Benodet / Corbiére,
Earl Granville,
The Viking &
Viking 3

The Viking turns in the totally exposed outer harbour at Ramsgate in the early 1980s. This was later enclosed with the construction of a new mole. She was a slightly longer member of the 'Papenburg Sisters' series and featured a larger dummy funnel.
Photo: © Tony Garner.

During the 1980s the English Channel was home to no fewer than four of the so-called 'Papenburg Sisters' (a series of ten vessels built in the early 1970s by Meyer Werft of Papenburg, West Germany for the Scandinavian Viking Line consortium). This class of vessel proved very popular on the charter market and found employment on the expanding services of Brittany Ferries, Sally Line and Sealink (amongst others). They were were particularly recognisable by dint of their 'dummy' funnels (their actual funnels being poorly disguised as mainmasts).

The oldest of the series was built in 1970 as Apollo. Her first episode on the Channel came when she was chartered to Brittany Ferries in 1984 and operated as Benodet on the Plymouth/Roscoff route. She lasted just a year before being transferred to the newly founded Channel Island Ferries (Brittany Ferries were a major share holder). Renamed after Jersey's South Westerly focal point, made an inauspicious entry into the Channel Islands market with a daily round trip from Portsmouth.

Previously, one of her sisters (originally known as Viking 4), had taken up service with Sealink in 1981 under the name of Earl Granville. She operated to the Channel Islands from Portsmouth and Weymouth. Sealink's new owner, Sea Containers, sent Earl Granville for a major refurbishment in early 1985 prior to relaunching her on their new 'Starliner' service to the Islands that Spring. By coincidence she found herself operating in competition with her older sister, Corbiére. Sealink British Ferries' new upmarket service was considerably more expensive than Channel Island Ferries, and travellers voted with their feet. After a disastrous season where passengers were outnumbered by crew on some sailings, Sealink entered negotiations to merge with C. I. F., but the unions had other ideas and the deal was scuppered by strike action. In 1986 Earl Granville operated under the brand of simply 'British Ferries'. This didn't fool the travelling public and there simply was not enough traffic to justify the number of ferries serving Guernsey and Jersey. Earl Granville spent her last two years at Portsmouth operating to Cherbourg. A twice weekly triangular sailing via St. Peter Port (Guernsey) was offered but no service operated on those terms was likely to be viable. She was not included in the Stena Line buy-out of Sealink U. K. Limited and had a stint as a 'Seacat substitute' in 1990 whilst Hoverspeed Great Britain suffered several mechanical break downs during her dismal first and only season on the Portsmouth/Cherbourg route. Sea Containers' Hoverspeed subsidiary gave up on Portsmouth and Earl Granville was subsequently disposed of to Greek owners. She was broken up for scrap in 2006.

Sally Line was founded as a subsidiary of Viking Line and opened its Ramsgate/Dunkerque (Ouest) service in 1981 using The Viking (originally built as in 1974 as Viking 5). This vessel lasted two years before being substituted with her slightly older sister, Viking 3 for the 1983 season. Both returned to Scandinavian waters after their stints on the Channel.

M. S. Apollo
Builder: Jos. L. Meyer Werft, Papenburg, Germany.
Yard number: 560.
Dimensions (length, breadth, depth): 108.07 x 17.2 x 4.6 metres.
Tonnages (gross, net, dead weight): 4,238, 2,126, 1,100.
Engines: Two 12 cylinder Deutz S. B. V. diesel.
Power: 8,000 B. H. P.
Speed (knots): 18.5.
Passenger certificate: 1,200.
Car capacity: 260.

19.12.1969: Launched.
29.4.1970: Delivered to Rederi A. B. Slite.
2.5.1970: Viking Line Kapellskär/Mariehamn/Nådendal.
12.3.1976: Sold to Olau Line A. S., Ribe, Denmark. Renamed Olau Kent.
1.4.1976: Entered service Sheerness/Vlissingen.
10.9.1980: Arrested in Vlissingen.
9.11.1980: Sold to Sparekassen S. D. S., Copenhagen, Denmark. Renamed Gelting Nord.
3.1984: Sold to Nordisk Færgefart, A. S., Nassau, Bahamas. Chartered to Brittany Ferries. Renamed Benodet.
30.4.1984: Entered service Plymouth/Roscoff.
28.5.1985: Chartered to British Channel Island Ferries. Renamed Corbiére. Opened Portsmouth/Channel Islands.
5.1989: Chartered to Truckline Ferries. Poole/Cherbourg.
9.1991: Sold to Oy Eckerölinjens A. B.
3.11.1991: Entered service for Estonian New Line. Unofficially renamed Linda 1.
3.1995: Renamed Apollo.
9.11.1998: Chartered to Tallink.
1.3.1999: Chartered to Nordisk Færgefart A. S., Faaborg, Denmark.
6.1999: Sold to Rederi A. B. Eckerö, Eckerö.
26.1.2000: Sold to Labrador Marine Inc, St John, New Foundland, Canada.

M. S. Viking 3
Builder: Jos L Meyer Werft, Papenburg-Ems, Germany.
Yard number: 565.
Dimensions (length, breadth, depth): 108.7 x 17.24 x 4.6 metres.
Tonnages (gross, net, dead weight): 4,299, 1,880, 1,110.
Engines: Two 12 cylinder, Deutz diesel.
Power: 8,000 kW.
Speed (knots): 18.5.
Passenger certificate: 1,200.
Car capacity: 265.

14.12.1971: Launched.
19.4.1972: Delivered to Rederi A. B. Sally, Mariehamn, Finland.
24.4.1972: Entered service for Viking Line between Nådendal/Mariehamn/Kapellskär.
20.2.1976: Sold to Oy Vasa-Umeå A. B., Vasa, Finland.
4.5.1976: Renamed Wasa Express.
29.3.1983: Renamed Viking 3.
12.4.1983: Transferred to Sally Line Ramsgate/Dunkerque.
10.4.1984: Renamed Wasa Express.
8.8.1988: Sold to Rederi A. B. Eckerö, Mariehamn, Finland.
1.11.1988: Renamed Roslagen.
1992: Registered for Rederi A. B. Eckerö.
11.1992: Bareboat chartered to Inreko Laeva A. S., Tallinn, Estonia.
15.4.1993: Chartered to Mani-Mereliinide A. S. Tallinn, Estonia.

M. S. Viking 4
Builder: Jos. L. Meyer Papenburg, Germany.
Yard number: 570.
Dimensions (length, breadth, depth): 109.15 x 17.25 x 4.7 metres.
Tonnages (gross, net, dead weight): 4,477, 1,982, 994.
Engines: Two 14 cylinder, Smit-Bolnes diesel.
Power: 10,200 kW.
Speed (knots): 19.5.
Passenger certificate: 1,200.
Car capacity: 265.

17.3.1973: Launched.
17.6.1973: Delivered to Rederi A. B. Sally, Mariehamn, Finland.
4.1980: Sold to William & Glynn Industrial Leasing Limited, London.
7.1980: Laid up at Mariehamn.
8.1980: Renamed Earl Granville.
9.1980: Sent to Seebeck Werft, Bremerhaven, Germany for fitting of A. E. G. Denny-Brown Stabilisers.
4.9.1980: Chartered to Sealink U. K. Limited.
29.3.1981: Entered service Portsmouth/St. Peter Port (Guernsey)/St. Helier (Jersey).
2.7.1983: Weymouth/ St. Peter Port (Guernsey)/St. Helier (Jersey).
26.1.1985: Sent to Ålborg, Denmark for renovation.
30.4.1985: Returned to service Portsmouth/Cherbourg/St. Peter Port (Guernsey)/St. Helier (Jersey).
30.9.1986: Proposed joint service with Channel Island Ferries aborted due to industrial action by Sealink crews.
15.4.1987: Summer service Portsmouth/Cherbourg.
6.10.1987: Laid up at Falmouth.
30.3.1988: Summer service Portsmouth/Cherbourg/St. Peter Port (Guernsey).
19.7.1990: Chartered to Hoverspeed. Portsmouth/Cherbourg.
14.8.1990: Laid up at Southampton.
10.12.1990: Sold to Aegean Pelagos Naftiki Eteria, Piraeus, Greece. Renamed Express Olympia.
1992: Transferred to Agapitos Express Ferries.
11.1999: Sold to Minoan Flying Dolphins, Piraeus, Greece. Hellas Ferries.

M. S. Viking 5
Builder: Jos L Meyer Werft, Papenburg-Ems, Germany.
Yard number: 573.
Dimensions (length, breadth, depth): 117.79 x 17.25 x 4.7 metres.
Tonnages (gross, net, dead weight): 5,286, 2,487, 1,180.
Engines: Two 14 cylinder, Smit-Bolnes diesel.
Power: 8,120 kW.
Speed (knots): 19.5.
Passenger certificate: 1,200.
Car capacity: 300.

28.3.1974: Launched.
5.7.1974: Delivered to Rederi A. B. Sally, Mariehamn, Finland.
9.7.1974: Entered service for Viking Line between Helsingfors/Stockholm.
10.6.1981: Renamed The Viking.
18.6.1981: Transferred to Rederi A. B. Sally. Ramsgate/Dunkerque.
12.4.1983: Renamed Sally Express. Transferred to Vasabåtarnas.
10.2.1984: Sold to Fred Olsen & Company, Kristiansand, Norway. Renamed Bolette.
11.1988: Sold to Compagnie Maritime (Comarit), Tangier, Morocco. Renamed Boughaz.
10.1995: Sent to Lloyd Werft, Bremerhaven, Germany, for fitting of stability sponsons.

On a dull afternoon Benodet navigates Plymouth Sound at the conclusion of a crossing from Roscoff. The year was 1984, her first and only season with Brittany Ferries.
Photo: © Brian Fisher.

With leaden skies above, Corbiére makes an early morning arrival at Portsmouth. She was running in direct competition with her sister, Earl Granville, operated by Sealink British Ferries. The two vessels sailed on almost parallel timetable diagrams. Channel Island Ferries were eventually victorious in vanquishing their rivals.
Photo: © Brian Fisher.

Here Earl Granville approaches Portsmouth Harbour at the end of an overnight crossing from the Channel Islands in the mid 1980s. Note the wisps of smoke emitted by her combined mainmast and funnel. The absence of any passengers standing outside gives an indication of how unpopular Sealink's 'Starliner' service was at that time.
Photo: © Brian Fisher.