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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


29 November 1998


Winter Timetable - 6th January to 11th March - Revised

Details of the January March timetable which were posted on Sunday 29 November are incorrect. Though these times are shown on the company's web site a new printed leaflet has been published and I received a copy today [2 December]. The timetable features both BEN-MY-CHREE and LADY OF MANN.

BEN-MY-CHREE Departures:

Heysham - Douglas: 02.15 Daily and 14.15 Monday to Friday

Douglas - Heysham: 19.45 Daily and 08.30 Monday to Friday

The 02.15 sailing from Heysham on Tuesday and 19.45   from Douglas on Wednesdays


LADY OF MANN departures:

Liverpool - Douglas: 08.00 Fridays only - 18.45 Friday to Sunday

Douglas to Liverpool: 13.00 Friday and Sunday. 07.30 Saturday and Monday

This timetable allows day trips sails from Liverpool to Douglas on Fridays

Special Fares offered in conjunction with the new timetable are as follows:

Car & 2 passengers return 89 evening/night sailings and 99 day sailings

Motorcycle & 2 pax  return 69 evening/night sailings and 79 day sailings

Foot passengers 32 return and 16 single

Child 16 return and 8 single

Family 90 return and 45 single

Day Returns: Adult 25, Senior Citizen 21 and Child 13


LADY OF MANN - operated 21.30 Liverpool - Douglas on 21/11 and 07.30 Sunday Douglas - Liverpool on 22/11. She then took the delayed 11.00 Liverpool to

Dublin and 16.00 return sailing to Liverpool.              

LADY OF MANN unlocked from Langton at 14.10 on Friday 27 Nov and proceeded direct to Douglas arriving at 17.50. Presumably to act as immediate standby should the 07.30 SSC2 sailing be cancelled. Apparently many would be Christmas shoppers in Liverpool from the IoM were rather cross last Saturday when the popular day excursion to Liverpool was not possible!             

SUPERSEACAT TWO - Though Sunday's Liverpool - Dublin and return sailing were operated by the LADY OF MANN due to adverse conditions, SSC2 did operate the 21.30 Liverpool to Douglas as scheduled.        

A slight correction is due to the cancellation figures for SSC2 sailings in October. It stands at 54 out of 118 as opposed to 56 out of 120 quoted last week.       

With less than a month to Christmas SuperSeaCat, the company is promoting the special 10 Duty Free Flyer fares which gives passengers the opportunity to stock up for Christmas from the onboard duty free shop which is brimming with beers, wines, spirits, cigarettes and cigars.              

To help keep the Christmas shopping bill down there are plenty of special duty free offers. All fragrances, skincare products, cosmetics and confectionery can be purchased three for the price of two.              

Teddy bears and bottles of Glenfiddich Scotch whisky are half price.             

In addition the company is offering the following promotional fares between Liverpool and Dublin:

Five day return, car plus four passengers - 149
Foot passengers and additional car passengers - 29 Children - 15    

"Three days for the price of two" Car plus four passengers - 129
Foot passengers and additional car passengers - 29 Children - 15

PEVERIL & PICASSO Remain laid up in Vittoria Dock though PICASSO is reported as being sold to interests in Uruguay.              

SEACAT SCOTLAND was still in Canada Dock 28/11, undergoing refit by Wright and Bayer. SCS is expected to return north after her refit to Stranraer.       

SEACAT DANMARK may  to return to Merseyside after covering for SEACAT SCOTLAND.           

The shipping enthusiasts and others will be interested in a new brochure full of information on short breaks in Ireland.   Entitled Northern Ireland Short Breaks - The Causeway Coast and Glens of Antrim, the brochure features a host of travel packages, giving travellers the opportunity to visit visitor attractions such Carrickfergus Castle, The Giant's Causeway Visitor Centre, Ballyearl Courtyard Theatre and Golf Centre and the Glens of Antrim.              

The brochure has been produced as a joint venture between Sea Containers and Northern Ireland Tourist Board as well as Antrim Coast and Glens and Causeway Coast Marketing Consortium. Copies are obtainable from Travel Agents in UK, Ireland and Europe.             

Packages featured in the brochure are handled exclusively by Celtic Links in Prestwick and backed by a major advertising and promotional campaign. Starting from 89 for hotel-based breaks and 75 for rural cottages and self-catering apartments and including return trip ferry crossings from either Stranraer to Belfast or Campbeltown to Ballycastle.              

Diane Poole, Commercial Manager for Sea Containers' Irish Sea Operations and Chairman of the Antrim Coast and Glens and Causeway Coast Marketing Consortium, said: "This is a fantastic opportunity which takes all the effort out of a trip to one of most beautiful regions in the whole of Ireland.              

"Customers can enjoy a leisurely ferry trip with spectacular views and choose their stay from a range of accommodation which includes old coaching inns, luxury golf resorts and traditional rural cottages in beautiful locations."


Irish Ferries have issued the following press release:

Irish Ferries 'swift ferry' service named

Irish Ferries has chosen the name 'Dublin Swift' to describe their new high-speed car ferry service which comes into operation between Dublin and Holyhead next Summer.

Chosen to emphasise its 'swiftness of passage' with a sailing time of just 1 hour 49 minutes from Dublin to Holyhead, the name underlines the route connection into Dublin City which the new service will provide - an aspect which Irish Ferries will highlight in their UK marketing.

In addition to the 'Dublin Swift' designation used to market the new service, the vessel itself will be registered under the name JONATHAN SWIFT reminiscent of the distinguished Dublin writer Dean Swift whose literary masterpiece Gulliver's Travels is acclaimed throughout the English-speaking world.

Commenting, Irish Ferries Marketing Director Tony Kelly said 'as well as promoting the high-speed nature of our new service, the names chosen have strong Dublin linkages around which we can design marketing programmes aimed at those who prefer a direct Dublin City connection especially in Britain from where we draw a significant proportion of our carryings into Dublin.'

Now being built in Fremantle, Western Australia, the all-new 29 million vessel is scheduled to begin service between Dublin and Holyhead next June. Aluminium built to a proven twin-hulled catamaran design, it has capacity for 800 passengers and 200 cars.

Coming into service alongside the existing cruise ferry ISLE OF INISHMORE it will enable Irish Ferries to provide an around-the-clock service between Dublin and Holyhead. The new vessel will operate to a schedule whereby it will leave Dublin each morning at 05.45hrs, and will be the first morning sailing from Holyhead at 02.30hrs and the last to sail out of Dublin each evening at 23.30hrs.

Providing an additional four return sailings daily, it will increase Irish Ferries frequency on the route to six sailings per day in each direction. This will give a total daily capacity on the route of 15,200 passengers and 4,800 cars - an increase of 73% (passengers) and 50% (cars) over current levels and an increased frequency from four to twelve sailings daily.

ROYAL NAVY              

Survey vessel HMS BULLDOG noted in Canada #3 Branch Dock on Saturday 21 November
had been undertaking survey work off the Isle of Man,

CAMMELL LAIRD              

The PEREGRINE VII remains in #5 dry dock whilst the large Dundee registered semi-submersible offshore support platform IOLAIR occupies both dry docks #6 & #7. IOLAIR had been due to enter the yard in January for refit, however, this was brought forward due to propulsion problems according to the local press. On Saturday evening the tanker WESTGATE transported from Queen Elizabeth II dock at Eastham to the wet-basin.

John Luxton

29 November 1998



22 November 1998




Technical problems again! Some users may have noticed that there were problems accessing pages after last week's update. Actually much of the site's navigation structure disappeared.

Though structure was intact locally, on the server all the FrontPage generated Menu Bars vanished! This meant that unless you tried to access the weekly news via "What's New" you would not have located the News File. I have redesigned the News Menu as a result; they no longer rely on the FP98 internal navigation and menu structure. The only way to solve the problem was to upload the complete site again! I'd like to thank those readers who spotted this problem. It wasn't apparent after I tested the site following upload.

The live discussion chat group is now uploaded and functioning. I have also redesigned the main Front Page. You will see that a visitor's book option is featured, as well as search site etc, I am not certain if I can get Site Search to function, though the Visitor's Book certainly does. Since the main site crash last month the FP98 extensions now appear to function and I am phasing in some of the additional functions.

The PAGECOUNT page counter on the main page will be retained, as this carries additional statistical information, which is not possible to obtain via the FP98 counters, though these will appear on various pages from time to time.

New gallery pages have been provided - featuring HMS INVINCIBLE Merseyside visit in October and also the new Merchant Ferries Canada Dock terminal. There is also a new query on the Maritime Queries page and a minor update to the links pages.

During the coming week I will be away for a few days in Ireland, though I should have returned by Friday night, consequently I will not be able to reply to any e-mail this week sent after 22.00 on Monday evening until next Saturday morning.




LADY OF MANN - Scheduled to operate 21.30 Liverpool to Douglas on Saturday 21 November deputising for SUPERSEACAT TWO. She also operated the 07.30 Douglas to Liverpool on Sunday 22 November.

BEN-MY-CHREE will operate Douglas - Liverpool Friday to Sunday from January until Easter. Much of the recently announced internal modifications will not be in place until the new year, though I understand some wooden-plank steel frame bench seating has been installed on the outside decks replacing the plastic garden furniture. Coffee making facilities are also due to be installed in the cabins this week.

Last Sunday the BEN-MY-CHREE underwent a whole series of manoeuvring trials whilst on passage from Heysham to Douglas on the 0215 sailing. These lasted 2.5 hours and were supervised by van der Geissen personnel. As a result she did not reach Douglas until after 0900 on Sunday morning.

SUPERSEACAT TWO - Will cease operations on the Liverpool - Dublin route at the end of the present timetable [5 January] and on the Douglas - Liverpool route 4 January. Liverpool - Dublin will then be suspended until Easter.

On Saturday 21 November 0730 Douglas - Liverpool sailing was cancelled due to high winds. SSC2 had not arrived back at Prince's Stage last night at 20.30 when I drove past. She had not operated to Douglas on Friday evening and was still there on Saturday morning shortly after 09.00. Liverpool - Douglas passengers were sent via Heysham.

SSC2 also failed to operate the 11.00 from Liverpool to Dublin and the 16.00 return. Passengers were being diverted via Holyhead.

The other week I indicated that over 40% of SSC2 sailings had been cancelled in October. The figure actually stands at 46% with 56 out of 120 sailings cancelled due to prevailing conditions. This information is part of a presentation to be made to a six-member Tynwald Committee, which includes the Isles of Man Chief Minister Donald Gelling, by John Shepherd. Mr Shepherd is a former IoMSPCo purser and author of books on the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company. The select committee was established last month to investigate concern over the frequency and quality of passenger services.

SUPERSEACAT THREE / FOUR - Delivery expected Easter 1999

PEVERIL & PICASSO Remain laid up in Vittoria Dock though PICASSO is reported as being sold to interests in Uruguay.

SEACAT SCOTLAND remains in Canada Dock, undergoing refit by Wright and Bayer.


The end is drawing neigh for the last remaining Mersey sludgeboat CONSORTIUM I. She is due to make her final voyage to the sludge dumping grounds in Liverpool Bay during December.

CONSORTIUM I makes up to three voyages per day and is the last in a line of vessels which have dumped treated sewage sludge since 1897. CONSORTIUM I's fleet-mate the GILBERT J FOWLER has been laid up out of use at the company's Sandon Dock base for some time.

The demise of the operation is as a result of the opening of a new sludge treatment works at Shell Green Widnes. The works has been constructed to ensure compliance with the European Union's Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive, which was announced 8 years ago.

One wonders just how long CONSORTIUM I's counterpart across the Irish Sea in Dublin - the SIR JOSEPH BAZALGETTE will continue to operate given the requirements of the EU's directive?


STENA LYNX I departed from Wright and Beyer's Bidston Yard on Thursday morning 19 November and was due to recommence sailings on the Fishguard - Rosslare route on 20 November. However, STENA LYNX I sailings on the route were cancelled due to rough seas on Saturday 21 November.

STENA CAMBRIA may be sold to Tangier-based Limadet if she becomes available. ELITE, formerly STENA LYNX III may replace STENA LYNX I on Rosslare - Fishguard service in 1999.

Picked up from another site is a rumour that Stena Line may transfer their operations from Stranraer to Cairnryan, thus leaving the former port to Sea Containers. P&O are developing Cairnryan as a deepwater intermodal port. If Stena agrees to move to Cairnryan, it is suggested that P&O take the STENA GALLOWAY as a replacement for PRIDE OF RATHLIN. 


The floating Cafe-Bar - BARCA BARGE, which resides in the Albert Dock, has run into a spot of bother over its name - BARCA. Apparently Barcelona Football Club claims that the word BARCA is a widely used nickname for the club and that its use as a name for the barge in is breech of European Trademark Rules. The owner of BARCA BARGE is to fight the claim.


Survey vessel HMS BULLDOG was noted in Canada #3 Branch Dock on Saturday 21 November.


The PEREGRINE VII remains in #5 dry dock. On Friday 20 November the large Dundee registered semi-submersible platform IOLAIR arrived occupying both dry docks #6 & #7. She is expected to remain in Laird's for a month. The IOLAIR operates on the North Sea as a support and emergency response vessel. It has fire fighting, evacuation and lifting facilities.


John Luxton

22 November 1998





15 NOVEMBER 1998

First of all I would like to thank a number of people who have supplied information this week.




 Bad weather once again disrupted sailings during the week. The main disruptions  were:

Monday 9

BEN-MY-CHREE 08.30 Douglas to Heysham and return cancelled.

SUPERSEACAT 2 0730 Douglas to Liverpool taken by LADY OF MANN [SSC2 in Liverpool] but departure delayed until 12.00. 11.00 Liverpool - Dublin and 16.00  return, cancelled.

LADY OF MANN operated an extra Liverpool to Douglas sailing at 1700 to cover the cancelled afternoon BEN-MY-CHREE departure from Heysham.

Tuesday 10

LADY OF MANN operated additional Douglas to Liverpool sailing at 0730.

SUPERSEACAT TWO 11.00 Liverpool to Dublin and return cancelled.

Thursday 12

BEN-MY-CHREE did not sail this morning due to high winds. Manx Radio reported that her 20.00 sailing was being brought forward to 19.30. [Guess it always pays to check in early though small print in schedules suggest that early departures will only be 15 minutes ahead of published time!]

SUPERSEACAT TWO 11.00 Liverpool - Dublin and return cancelled. 21.30 departure delayed to 04.30 on Friday morning.

Friday 13

SUPERSEACAT TWO 07.30 departure delayed 15 minutes probably due to late departure from Liverpool.

PEVERIL & PICASSO Remain laid up in Vittoria Dock though PICASSO is reported as being sold to interests in Uruguay.

SEACAT DANMARK left Douglas on Tuesday 10 November has now moved to Stranraer to take over from SEACAT SCOTLAND.

SEACAT SCOTLAND arrived at Canada Dry Dock for refit by Wright and Beyer on Friday 13 November.


Sea Containers has announced its Third Quarter results. The full report can be viewed via the company's home page. Of interest to shipping enthusiasts the company President James Sherwood announced that "..a contract has been signed to acquire another ferry business but the company and the vendor have agreed to keep the transaction confidential until closing, which is subject to certain conditions being met."

This is certainly interesting and should keep enthusiasts guessing for a while!

Shipping services have been good despite the weather! English Channel services had profits of $7.5 million in the third quarter of 1998 compared with just $4 million last year. The acquisition of the Sally share in the Holyman Sally Ferries operation and changes in the competitive environment occasioned by the P&O Stena Line merger have been a significant factor.

Isle of Man Steam Packet Company profits increased by 19%, which the company partly attributes to the introduction of the BEN-MY-CHREE. IoMSPCo passenger figures year to date stand at 481602 is 5.6% up on same period last year. Vehicle figs (130,956) are up 11%. October passenger figures are up 11% and cars up 15% on October last year.

Earnings on the Liverpool - Dublin route are reported increased by 40% on the same period last year despite "unacceptably high cancellations due to gale force winds".

SUPERSEACAT ONE earnings on the Sweden - Denmark route were up 5%. Only the SEACAT SCOTLAND and Argyll and Antrim Steam Packet services to Northern Ireland are reported to be down on the same period last year. The Omagh bombing incident and bad weather being blamed. Port operations showed similar results to last year.


The local press reported on Friday that Liverpool Magistrates had approved the transfer of land at the Pier Head for the development of a new terminal facility and the filling in of the floating road way cut. This is really welcome news for all those that wish to see the continued success of the port and of sea services to the Isle of Man and Ireland and a major blow for those that wished to see the Pier Head area become trapped in a time warp. The Pier Head became famous because it was a major passenger arrival and departure point for many years unfortunately some misguided people wanted to prevent its renaissance even though the plans did not effect the recently landscaped piazza area.


You can now own your very own working SuperSeaCat for just under 10.00! Available from on-board shops the model is made in China for Martinox of Stockholm. Obviously earmarked for promotional purposed on the SSCI route. The model comes in a display box featuring a cardboard wave which is significantly higher in scale than the 3 metre operating limit and looks as though its about to swamp the vessel!

The model is a passable reproduction. Though is too short and of two wide a beam, The funnels are fairly accurate reproductions though they are too small. Their tops being almost the same height as the Blue Riband lounge roof. Length appears to have been mostly lost between the funnel and the stern.

Propulsion is via an electric motor driven by two AA batteries. Unlike models available of the Incat Craft and Stena HSS the motor is not housed in a clip on unit but integral with the hull. Comprising a propeller intake, which pushes water out of the stern in jet fashion though through only one nozzle.

Immediately behind this is a rudder, which can be pre-set. The model I purchased yesterday is yet to undertake sea [bath!] trials therefore I can't yet comment on its operational capabilities.

One wonder's when a model of the BEN-MY-CHREE will appear, or perhaps even the LADY OF MANN? Though I understand a card kit of the latter vessel is being worked on by Dave Worth of Manxlink Magazine.

On a more serious note it is pleasing to see that Sea Containers are making these attractive models available on board. They will undoubtedly appeal to youngsters and may well cause some to become the ship and ferry enthusiasts of the future. This is important, as I am rather concerned when I look at the age profile of those who attend local branch meetings of the WSS!

For older enthusiasts how about some small die-cast scale models on plinths?I am certain there would be a ready market in the 10 to 20 range.


I understand that P&O's JETLINER may appear on Merseyside for her annual refit during February, though this is subject to confirmation.


The channel buoys reported off station last week still appear to be out of position.


The future of the listed buildings at Stanley Dock, which include the world's largest warehouse are once again in question. The site's owners the Richcliffe Group confirmed this week that it was their long-term intention to demolish the Grade II listed Tobacco Warehouse and redevelop the land.

The announcement came as the company requested permission from English Heritage to demolish the neighbouring South Warehouse at Stanley Dock, which is also a listed building. This building was constructed in the 1930s of pre-cast concrete.

The Tobacco Warehouse built in the early 1900s presents a problem because it is so large and cannot easily be converted to other uses because of the low height of its internal ceilings. It is a unique building, which should be preserved, but its inability to be adapted has been acknowledged by architecture enthusiasts.



Occupiers of apartments in the converted Waterloo Warehouse block are seeking a judicial review to prevent Barrats, developers of the original warehouse, from building 144 new homes in front of the warehouse for which planning permission has already been granted. The occupiers are concerned that the development is annoyed that the development will spoil their views.

Protests from occupiers of the warehouse apartments have caused delays to the proposed new on-river linkspan terminal and its relocation further north. Ironically the planned vehicle park and ships berthed at the terminal may have offered a better view than buildings up to four storeys in height, which are now planned!


The Fishguard - Rosslare STENA LYNX service is suspended until 20 November. STENA LYNX is currently in Wright and Beyer's dry dock at Bidston.


Aboard SS SHIELDHALL on Saturday 7th November Dr Nick James, Chairman PSPS announced that the WAVERLEY rebuild is to be delayed until the winter of 1999/2000.

With the new European regulations on passenger ship safety still in draft format both the MCA and WEL have been unable to finalise the specification to a sufficient state for a fix priced contract to be negotiated. Therefore during the forthcoming winter the boiler will receive further repairs and plating below the boiler room will take place.

Mr J T Sylvester (Acting Managing Director Passenger and Marketing) announced that his withdrawal from WEL activities has begun with a reduction in working time to 3 days a week. The advertisement for his replacement was placed in the Daily Telegraph on Thursday.

A draft timetable was also circulated, highlights including, WAVERLEY in the Western Isles April 30 to May 4, main Clyde season from June 24 to August 30, South Coast September 3 to 29, Thames September 30 to October 11, end of season Bristol Channel October 15 to 18.

BALMORAL will include a visit to the South Coast to celebrate her Golden Jubilee and is also chartered for the Eclipse on August 11.

John Luxton

15 November 1998








 LADY OF MANN - She had been scheduled to lock out of the Liverpool Dock system at 14.00 on Friday 6 November. This did not materialise and she remained at the Alexandra Dock Passenger Terminal. She did appear at 15.00 on Saturday and ran engine trials on the river as far as the Landing Stage before heading up river and anchoring off Tower Buoy before moving to the stage in the evening prior to operating the 21.30 sailing to Douglas.

BEN-MY-CHREE - It looks as though berthing at Prince's Landing Stage may be possible if a flexible connection is provided between the pontoon and the stern ramp.

PEVERIL & PICASSO Remain laid up in Vittoria Dock.

SEACAT DANMARK made her last scheduled Douglas - Liverpool sailing with the 07.30 departure on Monday 2nd November, she then returned light to Douglas. It had been expected that she would operate the Liverpool - Dublin sailings Tuesday to Thursday but this did not happen and she remained in Douglas during the week.

SUPERSEACAT TWO: The first scheduled sailing to Douglas at 21.30 on Thursday 5 November was cancelled. Passengers being bussed to Heysham for the BEN-MY-CHREE's sailing. The 11.00 Liverpool to Dublin and return sailing were also cancelled. SSC2 departed from Liverpool at 03.00 on Friday morning, sailing light to Douglas, from where she operated the 07.30 sailing to Liverpool.

On Saturday SSC2 operated the 07.30 Douglas to Liverpool. However the 11.00 Liverpool - Dublin and 16.00 return sailing were cancelled due to expected bad weather. The LADY OF MANN is scheduled to operate the 21.30 sailing from Liverpool to Douglas.

Finally I have been sent some notes made from an a phone-in interview with the IoMSPCo managing director Hamish Ross on Thursday's Mannin Line programme on Manx Radio.

 BEN MY CHREE: She does sit high but in a few years there will be enough freight to weigh her down. She is built to enable Island economy to grow. Ballast can handle this meanwhile but it is not unusual that she is a bit underweight.

Older people want reclining seats, as family groups prefer the flexibility of bucket seats. Complaints of inadequate lighting to read by will be investigated. A loading of 300 passengers gives a good comfort level on board.

Private vehicles are now carried as far as possible on lower deck or on the sheltered part of the upper deck.

Mr Ross stated that the company does listen to customers - just as KO was modified from time to time so will BEN be - and she's here for next 15/20 years by which time people will have learned to love her.

Manx Radio have had no complaints from freight customers about the BEN.

The Newspaper contract starts in December. There are some days around Christmas when there will be papers but no 0215 sailing from Heysham. This was known when contract agreed.


Decision to sail or not lies with Master. No commercial pressure applied.

Safety is paramount. Contingency plans alter if a master decides not to sail.

The company will carry students at Easter [for the Student Games] on dedicated sailings (with extra security) to avoid discomfort to other passengers.

This was in answer to questions about football rowdies who dropped their trousers etc and sung bawdy songs on SEACAT DANMARK last week).

LADY OF MANN: Will back up fast craft and is part of the fleet for next few years.


The fleet was worth 5m two years ago - it is now worth 40m

Car traffic up 48% = 46,000 more cars

Passenger traffic up 17% = plus 75,000 over two years

260,000 passengers travelled on promotional fares in 1998

Service frequencies have increased 112% - Liverpool route by 176%

The company is always looking for new opportunities - but not interested in IOM/Holyhead route. [At the time of signing the Douglas Linkspan User Agreement in 1995 the company had been granted permission to operate service from Holyhead.]

The Heysham rail link not in danger - the company is trying to get a train to link with night sailings. Talks are underway with coach operators about improving links.

Liverpool terminal agreed as inadequate - we want to have a proper terminal as much as you do...

The company hopes to increase fast craft next year. If the additional craft are based off the Isle of Man (not confirmed but questioner mentioned Belfast which was not denied) the company would wish to continue to use skills/expertise of existing staff. At present 50% of current crew are IOM based this was only 40% until the withdrawal of KING ORRY).


The MD&HC floating crane MERSEY MAMMOTH completed the task of raising beams for the Douglas Harbour Walkway on Saturday 31 October.


C2 buoy remains off station on Southport beach. The recent bad weather has seen a number of other buoys have been ported off station including Q2, Q4, Q7 as well as the Formby light float. Q4 Buoy was seen on Saturday on the rocks adjacent to the Langton River entrance.

The Irish Taoiseach Bertie Aherne officially opened a new rail link to the MD&HC associated Coastal Container Line terminal at Dublin Port this week. The rail link connects the terminal with the Iarnrod Eireann system. Trevor Furlong, chairman of Coastal Container Line and MD&HC Chief Executive said that the link would serve to strengthen the intermodal transportation chain as well as being environmentally sound business practice.

Two new ship to shore container cranes have been ordered as part of a 10 million development programme at The Royal Seaforth Container Terminal. The cranes will be built by Liebherr Container Cranes of Killarney, Country Kerry, Ireland and transported to Liverpool in dismantled form. The cranes should be operational by early 2000 and should improve productivity at the terminal. Other work underway includes the provision of a logistics centre; multi-lane electronically controlled gatehouse and 25 bay container transfer area and a new terminal computer management system.

On Saturday afternoon after going down to photograph the LADY OF MANN in the river I decided to take a wander around the site of the old Waterloo River entrance. Though the lock has been filled in for some years demolition work has only recently been carried out in this area. The former HMS EAGLET site is now completely cleared, however, the demolition contractor was noted last weekend to have turned their attention to the river entrance buildings. Little further progress has been noted with the demolition of the hydraulic pumping house.

The remains of the building still contain the hydraulic accumulator engine used to provide power for the Waterloo entrance, which had a comparatively short working life. I have taken the opportunity to photograph the site including the partially filled lock. It is obvious that the lock will be completely filled as part of the redevelopment work. Photographs of the site will appear soon.


On Wednesday morning's tide [04 November] the Sail Training Vessel ASGARD II arrived at Canning half-tide basin Liverpool berthing opposite the entrance to the Merseyside Maritime Museum and on the same stretch of Quay as sailing vessel ZEBU.

ASGARD II is a graceful brigantine, designed specially for sail training purposes by the late Jack Tyrrel. She was built in Arklow, Co. Wicklow, Eire and commissioned by the then Taoiseach, Charles J. Haughy, T.D., on 7 March 1981.

Fortunately I managed to get down to Canning Basin and photograph ASGARD II on Thursday afternoon before she sailed on the early morning tide on Friday 6 November. This was my first opportunity to photograph this elegant vessel complete with masts. My previous encounter with ASGARD II had been at Arklow harbour during early May when she was under going refit and was out of the water and had her masts removed.

Photographs of ASGARD II will appear on the site in due course.

ASGARDII is successor to the gaff-rigged ketch ASGARD. The original ASGARD was designed and built in Norway by Colin Archer of Larvick in 1905 and was the wedding present of Dr. and Mrs. Hamilton Osgood of Boston, U.S.A., to their daughter Mary on her marriage to Erskine Childers, father of the late President Childers of Ireland.

The name ASGARD is an old Norse word meaning "Home of the Gods" In July, 1914 ASGARD with Erskine and Mary Childers along with four others, sailed to the North Sea to collect a cargo of guns which had been bought in Hamburg for the Irish Volunteers.

The arms were landed in Howth on 26 July 1914. ASGARD was sold by Mrs. Childers in 1926 several years after the execution of her husband and passed through several hands before being purchased by the Irish Government in 1961 because of her historical associations.

In 1968 the Irish Government formed the committee known as Coiste An Asgard and placed ASGARD under their guidance and control to be used as a sail-training vessel for the young people of Ireland.

Sail training cruises were carried out on using ASGARD each year from 1969 to 1974.

In 1978 ASGARD was transferred to Kilmainham Gaol Museum in 1979. In the last couple of years there has been some controversy as to whether ASGARD should be restored and returned to the sea or retained as a preserved museum piece due to her significance in Irish history.

The sail training scheme was continued from 1975 to 1980 on the Bermudan Ketch, CREIDNE, Built in 1967, which is now used as a sail training yacht by the Naval Reserve, An Slua Muiri.

You can find out more about ASGARD II and Coiste An Asgard at the organisation's Web Site:



Liverpool is hoping to host the 2005 Tall Ships festival. The city council has already begun negotiations to bring the popular Tall Ships event to Liverpool for the third time.


Bulldog Class survey ship HMS BEAGLE was noted in Canada Dock on Saturday 7 November.


The Fishguard - Rosslare STENA LYNX service is suspended until 20 November. STENA LYNX is currently in Wright and Beyer's dry dock at Bidston.

Despite rumours that KONINGIN BEATRIX had was to be sold to Brittany Ferries it now looks as though the former Harwich - Hook of Holland will remain on the Fishguard - Rosslare route for the 18 months. It had been anticipated that STENA ROYAL would replace the KONINGIN BEATRIX. The ELITE - formerly STENA LYNX III is at Portsmouth undergoing overhaul and is likely to provide cover for the HSS refits.

Bad weather on the night of Saturday/Sunday 7/8 November disrupted sailings from Holyhead.


Bad weather on Saturday evening Sunday morning 7/8 November resulted in the cancellation of the 21.45 Dublin - Holyhead and 03.45 Holyhead - Dublin sailings.


PEREGRINE VII remains in #5 dry dock. A James Fisher tanker remains in the wet basin though the Royal Fleet Auxiliary Landing Ship [Logistic] L3027 SIR GERAINT has departed.


In the "Scilly Wanderings" notes last week I mentioned the loss of the SCILLONIAN III refit contract to the DML Naval Dockyard at Devonport.

This week it has been revealed that two unnamed shipyard operators are interested in purchasing the yard as a going concern as well as two other businessmen. There are also reports of prospective interest from potential redevelopers. Hopefully the yard may yet be saved and not turned into another tourist development.


Some interesting late news from outside the MSN area concerns Sally Ferries.

Sally Ferries passenger and freight services between Ramsgate and Ostend are to cease on November 20 with the loss of around 100 jobs, the company has announced.

The decision to end the twice-a-day ferry crossings was taken by Sally's Finnish parent company Neptun Maritime.

There was "great regret and sadness" at the decision, said Sally chief executive Bill Moses.

Earlier this year Sally pulled out of its joint fast ferry operation with Holyman on the Ramsgate - Ostend route. The Sally interest being acquired by Sea Containers and the service diverted to operate from the Hoverspeed terminal at Dover.

John Luxton


08 November 1998







During my short break I have managed to keep up with much of the local news and have brought in some interesting, surprise information from down West Country too.

The weather has not been too kind of late and that has delayed many local ferry sailings and created various problems. Thanks to all those people who have kept me posted in my absence.




 LADY OF MANN - The Lady has been out and about of late thanks to the bad weather. She has lost her smiling Whale logos and Acor Line fleet name, though the painting over of these suggests a shortage of SeaCo blue paint!

PEVERIL & PICASSO remain laid up in Birkenhead's Vittoria Dock, though there is a rumour that PICASSO has been sold.

KING ORRY - On Friday 23 October KING ORRY - renamed MOBY LOVE departed Vittoria Dock, Birkenhead 11.35 for Alfred Lock. She was in lock 12.00 -12.20 before passing into River. After a few quick handling manoeuvres she then off to Livorno with refuelling stop at Gibraltar. Her name was noted to have been changed but no other apparent modifications were visible. A stern three-quarters view of the KING's departure appeared in the Liverpool Echo on Monday 26 October. The Liverpool Daily Post & Echo sell photos of the photos appearing in the paper - telephone 0151-472-2549 for details.

 SEACAT DANMARK makes her last scheduled Douglas - Liverpool sailing with the 07.30 departure on Monday 2nd November.

From Tuesday to Thursday this week SCD will operate on the Liverpool to Dublin route. She will then head north to take over from SEACAT SCOTLAND releasing this vessel for refit.

SUPERSEACAT TWO commences operations on the Liverpool - Douglas route with the 21.00 sailing from Liverpool on Thursday 5 November.

The bad weather has caused problems for many ferry operators over the past few weeks here is a summary of what happened with Sea Co with particular reference to the Isle of Man routes:

Tuesday 20 October: Deteriorating weather conditions in the Irish Sea forced the BEN-MY-CHREE to turn back 90 minutes into her 20.00 hours sailing from Douglas to Heysham. When she arrived back at Douglas the BEN-MY-CHREE she bumped into SEACAT DANMARK and a fishery protection vessel LOCH FOYLE which where in the harbour causing minor damage.

Wednesday 21 October

The BEN-MY-CHREE sailed for Heysham at 10.30 whilst the LADY OF MANN ran light to Douglas did a quick turn-round and left for Liverpool at 1945 with those left behind from cancelled morning (passenger) sailing.

Thursday 22 October

LADY OF MANN loaded again in Liverpool at 01.30 for Douglas. The BEN-MY-CHREE

was greeted at Heysham lunchtime by armed police searching disembarking vehicles. This delayed her return sailing by around 30 minutes.

Friday 23 October

BEN MY CHREE Heysham - 14.00 Douglas sailing was delayed by twenty minutes, however, she arrived on the berth at Douglas on time at 17.45. Winds were reported moderate with smooth crossing made in bright sunshine with good visibility.

 Saturday 24 October

The gales returned. SEACAT DANMARK sailed 07.30 on Douglas - Liverpool but returned to Island light as wave height beyond her limits for 11.00 return crossing. Douglas - Liverpool 15.30 and return Liverpool - Douglas crossings at 18.45 were cancelled.

LADY OF MANN positioned light to DUBLIN departing Douglas at 07.45 plan was then for her to operate Dublin - Liverpool and then return SEACAT DANMARK's stranded passengers back to Douglas at 21.00.

Unfortunately deteriorating weather meant that her positioning sailing Dublin from Douglas on Saturday took 7 hours 30 minutes. She departed from Dublin for Liverpool at 16.15. Her late departure from Dublin let to the plans for her to operate a sailing to Douglas at 21.00 being scrapped.

BEN-MY-CHREE made her daytime trip to Heysham and return but SEACAT DANMARK moved out into Douglas Bay whilst she docked probably to avoid any more close encounters! The BEN's evening sailing to Heysham was cancelled.

Sunday 25 October

LADY OF MANN sailed Liverpool to Douglas at 10.00 returning at 1845.

BEN-MY-CHREE's 0830 Douglas - Heysham was delayed to 1030 and then further postponed until 1200. SEACAT DANMARK remained in Douglas.

Monday 26 October

Though it was quite windy schedules appear to have been operated fairly smoothly though the 21.00 Douglas - Dublin sailing was operated by the LADY OF MANN.

Tuesday 27 October

Douglas - Heysham 2000 sailing cancelled. SUPERSEACAT TWO cancelled with LADY OF MANN operating on Liverpool - Dublin.

Wednesday 28 October

The weather brought everything at a standstill. The LADY OF MANN could not make her planned Liverpool - Douglas sailing at 1530 for which passengers had been bussed down from Heysham.

Thursday 29 October

Wind still blowing force 8. LADY OF MANN had been due to sail Liverpool to Douglas at 05.00 but was delayed until 07.40 - but had problems lifting her anchor and it was 08.20 before she cleared properly.

She had slow and difficult passage to the island and was expected back in Liverpool around 2015. There had been an earlier plan for her to sail back to Douglas with a backlog passengers from Heysham but this did not materialise.

BEN-MY-CHREE sailed to Heysham at 0857. The delay being due to loading standby traffic and all available trailers for which space could be found. She made a smooth eastbound passage though vessels travelling in the opposite direction were noted taking a pounding. The BEN turned in Heysham harbour with the aid of anchor and a tug.

Friday 30 October

SEACAT DANMARK made a morning sailing from Douglas to Dublin (to cover Thursday's cancelled trip) and then made an afternoon sailing to Liverpool.

LADY OF MANN took 11.00 sailing from Liverpool to Douglas and returned about 16.00.

BEN-MY-CHREE 0830 sailing to Heysham did not depart until 1020 presumably this was an accumulation of late running due to slow passages to IOM on Thursday and slow turnarounds due to heavy freight loadings as the backlog freight was shifted.

SUPERSEACAT TWO did not sail

Saturday 31 October

Things appear back to schedule.

SSC2 sailed out, the LADY OF MANN returned to Alexandra Dock.

Its is estimated that SSC2 will have lost over 40% of her sailings in October.


The MD&HC floating crane MERSEY MAMMOTH finally arrived in Douglas with the new beams to be installed as part of the construction work for the passenger walkway, which will link the Sea Terminal with the Edward Pier berth, used by BEN-MY-CHREE. The first beam was placed in position on Tuesday 27 October. Poor weather prevented work on Wednesday when structural stress damage was discovered in the southern tower. However, an inspection is reported to have revealed no serious problems and work was expected to continue.


A floating restaurant at Congleton in Cheshire broke its moorings on the River Dane on 23 October. Its owner who was sleeping on board the 200 tonne un-powered vessel had to be rescued by fire crews at 05.00. Once rescued he assisted the fire brigade in securing the vessel to some nearby trees and a telephone box.


The company has announced the purchase of the SENHO MARU a 48 tonne bollard pull tug. She was built in 1992 and is currently in dry dock for modifications pending her voyage to Merseyside. When she joins the Cory fleet she will be given the name ASHGARTH. To compliment the ASHGARTH the company will also be upgrading the OAKGARTH. The company plans to establish a new Merseyside base at Bramley Moore Dock.


As far as I can ascertain C2 buoy remains off station on Southport whilst wave-height recorders are to be placed in Crosby and Queen's Channels.

With completion of demolition of the former Royal Navy base HMS EAGLET, the demolition contractors have turned their attention to the buildings at the closed Waterloo River entrance. Demolition of the large brick built pumping house was noted to be well underway on Sunday 1st November. I wonder if any one bothered to save the MD&HB nameboard, which was fixed to the riverside wall of the building and which, remained in quite good condition?


PEREGRINE VII remains in #5 dry dock. An unidentified Fisher tanker was noted in the wet basin along with the Royal Fleet Auxiliary Landing Ship [Logistic] L3027 SIR GERAINT.


I might have been away from home for a few days, however, I intended keep an eye out for some interesting shipping news whilst I was on the Isles of Scilly.

The first, and major news item, was encountered on Radio Cornwall whilst I was driving to Penzance to catch the helicopter to Scilly. There was a shock announcement that the Penzance Dry Dock and Engineering Company was laying off most of its staff.

Apparently the company had not been able to finalise terms with the ISLES OF SCILLY STEAMSHIP company for this year's major 1.7 million refit of RMV SCILLONIAN III.

Only just over a month ago the Penzance Dry Dock and Engineering Company had announced that they had secured the refit contract. The ISLES OF SCILLY STEAMSHIP COMPANY will now despatch SCILLONIAN III to the DML managed naval dockyard at Devonport on Monday 2 November for her major refit, due for completion in January. This will provide enhanced on-board accommodation and a children's play area. This is the first major ferry refit to be undertaken by Devonport Dockyard.

 The future of the Penzance Dry Dock operation is now seriously in doubt. The dock's original operators the long standing Cornish engineering concern of N. Holman went into receivership three years ago. The yard was then purchased by the tycoon Richard de Savery who reopened the facility.

However, the company is now considering selling the ship yard or redeveloping the site as a luxury housing and holiday complex. Hopefully it might be sold thus safeguarding the future of Britain's most south-westerly ship yard.

 The SCILLONIAN III was scheduled to make her last sailings for 1998 on Saturday 31 October.

The recent spell of bad weather had played havoc with transport to and from the Isles of Scilly. Whilst the British International Helicopter's service was largely unaffected, the Isles of Scilly Steamship Company's air and sea services were curtailed leading to shortages of some items in the shops and hotels.

On Saturday 24 October the SCILLONIAN III failed to operate. She did make a crossing on Monday 26 October. Not scheduled to sail on 27 October [or 29 October] her sailing on Wednesday 28 was also cancelled along with that of her fleet-mate and major freight carrier GRY MARITHA.

The GRY MARITHA eventually arrived on Thursday 29 October, performing a quick turn round and departing again later that day regaining her schedule - ex- Penzance Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, ex- Scilly Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. By the time I left Friday SCILLONIAN III and GRY MARITHA were back on schedule.

Whilst the main ferry route to the mainland did suffer problems, the inter-island launch and ferry services did manage to keep operating - just!

On Wednesday whilst the SCILLONIAN and GRY MARITHA failed to operate I took an exhilarating ride on Bryher Boat Services FIRETHORN during a force 8 gale!

FIRETHORN is a diminutive ferry which can carry around 50 passengers mails, parcels etc. She was constructed around 8 years ago and is of modern design.

She normally provides the ferry service between Bryher, Tresco and St.Mary's.

However, last Wednesday she was also deputising for St.Agnes Boating's SPIRIT OF ST. AGNES on her mid day sailing to St.Agnes. This gave me the opportunity to travel to St. Agnes as well as Tresco.

St.Agnes is the most exposed of the isles that comprise the Scillonian archipelago some 28 miles west of Land's End. The crossing can be quite choppy on a small vessel at the best of times. However, on Wednesday winds were blowing 8 - 9 with a very rough sea running between St.Mary's and St.Agnes.

I positioned myself in a sheltered spot behind the wheel house rather than retreat into the passenger saloon. Despite the high winds the sun was out and it was quite pleasant.

Leaving St. Mary's harbour at 12.00 FIRETHORN headed westwards on its 2 mile voyage. Sometimes the high ground of the Garrison affords considerable shelter on the first half of the journey to St. Agnes, however, with the westerly wind blowing between Annet and Samson there was no shelter.

As FIRETHORN climbed each wave to its crest the skipper shut off power just as the wave top was reached and down we gravitated into the trough. It was most exhilarating experience to climb up waves much higher than the little ferry and certainly high enough to send a SEACAT running for cover. Arriving at the sheltered quay at St.Agnes around 12.18 the few passengers quickly disembarked and FIRETHORN headed back to St.Mary's to take up her scheduled 12.30 sailing to Bryher and Tresco.

The return was a little smoother with FIRETHORN surfing back on top of the incoming waves. Arriving back at St.Mary's at 12.32 passengers quickly boarded and we then headed north for Bryher. It was a choppy crossing again but not quite so rough, soon entering the sheltered water between Tresco and Bryher.

FIRETHORN called at Bryher first before crossing to Tresco where I disembarked for stroll deciding to wander up to the exposed Castle Downs which gave excellent views of the wild seas around Round Island, topped by its light house.

I returned at 15.00 to St.Mary's via Tresco on board Bryher Boat Service's small launch FALDORE. I then found out that this tiny vessel with its small cabin is to maintain the Tresco/Bryher to St.Mary's service until January.

FIRETHORN sailed at 07.30 the following day for Dartmouth for refit and upgrade to the latest MSA requirements. She had been due to sail on 26 October but had delayed her departure due to the weather.

The skill of the Scillonian ferry and launch skippers is noteworthy. They appear fearless and continue to operate their services in all but the most severe weather, skilfully piloting their small vessels between the islands most of which are surrounded by treacherous needles of granite which have caught so many large ships in the past few hundred years.

 John Luxton

1st November 1998


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