FerriesPast and PresentRegie voor Maritiem Transport (RMT)

MV Prince Baudouin (II) – Past and Present

Official Number: 71959

MV Prince Baudouin (II)

ex HMS Prince Baudouin, Prince Baudouin (II)

Courtesy of Arne Pyson

Courtesy of Arne Pyson

Steel twin screw motor vessel, built and engined by Cockerill’s of Hoboken in 1934 (Yard No. 650) for the Belgian Marine Administration’s Ostend service. 

Technical Data

  • Length on deck: 113.60m (370.7 ft)(overall)/108.81m (357.0 ft) (between perpendiculars)
  • Breadth of hull: 14.97m (49.1 ft)(extreme)
  • Depth: 6.52m (21.4 ft) (to shelter deck)
  • Draught: 3.70m (12.15 ft)(maximum)
  • Tonnage: 3,050 gross (1934), 3,120 (1945)/1,904 net (1934), 1,864 (1945)
  • Engines: Two 12-cylinder Cockerill/Sulzer single acting two-stroke diesels
  • Power: 8,500 hp
  • Speed: 24 knots
  • Capacity: 1,829 passengers
  • Call Sign: ORAH, OSDC
  • Official Number: 71959
  • Registry: Ostend/Belgium 🇧🇪
  • Sister ships: Prins Albert II (651), Prince Philippe I (687)


The first of a trio of ships. She was the first motor ship built for both the line and English Channel operation. The three were distinguished by forward mast markings: Triangular (3) (starboard side) PRINCE BAUDOUIN, Vertical (2)(starboard side) PRINCE ALBERT (II) and one (Starboard side) PRINCE PHILIPPE (I).

September 16th 1933: Launched.

Roy Thornton Collection

August 2nd 1934: Sea trials.

August 1934: Delivered to Regie voor Maritiem Transport, Oostende, Belgium.

Roy Thornton Collection Roy Thornton Collection Roy Thornton Collection Roy Thornton Collection 

Roy Thornton Collection © IWM (FL 22712) 

Roy Thornton Collection (as noted) © IWM (FL 22712) (as noted)

August 12th 1934: On her first trip she suffered engine problems and had to be returned to her builders for repair.

November 17th 1934: Sea trials after repair.

November 1934: Commenced service between Ostend – Dover.

Roy Thornton Collection

Roy Thornton Collection

July 26th 1936: Chartered for one trip between Le Havre – Normandy.

March 2nd 1938: Ran aground in Ostend.

Courtesy of Jim Ashby

Courtesy of Jim Ashby

September 4th 1939 – May 7th 1940: Operated between Ostend – Folkestone.

Courtesy of Karel Goutsmit

May 18th 1940: Left Ostend for Southampton, via Le Havre, carrying refugees.

May 28th 1940 – July 24th 1940: Commenced service with the Ministry of War, England.

June 11th 1940 – June 17th 1940: Took part in the evacuation of Cherbourg, Brest and St Malo.

July 25th 1940: Chartered to the Royal Navy as a Fleet Air Arm Torpedo Target Vessel (although never employed as such).

July 1940 – August 1941: Laid up in Southampton.

October 31st 1941: Sailed for the Clyde and after colliding with two merchant ships (MAHSUD and GRASLIN) she was moved into Gareloch.

August 13th 1941: Came out of lay-up and requisitioned as a Personnel Ship (The Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company, managers).

October 3rd 1941: Left the Clyde for North Africa.

October 30th 1941 – November 25th 1941: Repairs in Capetown owing to damage caused whilst refuelling.

December 1941: Operated as a troopship to North Africa between Alexandria and Tobruk.

March 1st 1942: Despatched from Port Said to Famagusta for transport duties to Haifa.

March 12th 1942: Ordered from Egypt to move Indian brigade group from Cyprus to Palestine.

March 17th 1942: Sent to the Red Sea, but considered unsuitable for Eastern Mediterranean service.

April 11th 1942: Remained at Port Said.

August 31st 1942: Sailed for the U.K.

November 29th 1942: Arrived in the Thames.

January 25th 1943 – November 8th 1943: Rebuilt as an infantry assault vessel at Green & Silley Weir, Ltd, Tilbury.

November 8th 1943: Commissioned as HMS PRINCE BAUDOUIN. 2 x 12-pounder, 6 20mm and 2 x 2-pounder guns. She carried 200 crew (196 troops and eight

November 24th 1943: Left the Thames heading for Scottish waters.

March 1944: Based on the English South Coast.

June 6th 1944: Took part in the Normandy Landings.

July 11th 1944: Left Solent for Cardiff.

July 24th 1944: Left Falmouth for Naples.

August 3rd 1944: Arrived Naples.

August 1944: Took part in the invasion of southern France.

August 25th 1944: Arrived in Naples the Augusta (Sicily).

September 6th 1944: Left for Gibraltar.

September 14th 1944: Arrived the Clyde to await orders.

October 1944: Laid up when it was discovered that one of her generator crankshafts had broken and a replacement might take up to six months to manufacture.

March 1945: Sent to her builders.

May 2nd 1945: Extended refit ready for anticipated service in the Far East.

October 13th 1945: End of hostilities and she was paid off.

October 13th 1945: After being reconditioned, handed back to Regie voor Maritiem Transport, Oostende, Belgium.

Roy Thornton Collection

Roy Thornton Collection

November 1945 – June 1946: Extensively refitted (including the moving of her forward mast to behind her bridge) at Cockerill, Hoboken, Belgium.

July 24th 1946: Special sailing to commemorate the centenary of the service between Ostend – Dover, then recommenced Ostend – Folkestone.

October 1946: Re-commenced commercial service Ostend – Dover.

Courtesy of Karel Goutsmit

December 30th 1946: Collided with the breakwater in Dover, suffering damage to one of her propellers.

© Skyfotos  Roy Thornton Collection

© Skyfotos (Left) Roy Thornton Collection (Right)

November 14th 1947: Suffered a minor engine-room fire as she arrived at Dover.

1963: Laid up.

1964: Laid up in Zelzate.

September 1964: Became a moored depot ship for the personnel of a metal works at Zanberg.

September 6th 1967: Arrived at Heyghen Freres, Ghent, Belgium for scrapping.

All information is believed to be correct and no responsibility is accepted for any errors or omissions. We would like to take this opportunity of thanking: Jim Ashby, Karel Goutsmit, Arne Pyson and Andreas Wörteler for their assistance in producing this feature. All items included in this article are subject to © copyright.

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

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