Commodore Ferries and its acquisition, Mainland Marketing Distribution, had for several years maintained a freight ferry service from Portsmouth to the Channel Islands. In 1995/6 they introduced two purpose built vessels, Island Commodore and Commodore Goodwill. Only four years later they opted to build a replacement for Island Commodore which was, for the first time, to include a significant capacity for passengers. The strategy was to enable Commodore to co-operate with recently acquired Condor Ferries by offering a reliable, year round, all weather conventional passenger service to back up the fast ferry operations from Poole and Weymouth.
Commodore Clipper was based on the design of the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company's Ben My Chree, but had a larger passenger accommodation module fitted. She entered service in 1999 and effectively sealed the demise of Havelet which had been languishing at Weymouth and was only used when the catamarans were cancelled in rough weather: Maintaining a ferry on that basis was never going to be cost effective.
Initially featuring the liveries of Condor and Commodore Ferries, Commodore Clipper inaugurated the new passenger service to St. Peter Port (Guernsey) and St. Helier (Jersey) from Portsmouth eleven years after British Channel Island Ferries had pulled out of the Hampshire port in favour of Poole. Her emphasis was still on carrying freight, but her added passenger capacity made her particularly useful in the winter months when the fast services were often suspended. The Commodore brand was discontinued in favour of Condor Ferries in the Autumn of 2003.
M. S. Commodore Clipper
Builder: Van der Giessen-de Noord Shipbuilding Division B.V., Krimpen Ijssel, Holland.
Yard number: 975.
Dimensions (length, breadth, depth): 129.14 x 23.4 x 5 metres.
Tonnages (gross, net, dead weight): 13,460, 4,201, 4,250.
Engines: Two M. A. K. diesel.
Power: 8,640 kW.
Speed (knots): 18.8.
Passenger certificate: 500.
Car capacity: 279.
Lane metres (for vehicles): 1,265.
17.9.1999: Delivered to Commodore Shipping Limited.
27.9.1999: Entered service for Commodore Ferries between Portsmouth/St. Peter Port (Guernsey)/St. Helier (Jersey).
A summer morning scene as Commodore Clipper vacates Portsmouth Harbour with her consignment of freight for the Channel Islands.