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19th October

Compiled by: John Luxton 70374,30

Welcome to this week's Mersey Shipping News. I will be away on holiday from Saturday 25th October until Saturday 1st November. Consequently the next MSN posting will not take place until Sunday 8th November. Sorry about the break in postings, however, I will try and get someone to keep a look out in the local press for any interesting happenings whilst I am away. I would imagine that the 8th November edition will be quite lengthy!

Incidentally I am off to the Isles of Scilly. the last time I was there in March I was able to witness one of the most interesting of maritime mishaps around the British coast this year. The loss of the container ship CITA and the subsequent salvage of her cargo by islanders. I don't suppose anything quite so dramatic will occur this time!



SEACAT SCOTLAND remains in Canada Number 3 Branch Dock and SEACAT ISLE OF MAN in Langton Dock.

The SEACAT floating linkspan still remains alongside the Princes' Landing Stage almost 4 weeks after the end of the scheduled Liverpool - Douglas/Dublin SeaCat services.


CONDOR 10 has arrived in Canada Dry Dock for refit by Wright and Bayer. The vessel was last on Merseyside twelve months ago when she was prepared for winter service in New Zealand operating as "THE LYNX" This year she had operated on the Ramsgate to Dunkirk service which closed down suddenly a few weeks ago. CONDOR 10's arrival now means that there are three Incat SeaCat craft on Merseyside [the highest number ever and one time?]


A new book has just been published entitled "THETIS: The Admiralty Regrets…." This is an in-depth report on the loss and subsequent recovery of the submarine HMS THETIS in Liverpool Bay during 1939. The submarine was lost whilst on sea trials from Cammell Laird's yard.

Most of the crew and Cammell Laird employees onboard died through suffocation with only four men escaping. Though stranded in shallow water, delays and mistakes made by rescue vessels and their crews, were the ultimate causes of the great loss of life on board.

The book has over 200 pages and is published by Avid Publications and written by C. Warren and J. Benson [ISBN 0 9521020 8 0] price 9.50UKL. It will be an interesting read for anyone interested in Merseyside's Maritime History.


Another Island Class patrol ship is in Canada Branch Number 3 Dock this weekend keeping SEACAT SCOTLAND company. The Hall-Russell built HMS GUERNSEY [P297]. A couple of weeks ago it was the turn of sister ship HMS ANGLESEY to make a call. HMS GUERNSEY is due to sail on Sunday evening 19th October.


A floating bar and restaurant BARCA BARGE arrived in Liverpool's Albert Dock this week. Originally berthed at Salford on the Manchester Ship Canal, the barge, owned by Hale Leisure which runs the Barca Bar in Manchester will open to the public next week. It is currently berthed opposite the Tate Gallery.


Scenes for a feature film entitled "Blue Funnel" is being filmed in Liverpool's China Town and the docks. Starring Liverpool Actor David Yip who once starred in the TV series Chinese Detective, the film, which is written by Yip, is loosely based on the experiences of David Yip's father who left Hong Kong and sailed on to Liverpool on a Blue Funnel Line ship. How much of the film includes dock and maritime footage is not known. However, it will be released to the cinemas in due course.


H.M. Customs and Excise cutter, VALIANT was a visitor to the Canada Half Tide basin this weekend, berthed opposite the entrance to the Merseyside Maritime Museum.


Last week you may recall the Liverpool - Dublin voyage report in which I made the following statement "At the Bar [09.25]a medium sized tanker was overtaken on the port side her name was not clearly visible but looked like YARUP 6". I soon found out that the name of the vessel was actually YUSUP K a Maltese registered vessel. She was on a journey outbound from Stanlow on the Manchester Ship Canal when on Sunday evening 12th October she suffered an engine failure five miles from Holburn Head, Caithness.


A few weeks ago I considered the threat posed to passenger ferry services from the north west of England should budget airline operators establish themselves in the North West. I had written about this because of the plans for Luton based EasyJet to establish its second base in Liverpool from this October with low cost flights to Nice and Amsterdam.

A report in this week's Manx Independent newspaper suggests that the company is considering operating services to the Isle of Man. That would place three air lines on the Liverpool - Ronaldsway service and offer further competition for Sea Containers/IoMSPCo. Though perhaps that might be the spur for deploying a SuperSeaCat on the Liverpool to Douglas run?


The Merseyside Maritime Museum's preserved tug BROCKLEBANK [ex-Alexandra Towing Co.] was out and about this week having visited Douglas [Isle of Man] on Monday 13th October. She had returned to her berth at the Canning Half Tide basin by Saturday afternoon.



DEEP SEA WORKER/PEREGRENE VII is in dry dock where she is being lengthened. The MDHC dredger MERSEY VENTURE remains in Cammell Laird as does PEVERIL and the large floating crane L.M. BALDUR.

Local press reports suggest that Cammell Laird could be on the brink of announcing major new MoD orders. This follows on from the company's successful work on the OAKLEAF the James Fisher flagship which is chartered to the MoD.


The WOODCHURCH has now left Canada Dry Dock.


John H. Luxton

19th October 1997




12 October

Compiled by: John Luxton 70374,30





SEACAT SCOTLAND remains in Canada Number 3 Branch Dock and SEACAT ISLE OF MAN in Langton Dock.

The SEACAT floating linkspan was still noted to be in position on Prince's Landing Stage on Saturday 11 October almost three weeks after SeaCat sailings ended. In 1994 and 1995 it was removed quite soon after SeaCat sailings ended. However, the linking plates onto the landing stage have been removed and stacked up suggesting that removal may very well be imminent.

An article in this week's Manx Independent Newspaper records the dismay being felt by the Manx over the prospect of a Super Sea Cat being operated solely on the Liverpool to Dublin route and not on routes out of Douglas. Sea Containers have recently confirmed orders for SuperSeaCats Three and Four, which are due to enter service in 1999.

Bad weather delayed the arrival of the LADY OF MANN's Liverpool to Dublin sailing on Friday 10th October. Arrival at Dublin was an hour behind schedule though I am informed the ship did get away on time.



HOLYMAN DIAMANT and HOLYMAN RAPIDE are to be refitted on Merseyside this winter. Merseyside does appear to be a favoured location for fast ferry refits from a variety of operators. In the past year CONDOR 10, STENA LYNX III, SEACAT ISLE OF MAN, HOVERSPEED GREAT BRITAIN and SEACAT SCOTLAND have all appeared either at Laird's or in Canada Dry Dock.


The former Carmet tug ARDNEIL was a familiar sight on Merseyside until her recent sale to Aquatec Diving International Ltd of Helston, Cornwall. She sailed to Penzance, Cornwall for an extensive refit involving Penzance Dockyard and Engineering Company [PD&E] and other local companies.

Observant viewers of the HTV police drama "Wycliffe" will have seen her in the background to some views of Penzance Harbour filmed this year. She left Penzance last week for Ghana crewed by a joint Ghanaian/British crew. The vessel will join the company's other ship BON ENTENTE involved in work off the coast of West Africa.


It looks as though two of the upstairs floors of the former warehouse known as the Britannia Pavilion are to be opened as a new Holiday Inns branded hotel, possibly by next summer, if the deal goes through. A new Holiday Inns hotel is being constructed close to the present IoMSPCo terminal at the Pier Head which is only a short distance away. There is another Holiday Inns at Ellesmere Port overlooking the dock which forms part of the Ellesmere Port Boat Museum. Obviously Holiday Inns and docks have a certain affinity!


Plans for a futuristically designed Cinema/Leisure and Retail complex at Kings Dock have been revised. The company has agreed to construct the new buildings in a design more sympathetic to the design of the Grade One listed buildings at the nearby Albert Dock.

The Kings Dock site has been used as an over-spill car park for the Albert Dock for many years as the MDC have searched for a developer for the site.


DEEP SEA WORKER/PEREGRENE VII is in dry dock where she is being lengthened. The MDHC dredger MERSEY VENTURE remains in Cammell Laird as does PEVERIL and the large floating crane L.M. BALDUR.



The WOODCHURCH remains in Canada Dry Dock undergoing refit work.

Thanks to those who have supplied extra information this week.

John H.Luxton

12th October 1997



05 October



SEACAT SCOTLAND remains in Canada Number 3 Branch Dock and SEACAT ISLE OF MAN in Langton Dock.

The LADY OF MANN's Dublin sailings will continue until the 5th January 1998, the end of the present timetable. They will then be suspended until 1st March to allow for IOMSPCO refits to be undertaken.

The former IOMSPCO vessel MANXMAN has been towed to Pallion Shipyard, Sunderland for "inspection" she is supposed to be moving south soon to Cowes, Isle of Wight.

Port of Liverpool Police have finally given up trying to identify and prosecute the Jet Ski rider who daringly ran beneath SEACAT ISLE OF MAN as she headed up river to the Landing Stage in mid August.

On Saturday 4th October the SEACAT floating linkspan was still noted to be in position on Prince's Landing Stage. In 1994 and 1995 it was removed quite soon after SeaCat sailings ended.


DEEP SEA WORKER/PEREGRENE VII is in dry dock where she is being lengthened. James Fisher's new China built GALWAY FISHER departed from Cammell Lairds at around 22.00 on 29th September. The MDHC dredger MERSEY VENTURE entered Lairds late on 2nd October.


The WOODCHURCH entered Canada Dry Dock this week for a refit. Mersey Ferries are advertising Christmas Lunches and a Party/Disco at the recently refurbished restaurant in the Woodside Terminal at Birkenhead.


The SOUND OF SEIL [ex FRESHWATER] which was laid up in Vittoria Dock for some time was moved from there in August to Garston for demolition by S.Evans & Sons. Somehow I missed this one and only realised it had gone when I saw a picture of the vessel in the WSS Marine News being beached at Garston.


MSN readers may be interested to know that a preliminary, and quite impressive, brochure for Classic Coastal Cruises - the trading name of Brasspatch Plc has been published.

Brasspatch plc has acquired the last surviving Southern Railway, Isle of Wight passenger ferry M.V. SOUTHSEA which was had for several years been laid up by Sea Containers.

The cover of the brochure shows what appears to be a retouched photo of the vessel sporting Sea Con/Sealink livery but with a bright yellow funnel with a dark blue/black band just below the top.

Inside are a number of artist's impressions of the refurbished interior which will include a steward service Café-Bistro, Lounge- Bar plus dance floor etc. The ship is also being made fully accessible to the disabled and will be fitted with a lift.

The preliminary cruise programme shows cruises operating from Weymouth to Great Yarmouth including the River Thames. The brochure states that the ship is available for charter anywhere in the British Isles so perhaps she will turn up on Merseyside sooner or later.

The operation of this vessel is on a commercial basis and the company will be offering shares in the near future. For a share prospectus, a copy of the brochure and a sailing programme [available spring 1998] write to: Classic Coastal Cruises, Little Paddocks, Pinkney Lane, Lyndhurst, Hants. SO43 7FE.

Some months ago when the vessel was purchased it was suggested that some members of Waverley Steam Navigation were involved in Brasspatch and that Waverley Excursions Ltd would act as agents. This could have interesting implications for the 1998 WAVERLEY and BALMORAL schedules. [WAVERLEY will operate a reduced service during 1998/9 to allow for the extensive refit funded by the National Lottery grant.] Perhaps we just might see more of these ships in the north west if the south east has better cruise coverage provided by SOUTHSEA?


The German registered heavy lo/ro cargo vessel SCAN POLARIS was to be seen in Birkenhead's East Float handling cargo, which appeared to be components of a chemical installation, using her two large on-board cranes on Saturday 4th October.


The cruise liner EDINBURGH CASTLE [ex EUGENIO COSTA] will sail from Liverpool on the following dates during 1998:

April 17th - Athens

April 26th - Madiera

May 10th - Tenerife

May 24th - Mediterranean

June 7th - Iceland and Greenland [returns to Greenock]

July 26th - Balearic Islands

August 9th - Mediterranean

August 23rd - Mediterranean

September 6th - Mediterranean

September 20th - Tenerife

October 4th - France & Spain [Autumn Wine Cruise]

October 14th - Athens [one way only]

Additional sailings from Scotland [Greeenock]

June 21st - Norway

June 28th - Madeira/Tenerife

July 12th - Mediterranean

Brochure requests can be made on 0141 221 0077 or 0161 237 5600


Liverpool based Bibby Line and Peel Holdings Plc, owners of the Manchester Ship Canal have submitted a joint bid to purchase the Royal Yacht BRITANNIA. The ship will be berthed adjacent to the Manchester Ship Canal in an 8 million pounds heritage park to be developed at Trafford Park in the Manchester suburbs. The Bibby Line/Peel bid is one of several made for the vessel. The final decision as to the BRITANNIA's future is expected to be made by the end of the year.

 Thanks to those who have supplied extra information this week.

 John H.Luxton

5th October 1997


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