FerriesPast and PresentRegie voor Maritiem Transport (RMT)

MV Princesse Astrid – Past and Present

MV Express Erme

ex Express Hermes, Bari Express, Georgios B, Princesse Astrid (II)

Nigel Thornton Collection

Nigel Thornton Collection

Steel twin screw motor vessel, built by N.V. Boelwerf S.A., Temse, (Yard No 1440) for the Belgian Marine Administration’s Ostend service in 1969. Engined by Sulzer Bros., Winterthur

Technical Data

  • Length on deck: ,117.96m (387.2 ft) (overall), 110.65m (363 ft) (between perpendiculars)
  • Breadth of hull: 16.01m (52.5 ft) (extreme)
  • Depth: 5.31m (17.4 ft) (moulded)
  • Draught: 3.81m (12.5 ft) (maximum)
  • Tonnage:188 gross (1969), 3,397 (1983)/1,519 net (1969), 1,919 (1983)/485 deadweight, 592 (1983)
  •  Engines: Two 12-cylinder Sulzer two-stroke single acting diesels
  • Power: 7,061 kW
  • Speed:19.0 knots (service), 21 knots (max)
  • Capacity: 850 passengers, 173 cars.(1969)/1,800 passengers, 180 cars (1983)
  • Call Sign: ORAF (1968 – 1983), SYQR (Bari Express)
  • IMO: 6813320
  • Registry: Oostende/ Belgium (1965 – 1983), Piraeus
  • Sister Ship: Roi Baudouin


February 2nd 1968: Launched.

Although in early life very similar to her sister, she could be distinguished by the shape of vents between bridge and funnel.

© Fotoflite  Nigel Thornton Collection

© Fotoflite (left) and Nigel Thornton Collection (right)

August 1968: Delivered to Belgian Marine, Oostende, Belgium. This was rather later than expected due to a small fire on board while the ship was fitting out. Her stern door was higher than that of her near sister ROI BAUDOUIN thereby allowing more freight to be carried from the outset

Nigel Thornton Collection  Nigel Thornton Collection

Nigel Thornton Collection

August 15th 1968: Commenced service between Ostend – Dover.

Nigel Thornton Collection

Nigel Thornton Collection

Nigel Thornton Collection  © Tony Garner

Nigel Thornton Collection (left) and © Tony Garner (right)

© A G Jones

© A G Jones

1968-1973: Also operated between Ostend – Parkeston Quay (Harwich).

Nigel Thornton Collection

Nigel Thornton Collection

November 1970: Belgian Marine joined the Sealink consortium. Trading as Sealink.

Nigel Thornton Collection

Nigel Thornton Collection

Nigel Thornton Collection  © Brian Fisher

Nigel Thornton Collection (left) and © Brian Fisher (right)

February 9th 1971: Collided with a breakwater in Ostend.

Nigel Thornton Collection  © Ken Larwood

Nigel Thornton Collection (left) and © Ken Larwood (right)

November 1st 1971: Belgian Marine became the Belgian Maritime Transport Authority – Regie voor Maritiem Transport (RMT).

1974: Stern altered when the crew accommodation in that area was moved to the after part of the upper deck.

© Simonwp

© Simonwp

1980: Operated only at week-ends.

December 1982: Laid up in Ostend.

February 1983 – March 30th 1983: Chartered to Sealink UK for use between Folkestone – Boulogne, to cover for the late return from overhaul of HENGIST.

April 1st 1983: Laid up.

April 6th 1983: Chartered to Sealink UK, operated between Folkestone – Boulogne as cover for the withdrawn HENGIST.

July 1983: Sold to Ventouris Group, Piraeus Greece. Renamed GEORGIOS B. Left Ostend for Piraeus.

Nigel Thornton Collection  Nigel Thornton Collection

Nigel Thornton Collection (both)

November 1983: Rebuilt in Perama.

1984: Renamed BARI EXPRESS.

July 1984: Commenced service between Bari – Corfu – Igoumenitsa – Patras.

 © Simonwp

© Simonwp (Patras 18/10/1984)

© Ken Larwood  © Ken Larwood

© Ken Larwood (Outward bound from Corfu, May 1985)

© Frank Heine  © Frank Heine

Patras 09/1987 © Frank Heine (left) and Rafina 15/07/1990 © Frank Heine (Right)

1988: Commenced service between Rafina – Andros – Tinos – Mykonos.

© Ton Grootenboer  © Antonis Lazarus

© Ton Grootenboer (left) and © Antonis Lazarus (right)

October 1998: Sold to Agapitos Express Ferries, Piraeus, Greece. Renamed EXPRESS HERMES. Commenced service between Piraeus – Syros – Paros – Naxos, Heraklia – Schinoussa – Koufonissia – Amorgos – Astypalea.

© Antonis Lazarus  © Ton Grootenboer

© Antonis Lazarus (left) and © Ton Grootenboer (right)

November 8th 1999: Sold to Minoan Flying Dolphin, Greece. Operated under the Hellas Ferries trading banner.

© Ton Grootenboer

© Ton Grootenboer

2002: Laid up.

September 2003: Sold for breaking in India. Renamed EXPRESS ERME.

September 11th 2003: Left Eleusis Bay for India.

October 20th 2003: Arrived Alang, India for scrapping.

All information is believed to be correct and no responsibility is accepted for any errors or omissions. All items included in this article are subject to © copyright. We would like to take this opportunity of thanking:  Brian Fisher, Tony Garner, Ton Grootenboer, Frank Heine, A G Jones, Ken Larwood, Antonis Lazarus, Simonwp and Andreas Wörteler for their assistance in producing this feature.

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


  1. Hi,
    the new picture is “roi baudouin” not “Princesse Astrid” 🙂

    best regards

  2. Bouw medegemaakt te TEMSE.

    Vijf jaar mede gevaren als boordelectricien.

    (Google translate: Assisted construction at TEMSE. Sailed for five years as a board electrician.)

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