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MV Free Enterprise IV – Past and Present

IMO Number: 6910453

MV Tag Al Salam

ex Falster Link, Free Enterprise IV

Roy Thornton Collection

Roy Thornton Collection

Steel triple screw motor vessel, built by N.V. Werf “Gusto”, Schiedam, (Yard No. CO 719), engined by Smit Kinderdijk V.O.F, for Townsend’s in 1969 as a passenger and roll-on-roll-off car and commercial vehicle ferry.  

Technical Data

  • Length: 117.51m (overall) 110.14m (between perpendiculars)
  • Breadth of Hull: 19.44 – 21,65m
  • Draught: 4.28m (maximum)
  • Tonnage: 5,049 – 5,044 – 5,741 gross/ 1945.39 – 1,977 – 2,694net/1,132 deadweight
  • Engines: Three 12-cylinder Smit-M.A.N. RBL 6612 four stroke single acting diesels/(1990) Centre engine replaced with 4SA 9-cylinder MaK 9M453 diesel
  • Power: 12,240 hk/4080 bhp
  • Speed: 19 knots
  • Capacity: 1,132 passengers, 260 cars, or 160 cars and 40 heavy trailers
  • Number of crew: 74
  • Call Sign: GZDA, C6DQ4                         
  • IMO Number: 6910453
  • Official Number: 334044
  • Registry: Dover/UK 🇬🇧, Nassau/Bahamas 🇧🇸, Panama 🇵🇦
  • Sister Ships: Free Enterprise VIII (862), Free Enterprise VII (CO882), Free Enterprise VI (CO881),  Free Enterprise V (CO755)


“The first ship of the newly modelled “Free Enterprise” series.”.

March 1st 1969: Launched.

(Gemeentearchief Schiedam / IHC Gusto BV)

(Gemeentearchief Schiedam / IHC Gusto BV)

(Gemeentearchief Schiedam / IHC Gusto BV) (Gemeentearchief Schiedam / IHC Gusto BV) (Gemeentearchief Schiedam / IHC Gusto BV) (Gemeentearchief Schiedam / IHC Gusto BV) (Gemeentearchief Schiedam / IHC Gusto BV) (Gemeentearchief Schiedam / IHC Gusto BV) (Gemeentearchief Schiedam / IHC Gusto BV) (Gemeentearchief Schiedam / IHC Gusto BV) (Gemeentearchief Schiedam / IHC Gusto BV) (Gemeentearchief Schiedam / IHC Gusto BV) (Gemeentearchief Schiedam / IHC Gusto BV) (Gemeentearchief Schiedam / IHC Gusto BV) (Gemeentearchief Schiedam / IHC Gusto BV) (Gemeentearchief Schiedam / IHC Gusto BV) (Gemeentearchief Schiedam / IHC Gusto BV)                             (Gemeentearchief Schiedam / IHC Gusto BV) (Gemeentearchief Schiedam / IHC Gusto BV) (Gemeentearchief Schiedam / IHC Gusto BV) (Gemeentearchief Schiedam / IHC Gusto BV) 

(Gemeentearchief Schiedam / IHC Gusto BV)

May 28th 1969: Delivered to European Ferries Group, Dover, England on May 28th, 1969.  

Gemeentearchief Schiedam / IHC Gusto BV

Dirk Allewelt (Gemeentearchief Schiedam / IHC Gusto BV)

Steve Salter Archives Steve Salter Archives

Steve Salter Archives

Gemeentearchief Schiedam / IHC Gusto BV  Gemeentearchief Schiedam / IHC Gusto BV

Gemeentearchief Schiedam / IHC Gusto BV

(Gemeentearchief Schiedam / IHC Gusto BV)

May 29th 1969: Undertook sea-trials.

June 1st 1969: Made her maiden voyage to Zeebrugge. Then operated between Dover – Calais, Dover – Zeebrugge and Dover – Boulogne.

Roy Thornton Collection  © Fotoflite

Roy Thornton Collection (Left) and © Fotoflite (Right)

© Ted Ingham

© Ted Ingham

© A G Jones  Roy Thornton Collection

© A G Jones (Left) and the Roy Thornton Collection (Right)

© Bob Scott  Courtesy of Simonwp

© Bob Scott (Left) 🆕 Courtesy of Simonwp (Right)
Courtesy of Arjan Van Gelder
Courtesy of Arjan Van Gelder

© Philippe Brébant

Courtesy of Philippe Brébant (Association Paquebots & Marine Marchande)

January 4th 1970: Undertook berthing trials in Southampton’s Princess Alexandra Dock, later sailing to Amsterdam for dry-docking.

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

© Brian Fisher

© Brian Fisher

© Robert Fournier  Courtesy of Philippe Brébant  

© Robert Fournier (Left) and Courtesy of Philippe Brébant (Association Paquebots & Marine Marchande) (Right)

Free Enterprise IV – Roy Thornton Collection

1974: Dark green hulls were adopted with company name in large white letters

© A G Jones © A G Jones

© A G Jones

© Philippe P. Brébant

© Philippe P. Brébant 

1976: Thoresen orange hulls were adopted for all ships and funnels eventually became dark green with orange TTF logo.

© Steffen Weirauch Collection

© Steffen Weirauch Collection

May 1976: Introduced between Cairnryan – Larne. She was just as successful in Larne as she was in Dover and quickly became the lead ship on the Larne to Cairnryan route throughout both winter and summer. Nicknamed FE IV she established herself on the route and became very popular with the travelling public. Her main problem was in the winter, her ballast tanks were nowhere near as effective as the fin stabilisers which were standard on the rival ships sailing to Stranraer and consequently she lost sailings while the Stranraer vessels sailed on.

Roy Thornton Collection  © Tony Garner  

Roy Thornton Collection (Left) © Tony Garner (Right)

© Aubrey Dale 

© Aubrey Dale

February 1983 – March 1983 (mid): For six weeks after refit at North Shields arrived at Felixstowe covering for the absence of VIKING VOYAGER and VIKING VISCOUNT. This was her first spell at Felixstowe. In 1984 a new TT logo, in white, was introduced on funnels.

© Fotoflite, Roy Thornton Collection  © Fotoflite, Roy Thornton Collection  

© Fotoflite

July 13th 1986: Served on the Dover – Calais route.

© Ken Larwood

© Ken Larwood

August 3rd 1986: Entered service on the Dover to Boulogne. After a thorough refit to prepare her for the rigours of her new English Channel assignment she continued on the route.

Courtesy of Arjan Van Gelder

Courtesy of Arjan Van Gelder

© Brian Fisher  © Mike Sartin  

© Brian Fisher (Left) and © Mike Sartin (Right)

1987: Following the “Herald” disaster, from spring onwards, a pale blue funnel with P&O logo was introduced.

© Ken Larwood  © Bob Scott

© Ken Larwood (Left) and © Bob Scott (Right)

December 4th 1987: Completed her last Dover – Boulogne.

  © Fotoflite (Image Ref: 57381)

Nicolas Levy Collection (Left) © Fotoflite (Right)
© Jean-Guy Hagelstein
© Jean-Guy Hagelstein

December 5th 1987: Laid up in Chatham, awaiting sale. Her withdrawal was followed by strike action by P&O seafarers who rebelled at changes in manning levels.

© Ken Larwood (Chatham)

March 8th 1988: Information was that a Greek company, Kefalonia Shipping Co., Piraeus (Strintzis Lines S.A.), had bought the vessel, but the sale never materialised.

March 9th 1988: Sold for $3,5 million to Atlantic Link Trading Ltd, Nassau, Bahamas. (Sea-Link Rederi Ab, Nacka). Renamed FALSTER LINK.

March 10th 1988: Left Chatham, sailing for refit in Malmö, Sweden.

© Ulrich Streich

© Ulrich Streich (Gothenburg, 1988)

April 1988: Rebuilt at City Yard, Landskrona. During her refit the trademark arrow head Free Enterprise bow visor was removed in favour of a landing craft type ramp and her two aftermost lifeboats on either side were removed and replaced with a stack of life rafts on the stern walk-round promenade deck.

May 1988: Transferred to Windspoint Shipping Co Ltd, Nassau, Bahamas.

© Ulrich Streich  © Pieter Inpyn

© Ulrich Streich (Left) and © Pieter Inpyn (Right)

© Bernd Crause

© Bernd Crause

June 1st 1988: Entered service for her new operators GT Link between Gedser (Sweden) and Travemünde (Germany).

© Dirk Jankowsky  © Simonwp  

© Dirk Jankowsky (Left) and © Simonwp (Travemünde, 15/06/1989) (Right)

© Tony Garner

© Tony Garner (Travemünde, 15/06/1989)


© Bernd Crause

April 1st 1990: Changed routes to Gedser – Rostock.

© Dirk Jankowsky

© Dirk Jankowsky

1990: Original Smit MAN engine driving the centre propeller of the three failed and was replaced with a MaK 9M453 unit.

© Frank Heine

© Frank Heine (Travemünde, 17/08/1990)

January 5th 1991: Commenced service for Europa Linien A/S, Gedser.

© Andreas Wörteler

© Andreas Wörteler

1991: Fitted with side “Sponsons”.

© Pieter Inpyn  © Pieter Inpyn  

© Pieter Inpyn (Rostock, 01/06/1991)

© Frank Heine

© Frank Heine (Gedser, 28/07/1991)

© Simonwp

© Simonwp (Travemünde, 01/06/1993)

June 28th 1994: Suffered a fire on board. One person died as a result and she was laid up for repairs.

© Andreas Wörteler

© Andreas Wörteler

1996: Withdrawn from the route and laid up at Rostock for sale.

1997: Saw service on her old route between Rostock and Gedser, for Scandlines.

February 1998: Sold to El Salam Shipping & Trading, Cairo, Egypt, (registered under Feleela Inc. Panama City, Panama).

February 26th 1998: Sailed from Rostock to Port Said in Egypt and entered service as TAG AL SALAM ferrying pilgrims across the Red Sea (Port Safaga – Dubai). She joined her sister ship, the former FREE ENTERPRISE VI trading for Al Salam as the PRIDE OF AL SALAM 95.

© Frank Heine

© Frank Heine (Suez 15/05/1998)

February 2006: Sold to Indian breakers.

March 8th 2006: Arrived at Alang, India for scrapping.


Bernt Anderson Collection

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: Philippe Brébant (Association Paquebots & Marine Marchande), Bernd Crause, Aubrey Dale, Brian Fisher, Fotoflite, Robert Fournier, Tony Garner, Jean-Guy Hagelstein, Frank Heine, Ted Ingham, Pieter Inpyn, Dirk Jankowsky, A G Jones, Ken Larwood, Nicolas Levy, Derek Longly, Steve Salter, Mike Sartin, Bob Scott, Simonwp, Jürgen Stein, Ulrich Streich and Andreas Wörteler for their assistance in compiling this feature.

Special thanks go to the World Ship Society (East Kent Branch), Dirk Allewelt (Gemeentearchief Schiedam / IHC Gusto BV) and Arjan Van Gelder.

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

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