TS Leda

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TS Leda
TS Leda passing Haugesund, Norway, October 1973
Name: Leda (1952-79)
Najla (1979-81)[1]
Albatros (1981-84)
Alegro (1984-85)
Albatross (1985-88)
Betsy Ross (1987-89)
Amalfi (1989-90)
Star of Venice (1990-2002)[2]
Owner: Det Bergenske Dampskibsselskab (1952-77)[1]
Stord Vaerft (1977-79)[2]
Kuwait Livestock (1979-81)
Aspis Maritime (1981)
Dolphin Hellas (1981-89)
Beacon Seaways (1989-90)
Valgas Trading (Vanuatu) (1990-1993)
Newport Shipping (1993-95)
Star of Venice Navigation (1995 - 2001)
Operator: Bergenske Dampskibsselskab (1952-79)
Kuwait Livestock (1979-81)
Dolphin Hellas and on charter (1984-89)
American Star (Greece) (1989)
StarLauro (1989-90)
Star Cruise Line (1990-92)
Mediterranean Cruises (1998-2000)
Port of registry: Norway Bergen (1952-79)
22x20px Kuwait (1979-82)
Template:Country data GRE Piraeus (1982-90)
22x20px Port Vila (1990-93)
22x20px Panama City (1993-2001)
Route: Newcastle upon Tyne - (dock at North Shields) - Bergen - Stavanger[3] (1957-74)
Builder: Swan Hunter and Wigham Richardson
Launched: 3 September 1952[3]
Completed: April 1953
In service: 1953[3]
Out of service: 1974-84
Identification: IMO number: 5205253
Code Letters LAMX (1952-79)
Code Letters SVIZ (1985-88)
Fate: Scrapped in 2002
General characteristics
Type: Ferry (1952-74)
Accommodation ship (1977-80)
Cruise liner (1984-91)
Floating hostel (1992)
Cruise liner (1998-99)
Tonnage: 6,670 GRT (6,471 GRT after 1981)
1,970 DWT
Length: 133.51 metres (438 ft 0 in)[4]
Beam: 17.43 metres (57 ft 2 in)[4]
Draught: 9.15 metres (30 ft 0 in)[4][note 1]
Decks: 11 decks
Installed power: 13,000 SHP steam turbines.[5]
Propulsion: Two Parsons geared steam turbines
Two screw propellers[2]
Speed: 22 knots (41 km/h)[6]

The North Sea ferry TS Leda was operated by Bergen Line between Britain and Norway for over 20 years. In 1981 she was rebuilt as a cruise liner and later became an accommodation vessel at a penal colony for terrorists and members of the Mafia. In 2002, whilst being broken up, she was boarded by Greenpeace campaigners protesting about conditions in the shipbreaking industry.

Bergen Line ferry

TS Leda[note 2] was a passenger and cargo vessel operated between 1953 and 1974 as a twice weekly North Sea ferry between Bergen, Stavanger and Newcastle upon Tyne.

Built by Swan Hunter for Det Bergenske Dampskibsselskab (Bergen Line), she was launched in 1952[note 3] by Princess Astrid of Norway accompanied by her father, Crown Prince Olav.[2] Leda replaced the Vega which had been sunk in the war and was important for the Bergen Line in operating the ferry service (the "Norwegian Royal Mail Route") that had started in 1890. The first Norwegian vessel to be built with stabilisers,[5][note 4] Leda's powerful steam turbines made her quiet and good at sea.[7] She was of a particularly elegant and, for her day, modern design with a raked stem, tripod mast and a single broad funnel.[2][8] She had accommodation for 119 first class passengers and 384 tourist class.[3] with all cabins having hot and cold running water. Up to 18 cars, lifted on and off by electric cranes,[note 5] could be accommodated in three cargo holds. She ran two sailings a week in each direction, joined in the summer by her sister ship MV Venus (1931, rebuilt 1948, call sign LDSV). Throughout most of the 1960s she ran three round trips per week in the summer. The sailing took 17 hours to Stavanger; direct sailings to Bergen took 19 hours. The tourist class fare was just over £7.[2]

On her inaugural cruise, with King Haakon on board, she ran aground in Oslofjord but this only delayed her entering service by a few days.[2]

Later history

During her long and varied history Leda went through many changes of name, ownership and use.[9] In the oil crisis of the 1970s her lack of fuel-efficiency and the advent of roll-on/roll-off ferries led to her being laid up in Bergen in 1974, then being chartered as a hostel for oil rig workers until 1979.[7] She was purchased for use as a livestock carrier but instead, as Najla,[note 6][2] she was again used for accommodation, this time in the Hebrides, Scotland.[5]

In 1980 she was purchased by Dolphin (Hellas) of Piraeus, renamed Albatros, and rebuilt at Perama to become a cruse liner. The aluminium superstructure was extended, the funnel re-shaped and the mainmast removed. By the time the changes were complete in 1984 a swimming pool had been provided and there were 202 air-conditioned cabins accommodating 484 passengers. After some Mediterranean cruises in 1984, and temporarily renamed Alegro, in the same year she undertook cruises in South America. The year 1985 saw Mediterranean, Atlantic and Norwegian cruises under the name Albatross.[2]

In 1985 she was chartered to the American Star Line (Greek owned) and renamed Betsy Ross[note 7] for cruises between Florida and Brazil. However, these were undersubscribed so instead she ran cruises between Venice and Piraeus until being laid-up. By this time her general condition was deteriorating and a charter for African cruises had to be abandoned after a short time.[10] In 1989 she was chartered as Amalfi, only to be laid up for debt at Venice.[2] She was purchased at auction in 1990 by Stargas, renamed Star of Venice, and put under the Vanuatu flag.[note 8] After a fire in 1991 she was repaired in Rijeka only to become a floating police hostel in 1992 both at Genoa[note 9] and at Pianosa, Italy, at that time a maximum-security prison island which housed terrorists and members of the Mafia.[2][11][12] Once more she was laid up at Venice until being brought into operation for Mediterranean Cruises in 1998, with disastrous results stemming from her poor mechanical condition. In 2000 she was last used as a hotel ship at Ravenna.[5]


In 2001 Star of Venice was towed to Aliağa, Turkey, to be broken up.[6] Shortly afterwards in 2002, and while she was being scrapped, the Greenpeace vessel Rainbow Warrior arrived as part of a campaign against toxic waste and poor working conditions in the shipbreaking industry. One of the Greenpeace demonstrations took place on the Star of Venice's hulk.[13][14][15]


  1. Some references, e.g. Cooke, state 20 feet draught.
  2. TS is Turbine Ship.
  3. Det Bergenske Dampskibsselskab had previously owned a different vessel, SS Leda, built 1920.
  4. Denny-Brown fin stabilisers built by Wallsend Slipway.
  5. On-board cranes, not derricks
  6. Lloyd's Register also listed her as Nalja.
  7. Betsy Ross made the first American Flag.
  8. Under the ownership of Valgas Trading.
  9. For the Columbus International Exposition celebrating the quincentenary of Columbus’s first voyage to the Americas.


  1. 1.0 1.1 Hayworth, R.B. "Search results for 5205253". Miramar Ship Index. Archived from the original on 2009-10-14. http://www.webcitation.org/5kWCRdhjs. 
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 Cooke, Anthony (1996). Liners and Cruise Ships. Some notable smaller vessels. London: Carmania Press. pp. 42–45. ISBN 095186565X. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 "Swan Hunter". The best of British engineering 1750 - 1960. Grace's Guide. 2009-05-18. Archived from the original on 2009-10-14. http://www.webcitation.org/5kW08S4u9. Retrieved 2009-10-14. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 "Leda T/S" (in Norwegian). Nettsurfer. Archived from the original on 2009-11-18. http://www.webcitation.org/5lNsoNSUp. Retrieved 26 October 2009.  English translation
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 Cox, Martin; Peter Knego. "Shipping News June to December 2001". Maritime Matters Ocean liner history and cruise ship news. Archived from the original on 2009-10-14. http://www.webcitation.org/5kVv8fe7U. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 Hayworth, R.B. "Single Ship Report for 5205253". Miramar Ship Index. Archived from the original on 2009-10-14. http://www.webcitation.org/5kVy8r6W1. 
  7. 7.0 7.1 Bent, Mike. "Hurtigrute Photo Gallery Seven". The Bergen to Stavanger Nattrute. Archived from the original on 2009-10-14. http://www.webcitation.org/5kW0eARX9. 
  8. "Leda of Bergen. Any information?, part 2, part 3, part 4" Captain's Voyage - Bulletin board. 2006 - 2008. Archived from the original on 2009-10-16
  9. Asklanda, Micke. "T/S Leda" (in Swedish). Välkommen till Fakta om Fartyg (Welcome to facts about ships). Archived from the original on 2009-10-15. http://www.webcitation.org/5kY8tTgYQ.  English translation
  10. D.R. Walker (2004-08-03). "The Great Betsy Ross Disaster". The All at Sea Network. Archived from the original on 2009-10-14. http://www.webcitation.org/5kVv5ALXT. 
  11. Pinna, Alberto (1992-09-01). "Troops responsible for overseeing transferred Mafia prisoners" (in Italian). Corriere della Sera. Archived from the original on 2009-10-16. http://www.webcitation.org/5kZDIL4ue. Retrieved 2009-10-16.  English translation
  12. "Italian pledge on anti-Mafia force". The Independent. 1992-07-21. Archived from the original on 2009-10-15. http://www.webcitation.org/5kY7rlMec. Retrieved 2009-10-15. 
  13. "Shipbreaking. 50 ships in the spotlight". Greenpeace. Archived from the original on 2009-10-15. http://www.webcitation.org/5kXYgWdoF. Retrieved 2009-10-15. 
  14. "15 Greenpeace activists under custody". Toxic Trade News. 2002-01-15. Archived from the original on 2009-10-15. http://www.webcitation.org/5kXYpDaiz. Retrieved 2009-10-15. 
  15. "Greenpeacers Nabbed Protesting Turkish Shipbreaking". Environment News Service. 2002-01-14. Archived from the original on 2009-10-15. http://www.webcitation.org/5kXYsFMyB. Retrieved 2009-10-15. 

External links

no:TS «Leda»