FerriesPast and PresentSealinkSealink British Ferries (SBF)Thoresen Car FerriesTownsend Thoresen

MV Earl William (ex Viking II) – Past and Present

IMO Number: 6417047

“Ocean Pearl”

Ex Windward II, Cesme Stern, Mar-Julia, Pearl  William, William, Earl William, Carferry-Viking II, Viking II

Nigel Thornton Collection

© Fotoflite

Steel twin screw motor vessel built in 1964 by Kaldnes Mekaniske Verksted A/S. Tonsberg, Norway, (Yard No 160) for Otto Thoresen Shipping Co. A/S, Oslo, Norway, as a passenger and vehicle ferry.

Technical Data

  • Length: 99.50m (overall), 90.02m (between perpendiculars)
  • Breadth: 17.73m (extreme)
  • Depth: 5.67m
  • Draught: 4.42m (maximum)
  • Tonnage: 3,670/3,984 gross. 1,784/1,943 net. 1,219/928 deadweight
  • Engines: Two 12-cylinder, Pielstick-Lindholmens diesels
  • Power: 10,200 hk
  • Speed: 18.5 knots
  • Capacity: 940 passengers, 180 cars.
  • Call Sign: LKXN, GWIA, J8TF5, 5IM408
  • IMO Number: 6417047
  • Registry: Oslo/ Norway 🇳🇴, London/UK 🇬🇧, St Vincent & Grenadines 🇻🇨, Tanzania 🇹🇿
  • Sister: Viking I (158), Viking III (618)


April 30th 1964: Launched.

July 15th 1964: Delivered to Thoresen Shipping Co A/S, Oslo, Norway. Unlike her sister VIKING I she did not have the prefix “Carferry” at launch.

July 19th 1964: Commenced service between Southampton – Cherbourg, sometimes also operating between Le Havre – Southampton – Cherbourg. The prefix “Carferry” was soon added.


Nigel Thornton Collection (both)

October 1964 – November 1964: Conducted a round Britain publicity voyage: Liverpool on 27-28 October, Cardiff 29-30 October, Southampton 30 October-10 November, Hull 3-4 November, Newcastle 6-7 November and Leith 8-9 November.

February 1965 – March 28th 1965: Chartered to Atlantic Steam Navigation Company, London. Operated between Tilbury – Antwerp.


Nigel Thornton Collection (Left) and © Ken Larwood (Right)

© Malcolm Cranfield

© Malcolm Cranfield (Southampton, 01/09/1965)

September 12th 1968: Registered to Thoresen Car Ferries A/S, Oslo. Merger of Otto Thoresen Shipping Co, A/S, Oslo and Townsend Car Ferries, Dover. Joint companies named changed to Townsend Thoresen Car Ferries.

November 2nd 1968 – December 17th 1968: Operated from Dover – Zeebrügge.

© Townsend Thoresen  © Ray Warner

© Townsend Thoresen (Left) © Ray Warner (Right) (Both courtesy of John Hendy)

January 1969 – February 1969: Major refit in Gothenburg.

February 1969 – October 6th 1969: Operated between Southampton – Cherbourg/ Le Havre.

December 28th 1969: Commenced service between Dover – Zeebrügge.

Nigel Thornton Collection

February 4th 1970: Returned to Southampton.

January 8th 1971 – March 30th 1971: Chartered to Stena Line AB, Göteborg.

January 10th 1971: Commenced service between Gothenburg – Frederikshavn.

March 31st 1974 – April 1974: Refit in Gothenburg.

April 1974: Commenced service between Southampton – Cherbourg/ Le Havre.

October 23rd 1974: Introduced between Felixstowe – Zeebrügge.

April 14th 1975 – November 30th 1975: Chartered to Lion Ferry AB, Halmstad. Introduced between Varberg – Grenå. Then laid up.

April 1976 – November 1976: Chartered to Lion Ferry AB, Halmstad. Introduced between Varberg – Grenå.

November 1976: Arrived at Southampton, laid up for sale.

December 22nd 1976: Sold to Lloyds Leasing Ltd, London, England (Sealink British Rail). Renamed EARL WILLIAM.


© Fotoflite (Left) and © Brian Fisher (Right)

January 1977: To Holyhead for major refit and conversion for her new role. Most of the work done was to her passenger accommodation including her promenade deck and inclusion of two new lounges. Also some crew cabins were altered to Ro/Ro drivers accommodation and more seats were added in the veranda lounge.

January 16th 1977: Commenced service between Portsmouth – Jersey – Guernsey.

January 1st 1979: Registered to Sealink U.K. Ltd.


© Ken Larwood

May 3rd 1981: Introduced between Weymouth – Cherbourg – Jersey – Guernsey.

June 28th 1981: Commenced service between Portsmouth – Jersey – Guernsey.

July 1981: Developed a fault in one of her engines and had to operate at a lower speed.

July 5th 1981: Struck a rock at the eastern side of St Helier harbour and was holed in two places eventually being repaired in Falmouth.

July 15th 1981: Returned to commercial schedules.

© Ken Larwood

© Ken Larwood

October 1981: Collided with the quayside in St Helier. Sent to Le Havre for repairs.

December 20th 1981: Resumed in service.

November 20th 1982: Collided with La Platte Beacon, St Helier. Repaired in Falmouth.

December 26th 1982: Resumed service.

July 1982 – August 1982: Operated between Weymouth – Cherbourg.

Courtesy of Chris Howell

Courtesy of Chris Howell (Weymouth 01/07/1983)

July 1984: Sealink U.K. was sold to Sea Containers Ltd, Bermuda for just £66 million and became Sealink British Ferries U.K .

© Mark Willis © Mark Willis © Mark Willis

🆕 © Mark Willis

© Ken Larwood (October 1984)


© Fotoflite

1985: A subsidiary company of Sealink British Ferries U.K named British Ferries Ltd was set up for the Channel Islands vessels.

January 1985 – April 1985: Rebuilt at Aalborgs yard, Aalborg, Danmark, for new “Starliner” service.

April 1985: Commenced service between Weymouth – Jersey – Guernsey.

© Brian Fisher (Portsmouth, May 1986)

September 1986: After a price war between Channel Island ferries and Sealink announced a merger with the new company being known as British Channel Island Ferries (B.C.I.F.). As a result of the way they implemented the merger, officers and crews of the four Sealink Channel Island vessels immediately took industrial action. Remained at Weymouth for the winter months.

May 1987: Sailed to Harwich

© Simonwp

© Simonwp (Passing Felixstowe inbound to Harwich, 01/05/1987)

May 1987 – October 1987: Laid up as an Immigration Detention Centre in Harwich, England.

Nigel Thornton Collection  Nigel Thornton CollectionNigel Thornton Collection

Nigel Thornton Collection (all)

October 16th 1987: During worst storms for 500 years broke away from moorings, with more than 40 Tamil refugees on board, and drifted across Harwich harbour. No damage and eventually anchored until storms passed.

1987 (winter): Laid up on the river Fal.

Courtesy of Jim Ashby

Courtesy of Jim Ashby

April 19th 1988: Sailed Holyhead – Dun-Laoghaire with freight (relieving ST DAVID, which had suffered a small engine-room fire on board).

© A G Jones

© A G Jones (Holyhead) 

April 25th 1988: Opened new service between Liverpool – Dun Laoghaire.

Courtesy of Jim Ashby  Courtesy of Jim Ashby Courtesy of Jim Ashby Courtesy of Jim Ashby

Courtesy of Jim Ashby (Liverpool)

May 1988: Her stern ramp was fitted with an extension.

August 11th 1988 – August 24th 1988: Developed problems with both variable propellers. One seizing completely and the other requiring attention. The vessel which had reached Ireland, but returned empty, was sent to Cardiff for dry-docking. Initially thought repairs would take only 1 week.


© Aubrey Dale (all)

1989: Refit at Cardiff

Courtesy of Jim Ashby

Courtesy of Jim Ashby

January 9th 1990: Completed last sailing between Ireland and Britain as scheduled and was sent to Milford Haven to lay-up with CAMBRIDGE FERRY.

January 28th 1990 – March 9th 1990: Bareboat chartered to Belfast Ferries. Operated between Liverpool – Belfast.

March 9th 1990: Sailed  to Milford Haven for lay-up.

March 10th 1990: Arrived in Milford Haven.

April 25th 1990: Broken out for annual dry-dock at Cardiff.

April 26th – May 16th 1990: Refit/dry-dock.


 Nigel Thornton Collection

May 22nd 1990: Returned to lay up in Milford Haven.

June 2nd 1990: Broken out for service Folkestone – Boulogne.

June 3rd 1990: Arrived in Folkestone and conducted berthing trials. Following trials she moved to Dover in order that A&P Appledore could fit a two part extension to her stern ramp.

©  A G Jones (Granville Dock, Dover)

June 6th 1990: Commenced service between Folkestone – Boulogne.

© John Hendy

© John Hendy (Folkestone)

June 14th 1990: Laid-up in Falmouth (tied up to stream buoys).

© Ron Baker

June 29th 1990: Brought out of lay-up for intended use at Holyhead.

July 2nd 1990: Re-entered lay-up at Falmouth.

February 4th 1991 – February 19th 1991: Operated between Holyhead – Dun Laoghaire. Then to lay-up on the Fal.


Nigel Thornton Collection

June 29th 1991 – July 11th 1991: Operated between Holyhead – Dun Laoghaire.

Simplon, Gordon Hislip

Simplon, Gordon Hislip

July 1991: Laid-up in Milford Haven.

April 5th 1992: Sold to Ardonis Shipping Co, Valletta, Malta. Renamed WILLIAM. Left Milford Haven for the Mediterranean.

© Frank Heine

© Frank Heine (Bari 14/07/1992)

July 1992: Commenced service for Neptunus Lines between Bari – Igoumenitsa – Patras. Renamed PEARL WILLIAM.

© Ron Baker

1993: Chartered to European Seaways. Commenced service between Brindisi – Igoumenitsa.

Andreas Wörteler Collection

1994: Entered service between Bari – Brindisi – Igoumenitsa – Piraeus – Cesme.

April 10th 1996: Sold to P&L Ferries Shipping Co, Valletta, Malta. Renamed MAR-JULIA. Introduced between Igoumenitsa – Brindisi.

© Frank Heine © Frank Heine

© Frank Heine (Bari, 31/07/1996)

October 1996: Commenced service between Thessaloniki – Istanbul – Odessa.

1997: Sold to Lucky Shipping S.A., Kingstown, St Vincent. Renamed CESME STERN.

June 1997: Chartered to Stern Lines.

June 21st 1997: Commenced service between Bari – Cesme.

© Frank Heine © Frank Heine  

© Frank Heine (Bari, 26/07/1997)

July 1997: Arrested in Bari.

© Andreas Wörteler

2000: Sold to Windward Lines, Kingstown, St Vincent. Renamed WINDWARD II. Laid-up in Bari.

© Frank Heine © Frank Heine  

© Frank Heine (Bar,i 07/07/2001)

July 23rd 2001: Departed Bari for Trogir (Croatia) to an anticipated lengthy refit.

2003: Refit completed and moved to the Caribbean.

October 19th 2003: Collided with the tanker NELSON in Port Of Spain.

January 31st 2004: Arrested in Port Of Spain, Trinidad.

April 30th 2004: Released.

August 2004 – September 2004: Chartered to Government of Trinidad & Tobago, Port Of Spain, Trinidad & Tobago. Operated between Trinidad – Tobago.

September 2004: Laid up Golfe de Paria (Trinidad).

December 2006: Sold to Treasure Queen Tours and rebuilt as a hotel ship ($30m refit. Including conference hall, 63 luxury cabins, restaurant and several bars. Also stripped of her engines). Marketed under the brand name OCEAN PEARL.

September 1st 2007: Opened as a floating hotel in Williams Bay, Chaguaramas, Trinidad & Tobago.

Ocean Pearl

April 2nd 2011: Whilst under tow from Chaguaramas to Venezuela by the tug ICON 1, the tug collided with the drill ship PETROSAUDI SATURN. The collision initially caused the tow to strike the moorings of the PETROSAUDI SATURN. The tow then struck the bow of the PETROSAUDI SATURN. The damage to the drill ship caused the loss of the well which the PETROSAUDI SATURN had only just completed drilling. The loss was calculated as in excess of $100 million. This was Lloyd’s second largest loss in 2011. Due the damage sustained by OCEAN PEARL, the tow was slipped and she drifted off and sank nearby. It is believed that this was caused by damage sustained by the ship colliding with the steel mooring wires of the PETROSAUDI SATURN.



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: Ron Baker, Malcolm Cranfield, Aubrey Dale, Brian Fisher, Fotoflite, Frank Heine, John Hendy, Chris Howell, A G Jones, Ken Larwood, Simonwp, Mark Willis and Andreas Wörteler for their assistance in producing this feature.

Special thanks go to Jim Ashby and John Hendy.

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


  1. Went on the Earl William to Jersey in November 1981 with 2 lady friends. We had the roughest crossing they had ever known, a force 12 hurricane. To cut a long story short, a tanker overturned in the hold, crushing a car and caravan, prompting the captain to have the sea anchors lowered and a Mayday to be sent. Lifeboats attended from all over the area (this prompted me to join the RNLI) We eventually limped into Guernsey and Jersey but the boat was so badly damaged it had to go into dry dock

  2. This was my first ship that I worked on when she was the Viking 2, many happy memories on her and very sad to hear that her last sailing resulted in her sinking :(.

  3. Your photos of Viking II have brought back wonderful memories of being taken, with 2 French schoolgirls, to Norway to launch her, and then travel home across the North Sea on Viking I on her maiden voyage. An incredible experience for a Southampton schoolgirl, thanks to Otto Thoresen’s imaginative thinking

  4. My late fathers last ship, when she was Viking II, Albert Ramplee, he worked in the engine room, passed away in 1972. thanks for the history of this ship,

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