FerriesP&O European FerriesP&O FerriesP&O Stena LinePast and PresentTownsend Thoresen

MV Spirit of Free Enterprise – Past and Present

IMO Number: 7820473 

MV Anthi Marina

ex PO Kent, P&OSL Kent, Pride of Kent (I), Spirit of Free Enterprise

© Christian Eckardt

© Christian Eckardt

Steel triple screw motor vessel built by Schichau-Unterweser AG at Bremerhaven, Germany in 1979 (Yard No. 2279) as a passenger and roll-on roll-off car and commercial vehicle ferry. Engined by Sulzer Bros. Ltd, Winterthur. 

Technical Data

  • Length: 131.96m (overall)(1979), 163.39m (1991)
  • Breadth of Hull: 23.17m (extreme)(1979), 26,18m (1991)
  • Draught: 5.53m (maximum) (1979), 5,74m (1991)
  • Tonnage: 7,951 gross (1979), 20,446 (1991), 3,439 net (1979), 6,113 (1991), 2,492 deadweight (1979), 3,614 (1991)
  • Engines: Three x 8,000 bhp Sulzer 12ZV40/48 diesels
  • Power: 17,650 kW
  • Speed: 21 knots
  • Capacity: 1,326 passengers, 350 cars (1979), 1,825 passengers, 461 cars (1992)
  • Number of crew: 74
  • Call Sign: GBGR , SVUW
  • IMO Number: 7820473 
  • Official Number: 379259
  • Registry: Dover/United Kingdom 🇬🇧, Piraeus/Greece 🇬🇷
  • Sister Ships: Herald of Free Enterprise (2281), Pride of Free Enterprise (2280)


July 21st 1979: Launched sideways at Bremerhaven by Mrs T Gheerbrant, wife of the Director of the Calais Chamber of Commerce.

© Steve Salter Archives

© Steve Salter Archives

Courtesy of Christophe Bonvarlet Courtesy of Christophe Bonvarlet  

Courtesy of Christophe Bonvarlet

© Steve Salter Archives © Steve Salter Archives

© Steve Salter Archives

After all three identical “Spirit Class” sisters went into service each had their own distinguishing paintwork:

Nigel Thornton Collection

Nigel Thornton Collection

Initially the “Spirit” had green bridge roof with white vents together with a green top to the lift housing on the starboard side, to the rear of the funnel. The “Pride” had an orange then green bridge roof with “Townsend” orange vents and orange lift housing, the “Herald” white bridge roof, vents, lift housing together with black surrounds to the bridge windows.

Courtesy of Andreas Wörteler (© Arnold Kludas) Courtesy of Andreas Wörteler (© Arnold Kludas)  

© Arnold Kludas @ Bremerhaven 1979

December 31st 1979: Officially delivered to her new owners, thus just becoming a 1979 ship. It was originally hoped to have completed the transfer before Christmas but the late delivery of a Swedish propeller prevented this.

January 5th 1980: Commissioned at 18.00 and left her German birthplace by 09.30 six days later…..

January 11th 1980: Delivered to Townsend Thoresen U.K. Dover, England.

Courtesy of Steve Salter © Fotoflite Image Ref 161

Courtesy of Steve Salter (Left) 🆕 © Fotoflite

January 12th 1980: Trials at Zeebrugge ………..then it was on to Calais for trials.

January 12th 1980: Arrived at Dover. During the delivery voyage the 24,000 h.p. ferry running at 23 knots pulled up within 400 metres in an emergency stop exercise.

January 14th 1980: Maiden voyage and introduced between Dover – Calais and Dover – Zeebrugge.

© Ken Larwood  © Mike Sartin  

© Ken Larwood (Left) and © Mike Sartin (Right)

Courtesy of Steve Salter

Courtesy of Steve Salter 

March 22nd – March 23rd 1980: Off service and retired to Vosper Thornycroft at Southampton. She had previously holed herself on the small dolphin between berths 3 and 4 at Dover and had also been experiencing trouble with her starboard stabiliser fin, which was stuck in the fully extended position. While at Southampton other work involving: the installation of the prototype R.F.D. escape and life-raft system on the port side, blocked sewage pipes, removal and changing of main bearings, replacement of three cylinder covers in the main engines and some sound insulation was also carried out.

1984: A new TT logo, in white, was introduced on the funnels.

© Gary Davies (Maritime Photographic) © Mike Sartin  

© Gary Davies (Maritime Photographic) (Left) and © Mike Sartin (Right)

© Ken Larwood © Ken Larwood © Ken Larwood

© Ken Larwood (As credited) © Michael Neidig (As credited)

© Fotoflite Image Ref 55323 © Fotoflite Image Ref 51211

🆕 © Fotoflite (Both) (Right, Passing PRIDE OF FREE ENTERPRISE)

January 19th 1987: Registered to P&O Ferries, Dover.

1987: Following the “HERALD” disaster, from spring onwards, pale blue funnels with P&O flag logo became the norm.

© Mike Sartin © Fotoflite Ref: 57587  

 © Mike Sartin (Left) and © Fotoflite (Right)

© Gary Davies (Maritime Photographic)

© Gary Davies (Maritime Photographic)

May 4th 1987: Owing to high winds in Calais, “made contact” with ST CHRISTOPHER. Minimal damage caused and able to continue.

October 1987: Change to P&O European Ferries navy blue hull and funnel and renamed PRIDE OF KENT. Initially the Pride of Bruges (ex Pride of Free Enterprise) upper bridge colours remained the same (green top with red vents ) although, after  short time, they were painted all white. The Pride of Kent upper bridge colours also remained unchanged (green top with white vents) until her lengthening when she too received a white bridge top with white vents.

© Brian Fisher © Fotoflite  

© Brian Fisher (Left) © Fotoflite  (Right)

© Fotoflite Ref: 64827

© Fotoflite

October 26th 1987: First commercial sailing under her new name.

December 31st 1987: Registered to P&O European Ferries Ltd., Dover.

© Brian Fisher © Ken Larwood  

© Brian Fisher (Left) and © Ken Larwood (Right)

February 1988: Laid up at Wilton Feijenoord, Schiedam Harbour near Rotterdam due to seaman’s strike.

May 1st 1988: Resumed service Dover – Zeebrugge.

© Simonwp  © Nigel Thornton

© Simonwp (Dover Strait, 01/07/1990)(Left) © Nigel Thornton (Right)

March 18th 1991: Sold to Howill Shipping, England. Bareboat chartered to P&O.

November 29th 1991: Final day in service before rebuild..

November 30th 1991: Left Dover for Sicily via Gibraltar.

December 7th 1991:  Arrived at Fincantieri yard in Palermo, Italy for lengthening at a cost of £20 million. She had a 30m section inserted between the funnels and bridge.

Justin Philpott Collection

 Justin Philpott Collection


Bernt Anderson Collection

June 6th 1992: Re-delivered from builders yard.

June 12th 1992: Arrived at Dover.

Nigel Thornton Collection (Dover, 12/06/1992)

© Fotoflite

June 17th 1992: Commenced service between Dover – Calais.


© Ken Larwood (both)

© Gary Davies (Maritime Photographic)   

© Gary Davies (Maritime Photographic) (Left) and © Ken Larwood (Right)

March 3rd 1998: P&O European Ferries and Stena Line merge their operations on the short sea. The new company was called P&O Stena Line. Registered as a British private sector company, 60% owned by the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company (P&O) and 40% owned by Stena Line AB of Sweden. The new company took over the Dover and Newhaven services of P&O European Ferries and Stena Line.

March 10th 1998: All vessels operated under the P&OSL banner. Pride of Kent continuing on the Dover – Calais route from March 10th, 1998.

© Fotoflite Ref: 225014

© Fotoflite

© Gary Davies (Maritime Photographic)  © Andreas Wörteler

© Ray Goodfellow (Left) © Andreas Wörteler (Right)

© Pieter Inpyn © Pieter Inpyn  

© Pieter Inpyn (Calais, 01/07/1998)

November 12th 1998: Whilst en route between Calais – Dover fatal injury to a “Donkey man”. An enquiry found that he had been crushed by an internal watertight door.

December 1998: Renamed P&OSL KENT.

© Andreas Wörteler  

© Ken Larwood (Left) and © Andreas Wörteler (Right)

© Pieter Inpyn © Pieter Inpyn © Pieter Inpyn

© Pieter Inpyn (Calais, 01/08/1999)

December 23rd 2001 – January 2002: Repairs at A&P Falmouth to both port and starboard stabilisers. Also underwater preparation and painting, renewing of propeller blades and steel renewal work on the stern spade and areas of belting. A survey of the port engine was also completed, shell watertight openings, surveys of pumps, windlasses and sea valves and internal steel work in the sponson tanks.

April 2002: P&O announced its intention to buy out the 40% stake in P&O Stena Line owned by Stena Line.

August 2002: P&O Stena alliance ended with P&O purchasing Stena Lines 40% share in the business. The Dover-Calais fleet adopted the appropriate P&O “Pride of ….” names, losing there P&OSL prefixes. All vessels had their Stena house flag removed from their funnels, along with the deletion of the name Stena from their hulls. In future the company would trade as P&O Ferries.

October 15th 2002: Transferred to P&O Ferries, still running between Dover – Calais, but her name was changed to PO KENT

© Andreas Wörteler  © Andreas Wörteler  

© Andreas Wörteler (Calais, 09/02/2003)

© Simonwp

© Simonwp (Calais, 01/03/2003)

June 7th 2003: Final day in service between Dover – Calais.

© Justin Philpott

© Justin Philpott

June 2003: Laid up in Dunkerque.

© Craig Nelson © Craig Nelson  

© Craig Nelson

July 2003: Sold to GA Ferries, Piraeus, Greece. Renamed ANTHI MARINA.

August 9th 2003: Left Dunkerque for Greece.

August 11th 2003: Bunkered in Gibraltar.

August 2003: Arrived in Greece.

August 2003: Converted in Greece for new role.

December 20th 2003: Maiden voyage and commenced service between Piraeus – Kos – Rodos.

© Benoit Donne © Benoit Donne  

© Benoit Donne

© Carsten Dettmer

2006: Still in service with GA Ferries

© Fotis Marinelis © Fotis Marinelis  

© Fotis Marinelis (both)

© Carsten Dettmar

© Carsten Dettmer

2007: GA Ferries introduced a new livery consisting of three different shades of blue on the hull.

© Lucas Latreche © Lucas Latreche  

© Lucas Latreche

March 2009: Owing to the state of the economy, laid up in Piraeus.

2010: GA Ferries run into financial difficulties and the whole fleet are placed under arrest in the Greek port of Piraeus.

© Simonwp

© Simonwp (Piraeus, 01/10/2007)

© Ken Larwood © Ken Larwood  

© Ken Larwood (both)

October 2010: It was reported that she would be sold by auction by the Piraeus port authority to recover some of there costs.

June 8th 2011: Reports that all the GA Fleet have been sold to pay off outstanding debts.

September 14th 2011: Towed from Piraeus to Eleusis Bay for further lay up.

February 2012: Sold to Turkish breakers.

31st March 2012: Towed from Eleusis Bay to Aliaga, Turkey for demolition.

3rd April 2012: Beached at Aliaga, scrapping commenced.

© Selim San 2012 © Selim San 2012 © Selim San 2012 © Selim San 2012

© Selim San 2012

© Petros Psarras

© Petros Psarras

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: Christophe Bonvarlet, Gary Davies (Maritime Photographic), Carsten Dettmer, Benoit Donne, Christian Eckardt, Brian Fisher, Pieter Inpyn, Ken Larwood, Lucas Latreche, Michael Neidig, Craig Nelson, Petros Psarras, Justin Philpott, Selim San, Steve Salter, Mike Sartin, Simonwp and Andreas Wörteler for their assistance in compiling this feature.

Special thanks go to Fotoflite and the World Ship Society (East Kent Branch).

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

One Comment

  1. One more interesting fact, some time in the early 1980’s the engines were converted to run on an emulsified diesel/water fuel mix.
    I was involved as a controls engineer to work alongside a team from Newcastle University, firstly to design/draw the electrical control circuit, control panel and onboard electrical installation to the university teams requirements. My brief was to build in plenty of scope for flexibility for changes because it was a suck it and see experimental project! Then spent about a week onboard during the normal three times a day sailings from Felixstowe to Zeebrugger during the installation and commissioning of the process (if I remember rightly it was November and the weather was bad). It all worked, at least during the crossing phase and the ideal mix was established as about 10% water as I recall, but at the time fuel prices were too low to make it commercially viable. But an interesting project.

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