Two of Europe’s longest serving ferries which, coincidentally, first sailed with almost identical names, attracted international media coverage when making late April mercy sailings between Libyan ports. Owned by Agoudimos Lines, Ionian Spirit (1972/6,748gt) was chartered to move immigrant workers and wounded civilians from beleaguered Misrata to Benghazi and was joined by Red Star 1 (1965/5,678gt). Both vessels normally trade between Italian ports and Vlore.

Ionian Spirit was the last of six well-known Meyer Werft-built ‘Pappenburgers’ to leave the Baltic after serving Viking Line as Viking 3, Vasa-Umea Line as Wasa Express and Eckero Line as Roslagen. Now registered in St Vincent and Grenadines, Ionian Spirit was bought by Agoudimos in 2009.

Red Star 1 started life on the English Channel as Thoresen’s Viking III and later launched a Townsend-Thoresen route between Felixstowe and Zeebrugge before undertaking a nomadic Scandinavian career.

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