Seafrance Molière / Dieppe Seaways

Having already invested heavily in two relatively recent purpose-built ships, Seafrance decided not to build from scratch a third time, but instead buy second-hand a ship that was comparable in size and grandeur to its existing twin superferries. Although a huge vessel over two hundred and forty metres in length was thought to be on the drawing board, the company opted for a quicker and cheaper solution to its capacity shortages by acquiring the French flagged Jean Nicoli which was laid up at Marseilles.

The vessel was originally built for the Greek owned Superfast Ferries enterprise as number ten in a series of exceptionally long and fast overnight ferries designed for use on a range of routes around Europe. Superfast X was destined to open the company's new service between Rosyth in Scotland and Zeebrugge. Although an attractive ship from inside and out, carryings were not to live up to expectations and she was sold after just four years to the Mediterranean based S. N. C. M. concern. She was renamed Jean Nicoli and subsequently did a spate of charter work for other operators before languishing in lay-up at Marseille pending disposal. Having been inspected by Seafrance management, an announcement was made just after Christmas in 2007 that the vessel has been purchased for delivery the following summer.

Substantial work was required to strip out superfluous cabin accommodation and put lounges and catering facilities in their place to make the ship more suited to the short Dover/Calais route. Other headaches included the removal of her stern ramp. It was decided not to make provision for foot passenger access via a suspended 'skywalk'. As her original name indicated, she was designed to operate at great speed for a conventional vessel. With the extremely high cost of fuel in mind, Seafrance declared that their new flagship would operate on reduced power to match the service speed of her new fleetmates. Her planned debut in July of 2008 was expected to see the retirement of the much smaller Seafrance Renoir and Seafrance Manet after over two decades of operation.

In the event Seafrance Molière did not take her first tourist passengers until the begining of October that year. Her debut was held back by delays during her conversion. Some finishing touches seemed to fall by the wayside in order to get the ship into service at all! Being a narrower vessel than the recent purpose-built Seafrance tonnage, she suffered from an inevitable cramping of facilities. It was interesting to note that her stern door was positioned off-centre to starboard. This was because most of the berths at Dover were designed to accommodate vessels four metres wider than Seafrance Molière.

After Seafrance ceased operations in November 2011, Seafrance Molière spent over three months languishing in Calais Harbour before being moved to the safer confines of Dunkerque Est. Due to the complicated nature of her ownership, she was not included in the auction of Seafrance assets held in May of 2012.

Having been sold to Maltese interests, she was renamed Molière and laid up at Tilbury. She was eventually chartered to D. F. D. S. Seaways/L. D. Lines and was inexplicably renamed Dieppe Seaways for service on the Dover/Dunkerque route (it would seem it didn't matter what port she was named after, as long as it started with the letter 'D'). This was an interesting change of heart on the part of D. F. D. S., who had previously declined to make a bid for the vessel, dismissing her as unsuitable for the Short Sea routes.

M. S. Superfast X
Builder: Howaltswerke Deutsche Werft A. G., Kiel, Germany.
Yard number: 360.
Dimensions (length, breadth, depth): 230.30 x 25.00 x 6.50 metres.
Gross tonnage: 29,800.
Engines: four Wärtsilä-Sulzer diesel.
Power: 46,000 kW.
Speed (knots): 28.6
Passenger certificate: 1,200.
Car capacity: 653.

18.11.2000: Launched.
26.2.2002: Delivered to Superfast Ferries, Piraeus, Greece.
17.5.2002: Entered service on Rosyth/Zeebrugge.
8.8.2006: Sold to Veolia Transportation/S. N. C. M., France for delivery in early 2007.
12.2.2007: Renamed Jean Nicoli.
4.2007: Chartered to Cotunav, Tunisia for service between Itlay, France and Tunisia.
8.2007: Chartered to Anek Lines for service in Greece.
27.12.2007: Sold to Seafrance S. A., Paris, France.
28.3.2008: Renamed Seafrance Molière.
3.4.2008: Left lay-up at Marseille for conversion from overnight to short-sea ferry operations at the A. R. N. O. yard in Dunkerque.
1.7.2008: Due in service on Dover/Calais.
1.10.2008: Belatedly took up full passenger services.
14.11.2011: Last day of Seafrance sailings.
6.2012: Sold. Renamed Molière, registered under the Maltese flag.
24.10.2012: Chartered to D. F. D. S. Seaways. Renamed Dieppe Seaways.
16.11.2012: Resumed service on Dover/Calais.

Stunning in appearance from the outside, Seafrance Molière did not make such a great impression on the inside. Insufficient time was allowed for her conversion to Cross-Channel operations and the result was the subject of criticism.

Bathed in sparkling Spring sunshine, Seafrance Molière is found laid up for sale in the inner docks of Dunkerque Est during May 2012.