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Stena Cambria

Built as the St Anselm at Harland & Wolff's, Queens Island, Belfast yard for Sealink's Dover-Calais Flagship service, the ship completed her maiden voyage under the command of Fleet Commodore John Arthur on 27th October 1980. Her arrival into service allowed the withdrawal of the steamer Earl Leofric (ex-Holyhead Ferry 1) which was subsequently sold for breaking up.

On the last day of 1982 the St Anselm returned to her birthplace to receive an extension to her accommodation. The new £750,000 structure extended aft right to the stern and housed a self-service duty free shopping area to replace the inadequate counter service facility previously in use. Gross tonnage increased from 7003 tons to 7405 tons and passenger capacity rose to 1400.

The trip back to the Irish Sea also brought the St Anselm into service on the Fishguard - Rosslare service. The ship was on passage south when the route's usual ship, the Stena Normandica, suffered engine trouble and so the Dover ship was diverted to operate a round trip to Ireland on 28th March 1983 before resuming passage to her home port.

The sale of Sealink UK Ltd to Sea Containers in July 1984 brought a new look in the form of the Sealink British Ferries livery. This was followed in 1986 by a completely new interior at a cost of £1.5mn., the work being carried out at the German yard of Jos. L Meyer in Papenburg.

With the arrival into service of the Fantasia in 1990 the St Anselm was released to operate between Folkestone and Boulogne, the move in turn allowing the transfer of the Horsa to operate as second ship alongside the St Columba. No sooner had the switch been made than Sealink British Ferries was acquired by Sweden's Stena Line who very soon announced their intentions for the Sealink fleet.

The St Anselm was transferred to Holyhead as the Stena Cambria in February 1991, partnering the Stena Hibernia (ex-St Columba) as a fulltime second passenger ship on the Dun Laoghaire crossing. The Horsa returned to the English Channel as the Stena Horsa.

Having provided refit relief at the Welsh port during February and March the Stena Cambria returned to Dover to fulfil requirements there before resuming her new Irish Sea role on 8th July 1991.

Stena Cambria

Built:              Harland & Wolff, Belfast, 1980

IMO No:          7813937

Deadweight: 1,829 tonnes

Draught:         5.21m

Class:             Lloyd's Register

LOA:               129.63m

Beam:             21.62m

Depth:            11.80m

Capacity:       1,125 passengers

                        750 lane metres

                        274 cars

                        42 trailers

Access:          Bow and stern, twin level

1992 brought conflict between Sealink Stena Line and their competitor at Holyhead, Ireland's B&I Line.  The matter over access at the Stena-owned port went as far as the EU court resulting in the Stena Cambria being relegated to the Outer Harbour freight berth from 28th July to ensure no interruption of loading operations to the Irish ship on the Salt Island berth. The situation was far from ideal and prompted a rethink on facilities at the Welsh port.

While all this was going on the Stena Cambria suffered a major gearbox failure and, after preparatory work at Birkenhead, the ship was sent north to the Stranraer - Larne run where she operated on one engine in place of the Stena Galloway which in turn was sent south to maintain the Dun Laoghaire link.  It was not until 21st August that a repaired Stena Cambria returned to Holyhead service.

After relief duties at Fishguard in place of the Stena Felicity the Stena Cambria sailed for her own overhaul from which she appeared with the new Stena Sealink Line branding for the 1993 season.

May 1993 saw the Stena Cambria in the limelight when she took part in the Battle of the Atlantic commemoration review off Anglesey's north coast.

At the end of 1995 the much respected Sealink brand was dropped - the company now trading under the name of its Swedish parent; Stena Line. By now the Stena Cambria had been spending time back at Dover on relief duties and indeed with the HSS Stena Explorer in service at Dun Laoghaire and the newly arrived Stena Traveller in operation at Dublin, the Stena Cambria spent 1996 on the Calais link.

After service at Stranraer in March 1997 the Stena Cambria was again back at Holyhead providing overhaul  relief for the HSS Stena Explorer. On 3rd May she became the last conventional ferry to sail from Dun Laoghaire.

Despite the ending of conventional services to Dun Laoghaire the Stena Cambria's association with Holyhead continued until March 1998. Devoid of Stena Line markings in readiness for a transfer to the newly created P&O Stena Line at Newhaven, the 'Cambria' found herself sailing to Dublin Port after the intended relief ship, Stena Caledonia, unexpectedly became unavailable.

After service between Newhaven and Dieppe with P&O Stena Line the Stena Cambria was sold for service in Spanish waters in February 1999.  Purchased by UMAFISA she entered service for them between Barcelona and Ibiza that November as the Isla de Botafoc. In August 2003, UMAFISA and the Isla de Botafoc were acquired by rivals, Balearia. She continued services with Balearia to Ibiza and Menorca until her eventual sale to Ventouris Ferries of Greece in 2010, briefly being renamed Winner 9 and then Bari.

The Stena Cambria is readied at Falmouth for Newhaven service. © John McKenna
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