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TonyMWeaver

MV Vronskiy (Ex- Duc de Normandie)

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I heard tonight through a Social Media friend that the MV Vronskiy (Ex Duc de Normandie) is rumoured to be ending service with Trasmediterránea next week and possibly going for scrapping soon after. According to the route list on Trasmediterránea website, the last sailing for MV Vronskiy is this Friday (12th Feb).

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Thanks for posting Tony but thats's sad news, even though the old girl is now 38 years old. I first travelled on her on the 15th June 1986 on the return leg of honeymoon number 1. Out through Plymouth on the Tregastel, my first ever BF crossing, with a so so impression, back on the Duc and it was wow! A proper looking ship, wth a real French atmosphere and the buffet menu was from memory just £7.95 per head!

 

She was a pioneering ship for BF on what has proved to be a pioneering route, tackling head on the monopoly of TT/P&O European Ferries into Cherbourg and Le Havre and winning hands down. Her only quirk was you had to go down a deck, then back up again to get from bow to stern, and a few of the rear cabins needed ear muffs to sleep in but she was otherwise a great ship leaving me with very happy memories. Once our daughter arrived we discovered the delight and convenience of deluxe day cabins, around £20 at the time and genuine luxury in those days.

 

Of course the arrival of the Normandie in 1992 immediately made her look small, dated and the poor relation, which she probably was as many would go to great lengths to avoid her if possible, but by then her main work was done and the Caen route had become the success it still is today. Out of interest back in the late 80's the ferry terminal at Ouistreham was a devil to locate, and until the new rocade or ring road was completed we would invariably end up completely lost in the centre of Caen.

 

Chris

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I actually saw this coming, don't know why!

 

My first ever crossing was onboard the Duc - don't remember much apart from walking down stairs to our cabin (Deck 2 I believe) and my mum getting seasick.

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It would certainly be sad to see another classic vessel consigned to the history books, particularly on the 30th anniversary year of her launching the highly successful Caen route. But, alll good things...

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The writing was on the wall, I felt, for the entire former TEF fleet when Sherbatsky / Oleander went to the breakers. A pity, as you say...the existence of this particular ship in the TEF fleet was a peculiar one, having never (or hardy ever) been used on the Ramsgate-Ostend route. It is right to remember what this ship symbolised in the development of the BF story, but we should also no forget what a revelation she was when first introduced on the Harwich - HvH route as well. At the time, short-sea ferry travel had hardly seen such luxury.

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Thanks for posting Tony but thats's sad news, even though the old girl is now 38 years old. I first travelled on her on the 15th June 1986 on the return leg of honeymoon number 1. Out through Plymouth on the Tregastel, my first ever BF crossing, with a so so impression, back on the Duc and it was wow! A proper looking ship, wth a real French atmosphere and the buffet menu was from memory just £7.95 per head!

 

She was a pioneering ship for BF on what has proved to be a pioneering route, tackling head on the monopoly of TT/P&O European Ferries into Cherbourg and Le Havre and winning hands down. Her only quirk was you had to go down a deck, then back up again to get from bow to stern, and a few of the rear cabins needed ear muffs to sleep in but she was otherwise a great ship leaving me with very happy memories. Once our daughter arrived we discovered the delight and convenience of deluxe day cabins, around £20 at the time and genuine luxury in those days.

 

Of course the arrival of the Normandie in 1992 immediately made her look small, dated and the poor relation, which she probably was as many would go to great lengths to avoid her if possible, but by then her main work was done and the Caen route had become the success it still is today. Out of interest back in the late 80's the ferry terminal at Ouistreham was a devil to locate, and until the new rocade or ring road was completed we would invariably end up completely lost in the centre of Caen.

 

Chris

 

Very interesting.... Did BF go to Le Havre historically then? I was under the impression their infrastructure there was all entirely new?

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No, BF never served Le Havre until the current Economie service started. The service to Ouistreham was a brand new initiative. The port of Ouistreham first approached Townsend Thoresen with a view to bringing them on board to develop the port as a new base for cross-channel services, but they were too wedded to Cherbourg and Le Havre to be interested. A very short-sighted decision that BF were quick to capitalise on when they became involved instead. The original Duc De Normandie berth, down nearer to the lock entrance, is still there I think but no longer used. (I think NEX may have used it when she used to go to Ouistreham, but might be wrong).

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No, BF never served Le Havre until the current Economie service started. The service to Ouistreham was a brand new initiative. The port of Ouistreham first approached Townsend Thoresen with a view to bringing them on board to develop the port as a new base for cross-channel services, but they were too wedded to Cherbourg and Le Havre to be interested. A very short-sighted decision that BF were quick to capitalise on when they became involved instead. The original Duc De Normandie berth, down nearer to the lock entrance, is still there I think but no longer used. (I think NEX may have used it when she used to go to Ouistreham, but might be wrong).

 

 

Gareth is that the berth Barfy was on when she was laid up?

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No Jonno, she was right up the canal near Caen. She was moored at the little jetty at 49deg11'11"N, 0deg19'32"W just before the viaduct carrying the E46 over the canal.

 

Edited by Gareth

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It's not clear that this is the end as Trasmed will still need a second Nador ship for the summer. But her condition in the public spaces was getting slightly grimey and it looked when I last sailed on her in 2014 that maintenance wasn't all that it could have been.

 

Her owners might find someone else willing to charter her though. The number of handy sized overnight ships available isn't huge and she shouldn't have the sort of poor operating economics that afflicted the Sherbatsky.

 

As built she was, if anything, a slightly dowdy and conservative ship, certainly compared to the St Edmund and other north sea vessels like the Dana Regina and the Tor sisters. And she had a very bouncy motion forward which was quite off putting in some conditions (although it was only second class up there so it wasn't too hard to mop up the zeeziek on the lino.)

 

Still, she is a classic and will be sadly missed if and when her time comes.

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Our first family channel crossing was on the Duc in late May 1991, we were en route to Benidorm by car. The crossing was one of our worst even and having chosen the leatherette reclining seat it was nightmare, most people ended up sleeping on the floor, if memory serves it was a force 8/9 during the crossing. Our first stop in France was the Brittany desk at the terminal to book a cabin for the return crossing, the cabin was below the car deck, I think, and was one of the best crossing ever, it was flat calm.

After the wild crossing my compensation was to drive the family 1.3 Vauxhall Nova Pearl saloon down the Mulsanne straight at Le Mans, sheer bliss and that made up for crossing.

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Yes, by short-sea I was not including the North Sea proper routes to Scandinavia and out of Hull, where back in those days the standards really were set. I meant if you considered the various routes between Harwich-Hook and Plymouth-Roscoff, back in 1978 when Prinses Beatrix entered service there was nothing comparable (apart from, as you say hhv, her Harwich running mate St Edmund).

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A shame. I was on her final BF crossing (Plymouth-Roscoff) back in 2004 along with a couple of other BFE members, before the Bretagne took over.

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No Jonno, she was right up the canal near Caen. She was moored at the little jetty at 49deg11'11"N, 0deg19'32"W just before the viaduct carrying the E46 over the canal.

 

 

You mean the Bassin d'Hérouville, Gareth??

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You mean the Bassin d'Hérouville, Gareth??

 

No I don't Tony - she was there in 2008 winter but in the extended layup of 2010 she was closer to Caen than that. The coordinates in my post are for the 2010 location.

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I used to cross the Pont de Calix at least twice a week, so I'm not quite sure what you mean by the basin d'hérouville but she was quite definitely on the north (ouistreham) side for some of her winter stays, called the basin de Calix, and the city or south side for the rest but my memory isn't good enough to say which and when. Wherever she was she looked a pretty sad sight by the following spring and damn it, that B@£/*% ship bas hîjacked yet another thread .....🐸👻!!!

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Yes the coordinates I gave were for the Basin de Calix, and the quayside was the Quay de Calix. So.....back to the port facilities at Ouistreham and the original DDN berth. A while back in another thread I posted querying why it was not possible for a ferry at Ouistreham to slip south down the jetty towards the original berth and thereby vacate the current berth for another ferry to use, rather than have to plod over to Cherbourg to lay up. In the course of gathering the information for this thread I have stumbled across the answer to that question. If you look at the satellite imagery of Ouistreham harbour, it is clear that the quayside down to the original berth is actually not continuous - once clear south of the current berth there is actually no usable jetty until you reach the original berth, and that original berth is clearly not long enough to handle ships the size of Normandie and MSM. So there you go.....and thread steered slightly back towards DDN and away from you-know-who! :)

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It's a shame if she is destined for India, there our many ferry's of the same age still going strong. Moby Corse/ Pont L'Abbe for one.

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Yes, although not actually that many any more if you think about it Jonno, from the 70s. The Tor twins, yes. Can't remember, is St Edmund herself still around with MoD? Not the Norland/Norstar. Dana Regina? (Can't remember). Nothing else still remaining from the BF fleet of that era. Duchesse Anne possibly. But it's not a lot really.

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I would be very sorry to see the Duc go to India, she deserves better. Although she was overshadowed by arrival of the Normandie, she was a much appreciated addition to the fleet and at the time she first appeared she was seen as an asset and better than many of the others around at that time. I think at one stage there was even a plan to extend her size.

I travelled frequently on her and found her very good in bad weather although it was sometimes a struggle to open the door to the promenade deck on a windy day. There was always a nice atmosphere in the cafe /bar too. Despite her age I would have thought there was still some life in her yet so I hope she finds a home.

:(

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Yes, although not actually that many any more if you think about it Jonno, from the 70s. The Tor twins, yes. Can't remember, is St Edmund herself still around with MoD? Not the Norland/Norstar. Dana Regina? (Can't remember). Nothing else still remaining from the BF fleet of that era. Duchesse Anne possibly. But it's not a lot really.

 

 

Yeah you're right, with a BF connection the Duchesse is the only one, both Purbeck and Coutances have left Con Ferry since the Government took them over... Sealink's Senlac now Apollon is still alive and well so there's still a bit of hope for me being just 5 years older!

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I think Senlac went to the beach at Aliaga some years ago Jonno. Hengist and Horsa still hanging on by a read, but could hardly be described as going strong.

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