FerriesGeneral Steam Navigation CompanyMarlinesP&O FerriesP&O Normandy FerriesPast and PresentSociété Anonyme de Gérance et d'Armement (SAGA)Townsend Thoresen

MV Leopard – Past and Present

IMO Number: 6809678

MV Talya I

ex Mega I, Dimitra A, Countess M, Leopard

© Skyfotos

© Skyfotos/Fotoflite

Steel twin screw motor vessel, built in 1968 by Ateliers et Chantiers de Bretagne, Nantes (Yard No. 16/109), fitted out at Dubigeon-Normandie S.A., Nantes as a passenger and vehicle ferry

Technical Data

  • Length: 134.63m (overall) 126.50m (between perpendiculars)
  • Breadth of hull: 21.87m
  • Depth: 11.74m
  • Draught: 4.827m
  • Tonnage: 6,014 – 10,093 gross/2,785 net/2,439 deadweight
  • Engines: Two Vee Oil 4SA 12-cylinder SEMT-Pielstick-Bretagne diesels
  • Power: 9500 bhp/6988kW
  • Speed: 17 knots (19 knots max)
  • Capacity: 850 passengers (1,800 after rebuild), 240 cars, 400 (after rebuild)
  • Call Sign: FNWY, C4HS, H3GL
  • IMO Number: 6809678
  • Official Number: 825, 707871
  • (LR 1992 – 93)/28876-PEXT 1
  • Port of Registry: Le Havre/France 🇫🇷, Limassol/Cyprus 🇨🇾, Malta 🇲🇹, Panama 🇵🇦
  • Sister Ship: Dragon (16/108)


The General Steam Navigation and the French Soci√©t√© Anonyme de G√©rance et d‚ÄôArmement (SAGA) decided to open a regular link between Le Havre and Southampton, joining their forces on an equal basis into a new company ‚ÄúNormandy Ferries‚ÄĚ. The two identical ships were ordered from Ateliers et Chantiers de Bretagne, Nantes each of the two companies owning one vessel. The two ships only differ by their accommodation and their furnishing.

November 3rd 1967: Launched as the ‘Leopard’ and then towed for fitting out at Dubigeon-Normandie S.A., Nantes, France.

September 9th – 10th 1968: Sea trials.

April 20th 1968: Delivered to Societe Anonyme de G√©rance et d’Armement, (S.A.G.A.) Le Havre, France.

April 25th 1968: Left Nantes for Le Havre.

April 26th 1968: Berthing trials at Le Havre.

April 20th 1968: Berthing trials at Southampton.

May 2nd 1968: Commenced service between Le Havre – Southampton.

© Port Autonome du Havre

© Port Autonome du Havre

May 18th 1968: First trip to Rosslare.

May 28th 1968: Also operated between Le Havre – Rosslare.

© Richard Parsons

Courtesy of Malcolm Cranfield (© Richard Parsons)

November 24th 1968 (winter): Operated between Southampton – Lisbon – Casablanca – Lisbon – Southampton – Rouen – Southampton.

© J K Byass  © J K Byass  

© J K Byass (Both)

October 11th 1971: Placed in service between Le Havre – Rosslare.

1972: Operated between Le Havre – Southampton., then, in the winter between Le Havre – Lisbon – Casablanca.

© A G Jones

© A G Jones (Solent, 04/08/1974)

© Tony Garner

© Tony Garner (Southampton, 06/07/1975)

1976: Transferred to P&O Normandy Ferries.

© Bob Scott

© Bob Scott

January 1978: Lost her port screw in a gale.

“Lost her port screw in a gale. P&O submersible support ship SUBSEA¬†2 bought a mini-submarine down from Aberdeen to locate and¬†recovered the screw 24km (15 miles) from Le Havre, after which a P&O¬†truck took it to Middlesbrough and the P&O ferry ELK took it to¬†G√∂thenburg en route to its manufacturers in Sweden for overhaul¬†and repair”. (P&O Heritage)

April 26th 1978: Returned to commercial operations after repair.

December 31st 1979: Registered to P&O Normandy Ferries, Le Havre, France.

© Brian Fisher  © Brian Fisher  

© Brian Fisher (both)

© Urbain Ureel

1984: Registered to Normandy Ferries S.A, Le Havre, France.

© Steffen Weirauch Collection © Steffen Weirauch Collection

© Steffen Weirauch Collection (26/07/1984)

December 3rd 1984: Commenced service between Le Havre – Portsmouth.

January 4th 1985: Sold to European Ferries, Ltd. Le Havre, France (Registered to Normandy Ferries (France) S.A., Thoresen, Le Havre, France). After rebuild commenced service between Le Havre – Portsmouth.

© Patrick Hill 

© Patrick Hill (Left) and © Brian Fisher (Right)

  © Brian Fisher

© Urbain Ureel  (Left) © Brian Fisher (Right)

© Steffen Weirauch Collection © Steffen Weirauch Collection

© Steffen Weirauch Collection (July 1985)

Courtesy of Simonwp

🆕 Courtesy of Simonwp

May 13th 1986: Final day in operation for Townsend Thoresen, thereafter laid-up until sold.

June 1986: Sold to Oscar Express Ferries, Limassol, Cyprus. Renamed COUNTESS M.

June 21st 1986: Left Le Havre for Piraeus, and rebuild.

© Col. Frank Heine

© Col. Frank Heine (Piraeus 09/1986)

1987: Introduced by Marlines between Ancona – Igoumenitsa – Patras.

© Frank Först

© Frank Först (Patras 04/07/1988)

© Frank Heine  © Frank Heine

© Frank Heine (Igoumenitsa 25/07/1990)

© Frank Heine

© Frank Heine (Ancona 08/07/1992)

© Carsten Dettmer

© Carsten Dettmer (Ancona 13/07/1992)

1993: Operated between Ancona – Corfu – Igoumenitsa – Patras.

1994: Operated between Bari – Igoumenitsa – Corfu – Bari.

© Frank Heine

© Frank Heine (Ancona 06/07/1994)

© Frank Heine

© Frank Heine (Patras 11/07/1994)

1995: Operated between Ancona – Corfu – Igoumenitsa – Patras.

1996: Operated between Piraeus – Heraklion – Rhodes – Limassol – Haifa.

November 1997: Commenced service between Bari – Igoumenitsa – Patras.

1998: Operated between Bari – Igoumenitsa – Corfu – Bari.

January 3rd 2000: Commenced operations between Bari – Durres.

2000: Sold to Five Star Lines, Panama (Registered to Dimitra Nav. Co. Ltd, Panama). Renamed DIMITRA  A.

2000: Commenced service between Igoumenitsa – Brindisi.

2001: Chartered to Mega Stars Ferries, Panama. Renamed MEGA I.

June 23rd 2001: Commenced service between Brindisi – Cesme.

© Frank Heine

© Frank Heine (Corinth 19/07/2001)

© Frank Heine  © Frank Heine  

© Frank Heine (Corinth 07/2001)

June 2002: Renamed TALYA I. Introduced between Brindisi – Cesme.

© Aleksi Lindström (Brindisi July 2002)

© Frank Heine  © Frank Heine

© Frank Heine (Brindisi 24/07/2002)

2003: Laid up in Perama, Greece.

© Philippe Brébant

© Philippe Brébant (Perama, February 2003)

April 2004: Sold to Indian ship breakers.

© Aleksi Lindström (Eleusis Bay (14/04/2004)

May 5th 2004: Left Eleusis Bay for India.

June 5th 2004: Arrived at Alang, India.

June 15th 2004: Beached prior to breaking.


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: Philippe Brébant, JK Byass, Malcolm Cranfield, Carsten Dettmer, Brian Fisher, Frank Först, Fotoflite, Tony Garner, Frank Heine, Patrick Hill, A G Jones, Aleksi Lindström, Derek Longly, Bob Scott, Simonwp and Andreas Wörteler for their assistance in producing this feature.

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


  1. Brilliant, the Leopard and Dragon were real beauties – I love the picture of the two together at Corinth.

    (PS – Pretty sure the Normandy Ferries livery came before the P&O Ferries one)

    1. Hi Matt,

      Great to hear from you. You are of course indeed right in regards to the Normandy Ferries livery proceeding the P&O Ferries livery, the article has now been corrected.

      All the best


  2. ‘MV Leopard’ & ‘MV Dragon’ were certainly in the all white ‘Normandy Ferries’ livery in 1975.
    They acquired the pale blue livery when joining P&O Ferries in the latter half of the 1970’s alongside ‘MV Panther’ that served Dover/Folkstone to and from Boulogne.
    Normandy Ferries also had a larger ship ‘MV Eagle’ that was still serving the longer Southampton to Northern Spain route.

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