FerriesPast and PresentRegie voor Maritiem Transport (RMT)

TS Prinses Josephine Charlotte (I) – Past and Present

Lloyds Register Number: 722694

TS Prinses Josephine Charlotte (I)

ex HMS Prinses Josephine Carlotte (LSI 4238), Prinses Josephine Charlotte

Nigel Thornton Collection

Nigel Thornton Collection

Steel twin screw turbine ship, built and engined by Cockerill’s of Hoboken (Yard No. 644) in 1930, the fourth and last of the 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: ORAG
  • Lloyds Register Number: 722694 (1949)
  • Registry: Ostend/Belgium 🇧🇪
  • Sister Ships: Prinses Astrid I (638), Prince Charles (643), Prince Leopold (639)


“To an Antwerp shipyard last week went three-year-old Princess Josephine Charlotte, daughter of handsome dark-haired Crown Prince Leopold and Princess Astrid, to launch the S.S. Princess Josephine Charlotte, a new Channel steamer for the Dover-Ostend run. Since a champagne bottle would have been, unwieldy for her diminutive Highness, thoughtful company officials tied a bright pink ribbon from the ship’s prow to the launching platform. At the appropriate moment Princess Josephine Charlotte toddled to the edge of the platform, snipped the ribbon with a tiny pair of gold-plated scissors. The steamer slid majestically into the water.
Amid the cheers of the crowd, sounded a royal wail from Her Highness: “I didn’t mean to do it, mama! I didn’t mean to make the boat go away!”
The four-year-old son of Antwerp’s port administrator came to the rescue, silenced the weeping Princess by presenting her with a large pink-cheeked sailor doll with S.S. Princess Josephine Charlotte in gold letters on his hatband.”

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.

June 28th 1930: Launched.

January 19th 1931: The vessel was introduced between Ostend and Dover making her maiden voyage to Dover.

© Edmund Ziegler Collection

🆕 © Edmund Ziegler Collection

October 1939: Also ran to Folkestone.

Nigel Thornton Collection

Nigel Thornton Collection

May 1940: Helped to evacuate refugees from Belgium.

May 17th 1940: In the company of the rest of the Belgian fleet also assisted in evacuations from Cherbourg, St Malo and Brest.

Nigel Thornton Collection Nigel Thornton Collection

Nigel Thornton Collection (all)

June 26th 1940 – September 28th 1940: Taken over by the Ministry of War who used her a passenger ship around the English coast.

September 29th 1940: Subsequently taken over by the Admiralty.

January 1941: Converted by Messrs. Silley, Cox of Falmouth, into an infantry assault ship (LSI 4238)

May 1941 – January 1942: Stationed at Inverary, taking part in the invasion of Norway.

© Imperial War Museum © Imperial War Museum 

© Imperial War Museum © Imperial War Museum © Imperial War Museum 

© Imperial War Museum (Greenock 14/-4/1942)

1942 (summer): Stationed at Cowes.

© Edmund Ziegler Collection

🆕 © Edmund Ziegler Collection

June 1943: Served at the landings in Salerno, Sicily.

November 1943: Returned to England.

Arne Pyson Collection © Imperial War Museum  

Arne Pyson Collection (Left) © Imperial War Museum (Right)

© Edmund Ziegler Collection © Edmund Ziegler Collection

🆕 © Edmund Ziegler Collection

June 6th 1944: Took part in the Normandy Landings.

October 28th 1944: Collided with the quay at Southampton and after minor repairs resumed service.

1945: Engaged with PRINSES ASTRID in carrying troops for demobilisation from Ostend to Dover and returning home with former refugees.

May 1945: She was also one of the ships assigned to the relief of Jersey.

September 1945: Handed back to the Belgians.

September 27th 1945: Left Dover for refitting at Antwerp.

October 25th 1945: Returned to Belgian Marine Administration.

1946 (summer): After heavy repairs at Cockerill’s ,Hoboken she returned to peacetime service at Ostend.

Nigel Thornton Collection Nigel Thornton Collection

Nigel Thornton Collection

March 15th 1946: Sailed to Folkestone.

October 1946: Resumed sailings from Dover.

Nigel Thornton Collection

Nigel Thornton Collection

December 15th 1946: Collided with a sunken, block vessel, in Ostend.

November 26th 1950: Sold for scrap to L. Engelen.

December 14th 1950: Towed to yard at Boom where she was broken-up.

We would like to thank: Imperial War Museum and Arne Pyson for their assistance in producing this feature. All information is believed to be correct and no responsibility is accepted for errors and omissions.

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

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