and funnel.

Nigel Thornton Collection

Nigel Thornton Collection

December 31st 1987: Registered to P&O European Ferries Ltd, Dover, England.

  © Fotoflite © Fotoflite Ref 64833 

© Fotoflite (all)

February 1988: Laid up owing to seamen’s strike

© Brian Pawley  © Brian Pawley  

© Brian Pawley  © Brian Pawley  

© Brian Pawley

June 1988: Resumed service Dover – Zeebrugge.

July – August 1988: Operated between Dover – Boulogne (freight only).

© Andreas Wörteler

March 15th 1991: Sold to Abbey National Leasing.

July 18th 1992: Commenced service between Portsmouth – Le Havre.

April 27th 1993: Final day in service with then laid up in Chatham.

July 28th 1993: Cherbourg for berthing trials.

July 30th 1993: Sailed to Rosslare for berthing trials

October 1993: After £2 million refit commenced service between Cherbourg – Rosslare. Registered for Pandoro Ltd, Hamilton, Bermuda.

© Andreas Wörteler  

© Andreas Wörteler

July 25th 1994: Due to enter dry-dock at Birkenhead to have fin stabilisers fitted.

January 1996: Renamed PANTHER.

© Andreas Wörteler

© Andreas Wörteler

© Ian Collard

© Ian Collard (laid up in the West Float at Birkenhead)

© Frank Heine © Frank Heine  

© Frank Heine (Cherbourg 07/07/1996)

November 26th 1997: A fire broke out onboard during her passage from Rosslare to Cherbourg.

“Whilst en route from Rosslare to Cherbourg a fire broke out on one of her loaded freight trailers. The fire was extinguished and there was no damage. After returning to Rosslare a severe fire onboard almost resulted in the loss of the ship. The Panther was 35 miles out from Rosslare on passage to Cherbourg on the 26th of November 1997 when the fire was discovered in the early hours of the morning. The blaze broke out in one of the lorries stowed on the vehicle deck and was so intense that it burned out six lorries surrounding the vehicle at the focal point of the fire. The crew managed to contain the fire and eventually put it out while the ship returned to Rosslare at 0300. There were worries at the time that the heat of the fire had damaged the ship’s structure but after repairs at Liverpool the ship returned to service.”

January 1998: Transferred to P&O Irish Sea, renamed EUROPEAN PATHFINDER.

© Trevor Kidd (Larne Ferry Web)

© Trevor Kidd

April 1998: Commenced service between Larne – Ardrossan substituting for EUROPEAN HIGHLANDER away on refit.

April 1998: Commenced service between Larne – Cairnryan substituting for EUROPEAN TRADER away on refit.

© Patrick Heard © Patrick Heard

© Patrick Heard (Rosslare, April/May 1998)

March 30th 2001: Final day operating between Cherbourg – Rosslare.

April 2001: Stern shelf was added at H & W, Belfast

April 19th 2001: Commenced services between Larne – Cairnryan.

February 13th 2002: Suffered a fire in an electrical switchboard in the engine control room. Repairs lasted one week.

June 12th 2002: One of her main engine’s crankshaft buckled. Carried on in service at a reduced speed of 10 knots then laid at anchor whilst repairs were attempted. With the imminent arrival of new tonnage/service costs cutbacks and the need for specialist parts only temporary repairs were done.

July 17th 2002: Last sailing ex-Larne.

July 19th 2002: Laid up in Liverpool. At this time she still had here extensive mechanical problems.

October 2002: Sold to Erato Shipping, Kingstown, St Vincent. Renamed REGINA I, but the sale never materialised.

October 28th 2002: Sold for £250,000 to TransEuropa Line, Kingstown, St Vincent. Renamed BEGONIA.

December 15th 2002: Arrived Ostend, laid up for major refit and refurbishment.

© Andreas Wörteler    

© Andreas Wörteler (both)

© Frank Heine

© Frank Heine (Ostend 02/06/2003)

January 2004: Dry docking in  Vlissingen.

January 30th 2004: Arrived back in Ostend


© Andreas Wörteler

February 2004: Commenced service between Ostend – Ramsgate.

© Nigel Thornton  © Nigel Thornton  

© Nigel Thornton

July 2004: “It would appear that the Ipswich Way hit the Begonia while she was moored at a quay in Ostend. The Begonia was holed just above the waterline and will be at Vlissingen until she is repaired. The Ipswich Way appears to have some minor damage…”

June 4th 2005: “Very strong rumours suggest that the BEGONIA has made her final commercial sailing for TEF and has been sold to Estonian interests. She is due to leave within the next two weeks and will be renamed BALTIC TRADER. Nothing is official yet. No other news.”

July 2005: Sold to an Estonian company, renamed VIA MARE with Tallin as her home port.

© Tim Vogel

© Tim Vogel

July 8th 2005: At 19.07hrs (EST) sailed from Ostend bound for Tallinn. New call sign.

July 2005: Laying in Kopli, Tallinn, Estonia.

August 15th 2005: Information ‘Equasis’ owners and managers, Baltic Scandinavian Lines A/S, 10 Meistri tn., Tallinn. Estonia

August 23rd 2005: Anticipated that will be installed between Paldiski – Västervik

© Tim Vogel

© Tim Vogel

September 1st 2005: Announcement that the new vessel of Baltic Scandinavian Lines will sail on route Paldiski-Kapellskär-Paldiski-Västervik according to the next schedule.

September 1st 2005: Entered service.

November 21st 2005: Commenced service between Paldiski – Kapellskär.

© Simonwp

© Simonwp (Vaxholm, 01/07/2006)

© Frank Heine

© Frank Heine (Paldiski 12/07/2007)

June 14th 2008: “Due to repairs, all trips of “Via Mare” will be cancelled. “Information about replacement ship and schedule will follow soon.”

June 2008 – August 2008: Refit in Liepaja, Lithuania.

© Simonwp

© Simonwp (Kapellskar, 01/10/2009)

© Frank Lose

© Frank Lose

© Frank Heine © Frank Heine

© Frank Heine (Kappelskär, 27/06/2010)


© Aleksi Lindström (Hanko, Finland, 31/10/2011)

January 2012: Rumoured to have been sold for services between Turkey – Cyprus

January 18th 2012: Passed through the English Channel en-route to Portland for bunkers.

January 19th 2012: Left Portland showing a destination of Famagusta.

January 29th 2012: Arrived in Famagusta, Cyprus.

April 2012: Recorded Owner; Akgunler Shipping, Girne, North Cyprus. Operating between Mersin (Turkey) – Girne (North Cyprus)

© Ton Grootenboer

© Ton Grootenboer

November 2017: Still active between  Mersin (Turkey) – Girne (North Cyprus)

May 2022: Still in service Kyrenia (Cyprus) – Tasucu (Turkey)

December 1st 2023: Remains in service Kyrenia – Tasucu and appears on the owners booking engine.

Akgunler Shipping

© giovanni.isolano/Instagram

© giovanni.isolano/Instagram

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, Brian Fisher, Ton Grootenboer, Patrick Heard,  Frank Heine, Trevor Kidd, Ken Larwood, Aleksi Lindström, Frank Lose, Brian Pawley, Bob Scott, Simonwp, Steve Salter, Tim Vogel, Peter Wearing, Michael Woodland and Andreas Wörteler their assistance in producing this feature.

Special thanks to Derrick Packman and Fotoflite

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

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