Val de Loire

A morning view of Val de Loire docked bow-in at Portsmouth with Mont St. Michel alongside. This would have been during 2004.
Photo: Ferry Fantastic Collection.

Before her debut on the English Channel, this vessel served the Travemunde/Trelleborg Line for which she was built in 1987 as Nils Holgersson. She lasted on the Baltic Sea for six years until her owners faced bankruptcy and she had to be sold. Brittany Ferries offered a generous price for her and spent a massive sum on rebuilding her for their Spanish services.

She was basically an earlier model of Olau Britannia and Olau Hollandia. However, for the sake of cosmetic appeal, her rectangular features were softened to create a less harsh profile. She emerged in June 1993 as Val de Loire, the successor to the smaller Bretagne on the Plymouth/Santander crossing. Her main advantage over her predecessor was her much larger cabin provision; however, she was no beauty.

With the arrival of the purpose-built flagship, Pont-Aven, the decision was taken to move Val de Loire to Portsmouth for 2004. For one season only she operated in tandem with Bretagne, offering an increased frequency of sailings to St. Malo at the weekends, and a new Brittany Ferries service to Cherbourg on weekday mornings. Traffic levels did not meet expectations and Val de Loire was to operate a one-ship service to St. Malo from the following year. In a surprise move, she was sold to Danish ferry company, D. F. D. S. Seaways, in November of 2005, for delivery in early 2006. She was renamed King of Scandinavia for her new role on the Newcastle/Amsterdam (Ijmuiden) route. She was reunited with her sister Princess of Norway (the former Peter Pan) in May of 2007 when a two-ship service started.

M. S. Nils Holgersson
Builder: Schichau Seebeckswerft AG, Bremerhaven, Germany.
Yard number: 1,059.
Dimensions (length, breadth, depth): 161.45 x 32.01 x 6.2 metres.
Tonnages (gross, net, dead weight): 31,360, 16,200, 4,110.
Engines: Four M. A. K. diesel.
Power: 26,655 kW.
Speed (knots): 21.
Passenger certificate: 1,800.
Car capacity: 550.

16.8.1986: Launched.
20.2.1987: Delivered to Wallenius Safe Felicia A. B., Trelleborg.
20.2.1987: Chartered to Swecarrier, Trelleborg.
26.6.1987: Entered service for T. T. Line between Trelleborg/Travemünde.
1.1.1992: Chartered to Rederi A. B. Gotland, Visby.
2.1992: Sold to SweFerry A. B., Trelleborg.
1.1993: Sold to Bretagne Angleterre Irlande S. A., Morlaix.
14.1.1993: Renamed Val de Loire. Sent to I. N. M. A., La Spezia, Italy for modifications.
9.6.1993: Entered service Plymouth/Santander and Plymouth/Roscoff/Cork.
28.3.2004: Transferred to Portsmouth/Cherbourg/St. Malo services.
25.11.2005: Sold to D. F. D. S. Seaways.
2.2006: Renamed King of Scandinavia.
11.3.2006: Entered service on Newcastle/Ijmuiden.

An early evening arrival from St. Malo during 2005 as Val de Loire approaches Portsmouth Harbour.
Photo: Trevor Boston.

Pride of Le Havre (II)
& Pride of Portsmouth

On a morning sailing in July 1994, Pride of Le Havre works her way through Portsmouth Harbour en route for Le Havre.

These twin sisters were ordered for Olau Line, a now defunct subsidiary of the German owned Travemunde/Trelleborg Line (T. T. Line). They were improved versions of their earlier sisters, Nils Holgersson and Peter Pan, and were launched as Olau Hollandia and Olau Britannia respectively for the Sheerness/Vlissingen crossing in 1989. This service closed in May 1994 and the pair of ships was offered for charter.

P. & O. was seeking larger tonnage to substantially upgrade its Portsmouth/Le Havre service which was being overshadowed by rival, Brittany Ferries, in the form of Normandie. Olau Hollandia and Olau Britannia were overhauled and aptly renamed Pride of Le Havre and Pride of Portsmouth. They immediately evened the score with their luxurious facilities which even extended to a sauna and indoor pool. Large and powerful in appearance, rather than elegant. The ugly slab-like upright forward end of their superstructures really demonstrated how utilitarian some ferry designs had become. Clearly the interior design mattered more than external looks.

Extravagent facilities were not enough to keep passenger numbers up and save P. & O.'s Portsmouth ferries from sliding further and further into unprofitability. The Company had struggled to make their Western Channel routes pay for many years, with increased competition from cheap flights and the Channel Tunnel, and the loss of duty-free shopping revenue. The charter of Pride of Le Havre and Pride of Portsmouth was not to be renewed and their last sailings for P. & O. were performed on 30th September 2005. After a short spell laid up at Falmouth they were sold by their owners to S. N. A. V. of Italy and were renamed S. N. A. V. Sardegna and S. N. A. V. Lazio respectively for service between Naples and Palermo.

M. S. Olau Hollandia & Olau Britannia
Builder: Schichau Seebeckswerft AG Bremerhaven.
Yard numbers: 1,067 and 1,068.
Dimensions (length, breadth, depth): 161 x 29 x 6.5 metres.
Tonnages (gross, net, dead weight): 33,336, 17,001, 5,200.
Engines: Four 8 cylinder, Zgoda-Sulzer diesel.
Power: 26,400 kW.
Speed (knots): 21,3.
Passengers: 1,642.
Car capacity: 575.
Lane metres (for vehicles): 1,510.

25.2.1989: Olau Hollandia launched.
29.9.1989: Delivered to Olau Line (U.K) Limited, Hamburg, Germany.
4.10.1989: Entered service Sheerness/Vlissingen.
6.1.1993: Registered for S. C. I. Shipping, Luxemburg.
3.2.1993: Re-registered at Hamburg.
15.5.1994: Olau Line ceased business. Chartered to P. & O. European Ferries (Portsmouth) Limited.
3.6.1994: Renamed Pride of Le Havre.
22.6.1994: Entered service Portsmouth/Le Havre.
30.9.2005: Last day of service for P. & O. Ferries.

28.10.1989: Olau Britannia launched.
16.5.1990: Delivered to T. T. Line, Hamburg, Germany.
21.5.1990: Entered service Sheerness/Vlissingen.
6.1.1993: Registered for S. C. I. Shipping, Luxemburg.
3.2.1993: Re-registered at Hamburg.
15.5.1994: Olau Line ceased business. Chartered to P. & O. European Ferries (Portsmouth) Limited. Renamed Pride of Portsmouth.
22.6.1994: Entered service Portsmouth/Le Havre.
27.10.2002: Collided with H. M. S. St Albans in Portsmouth Harbour.
30.9.2005: Last day of service for P. & O. Ferries.

After dark Pride of Portsmouth is captured fully illuminated as she slips past Pride of Hampshire on an overnight crossing to Le Havre in July 2001. The two vessels were to meet again around midnight off the coast of the Isle of Wight when the Coastguard requested assistance in searching for a person lost over board from the St. Malo bound Bretagne. As a result, sailings were severely delayed, taking a day or two to return to schedule. The missing passenger was later presumed drowned.

A few days later Pride of Portsmouth is found leaving her namesake for Le Havre on an early departure.

A post-2003 view of Pride of Portsmouth passing Southsea in her revised P. & O. Ferries livery.
Photo: P. & O. Ferries Enthusiasts.

In this series Pride of Portsmouth arrives at Portsmouth in her final month of service for P. & O. Ferries. She looks particularly worse for the wear, clearly she was allowed to run down towards the end.