Completed in in 1969, for SNCF's new Dunkerque-Harwich route (with container-carrying capacity aswell as ro-ro), the Transcontainer I complemented British Rail's own new container services from Harwich to Zeebrugge which utilised Sea Freightliners I and II. The suffix 'I' to the French ship's name would seem to indicate that SNCF anticipated there being more than one, but no sister ever appeared and the ship never appears to have settled down on a profitable service. In 1974 she was converted to additionally be able to carry rail freight and began to make additional Dunkerque-Dover train ferry runs and was also seen on the Calais-Dover route for a period. Her core route however remained the Harwich one, but this was finally terminated due to continuing losses in 1984. After a lengthy lay-up in Dunkerque, the ship was later placed on a new Dieppe-Portsmouth freight operation, starting in March 1985. This was not to last long however and the link was closed in October the same year, after which the ship operated again on Dunkerque-Dover as well as returning to Dieppe to cover for the holed Senlac in January 1986. 

Not long after this,
Transcontainer I was sold for service in Greece as the Nour I, later running on the Adriatic to Albania and Greece from Italy as Niobe I. She subsequently passed to Rainbow Lines before heading for scrap in India in late 2000.
Transcontainer I
SNCF/Sealink
Top: A pre-service artist's impression of Transcontainer I.
e-mail: matt@hhvferry.com
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Below:
Transcontainer I as completed, prior to receiving the SNCF logos on her funnels.

Below:
A profile plan of Transcontainer I showing the combination ro-ro/container ship design which included either on two levels (one on open deck) and a lower hold for containers only.

Below:
Transcontainer I as built, seen from astern - the upper freight deck cut straight through the aft accommodation block.

Below:
'TCI' from right astern, loading a container in her early days in service. The welded-on 'TCI' markings on her stern are notable.

Below:
A side-on view from the mid-1970s, with the SNCF markings now present on Transcontainer I's funnels.

Below:
Niobe I arriving at Brindisi in August 1999 - the operator's name has at this stage been painted out on her hull. She went for scrap just over a year later. There has been a modest extension to the accommodation, but by and large the ship appears unchanged from her original guise.

Below:
A stern shot at Brindisi in August 1999 - the 'TCI' markings were still clearly visible (painted over) on either side of the original upper ramp.
Below: The ship in her brief guise as Nour I.
Above & Below: Saved from the scrappers, here is the ship's magnificent original builder's plate. This is available for sale from the Land & Sea Collection website.