🇮🇹 MV SPL Princess Anastasia
ex Bilbao, Pride of Bilbao, Olympia
Pride of Bilbao (Portsmouth) © ‘The Ferryman’
Steel twin screw motor vessel, built in 1986 by Oy Wärtsilä Ab, Turku, Finland (Yard No 1290) as a Roll-on Roll-off Passenger/Vehicle Ferry for Rederi Ab Slite, Sweden, for service with Viking Line
- Length on deck: 176.82m (overall), 159.59m (between perpendiculars)
- Breadth of hull: 28.40m (extreme)
- Depth: 14.66m
- Draught: 6.719m (maximum)
- Tonnage: 37,583 (1992)/37,799 (gross), 11,274 (1992)/23,644 (net),4,000 (1992)/3,420 (deadweight)
- Engines: 4 x Wartsila-Semt-Pielstick 12PC 2-6V diesels
- Power: 31,500 hk
- Speed: 22 knots
- Capacity: 2,500 passengers, 580 vehicles (max), 62 commercial trailers
- Lane metres: 1,120
- Call Sign: SLOV (1992), MTDM5, C6MF8, IBRS
- IMO Number: 8414582
- MMSI Number: 247385600
- Registry: Slite, Sweden (1986 – 1993) 🇸🇪, Nassau/Bahamas (1993 – 1994) 🇧🇸, Portsmouth/United Kingdom (1994 – 2008) 🇬🇧, Nassau/Bahamas (2008 – 2011) 🇧🇸, Valletta/Malta (2011-2017), Napoli/Italy (2017 – ) 🇮🇹
- Sister ship: MARIELLA
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August 31st 1985: Launched.
April 26th 1986: Delivered to Rederi AB Slite, at the time the largest passenger ferry in the world.
April 27th 1986: Ship open to the public in Slite.
Olympia © Pieter Inpyn (left) and © Joonas Kortelainen (right)
April 29th 1986: Commenced service with Viking Line between Stockholm – Helsinki.
1992: Planned sale to Rederi AB Sea-Link, Malmo did not materialise.
April 1993: Chartered to P&O European Ferries (Portsmouth) Ltd to inaugurate a new route across the Bay of Biscay, linking Portsmouth with Bilbao.
April 5th 1993: Final voyage for Viking Line.
April 7th 1993: Departed Stockholm for Southampton.
April 10th 1993: Arrived in Southampton for dry-docking and re-branding.
Southampton (10/04/93) © Robert J Smith
May 22nd 1993: Renamed PRIDE OF BILBAO, remaining under the Swedish flag with a home port of Slite.
April 28th 1993: Commenced service between Portsmouth – Bilbao and Portsmouth – Cherbourg (weekends only).
Pride of Bilbao maiden voyage from Portsmouth (28/04/93) © Fotoflite, provided by P&O European Ferries (1993)
October 1993: The vessels owners, Rederi AB Slite, were declared bankrupt with there assets being sold at auction. The PRIDE OF BILBAO was sold to the Irish Continental Group, Dublin, Ireland (Registered owner: Zatarga Ltd, Nassau, Bahamas). The bareboat charter to P&O European Ferries (Portsmouth) Ltd continued.
Portsmouth © Ken Larwood (both)
November 30th 1993: She was transferred to her new owners, the Irish Continental Group (ICG), Dublin, Ireland and bareboat chartered to P&O European Ferries (Portsmouth) Ltd.
🆕 © Mark Willis (all)
1994: Registered in the United Kingdom, with her home port being Portsmouth.
1999: The reorganisation of the P&O European Ferries Group saw all routes from Portsmouth being marketed under the ‘P&O Portsmouth’ banner. She continued to serve between Portsmouth – Bilbao and Portsmouth – Cherbourg.
December 31st 1999 – January 1st 2000: Dover – Greenwich “Millennium Cruise”
© Mike Jackson (Dover 31/12/1999)
© Steve Newman (all)
© Ken Smith (Tilbury 01/01/2000)
October 15th 2002: Transferred to P&O Ferries between Portsmouth – Bilbao and Portsmouth – Cherbourg.
January 2003: Interior refit and application of the new P&O Ferries corporate livery.
February 2003 – March 2003: Operated between Portsmouth – Le Havre.
January 30th 2004 – February 13th 2004: Operated between Portsmouth – Cherbourg.
September 28th 2004: P&O Ferries announced the closure of it’s Portsmouth-Cherbourg, Portsmouth-Caen and Portsmouth-Le Havre routes
29th September 2004
P&O move to ship out sends ripples through business
IT was just after 9am yesterday when the full extent of P&O’s dramatic announcement began to hit home. The shipping giant signalled a sea change in its ferry operation by axing four routes and about 1,200 jobs. Facing strong competition from the low-cost airlines, P&O said it was scrapping three of its four Portsmouth crossings as well as one of its Irish Sea routes.
Unions reacted angrily to the changes, which will see the company’s number of ships reduced from 31 to 23, and which are expected to save £55m a year.
The restructuring, which the company hopes to be largely in place by the middle of next year, will mean the axing of the Portsmouth-Cherbourg, Portsmouth-Caen and Portsmouth-Le Havre routes as well as Rosslare-Cherbourg. At Portsmouth, the number of ships operated will be reduced from six to one.
“I only found out in the morning,” said shocked Portsmouth port manager Martin Putman.
“There had been speculation but this was at the extreme end of the scale.”
Like tens of thousands of others, Mr Putman was staggered by the scale of yesterday morning’s P&O cutback.
Rumours had been circulating for weeks that P&O’s loss-making ferry arm was in for a rough crossing during a review of the service. Wrestling with the Channel Tunnel, the rapid rise of the budget airline, the loss of duty free, fall-out from the Iraq War and a fierce price war, P&O’s ferry arm was dragging down company figures. It was losing £25m in the first six months of the year.
But no one expected the company to axe all Portsmouth to France routes as part of a major shake-up. Only Portsmouth to Bilbao in Spain remains. Industry insiders forecast it could mean as many as 400 job losses for Portsmouth as well as a reduction in the numbers of destinations available to travellers and the 320,000 freight vehicles which used the port as a gateway to Europe last year.
“Obviously it was pretty devastating for the port and for the people who will be made redundant.
“It is bad news for us and for the shipping industry as a whole,” said Mr Putman.
Source: Southern Daily Echo
December 28th 2004: Departed Portsmouth for Dublin.
December 29th 2004: Departed Dublin for Cherbourg.
December 31st 2004: Returned to service.
January 20th 2005: Suffered a minor fire whilst undergoing refit at the A&P dockyard in Falmouth, Cornwall. The fire broke out in a restaurant and was quickly brought under control and extinguished.
© “The Ferryman” (left) and © Gary Davies (Maritime Photographic) (right)
November 2008: Transferred to the Bahamian flag, home port of Nassau.
January 15th 2010: P&O Ferries announced the closure of the Portsmouth to Bilbao service.
P&O FERRIES TO WITHDRAW FROM BILBAO SERVICE IN SEPTEMBER
P&O Ferries has given notice that it is proposing to withdraw from the Portsmouth – Bilbao route at the end of September 2010, when the charter of the ship it uses for the service, the Pride of Bilbao, comes to an end.
In the meantime, the service will operate normally and bookings up to and including 27 September are unaffected. P&O Ferries will be contacting passengers with bookings beyond that date in order to make alternative arrangements or offer refunds.
The company says that despite a concerted effort to improve the financial performance of its 15-year-old service, losses continue and are unsustainable. Staff are being advised today (Friday) as the company begins consultations with representatives of its workforce in order to mitigate potential job losses. The months ahead will be used to try to offer alternative positions elsewhere in the company’s route network. A total of 252 people work on the Pride of Bilbao including 130 agency staff. A further 12 staff work in the company’s shore operation in Bilbao.
Chief executive Helen Deeble said: “We have examined every option very carefully and have been trying for more than three years to find a suitable replacement ship in order to continue the service profitably. The Pride of Bilbao has served us well but is now an old ship nearing the end of her commercial life and needs to be replaced.
“However, we have reached the sad conclusion that such a replacement vessel is not currently available and as this loss-making route is unable to fund the cost of a new purpose-built ship we have no alternative other than to close it.”
September 28th 2010: Last day of service between Bilbao – Portsmouth and completion of her charter to P&O Ferries.
© Chris Hunsicker
© Gary Davies (Maritime Photographic)
September 30th 2010: Departed from Portsmouth for the last time.
© Gary Davies (Maritime Photographic)
October 1st 2010: Arrived in Falmouth for dry-docking.
October 9th 2010: Her AIS signal showed her name as being BILBAO.
Bilbao moving from dry dock to Duchy Wharf, Falmouth 17/10/10 © Charlie Chambers
October 17th 2010: Moved from dry-dock number 2 to Queens North, Falmouth. Hull reverted to blue with white funnel.
December 3rd 2010: Sold by the Irish Continental Group (ICG) to St Peter Line.
COMPANY REGULATORY ANNOUNCEMENT
3 December 2010
Statement re Sale of the Ferry “Bilbao”
Irish Continental Group plc (“ICG”) announces that it has entered into an agreement for the sale of the ferry “Bilbao” (formerly “Pride of Bilbao”) to St Peter Line, Nicosia, Cyprus.
The total consideration for the sale is €37.7 million, payable in instalments over 5.75 years, up to September 2016. (The transaction is in the form of a bareboat /hire purchase agreement under which the vessel is chartered by ICG to St Peter Line and on payment of the final hire payment in September 2016, title passes to the charterers). Delivery is expected to take place in December 2010.
ICG has owned the vessel since November 1993, when the ship was purchased from its Swedish owners, Viking Line. The ship had been chartered by Viking Line to P&O European Ferries (“P&O”), in 1993, for operation on P&O’s routes between Portsmouth in the UK and Spain and France. ICG acquired the benefit of this charter when the vessel was purchased.
The charter came to an end in October of 2010 having been extended on a number of occasions. In the current financial year the vessel has generated charter revenue of €3.6 million and operating profit of €1.5 million. The transaction is expected to result in a profit before tax of approximately € 8.0 million in the year ended 31 December 2010. The proceeds of the sale will be used for ICG’s general corporate purposes as they are received over the period to 30 September 2016.
December 22nd 2010: Management DFDS Seaways, Lithuania.
December 29th 2010: Departed Falmouth for Klaipeda, Lithuania for refit.
Courtesy of Gena Amfimov
March 2011: Renamed SPL PRINCESS ANASTASIA. Registered in Malta, home port of Valletta.
March 27th 2011: Departed Klaipeda for St Petersburg.
March 31st 2011: Began operations between St Petersburg – Stockholm – Tallinn – St Petersburg. (Via Tallinn, Estonia on the outward journey and Helsinki, Finland on the return journey).
April 28th 2011 – May 9th 2011: Private charter.
August 3rd 2011: Services between Stockholm – St Petersburg – Helsinki – Mariehamn – Stockholm – Tallinn – St Petersburg – Stockholm.
© Aleksi Lindström
January 2014: Departed St Petersburg, via Tallinn, for Piraeus, Greece.
January 20th 2014: Arrived in Piraeus where an advertisement for Samsung Mobile was applied to her port side. This was in anticipation of her use as a hotel ship at the upcoming Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia.
(Piraeus 29/01/2014) © Dennis Mortimer
February 5th 2014 – February 24th 2014: Used as a Hotel Ship for the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia.
March 17th 2014: Arrived in Stockholm.
March 18th 2014: Departed Stockholm for St Petersburg.
March 3rd 2014: Returned to services between St Petersburg – Helsinki – Stockholm – St Petersburg.
© Carsten Dettmer
March 17th 2014: Arrived Stockholm.
March 18th 2014: Departed Stockholm for St Petersburg.
March 23rd 2014: Returned to service St Petersburg – Helsinki – Stockholm – Tallinn – St Petersburg.
November 2016: It was announced that St. Peter Line had entered into a joint-venture with the Italian ferry operator Moby. The new entity would be called Moby SPL with Moby owning a 51% stake in the business, with the remaining 49% being owned by St. Peter Line.
January 2017: Arrived Kopli, Tallinn for refit.
January 2017: Transferred to Italian registry and renamed SPL PRINCESS ANASTASIA.
March 31st 2017: Departed Kopli for St Petersburg.
April 2nd 2017: Services for Moby SPL between St Petersburg – Helsingfors – Tallinn – Stockholm – Helsingfors – St Petersburg. She appeared in a new joint venture livery designed by Riccardo Guasco.
© BLRT Repair Yards
© Kim Viktor
© Aleksi Lindström
January 10th 2018: Departed St Petersburg for refit at Remontowa, Gdansk.
March 21st 2018: Departed Gdansk for St Petersburg.
March 25th 2018: Returned to service.
May 4th 2018: “Contacted two quayside port cranes while leaving St. Petersburg port and proceeding in narrow channel, meters off quayside. One crane was contacted by port side bridge wing, another one was contacted by stern, passenger’s reported a perceptible jolt and some paint and debris falling from cranes. Ferry was taken to berth and resumed voyage in about an hour. “.
November 6th 2019: Upon departure from Stockholm suffered a power outage resulting in her running aground.
“The cruise ferry Princess Anastasia of the Moby SPL company, a joint venture between the Russian St. Peter Line and the Italian Moby, ran aground last night immediately after leaving the port of Stockholm, an incident that – explained the company – was determined from a brief power outage on board the ferry that was carrying over a thousand passengers. Moby SPL specified that, having solved the problem, the captain decided to return to port to carry out further technical checks. Today the company announced that this evening the Princess Anastasia will make the crossing to Helsinki where it is expected to arrive at 22.30.”
November 7th 2019: Departed Stockholm for Helsinki as scheduled.
November 15th 2019: Taken out of service owing to a technical fault.
November 16th 2019: Departed St Petersburg for dry-docking in Gdynia, Poland.
November 25th 2019: During sea trials a technical issue was discovered with one of her propeller shaft seals which resulted in overheating. Her departure to Stockholm was cancelled and she returned to the shipyard.
December 12th 2019: Departed Gdynia for Gdansk.
December 12th 2019: Arrived in Gdansk.
April 27th 2020: Departed Gdansk for Murmansk, Russia.
May 7th 2020: Arrived at the Novatek shipyard in Murmansk to provide additional accommodation for shipyard workers (owing to a high number of workers infected with Covid-19).
We would like to thank: Gena Amfimov, Pieter Inpyn, Robert J Smith, Charlie Chambers, Gary Davies (Maritime Photographic), Carsten Dettmer, ‘The Ferryman’, Chris Hunsicker, Joonas Kortelainen, Ken Larwood, Aleksi Lindström, Mike Jackson, Dennis Mortimer, Steve Newman, Simonwp, Ken Smith, Kim Viktor, Mark Willis and Andreas Wörteler for their assistance in producing this feature. All information is believed to be correct and no responsibility is accepted for errors and omissions.