One of the GNV’s (Grandi Navi Veloci) ferries around is the 1981 built ropax GNV AZZURRA.

In the late 70s the Swedish shipbuilding industry was suffering from a downturn, with little to no ships in order from Swedish shipyards. To help the industry the Swedish Prime Minister Ola Ullsten persuaded Rederi AB Gotland to order new ferries from Öresundsvarvet in Landskrona. Although Rederi AB Gotland were reluctant to order new ships at first, in the end they decided to order 2 ferries, capable of carrying over 2000 passengers. The second ship, planned to be called GOTLAND was delivered on 24th June 1981 to Rederi Ab Gotland. However, there were not enough passengers in the traffic from Gotland to the Swedish mainland, on one day following her delivery the ship was chartered to Vaasanlaivat / Vasabåtarna, Finland and officially named WASA STAR.

On 29th August 1983, after the various conflicting charter agreements were resolved, the WASA STAR was sold to the Norwegian operator Larvik Line. She left Landskrona on 13th January 1984. In March of the same year she was renamed PETER WESSEL and started operating on the Larvik–Frederikshavn route. On Friday 27th June 1986 she collided with the 1964 built vessel SYDFJORD which lead the cargo ship to sink with 8 people including 2 children drowned (captain and his family) and 3 of her crew were evacuated on board the ferry. In 1988 she was lengthened by 22.5 m (73 ft 10 in) meters at Blohm + Voss, Hamburg, Germany . Additional cabins were also built.

During October 1996 Color Line chartered the PETER WESSEL from Larvik Line, keeping her on the same route as before. In 1999 parts of the cardeck were built in with cabins, decreasing her car capacity. In spring 2003 the ship was rebuilt again, this time at Remontowa in Poland with large side sponsons for increased stabity. She was bought by Color Line in 2004. On 22nd March 2007 a fire broke out in one of the ship’s electric switchboards, which forced her to sail to Frederikshavn. Due to repairs the ship was forced to stay out of service for over a month, returning to service on 26 April 2007. Meanwhile on 19th October 2007 Color Line reported that the PETER WESSEL was sold to Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) and delivered to her new owners on 16th April 2008 and subsequently renamed SNAV TOSCANA. 2 days later she left Norway bound to the Med. She entered service on SNAV’s Civitavecchia—Palermo or Civitavecchia – Olbia service during 2008

Below image as SNAV TOSCANA at Fincantieri, Palermo back to 2nd October, 2014 –

Now the ship services Genova – Porto Torres route. Since 2017, she was renamed to GNV AZZURRA.

All images are at Marsaxlokk Harbour, Malta back to Monday 26th February, 2018 while the below during her last call to the Maltese Islands drydocked at Palumbo Malta Shipyards back to April, 2019 –

Watermarked Photos are by Capt. Lawrence Dalli otherwise stated. NO PHOTOS can be used or manipulated without our permission. © All rights reserved. Malta Ship Photos & Action Photos – www.maltashipphotos.com

Published – Friday 12th February, 2021.