07 April 2013

Bencomo Express in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, 19 January 2007

After three weeks, we are now arriving at the end of the archive visit for my 2007 Canaries cruise. If I was going on this same trip now, I would probably study the local ferry timetables beforehand to see if there was anything interesting in port at the same time with us... but back in the day I was a lot less organised when it came to ship photography. (Though to be fair, that was not nescessarily a bad thing).

Bencomo Express

IMO 9206712
Name history: Benchijigua Express, Bentayga Express, Bencomo Express
Built 1999, InCat Tasmania Hobart, Australia
Tonnage 6 344 GT
Length 95,47 m
Width 26,60 m
Draugth 4,01 m
859 passengers
271 cars
330 lane metres
4 Caterpillar diesels, combined 28 320 kW
4 Lips waterjets
Service speed 38 knots
Maximum speed 48 knots

The ship currently known as the Bencomo Express was originally one of three identical wave-piercing ordered by Lineas Fred. Olsen (later rebranded as Fred. Olsen Express), a Fred. Olsen subsidiary operating around the Canary Isles. Hitherto Lineas Fred. Olsen had primarily operated using conventional ferries - usually second-hand units from northern Europe - but in the late 1990s the company started a move towards operating exclusively with fast craft.

The three first-generation Fred. Olsen Express ships were delivered in 1999-2000 as the Bonanza Express, the Benchijigua Express and the Benchijigua Express. And no, that is not a typo - two of the ships really entered service with the same name. The ship we are talking about now is the middle one, which was delivered in the beginning of October 1999 as the Benchijigua Express. She arrived at the Canary Isles during the same month and for some reason she was renamed Bentayga Express before entering service. The name Benchijigua Express passed to the third sister in the series, that was delivered in January 2000.

The Bentayga Express entered service on Fred. Olsen Express' Santa Cruz de Tenerife-Agate route in October 1999. On the service she seems to have replaced Lineas Fred. Olsen's largest conventional ferry Bañaderos (ex-Viking Voyager, Pride of Cherbourg). In 2004 the Bentayga Express was renamed Bencomo Express. Apparently this was done to avoid confusion, as the Benchijigua Express had been renamed Bentago Express (in order to free the name Benchijigua Express to a new fast trimaran) and the names Bentago Express and Bentayga Express were thought to be too similar. This does seem a rather roudabout way of doing things; certainly it would have been simpler to rename the Benchijigua Express into Bencomo Express and leave the Bentayga Express as it was?

Apart from the somewhat confusing name changes, the Bencomo Express has had a rather uneventful career. At the time of writing, she still sails on the Santa Cruz de Tenerife-Agate route alongside her sister Bentago Express.

The photographs below show the Bencomo Express arriving at Santa Cruz de Tenerife in the evening of 19 January 2007. Photographed from onboard the Thomson Destiny. Click on the images to see them in larger size.

I really rather like the look of the Fred. Olsen Express ships. The dark window stripes look very futuristic, while the yellow superstructure is instantly recognisable and at the same time respects Fred. Olsen traditions of painting not only the funnel but a large part of the superstructure yellow. although this one could do with painting over the extra logos on the hull.
And speaking of traditions, also notice the small Fred. Olsen Express flag logo painted in front of the ship's name in the bow. Lovely, lovely detail.
Next time we return to the most traditional of subjects: the Mariella.

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