Originally planned for Sealink's Fishguard to Rosslare service, the St David was instead allocated to Holyhead as the second ship. She arrived at Holyhead on 5 August 1981, replacing the chartered Prinsessan Desiree in service five days later.
At the end of her first season the St David replaced the St Columba as the route's main ship, the newcomer being more economical to operate during the quieter winter months. By early 1983 the roles had been reversed and the St David now spent her winter months relieving at other ports, including Stranraer, Fishguard and Dover.
St David (as built)
Harland & Wolff, Belfast, 1981.
LR +100 A1
62 x 12m trucks
Bow and stern, twin level
In 1985, one of the first acts of Sealink's new owners, Sea Containers, was to abolish the second ship at Holyhead and enter into a pooling arrangement with competitors B+I Line. As a result, the St David was transferred to Dover for what was to be a shortlived spell on the Ostend service. The move was not popular with British Ferries' Belgian partners RMT particularly after James Sherwood made it known that he expected his ship to take up 50% of the total traffic into Ostend. By the end of that year Sealink was prohibited from using Ostend and the St David had been switched back to Irish waters taking up a permanent slot on the Stranraer to Larne service in January 1986.
The St David's final spell of service on the Holyhead to Dun Laoghaire run was in April 1988 when she relieved the St Columba for overhaul. Unfortunately she suffered an engine room fire while alongside at the Irish port forcing an early withdrawal from service for repairs before she returned to the Scottish link.