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Condor Ferries

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Subject: British Channel Island Ferries, Transport in the United Kingdom, Low-value consignment relief, Dorset, Portsmouth
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Condor Ferries

Condor Ferries
Type Limited
Founded 1964
Headquarters St Peter Port, Guernsey
Area served England, Channel Islands, France
Key people Alicia Andrews, Frances Collins, Steve Champion-Smith Executive Directors
Services Passenger transportation
Owners Macquarie Group
Condor Ferries routes
Condor Express at St Peter Port harbour, Guernsey
A Condor ferry passes La Corbière

Condor Ferries is an operator of ferry services between mainland England and the Channel Islands, between England and France, and between France and the Channel Islands.

Recent history

Condor Ferries established the first high speed car ferry service to the Channel Islands from Weymouth in 1993 using the 74m Incat catamaran Condor 10. In the winter of 1993/1994, Condor's parent company, Commodore Shipping, took over British Channel Island Ferries (BCIF) which operated conventional ferry services to the Channel Islands from Poole. Upon taking over BCIF, Condor moved all passenger services to Weymouth and the BCIF freight service was transferred to Commodore Shipping. The BCIF vessel Havelet ran a conventional ferry service from Weymouth from 1994 alongside the Condor 10.

Condor 11

The 1994 season was the Condor 10's last on the Weymouth - Channel Island route, as she was replaced in March 1995 by the larger 78m Incat Condor 11 but her introduction was delayed when the vessel grounded during the sea trials off Tasmania. Condor 11 was travelling at 36 knots and under the command of Incat managing director Robert Clifford when she struck Black Jack Reef some 12 miles off Hobart on 9 October 1994.[1] Between March and May 1995, the Weymouth service was operated by the chartered Seacat Isle of Man. The Condor 11 finally entered service on 18 May 1995. She was used for one season on the route before being redeployed to Cat-Link in Denmark.

Condor 12

Condor's next vessel was the Condor 12 an 81m Incat which ran between Weymouth and the Channel Islands for the 1996 season. Condor 12 was redeployed to Holyman's new Ramsgate - Ostend service and renamed Holyman Rapide.

Condor Express

1996 was the last year that the Havelet remained in regular service with the company. In 1997, Condor 12 and Havelet places on the Channel Island route were taken by another Incat, this time an 86m design which was named Condor Express.

New UK bases, purchase of the Havelet and Condor Vitesse

In March 1997, Condor moved its UK port to Poole. The Condor Express suffered technical problems that led to late-running services. As a result, the Channel Island governments put the licence to operate ferry services to the UK out to tender. P&O European Ferries and Hoverspeed submitted bids to run the service but ultimately Condor retained the licence but was forced to purchase the Havelet to act as an all-weather back-up until the delivery of a new conventional vessel in 1999. It also purchased the Condor Vitesse for a new service to St Malo via Guernsey and made Weymouth its primary UK port, though retaining summer sailings from Poole. Commodore Shipping became sole owner of the company around this time.

Commodore Clipper

In 1999, the Commodore Clipper was delivered to Commodore Ferries and replaced a freight ferry Island Commodore. The new Commodore Clipper was able to replace the Havelet as all-weather back-up for the fast craft as she had space for 500 passengers.

The outbound Condor ferry passes through Poole Harbour, Dorset, England, in 2002

Introduction of Condor 10, management buy-out, rebranding and sale

Condor 10 returned to the fleet in March 2002 to replace the Condor 9 on the St Malo - Channel Island service and to fully compete with the existing fast car ferry service of Emeraude Lines. Later that year, the Commodore Group, which included Condor Ferries, Commodore Ferries and Commodore Express, was sold to a management buy-out team for a reported £150 million. The deal was backed by ABN AMRO. Shortly after, the Condor Ferries logo was redesigned for the start of the 2003 season using the same font as the logo Brittany Ferries had adopted in 2002. In 2004, the group was rebranded with Commodore Ferries coming under the Condor Ferries name and Commodore Express becoming Condor Logistics. The group was sold once again in 2004 to the Royal Bank of Scotland's venture capital arm for £240 million.

Commodore Goodwill collision

On 10 December 2007, bad weather caused the Commodore Goodwill to strike the entrance to La Collette yacht basin in St Helier harbour.[2] One of the vessel's propellers was damaged and the ship was sent to Falmouth for the damaged part to be removed to return the ship to service as soon as possible in the run-up to Christmas.[3] On 13 December 2007, the Brittany Ferries freight vessel Coutances was chartered to temporarily take the Commodore Goodwill's place.

Acquisition by the Macquarie Group

In 2008, with the approval of the Jersey Competition Regulatory Authority, the Macquarie European Infrastructure Fund II acquired Admiral Holdings Ltd, which owns the Condor Group.[4]

Condor Rapide

In May 2010, Condor Rapide, Incat Hull 045, was added to the fleet to replace Condor 10. This is not the same vessel that covered Condor services in the late 1990s, but a sister ship to Condor Express and Vitesse.

Closure of Condor Logistics

It was announced on 4 October 2012 that Condor Logistics would close its operations with the loss of about 180 jobs (110 in the UK, 50 in Jersey and 20 in Guernsey). The move was blamed on changes to low-value consignment relief affecting the Channel Islands.[5]


Condor Ferries operate the following routes:

  • Weymouth - Guernsey - Jersey (service normally operated by Condor Vitesse)
  • Poole - Guernsey - Jersey (seasonal service normally operated by Condor Express)
  • Portsmouth - Guernsey - Jersey (Commodore Clipper, Commodore Goodwill. The Goodwill's service is extended to St Malo at the weekends)
  • Portsmouth - Cherbourg (seasonal service operated by Commodore Clipper and primarily aimed at the caravan market)
  • Jersey and Guernsey - St Malo (Condor Rapide)


The fleet is as follows.

Ship Built Entered service Current status Route
HSC Condor Express 1996 1996 In Service Poole/Weymouth-Channel Islands
HSC Condor Rapide 1997 1997 In Service Poole/Weymouth-Channel Islands
HSC Condor Vitesse 1997 1997 In Service Poole/Weymouth-Channel Islands
MV Commodore Goodwill 1996 1996 In service Portsmouth-Channel Islands
MV Commodore Clipper 1999 1999 In service Portsmouth-Channel Islands

Future Fleet

Ship Built Entered service Current status Route
HSC Condor 102 2010 2015 Sea Trials Poole-Channel Islands

Past fleet

  • Condors 1 to 8

Fast passenger only vessels. Mostly hydrofoils with the exception of Condor 6 and Condor 8 which were passenger only catamarans.[6]

  • Condor 9 (1990–2002)
Name: Condor 9
Type: Passenger ferry
Length: 50 m (160 ft)
Beam: 18 m (59 ft)[7]

Fast passenger-only catamaran. Built in 1990 in Fareham by Aluminium Shipsbuilders to an Incat design. Was built for the Weymouth - Channel Islands route but was replaced by Condor 10. Condor 9 saw work on the inter-island routes and between the Channel Islands and St Malo. For the 1995 and 1996 season, Condor 9 operated from Torquay to the Islands. In 1997, she operated between Poole and St Malo via the Channel Islands. In her last years with Condor she was used between St Malo and Jersey until she was again replaced by Condor 10. Condor 9 was purchased by a Connecticut based company Block Island Ferry Services, LLC d/b/a Block Island Express and was renamed the "Jessica W". It is now currently used to transport (mostly) tourists to Block Island, a well known New England travel destination 14 miles off the coast of Rhode Island.

  • Havelet (1994–2000)
Name: Havelet
Decommissioned: 2013
Fate: Broken up
Type: Passenger ferry
Tonnage: 6918
Length: 110 m (360 ft)
Beam: 17 m (56 ft)[8]
Capacity: 550 passengers, 40 trailers and 205 cars

Built in 1977 in Norway for Brittany Ferries for their Plymouth to Roscoff route, and originally named Cornouailles, she was transferred to British Channel Island Ferries in 1989 and renamed Havelet. Condor purchased BCIF in 1994 and Havelet was used to operate a conventional service from Weymouth until 1996 when she was laid up as it was thought that Condor Express would be able to handle the winter weather. Condor was forced to reactivate and purchase the Havelet in 1998 prior to the arrivial of Commodore Clipper to act as back up for the fastcraft. Havelet was sold in 2000 to Montenegro Lines where she was renamed the Sveti Stefan and sailed between Bari and Bar until April 2013 when she sailed to Aliağa, Turkey to be broken up.[9]

  • Condor 11 (1995)

Incat 78m catamaran was used for less than one season on the Weymouth - Channel Island route. She was sent to Cat-Link and replaced by Condor 12.

  • Condor 12 (1996–1997)

Incat 81m catamaran which operated for one season between Weymouth and the Channel Island. She was sent to Holyman Sally Ferries in 1997 as the Holyman Rapide. She briefly returned to Condor as the Rapide to cover for the refit of the Condor Express in early 1998.

  • Condor 10 (built 1993, in service with Condor 1993-1994, 2002–2011)
Name: Condor 10
Launched: 1993
Type: Passenger ferry
Tonnage: 3240
Length: 74 m (243 ft)
Beam: 26 m (85 ft)[10]

Sold in September 2011 to a South Korean Company and renamed "Hanil Blue Narae"

Brittany Ferries partnership

Since 2001, Condor has operated a Poole - Cherbourg fastcraft service of behalf of Brittany Ferries using the Condor Vitesse which sports a joint livery. The service, which runs between mid-May and late October, leaves Poole at 07:30 and arrives back from Cherbourg at 12:45. Condor Vitesse then operates the Condor service to St Malo arriving back in Poole by midnight.

In August 2005, Condor Express briefly ran on the Poole - Cherbourg service. The Condor Express had been experiencing technical problems and so the Condor Vitesse was transferred to the more taxing Channel Islands service.[11] Condor Express also operated one Poole-Cherbourg round trip in May 2008.

The Brittany Ferries partnership has since been terminated.

Incidents with HD Ferries

HD1 had collided with the Commodore Goodwill in Jersey Harbour.[12] A more serious incident occurred on 28 July 2007 when HD1, while manoeuvring in Jersey Harbour, collided with Condor Express which was berthed at the time. HD1 was holed above the waterline while Condor Express suffered only minor damage to its paintwork.

Condor issued a press release on 3 August 2007 condemning the company[13][14] which HD responded to with its own press release.[15] HD1 later had its wave height limit reduced from 2.5 metres to 2m (Condor being able to operate its larger fastcraft in seas up to 3.5 metres) and on 19 August 2007 the company had its ramp permit for Jersey and Guernsey withdrawn, preventing the company from operating. HD Ferries recommenced operations on 25 August 2007.[16]

In a press release issued on 2 October 2007, HD Ferries stated that it was preparing to take legal action against Condor concerning the statement published by the company on 3 August 2007.[17] Despite HD Ferries threat this did not occur.

Following HD Ferries decision to withdraw its service early in September 2008 and not operate a winter service, The States of Jersey have indicated that HD Ferries is unlikely to be allowed a ramp licence again.[18]

Collision with French fishing boat

At approximately 0645 UTC on 28 March 2011 the Condor Vitesse was in collision with a Granville fishing boat, the 9.3m "Les Marquises", in the vicinity of the Minquiers reef south of Jersey while en route from St Malo in foggy conditions. Two of the French fishermen were rescued from the water by the ferry's safety boats. The skipper of Les Marquises, 42-year old Philippe Claude Lesaulnier, was rescued by another fishing boat "Joker" and transferred to Jersey's lifeboat, but died later the same day in Jersey's hospital.[19][20][21][22] An inquest in Jersey revealed that Monsieur Lesaulnier died of crush injuries to the upper abdomen, and drowning.[23] He leaves a wife and four children.[24]

An investigation began.[25] The French investigator, Renauld Gaudeul, procureur de la République de Coutances said that the speed of the ferry[26] would be of key importance to the investigation.[27] On 19 October 2011, the BEAmer released its report. [28] In summary, "Condor Vitesse sailed from Saint-Malo in thick fog conditions; the fog horn had been inactivated very early and the visual lookout had not been strengthened. The speed had progressively reached 37 knots. In the wheelhouse almost continuous talks without any link with the watchkeeping, maintained an atmosphere not compatible with the necessary concentration to conduct a HSC in the fog. This behavior, as well as the visibility are the causal factors of the accident. When Condor Vitesse approached the Minquiers waters, both officers did not detect 2 vessel echoes ahead on starboard, the first was a ship that would be passing at a hundred of meters on starboard, the second was Les Marquises. The potter was fishing, with her radar on, without emitting any sound signals. A hand saw the HSC at the last moment but too late to alert the skipper. The collision cut the fishing vessel in two parts, while on board the HSC there was a leak in the starboard bow compartment. The aft part of the potter kept afloat for a time, allowing the two hands to stay on it until they have been rescued by the HSC crew."[29]

On 11 September 2013 the court in Coutances found the Vitesse captain Paul Le Romancer and first officer Yves Tournon (both of whom no longer work for Condor) guilty of manslaughter, involuntary injury and failure to respect maritime regulations.[30]

External links

  • Official Condor Ferries website


  1. ^ "1384.6 - Statistics - Tasmania, 2006". Retrieved 2013-02-19. 
  2. ^ BBC News - Cargo ship collision in harbour - 10 December 2007
  3. ^ BBC News - Freight ferry repairs under way - 11 December 2007
  4. ^ "Condor is sold to investment fund". BBC News. 4 August 2008. 
  5. ^
  6. ^ "Skid Ship Rides Gale 1964". British Pathe. Retrieved 2 April 2012. 
  7. ^ "JESSICA W". Retrieved 2013-05-06. 
  8. ^ "SVETI STEFAN". Retrieved 2013-05-06. 
  9. ^ Morel, Julian (2013-05-03). "Fairwell to a faithful old friend". Jersey Evening Post. Jersey Evening Post. p. 1. 
  10. ^ "IMO=9001526". Retrieved 2013-05-06. 
  11. ^ - Faktaomfartyg - HSC Condor Express
  12. ^ BBC News - Ferry collision master suspended - 14 May 2007
  13. ^ The Guernsey Press and Star - Condor boss slams HD as it gets permit back 6 August 2007
  14. ^ Press Statement – Condor Ferries 3 August 2007
  15. ^ Condor Ferries Statement - HD CEO Responds - 6 August 2007
  16. ^ HD Ferries is here to stay - 21 August 2007
  17. ^ HD Ferries prepares for legal action against Condor Ferries 2 October 2007
  18. ^ BBC News - Ferry move disappoints minister - 7 September 2008
  19. ^ "Ferry collides with fishing boat". Jersey Evening Post. 28 March 2011. Retrieved 28 March 2011. 
  20. ^ La Manche Libre - Un chalutier harponné par le Condor, un marin pêcheur trouve la mort - 29 March 2011
  21. ^ - Un ferry et un bateau de pêche de Granville (50) sont entrés en collision au large de Jersey.
  22. ^ - Collision mortelle entre un ferry et un caseyeur
  23. ^ "Fisherman died of crush injuries, inquest told". Jersey Evening Post. 2 April 2011. Retrieved 4 April 2011. 
  24. ^ "Victims of a tragedy at sea - 30 March 2011". Jersey Evening Post. Retrieved 31 March 2011. 
  25. ^ "Police investigate Condor collision". Jersey Evening Post. 29 March 2011. Retrieved 29 March 2011. 
  26. ^ "Vessel track - Condor Vitesse - 28 March 2011". 28 March 2011. Retrieved 29 March 2011. 
  27. ^ "Collision avec un ferry: décès d'un marin-pêcheur - 28 March 2011". france3. Retrieved 31 March 2011. 
  28. ^ "Rapport d’enquête technique: Condor Vitesse / Les Marquises". BEAmer. Retrieved 19 October 2011. 
  29. ^ "Damning report released on Condor ferry crash". Channel Television. Retrieved 19 October 2011. 
  30. ^
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