MV Athens Express
ex Leto, Prinses Joshephine Charlotte (II), Car Ferry
© 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.
- 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 (1948 – 1976), Piraeus (1977 – 1984)
October 1948: Named CAR FERRY when launched.
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.
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.
1952: Renamed PRINSES JOSEPHINE CHARLOTTE.
Prinses Josephine Charlotte (II) – © A G Jones (both)
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
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)
Prinses Josephine Charlotte (II) – Nigel Thornton Collection (both)
Prinses Josephine Charlotte (II)
1973: Collided with the breakwater in Dover only causing minor damage
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.
Prinses Josephine Charlotte (II) – © John Hendy
March 15th 1975: No further use being found for her, she was laid-up for sale.
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.
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.
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: John Hendy, Ted Ingham, A G Jones, John Stedman, Urbain Ureel and Andreas Wörteler for their assistance in producing this feature.