Agapitos Express FerriesFerriesHellas FerriesHellenic SeawaysPast and PresentSealinkStena Line

MV St Columba – Past and Present

IMO Number: 7507019

MV Asarrah

ex Masarrah, Express Aphrodite, Stena Adventurer, Stena Hibernia, St Columba

Roy Thornton Collection

Roy Thornton Collection

Steel twin screw motor vessel built by Aalborg Værft A/S, Aalborg, Denmark in 1977 (Yard No 214) for Sealink UK Ltd, as a passenger and roll-on roll-off vehicle ferry

Technical Data

  • Length: 129.22m (overall), 119.50m (between perpendiculars)
  • Breadth: 20.60m (moulded), 21.20m (extreme)
  • Depth: 11.90m (moulded to B deck)
  • Draught: 4.67m (moulded)
  • Tonnage: 7,836 gross/3,789 net/1550t deadweight, 1,945 (L.R. 1978-79)
  • Engines: Two 16-cylinder Stork-Werkspoor 16TM410 diesels
  • Bow Propeller: Liaaen type BC-20-9
  • Power: 13,280 kW
  • Speed: 19.5 knots
  • Capacity:¬†2400 passenger, 336 cars or 36 x 40‚Äô commercial trailers
  • Crew: 95 (1977)
  • Call Sign: GWOP, SVXT, HZND, TRAE9
  • MMSI Number: 626176000
  • IMO Number: 7507019
  • Official Number: 377242
  • Registry: London/United Kingdom 🇬🇧, Piraeus/Greece 🇬🇷, Panama 🇵🇦, Jeddah/Saudi Arabia 🇸🇦, Gabon 🇬🇦



March 1975: Ordered at £16mn.

July 16th 1976: Planned launch delayed owing to high winds in a direction which caused the water level in Lim Fjord, on which Aalborg stands, to drop 4 inches below the safety launch margin.

July 17th 1976: Launched by Mrs Joan Kirby, wife of British Rail‚Äôs Shipping and International Services Division’s general manager, David Kirby.

Roy Thornton Collection Roy Thornton Collection  

Roy Thornton Collection (both)

March 17th 1977: Trial trip.

March 18th 1977 – March 20th 1977: Sea trials were carried out in the Kattegat.

April 2nd 1977: Sailed from Aalborg and delivered to Sealink British Rail, London, England.

April 4th 1977: Arrived at Dover Western Docks (where minor engine adjustments were carried out) “en route‚Äú to Holyhead.

April 5th 1977: Arrived at Holyhead.

April 19th 1977: Trial run round Holyhead Bay.

Roy Thornton Collection Roy Thornton Collection Roy Thornton Collection

Roy Thornton Collection (all)

April 24th 1977: Open to the public.


Roy Thornton Collection  Roy Thornton Collection

Roy Thornton Collection  Roy Thornton Collection

Roy Thornton Collection  Roy Thornton Collection

Roy Thornton Collection  Roy Thornton Collection

Roy Thornton Collection  Roy Thornton Collection

Roy Thornton Collection  Roy Thornton Collection

Roy Thornton Collection  Roy Thornton Collection

Roy Thornton Collection  Roy Thornton Collection

Roy Thornton Collection (all)

April 27th/28th 1977: Inaugural trip to Dun Laoghaire.

May 2nd 1977: Took up service between Holyhead – Dun Laoghaire.

© Tony Garner © Ken Larwood  

© Tony Garner (Left) and © Ken Larwood (Right)
Courtesy of Chris Howell Courtesy of Chris Howell Courtesy of Chris Howell
Courtesy of Chris Howell (Holyhead July 1977)

September 30th 1978: Withdrawn for repairs owing to propeller shaft problems.

November 8th 1978: Returned to service.

January 1st 1979: Ownership transferred to Sealink UK Ltd.

© Brian Fisher © Ken Larwood  

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

March 5th 1979: Sailed to Glasgow for annual overhaul

March 21st 1979: Left Govan dry-dock.

April 1st 1979: Departed for Holyhead.

April 2nd 1979: Arrived Holyhead.

April 3rd 1979: Anticipated return to service on the 9th brought forward by route shortage.

October 30th 1979: Suffered gearbox failure repaired and returned to service within the week.

February 2nd 1980: Returned, to Holyhead, from her Clydeside overhaul and entering service until 5 days later.

May 21st 1980: Suffered a serious engine failure. Withdrawn for repairs.

June 12th 1980: Returned to service.

1981 (early): Again broke down and withdrawn.

1981: Laid up after the summer season as the new ST DAVID was more economical for the off-peak season..

March 1982: Relieved on Fishguard – Rosslare service for a month.

October 1982: Converted into a one class ship.

August (mid) 1983: Off service at the height of the season with problems to her starboard engine, replaced by the chartered VILLANDRY.

August 12th РAugust 13th 1983: Off service with problems to her starboard engine.

July 18th 1984: Sale of Sealink U.K. to Sea Containers Ltd, Bermuda. Company changed name to Sealink British Ferries U.K.

1984: Registered to Sea Containers Ltd, London.

1986: Plans for an £80,000 refit were delayed owing to a strike by the crew of B&I Line’s LEINSTER. Sealink and B&I has entered a pooling arrangement to consolidate Irish Sea sailings.  Under the terms of the arrangement to B&I vessel would relieve the Sealink vessel for overhaul. Instead, the ST COLUMBA sailed for Govan for a 24hr dry docking to renew certificates.

April 1986: Major overhaul in Bremerhaven.

May 20th 1986: Returned to Holyhead following internal improvements.

February 27th 1987 – March 12th 1987: Overhaul period.

April 11th 1988 – May 1988: Refit period, then resumed Holyhead – Dun Laoghaire.

May 31st 1990: Sold to Stena AB, Göteborg for a sum believed to be in the region of £259 million. (Registered to Stena Equipment Ltd. London).

© Fotoflite Ref: 259450  © Mike Griffiths
© Fotoflite (06/06/1986)(Left)  © Mike Griffiths (Right)

Roy Thornton Collection

Roy Thornton Collection

January 31st 1990: A fire broke out aft in her engine room. The vessel was disabled one hour off the Welsh coast and with winds reaching gale force, a distress call was sent. By the time the rescue services arrived the crew had managed to bring the blaze under control. Tugs eventually towed her to Holyhead from where she was sent to Liverpool for repairs.

© Aubrey Dale © Aubrey Dale © Aubrey Dale © Aubrey Dale © Aubrey Dale

© Aubrey Dale (all)

September 5th 1990: Suffered main bearing failure to one of her engines. Withdrawn for repairs which took over a month.

Courtesy of Justin Merrigan Courtesy of Michael Woodland  

 Courtesy of Justin Merrigan (Left) and courtesy of Michael Woodland (Right)(@ Dover)

January 1991: ¬£8 million refit at Lloyd Werft, Bremerhaven, Germany, calling at Dover en-route. The eight week refit saw a complete internal rebuilt designed around Stena‚Äôs ‚ÄúTravel Service Concept‚ÄĚ

March 17th 1991: Returned to service at Holyhead as the STENA HIBERNIA and displaying the modified Sealink Stena Line livery


Roy Thornton Collection

Roy Thornton Collection (both)

© Aubrey Dale © Aubrey Dale  

© Aubrey Dale (both)

© Justin Merrigan

© Justin Merrigan

January 25th – February 4th 1992: Refit at Wright & Beyer, Birkenhead.

© Simonwp

© Simonwp (Holyhead 01/07/1992)

© Mike Griffiths

🆕 ¬© Mike Griffith (Holyhead 1993)

1993: Livery changed from Sealink Stena Line to Stena Sealink Line.

16th/17th January 1993: Hit by freak wave off Holyhead which resulted in 20 people being injured.  It was said the new style of furnishing onboard was not suitable for often rough Irish Sea crossings.

© Bernd Crause © Bernd Crause

© Bernd Crause (Holyhead, 15/05/1994)

© Mike Griffiths

🆕 ¬© Mike Griffith (Holyhead)

December 31st, 1995 (midnight): Stena Sealink Line ceased as a company name and all ships in the fleet adopted the trading name of Stena Line. The fleet was painted in the Scandinavian livery.

© Aubrey Dale © Aubrey Dale  

© Aubrey Dale (both)
© Brian Fisher © Justin Merrigan  
© Brian Fisher (Left) and © Justin Merrigan (Right)

January 17th 1996: Renamed STENA ADVENTURER and recommenced service between Holyhead – Dun Laoghaire.

© Mike Sartin © Mike Sartin © Mike Sartin © Mike Sartin

© Mike Sartin (all)

September 30th 1996: Having been replaced by the HSS STENA EXPLORER, she was laid up in Dun Laoghaire, Ireland owing to the fact the port of Holyhead could not offer a spare berth for the ship.

October 29th 1996: One final round trip to Holyhead to clear a backlog of traffic.

October 30th 1996: Final departure from Dun Laoghaire.

October 31st 1996: 0240hrs, Finished with Engines, laid up in Belfast.

© Robert Stanley

© Robert Stanley (Laid up in Belfast)

November 3rd 1996: Pressed into service on the Belfast ‚Äď Stranraer service.

© Justin Merrigan

© Justin Merrigan

November 7th 1996: Final sailing under the Stena Line flag, from Stranraer to Belfast under the command of Capt Peter Lockyer.

May 1997: Sold to Agapitos Express Co, Piraeus, Greece and renamed EXPRESS APHRODITE.

May 9th 1997: Left Belfast for Greece.

© Tony Garner © Tony Garner © Tony Garner

© Tony Garner (all)

June 1997: Commenced service between Piraeus – Syros – Tinos – Mykonos.

November 8th 1999: Sold to Minoan Flying Dolphins, Piraeus, Greece. Commenced service under the Hellas Ferries banner.

© Ken Larwood

© Ken Larwood

September 2004: Introduced between Rafina – Andro – Tino – Mykonos.

© Andreas Wörteler © Andreas Wörteler © Andreas Wörteler

© Andreas Wörteler

January 2005: Company adopted the new name of Hellenic Seaways, Greece. The fleet were re-liveried with blue hulls.

Andreas Wörteler Collection

Andreas Wörteler Collection

February 15th 2005: Commenced services between Piraeus – Kythnos – Serifos – Sifnos – Kimolos – Milos.

© Andreas Wörteler © Andreas Wörteler

© Andreas Wörteler

November 15th 2005: ‚ÄúKathimerini; Some 206 ferry passengers were delayed for nearly 24 hours on a trip from the eastern Aegean island of Samos to Athens late on Sunday night when the vessel on which they were travelling encountered technical problems. About 100 travellers on the EXPRESS APOLLON refused to get off the boat after being informed that it needed to return to Athens for repair work without passengers. The passengers left the island for Athens yesterday aboard another ferry. EXPRESS APHRODITE is to stand in…whilst repairs are made‚ÄĚ

December 2005 (winter): Laid-up in Piraeus.

March 2006: Lay-up continued in Neos Molos Drapetsona.

© Aleksi Lindström © Aleksi Lindström  

© Aleksi Lindström (both)

May 2006: Advertised for sale.

July 25th 2006: Owing to to a damaged crankshaft on the EXPRESS SANTORINI (ex CHARTRES) the vessel was re-activated and commenced service between Piraeus – Paros – Naxos – Ios – Santorini.

December 2006: Sold to Namma International Trading, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. (Registered in Panama).

© Federico Bolognini

© Federico Bolognini

January 9th 2007: It was reported that she was been sold to the Kanoo Group of the UAE for Dubai – Abu Dhabi (via Palm Jebel-Ali) service.

February 1st 2007: Renamed MASARRAH and commenced services between Suez – Jeddah.

Bernt Anderson Collection © Wil Weijsters  

Bernt Anderson Collection (Left) © Wil Weijsters (Right)

ZOSCO ‚Äď Jeddah Shipyard

ZOSCO ‚Äď Jeddah Shipyard

May 2016: Known to be in service Duba (Saudi Arabia) – Sufaga (Egypt).

June 2019: Believed to be currently sailing between Jeddah (Saudi Arabia) – Suakin (Sudan).

April 5th 2020: Laid up in Sufaga.

October 2021: Reportedly sold for scrap (bestoasis Weekly-Ship-Recycling-Report 15/10/2021 – 22/10/2021)

November 3rd 2021: Left Sufaga.

November 2021: Arrived Yanbu Idustrial port  (Saudi Arabia).

November 16th 2021: Left Yanbu showing destination as Khor Fakkan (United Arab Emirates).

November 21st 2021: AIS now showing name as ASARRAH and destination as Gadani, Pakistan (eta 28/11/2021).

November 30th 2021: Arrived at Gadani Anchorage.

December 2nd 2021: Beached.

Gadani Shipbreaking

Gadani Shipbreaking

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 thank: Federico Bolognini, Bernd Crause, Aubrey Dale, Brian Fisher, Tony Garner, Mike Griffiths, Chris Howell, Ken Larwood, Aleksi Lindström, Mike Sartin, Simonwp, Wil Weijsters, Michael Woodland and Andreas Wörteler for their assistance in producing this feature.

Special thanks go to: Terry Conybeare, Robert Stanley, Justin Merrigan and the World Ship Society (East Kent Branch).

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


  1. Brilliant history and pics. Remember her coming into Holyhead in 77 then went on to work on her from 1987 to 1993

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