History of The RMT
1815 : Since april 8th there is a ferrylink between England and Belgium for mail exploited by British. From there the Ostend people use the word: 'de male'
1838 : The opening of the railway between Ostend and Brussels. There is a need for a (ferry)link between both sides of the Channel.
1841 : The railway between Dover and London is a fact.
1846 : The first Belgian paddleboat was the 'Le chemin de Fer', later renamed as the 'Diamant'. She made her maidentrip on march 3th.
1847 : The Belgian shipyard Cockerill constructed two ships: the 'Ville d'Ostende' and the 'Ville de Bruges'. Later they were renamed as 'Rubis' and as 'Topaze'. When the 'Ville de Bruges' was taken into service, they withdrawn the 'Diamant'.
1848 : In novembre came the paddleboat 'Emeraude' in service. She sunk in 1914 at Antwerp due to the war.
1862 : Built at Cockerill: the 'Belgique'. The ship had a speed of 15 knots. She was used in the great war to transport munition.
1863 : Two ships were chartered for one year: 'The Scud' and the 'Princesse-Clementine'. Both ships were built on British schipyards.
1864 : They were replaced by the 'Queen of the French' and the 'John Penn.' which were renamed as 'Saphir' and as 'Perle'. Both ships were initially build for the link Dover-Calais.
1866 : The Belgian Government decided to replace all 7 ships by 7 new ones. They were all ordered by the shipyard Cockerill at Hoboken (Belgium).
1867 : The 'Louise Marie' was the fist one. The ship of wood was broken up in 1894.
1868 : The second one was the 'Leopold I'. She was withdrawn in 1894 and broken up in 1919.
1870 : Then there was the 'Marie Henriette'. She was withdrawn in 1893.
On august 4th the 'Comte de Flandre' made her maidentrip. She was taken out of service in 1893.
1871 : Her sister is named the 'Comtesse de Flandre'.
1872 : King Leopold II is a regular traveller on the 'Prince Baudouin' . She was the sixth ship in a series and was withdrawn in 1896.
1873 : The last in the series was the 'Parlement Belge' and was withdrawn in 1895
1887 : Again the Belgian Government ordered 3 new vessels by Cockerill at Hoboken (Belgium). The 'Prince Albert' was the first to be delivered. Her topspeed was 19 knots and she was able to make the passage in 3 hours 40 minutes. She was sold in july 1910.
On may 13th 1887 entered the 'Ville de Douvres' service. She was also solded in 1910.
1888 : The third ship 'La Flandre' was the first Ostend steamer fitted by electricity.
On december 22th 1895 she made a collision with a fishingboat that sunk.
In october 6 th 1918 she was sunk by the Germans as a blockship at Ostond harbour.
While these three ships where under construction, two vessels where chartered, the 'Manx Queen' and the 'Freia'.
Two other ships were build in Scotland by 'William Denny and Brothers' of Dumbarton: the 'Princesse Henriette' and the 'Princesse Josephine'. Both had turbulent wartimes.
1889 : On march 29th 1989 the 'Princesse Henriette' sailing from Ostend and the small 'Contesse de Flandre' sailing the opposite direction ran somewhere off Dunkirk into a fog bank in which they collided. The 'Contesse de Flandre' sunk. The other ship had much damage.
1892 : The 'Leopold II' is ordered at the Scottish shipyard Denny and Brothers. On the measured mile she clocked 22,16 knots.
The new 'Marie Henriette' was ordered by the Cockerillyard. On her trails she clocked 22,2 knots, making her the indisputed world record holder. In 1914 she was wrecked on Cape Barfleur while trooping.
1895 : Built primarly for the nightcrossings the 'Rapide' entered service in 1895. In spite of her name, she was smaler and slower then the other vessels. She remained in service until 1923.
1896 : Construction of the 'Princesse Clementine' at the Cockerillyard. It was the first ship with a transmitting station.
1897 : The last paddle steamer was the 'Princesse Clementine'. She made her maidenvoyage on june 23th 1897.
1905 : Introduction of the revolutionary new turbine steamer on the Ostend route. The 'Princesse Elisabeth' made 24 knots on trails and so claimed another world record as the worlds fastest mailboat.
1910 : Two more ferries from the Cockerillyard at Hoboken (Belgium) were delivered: the 'Jan Breydel' and the 'Pieter de Coninck', both historical hero's of Flanders. In less then 3 hours they could cross the route Ostend-Dover. In the great war they were converted to hospitalships but also as trooptransporters.
1913 : For 2,5 million a ship, Belgium ordered two more vessels, the 'Stad Antwerpen' and the 'Ville de Liege'.
1914 : The great war!! The paddle steamers were used to evacuate families to England. The turbine steamers were converted to hospitalships or as transportships for troops or munition.
1919 : On january 18th starts the post-war sailings. The service restarts with difficulty because of the danger of mines, blockships in the Ostend harbour (HMS Vindictive and La Flandre) and sandbombs. The first financial problems turn up.
1923 : Launch of the 'Princesse Marie-Jose'. On august 8th 1937 there is a collision with the British ship 'Clan MacNeal', the captain let the ship run ashore near Dunkirk. In september of this year she was putted in service again. She ended her activities in 1940.
1928 : The Belgium Government orders two new ferries, the 'Prince Leopold' and the 'Prinses Astrid'.
1929 : The quartet being completed, two more vessels where ordered: the 'Prince Charles' and the 'Prinses Josephine-Charlotte'.
1930 : The four ships enter service:
the 'Prince Leopold' was torpedoed on july 29th 1944 by the German U621
the 'Prinses Astrid' was sunk by a mine in june 1949
the 'Prince Charles' was the first vessel with radar aboard
the 'Prinses Josephine-Charlotte' was the first real carferry.
1933 : Launch of the first motorvessel, the 'Prince Baudouin'. During trails in august 1934, the vessel reached 25,25 knots and a third world record was claimed, that for the fastest diesel driven ferry. She remained in service until 1964.
1936 : The 'Prins Albert' was built, clocking 25,5 knots on trails off the West Hinder lightship. In World War II she took part in different raids all over the world and was attached by German U-boats so rightly earning her nickname of 'Lucky Albert'. She was withdrawn in 1968. Broken up in 1970. The 'Ville de Liege' was completely rebuilt, emerging as the carferry 'London-Istambul'. She remained in service until 1949 and was broken up in 1951.
1939 : The third of the trio built at the Cockerillyard at Hoboken was the 'Prince Philippe'.
1940 : The 'Prince Philippe' was destined to become the shortest-lived of all the Ostend ships. In 1942 she was lost after a collision with the British ship 'Empire Wave'.
1946 : The 'Koning Albert' entered service and remained until 1974.
1947 : The 'Prince Philippe II' is launched. On trails she clocked 25,5 knots. She was the first ferry with airco. In 1973 she was chartered to a Swedish operator and renamed 'Stroemme Rex'. A few months later she was badly damaged by fire and broken up.
1948 : The first large car ferry was ordered at Cockerill's and was named 'Car Ferry'.
1949 : She was renamed 'Prinses Jospehine-Charlotte'. In 1976 she was sold to Panamanian owners and renamed as 'Letho'. Still later she was renamed as 'Athens Express' and finally broken up in Greece in 1984.
1953 : A unique vessel for the line was the cargoship 'Ijzer'. This ship was never fully exploited but was in fact a stand-by vessel during the Cold War, should the need ever arise, to sail directly to the Belgian Congo-supposedly with Belgium's gold reserves and national treasures. She was sold in 1972 and broken up in Holland in 1978.
1956 : Start of a four ships program:
The 'Roi Leopold III' made her maidentrip. She was sold in 1978 to panamanian operators and was renamed as the 'Najd'.
The second vessel that year was the 'Koningin Elisabeth'. She was sold in 1978, renamed as 'Abha' and later as 'Nadj II'. She was broken up in 1984.
1957 : The third vessel was the 'Reine Astrid'. She was the first Ostend vessel fitted with fin stabilizers.Withdrawn in 1981 and converted as a jetfoil terminal for the port of Dover.
1958 : The last in a row was build as a carferry. The 'Artevelde' was in service until 1976. Then she was solded and renamed as 'Aigaion'.
1962 : The 'Koningin Fabiola' starts her service. She was named after the Queen of Belgium. She was the first vessel to be built at the Boel-shipyard at Temse (Belgium).
1965 : The car-ferry 'Roi Baudouin' was next. In 1983 she was solded to a Greec operator and renamed as 'Georgios-Express.
1966 : The outstanding 'Prinses Paola' was the lines very last traditional passengerferry, and also the last to be in service on the Channel. She ended her service in 1987.
1968 : Construction of the 'Princesse Astrid' at the Boel shipyard at Temse. She was solded in 1983 to a Greec operator and renamed as 'Bari Express'.
1970 : November 1970, Belgian Marine joined the Sealink consortium.
1972 : The first Multiple Purpose Ferry 'Prins Philippe' (the third ship with this name) enters service.
1974 : The 'Prince Laurent' was launched. Costing some 600 million Belgian francs.
1975 : The 'Prinses Maria-Esmeralda' maid her maidentrip. She was stretched in 1985 to meet to the increased demand to traffic.
1977 : 40 years after the introduction of the 'Lucky Albert' the 'Prins Albert' was built. She was later on stretched during may 1986. The ship now sails for TEF between Ostend and Ramsgate as the 'Eurovoyager'.
Also the 'Princesse Maria Christine' was putted in service. She now sails as the 'Primrose' for TEF.
1978 : On may 27th there was a test with the British hovercraft 'Princess Anne'. The verdict of the Belgian Government and the RMT-management was negative.
1980 : Two jetfoils are introduced to reduce the crossing time to 100 minutes between Belgium and England. These two American Boeing (known from the aircraft industry) jetfoils are the 'Jetferry one' and the 'Flying Princess'.
1981 : The jetfoils 'Prinses Clementine' and the 'Prinses Stephanie' are introduced a year later. In 1997 they are sold to a German operator.
1982 : The 'Stena Nautica' is chartered.
1983 : The 'Stena Nautica' was purchased in february 1983 and later renamed as 'Reine Astrid'. The chartered 'Stena Nordica' remained until may 1986.
1986 : On january 1st RMT starts a co-operation with Townsend Thoresen and passed on to P&O European Ferries in october 1987.
1991 : Start of the construction of the superferry 'Prins Filip' with a total cost of more than one billion. She ended her service on february 28 th 1997. Now she operates the Calais-Dover connection as P&O Stena Line's 'Aquitaine'.
1993 : Start of the co-operation between Oostende Lines (RMT) and Sally Ferries. The connection Ostend-Dover changes into Ostend-Ramsgate (homeport of Sally).
1997 : As a result of the hard competition and bad management the service closes at the end of february 1997. The traditional ferry service Ostend-Ramsgate, was been taken over by Holyman/Sally with two Incat crafts.