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Finished With Engines: Irish Sea Shipping is now closed to new updates - J.H. Luxton Photography - Transport, Industrial History, Regional Photographs UK & beyond


Photographs  John H. Luxton 2012


27 September 1998


It became apparent from e-mails received earlier this week that certain pages were not accessible, particularly in the gallery sections. Now this is strange as I thought I had checked out most areas of the site. The problem was not apparent locally - only when the site was viewed on-line. I think I have now fixed the problems but please report and faults as soon as possible.

Unfortunately the additional FrontPage Extensions still are non-functional. I will contact the new ISP again to try and get the site search and visitors' book function working.

Its good to see that Mersey Shipping News is being noticed further a field, getting a mention in the latest edition of "Paddle Wheels" - the journal of the Paddle Steamer Preservation Society.

There is still no sign of Steve Schultz's "World Maritime News" posting making a reappearance which is a great shame.

Now on with this week's news:



SUPERSEACAT TWO - Returned to service on Monday. She is now running well and I have seen her on time or early at Liverpool Landing Stage on several afternoons during the past week. Thus proving, when she is functioning satisfactorily, how good she is for the route. I took a trip on her on Saturday 26 September, but visibility was so poor that for much of the journey a meaningful voyage report cannot be written. This also accounts for the lack of timing points, particularly on the outward leg!

However timings were as follows:

Liverpool - Dublin

Liverpool: 08.12

Bailey: 11.27

Dublin: 11.49

Dublin - Liverpool

Dublin: 13.05

Skerries: 15.52

Bar: 16.11

Q1 Buoy: 16.16

Liverpool: 16:56

The slight delay in leaving Dublin was due to the late arrival of stores.

It looks as though passengers who prefer the outside deck are going to be caged in! Already one section of port side rail has been heightened to around two metres between the funnel and Blue Riband Lounge window. At this point there is a gate to prevent access alongside the cabin windows. The starboard side has been prepared for such an application, but it had not yet been fitted.

On a couple of occasions recently I have seen passengers sitting on the rails by the funnel with their legs over the side and have had to be chased by crew. One lurch and splash, nobody might even see them go! It's difficult to understand such crass stupidity.

I have noted that the outside deck has been "closed" and not always in adverse weather. Once in the summer, this occurred, when there were a large number of children on-board. If everyone is caged in it will prevent passengers having to be cooped up. The vertical bars of the rail extensions appear wide enough for enthusiasts to point most camera lenses! It's a pity though, that the rails on SSC2 are not particularly low, but then again, were designed for sensible people.

SUPERSEACATS THREE/FOUR - Gossip on board SSC2 has revealed that these new vessels are going to be deployed on the Irish Sea in 1999. One vessel operating Dublin - Liverpool - Douglas and return and Douglas - Liverpool - Dublin and return. SSC3/IV are also likely to have lower density seating and better catering arrangements.

LADY OF MANN - The Lady returned home this week. Arriving at Langton Lock, Liverpool at around 18.40 on Thursday over an hour ahead of schedule. She berthed at the Alexandra Dock Passenger Terminal, where SSC2 spend some time after her arrival on Merseyside. She appears to have returned in very good order. Her new blue white colour scheme is still quite bright and apart from a few wear marks on the hull she appears to have been well cared for. On Friday she was still sporting her large smiling whale logo and the "Acor Line" fleet names. On her stern ramps could be seen two vehicle loading gangways and two passenger gangways.

KING ORRY - Returned to Douglas on Monday after covering for SUPERSEACAT TWO. The KING will operate the 09.00 Douglas to Heysham and 14.15 Heysham - Douglas on 27 and 28 September. On Sunday she runs solo and on Monday as back up for BEN-MY-CHREE. On Tuesday she is due to head for Merseyside for lay-up. The big question is What Next - sale, charter or retention? That farewell cruise never materialised, but her trips to Dublin more than compensated!


Mersey Radio recorded that the tugs ALBERT and CROSBY  departed under tow by tug SURVESUND [sp?] on Sunday afternoon 27 September from Langton Lock. Does anyone know what the future holds for these vessels which have been laid up for some months since the introduction of the new tug TRAFALGAR ?


TAKLIFT 7 departed from Canada Dock on Tuesday this week.


EWSR - English, Welsh and Scottish Railway has expressed an interest in reopening the Birkenhead Dock railway system. Much of the system is on land owned by the Mersey Docks and Harbour Company. A MD&HC spokesman commented that they were "hopeful that increasing demand, particularly from the Twelve Quays development would guarantee a bright future for the scheme. EWS currently operate services out of Liverpool docks.


I recently purchased a copy of a new book "Faster Than The Wind: The Liverpool to Holyhead Telegraph" published by Avid Publications. ISBN 09521020 9 9 price 8.95.

This book tells the story of the Liverpool to Holyhead Optical Telegraph System which was a form of semaphore communication. A chain of 11 stations linked Holyhead to Liverpool, communicating by means of large arms placed at differing angles to represent words, phrases and numbers. The stations also could communicate with ships via flag signals. The system was used by ship owners, dockmasters and cargo handlers to receive news of and from vessels long before they were due to arrive on Merseyside. The system operating until 1861 when it was replaced by an electric telegraph. The author Frank Large has undertaken much original research, including surveys of the station sites, and gives those with an interest in shipping, Merseyside and North Wales as well as those fascinated by the application of an early form of information technology, an insight into the operation of the system and its staff. - Highly recommended!


TSS EDINBURGH CASTLE returned to Merseyside his week for repairs following her electrical failure in Spain. She berthed at the West Langton Cruise Terminal. Her sailing for 20 September has been postponed until the 27 September, whilst her final cruise for 4 October has been rescheduled for 11 October. Despite problems encountered this year it is likely that Direct Cruises, which were recently acquired by Airtours, may operate a third liner from the Mersey in future years.


Further details of the Titanic Ball to be held on October 10 at Liverpool's St. George's Hall. The Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra will play music. Following a reception and dinner, there will be waltzes and a grand finale of Irish jigs. Proceeds from the event are being donated to Raleigh International. Ticket details from: Kate Panayl 01565 654117.


The Right Honourable John Prescott, MP - the Deputy Prime Minister and a former merchant seaman - will unveil the Merchant Navy Memorial at the Pier Head at 11.30 on Friday 30 October 1998.


On Tuesday Mersey Radio's movement statement recorded the Irish Naval Service ship LE EMER entering Eastham Locks to gain access to the Manchester Ship Canal. This must be the first ever visit of an Irish Naval vessel to the canal. She was recorded leaving the canal on Friday afternoon's tide. I don't know if she went all the way up to Manchester or not. Any information would be welcome.


Demolition of the former HMS EAGLET at Princes Dock is almost complete, having commenced about two weeks ago. HMS EAGLET has a new purpose built headquarters at Brunswick Dock, which opened this summer. Hydrographic Research Ship A317 HMS BULLDOG was noted in Canada #3 Branch dock on Friday 25 September.


Michael Pryce has informed me that CONDOR 10 will not be coming to Merseyside this year for refit prior to her winter season operating for Tranz-Rail. Instead she will be dry-docked at Portsmouth. Michael is trying to ascertain if the vessel is already at Weymouth or still at Algeciras where she has been laid up for much of the summer. She is due to enter service on the Cook Straight on December 9, 1998.


The PREGRINE VIII [formerly DEEPSEA WORKER] moved from #5 dry dock to the wet basin on Saturday afternoon's tide [26/09/98]. She has been in #5 dry dock since early summer 1997. The ALB yards on the east-coast will be known as Cammell Laird North East.

Acknowledgements:   Michael Pryce

John Luxton

27 September 98


20 September 1998

This week has not been a good week for Mersey Shipping, exacerbated by the unwanted attention of the media, both locally and further a field, who probably sense a good story since two Liverpool ships have failed. Port in a Storm - screamed the headlines of the Liverpool Echo. On Saturday the sister newspaper Daily Post front page proclaimed "This Seacat is Shaming Our City".

On the positive side it is good to report that the ever-dependable KING ORRY has stepped into the breech on the Liverpool - Dublin route, at least for the 18 - 20 September.

Michael Pryce has also contributed a short illustrated article on the Shell Tanker FRAGUM which was a regular caller at Stanlow in her early days. Access is via the Archives Section or this week's WHATS NEW. Michael has also forwarded a picture of the historic steam dredger CLEARWAY which faces an uncertain future. View the CLEARWAY via the NEWS PICTURES.

Following requests for information on the MANXMAN, I have reuploaded the pictures forwarded by Mike & Martin Edmondson which depict her laid up at the Palliion Yard.




SUPERSEACAT TWO - Well where to begin? Probably the most dismal week for this vessel since her introduction to the Liverpool - Dublin service. She has even managed to make an unwanted appearance on BBC's Watchdog programme this week. This was rather unfortunate and "dressed up" to give it more mass appeal. The programme even gave viewers a glimpse of the sunken SARSIA in East Float.

An image of the good LADY OF MANN herself was even flashed on the screen with some derogatory comment about a conventional ferry being and likely to be used to cover SSC2 sailings during the winter should there be technical or weather difficulties. BBC Watchdog revealed that over the past few weeks SSC2 had the worst record of cancellations on the Irish Sea with 11% of sailings lost. Stena's Lynx service from Fishguard being second worst at 5%. However, the once much maligned HSS STENA EXPLORER operating Dun Laoghaire - Holyhead only lost 0.5% of sailings. In her early days the EXPLORER had a very poor reliability record.

Following last Saturday's turn around in Liverpool Bay, SSC2 sailed on Sunday, but the 23.00 from Dublin had an ETA on the stage at 04.30 on Monday morning. On Wednesday 16 she was seen at the stage at 09.15 with divers down and the tug TRAFALGAR booked to assist at 10.00. Later that day another observer saw her heading back from the Bar at around 13.50!

On Thursday SUPERSEACAT sailings were cancelled with KING ORRY arriving on Friday whilst SSC2 retreated to a berth at the West Langton Cruise terminal.

Liverpool City Council have called for a meeting with Sea Containers to discuss the problems.

LADY OF MANN - She may well return from her summer holidays in the Azores around 24 September. Perhaps she may sail to Dublin next week?!

KING ORRY - The KING has been little used of late as loadings on Heysham to Douglas have declined towards the end of the season. Her sole journey in the past few days had been diagrammed for Douglas - Heysham and return on 20 September. However, this is did not occur has her services where required on Liverpool - Dublin.

On Thursday evening I watched a BBC Watchdog programme on the SUPERSEACAT's problems with interest. At the end of the programme it was announced that a viewer had called in to say that their booked crossing for the 20th would take 8 hours. Within minutes I had also heard on the Mersey Radio that KING ORRY was due on to Princes' Landing Stage at 05.30! She sailed at 08.25 with 455 passengers.


The EDINBURGH CASTLE's cruise scheduled to depart from Liverpool on 20 September has been postponed until 27 to allow for repairs to be made on her electrics. The final cruise of the season to the Canaries due to take place on 4th October has also been delayed for one week.


Michael Pryce has for sometime kept MSN up to date with the wandering's of Incat CONDOR 10. In recent years she has appeared on Merseyside for a pre-winter season refit. However, this year she has not spent the summer in the UK. Michael writes:

"CONDOR 10 will operate for its fifth southern-summer season for Tranz Rail between Wellington and Picton between 9th December 1998 and 18th April 1999. The timetable brochures were printed some months ago, but it has only recently been confirmed which ferry would be coming.

CONDOR 10 appears to have spent all of the northern summer idle at Algeciras, Spain, after a planned charter to operate between Algeciras and Tangier fell-through.

I understand that CONDOR 10 is to go from Algeciras to U.K. soon for a refit prior to heading south for New Zealand again. The refit port is not yet confirmed, Weymouth is mentioned, but the decision will no doubt be determined by the quoted price, so Merseyside might see her again!"



The OVERCHURCH failed on Monday 14 September. The Seacombe Ferry services have to be replaced by a bus. Normal service resumed on Tuesday.

The Seacombe landing stage is to be replaced as part of a 3 million investment at Seacombe Ferry Terminal. The work will also include a waiting room for 300 passengers, additional car-parking and visitor attractions as well as refurbishment of the terminal buildings. Completion of the work will be in 2003, though work on the landing stage is due to commence in the next financial year.

I have also been informed, but subject to confirmation, that the OVERCHURCH will finally be upgraded to class III certification which will enable her to run to Blackpool and Llandudno. This is a rumour which has circulated for some time and whilst additional funding for OVERCHURCH was announced early this summer I do not yet know if the Class III certification story is accurate. Can anyone confirm or deny?


A TITANIC ball is to be held at Liverpool's St.George's Hall on 10 October. The Ball aims to recreate the elegance of the liner in Liverpool, the TITANIC's port of registry.

The TITANIC Ball will be part of the promotion for the launch of the TITANIC motion picture on video on October 19. It is hoped that those attending the event will dress in appropriate Edwardian dress.


Smit Tak's TAKLIFT 7 heavy lift floating crane remains in Canada Dock.


Type 22 frigate HMS BEAVER berthed at Canada #3 Branch Dock for a final visit this weekend before being sold. She was due to be open to the public between 11.00 and 16.00 on 19 September. Another naval visitor reported this week was Mine Counter Measures Ship HMS BICESTERType 22 frigate HMS BEAVER berthed at Canada #3 Branch Dock for a final visit this weekend before being sold. She was due to be open to the public between 11.00 and 16.00 on 19 September. Another naval visitor reported this week was Mine Counter Measures Ship HMS BICESTER.Type 22 frigate HMS BEAVER berthed at Canada #3 Branch Dock for a final visit this weekend before being sold. She was due to be open to the public between 11.00 and 16.00 on 19 September. Another naval visitor reported this week was Mine Counter Measures Ship HMS BICESTER.

The wife of George Robertson, the defence secretary, launched the last of the four 16,000 tonne Trident class submarines, HMS VENGEANCE, at the VSEL yard, Barrow, on 19 September.

Acknowledgements: Michael Pryce, Sara Kesal

John Luxton

20 September 98


13 September 1998

Not a good week for Mersey Shipping! SSC2 had to turn back, EDINBURGH CASTLE failed in Spain and a Fisher Tanker sank a tug in Wales. Though having no direct connection with the area covered by MSN, Michael Pryce has sent a report concerning the first major fast ferry collision. This occurred in Canada this week involving an INCAT vessel and makes for interesting reading.

I still have-not had a reply from 1WAY internet with regard to the functioning of the Microsoft Extensions. Therefore the MSN counter, Search Function and Visitors' Book remain inoperative. The third party counter and Visitors' Book facility provided by PAGE COUNT is operative. However, if you wish to send me a message which requires a reply please do so by e-mail rather than via the Visitors' Book, the contents of which sometimes appears to disappear at Page Count's whim!

I have changed the format of the Web Site Links Directory and Queries Pages. The split screen style did not work to well in practice, therefore I have reverted to a more conventional layout for these pages.

Dave Butler has forwarded some photos of Douglas Harbour on 2 September. These are now on line in the Sea Containers Gallery.



KING ORRY: This week's schedule again shows KING ORRY sailing 0900 out and 1415 back on Sunday [13/9] and Monday [14/9].

On Sunday she duplicates the BEN-MY-CHREE as last week but on Monday the BEN stays in Douglas until 2000. For the rest of the week only the BEN does two round trips each day.

SEACAT DANMARK: Friday 15.30 sailing from Douglas was delayed again at the Prince's Landing Stage by a late running SUPERSEACAT TWO. Passing the Sea Terminal at around 18.45 SCD was seen berthed bow on to SSC2 at the north end of the stage. By the time I had driven through the tunnel to the Wirral side to view the two vessels on the stage, SCD had broken away to allow SSC2 top depart. I drove up to New Brighton to watch SSC2 depart, though didn't wait to see when SCD eventually departed, though I doubt that would have been much before 20.00.

SUPERSEACAT TWO: Monday afternoon's sailing failed to operate. Wednesday's 23.00 sailing from Dublin was reported running late by Mersey Radio with a Liverpool arrival time of 05.00. Thursday's 23.00 SSC2 sailing from Dublin being notified as arriving at Liverpool at 04.00. Friday's 18.00 departure was noted leaving Liverpool at 19.15. Mersey Radio reporting her arrival back at Liverpool scheduled for 04.30 on Saturday.

On Saturday 12 September, passengers on the 08.15 Liverpool to Dublin sailing enjoyed a trip round Liverpool Bay and then returned to Liverpool Prince's Landing Stage where they were presented with the option of a refund, ticket for another day or travel by Irish Ferries on the 15.45 from Holyhead. The captain decided to abort the crossing at around 10.20. A combination of technical [engine!] and deteriorating conditions were blamed. The 18.00 /23.00 sailings were also cancelled.


Michael Pryce has sent me details of an unfortunate accident to befall INCAT catamaran THE CAT [formerly DEVIL CAT.]. A fast ferry collision had to happen sooner or later, fortunately not in the waters around these isles.

"A maritime inquiry has been ordered by Canadian authorities into the first fatal accident involving a high-speed catamaran ferry between Nova Scotia and Maine.

The catamaran, THE CAT, (formerly DEVIL CAT), operated by Bay Ferries Ltd, collided in heavy fog with a fishing vessel, the LADY MEGAN II, killing that vessel's skipper, shortly after leaving Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, for her daily run to Bar Harbor, Maine, late on Friday.

The dragger skipper, Cliff Hood, 33, was trapped in his wheelhouse for three hours as rescuers desperately tied to cut him loose with his boat stuck beneath the catamaran - between its two hulls.

Mr Hood was declared dead on the scene early on Saturday. His two crew members, including his brother, were not injured nor were any of the 133 passengers aboard the catamaran, which returned to Yarmouth for repairs and a police investigation.

Bay Ferries president C M McLean issued a statement saying the two vessels were in radio contact immediately prior to the incident.

"The two vessels agreed to pass port side to port side, normal procedure in a narrow channel," said the statement.

But the catamaran, according to eyewitnesses, took the dragger head on, riding on top of it, crushing the wheelhouse where Mr Hood was steering.

The catamaran, which began operating in May, can reach speeds of almost 90 km an hour, although there has been no suggestion that she was going fast in the dense fog as she pulled out of Yarmouth.

Some environmentalists have complained that such a high-speed vessel is a danger to marine wild life, including whales which frequent the vessel's route."

" A Press report, dated Yarmouth, NS, Sep 6, states: The high-speed ferry known as "The Cat" (catamaran ferry Devil Cat) begins scaled-down fall service tomorrow (Sep 7), as Canadian authorities investigate the catamaran's collision that killed a man on fv Lady Megan II (82 gt, built 1980). A Bay Ferries Ltd spokesman said today that the company was waiting word from Canadian authorities on their investigation. In the meantime, it is commencing its regular fall schedule, said the spokesman, Jack MacAndrew. The fishing vessel's skipper, Clifford Hood Jr, 33, of Yarmouth, NS, had been in radio contact with the master of Cat before the accident, the ferry's owners said.

The ferry was headed to Maine at the time late Friday (Sep 4) night. "The two vessels agreed to pass port side to port side, normal procedure in a narrow channel," C.M. McLean, president of Bay Ferries Ltd, said in a written statement. "Before impact, Capt. Harrigan put all engines full astern." Today, MacAndrew said the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and Canadian Coast Guard were investigating. "It's up to them whether any charges will be laid," he said. The Cat underwent repairs this morning in Yarmouth, then sailed without passengers to Bar Harbor where repairs were completed. Normal service

Was expected to begin tomorrow, MacAndrew said. Hood died after being trapped in the wheelhouse of Lady Megan II while the catamaran ferry was leaving Yarmouth harbour in dense fog on her routine run to Bar Harbor. The local fire department and RCMP tried for three hours to free the trapped man. Two other fishermen on the 65-foot fishing vessel were not seriously injured. None of the 133 passengers on board the ferry was injured. Hood was eventually pulled from the vessel when she was brought to shore and he was pronounced dead at the scene, said police Cpl Gil Dares. "The wheelhouse was flattened and he was wedged in under the ferry," said Dares. Some passengers were put up in motels while others were sent on a chartered bus back to Bar Harbor.

Police said they did not yet know how fast the ferry was going or whether any charges would be filed. MacAndrew said the vessel's normal speed in the harbour would be no more than 12 knots. The $44 million vessel, which can reach speeds of 55 mph, began operating in May. Nicknamed "The Cat" she has been dogged by setbacks, including mechanical problems that cancelled service twice. Transport Minister David Collenette said his department was co-operating fully with the Transportation Safety Board, which is now in charge of the accident investigation. "Any safety deficiencies uncovered through this investigation will be addressed immediately," Collenette said in a written statement. The ferry is to leave Bar Harbor at 0800 tomorrow and depart Yarmouth at 1600 hrs. The schedule is revised after the peak summer season ends."


The new fishing vessel MARIGOLD was launched from McTay Marine's Bromborough yard on 8 September. The intention being to take the ship to the company's East Float fitting out berth. However, Mersey Radio noted that there were engine room flooding problems and that she was being taken to Bromborough Wall. On Friday evening she was noted at the fitting out berth. Marigold is a fairly short stern trawler, and has a stubby but very substantial hull, obviously being built for heavy weather. She is registered in Inverness.


The Liverpool Echo on Saturday 12 September featured yet another attempt to save the famous Mersey Ferry, ROYAL IRIS.

This distinctive streamlined vessel has spent years-languishing first in Stanley Dock at Liverpool, then in Cardiff Docks and for the past year at Woolwich in London.

Withdrawn in 1990 by Mersey Ferries when the cost of repair was stated to be 4 million her condition has deteriorated significantly. Rumours have circulated for some time as to how poor the condition of her hull has become.

A group of Merseysiders is now trying to form a trust company to secure the future of the vessel.

However, being realistic, and considering the failure of plans for the Isle of Wight ship SOUTHSEA, the viability of rescuing the Royal Iris must be called into question. Perhaps its time to send her to let her go with dignity rather than continue her lingering death? If anyone wants to preserve a Mersey ship, I can think of a good example in good working order which is currently having a working holiday in the Azores, though does not appear to be appreciated by her owners who think speed is more important than reliability<grin>!


The EDINBURGH CASTLE has failed in Spain only a few days into her latest cruise from Liverpool. The vessel is currently at Cadiz.

EDINBURGH CASTLE experienced problems two days into her cruise from Liverpool when electrical generators failed resulting in a late arrival at Lisbon. The ship omitted a call at Gibraltar and sailed for Cadiz. After a day ashore, passengers were informed that the cruise had been cancelled. The vessel should have gone on to call at Menorca, St.Tropes, Barcelona, La Corunna and Cork, Ireland.

EDINBURGH CASTLE'S passengers are being flown back to Manchester airport. They will receive a full refund and 200 compensation or a 20% discount off another cruise. This is the latest in a series of mishaps to have befallen the Direct Holiday's cruise operation from Liverpool both EDINBURGH CASTLE and her fleet-mate APOLLON have encountered various problems this year.


The WAVERLEY and BALMORAL are stars of their own TV series on HTV. The first episode of the six-part "Up the Creek" series began last Thursday and featured interviews with company chairman Terry Sylvester. The re-opening, after extensive rebuilding, of Penarth Pier during May and the BALMORAL's trip to Sharpness for survey. The poor old SOUTHSEA also got in on the act, being blamed for forcing the BALMORAL up to Sharpness as SOUTHSEA languished in Bristol Dry Dock, where the BALMORAL's annual survey is usually conducted.

The first episode centred mainly about BALMORAL, next week its Waverley and Clevedon Pier. The tone of the programme was fairly light hearted, being made for a wide audience rather, than enthusiasts. However, it was interesting and entertaining.

HTV has a fairly wide reception area through Wales and Bristol/Bristol Channel areas of the West Country with good reception on Merseyside and also parts of the east-coast of Ireland. Episode 2 is on Thursday at 19.30.



A few hundred people were reported to have turned up for the anti-terminal "Save the Pier Head" protest. I was very sad to see the petition being made available for members of the local branch of the World Ship Society to sign at this week's meeting.

On Saturday a large retouched photograph was printed in the Liverpool Echo showing the new terminal arrangements. The new terminal building will be located where the Pier Head public lavatories are located [The last remnants of the old bus station] immediately south of the Royal Liver Buildings Staff Car Park. The vehicle lanes will run north/south across the site of the former floating roadway with access to the present Vehicle Bridge on to Prince's Landing Stage.

The Memorial to the Heroes of the Marine Engine Room [RMS Titanic] will be relocated a few yards closer to the River Mersey approximately above the site of the cut. Access to the memorial will be unimpeded, as it will be incorporated into the riverside walkway.

The whole scheme looks very neat and tidy. Why people are objecting to it and wanting to maintain an eyesore in the form of the floating roadway cut is a is a mystery.


A new 60 million replacement for the SUPERFERRY has been announced which operates on the company's Cork - Swansea route.  The vessel is due for delivery in 2000. Interestingly enough, it was only a few months ago that Strintzis stated  they might withdraw services when the duty free comes to an end. Obviously there is life beyond duty free!


The James Fisher tanker   TILLERMAN was involved in an unfortunate fatal accident, when a tug handling the vessel in Milford Haven capsized and sank. The tug skipper drowned, though a colleague escaped.


Demolition of the former HMS EAGLET commenced this week and was noted to be well underway on Saturday. These follows the recent vacating of the premises located near the former Princes Half Tide Dock entrance. HMS EAGLET moved to a new purpose built headquarters at Brunswick Dock.


MALCOLM MILLER, a barquentine, which was noted berthed on Mortar Mill Quay, East Float last Friday, departed from Birkenhead Docks on morning tide on 7th September.


Smit Tak's TAKLIFT 7 heavy lift floating crane has been in Canada Dock for the past week.


DEEPSEA WORKER remains in #5 dry dock whilst Royal Fleet Auxiliary Landing Ship [Logistic] L3027 SIR GERAINT remains in the wet basin.

AUSTRAL HORIZON has been out of the wet basin, presumably for trials, she returned early Thursday morning. The James Fisher managed nuclear carrier PACIFIC SWAN entered the wet basin early on Thursday morning. She transferred to #6 dry dock on the afternoon tide. Departure was scheduled for Saturday afternoon's tide.

Acknowledgements: Michael Pryce

John Luxton

12 September 98 



6 September 1998


Welcome to this week's Mersey Shipping News. I have always generally tried to just report news and happenings rather than make forceful comment on events. However, this week neutrality must be put aside. There is a great danger that a group of very misguided people could wreck Liverpool's chance of developing decent Sea Terminal facility close to the heart of the city. This must NOT be allowed to happen for the sake of the city and port. We need effective terminal facilities, which make us an equal to Douglas and Dublin, not a poor relation. I will now step down of my soapbox and get on with this week's news, which includes information of an "anti-terminal" protest to save the Pier Head!

Regretfully I have still be unable to get the new site's extended features to function, apologies that these functions are still not available.

Don't forget to check out a new gallery - featuring Douglas harbour during August.

Please also note that there was a faulty hyperlink which did not call the correct split screen Maritime Queries Page correctly - from the What's New Menu - This has been rectified. However, there does appear to be something of a problem with the links directory which also uses split screens. This will need some attention in during the coming week.



It was reported in the Isle of Man Examiner a couple of weeks ago that the Port St. Mary Commissioners have suggested to the company that there be an annual "Kinley Memorial Cruise" in memory of the late Captain Vernon Kinley, who died suddenly in July.

KING ORRY/BEN-MY-CHREE - Operated 09.15 from Douglas to Heysham and 14.15 return along with BEN-MY-CHREE on Sunday 6 September. The BEN being scheduled to run first in both directions. The 20.00 from Douglas and the 02.15 return on Sunday will be operated only by the BEN-MY-CHREE. On Monday 7 September the morning sailing to Heysham and the afternoon return run will be operated only by the KING ORRY.

BEN-MY-CHREE is then scheduled to operate all other sailings this week on Douglas - Heysham route. The damaged grills at the portside stern had been removed by last weekend leaving two neat holes!

SEACAT DANMARK - Sailings on the 31 August were delayed due to "adverse weather conditions" in the Irish Sea. The 11.00 Liverpool to Douglas was delayed 14 minutes due to a late arrival, though the crossing was completed in 2 hours 36 minutes.

In the afternoon SCD sailed to Dublin. Her arrival at Douglas was delayed until around 22.00 which consequently delayed the 21.30 departure to Liverpool, which finally departed at 22.55. The captain warning passengers that this might be a rough crossing. In practice, despite a strong 30knot ESE wind, the crossing was not unduly rough after all, however, speed was kept down to around 30 knots and arrival in Liverpool was not until 01.46, an hour and three quarters behind schedule.

The vessel was delayed on Friday by the late running of SSC2, which blocked the Prince's Landing Stage berth

SUPERSEACAT TWO - Engine technical problems continue. She was noted alongside Prince's Landing Stage on Friday 4 September at 18.50, long past her departure time, blocking the berth for SEACAT DANMARK arriving from the Isle of Man. SSC2 departing at around 19.10 [25 minutes late] allowed SSC2 to come along side after her departure.

On Saturday 5 September, the ship only managed 28 to 30 knots running on just three engines. The 08.15 departure from Liverpool left a couple of minutes early but arrival in Dublin was 13.04, an hour behind schedule. The delayed 13.00 return sailing departed Dublin at 14.03. However, SEACAT DANMARK was already on Prince's Landing Stage, which caused SSC2 to have to dawdle up the river from The Rock.

SCD departing at around 19.00 enabled SSC2 to berth at 19.07, 2 hours and 17 minutes behind schedule. The vessel was reported to be running on three engines. Monitoring comms revealed that an engineer from Ruston Diesels of Newton-le-Willows, the engine manufacturers, was apparently on board.

Mersey Radio reported that a "more realistic time for her return" on Sunday morning would be 04.00 [rather than 02.50]

Alterations have been undertaken at the Liverpool Sea Terminal. The high counter at the check in desk has been lowered and a larger area created at the entrance to the baggage check-in / boarding pass examination area. In recent weeks the photographs depicting the IoMSPCo fleet have disappeared from the walls, to be replaced by artistic prints. Pity the opportunity wasn't taken to illustrate the present Sea Containers fleet from SRN4s to the BEN-MY-CHREE.


A few weeks ago I reported on what looked like the demise of the Ellerman City Lines transit sheds near the Duke Street Bridge, Birkenhead. Apparently a new roof is being fitted to the walls.


Fly-posters have appeared in the city and around the river front claiming "Save the Pier Head" which gives the first impression that the future of Liverpool's famous waterfront is in imminent danger! A protest is planned at the Pier Head, Liverpool on Sunday 6 September to oppose plans by the Mersey Docks and Harbour Company to develop a new terminal facility at the Pier Head for Sea Containers Ferries and Cruise Liners.

Opponents of the terminal plan claim that public access will be denied to the Marine Walk, an 8-mile pathway, which they claim, stretches from Otterspool to Seaforth.

The fact is, the only public footpath which exists, extends from Otterspool to the Pier Head. The section through the South Docks area is fenced off and along with the section through the Albert Dock is closed to the public at night. There is NO public right of way north of the Pier Head. Land north of this point is part of the north docks, access to which is by MD&HC permit. There is no footbridge across Langton Lock. No path exists to Seaforth.

The Pier Head development will lead to the creation of decent terminal facilities so sadly lacking and the in-filling of the eyesore which is the old floating roadway cut. At low water, visitors see mud and rubbish, do we really want to retain this "feature" ?

The new terminal facilities would see the filling in of this cut which is neither attractive to look at, or of useful purpose. The Mersey Docks and Harbour Company point out that the development will not harm the recently landscaped public open areas in front of the Liver Buildings. The development will actually improve access to the "Heroes' of the Marine Engine Room [RMS Titanic] Memorial" which is due to be moved a few yards to a new riverside site as part of the scheme.

Douglas and Dublin both have terminal facilities of which they can feel proud. Here at Liverpool we have a "portakabin" terminal facility, which through sheer congestion and poor design caused by restrictions of the site, cause delays at anything other than quiet periods.

During mid 80s to the early 90s, Liverpool lost many of her shipping services. Belfast, Dublin and even Douglas closed for various periods of time. Poor terminal facilities, bad labour relations etc. often being cited for the decline in passengers [Is This Anyway to Run a Shipping Line? is recommended reading for comments on the perceived Mersey Terminal problems].

Fortunately the shipping lines have returned, but foolish, misguided people hinder progress. Opposition to the Pier Head proposals have followed opposition to plans for the on-river ro/ro berth, off Waterloo Dock. This latter project has been forced to a public enquiry causing further delays. When proposed a few years ago, this facility should have been operational by 1997. Norse Irish Ferries' new vessels MERSEY VIKING and LAGAN VIKING were designed for the river berths. The ships have been in service a year or so now. The ro/ro berth remains a plan thanks to the occupants of the Waterloo Warehouse Apartments. Merchant Ferries Dublin service, due to commence in January 1999, will have to work out of Canada #3 Branch Dock from a portakabin Terminal and be subject to delays passing through Langton Lock because of the river linkspan berth delays.

The group opposing the Pier Head plan, The Millennium Walk Committee, claims the Pier Head site is of special historical significance. "Nine million people left through here to go to America. In the Second World War many of their descendants returned through the Pier Head to fight and for many there was no way back", states spokesperson Pat Moran obviously appealing to the wrong kind of emotions.

Such comments are very unhelpful and misguided. The fact is, if there had not been decent dock and terminal facilities in Liverpool during WWII, the city would not have played such an important role during the battle of the Atlantic. Our main riverside terminal, the old Princes Landing stage, over which thousands of allied troops passed was demolished 21 years ago. Are we now to be deprived of having a new ferry and liner terminal just because of a dispute over public access to a small piece of land?

Over the past 10 years Liverpool has fought back, both the city and port have striven hard to overcome the bad media headlines of the early 1980s for industrial strife, political intrigue and civil unrest. The city is a much, much better place in which to live and work, a city that is attracting tourists from around the world in ever increasing numbers. Even in the midst of winter it is not uncommon to find groups of Americans, Japanese, Chinese tourists etc. around the Albert Dock complex, city centre, Pier Head and having their photos taken at Penny Lane after arriving on the "Beatles Magical Mystery Tour". We need to bring more people into the city, from other Irish Sea ports as well as much further a field.

The city needs a terminal for Irish Sea services and liners. The terminal must be one that is convenient to the city centre, for that reason the terminal MUST be at the Pier Head.



Last week I reported about a fire on board the LINDA KOSAN a regular caller at Douglas Isle of Man with cargoes of gas. The fire occurred following an explosion in a pump room 15 miles south of Rame Head on Monday 24 August. The gas cargo was apparently transferred to the LAURA KOSAN and arrived at Douglas on Friday 28 August.


Plans are being drawn up to raise the RESURGAM; the Birkenhead built submarine, which sank of the Welsh coast in 1880. A 2 million fund is to be set up this month to raise and restore the vessel for public display. The fund's organisers are hoping to attract European Funding as well as that from companies, private donations and the National Lottery.


The sail training vessel LORD NELSON arrived on Merseyside last week. She spent the bank holiday weekend berthed at Prince's Landing Stage. On Friday evening, 4 September, she passed through Alfred Locks and entered the Birkenhead Dock system, berthing in Vittoria Dock. LORD NELSON is operated by the Jubilee Sailing Trust, which offers facilities for people with Special Needs.

On her arrival she on Friday evening she was saluted by several blasts on the whistle of the Aberdeen registered MALCOLM MILLER which was berthed on Mortar Mill Quay, East Float. MALCOLM MILLER, A barquentine, took young people from the Wirral on a 12 day voyage from Dublin to France and on to Birkenhead at the conclusion of the Tall Ships race she arrived at Birkenhead on Friday morning.

The voyage was organised by the Merseyside Police and Merseyside Branch of the Sail Training Association. The crew being chosen by schools, the police and youth organisations in recognition of young people's endeavours in charity work and the overcoming of personal tragedy.


The tug BROCKLEBANK has returned to her home in Canning Half Tide Basin, adjacent to the Merseyside Maritime Museum after attending the Portsmouth Maritime Festival.

6 September 1998


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