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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


30th November 1997



SEACAT ISLE OF MAN remains in Wright and Beyers. Driving past on Saturday 29th November, plastic sheeting had been noted covering parts of the open deck area. Interestingly, in the areas where the decking appears to have warped and produces clanking sounds when passengers walk over it

PEVERIL concluded her charter to Irish Ferries and I understand she put into Douglas on Monday 24th November. This weekend she is covering for the BELARD which took over the Douglas - Heysham run in April whilst maintenance is undertaken on that vessel.

LADY OF MANN still remains in Vittoria Dock. She should re-enter service on 5th December following her mechanical troubles. An advert in Thursday night's Liverpool Echo featured "Christmas Lunch" cruises to Dublin available until 23rd December for just £15.00 including a four-course lunch and being billed as ideal for office outings! Thatís excellent value for money, especially for us enthusiasts.

CLAYMORE the company has announced that the AA Line service will run from 15 June 1998 until 11 October 1998 and will operate twice daily between Ballycastle and Campbeltown with a crossing time of two hours and 45 minutes. The CLAYMORE will sail daily from Ballycastle at 0800 and 1530 and from Campbeltown at 1145 and 1915.

During its first season, which ran from 1 July - 19 October this year, 27,000 passengers and 6,500 cars used the service. It has proved to be extremely popular with tourists from England, Scotland, Eire and with the local communities in Ballycastle and Campbeltown,

The service was recently chosen by the South Kintyre Working Group to receive its Business of the Year Award for the quality, value and service provided to travellers.

The introduction of the service has helped to bring new economic activity to both areas. A new 50 bedroom hotel, along with a holiday village is to be built in Ballycastle and the town is also set to benefit from a £2 million Co-op store which will create 60 new jobs.

It looks as though Sea Containers could be turning its attention towards providing an alternative service to that provided by Condor to the Channel Islands. Guernsey and Jersey Transport Authorities have decided to permit competition on the routes to the islands from 1999. It is known that Sea Containers is interested in operating to the islands along with one other as yet unknown operator.

A Llandudno - Douglas service will probably materialise for the 1998 season following the successful one off operation in May this year. It is thought that sailings would operate once a week for the three peak summer months. It is also suggested that Sea Containers would be requested by local interests to bring the UK section of the VSOE to Llandudno Station which also celebrating an anniversary.


NORSE LAGAN remains in Canada Graving Dock. Touch up painting has seen several changes in the ship's appearance. The red/white/blue stripes are being replaced by one solid dark blue line the same width as the three combined lines. Here black, with white striped funnel has also changed in appearance. It has been repainted predominantly white and now features the company's corporate logo of the Viking longship sail.

LAGAN VIKING I noted last week that this vessel was registered in BARI [ as per former NORSE MERSEY]. MERSEY VIKING has also had her port of registry changed to BARI.

The NORSE MERSEY, which ended her charter to NORSE IRISH ferries in the summer with the introduction of the MERSEY VIKING. NORSE MERSEY is now operating for P&O Ferrymasters on the Middlesbrough - Gothenburg service.


The SPLENDOUR OF THE SEAS will visit Liverpool on the 14th August 1998.


The Edinburgh Castle (British-registry 32,753-gt, 9,000-dwt passenger ship built in 1966, owned by Lowline Ltd., formerly the Eugenio Costa), sailing from Genoa, Italy, to New York, had a complete electrical failure following boiler problems 17 Nov. at 37 degrees 39 minutes north, 22 degrees 25.55 minutes west.

The vessel was towed to Ponta Delgada in the Azores Islands, by the Fotiy Krylov (2,253-dwt tug built in 1989, operated by Tsavliris). The Edinburgh Castle had been dry-docked in Genoa and is to be used as a gambling vessel in New York during the winter.

During 1998 she will be based in Liverpool for the summer season operating a variety of cruises details of which have been posted in earlier MSNs.


A new ship is planned for the Irish Naval Service. It is anticipated that the Minister of Defence for Ireland, Mr. Smith, will sign a contract for the new IRL£20 million vessel before Christmas with a UK shipyard. Part of the cost will be met by an EU grant.


The Norwegian vessel MARINE EXPLORER which is on charter to the Royal Navy for Hydrographic survey work which suffered a serious fire on Wednesday 19th November whilst berthed at Canada Dock has entered Manning Marine's Clarence Graving Dock for repairs.

This weekend 29th/30th November Sandown Class minesweeper HMS CROZIER was in the Canning Half Tide basin adjacent to the Merseyside Maritime Museum in the company of HMS BITER and HMS CHARGER the Mersey based Archer Class training/patrol vessels as part of a Royal Navy promotional visit.


On Tuesday the P&O ro/ro ferry PANTHER suffered a major fire whilst working on the Rosslare - Cherbourg route on Wednesday morning shortly after midnight. The ship returned to Rosslare at 03.00 after the fire broke out on board a lorry when the ship was 35 miles into its voyage. Six vehicles were destroyed in the blaze on her main vehicle deck. Fortunately the crew managed to extinguish the fire and none of the crew or passengers were injured. RTE reported that the ship may have had to go to Dublin to offload some of the damaged vehicles. I am not certain if that actually happened, though PANTHER is now berthed in Cammell Laird's wet basin with smoke staining very clearly visible from windows on her starboard side.


Crofton, the Aigburth Mansion built for Alfred Holt has been sold for £290,000. It is expected that the building and grounds which were once a convalescent home, will be used by the new purchaser for family use and not be subject to redevelopment. Some members of Liverpool City Council have condemned the bargain basement sale price tag.


Refurbishment of The Port of Liverpool Building at the Pier Head has finally been completed. The magnificent domed building was the company's headquarters until that was moved to the Maritime Centre at Seaforth. The offices in the building are now leased by the MDHC to both financial, computer and shipping companies.


Supporters of 329 dockworkers fired by Mersey Docks and Harbour Co. in Liverpool, England, in September 1995 halted work at Coastal Container Line's facility in Cardiff, Wales, this week. The supporters occupied two gantry cranes as Coastal Container Line is a subsidiary of Mersey Docks and Harbour. At 0700, several dozen people sat on a road leading to one of the main dock gates and two women and one man entered the area and took over the cranes. The protest ended at 1200 and the three were arrested but released without charges. Work on the vessel Coastal Container lines vessel KIRSTEN was delayed. A few weeks ago the former dockers took their protest to Ireland with an attempted picket of Dublin Docks.


The tug VANGUARD remains in Penzance where I noted her last month undergoing repair work by Penzance Dry Dock and Engineering Company. On Thursday 20th November the vessel was winched around the pier heads from outside the north arm and into the wet dock to facilitate final works in connection with repairs to her Kort nozzle.

STOP PRESS: Mersey Radio reported the VANGUARD's return home on the evening tide of 29th November when she will enter Alfred basin and presumably return to the company's Vittoria Dock berth.


DEEP SEA WORKER/PEREGRENE VII is in dry dock where she is being lengthened. P&O's Panther is now in the Wet Basin following a major vehicle fire on board when en-route from Rosslare to Cherbourg. Smoke staining is very apparent on the starboard side.

This week the company purchased a local electrical firm which specialises in ship electrics. DG Electrical employs 50 people and is based in Wallasey. Work on renovating the remaining dry docks is nearing completion. A large notice has appeared on a quay side building overlooking the river wall surrounded by Day-Glo orange trim announcing there are three dry docks and a wet basin available in addition to the company's phone number.

Thanks again to those who have supplied extra information this week. 

John H. Luxton

30th November 1997


23rd November 1997

Compiled by: John Luxton 70374,30



SEACAT ISLE OF MAN moved from Langton Dock across the river to Wright and Beyer's Bidston Dry Dock. When I passed by I noticed boarding had been placed over three of the bar windows. Presumably she is going globe-trotting for the winter?

PEVERIL has spent the past 6 months or so laid up in Cammell Lairds. Consequently it came as something of a surprise to hear her contact Mersey Radio late on Sunday evening [16th November]. She left the wet basin at around 23:45 bound for Rosslare. I understand she was on a week's time charter to Irish Ferries with an option to extend for another week. Apparently Irish Ferries have been experiencing operational difficulties on the Pembroke - Rosslare route which is operated by ISLE OF INNISFREE, with the night sailings being cancelled.

LADY OF MANN has moved from Wright and Beyer's back to her Vittoria Dock lay-up berth. Obviously the opportunity has been taken to tidy up her hull paintwork. She looks quite smart once again. At first the ship appeared to be sitting higher in the water with more of the red boot-topping showing. However, on reference to photos taken of her a couple of weeks ago it is apparent that the white line which separated the boot topping from the black hull paint is no longer in place and the boot topping is a very different shade of red. Perhaps next she will have her black paint replaced by Sea Co corporate dark blue?!

SUPERSEACAT II A large half-page recruitment advertisement appeared in this week's Liverpool Echo employment advertisements section this week placed by SeaCat Scotland. The advertisement carried details of vacancies for the following positions aboard SSC2: First Officers [class 3/2]; Chief Engineers [class 1 motor]; Second Engineers [class 4/3/2]; Electro Technical Officer and Senior Craftsman [SG1A equivalent]. Prospective applicants should write to SeaCat Scotland, 34 Charlotte Street, Stranraer DG9 7EF. Tel: 01776 702755. SSC2 commences operations on the Liverpool - Dublin route on 6th March 1998.


NORSE LAGAN remains in Canada Dry Dock undergoing maintenance by Cammell Laird. Her paint work is being touched up with quite a bit of grey primer in evidence. Her starboard propeller had been removed from its shaft when I viewed her on Saturday 22nd November.

LAGAN VIKING, which entered service on Saturday evening, 15th November, is registered in Bari [as was NORSE MERSEY] and not Chioggia as is her sister MERSEY VIKING.


Plans were announced this week which would see the closure of The Liverpool Coastguard Station at Crosby within the next three years. The station is due to close in the year 2000. Other stations planned for closure, include: the Tyne, Oban and Pentland. The aim is to reduce costs when the Coastguard and Marine Safety Agency merge next year. Liverpool Bay and Manx waters would then be covered by Coastguard stations in Wales and Scotland. Concern has been expressed in the Merseyside and North Wales press as well as on the Isle of Man at the planned reduction in cover.


Irish Ferries have chartered IoMSPCO's PEVERIL for operation out of Rosslare to Pembroke for a short period to cover for operational difficulties which have seen the cancellation of the ISLE OF INNISFREE night sailings.


The Norwegian vessel MARINE EXPLORER which is on charter to the Royal Navy for Hydrographics survey work suffered a serious fire on Wednesday 19th November whilst berthed at Canada Dock. The fire began around 03.00 in the ship's bar and spread. The first officer required hospital treatment.


When the new Cammell Laird company was formed a few years ago it went on to purchase much for the site of the original Cammell Laird Shipyard from the then owners VSEL. However, ownership parts of the site were retained by VSEL including the large covered erecting shop.

During 1997 GEC acquired VSEL and is involved in negotiations with a Norwegian consortium "Midnight Sun" which is seeking to construct cruise liners. The liners would cost £260 million, weigh 25,000tonnes and are to be based on a design for the cancelled Royal Yacht replacement. It is hoped that the vessels would be constructed at Birkenhead and then taken up to Barrow for fitting out. If the plan goes ahead a significant number of new jobs would be created in the area.


DEEP SEA WORKER/PEREGRENE VII is in dry dock where she is being lengthened. The PEVERIL left the basin at 23:45 on Sunday 16th November.

John H. Luxton

23rd November 1997


16th November 1997



SEACAT ISLE OF MAN remains laid up in Langton Dock.

PEVERIL remains in Cammell Laird wet basin where she has lain since April, when the BELARD took over her Douglas - Heysham sailings.

UPDATE!!!! - PEVERIL departed Cammell Lairds for Rosslare 23:45 on Sunday 16 November

 LADY OF MANN is now in Wright and Beyer's Bidston Dry Dock and consequently the Liverpool - Dublin service remains suspended. A camshaft broke on the Dublin - Liverpool sailing on Friday 7th November which resulted in an after midnight arrival at Liverpool.

As noted last week she was taken by tugs into Birkenhead docks and has been subsequently moved to Wright and Beyers. I understand that whilst she is in dry dock the opportunity is being taken to carry out work which would normally be undertaken at the scheduled refit due in early 1998. It is anticipated that services will resume on Friday 21st November.

BEN-MY-CHREE [VI] pictures appeared in this week's Manx Independent newspaper of the keel laying ceremony at the van der Geissen shipyard in the Netherlands.

Sea Containers will deploy a SUPER SEACAT on the Liverpool - Dublin route next March. As the craft previously identified for the route is not due for delivery until 1999 either SUPER SEACAT ONE or SUPER SEA CAT TWO will be redeployed from their existing routes.

Sea Containers announced their third quarter accounts to end of September this week which reveal net earnings of $19 million compared to $9.9 million in the same quarter last year. It looks as though the company's public transport operations are helping to boost revenue significantly as operating profits from the company's passenger transport division of $22.1 million were up 50% over the prior year period. All ferry routes showed improvement as did the Great North Eastern Railway (GNER). James Sherwood said he was optimistic about the evolution of the company's passenger transport business and indicated that passenger and car traffic on the short English Channel crossings was up 13% over the third quarter of 1996 and Hoverspeed had enjoyed a 20% increase in its passenger and 55% increase in its car carryings in the period.

The new AA Line ferry service operated by the CLAYMORE from Scotland to Northern Ireland broke-even in its first season which establishes a good foundation on which to build. Profits of the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company were well ahead of the prior year's third quarter. The new Liverpool-Dublin ferry service got off to a good start, the new SuperSeaCat on the Gothenburg-Fredrikshavn route produced improved results on this route and Stranraer-Belfast was ahead of last year. Mr. Sherwood said that he felt the company's fast ferry cost structures were the lowest in the industry and this should translate into improved profitability as competitors sought to improve their own results through higher pricing.


CONDOR 10 departed from Merseyside, bound for its winter charter in New Zealand.


Reg Kear has brought to my attention the plan by Peter Hardwidge, a former Vindicatrix/Merchant Seaman, to provide a Merchant Seamen's Memorial in Bristol. To provide finance, Peter is selling a range of Books, CDs and Audio tapes of Seafaring songs and Poetry. There is also a fine collection of Tee Shirts and Tea Mugs with various inscriptions. Peter Hardwidge is not yet on the net but he can be contacted at:

Peter Hardwidge,54 Darkfield Way,Woolavington, Somerset TA7 8JB, England, UK

Telephone 001144 1 278 684 901


The Liverpool Echo stated that it was "full steam ahead" for the new MDHC ro/ro berths on both sides of the Mersey. Then went on to state that the public enquiry would now be held in the spring. Earlier this year the autumn had been cited. Obviously the date is pushed further back. When the announcement was first made it had been anticipated that the linkspans would be operational by 1997 in time for the delivery of the new Norse Irish Ferries vessels!


The company's second new purpose built ro/ro ship LAGAN VIKING entered service on 15 November with that evening's Belfast to Liverpool sailing. On Sunday she was at her Langton Dock berth dressed overall. NORSE LAGAN returned to Liverpool lightship on Sunday 16 November. She was assisted into Langton Lock by Howard Smith tugs BRAMLEYMOORE and WATERLOO at 15.00 and was due to berth in Canada Dry Dock at 16.30. I had taken my self off down to Langton Lock to photograph the new LAGAN VIKING and the daytime arrival of NORSE LAGAN - a very unusual event - arrivals usually being around 05.30. At around 14.45 it started raining and this became progressively heavier. After getting some good photos, I made my way back to the car. However, it looks as though water has got in the camera and its stopped functioning. It looks as though itís a case of sending it off to the manufacturers and hoping they can retrieve the film in order that I can get the pictures up on MSN. So much for modern electronic cameras with electric film transport!


Irish Ferries will stop calling at Le Havre, France, and instead call at the French ports of Cherbourg and Roscoff.


Crescent ships, a familiar sight on Merseyside, now have new owners. The company has been purchased for £14 million by a joint venture of London and Wessex and Clipper Group. The companies were sold by Hays, in a private deal which also includes a ro/ro ferry management firm. Along with ships purchased from Lloyd's Leasing Ltd., the new venture has nine British-registry tankers and 10 bulk carriers.


Some weeks ago I gave details of the planned sailings by the EDINBURGH CASTLE from Liverpool during 1998. On May 14 the MV FUNCHAL will be making its first Mersey visit when the ship departs for an 8 day Scottish and Irish Highland and Islands Cruise.

Direct Holidays, who will operate EDINBURGH CASTLE, are very pleased with the numbers of advanced bookings for the 1998 Liverpool cruises, Already £10 million has been taken in advanced bookings and as a result the company is considering having two ships based on Merseyside in 1999.


Stolt Tankers are very regular visitors to the Mersey, making their way to and from the Petro-Chemical plants around Ellesmere Port. Stolt-Nielsen Inc. are transferring eight of their regular Mersey visitors from the Norwegian to Cayman Islands registry. The ships reportedly include the Stolt Avocet (5,758-dwt, built in1992), the Stolt Dipper (4,794-dwt, built in 1992), the Stolt Guillemot (4,698-dwt, built in 1993); the Stolt Kestrel (5,700-dwt, built in 1992), the Stolt Kite (4,735-dwt, built in 1992), the Stolt Kittiwake (4,710-dwt,built in 1993), the Stolt Petrel (4,761-dwt, built in 1992) and the Stolt Tern (4,759-dwt, built in 1991).


 This company which operated the liner SOUTHERN CROSS on several cruises out of Liverpool during the past few years has gone into liquidation. Earlier this year it had announced that SOUTHERN CROSS would be sold at the end of this season.


 DEEP SEA WORKER/PEREGRENE VII is in dry dock where she is being lengthened. The PEVERIL and the large floating crane L.M. BALDUR remain in the wet basin.

 John H. Luxton

16th November 1997


09th November 1997

Compiled by: John Luxton 70374,30



SEACAT SCOTLAND appears to have left Liverpool whilst I was away, however, SEACAT ISLE OF MAN remains laid up in Langton Dock.

The SEACAT floating linkspan at Princes' Landing Stage was removed between October 25th and November 1st 1997.

Concern which has been recently expressed in the Manx press regarding the low passenger capacity [500] of the new ro/pax ferry currently under construction by Van der Geissen for the Manx routes has been dispelled by the announcement that 13 sailings per week will be operated during the winter. Presumably two per week-day and one on Sunday. The new ship, will replace both KING ORRY and BELARD on routes from the UK to Douglas.

It was announced this week that the name for the new ship, whose keel was recently laid will be BEN-MY-CHREE [VI] (Gaelic for Woman of My Heart). Launch should be in April with an into service date in July 1998.

The LADY OF MANN did not make her scheduled crossing to Dublin on Saturday 8th November due to engine problems. She remained at Princes' Landing Stage until 12:15 when she moved off the stage under her own power. [Starboard engine only appeared to be operative] to allow the KING ORRY in bound from Douglas to berth. The LADY OF MANN then anchored down river awaiting the assistance of tugs. She moved off sometime after 13:15 in the company of two Howard Smith Towing tugs. WATERLOO at the bow and GLADSTONE at the stern. She entered Alfred Lock Birkenhead at approximately 13:45 and after reaching the level at 14:10 was moved off by the tugs and taken into her Vittoria Dock lay-up berth. In the close confines of the dock she appeared to be relying completely on the tugs. Once lines were ashore she hauled herself on to the berth. However, her unexpected arrival meant that fenders were not in position to prevent the rubbing strake from over riding the quay wall.

Monitoring the LADY'S comms revealed that insertion of the fenders would probably not be possible until Monday. Captain Bridson sought permission from the Harbour Master to stretch a line from her bows right across to the far side of Vittoria Dock to hold her bows off the quay wall.

Radio Merseyside had announced on Saturday that sailings would be suspended Saturday and Sunday, but it was obvious that with talk of fenders being inserted on Monday that was not likely to happen. On Sunday morning Teletext Ferry Information announced that Douglas to Dublin sailings were cancelled for Sunday and Monday. [There are no scheduled Douglas - Dublin sailings in November!] So it looks as though the LADY will be out of action until at least next weekend as during November and early December sailings from Liverpool only operate Friday to Monday, with the Lady laying alongside the Landing Stage on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. BBC Ceefax reports that passengers with reservations will be transferred to alternative services. {Obviously a trek round to Holyhead!]

SEACAT ISLE OF MAN is lying idle at the moment, and despite the less predictable nature of the sea at this time of year it makes one wonder if she might be reactivated, though the landing stage linkspan will need to be replaced. Then again the SEACAT has suffered her share of mechanical problems this season a reason why a possible extension of her season was not undertaken.


CONDOR 10 has left Canada Dry Dock and moved to Canada Number 3 Branch Dock and has berthed at the same location as that recently occupied by SEACAT SCOTLAND. She looks quite smart having been freshly painted. On Saturday 8th November she headed out into the river for compass adjustments before heading out to the Mersey Bar for sea trials. Her scheduled return time being around 19:00.


H.M.Y. BRITANNIA on its farewell round Britain tour arrived at Liverpool on Tuesday 28th October. The ship was berthed at Canada No3 Branch Dock until the morning of Thursday 30th October. Some angry letters appeared in the local press this week from people who were angry that the only viewing facilities were through the dock railings. On previous calls to the Mersey she has berthed at Princes Landing Stage.


The Dispute between dismissed employees and the Mersey Docks and Harbour Company has shown signs of fragmentation. A vote in late October revealed that 97 of the dismissed men voted to accept the MD&HC severance package of £28,000 as opposed to 213 who voted to continue the picket. Following the ballot 60 former employees have come forward to actually take the payment when the company announced that the offer would be withdrawn.

Fifty of the dismissed workers picketed Canada Dock during the visit of the Royal Yacht Britannia whilst others travelled to Dublin Port and attempted to picket the entrance on 28th October. This caused some traffic delays but did not delay any shipping. The Harbour Police summoned the Garda who moved on the pickets by 07:00. The pickets claimed their action was justified as they were lending support to dockers in Dublin in a protest over the use of casual labour.


A unique model sailing ship which had been donated to the Sailors' Chapel at St.Nicholas Parish Church by a retired seaman has been stolen for the second time in three years. On the last occasion it was damaged, though Merseyside Maritime Museum restored it.


The Battle of the Atlantic Control Room which was opened to the public in 1993 as part of the Battle of the Atlantic Commemorations is expected to be transferred to the management of Liverpool City Council when it reopens in the Spring.


The unique push-tug operation by ORDALE H, which along with its two pairs of barges were a regular feature on the Mersey since 1991 have been delivered to Kluderman of Gravendeel near Dortrecht. It is anticipated further work will be found for the ORDALE H. The ORDALE was towed to Holland by Carmet Towing's VANQUISHER whilst the four barges were taken in two pairs by Carmet's VANGUARD which, as noted elsewhere in this report, is undergoing repairs in Penzance.


The VANGUARD was noted at Penzance on Sunday 26th October. She is undergoing work on her rudder and propeller by Peter de Savery's Penzance Dry Dock and Engineering Company [formerly N. Holman & Sons].


DEEP SEA WORKER/PEREGRENE VII is in dry dock where she is being lengthened. The PEVERIL and the large floating crane L.M. BALDUR remain in the wet basin.Cammell Lairds could be extending their operations to Gibraltar by leasing dry dock facilities there.

John H. Luxton

09th November 1997


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