The ships name reads Bel'-Bek', given after a small river that flows near the major Russian naval base Sevastopol (Crimea). It was a Russian ferry built in 1897 by a Swedish shipyard and delivered to Russia in parts. The maiden voyage took place in October 1897 between Artbukhta to Severnaya, Black Sea. Later she was deployed on the route between Sevastopol to Georgian sea ports (Gagra, Sukhumi, Poti and Batumi) at least until 1914. According to Russian records in this period the ferry was operated by a certain Greek ciziten, known as Pashali.