Pride of Calais / Ostend Spirit (II)
& Pride of Dover
A legend on the Dover Straits: Pride of Dover will be fondly remembered by many of the millions who travelled on her during her twenty three years of service.
These two remarkable sister ships have easily carried more passengers across the Channel than any other ferries in the history of the crossing. This is, no doubt, a testiment to the the fact they have so successfully served the route that they were built for over two decades ago.
Pride of Calais and Pride of Dover were very much an evolution of Townsend Thoresen's German built 'Spirit Class'. They were a product of the same shipyard and the Company's own naval architects were responsible for the styling that was remarkably similar to the earlier vessels, both inside and out. The most notable difference, though, was their vastly increased space for vehicles and passengers. It was noteworthy that only seven years had lapsed since the contruction of Spirit of Free Enterprise, yet market growth had already required substantially larger capacity to be provided.
Pride of Dover was the very last vessel delivered to Townsend Thoresen and saw a departure from the 'Free Enterprise' nomenclature in favour of the now familiar 'Pride of...' names that have become a trademark of P. & O. Ferries. She completed her maiden voyage on 2nd June 1987. Although worthy of great fanfare, the arrival of Dover's largest ever ferry was kept a very low key affair, the appalling tragedy of Herald of Free Enterprise capsizing off Zeebrugge still sending shockwaves throughout the ferry industry at that time. To mark her debut with the usual celebrations was deemed insensitive under the circumstances. Her identical twin, Pride of Calais, was delivered to the new P. & O. European Ferries in December of that year. Together these magnificent ships took Cross-Channel ferry services towards the next decade with the confidence to take on the competition from the Tunnel.
After the merger of P. & O. and Stena Line's Dover operations, the names of the twins were adjusted to P. & O. S. L. Dover and P. & O. S. L. Calais. Fortunately they reverted back to the original identities soon after Stena's involvement ceased.
In the twilight of their Channel careers, they had proven themselves to be unsurpassed throughbreds with an outstanding track record of reliable service. They remained popular with Cross-Channel travellers, even if their interiors seemed out of fashion compared with more recent vessels.
Sadly, as with all things in life, nothing lasts forever and Pride of Dover was earmarked as the first of the twins to be retired from service upon the planned entry of the huge new Spirit of Britain in January 2011. Her last commercial sailing took place on the evening of 14th December 2010, returning 'light' early the next morning for de-storing. A day later she left Dover for the final time, destination Tilbury where she would await her fate.
After languishing unwanted for two long years, Pride of Dover was renamed just Pride, a sale to a "German shipping concern" having been disclosed. Her engines were inoperable (possibly having been plundered for spare parts to service her sister) and so she was taken on an epic tow by the tug Eide. Her expected destination was Turkey, although there was speculation as to whether she was to be repaired or broken up. Sadly, at just twenty five years of age, she was to meet an untimely demise on the beaches of Aliaga. Pride of Calais was to fare much better. Within a couple of months of finishing P. & O. service in October 2012, she was taken on a three year charter to TransEuropa Ferries who had been seeking larger, newer tonnage for a considerable length of time (after their abortive tie-up with L. D. Lines). As the second such named Ostend Spirit she gives the Ramsgate/Oostende operator a much needed boost to its fleet.
M. S. Pride of Dover & Pride of Calais
Builder: Schichau Seebeckwerft AG, Bremerhaven, Germany.
Yard number: 94.
Dimensions (length, breadth, depth): 169.63 x 28.3 x 6.1 metres.
Tonnages (gross, net, dead weight): 26,443, 11,399, 4,213.
Engines: Three Sulzer-C. C. M. diesel.
Power: 23,170 kW.
Speed (knots): 22.
Passenger certificate: 2,260.
Car capacity: 650.
Lane metres (for vehicles): 1,560.
2.9.1986: Pride of Dover launched.
27.5.1987: Delivered to Townsend Car Ferries Limited. (Stanhope Steamship Company Limited.), Dover.
28.5.1987: Left Bremerhaven for Dover.
2.6.1987: Entered service Dover/Calais.
21.10.1987: Registered for P. & O. European Ferries (Dover) Limited.
12.1998: Renamed P. & O. S. L. Dover.
3.2003: Renamed Pride of Dover.
15.12.2010: Withdrawn from service.
16.12.2010: Taken to Tilbury for lay-up.
28.12.2012: Arrived at Aliaga, Turkey, for demolition.
11.4.1987: Pride of Calais launched.
27.11.1987: Delivered to P. & O. European Ferries (Dover) Limited.
29.11.1987: Arrived at Dover.
4.11.1987: Entered commercial service Dover/Calais.
12.1998: Renamed P. & O. S. L. Calais.
15.10.2002: P. O. Calais.
2.2003: Renamed Pride of Calais.
20.10.2012: Retired from service with P. & O. Ferries.
23.10.2012: Left Dover for the final time, en route for Tilbury to lay-up.
12.2012: Chartered to TransEuropa Ferries and renamed Ostend Spirit.
A brand new Pride of Dover is seen departing from Dover on a June morning in 1987. Whilst her hull was painted in the unmistakable colours of Townsend Thoresen, her funnel markings were changed to P. & O.'s during fitting out. Other fleet members followed suit.
Photo: Francois Dupiech's Collection.
Here Pride of Dover is found approaching the pier head at Calais, wearing the comparitively sober colours of P. & O. European Ferries. Inexplicably the P. & O. trademark appeared not just along the hull, but on the superstructure too. Note the additional windows that were created below her wheelhouse during her major refit of 1990. These were provided to give her new Club Class lounge forward views.
A view from the port side promenade deck of Pride of Dover during October 1995. The ladder on her funnel was later resited on its forward facing end. This was necessary to be able to fit the wider joint service flag emblem of P. & O. Stena Line.
A view from the port bridge wing of Pride of Dover taken at dusk on a July evening in 1996. The wheelhouse was extended to enclose this area seven years later. Her name was removed during her service with P. & O. Stena Line.
During May 1997 Pride of Calais is captured backing towards her berth at Dover Eastern Docks. The flag of Stena Fantasia can be seen in the foreground.
Over a year later and Pride of Calais heads towards Calais wearing the livery of P. & O. Stena Line: This saw the lowering of her dark blue hull colouring and the introduction of a red pinstripe. Her wheelhouse window frames were always painted white as opposed her sister's, which were black. This made it easier to identify the twin vessels.
A selection of views of Pride of Calais during her final five years of service for P. & O. Ferries.
A selection of views taken of Pride (formerly Pride of Dover) and Pride of Calais during the short period they were laid up together at Tilbury.
Photos: ę Richard Seville.
A happy and rather unexpected new arrival at Oostende in late December 2012: Pride of Calais is revealed as the latest Ostend Spirit for TransEuropa Ferries.
Photo: ę Ralf Radermacher (fotoralf.be).