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The North Seamarker ferry TS Leda was operated by Bergen Line between Britain and Norway for over 20 years. In 1981 she was rebuilt as a cruise liner and later became an accommodation vessel at a penal colony for terrorists and members of the Mafia. In 2002, whilst being broken up, she was boarded by Greenpeace campaigners protesting about conditions in the shipbreaking industry .

Bergen Line ferry

TS Leda was a passenger and cargo vessel operated between 1953 and 1974 as a twice weekly North Seamarker ferry between Bergenmarker, Stavangermarker and Newcastle upon Tynemarker.

Built by Swan Huntermarker for Det Bergenske Dampskibsselskab (Bergen Line), she was launched in 1952 by Princess Astrid of Norway accompanied by her father, Crown Prince Olav. Leda replaced the Vega which had been sunk in the war and was important for the Bergen Line in operating the ferry service (the "Norwegian Royal Mail Route") that had started in 1890. The first Norwegian vessel to be built with stabilisers, Leda's powerful steam turbine made her quiet and good at sea. She was of a particularly elegant and, for her day, modern design with a raked stem, tripod mast and a single broad funnel." Leda of Bergen. Any information?, part 2, part 3, part 4" Captain's Voyage - Bulletin board. 2006 - 2008. Archived from the original on 2009-10-16 She had accommodation for 119 first class passengers and 384 tourist class. with all cabins having hot and cold running water. Up to 18 cars, lifted on and off by electric cranes, could be accommodated in three cargo holds. She ran two sailings a week in each direction, joined in the summer by her sister ship MV Venus (1931). The sailing took 17 hours to Stavanger and another two to reach Bergen. The tourist class fare was just over £7.

On her inaugural cruise, with King Haakon on board, she ran aground in Oslofjordmarker but this only delayed her entering service by a few days.

Later history

During her long and varied history Leda went through many changes of name, ownership and use. In the oil crisis of the 1970s her lack of fuel-efficiency and the advent of roll-on/roll-off ferries led to her being laid up in Bergen in 1974, then being chartered as a hostel for oil rig workers until 1979. She was purchased for use as a livestock carrier but instead, as Najla, she was again used for accommodation, this time in the Hebridesmarker, Scotland.

In 1980 she was purchased by Dolphin (Hellas) of Piraeusmarker, renamed Albatros, and rebuilt at Peramamarker to become a cruse liner. The aluminium superstructure was extended, the funnel re-shaped and the mainmast removed. By the time the changes were complete in 1984 a swimming pool had been provided and there were 202 air-conditioned cabins accommodating 484 passengers. After some Mediterranean cruises in 1984, and temporarily renamed Alegro, in the same year she undertook cruises in South America. The year 1985 saw Mediterranean, Atlantic and Norwegian cruises under the name Albatross.

In 1985 she was chartered to the American Star Line (Greek owned) and renamed Betsy Ross for cruises between Floridamarker and Brazilmarker. However, these were undersubscribed so instead she ran cruises between Venicemarker and Piraeus until being laid-up. By this time her general condition was deteriorating and a charter for African cruises had to be abandoned after a short time.In 1989 she was chartered as Amalfi, only to be laid up for debt at Venicemarker. She was purchased at auction in 1990 by Stargas, renamed Star of Venice, and put under the Vanuatumarker flag. After a fire in 1991 she was repaired in Rijekamarker only to become a floating police hostel in 1992 both at Genoamarker and at Pianosamarker, Italy, at that time a maximum-security prison island which housed terrorists and members of the Mafia. Once more she was laid up at Venice until being brought into operation for Mediterranean Cruises in 1998, with disastrous results stemming from her poor mechanical condition. In 2000 she was last used as a hotel ship at Ravennamarker.

Demise

In 2001 Star of Venice was towed to Aliağa, Turkey, to be broken up. Shortly afterwards in 2002, and while she was being scrapped, the Greenpeace vessel Rainbow Warrior arrived as part of a campaign against toxic waste and poor working conditions in the shipbreaking industry. One of the Greenpeace demonstrations took place on the Star of Venice's hulk.

Notes

References

  1. TS is Turbine Ship.
  2. Det Bergenske Dampskibsselskab had previously owned a different vessel, SS Leda, built 1920.
  3. Denny-Brown fin stabilisers built by Wallsend Slipway.
  4. On-board cranes, not derricks
  5. English translation
  6. Lloyd's Register also listed her as Nalja.
  7. Betsy Ross made the first American Flag.
  8. Under the ownership of Valgas Trading.
  9. For the Columbus International Exposition celebrating the quincentenary of Columbus’s first voyage to the Americas.
  10. English translation

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