Posts tagged: kapetan alexandros a

Things Seen – September 2009

The Istra (ex-Mette Mols) at Split, August 2009.

The Istra (ex-Mette Mols) at Split.

  • Firstly, apologies to regular readers for the month or so of no updates – hopefully the break will have been worth it, with plenty of new material gathered during a 3 week trip to Southern Europe where plenty of ferries were seen, sailed on, photographed, and, in the case of at least three, farewells made as they are understood to be in the final weeks of service.
  • The Istra (ex-Mette Mols, 1966) has since been put up for public sale by Jadrolinija, although the expectation is that she will follow former fleetmate the Ivan Zajc to Turkish owners. As Slobodna Dalmacija ruefully notes, there will be some criticism of the sale, as the ship “had its admirers, especially among Lastovo and Korčula [residents], who praised its comfort” compared to the more modern vessels. The ship has also been widely used to cover longer lines, such as for example the during the recent mechanical failure of the Petar Hektorović. She was however proving too small at times, and when I sailed on her in late August she was forced to leave cars behind in Stari Grad. Doubtless this is frustrating when the next sailing back to Split isn’t for another four hours!

    Also for sale are the Vanga (ex-Basto III) and the little Borik, latterly second ship to the Kijevo at Biograd. There remain several other Jadrolinija ships laid up in various ports around the country and Hans de Graaf continues to do a public service with his photographs of several of the many and varied ships of the White Fleet, a few more having been uploaded in recent weeks here.

    Meanwhile Fleet File Rotterdam has a fairly thorough section on Jadrolinija, correct up to a couple of years ago.

  • The Borik (1978) in Biograd.

    The Borik (1978) in Biograd.

  • Fergün Shipping of Turkey operate a fleet of mostly-forgotten ex-North European ships on routes between Northern Cyprus and the Turkish mainland. Quite what current operations are like is open to question, the company’s website being more than a little out of date: at least two of the ships featured have been sold, one most definitely for scrapping having been seen on the beach in Aliaga in 2007.

    The fleet as listed however was a fascinating collection and pictures of and on board all are shown on the site. With links to the images, the four fast ferries were:
    Fergün Express (ex-Storesund of Norwegian Haugesund A/S, 1974)
    Fergün Express III (built as the Venture 84 in 1982, from 1983 to 1998 she was Emeraude’s Trident/Trident III)
    Emeraude Express (built for Emeraude in 1986 she survives without change of name).
    Prince of Girne (ex-Gimle Bay, 1981, primarily used in Yugoslavia/Croatia as the Poreč I until sale to Fergün in 1994.)

    The Girne

    The Girne


    The conventional ferries are more interesting still:
    Canbulat Pasha. Purpose built, 1997.
    Girne. The ex-Saltholm (1967) of Svenska Rederi Ab Öresund’s Limhamn – Dragör route until 1979, then the Gozo Channel company’s Mgarr until sale to Fergün in 1996. Scrapped 2007.
    Fatih. An astonishing survivor, originally being the Mersey pilot vessel Arnet Robinson (1958), passing to Fergün in 1988 where she was converted to a small car ferry. Compare this picture of her in her original guise with this image after conversion. Another picture of her as Fatih reveals the tall funnel remains unobstructed.
    Güniz. Built as the Kraakerø in Norway in 1964 she had an itinerant early career before settling down as Rederi AB Gotland’s Polhelm between 1964 and 1972. Later one of Tourship’s first vessels, the Corsica Ferry until sale in 1976 to Jadrolinija as the Lastovo I. She remained, with a couple of name changes, with Jadrolinija until 1996 and has sailed in Turkish waters ever since, latterly for Fergün although she was sold in early 2009 to operate between Turkey and Russia.
  • Some interesting images of Turkish/Russian ferries can be seen on the four pages of this link to a Russian shipping forum including the aforementioned Güniz and Ivan Zajc (now the Besyildiz), but also the Lider Avrasya (once Sealink’s Ulidia), Lider Clipper (ex-Agios Spiridon), still bearing her HML name the Apollonia II (ex-Travemünde, 1964), the Trabzon (ex-Panagia Tinou, sold by NEL Lines earlier this year) and the Erke (formerly Agapitos Express/Saronikos Ferries’ Express Danae), amongst others.
  • The Zeus Palace has been an interesting stopgap on Minoan Lines’ Patras-Igoumenitsa-Venice route this Summer, following the sale of the Pasiphae Palace. The return of the former Prometheus has been rather underwhelming for many passengers – although she looks nice enough in these pictures by Dominik Wagner, in reality she has been just a little too small for the route.
    Dominik also has recent images on board Agoudimos’ Ionian Sky. She is essentially unchanged since her Strintzis rebuild as the Ionian Victory in 1998.
    The Ionian Sky at Corfu

    The Ionian Sky at Corfu

  • We have lingered over the demise of the Kapetan Alexandros several times on this blog, and the guys over at Nautilia clearly felt the same way about the end of this veteran, getting on board the ship in Keratsini just before she sailed for scrap to take some final photographs, including a series in her quite antiquated bridge.
  • Apropos of nothing, I was taken with this dramatic image of the Princess Kathleen of Canadian Pacific sinking in 1952. The ship, built in Glasgow in 1924, originally made Vancouver-Victoria-Seattle coastal sailings but was latterly employed on cruises up to Alaska, meeting her fate after running aground near Juneau. Many more pictures of this dramatic event, in which no lives were lost, can be found at Alaska’s Digital Archive.
  • The Queen Elizabeth 2 may not technically have been a ferry, but she was certainly, as built, a beautiful example of the very best of 1960s British design. This was sadly diluted in later years to a slightly naff kind kitsch look. However, as Bruce Peter notes in the authoritative Britain’s Greatest Liner the ship had direct design influences over many cruise ships and ferries in the subsequent decade or more. Bruce also references the famous 1969 article in Shipping World and Shipbuilder which compared and contrasted the QE2 with the equally new and forward-looking Vortigern, produced by Swan Hunters in the same year.

    For anyone wondering just what influence it was the epoch-making Vortigern had on the QE2, some superb images of the latter ship, as built, can be found here.

  • The Caesarea and Duke of Argyll were two of the last surviving ex-Sealink steam ships, and both had final days in Hong Kong, the ‘Argyll’ burning out there under the name Zenith in 1995. There are some fascinating images on flickr of both ships in those days, including the burnt and broken Zenith.
  • Mention was made of the Älvsborg Bridge last month and, with perfect timing, over on LandgÃ¥ngen there materialised a thread with pictures of various ferries sailing beneath, including the Prinsessan Birgitta in her one season operating for Stena in 1982 before starting her career as the St Nicholas for Sealink.
  • Although special Lego kits have been sold by many ferry companies for years, how many of us regretted their incompatibility due to inconsistency of scale with the minifigs of Legoland? Just me huh? Oh well, this model of the 1974 Prinsessan Birgitta would certainly have been an improvement:
    Picture 1
    Picture 2

    (link from Landgången)

  • Tallink certainly aren’t my, or many other people’s, favourite ferry company at times, some superb ships such as the Star notwithstanding. The crassness of the company’s management is a primary reason for distaste, the famous incident on the Silja Symphony being the confirmation of previous suspicions about the company.

    The quote from one of the Tallink directors, “our level of drunkenness was normal for a cruise of this kind” was memorable, but the signature indiscretion of that fateful cruise was the attempt to “grill” some fish from the SmörgÃ¥sbord in the toasters, conventionally used for bread. On my most recent trip on the ‘Symphony’ I made sure to have my picture taken next to one of the toasters; however, I wish I had known that there were even better permanent reminders of the event. Now: how does one get onto Tallink’s Christmas card list?

  • Farewell Doric Ferry, Kapetan Alexandros

    At Vlore, July 2008

    At Vlore, July 2008


    Quietly, the Kapetan Alexandros A ex-Doric Ferry, last of the ships of the Atlantic Steam Navigation Company, left her lay up in Keratsini under tow of the tug Christos XIV bound for scrapping in Aliaga. In service between Brindisi and Vlore through the past Winter, her lay up after being withdrawn was to be mercifully brief.

    A final image of the ship in Greek waters, under tow for Turkey, can be found here.

    Kapetan Alexandros A (ex-Doric Ferry) – an update

    The Kapetan Alexandros A at Brindisi in 2007. Click for larger image.

    The Kapetan Alexandros A at Brindisi in 2007. Click for larger image.


    Perhaps I spoke too soon with the comment in the previous post that it seemed the Kapetan Alexandros A was coming around to Brindisi for a further Summer!

    Agoudimos have now shuffled their fleet and the net result is that the Ionian Spirit (ex-Roslagen/Viking 3) has been rescheduled to operate Brindisi-Vlore this Summer in place of the former Doric Ferry.

    The latter, sadly but inevitably, has been rumoured to have been sold for scrapping but is presently lying at Keratsini.

    Last of the line: the Kapetan Alexandros A (ex-Doric Ferry)

    Kapetan Alexandros A arriving at Brindisi

    Kapetan Alexandros A arriving at Brindisi


    The six purpose-built ships of the Atlantic Steam Navigation Company were completed at British shipyards between 1957 and 1968 for ASN’s North Sea and Irish Sea operations and all had successful careers of varying lengths. Primarily freight ships they might today fall under that catchall phrase ‘ro-pax’ – they seem fairly traditional in external design to the modern eye, however the initial vessels, the 1957-built Bardic Ferry and the Ionic Ferry of the following year, were proclaimed as fairly revolutionary, being Britain’s first ro-ro freight ships, with the ability to also carry some passengers (55 as built).
    ASN brochure, using their 'Transport Ferry Service' name.

    ASN brochure, using their 'Transport Ferry Service' name.


    The evolution of the series as further half-sisters were delivered was of a fairly cautious nature, the second pair (Cerdic Ferry (1961) and Doric Ferry (1962)) being slightly longer but with capacity for only 35 passengers. The final two vessels were one-offs, the Gaelic Ferry of 1964 being not dissimilar to the previous pair before the slightly racier Europic Ferry (1967) was rather longer and faster and took passenger capacity up to 160.


    The ships all remained in service through the takeover of ASN by Townsend Thoresen in 1971, and remained useful for most of the 1970s. However, towards the end of that decade the earlier ships were becoming a little obsolete as larger and more modern tonnage was introduced and by 1982 the first four had been sold. The Gaelic Ferry excluded, each went on to have a second life with Southern European operators including the Europic Ferry which had lasted with TT’s successor P&O European Ferries until as late as 1993 before becoming Med Link Lines’ Aphrodite II.

    Longest-lived however were the middle pair, the Ailsa, Troon-built Cerdic Ferry and Doric Ferry. Sold together to Libra Maritime in 1981 as the Atlas I and Atlas II, they served a variety of Adriatic and Aegean routes until onward sale in 1987/88, the ships ultimately being split up with the ex-‘Cerdic’ passing to Ventouris Sea Lines and the ‘Doric’ to Agoudimos as the Kapetan Alexandros (later the Kapetan Alexandros A). The ‘Cerdic’ neatly side-stepped the implosion of much of the Ventouris family’s shipping operations in 1995 by being sold within the family to A K Ventouris but was further sold in 1998, becoming the Orestes for Albanian service. Sadly, she was arrested and abandoned in Bari in 2000 and spent the subsequent seven years as a rusting hulk on the breakwater at the Italian port being finally being scrapped in 2007.

    The story of the Kapetan Alexandros has been altogether more positive. With Agoudimos she was enlarged into a true passenger ferry, serving both domestic and international, Adriatic services. Named after Agoudimos Lines’ founder, Alexandros Agoudimos, the ship has since the turn of the century operated each year between Brindisi in Italy and Vlore in Albania, a sole constant as various competing vessels and operators on the same route have come and gone with unerring rapidity.

    Her survival is in part a tribute to the strength of the hull and reliability of the machinery. Now one of the oldest open-sea car ferries in Europe (in fact probably the oldest, certainly transiting an international route?) she has once again in 2009 been scheduled for a complete season of sailings on the Vlore run, indeed she has even spent much of the Winter in operation, covering for the errant Ionian Spirit (ex-Roslagen/Viking 3) which was scheduled to maintain the off-season services before mechanical troubles took hold.

    The following pictures of and on board the Kapetan Alexandros A were taken during a variety of sailings on the ship between 2004 and 2008. Significant parts of the ship’s interior can be described as having the ‘Greek 1980s’ look, however in the original spaces, essentially the original cabins and the forward lounge, the spirit of the original Doric Ferry survives. How much longer this can be the case is uncertain – a crew member on Corsica Ferries’ Mega Smeralda last year explained how he had left Agoudimos just to be away from the ship which he was less than flattering about, indeed it would probably be libellous to repeat some of the things said! – however each year she confounds expectations and returns to service, the last of a fine series of handsome British-built ferries.

    Boarding for foot passengers is via the car deck.

    Boarding for foot passengers is via the car deck.

    Open the right doors and the Doric Ferry reveals herself once more...

    Open the right doors and the Doric Ferry reveals herself once more...

    Out on the forecastle

    Out on the forecastle

    The ship's original bell remains

    The ship's original bell remains

    Morning off the Albanian coast.

    Morning off the Albanian coast.

    Approaching Vlore.

    Approaching Vlore.

    Arriving in Vlore - the Red Star I (ex-Thoresen's Viking III) has sailed the same route but is rather faster so is on the berth first.

    Arriving in Vlore - the Red Star I (ex-Thoresen's Viking III) has sailed the same route but is rather faster so is on the berth first.

    Berthing on the exposed berths can be a bit tricky when you don't have bow thrusters.... the Kapetan Alexandros often needs the help of a tug, but gets there in the end. This image shows a first attempt - the ramp scraped along the pier before ending up at the correct right angle to it.

    Berthing on the exposed berths can be a bit tricky when you don't have bow thrusters.... the Kapetan Alexandros often needs the help of a tug, but gets there in the end. This image shows a first attempt - the ramp scraped along the pier before ending up at the correct right angle to it.

    Unloading at Vlore.

    Unloading at Vlore.

    On the berth in Vlore.

    On the berth in Vlore.

    Back on board for a return sailing to Brindisi. Starting with the accommodation added by Agoudimos, this is the ship's self-service restaurant, on the port side amidships.

    Back on board for a return sailing to Brindisi. Starting with the accommodation added by Agoudimos, this is the ship's self-service restaurant, on the port side amidships.

    This centre section separates the self-service from the bar, to starboard.

    This centre section separates the self-service from the bar, to starboard.

    The bar area.

    The bar area.

    The small Duty Free shop.

    The small Duty Free shop.

    Reclining seat lounge, aft on the starboard side.

    Reclining seat lounge, aft on the starboard side.

    Right forward, this lounge was the main passenger space as built, together with a restaurant.

    Right forward, this lounge was the main passenger space as built, together with a restaurant.

    The cabins in the forward part of the superstructure are original, without facilities but entirely wooden panelled. They retain plenty of period touches, such as punkah louvres for ventilation and little cup holders etc.

    The cabins in the forward part of the superstructure are original, without facilities but entirely wooden panelled. They retain plenty of period touches, such as punkah louvres for ventilation and little cup holders etc.

    Sailing back to Brindisi.

    Sailing back to Brindisi.

    The join where the Greeks extended the superstructure aft is clear - it's where the wooden decking stops and plain painted steel takes over.

    The join where the Greeks extended the superstructure aft is clear - it's where the wooden decking stops and plain painted steel takes over.

    Back on the berth in Brindisi's old port.

    Back on the berth in Brindisi's old port.

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