The Libyan state owned company General National Maritime Transport Company, more known as GNMTC founded in 1975 based in Tripoli used to operate 4 ferries amongst other ships including the ferry GARYOUNIS.
She was built by Naikai Zosen Corporation, Setoda Shiyard, at Onimichi in Japan launched on 3rd April 1973 and completed on 30th June 1973 as yard number 254 as a ferry for service between Tokyo and Kushiro (Hokkaido) with 300 passengers as MASHU for Kinkai Yusen KK, Tokyo, Japan with 3,423 dwt and 8,800 gt. Her machinery was 2 x 16 cylinder Hitachi/Sulzer diesels producing 18,800 bhp.
During 1977 she was converted as a ropax by the same shipyard that the ship was built bearing new gross tonnage of 6,364 ts. New Machinery was 2 x 9 cylinder Pielstick/Nippon diesels producing 20,800 bhp. Passenger capacity was 679 passengers with 152 cabins and 250 cars.
In 1977 she was acquired by the General National Maritime Transport Co., Benghazi, Libya for services between Libya and France and renamed GARYOUNIS and homeported at Benghazi.
In 1985 a helipad was installed at Palermo shipyard on the aft open car deck and on Tuesday 15th April 1986 around 0200 hrs the United States performed air strikes code named Operation El Dorado Canyon. GARYOUNIS was berthed at the commercial side of Tripoli Port and at no time she was hit and after some time she called at Malta Drydocks for general refit including drydocking. In 1989 she was used by the Libyan Navy as a training vessel.
In March 1992 Security Council Resolution 748 established sanctions including an arms embargo on Libya. This sanction was imposed in reaction to Libya to hand over two suspects wanted for the 1988 bombing of PAN AM Flight 103 killing all 243 passengers and 16 crew in what became known as the Lockerbie bombing and a French airliner over Niger as had been demanded in Security Council Resolution 731 of January 1992. Before the lifting of the air travel sanctions, Malta was for Libyans the gateway to the rest of the world. In fact GNMTC used to run a daily ferry service between Tripoli and Valletta, carrying about 140,000 passengers annually between the two ports. Duration of the trip to Libya/Malta used to take about 18 hours.
In April 1999 Security Council Presidential Statement S-PRST-1999-10 announced that as the conditions set by Security Council Resolution 1192 were met by Libya all UN sanctions against Libya were suspended but not lifted after the two suspects were handed over for trial. In September 2003 Security Council Resolution 1506 lifted the arms embargo against Libya after Libya, with regard to the bombing of the US and French airliners, had accepted responsibility for the actions of Libyan officials, agreed on payment of appropriate compensation, renounced terrorism, and had committed to cooperating with any further requests for information in connection with the investigation into the bombings.
On the afternoon of Wednesday 30th April, 2003 GARYOUNIS was berthed at Malta Drydocks and a fire broke out in the living quarters and spread to nearby cabins. No shipyard employees were on board the vessel, which has been berthed at the yard for the past three years. Crew members who were working in the engine room managed to get out of the ship just in time. No injuries were reported.
On Friday 14th November 2003 a judicial sale by auction was made at Malta Drydocks.
She was sold to Golden Flag Marine Management, Portsmouth, Dominican Republic and was renamed DUBAI COAST I. She left Malta Drydocks on Monday 23rd August 2004 bound to Dubai.
And on Tuesday 21st September 2004 she was broken up at Alang, India.
Photos by Capt. Lawrence Dalli. Do not use these images without my permission. © All rights reserved. Malta Ship Photos & Action Photos – www.maltashipphotos.com
Published – Saturday 28th March, 2020