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Ferry's between Malta and Gozo (Source Vassallomalta)

Ferry services between Malta and Gozo were in operation by 1241. The service, known in Maltese as id-dghajsa tal-mghodija, literally, the boat of the passage is first recorded in 1241. The name survives in a toponym at the lateen sails in Mgarr, sails that were to survive until the twentieth century. At that time, Mgarr was a shallow harbour affording anchorage to small craft only and quite exposed from the south west to the south east winds. It did not have a breakwater but only a small jetty used by passengers to board and descend from the boats, and by the fishermen to unload their catches. The jetty is still there just below the Gleneagles bar.

While the area around the harbour was developed over the following centuries, there was little development of the Mgarr harbour itself until 1841, when a breakwater was constructed to provide more shelter to the port. This breakwater was strengthened and extended several times up to 1906. A larger breakwater was constructed between 1929 and 1935, and two more in 1969; on the completion of the latter, the area of the port was expanded to 121,400 square metres.

The first regular passenger service between Gozo and Malta was inaugurated on June 13, 1885. An official Mail service was first provided by O.F. Gollcher & Sons Ltd with the Gleneagles. The fare was 8 pence single and one shilling return. In the first years a levy of one penny a head was collected from each passenger landing at Gozo to pay for a Mass in the Mgarr Church for the safe arrival of the passenger. However from 1892 she made regular sailings from Malta to Syracuse once weekly with mail. The rest of the time was used in the Malta to Gozo service. The Gleneagles gave regular service till 1914.


November 1884 launched under the name GLENEAGLES.

Feb.1885 sold to O.F. Gollcher & Sons at Malta.

10 May 1885 taken over by a Maltese crew at Aberdeen and on the 19 May she sailed for Malta where she arrived in the Grand Harbour on 10 June 1885.

She was bought to use her in the regular service between Malta and Gozo, and on Saturday 13 June at 03.00 p.m. she sailed for the first time in the service with on board the Governor of Malta (General Sir Lintorn Simmons), arriving off Mgarr at 04.10 p.m. At this port she was blessed by the Bishop of Gozo (Bishop Pace).

A twice-daily service commenced the next Monday, 15th June 1885. The fare was 8 pence single and one shilling return. In the first years a levy of one penny a head was collected, for each passenger landed at Gozo, to pay for a Mass in the Mgarr Church for the safe arrival of the passenger.


GOLLY built in Japan in 1912 as the FUKUHAKU MARU NO.5

In 1921 commissioned as Patrol Vessel G.27

In 1921 sold in Italy as the ANDREA BAFILE,

On 15th August 1932 sold to Malta.Steam Ship Ltd. as the GOLLY.

It ran aground on the island of Gozo near the port of Mgarr in August 1932, she was later refloated and re-entered service. No casualities reported.

In March 1937 sold in Egypt and renamed DAISY

On 1st April 1939 foundered on way to Alexandria.

Royal Lady

In September 1937 Royal Lady was sold for a good price for service between Malta and Gozo with Captain Orazio Mizzi, to be replaced at Scarborough by the larger and faster New Royal Lady. In 1938 she was transferred to the Gozo Mail Service Co, remaining on a route between Mgarr and Marfa. She was sunk on 6 May 1942 by Luftwaffe bombs, whilst alongside the quay at Mgarr, still carrying the name Royal Lady.

In broad daylight on the afternoon of 6 May 1942 enemy fighter-bombers carried out a surprise dive-bombing raid on the harbour at Mgarr, Gozo. One aircraft was seen to release several bombs over the Royal Lady, splitting the vessel in two. More bombs were aimed at the trawler SS Franco; one hit the vessel, damaging the funnel. A coffee and rest-house on the harbour was also damaged by an exploding bomb. The loss of the Royal Lady was a severe blow to the Gozo Mail Service, which she has served since her purchase from the UK in 1938.

By coincidence, her replacement, the New Royal Lady, also followed her out to Malta, operating on the same routes under the name Imperial Eagle.

Jaques Cousteau's Calypso

In 1950 Capt Cousteau found Calypso in a Malta dockyard for surplus ships. In July, 1950 she was taken to a shipyard in Antibes where she was converted from ferryboat to Oceanographic Research Vessel. Naturally, this entailed extensive alterations to turn her into a floating laboratory. Navigational aids were added, as were special facilities for diving equipment. An underwater observation chamber known as Calypso’s false nose was also installed. It was connected to a metal well built around the stem, which extended eight feet below the waterline. This chamber enabled two crew members to film and observe underwater without leaving the ship.

So the earlier Maltese Ferry became famous as the Calypso from Jaques Cousteau


In Sept. 1947 she was acquired by Joseph Gasan, Malta, modernized as a passenger ferry and in July 1950 put also in the Gozo mail service as the BANCINU.

On Jan. 23, 1957, she broke her moorings at Mgarr in a gale and was driven ashore, but on February 10, she was salvaged by the Royal Navy salvage vessel UPLIFTER and towed to Grand Harbour. In December 1957, she was sold to B. Vasilakis, Piraeus, Greece and renamed ATHINAI in 1958. Sold to Kavounideas Shipping Co. Ltd., Piraeus in 1961 and renamed SIRIUS. Her measurements were now Gt. 525 and nt. 369.

In 1964, she was sold to Saronikos S.A. Maritime Enterprices, Piraeus and renamed VORIOI.


Queen of Peace

Former RN wooden Minesweeper.

Operated by Magro Bros as Gozo freight ferry between 1955 and 1970.

In 1970 it was laid up at Marsa.

Foundered in 1977 in the Gulf of Sirte with the loss of 3 Maltese crew.

Imperial Eagle

In 1958 Crested Eagle was bought by E Zammit & Co Malta and renamed Imperial Eagle for service between Malta and Gozo until March 1968.

Imperial Eagle was subsequently bought by Sunny & Mary Pisani from Gozo and was used to transport cargo and animals from Gozo to Valletta. For at least 10 years she then lay rotting in Mgarr harbour and was eventually towed to Valletta harbour where she was badly vandalised and half sunk at her moorings.

In November 1995 Imperial Eagle was bought by the local Diving community to be sunk as the centrepiece attraction of an underwater marine park. On 19 July 1999, after years fighting bureaucracy and red tape, she was finally scuttled off Qawra point on the north of the island, and sitting upright at 40 metres gives divers an excellent wreckdive and, as a “reef”, encourages marine life in the area.


Minor Eagle

Commissioned by the Royal Navy Admiraly in 1942 and built by Philip & Son Ltd., Dartmouth.


Launched as Miner VI in 1942.

Acquired by Zammit & Sons Ltd in 1966 and renamed Minor Eagle. She could load more than 400 passengers and 10 cars.

Renamed MV Cominoland in 1976. Renamed Jylland II in 1980 and in 2006 again Cominoland.

The MV Cominoland was scuttled by the Maltese Government on August 2006 infront of Xatt l-Ahmar in Gozo.

MV Jylland

Building yard: Pullman Standard Car Manufactered Co, Chicago, USA.

 Loa. 58,00m., br. 10,18m., draft 3,90m.

 Gross 824t., Net. 283t., Dwt. t.

 Two 12 cylinder General Motors diesel engines.

 1 screw, 3600 hp, speed 18 kn.

 Passenger capacity.: 360 passengers.

 Ro-ro capacity: 32 cars.

MV Calypsoland

Building yard: de Schelde, Vlissingen. 1932


 Gross. 672t., net. 190t., dwt. 183t.; Loa.60,28m., ll.59,87m., br.12,42m., dg. 3,10m

 Machinery: One 2 tew 8 cylinder diesel engine Werkspoor-Sulzer, 2 screws, 1200 hp, speed 11kn.

 Ro-ro capacity: 35 Cars.

 Passenger capacity: 1300 passengers.

 1932 “PRINS HENDRIK” P.S.D., Vlissingen-Breskens, Hansweert-Walsoorden.

 1933 “PRINS HENDRIK” converted because of instability problems by “de Schelde”.

1940 “PRINS HENDRIK” Sunk by German troops in Breskens.

 1941/49 “PRINS HENDRIK” lengthened, engine “Pinses Juliana” installed by “de Schelde”.

1968 “PRINS HENDRIK” Sold to E. Zammit & Sons, Malta.

 1969 “PRINS HENDRIK” Towed from Vlissingen to Malta by Fairplay XI.

 1969 “CALYPSOLAND” Cirkewwa - Gozo.

 1979/81 “CALYPSOLAND” Most of the time layed up, occassionally carrying building material to Comino for the pig farm

 1984 “CALYPSOLAND” Sold to Sartad Shipbreakers, Malta for demolishing.

 1985 “CALYPSOLAND” demolished.

MV Melitaland

E. Zammit & Sons (1973-1980)

 Length: 40,53m / 70,46 m; Breadth: 10,36 m / 13,44 m; Draft: 4,5 m / 2,5 m; GT: 1.435

 Machinery: 4 * Lister Blackstone; Speed: 10 kn.

 Number of passengers: 1,000 / 600

 Number of cars: 33 / 80

 Former names:

 Dordrecht (1933-1974) – PSD

Melitaland (1974-1978) – E Zammit & Sons Ltd

Melitaland (1979-1994) – Gozo Channel Line

 Bezz 20 (1994-1996) – Gozo Channel Line

Sold in 1996 to scrapping

MV Ghawdex

Built in 1962 by Adler Werft GmbH, Bremen for Juelsminde-Kalundborg Line

1962 named Kalle. She was the sisters of Julle.

In 1970 ownership passed to Jydsk Færgefart A/S, Kalundborg.

In 1971 Kalle was sold to A/S Dampskibsselskabet på Bornholm, Rönne and renamed Rotna. Rotna served on the routes Copenhagen-Rönne, and Ystad-Rönne. The company became known as Bornholmstraffiken from 1975.

In 1978, Rotna was sold to the Maltese Governemt as the Ghawdex.

In March 2000, after the launch of Ta’ Pinu, Gozo Channel sold Ghawdex to Mira Towage who in turn sold it to Portughese owners. She was renamed Virgem de Fatima, but remained laid up in Valletta, and was sold for breaking up in Turkey on 6th September 2002.

MV Mgarr

Building year: 1967

 Building yard: Aalborgs Vaerft A/S, Ålborg, Denmark

 Former owners: Svenska Rederi Ab Öresund

Class: Bureau Veritas

Length: 50.03m; Breadth: 10.06m; Draft: 3 m / 4,4 m; GT: 728

Machinery: 2XJonkoping Type 6 TMFD 260 Diesel Turbo 2X660 at 425 RPM

She served on the Limhamn-Dragør route until 1979

Former Names:

Saltholm (1967-1979)

Mgarr (1979-1995)

Sold for scrap in 1995

MV Xlendi

Built in 1955 as a train ferry, it weighs 1123 gross tones & is 80 meters long, with a beam of 12 meters & 23 meters overall height. The vessel was bought by Gozo Channel in February 1990 for Lm327, 000, the Xlendi was meant to serve as a cargo carrier between Malta and Gozo, augmenting the service provided by the MV Ghawdex.

MV Xlendi was handed over to the Gozo Tourism Association to scuttle as an attraction for divers, after it had stopped operating in 1997. After a lengthy process to obtain a permit to sink her off Xatt L-Ahmar, on 12th November 1999. Xlendi finally hit the seabed resting in a position which due to prevailing winds at the time of scuttling pushed the vessel off the selected and the desired position. The wreck currently lies up side down on a sandy slope 40 meters deep, and 30 meters at its shallowest, its keel.

Dive Location MV Xlendi

S.E.S. Victoria Express

Building year: 1984 ,

 Building Yard: Brødrene Aa Båtbyggeri, Hyen (170)

 Former owners: Ulstein Surfer-96, Fjordkongen-92

Loa. 32,21m.; br. 11,00m., draft 3,23 m.; Gross. 299t., Net. 109t., Dwt. 50t.

 Machinery: Two 16 cylinder GM diesel engines. 2644 kW, speed 36,0 kn.

 Passenger cap.: 272 passengers.

Former Names:

984 “NORCAT” delivered to Brodrene A.A. Marine A/S, Norway.

 1986 “FJORDKONGEN” sold to Troms Fylke D/S A/S Tromsö, Norway.

 1992 “ULSTEIN SURFER” sold to Ulstein Industrier A/S, Florö, Norway.

 1994 “ULSTEIN SURFER” charter Estonian New Line, Tallinn – Helsingfors.

 1996 “VICTORIA EXPRESS” sold to Gozo Channel Co Ltd, Valletta – Mgarr.

 2002 “VICTORIA EXPRESS” sold to Pleasure Sports Gambia Ltd., Gambia.


MV Calypso

Build year: 1970;Builder: Svendborg Skibsvaerft & Maskinbyggeri Svendborg, Denmark

 Type: Ferry Ro-Ro

 DWT: 1156 t; LOA: 85 m; Breadth: 13 m; Maximum draft: 4 m; BRT: 2771 t


Helsingør – Helsingborg (26 June 1970 – 1 August 1991)

 Cirkewwa - Mgarr (1993 – 2004)

 Oplagt (2004)

 Tasucu - Girne (2005 -2012)

 Sold in January 2012 to scrapping in Aliga, Turkey

The Calypso was retained in 2002 after Gozo Channel sold its other vessels because it was thought it was not possible to operate with just three vessels. The Calypso was used as a spare vessel since the introduction of three new ferries. However, it spent most of its time moored at Sa Maison and only used when one of the other ferries was unavailable. It was only used if one of the other ferries goes into drydock. In June 2004 the Government instructed Gozo Channel to sell the mv Calypso as it was costing the company about Lm80,000 a year in recurrent expenditure.

MV Ta' Pinu

Delivered from the Malta Shipbuilding Co in 2000, the Gozo Channel Company’s Ta’Pinu was the lead vessel in a three-ship fleet rebuilding scheme which saw the older second-hand ships which had operated for the company since 1979 being mostly phased-out.

Between February and June 2012 it was refitted with an extra car deck at the Palumbo Shipyards. Ta’ Pinu was back in service on 15 June 2012 carrying 138 cars instead of the previous 72.

Type: Double ended car ferry

Built: 2000

Builder: Malta Ship Building

Owner: Gozo Channel

Length: 83; Breadth 18; Beam: 18; DWT: 1064; GT: 4893; Draft: 4

Engines: Diesel-Electric, Ulstein Bergen

Speed recorded (Max / Average): 12.5 / 9.5 knots

Call Sign: 9HHI6

 IMO: 9176307, MMSI: 248692000

 Passengers: 900

Cars: 138 (72 – car daeck; 66 – hoistable deck)

MV Gaudos

Gaudos was delivered to the Gozo Channel Company in February 2001, the second of a trio of identical sisters (the others being Malita and Ta’Pinu) for the lifeline service between the company’s namesake island and neighbouring Malta. Locally built at the Malta Shipbuilding Yard, the three ships were the key elements of a fleet mordernisation strategy which saw the replacement of older second-hand ships which had been used since the establishment of the state-owned company in 1979.

Type: Double ended car ferry

Built: 2001

Builder: Malta Ship Building

Owner: Gozo Channel

Length: 85; Breadth 18; Beam: 13; DWT: 1100; GT: 4893; Draft: 4.1

Engines: Diesel-Electric, Ulstein Bergen

Call Sign: 9HHJ6

 IMO: 9176319, MMSI: 248928000

Speed recorded (Max / Average): 12.5 / 9.5 knots

Passengers: 800

Cars: 72

MV Malita

Delivered, much later than scheduled, from the Malta Shipbuilding Co in 2002, the Gozo Channel Company’s Malita was the final member of a three-ship fleet rebuilding scheme which saw the older second-hand ships which had operated for the company since 1979 being mostly phased-out.

Type: Double ended car ferry

Built: 2002

Builder: Malta Ship Building

Owner: Gozo Channel

Length: 85; Breadth 18; Beam: 13; DWT: 1100; GT: 4893; Draft: 4.1

Engines: Diesel-Electric, Ulstein Bergen

Call Sign: 9HHK6

 IMO: 9176321, MMSI: 215145000

 Speed recorded (Max / Average): 12.5 / 9.5 knots

Passengers: 900

Cars: 138 (72 – car daeck; 66 – hoistable deck)

Mgarr Ferry terminal

Entrusted to the Malta Maritime Authority, the project dates back to 1995 when the Government was planning to consolidate the Cirkewwa terminal and to cut down on idle hours due to choppy seas. But the idea soon grew to include a car park and passenger terminal in Cirkewwa and Mgarr equipped with separate ramps for passengers and vehicles and elevators and escalators. At that time, the government had announced that the whole project had to be completed by September 2003, but since then the completion date has been changed quite a few times…

The works in Mgarr officially started on September 2002. The project consisted of a state-of the art passenger terminal building with an underlying 190-car underground car park plus a new marshalling area. Unfortunately the works on this exciting project were halted after just a few months due to lack of funds, leaving the idyllic harbour with a huge scar on its face for a number of years.