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Independent shipping news, photography and more from the Dover Strait.
Independent shipping news, photography and more from the Dover Strait.

RMT Belgian Marine

Princesse Astrid enjoying her retirement in the sun as Bari Express

Princesse Astrid arriving at Dover Eastern Docks in 1977

This beauty is the 1949 built belgian car ferry the Prinses Josephine Charlotte. Seen here accelarating away from Dover western docks. Originally named simply "Car Ferry" in 1952 she gained her much nicer name. This photo dates from the early 1970s. After leaving cross channel service she saw further service in the Mediterranean between Greece, Syria and Cyprus as the Athens Express before being scrapped at Eleusis in 1984.

Seen from the aft deck of the Pride of Free Enterprise in 1991 is RTM ferry Prinses Maria-Esmeralda dating from 1975 she operated purely on the Dover to Ostend service. In 1985 she was "jumboised" at th Boel shipyard in Belgium. This involved cutting the vessel longitudinally and inserting an extra freight deck to increase capacity. This resulted in three very fine looking vessels becoming hideously disfigured. During her 1987/88 refit she had a new livery applied which was a complete break with tradition. She had many livery changes, operating in Townsend colours and Dover - Ostend Lines colours before being sold and renamed Wisteria. She sailed for sunnier mediterranean climes and had several more name changes before returning to Ramsgate for Transeuropa Ferries. She finally became Aqaba Express and was impounded at the Spanish port of Almeria before arriving at Alang, India during October 2007 for breaking.

Reine Astrid after conversion to the Jetfoil terminal, Dover Western Docks. Photo courtesy of Alain Hobbs

One of three sisters, the Belgian ferry Reine Astrid speeds away from the Admiralty Pier sometime during the late 1960s. She was the first Ostender to be fitted with stabilizers and operated solely on the Dover to Ostend run, being laid up in 1981. During 1983 she underwent extensive conversion work, emerging as a floating terminal for use in Dover's Western Docks as the new Jetfoil service terminal. In March 1994 she was laid up in Ramsgate when the Jetfoil service was suspended. She met her end at the breakers yard in La Coruna, Spain in 1997. A true classic! 

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