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

© 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
  • IMO Number: 5285356
  • Registry: Oostende/Belgium 🇧🇪, Panama 🇵🇦, Piraeus/Greece 🇬🇷


October 1948: Named CAR FERRY when launched.

Nigel Thornton Collection  Nigel Thornton Collection  

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.

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

Courtesy of Karel Goutsmit

© A G Jones  © A G Jones  

© A G Jones (both)

© Fotoflite © Fotoflite 

© Fotoflite



Nigel Thornton Collection (all)

Courtesy of Michael Woodland

🆕 Courtesy of Michael Woodland

1969 (Winter): Services between Ostend – Harwich.

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

© David Ingham © David Ingham

© David Ingham (both)

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

© Ubain Ureel (Dover 1971)

Nigel Thornton Collection  Nigel Thornton Collection

Postcards (both)

© Kamiel Loontiens © Kamiel Loontiens © Kamiel Loontiens

🆕 © Kamiel Loontiens

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

© A G Jones

© A G Jones

Nigel Thornton Collection

🆕 Nigel Thornton Collection

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

© John Hendy  © John Hendy

© John Hendy

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

Courtesy of John Stedman

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

© Steffen Weirauch

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  

© Steffen Weirauch (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: Fotoflite, Karel Goutsmit, John Hendy, Ted Ingham, Frederik Janssens, A G Jones, Kamiel Loontiens, John Stedman, Urbain Ureel, Michael Woodland and Andreas Wörteler for their assistance in producing this feature.

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

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