MS Nindawayma

The MS Nindawayma was a passenger and automobile ferry, whose last active service was on Lake Huron, operated by the Owen Sound Transportation Company Limited; under contract to the Ontario Ministry of Transportation. In Canadian service she served the Highway 6 route between Tobermory and South Baymouth, Manitoulin Island from 1989 to 1992 alongside the MS Chi-Cheemaun.

Service history

One of three sister ships, she was launched on 1974-08-19 as the Monte Cruceta at the "S. A. Juliana Gijonesa" shipyard in Gijón, Spain, for the Spanish shipping line Naviera Aznar The vessels were built as long-distance multi-purpose roll-on/roll-off (RORO) ferries, handling both cargo and passengers. Outfitting delays postponed her maiden voyage until 1976, by which time she had been renamed as Monte Castillo.

By 1977, the UK/Spain-Balearic Islands services for which they were built had ceased, the ships were sold, the Monte Castillo to Manx Line (later Sealink-Manx Line) and renamed as the Manx Viking for service between Heysham, England and Douglas, Isle of Man. Following a controversial reverse takeover in 1986 by the Isle of Man Steam Packet company, she worked a season painted in Steam Packet livery, initially alongside the Mona's Isle (ex- Free Enterprise III) followed by Antrim Princess (subsequently renamed Tynwald) before Manx Vikings lease was terminated and she was returned to her owners (the parent Sealink company, by now part of Sea Containers Ltd, who had actually funded the takeover). In 1987 she was briefly renamed Viking for the delivery voyage to new Norwegian owners Det Stavangerske Dampskibsselskap, for whom she sailed in service under the name Skudenes. Then followed in 1989 another sale into service with the Government of Ontario, crossing the Atlantic as Ontario No.1 before final renaming as MS Nindawayma.

Her sisters were sold to Trasmediterranea for Mediterranean service.

Manx service

During her days as the Manx Viking, she served on the Heysham-Douglas service of Sealink-Manx Line. Her maximum speed was , with a draught of five metres, and a metacentric height of around two metres giving excellent stability and seakeeping qualities. She was licensed for 777 passengers and at this stage of her life was quoted as 2,853 GRT. The ship was the first ro-ro ferry on Manx routes, and the first there to carry both freight and passenger traffic being suitable for cars, commercial trucks and trailers. She was fitted with numerous motorcycle stands to allow for Isle of Man TT and Manx Grand Prix traffic. As built the ships had cranes for self-loading of containers onto the afterdeck; these were unused by Manx Line. Manx Line added a bow door and visor, along with extra lifeboats so becoming the only passenger ship in Manx waters with lifeboat accommodation for all aboard. She was also the first ferry in Manx waters to have inside accommodation for all passengers. At the time her 450tonne fuel capacity gave her the longest range of any ferry in British waters: she was theoretically capable of travelling from Heysham to Port Stanley in the Falkland Islands without refuelling.

During Manx service she enjoyed an unrivalled reputation for reliability with passengers and was able to put to sea in weather conditions which forced her competitors to remain in port. Her arrival created a marked change in Manx traffic flows eventually resulting in the financial collapse of the rival Isle of Man Steam Packet Co, its and subsequent amalgamation with Sealink-Manx Line.

She initially carried the white and blue livery of Manx Line, but after this company ran into financial difficulties and was taken over by British Rail-Sealink, she received the BR corporate monastral blue hull, white upperworks and red funnel. She differed from other Sealink ships in carrying a gold-coloured scuplted "three legs of man" on her funnels rather than the standard BR double chevron. Publicity images were released of her painted in the Sea Containers era Sealink livery of white hull with blue trim, but these were mockups and the colours never applied. Instead, after the Steam Packet takeover her blue hull was hurredly given an overpaint of black, retaining the BR red funnels (rather than the differently-hued Steam Packet red). Following the takeover, the crew persisted in flying the Manx Line house flag, rather than the management-mandated Steam Packet one

It was initially intended that she would be retired from Manx service following the amalgamation of Sealink-Manx Line and The Steam Packet. Services would be concentrated on the Heysham-Douglas route with a strengthened two-ship service using the larger Monas Isle and Antrim Princess. The Steam Packet's year-round Liverpool-Douglas services were to be abandoned. In the event, trade union problems delayed the transfer of Antrim Princess from Stranraer, while Mona's Isle proved unserviceable. Instead Monas Isle was withdrawn after six months and Manx Viking remained for another season. Manx Viking was eventually replaced by the cargo-only RORO vessel Peveril leaving Antrim Princess / Tynwald as the only passenger vessel on the route. In so doing the combined company avoided an expensive charter as the otherwise surplusPeveril was owned by the Steam Packet, not leased and had just been released from charter on the Heysham-Belfast route. The changes in manning brought about by the Manx Viking withdrawal, and Pevereril's route transfer were some of the centres of dispute of the 1980s British national seamen's strikes.

If Manx Viking had been withdrawn as originally intended, she would have been transferred to Weymouth and renamed Earl Henry for service on the route to Cherbourg. This never took place due to the delayed availability of the Antrim Princess.

Norwegian service

Following Manx Viking's sale to Det Stavangerske Dampskibsselskap she was reported to have developed severe engine problems, in so doing creating financial difficulties for her owners. She was sold on after only one year. This may have been a recurrence of the crankshaft problems she has been reported to have suffered while in Sealink-Manx Line service.

Canadian service

MS Nindawayma's decommissioning from Canadian service after four years of use is said to have been due to "unsatisfactory performance". There was a distinct smell of diesel fuel at deck level, possibly due to her low-set twin funnels. Her French Pielstick diesel engines were apparently troublesome, and sailings were cancelled due to mechanical problems. Her bow and stern doors were claimed to not be high enough to accommodate semi-trailer trucks despite this not being a problem in Manx or Spanish service. These factors caused significant numbers of ferry passengers to avoid the MS Nindawayma in favour of the MS Chi-Cheemaun, even if waiting involved very long delays at the ferry terminals in Tobermory and South Baymouth.

Recent use

The MS Nindawayma was used as two movie sets: in 2003, featured as the Belles' loft on water in the film ["Saved by the Belles"], and in 2006, featured as the killers' lair in the film Bon Cop, Bad Cop. As of April 2007, the MS Nindawayma was docked in a port in Montreal, rusting and being used for parts. As of 2007-08-17 the MS Nindawayma was owned by Purvis Marine (marine salvage company), docked in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario at a government wharf. At present speculation exists as to her future with various suggestions such as conversion to cruise ship, or cable-layer, or being cut down to unpowered barge, or complete scrapping (with her engines to be used in a Chinese-built tug). However so far no plans appear to have been stated by her owners so these suggestions must be treated as pure conjecture.

Photo gallery

See also


  • (1986). Is this any way to run a shipping line?. Manx Electric Railway Society. (A detailed history of the ship's service with Manx Line and Sealink.)


External links

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