The MV Royal Sovereign was built for the New Medway Steam Packet Company by William Denny & Brothers, Dumbarton under their yard No. 1304. The ship was launched on May 28th 1937. By the time of delivery the New Medway Steam Packet Company had been acquired by the General Steam Navigation Co Ltd.
The ship was utilised on well patronised sailings from London to Bolougne and Calais and for the tourist market on the 'no-passport' weekend service to Ostend with an all-in ticket of 2 pounds 5 shillings. The approach of World War Two saw this traffic vanish, shortly after the outbreak of war the Royal Sovereign was used for the evacuation of women and children from port towns in Essex and Kent to East Anglia.
Further service in support of the war effort saw the Royal Sovereign in use as a troop transport between Southampton and Cherbourg. The vessel would be struck by a torpedo off the Isle of Wight, but this did not prevent her taking a significant part in the evacuation of troops from Dunkirk. The Admiralty later requisitioned the Royal Sovereign and renamed her the HMS Royal Scot.
On December 9th 1940 the Royal Sovereign was sailing from the Gareloch to the South of England, whilst navigating the Bristol Channel the ship hit a mine and started to take on water. The Chief Officer was killed with others sustaining injuries from the explosion. The ship did not sink immediately which allowed a tug to come alongside and take on the survivors.
General Details - Royal Sovereign (I)
Builder: William Denny & Brothers, Dumbarton.
Following the end of World War Two General Steam Navigation Co Ltd placed an order with William Denny for a replacement vessel for the sunken Royal Soveriegn.
The ship was launched on May 7th 1948 and completed her maiden voyage on July 24th 1948, sailing from Tower Pier, London to Ramsgate. Stops were made at Tilbury, Southend & Margate. Excursions were also made to the Continent.
In many ways the new ship was similar to her predecessor. However improvements included a covered observation lounge on the sun deck and a spacious lounge on the promenade deck. Fore & aft on the main deck were two dining rooms seating 96 & 140 persons respectively.
In addition to the local coastal trade during 1966 the Royal Sovereign did some cross Channel work, being based at Great Yarmouth for trips to Calais. This did not last long, perhaps seriously challenged by the roll-on, roll-off vehicle ferries in use on the cross-channel sailings.
During 1967 the ship was sold to Townsend Brothers and converted to carry a maimum of twenty four lorries between Dover & Zeebrugge, being renamed Autocarrier for this service.
In 1973 the Autocarrier was sold to Naples operator Societa Patrenopea di Navigazione in 1973 for ferry service between Naples & the island of Ischia. The ship was altered for this service and renamed Ischia. During 1975 she passed to Navigazione Toscana, Livorno, for services to Portoferraio on Elba. In the 1980s she returned to Naples-Ischia servoce for Traghetti Pozzuoli SRL.
The ship was sold in late 2007 and broken up at a shipbreakers in Aliaga, Turkey.
General Details - Royal Sovereign (II)
Builder: William Denny & Brothers, Dumbarton, Yard No. 1413.
Page added February 15th 2009