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e-mail: matt@hhvferry.com
After the success of their first foray into fast car-carrying catamarans in the form of the original 1993-built 74m Incat Stena Sea Lynx on the Holyhead-Dun Laoghaire route, Stena soon upgraded their equipment with the delivery of the larger, brand-new, 78m Stena Sea Lynx II in 1994. Actually owned by Uruguayan fast ferry specialists Buquebus, she initially replaced her predecessor at Holyhead as her operators and her route geared up towards, after a series of delays, the 1996 debut of pioneer HSS Stena Explorer. After the arrival of the Lynx II, the Stena Sea Lynx was cascaded down to commence fast ferry operations on the Fishguard-Rosslare route. With the demise of the Sealink brand in favour of Stena Line from January 1996, the ship was renamed Stena Lynx II just prior to a February move south to Stena's English Channel front line, offering a new fast option on the Dover-Calais route. This was somewhat short-lived however and the Stena Lynx II was soon whisked away being required on Stena's premier Göteborg-Frederikshavn run which, faced with a delivery delay on its own HSS (the smaller 900 version, Stena Carisma) and under attack from bitter rivals Sea Containers with their parallel SeaCat operation was in greater need of the fast ferry's abilities.

With the
Stena Carisma finally in service and operating satisfactorily, the Stena Lynx II was laid up in Göteborg in August 1996 before making her way back to the UK for 1997 operations on the Newhaven-Dieppe run. Replaced in August of that year by the larger-still 81m Stena Lynx III, previously at Dover, Stena had no further use for the vessel and the charter was terminated. Buquebus brought her down to Southern Europe for use by their Spanish Buquebus Espańa subsidiary between Algeciras in Southern Spain and Ceuta under the name Ronda Marina - this lasted until 1999 before the ship was put aside once again. Brief use by Lineas Fred. Olsen as Incat 033 and then Trasmediterranea as Fast Ceuta followed in 1999 and 2000 before the unwanted ship made her way to Malta for lay up in October 2000.

Apparent salvation came in April 2001 in the form of well-known Greek operator Ventouris Ferries, who brought the
Fast Ceuta and a sister vessel, Incat 035, together respectively as Thundercat 2 and Thundercat 1 for Adriatic operations on a Brindisi-Igoumenitsa-Corfu run. This however proved to be disastrous for Ventouris with reports of unreliable ships, optimistic scheduling and poor passenger loads.

An itinerant and intermittent career thus saw the vessel once again laid up in Malta, where she and her sister lay unwanted after October 2001, not alone in a depressed fast ferry market which saw so many of Incat's products in similar situations. Although the
Thundercat I later departed for further service, the former Stena Sea Lynx II remained in Malta. Finally, in June 2005, she was reactivated for service with Balearia between Barcelona and Palma de Mallorca under the name Jaume I. The ship was reportedly not an overwhelming success, but was nevertheless retained by Balearia, and in late 2005 transferred to a new route for the company between Algeciras and Tangier in Morocco.
STENA SEA LYNX II
Above: Stena Sea Lynx II in her original Stena Sealink livery.
Above: A Stena Line doctoring of the original pre-service artists impressions for Stena Sea Lynx II produced this image of the ship in Stena Line livery (although still carrying the original name) for the 1996 brochure which heralded the arrival of the Stena Line name and the end of the Sealink era.
Below: Another view of Stena Sea Lynx II in her original guise. In the absence of a funnel, the Sealink logo was located on the forward gangway door.
Above: Thundercat 2 and Thundercat 1 laid up at Malta in December 2003 - over two years after they were discarded by Ventouris (Picture courtesy David Baker)
Above: Thundercat 2 in Malta, December 2004 - since the departure of Thundercat 1, she was laid up alone.  (Picture courtesy David Baker)
Click below for Stena Sea Lynx II interior pictures:
Vehicle Decks & Lower Passenger Deck
Upper Passenger Deck
Click below for Stena Sea Lynx II/Jaume I interior pictures:
Vehicle Decks & Lower Passenger Deck
Upper Passenger Deck
Above: The Jaume I at her berth in Barcelona in August 2005 during her spell operaring from that port to the Balearic islands for Balearia.
Above: Two further pictures of the Jaume I at Barcelona, including (below) a view of the ship departing on an early morning day sailing.