FerriesP&O European FerriesP&O FerriesPast and PresentTownsend Thoresen

MV Free Enterprise VII – Past and Present

IMO Number: 7230616


ex Pride of Rathlin, Pride of Walmer, Free Enterprise VII

Roy Thornton Collection

Roy Thornton Collection

Steel triple screw motor vessel, built by N.V. Werf “Gusto”, Schiedam, (Yard No. CO 882) for Townsend’s in 1973 as a passenger and roll-on-roll-off car and commercial vehicle ferry for Townsend Car Ferries Ltd, Dover, England

Technical Data

  • Length on Deck: 117.51m (385.5 ft) (overall)(1972), 139.40m (1985), 110.06m (361.1 ft) (1972) (between perpendiculars), 131.76m (431.98 ft) (1985)
  • Breadth of Hull: 19.49m (63.9 ft)(extreme)(1972), 22.48m (1985)
  • Depth: 11.03m (36.5 ft) (moulded)
  • Draught: 4.60m (14.4 ft) (maximum)(1972), 5.25m (1985)
  • Tonnage: 4,981 gross (1972), 12,503 (1985), 1,892 net (1972), 3,750 (1985), 1,148 deadweight (1972), 2,136 (1985)
  • Engines: Three 8-cylinder Stork-Werkspoor  TM410 four stroke single acting diesels with double- reduction gearing.
  • Power: 12,600 hk
  • Speed: 19.3 knots
  • Capacity: 1,200 passengers, 250 cars , 24 freight (1972), 1,035 passengers, 340 cars, 60 freight (1985)
  • Number of crew: 80
  • Callsign: GQHM, ZCBO8, YGVP 
  • IMO Number: 7230616
  • Official Number: 357539
  • Registry: Dover/Great Britain 🇬🇧, Hamilton/Bermuda 🇧🇲, Belmopan/Belize 🇧🇿 Jakarta/ Indonesia 🇮🇩
  • Sister Ships: Free Enterprise VIII (862), Free Enterprise VI (CO881), Free Enterprise V (CO755), Free Enterprise IV (CO719)


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

October 21st 1972: Launched.

Schichau -Unterweser AG Bremerhaven

Free Enterprise VII – Schichau -Unterweser AG Bremerhaven

March 26th 1973: Delivered to Townsend Car Ferries Ltd, Dover, England.

© Fotoflite © Fotoflite

🆕 © Fotoflite

© Fotoflite Image Ref 334731 © Fotoflite Ref 334732

© Fotoflite

1973: Commenced service with Townsend Thoresen between Dover – Calais and Dover – Zeebrugge.

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

© Derek Longly  © Derek Longly

© Derek Longley (Both)

© Philippe P Brebant

© Philippe P Brebant

© Simonwp  © Simonwp

© Simonwp (Refit @ Cardiff, 1976)

1976 – 1977: Thoresen orange hulls were adopted for all ships and funnels eventually became dark green with orange TTF logo although initially they did not have black tops.

© John Clarkson  © John Clarkson

© John Clarkson (Both)

© Simonwp

© Simonwp (Zeebrugge 13/09/1978)

1980: Commenced service between Dover – Zeebrugge.

Roy Thornton Collection

Roy Thornton Collection

© Ken Larwood  © Ken Larwood

© Ken Larwood (Both)

© A G Jones

© A G Jones

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

Roy Thornton Collection

Roy Thornton Collection

© Ken Larwood © Ken Larwood

© Ken Larwood (both)

© Fotoflite   © Ken Larwood

© Fotoflite (Left) © Ken Larwood (Right)

February 10th 1985: Standard refit.

June 1985: Sent to Schichau Unterweser AG (SUAG) at Bremerhaven for rebuilding. The 1,260 ton superstructure was lifted off by four mammoth cranes. The bow section of the vessel was removed and a new forward hull section was added. The keel for the new fore-bodies (also that of the FREE ENTERPRISE VI – yard numbers 2289 and 2290) was laid in January and was launched on 18th May by Margaret Ayres and Lauren Siddle whose mothers had launched the original ships. Measuring 135 metres x 22 metres, the two new bow sections were cut into two and welded onto the forward end of the original hulls before the superstructures were replaced, the work increased lorry capacity from 24 to 60.

Schichau -Unterweser AG Bremerhaven, Roy Thornton Collection

Schichau -Unterweser AG Bremerhaven

Roy Thornton Collection

February 1st 1986: Resumed commercial service.

March 9th 1986: Re-entered service on the Dover – Zeebrugge link

© Simonwp

© Simonwp (Zeebrugge 10/06/1986)

© Brian Fisher  © Fotoflite

© Brian Fisher (North Sea, July 1986) (Left) and © Fotoflite (06/06/1986) (Right)

© Simonwp

© Simonwp (Zeebrugge 01/03/1987)

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

© Mike Sartin

© Mike Sartin

© Fotoflite, Ray Goodfellow Collection  © Mike Sartin

© Fotoflite (Left) and © Ken Larwood (Right)

© Pieter Inpyn

© Pieter Inpyn (Zeebrugge 01/08/1987)

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

© Mike Sartin

© Mike Sartin

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

February 2nd 1988: Arrived on the Tyne for refit.

© Ken Lubi  © Ken Lubi

© Ken Lubi (Tyne 02/02/1988)

Nigel Thornton Collection

Nigel Thornton Collection

February 22nd 1988: Renamed PRIDE OF WALMER.

February 1988: Laid up at Vlissingen Scheldepoort, owing to seamen’s strike.

July 1988: Laid up on the Tyne following overhaul from Smith’s.


Nigel Thornton Collection  Nigel Thornton Collection

Nigel Thornton Collection  Nigel Thornton Collection

Nigel Thornton Collection  Nigel Thornton Collection

Nigel Thornton Collection  Nigel Thornton Collection

Nigel Thornton Collection

© Bernd Crause (Zeebrugge, 01/08/1988)

© Brian Fisher

Brian Fisher (Zeebrugge, July 1989)

March 18th 1991: Sold to Howill Shipping, London, England. Bareboat chartered to P&O European Ferries Ltd, Dover, England.

January 1st 1992: Completed service between Zeebrügge – Dover.  

January 5th 1992: Switched to Dover-Calais.

March 26th 1992: Transferred to the Dover-Boulogne service on which she completed her Dover-based operations.

June 5th 1992: She finally left Dover for a Falmouth Refit.

June 11th 1992: Renamed PRIDE OF RATHLIN, the ship took up the Larne-Cairnryan services.

© Aubrey Dale

© Aubrey Dale (Larne, 14/06/1992)

January 27th 1994: Sustained grounding damage at Larne as a result of which she lost a rudder and fouled a propeller. During a subsequent dry dock survey at Belfast, tail shaft damage was discovered.

© Bernd Crause (Cairnryan, 11/05/1994)

1996 (early): Work was carried out to improve seating in the Club Class using reclining seats from the Felixstowe-based PRIDE OF SUFFOLK and PRIDE OF FLANDERS. The tea bar was also replaced using seating from the same ships which had reverted to ro-ro mode.

© Robert Stanley

© Robert Stanley

1998: Commenced service for P&O Irish Ferries between Cairnryan – Larne.

© Aubrey Dale

© Aubrey Dale

March 1st 1998: Returned to service after refit at Harland & Wolff and re registered in Hamilton (Bermuda).

September 11th 2000: Completed service under the command of Captain Morris Austin. She operated the 21.30 form Larne after which, with her passenger certificate expiring at midnight, she returned ‘light ship’ to de-store.

September 12th 2000: Sailed to Harland & Wolff at Belfast to lay-up. Offered for sale for 1mn. (US dollars).

© Alan Geddes  © Alan Geddes

© Alan Geddes (Belfast 19/09/2000)

November 2000: Sold to Sungai Budi, Jakarta, Indonesia, (Registered in Belize ships register). Renamed BSP III. (BUDI SUNGAI PERKASA III). Anchored off Larne on the 10th with P & O markings painted out, on 10th November. Entered the port for the final time three days later to load fuel tankers for her voyage eastwards.

November 13th 2000: Left Larne for Indonesia.

2001: Commenced service between Merak – Bakauheni.

2001: In service between the islands of Java and Sumatra but again offered for sale in 2002 for the optimistic 2.5 mn. (US dollars)

2006: In service and recorded owners: Budi Samudera Perkasa, PT, Wisma Budi, Lantai 8-9 JL, HR. Rasuna Said c-6, Jakarta.

February 2nd 2011: “Klasifikasi Indonesia” showed her as being owned by: D’Ocean Shipping Perkasa PT. Wisma Budi Lantai 8-9 Wisma Budi , Floor 8-9 JL.HR.Rasuna Said C – 6 JL.HR.Rasuna Said C – 6 Jakarta. Jakarta. Operator : D’Ocean Shipping Perkasa , PT. Wisma Budi, Lantai 8-9 Wisma Budi, Floor 8-9 JL.HR.Rasuna Said C – 6 JL.HR.Rasina Said C – 6 Jakarta Jakarta

© Geir Ole Søreng

©  Geir Ole Søreng (Sunda Strait, Indonesia,  12/01/2011)

© ryo55id

© ryo55id (Merak Ferry Port, 03/032011)

July 11th 2015: “Allegedly, because of a leak, sank during docking to repair some damage”


Koran Pagi

All information is believed to be correct and no responsibility is accepted for errors and omissions. All items included in this article are subject to ©. We would like to thank: Philippe P Brebant, John Clarkson, Aubrey Dale, Brian Fisher, Fotoflite, Alan Geddes, Pieter Inpyn, A G Jones, Ken Larwood, Koran Pagi, Derek Longly, Ken Lubi, Trevor Kidd, ryo55id, Mike Sartin, Simomwp, Geir Ole Søreng, Robert Stanley and Andreas Wörteler.

Special thanks go to the World Ship Society (East Kent Branch) and Nigel Scutt @ Fotoflite 

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


  1. My first of two summer seasons on TTCF was in 1975 with the FE7 on the Dover-Zeebrugge route. Thanks to my high school friend’s uncle being a neighbour of a TTCF bigshot, our hiring was pretty much guaranteed, and we hitch-hiked to Dover from Essex the day after our final A Level exam. I was one of the waiters in the silver service restaurant, so despite the same pay grade, a better job than my high school friend who was stuck with table clearing duty close to the self-service counter. Our 12 hour watch change time was awkward at 4.30 but we got used to it – except just before our last scheduled watch before the end of our summer stint when we missed the boat, an inexcusable lapse of professionalism. We went to meet the boat when it docked at Dover at the end of the watch, and were duly summoned before the senior officer of the catering crew, Frank Capper. We were both very young looking 18 year-olds, and after keeping us waiting, he summoned us with, “OK Pinky and Perky, you can come in now.” Cheeky bastard. Fearful of some major punishment, we mumbled our excuses, which he barely listened to. Then he spoke: “OK, I’ll let you off if you can work your watch’s next shift. I’m short of crew members now.” We both agreed without hesitation and we were back in his good books. Except that somehow one of us let slip that we’d been living in a tent on a camping site for the entire nine weeks of our employment at TTCF. He gave us such a dirty look. Haha!

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