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Built in 1971 for the Stranraer to Larne service, the Ailsa princess was a development of the earlier Antrim Princess. Her first spell of service away from the route for which she was built came in 1980 when on 31 May she sailed south to Holyhead after engine trouble disabled first the St Columba and then the Avalon.
Her next period of service at Holyhead came on 21 October 1982, by which time the Ailsa Princess was an English Channel ship having been moved to the Weymouth - Cherbourg crossing that year.
After the July 1984 sale of Sealink to Sea Containers the Ailsa Princess was the following year renamed Earl Harold for her new owners ill-fated 'Sunliner' service from Weymouth to the Channel Islands.
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