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And Then There Was One.....


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Forgive me for a bit of self-indulgent nostalgia.

My interest in ferries started in the 1970s and, at the time, centred upon Townsend Thoresen, as the company that used to transport us on all my childhood family holidays.  I have watched the former TT fleet gradually dwindle over the years.

Well, I have just discovered that we are now down to the very last former TT passenger ferry still in service.  A couple of the former freight fleet (Via Mare, ex-European Clearway and Sea Partner, ex-Cerdic Ferry) are still in service in the Eastern Med and Black Sea respectively.  But apart from them, there is now just one solitary former member of the passenger fleet still in service - none other than the 53 year-old, 1965-built third member of the original Thoresen Viking fleet, Viking III, still sailing as Red Star 1 between Brindisi and Vlore.

Vitsentzos Kornaros, ex-Viking Viscount, is still around but has been out of service at the shipyard at Perama since last August.  So, if she does not return to service (hhvferry, any ideas on that?), then Viking III will be the last of the line to survive in service.  Amazing! 

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It's being reported on the Townsend Thoresen facebook page that Vinsentzos Kornaros (ex Viking Viscount), which has been laid up and out of action since 2017, has been sold for breaking at Aliaga.  If true, this really does leave Red Star 1 (ex Viking III) as the very last ship to survive from the once mighty Townsend Thoresen fleet.  As far as I am aware, the now-54-year old ferry, which was the 5th oldest of all the passenger ferries that sailed in TT colours, is still in service and still going strong.

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(Meanwhile, this evening, at 18.24 GMT, is the 33rd anniversary of the tragedy at Zeebrugge that hastened the demise of the 19 year history of Townsend Thoresen as a trading brand and the 59 year history of Townsend Car Ferries).

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On 06/03/2020 at 15:29, Gareth said:

It's being reported on the Townsend Thoresen facebook page that Vinsentzos Kornaros (ex Viking Viscount), which has been laid up and out of action since 2017, has been sold for breaking at Aliaga.  If true, this really does leave Red Star 1 (ex Viking III) as the very last ship to survive from the once mighty Townsend Thoresen fleet.  As far as I am aware, the now-54-year old ferry, which was the 5th oldest of all the passenger ferries that sailed in TT colours, is still in service and still going strong.

It's not 100% certain yet, at least not publicly, and there were some potential buyers who wanted to get her back into service, but it does seem like the barbarians are at the gates for her.

http://hhvferry.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/IMG_0162858_TN.jpg

Edited by hhvferry
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Thanks hhv.  Yes, a sad day.  The end of the Super Vikings, and almost the end of the historical Townsend Thoresen fleet.

Almost.  To coin the phrase in the thread title...and now there is one.

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Just to put on record some useless information (!):

Taking the purpose-built and long-term members of the historic Townsend Thoresen passenger and freight fleet (so, including the four long term Stena Searunners and Pride of Calais, but excluding short-term charters, the RMT Ostend fleet and the one-year acquisitions from P&O Normandy Ferries):

The historic Townsend Thoresen fleet consisted of 36 vessels in all.  Of these 36 vessels:

16 were broken up at Aliaga (so, not far off 50% of them);

9 were broken up at Alang;

4 were broken up elsewhere (2 as wrecks, either broken up in situ or salvaged and towed away);

4 were lost at sea and remain abandoned wrecks (3 of them beneath the surface, 1 of them abandoned on the surface);

3 remain operational (2 freight ferries and the 1 remaining passenger ferry).

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Of slightly eccentric interest is the number of Aliaga / Alang sister pairs there are:

FE1/8 Aliaga; FE2/4 Alang

Venturer/Valiant Alang; Viscount/Voyager Aliaga

Trader/Enterprise Alang; Gateway Aliaga

SoFE Aliaga; PoFE Alang

Nordic Ferry Aliaga; Baltic Ferry Alang

And (even though Leopard is not in the above statistics): Dragon Aliaga; Leopard Alang.

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Now they're all gone, I thought it might be interesting to see how these ships were viewed at the time.

In the 1980s the American couple Michael and Laura Murphy published three books which reviewed and gave booking guidance on essentially all the overnight ferry operations of northern Europe, southern Europe and north America.

This was what they had to say about the Super Vikings (they've rather misunderstood what the two new ships at Felixstowe were to be).

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image.thumb.jpeg.66e4ef057d0cab4a67023ca7c98208ce.jpeg

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Yes indeed, That either Panther or Tiger would be an improvement (were they ever intended to go on the route, I don’t recall they were?) or that what did replace them in the form of the Suffolk Ferry and Baltic Ferry could be described in anyway as an improvement.

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2 hours ago, hhvferry said:

Now they're all gone, I thought it might be interesting to see how these ships were viewed at the time.

In the 1980s the American couple Michael and Laura Murphy published three books which reviewed and gave booking guidance on essentially all the overnight ferry operations of northern Europe, southern Europe and north America.

This was what they had to say about the Super Vikings (they've rather misunderstood what the two new ships at Felixstowe were to be).

 

Fascinating! Did they also review Brittany Ferries at the time?

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Just now, Seashore said:

Yes indeed, That either Panther or Tiger would be an improvement (were they ever intended to go on the route, I don’t recall they were?) or that what did replace them in the form of the Suffolk Ferry and Baltic Ferry could be described in anyway as an improvement.

I don't think they were ever planned to go to Felixstowe, no; presumably in the pre-internet days when this was written (1986ish) they relied on press releases or second hand info until they could see for themselves what was happening so things could easily get confused.

I've never really seen full internal views of the Suffolk and Baltic post rebuild (I might have a look and see what's out there and put it on the Nostalgia thread) but even though they had an almost clean slate to work with I imagine just being more freight oriented meant they weren't as nice as the Super Vikings from a passenger perspective.

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1 hour ago, Seashore said:

Yes indeed, That either Panther or Tiger would be an improvement (were they ever intended to go on the route, I don’t recall they were?) or that what did replace them in the form of the Suffolk Ferry and Baltic Ferry could be described in anyway as an improvement.

Tiger and Panther were disposed of within a year of the Normandy Ferries takeover, and there was never a plan to move them to Felixstowe.  The author just seems to have been confused.

The demise of the Felixstowe-Zeebrugge route is a curious one.  As I review the systematic destruction of the Townsend Thoresen legacy by P&O, I can’t decide whether Felixstowe-Zeebrugge was just another victim of P&O’s axe or whether it was already on the way out under Townsend Thoresen.

The replacement of the Super Vikings with the converted Searunners was a definite downgrade of the route.  Question is, was this downgrade the ultimate cause of the failure of the route, or was the fact that it happened an indication that Townsend Thoresen already had its doubts about its viability.

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They weren’t “bad”, there was worse out there. You did have the distinct impression that the passenger block was carried on top of a freighter though - the original structure of the ship was completely off bounds to passengers including the stern, and it was weird to be onboard and see the bridge behind you.

What was a bonus was the deck space, there was lots of it on the second deck and you could walk right up to the bow.

If I recall correctly, the front part with no windows were the passenger cabins. So all cabins were inside and again IIRC all were without ensuite. I didn’t use them but heard a passenger complaining about this as we were waiting to disembark; this would have been around 1993 so if thinking that non ensuite cabins would have felt like a thing of the past then.

After of that was the reception area and then a small duty free shop and then a self service restaurant and a la carte restaurant, all very much in the prevailing P&O style.

The deck above had the outside deck and a small reclining seats lounge where the stairwell emerged from reception below, behind that was the bar on one side and Club Class lounge on the other, and aft of those two much larger reclining seats lounges which doubled as cinemas rather like the top deck configuration on the Super Vikings. You walked through the bar to get to the reclining seat lounges.

It was a long time ago so may be a bit shaky on the exact layout but think it was something like that.

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  • 8 months later...

Just following LHC’s post about Red Star 1 (Viking III) from this thread...

...it is clear that Red Star 1 moved to Paloukia (in the backwaters of Piraeus) for lay-up after her 2020 summer spell on Brindisi - Vlore finished.

This is unusual, in that she normally winters locally in Vlore.  Making the passage all the way around to Piraeus implies strongly to me that she has been withdrawn from service and will not be returning to the route this summer.

In which case, she will have completed a remarkable 56-year career and can presumably now only be awaiting a short final journey to Turkey (?).

With her demise, no passenger ferries purpose-built for Townsend Thoresen now remain in service.

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Viking III, there's a blast from the past.  My father was a steward on on her back in the mid to late 60s when she was on the Southampton - Cherbourg route.  

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