CenargoCurrent Local Ferry FleetFerriesIrish Continental Group (ICG)Irish FerriesMerchant FerriesNorfolk LinePast and PresentTrasmediterránea

MV Isle of Inisheer (Ex Northern Merchant) – Past and Present

IMO Number: 9181091

MV Isle of Inisheer

ex Ciudad de Mahón, Zurbaran, Northern Merchant

© Peter Therkildsen

© Peter Therkildsen 

Steel twin screw motor vessel built in 2000, by Astilleros Espanoles SA (AESA) Seville, Spain, (Yard No. 289) as a passenger roll-on roll-off commercial freight ferry for Cenargo International Ltd, Nassau, Bahamas

Technical Data

  • Length: 179.93 m (overall)
  • Breadth of Hull: 25m (moulded)
  • Draught: 6.50 m
  • Tonnage: 22152 gross/6645 net/7477 deadweight
  • Engines: Four 9-cylinder Wartsila diesels
  • Power: 23760 kW
  • Speed: 23 knots
  • Capacity: 214 passengers, 144 (13.5 m ) commercial trailers
  • Call Sign: MZXK7, ECLK, 5BYW5
  • MMSI Number: 210780000
  • IMO Number: 9181091
  • Registry: Dover/United Kingdom 🇬🇧, Santa Cruz de Tenerife/Spain 🇪🇸, Limassol/Cyprus 🇨🇾
  • Sister Vessels: Brave Merchant (288) , Dawn Merchant (287), Midnight Merchant (290), Murillo (291)

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.


May 15th 1999: Launched.

Northern Merchant

February 26th 2000: Delivered to Merchant Ferries, Dover, England (Cenargo International Ltd, Nassau, Bahamas).

The ‘Racehorse’ class quartet of ro-pax sisters were built between 1997 and 2000 for the Cenargo Group. The first pair came into service with Merchant Ferries who named the vessels after the well known racing thoroughbreds ‘Dawn Run’ (Dawn Merchant) and ‘Dancing Brave’ (Brave Merchant). These vessels, at 22,046grt, where slightly smaller in tonnage terms compared to their 22,215 grt Norfolkline chartered sisters Midnight Merchant and Northern Merchant. The Murillo built in 2002 for the Spanish shipping company Trasmediterranea was based on the same design.

March 14th 2000: Left Seville for Dover.

March 18th 2000: Arrived at Dover (In Merchant Ferry livery).

© Ken Larwood  © Ken Larwood

© Ken Larwood

March 20th 2000: Commenced her charter to NorfolkLine, being immediately introduced on the Dover-Dunkerque route.

March 22nd 2000: Collided with the quayside at Dover suffering minor damage.

March 2000 – April 2000: Chartered to DFDS Tor Line and introduced between Harwich – Esbjerg.

April 10th 2000: Re-introduced into service between Dover – Dunkerque.

© Stéphane Poulain

© Stéphane Poulain

July 2000: Undertook berthing trials at the port of Ramsgate.

© Mark Leiper  © Mark Leiper 

 © Mark Leiper

January 6th 2002: Collided with HSC DIAMANT in fog off Dover. One person was injured and there was only minor damage to both ferries.

April 2002: Refit at Arno, Dunkerque.

© Stéphane Poulain  © Stéphane Poulain 

© Stéphane Poulain

© Fotoflite  © Fotoflite

© Fotoflite

October 4th 2002 – October 18th 2002: Refit at Lloyd Werft, Bremerhaven.

February 29th 2004: In dry dock at the Damen Shipyard at Schiedam, the Netherlands.

© Nigel Thornton  © Nigel Thornton 

© Nigel Thornton

 © Andreas Wörteler

© Andreas Wörteler

© Andreas Wörteler

July 1st 2004: Norfolkline’s three Channel Ferries will be run by a newly-formed shipping group in a multi-million pound deal. Indo-China Ship Management (UK) has won the contract to operate and crew the ships. “Please note that due to urgent maintenance there will be a restricted sailing schedule between Sunday 4th July and Tuesday 13th July 2004.” The route cause of the problem was a faulty gearbox.

© John Mavin

© John Mavin

© Nigel Thornton  © Nigel Thornton

© Nigel Thornton

© Andreas Wörteler  © Andreas Wörteler

© Andreas Wörteler

February 25th 2006: Due to by dry-docked next week for re-conversion following her finishing service on the Dover – Dunkerque route.

© Nigel Thornton

© Nigel Thornton

© Pieter Inpyn  © Pieter Inpyn

© Pieter Inpyn

March 4th 2006: Stood down from service at midnight GMT and sailed to Dunkerque West. (MIDNIGHT MERCHANT will take up her schedule and MAERSK DUNKERQUE will take up the MIDNIGHT MERCHANT’S schedule.)

© Robert Fournier

 © Robert Fournier

March 7th 2006: In dry dock at Dunkerque with propeller shaft problems.

March 26th 2006: Acciona Trasmediterranea is to charter the NORTHERN MERCHANT and MIDNIGHT MERCHANT for the Barcelona – Palma route.

© Robert Fournier

© Robert Fournier

© Ed Connell  © Ed Connell

© Ed Connell  © Ed Connell

© Ed Connell

© Ed Connell  © Ed Connell 

© Ed Connell  © Ed Connell

© Ed Connell

April 25th 2006: Left Dunkerque bound for Spain.

May 1st 2006: Commenced service between Barcelona – Palma de Mallorca.

© Carlos Moreno Trobat

© Carlos Moreno Trobat

July 1st 2006: According to sources was renamed MURILLO DOS during the last week and handed over to a Spanish crew. Murillo Dos (Murillo Two) is actually a temporary name which Acciona Trasmediterranea ascribed to her during the transition phase prior to completion of her purchase from the Lombard Bank. As of this weekend she still bore the name NORTHERN MERCHANT on her hull. The intention is to name her ZURBARAN. MURILLO and ZURBARAN were seventeenth century Spanish artists.

© Carlos Moreno Trobat  © Carlos Moreno Trobat

 © Carlos Moreno Trobat

3rd July 2006: Officially renamed ZURBARAN and placed under the Spanish flag registered in Santa Cruz de Tenerife.

© Carlos Moreno Trobat

© Carlos Moreno Trobat

August 4th 2006: Suffered engine failure before entering Palma. Problem took 4 hours to resolve before she entered Palma.

August 5th 2006: Again suffered engine problems before sailing from Valencia.

2014: Remains in service with Acciona Trasmediterranea.

© Josep Pretel

 © Josep Pretel

April 6th 2019: Completed refit in Gibraltar. Noted as having new livery and renamed CIUDAD DE MAHON

© Trasmediterranea

© Trasmediterranea

April 10th 2019: Commenced service Barcelona – Ibiza/Mahon, Menorca, Palma together with Ibiza – Palma and Mahon – Palma routes. 

June 4th 2019: Refit in Gibraltar.


© Manuel Hernández Lafuente (Valencia, 19/07/2020)

April 2021: Announcement made that Grimaldi has closed the purchase of the Trasmediterránea business.

May 2021: Still in service Valencia – Las Palmas – Ibiza.

© Dogan

© Dogan (Arriving in Palma de Mallorca, 19/10/2021)

November 24th 2021: The Irish Continental Group (ICG) announced that they had entered into an agreement to purchase the Ciudad de Mahón from Trasmediterranea for use on there Irish Ferries subsidiaries Dover to Calais route.

Irish Continental Group plc acquires ro-ro ferry Ciudad de Mahon

Irish Continental Group plc (ICG) is pleased to announce that it has entered into an agreement for the purchase of the passenger ro-ro ferry Ciudad de Mahón from Trasmed GLE. Title to the vessel will transfer to ICG on delivery which is expected by late January 2022.

The vessel will serve the Dover – Calais route operated by Irish Ferries after dry docking and branding changes.

The vessel was built in the year 2000 by Astilleros Espanoles S.A. (AESA), Spain. It has a gross tonnage of 22,152 tonne, passenger capacity of 589 and a freight unit carrying capacity of 91 units.

The Company commenced services on the Dover – Calais route on 29 June 2021 with the Isle of Inishmore. The Isle of Innisfree (ex Calais Seaways) was delivered to the Group on 3 November 2021. She is currently undergoing drydocking and is expected to commence services on the route during December. The Ciudad de Mahon is expected to commence services in the first quarter of 2022.  The introduction of these two vessels, representing a total investment of €35.5m, alongside the Isle of Inishmore completes our previously announced plan to introduce three vessels on the Dover – Calais route. This will allow Irish Ferries to offer up to 30 sailings per day on the route with sailings in each direction approximately every 90 minutes.


Source: Irish Continental Group plc

© Patrick Heard  © Patrick Heard

© Patrick Heard (Leaving Palma de Mallorca, 16/12/2021) 

January 25th 2022: Final arrival at Ibiza.

January 25th 2022: Sailed to Barcelona.

January 31st 2022: Delivered to Irish Ferries at the Port of Barcelona and renamed ISLE OF INISHEER flying the Cypriot flag, registered in the Port of Limassol.

© Jorge Montoro Fort

© Jorge Montoro Fort  (Barcelona, 05/02/2022)

February 8th 2022: Left Barcelona destination Fayard A/S, Munkebo (nr Odense), Denmark.

February 11th 2022: Passed through the Dover Straits. Due to arrive at Odense, Denmark 0800 on the 13/02/22.

February 13th 2022: Arrived at Fayard A/S, Odense.

© Peter Therkildsen  © Peter Therkildsen

 © Peter Therkildsen (Fayard A/S, 13/02/2022)

© Peter Therkildsen  © Simon Stapley

Fayard A/S, 15/02/2022 © Peter Therkildsen (Left) and Fayard A/S, 22/02/2022 © Simon Stapley (Right)

© Peter Therkildsen  © Peter Therkildsen

© Peter Therkildsen (Fayard A/S, 25/02/2022)

March 10th 2022: Moved to dry-dock.

© Peter Therkildsen

© Peter Therkildsen (Fayard A/S, 14/03/2022)

© Peter Therkildsen  © Peter Therkildsen

© Peter Therkildsen (Fayard A/S, 16/03/2022)

© Peter Therkildsen  © Peter Therkildsen

Fayard A/S, 18/03/2022 (Left) and 03/04/2022 (Right) © Peter Therkildsen

April 8th 2022: Left Lindoe Anchorage (Odense) for Calais (eta 10/04/2022)

© Peter Therkildsen

© Peter Therkildsen (Fayard A/S, 08/04/2022)

April 10th 2022: Arrived in Calais.

© Stéphane Vancutsem

© Stéphane Vancutsem (Calais, 10/04/2022)

April 10th 2022: Scheduled to arrive in Dover (eta 11/04/2022 13.30 hrs ED7) for berthing trials.


© Dave Standen (Arriving in Dover, 10/04/2022)

© Julien Carpentier  © Julien Carpentier

© Julien Carpentier  © Julien Carpentier

© Julien Carpentier

© Julien Carpentier (Dover, 10/04/2022)

April 10th 2022: Returned to Calais.



© Paul Jolliffe (Dover Strait Shipping) (Dover 12/04/2022)

April 26th 2022: Entry into service Dover – Calais (ISLE OF INISHMORE away at Dunkerque for refit).


© Julien Carpentier (Calais, 27/04/2022)

© George Holland  © George Holland

© George Holland

 © George Holland (08/05/2022)

Onboard the Isle of Inisheer

© George Holland  © George Holland

© George Holland  © George Holland

© George Holland  © George Holland

© George Holland  © George Holland

© George Holland  © George Holland

© George Holland

 © George Holland (08/05/2022)

May 20th 2022: Came off service at Calais and sailed to Dunkerque East for repairs to bow door.


© Julien Carpentier (Dunkerque East, 22/05/2022)

May 26th 2022:  Left Dunkerque East.

© Christophe De Langhe  © Christophe De Langhe

© Christophe De Langhe

© Christophe De Langhe (Dunkerque East, 26/05/2022)

May 26th 2022: Arrived Calais then resumed service Calais – Dover.

© Cedric Hacke  © Cedric Hacke

© Cedric Hacke

© Cedric Hacke (Calais, 25/06/2022)

© Julien Carpentier © Julien Carpentier © Julien Carpentier © Julien Carpentier

© Julien Carpentier (Calais, 01/02/2023)

February 20th 2023: Came off service at Calais and sailed to Harland and Wolff, Belfast for refit.

February 21st 2023: Arrived in Belfast.

© Trevor Kidd © Trevor Kidd © Trevor Kidd © Trevor Kidd © Trevor Kidd                                                                         © Trevor Kidd © Trevor Kidd

© Trevor Kidd (Belfast, 21/02/2023)

© Trevor Kidd

© Trevor Kidd (Belfast, 22/02/2023)

© Luke Wilson © Luke Wilson

© Luke Wilson (Belfast, 22/02/2023)

Belfast Ship Movements

March 25th 2023 (09.55hrs): Towed from dry dock, by tugs MERCHANTMAN and MASTERMAN, to lay-by berth.

© Marc Gilbert © Marc Gilbert © Marc Gilbert © Marc Gilbert

© Marc Gilbert

March 26th 2023: Left Belfast for Dover.

© Stephen Brown

© Stephen Brown

© Trevor Kidd © Trevor Kidd © Trevor Kidd © Trevor Kidd © Trevor Kidd © Trevor Kidd © Trevor Kidd © Trevor Kidd © Trevor Kidd © Trevor Kidd                                                                                                           © Trevor Kidd

 © Trevor Kidd (Belfast, 26/03/2023)

March 28th 2023: Arrived in Calais.

March 28th 2023: Resumed service Dover – Calais.

© Julien Carpentier © Julien Carpentier © Julien Carpentier

© Julien Carpentier (Calais, 29/03/2023)

January 20th 2024: Came of service at Calais.

January 21st 2024: Sailed to Odense for refit.

January 23rd 2024: Arrived Lindoe for refit.

February 5th 2024: Left Lindoe for Calais.

February 7th 2024: Arrived Calais.

February 8th 2024: Resumed service Calais – Dover.

© Stéphane Vancutsem © Stéphane Vancutsem

© Stéphane Vancutsem (Calais, 01/04/2024)

© Nicolas Lévy © Nicolas Lévy © Nicolas Lévy © Nicolas Lévy © Nicolas Lévy                                                              © Nicolas Lévy © Nicolas Lévy © Nicolas Lévy


🆕 © Nicolas Lévy (Calais, 01/05/2024)

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, Philip Boyle, Stephen Brown, Julien Carpentier, Ed Connell, Dogan, Paul Jolliffe (Dover Strait Shipping), Nigel Scutt (Fotoflite), Robert Fournier, Marc Gilbert, Cedric Hacke , Patrick Heard, Manuel Hernández Lafuente, George Holland, Pieter Inpyn, Trevor Kidd, Christophe De Langhe, Ken Larwood, Mark Leiper, Nicolas Lévy, John Mavin, Jorge Montoro Fort, Josep Pretel, Dave Standen, Simon Stapley, Peter Therkildsen, Carlos Moreno Trobat, Stéphane Poulain,  Stéphane Vancutsem, Luke Wilson and Andreas Wörteler for there assistance in compiling this feature.

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

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