Stena Nordica / Stena Nautica / Versailles /
Stena Londoner / Seafrance Monet
Versailles gathers speed as she leaves the harbour at Dieppe on early afternoon crossing to Newhaven..
Photo: Brian Fisher.
This elegant vessel was designed for Stena Line's passenger service between Gothenburg, Sweden and Frederikshavn, Denmark. She entered service in 1974 as Stena Danica and lasted nine years on the route. During this time she was the subject of 'vertical stretching' whereby her upper vehicle was raised in height to accommodate lorries. This necessitated the unfortunate addition of sponsons to her hull to protect her stability. The delivery of larger tonnage saw her surplus to requirements and she was renamed Stena Nautica (easily confused with Reine Astrid which also carried this identity at one stage). In 1983 she was chartered to R. M. T. for the Dover/Oostende route for a period of three years. During this time she never adopted the traditional black hull colourings of the Belgian fleet. She was then leased to S. N. C. F. who spent considerable sums on renovating her for a new role as the flagship of Sealink Dieppe Ferries. For this she assumed the name of Versailles and took up service on the Newhaven/Dieppe route in the spring of 1987. She was a success and was subsequently purchased.
History turned full circle five years later when S. N. A. T. (successors of Sealink Dieppe Ferries) handed the Newhaven service and Versailles back to Stena Line on charter. She was overhauled in the colours of Sealink Stena Line and renamed Stena Londoner prior to resuming sailings to Dieppe in May of 1992. Her French crew were sacked and replaced with British seafarers. Her port of registry was swapped from Dieppe to Nassau. When her charter expired in early 1996 she was returned to what had now become Seafrance and was prepared for her debut as Seafrance Monet on the Dover/Calais route. She was not ideally suited to this role as she was not designed for twin tier loading at her bow end. Her side loading door was of no use as the infrastructure did not exist to serve it. Her place was taken by her former Newhaven counterpart Stena Parisien (subsequently renamed Seafrance Manet) the following year and she spent most of her time languishing in lay-up at Dunkerque between sporadic bursts of relief cover. It was not until 2000 that she was sold for use in the Mediterranean. Sadly she was broken up for scrap five years later in Turkey.
M. S. Stena Nordica
Builder: Brodogradiliste Jozo Lozovina Mosor, Trogir, Yugoslavia.
Yard number: 163.
Dimensions (length, breadth, depth): 124.85 x 21.87 x 5.26 metres. After modifications: 124.85 x 23.37 x 5.48.
Tonnages (gross, net, dead weight): 6,333, 3,246, 2,134. After modifications: 6,538, 3,178, 2,362.
Engines: Two Lindholmen/Pielstick diesel.
Power: 18,000 kW.
Speed (knots): 22.
Passenger certificate: 1,800.
Car capacity: 425.
2.6.1974: Delivered to Stena A. B., Göteborg. Renamed Stena Danica. Göteborg/Frederikshavn.
1.1977: Sent to Wilton-Fijenoord, Rotterdam, for the raising of the upper vehicle deck by 2.3 metres.
12.1981: Renamed Stena Nordica.
4.1983: Chartered to Regie voor Maritiem Transport, Oostende.
2.5.1983: Sent to Antwerp for repositioning of starboard shell door access to upper vehicle deck.
16.6.1983: In service Oostende/Dover.
3.1984: Renamed Stena Nautica.
14.5.1986: Charter expired. Laid up at Göteborg.
19.4.1987: Chartered to Sealink Dieppe Ferries. Renamed Versailles. Entered service Newhaven/Dieppe.
1988: Sold to: Overseas Equipment Limited, Dieppe.
1.5.1992: Chartered to Sealink Stena Line Limited. Overhauled at A. & P. Appledore, Southampton.
15.5.1992: Renamed Stena Londoner. Transferred to Bahamas ship register.
22.5.1992: In service Newhaven/Dieppe.
10.4.1996: Charter expired. Sent to Dunkerque for overhaul.
6.1996: Renamed Seafrance Monet.
3.7.1996: Entered service Calais/Dover.
24.4.1997: Laid up at Dunkerque as relief unit.
29.3.2000: Sustained damage below the waterline whilst entering Calais on a relief sailing.
18.5.2000: Sold to Naviera Armas S. A., Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain.
24.5.2000: Left Dunkerque for Vigo, Spain to be repaired.
11.9.2000: Renamed Volcan de Tacande.
Stena Londoner turns within the tight confines of Newhaven Harbour on one of her late morning departures for Dieppe in July 1994.
The derelict former Isle of Wight passenger vessel, Southsea, can be seen to the left.
Here Seafrance Monet is found laid up at Dunkerque.
Photo: © Pieter Inpyn.