FerriesPast and PresentSealinkStena LineStena RoRoTruckline Ferries

MV Speedlink Vanguard – Past and Present

MV Boa Vista

ex Bonavista, Normandie Shipper, Kirk Shipper, Stena Shipper, Karibe Express, Speedlink Vanguard, Stena Shipper, Alpha Express, Union Wellington, Stena Shipper

© Frank Heine

© Frank Heine

Steel twin screw motor vessel, built in 1973 by A Vuyk & Zonen’s Scheepswerven B.V Capelle a/d, Ijssel, Holland, (Yard No. 864), for Stena Ab, Göteborg as a roll-on/roll-off vehicle ferry

Technical Data

  • Length: 115.32 – 142.27m (overall) – 128.25m (between perpendiculars)
  • Breadth: 16.41 – 18.60m
  • Depth: 11.41 m
  • Draught: 4.50 – 5.926 m
  • Tonnage: 2638 – 2940 – 4078 gross/798 – 1245 – 1799 net/3816 – 5555 deadweight
  • Engines: Two 6-cylinder S.C.S.A. Werkspoor-Amsterdam diesels
  • Power: 5371 kW/7200 HP
  • Speed: 18 knots (max)
  • Capacity:  12 passengers, 36 (after rebuild), 12 trailers, 36 (after rebuild) 56 railway wagons (Speedlink Vanguard)
  • Call Sign:  SYDO, C6FH4, H8VI
  • IMO Number: 7325241
  • Official Number: 731995
  • Port of Registry: Gothenburg/Sweden, Germany, Piraeus/Greece, London/UK, Hamilton/Bermuda, Caen/France, Georgetown/Cayman Islands, Nassau/Bahamas, Brevik/Norway, Panama
  • Sister-Ship: Stena Sailer, Stena Seatrader


June 16th 1973: Launched.

September 24th 1973: Delivered to Stena Ab, Göteborg.

September 21st 1973: Chartered under a “Demise charter” agreement to Union Steamship Co of New Zeeland. Transferred to the New Zealand ships register.

November 2nd 1973: Renamed UNION WELLINGTON.

© John Clarkson

© John Clarkson (Nigel Thornton Collection)

1975: Completion of charter and the vessel left for Europe.

1976: Lengthened by 32m at Howaldtswerke Deutsche Werft AG, Kiel, Germany.

1976: Chartered under a “Demise charter” agreement to Arghiris Line, Piraeus, Greece. Renamed ALPHA EXPRESS.

January 26th 1977: Transferred to the German ships register for testing after rebuild.

January 27th 1977: Transferred to the Greek ships register.

1979: Her owners experienced financial difficulties and she was arrested in Mombasa.

January 1st 1980: Transferred to Stena Cargo Line Ltd, Hamilton, Bermuda, renamed STENA SHIPPER.

May 4th 1980: Arrived at Smith’s Dock, Middlesbrough, England for rebuild to a combined Train/RoRo Vessel and side-spoons were added together with railway lines on her vehicle deck.

© Peter Coupland

© Peter Coupland

August 1980: Redelivered from yard and renamed SPEEDLINK VANGUARD.

August 1980: Chartered to Sealink UK Ltd, London, England.

Nigel Thornton Collection  © Peter Coupland

Nigel Thornton Collection (Left) and © Peter Coupland (Right)

August 20th 1980: Berthing trials at Harwich.

August 21st 1980: Commenced service for Northern Coasters Ltd (Sealink), between Harwich – Zeebrügge.

© Tony Garner   © Bob Scott

 Harwich 25/09/1980 © Tony Garner (Left) and Harwich July 1981 © Bob Scott (Right)

December 19th 1982: Collided with the Townsend Thoresen ferry EUROPEAN GATEWAY some 2.5 miles off Harwich. Cut a 200 ft. gash in the side of the TT vessel which, as a result of the collision, rolled over onto her starboard side and sank. Six lives were lost. The Sealink vessel returned to port with major damage to her stem and was withdrawn for repairs. The court of enquiry later found that, if the two captains had been in direct communication by VHF radio, the collision would have been avoided.

© Derek Sands  Nigel Thornton Collection

© Derek Sands (Left) and the Nigel Thornton Collection (Right)

© Peter Coupland

© Peter Coupland (Showing temporary repairs until annual dry-docking)

December 29th 1982: Returned to service.

© Simonwp

© Simonwp (Harwich 17/06/1984)

July 18th 1984: Sale of Sealink U.K. to Sea Containers Ltd, Bermuda. Company changed name to Sealink British Ferries U.K. In readiness for privatisation, on their reappearance from overhaul, units of the Sealink U.K. Ltd fleet all appeared without the B.R. double arrow on their funnels.

© Frank Heine

© Frank Heine (Zeebrugge 29/07/1984)

© Ken Larwood  © Tim Webb

© Ken Larwood (left) and Harwich, August 1984 © Tim Webb (right)

© Peter Coupland

© Peter Coupland (Zeebrugge, 24/08/1985)

January 31st 1987: Final voyage between Harwich – Zeebrugge, then to dry dock on Tyneside.

1987: Charter completed and returned to Stena Line.

1987: Renamed CARIBE EXPRESS.

1988: Renamed STENA SHIPPER.

1988: Renamed KIRK SHIPPER. Transferred to Northern Marine Inc, Cayman Island.

1988: Transferred to Stena Ferries Ltd, Cayman Island.

April 20th 1989 – June 16th 1989: Rebuilt at Lloyd-Werft, Bremerhaven.

© Frank Heine   © Frank Heine

© Frank Heine (Bremerhaven April 25th – 28th 1989)

© Frank Heine

© Frank Heine (Bremerhaven May 1989)

June 19th 1989: Chartered to Truckline Ferries, Caen, France. Renamed NORMANDIE SHIPPER. Transferred to the Bahamas ships register with home port being Nassau.

© Maritime Photographic  © Urbain Ureel

© Gary Davies (Maritime Photographic) (Left) and © Urbain Ureel (Right)

June 1989: Commenced service between Caen – Portsmouth.

© Simonwp

© Simonwp (Caen 01/06/1990)

© Frank Heine

© Frank Heine (Ouistreham 24/05/1991)

February 1992: Commenced service between Poole – Cherbourg.

© Ken Larwood

© Ken Larwood (Portsmouth, August 1993)

1994: Operated between Caen – Portsmouth.

October 1995: Laid up in Caen.

October 1999: Sold to Adecon Shipping Inc, Nassau, Bahamas. (Registered to Bonavista Shipping Corp. Nassau, Bahamas), renamed BONAVISTA.

April 5th 2000: Arrived Świnoujście (Poland) for rebuilding after which she was laid up.

© Frank Heine

© Frank Heine (Świnoujście 11/02/2001)

July 2001: Sold to Kyst-Link A/S, Nassau, Bahamas, and renamed BOA VISTA. Commenced services between Brevik – Holmestrand – Hirtshals.

June 2002: Transferred to Ändras Line between Langesund – Hirtshals.

March 26th 2003: Whilst “en route” to Hirtshals, in thick fog, vessel rammed the outer pier and grounded herself. No loss of life, remained grounded for nearly a couple of days. Eventually towed free with only minor damage (Source: Fisker Forum)

March 28th 2003: Sold to Trond A Kittelsen Shipping, A/S, Brevik, Norway operating the same services.

March 2004: Refit.

March 21st 2004: Returned to service.

June 2004: Laid up in Sandefjord.

© Frank Heine  © Frank Heine

© Frank Heine (Sandefjord 28/06/2004)

June 16th 2004: Sold to Kittilsen Shipping, Panama.

July 2004: Chartered to HUAL (Hoegh-Ugland Auto Liners).

July 19th 2004: Arrived in Hamburg where trucks were loaded for Dubai.

April 2006: Arrived in Greece.

© Aleksi Lindström (Drapetsona Bay 19/06/2006)

September 2006: Commenced services for Thraki Med RoRo Lines between Volos – Izmir.

June 2007: Arrived Navy Shipyard, Gdynia, Poland.

© Jacub Bogucki  © Jacub Bogucki

© Jakub Bogucki (Gdynia 13/07/2007)

November 3rd 2007: Sold to Thraki Shipping Co SA, Panama and renamed BIRLIK I.

November 19th 2007: Left Gdansk.

December 2007: Registered to Birlik RoRo Isletmeleri AS, Istanbul, Turkey.

© Simonwp

New” © Simonwp (Felixstowe, 01/01/2008)

2008: Services between Zonguldak – Skadovsk.

June 1st 2013: Arrived at Aliaga, Turkey for scrapping.

July 11th 2013: Broken up.

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: Jakub Bogucki, Peter Coupland, Tony Garner, Frank Heine, Ken Larwood, Aleksi Lindström, Gary Davies (Maritime Photographic), Derek Sands, Bob Scott, Simonwp, Urbain Ureel, Tim Webb and Andreas Wörteler for their assistance in producing this feature.

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

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