The Pride of Al Salam 95 was a passenger RO/RO ship of 4,981 GRT built as the Free Enterprise VI at the I.C.H. Holland, Werf Gusto Yard (Yard No. 881), Schiedam, Holland for the European Ferries Group (Townsend-Thoreson). The ship was launched on 29 January 1972 and completed on 15 June with a length of 117.5 meters, beam of 19.5 meters, and draught of 5.2 meters. Propulsion was provided by 3 shafts driven by Werkspoor 8TM410 diesel engines which gave the ship a top speed of 22 knots. As originally built, she could carry 1,132 passengers, sleeping accommodations for 68 1st-Class passengers, and could carry 250 automobiles.
The Free Enterprise VI provided service on Townsend-Thoresen route out of Dover to Calais, Zeebrugge and Boulogne for the first few years after she was launched. On 08 May 1978, she sustained damage in a collision with the Ostra Piren near Dover, England.
In June of 1985 the Free Enterprise VI underwent “Jumboisation” at Schichau-Werft AG, Bremerhaven. The modifications included the adding of an additional freight deck. Upon completion of the modifications on 22 October, the ship’s top speed was reduced to 19 knots, passenger carrying capacity was reduced to 1,035 from 1,132, and the automobile carrying capacity increased from 250 to 350-370. The ship then returned to service on 26 October 1985 until 1987 when the European Ferries Group was purchased by the Penninsular & Oriental Steam Company (P & O Lines). Ownership of the Free Enterprise then transferred to P & O and the ship was renamed the Pride of Sandwich on 01 December 1987.
From 31 December 1987 until early 1991 the ship continued service on the Dover-Zeebrugge route registered under P & O European Ferries Ltd., Dover, England. In April 1991 the ship was sold to Howill Shipping Ltd., Dover, UK, and was chartered by P & O and continued service on the Dover – Zeebrügge route until 31 December 1991 when she was transferred to the Felixstowe – Zeebrügge/ Europort route.
The Pride of Sandwich provided service on this route until March of 1992 when her name was changed to Pride of Ailsa while the ship was in upkeep in Falmouth, England. On 13 March 1993 she then began service on the Cairnryan – Larne route until arriving at Harland & Wolff, Belfast, Ireland on 15 June 1996 and was then sold to the El Salam Shipping & Trading Co, Suez, Egypt and re-registered under the Panamanian flag (Asia Shipping Mgt. S.A., Panama).
The ship then departed Belfast on 22 June 1966 after being renamed the Pride of Al Salam 95. Upon arrival in the Red Sea, commenced ferry service between Suez and Jeddah, KSA.
The Loss of the Pride of AL Salam 95:
At around 1930 on 17 October 2005, while returning to Suez from Jeddah, KSA, with approximately 1466 passengers onboard, the majority of whom were returning from Mecca, the ship collided with the Cypriot registered cargo ship Jebal Ali. The Pride of Al Salam 95 had been awaiting authorization for safe entry into Port Tawfik when she was rammed in the side of the ship by the Cypriot ship after the Jebel Ali had just completed transitting the Suez Canal on her way south. The collision opened a 5-meter hole in the side of the Pride of Al Salam in the vicinity of the engine room, which immediately flooded. The two ships were locked together, which allowed enough time for the evacuation of the passengers and crew to the Cypriot vessel, and were later transferred to other vessels who arrived on scene.
When the two vessels were separated and the Jebel Ali cleared the ship by the stern, the Pride of Al Salam then sank in approximately 3 and a half minutes.
Casualty reports differ, with possibly as many as 11 people having died in the incident as a result of either the collision itself, or in the stampede to get off the ship which occurred shortly after the collision. At least another 98 people were injured. The Jebel Ali suffered minor damage and was able to continue on her voyage. The Pride of Al Salam lies in the approach area to the southern entrance of the Suez Canal and was marked with a buoy shortly after the sinking.
Miramar Single Ship Report for 7204291