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  • Writer's pictureAlexandros Vrailas

PANTANASSA Tribute and Moments of Trip

Trip: 14 August 2020. From Salamina to Megara, with the PANTANASSA of Pantanassa NE.

The landing craft PANTANASSA was built in 1990 in Greece, as the PREVEZA for the Municipality of Preveza, for service on the Preveza-Aktion line on the Ambracian Gulf. She was part of the many landing craft that were deployed on this line during the 1980s and 1990s, helping connect Preveza and Epirus with Aetolia-Arcanania. She operated there until 2002, when the service between both ports she was serving was discontinued following the completion of the construction of an undersea road tunnel, the first and so far only one of her type in Greece. As a result, she was deployed on the Rion-Antirrion line during the summer of 2002. She then moved to the Kefalonia-Ithaca-Lefkada line on the Ionian Sea in 2003, where she remained for one season. She then returned to the Rion-Antirrion line in 2004.

In 2007 the PREVEZA was sold to newly-established company Pantanassa NE, and was renamed PANTANASSA. She underwent a major conversion in Salamina, during which she was lengthened, her bridge was moved forward, an upper deck was added, her bow was completely modified and her engines were replaced. As a result of this conversion, she looked like she was a completely different ship to compared to her initial design when she was built. She then entered service on the Igoumenitsa-Corfu line on the Ionian Sea, where she operated for three seasons with mixed results. In 2010 she returned to the Rion-Antirrion line, which she served over the the next 10 years. There were often rumours of her leaving the service in order to be deployed elsewhere, most notably in 2018 and in 2019, when it had been reported that ANES Ferries had chartered her for service on the Piraeus-Northern Aegina line (serving the port of Souvala) on the Saronic Gulf, as well as on the Agios-Konstantinos-Skiathos-Skopelos line on the Sporades. However, such moves were never materialised and the ship continued to serve the Rion-Antirrion line. In 2020 she was deployed on the Megara-Salamina line, becoming the largest ship to ever operate there.

In 30 years of service so far, the PANTANASSA has operated on numerous short-distance lines, with the vast majority of them being based on the Ionian Sea and in Western Greece. Despite her potential and the increase of onboard amenities following her conversion in 2007, the ship has not been completely sparred from criticism, especially regarding the quality of her engines. Moreover, even though I personally like her overall appearance and think that her design is quite impressive for a landing craft, many Greek shipping enthusiasts have often disapproved of the conversion on social media, but I guess this is simply a matter of taste. While not necessarily successful on the Igoumenitsa-Corfu line, she was pretty effective on the Rion-Antirrion line, where she has spent half of her career so far.

Now that you have the full background of this veteran landing craft, I can now talk to you about my trip with her. Indeed, I had arrived in Salamina from Piraeus in the late morning of 14 August 2020 with the GEORGIOS BROUFAS of Broufas Vessels, after having also spent the early morning photographing the ships departing the main port of Athens. When doing this trip, I arrived in the port of Paloukia, which is located at the opposite of Perama and the vicinity of Piraeus, at the Eastern side of the island of Salamina. Paloukia is also the main passenger port of Salamina, and also welcomes the dozens of double-ended ferries and small passenger ships operating on the Perama-Salamina line, which is the busiest line of the Greek coastal service. However, Salamina can also be reached from another line, namely the Megara-Salamina line. This is a very short service that links the Western part of the island with the town of Megara, which is located between Athens and Corinth, and is not far from Elefsina and Agioi Theodoroi. Megara is also located on the Megara Gulf, which is the Northern section of the Saronic Gulf. The line is quite useful, as it enables passengers and vehicles arriving from Western Greece to head to Salamina without needing to go all the way to Perama and only arriving in the Eastern part of the island. The port in Salamina that is linked with Megara (whose port is also known as Pachi) is Faneromeni, which is known for having the Holy Monastery of Panagia Faneromeni, one of the most historical landmarks of the island. A trip of the Megana-Salamina line lasts just five minutes, making it one of the shortest in Greece. Nevertheless, the service is very busy, and has been an essential part of the communities of Megara and Western Salamina for many decades. The line has notably seen dozens of landing craft throughout its history, with many of them having had previous experience on the Perama-Salamina line. During the 1990s and 2000s, most ships operating on the line were landing craft that had spent two to three decades of the Perama-Salamina line and were thus nearing the end of their careers in Greece. However, the line also included many newly-built landing craft, with the Holy Monastery of Panagia Faneromeni also owning numerous ships between 1964 and 2009 (including the landing craft KANARIS of Georgios Lines, which operated for them as the AGIOS LAVRENTIOS II from 1979 to 1989). In the 2010s, the line continued to have landing craft, but also occasionally had double-ended ferries operating there, such as the FANEROMENI of Panagia Faneromeni and the PANAGIA KOIMISIS of Galaga Shipping Company. In 2020, three landing craft were operating on the line, including the PANTANASSA.

The PANTANASSA seen leaving Salamina for Megara, during her first summer in her new service.

After arriving in Salamina and taking numerous pictures of the ships that could be seen within the port of Paloukia, the next plan for me was to further explore the island, and to go see the ferries that operate on the Megara-Salamina line. As a result of this, I headed from Paloukia to Faneromeni, from where the PANTANASSA was just about to depart. She therefore became the first-ever ship that I used in order to head from Salamina to Megara. It was most likely my first-ever trip with a landing craft that was either heading to or leaving Salamina, although there could have been a possibility that I traveled with a landing craft back when I went to Salamina in 2000 with my parents. Unfortunately, as I was just 17 months old at the time, I cannot confirm this. She was also the first landing craft on which I traveled since my trip with the AGIOS NIKOLAOS of Agia Marina I NE from Antiparos to Paros back in 27 July 2018.

A view of the ship from her port side alley leading from the garage to the upper deck of her accommodation superstructure. Here is a view of the garage, which was almost full.

A view of the ship's bridge, which, unlike most landing craft, is in the front section. Underneath it, one can see the ship's name written in Greek characters, with her company's logo (depicting a snake going around a trident) just above it. The ship is name after Pantanassa, which is alternative way to mention the Virgin Mary in Greek, which is usually called 'Panagia'. Pantanassa is a portmanteau of 'panton' (all) and 'anassa' (queen), with her name thus being 'Queen of All' in English.

A view of the port side outdoor alley of the middle deck, which leads to the ship's sun deck.

A view of the ship's indoor lounge area, which is located in the middle deck. It features several beige lounges, which surround wooden tables.

A view of the ship's outdoor area located in her upper deck. It features several white chairs aligned in rows. Moreover, one can see some of the ship's life-rafts.

A view of the ship's bridge.

At 13:15, the ship began to leave Salamina in order to make her short crossing to Megara. Next to her was another landing craft, the ALKYON II of Farmakoris-Villiotis NE. Built in 2018 in Greece, she began service on the Megara-Salamina line, before heading to the Pounta-Elafonisos line in 2019. After just one season there, she returned to the Megara-Salamina line in 2020. She is currently the youngest ship operating on the line.

I then went on to see the third landing craft operating on the line. Indeed, it was the AIANTAS of Aiantas Ferries Company, which was seen heading towards Salamina.

Crossing the AIANTAS as she heads towards Salamina. Out of the three ships, she is the most experienced one on the Megara-Salamina line. Indeed, she has been operating there for all but four seasons in her career, which began when she was built in 1999 in Greece.

The AIANTAS seen heading to the port of Faneromeni in Salamina. She spent her first ten years on the Megara-Salamina line, while also occasionally operating on the Perama-Salamina line during the low season. In 2009 she was deployed on the Arkitsa-Aidipsos line on the North Evoian Gulf, where she spent one season. In 2010 she stayed on the North Evoian Gulf, although this time she was deployed on the Agios Konstantinos-Agios Georgios Lichados line, where she remained until the end of the 2012 season. Since 2013 she has been back on the Megara-Salamina line.

The AIANTAS, the veteran of the Megara-Salamina line, meets the debutant, the PANTANASSA, as they are seen heading in opposite directions.

Crossing the AIANTAS as she approaches Salamina. This was her eighteenth season on the Megara-Salamina line, and it was also her eighth summer in a row there.

After only five minutes, the PANTANASSA had arrived in Megara. Here is a view of her bow, with passengers beginning to leave from the ramp.

The PANTANASSA seen in Megara, right after she had docked in the port.

A view of the PANTANASSA in Megara, right after I had completed my first-ever trip with her.

A view of the port of Faneromeni in Salamina, which was clearly visible from Megara. This goes on to show how close it is from Megara, and how short the line is. I could spot two of the three ships serving the line, namely the AIANTAS and the ALKYON II.

The PANTANASSA seen resting in Megara.

The PANTANASSA seen docked in Megara. Since beginning service for Pantanassa NE, she has sailed under different liveries, with the current one simply consisting of a full black hull. She received it during the 2018 season.

A view of the AIANTAS in Salamina.

The PANTANASSA docked in Megara, during her first season on the Megara-Salamina. As stated previously, she is the largest ship to ever operate there.

The impressive PANTANASSA, which is one of the most unusual landing craft of Greece.

The PANTANASSA seen in the port of Megara.

One final view of the PANTANASSA in Megara.

This therefore marked the end of this very short trip, but which was very meaningful to me. Indeed, I traveled with a landing craft on the Megara-Salamina line for the first time, and it was nice to do it with the PANTANASSA. While she is definitely big, in fact too big to operate on such a short-distance trip, she operates efficiently and carries out her service without any problems. Her crew was very friendly as well, and I really enjoyed this brief but pleasant experience.

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