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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

MSN MAY 1998




31 May 1998

Compiled by: John Luxton



LADY OF MANN - The LADY looks set to have an interesting summer, though much of it will be spent in foreign climes! She had a good start to the season carrying over 900 passengers from Llandudno to Douglas, on Thursday. On Wednesday she sailed from Fleetwood to Douglas with 700 passengers. The only sailing from Fleetwood this year. However, she is to gain large "Whale" logos and sail to the Azores for a charter this summer before returning to the Irish Sea to take up the Liverpool - Dublin route during October.

KING ORRY - and a SuperSeaCat are likely to be the vessels selected to operate on the channel-islands route should Sea Containers secure the operating franchise from current holders Condor Ferries.

PICASSO - Remains at the company's berth in Vittoria Dock.

SUPERSEACAT TWO - Has been running on reduced power on one engine recently. She has generally managed to maintain schedules despite this.

TT Schedules - The Isle of Man TT Racing Festival is about to begin and all Sea Containers Irish Sea vessels will be involved in conveying passengers to and from the island over the next couple of weeks.

SEACAT SCOTLAND: One Belfast - Douglas (0100 on Sat June 6).

CLAYMORE: starts ex Belfast 0100 Tues. June 2 then runs on Heysham route doing one and a half round trips most days except for Mon.-Thurs (June 8-10) when she is doing evening cruises out of Douglas.

The LADY OF MANN is generally running two round trips per day - including a few to Heysham not on timetable.

SUPERSEACAT TWO is retimed for Liverpool - Dublin at 0700 returning 1330 on 3/4/5 June. On other days she will leave Liverpool at 0815 but there will be some variation in return timings.

There will be only one round trip to Dublin June 2-7 and 10-13 (inclusive). On June 2 SSC2 does one round trip to Dublin and is idle rest of day - on June 3 she is on standby for evening trip to IOM.

The Liverpool schedules on Thurs 4 June are:

SEACAT DANMARK (arr 2330 Wed) dep 0100 to Douglas

SUPERSEACAT 2 arr 0200 ex IOM dep 0700 to Dublin

SEACAT DANMARK arr 0730 light ex IOM dep 0900 to Douglas

LADY OF MANN arr 1200 dep 1500 to Douglas

SEACAT DANMARK arr 1530 dep 1700 to Douglas

SUPERSEACAT 2 arr 1720 dep 2000 to Douglas


EDINBURGH CASTLE failed to depart on 24 May for her next Mediterranean Cruise. Passengers had boarded the liner at Liverpool, and had been on board for 5 hours when they were informed that the cruise had been cancelled. Passengers were offered refunds and the chance to take part in a free cruise to Lisbon and Gibraltar scheduled to depart on Friday 29 May.

The Greek liner APOLLO/APOLLON finally arrived on Merseyside on 30 May from Bristol. This former Canadian Pacific liner is no stranger to Merseyside having been one of the last Trans-Atlantic liners to sail from Liverpool in the early 1970s. There has been some confusion as to her name. The cruise adverts call her APOLLO, the name carried on her bows and on boards near her bridge bear the word APOLLON whilst the magazine Shipping Yesterday and Today keep referring to her as the OLYMPIC in their liner calls pages!


The NORSE LAGAN has been chartered to Seawind Line and will sail between Stockholm and Turku during the summer.


The MV BALMORAL will operating cruises from Liverpool & North Wales between 3 June and 9 June.

Wednesday 3 June: Llandudno [10.30], Menai Bridge [12.00], for cruise round Anglesey; Caernarfon [16.45], Menai Bridge [18.00], Llandudno [19.30], Menai Bridge [21.00.] Coach return to Caernarfon.

Thursday 4 June: Menai Bridge [10.00], Caernarfon 11.00, Menai Bridge [11.45], Llandudno [13.30], Cruise to Puffin Island & Anglesey coast; Llandudno [15.45], Menai Bridge [17.15], Caernarfon [18.00] and Llandudno 20.15.

Friday 5 June: Liverpool [10.15], Llandudno [13.00], Cruise around Anglesey; Llandudno 20.45 with coach return from Llandudno to Liverpool.

Saturday & Sunday 6/7 June: Liverpool [10.15], Llandudno [13.00/14.00] cruise Menai Straits and Puffin Island. Llandudno [17.00] and Liverpool [20.00].

Monday 8 June: Liverpool [10.15], Llandudno [13.15], Menai Bridge [14.30], Cruise under bridges, Llandudno [16.45], Liverpool coach return, Menai Bridge [18.15].

Tuesday 9 June:

Caernarfon [09.00], Menai Bridge [10.00], Llandudno [11.30], Cruise to Holy Island and South Stack Light Houses, Llandudno [18.30], Caernarfon and Menai Bridge coach return.

On Monday June 15 PS WAVERLEY will operate an Anglesey Coast cruise departing Holyhead at 19.30 and returning at 22.30.

Reservations and Enquiries: 0141-221-8152 or 01446 720656.


The "A" Bridge, the last remaining moveable bridge on the "Four Bridges" route across Birkenhead Docks, was reopened to road vehicles on 24 May after being closed for 22 months following problems with contractors involved in the overhaul of the bridge.


I finally saw the LEMBITU this week at the P&O berth in Dublin. She is currently operating the EUROPEAN LEADER's [BUFFALO] schedules whilst that ship is being enlarged. Michael Pryce has forwarded some additional information about LEMBITU:

LEMBITU is Estonian flag, operated by Estonian Shipping Co. Ltd.,

(ESCO), Tallin. Built 1998, 7,800 gross, 2,400 net, 5,700 dwt. Launched at Huelva previous to 1st October 1996, Builders Ast. Huelva. SPA, yard number 570. 122.3 metres x 19.8 metres x 6.2 draft. 1,140 lane metres. 266 TEU access. Twin-screw Wartsila, 7,400kW. 17 knots. Sister ships from yard are LEHOLA (569), LEILI (573), VARBOLA (572). According to May's edition of Cruise & Ferry Info, LEMBITU is chartered to P & O Ferries for 6 months at US$10,550 per day.


Arklow Shipping's fleet of coasters may be acquiring a change in livery. Normally the vessels carry a green hull/white superstructure. I spotted ARKLOW FREEDOM in Cobh harbour on Thursday and she had a buff superstructure. Anyone know if this is a one-off colour scheme or a revised livery?


The hopper barge VILLE along with support vessel MARIE continues work on the Eastham and New Brighton Groynes.


Fisher's TANKERMAN remains in dry dock. The company's share price continues its upward trend. On Friday the shares were quoted at yet another new high of £5.525p.


Liverpool and Manx Coastguards are showing concern for the safety of 76 year old Wilfred Critchley last seen leaving Knott End, opposite Fleetwood at 06.00 on 20 May on board his canal boat "WILL".

However, he was only reported missing on 27 May. A photograph of the unusual homemade craft featured in the Merseyside press this week. The vessel is flat-bottomed and has no keel; coastguards pointed out that it was liable to capsize at sea.

Mr. Critchley is believed to have no radio, charts or lifesaving equipment on board

Acknowledgements: FL, RC, MP, JM,

John Luxton




24 May 1998

Compiled by: John Luxton 70374,



Delivery of the missing parts for the Epson film and slide scanner finally occurred on Friday afternoon. After experimenting with the device I am more than pleased with the results. Image quality is very good and I am delighted to be able to access my large collection of transparencies and negatives. A number of archive gallery pages are planned. Some are already on-line this week featuring Waverley in 1977 & 1980, Steam Dredger MANNIN 2, QUEEN ELIZABETH 2 and SPLENDOUR OF THE SEAS. The latter two photographed on Merseyside in 1996. Also available this week are photographs of the SUPERSEACAT TWO bridge.

The Maritime Queries section has been updated.

I am off to Cobh during the week and therefore should come back with many more maritime photos for the galleries.



LADY OF MANN - Has left Wright & Beyer's yard and was noted on Friday 22 May berthed in the West Float a few hundred yards from the Duke Street Bridge. Her engines appeared to be running. On Saturday 23 May she was still in this berth. No news about what the Lady will be unto after the end of the TT, though the Weymouth berthing trials rumour continues. However, it is likely that she will be on the Liverpool - Dublin route from October.

KING ORRY - Her 19.15 departure from Liverpool on 17 May was her last scheduled departure from Liverpool for Douglas. She had a good load of 759 passengers on board, though she departed over half an hour late. All Liverpool sailings will be by SEACAT DANMARK with support from the LADY OF MANN during the TT period.

SEACAT DANMARK - has entered service on the Isle of Man routes this week. She undertook two test runs to Liverpool on Sunday 17 May [arriving at 10.00 and departing 11.00] and Monday 18 May ]arriving at 12.30 sailing again at 13.30]. On Friday SCD did not get alongside the stage until around 19.20 following SSC2's late departure. She departed at 20.30 - 1 hour 45 minutes behind schedule with 269 passengers on board.

PICASSO - Remains at the company's berth in Vittoria Dock.

SUPERSEACAT TWO - The 18.00 sailing on Friday 22 May departed over an hour behind schedule at around 19.15. This delayed the arrival of SeaCat Danmark.

SSC2 will operate the following sailings to Douglas during the TT Races: Liverpool to IOM at 20.00 on 4th and 5th June and 23.30 on 6th June. Her scheduled return trips are at 23.00 on 6th June and 01.00 on 12th,13th and 14th June. This means she will still do one round trip to Dublin on those days - but the timings may be adjusted to fit berth availability in Liverpool.


The MD&HC dredger MERSEY MARINER has left Canada Graving Dock. Former concrete sugar silo, which was once used by the now, closed Tate and Lyle Sugar Refinery has been declared a listed building.

The structure located on the east side of the dock road adjacent to Huskisson Dock has been declared an important historic building, considered to be at risk, by English Heritage. Apparently MDHC which continue to use the massive silo are reported in the local press to be amazed at this "at risk" designation having recently spent a six figure sum on repairs to the concrete structure!

Maintenance work on the last remaining lift bridge at "Four Bridges", Birkenhead Docks appears to be coming to an end at last after almost two years. The bridge was closed during July 1996 for an overhaul and repairs. The work had originally been scheduled to be completed by the end of 1996. However, due to various problems and the dismissal of the original engineers, "A" bridge has remained open for shipping thus blocking a main road route through Birkenhead Docks, between Birkenhead and Seacombe. On the May 19/20 the bridge was closed to shipping to allow work to be carried out. On Saturday May 23, 1998 the bridge was finally noted to be in the down position for the first time in around 22 months! Plenty of engineers were noted at work, so it is presumed that the "Four Bridges" road will reopen shortly.


EUROPEAN LEADER - [BUFFALO] is due to return to the Liverpool - Dublin route during July. Trimline of Southampton as well as providing the fitting out of the ship's new 15metre section, to be inserted amidships is refurbishing the existing accommodation on the ship. The ship is currently at A&P's yard in Falmouth, Cornwall.

The new section includes two decks of passenger accommodation - 18 cabins, bar, restaurant, duty free shop, lounge, reception area, and TV lounge.

Additional work to the ship involves the fitting of new bulkheads, deckheads and lighting. On completion of the work EUROPEAN LEADER will be able to carry 80 passengers and 100 freight units.

In the meantime LEMBITU has been chartered to operate EUROPEAN LEADER's schedule. [Does anyone have any information on this vessel?


Stena is the official carrier to the Tour de France, which commences in Dublin this year. Race traffic will be carried to Holyhead via HSS before the start of the race on 11 July.

After the completion of the Irish stages of the race, three vessels will take the competitors to France. KONINGIN BEATRIX and STENA CHALLENGER will sail from Cork and the STENA CLAEDONIA from Rosslare to Roscoff.


Falcon may have ended their joint operation on cross channel freight services with Sea Containers, but unusually the company ran quite a large advertisement in the Liverpool Daily Post this week advertising their new vessel to be employed on the English Channel route - PURBECK. It isn't common to see cross-channel ferry services advertised in the Liverpool press.


More design information is available on the new vessel to service aids to navigation for the General Lighthouse Authorities in Ireland and the United Kingdom.

 It will cost U.S.$26 million and will be based at the Commissioners of Irish Lights station at Dun Laoghaire, Ireland. Sixty-five percent will come from the British General Lighthouse Fund with the rest from the Irish government.

The 1,132-dwt design is by Hart Fenton & Co. Ltd. [A Sea Containers Company] in Portsmouth, England. It is 79.7 meters/261 feet long, has a 16-meter/52-foot beam and a 4.5-meter/15-foot draft. It will be built by Damen in the Netherlands for delivery in late 1999. The new ship will have a buoy working area aft of 600 square meters/720 square yards and will be able to carry 18 buoys. A 20-ton crane with 18-meter/59-foot reach will be fitted along with two 15-ton capstans and the vessel will have dynamic positioning capability. Other capabilities include pollution response and helicopter recovery and refuelling equipment.

Propulsion will come from five 3,700-kilowatt diesel alternators powering two azimuthing propellers in nozzles for 13.1 knots. The vessel will have a 40-ton bollard pull. Two workboats and a twin-engine water jet rigid inflatable boat will be carried. [WMN 22/05/98]


The Saint Patrick II (11,500-gt, 1,325-dwt, 1,500-passenger ferry built in 1973 by J.J. Seitas in Germany), will start a new service between Patras, Greece, and Brindisi, Italy, late next month as the Egnatia II.

The ferry had sailed between France and Ireland until 1996, when it was chartered for four and a half years to Hellenic Mediterranean Lines, which will buy it at the end of the charter. It had been laid-up at Le Havre, France. Irish Ferries bought the vessel in 1982.

The Egnatia II has received new paint and is being refurbished in Piraeus, Greece.

[WMN 22/05/98]


The hopper barge VILLE along with support vessel MARIE continues work on the Eastham and New Brighton Groynes.


The new tug TRAFALGAR was back at the McTay berth in the East Float on Saturday 23 May. She appears to be almost complete and carries Liverpool as her port of registry.


The small Mersey based steam tug KERNE that acts as a mobile ambassador for both the Merseyside Maritime Museum and Ellesmere Port Boat Museum has entered Manning Marine's Clarence Dry Docks for attention.


Following last week's request for information Josh Reynolds has informed me that some kind of gantry construction has been built across the entrance to the Bristol Dry Dock were she has been berthed since Brasspatch went into liquidation in February. Apparently this would mean that her funnel and masts would need to be removed to allow for extrication. Demolition is looking rather likely.


Captain Michael Pryce of New Zealand continues to keep me informed CONDOR 10's wanderings.

Sailed from Singapore on 14th May 1998, and called at Djibouti for

refuelling on 21st May, sailed same day. Due Suez late on 23rd May for Suez Canal transit on 24th May, and is due to arrive at Algeciras on 27th May.

It is confirmed that CONDOR 10 is to operate an Algeciras to Ceuta service in the northern summer, on charter to a Spanish company (ISNASA perhaps?). She is to be transferred to the Spanish flag and to have a full Spanish crew for this period.

No information is available about whether any renaming is involved.

(CONDOR 10 has been Singapore-registered since built, and has retained her original official name throughout, despite some "trading names" having been applied to her hull for various charters)."

Wonder if she will turn up this winter for refit on Merseyside ?


Fisher's TANKERMAN remains in dry dock. English Heritage, this week, identified the historic #4 Dry-Dock as one of a number of important historical buildings. The dock was protected from planned in filling proposed by the then Merseyside Development Corporation through the actions of the Department of the Environment, which placed a preservation order on the dock.

The dock is a grade II listed building and restoration will cost £1.5 million. The finance will come from both the private sector and from government and European funding. It is hoped that the dock will be used to restore historic ships as well as provide facilities for the repair of modern vessels and a training ground for apprentices.

This week two of James Fisher's coasters visited the yard: BRIARTHORN and ROSETHORN were noted in the yard on Thursday 21 May.

The company's share price continues its upward trend. On Friday the shares were quoted at another new high of £4.985p Up 0.085p on the week.


As noted above, Fisher's BRIARTHORN and ROSETHORN visited Cammell Laird's wet basin during the latter part of the week. These two ships members of the Coe Metcalfe Motor Coaster's fleet have kept a separate identity to the rest of the Fisher fleet, even though Metcalfe's has been part of Fishers for many years. However, BRIARTHORN was noted with the new blue "Fisher" funnel colours with fleet name in yellow. She retains her green hull. ROSETHORN, however, maintains her "C" Coe Metcalfe funnel colours.


Gardiner's interesting little general cargo vessel SAINT ORAN which has unusual bow loading ro/ro facilites was noted in the West Float, Birkenhead on Saturday 23 May just a few yards astern of the LADY OF MANN. She was loading a massive new propeller delivered to the quayside from the nearby propeller factory of Stone Manganese Marine by crane.


Finally to finish on an amusing note a new 17-foot high sculpture has been unveiled next to the Mersey Tunnel ventilation station at the Pier Head. Costing £35,000 the SUPER LAMB BANANA was constructed on Merseyside by a Japanese Art Student. It is basically a large lamb whose quarters beyond its real legs taper into a banana! According to an explanation in the Times newspaper the lamb and banana represent traditional imports to Liverpool's docks as well as representing developments in genetic engineering with reference to "Dolly" the cloned sheep. Admittedly its connection with shipping is very loose - but it is certainly bright, unusual and amusing addition to the waterfront area, which appears to have attracted favourable local comment.

John Luxton




17 May 1998

Compiled by: John Luxton 70374,30



I had hoped this weekend to begin scanning some older colour transparencies and film negatives to create some archive gallery pages for Mersey Shipping News. Unfortunately the Scanner has turned into a fiasco. I normally have a golden rule "Never buy computer products from electrical chain stores!" Unfortunately I broke that rule as I spotted the EPSON 200 Film Scan at an attractive price whilst browsing last weekend. One wasn't in stock so another one was delivered to the store. When I arrived home I lifted the box out of the car and noticed that I had been given was a Macintosh version. Take it back. Went to collect the PC version today. Something said to me, "Check the contents of the box" as I was about to leave the store car park. I did and guess what? No interface card, lead, film holder, slide holder or software! Back into the store - they found a lead and card but no film holder or software. I have the scanner but can't use it! Hopefully next week there will be some pictures from the "archives".

There is a new Paddle Steamer Web Site which features WAVERLEY, KINGSWEAR CASTLE, MEDWAY QUEEN, MAID OF THE LOCH and some other European paddlers together with the EMMYLOU of Australia and also has links to S.S. SHIELDHALL and Pier Preservation.

LINER CALL information has been updated to include details of the ASTRA and sailings by APOLLO. Please check out LIVERPOOL CRUISE DEPARTURES and Liner Calls for more information. Liner information is accessible from the front page.




On 14 May Sea Containers reported net earnings for the first quarter ended March 31, 1998 of $3.8 million ($0.04 per common share) on revenue of $262.1 million. In the first quarter of 1997 the company had net earnings of $1.9 million (loss of $0.13 per common share) on revenue of $248 million.

Operating profits in the 1998 first quarter from marine and land intermodal container leasing rose 6% to $16.9 million from $16 million in the year earlier period. Passenger transport operating profits rose 627% to $6.2 million from $0.9 million while hotel profits declined 7% to $9.1 million from $9.8 million.

LADY OF MANN - Still in Wright and Beyer's yard on Friday 15 May. She is due to operate a Llandudno - Douglas excursion on 28 May and a Fleetwood - Douglas excursion on Wednesday 27 May. [Please note this is a correction I erroneously entered 29 May when I first posted this week's news]

KING ORRY - Her 19.15 departure from Liverpool on 16 May appeared to be delayed. She was still alongside the landing stage at 19.45.

Her 19.15 departure on Sunday 17 May will be her last scheduled departure from Liverpool before replacement by BEN-MY-CHREE. SEACAT DANMARK takes over the Liverpool route from this Friday 22 May with the 07.00 sailing to Liverpool from Douglas. Of course adverse weather conditions [for SeaCats] might still mean she reappears at Liverpool before her withdrawal.

PICASSO - Remains at the company's berth in Vittoria Dock.

SUPERSEACAT TWO - The "Brocklebank" column in the Liverpool Daily Post had unkind things to say about SSC2 this week. Commenting favourably on the cute pussy cats which adorn the bows the newspaper went on to state that the ship was ideal for short channel crossings but was not really suited to the longer, rougher passage to Dublin and that she should be renamed the "Vomit Comet"!

Sea Containers to the Channel Islands? Reports in Coastal Cruising Magazine suggest that KING ORRY and a SUPERSEACAT could operate to the Channel Islands if Sea Containers are offered the CI routes next year currently operated by Condor. Elsewhere in the same magazine it is suggested that LADY OF MANN is off to Weymouth for berthing trials after the TT! However, some reports from CCM have only been based on rumour rather than actual plans. Its going to be a case of wait and see!




The driver of an MD&HC Valmet straddle carrier operating at the Seaforth Container terminal received serious spinal injuries when the vehicle collided with a lighting pylon. The man was trapped for around two hours, 35 feet above the ground as emergency teams tried to rescue him. Unconfirmed reports suggest that the steering wheel of the straddle carrier became detached and is apparently the second straddle carrier mishap in the past few weeks.

Plans are being prepared to restore the former MD&HB Bidston Lighthouse [built 1873] which is sited on Bidston Hill adjacent to the Bidston Observatory. Restoration of the lighthouse, which will give visitors, panoramic views is expected to cost £50,000. The light which operated in conjunction with the recently Leasowe lighthouse, marked the Mersey's second approach channel the long abandoned Rock Channel.

The local press repeated plans publicised earlier this year to deepen the river bed by the landing stage to permit the boarding of liners along side the stage rather than in mid river or within the dock system. However, given the fact that only one berth is available whilst the Sea Co linkspan in moored it is difficult o see just how the vessels can be berthed at the stage unless significant lengthening takes place.

Spring 1997 saw the arrival of the Airtours liner SUNDREAM that became the largest liner to berth at the stage following a weekend cruise to Dublin. Once berthed the vessel took up the virtually the whole of the Prince's Landing Stage, at that time the Sea Container's linkspan had not been positioned.



Last year it was SEACAT ISLE OF MAN which had a close encounter with an irresponsible jet-skier who travelled between the ship's twin hulls. On Saturday 9 May a jet ski carrying a man and a young girl cut across the bows of a ferry as the vessel departed from the landing stage. A Liverpool Coastguard spokesman condemned the act.

Manchester Ship Canal Cruises will be operated as follows during 1998:


Saturday & Sunday 27/28 June

Saturday & Sunday 25/26 July

Wednesday & Thursday 29/30 July

Saturday & Sunday 22/23 August

Saturday & Sunday 5/6 September

The ships sail outward on the Saturday/Wednesday and return Thursday/Sunday. Fares are £21.00 per person and include one way coach travel from/to Manchester depending on direction of cruise. Further details available from Mersey Ferries on 0151-630-1030.


The former H&W engineering works sited near Canada #3 Branch Dock on Regent Road, Bootle is being demolished. In recent years, the complex, which had been badly damaged by bombing in WWII and only "patched up", has been used by MD&HC as an engineering works and also as a grain store. I wish I had known about this before the demolition contractors erected their scaffolding and safety netting as it was an historic building worthy of photographing carrying as it did the company's full title picked out in white brick work.


This large Cypriot registered stern trawler/factory ship has been berthed in Vittoria Dock a few hundred yards east of the Sea Containers berth for around about a year now. It is likely that the 13-year-old vessel will be sold to breakers as she has deteriorated to a very poor condition


The second departure of the former EMPRESS OF CANADA now renamed APOLLO due to depart on 16 May has also been cancelled. The ship is at Avonmouth Docks, Bristol being prepared for operation via Direct Cruises.


FUNCHAL departed ahead of the published 18.00 departure time of 18.00 on Thursday 14 May. Departing Langton Lock at 16.30. There were last minute bargains to be had on the Scottish & Irish Highlands and Islands Cruise. The Liverpool Echo advertised a special £200 fare at the start of the week.


Former Canadian servicemen have been in Liverpool at the weekend to commemorate the 55th Anniversary of the Battle of the Atlantic. On Friday a civic reception was held at the Town Hall, whilst on Saturday a new memorial at the Pier Head was unveiled.


The hopper barge VILLE along with support vessel MARIE continues work on the Eastham and New Brighton Groynes.


The new tug TRAFALGAR was reported by Mersey Radio to have entered the Liverpool Dock system during the week.


The small Mersey based steam tug KERNE that acts as a mobile ambassador for both the Merseyside Maritime Museum and Ellesmere Port Boat Museum has entered Manning Marine's Clarence Dry Docks for attention.


On the 16 May the Merseyside Brach of the World Ship Society undertook an excursion to Barrow and Heysham. I'll make an illustrated report of the trip in due course. At Barrow there was the opportunity to see and photograph the James Fisher managed/BNFL owned nuclear carriers EUROPEAN SHEARWATER, PACIFIC PINTAIL, PACIFIC CRANE [long term lay up] and PACIFIC ????. ABP's tug FURNESS ABBEY was also seen along with the large Fleetwood based trawler OMEGA. The harbour master demonstrated the large dock gate, which was installed at the entrance to Ramsden Dock in 1992. It is believed to be the largest submersible gate in the world on a dock entrance though. The new entrance from the Barrow Dock system into the Walney Channel being constructed to allow the new Trident Class ballistic missile submarines access to and from the GEC/VSEL ship yard. The party were also shown a collection of photos illustrating the construction of the new Ramsden Dock entrance and the in-filling of the old entrance. Construction of the new entrance claimed the lives of two workmen in two separate incidents.

Barrow is also interesting in that it posses what must be the largest unused dock in the world. The massive Cavendish Dock was excavated during the late 19th Century to cater for a boom in traffic during the local industrial boom. However, the dock was never completed, being excavated only to a depth of three metres and no quayside walls were ever constructed. The dock has been used only ever been used as a reservoir for various local industries.

Following the visit to Barrow docks a call was made at the Dock Museum. This museum is very deceptive. From the outside it looks quite small, inside it is different! It is constructed over half the length of a former graving dock. The other half, outside the museum building retains water and possesses a modern gate to allow visiting vessels to berth. The covered half of the dock is on three levels. With large exhibits on the ground floor, further displays on the floor below and finally a large auditorium on the dock floor itself. The sandstone walls of the dock have been retained. It is illuminated mostly by natural light entering through a glazed roof. Groundwater seeps through the blocks of the docksides and in the area, which receives direct light ferns, grow attractively out of the sandstone blocks.

This new museum which was opened by Barrow Museum Services in 1992 is open Wednesday to Sunday from Easter to October. Admission is by voluntary donation. There is a small museum shop and the "porthole cafe". All in all a well-presented museum which covers the Maritime history of Barrow quite well and highly recommended. One small point I couldn't help noticing was the lack of any displays relating to James Fisher & Son's Plc. This company, founded in Barrow 151 years ago, has its head office only a mile or so away from the museum and remains the only original Barrow shipping company still in existence.

Heysham was particularly quiet with only the cargo vessel TOKYO BAY loading at the NLS [Fisher] Terminal and the Belfast Freight Ferries RIVER LUNE at the lay over berth near the power station. This was my first opportunity to see the former IOMSPCO linkspan in its new position as the #3 Heysham span. It has been modified since it was at Douglas. Vehicles now drive straight down the span. At Douglas it lay alongside the south side of the Edward Pier, vehicles having to perform a 90-degree turn.


I am trying to confirm reports circulated in the local WSS Branch Newsletter "MERSEYLOG" that the MV SOUTHSEA has been sold to Irish interests. Can anyone confirm ?


Fisher's TANKERMAN remains in dry dock. Though there has been little in the way of new vessels entering the yard in recent weeks. The company's share price continues its rapid upward trend. On Friday the shares were quoted at another new high of £4.905p Up 32p on the week.

John Luxton





10 May 1998

Compiled by: John Luxton 70374,30



The Mersey Tug gallery feature is now on line - accessible from the Front Page. Another gallery featuring Mersey work vessels, dredgers, sludge boats etc will appear soon.

Don't forget to check out the Queries section this week, there are queries concerning the ship HERO of the WILSON LINE and the ALLAN LINE & DOMINION STEAMSHIP COMPANY.



PEVERIL - Has become the last ship to carry the traditional black/white/red livery of the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company.

LADY OF MANN - Remains in Wright and Beyer's on Saturday 9 May, 1998.

CLAYMORE - I am informed that CLAYMORE moved to Ballycastle after the end of her Cal-Mac charter ready to take up her second season on the Ballycastle to Campbeltown route. Apparently, she too has received the standard SeaCo blue/white livery.

KING ORRY - The blue paintwork appears to be wearing badly. When I viewed her hull on Saturday morning in Douglas Harbour the old green boot topping was showing through the blue in quite large areas.

SUPERSEACAT - The vessel lost three return sailing this week due to adverse conditions in the Irish Sea. the 08.15/1300 and 18.00/23.00 sailings on Wednesday 6 May were cancelled. On Thursday only the second return sailing was operated.

PICASSO - Remains at the company's berth in Vittoria Dock.


Michael Pryce has sent some more information concerning CONDOR 10:

" I understand that CONDOR 10 is due to sail from Singapore on 11th May on completion of bow repairs and continue her voyage northwards. I have not heard any more information about her Algeciras charter yet."




The liner TSS EDINBURGH CASTLE is due to arrive in Liverpool's Langton Lock at 11.00 on Sunday morning. She will depart Sunday evening for her next cruise to Tenerife.


The liner FUNCHAL is due to call at Liverpool on 14 May during her   Scottish & Irish Highlands and Islands Cruise.


I understand that the lighthouse tender GRANUAILE has ventured further a field recently having been reported in Mounts Bay, off Penzance, Cornwall on 1 May.


The 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 and Egremont where the stone is dumped. This little ship has been very busy since it commenced operations in January and the results of its many frequent though very short trips are becoming very prominent features at New Brighton and Egremont. She is also supported by another larger vessel the MARIE which brings the material to Mortar Mill Quay for loading onto the VILLE.


The new tug TRAFALGAR remains at the McTay fitting out berth in the East Float.


H.M.S. LIVERPOOL [D92] departed during the past week.



Fisher's TANKERMAN remains in dry dock. The company's shares ended the week at yet another record high of £4.58!


Acknowledgements: MP/WMN


John Luxton




04 May 1998

Compiled by: John Luxton 70374,30


Sorry about the late posting this week being due to the fact that I have been in Ireland for a couple of days. I do have a Liverpool - Dublin voyage report but I must hold that over until next week, when I should also have a Liverpool - Douglas report as well! There are a couple of queries this week one from Michael Pryce and one from myself. As both are of a wider interest than just general queries they feature in the news posting as well as the queries page. I have still not had time to complete the Mersey Tugs gallery, please bear with me it should be on-line soon.

A new internet newsgroup uk.transport.ferry became active this week. it hasn't appeared on my news server yet so not everyone will have access as yet.



LADY OF MANN - The Lady remains in Wright and Beyer's. Her new livery is looks most attractive. Its is basically Sea Container's standard livery - blue hull, white superstructure, the yellow/red IoMSPCo lining has gone. as has the large IOMSPCO company logo carried below the bridge at the front of the vessel. She now carries "Isle of Man Steam Packet Company" on her port and starboard sides below the bridge - in the same style as seen on a recent picture of the new BEN-MY-CHREE. The rails on her car deck remain light green. The forward dummy funnel which houses the emergency generator has lost its black stripes, but retains its black top and is now Sea Containers Red. Her rear funnel is now buff/black similar to that seen when the ship first entered service in the late 1970s. I must admit I was rather shocked to hear that the Lady was going to turn blue, but the new livery is very smart and suits her well. The vessel's transition to blue appears to be better than that of the KING ORRY. I dare say she will feature in many enthusiasts' photos this year!

PICASSO - The vessel operated on the Hoverspeed-Falcon Seafreight service until recently. She arrived at the company's berth in Vittoria Dock, Birkenhead during the past week, which is normally occupied by the LADY OF MANN. Here Hoverspeed-Falcon fleet names have been painted out.




Frank Lose has started a new Ferry website. Frank is based in Germany and the page supplements German Magazine "Ferries" produced by Deutscher Fährschiffahrtsverein e.V. The site is written in English and there is news and extensive links to many ferry operators. Visit Frank's site on: 


The TSS EDINBURGH CASTLE departed on Sunday evening for its cruise to Madiera. The TSS APOLLO [ex-Empress of Canada], which should have sailed 2 May was cancelled. Passengers were offered a full refund, or £100 compensation. Those who had declined to sail on an earlier sailing of EDINBURGH CASTLE being offered £150. The cancellation was blamed on uncompleted interior work caused by the onboard workers suffering from seasickness. The company not considering her in a good enough state to operate.


The Irish government will not increase its fees for vessels calling at Irish ports that are used for aids to navigation, or so called "light dues." Also, an amendment has been made to exempt from such dues vessels solely for harbour maintenance or dredging for statutory or harbour authorities. Current rates were set on 1 April, 1997. [WMN01/05/98]


For longer than I can remember a white-hulled vessel has been moored in Birkenhead Dock's East Float. It looks as though it was once a conversion project, from possibly a trawler, into a large motor yacht. It carries a partially completed superstructure, funnel etc. On passing through Birkenhead Docks on May 4, 1998 the vessel was noted to have sunk at its berth. Does anyone have any information on this vessel? It appears to have been a feature of the East Float for longer than I care to remember. I am certain it was there in the 1970s.


Michael Pryce is seeking further details of the following incident, which occurred, on the River Mersey 22 years ago.

 On the night of 2nd January 1976, a severe storm affected the Mersey

area, and caused the German-flag Shell tanker MYRINA to break-loose from her discharge berth at Tranmere Oil Terminal. The 193,048 dwt. tanker was blown across the river and went aground on the north edge of the Devil' Bank, at the entrance to the Garston Channel. Thirteen Mersey tugs refloated her at high tide about noon on 3rd January 1976.

From "Lloyds Index", MYRINA went from the Mersey to Europort next for tank-cleaning, then sailed from Europort on 31st January 1976 for Hamburg for repairs, where she arrived on 4th February for repairs to reported heavy bottom damage. MYRINA was repaired by June 1976 and resumed service. She eventually arrived at Inchon on 17th August 1981 for demolition.

I am seeking more details about the above incident, and also the availability of any photographs showing MYRINA aground in the Mersey or being refloated.


The 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 and Egremont where the stone is dumped. This little ship has been very busy since it commenced operations in January and the results of its many frequent though very short trips are becoming very prominent features at New Brighton and Egremont. She is also supported by another larger vessel the MARIE which brings the material to Mortar Mill Quay for loading onto the VILLE.


The former historic WWII landing craft LCT7074 which for many years languished in Salisbury Dock for many years and had been converted for use as a club has now appeared at the Mortar Mill Quay berth in the East Float adjacent to HMS ONYX. She has spent the past couple of years berthed adjacent to Cammell Laird's slipway.


The new tug TRAFALGAR remains at the McTay fitting out berth in the East Float.


H.M.S. LIVERPOOL [D92] arrived at Canada #3 Branch Dock on the afternoon of Wednesday 29 April. The ship was due to spend 6 days in her "home" port and participate in this year's Battle of The Atlantic 55th Anniversary Commemorations. The 1982 Cammell Laird built destroyer made a ceremonial arrival sailing up river up river before turning off Cammell Lairds and sailing into Langton Lock with her crew lining her side. The ship is due to be open for public inspection on Bank Holiday Monday 4 April.


Plans are continuing to erect a statue to Captain Frederick "Johnnie" Walker RN at Liverpool's Pier Head. A model of the statue appeared in the local press this week showing Captain Walker in characteristic pose. Captain Walker was Britain's number one anti-submarine warfare commander during WWII with 26 kills, though one had to be shared with the RAF! He died shortly before the end of WWII aged 47 following a stroke brought about primarily by overwork.


The latest lifeboat to be stationed in the Irish Sea R.N.L.B. GOUGH RITCHIE II [Trent Class, 25 knots] was involved in its first rescue during its delivery voyage. The vessel was en-route to the Manx lifeboat station at Port St. Mary from Poole when she became involved in the rescue of four divers off the south coast of Devon last week. The vessel had been heading for the Isles of Scilly as part of a delivery voyage, which was to include calls on the west coast of Ireland arrived at Port St. Mary on Thursday.


A service will be held at the grave of William MacLeod, Chief Steward of the RMS LUSITANIA, in Bebbington Cemetery at 4pm, on May 7, the 73rd anniversary of the sinking of the liner. The event is being organised by Wirral author and teacher Graham Maddocks who is currently writing a book on the disaster.


The liners of the Canadian Pacific Railway were a familiar sight on the Mersey for many years until the demise of the routes from Liverpool during the 1970s. A new book has just been published entitled "Forgotten Empress". Written by David Zeni a retired US Naval Officer. The book is an in-depth account of R.M.S. EMPRESS OF IRELAND, which was lost in a collision during fog in the St. Lawrence River. More passengers were lost in her sudden capsizing and sinking [840] than the 832 souls lost on R.M.S. TITANIC or the 791 lost from the R.M.S. LUSITANIA. However, the disaster, which occurred during the early part of WWI never, received the publicity of the TITANIC or LUSITANIA disasters. This well produced case bound book costs £25 and is published by HALSGROVE, Halsgrove House, Lower Moor Way, Totnes, Devon EX16 6SS. It is on sale at the Merseyside Maritime Museum shop.


Cammell Laird dismissed 50 employees this week. Those involved were in a dispute with regard to lodging allowances. The employees concerned were additional contract workers brought in from outside Merseyside who were seeking pay higher than that of the local workforce. The company dismissed the employees when they walked out. They have been offered the opportunity to reapply for their jobs but on the basis that they will work at the same rates of pay as the regular workforce.

Acknowledgements: MP/WMN

John Luxton



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