FerriesPast and PresentRegie voor Maritiem Transport (RMT)

TS Princesse Elizabeth – Past and Present

TS Princess Elizabeth

Steel triple screw turbine steamer, built by Cockerill’s of Hoboken (Yard No. 443) for the Belgian State Railway’s Ostend service in 1905. Turbines supplied by Messr’s Parson’s of Wallsend-on-Tyne. Most of the machinery and fittings were also of British manufacture.

Technical Data

  • Length: 114.30m (overall) 108.81 m (between perpendiculars)
    Breadth: 12.20 m
    Depth: 7.07 m
    Draught: 2.90 m
    Tonnage: 1747 gross/787 net/ deadweight
    Engines: 3 compound direct drive steam Parson’s turbines, one of high pressure driving the centre screw (ahead only), and two of low pressure, driving the side screws, (the latter fitted also for astern sailing)
    Power: 7500 kW/12000 HP
    Speed:  22.25 knots (Designed service) 24.8 – 26.25 knots (Trials Scheldt/Clyde)
  • Crossing time: 2 hours 50 mins
    Capacity: 1,100 passengers
    Call Sign: 
    ID Number: 5602507
    Official Number:
    Port of Registry: Ostend/Belgium


She was the first turbine steamer to be built by Cockerill’s and, until the Cunard liner LUSITANIA, the fastest ship afloat when introduced into service.


During her trials in the Scheldt she made 24.8 knots, but later reached 26.25 knots in the Clyde.


Trials (Ferry Publications Postcard, right)

September 11th 1905: “Made her maiden voyage to Dover from Ostend. The journey took 3 hrs 22 mins which was slightly longer than normal owing to a breakdown in auxiliary machinery. One of the air pumps of the condensers failed.”

Dover Express September 15th 1905



“Between 1911- 1913 her small wheelhouse was raised a deck and moved aft of the forward mast, cabs being fitted at the same time to bring her into line with the next two ships (JAN BREYDEL & PIETER DE CONINCK)


July 1914 – August 1914: To be refitted and engine/boiler refurbishment at Cockerill’s yard. With her engines dismantled she just managed to get away to England, before the Germans arrived.

August 1914: Towed to London.

March 1915 – November 1916: Completed fitting new engines/Babcock boilers in London.

Used for carrying troops/supplies and a hospital ship for Britain during the First World War.

December 1916: Transferred to England and converted to a hospital ship.

January 4th 1917 – December 1918: Made 575 journeys between England and France. Transported 90676 wounded and 28254 soldiers.

January 1st 1919 – September 2nd 1919: Repatriating British troops.

September 3rd 1919: Handed back to the Belgian Authorities and refitted at Cockerill, Hoboken.

December 1919: Back in service.

September 10th 1922: Coming alongside at the Admiralty Pier, Dover she damaged her bridge and upper works when she collided with ENGADINE. In a strong North Westerly wind she was coming into the berth between ENGADINE at berth 3 and the French mail-boat at berth 1.

December 2nd 1927: Collided with the North of the old steamer quay in Ostend.

1930 (end): Laid up in Ostend.

May 1931: She became a stationary unit for the Navigation School at Ostend until their new land based buildings were ready.

1931: Sold for scrap.

1933: Breaking began.

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: and Andreas Wörteler for their assistance in producing this feature.

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

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