FerriesPast and PresentRegie voor Maritiem Transport (RMT)

TS Prince Leopold – Past and Present

IMO Number: 5607129

TS Prince Leopold

ex HMS Prince Leopold, Prince Leopold

Nigel Thornton Collection

Nigel Thornton Collection

Steel twin screw turbine ship, built and engined by Cockerill’s of Hoboken (Yard No. 639) 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: 2,950 gross/1,381 net/2,471 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: ONVB
  • IMO Number: 5607129
  • Lloyds Register Number: 71960
  • Registry: Ostend/Belgium 🇧🇪
  • Sister Ships: Prinses Astrid I (638), Prince Charles (643), Prinses Josephine Charlotte I (644)


The second 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.

November 19th 1929: Launched.

Nigel Thornton Collection

July 14th 1930: Suffered a fire in her engine-room.

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

Nigel Thornton Collection

Nigel Thornton Collection

August 2nd 1930: Commenced service between Ostend – Dover.

Nigel Thornton Collection Nigel Thornton Collection

Nigel Thornton Collection (both)

December 10th 1930: Collided with the Admiralty Pier, Dover and damaged her rudder, sent to Cockerill, Antwerp for repairs.

January 1931: Returned to service after repairs.

Nigel Thornton Collection Nigel Thornton Collection

Nigel Thornton Collection (both)

February 3rd 1934: In a heavy storm grounded outside Ostend.

Nigel Thornton Collection Nigel Thornton Collection

Nigel Thornton Collection

1937/38: Summer cruises, from Ostend to Antwerp and back, with school children and tourists.

© Urbain Ureel © Imperial War Museum  

1937, Scheldt © Urbain Ureel (Left) and © Imperial War Museum (Right)

December 20th 1939 – January 27th 1940: Operated between Ostend – Folkestone.

Edmund Ziegler Collection Edmund Ziegler Collection Edmund Ziegler Collection

Edmund Ziegler Collection (All)

March 6th 1940 – March 30th 1940: Operated between Ostend – Folkestone

Nigel Thornton Collection Nigel Thornton Collection

Nigel Thornton Collection

May 16th 1940: When the Germans invaded Belgium the vessel was sent to Folkestone.

May 18th 1940: Arrived at Southampton from Ostend.

June 22nd 1940: Sent to Guernsey.

June 1940: Took part in the evacuation of St Malo, Cherbourg and Brest.

September 23rd 1940: Commandeered by the Royal Navy.

September 24th 1940: Left Southampton for Devonport. Proposed change of name to PRINCESS JULIANA did not materialise.

December 1940 – March 6th 1941: Rebuilt to a troopship at the Royal Dockyard Devonport.

March 6th 1941: Commissioned as HMS PRINCE LEOPOLD, LSI 4251.

April 29th 1941: Sailed from Plymouth.

May 3rd 1941: Bombed off the North Cornish coast. Undamaged except for fractured oil and steam pipes (resulting from extensive shaking)

September 27th 1941: Left Solent for reconnaissance off the French coast.

September 28th 1941: Returned to the Solent.

November 22nd 1941: Left Solent on Operation Sunstar.

December 1941: At Portsmouth inspected by the King and Queen.

December 14th 1941: Left Clyde for Scapa Flow.

December 26th 1941: Left Shetland for a raid on Vaagso, Norway.

January 5th 1942: Back at Clyde after successful raid.

August 18th 1942: Part of Group 4, leaving Southampton with Canadian troops on Operation Jubilee and headed for Red Beach at Dieppe.

February 23rd 1943: At Glasgow for repairs to condenser and boiler defects, taking four weeks. Upon completion of repairs suffered defective generators and out of action for a further nine weeks.

June 18th 1943: Left Falmouth for the Mediterranean. After refuelling left Gibraltar for Algiers.

June 26th 1943: Arrived at Oran (Algeria)

July 8th 1943: Took part in the Sicily landings, then commenced service as a troopship between Algeria – Malta – Sicily.

September 8th 1943: Was part of Northern Attack Force Z, Salerno landings.

September 12th 1943: Reached Bizerta and took reinforcements to Taranto.

November 3rd 1943: Left Gibraltar for Falmouth and a Southampton refit.

February 1944: Refit completed and sent to Scottish waters for training exercises.

June 6th 1944: Took part in the Normandy Landings arriving off Omaha beach-head as part of Assault Convoy 01. Continued regular sailings with reinforcements

July 29th 1944: Torpedoed by U621, 6 miles south east of Nab-Tower. It was intended to tow the vessel to Southampton, but the vessel capsized and sank.

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: Arne Pyson and Urbain Ureel for their assistance in compiling this feature.

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

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

From the Archives
Back to top button