FerriesPast and PresentRegie voor Maritiem Transport (RMT)

MV Prinses Josephine Charlotte (II) – Past and Present

IMO Number: 5285356

MV Athens Express

ex Leto, Prinses Joshephine Charlotte (II), Car Ferry

© David Ingham

Prinses Josephine Charlotte (II) – © David Ingham

Steel twin screw motor vessel, built by Cockerill’s of  Hoboken (Yard No 731) in 1949 for the Belgian Marine Administration’s Ostend service as their first purpose-built car ferry. Engined by Sulzer Bros.,Winterhur. 

Technical Data

  • Length on deck: 113.05m (373 ft) (overall)/ (357 ft) (between perpendiculars)
  • Breadth of hull: 15.97m (53.6 ft) (extreme)
  • Draught: 3.78m (28 ft) (moulded)
  • Tonnage: 2,572 gross/1,197 net/819 deadweight
  • Engines: Two 10-cylinder Sulzer two-stroke single acting diesels.
  • Power: 5,670kW
  • Speed: 22 knots
  • Capacity: 700 passengers, 110 cars
  • Call Sign: ORAA (1952 – 1976)
  • IMO Number: 5285356
  • Registry: Oostende/Belgium 🇧🇪, Panama 🇵🇦, Piraeus/Greece 🇬🇷


October 1948: Named CAR FERRY when launched.

Nigel Thornton Collection Nigel Thornton Collection  

Car Ferry – Nigel Thornton Collection (both)

June 1949: Delivered to Belgian Marine Administration, Oostende, Belgium.

June 3rd 1949: Maiden voyage from Ostend – Dover

June 17th 1949: Commenced service between Ostend – Dover.

Car Ferry – 🆕 Courtesy of Frederik Janssens 

June 29th 1952: Damaged slightly in collision with Townsend’s HALLADALE in Dover Harbour.

July 13th 1952: In a second collision with another ship, this time with the ocean going tug ROUMANIA. Entering harbour from Ostend that day, the Belgian boat was caught by high winds and forced beam -to-beam into the tug, with resultant damage to the Channel packet’s port side.


Courtesy of Karel Goutsmit

Prinses Josephine Charlotte (II) – 🆕 Courtesy of Karel Goutsmit

© A G Jones © A G Jones  

Prinses Josephine Charlotte (II) – © A G Jones (both)

© Fotoflite  

Prinses Josephine Charlotte (II) – © Fotoflite

Prinses Josephine Charlotte (II) 

1969 (Winter): Services between Ostend – Harwich.

November 1970: Belgian Marine joined the Sealink consortium. Trading as Sealink

© David Ingham © David Ingham

Prinses Josephine Charlotte (II) – © David Ingham (both)

November 1st 1971: Belgian Marine became the Belgian Maritime Transport Authority – Regie voor Maritiem Transport (RMT).

Prinses Josephine Charlotte (II) – © Ubain Ureel (Dover 1971)

Nigel Thornton Collection Nigel Thornton Collection

Prinses Josephine Charlotte (II) – Nigel Thornton Collection (both)

Prinses Josephine Charlotte (II) 

1973: Collided with the breakwater in Dover only causing minor damage

© A G Jones

Prinses Josephine Charlotte (II) – © A G Jones

March 15th 1974: She made her last sailing as a normal ferry and was then laid-up in reserve.

© John Hendy

Prinses Josephine Charlotte (II) – © John Hendy

March 15th 1975: No further use being found for her, she was laid-up for sale.

Courtesy of John Stedman

Prinses Josephine Charlotte (II) – Courtesy of John Stedman (Ostend, 1975)

March 8th 1976: Sold to Blanca Compania Naviera S.A., of Panama. Renamed LETO.

1977: Sold to G.Kousouniadis, Piraeus, Greece and renamed ATHENS EXPRESS, running between Greece – Cyprus and Syria with some domestic Greek routes.

Nigel Thornton Collection

Athens Express – Nigel Thornton Collection

October 24th 1977: She reportedly(?) collided with the Greek cruise ship ANTILIARKOS PEZOPOULOS (?) outside Kos.

June 1984: She was laid-up at Eleusis Bay where she was eventually scrapped.

Nigel Thornton Collection Nigel Thornton Collection  

Athens Express – Nigel Thornton Collection (both)

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: Karel Goutsmit, John Hendy, Ted Ingham, Frederik Janssens, A G Jones, John Stedman, Urbain Ureel and Andreas Wörteler for their assistance in producing this feature.

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

One Comment

  1. Our family sailed back to England on the Prinses Josephine Charlotte in October 1956. We have cine of it!

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