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Mersey Shipping News

January 1997


05 January 1997

Welcome to the first Mersey Shipping News of 1997!



LADY OF MANN - laid up Vittoria Dock

BELARD - remains in Cammell Laird's Graving Dock

IoMSPCo new 1997 timetable began on 3rd January, though the full schedules for 1997 are not expected to be published until later in January.

On Friday 3rd January the KING ORRY made her first winter weekday arrival in Liverpool [Boxing Day workings excepted!], she was secured at Prince's Stage at about 12.40 and departed for Douglas at 14.30. As part of the new schedules the Douglas - Liverpool route will operate Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays - whilst Heysham to Douglas will operate Mondays to Thursdays.


 The ro/ro ferry PANTHER which arrived on 23rd December 1996 and which spent a brief period in Wright and Beyer's Bidston dry-dock over the holiday period left Birkenhead Docks on the afternoon tide of 3rd January.

The BISON has now entered Wright and Bayer's dry dock.


 Fisher's proposed take over of P and O Tank Ships and the associated rights issue of shares was given the green light by shareholders last week. When the take over is complete, Fisher will operate the largest UK Merchant Fleet.

Some years ago Fisher's nearly acquired the British Railway shipping operation Sealink, but their bid was rejected in favour of Sea Containers who were soon to sell on most of the Sealink operation to Stena Line. Fisher's at last appear to have found the expansion they have searched for.

As part of the reorganisation James Fisher Plc has agreed to sell on its 50% share in the Isle of Wight based Vectis shipping to the Isle of Wight based Carisbrooke Shipping Plc.


 After laying up at the Gladstone Dock liner terminal for the holiday period, NORSE MERSEY was noted moving back to the company's Brocklebank Dock berth just before mid day on the 3rd January. She was due to enter service on the evening sailing to Belfast. Reports in a shipping magazine suggest that the Norse Irish ships could be getting a new livery to coincide with the delivery of two new vessels later this year. At the moment Norse Lagan is predominantly white and the Norse Mersey is yellow/white.


12 January 1997



LADY OF MANN - laid up Vittoria Dock.

The Navire linkspan still remains in the adjoining East Float.

The BELARD departed from Cammell Laird's on the evening tide at 20.30 hours on 7 January heading for Douglas. The BELARD entering service on the Douglas to Heysham service as she did last year to cover for the PEVERIL's refit. This smart, modern looking ro/ro freight ship has been under used of late, since the demise of the IoMSPCo European Mannin Line service back in May 1995. She is apparently somewhat under powered and this precludes using her as a permanent replacement for the ageing PEVERIL, built in 1971 as the HOLMIA and the oldest vessel in the fleet.

PEVERIL has headed off to Garvel Dock, Greenock in Scotland for her annual refit.

The IoMSPCo has come under some criticism in the Manx press this week due to problems with the computer reservation system. Apparently the problem has been blamed on a changes to the company's computer system "to make it more travel agent friendly" this, combined with a lack of published schedules for 1997 has not been well received.

The winter schedule departures from Liverpool until 1st March are Friday depart 14.30. Saturday and Sunday depart 18.45. Arrival times at Liverpool are: Friday and Saturday arrive13.00, Sunday arrive 17.45

Sea Container's Hales Trophy [Blue Riband] Holder HOVERSPEED GREAT BRITAIN entered the Langton Dock river entrance on her way to Canada Dry Dock for refit on Monday evening, 6 January. HOVERSPEED GREAT BRITAIN was rumoured to operate the IOMSPCO routes during 1997 back in the autumn.


The BISON left Birkenhead docks after attention over the holiday period at 04.00 on 6th January. PUMA has now replaced BISON in the Wright and Bayer's Bidston Dry Dock passing through Alfred Locks into the Birkenhead dock system on 5th January.


19 January 1997

Welcome to Mersey Shipping News. Only a short update of interesting happenings this week I am afraid as news is a bit thin on the ground!




LADY OF MANN - laid up in Vittoria Dock.

 The Navire linkspan still remains in the adjoining East Float.

 Sea Container's Hales Trophy [Blue Riband] Holder HOVERSPEED GREAT BRITAIN remains in Canada Dry Dock undergoing her annual refit which is being undertaken by Wright and Beyer.

It is believed that the livery of the CLAYMORE, black and white with red and black funnels, will remain largely the same when she begins operating for Sea Containers. The Caledonian MacBrayne fleet names and Caledonian lions will be removed. The ship's livery is already very similar to the IOMSPCO livery as it is. She would look good with the IOMSPCO roundels on her funnels replacing the lions, however, as her new route Ireland - Scotland route is being marketed as the Argyle and Antrim Steam Packet Company this is most unlikely! Cruising Monthly magazine suggests that her name may even be changed to one that suggests "historical links between Antrim and Argyll".



The PUMA left Wright and Beyer's dry dock on Sunday morning's high tide [12 January], crossing the river to Liverpool to recommence sailings on the Liverpool to Dublin service.


CGC Hormattan was noted to be afloat again in the dry dock on Saturday 18 January. Presumably this ship will be leaving soon.


The tanker STOLT KESTREL entered Cammell Laird's wet basin on Sunday morning for attention. The ship leaving later in the week.


H.M.C.C. VALIANT is this weekend berthed in the Canning Basin outside the Merseyside Maritime Museum main entrance.


26 January 1997


Welcome to Mersey Shipping News. This week there is some interesting schedule information from the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company and Mersey Ferries.



 LADY OF MANN - laid-up in Vittoria Dock.

The Navire linkspan still remains in the adjoining East Float.

Sea Container's Hales Trophy [Blue Riband] Holder HOVERSPEED GREAT BRITAIN remains in Canada Dry Dock undergoing her annual refit which is being undertaken by Wright and Beyer.

Technical problems with KING ORRY caused delays last week end. The Sunday sailing from Douglas was rather late arriving at Liverpool and consequently was the return sailing. Monday's 08.30 sailing from Douglas to Heysham was delayed and diverted to Liverpool. Obviously the return sailing from Heysham was cancelled and the KING ORRY returned to Douglas late on Monday evening.

The Steam Packet's 1997 timetable has been published at last!

The good news is that it confirms that the Liverpool to Douglas route will, after 10 years or so, become the mainline route. Though some of the plans rumoured sometime ago do appear to have changed a bit. There will be a daily service from Liverpool throughout the summer with up to three sailings per day, mostly by SeaCat.

On the cover is a Sea Cat in the standard Sea Containers' livery - blue hull, white upper works, red/black funnel. However the craft in the photo on the timetable cover bears no name. In the timetable is just referred to as "SeaCat" so perhaps no final decision of which vessel will be used has been made. The1997 Isle of Man Holiday Guide features an IOMSPCO ad with a large picture of SEACAT ISLE OF MAN [now SEACAT NORGE] in 1994 configuration. As that brochure was prepared much earlier it understandable that perhaps a stock photo may have been used.

What is more interesting is the brochure cover of the IoMSPCo Magic Holidays Brochure. That shows a SeaCat passing a happy family beach scene. The SeaCat is in standard Sea Con livery again but carrying IOMSPCO "go faster stripes" and logo similar to that worn in 1995. So obviously the definitive livery, like the craft's name may not yet be decided.

LADY OF MANN sailings from Fleetwood have been increased, and the popular side loader makes a weekly return visit to Liverpool throughout much of the summer period on Thursdays. Just one year ago 1996 was being seen as the swansong of the last traditional IOMSPCO ship. Its interesting to ponder the fate of the MONA'S QUEEN. If the Sea Containers take-over had happened earlier would the LADY's sister have been sold off cheap to the Philippines ?

What is interesting though is what else will the LADY be up to in 1997? I do not have a copy yet of the Irish routes timetable and therein may lie the answer. Perhaps there may be more Fleetwood booze cruises to Dublin - perhaps even some from Liverpool as rumoured? This classic ship which celebrates its 21st birthday this year looks set to have an interesting year.

She is due back in service on 30th January when KING ORRY retires for refit. However, the KING's refit period is shown as being only around two weeks as opposed to almost 5 weeks last year.

The company's new computer system, the installation of which was blamed for the lack of schedules is due to go on-line on 27 January will enable ticketing for other Sea Containers services. The timetable is billed as "Issue 1" - it does not carry full details of extra sailings for the TT or Manx Grand Prix for example. Obviously further updates could be issued. No autumn day excursions from Fleetwood are shown, so its not known if the bargain day trips with cars will run again. However, recent ads for seasonal jobs at Manx National Heritage properties state that there is a possibility that the sites may remain open to end of October. This was done last year when the autumn excursion programme was announced. I guess it's a case of wait and see!

SeaCat services, however, are shown as terminating on 21 September so it looks as though all year SeaCat services are still some way off!


ISLE OF INNISFREE is too big! Welsh HTV news announced that the planned introduction of the ISLE OF INNISFREE on to the company's Pembroke to Rosslare service has been delayed. The ship was due to take up that route after it's refit and replacement on the Holyhead to Dublin route by the new 33,000 tonne ISLE OF INISHMORE. Apparently dredging work will have to be undertaken to deepen the berth before the ISLE OF INNISFREE can transfer!


Mersey Ferries Manchester Ship Canal Cruises 1997

Details have been published of the 1997 Manchester Ship Canal Cruises operated by Mersey Ferries.

The cruises will operate on the following dates

From Liverpool, Pier Head, Mersey Ferries Landing Stage:



07th June

12th July

26th July

09th August

30th August


From Salford Quays:



08th June

13th July

27th July

10th August

31st August


The fare is 20.00 pounds. There are no concessionary fares available though groups of 20 or more get a 10% discount.

Bar and Buffet facilities available on board

The 35 mile cruise takes around 6 hours though exact timings depend on the canal locks.

For details of departure times/bookings contact:

Mersey Ferries, Victoria Place, Seacombe L44 6QY

Enquiries: 0151-630 1030

Bookings: 0151-330-1444


 IBEX was noted in Cammell Laird's wet basin on Saturday 25 January


CGG Hormattan left the dry dock for the wet basin on 22/01/97 and moved to the wet basin. She left the wet basin on 23/01/97 and crossed to Gladstone Dock, Liverpool. She was noted berthed at the Gladstone Dock liner terminal on Saturday 25 January. The Mersey Docks and Harbour Company floating crane was noted in the dry dock on the 25th January along with an unidentified James Fisher [Coe Metcalf] vessel. Sorry couldn't see the name!


The 7746 tonne SAGA MOON is receiving attention in Wright and Beyer's Bidston dry dock. This ship is usually employed on the company's Heysham to Belfast service. The ship is due to leave on the morning tide of Sunday 26 January.


 H.M.C.C. VALIANT which was noted berthed at the Canning Basin last week was seen out on the river just before high tide on Saturday 25 January awaiting the opening of the Canning Basin gates. She was seen entering Canning Basin at around 11.30.


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