St Helena was constructed in 1963 by Burrard Dry Dock in North Vancouver, Canada as Northland Prince, operating under that name on service between Vancouver and Alaska.
She was purchased by St. Helena Shipping, a joint venture between the Saint Helena government and British shipping firm Curnow Shipping, to operate ocean service to the island after Union-Castle Line ceased operations in 1977. She underwent a refit and renamed St Helena entered service in September 1978 on a route from Avonmouth to Cape Town, calling en-route at Las Palmas (Canary Islands) and Jamestown, Saint Helena.
She continued in this service until replaced by another ship, also named St Helena in 1990, interrupted only by a charter for the British government during the Falklands Conflict. She was sold and laid up for several years before being scrapped.
St Helena measured 3,150 gross tons, was 321 feet (98 m) long, with a beam of 46 feet (14 m). Propelled by a single diesel engine with a service speed of 16.5 knots (19.0 mph) she had a passenger capacity of 88 in a single class configuration.