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Finished With Engines: Irish Sea Shipping is now closed to new updates - J.H. Luxton Photography - Transport, Industrial History, Regional Photographs UK & beyond

Photographs  John H. Luxton 2012


31 August 1997

Welcome to this week's Mersey Shipping News. Quite a collection of stories this week including the completion of the world's largest ship propeller built on Merseyside.



Bad weather disrupted some sailings this week. On Wednesday 27 August SEACAT ISLE OF MAN arrived late from Douglas [approximately 15.20] on the 07.30 sailing to Liverpool. She departed for Dublin at around 16.10 with 223 passenger aboard. Mersey Radio announcing a return arrival time in Liverpool at 01.45 on Thursday morning. She was also noted running late off the Welsh Coast between Prestatyn and Point of Ayre on Friday 29 April.

I understand that SEACAT SCOTLAND is due to visit Merseyside for dry-docking shortly. Withdrawn from service on 25 August her place on the Stranraer to Belfast service will be taken by SEACAT DANMARK, made redundant by one of the new SUPERSEACATS. SEACAT SCOTLAND will be migrating to Argentina for the winter. She is the preferred craft for the role as she has better air conditioning.


SEACAT SCOTLAND due Langton Lock at 19.00 hours Sunday 31st August.

There is another offer now available on all Sea Container's Irish Sea Routes. When you have made a journey, quote your booking reference number to receive a 10% discount on your next journey. Not a bad deal, but not as good as collecting your tickets under the "Sail and Save" scheme though it will appeal to the less regular travellers. A leaflet is available from terminals giving details.

According to Coastal Cruising Magazine from the start of the new Campbeltown to Ballycastle service until 25 July 1,080 vehicles and 4,649 passengers have been carried by CLAYMORE.


The famous former Mersey Ferry and Cruise ship ROYAL IRIS has been rescued from Cardiff Docks where she has lain for several years. She had been moved to Cardiff to be opened as a night club. Unfortunately the ship continued to deteriorate. When she left the Mersey it was understood that the vessel was just about seaworthy.

Latterly the ship had been under arrest in Cardiff Docks. However, the dock authority were prepared to allow the ship to be removed as it was considered to becoming a hazard. She has now been moved to Woolwich for reconditioning into a floating disco and restaurant - presumably in a static role.


 Ro-Ro ferry LEOPARD spent some time in Wright and Beyer's Bidston Dry Dock during the past week. The ship departed at around 08.00 29th of August from Albert River entrance at Birkenhead and proceeded light to Dublin. She overtook the chartered SEA HAWK some distance beyond South Stack, Anglesey to arrive in Dublin just before 16.00.


 CTC Cruise Lines SOUTHERN CROSS returned from it's Mediterranean Cruise on Wednesday 27th August. The liner docked at the Gladstone Dock Liner Terminal. Passengers disembarking unfortunately found themselves delayed for about 30 minutes by a protest being undertaken by former dock employees protesting about the continuing dispute with MD&HC. SOUTHERN CROSS departed from Langton Lock at 20.30 on Wednesday evening.


 Stone Manganese Marine of Birkenhead have completed the first of three propellers which are to be delivered to a Japanese Ship Builders. The propellers weighing 93.5 tonnes cost 450,000 pounds [UKL]. The propellers will be fitted to new container vessels which are being built for P&O Nedlloyd. Stone Manganese Marine has also secured a contract to supply 12 86 tonne propellers to a Scandinavian shipyard.


As noted above the ISLE OF INISHMORE experienced problems keeping to timetable due to the bad weather this week. Some weeks ago I reported that ST. KILLIAN II had made a brief visit to CANADA dry dock at the end of July. Apparently she had grounded in Cork harbour according to Coastal Cruising Magazine.


The MD&HC dredger MERSEY VENTURE has left Canada Dry Dock after attention by Wright and Beyer. It looks as though the proposals to install wind turbines along the river wall in the vicinity of the Seaforth Dock will go ahead. Sefton Council had opposed the plan to install six large turbines in this very windy spot. [These things appear to be sprouting up everywhere and causing major changes to the landscape. One thing is for certain, the sea approaches to Liverpool will never look the same again].


This week here in the UK several air near misses have been reported in the press. Not to be out done, the Douglas Gas/Oil rig in reported a near miss with a passing ship.

The Liverpool Echo reported that a ship came within 800 metres of the rig, which has a 500metre exclusion zone surrounding it. Apparently it was decided that the pumping of oil and gas should stop as a precaution. The captain of the vessel, which was not named in the news report, claimed that he was fully aware of his position. The incident happened on Tuesday 19th August. Anyone know which ship it was ?]


Vessels currently in Cammell Laird - Wet Basin - PEVERIL, L.M. BALDUR [floating crane] and P&O's EUROPEAN ENDEAVOUR. DEEP SEA WORKER is in dry dock. CAVE SAND is still maintaining dredging operations around the Cammell Laird dock entrances.




24 August 1997



A jet skier diced with death last Saturday afternoon [16 August] when he ran his Jet Ski beneath the twin hulls of SEACAT ISLE OF MAN near New Brighton. The vessel had slowed from its cruising speed to make its way up to Princes' Landing Stage when the irresponsible stunt was undertaken. The 36 year-old rider of the Jet Ski, from Burnley was arrested after he collided with a buoy. SEACAT ISLE OF MAN turned round to rescue the rider, however, police officers on a lifeboat arrested him. However, there is some confusion as to whether maritime laws have been broken as apparently a jet-ski is not considered to be a vessel.

It is not the first time that jet skiers have caused consternation. When SEACAT ISLE OF MAN first operated during the 1994 season concern was expressed at Jet Skiers riding through the craft's wake.


HSS STENA EXPLORER appeared to be experiencing difficulties in keeping to schedule last week. I spent a few days in Dub Laoghaire and whilst the ship was noted as running on time on Tuesday. On Wednesday the 20.45 ex-Dun Longhair did not depart until nearly mid-night. She had pulled back some of this delay by Friday when she was noted running about one hour behind schedule


The MD&HC dredger MERSEY VENTURE was still in the Canada Dry Dock on Saturday 23rd August.


James Fisher's RFA OAKLEAF departed Cammell Laird's on 23rd August at 15.00. She was assisted out of the wet basin by Cory tugs NORTON CROSS, HOLMGARTH and ROGARTH. PEVERIL remains in the wet basin along with the crane barge BALDUR. IRISH SEA PIONEER appears to have departed and DEEP SEA WORKER has been moved to the dry dock.

CAVE SAND is still continuing dredging operations.


I have had it pointed out that I have mis-reported the names of the rig support vessels on a recent voyage report. At a distance it is sometimes hard to read ship's names with my small 8x pocket binoculars.

Mark Davies sent me the following information. The vessels actually are the GRAMPIAN SUPPORTER (usually in attendance at the Douglas platform), the SEFTON SUPPORTER ( usually at the Lennox platform. off Southport) and the CLYWD SUPPORTER ( usually in attendance at the Offshore Storage Installation , ten miles to the north). I generally state vessels are "unidentified" if I can't make a positive ID - guess one's creative mind has read the wrong words!



17 August 1997



 Following in the tradition of previous classic Isle of Man Steam Packet ships the LADY OF MANN is set to become a film star. Just prior to the start of the TT festival she undertook a voyage to Dublin [18 - 21 May] which was promoted by the Liverpool Echo and mentioned in a previous MSN. Apparently whilst in Dublin she undertook filming in connection with a new movie "The Boxer"

According to a report in the local press IoMSPCo reports an overall increase of passengers loadings of 6% for the first half of 1997. Vehicle carryings are up 14% and freight traffic 7%

The KING ORRY was forced to return to Douglas on its morning sailing to Heysham on 13th August when a passenger was taken seriously ill. Commodore Captain Fargher took the decision to return to Douglas at 10.00. Unfortunately the passenger had passed away by the time the ship berthed at the seaward side of Victoria Pier. KING ORRY departed again at 11.39.

Some weeks ago I reported that SEACAT ISLE OF MAN had upset some yacht owners at New Brighton who claimed the wash from the vessel had swamped two classic yachts causing thousands of pounds worth of damage. Now anglers are being warned to be aware of the wash which can sometimes come ashore up to 15 minutes after the vessel has passed. Wash from fast craft have caused problems for Stena Line - HSS operations between Belfast and Stranraer have had to be decelerated because of excessive wash from the vessel. There are rumours circulating that the Stranraer terminal may close and the Belfast route's British terminal transferred to Holyhead so as to enable the HSS to make full use of its enhanced speed capabilities.


The House of Manannan is a new Multimedia Museum, which has been established on Peel Harbour, Isle of Man. Opened by Manx National Heritage this year The House of Manannan is in a purpose built building resembling a harbour side warehouse complex.

The House of Manannan was formally opened by Her Excellency, Mrs. Mary Robinson, President of Ireland on Tynwald Day - 7th July 1997. The complex concentrates on elaborating the Celtic and Viking history of the Isle of Man along with its seafaring traditions. Admission is 5.00UKL for adults. Members of British, New Zealand and Australian National Trusts as well as CADW, Historic Scotland, English Heritage and Manx National Heritage are admitted free on production of their membership cards.

Concentrating on the Maritime aspects of the House of Manannan there are a number of items of interest. First of all is the replica ODIN'S RAVEN built in the 1970s to recreate the Viking voyage to Man to celebrate the Millennium of Tynwald. This, three quarters replica ship, is presented so as to take the appearance of being drawn up on the beach. A wave machine realistically laps the water on the "sandy beach" - as the defeated Manx Vikings return from the Battle of Clontarf where they were defeated by the Irish forces led by Brian Boru.

 Moving on from ODIN'S RAVEN is the "Forests of Masts" display which recreates the Peel quayside in the late 1890s and the associated trades which serviced the fishing industry. Various discussions can be overheard. A recreation of Moore's Kipper Yard is adjoins this display.

Moving on there are two multimedia areas "Maritime Encounters" in which visitors can listen to tales recounted by various Manx Maritime personalities from the past including Sir William Hillary founder of the RNLI.

The Steam Packet gallery is quite impressive. Being panelled to recreate the ambience of a saloon on one of the classic steamers. Two multimedia computers set into heavily polished wooden tables can be used to access information on the fleet past and present. These use touch screens. One of the machines I tried had problems, constantly recounting details of the SEACAT when the PEVERIL was touched!

If you have ever fancied your chances at commanding the LADY OF MANN you now have the chance! There is a simulator in which you can take the LADY on a voyage from Liverpool to Douglas. Unfortunately the visual reproduction of the Pier Head, Liverpool is the wrong way round and the view incorrect! Also as one is supposed to be on the LADY OF MAN why is the same ship visible further up the landing stage - or is it MONAS QUEEN?

However, its still is an interesting concept, though if you want to try it without being bothered by others pick your visit at a quiet time!


 The MD&HC dredger MERSEY VENTURE was remains in the Canada Dry Dock on Saturday.


 IoMSPCo PEVERIL remains in Lairds along with the drill ship DEEPSEA WORKER. The large floating crane LM BALDUR was busy in the yard again this week. Fisher's OAKLEAF also remains in the wet basin. On Sunday 17 August these vessels were joined by EUROPEAN ENDEAVOUR and the jack up rig vessel IRISH SEA PIONEER which earlier in the week had been in jacked up position along side the Douglas Platform in Liverpool Bay


The well travelled steam tug KERNE returned to the Mersey after a few weeks up north. She originally sailed north for the Preston Maritime festival some weeks ago. A week last Wednesday I noted her in Glasson Dock with banners affixed to her sides advertising the Merseyside Maritime Museum. She returned to Liverpool on Saturday afternoon 16 August. She was berthed alongside Princes' Landing stage until high tide when she re-entered Canning Half Tide basin opposite the Maritime Museum.


 On Saturday 16th August the CHARLOTTE C radioed for assistance following engine failure. She was held in the Middle Deep by a tug overnight prior to entering Birkenhead Docks for attention on 17th August.



10 August 1997


Welcome to Mersey Shipping News. Just a short update after last week's large posting but there was a surprise visitor to the River Mersey in the form of Stena Line's KONINGIN BEATRIX.

 I have taken the opportunity of including some digital photographs of this event in this weeks news. Please note these were taken on an Apple Digital Camera and the quality is decidedly poor compared to the Photo-CD reproduction used for the main galleries. Gallery pictures of this event reproduced from Photo-CD will appear within the next month.




 On Friday, SEACAT ISLE OF MAN was noted running very late arriving around 11.20 from Douglas [scheduled arrival 10.00]. She radioed departure to control at 12.45 [scheduled departure 11.00] have not been able to ascertain cause as yet.

The Steam Packet has over the past years received its fair amount of criticism in the press and often in the letters pages of some of the Manx newspapers. However, it was really nice to see an appreciative letter in the Liverpool Echo this week. A lady who states she is a regular traveller to Ireland use the new Liverpool - Dublin service on the Lady of Mann. She praised the catering, crew and the on-board entertainment in very high terms.

N.B. The promised review of the Steam Packet Gallery at the House of Manannan is held over until next week.


The KONINGIN BEATRIX was an interesting, if unexpected visitor to Merseyside this week. The ship had transferred from the Harwich - Hook of Holland service on the arrival of the HSS STENA DISCOVERY to the Fishguard - Rosslare crossing of the Irish Sea recently.

She damaged herself when berthing at Rosslare early on the 4th August. Instead of off loading she proceeded directly to Dublin to discharge arriving at 10.00. After that she headed off to the Mersey and entered Cammell Laird's wet basin on the evening tide. She left Lairds on the afternoon tide at 14.00 on the 7th August. Presumably just after a patch up/inspection as the damage to her starboard stern quarter was still very apparent.


A terminal for the cruise liner EDINBURGH CASTLE [32,000 tons, 218 metres long] is to established at CANADA DOCK next year. Direct Holidays is to market cruises on this ship operating out of the Mersey to the Mediterranean, Iceland and Greenland. This is a further boos to the growing number of the liners which are either making calls in the Mersey or actually embarking passengers.

The company is targeting potential passengers from the Midlands and North of England - who they reckon would find Liverpool a more convenient point of departure rather than having to head to Southampton. It is understood that brochures regarding EDINBURGH CASTLE cruises will be available from the end of August.


The MD&HC dredger MERSEY VENTURE was remains in the Canada Dry Dock on Saturday.


Probably the final episode concerning the loss of the historic ship MARIA ASSUMPTA was played out at Exeter Crown Court this week.

The MARIA ASSUMPTA was a classic square-rigged sailing ship, once a familiar sight around the coasts of Britain. She visited Liverpool on a number of occasions, the Maritime Museum shops still sells postcards and prints of her.

She was tragically lost off the Cornish Coast near Padstow in May 1995. Her owner/master Mark Lichfield was gaoled this week at Exeter Crown Court for the manslaughter of three members of the crew who drowned when the ship hit rocks.


IoMSPCo PEVERIL remains in Lairds along with the drill ship DEEPSEA WORKER. The large floating crane LM BALDUR was busy in the yard this week and also the Mersey Mammoth paid a visit. Fisher's OAKLEAF remains in the wet basin. These vessels were briefly joined by the KONINGIN BEATRIX of Stena Line as noted above.


03 August 1997


 Welcome to Mersey Shipping News. Sorry about the break last week but I was away on the Isle of Man, some notes on some of the maritime happenings on the Isle of Man are included in this week's posting.

There have been extensive updates to the gallery pages. Make sure you visit the front page and check out these links as well as the redesigned front page which should make navigation around the site more interesting




Pensioners' 5.00UKL day return fares to Dublin have been restarted - they are available on Monday, Tuesdays and Thursdays on a stand-by basis for LADY OF MANN sailings. The offer is available for anyone aged 60 or over.

It was announced in this week's Manx Independent Newspaper that the new IOMSPCO Ro/Pax vessel ordered from van der Geissen for delivery will use the North Edward Pier Department of Transport owned linkspan birth. As a result an elevated walkway 6 metres off the ground and 150 metres in length, 2.7 metres in width will be required from the Sea Terminal to the Edward Pier berth passing over the Victoria Pier link-span approach. Access to the elevated walkway will be via towers containing stairs and lifts. Construction will in concrete with an aluminium framed cover. Interestingly, the new ship is now stated as entering service in August 1998, originally July 1998 was being spoken of as the target date.

The Manx Department of Transport also has plans to improve the baggage reclaim facilities and concourse at the Government owned terminal.

IOMSPCO has applied for a music and drinks licenses for SEACAT ISLE OF MAN - the application being due to be heard on 10th August. The vessel has a licensed bar. I would guess that this application would allow the craft be made available for private functions.

On Saturday night the KING ORRY went out on a special charter sailing to Port Erin at around 20.30 returning shortly after midnight.



The new MERSEY VIKING has entered service. She is certainly a smart looking ship. However, the Dock pickets are not approve - their banner slogan reading "New Ship Same Scabs!"


You will be aware that there was no MSN update last week. That is because I was on the Isle of Man last week for a few days holiday. Of course I kept an eye on the local maritime scene and whilst I may not have noted everything the following came to my notice:


Plans were put on public display in the Sea Terminal last week for the replacement of the pedestrian swing bridge across the inner harbour with a lifting road bridge. The road bridge would consist of a fixed and a lifting span. The towers of the lifting span being clad in Manx stone. This would enable better access to the south quay area, oil and gas terminal etc. The operation new bridge would be controlled from the prominent Victorian control tower used to operate the present swinging footbridge.

On Saturday 28 July the Ramsey based Mezeron Line coaster CLAUDIA W arrived with a cargo of road chippings from Millom. She set sail again on Sunday morning bound for Arklow.

Also noted in the harbour, berthed on the Edward Pier was the Department of Transport's new harbour maintenance vessel TAROO USHTEY [Gaelic for Water Buffalo]

On Thursday evening the Douglas Lifeboat RNLB WILLIAM HILLARY put to sea for a training exercise.

On Sunday evening a distress call was received by Liverpool Coastguard from a small motor cruiser the SEABIRD. Consequently the Douglas Lifeboat RNLB WILLIAM HILLARY was launched to attend the craft which had suffered engine failure off Santon Head. The lifeboat then towed the vessel into port.

Whilst monitoring marine transmissions on Monday evening a call came in from a craft identifying itself as 252, adrift in Douglas Bay with engine failure. After quite a lot of conversation with the coastguard it became apparent that "252" was the SEABIRD! It appeared almost as if those on board were rather embarrassed. The lifeboat was not launched this time, instead the Harbour Master's launch put out to tow the errant craft back in.

On Monday evening at around 18.45 the former Caledonian MacBrayne ferry COLUMBA arrived. For some years this has operated as a luxury cruise vessel the HEBRIDEAN PRINCESS.

At around the same time the CLAUDIA W was seen crossing the bay heading north presumably back to her base in Ramsey. She had travelled back from Arklow and discharged another cargo of chippings.

Also a caller at Douglas on Monday was Crescent Shipping's tanker BRABOURNE which had called to discharge a cargo of oil. The vessel was due to leave sometime after 22.00 when the delayed 21.30 SEACAT departure had cleared.`


I visited Ramsey Harbour a couple of times. The Ramsey Steamship Company's BEN MAYE was at the ship yard berth. She made an unusual sight at low water. These small Ramsey coasters are not quite so small when you walk up to them when high and dry at low water! Photos will be posted on the Gallery Pages soon.

Also in Ramsey was J & A Gardiner's SAINT ORAN, this Glasgow registered cargo vessel also has limited roll on facilities over the bow. She set sail on Saturday afternoon's tide. Apparently she had been on charter to Mezeron Line. Mezeron Line's SILVER RIVER was also noted.

On Saturday 26th July many people lined the harbour at Ramsey to see the return of a local yacht which had completed and around the world voyage. Unfortunately I can't remember the name of the vessel and I can't find it in my notes!


A UKL 3 million investment is to be made to increase the capacity of the Seaforth Container Terminal by 30% and make further efficiency improvements. Work will involve the construction of an on-site logistics centre and a vehicle marshalling area to make the flow of vehicles smoother through a new multi-lane terminal gate. The company is installing a new computer system which will enable the advanced Customs clearance of exports and imports.

The MD&HC dredger MERSEY VENTURE was noted in the Canada Dry Dock on Saturday.


Last month saw the collapse of the Irish based BELL LINES after some months of financial difficulties. Earlier this week the MD&HC owned Coastal Container Lines announced that it was to provide replacement facilities by offering a twice weekly container service between Cardiff and Waterford.


Another MD&HC company, B.G. Freight Lines is to inaugurate a once a week service from Waterford to Rotterdam.


Irish Ferries ST. KILLIAN II paid a short visit to Canada Dry Dock this week for attention by Wright and Beyer.


The Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines SPLENDOUR OF THE SEAS called at Dublin on Wednesday 30th before crossing the Irish Sea to Liverpool where she had a rather wet welcome. She departed at around 18.00 accompanied by three tugs two of which gave her fire monitor salutes as she sailed down the river. I went over to New Brighton to watch her depart and despite the rain there was a good turnout of spectators.


IoMSPCo PEVERIL remains in Lairds along with the drill ship DEEPSEA WORKER from which the complete drilling rig assembly has now been removed and appears to be placed on the platform of the large floating crane BALDUR which is a frequent visitor to the Mersey. JAMES FISHER's RFA OAKLEAF departed from Laird's presumably on Thursday's tide. However, On Saturday morning she was noted back in the Wet Basin.


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