Pride of Calais bowed out of service at the weekend after almost 25 years of plying the Dover – Calais route for P&O Ferries. In that time the ship has carried around 40 million passengers and travelled in the region of 2,500,000 miles – the equivalent of five return trips to the moon.
The ship sailed into Dover from Calais for the last time on Saturday afternoon. It was due to leave the fleet of P&O Ferries earlier this year when its successor the £150 million Spirit of France was delivered. But it was retained to cover the company’s freight ferry European Seaway which was chartered out to work as a wind farm support ship. With that charter at an end Pride of Calais comes to the end of its service.
Pride of Calais is widely regarded as one of the most successful cross-Channel ferries ever built and as well as carrying vast numbers of passengers over the years has provided work for thousands of seafarers, many moving into careers in the maritime sector in all parts of the world and many still with P&O Ferries today.
Simon Richardson, now the company’s Head of Safety Management, was Chief Officer of the new ship when it came into service in December 1987. He recalls: “Pride of Calais was unbelievably big having twice the capacity of other ferries on the route and it was difficult to imagine ferries on the Dover Strait getting any larger as she was built to the maximum size feasible for the port facilities. The design was excellent and has stood the test of time as the benchmark for Dover – Calais ferries for more than 20 years. As her sister ship Pride of Dover was replaced last year it really is the end of an era.”
Pride of Calais has gone to Tilbury to be laid up whilst P&O Ferries considers her future. Her crew stay within the fleet as the European Seaway rejoins the Dover – Calais service.
At 26,433 tonnes and 169 metres in length, Pride of Calais was built to the maximum size of ferry the port of Calais could reasonably accommodate at the time yet she is dwarfed by her successor Spirit of France which at 47,592 tonnes and 213 metres in length is built to the maximum size feasible for the ports as they are arranged today.
Chris Laming, Brian Rees, Natalie Hardy, Michelle Ulyatt
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22 October 2012