After the successfull introduction of TESO's first double-deck ferry Molengat in 1980, the traffic to and from the island had increased drasticly and so the reason to introduce this ship was made clear. This, despite of a large part of the inhabitants of Texel that were not all happy about the large groups of tourists, as the island had always been a smaller community. And, as always, the extra capacity that Molengat offered, brought a little sideproblem, as the waitingtimes for the ferry skyrocketed because the extra capacity was simply not enough, but the people were attracted anyhow. So at the end of the 1980's, TESO again had to look forward and introduced a ship that was even larger. Molengat measured 3254 tons and had a lenght of 88,26 meters and the new ship would easily double her size, Of course also a double-deck ferry, it was thought that this ship was able to lower the inconvenient waiting times that could be up to several hours for the only connection to and from Texel.
Below, Schulpengat is seen docked at the harbour of 't Horntje at Texel in the summer of 2007, serving as a reservessel for the route.
The new ship was Dutch built, ordered from the Verolme Shipyards at Heusden and launched at the 28th of july of 1990. Her capacity was 1750 passengers and she had also a double cardeck for 242 cars. With this capacity, she was to replace two of the older ships of the company, the second Marsdiep that had been built in 1964 and the first Texelstroom that had been built in 1966. The new ship, named Schulpengat in line with the Molengat, measured 8311 tons and had a lenght of 110,40 meters. She was 18,70 meters wide and had a draft of 3,80 meters. Driven by four Voith Schneider propellers, two on each end for easy manouverability, her normal service speed was 11,5 knots, with a maximum of 14,4 knots. Her machinery was made up from six Caterpillar diesel engines, each delivering 1600 kW and 2100 horsepower. Nine crewmembers were needed to operate the ship and after her introduction, she became the flagship of the fleet and thus Molengat became a reservevessel for the busy moments or for the times when the new giant was in maintenance. Both older ships were sold.
The interiours of the ship were quite simple, as the crossing to and from Texel from Den Helder only took around 20 minutes. Below were the two cardecks, deck 3 was mainly used for the parking for bikes and motorcycles and deck four is the Salondeck, with two large lounges separated by a buffetarea. In the early 1990's, one of the lounges was devoted to non-smoking and one for smokers, but later on the whole ship became smoke-free.
Very normal for a ship in a short-haul service like hers, she did not have many mishaps or glories. Her reliable services were just interrupted a few times for maintenancework, like in the beginning of 2007 when she was brought more in line with the 2004-built megaferry Dokter Wagemaker. During this refit, the ship was also repainted from the original yellow colours to the hull-art that was also seen at the new ship, an artists impression of the island os Texel as seen from the sea.
On a fridayafternoon at the 29th of may 2015, the ship suffered from an engineroomfire close to Den Helder, but luckily, there were no casualties. After a quick repair of the ships main swichboard, where the fire originated, she was back in service after three days.
Schulpengat will be replaced in the fleet by the new 16.400-ton ferry Texelstroom in the end of may of 2016 and has been put up for sale. That said, because the ship was totally designed for the service between Texel and Den Helder and to fit into the unique double-deck loadingdock, sale can be a challenge because the now 26-year old will probably have to be rebuilt for other services. The new Texelstroom will become the flagship of TESO after that ships introduction, with Dokter Wagemaker taking Schulpengat's role as the reservevessel.