FerriesPast and PresentRegie voor Maritiem Transport (RMT)

TS Prince Charles – Past and Present

ID/IMO Number: 5607359.

TS Prince Charles

ex HMS Prince Charles, Prince Charles

Nigel Thornton Collection

Nigel Thornton Collection

Steel twin screw turbine ship, built and engined by Cockerill’s of Hoboken (Yard No. 643) in 1930, the third of four new ships for the Belgian Marine Administration’s Ostend fleet

Technical Data

  • Length on deck: 109.60m (347ft)
  • Breadth of hull: 14.48m (46.2 ft)
  • Depth: 24.75m (22.8ft)(moulded)
  • Draught: 3.05m (12ft)
  • Tonnage: 2,958 gross/2,471 net/1,243 deadweight
  • Engines: Six Cockerill triple-expansion, steam turbines in two independent groups, each working one screw
  • Power: 15,400shp
  • Speed: 23.5 knots
  • Capacity: 1,400 passengers
  • Call Sign: ORAF (1948)
  • Official Number: 71960
  • ID/IMO Number: 5607359
  • Registry: Ostend/Belgium 🇧🇪
  • Sister Ships: Prinses Astrid I (638), Prince Leopold (639), Prinses Josephine Charlotte I (644)


The third of a quartet of sisters which  were distinguished by markers on the forward mast (starboard side first); Prince Leopold 2 & 3, Prince Charles 4 & 2, Prinses Josephine Charlotte 2 & 4 and Prinses Astrid I 3 & 2.

March 12th 1930: Launched.

November 1930: Delivered to Regie voor Maritiem Transport, Oostende, Belgium.

November 12th 1930: Commenced service between Ostend – Dover

Nigel Thornton Collection  Nigel Thornton Collection Nigel Thornton Collection Nigel Thornton Collection

Nigel Thornton Collection (all)

December 1930: Collided with the Admiralty Pier in Dover.

1931: Paid a visit to the Pool of London with members of the Ligue Maritime Belge.

November 29th 1939: Served Folkestone from Ostend as part of Operation Aerial.

January 6th 1940: Collided with a French vessel and returned to Ostend with a damaged rudder.

January 31st 1940: Resumed service.

May 18th 1940: Went to Southampton.

May 30th 1940: Sent from Southampton to Caen.

June 4th 1940: At Brest then making crossings from Cherbourg.

June 16th 1940: Arrived at Southampton.

June 11th 1940 – June 16th 1940: Took part in the evacuation of St Malo and Cherbourg.

September 22nd 1940: Commandeered by the Royal Navy.

Imperial War Musuem

Imperial War Museum

September 24th 1940: Suitable for Combined Operations use and left Southampton for conversion at Devonport

March 6th 1941: Commissioned as HMS PRINCE CHARLES although her sea trials were unsatisfactory.

April 29th – April 30th 1941: Devonport was bombed and the ship was slightly damaged.

June 23rd 1941: Left Devonport but was air attacked off Start Point. Undamaged.

June 1941 – February 1942: Stationed at Inverary.

August 8th 1941: Left Clyde for Scapa Flow

Imperial War Musuem

Imperial War Museum

December 9th 1941: Took part in Operation Anklet. Number 6 and half of Number 9 Commando set off for Floss in Norway. An accidental grenade explosion on board caused casualties amongst which were those skilled in navigation. With his navigation accuracy compromised the Senior Naval officer called off the raid.

December 24th 1941: Together with HMS PRINCE LEOPOLD left Scapa Flow as part of Operation Archery ,an attack on German occupied Vaagø, Norway. Owing to severe weather conditions diverted to Sullom Flow in Shetland.

December 26th 1941: Left Sullom Flow and successfully carried out the attack the following day

January 7th 1942: Returned to the Clyde.

Imperial War Musuem

Imperial War Museum

January 1942: Took part in two more attacks in Norway.

March 23rd 1942: Refit and repairs which lasted much of the summer.

September 18th 1942: Took part in Operation Jubilee, the Dieppe Raid, landing the Canadians on Red Beach at Dieppe.

June 18th 1943: Departed Falmouth for the Mediterranean.

June 26th 1943: Arrived at the North African port of Oran.

July 7th 1943: Left Bizerta with US Rangers forming part of Dime Attack Force.

July 10th 1943: Put troops ashore on the Sicilian coast near Gela.

August 16th 1943: Transported Royal Marine Commandos for a raid near Cape Scaletta in Sicily.

September 8th 1943: Took part in Operation Avalanche leaving Palermo as part of US Northern Attack Force Z landing US Rangers on the Italian mainland near Salerno.

September 24th 1943: Carried troops from Catania to Taranto then had a quick refit at Malta.

November 3rd 1943: Left Gibraltar and was sent to Tilbury for extensive repairs to her boilers.

February 1944: Went to Scottish waters, Oban, Stranraer and Cromarty but developed boiler tube defects so went to Southampton for repairs.

April 10th 1944: Based at Falmouth.

June 5th 1944: Left Weymouth as part of Assault Convoy 01 bound for Omaha beach-head.

June 6th 1944: Sailed for the Solent from where she assisted with the reinforcements of troops ashore in Normandy.

July 12th 1944: Headed for Bristol Channel for an estimated three-months of boiler repairs.

December 21st 1944: Paid off at Penarth. Repairs continued and she was converted for trooping service.

September 6th 1945: Left South Wales for troop-carrying duty between Dover and Ostend.

© Urbain Ureel (1945, leaving Ostend with troops)

Nigel Thornton Collection

Nigel Thornton Collection

1946: Refit early in the year.

Nigel Thornton Collection  Nigel Thornton Collection

Nigel Thornton Collection (All)

Nigel Thornton Collection  Sky Photos, Nigel Thornton Collection  

Nigel Thornton Collection (Left) and © Sky Photos/Fotoflite (Right)

June 15th 1946: Returned to Regie voor Maritiem Transport, and extensively refitted. Was to become the first Belgian ferry to be fitted with radar.

November 15th 1946: Re-commenced service between Ostend – Dover.

Nigel Thornton Collection

Nigel Thornton Collection

December 13th 1946: Grounded outside Ostend, suffered some minor damage

Arne Pyson Collection

Arne Pyson Collection

March 1953: Collided in thick fog with the British freighter LLANTRISANT off Dunkerque. Sustained a hole below the water-line and was forced to return to Ostend.

© Karel Goutsmit

© Karel Goutsmit (1954)

Arne Pyson Collection 

Arne Pyson Collection 

November 1960: Sold to O. Butens, Hoboken, Belgium for scrapping.

December 21st 1960: Scrapping began.


All information is believed to be correct and no responsibility is accepted for any errors or omissions found. All items included in this article are subject to © copyright. We would like to take this opportunity of thanking: Karel Goutsmit, Arne Pyson and Urbain Ureel for their assistance in producing this feature.

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


  1. My grandfather George Lane ,served on this ship during the war, he took the American Rangers onto the beach and was blown of his landing craft and sustained minor injuries…

    1. Hi Chris,

      I only discovered that my father, William ‘Billy’ Bow (b 1912 – d 1982), served on HMS Prince Charles after my mother told me just before she died. He never talked about the war and I never asked. I just wished I had. But she told me that he took American soldiers to Omahah beach and he said it was slaughter. I’ve done a bit of research and found that it was the Rangers he took. I reckon he and your grandfather would have known each other as the ship didn’t have a large crew.

      I’ve got 2 or 3 photos where’s he’s with other fellow sailors, so one of them might be your grandfather ! I did have one of the whole ship’s company but I can’t now find it. You wouldn’t have a copy by any chance would you ?

      All the best,

      Trevor Bow.

  2. ginnyzed

    Hi. I just wanted to say how interesting I found all the information – both written and pictorial of T S Prince Charles. My interest stems from owning the bell belonging to the ship. My parents bought it from a Totnes antique dealer in the early 1960’s. Apparently he visited Belgium regularly in search of stock for his shop. My father had an interest in sailing ships and nautical memorabilia and bought the bell. Your article adds colour to the history of my bell – thank you.

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