A 50-year career, starting with English Channel service as Townsend Ferries’ first purpose-built car ferry Free Enterprise in April 1962, is ending at Turkish breakers after the long-serving vessel, latterly Okeanis, owned by Ionian Lines of Greece, left Elefsis under tow to Aliaga on 1 June.
Built in Holland at Schiedam and with space for 850 passengers and 120 stern-loaded cars, the 3,880gt vessel, with a pale green hull inspired by the Cunarder Caronia, became Free Enterprise I in 1965 as further new tonnage was brought in. She remained on the Dover-Calais run until used on the Irish Sea between Cairnryan and Larne for what had become Townsend Thoresen in 1975.
Bought by the Greek Ventouris Group in 1980, she served on Cyclades routes as Kimolos, Ergina, Ventouris and Methodia before a switch to day cruises from Cretan ports to Santorini for Cinderella Cruises as Kallisti from the late 1990s, a period that also brought winter ferry sailings from Laviron to Tinos and Mykonos.
Her periods of inactivity ended when day cruises between Zakynthos, Keffalonia and Ithaca were launched by Ionian Lines in 2005, but, after a return to Santorini traffic in 2007, Okeanis, still powered by the original pair of 12-cylinder MAN diesel engines, had been laid up and, despite talk of a return to day cruises, nothing materialised.