FerriesPast and PresentSealink

MV Horsa – Past and Present

IMO Number: 7205075

MV Penelope A

ex Express Penelope, Penelope A, Stena Horsa, Horsa

© Brian Fisher

© Brian Fisher

Steel twin screw motor vessel built at the Arsenal de Brest, (Yard No. CF 2), for the British Railways Board in 1972 as a passenger/car ferry

Technical Data

  • Length:¬†118.09m (387.3 ft) (overall), 110.19m (361.5 ft) (between perpendiculars)
  • Breadth of Hull:¬†19.84m (65 ft) (extreme), ¬†19.20m (63.2 ft (moulded)
  • Depth:¬†11.23m (36.8 ft)(moulded)
  • Draft:¬†4.117m (mean loaded)
  • Tonnage: 5,590 ¬†gross/2,008 net/1,030T deadweight
  • Engines:¬†two 16-cylinder Pielstick PC2V400 four-stroke single-acting diesels
  • Power:¬†11,030¬†¬†kW/15,000 s.h.p. @465 r.p.m.
  • Speed:¬†19.5 knots
  • Cabins:¬†24
  • Capacity:¬†1,400 passengers and 256 cars (or 38 lorries and 80 cars)
  • Call Sign:¬†GQAV, SZNZ
  • IMO Number:¬†7205075
  • Official Number:¬†358513
  • Registry: London/UK 🇬🇧, Piraeus/Greece 🇬🇷
  • Sister Ships:¬†Hengist (CF 1), Senlac (CF 3)


The second of a trio of ships built in 1972 specifically for the short sea routes and, at the time, the only ferries to have ever been built in a French Navy dockyard.

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 Nigel Thornton Collection

Nigel Thornton Collection
Courtesy of Jim Ashby Courtesy of Jim Ashby
Courtesy of Jim Ashby

April 29th 1972: Launched.

British Railways Board British Railways Board

British Railways Board

July 30th 1972: Delivered to Sealink UK Ltd, Folkestone, England (British Railways).

August 2nd 1972: Commenced service between Dover – Boulogne.

August 5th 1972: Commenced service between Folkestone – Oostende.

August 19th 1972: Commenced service between Folkestone РBoulogne. Then served between Folkestone РCalais, Folkestone РOstend, Dover РBoulogne.

© William MacDonald  Courtesy of Simonwp

¬© William MacDonald (Left) 🆕 Courtesy of Simonwp (Right)

Courtesy of Jim Ashby Courtesy of Jim Ashby Courtesy of Jim Ashby Courtesy of Jim Ashby
Courtesy of Jim Ashby

January 1975: Collided with LORD WARDEN in Calais.

April 10th 1977: Collided with the quayside in Calais. Minor damage and able to continue.

August 1977: Commenced service between Dunkerque – Dover.

January 1978: Became entangled with the offshore wires after she had dropped anchor while attempting to berth at the Admiralty Pier at Dover. At low water, and with a heavy swell running the ship was unable to move and battered her bow against piles and dolphins at the ramp. She was eventually towed off and sent to Calais for repairs, the berth being out of use for over a month.

January 20th 1978: Returned to service.

Courtesy of Jim Ashby Courtesy of Jim Ashby Courtesy of Jim Ashby  

Courtesy of Jim Ashby

June 17th 1978: Damaged, and put out of action Folkestone’s link-span. Dover Western Docks ramp fell foul of the same ship earlier in the year but this time she sustained no damage to herself and continued to operate as a passenger only ship for several days until the link-span was repaired.

© Simonwp

© Simonwp (15/09/1978)

© Rik Arnoudt © Rik Arnoudt

© Rik Arnoudt (Ostend 1980)

© Roy Thornton

© Roy Thornton (11/07/1983 opening of new berth 16 @ Boulogne)

July 18th 1984: Sale of Sealink U.K. to Sea Containers Ltd, Bermuda. Company changed name to Sealink British Ferries U.K.

© Roy Thornton © Fotoflite  

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

July 1984: Commenced between Folkestone – Boulogne also Folkestone – Ostend.

© Ken Larwood © Ken Larwood  

© Ken Larwood

July 27th 1984: Registered to Sea Containers Ltd, London.

© Frank Heine

© Frank Heine (Ostend 31/07/1984)

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.

© Ken Larwood

© Ken Larwood

February 26th 1985: Ran aground, in thick fog, off Copt Point, Folkestone. All blades on both screws were bent and dry docking at Chatham was required.

March 1985: Final service between Folkestone РOstend, returning to Folkestone РBoulogne.

© Ken Larwood

© Ken Larwood

1985 (winter): Received £1 million refit. The ship’s aft docking bridge was removed during this period.

© Brian Fisher © Brian Fisher

© Brian Fisher

February 16th 1986 РMarch 20th 1986: Refit at Swan Hunter Yard Hebburn.

November 1st 1987: Had to put back to Boulogne after departing substantially overloaded. A combination of circumstances ie, the cancellation of hovercraft sailings and vehicles being switched to the ferry, whilst the boat train arrived from Paris with 740 through passengers instead of 134 as previously advised. The vessel had been under way for 10 minutes until a ticket count revealed the error and she immediately turned back to discharge 238 passengers

January 31st 1988: Arrived on the Tyne for refit.

© Ken Lubi

© Ken Lubi (Tyne, 31/01/1988)

© Frank Heine

© Frank Heine (Boulogne, 09/05/1989)

January 1990: Sold to Stena Line, Ab, Göteborg. (Registered to Stena Equipment Ltd. London) Commenced service for Sealink Stena Line.

May 23rd 1990 – September 4th 1990: Operated between Holyhead – Dun Laoghaire.

© Aubrey Dale © Aubrey Dale © Aubrey Dale © Aubrey Dale

© Aubrey Dale

1990: Renamed STENA HORSA

© Fotoflite © Fotoflite  

© Fotoflite

October 15th 1990: Commenced service between Folkestone – Boulogne.

© Mike Jackson

© Mike Jackson (sheltering from storms at Dover)

1991: Stena full takeover of Sealink U.K. Ltd for a sum believed to be in the region of £259 million. The fleets livery was changed to reflect the fact.

February 12th 1991 – February 14th 1991: Operated between Holyhead – Dun Laoghaire as cover for the STENA CAMBRIA.

February 1991: Returned to Folkestone.

December 31st 1991: Closure of service between Folkestone – Boulogne.

© Andreas Wörteler © Fotoflite Image Ref 124799 © Fotoflite Ref: 124819

¬© Andreas W√∂rteler (Left) and 🆕¬© Fotoflite, Nigel Thornton Collection (Right)

Nigel Thornton Collection Nigel Thornton Collection  

Nigel Thornton Collection (Last weekend at Boulogne)

January 4th 1992: Left Dover for Milford Haven.

January 5th 1992: Laid up in Milford Haven.

February 15th 1992: Sold to Flanmare Shipping Inc, Piraeus Greece, renamed PENELOPE A. Left Milford Haven for Piraeus.

February 23rd 1992: Arrived Piraeus.

1992: Began operations with Agoudimos Lines between Rafina – Andros – Tinos – Mykonos.

© Ton Grootenboer © Ton Grootenboer  

© Ton Grootenboer

November 1999: Sold to Minoan Flying Dolphins, Piraeus Greece. Renamed EXPRESS PENELOPE.

2000: Operations for Hellas Ferries.

© Andreas Wörteler © Andreas Wörteler  

© Andreas Wörteler

© Frank Heine

© Frank Heine (Rafina, 14/07/2001)

© Aleksi Lindström

© Aleksi Lindström

January 2004: Sold to Mimis Agoudimos, Greece. Renamed PENELOPE A. Commenced services between Rafina – Andros – Tinos – Mykonos.

2004: Services between Rafina – Andros – Tinos – Mykonos.

© Aleksi Lindström © Aleksi Lindström  

© Aleksi Lindström

December 5th 2004: Collided with EVIA STAR in Rafina and damaged her bow.

© Andreas Wörteler © Andreas Wörteler  

© Andreas Wörteler

© Ken Larwood

© Ken Larwood (02/06/2009)

December 28, 2012¬†(18:30 Rafina): Owing to “financial difficulties” her services ceased. Set sail for the New Molo, Drapetsona.

September 2013: Crew seized the vessel in Rafina (owing to non-payment for a period of nearly six months).

© Gerolf Drebes

© Gerolf Drebes

December 2013: Remained in Rafina.

January 2014: Crew left the ship which was promptly arrested.

“Prosecutor Panagiota Fakou has ordered an investigation into the allegations that the port authority of Rafina requested that the ‚ÄúPenelope A‚ÄĚ ferry boat be removed from the port due to concerns of staff safety and environmental pollution.

The Panhellenic Merchant Navy Union (PENEN) had previously revealed the Rafina Port Authority‚Äôs allegations and request from the ship owners to remove the ‚ÄúPenelope A‚ÄĚ immediately. The PENEN argued that the abandoned ferry boat¬†anchor ropes broke due to strong winds last Sunday, increasing the chances of an accident or pollution.

The merchant navy union has demanded that the ship owners claim their responsibilities regarding the ship and noted that they have not yet paid the Rafina Port Authority fines worth 122,000 euros from port fees and refuse collection. Furthermore, the 56 crew members of the ‚ÄúPenelope A‚ÄĚ who live on-board the ferry boat without electricity and running water have not been paid for up to 10 months.

The 56 crew members however will be paid three months worth of wages from the Merchant Seamen‚Äôs Fund, due to the ship owners‚Äô non-payment of wages.”

© Petros Psarras

© Petros Psarras (19/07/2014)

August 2014:¬†Remained under arrest, in Rafina. Noted as being advertised “For Sale”.

June 18th 2014: Towed from Rafina to Eleusis for further lay-up.

© Peter J Fitzpatrick

© Peter J Fitzpatrick (Eleusis 10/06/2017)

January 24th 2019: Information from “Greek Shipping Forums” suggests that she will be subject of an auction held on 06/02/2019. Starting price¬†EUR 800.000

© Dimitris Mentakis

© Dimitris Mentakis (Eleusis, 24/01/2019)

March 1st 2019: Unsold at auction, reports from Greece indicate that she remains moored at Eleusis, but is now taking on water and has developed a 9 Р10 degree list. Divers are to check her hull to assess her general condition and stability. Tugs and a floating crane are on standby.

© Dimitris Mentakis

© Dimitris Mentakis (Eleusis, 03/03/2019)

© Dennis Mortimer

© Dennis Mortimer (Eleusis, 17/09/2022)

© Stephen Brown

🆕 ¬© Stephen Brown (Eleusis, July 2023)

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: Rik Arnoudt, Stephen Brown, Brian Fisher, Gerolf Drebes, Peter J Fitzpatrick, Fotoflite, Ton Grootenboer, Frank Heine, Mike Jackson, Ken Larwood, Aleksi Lindström, Ken Lubi, William MacDonald, Dimitris Mentakis, Dennis Mortimer, Petros Psarras, Simonwp and Andreas Wörteler for their assistance in compiling this feature. A special thanks goes to Jim Ashby and Terry Conybeare.

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


  1. Still in service between Rafina and Mikonos where she has plied her trade since leaving Folkestone.

    1. Hi Andrew,

      Thank you for your comment and thank you for bringing it to my attention that comments were not working on the site.

      Amazed that these ships are still going but that’s what classic BR design has and that’s longevity.

      I agree that it would be great to see the Horsa back at Folkestone but unfortunately there isn’t much of a port for it to come back to. The link span was removed a number of years ago and more recently all the ports buildings have been raised to the ground.

      I must try and get over there at some point to get some photographs showing how the port looks now.

      Best Wishes

  2. 17 Nov 2014
    Rumours heard that the Penelope A/Horsa HAS now been sold – possibly for scrap (sad).
    Anyone have any info???

  3. October 23 2015. Realible source says Horsa (laid up ) and Hengist (as end of season) have now both been sold for scrap…

    Any further info??

    1. Hi Andrew,

      Thanks for the update. I am in the process of updating a lot of the pages on the website at the moment, both technically and for the ones I can research, historically as well and little snippets of information such as this are most helpful.

      Best Wishes

  4. I looked up the whereabouts of MV Horsa on my iPad. I served on the said vessel from 1974 until 1979. I started as 4th Engineer then promoted to 3rd Engineer, after that I was offered a position on another new ship called the St Anselm. Sometimes I holiday in Greece but unfortunately I have never clapped eyes on my old ship. It holds fond memories for me. She used to run like a little sewing machine, backward and forwards across the English Channel, she was dream to work on and I was abit sad when I was transferred to the other ship, but that’s progress I suppose. I have also found out just recently that her sister ship MV Hengist is in a bad way with a nasty starboard list. Unfortunately these ships cannot go on for ever.
    Best regards.
    Terry Skinner.

    1. Terry,
      Thanks for all your comments.
      I’m afraid the “good ol’ days” are long gone!
      Sad to hear about Gerry Sutton.
      See you at the next Marine Officers dinner?

      Take care
      Nigel T

      1. Nigel,
        What is the latest on Horsa -is she still laid up in Elefsis? Hopes are fading (for so many reasons including the obvious one) for Tuxedo Royale/Dover. We have accomplished so much and assembled a great team -and we don’t wish it to be in vain- we could need another ship-preferably operational and Sealink heritage – any suggestions apart from Horsa. I presume its too late for Hengist? Regards Richard Moffatt – Dover Steamship Co.

  5. I assume still no word on the fate of the mv Horsa/ Penelope A- still at Elefsis, Greece awaiting scapping ????
    Following the marking of the ‘Great Storm (1987); thought there might be some updates, but seems not (mv Hengist/Pinagia Tinous scrapped at Trukey March/April 2017)
    But the St Christopher still running Italy-Albania (?) On the Strom night she was almost capsized by a giant wave off Cap Gez Nez (wave broke her upper forward vehicle deck door and rolled her dangerously) She then went off Margate to ride storm out and only berthed at Dover East mid afternoon following -some very green looking crew and staff; and main vehicle deck a mess! (forklift trucks needed etc)

  6. Recent correspondence from the port authority at Elefsis to my colleague, described Horsa/Penelope A as ‘abandoned’ – also confirming that she was for sale. No price mentioned. We have written back making further enquiries. We are now actively looking for another vessel to campaign for to replace the beleaguered Dover/Tuxedo Royale – now possibly days away from scrapping.

  7. End August 2018
    Looks like mv Horsa will return to the UK; albeit Southampton; as her sale to ‘Sealink Historic Ferries’ is almost finalized.
    She will then have to stay in Greece for 100 days- legal requirements apparently- before being towed via The Med, Atlantic and Channel to The Solent. Here they hope to restart her engines for powered arrival.
    Fingers crossed for no further hiccups!
    http://www.sealinkhistoricferries.co.uk (See also Facebook site for updates)

    1. Amazing to think that one of the Sealink ferries could be saved ‚Äď truly wonderful. Was ever so sad to hear of the Earl Godwin (Moby Baby) finally being sold for scrap last month (Aug 2018), another classic ship that changed the British coastline when she appeared.

  8. Worked at Folkestone till Dec 1991 was on board last trip Folkestone/Boulogne. Is she still layed up in greece somewhere?

    1. Hi Richard,

      As far as I am aware she is still laid up in Greece. From reports seen in May of 2019, it was reported that she was taking on water.

      Best Wishes

          1. Hengist suffered similar fate left then sunk nearly towed to turkeysmd scrapped 2yrs ago

  9. As of 29 December 2020, the Horsa (as Penelope A’) was supposed to have been saved from the breakers by Sealink Historic ferries -as mentioned on their Facebook page – they were about to sign the paperwork and prepare her for towing back to UK (Southampton).

    Since then no news it seems, and SHF Facebook page closed off to direct public access (unless you have a FB account) now.

    Perhaps the CV19 situ has delayed things???

    Anyone know of further progress though????

    1. checked their website last info i can give is a photo dated summer 2019 but in winter edition of ferry@cruise review their correspondent holidaying in greece…

  10. Thanks Richard.

    I suppose it the old ‘no news is good news’,(hopefully!); but you’d think SHF would provide occasional updates as to how things are going with getting her ready to return and an idea of when…

    1. is the sale of vessel to SHF complete. havnt heard it was live or gone through only an expression of intrest. would certainly be great to see her back in uk waters. but the SHF website is a bit vague or non existent.. did they actually apply to buy vessel etc ?? await any reponse on this . thanks Richard Hirst

  11. have been able to speak to someone who lives in Greece about Horsa”s current state. He works within the shipping industry and his considered opinion is that shes way beyond
    saving and scrapping is the only realistic next move. Sad to hear but we have to face facts returning the Horsa to the uk isnt going to happen i am doing a college course at the moment and as part of a project i emailed the local newspaper about the Horsa and its current state but havnt had a reply

  12. That’s very sad news and maybe why Sealink Historic Ferries haven’t posted anything since last December as far as can be seen- You’d think they would at least post that they have abandoned the rescue.
    In 2029 she did have to be stopped from capsizing at Elefsis due to hull deterioration and leakage. It may be that her hull would require extensive, and this expensive, repair to make her seaworthy.

    Perhaps, if they keep going, SHF should switch to obtaining something in better condition but of that early 1970’s date only the old BR Sealink freighter Anderida is around (now in Greece!) Otherwise it’s SNCF’s Chartres (in Abu Dhabi) and the ALA St Eloi ( with Moby line) or the later Saint class vessels. (St Columba still around?) No Belgian’s left of the 1970’s other than the Prince Laurent, much rebuilt and running as Superfast II

    1. hi ray current update is that 3 ferries from the era we are talking about now in Seajets fleet in greece those being Prince Laurent St Eloi and Chartres. Of the Saint class ships both St anselm and St Christopher still active and in Operation. St Anselm currently operating from Bari but there are concerns about how much longer she will last.

      1. Thanks Richard.
        Would be nice to see the St Anselm back, she was the first of the quartet. But will SHF be interested if and when she becomes available??

        1. Got a large print of the St Anselm on my bedroom wall it use to hang in the Port Mangers Office in Folkestone got it when Sealink opeartions ended Dec 1991. Dont know about
          SHF last fundraisng exercise they tried only raised £10

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