FerriesPast and PresentTownsend Thoresen

MV Free Enterprise I – Past and Present

IMO Number: 5120752 

MV Okeanis

ex Kallisti, Methodia II, Ergina, Kimolos, Free Enterprise I, Free Enterprise

© Malcolm Cranfield

© Malcolm Cranfield

Steel twin screw motor vessel, built by N.V. Werf “Gusto”, Schiedam, Rotterdam,(Yard No. 424) for Townsend Bros. Ferries Ltd, in 1962. 

Technical Data

  • Length: 96.5m (316.5 ft) (overall)
  • Breadth of Hull: 15.8m (53.7 ft) (extreme)
  • Draught: 4.3m (13.3 ft) (maximum)
  • Tonnage: 2,607 gross (1962), 890 net, 457 deadweight
  • Engines: Two 12-cylinder Smit-M.A.N. RBL 6612  four-stroke single-acting diesels.
  • Power: 7,360 kW/3470 bhp
  • Speed: 17.0 knots
  • Capacity: 850 passengers (1962), 1,400 (1981), 120 cars on two decks and 6 freight vehicles
  • Number of crew: 56
  • Call Sign: GIAR, SWHW 
  • IMO Number: 5120752 
  • Official Number: 303416
  • Registry: Dover/UK 🇬🇧, Piraeus/Greece 🇬🇷


August 7th 1961: Keel laid

February 2nd 1962: Launched as FREE ENTERPRISE.

N.V. Werf “Gusto”

Courtesy of John Hendy

Courtesy of John Hendy

© Steve Salter Archives

© Steve Salter Archives

© Steve Salter Archives

April 12th 1962: “Maiden Voyage” delayed.

Fotoflite, Stéphane Poulain Collection  © Frank Phillips  

© Fotoflite (Left) © Frank Phillips (Right)

April 22nd 1962: Commenced service between Dover – Calais.

Roy Thornton Collection  © Steve Salter Archives

Roy Thornton Collection (Left) 🆕 © Steve Salter Archives (Right)

August 1962 (early): Returned to Rotterdam with a damaged bow rudder.

August 7th 1962: Damaged when leaving Dover for Calais.

July 26th 1964: Collided with the East Pier at Calais. Slight damage to hull.

May 1965: Renamed FREE ENTERPRISE I.

© A G Jones  © Ted Ingham

© A G Jones (Left) © Ted Ingham (Right)

1965: “Townsend” in red was added to the superstructure.

© Ken Larwood  © Bob Scott

© Ken Larwood (Left) © Bob Scott (Dover 07/09/1970)(Right)

© Ted Ingham  Courtesy of Philippe Brébant

© Ted Ingham (Left) Courtesy of Philippe Brébant (Association Paquebots & Marine Marchande) (Right)

1968: Townsend European Ferries joined with Thoresen Ferries to become Townsend Thoresen European Ferries

© A G Jones  © A G Jones  

© A G Jones (Calais, 05/07/1969)(both)

September 6th 1971: Damaged at the stern when accidentally ramming spar at Calais.

Courtesy of Colin Hartley  Roy Thornton Collection

Courtesy of Colin Hartley (Dover)(Left) Roy Thornton Collection (Right)

1972: “Townsend Thoresen” was added in small white letters on the hulls and TTF logo appeared on funnels in pale green.

November 13th 1972: Ran aground in Calais and suffered minor damage.

November 17th 1972: Towed to Vlissingen for repairs.

December 17th 1973: Deputised on Dover – Zeebrugge service.

1974: Ships had hulls painted dark green with company name in large white letters.

Courtesy of Philippe Brébant

Courtesy of Philippe Brébant (Association Paquebots & Marine Marchande)

May 25th 1975: Introduced, for the summer season, between Cairnryan – Larne.

Roy Thornton Collection

Roy Thornton Collection

1976: “Thoresen” orange was adopted for all ships hulls and funnels eventually became dark green with orange TTF company logo.

© Michael Woodland

© Michael Woodland

© Bob Scott  © Cees de Bijl  

© Bob Scott (Left) © Cees de Bijl (Right)

1976 (Summer): Operated between Cairnryan – Larne

  © Derek Longly  

Steve R Salter Archives (Left) © Derek Longly (Dover Strait, 01/11/1976)(Right)

1977: Mostly on stand-by duties. Then laid up in Tilbury during the winter seasons.

© Tim Webb

© Tim Webb (Tilbury 11/03/1978)

© Derek Longly

© Derek Longly (Dover, 01/07/1979)

December 24th 1979: Final day in service for Townsend Thoresen, thereafter laid up in Tilbury.

February 23rd 1980: Left Tilbury for Rotterdam and refit

February 1980: Sold to Ventouris Group, Piraeus, Greece and renamed KIMOLOS.

Roy Thornton Collection  Roy Thornton Collection  

Roy Thornton Collection (© A Srimali)

March 2nd 1981: Arrived at Piraeus after rebuild. Operated between Piraeus – Cyclades Islands.

November 24th 1981: Ran aground at Sifnos and repaired in Piraeus.

October 21st 1992: Off Halki, hit a wreck. After 10 hors re-floated and towed for repair..

June 17th 1983: Ran aground on Sifnos Island. The accident occurred at 09.30 during a period of strong winds but fortunately the vessel ran aground on a sandy beach and refloated herself at 14.30. However so much wash was made during the attempt that 11 other craft in the harbour at Kamares were damaged.

© Ken Larwood

© Ken Larwood

© Frank Heine

© Frank Heine (Piraeus July 1981)

September 28th 1983: Arriving at Syros at 04.25 she struck the edge of the North breakwater bringing down the lighthouse. The ship became stranded on the breakwater’s triangular concrete blocks and passengers were eventually ferried ashore by the local tugs. Refloated herself at 17.15 and she was surveyed at dry dock in Piraeus on October 3 (1983). Damage extended from the starboard rails on her forecastle, partial flooding of engine room spaces and crew cabins to bent screws. The engines had to be opened up and inspected and repairs were also carried out to her hull following her earlier troubles when she ran aground at Sifnos in June

© Frank Heine

© Frank Heine (Piraeus 12/07/1990)


© Bernd Crause (02/08/1992)

February 25th 1993: Ran aground on the beach of Kamares, Sifnos.

1993: Registered to Hellenic Coastal Lines C. Ventouris Sons Shipping Co., Piraeus, Greece, renamed ERGINA

Postcard © Philip James  © Bernd Crause

Postcard © Philip James (Left)  © Bernd Crause (Naxos, 13/09/1993)(Right)

© Frank Heine © Frank Heine  

© Frank Heine (Piraeus 18/07/1994)

1995: Renamed VENTOURIS.

May 1995: Commenced service for Ventouris Sea Lines, Piraeus, Greece. Renamed METHODIA II.

October 1995: The financial problems of her operators saw her laid up in the Great Harbour in Piraeus

© Carsten Dettmar

© Carsten Dettmer (Piraeus, 01/11/1996)

January 1997: Sold to Sinderella NE, Piraeus, Greece. Renamed KALLISTI.

Courtesy of Philippe Brébant

Courtesy of Philippe Brébant (Association Paquebots & Marine Marchande)

Bernt Anderson Collection

1997: Introduced in the summer for cruising between Crete – Santorini and in the winter between Lavrio – Tinos – Mykonos.

© Carlo Martinelli

©  Carlo Martinelli (Iraklion, 01/11/1999)

© Peter J Fitzpatrick

© Peter J Fitzpatrick (Heraklion August 2002)

2003: Reportedly laid-up in Heraklion, Crete.

2004 (Summer): Cruising only between Crete – Santorini.

2005: Registered owner: Ionian Lines Cruises & Ferry, renamed OKEANIS.

© Matt Murtland (HHV Ferry)  © Matt Murtland (HHV Ferry)  

© Matt Murtland (HHV Ferry)

2006 (Autumn): Laid up in Zakynthos and advertised for sale.

© Carsten Dettmar

© Carsten Dettmer (Zakinthos, 01/072007)


© Google Earth (both, 38º-037868 N/23º-520809 E, 10/01/2012 )

February 16th 2013: Confirmed as being laid up at Eleusis, Greece.

June 1st 2013: Left Eleusis, under tow from the tug CHRISTOS XVII, for scrapping in Aliaga .

June 6th 2013: Arrived Aliaga for scrapping.


© Selim San (all)

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: Micke Asklander (Faktaomfartyg), Courtesy of Philippe Brébant (Association Paquebots & Marine Marchande), Malcolm Cranfield, Bernd Crause, Carsten Dettmer, Brian Fisher, Peter J Fitzpatrick, Fotoflite, Colin Hartley, Frank Heine, Ted Ingham, A G Jones, Derek Longly, Carlo Martinelli, Matt Murtland (HHV Ferry), Frank Phillips, Stéphane Poulain, Selim San, Bob Scott, Tim Webb and Michael Woodland for their assistance in compiling this feature.

Special thanks go to the World Ship Society (East Kent Branch), John Hendy and Steve R Salter.

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


  1. Hello,
    if your time permits, it would be nice to correct my name written under my photos above. It’s “Carsten Dettmer” not “Dettmar”. Thank you in advance, best regards Carsten

  2. does anyone know for sure where this ferry is now? i read it’s now in sierra leone

    1. Hi Richard,

      ‘Afraid I don’t know.

      Last confirmed I have was 16.02.13 @ Elefsis, Greece.

      Nigel Thornton

      1. ok thanks nigel, ive got myself hooked on knowing the fate of the free enterprise ferries 1-8. most sites say they dont know about this one but one site says its in sierra leone now.

        1. Richard,

          The picture I have, dated 16/02/2013, actually shows her flying the Sierra Leone flag.
          I believe the info’ you refer to states that, since January 2013, she is owned by Ragtime Marine- Chuncheon, South Korea with a home port of Freetown?

          As to her current location? Who knows, but I think she is still at Elefsis?


          1. nigel
            i’d say your right i went to working shipping site that are only interested in working and not dead vessels and the last known voyage was to zakynthos greece. im particularly interested in this one because it was featured in the italian job (1968) “not a lot of people know that”. thanks for all your help
            kind regards

  3. Hi! This ship can be seen in a movie called “The Italian Job”, with Michael Caine. See sequence which start at 42´ 42´´

  4. Sorry my last comment. The same information in commentary of Richard Burke.

    1. Hi Fernando,

      That’s not a problem at all. We always welcome comments on our website and it’s great for us to find out information and why people actually visit the site and what their interest is in a particular vessel.

      Best Wishes

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