SEA BREEZES MARCH 2011 • VOL 85 • NO. 783
If you are a ferry enthusiast, there can be few more stirring sights than observing the constant activity of the cross channel ferries coming and going from Dover’s busy harbour.
How exciting then that the first headlines of the new year in the ferry industry heralded the arrival into service of P&O’s new superferry, the Spirit of Britain – at 49,000 grt the largest ferry ever to undertake service on the Dover Strait and almost double the tonnage of the Pride of Dover, now retired from the route.
I can hardly believe that it is over 20 years since the Pride of Dover entered service as the last new ship to appear in Townsend Thoresen’s famous orange livery; and 30 years since the arrival of the Harland & Wolff built St Anselm and St Christopher on the English Channel. These ‘Dover Saints’, along with their sister ships Galloway Princess and St David, have their own place in history as the last new builds ferries of the nationalised era when Sealink was still the shipping arm of British Rail. Designed by the highly respected Sealink ‘in house’ naval architects Tony Rogan and Don Ripley, there was much fanfare around their arrival, as they were of a much greater size than the ferries they replaced.
Yet, now they would be dwarfed by the Spirit of Britain. P&O’s €180 million investment in this new vessel is highly symbolic. Despite the impact of the Channel Tunnel, low cost flights and the abolition of ‘duty free’, all of which have had a profound effect on the ferry industry, the role of cross-channel ferries continues to be vitally important in connecting the UK with the rest of Europe. I am sure the Spirit of Britain will add a new chapter to the wonderful history of cross channel ferries.
Captain Hamish A C Ross (Editor)