The Felixstowe port held a celebration ceremony for the 50th Roll-on/Roll-of operations anniversary at the Port of Britain.

The anniversary celebration consisted of a reception for various guests and local dignitaries after which there was a visit to the Ro/Ro Suecia Seaways ferry at the Dooley Terminal of the port. A large number of former retired employees attended the event – most of them having worked at the Ro/Ro terminals of the port over the past 50 years.

Photo: Dieter Kroepelin

Along the lines of the ceremony, Clemence Cheng, the Port of Felixstowe’s Chief Executive Officer and HPH Europe division’s Managing Director presented a framed copy of a DFDS advert from the 1965 Handbook of the port to DFDS Seaways’ Mark Woodard.

Back in 1965, DFDS was responsible for operating a weekly service en route to Copenhagen. For 50 years the company has operated three daily sailings from Felixstowe en route to the Netherlands’ Rotterdam.

“Ro/Ro operations began being carried out at Felixstowe before we even handled our very first container and they have steadily continued, without any interruption, ever since. A persisting and lasting part of European trade, freight ferries have managed to endure the test of time and we are nothing but delighted to have the opportunity of celebrating this event alongside DFDS. Their superb North Sea services offer shippers an integral route for U.K. trading with the Netherlands and the rest of Europe,” commented Mr. Cheng.

“We are greatly pleased to have this opportunity to be a part of these vital celebrations. We’ve managed to operate our route for several decades and it has turned into a highly frequent and capacity driven freight service with crossings to Rotterdam occurring on a daily basis. It is my belief that it is very important to recognize the professional and sufficient operations taking place here in Felixstowe where a quick turnaround time is essential to our clients as they primarily have to deal with goods that are time-sensitive. Therefore we give out our congratulations to the port and its staff and we hope to see Ro/Ro persist in Felixstowe for many years to come,” added Mark Woodard.

The Gaelic Ferry, was the 1st Ro/Ro vessel to ever call at the port’s then newly-constructed №1 Ro/Ro Bridge back on July 12th, 1965. The vessel had a weight of 2,760 tons. The very first service to Rotterdam was managed by the Transport Ferry Service operator, the Atlantic Steam Navigation Company (ASN)’s trading name. The ferry loaded up roughly 80 BMC cars and 34 lorries.

The Townsend Thoresen ferries’ operator, European Ferries group later on acquired ASN in 1971 and continued operating from the said port under the brand of Townsend Thoresen. After five years, in 1976, the Port of Felixstowe was also purchased by European Ferries.

Later on, the port along with the ferry company was sold to P&O and the ferry company was given the new name of P&O European Ferries. The ferry services of P&O from the port lasted until the year 2002.

DFDS was able to acquire the services operated previously by Norfolk Line back in 2010. The very first Norfolk Line vessel called at Felixstowe on January 6th, 1992. The list of ferry services which have operated from the Felixstowe port over the course of the past 50 years features Tor Line, Sealink, Finanglia and Fred Olsen.