The Gozo Channel Company Limited, commonly known as Gozo Channel Line or the Gozo ferry is a Maltese company founded in 1979 that operates ferry services between the islands of Malta and Gozo using ropax ships with crossings happening throughout the day all year round including weekends, public holidays, and night services.
In 1988 Gozo Channel started operating a new faster service by means of a hovermarine CALYPSO.
As the traffic between Malta and Gozo increased, more vessels were introduced into the service to cope with the demand, and by 1990 the Company was operating five vessels, including the fast ferry service between Mgarr, Sliema and Sa Maison, and performing an average of 27 round trips per day. In that year the Company carried 1.93 million passengers and 370,000 cars.
Between 1996 and 2001 the Gozo Channel replaced the hovermarine service by a high speed catamaran service between Sa Maison and Mgarr Harbour using S.E.S. VICTORIA EXPRESS.
She was built in 1984 in Norway by Brødrene Aa Båtbyggeri, Hyen as yard no 170 launched as NORCAT. In 1986 she was sold to Troms Fylke D/S A/S Tromsö, Norway and renamed FJORDKONGEN until 1992 when she was renamed to ULSTEIN SURFER after she was sold to Ulstein Industrier A/S, Florö, Norway. In 1994 she was chartered to the Estonian New line for crossing from Tallinn, Estonia to Helsingfors, Finland and in 1996 she was bought by Gozo Channel Co Ltd and renamed VICTORIA EXPRESS.
During Pope John Paul II visit to the Maltese Islands in May 2001 , over 2,000 Gozitans crossed over to Malta with 260 passengers aboard VICTORIA EXPRESS , most of them were members of the Gozitan Clergy and a new schedule was launched.
Her passenger capacity was 272 passengers with dimensions as 32.21 metres with 11.00 metres beam and maximum draft of 3.23 metres. She had 2 x 16 cylinder GM diesel engines; 2644 kW and a speed of 36 knots. GRT was 299 tons with 50 tons as deadweight.
In June 2002 she was laid up and offered for sale – Image below laid up alongside XLENDI at Haywharf (Sa. Maison).
Later she was sold to Pleasure Sports Gambia Ltd., Gambia and renamed BADALA PRINCESS.
Watermarked Photos are by Capt. Lawrence Dalli. Do not use these images without my permission. © All rights reserved. Malta Ship Photos & Action Photos – www.maltashipphotos.com
Published – Monday 6th July, 2020