Sea Chieftain





Previous name:                      Stena Hispanica
Subsequent name:                 Stena Seafreighter, Stena Freighter

Official Number:                      223648000

Class:                                    Strategic Sealift  Ro-Ro                                                     

Laid down:                             19 February 1997
Builder:                                  Esercizio, Viareggio
Launched:                              9 May 1998
Into Service:                           Never entered RFA Service


Items of historic interest involving this ship: –


Background Data:  The formation of the Joint Rapid Deployment Force (JRDF) which later became the Joint Rapid Reaction Force (JRRF) was announced in mid-1996 and the M0D had to look around for additional freight carrying capacity. It had also been announced in April 1996 that 2 ro-ro ferries were to be purchased. The JRDF included elements of 3 Commando Brigade Royal Marines and 5 Airborne Brigade and its armoured reinforcement would have imposed additional transportation requirements over and above that of the existing fleet of LSL’s. Because it had not always been possible to find suitable vessels at short notice, it was decided in the short term that at least one, but perhaps two, commercial ro-ro vessels should be bareboat chartered with the option to extend this charter at the end of the agreed period. Stena Line was at that time committed to building 5 new ro-ro’s in Italy and they agreed to charter 2 of these to the MoD on a long-term agreement. These were originally supposed  to have been nos. 2 and 3 of the 5-ship order, but owing to building delays, the original Turkish owners cancelled the order for the first one and the MoD were offered nos. 1 and 2. These were to become SEA CENTURION and SEA CHIEFTAIN respectively.


19 February 1997 laid down as STENA HISPANICA for Stena Line, Gothenburg

5 May 1998 renamed SEA CHIEFTAIN by Mrs Squire, the wife of Commodore N.D. Squire via a radio link from Sweden. The ship was allocated pennant number A97 and a radio call sign of GDIX – neither of which were used

9 May 1998 launched by Societa Esercizio Cantieri Navali SpA, Viareggio as Yard Nr: 1547 named SEA CHIEFTAIN

1998 shipyard in financial difficulties and contract cancelled owing to delays. Ship was 50% finished, with hull works complete

1999 her builders went bankrupt and work on her ceased

2002 the incomplete vessel was purchased from a bankruptcy estate at auction by  Stena Line, Gothenburg  for completion  elsewhere under the name STENA SEAFREIGHTER and was towed to Toulon for  engine works to commence and several shipyards  were invited to inspect her and to file tenders to complete the work.  She lay at Toulon for 6 months before a shipyard in Slovenia was chosen and  preparations were made to tow her from Toulon. This deal fell through when the shipyard could  not deliver sufficient financial guarantees

February 2003 the vessel finally arrived in tow at the Kraljevica Shipyard in Croatia after a sub-contractor, Elektromehanika of Rijeka, already working on electrical installations, had provided an alternative by teaming up with the Kraljevica Shipyard. The original intention was to dry-dock the vessel at the Victor Lenac Shiprepair Yard in Croatia,  this firm however also filed for bankruptcy and yet another dry dock facility was required. This was found at the Arsenale Shipyard in Venice so once again she was towed across the Adriatic Sea. After inspections and hull works, the tow headed back to Kraljevica for final completion. The delivery dry docking was carried out at Trieste, but she managed to steam there under her own power

12 March 2004 finally delivered to Stena Line as STENA FREIGHTER – owners shown as Wheelhouse Ltd., Hamilton, Bermuda

15 March 2004 berthed at Gibraltar from RIJEKA for bunkers and crew change – sailed the next day for Gothenburg

20 March 2004 arrived Gothenburg

24 March 2004 owners changed to Stena Environment, Stockholm

26 March 2004 employed on Stena Line’s Gothenburg – Travemünde service

April 2004 ownership changed to Stena Freighter Ltd, Gothenburg

1 September 2010 employed on Stena Line’s Gothenburg – Kiel service

December 2010 employed on Stena Line’s Harwich – Rotterdam (Europoort) service

24 April 2012 at Rotterdam – Maasvlakte

3 May 2012 sailed Rotterdam – Maasvlakte

4 May 2012 berthed at Harwich

11 August 2012 sailed Felixstowe

12 August 2012 arrived Rotterdam Europoort

3 May 2014 was berthed at Genoa

10 July 2014 sailed Vado Ligure

23 June 2016 berthed at Marina di Carrara, Italy sailing later the same day




1. The 1st and 4th vessels in the 5-ship order were intended for UND of Turkey and were to have been named UND EGEand UND KARADENIZ,but because of delays, the Turks cancelled the order and  the firstone became RFA SEA CENTURION, the second became SEA CHIEFTAINand the third vessel was purchased by chartered by the Italian company Transmed and  became ARONTE. She too was purchased by Stena in the autumn of 2005 and was completed by  the Nuovi Apuania, Marina di Carrara shipyard in Italy before being delivered to Stena in the spring of 2006 named STENA CARRIER. The fourth and fifth ships in the series were never built

2. As such SEA CHIEFTAIN never sailed as a Royal Fleet Auxiliary.