FerriesIrish FerriesNorfolk LinePast and PresentTrasmediterránea

MV Northern Merchant – Past and Present

IMO Number: 9181091

MV Ciudad De Mahon

ex Zurbaran, Northern Merchant

© Fotoflite

Northern Merchant – © Fotoflite

Steel twin screw motor vessel built in 2000, by Astilleros Espanoles S.A. (AESA) Seville, Spain, (Yard No. 289) for Cenargo (owners of Norse Merchant Ferries plc) as a passenger roll-on roll-off commercial freight ferry 

Technical Data

  • Length: 179.93 m (overall)
  • Breadth of Hull: 25m (moulded)
  • Draught: 6,50 m
  • Tonnage: 22,152 gross, 6,645 net, 7,477 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
  • MMSI Number: 224882000
  • IMO Number: 9181091
  • Registry: Dover/UK, Santa Cruz De Tenerife/Spain
  • Sister Vessels: Brave Merchant, Dawn Merchant, Midnight Merchant, Murillo

Location Data

Please note that this vessels AIS transponder and position data may be over an hour old and that this specific vessels position will only be displayed when it is within range of the MarineTraffic AIS system. The AIS transponder/ship position data featured on this page is intended for information purposes only and it is no way related to the safety of navigation at sea. All the AIS ship position data featured within this website is provided by marinetraffic.com and we are therefore not responsible for the content or the accuracy of this data


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 22,215grt 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.

May 15th 1999: Launched.

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

March 14th 2000: Left Seville for Dover.

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

© Ken Larwood

Northern Merchant – © Ken Larwood

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

March 22nd 2000: Collided with the quay-side 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

Northern Merchant – © Stéphane Poulain

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

© Mark Leiper © Mark Leiper 

Northern Merchant – © 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 

Northern Merchant – © Stéphane Poulain

© Fotoflite

Northern Merchant – © Fotoflite

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

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

© Nigel Thornton © Nigel Thornton 

Northern Merchant – © Nigel Thornton

© Andreas Wörteler  

© Andreas Wörteler

Northern Merchant – © 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

Northern Merchant – © John Mavin

© Nigel Thornton © Nigel Thornton 

Northern Merchant – © Nigel Thornton

© Andreas Wörteler © Andreas Wörteler 

Northern Merchant – © 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

Northern Merchant – © Nigel Thornton

© Pieter Inpyn © Pieter Inpyn  

Northern Merchant – © 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

Northern Merchant – © 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

Northern Merchant – © Robert Fournier

© Ed Connell© Ed Connell © Ed Connell

Northern Merchant -© Ed Connell

© Ed Connell © Ed Connell 

© Ed Connell © Ed Connell  

Northern Merchant – © Ed Connell

April 25th 2006: Left Dunkerque bound for Spain.

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

© Carlos Moreno Trobat

Northern Merchant – © 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 

Northern Merchant – © Carlos Moreno Trobat

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

© Carlos Moreno Trobat

Zurbaran – © 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

Zurbaran – © Josep Pretel

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

Ciudad De Mahon – © Transmediterranea

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

June 4th 2019: Refit in Gibraltar.

Ciudad De Mahon – © 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

Ciudad De Mahon – © Dogan (Arriving in Palma de Mallorca, 19/10/2021)

November 24th 2021: 

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 Mahon 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.



© Patrick Heard © Patrick Heard

Ciudad De Mahon – © Patrick Heard (Leaving Palma de Mallorca, 16/12/2021)

January 24th 2022: Anticipated delivery to Irish Ferries (@ Barcelona).

January 25th 2022: Final arrival at Ibiza.

January 25th 2022: Sailed to Barcelona.


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, Ed Connell, Dogan, Robert Fournier, Patrick Heard, Manuel Hernández Lafuente, Pieter Inpyn, Ken Larwood, Mark Leiper, John Mavin, Josep Pretel, Carlos Moreno Trobat, Stéphane Poulain and Andreas Wörteler for there assistance in compiling this feature.

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

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