The following is an abstract – with permission – from the Mitchell Bruce’s website Ferries of Australia

Abel Tasman (IMO 7362108) sailed on the Bass Strait between 1985 to 1993. She started life as the Nils Holgersson, built in 1975. She commenced her regular route, linking Travemünde (Germany) to Trelleborg (Sweden).

In the June of 1984, ANL (Australian National Line) announced they were departing the passenger ferry sector the following year, to focus solely on their cargo ships, sailing internationally, and domestically. This left the Tasmanian government to take over the service. The federal government agreed to pay for a ferry, in part compensation for blocking the Tasmanian government from damming the now, world heritage area of the Franklin River, for hydro electricity power generation.

The Tasmanian government’s department responsible for transport (Tasmanian Transport commission) sent representatives to Europe to inspect tonnage that might be suitable for the Bass Strait trade.
In August of 1984 Tasmanian Transport announced they had selected Nils Holgersson of the TT-Saga-Line. The cost was DM46.5 million, the exchange at the time was AUD $19.150 million, with the modifications costing DM7.1 million about AUD$6.7 million. On the 20/4/1985 the Nils Holgersson, now renamed Abel Tasman was officially handed over at a ceremony onboard, to the shipping division of Transport Tasmania commission, now known as TT-Line.

Mutiny on the Abel Tasman

Abel Tasman Departed Rendsburg the next day, but some of the stewards were very unhappy with the situation onboard. They had not been allocated their own cabins in the crew block, so went on strike and started a “mutiny” onboard. The captain and senior crew were fearful for their safety and decided they could not proceed. So she proceed to Kiel where she was laid up. The senior crew had been instructed to order the crew off the ship, but the union had ordered the crew to stay with the ship, or she may never get to Tasmania, and thus no jobs for them. At first, they tried to get West German Police to evict the crew, but were unsuccessful, because the ship was flying the Australian flag, and under Tasmanian registry. The senior crew even blacked out the ship (Shut down the power and A/C) to try and get them off. The Tasmanian government sent officers from Tasmania Police to join the ship. Once they arrived, they too were powerless, because the ship was in West Germany. It was decided to fly majority the crew home to Australia and one week later fly them back to Germany, minus the agitators. Some of the behavior was considered criminal, but it is not known if they were charged, and it should be noted it was only a few bad crew, most just wanted to sail the Abel Tasman to Tasmania. Finally, on the 18/5/85 the Abel Tasman departed Kiel bond for Tasmania.

Abel Tasman finally arrived in Devonport on 20/6/1985, just before midday. Thousands of people came out to see the Abel Tasman arrive. On 29/6/85 Abel Tasman departed Devonport and sailed overnight to Melbourne to begin operations.

On 27/11/1993 Abel Tasman departed Devonport for the last time. She was replaced by The Spirit of Tasmania. In April of 1994 the Abel Tasman was sold to a Greek company, Ventouris Ferries. in May 1995 Ventouris Ferries sold Pollux to NEL Lines (Maritime Company of Lesvos) and renamed Theofilos. When this company went broke the ship was sold for scrap value to Crete based ANEN Lines. She was renamed ILos for the one way voyage to the scrap yards of Aliağa Turkey. She arrived here on Monday 16/5/22 where she was beached.

Nils Holgersson
Abel Tasman
Scrapped in Turkey