Gozo Channel Line

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Gozo Channel Company Limited
PredecessorE. Zammit & Sons Ltd
Founded1979
HeadquartersMġarr, Gozo
Area served
Gozo Channel
ServicesPassenger transportation
Websitewww.gozochannel.com
MV Ta' Pinu at Mġarr

The Gozo Channel Company Limited, commonly known as Gozo Channel Line or the Gozo ferry (Maltese: Vapur t'Għawdex), is a Maltese company founded in 1979 that operates ferry services between the islands of Malta and Gozo using Roll-on/roll-off (RORO) ferries. Crossings happen throughout the day all-year round including weekends, public holidays, and night services.

The company's ferry services are the main connection between the two islands and it is used by millions of Gozitans, Maltese and tourists every year. It currently operates three identical ferries, all of which were built between March 2000 and March 2002. In addition to the normal services of foot passengers and car passengers, Gozo Channel also offers services for cargo vehicles and hazardous cargo.

Predecessors[edit]

A ferry service connecting the islands of Malta and Gozo has existed for centuries, with records indicating that dgħajjes tal-latini were used as ferries as early as 1241 from the harbour of Mġarr. Dgħajjes tal-latini, also known as Gozo boats, remained in use until after the Second World War. A few survive to this day, such as the Maryanne operated by Captain Morgan Cruises, although this does not have any masts.

Despite this, the first regular passenger service between the islands was only inaugurated on 13 June 1885, when O.F. Gollcher & Sons Ltd provided an official mail service using the vessel Gleneagles. By the end of the 19th century G.P. Sammut & Co and Francesco Pace were also offering ferry services. These three companies had stopped operating services by 1923, when the Malta Steamship Co Ltd took over with two vessels. In the late 1920s and 1930s Bernard Zammit and the Joseph Gasan, Giovanni Dacoutros & Grech Family started their own ferry services. More companies were formed after the war, including Joseph Gasan (1947-57), the Magro Family (1948-70), the Magro & Zammit Families (1958-68) and the Malta Aliscafi Ltd (1964-68). At some points there was only one company operating services in the Gozo Channel while at other times there were more at the same time.

E. Zammit & Sons Ltd was formed in 1966, and by 1970 it was the only company offering ferry services across the Gozo Channel. It operated four vessels until Gozo Channel Company Limited was formed in 1979.

The following ships were used as ferries from Malta to Gozo between 1885 and 1978:[1]

Name From To Company Note
Gleneagles 1885 1914 O.F. Gollcher Ltd Launched 1884 in Aberdeen for Hall Russell & Co and sold to Gollcher in 1885.
Requisitioned by the Royal Navy in 1914, returned in 1918 but sold in 1919 and used in the eastern Mediterranean. Sunk 1920 and refloated 1922. Renamed Missir (1922-23), Alexandretta (1923-24), Pandy (1924-25) and Abdel Kader (1925-33). Wrecked at Alexandria, 1933.
Princess Melita 1893 1923 G.P. Sammut & Co
Piemonte 1897 1901 Francesco Pace
Wembley 1923 1935 Malta Steamship Co Ltd
Lady Strickland 1929 1951 Bernard Zammit
Golly 1932 1937 Malta Steamship Co Ltd Built in Japan in 1912 as the Fukuhaku Maru no.5 (1912-21). Later known as patrol boat G27 (1921) and Andrea Bafile (1921-32). Sold to Malta Steamship Co. Ltd in 1932 and renamed Golly.
Sold in 1937 and renamed Daisy. Foundered on the way to Alexandria in 1939.
King of England 1933 1951 Bernard Zammit Built in 1902 for the Royal Navy. Sold to Zammit in 1933 and requisitioned by the Navy in 1942 but returned after two months. Later sold to Galzamhil & Co. (1944-51) and Mario Farrugia (1951). Broken up in Italy in 1951.
Franco 1936 1948 Joseph Gasan, Giovanni Dacoutros & Grech Family
Royal Lady 1937 1942 Joseph Gasan, Giovanni Dacoutros & Grech Family Sunk at Marfa on 6 May 1942 by Luftwaffe bombers.
Anna 1942 1942 Joseph Gasan, Giovanni Dacoutros & Grech Family
Hanini 1948 1956 Magro Family
Calypso 1950 1950 Joseph Gasan Built in 1942 for the Royal Navy as HMS J-826 (later renamed BYMS-2026). Decommissioned 1946 and sold to Gasan in 1949. Became a ferry for a couple of months before it was sold to Irish millionaire Thomas Guinness who loaned it to Jacques Cousteau as a research ship. It was abandoned after 1997 and is to undergo refurbishment.
Bancinu 1950 1957 Joseph Gasan Built as the yacht Migrant in 1927. Renamed Victrix (1931-36), Audacieux (1936-38) and Migrante (1938-39). Requisitioned by the Royal Navy as armed yacht FY 019 (1939-46) and sold to Gasan in 1947. It was renovated and entered service in 1950 as the Bancinu. Sold in Greece in 1957 and renamed Athinai (1958-61), Sirius (1961-64) and Vorioi Sporades. Exact fate unknown, possibly sunk off Metaponto with radioactive material on board, or scapped in Perama in 1970. Deleted from the registers in 1988.
Maid of Pinto 1950 1957 Joseph Gasan
Pinu 1950 1957 Joseph Gasan
Queen of Peace 1956 1970 Magro Family Built as a Royal Navy minesweeper. Laid up at Marsa in 1970. Sunk in the Gulf of Sirte in 1977 with the loss of 3 Maltese crew.
Imperial Eagle 1958 1968 Magro & Zammit Families Built as the replacement of the Royal Lady (which also served as a Gozo ferry) in 1938. Known as New Royal Lady (1938-47), Royal Lady (1948) and Crested Eagle (1948-58). Used as a ferry from 1958 onwards as Imperial Eagle. Later used as a cargo ship and for some time it lay half sunk at the Grand Harbour. Purchased by the diving community in 1995 and scuttled as an artificial reef off Qawra in 1999. It is now a popular dive site.
Delfin 1964 1968 Malta Aliscafi Ltd
Minor Eagle
Cominoland
1966 1978[a] E. Zammit & Sons Ltd Built as the Royal Navy ship Miner VI in 1942. Renamed Minor Eagle in 1966 and Cominoland in 1976. Operated by Gozo Channel Company Limited in 1979-1980.
Jylland 1967 1978[b] E. Zammit & Sons Ltd Built as the Royal Navy ship PCE 828 in 1943 and renamed Kilbride later that year. Renamed Jylland in 1948 and sold to Zammit in 1976. Operated by Gozo Channel Company Limited in 1979-1984.
Calypsoland 1969 1978[c] E. Zammit & Sons Ltd Built as the Prins Hendrik in 1932. Purchased in 1968 and renamed Calypsoland. Operated by Gozo Channel Company Limited in 1979-1984.
Melitaland 1974 1978[d] E. Zammit & Sons Ltd Built as the Dordrecht in 1933. Purchased in 1974 and renamed Melitaland. Operated by Gozo Channel Company Limited in 1979-1994.

Gozo Channel Co Ltd[edit]

Mġarr Harbour
Ċirkewwa Harbour

Gozo Channel Company Limited was formed to operate ferry services in 1979. The four ships of E. Zammit & Sons Ltd were taken over by the new company, and two more vessels were purchased later in the year. The MV Għawdex began operating services to Sicily from 1981 onwards, but these stopped in 1995.

Hovermarines or catamarans were used for express services between Malta and Gozo from 1988 to 2002. By 1990 the company was carrying 1.93 million passengers and 370,000 cars annually. By the mid-1990s a modernization program started and three brand new ships were built from 2000 to 2002. Mġarr ferry terminal was later completely rebuilt from 2001 to 2008. The terminal at Ċirkewwa was also rebuilt in the next few years and was completed in 2013.[1][2]

Name Namesake Built In commission Note
MV Cominoland Comino 1942 1979-1980[e] Formerly a ferry of E. Zammit & Sons Ltd. Sold and renamed Jylland II (1980-2006) and again Cominoland (2006). Scuttled as an artificial reef off Xatt l-Ahmar in 2006.
MV Jylland 1943 1979-1984[f] Formerly a ferry of E. Zammit & Sons Ltd. Sold in 1984 and renamed Kybris (1984), Akdeniz (1984-86) and Princess Lydia (1986-88). Scrapped in Turkey in 1988.
MV Calypsoland Calypso 1932 1979-1984[g] Formerly a ferry of E. Zammit & Sons Ltd. Used occasionally to carry building material to Comino. Scrapped in Malta in 1985.
MV Melitaland
MV Bezz 20
Malta 1933 1979-1996[h] Formerly a ferry of E. Zammit & Sons Ltd. Sister ship to the Cittadella. Renamed Bezz 20 in 1994, sold for scrap in 1996.
MV Għawdex Gozo 1962 1979-2000 Built in Bremen in 1962. Formerly known as the Kalle (1962-71) and the Rotna (1971-78). Sold in 2000 and renamed Virgem de Fatima but remained laid up in Valletta until she was broken up in Turkey in 2002.
MV Mgarr Mġarr Harbour 1967 1979-1995 Built in Denmark in 1967. Formerly known as the Saltholm (1967-79). Sold for scrap in 1995.
MV Cittadella
MV Citta
The Citadella, Gozo 1949 1987-1997 Built in the Netherlands in 1949. Formerly known as the Prins Bernhard (1949-87). Sister ship to the Melitaland. Renamed Citta in 1995, sold for scrap in 1997 in Turkey.
SES Calypso Calypso 1988-1996
MV Xlendi Xlendi Bay 1955 1990-1997 Built in Denmark in 1955. Formerly known as the Helsingor (1955-87), Royal Sheeba (1987-88) and Borgshorn (1988-90). It was regarded as an 'unfortunate' ship since it was shaped like a coffin, and in fact it was damaged several times when it ran aground (1992), hitting the quay (1995) and by fire (1999). It was scuttled as an artificial reef in 1999, but the wreck sank upside down so it is only suitable for experienced divers.
MV Calypso Calypso 1970 1993-2004 Built in Denmark in 1970. Formerly known as the Karnan (1970-93). Sold in 2004 and scrapped in 2012.
MV Mgarr Mġarr Harbour 1963 1995-2002 Built in the Netherlands in 1963. Formerly known as the Marsdiep (1963-92). Sister ship to the Cittadella II. Sold in 2002 for scrap in Turkey.
MV Cittadella II The Citadella, Gozo 1966 1995-2002 Built in the Netherlands in 1966. Formerly known as the Texelstroom (1963-92). Sister ship to the Mgarr. Sold in 2002 for scrap in Turkey.
SES Victoria Express 1984 1996-2002 Built in Norway in 1984. Formerly known as the Norcat (1984-86), Fjordkongen (1986-92) and Ulstein Surfer (1992-96). Sold in 2002 and renamed The Gambian Princess.
MV Ta' Pinu Ta' Pinu Sanctuary 2000 2000-present Built by Malta Shipbuilding in 2000. Identical to the Gaudos and Malita
MV Gaudos Gozo 2001 2001-present Built by Malta Shipbuilding in 2001. Identical to the Ta' Pinu and Malita
MV Malita Malta 2002 2002-present Built by Malta Shipbuilding in 2002. Identical to the Ta' Pinu and Gaudos

Gallery[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Gozo Ferry since 1885". Vassallo History. Retrieved 14 August 2014.
  2. ^ "About us". Gozo Channel Company Limited. Retrieved 14 August 2014.

Notes

  1. ^ Remained in use as a ferry until 1980 by Gozo Channel Co Ltd.
  2. ^ Remained in use as a ferry until 1984 by Gozo Channel Co Ltd.
  3. ^ Remained in use as a ferry until 1984 by Gozo Channel Co Ltd.
  4. ^ Remained in use as a ferry until 1996 by Gozo Channel Co Ltd.
  5. ^ Had been used as a ferry since 1966 under E. Zammit & Sons Ltd under the name Minor Eagle (1966-76) and Cominoland (1976-78).
  6. ^ Had been used as a ferry since 1967 under E. Zammit & Sons Ltd.
  7. ^ Had been used as a ferry since 1969 under E. Zammit & Sons Ltd.
  8. ^ Had been used as a ferry since 1974 under E. Zammit & Sons Ltd.