FerriesPast and PresentSealinkSouthern Railway

TS Isle of Thanet – Past and Present

IMO Number: 5165025

TS Isle of Thanet

ex HM Hospital Carrier No 22, Isle of Thanet

Courtesy of Michael Woodland

Courtesy of Michael Woodland

Steel twin screw turbine ship, built and engined by Dennys of Dumbarton (Yard No 1173 ) for the Southern Railway in 1925 as a passenger and mail vessel

Technical Data

  • Length on Deck: 104.24m (342 ft)(overall), 100.43m (329.5 ft) (between perpendiculars)
  • Breadth of Hull: 13.75m (45.1 ft)
  • Depth to main Deck: 5.34m (17.5 ft)
  • Draught: 3.69m (12.10 ft) (maximum)
  • Tonnage: 2,664 gross, 1,105 net, 853 deadweight
  • Engines: 4 Parsons steam turbines in two independent sets each working one of two screws
  • Boilers: Five Babcock & Wilcox oil-fired w/t 202lb/sq in
  • Power: 8500shp
  • Speed: 22 knots (service)
  • Capacity: 1,400 (maximum, in 2 classes)
  • IMO Number: 5165025
  • Registry: London/UK 🇬🇧


November 4th 1924: Ordered.

April 25th 1924: Launched

Roy Thornton Collection

Roy Thornton Collection

July 1925: Completed as ISLE OF THANET.

July 3rd 1925: Sea trials on the Clyde.

July 11th 1925: Left the Clyde for Southampton.

July 13th 1925: Delivered to Southern Railway Co., London, England.

July 22nd 1925: Arrived at Dover for the first time.

July 23rd 1925: Maiden voyage to Boulogne from Dover.

Roy Thornton Collection  Courtesy of Derrick Packman

Roy Thornton Collection (Left) Courtesy of Derrick Packman (Right)

July 24th 1925: Commenced service between Dover – Calais.

Roy Thornton Collection

🆕 (Roy Thornton Collection)

November 1927: Commenced service between Folkestone – Boulogne.

November 1934: Collided with the Admiralty Pier, Dover.

February 1935: In thick fog collided with the breakwater in Boulogne.

1939: Summer season operated between Southampton – St Malo.

September 3rd 1939: Sailed from Southampton to France on a government trooping assignment.

September 5th 1939: Requisitioned as a hospital ship. HM HOSPITAL Carrier No. 22.

1939: Successfully a hospital ship based at Dover, taking part in the evacuation at Dunkirk, a target ship at Preston and an exercise target for the Royal Air Force.

© Imperial War Museum  © Imperial War Museum

HM Hospital Carrier No.22 – © Imperial War Museum (IWM 0 774)(Left) © Imperial War Museum (IWM 0 1841) (Right)

May 23rd 1940: Left Newhaven bound for Dover, steaming on to Dunkerque. Took part in the evacuation of Dunkerque.

May 27th 1940: En-route to Dunkerque was ordered to return to Dover.

Roy Thornton Collection

Roy Thornton Collection

May 28th 1940: Whilst returning she was instructed to go to Newhaven. Collided with and sunk the Dover Examination Vessel OCEAN REWARD. Damage to the “Thanet” included stem pushed back and over to starboard, bow rudder forced at right angles and plating badly buckled. Continued to Newhaven.

Dover Ferry Photos Library  Dover Ferry Photos Library  

Dover Ferry Photos Library

Dover Ferry Photos Library (all)

May 30th 1940: Continued to Southampton for repairs.

July 12th 1940: Repairs complete and of no further military use, sailed for Preston.

August 8th 1940: Ordered to leave Preston and go to the Mersey for fitting out as a Fleet Air Arm Target Vessel.

Roy Thornton Collection

Roy Thornton Collection

October 30th 1940: Commissioned as HMS ISLE OF THANET.

November 22nd 1940: Left the Mersey.

December 13th 1940: Arrived at Methil to work for the Crail Naval Air Station. Worked in conjunction with HMS BRIGADIER (formerly WORTHING).

December 23rd 1942: Relieved by MANXMAN and directed to Leith to be fitted out as a Red Ensign Landing Ship, Infantry (Hand-hoisting).

April 1943: Resumed target duties to replace VICTORIA, which was Dundee based.

August 1st 1943: Left Dundee to take part in exercises as a Infantry Landing Ship.

February 1st 1944: Converted to be available to serve as an assault group Headquarters Ship and for Operation Neptune was in reserve as such.

June 5th 1944: Left the Solent as one of the LSI’s in assault convoy J9, landing troops at Juno beach-head in the Normandy invasion.

June 12th 1944: Returned to Newhaven to embark reinforcements.

June 30th 1944: Became ferry control H.Q. ship of “Force J” at Gold beach-head.

September 1944: Sent to the Bristol Channel for refit.

October 18th 1944: On her return collided with the vessel BRITANNIA in Barry Roads.

1944 (Final months) – February 13th 1945: Finished a further Bristol Channel refit to be based at Newhaven, to operate the commercial service to Dieppe.

February 22nd – July 11th 1945: Handed back to Southern Railways and sailed as a passenger ferry, mainly between Newhaven – Dieppe. Reverted to the name ISLE OF THANET. Then reverted to government charter and continued to be based at Newhaven, for trooping and commercial passenger-carrying.

January 25th 1947: Moved to Strait of Dover.

January 28th 1947: Placed, once more, on the Folkestone – Calais service.

Roy Thornton Collection

Roy Thornton Collection

July 1st 1947: Re-opened the Dover – Boulogne service for a period of 10 months.

January 1st 1948: Registered to British Transport Commission.

© Alex Duncan

🆕© Alex Duncan (Roy Thornton Collection)

May 8th 1948: Commenced service between Folkestone – Calais.

June 18th 1948: Operated between Folkestone – Boulogne.

© David Ingham  © David Ingham

© David Ingham 

During the summer of 1949 and from 1952 to 1958 she operated a sailing from Southampton to Guernsey on Friday night before returning to the Dover Strait for the rest of the week.

Roy Thornton Collection

🆕 (Roy Thornton Collection)

1952: Laid up in reserve at Dover.

© P Ransome-Wallis Courtesy of Derrick Packman 

Courtesy of Derrick Packman 

© Roy Thornton

© Roy Thornton

September 6th 1958: Final sailing from Guernsey to Southampton.

1963: She remained on the Folkestone – Calais/Boulogne route until this year, though latterly only on summer day-excursions.

Nicolas Levy Collection  Nicolas Levy Collection  

Nicolas Levy Collection (both)

September 15th 1963: Final crossing with passengers was made from Boulogne to Folkestone.

Stéphane Poulain Collection

Stéphane Poulain Collection

September 16th 1963: Laid up in Dover.

© David Ingham

© David Ingham

Roy Thornton Collection

Roy Thornton Collection

© David Ingham

🆕© David Ingham

June 10th 1964: Towed to Blyth for breaking.

Courtesy of Michael Woodland  © John Hendy  

Courtesy of Michael Woodland (Left) and © John Hendy (Right)

Roy Thornton Collection

Roy Thornton Collection

June 12th 1964: Arrived at Hughes Bockow & Co, Blyth and scrapping commenced.

All information is believed to be correct and no responsibility is accepted for errors and omissions. All items included in this article are subject to ©. We would like to thank: Nicolas Levy, Derrick Packman, Stéphane Poulain and Michael Woodland for their assistance in producing this feature.

Special thanks go to John Hendy and Ted Ingham.

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

One Comment

  1. Just found this article. My late father served on this ship delivering troops to Juno beach for the Normandy Invasion. He saw 22 years old at the time, how the world has changed ! Many thanks for the excellent details. It is very poignant as we approach 80th anniversary.

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