Viking Valiant / Pride of Le Havre (I) / Pride of Cherbourg (II)
& Viking Venturer / Pride of Hampshire




A mid 1980s scene as Viking Venturer leaves Portsmouth for Le Havre. This was prior to the drastic alterations that were made to her in Germany. Note that her port of registry is still Southampton and the name 'THORESEN' appears between her funnel and foremast. This illuminated piece of signage interestingly lacked the 'TOWNSEND' part of the brand. Technically, the vessel was still operated by 'Thoresen Car Ferries', a subsidiary of the European Ferries Group.
Photo: © Brian Fisher.


These two sisters can be traced back to 1974 when they were delivered as Viking Venturer and Viking Valiant respectively. These were the first of Townsend Thoresen's 'Super Vikings' and were placed on their Cherbourg service using Southampton as the English port of call. They succeeded the original 'Vikings' of the previous decade which launched the Otto Thoresen enterprise.

In 1986, the two sisters were sent to Bremerhaven in Germany for a complicated enlargement project. New forward bow sections were built and the passenger decks were raised to accommodate a new upper vehicle deck. The primary purpose was to double lorry capacity. Although a remarkable example of engineering, the Viking Venturer and Viking Valiant were returned to service as two very ugly ducklings. They resumed service on the recently opened Portsmouth/Le Havre route.

In 1989 the former 'Super Viking' sisters were renamed Pride of Hampshire and Pride of Le Havre in line with the new P. & O. scheme. The arrival of much larger chartered tonnage in 1994 saw the pair transferred to the secondary Cherbourg crossing. Pride of Le Havre gave up her name to her successor, and became the second such named Pride of Cherbourg herself.

In the autumn of 2002, the new Pride of Cherbourg (III)was introduced to replace both 'Super Viking' vessels which were retired from service. The imminent implementation of tighter safety regulation meant that expensive modifications were required to keep them in operation and P. & O. recognised that it would be more cost effective to opt for significantly newer and larger tonnage.


M. S. Viking Valiant & Viking Venturer
Builder: Aalborg Værft A. S., Ålborg, Denmark.
Yard Numbers: 203, 204.
Dimensions: (length, breadth, depth): 128.71 x 19.81 x 4.53 metres. After enlargement: 143.66 x 23 x 5.05.
Tonnages: (gross, net, dead weight): 6,387, 2,918, 1,616. After enlargement: 14,760, 7,014, 2,373.
Engines: Two 8 cylinder, Werkspoor and one 9 cylinder diesel.
Power: 14,300 kW.
Speed (knots): 18.
Passenger certificate: 1,200. After enlargement: 1,316.
Car capacity: 275. After enlargement: 380.

1.6.1974: Viking Venturer launched.
1.1.1975: Delivered to Thoresen Car Ferries Limited, Southampton.
11.1.1975: Southampton/Le Havre.
1983: Chartered to Ministry of Defence.
7.12.1984: Portsmouth/Le Havre.
8.12.1985: Sent to Schichau Unterweser A. G., Bremerhaven for enlargement work.
19.5.1986: Returned to service.
21.10.1987: Registered for P. & O. European Ferries (Portsmouth) Limited.
5.1989: Renamed Pride of Hampshire.
18.3.1991: Sold to Investments Company, B. M. B. F. Bareboat chartered back to P. & O.
10.7.1994: Portsmouth/Cherbourg.
30.9.2002: Withdrawn from service.
10.2002: Sold to El Salam Maritime, Panama. Renamed Pride Of Al Salam 2.
6.2003: Chartered to Comanav, Morocco.

4.10.1974: Viking Valiant launched.
21.5.1975: Delivered to Thoresen Car Ferries Limited, Southampton.
25.5.1975: Felixstowe/Zeebrugge.
1.1976: Entered service Southampton/Le Havre/Cherbourg.
28.5.1977: Attended the Queen´s silver Jubilee review in the Solent.
7.12.1984: Portsmouth/Le Havre.
4.2.1986: Sent to Schichau Unterweser A. G., Bremerhaven for enlargement work.
3.7.1986: Returned to service.
21.10.1987: Registered for P. & O. European Ferries (Portsmouth) Limited.
5.1989: Renamed Pride of Le Havre.
18.3.1991: Sold to Howill Shipping. Bareboat chartered back to P. & O.
5.1994: Renamed Pride Of Cherbourg.
10.7.1994: Portsmouth/Cherbourg.
8.2002: Renamed Pride of Cherbourg A.
9.2002: Sold to El Salam Maritime, Panama. Pride of Al Salam I.
6.2003: Chartered to Comanav, Morocco.




An imposing, if not attractive sight as Viking Valiant departs from Portsmouth. This would have been during mid 1987 when the Townsend Thoresen brand was undergoing its transformation to P. & O. European Ferries. The green funnels were the first to change.
Photo: © Brian Fisher.




An early morning scene as the second such named Pride of Cherbourg heads out of the Solent en route to her namesake.
Photo: Ferry Fantastic Collection.




Pride of Hampshire is passed by small boats as she proceeds through Portsmouth Harbour en route to Le Havre in June 1993. Note the blue pin stripe along the superstructure which was a feature of only a few members of the P. & O fleet.




Pride of Hampshire is seen here in July 2001, outward bound for Cherbourg, showing little had changed in the subsequent eight years since the photograph above. Described by one critic as ‘appearing as if someone had trodden on them’, the stretched ‘Super Vikings’ certainly looked very dubious by the time of their retirement the following year. Note the chimney forward of her superstructure has been become navy blue.








Viking Voyager / Pride of Cherbourg (I)
& Viking Viscount / Pride of Winchester




Wearing the 1984 Townsend Thoresen livery, Viking Voyager is seen about to drop her mooring ropes and leave Felixstowe for Zeebrugge. Unlike her Southampton-based sisters, she did not wear the 'THORESEN' name behind her foremast as she was actually operated by the 'Atlantic Steam Navigation Company'.
Photo: © Brian Fisher.


These were the final members of the 'Super Viking' quartet, and were placed on the now defunct Felixstowe/Zeebrugge passenger service as Viking Voyager and Viking Viscount respectively in 1975 and 1976. Viking Viscount was never originally planned, but construction went ahead eventually to form a complete quartet. As the youngest of the series, these two attractive vessels were spared the unsympathetic 'stretching' subjected to their sisters. In 1985 they moved south to Portsmouth to take over the Cherbourg route. Four years later they were restyled as Pride of Cherbourg and Pride of Winchester. They remained a familiar sight on the Channel until 1994 when they were succeeded by their enlarged sisters. Both vessels were sold to Mediterranean shipping companies.


M. S. Viking Voyager & Viking Viscount
Builder: Aalborg Værft A. S., Ålborg, Denmark.
Yard Numbers: 205 and 208.
Dimensions: (length, breadth, depth): 128.71 x 19.81 x 4.53 metres.
Tonnages: (gross, net, dead weight): 6,386, 2,918, 1,616.
Engines: Two 8 cylinder, Werkspoor and one 9 cylinder diesel.
Power: 10,655 kW.
Speed (knots): 18.
Passenger certificate: 1,200.
Car capacity: 275.

13.5.1975: Viking Voyager launched.
15.1.1976: Delivered to Thoresen Car Ferries, Southampton.
20.1.1976: Felixstowe/Zeebrugge.
22.5.1986: Portsmouth/Cherbourg.
21.10.1987: Registered for P. & O. European Ferries (Portsmouth) Limited.
5.1989: Renamed Pride of Cherbourg.
18.3.1994: Sold to Howill Shipping, London. Bareboat chartered back to P. & O.
5.1994: Renamed Pride of Cherbourg II.
5.10.1994: Sold to Fred. Olsen S. A., Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Spain. Renamed Banaderos.
2000. Renamed Barlovento.

7.11.1975: Viking Viscount launched.
1.5.1976: Delivered to Thoresen Car Ferries, Southampton.
18.5.1976: Felixstowe/Zeebrugge.
7.5.1986: Portsmouth/Cherbourg.
21.10.1987: Registered for P. & O. European Ferries (Portsmouth) Limited.
5.1989: Renamed Pride of Winchester.
25.9.1989: Dover/Calais relief cover.
15.3.1991: Sold to Howill Shipping, London. Bareboat chartered back to P. & O.
30.8.1992: Grounded in Portsmouth Harbour.
9.7.1994: Laid up at Southampton. Sold to Lasithiotiki Anonymi Naftiliaki Eteria (L. A. N. E.), Greece. Renamed Vitsentzos Kornaros.




Having been transferred from Felixstowe to Portsmouth in 1986, Viking Viscount took her place on the Cherbourg route. She is seen here during mid 1987 departing for the French port. Her funnels had adopted the P. & O. flag emblem soon after the Herald of Free Enterprise disaster. Note her port of registry is Dover.
Photo: © Brian Fisher.




In 1988 she was repainted in the navy blue colours of the new P. & O. European Ferries and a year later lost her original name in favour of Pride of Winchester. Here she looks very smart as she heads out of the Solent for Cherbourg.
Photo: © Brian Fisher.




An August 1992 scene as Pride of Winchester edges towards Portsmouth Harbour with the Isle of Wight in the background.