The Irish Sea Shipping Archive

About ISSContactContentVoyage ReportsISS Amazon Shop
PhotographsFeaturesShip AISShips on FilmNews
Finished With Engines: Irish Sea Shipping is now closed to new updates - J.H. Luxton Photography - Transport, Industrial History, Regional Photographs UK & beyond



28 June 1998

Compiled by: John Luxton 70374,30


Welcome to another MSN news update. This week I have commenced a "Readers' Articles" section where by contributions by readers can be posted. Dave Butler has started it off with some TT'98 notes and some Steam Packet Reminiscences. These are accessible from the FRONT PAGE.

On the subject of the front page I have done some redesign work. The "What's New?" index has been changed. Clicking on the link takes you to the access point on the front page for all the linked pages in that area, rather than directly to the page itself. This allows for editing of the various pages with out direct links from "What's New?" becoming obsolete. This accidentally happened once at the start of the month when for a few hours the MSN weekly news was not accessible. I intend to undertake more design work on the front page during the summer to make it as user friendly as possible. 

By next week I should have some pictures on line of the most recent Irish Naval Service visitors to Merseyside. There is also a new query concerning Liberty Ships that should be checked out.



LADY OF MANN: As noted last week the LADY OF MANN departed from Cammell Lairds on 17 June bound for her summer charter to the Azores. When she arrived at Liverpool on her sailing from Douglas on 16 June at 15.15 she already had some car and passenger gangways stowed on her vehicle ramps. A crane positioned on the landing stage then loaded the Liverpool car gangway. She then sailed to Lairds at around 16.00.

She has been bare-boat chartered by ENM, parent company of Porto Santo Line which operated her out of Madeira during summer 1995. Some of her forward lounge seats have been reportedly left back at Cammell Laird. The seats were removed to provide a dance-floor area. The charter lasts until mid September, though there is an option to extend to mid-October. Obviously if this occurs she will not return to the Liverpool - Dublin route before the start of the winter timetable in early October.

 PICASSO - The PICASSO remains laid up in Vittoria Dock.

SEACAT DANMARK - Late running of SSC2 appears to have delayed the early evening arrival and departure on Friday and Saturday.

SUPERSEACAT TWO - SSC2 was off service on Monday and Tuesday this week for repairs to one of her engines. Late running, as a result of running on three engines, had a knock-on effect with SEACAT DANMARK's schedules. On Friday 19 June week SSC2 was still on the stage loading for the delayed 18.00 when SCD arrived from Douglas.

Delays also occurred on Saturday 20 and Sunday 21. On the latter day SSC2 moved off the stage to allow SCD to discharge and board.

SSC2 berthed at the West Langton cruise terminal on Monday and Tuesday for repairs, however, she was not back in service on time for the 08.15 departure on Wednesday. She departed around 11.00 on Wednesday. Delays of one hour reported by BBC Radio Merseyside on SEACAT DANMARK's Douglas sailing. SSC2 continued to operate behind schedule on Wednesday. The 18.00 departure not leaving Liverpool until 22.00.

The local press reported that legal moves are to be commenced to transfer land adjacent to the former floating roadway site to the Mersey Docks and Harbour Company for development into a vehicle marshalling area for Sea Containers services. Presently this land is designated a "public open space". One wonders if these proceedings will be just a formality or could turn out to be a long-winded project, which might eventually lead to a public enquiry - a fate that has now bedevilled the MD&HC plans for the on-river link-span. Also how will it effect plans for the proposed MD&HC/Sea Co cruise and ferry terminal at the Pier Head?



The small car ferry EILEAN DHIURA built for Argyll and Bute council was launched last Sunday evening from McTay's slipway on the Wirral at 19.30 and towed to the company's fitting out berth in the East Float. [Sorry about the spelling mistake last week, often the phonetic sound of Gaelic names does not match the spelling! Sometimes the spelling is used too literally. One should have heard Mersey Radio's various attempts at announcing the arrival and departure of LE EITHNE this week!]

EILEAN DHIURA, a landing craft style vessel, has a speed of 9 knots with a capacity of 50 pax and up to 13 cars and 1 lorry. Though built for Argyll and Bute Council the ship will be operated by Stirling Ship Management operators of Western Ferries [Argyll] Ltd SOUND OF GIGHA on the Islay - Jura route which the vessel will replace.

This is the second vessel to be launched by McTay Marine this year; recently Howard Smith Towage's new TRAFALGAR entered service.


This week Irish Continental Group made a surprise announcement that, subject to shareholder approval, an order would be placed with Austal Ships of Australia for a high-speed catamaran at a cost of 24million. The new ship would have a capacity of 200 cars and 800 passengers and would operate on the Holyhead - Dublin route alongside the present ISLE OF INISHMORE. The two vessels offering 6 return sailings daily.

With both Sea Containers and Irish Ferries sharing Dublin's ro/ro berth 49 the prospect of up to 4 more departures per day could lead to interesting problems should timetables go awry due to bad weather or technical reasons! At Holyhead, presumably the new "cat" will use the Salt Island berth formerly used by the Stena Lynx vessels.

With Merchant Ferries soon to commence Liverpool - Dublin operations and increased frequencies on Irish Ferries one must wonder when over-capacity will occur and tears or mergers result! I don't know about the logic, but if Irish Ferries commence a high-speed service from Holyhead - perhaps it might make sense to put the ISLE OF INISHMORE on a Liverpool - Dublin run. The high quality passenger accommodation on this massive vessel, which includes a large number of cabins, has always struck me as overkill for such a short journey as Holyhead - Dublin. However when the Liverpool link-span is finally constructed perhaps some consideration might be given to this?


A notice has appeared next to the CANADA #3 Branch Dock entrance "Merchant Ferries Liverpool to Dublin Freight and Passenger Service - Opening Soon"


On 27 June Direct Cruises confirmed that two passengers who had travelled on separate voyages on the EDINBURGH CASTLE have contracted Legionnaires Disease and subsequently recovered from this very serious illness.

Direct cruises have confirmed that water samples taken from the ship contained legionella organisms. Environmental Health officers are planning to board this ship on 28 June when it returns to Greenock at the conclusion of a Norwegian cruise. Passengers leaving the ship are being given letters advising them to seek medical attention should they become unwell within the next 10 days

This is the latest in a series of problems to befall Direct Cruises' EDINBURGH CASTLE and APOLLON. Which are operating primarily from Liverpool and Greenock this year.


The Isle of Man Customs and Excise service's high-speed rigid inflatable patrol craft BLUE RANGER has had to be sent for repair following an incident which damaged its propulsion system. The craft is thought to have hit an obstruction whilst sailing though Calf Sound.


Until summer 1997 no Irish Naval Service vessel had visited Liverpool. Then LE CIARA [P42] arrived for the Mersey River Festival to celebrate the "twinning" of Liverpool and Dublin. LE CIARA returned for the 1998 St.Patrick's Day Celebrations in March.

 For this year's river festival held in early June, LE AISLING arrived. On Monday 22 June LE EITHNE entered Langton Lock at 09.00 and proceeded to Canada #3 Branch Dock where she berthed on the south side of the dock remaining there until Friday morning.

LE EITHNE was completed in 1984 and has the distinction of being the last vessel built at Verolme shipyard, Cork as well as being the largest vessel in the Irish Navy. Designated as a helicopter patrol vessel she can carry 1 Dauphin 2 helicopter, has a displacement of 1,910 tonnes. She has a top speed of over 20 knots and a range of 7,500 miles at 15 knots. She carries 9 officers and 76 crew. Main armament is a Bofors 57mm gun capable of firing 200 rounds per minute with a range of 9.3 nautical miles. Secondary armaments: 2 x Rheinmettal 20mm anti-aircraft guns and 2 Wallop illuminant launchers.

If INS vessels continue to visit Liverpool at this rate perhaps the whole fleet will have visited within the next couple of years?


The "replica" of HMS CONWAY, still remains in Clarence Graving Dock.


The Russian cargo ship EVER SUCCESS which was detained at Ellesmere Port since July 1997 due 8 deficiencies has been released this week.


Many more people are probably aware of Atkinson Grimshaw's paintings than actually know the artist's name. Prints of his famous paintings have long been on sale on Merseyside, a number depicting views of the Liverpool Docks by dusk and night are well known. This week and original painting raised 215,000 at auction.


 Fisher's TANKERMAN/SEVERN FISHER remains in #7 dry dock. BLUE SKY ONE remains in #6 Dry Dock, whilst the DEEPSEA WORKER remains in #5. BRIARTHORN has left the yard. The company is due to report its full year results this coming week.


 Acknowledgements: Dave Butler, Mike Edmonds, John Entwistle, RC.


John Luxton





21 June 1998

Compiled by: John Luxton 70374,30




LADY OF MANN: Mersey Radio reported that she was due to enter Cammell Laird wet basin around 16.00 on Tuesday 16 June leaving again on the morning tide of 17 June.

PICASSO - The PICASSO remains laid up in Vittoria Dock.

SEACAT DANMARK - Late running of SSC2 appears to have delayed the early evening arrival and departure on Friday and Saturday.

SUPERSEACAT TWO - Wallasey Yacht Club are not very pleased with Sea Co - again! Last year two classic yachts were allegedly damaged by wash from SEACAT ISLE OF MAN. Apparently on Sunday 14 June SUPERSEACAT TWO did an even better job!

A wash, up to 6 feet high is alleged to have swamped 6 craft, damaging 4 severely on Sunday. Monday morning's Daily Post suggested that it might be SEACAT DANMARK to blame. David Stafford was reported as saying they were not aware of any problem.

In Monday evening's Liverpool Echo, Matt Graydon for Sea Containers is reported as making the following statement, "We apologise to the yachtsmen and will be in discussion with them to ensure it does not happen again. The speed of the SuperSeaCat was probably slightly increased to try and get the vessel in on time".

Later in the week it was reported that discussions were about to get underway.

SUPERSEACAT TWO will not operate on Monday/Tuesday 22/23 June, the vessel being withdrawn for repairs.

Elsewhere in the Sea Co empire, problems were discovered with the wheel s on the electric trains which operate on the Great North Eastern Railway between London and Edinburgh, resulting in the withdrawal of the train sets for wheel inspections following a derailment.

This week I received a letter from Hamish Ross in response to my complaint regarding the "lager louts" encountered on SSC2 earlier in the month. He made the following comments:

"We will now only be allowing passengers travelling with cars to upgrade, and this will be arranged at check-in. - This should prevent any future occurrence of this nature"

"We do try actively to prevent drunk and unruly passengers travelling on our vessels. It is unfortunate that this group were permitted to return Liverpool from Dublin later on in the day and indeed allowed into the Blue Riband Lounge, and I will try and establish how this happened. The situation will be monitored closely and tough measures taken if necessary"

Well that is one way of solving the problem, somewhat unfair on those who would like a bit of extra comfort and who don't travel with their cars or travel enough to justify joining the Blue Riband Club.

I also saw possible problems for those people accompanying IOMSPCO Blue Riband Club members. I therefore, telephoned the Blue Riband Club secretary and was informed that a memo would be circulated allowing an accompanying passenger to upgrade, irrespective of whether a vehicle was being carried or not.

Whilst on the phone I decided to try and clear up another anomaly. Why is a guest allowed to accompany a Blue Riband Club member if they hold a SeaCat Scotland Blue Riband Card which costs only 65.00 whilst IOMSPCO issued Blue Riband Club cards cost 100.00 and are for the card holder only? I was informed that there was a bit of a problem and it would be sorted out soon. But if you held an IoMSPCo card then the IoMSPCo conditions applied!



The visiting Dutch, British and Irish Warships along with Coastal Guardian departed on Monday afternoon's tide. 15 June. The theatre ship FITZCARRALDO and sailing vessel SPIRIT OF SCOTLAND departed on Tuesday afternoon's tide. Sailing ship ZEBU remains in Canning Half Tide basin.


The EILEEN JURA is due to be launched from McTay's slipway on the Wirral at 19.30 and towed to the company's fitting out berth in the East Float.


Apparently the maiden cruise of the APOLLON [EMPRESS OF CANADA] from Merseyside upset around 300 passengers that they signed a petition. It is reported that cabins were damp or flooded, the swimming pool empty and food cold. The company claims a saboteur could have been on board. The company claims to have received letters of praise from passengers, some of which reported seeing others causing trouble.


David Stewart reports that The BALMORAL was meant to do a trip yesterday 14/06 from Burntisland to Edinburgh (Granton). She was to proceed to Eyemouth (arrive 14:00) then cruise to Lindisfarne and back to Eyemouth (17:00) and onto Granton (20:30), however he spotted her crossing from Burntisland to Granton at about 16:00, so something must have been wrong!


The "replica" of HMS CONWAY, remains in Clarence Graving Dock.


Work on the Groyne construction appears to have been suspended.


The Royal Cornwall Museum, Truro has acquired five tin ingots, which were part of the cargo of the SS CHEERFUL, which was sailing from Falmouth to Liverpool. The vessel sank in dense fog 18 miles off St.Ives after colliding with a torpedo depot ship. The ingots bearing the Lamb & Flag trademark of Daubs Smelting Works in Cornwall were salvaged in 1994.


Fisher's TANKERMAN/SEVERN FISHER remains in #7 dry dock. BLUE SKY ONE remains in #6 Dry Dock, whilst the DEEPS WORKER remains in #5. BRIARTHORN also remains in the wet basin. This ship is in a hybrid livery. Fisher blue funnel but retains Co-Metcalf green hull.


John Luxton





14 June 1998

Compiled by: John Luxton 70374,30




Its not really been a good week for Sea Containers this week, the PEVERIL left behind a food trailer; the company appears to have lost the Hales Trophy [Blue Riband] to Buquebus, and it's been announced that the Sea Co bid for Channel Islands route have been sunk. Guernsey has chosen the P&O bid, whilst Jersey has opted to retain CONDOR. Now further discussions will have to take place to make a final decision on which of these operators will provide the service. Sea Co's tender had featured a SuperSeaCat and the redeployed KING ORRY.

PEVERIL: Safeway Supermarket's Douglas store had an unwelcome surprise last Monday. When they opened the semi-trailer it was found to be bare! Apparently, it looks as though an empty trailer was loaded onto PEVERIL at Heysham whilst the full container remained behind at Heysham. The correct trailer found its way to the Isle of Man later in the day aboard one of the CLAYMORE's TT special sailings. Bad weather at Heysham during loading was blamed for the mistake.

PICASSO - The PICASSO remains laid up in Vittoria Dock.

SEACAT DANMARK: The ship, along with the Russian liner MAXIM GORKI and lifeboats from Douglas and Port St.Mary were involved in a search for a German yachtsman who was swept overboard in rough seas on Tuesday. Unfortunately the casualty died in hospital. SEACAT DANMARK had been on a sailing from Belfast to Douglas.

SUPERSEACAT TWO - Diverted on Monday 8 June to Holyhead due to a medical emergency. Second sailing for Dublin departed around 20.30. She was expected back at Liverpool at 04.00. On Tuesday, deteriorating conditions forced the 08.15 departure to turn back - she arrived back on the stage at 09.35.

It looks as though Sea Containers has lost the Hales Trophy [Blue Riband] to Buquebus of Argentina.

The CATALONIA, a futuristic diesel-powered catamaran, made the New York to Tarifa crossing at an average speed of 38.77 knots.

The former speed record for a commercial vehicle crossing the Atlantic Ocean was set eight years ago by Sea Container's first INCAT vessel HOVERSPEED GREAT BRITAIN at an average speed of 36.65 knots. The CATALONIA also became the first passenger ship ever to travel more than 1,000 miles (1,600 km) in a 24-hour period.

The ship left New York on Saturday morning and completed the 3,125-mile (5,000 km) journey at approximately 3 p.m. EDT on Tuesday.

CATALONIA can travel at up to 45 knots, the equivalent of about 51-mph. The record crossing should entitle it to the Hales Trophy, established in 1935 by Britain's Harold Hales to encourage innovation in the passenger transport industry. Past winners have included the RMS Queen Mary.

To be declared the official record holder, technical logs and navigational records from the CATALONIA must be submitted to The Hales Trophy technical review committee, which will make a decision in 30 days.

 It is intended that the ship will enter commercial service operating as a ferry between Barcelona and Palma de Mallorca. It has a capacity of carrying 900 passengers and 250 vehicles.



The BALMORAL has completed her programme of sailings from the north-west and north Wales for 1998. I was briefly informed when talking to another enthusiast yesterday that things did not go to plan on Tuesday 9 June with the Holy Island and South Stack lighthouse cruise. Though I am not certain of the exact nature of the problem.



The Theatre ship FITZCARRALDO arrived in Canada Half Tide basin on Tuesday. Performances by the "Walk the Plank Marine Theatre" are to be made on board during the course of the festival.

At Canada #3 Branch Dock naval festival visitors include the frigate HMS NORFOLK, Irish Naval Service's LE AISLING and the Netherland Navy's Hydrographic and minesweeper support ship HNLMS TYDEMAN. Berthed in Canada Half Tide dock were four Netherland's Minesweepers of the ALKMAAR class [M850 ALKMAAR, M851 DELFJIZL, M863 VLAARDINGEN and M864] together patrol vessel HMS CHARGER.

On Sunday 14 June the 18th Annual "Nobby Race" of small sailing craft was due to take place on the river. Berthed in the ALBERT DOCK was the Environment Agency's COASTAL GUARDIAN and the Victorian Pilot Schooner SPIRIT OF SCOTLAND. However, the Isle of Man based sail training vessel ELLAN VANNIN failed to appear.


The 13 June saw 370 passengers participate in the annual Friends of the Ferries River and Docks cruise which included a journey up the Eastham Channel and part of the Garston Channel before heading to Gladstone Lock for a journey through much of the north Liverpool Dock system.


The "replica" of HMS CONWAY, a converted fishing trawler which recently served as a night club and floating pub at Conwy in Wales, has been moved to the Manning Marine Clarence Graving Dock. She arrived in January early in the year and had until recently been berthed in Alexandra Dock. It is intended to berth the ship in the Albert Dock for further service as a floating pub/restaurant. Whilst at a distance this vessel represents a wooden wall sailing ship, closer inspection reveals her steel construction and her lines only superficially match those of the much larger HMS CONWAY which was tragically lost in the Menai Straits shortly after WWII.


Whilst visiting the TYDEMAN and an AISLING on Sunday afternoon, I noticed a new portakabin structure near the entrance to Canada #3 Branch Dock. It looks rather like the present Sea Containers Terminal at the Pier Head, though a little smaller. I guess this is the new Merchant Ferries terminal building and ticket office for the Liverpool - Dublin service. Work appears to have started around the ro/ro berth at the north side of Canada #3 Branch Dock


Some weeks ago I mentioned that the vessel SARSIA, a long time resident of the East Float, adjacent to the old accumulator building, had sunk. John Williamson has forwarded some information on this vessel.

The vessel apparently had a slow leak and fire brigade had pumped out early May. The vessel was originally the N.E.R.C. (National Environment Research) vessel SARSIA purchased by Gerry Kielty of Wirral in approximately 1989. She was to be converted into a private yacht for Gerry Keilty  Wirral businessman and former Merchant Navy officer. Liverpool Marine company Graham and Woolnough did the conversion designs. Unfortunately business problems prevented completion of the conversion work.


Fisher's TANKERMAN/SEVERN FISHER remains in #7 dry dock. WEAR FISHER arrived on Monday evening tide and had been scheduled to depart Wednesday afternoon tide but this was cancelled. She subsequently sailed on the Saturday afternoon tide. BLUE SKY ONE remains in #6 Dry Dock, whilst the DEEPSEA WORKER remains in #5. The latter vessel has been in the yard around about 12 months as its extensive rebuilt continues. On Saturday Fisher's BRIARTHORN was also noted in the wet basin. This ship is in a hybrid livery. Fisher blue funnel but retains Coe-Metcalf green hull.


The body found last week at Holyhead has been confirmed as being that of Mr. Wilfred Critchley. The Lancashire man who set off from Knott End for the Isle of Man on 20 March in a canal boat.

John Luxton



07 June 1998



Sea Containers has announced significant increases in earnings during the first quarter of 1998, with significant gains in profits from passenger transport. A 30% increase in dividend is promised from the August payment.

Sea Containers hold on the Hales Trophy [Blue Riband] is once again under threat. A possible threat from SUPER STAR EXPRESS was removed when that vessel was chartered to P&O.

However, the CATALONIA, a high-speed ferry, is planning to sailing from New York to Tarifa, Spain, in an effort to secure the Hales Trophy. The 5,000-kilometer/3,125-mile voyage will be covered at up to 45 knots. The current record was set eight years ago by SeaCat HOVERSPEED GREAT BRITAIN, which sailed at 36.65 knots. The U.S.$45 million Catalonia is 91 meters/299-foot aluminium vessel powered by waterjets driven by four Caterpillar diesel engines. It was built by INCAT Australia for Buquebus International Ltd. and arrived in New York 4 June. About 24 crewmembers will attempt the voyage and once in Spain, the Catalonia will enter service between Barcelona and Palma de Mallorca, carrying 900 passengers and 250 vehicles. The Hales Trophy was established in 1935 by Harold Hales to encourage passenger shipping development. [WMN050698]

PICASSO - The PICASSO remains laid up in Vittoria Dock.

LADY OF MANN - The Lady is currently working on the Isle of Man routes during the hectic TT period.



The APOLLON [Ex-EMPRESS OF CANADA] departed on schedule on her first cruise from Liverpool in the early hours of 31 May.


The Historic Warships at Mortar Mill Quay, Birkenhead may soon be joined by HMS CAVALIER [D73]. This is the final surviving WWII destroyer which served on the arctic convoys.

The ship has had an uncertain future recently. Preserved on Tyneside, she was almost sold to a Malaysian theme park, fortunately the deal fell through.

It is intended to restore her to her 1944 configuration, the cost is likely to be around 1 million. The Warship Preservation trust has applied for Lottery funding and is also hoping to attract private investment. It is hoped that Lairdside apprentices will be given the opportunity to work on the vessel.


The Port of Mostyn on the estuary of the River Dee in north Wales has announced major expansion plans costing 35million pounds. Work has begun on constructing a new deepwater berth for ships up to 30,000tonnes which can be accessed at any state of the tide. At present the access to the port is restricted to vessels up to 4,000 tonnes and only on the tide. A ro/ro ferry terminal is also planned.

The port's existing rail link is to be developed with the construction of a new inter-modal freight terminal.


The BRAVE MERCHANT (6,300-dwt ro/ro and passenger ferry) has been launched for Cenargo Ltd. in Seville, Spain. It is the second of four ships and will sail between Liverpool and Dublin. The last two will be delivered in June 1999 and November 1999. The design, by Astilleros Espanoles S.A., has a double bottom and 2,130 lane meters/650 lane feet or 146 slots for cargo. [WMN290598]


Irish Ferries are running a promotion in conjunction with Kerrygold butter for free or discounted travel between Holyhead and Dublin and Pembroke and Rosslare. Collect 5 coupons and unto 4 people may travel together free as foot passengers for a 3 day return. If you wish to take a car, discounts of upto 70% are available. Travel vouchers must be claimed by the end of the year and used for travel by the end of June 1999.


A floating Theatre will feature at the forthcoming Mersey River Festival. The theatre ship FITZCARRALDO, a former Norwegian ferry, will be berthed in the Albert Dock from 11 June for 5 days.


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.


Holyhead Coastguards have reported finding the body of a man believed to be Wilfred Critchley who was last seen departing Knott End, Lancashire for a voyage to the Isle of Man on 20 May in a canal boat. Coastguards began a search last week when Mr. Critchley had been reported missing for over a week.

John Luxton




Visit for Transport, Industrial Heritage & Regional Digital Photographs and Growing Online 35mm Archive

Irish Sea Shipping - What's New July 2008Irish Sea Shipping - What's New August 2009Back Home Up Next 

Irish Sea Shipping John H. Luxton 1995-2018. Content John H. Luxton and Contributors