An unusual ferry has started work between Dover and Calais. Joline is a former Lithuanian river ferry, now owned by Barco de Vapor BV of Amsterdam and registered under the Latvian flag. She was built in 1988 by Baltijia Shipbuilding in Klaipeda, Lithuania as Zhalgiris for the Nemunas River Shipping Co for operation between Klaipeda and Smiltynes.

She is one of a series of vessels built by the Soviet Union designated Project R-144. The class was designed to perform a dual role and has strengthened vehicle decks for carrying heavy military equipment. The 642gt vessel measures 51.5m by 14.9m and can carry 1,298 passengers or 85 passengers and 52 cars. She is powered by twin 364hp diesels.

Joline arrived from Lithuania under tow at Den Helder in September 2010 and later moved to IJmuiden for conversion and recertification for open sea use. She arrived in Calais on 17 December following a stopover in Vlissingen. Joline is now operating between Dover and Calais on making occasional trips with livestock trailers, taking around four hours to make the crossing. When not in use, she is berthed in Calais’s inner docks.


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