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MSN FEBRUARY 1998

 

MERSEY SHIPPING NEWS

MERSEY SHIPPING NEWS

22 February 1998

Compiled by: John Luxton 70374,30

SEA CONTAINERS LTD

ISLE OF MAN STEAM PACKET COMPANY LTD

PEVERIL - Operating Heysham - Douglas.

KING ORRY - In service - her port side escape chute is still missing following its accidental deployment the other week. It is actually sitting in the car park of Perry's Marine near Birkenhead Priory!

LADY OF MANN - laid up Vittoria Dock. However she is expected to operate Isle of Man - Ireland sailings over the Easter period as KING ORRY, which had been scheduled to operate on the Belfast and Dublin routes, is providing extra freight capacity on the Douglas - Heysham route to supplement the PEVERIL.

SUPERSEACAT TWO - It was a case of third time lucky as far as the first test voyage to Dublin was concerned. Following the termination of the first trip last week, another attempt was scheduled for 16 February, however, the weather again upset things. However, on 18 February, she locked out of Langton Lock at 08.30 and completed her first crossing to Dublin. She went out again on Friday 20 February bound for Douglas and was scheduled to return through Langton Lock at 17.30. When she enters service SSC2 will carry Italian Masters, however, Steam Packet masters will act as pilots!

For several days Mersey Radio had been announcing, on the "Notices to Mariners", the imminent mooring of the linkspan back at Prince's Landing Stage. This eventually occurred on Friday afternoon, 20 February. Floating crane Mersey Mammoth was present at the stage assisting in operations.

HOLYMAN GROUP

CONDOR EXPRESS [Incat 42] remains in Canada Dry Dock undergoing refit by Wright and Beyer.

ALBERT DOCK COMPLEX

Work still continues on repairs to the Canning Half Tide basin river gate.

GROYNE CONSTRUCTION

The motorised hopper barge VILLE continues to travel from Mortar Mill Quay in the East Float, Birkenhead where she is being loaded with stone for the project to New Brighton where the stone is dumped.

ROYAL NAVY

Island Class patrol vessel HMS LINDISFARNE P300 was noted in Canada #3 Branch Dock on 16 February. She sailed in the evening. On Saturday afternoon Hunt Class Mine Countermeasures Ship HMS BROCKLESBY [M33] followed KING ORRY up the channel and subsequently berthed at Canada No3 Brach Dock where she was seen in the company of RN chartered MARINE EXPLORER. On Saturday Archer Class Training Craft HMS CHARGER was running out from PRINCE'S LANDING STAGE as the vessel was loading guests in connection with a "families day".

HMS OCEAN [L12] 20,000 tonnes, the new helicopter carrier was commissioned this week at GEC/VSEL at Barrow. The ship had been constructed at Kvaerner's Glasgow in 1995 and moved to GEC/VSEL for fitting out at the end of 1996

LOWLINE LTD/DIRECT CRUISES

Advertisements have been appearing in the local press advertising a cruise on the Apollo [Ex-Empress of Canada] from Liverpool to Newcastle upon Tyne via Morocco! She departs Liverpool on 30th May.

CAMMELL LAIRD HOLDINGS PLC

Geotechnical Vessel SIMON LABRADOR remains in #7 Dry Dock and DEEPSEA WORKER/PEREGRINE VII in #5. The Mersey Maritime Museum tug Brocklebank remains in the wet basin along with NORSE LAGAN.

Cammell Laird has been in the news quite a bit this week. Senior Directors tried to dampen the company's soaring share price by selling some of their own share holdings to help quell the insatiable desire of the city institutions. Their action resulted in handsome returns for those concerned but did little to dampen demand for the shares which closed on Friday at £3.19 - up 21p on the week now more than three times their summer issue price!

The company has finally concluded a 20year leasing deal with the Gibraltar Government to take control of the former RN Dry Docks previously operated by Kvaerner. They intend to construct a large engineering shop on the site.

 

John H. Luxton

 


 

MERSEY SHIPPING NEWS

15 February 1998

Compiled by: John Luxton 70374,30

SEA CONTAINERS LTD

ISLE OF MAN STEAM PACKET COMPANY LTD

PEVERIL - In service Heysham - Douglas.

KING ORRY - Her strange berthing position at the Prince's Landing Stage last Saturday [07/02/98] was probably due to the need to reattach the port side escape chute and several life rafts which had accidentally been activated on the Friday afternoon's Liverpool - Douglas sailing.

CLAYMORE - The private charterer during the TT period has turned out to be Honda. Apparently people around Ballycastle [Ireland] and Campbeltown [Scotland] are not keen on the idea of the Ballycastle - Campbeltown service being suspended during the duration of the TT!

LADY OF MANN - laid up Vittoria Dock.

SUPERSEACAT TWO - The ship has lost its leaping longhaired ginger "moggy" logos from her bows! Obviously someone has had second thoughts! SUPERSEACAT now appears in large letters down both sides. When noted in Alexandra Dock two weeks ago the SUPERSEACAT logo was only painted on the port side but the "moggy" logos appeared beneath both SUPERSEACAT TWO names. There has been no attempt to paint over the patches around the rear port side of the craft either.

This week saw SSC2 undertake a two trial voyages. On Wednesday 11 February she departed at 09:00 from Langton Lock bound for Dublin. However, poor weather conditions resulted in the voyage being terminated and she returned to Langton. On Saturday 14 February she departed from Langton Lock at around 10.00 bound for Douglas, Isle of Man for berthing trials. SSC2 is expected to operate on the Liverpool-Douglas route during the TT period offering higher capacity than that offered by SEACAT DANMARK which is expected to be the Douglas-Liverpool/Belfast/Dublin fast craft for the 1998 season. SEACAT DANMARK will operate the Dublin route.

MANXMAN - The former IoMSPCO turbine steamer remains at the Pallion shipyard, in Sunderland. Her sale is reported to be imminent!

Sea Containers announced an interesting Irish Holiday package this week featuring travel from UK and Isle of Man to Ireland with cruising on Irish waterways. The press release reads as follows:

SeaCat, one of the principal carriers across the Irish Sea, together with Shannon Erne Waterway Promotions, the marketing company responsible for the promotion of Europe’s longest navigable inland waterway, are delighted to launch at this year’s Birmingham Boat show (14-22 February 1998) an exclusive luxury Irish boating holiday package.

This is the first time that the British public have been offered an all-inclusive ferry/Irish luxury boat hire holiday package. The offer involves a flexible SeaCat crossing from mainland UK/Isle of Man with one week’s boat hire from any one of eight companies on both the Erne and Shannon systems. The very competitive price of £299 per person for four people sharing is certainly going to make one of the most talked about new holiday options across the Irish Sea in 1998.

Of the eight companies featured, five are from Northern Ireland and three from Southern Ireland with bases from as far north as Belleek at the most northerly tip of the Erne system, down to Athlone in the heart of Ireland and principle town on the mighty Shannon system. The boats on offer are the very best of the Irish boat hire fleet regarded by many as one of the best in the world. The boat hire options range from specially constructed new luxury boat beam barges to sleek and powerful fibre glass and steel cruisers.

To add value to the offer, a party of four will get a boat with a capacity of six.

Flexibility is the key word in the package. Not only are you master of your own route and your own pace in your self drive boat, but you can also extend your stay in Ireland by adding a city break, activity holiday or just visiting friends or relatives onto the start or end of your Saturday to Saturday cruise."

Commenting on the new package, Diane Poole, Commercial Manager for SeaCat’s Irish Sea operations, says:

"SeaCat is continually looking at new ways to bring imaginative yet affordable holiday and short break packages to customers. We are delighted to be linking up with the Shannon Erne Waterway and are looking forward to working together to promote our new package.

"We have both worked hard to make sure that holidaymakers are given as much flexibility as possible and to this end we are offering a choice of Irish Sea routes such as SeaCat from Stranraer to Belfast, SeaCat or conventional ferry from the Isle of Man or SuperSeaCat from Liverpool to Dublin and conventional ferry from Campbeltown in Argyll to Ballycastle in Country Antrim.

"Booking the luxury Irish inland boating package couldn’t be easier, customers can contact our dedicated staff on 01232 313542."

Said Mr Alan Hill, Marketing Manager of Shannon Erne Waterway: "Research has told us that there is an untapped market in the UK for luxury Irish inland waterway holidays. The quality of the fleet, the beauty and variety of the boating environments, the hospitality of the people and above all else, the environmental purity of our waterways makes an inland waterway holiday in Ireland very attractive. This package will hopefully make it easy for the English holidaymaker to say:

Next week, I should have a KING ORRY Liverpool - Douglas - Liverpool voyage report.

HOLYMAN GROUP 

HOLYMAN RAPIDE [Incat 38] eventually departed from Canada Dock on Saturday evening 07 February rather than her original scheduled departure on Saturday morning. The delay was due to the need to reaffix her stern vehicle ramps. With RAPIDE despatched to operate the Condor Channel Islands service her place in Canada Dry Dock has been taken by channel islands vessel CONDOR EXPRESS [Incat 42]. CONDOR EXPRESS arrived in Langton Lock at 11.00 on 11th February and proceeded to Canada Dry Dock for refit by Wright and Beyer.

BELGIAN TRAWLER - RESCUE DRAMA

Last Saturday [7th February] the crew of the oil-rig support vessel GRAMPIAN SUPPORTER helped save the lives of five Belgian fishermen off the Welsh coast. The crew spotted a fire onboard the 200ton trawler DEEZEMEOW which had been fishing in Liverpool Bay.

It became apparent that the burning, drifting vessel was a danger to the oil/gas production platforms in the area. A fast response boat was launched from the GRAMPIAN SUPPORTER to rescue the five-man crew who fortunately escaped unharmed.

The Hoylake lifeboat and an RAF Rescue helicopter also attended the scene. The DEEZEMEOW was towed back to her Canada Dock berth on Saturday evening by the Tug OAKGARTH [Not ROWANGARTH as I erroneously reported last week. She was still at her berth on Saturday 14th February looking rather a mess with her bridge and crew accommodation completely gutted. On Saturday morning her sister vessel SUZANNA was noted entering Langton Lock, shortly after the departure of SUPERSEACAT TWO.

A number of Belgian and other trawlers now operate out of Liverpool's Canada Dock fishing the waters of Liverpool Bay and the Irish Sea. The Belgian trawlers load their fish into large Belgian trucks for onward delivery to Belgium.

RMS LEINSTER 

Some readers may have read the account of the sinking of the RMS Leinster if the City of Dublin Steam Packet Co. in the Irish Sea in 1918 at the close of W.W.I which I posted a couple of months ago. This was edited from a commemorative leaflet published by Dun Laoghaire Rathdown Heritage Society. In today's Irish Sunday Tribune newspaper [15th January] there was a further account of the disaster along with plans to by an author to publish a detailed book in time for the 80th Anniversary this October.

ALBERT DOCK COMPLEX

Work continues on repairs to the Canning Half Tide basin river gate. The basin is still "closed until further notice".

GROYNE CONSTRUCTION

The motorised hopper barge VILLE continues to travel from Mortar Mill Quay in the East Float, Birkenhead where she is being loaded with stone for the project to New Brighton where the stone is dumped.

MERSEY DOCKS & HARBOUR COMPANY

The small Grimsby registered dredger CAVESAND which is a regular visitor to Merseyside, the dredger which was employed to clean out the recently reopened Cammell Laird dry docks was busy at work on Saturday 14th February operating at the entrance to Canada Dry Dock.

HOWARD SMITH TOWAGE

A rumour circulating at a recent WSS Merseyside meeting was that the Howard Smith Towage tug ALFRED has been sold. She was still at her berth in Huskission Dock on Saturday. I have not been able to confirm the rumour yet.

ROYAL NAVY

An error crept into MSN 1st February edition. The Example Class Training vessel which was undergoing refit in Manning's Marine Clarence Dry Docks was not HMS EXPRESS but HMS EXPLOIT.

CAMMELL LAIRD HOLDINGS PLC

Geotechnical Vessel SIMON LABRADOR remains in #7 Dry Dock and DEEPSEA WORKER/PEREGRINE VII in #5. The Mersey Maritime Museum tug BROCKLEBANK remains in the wet basin very much overshadowed by the massive bulk of the NORSE LAGAN which remains laid up.

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

John H. Luxton


MERSEY SHIPPING NEWS

08 February 1998

Compiled by: John Luxton 70374,30

A somewhat shorter MSN news update this week, but containing some interesting information - including how to get a car and 4 passenger return to Dublin for just £99 return. Ambitious plans development plans for a transport museum adjacent the Merseyside Maritime Museum which will permit public access to bottom the Canning Dry Dock.

SEA CONTAINERS LTD

ISLE OF MAN STEAM PACKET COMPANY LTD

PEVERIL - In service Heysham - Douglas.

KING ORRY - currently in service in revised blue/white SeaCo livery. Also operating additional night freight sailings on Heysham route to augment PEVERIL. Her arrival at Liverpool on 7th February was later than usual, a transmission to Mersey Radio indicating that she was not made fast until 13.45. She then renewed contact with Mersey Radio at 14.30 advising she would be changing position on the stage to "lie head north" - her usual berthing position.

LADY OF MANN - laid up Vittoria Dock.

SUPERSEACAT TWO berthed at Alexandra Dock passenger terminal. She has turned around during the week and now has her bow pointed seawards. She may have been out on the river or may have just turned round in dock. A special offer fare of £99 for a car and four passengers is available via a Liverpool Echo special offer for Liverpool - Dublin sailings until 16th July. Bookings should be made on the SeaCo central reservations number 0990 523523 by the 31st March and paid for in full quoting code LP/EC1. A special foot passenger fare of £15 return is also available.

A fresh set of IoMSPCo flags has been erected on the flagpoles around the Liverpool Sea Terminal. Meanwhile I have photos on line of the new Dublin Port Terminal which is shared between Irish Ferries and Sea Containers and which opened in December 1997.

HOLYMAN-HOVERSPEED FERRIES

HOLYMAN RAPIDE [Incat 38] was scheduled to depart from Langton Lock at 11.00 on 7th February. I arrived at Canada Dry Dock shortly after 10.00. There was a lot of activity around the vessel, however, it was clear that her departure would be delayed as neither stern ramp had been refitted. At around 10.30 a crane began preparations to reinstall the ramps. Her livery has changed somewhat. The craft is now predominantly white with blue boot topping the blue is also carried up over the stern and around the loading ramp area as before. The moulding above the upper passenger deck windows is now red. She carries a smallish Condor Ferries fleetname below the main passenger deck windows. Whilst the name HOLYMAN RAPIDE remains on the stern, her bows now carry just RAPIDE in quite large letters. Her departure from Liverpool was rescheduled for Saturday evening at around 19.00.

MERSEY FERRIES

Work on the MOUNTWOOD's annual refit appears to be almost complete at the Duke Street berth in the East Float. Additional sailings were provided to cover for yet another Mersey Rail underground strike on Tuesday 3rd February.

WRIGHT AND BEYER

STENA LYNX III has departed from Bidston Dry Dock. The company has concluded work on HOLYMAN RAPIDE [see above]

ALBERT DOCK COMPLEX

Canning Half Tide basin remains out of action following the failure of the river gates. I understand a steel pin, which connects the hydraulic rams to the gate, fractured causing the failure. This may have been weakened during the recent storms. On Saturday 7th February contractors plant was evident on site as was scaffolding around the south ram.

MERSEYSIDE MARITIME MUSEUM

Ambitious plans have been unveiled to further develop the dockside site of the Merseyside Maritime Museum in the vicinity of the Canning Graving Docks and the Great Western Railway warehouse. The GWR warehouse is to become a transport museum offering accommodation for the Merseyside Museum's land transport collection, much of which, is stored out of the public eye and also offering space for small boat exhibits. A basement exhibition hall will be accessed by lift and a tunnel cut through into north Canning Graving Dock to enable visitors to enter the dock and inspect the pilot cutter EDMUND GARDNER from below.

STENA LINE

STENA LYNX III departed during the week from Wright and & Beyers. I am not certain of the exact date. Here is a picture of her taken shortly after arrival in the West Float on 10th January before she proceeded to Wright and Beyer's Bidston Dry Dock for refit.

NORSE IRISH FERRIES

Daytime sailings are due to commence on 10th March. Passengers will be offered a brunch and afternoon tea as part of an inclusive deal. Cabins will be available for freight drivers.

The ending of the MD&HC dispute has resulted in the company removing the stack of yellow Coastal containers along the Regent Road side of the berth. Once again it is possible to look directly into the Norse Irish vessel's vehicle deck from the main road. The containers where placed in position to avoid NIF employees being intimidated by pickets.

FRIGATE CONWAY

The replica sailing frigate CONWAY, which arrived in Alexandra Dock just over 10 days ago, is due to undergo repairs to her keel on Merseyside. Her owners Haven Tall Ships have applied for permission to berth the vessel [a converted 1959 trawler] in the Albert Dock and open her as a floating pub. Her brief period of operation at Conwy resulted in her being described as a "monstrous carbuncle"!.

GROYNE CONSTRUCTION

The motorised hopper barge VILLE has been continues to make two return runs per daytime tide from a berth at Mortar Mill Quay in the East Float, Birkenhead where she is being loaded with stone for the project.

ARKLOW SHIPPING REGISTERING VESSEL OUTSIDE IRELAND IN PROTEST

Arklow Shipping Ltd., the largest Irish shipowner whose vessels are regular Mersey visitors, is re-registering one of its 27 vessels to protest Ireland's failure to reform its taxes in line with other European Union countries. The ARKLOW SAND, a new 3,000-dwt ship, will be registered in the Netherlands with a homeport of Zaandam. Irish citizens on Irish-registry vessels must pay income tax regardless of the time they were out of the country. The Irish government has said that it cannot offer tax relief to cross-border workers. The Arklow Sand will be time-chartered and will be owned by 60 Dutch investors. [WMN060298]

ROYAL NAVY

 A claim was made in the local press that a fire aboard the submarine HMS WARSPITE in Liverpool Docks during 1976 could have led to a nuclear disaster on Merseyside.

A former Naval repair worker is currently suing for compensation for cancer which he believes was contacted during his period of service with the Royal Navy. The MoD claim that there was no danger as the fire occurred in the diesel engine room.

A local solicitor is seeking information about the incident.

CAMMELL LAIRD HOLDINGS PLC

Geotechnical Vessel SIMON LABRADOR remains in #7 Dry Dock and DEEPSEA WORKER/PEREGRINE VII in #5. The Mersey Maritime Museum tug Brocklebank remains in the wet basin.

STOP PRESS! STOP PRESS! STOP PRESS! 

BELGIAN CREW RESCUED FROM THEIR BURNING TRAWLER

The crew of the oil-rig support vessel GRAMPIAN SUPPORTER have helped save the lives of five Belgian fishermen of the Welsh coast on Saturday 7th February. The crew spotted a fire onboard the 200ton trawler DEEZEMEOW which was fishing in Liverpool Bay. A fast response boat was launched from the GRAMPIAN SUPPORTER to rescue the five man crew. The Hoylake lifeboat and an RAF Rescue helicopter also attended the scene. The DEEZEMEOW was towed into Liverpool this evening; by the Howard Smith Tug OAKGARTH. A number of Belgian and other trawlers now operate out of Liverpool's Canada Dock fishing the waters of Liverpool Bay and the Irish Sea.

John H. Luxton

08 February 1998


1st February 1998

 

Welcome to this week's MSN. The main item of news is that SUPERSEACAT TWO has arrived on Merseyside this week to prepare for the recommencement of Sea Container's Liverpool - Dublin sailings in March. There are some digital pictures in this week's MSN once again - please note these are not from Photo-CD and of lower quality but are included to illustrate the news. I will, from time to time, include digital pictures in the WWWeb version of MSN.

SEA CONTAINERS LTD

ISLE OF MAN STEAM PACKET COMPANY LTD

 

Sea Containers has issued a press release giving details of substantially increased passenger ferry loadings:

 Sea Containers has reported record carryings on its passenger and vehicle carrying services for 1997.

Combined carryings for Hoverspeed, SeaCat Scotland, SeaCat AB (Sweden), the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company and the Argyll and Antrim Steam Packet Company were 4,665,000 passengers and 833,000 vehicles.

The figures represent a 14 per cent and 27 per cent increase respectively on the previous year's totals of 4,102,000 and 658,000.

The launch of the SuperSeaCat on the English Channel and the increase in capacity it provided, led to an increase of 162,000 vehicles. The launch of the Argyll and Antrim Steam Packet Company's Ballycastle, Northern Ireland, to Campbeltown, Scotland, route and the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company's Liverpool to Dublin service, in early summer, also contributed to the overall success and in particular the increase in vehicle traffic.

Despite strong competition on the Channel, Hoverspeed enjoyed a highly successful year, confirming its position as the leading fast ferry operator on the Dover to Calais and Folkestone to Boulogne routes. Passenger carryings were up 19 per cent to 3,138,000 from the 1996 figure of 2,646,000 while vehicle numbers were up 47 per cent to 508,000 from the 1996 total of 346,000. Hoverspeed carried its three millionth passenger of the year in December.

SeaCat Scotland continued to face tough competition on the Irish Sea in 1997. Despite this, passenger carryings on the Stranraer to Belfast route were up seven per cent to 444,000 from 417,000 in 1996 and vehicle traffic grew 13 per cent to 126,000 from 111,000.

SeaCat AB, which operates between Frederikshavn, Denmark, and Gothenburg, Sweden, reported passenger figures up 10 per cent at 585,000 from a 1996 figure of 532,000 while vehicle numbers increased eight per cent to 99,000 from 92,000.

The Isle of Man Steam Packet Company continued its growth on the Irish Sea through its services from Douglas to Liverpool, Heysham, Fleetwood, Dublin and Belfast. Passenger figures were up five per cent to 471,000 from a 1996 figure of 451,000 while vehicle traffic grew 12 per cent to 94,000 from 84,000.

During its first season, the Argyll and Antrim Steam Packet Company carried 27,000 passengers and 6,500 cars. The service has proved to be extremely popular with tourists from England, Scotland and the Republic of Ireland and with the local communities of Ballycastle and Campbeltown. It 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 customers.

David Benson, Senior Vice President of Ferries, Rail and Ports Division at Sea Containers, said: "This has been another great year for our ferry operations and the prospects for 1998 are very encouraging. The launch in March this year of a SuperSeaCat service on the Liverpool to Dublin route will mark the start of the only fast ferry service into the Irish capital from the United Kingdom and capitalise on what is a growing market across the Irish Sea.

"To complement this, we look forward to the continued success of the AA Line service and the introduction, in July, of the new £24 million "Ben-My-Chree" ferry on the Douglas to Heysham route by the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company.

"Work has now started on SuperSeaCat Three and Four at the shipyards of Italian builder Fincantieri in time for them to enter service early in 1999," he added.

BELARD - she was re-registered in Kingstown, St. Vincent before her departure to her new Danish owners after a brief visit to Douglas on 23rd January.

KING ORRY departed from Cammell Lairds and laid up along side Prince's Landing Stage on Wednesday 28th January between 12.00 and 20.00. The application of the Sea Containers blue/white livery has had the effect of making her look much smaller as she no longer has the "big white ship" look. She retains IoMSPCo roundels below the bridge wings and on her bow, however, the "go faster" stripes are gone. The effect of the blue hull does, however, make the vessel's name stand out more readily. Its not the first time she has sported blue hull colours, these were carried back in her ALA/Sealink days as ST ELOI before SeaLink white appeared on the scene.

KING ORRY commenced passenger sailings with the Thursday Douglas to Heysham sailing.

LADY OF MANN - came off service and laid up in Vittoria Dock on Thursday morning 29th January and will probably have a well earned rest until the start of the TT festival.

SUPERSEACAT TWO arrived on Thursday evening and is currently berthed at the Alexandra Dock passenger terminal.

Brochures are now available for the SuperSeaCat services between Liverpool and Dublin. Fares are from £10 return for a "there and back" day trip. Day trips with time ashore [11 hours] are £19 and available from April when the ship commences twice daily return crossings. There is a full range of fares for vehicles and foot passengers. The timetable brochure is valid 12 March to 5th October. Details of winter services will be available later in the year

Schedules are: Liverpool dep 08.15 and 18.00, Dublin dep 13.00 and 23.00. 18.00 and 23.00 sailings commence 3rd April. Timetables are subject to change during the Manx TT period [2nd-15th June]. There is a possibility that SUPERSEACAT TWO might swap with SEACAT DANMARK on the Liverpool - Douglas service.

I experienced problems trying to secure a day trip ticket from Liverpool for the first Saturday 14th March and was told that there were none left! However, phoning central reservations I had no problems getting one therefore if you are thinking of taking an early trip - book by phone!

Further talks are planned during February between the company and Wyre Borough Council concerning closure of the Fleetwood route. The talks are also expected to involve Associated British Ports and Freeport Leisure to investigate the possibility of providing services this season.

Finally, before leaving Sea Containers/IoMSPCo a slight error has crept into the cover of the Manx edition of the 1998 timetable. I have had my copy for a few weeks, but didn't notice the error until reading a Manx newspaper. The Albert Dock complex is back to front!

MERSEY FERRIES

Work on the MOUNTWOOD's annual refit continues at the Duke Street berth in the East Float.

Additional sailings were provided to cover for yet another Mersey Rail underground strike on Thursday 29th January.

WRIGHT AND BEYER

STENA LYNX III remains in Bidston Dry Dock. The company continues work on HOLYMAN RAPIDE in Canada Dry Dock

ALBERT DOCK COMPLEX

The Canning Half Tide basin which provides access to the Albert Dock complex closed to vessels on 27th January following the departure of the tug BROCKLEBANK for Cammell Laird. Apparently the river gate has been damaged and the dock has become tidal. Hopefully repairs will be carried out soon as it is only two years since the Canning Basin was dredged; open to the river the basin will be prone to rapid silting as occurred when the MD&HC closed the south docks and opened them to the tide in the 1970s. During the 1996 dredging operations the river gate became damaged, this resulting in the need for repair work. Without Canning Half Tide out of action there is little opportunity for visiting vessels to berth "in the public eye" at the Albert Dock complex. Albert Dock itself and the adjacent docks still retain water as this is impounded by a second gate leading from the Canning Half Tide basin.

MERSEYSIDE MARITIME MUSEUM

The Museum is taking advantage of the publicity surrounding the recently released motion picture - TITANIC. The museum has constructed a large advertising model of the TITANIC sinking which can be towed around the city streets. The model can be lit at night. The museum has a large collection of Titanic memorabilia on display including the Harland & Wolff builder's model.

MERSEY DOCKS & HARBOUR COMPANY

The dispute between Mersey Docks and Harbour Co. and dismissed employees at the Port of Liverpool was suddenly settled on 26th January. Reports suggest that the sudden end to the dispute came as a result of the former employees' union threatening to withdraw hardship payments. The dispute began in September 1995 when some MD&HC employees refused to cross the picket lines of colleagues working for Torside Stevedores, who had been made redundant through that company's closure. Those employees refusing to cross the picket lines were dismissed and have since then picketed the port as well as taking their protests to the USA and Ireland. At one point Liverpool nearly lost the Atlantic Container Line as a result of the on-going dispute, though fortunately the company returned after a short absence. The company has agreed to pay unto £28,000 to each former employee in compensation, these terms had originally been offered and rejected by the majority of former employees back in October 1997.

LOWLINE LTD/DIRECT CRUISES

The EDINBURGH CASTLE which is due to commence operations out of Liverpool during April began operating overnight casino cruises out of New York on 28th January. The ship is currently on charter on Manhattan Cruises. Seven overnight cruises will be offered each week. The Sunday through Thursday cruises will return at approximately 0800 the following morning. The Friday and Saturday cruises will return at 1500 the following afternoon. Periodic cruises will be offered to Hamilton, Bermuda, and Halifax, Nova Scotia. Weekday cruises are U.S.$99 and weekends are U.S.$199.[WMN30/01/98]

HOLYMAN [HOVERSPEED?!] FERRIES

HOLYMAN RAPIDE [Incat 38] remains in Canada Dry Dock where she is undergoing refit. Repainting of the vessel has now commenced all logos being removed. Red paint has appeared on the streamlined moulding above the upper saloon windows - this has been previously white. Holyman is reported to still be in discussions with Sea Containers/Hoverspeed with regard to a possible merger of cross-channel services to compensate for the withdrawal of Sally Line from the partnership. I will try and keep an eye on HOLYMAN RAPIDE's evolving livery during the course of the week to see if it gives any pointers to future intentions!

STENA LINE

STENA LYNX III remains in Wright and Beyer's Bidston Dry Dock.

The Stena port of Holyhead was in the news this week when about 300 farmers tried to block the import of Irish beef as part of the continuing protest regarding the import of cheap foreign beef. One police officer was seriously injured during the protest on 28th January.

NORSE IRISH FERRIES

Large recruitment advertisements appeared in the local press this week for cabin, catering and operational crew. The company is intending to increase the number of sailings from Spring with the introduction of day-time services.

FRIGATE CONWAY

The replica frigate CONWAY, which used to be berthed at a floating pub/nightclub at Conwy berthed at Alexandra Dock on the evening of 27th January. She is a not a true replica of the former square rigged HMS CONWAY, which was sadly lost in the Menai Straits shortly after W.W.II due to a piloting/towage blunder. The vessel, which I gather was a converted trawler was prepared for her new role at Clarence Dry Docks by Manning's Marine two years ago. Her location at Conwy did not meet with the universal approval of some locals.

ROYAL NAVY

Several Royal Naval visitors this week: Broadsword Class [Type 22/2] Frigate F93 HMS BEAVER entered Canada #3 Branch Dock on 28th January, Island Class patrol vessel LINDISFARNE [P300] arrived in Canada #3 Branch on 30th January both vessels remain in Canada Dock on 31st January. Also arriving on 28th January Example Class training craft HMS EXPRESS [A163], this vessel now appears to be in Clarence Dry Dock.

GROYNE CONSTRUCTION

The motorised hopper barge VILLE has been continues to make two return runs per daytime tide from a berth at Mortar Mill Quay in the East Float, Birkenhead where she is being loaded with stone for the project.

CAMMELL LAIRD HOLDINGS PLC

KING ORRY is in the wet basin and is expected to depart on Sunday 25th January. BELARD departed from #6 Dry Dock on Friday 23rd January. Geotechnical Vessel SIMON LABRADOR remains in #7 Dry Dock and DEEPSEA WORKER/PEREGRINE VII in #5. The Mersey Maritime Museum tug Brocklebank has entered the wet basin.

 Thanks again to those people who have supplied extra information this week - ME, RC, JM.

John H. Luxton

 

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