THE CAR DECK
matt@hhvferry.com
The vehicle deck on Hengist, Horsa and Senlac was divided lengthways into three sections using an unusual twin engine casing layout. All three sections were fitted with full-width hoistable mezzanine platforms for the flexible stowage of either cars on two levels or lorries and coaches as traffic demanded.
The use of twin casings differed from BR's previous drive-through vessels, and the arrangement (as explained in Don Ripley and Tony Rogan's book,
Designing Ships for Sealink) was so that the mezzanine levels on either side outside of the casings could be converted to passenger lounges in any future use out of Heysham, this being the alternative use envisaged for the pair if and when a Channel Tunnel rendered Dover Strait ferries (and especially those running for the state rail operator) redundant. The conversion of these mezzanines would then leave space for just one level of cars below, whilst the centre section of the vehicle deck would remain full height for the continued transportation of lorries/coaches.
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Top: Hengist's vehicle deck in 1972, looking astern from just aft of the bow visor and door. The hydraulically operated platform decks are seen in the lowered position.
Above: A picture showing the Hengist's bow with the visor open and the watertight door beyond in the lowered position. The latter was hinged at its base to provide a short ramp to connect to the linkspan. The linkspan itself rested on the 'cow catcher' steelwork seen forward of this. All the vehicle deck access equipment was supplied by Cargospeed, as were the mezzanine decks; at the stern was a two-part door which folded upwards and was stowed overhead when open.

After the ship's move to Greece, where she operates as a stern-loader only, the bow visor was sealed and the cow-catcher removed. The original stern door was replaced with a new door, hinged at the base and opening downwards to form the connecting ramp instead of a dedicated linkspan.
Above: The car garage on Panagia Ekatontapiliani in July 2003, looking forward from the stern door. The mezzanine decks are stowed against the deckhead.
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e-mail: matt@hhvferry.com