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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



18 OCTOBER 1998


Welcome to another edition of Mersey Shipping News. It is with sadness that the sale of KING ORRY to Moby Ferries is reported this week. She has been a familiar sight on Merseyside since she became the Isle of Man Steam Packet Flagship in 1990 and will be missed. It is a unfortunate that the BEN-MY-CHREE will not be operating on the Liverpool to Douglas route in her place this winter as originally planned. Just as I was about to upload this week's update news reached me that NORSE LAGAN has also been acquired by Moby Ferries.

There are additional Mersey Shipping News Gallery pages again this week:

PEVERIL & KING ORRY laid up in Vittoria Dock on 29 September.

Visit of the Irish Naval Service LE ORLA.

LADY OF MANN photographs taken the day after her return from her summer charter to Acor Line of the Azores.

During November a new gallery page will feature the KING ORRY's swansong - her all too brief appearance on the Liverpool - Dublin route in September. I had hoped to have this on-line by now, however, some photographs were on a mislaid film. This has now been found and is off to the processors during this week.

I would like to remind everyone that the next MERSEY SHIPPING NEWS update will be on Sunday 1 November. There is no update next week as I will be away on Holiday from 24 - 31 October.

IMPORTANT! I have changed the URL's of some pages this week to group certain pages together to improve the structure of the site and its maintenance. Please ensure you only bookmark the main front page as other pages are subject to change. Also any changes to the publication schedule of MSN will be announced on the front page!

Finally I would like to thank Pete Hinchcliffe for sending an update on Radio Frequencies at Holyhead and Richard Mills for identifying a couple of errors which cropped up in the Isles of Scilly Steamship Company feature uploaded last week. Also Dave Butler for a last minute account of yesterdays Douglas - Liverpool sailing, received just as I was about to upload this weeks edition and Frank Lose who contacted me with information regarding NORSE LAGAN.



SUPERSEACAT TWO - Bad weather appeared to take its toll of sailings this week with several cancellations. No services operated on Saturday, though things appeared back to normal by Sunday. Passengers were being routed via Holyhead and Irish Ferries.

LADY OF MANN - The Lady emerged from the Alexandra Dock passenger terminal and moved to Princes Landing Stage on Friday morning. She then took the SCD 11.00 sailing to Douglas. She was due back on the stage at 21.00 with a return sailing from Douglas. Unfortunately she did not operate the Liverpool - Dublin route on Saturday having been placed on the Douglas - Liverpool service.

Dave Butler now takes up the story:

The LADY OF MANN arrived back in Douglas in the small hours of Saturday but the master made the decision to hold her in port until the weather had abated. The Lady was loaded with passengers and their cars from the 0815 Ben (to make the crossing to Heysham freight only that evening) and the 0730 SeaCat. the LADY left Douglas at 1415 turning in the harbour rather than go astern and round the knuckle of the Victoria pier.

The LADY made light work of the heavy seas, the helmsman taking the most comfortable course possible. With a north westerly blowing hard the crossing was never going to be good, but at about 1600 she suddenly rolled hard to starboard to a very alarming angle which produced a very large groan from the passengers on B deck and the sound of pots and pans crashing to the floor in the galley, righting her self and proceeding as if nothing had happened (the Lady had announced her home coming and was about to prove her dominance of the Irish sea once again) with a few more rolls, but none as bad as the last the Bar light was sighted at 17.30 and she was along side the landing stage at 18.40.

PEVERIL & PICASSO remain laid up in Birkenhead's Vittoria Dock.

SEACAT DANMARK - Friday evening's sailing was cancelled, as were the Saturday sailings.

BEN-MY-CHREE - I have received a report that she remained in Douglas on Saturday 17 October.

KING ORRY - The King is dead - Long live the MOBY LOVE!

KING ORRY has been sold to Fion s.p.a. proprietors of Moby Ferries, Italy for 2 million pounds. An Italian crew are already on board and it had been expected that she would sail before the weekend. However, she was still in Vittoria Dock on Saturday 17 October. She is obviously a very desirable ship given the fact that she has sold so quickly, having only laid up around three weeks ago. On Saturday she was still at Vittoria Dock, name and port of registry had not been changed.


The harbour walkway linking the Douglas Sea Terminal with the Edward Pier berth should be completed by the end of October. There had been some delay due to a work to rule by Mersey Docks & Harbour Company's MERSEY MAMMOTH crew. The floating crane is now due to sail to Ireland next week picking up the beams from Belfast and installing them at Douglas.


The carrier HMS INVINCIBLE [R05] departed on Tuesday morning's tide.

HMS MANCHESTER [D95] remained berthed at Canada #3 Branch Dock this week. She was scheduled to leave Langton Lock at 11.30 and berth at Liverpool Landing Stage between 15.00 and 15.30 on Saturday. Monitoring marine radio transmissions suggested that this manoeuvre was delayed for half an hour or so as SSC2 was still on the stage and had to move off.

The Mine Countermeasures Ship HMS DULVERTON [M35] arrived at Canada #3 Branch Dock later in the week. She was due to lock out from Langton Lock at 14.30 on Sunday 18 October. HRH Duke of Edinburgh opened the new HMS EAGLET naval HQ at Brunswick Dock on Friday 16 October.


Frank Lose informs me that NORSE LAGAN has been sold to Moby Lines as the MOBY RIDER for service to Corsica or Sardinia. Last Autumn following her withdrawal on the introduction of LAGAN VIKING she was refitted at Canada Dry Dock and it was planned to inaugurate a Liverpool - Dublin service. These plans fell through and she spent some time laid up in Cammell Laird before being chartered.  She was recorded as passing through the Kiel Canal on the night of 17 October. Looks as though Moby are collecting ships with Merseyside connections!


Several months ago MSN reported on plans to install a monument to Captain Frederick J "Johnnie" Walker RN, DSO. On Friday 16 October HRH Duke of Edinburgh unveiled the incredibly realistic statue of Captain Walker at the Pier Head in a public ceremony. The statue had been created by sculptor Tom Murphy from a photograph of Captain Walker in action.

Captain Walker, a Devonian from Plymouth, adopted Liverpool as his native home during WWII, and became the leading anti-submarine patrol commander during the Battle of The Atlantic. On one patrol six U-boats were sunk. Unfortunately he died in hospital at Seaforth, Merseyside in 1944 after suffering a stroke at the age of 48 never seeing the final victory, which he contributed so much to.

The memorial has been the culmination of a 50-year campaign by his former comrades for recognition.


EUROPEAN HIGHLANDER entered Canada Dry Dock this week for repairs. She was scheduled to leave on Sunday 18 October.


The EDINBURGH CASTLE arrived on Monday after the delayed Canary Islands cruise. She departed Tuesday morning. Next month she beings a round the world cruise on charter to a Japanese group. She is expected to call at ports in: Cuba, Mexico, Ecuador, Tahiti, Fiji, Australia, Singapore, Eritrea, Croatia, Italy, Spain and Morocco. The cruise ends at Southampton on January 9th. EDINBURGH CASTLE is then due to undergo a 6 week multi-million pound refit commencing in January.

Local press reports suggest that she will operate exclusively from Greenock, Scotland next year. APOLLON [ex- EMPRESS OF CANADA] will be the principal vessel operating out of Liverpool.


Crosby Channel Boat Beacon C2 has apparently broken loose and gone on tour. On Saturday morning Mersey Radio reported it last seen 4 miles off station! On Saturday afternoon a radio message to Mersey Radio a recently placed O.D.A.S. buoy from the Middle Deep off station.


Work on PEREGRINE VII remained in the wet basin. [For some weeks, possibly months,  I had erroneously been referring to this ship as PREGRINE VIII it is actually VII. My finger must have slipped one week and the error has been perpetuated ever since!] On Sunday morning's PEREGRINE VII she was due to move back to #5 Dry Dock. On Saturday 17 October, the MDHC floating crane MERSEY MAMMOTH was noted at work lifting components on board. Her new drilling tower appears much larger than the one that was removed. The Royal Fleet Auxiliary Landing Ship [Logistic] L3027 SIR GERAINT also remains in the wet basin.

 John Luxton

18 October 1998


11 OCTOBER 1998


I had been hoping to have the slides back depicting the LADY OF MANN complete with ACOR LINES fleet name and smiling whale. Despite posting the film off last Monday I still have not received the slides. Hopefully they will be on-line next week. I have changed the home page logo picture to another view of the LADY OF MANN taken during her TT outing during June 1998. I have some views of her at the Pier Head, but unfortunately the lighting isn't correct.

Some of the web site links have been updated this week.

I have also provided a major new gallery featuring the Isles of Scilly Steam Ship Company, this can be accessed via the Photo Features menu. As well as being well illustrated it contains a potted history of the company right up to the recent announcement of the 1998/9 winter refit of the company's flagship RMV SCILLONIAN III. Not surprisingly MERSEYSIDE features in the history!

Advanced Notice: PLEASE NOTE: MSN will NOT be updated on Sunday 25 October as I will be away.



SUPERSEACAT TWO - Sunday's 08.15 sailing was cancelled, presumably due to the poor weather conditions. The LADY OF MANN did not appear as substitute. At the time of writing Mersey Radio reported that the SSC2 18.00 sailing would operate.

LADY OF MANN - The Lady remains at the Alexandra Dock passenger terminal. She still sports her smiling whale logos.

PEVERIL - PICASSO - KING ORRY remain laid up in Birkenhead's Vittoria Dock.

BEN-MY-CHREE - A redesign of the passenger accommodation aboard the BEN has been announced. Seventy high back seats will be provided in the port aft lounge and the forward lounge whilst the Rendezvous Lounge will have partitions installed to provide some separation and a children's area will also be provided. Access to further open deck space will be also made available.

Even though existing open deck space was somewhat limited it is still much superior to that offered by the STENA HSS open passenger "pen"!

Whilst the BEN has attracted quite a few adverse comments with regard to its passenger accommodation, I must admit on my only journey on the ship made so far, I thought it to be particularly attractive but then it wasn't full.


Further attempts were made this week to avert the closure of the Liverpool Coastguard Station at Formby. Representative of the Coastguard's union met Glenda Jackson MP during the week at an official launch of the new Maritime and Coastguard Agency at Holyhead.

When the Liverpool station closes, monitoring of the whole of the Liverpool Bay area northwards to the Scottish coast will be undertaken from Holyhead. Liverpool coastguards claim that the closure of the Liverpool station decrease the amount of local knowledge of the area.


Just months after manufacturing the largest propellers ever constructed at the Birkenhead Dock plant for the new P&O Nedlloyd container ships Stone Manganese Marine have announced that they will cease the manufacturing of propellers on Merseyside. One of the last large propeller manufacturers in the UK the company blames cheap overseas products for the decision to close its casting facility. However, the company is retaining its Birkenhead plant and will continue to offer propellers for sale. These will be bought in and finished at the plant. Propeller repairs and servicing will also continue.


LE ORLA departed from Canada #3 Branch Dock on Monday.


HMS MANCHESTER [D95] arrived this week and berthed at Canada #3 Branch Dock on Thursday morning. On Friday the carrier HMS INVINCIBLE [R05] arrived. She is due to stay on Merseyside until Tuesday 13 October. However, it has been reported that she might stay a little longer if weather conditions are unsuitable for locking out of the dock system. Apparently she had an encounter with the lock wall when entering Langton Lock on Friday afternoon. Unfortunately the INVINCIBLE was is not open to the general public, though they can be viewed from Regent [The Dock] Road. HMS MANCHESTER was open on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. The ships certainly brought out a large number of on-lookers on Saturday. This is the first time that an RN aircraft carrier has visited Liverpool since 1980.


MDHC has confirmed its intentions to construct a wind farm on the Sea Wall at Royal Seaforth Dock. Preparatory civil engineering works to prepare the site for the installation of six wind turbines has already commenced. The turbines should be in place by February with commissioning taking place in March. The wind turbines will be painted light grey to enable them to blend in with the skyline. Energy generated by the wind farm will be sold to the Non Fossil Purchasing Agency, a government backed organisation which encourages environmentally friendly power production./


Looks as though there is going to be another bout of TITANIC fever to coincide with the launch of the movie on Video in a week's time.

Entering the Liverpool branch of WH Smith on Saturday morning I spotted posters proclaiming that the store would be open at Midnight next Sunday to allow people to be the first to own a copy of the video. I wonder how many will bother turning up? Such stunts have been undertaken for the launch of products such as Windows 95/98 and the latest car registrations but this appears to be ridiculous. However, I must admit to not having seen the film yet, though of previous Titanic movies for large and small screen a "Night to Remember" remains my favourite.

A Titanic Ball was held at St Georges Hall on Saturday 10 October. 


Work on PEREGRINE VIII continues in the wet basin. Also in the wet basin is the Royal Fleet Auxiliary Landing Ship [Logistic] L3027 SIR GERAINT.

John Luxton

11 October 1998




4 OCTOBER 1998


This weekend I have taken the opportunity to completely revise the Waverley Steam Navigation Company pages including a large number of new images in the collection featuring PS WAVERLEY and MV BALMORAL at various locations around the UK since 1991. I was partly prompted to do this by seeing MSN getting a mention in the Autumn edition of the Paddle Wheels Magazine published by PSPS which is associated with these two ships. The compilers of the web guide appeared impressed by the quality of the photographs, therefore I though it was about time to significantly increase their number.

Its been a fascinating exercise, especially where BALMORAL is concerned, she has certainly been a ship of many colours during the 1990s. The new photographs can be accessed from the Contents Page. I decided to use the time I would normally spend writing up the voyage report to prepare the images. Consequently there is no voyage report this week even though I was aboard SuperSeaCat Two yesterday.

One of the successful parts of MSN has been the queries page in which quite a few maritime Queries have received satisfactory answers. I am now starting another information page. Coming Maritime Events. To start with this events list will be limited to Merseyside, though I will expand it later. If you have information on coming events please send it by e-mail and I will include it in the page.

Finally on the subject of e-mail please ensure messages sent to MSN have a viable return address. I have received several messages recently to which I have replied and then had the mail returned due to incorrect addressing. I know some people deliberately omit or change parts of their e-mail address to block incoming "junk mail" but I think they sometimes forget to correct the addresses before sending mail out which may require a reply. It is rather frustrating!



The company has gained the contract for the carrying of Newspapers to the Island in preference to the Emerald Airways. The prospect of this happening had been mentioned some weeks ago in MSN. The BEN-MY-CHREE arrives at Douglas before Ronaldsway airport opens for the day and offers a more cost-effective means of transport than air.

SUPERSEACAT TWO - Appears to be in much better health following repairs the other week. She appears to be operating reliably, though she was noted running around an hour late on Wednesday evening by Mersey Radio. Weather conditions were not particularly good that day. Further "caging" has appeared on the open deck to protect foolhardy passengers for whom conventional rails are inadequate! Now both side rails forward of the funnel to a point past the boat deck crew gates have rail extensions. Also the starboard side by the lift housing has had a rail extension fitted, some passengers must have been climbing on this housing. The main problem appears to be unsupervised children, who despite the efforts of the crew and announcements over the PA, are often left to their own devices by parents and guardians. Of course the same irresponsible parents would be the first to complain should anything happen to their child. Further alterations to the layout of the duty free shop have been made, with the checkout desks being located outside the shop area.

LADY OF MANN - The Lady remains at the Alexandra Dock passenger terminal. She still sports her smiling whale logos.

KING ORRY - The monarch of the Irish Sea bowed out with her final return sailing from Douglas to Heysham and return on 28 September under the command of Captain Woods. On 29 September she set sail for Birkenhead arriving at Vittoria Dock in the afternoon. Unfortunately I couldn't get out of work early enough to see her berth. When I arrived she had already berthed in front of PICASSO. Apparently Acor Lines which operated the LADY OF MANN this summer may be interested in purchasing her. An Italian group has also showed interest.

BEN-MY-CHREE - With the KING ORRY laid up, the BEN chose an inappropriate time to suffer an engine problem. A seal is reported to have failed on the port engine allowing water into the lubricating oil on the 02.15 sailing from Heysham on Thursday. The BEN-MY-CHREE was assisted onto her berth by the Laxey Towing Company's tug WENDY ANN. Consequently the morning Douglas - Heysham and return sailing were lost whilst repairs were carried out. Unfortunately SEACAT DANMARK was undergoing maintenance and was unable to operate the morning Heysham sailing though operated Douglas to Liverpool and return at 18.00. The BEN-MY-CHREE was back in service on the 20.00 departure from Douglas.

SEACAT DANMARK operated unscheduled Douglas - Liverpool and return sailing on Thursday 1 October to cover from the BEN-MY-CHREE which was unable to operate the morning sailing to Heysham and the afternoon return. SCD is scheduled to sail Douglas - Heysham at 1300 on Monday October 5 returning at 1600.


Wirral Council planning department has approved the replacement of Seacombe Landing Stage. Work will commence early in the New Year with completion by Easter. The replacement of the stage will take about two weeks, during which a shuttle bus will connect Seacombe with the Woodside Ferry Terminal at Birkenhead.

I understand that the much rumoured upgrade of OVERCHURCH to Class III certification allowing cruises to Llandudno will be undertaken. Though it is more likely to be for 2000 than 1999.


Once again the Irish Naval Service have sent yet another ship to Liverpool. This time it's LE ORLA [P41], sister ship to LE CIARA, which became the first INS ship to visit Merseyside last year. LE ORLA arrived at Langton Lock at 09.30 on Friday 2 October and proceeded to Canada #3 Branch Dock. Both vessels are Peacock Class Coastal Patrol Vessels originally built for the Royal Navy in the 1980s for use in the waters off Hong Kong.

There has now been two visits from LE CIARA, one from LE AISLING and LE EITHNE. LE EMER was recorded in the Manchester Ship Canal last week! One has to wonder how much longer it will be before LE DEIRDRE and LE AOIFE visit Merseyside, thus completing the fleet's appearance here. A new construction is underway at A&P Appledore in Devon, so perhaps that too will visit soon after completion!


The postponed departure of the EDINBURGH CASTLE cruise of 20 September which had been scheduled to take place following repairs to the vessel on 27 September was again delayed until Monday 28 September.


Hydrographic Research Ship HMS BULLDOG [A317] departed in 30 September. Carrier HMS INVINCIBLE [R05] is due to make a courtesy call during October. Further details will be posted when available.


Heavy lifting marine construction equipment is reported to have arrived in Dun Laoghaire Harbour to carry out a six-week upgrade of the berthing facilities. The work, tendered out to Smit International, includes a mooring dolphin 35 metres off the end of the Stena HSS berth and installation of multi-purpose linkspan at the site of the existing Stena Lynx pontoon. A new multi-purpose passenger gangway will be constructed to enable access to conventional and fast ferries.


SMIT INTERNATIONAL's TAKLIFT 4 was noted in Cammell Laird wet basin on 29 September undertaking work on PERIGRINE VIII. On Thursday 1 October Fisher's tanker OARSMAN entered the yard on the pm tide on Thursday, leaving on Friday evening's tide and heading for Eastham.

Is there any end to Cammell Laird's rapid expansion? This week it was reported that the company has acquired yet another east coast ship yard. Tyne Dock Engineering was purchased from Zenta Engineering Holdings for 500,000 in shares. The Tyneside yard has 12 vessels booked in for work during the next 2 months.

John Luxton

4 October 1998


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