Stena Normandy

As St. Nicholas she is seen here at Harwich wearing the striking 1984 Sealink U. K. livery.
Photo: Simon Lee.

This impressive ship was for a long time a stalwart of the Harwich/Hoek Van Holland crossing. She began life as Prinsessan Birgitta in 1982. Her construction was suspended while her owners, Sessan line, were acquired by Stena Line and a use had to be found for her. In the end she was chartered to Sealink U. K. Limited a year later and she was renamed St. Nicholas. In a twist of irony, she was returned to Swedish hands when Stena Line made Sealink its latest conquest in 1990. The following year she made her debut on the English Channel as Stena Normandy, reviving sailings between Southampton and Cherbourg. This brave move incurred heavy losses by the time it closed five years later. With day trips going for just a pound a head, financial ruin was the inevitable by the end of 1996. After a spell of charter work on the Baltic Sea, she resumed her association with Cherbourg in 1998 as just Normandy, sailing from Rosslare in Eire for Irish Ferries. She has since been sold on.

M. S. Prinsessan Birgitta
Builder: Götaverken Arendal A. B. Göteborg.
Yard number: 909.
Dimensions (length, breadth, depth): 149.3 x 26 x 6.1 metres.
Tonnages (gross, net, dead weight): 14,368, 3,315. After modifications: 17,043, 7,859, 3,315.
Engines: Four 12 cylinder, Nohab-Wärtsilä Vasa diesel.
Power: 20,600 kW.
Speed (knots): 19.5.
Passenger certificate: 2,100.
Car capacity: 450.

22.5.1981: Launched. Owners went bankrupt. Laid up at Göteborg whilst construction was suspended.
3.5.1982: Sold to Stena Sessan Line A. B., Göteborg.
3.6.1982: Entered service Göteborg/Frederikshavn. Christened Prinsessan Birgitta.
28.2.1983: Chartered to Sealink U. K. Limited. Renamed St Nicholas.
10.6.1983: Entered service Hoek van Holland/Harwich.
1988: Sold to Sealink U. K. Limited.
12.1989: Sold to Rederi A. B. Gotland, Visby.
1.1991: Sent to Lloyd Werft, Bremerhaven, Germany for renovation. Renamed Stena Normandy.
28.6.1991: Launched new Southampton/Cherbourg service.
29.11.1996: Southampton/Cherbourg sailings abandoned. Laid up at Dunkerque.
1.1997: Chartered to Tallink. Renamed Normandy.
1.4.1998: Chartered to Irish Ferries, Dublin. Rosslare/Roscoff/Cherbourg.
10.11.1999: Sold to Irish Continental Group, Dublin.

An August 1994 scene as Stena Normandy heads along Southampton Water on arrival from Cherbourg.

Stena Normandy looks imposing against the quayside of the Gare Maritime at Cherbourg in September 1996.