FerriesPast and PresentRegie voor Maritiem Transport (RMT)

TS Prinses Astrid (I) – Past and Present

IMO Number: 5607130

TS Prinses Astrid

ex HMS Prinses Astrid, Prinses Astrid

Courtesy Of John Hendy

Courtesy of John Hendy

Steel twin screw turbine ship, built and engined by Cockerill’s of Hoboken (Yard No. 638) in 1930, the first of four new ships for the Belgian Marine Administration’s Ostend fleet

Technical Data

  • Length on deck: 109.60m (347ft)(359.5ft)(overall)
  • Breadth of hull: 14.48m (46.2 ft)
  • Depth: 24.75m (22.8ft)(moulded)
  • Draught: 3.05m (12ft)
  • Tonnage: 2,950 gross/2,471 net/1,331 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: GQDA ,ONOB
  • Official Number: 72024
  • IMO Number: 5607130
  • Registry: Ostend/Belgium 🇧🇪
  • Sister Ships: Prince Leopold (639), Prince Charles (643), Prinses Josephine Charlotte I (644)


The sisters 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.

July 20th 1929: Launched, larger and somewhat slower than older Belgian turbines boats, she was at once more economical to run and more luxurious to travel in.

March 1930: Delivered to Belgian Marine Administration.

April 24th 1930: Made her maiden voyage to Dover from Ostend.

Roy Thornton Collection Roy Thornton Collection  

Roy Thornton Collection (both)

Roy Thornton Collection

Roy Thornton Collection

January 26th 1936: “King Boris of Bulgaria, Prince Paul, Senior Regent of Jugoslavia, and many distinguished statesmen of foreign countries arrived in England to attend the funeral of King George.
King Boris travelled from Ostend on the Belgian mails steamer Princess Astrid, which was accompanied by two British destroyers. The Belgian flag flew at the stern at half mast and, as the vessel entered the harbour, a royal salute of 21 guns was fired from the battery at Dover Castle.”.

© H Crouch (Courtesy of Rosemary Wells)

© H Crouch (Courtesy of Rosemary Wells)

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

© Urbain Ureel    

© Urbain Ureel (1938, Scheldt)

September 20th – September 25th 1939: Maintained Ostend – England commercial service.

January 24th – March 3rd 1940: Ostend – Folkestone.

May 18th 1940: Escaped from Belgium and arrived in Southampton.

June 12th 1940: Sailed to St Malo to bring back troops.

June 15th 1940: Arrived back in Southampton.

June 22nd 1940: Embarked evacuees at Guernsey for Weymouth.

September 30th 1940: Left Southampton for Falmouth, where she was taken over by the Admiralty and converted into an infantry assault ship by Messrs. Silley, Cox.

May 26th 1941: Commissioned as HMS PRINSES ASTRID.

June 1941: Sent to Inveraray where she was put on standby for “Operation Thruster”.

August 1941: Withdrawn for repairs to electrical faults.

August 27th 1941: In collision with tanker SAN ARCADIO.

September 20th 1941: Arrived at Inveraray where she was required as accommodation for Combined Operations training classes.

© Imperial War Museum

© Imperial War Museum

May16th 1942: Collided with a tank landing ship repaired in time for exercises prior to “Operation Rutter” raid on Dieppe planned for July.

July 17th 1942: In the Solent and, although the raid was cancelled owing to bad weather, she was hit by a bomb. The bomb struck ‘C’ deck, didn’t exploded but ricocheted throughout her superstructure before exploding in the sea.

August 18th 1942: After repairs left Portsmouth for “Operation Jubilee” where she was at “Blue Beach” Dieppe.

February 1943: Called at Dartmouth where she fouled the boom, damaged her starboard propeller and a wire was wrapped around the port one.

June 10th 1942: Left Falmouth for Gibraltar heading for Oran, Algiers and Bizerta.

July 7th 1942: Arrived in Philippeville.

July 10th 1942: Engaged on “Operation Husky” near Licata in Sciliy.

September 6th 1942: Left Tripoli for “Operation Avalanche” for the September 9th landings at Salerno.

October 27th 1942: Left Algiers for the UK

January 1944: Submarine target ship.

June 5th 1944: Left the Solent landing troops off “Sword” beach. Thereafter employed for crossings to France from Newhaven and Southampton.

November 28th 1944: At Avonmouth when fire broke out in her galley causing minor damage.

December 26th 1944: Crossed from Calais to Southampton.

January 1st 1945: Damaged her starboard side when in collision with SEAPOOL off Gravesend.

January 17th 1945: Transferred to the Harwich – Calais leave service.

February 12th 1945: Collided with the Calais pier head causing a 8 ft x 8 ft hole which caused water to flood her ratings mess deck.

April 10th 1945: Paid off.

July 2nd 1945: Arrived at Dover to start operating between Dover/Tilbury – Ostend (under Belgian flag)

February 1946: Went to Antwerp for refit for post-war commercial sailings.

October 7th 1946: The civilian service between the two ports (Dover – Ostend) was resumed and she  joined her sister ships on the same route some time after.

Roy Thornton Collection Roy Thornton Collection  

Roy Thornton Collection (both)

June 21st 1949: Hit a stray mine in Dunkirk Roads whilst en route to Dover with passengers, sinking soon after and becoming a total loss.

Thanks to Jean Marc Baratte  Thanks to Jean Marc Baratte

Thanks to Jean Marc Baratte

Thanks to Jean Marc Baratte



Courtesy of Arne Pyson (Left) and Courtesy of John Hendy (Dover Express 24/06/1949)

Thanks to Jean Marc Baratte

Thanks to Jean Marc Baratte

© Arne Pyson

© Arne Pyson

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: John F Hendy, Arne Pyson and Urbain Ureel for their assistance in compiling this feature.

Special thanks go to Rosemary Wells.

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

One Comment

  1. Thanks for the article and pictures. I am a survivor of this incident. I was returning from Belgium with my mother. I was only 18 months old but have been told about it and can now see for real. We were on the fishing vessel with the ladder.

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