Earl William

 

One full year before the steam turbine stern loading car ferry Holyhead Ferry I was built for the Irish Sea the modern Thoresen car ferries Viking I and Viking II, diesel powered with bridge control and boasting bow and stern through loading, entered service at Southampton on routes abandoned by British Railways one year earlier. The contrast was stark and the comparison highlighted that British Rail occasionally built ships which really were outdated from the start.

 

British Rail finally caught up with the Antrim Princess in 1967 and in December 1976 the Viking II, then twelve years old, was bought to modernise their services between Portsmouth and the Channel Islands. For some thirteen months the vessel lay at Holyhead undergoing conversion and also what amounted to a complete mechanical rebuild before making her English Channel debut as the Earl William in January 1978



While the Earl William began her Sealink career at Holyhead it was not until 19 April 1988 that she sailed in service to Dun Laoghaire, carrying freight following a fire on board the relief ferry St David. Six days later she inaugurated Sealink British Ferries' Liverpool to Dun Laoghaire service. The route was a short-lived affair and on 9 January 1990 she left Dun Laoghaire for Liverpool for the last time and after destoring then proceeded to lay-up at Milford Haven.

 

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Earl William (1978)

 
 
 

Built:         1964, Kaldnes Mekaniske         Verksted, Tonsberg, Norway

IMO No:          6147047

Deadweight:  928 tonnes

Draught:         4.24 metres

Class:              Lloyd's Register +100A1

LOA:                99.5 metres

Beam:             18.32 metres

Depth:

Capacity:       1000 passengers

                        180 cars

Access:          Bow, stern and side

 
 
 
 
 
 

While the Earl William began her Sealink career at Holyhead it was not until 19 April 1988 that she sailed in service to Dun Laoghaire, carrying freight following a fire on board the relief ferry St David. Six days later she inaugurated Sealink British Ferries' Liverpool to Dun Laoghaire service. The route was a short-lived affair and on 9 January 1990 she left Dun Laoghaire for Liverpool for the last time and after destoring then proceeded to lay-up at Milford Haven.​

 

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The ship made a surprise return to service three weeks later when she went on charter to Belfast Ferries for relief service between Liverpool and Belfast but a greater surprise came on 4 February 1991 when the ship, now owned by Sealink Stena Line, was pressed into service in lieu of the Stena Cambria. The old girl was in a sorry state, her rust streaked hull devoid of any company markings and handling affected due to a faulty bow thrust unit.



When the Stena Cambria returned to service three weeks later the Earl William returned to her hibernation, however she was reactivated again a few months later for the height of Holyhead's summer season when the Stena Cambria was delayed from relief duties at Dover. The ship was given a much needed face lift prior to taking up service between Holyhead and Dun Laoghaire on 29 June 1991.



On 8 July the Stena Cambria finally arrived at her new home port releasing the Earl William for lay-up pending sale. Nine months later she was sold for further trade but then decline set in with long periods laid up in a variety of ports.



After several years in lay-up in Trinidad & Tobago as the Windward II the former began a new lease of life in September 2007 when she was opened as the Caribbean's first 'Floatel'.

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At her permanent Pier 2 berth at Chaguaramas the ship, named Ocean Pearl, offered a state-of-the-art conference room, a seafood and steakhouse restaurant seating 120 guests and 64 rooms ranging from single to quadruple occupancy.  The vessel also included a VIP lounge, private dining in a lifeboat and other facilities that available for rentals for weddings and other private functions.



Predictably, the venture was short-lived and on April 2nd 2011, while under tow she was in collision with the drillship Petrosaudi Saturn off Venezuela causing her to sink soon after.