|HHV stands for Hengist, Horsa, Vortigern - a minor tribute to the three Sealink (UK) vessels of the 1970s and 1980s. Principally running from Folkestone, these were the ships I grew up with. Travelling from Folkestone to Boulogne was generally the only time I would experience a sea crossing each year, on the way to or from a continental family holiday; and these were the ships we would travel on.
These ships, as I would later discover, were born in a golden era in British nationalised car ferry design - from the St George of 1968 to the St Columba of 1977, British Rail's naval architects Don Ripley and Tony Rogan, working together with interior designers Ward & Austin, produced a succession of stylish but still unremittingly functional vessels, all of which went on to have long and successful careers.
In later years, the trio were reunited in Greece, at one stage all in the same Hella Ferries fleet. With the 35-year age limit on Greek ferries, however, the Vortigern was the first to meet her end, heading to the Indian scrapyards in early 2005. For now, the remaining pair saill on, as Ventouris Sea Lines' Agios Georgios (Hengist) and Agoudimos Lines' Penelope A (Horsa). Whilst their careers are nearing an end, they continue to provide reliable and important sea crossings, just as they have done since being built, in the heyday of British Rail car ferry design.