The pure white vessel, named KEFALLINIA, was laid down for Strintzis Lines in 1965 being the company’s first new built. She was one of the many ships constructed in the broader zone of Perama, an area with significant shipbuilding activity from the early 60s till the mid 80s. During that time the Perama zone was – in today’s terms – a huge hub of start uppers. The vessels built there facilitated a great variety of domestic routes while dozens of the successful open type of ferry boats have been built by shipbuilders of the Perama.
The later in blue livery KEFALLINIA was a fit for purpose vessel. Her size (L: 82m, B: 11,1m), her capacity (600 passengers, 70 vehicles) and her speed (15 knots) despite limited compared to a contemporary vessels’, proved ideal for the routes she served. In the very beginning of her career she was connecting the city of Patras and the Ionian island of Cephalonia and until the mid 90s she was mainly active in the Ionian and the Adriatic Sea. In 1993 she was sold to Katopoliani N.E., renamed EXPRESS PAROS, and for the next five years she has been employed in the intercycladic connection. Sold to Tanzania in 1999 – since according to the Greek law by the time ferries should be retired at the age of 35 – her career as ZAHARA in Africa was short. In 2001 she was laid up in Dar – Es – Salaam. She has been spotted abandoned and aground in a poor state and, according to some sources, she must have been scrapped sometime in the mid 00s.
The passengers of the photos definitely sail on the KEFALLINIA. Many of her structural and secondary elements are depicted clearly on the pictures, as the characteristic and purely mid century style oval bridge, the wooden decks and the wooden benches and the windows of the main saloon located forward. The passengers enjoy their journey in the bow of the KEFALLINIA among the maneuvering machinery, an area strictly forbidden today. It was easy for the passenger to reach that point, the only thing he/she had to do was to walk through the side corridors. In a way, the small KEFALLINIA had her own, very special, promenade deck.
Paradoxically, even by the end of her career in the Mediterranean, the bow of the vessel was still approachable. Taking into account this information we can be sure that the vessel was probably one of the very last in the Greek waters where the passenger could around walk her superstructure reaching the edge of the bow.
Despite the fact that the identity of the mystery vessel has been reviled the lighthouse of the picture remains unidentified. Capturing the imagination of the travelers, the lighthouses are faithful companion during navigation and a symbol the maritime journey itself. It’s probably the 1899 built lighthouse Oxia located on the Oxia Island of the Patras bay but we are not entirely sure. Can someone verify our hypothesis?
It was around the late 1950s, when numerous youngsters in Europe danced wildly to rock ’n’ roll and fell in love with blue jeans. At that point, cliques of young people from Northern Europe also started travelling to Mediterranean coasts informally: parents were not usually welcome in such excursions. Those youngsters would not rush to Thomas Cook to buy a ticket: they preferred hitchhiking and, from 1972 on, Interrail. Travelling by ship was also a hobby horse of theirs: it was not atypical for them to travel from Italian to Greek ports. Simultaneously, people from Southern Europe increasingly migrated to the North. Numerous Greeks moved to Belgium and West Germany to get a job in the booming industry there. The two most common itineraries they followed were either by train from Greece to West Germany or by ship to Italy and then further to the North. While crossing the Adriatic Sea, migrants from the South and young tourists from the North met in ports and ships, such as in KOLOKOTRONIS.
By the end of the WWII the vast majority of Greece’s coastal fleet had been lost. Part of the war reparations to Greece, 4 + 2 Cargo/Passenger vessels were built in Italian shipyards during the early 1950s for Greek interests. The four sister ships were named after revolutionists of the Greek War of Independence and played a crucial role in the coastal shipping for more than three decades. They served numerous routes in the Aegean and Adriatic Sea. While the MIAOULIS, the KANARIS and the KARAISKAKIS were delivered to “Petros M. Nomikos Ltd” at Piraeus, the KOLOKOTRONIS was delivered to “The New Epirotiki Steamship Navigation – Petros Potamianos” at Piraeus. She was the only of the four sister ships in a dark livery while up to 1971 when she was sold two names were written at her bow: GEORGIOS POTAMIANOS and KOLOKOTRONIS. She sailed the Adriatic, the Aegean Sea while in 1967 she approached the ports of Limassol and Haifa. During her second period of her life the Italian built vessel sailed under the name ACHILEUS until 1984 when she was scrapped in Eleusis area. A few months later, her sister ship KANARIS was scrapped. Four years after MIAOULIS followed the fate of her sisters and she was scrapped in Pakistan. KARAISKAKIS enjoyed a long career. Converted to a cruise ship in 1971 she changed many ship owners and names until she was finally scrapped in early 2000s in India. The name of the four sister ships is still recalled in the islands of the Aegean, bringing up memories from the maritime journey of the first post-war decades.
Hint for ship enthusiasts: Seven minutes of 1959 footage from the exterior and interior of the long lived sister ship KARAISKAKIS, scenes from the movie “Gamílio Taxídi” can be found here thanks to the efforts of the You Tube user cptdx.
Salty Deck Question: Have you ever sailed on one of the Italian sister ships? Don’t hesitate to share your memories by responding to this post or by submitting a story.