In 1973 the Holyhead Ferry 1 had her first spell of English Channel service after which she relived Fishguard’s Caledonian Princess for annual overhaul. By now the “Ferry 1” found her self based at Dover with that port’s Dover being based at Holyhead! The reason was the latter’s greater car capacity over her half-sister. The confusion ended in 1976 when the Holyhead Ferry 1 was sent to Swan Hunter on the Tyne for conversion to drive through operation from which she emerged renamed Earl Leofric.
The ship saw one final stint of Irish Sea service before sale to Spanish breakers in 1981 when in February 1978 saw returned to the route for which she was built relieving during the St Columba's first overhaul. This coincided with what was to be your webmaster's first passage on the St Columba. Imagine the disappointment of an 8 year old to arrive at Dun Laoghaire pier to find the steamer's funnel peeking above St Michael's Pier rather than the bulk of the St Columba in the opposite berth! However, years later I was glad for that passage in the turbine at an age when I could now appreciate my surroundings.
That a ship should be scrapped after just 16 years in service may be absurd, but thirsty steam turbines and a woefully inadequate vehicle deck design had no place in the modern age of double decked motor ships. Ironically her replacement at Dover in October 1980, the new St Anselm, was transferred to Holyhead in 1991 renamed Stena Cambria.
Built: Hawthorn Leslie, Hebburn, 1965
IMO No: 6508470
Deadweight: 870 tonnes
Draught: 3.03 m
Class: Lloyds Register +100A1
Beam: 17.43 m
Depth: 10.52 m
Capacity 735 passengers
Access: Bow and stern.