MERSEY & IRISH SEA NEWS BULLETIN: June 27, 1999
NOTES & NEWS
As mentioned last week there is only a brief update this week and it remains a possibility that there will be NO update on July 4. Normal service resuming July 11 or possibly July 18 depending on how I feel post OFSTED!
Unfortunately the site has gone off line again due to ISP server problems - sometime after I last checked it on Wednesday evening. One Way Internet have not responded to my e-mail of Friday morning an at the time of writing the main site remains off line.
When the site is restored I will publish 1 Way Internet's technical dept mail addresses and perhaps if regular MS readers would care to make a note of them perhaps they could notify them too? Perhaps if they suddenly receive quite a few e-mails things might improve! I could go looking elsewhere, and I have had offers of other space but in terms of value for money and space 1 Way is very good - plus it offers genuine FP98 compatibility. Also I don't want the site to become nomadic. Too many web-sites keep changing addresses. I'd rather stay where I am.
SEA CONTAINERS FERRIES
LADY OF MANN - Followers of the Lady will be very pleased with the edition 2 of the company's Isle of Man schedules. In addition to the LADY OF MANN offering weekend sailings from Douglas to Heysham and return on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from July 23 to Sunday 12 September she will also operate sailings from Liverpool on Friday July 23 to Friday September 10 departing 07.00.
This arrangement confirms that she will remain Liverpool based throughout the summer. After her weekend duties on Douglas to Heysham she will return to Liverpool from Douglas, lightship, except on Sundays August 22, and 29 as well as Monday September 6 at 19.00. On Monday September 6 she operates Douglas to Heysham and return.
Looking at the timetables some interesting day trip possibilities are available in conjunction with SEACAT ISLE OF MAN. One option would be to do a straightforward day trip on Fridays from Liverpool to Douglas and returning from Douglas on the 15.30 or 22.30 SeaCat sailings.
Alternatively one could also book a day return from Douglas to Heysham, departure from Douglas is 12.00 and Heysham 16.30 which should mean that one is back in Douglas in time to catch the 22.30 SCIOM back to Liverpool. What about that for a super day out for Lady fans? Guess who will be booking some tickets soon?
This summer is certainly going to be great for the Lady's followers!
LIVERPOOL SEA TERMINAL
On Monday June 22, Sea Containers unveiled their proposals for the a new £3 million pound terminal development in conjunction with the MD&HC at the Crowne Plaza Hotel which is adjacent to the Pier Head terminal.
Whilst the company was announcing its plans protestors gathered at the nearby Memorial to the Heroes of the Marine Engine Room. The protestors, members of the Millennium Walk Committee laid flowers at the Memorial.
Patrick Moran of the Millennium Walk Committee commented, "The destruction of the Titanic Memorial and its removal onto a bleak pavement should be marked. We will be tidying up the little park [A few ragged bits of grass - JHL!] that will be destroyed, and placing flowers on the memorial. We are trying to show some the respect to the Titanic Memorial that the city council and the Mersey Docks and Harbour Company don't seem to feel."
Sea Container's Liverpool general manager John Burrows said the go-ahead is vital for the city. There has been a huge growth in traffic through the Pier Head in the last two years alone," he said. "In 1996 there were 125 sailings, but last year that rose to 1,600 sailings."
Commenting on the present facilities at Liverpool, Steam Packet chairman Juan Kelly said:" These facilities are totally inadequate for our purposes. They simply don't measure up to the facilities every passenger rightly expects."
JHL's COMMENT: Nothing appears to have changed since last week, the protestors appear as vociferous as ever. It will be a case of waiting for the court judgement to see what happens next. As the proposals for the "Memorial" mean that it will be placed in a more prominent position, even closer to the river, it is difficult to understand why it poses such a problem. The protestors have been very clever in trying to appeal to the public's hearts rather than their heads and their insistence in referring to the memorial as the "Titanic Memorial". Whilst it was originally built by public subscription to commemorate the gallantry of the engineers of RMS TITANIC it was finally dedicated to "The Honour of All Heroes of the Marine Engine Room" when unveiled in 1916. Of course if the protestors are victorious the TITANIC will have claimed another victim 87 years on.
A Liverpool Dock road "institution" closed this week on the retirement of its proprietor.
Frank's Café, situated opposite the Waterloo Warehouses closed on Friday June 25th.
The Egon Ronay listed Café was operated by Frank Smith and previously' by his father Frank Smith [snr]. However, the local press reports declining trade, caused by the closure of the northern part of the "Dock Road", to have been the reason for Frank's decision to retire.
The Times newspaper reported that HMS MONMOUTH [F235] became the first Royal Navy warship to visit the Port of Dublin this week since 1948.
PENINSULAR & ORIENTAL STEAM NAVIGATION COMPANY
JETLINER was reported out of service with technical problems on June 24th/25th
A badly written report in the two main Merseyside newspapers told Merseysiders something that most followers of the shipping scene have known for a long time - that P&O would were now carrying private vehicles and their cars on the Liverpool - Dublin route!
Notices announcing that the PRINCE ALBERT berthed in Canning Half Tide basin would open soon as a restaurant and bar have been removed from the vessels windows. When I passed by on Saturday morning some people could be seen at work inside the vessel.
A MS reader passing by earlier in the week also noted removal of the notices and the presence of another notice - not seen on Saturday - that she was to be refurbished for future use on the Mediterranean.
Certainly the plot thickens!
SEA CONTAINERS PROMOTIONS by Gary Andrews
A Sea Containers' Irish Sea promotion in the Sunday Post of 20 June made more interesting reading than one might expect. The fact that the offer featured fares at up to 50% of the brochure rate fell into insignificance when one looked at the fare bands for the routes covered by the deal.
The fare periods were June 25 - July 15, July 16 - August 31 (August 21 Liverpool - Dublin) and September 1 - December 16. This would suggest that Heysham - Belfast service has been extended again beyond the announced 1 November end date.
Given that each route featured in the offer was dealt with in separate 'boxes' - Liverpool - Dublin, Stranraer - Belfast, Heysham - Belfast and Troon - Belfast there is only limited scope for it to have an accidental oversight. It remains to be seen how well the SEACAT DANMARK could handle the winter gales possible in November and December.
Unfortunately there is no sign of the industrial dispute by Services Industrial Professional Trade Union [SIPTU] members on board the JONATHAN SWIFT being settled. The deadline for settlement is, I understand, July 2nd. After that there is the distinct possibility that Irish Ferries will scrap the service, at least temporarily, and charter out the JONATHAN SWIFT.
The MV OVERCHURCH now MV ROYAL DAFFODIL may return to the Mersey this week following its refit in Manchester.
The HSS STENA EXPLORER, which has been noted operating behind schedule now for some time, is currently suffering from gearbox trouble. She is scheduled to miss sailings on June 25th/26th returning to service on June 27th.
The company have also announced that due to "operational reasons and re-evaluation of scheduling" the STENA EXPLORER weekend sailings 23.05 from Holyhead and 01.20 from Dun Laoghaire have been cancelled after operation on July 2nd
Though not Irish Sea related I dare say enthusiasts will find a major update to the Stena line web site very interesting.
If you visit the site at www.stenaline.com and click on company information you will find your way to a Sea Pacer web site. This includes details of the new Sea Pacer ferries due to be delivered for the Harwich - Hook of Holland route. On the page you can download a Sea Pacer ferry game, down load a film, order a Stena Sea-Pacer CD-ROM and also a brochure.
I must admit that I had some difficulty getting the game to run on my PC at home a P160, however, it did run satisfactorily on a machine at work.
June 27, 1999
MERSEY & IRISH SEA NEWS BULLETIN: June 20, 1999
NOTES & NEWS
This week has been really hectic at work; consequently I have been very pressed for time. However, there are two notable gallery pages, depicting the former MONA'S QUEEN in service in the Philippines and PRINCE ALBERT, which arrived on Merseyside recently.
I will endeavour to produce a news update next week; however, I do not really see the possibility of publishing any more gallery pages until July 11th.
I would like to express my thanks to all contributors to this update.
SEA CONTAINERS FERRIES
With TT99 out of the way its time for the usual statistics. Services to the Isle of Man carried 34,000 passengers, 3,800 vehicles and 12,620 motorbikes. The number of passengers is estimated to be around the same as last year, though the number of individual bikes carried has fallen. Communications Manager Geoff Corkish accounted for this in this week's Manx Independent by stating that this was partly due to last year's bad weather and also because a lot of machines are now brought to the Isle of Man inside vans. The company has announced that it already has 9,000 passenger, 6,000 motorcycle and 1,000 vehicle bookings for next year's TT.
LADY OF MANN - The Lady will operate another Llandudno - Douglas excursion on August 23. On Tuesday she returned to lay-up in Alexandra Dock following her TT duties.
MONA'S QUEEN - I am very grateful to Andrew King who has forwarded photographs and notes from Chris Baines concerning MONA'S QUEEN which now operates in the Philippines as MARY THE QUEEN. Chris travelled on the Queen this year. IoMSPCo enthusiasts should enjoy these photos.
SEACAT ISLE OF MAN - The vessel operated at reduced speed last weekend and into the past week following the breaking of an exhaust valve in on engine.
SUPERSEACAT THREE - The vessel just happened to be in the right place at the right time to assist in a rescue mission off Skerries, Anglesey on June 13. Six men had been forced to abandon the sinking yacht ORIEL following a collision with a rock. SUPERSEACAT THREE was on its evening sailing from Dublin to Liverpool when the vessel became aware of the distress call and was on the scene within 10 minutes.
The ship, which was under the command of Captain Pierro Marenco, went about six miles off course, launched one of its rescue boats, and stood by as the men were winched aboard a rescue helicopter from RAF Valley. The yachtsmen who were reported to be well equipped were unharmed in the incident. SSC3 later resumed her journey arriving in Dublin around an hour behind schedule.
MDV1200 SuperSeaCat Options Cancelled
A statement was issued on June 17th confirming that options on these two vessels to be constructed by Fincantieri have been cancelled. Mersey Shipping indicated that this had been the case several weeks ago.
The news release from Fincantieri reads:
"Sea Containers has dropped options on the last two of six fast ferries ordered from Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri at a total cost of $200m. Mario De Negri is the head of the Fincantieri's naval division, which built the vessels.
He said: "The owner has not taken up the option it had for two further fast ferries. "We have been told this is due to the uncertain situation caused by the duty-free issue." Sea Containers said it was considering an order for larger vessels.
The orders were for 41-knot SuperSeaCats, the mono-hulled vessels which Sea Containers wants to replace its fast catamarans. The first four are already in service. They can take 800 passengers and 175 cars. They were designed specifically for Sea Containers by the shipyard.
Failure to take up the options leaves Fincantieri with no new fast ferry orders. This follows three years in which 10 fast ferries were built and delivered by the yard.
Fincantieri will shortly complete delivery of its last remaining fast ferry orders - two MDV 3000 Jupiter class vessels Scorpio and Capricorn for domestic operator Tirrenia di Navigazione. Capable of carrying up to 1,800 passengers and over 450 cars at over 40 knots, the Jupiter class is the largest monohull fast ferry ever built. "At the moment we have no more fast ferry orders," Mr De Negri said. Yards will be kept busy building vessels to renew the Italian naval fleet.
"However, all these Navy orders do not mean we are no longer in the fast ferry market. "In fact it remains one niche market in which Fincantieri gained has a technological advantage over our competitors," said Mr De Negri."
LIVERPOOL TERMINAL OBSERVATIONS by Sara Kesal
The resiting of the linkspan and the ability to have two vessels berthed simultaneously appears to be working quite well. Sara Kesal sends these notes on her recent observations:
"The double ramp really came into its own on Wednesday evening. SSC3 had not finished loading when SEACAT ISLE OF MAN arrived but they were able to dovetail the processes quite neatly, pausing SCIII's loading for less than 10 minutes to let SCIOM's passengers disembark.
The biggest tangle seemed to be getting the foot passengers off SCIOM and across the bottom of the linkspan that held up the cars for a few minutes. I suppose foot passengers would have to cross the traffic from one side of the ramp or the other however it was organised. Still these arrangements must save considerable time over keeping one vessel in the river for half an hour."
LIVERPOOL SEA TERMINAL
The local press announced on Saturday that Sea Containers will unveil its development plans for the Pier Head Sea Terminal next week. Presently proposals to stop up the highway and permit development of the Sea Terminal are subject to a high court appeal ruling as a result of a campaign against the terminal by some objectors.
The Isle of Man's Chief Minister, Donald Gelling is reported as commenting, "Historically, Liverpool has always been an important gateway to the Isle of Man, but it must be efficient and attractive with good facilities for passengers. In Douglas we now have an excellent terminal and we need comparable facilities in Liverpool."
Sea Containers state that the new development compliments the Pier Head. Hamish Ross said, "We are extremely keen to upgrade our port facilities at this historic berth. Our ferries, which do not carry heavy freight, provide a visually exciting picture as they load and unload. The Magnificent Liver Buildings also provide a wonderful backdrop for passengers and we are confident that providing better facilities will encourage more people to travel by sea to the benefit of all, not least the city of Liverpool and Merseyside as a whole."
JL's COMMENT: The objectors should think carefully about the comment made by Hamish Ross. The comings and goings of the SEACAT ISLE OF MAN, SUPERSEACAT THREE and LADY OF MANN do help create a "visually exciting picture". View any photographs of the river dating from the 1960s or earlier and there was always a line up of ships along the waterfront. During the dark days of the mid 1980s Merseyside nearly lost all its Irish Sea ferry services.
However, 14 years or so later, we have probably gained more than what had originally been lost. Much of the credit for this must go to Sea Containers Ltd for building up services to the Isle of Man and restoring the Dublin link. Which has now been augmented passenger and vehicle facilities provided by Merchant Ferries and P&O.
Merchant Ferries and P&O are also subject to the frustration of having to lock into the docks system along with Norse Irish due to the fact that the Liverpool on-river Linkspan has been repeatedly delayed through the actions of objectors.
The objectors to both Pier Head and on-river Link Span schemes are one and the same the same.
Does this vocal minority wish to jeopardise all that has been gained to preserve what they perceive as their ideal waterfront? Liverpool's waterfront became famous for its combination of ships and architecture. Are the ships going to have to move to less convenient locations with resultant decline in passenger traffic and possible discontinuation or reduction in service? Could jobs be lost? Somehow it does not appear that the opponents to the Pier Head scheme care. Liverpool, the tourist signs say is a "Maritime City", let us keep it that way and develop a fine passenger terminal at the Pier Head - the place where it should be.
SEA CONTAINERS EDITION 2 BROCHURE by Gary Andrews
The latest edition (Edition 2) of Sea Containers' Irish Sea brochure makes for interesting reading. There is confirmation the Belfast - Heysham will now operate until 1 November (albeit only one daily roundtrip in October) instead of the end of September. Similarly there is confirmation the Belfast - Troon will operate until 5 January (the end of the period covered by the brochure), instead of switching back to a full Stranraer service at the end of September. Despite threats from Dumfries and Galloway Council the firm is obviously hopeful of keeping their berth at Stranraer as sailings to the port run until 5 January - though as anticipated the mention of an additional late night trip in Edition 1 of the brochure has been deleted.
There is also confirmation of the sailing patterns previously stated on the Belfast - Douglas route. Most sailings are on Wednesdays (SEACAT ISLE OF MAN) and Sundays (SEACAT DANMARK). However there is an additional roundtrip (I assume with the SEACAT ISLE OF MAN) ex Douglas at 23.30 on 15 July and ex Belfast 03.00 16 July. There is also an additional roundtrip on 21 July ex Douglas at 15.15 and ex Belfast 19.15. One would assume these sailings are to cope with the main Northern Ireland summer holiday period. The final seasonal sailing on the Belfast - Douglas route is the 20.45 Douglas - Belfast sailing on 26 September.
There also appear to be a number of typos! Departures from both Belfast and Stranraer are advertised as 14.15. Departures from both Belfast and Troon 2 -5 January are advertised as 08.00 and 18.15 and departures from both Belfast and Heysham 1 October - 1 November are advertised as 07.00. I'm sure these will soon be put right in the next edition!
DOUGLAS SEA TERMINAL
A small newsagents and sweet shop which also sells souvenirs has been established in the former "Kipper Shop" located in the arrivals halls of the Sea Terminal building.
The new walkway to the Edward Pier was officially opened on June 10th.
Making a brief visit to Douglas on June 19th on the BEN-MY-CHREE, the weather precluded the usual walk around Douglas Harbour or stroll along the promenade. This gave me a chance to seek out the new Blue Riband lounge, which opened earlier this year. On previous visits I had puzzled about its location, though yesterday I finally located it, tucked away in the western corner of the Sea Terminal. It appears to occupy an access corridor, which I think led to the old covered, ground level walkway, which linked the terminal with Edward Pier.
It rather narrow though nicely furnished with a sofa and two armchairs two tables, two writing desks with lamps, office chair and refreshment facilities. Unfortunately the coffee machine is not one of the usual Scanomats and appears to need water adding manually. The machine was empty, as was the adjacent water jug.
Unfortunately the room is somewhat dismal, the only natural daylight coming from a couple of high porthole windows and skylight. As with the BR lounge at the Liverpool terminal - why is it located far from the boarding gate? [Actually much further than at Liverpool!] On busy sailings users would probably end up at the back of the queue once the departure was called! However, it provides a welcome place to escape to should the main lounge become populated by more "lively" passengers!
FORT STREET SERVICES
The IoMSPCo engineering services department based for many years at Fort Street, Douglas, is due to move to a new site on the South Quay at Douglas by the end of July.
The newly arrived, former Yugoslav passenger ferry. PRINCE ALBERT has certainly been attracting interest this week in the local press!
The ship is owned by Merseyside Maritime based in Ellesmere Port established by Captain George Khanenko, a Ukrainian who has lives on Merseyside. The vessel is currently berthed at the north end of Canning Basin.
Captain Khanenko has plans to open a Russian restaurant and Marine Cadet Training Centre on board the PRINCE ALBERT in Liverpool's Canning Dock. He intends to open his commercial venture early in July and has applied for a licence. Captain Khanenko is reported to have had discussions with the city council and hopes his venture will create around 15 jobs.
The PRINCE ALBERT arrived in Canning Dock at the beginning of the month, being towed up from Tilbury Docks. She has been granted a six-month berth in Canning Basin. Currently she is berthed on the Strand side of the dock opposite the Halifax offices. However, Captain Khanenko is seeking a permanent berth between the Albert Dock site gates and the Pump House Inn.
However, Albert Dock property managers have warned that their company will object to the proposals if the proposals were not complimentary to the Albert Dock area. English Partnerships which control the waterways around the dock and the harbour master have also raised doubts about the scheme pointing out that approval is required by a number of outside bodies including the city council, fire brigade, licensing authorities and health and safety executive.
JL's COMMENT: It looks as though some quarters do not appear too happy about the arrival of PRINCE ALBERT. However, putting things in context, the vessel is an added feature of the dock basin. For too long the quays around the Albert Dock and Maritime Museum have been bare apart from the few Museum vessels and occasional visitors. When one looks at Canning and Salthouse Docks there is an unrealised potential for accommodating more preserved vessels which would add to the scene. [The bridges giving access to Salthouse are unfortunately now fixed but I am sure that could be rectified.] PRINCE ALBERT is an interesting little vessel in her own right and perhaps her appearance should be welcomed rather than criticised? Though it has been noted that previous attempts to establish floating restaurants and bars in the Liverpool Docklands have not met with much success. Perhaps this one if allowed to proceed may have more success?
Unfortunately the new Austal built catamaran JONATHAN SWIFT did not enter service between Dublin and Holyhead this week. The company regretfully had to cancel the introduction of the new fast ferry, which was due to, make its maiden commercial voyage between Dublin and Holyhead at 05.45 on Tuesday 15 June.
The company decided to postpone the new service by the threat of unofficial industrial action involving officers, members of SIPTU, who had tried to secure a change in manning levels and which had already been agreed and accepted by them.
SIPTU is trying to get the company to apply the same working hours for officers on board the JONATHAN SWIFT as applies to those on board the ISLE OF INNISFREE and ISLE OF INISHMORE. Currently this gives 20 weeks on and 20 weeks off with twelve weeks annual leave. On JONATHAN SWIFT this would change to 24 weeks on and 24 weeks off with four weeks annual leave. Last month the Irish Labour Court approved the changes but stated that the company should offer generous terms to compensate officers transferring from the other vessels.
The eighteen officers concerned rejected the court's recommendation claiming that it would mean a reduction in working conditions and could undermine conditions on the company's other vessels over a period of time.
The ballot by Irish Ferries 85 ships' officers followed the rejection by the 18 who are due to work on the JONATHAN SWIFT. SIPTU branch secretary Brian Fitzgerald estimated the loss of earnings would be at least £2,000 to £3,000 a year. The SIPTU representative told the Irish Times: "We are talking about an eight week difference. We are willing to compromise. If individuals want to sell their leave we wouldn't stand in their way but it has to be on a voluntary basis."
Brendan McCarthy of Irish Ferries said the firm had so far been "extremely conciliatory" in its approach and had offered £5,000 to the seven officers transferring from other vessels. If it accepted SIPTU's conditions it would have to increase staffing by 23 at a cost of £500,000 annually.
Unfortunately it appears time might be running out for the JONATHAN SWIFT. On June 18th The Irish Times reported that there is a possibility that Irish Ferries may consider disposing of the Jonathan Swift of chartering the vessel to another operator is the dispute is not settled soon. Furthermore Brendan Mc.Carthy stated that the company was still hopeful that the dispute could be resolved. Though, he accepted that a protracted dispute could cause problems, especially retaining staff, specially trained or "type rated" to operate the ferry to acceptable safety standards. The newspaper quoted Mr McCarthy as saying:
"If people were to leave and as a consequence we had to recruit new people and type-rate them, it would take six to eight weeks to train them. If that happens the tourist season is gone and that obviously has implications for the company."
Due to the late return to service of the ROYAL DAFFODIL [ex-OVERCHURCH] which has been undergoing an extensive refit in Manchester, the company has had to cancel the annual Friends of the Ferries Dock and River cruise which had been scheduled for Saturday June 19. This has been rescheduled to September 11. The company has also had to cancel the Parade of Sail cruise scheduled for June 20. This had been arranged to coincide with the Mersey River Festival.
Earlier in the week a 26 year old man from Wallasey was detained under the Mental Health Act following his attempt to take control of the vessel as it was departing from Seacombe. He was arrested when the ferry arrived at Woodside.
MERSEY RIVER FESTIVAL
The annual Mersey River Festival was held this weekend. Main visitors to this years event were a flotilla of German Navy Tiger Class Fast Attack Vessels - Missile. These vessels called on Merseyside a few years ago. Unfortunately only two were given berths within the Albert Dock complex on this occasion. The others being berthed at Canada Dock. On the mast outside Liverpool Parish Church nearby the red and white ensigns flew along side that of the German navy.
The principal vessels visiting for the 1999 River Festival were:
HMS CATTISTOCK berthed Canning Half Tide
HMS BRECON berthed Canada #1 North
HM Customs & Excise:
HMCC SEARCHER berthed Canning Half Tide
Tiger Class Fast Attack Vessels - Missile
FGS LEOPARD [P6145] berthed Canada #1 North
FGS JAGUAR [P6147] berthed Canning Basin
FGS LOWE [P6148] berthed Canada #1 North
FGS PANTHER [P6150] berthed Canada #1 North
FGS REIHER[ P6159] berthed Canada #1 North
FGS PINGIUN [P6158] berthed Canning Basin
German Naval Auxiliary
FGS MAIN [A515] berthed Canada #1 North
PHOENIX berthed Canning
WAVERLEY STEAM NAVIGATION COMPANY
I would like to thank Martin Longhurst who runs the Waverley site for the following information.
Sunday 13 June was the Annual Waverley Church Service at St Helena's Church on Lundy Island. To give maximum time on the Island, early departures and late returns are necessary. Clevedon was left at 08.00 and Penarth at 09.00. Among the passengers were the acting couple Prunella Scales and Timothy West, who read a lesson at the Service.
On the return passage about 4 miles off Foreland Point, WAVERLEY sustained damage to No. 1 float on her port wheel. This element of the wheel is critical as it drives the feathering gear on the remaining floats. Three radius rods were bent and the damage was such that it was impossible to effect repairs at sea and a tug had to be summoned.
The tide carried WAVERLEY westwards until she anchored off Lynmouth. As the extent of the damage became clear, passengers were offered complimentary tea, coffee, biscuits and chips. The tug HOLMGARTH arrived at about 01.30 on Monday but a speedy tow was not possible as to do so might have caused further damage to the crippled wheel.
This was only possible because the tide had turned and carried both paddler and tug eastwards. During the incident WAVERLEY was escorted by Barry Lifeboat.
Approaching Barry Docks another tug, PORTGARTH, took a line from Waverley's stern and the two tugs gently manoeuvred the paddler slowly into the lock and finally spun the ship round inside the Docks to berth her port side to in order to facilitate repairs. The final arrival was about 08.00 and passengers were then coached to Penarth and Clevedon.
Gordon Reid, the Rebuild Project Manager, transported spare parts from the store at Anderston Quay, Glasgow, to the ship during the day on Monday. The wheel was rebuilt overnight so that WAVERLEY could resume service on Tuesday. WAVERLEY took up her timetable at Clevedon at 11.30 on Tuesday with passengers from Sharpness being coached down.
PENINSULAR & ORIENTAL STEAM NAVIGATION COMPANY
P&O European Ferries has announced a major development for the Port Of Cairnryan which will include a new terminal building, improved check-in facilities, extended marshalling areas and quay works at a total cost of £4.5 million.
With a scheduled completion date for the Terminal by April next year, the new facility will feature separate receptions for tourist and freight traffic, booking offices, enquiries, baggage handling area, snack bar, children's play area, baby changing and facilities for the disabled.
Included in the scheme is a new check-in and tourist vehicle marshalling area with space for around 200 cars. There will also be new long and short-term parking areas.
The multi-million pound development forms part of the Loch Ryan Integrated Port Facility Project which is part financed by the European Regional Development Fund and secured with the help and co-operation of Dumfries and Galloway Council. The project will also include landscaping and environmental improvements to upgrade the boundary of the port area and its interface with the A77.
Commercial drivers will benefit from a new one-stop weighbridge/check-in and improved and extended marshalling areas, which will enhance efficiency in loading and discharging and reducing vessels turnaround time. There will also be a drivers lounge complete with shower facilities and snack bar.
The development will also include improvements to berths, and dredging to
allow access to a greater range of vessels.
Further ERDF assistance for this additional work is being sought, with the help of Dumfries and Galloway Council.
John Kersey, Managing Director, P&O European Ferries (Irish Sea) said,
"This year we have already introduced a fifth vessel, the EUROPEAN NAVIGATOR, to the Cairnryan - Larne route and announced the signing of an order for a new 21,000 tonne passenger and freight ferry to replace the PRIDE OF RATHLIN in Summer 2000. We also led the way as the first ferry operator to introduce cut-price Apex fares. This major development at the Port of Cairnryan is a further indication of our commitment to this popular short, fast crossing and will enhance our position as one of the leading ferry operators on the Irish Sea."
Ever since CONDOR 10 appeared on Merseyside on several occasions for pre southern hemisphere summer service refits Michael Pryce has kept MS readers up to date with the global wanderings of this INCAT vessel.
This week news was announced in Wellington [NZ] by Tranz Rail that CONDOR 10's winter weekend service across Cook Strait between Wellington and Picton will end after sailings on July 11th,
The new operator of CONDOR 10 is Miami-based Boomerang Pty Ltd. They are an American company who had hoped to operate Austal's 86-metre fast ferry BOOMERANG on the Miami-Nassau route during the 1999 northern
In the meantime they have chartered CONDOR 10, after which they may well obtain BOOMERANG for the 2000 northern summer.
June 20, 1999
MERSEY & IRISH SEA NEWS BULLETIN: June 13, 1999
NOTES & NEWS
A quieter week for news this week, though there are a number of major updates elsewhere on the site. Don't forget to check out the What's New section for a full overview of the updates.
Once again I would like to thank various contributors of news, information and photographs many sites would probably be envious of the amount of audience participation that is happening here!
As I have mentioned previously the early part of July will be a rather demanding time and consequently there is a strong possibility that updates to the site will not be made on the weekends of June 26/27th or July 4/5th.
Normal service resuming on July 10/11th. I will make a final decision on this next week. However, if you need to blame anyone for this, the gentleman in question is the well known controversial figure in English Education - Chris Woodhead and his organisation known as OFSTED.
During the forthcoming summer holidays which still appear to be such a long way off I hope to resolve the problems with the planned MERSEY SHIPPING LIVE site which I have not forgotten about.
Once again I am going to have to effect some pruning this weekend to keep things manageable. Sorry, if something you are looking for has disappeared, but please remember material is archived and can be sent to you by e-mail on request.
SEA CONTAINERS FERRIES
As the 1999 TT Festival comes to a close the Timetable for the Isles of Man routes will be starting to get back to normal. Consequently LADY OF MANN will operates her final Douglas - Heysham TT sailing at 07.45 on June 15th.
CLAYMORE will return to Ballycastle on June 15th ready to take up service on the Ballycastle - Campbeltown route on June 18th.15 June at 0745, whilst the CLAYMORE returns to Ballycastle on the same day to prepare for the restart of the Campbeltown service on 18 June.
SUPERSEACAT THREE makes her final TT sailing from Douglas to Liverpool at 21.30 on June 17th
The changes to the Blue Riband passenger benefits on board SUPERSEACAT THREE have changed. Whilst the upgrade fee remains at £20 passengers now receive a meal from the menu, and one alcoholic drink [previously two] is included. Unlimited hot drinks and soft drinks plus biscuits etc. are still provided.
This change certainly increases the perceived value of the upgrade. The average drink being around £2.00 but a meal can cost as much as £6.75. What is more, meals are again being served on proper plates, on placemats with real cutlery. Providing food on plates which have been warmed also serves to improve the temperature of the meal. Its good to report that bacon on board Sea Co vessels remains much more tastier than the "plastic" offering served up by their main competitor on the Liverpool - Dublin route! Strange, considering the same catering company is responsible for the on board services!
The meal is also provided for club members as well. This has increased the value of membership. For regular travellers this concession has the potential for significant savings.
Listening to other passengers comments they all appeared to think that the upgrade represented value for money.
There has also been an attempt to make the interior of the Blue Riband lounge less "clinical" and more homely by the provision of small "craft" style pictures with a maritime feel.
With the end of duty free finally in sight Isle of Man residents are to be given the opportunity to buy Duty Free flyers from Douglas to Dublin for just £10. A feature of the Liverpool service since it was opened two years ago; the flyers have proved very popular on the Liverpool-Dublin route. However, between the Douglas and Dublin the standard day return fare [currently £25 has been payable.] The offer is valid until Tuesday June 29th.
At the annual shareholders meeting of Sea Containers Ltd. held in New York at the Company's ‘21’ Club on June 8th, Company president James Sherwood, told the audience that the significant earnings momentum in recent years would continue in 1999. Dividends on the "A" and "B" common shares would be increased by 20%. Mr Sherwood explained that the increase in earnings was mainly driven by the company's passenger transport and leisure operations. With the recent acquisition of a 50% holding in Silja Line the largest source of profits is expected to be from passenger transport.
The company expects further growth in 1999. The loss of Duty Free has been played down and the company has stated that it intends to invest $200 million in passenger transport. The company is looking to extend its franchise of the East Coast Mainline [GNER] in return for a 10-year franchise extension the company would invest $240 million in ten new trains. The company is also bidding as part of a consortium to acquire a 30-year operating concession two parts of Peruvian Railways.
Sea Containers is also looking to acquire two hotels in Europe during the coming financial year. Container operations now operated jointly with GE has reduced the operating costs for the benefit of both partners, however, it is acknowledged that the container business has been difficult. The company predicts a recovery in 2000.
Sea Containers has announced that in view of the changing nature of the business the company is considering a change of name which emphasises transport and leisure and is less container specific. It is anticipated that a new name will be put forward for shareholder approval by the year-end.
Sea Containers have now established an Investors Page. From there is possible to request a copy of the company's latest glossy annual report. Unlike many company reports the Sea Containers report is fully illustrated with detailed reports on all of the company's operations in addition to the usual facts and figures. Visit the Sea Containers web site to order a copy visit: http://www.seacontainers.com . You should then click on Annual Report.
This week two men appeared before Belfast magistrate's court this week charged in connection with disturbances on board HSS STENA VOYAGER on May 14th which occurred during a Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert.
Both defendants pleaded guilty to disorderly behaviour and resisting arrest. They were fined £450 each. The charges against three other men were adjourned until August 3rd
Stena had already announced that entertainment cruises had been suspended until further notice.
Of greater concern to Stena Line was the request by the magistrate handling the case to call upon the authorities to review Stena's alcohol licence following the brawl. Magistrate Harry Gill commented, "There must have been a risk to the safety of the ship, having regard to the nature of the riot which took place on board."
On the central corridor it was noted on Saturday June 12th HSS STENA EXPLORER was noted running over 40 minutes late on her morning departure from Dun Laoghaire. Obviously this vessel is still not in good health!
On Saturday June 12th I caught a glimpse of JONATHAN SWIFT travelling west bound at speed around 14.05 hours whilst on board SUPERSEACAT THREE. This is the first time I have seen the vessel underway. Unfortunately too far away to secure an effective photograph. At the present the only photograph I have is a poor one taken whilst she was berthed in Dublin during a major downpour last week! She certainly looked an impressive sight and is quite a pleasing shape when viewed in profile, but when viewed from the bow - looks are somewhat lacking!
NORSE IRISH FERRIES
The evening Liverpool - Belfast sailing on June 7th was delayed due to engine problems on board MERSEY VIKING. She was reported outbound from Langton Lock at 05.30 on June 8th. Apparently passengers were already on board when an announcement was made that departure would be delayed. Passengers were allowed to remain on board whilst repairs were undertaken. The ship arriving in Belfast at 14.00 on June 8th
The high level gangway used for access to the company's "ISLE" class vessels has been removed and the new moveable gangway appears to be operative though it is not being used by SUPERSEACAT THREE. Quite a lot of the seating from the departure lounge has been removed and stacked up along part of the lower of the two corridors served by the movable gangway system. Why this has been done is not clear. Unless it is intended to relocate this seating to the South Wall terminal at Ro-Ro Ramp 3 which is due to open later this month.
The photograph shows the new gangway being installed last month with the old high level gangway on the left. One wonders why a moveable gangway system was never installed when the terminal was rebuilt in in 1997.
I now have information on the PRINCE ALBERT, which arrived, in Canning Basin on Tuesday 1st June; Geoff Hamer has supplied much of this information.
The PRINCE ALBERT was built in 1955 in Yugoslavia for Jadrolinija as one of four passenger and cargo ships; they were named after cities in the former Yugoslavia and the PRINCE ALBERT was the MOSTAR. She is 57.7 m long and the last tonnage I can find is 878 grt. After service on the Yugoslav coast, she went to Greece in 1966 where she was converted for day cruises and renamed MELTEMI II.
In 1983, she was sold to Epirotiki Lines and renamed APOLLO I, but was still used for day cruises. She came to this country in 1987 when she was renamed and further rebuilt for charter work. She was at Cowes Week in 1987 and was later moored at Greenwich, but she was then used very little and has been laid-up at Tilbury for years. Apparently her owners whilst on the Thames are reported to have been rather controversial characters.
Of her sister ships, the NOVISAD went to Italy in 1972 and still sails in the Bay of Naples as the PATRIZIA; another went to Greece and subsequently went to run cruises in the Galapagos Islands. The OSIJEK was the last to stay in Yugoslavia and was sold to Kvarner Express for day trips to Venice.
Geoff Hamer did a day trip from Umag to Venice in her in 1987, but she has been laid-up since the war in Croatia.
Jadrolinija still runs most of the ferry services on the coast of Croatia. The company has a large fleet of car ferries, including the former COWES CASTLE, NETLEY CASTLE, NORRIS CASTLE and CONNACHT/ DUCHESSE ANNE; they still have five passenger and cargo ships, lovely ships of a type that is almost extinct elsewhere in Europe.
In addition to the information supplied by Geoff Hamer, Gordon Tufnell supplied the following extract from Lloyds Register 1964-5:
Number in book: 24752
Tons Gross: 574
Tons Net 267
Call Sign: YTIM
Owner: Jadranska Linijska Plovidba [Adriatic Line]
Port of Registry: Ploce
Twin Screw Motor Ship - Built 1955 at Pula
Length 189ft 4ins
Breadth 28ft 8 ins
2 Oil engines 6 cylinder by M.A.N. of Augsburg
Apparently her present owner is a Russian who lives on Merseyside and plans to operate the vessel as a floating restaurant and bar.
IRISH SEA PIONEER entered the yard on Wednesday afternoon presumably for refit. IRISH SEA PIONEER is a large, jack up, offshore support vessel operated by Seaforth Maritime Ltd of Aberdeen.
PENZANCE DRY DOCK
A couple of months ago I mentioned that the historic Penzance Dry Dock, formerly operated by the Cornish engineers Holman & Sons, and since the liquidation of that company by entrepreneur Peter de Savery was to close. The yard had been dealt a bitter blow by the sudden decision to refit the Isles of Scilly Steamship Company's SCILLONIAN III at DML Devonport rather than at the yard.
With the closure of the yard in April, it had been speculation that its owner would probably redevelop the most south-westerly shipyard in the UK for leisure use. However, the yard reopened at the beginning of June having been leased Semple Cochrane Plc of Paisley, Scotland, which along with Cammell Laird is one of the UK's biggest repair and conversion businesses.
PORT OF LARNE ANNOUNCES INVESTMENT by Gary Andrews
The Port of Larne has announced a £2.2 million investment that will nearly treble the storage facilities at the port's high-tech distribution centre. The total number of jobs at the centre will increase to over 100 as a result.
Frozen and ambient storage will be provided in additional to the existing centre's chilled and ambient sections, thus catering for the full temperature range in one facility. The new 5,000 square metre extension, scheduled to be completed by November this year, will add a further 10,000
pallet storage to the existing 5,000 pallets capacity, to meet the increasing demand from customers.
As with phase 1, which opened in April 1996 on the Port's Redlands Estate, the second phase will offer a complete range of services including next-day delivery, break bulk and order picking from stock. It will particularly benefit from the increasing number of food and drink importers and
exporters, retail chains, distributors and groupage operators using Larne.
Denis Galway, Director and General Manager of the Port Of Larne commented:
"The need to nearly treble the capacity of our distribution centre in just three years is a further indication that the Port Of Larne is the place to do business. It also endorses our determination to maintain our position as the best equipped and most efficient ferry port on the Irish Sea."
June 13, 1999
MERSEY & IRISH SEA NEWS BULLETIN: June 6, 1999
NOTES & NEWS
A slight change of plan resulted in my return from Ireland early on Saturday morning, rather than on Friday evening. One could say the rather nice cabins on board the DAWN MERCHANT had something to do with this decision!
I also note that there may have been problems accessing the site at some stage in the past week, though it appears to have rectified itself.
Once again there are a number of new updates in addition to the news bulletin. Make certain you check the What's New page.
SEA CONTAINERS FERRIES
SEACAT DANMARK - remained off service for the remainder off last weekend. Apparently her "technical difficulties" had been the result of striking a log. Last year the same vessel had an unfortunate encounter with a basking shark.
SEACAT ISLE OF MAN - As SCD returned to service it was SCIOM's turn to experience "technical problems". Sara Kesal has sent details of her observations of SCIOM's progress down Crosby Channel on May 31st:
"SCIOM departed on time on Bank Holiday Monday, reaching C12 at 11:45, but then stopped. We saw her take 10 minutes to get from there to C10, with very little engine power, then with a big puff of black smoke the engines (or some of them!) came back to life and she proceeded at almost normal speed along the channel.
However, SCIOM's return was an hour late at about half the usual speed and I didn't see later movements. On Tuesday morning she was late into Liverpool, and departed an hour late at 12:30. The Captain's pre departure announcement went something like 'We are sorry for the delay which was due to late arrival from Douglas, caused by technical problems which occurred overnight. I am pleased to reassure you that we are now running on all four engines...'. She was back to normal by the afternoon."
This week the company issued a press release containing some interesting TT Festival statistics. The company will operate 300 sailings between May 31st and June 15th.
No less than 7 vessels will transport the estimated 35,000 passengers, 15,000 motorcycles and 3,000 cars/vans travelling to the Island for the fortnights festival, which attracts visitors from all over the world.
The Company's on board Customer Services will supply in the region of 36,000 pints of beer, 40,000 sandwiches, 9 tons of chips, 8 tons of sausages and bacon and 200,000 cups of tea!
The Steam Packet stage their own road races on the Billown Circuit on Saturday 12th June, attracting the weeks racing stars
With the end of duty free finally in sight Isle of Man residents are to be given the opportunity to buy Duty Free flyers from Douglas to Dublin for just £10. A feature of the Liverpool service since it was opened two years ago, the flyers have proved very popular on the Liverpool-Dublin route. However, between the Douglas and Dublin the standard day return fare [currently £25 has been payable.] The offer is valid until Tuesday June 29th.
Can anyone identify a small passenger ship named PRINCE ALBERT, registered in London? She has appeared in Canning Half-Tide basin during the past week whilst I have been away.
Mainly white in colour, she carries a blue band and blue funnel. She looks smart from a distance but closer inspection suggests that the paintwork has been applied quickly to smarten her up. On the blue funnel is a logo depicting a captains arm stripes in gold, similar fashion to the old Sealink logo. She is a little longer than the Balmoral and possibly wider beam. Her two main decks are mostly enclosed, the rear upper deck saloon having a glass roof. She appears to be fitted out for coastal cruising. I can't see any builders plates, but I would guess she looks European.
What is more unusual is that she is berthed on the east side of Canning Dock, on the side of the dock which is not part of the Albert Dock complex. It is very unusual for vessels to berth on this side.
The cover of the new 8th edition of MANXLINK magazine can be viewed on the ManxLink page along with the contents of the new edition which were posted last week.
DART VALLEY RAILWAY PLC [SEALINK!]
A slip of the finger resulted in a slight error in last week's report. DEVONAIRE BELLE should have read DEVONAIR BELLE.
Duty Free will end on 30 June. The effect on Ferry fares remains to be seen especially where there is much competition between operators. Briar Star Ltd, the proprietors of Swansea-Cork Ferries were reported by RTÉ to be increasing fares by 15%.
PORT OF BELFAST UPDATE by GARY ANDREWS
The future of the Port Of Belfast has taken an interesting twist.
As previously reported the future of the Port Of Belfast is due to be decided by the Northern Ireland Assembly and a sub-Committee has been busy seeking submissions on the future of the port.
However, Tony Blair's recent warning that a failure by politicians to get a Northern Ireland Executive up and running by 30 June will see a suspension of the Assembly would mean that the decision on the port will pass back to the Government.
The Government has made it clear that they would proceed along the lines favoured by the port with a sell-off with public interest safeguards, such as a "golden share" remaining in public control. The matter needs resolved as plans for £87 million worth of major road improvement schemes are dependent upon the proceeds. (The blueprint for a public-private partnership put forward by Belfast Harbour Commissioners suggests a sell-off would raise £100 million).
The port has argued it's present status limits it's powers for investment (mainly in terms of raising capital for development work) and this is making the economy of Northern Ireland suffer. However, opponents have argued if sold to the private sector the port would solely be run in the interest of
shareholders and service to port users would suffer.
The Assembly's committee is co-chaired by Alban Maginness of the SDLP and Sammy Wilson of the DUP and experts to publish its report around the middle of the month. It is likely that the committee will favour a continuation of the port's trust status but with extended powers or the creation of a semi-State body similar to Dublin port. However, in the Northern Ireland press, Mr Maginness would not be drawn:
"We will probably be coming out with a preferred option, but I obviously cannot say at present what the report is likely to contain. However, should power not be transferred to the Assembly, it is clear the Government will go ahead and decide the port sell-off issue. Although Lord Dubs has made it clear that the DoE is interested in public submissions, he has also indicated that the Government is committed to the sell-off strategy".
COMMENT: I'm not making a political point, however, I believe it would be in the interests of the Northern Ireland economy for the Government to take the decision on the Belfast port sell-off. The safeguards in-built to the port' s proposals will mean that any sell-off is not against the public interest
and a failure to carry out the plan will hurt the economy in two ways. Firstly, the port of Belfast will continue to face severe restrictions on development prospects and secondly a road network that is currently under huge pressure will continue to lack the investment it needs.
P&O NEWS by Gary Andrews
P&O unveil great value daytrips.
P&O European Ferries have unveiled their 1999 daytrips on the Larne - Cairnryan route and once again they offer value that is hard to beat.
Day trips to Ayr prove hugely popular with Northern Ireland customers and in 1999 (as for as long as I can remember) P&O are offering a variety of deals on ferry and coach day trips. The trips run Tuesday - Thursday, 29 June - 2 September and Saturdays 29 May - 4 September.
Tuesday trips are on the Pride Of Rathlin and cost £10 for adults and concessions (yes £10!). Departure is on the 'Rathlin's 08.00 sailing, trippers arriving in Ayr at 11.45 and leaving again at 17.15 for the 'Rathlin' s 1930 sailing to Larne.
On Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays the Jetliner carries the day trip traffic. Departures are on the 09.15 sailing to Cairnryan with an arrival in Ayr of 11.45 and a departure of 19.30 for the 21.30 Jetliner sailing to Larne. The price of daytrips on the Jetliner is also very low. On Wednesdays and
Thursdays adults can travel for just £15 (concession £11), Saturdays are slightly more expensive (if expensive is the right word) at £19 adult and £15 concession.
The trips are hugely well supported (costing up to half the price of some rival trips). I recall being on the Pride Of Rathlin one day when no less than eight coaches were brought aboard to take the trippers to Ayr.
Looking at a Townsend Thoresen leaflet for 1987 some of the trips are actually cheaper now than in 1987. I notice the price for a daytrip to Ayr aboard the Ionic Ferry was £13 for an adult Tuesdays and Thursdays (£8.50 concession) and £14.50 on Saturdays (£9 concession). I think that if we had experienced that level of inflation across the economy we'd all be very happy people!!
If you are interested in the daytrips to Scotland call P&O on 0870 24 24 888. For Mainland GB readers I will bring details of P&O's Northern Ireland daytrips as soon as I receive the information.
P&O brochure - two versions, one route.
It has come to my attention that the P&O European Ferries "Larne - Cairnryan" brochure has a number of significant differences to the "Cairnryan - Larne" version. The two versions compared are published April 1999.
The first difference is that the Cairnryan edition carries the title "P&O European Ferries Irish Sea", the Larne edition simply "P&O European Ferries" . The Cairnryan edition also details on it's front all the routes covered by the brochure (Cairnryan - Larne, Fleetwood - Larne, Liverpool - Dublin,
Holyhead - Dublin, Pembroke - Rosslare), the Larne version simply states Larne - Cairnryan
The next big difference is the Larne version has several pages promoting the onboard facilities etc, the Cairnryan version doesn't. The Cairnryan version doesn't mention the Rosslare - Cherbourg "Value Route", the Larne version does (one assumes P&O believe nobody would want to drive to France via Ireland from Mainland GB).
Perhaps the biggest difference is in relation to the recently introduced Apex fares. In the Cairnryan brochure they are advertised in the brochure proper and no mention of a "book by" date is given. The fares are advertised in a wrap round leaflet attached to the front of the Larne edition and a "book by" date of 30 June is given
I found the differences between the two brochures quite unusual as traditionally the Northern Ireland editions and Scottish editions of P&O's brochures (and the same thing can be said of Stena or SeaCat) have been identical but in reverse (if you get what I mean!). The only explanation I
can offer is that although both editions are April 1999 the Cairnryan brochure seems to be edition 1, Larne brochure edition 2.
During the past week I have been staying at Dun Laoghaire. HSS STENA EXPLORER has been noted running continuously late. This problem has been apparent since the engine fire almost one month ago. More Stena News from the north Channel appears below courtesy of Gary Andrews.
LARNE FERRY RUMOURS by Gary Andrews
Larne is infamous for its ferry rumours - I choose not to report them frequently however, for the record several rumours are currently circulating in the Larne area.
A rumour that by the end of year will have reached its fourth birthday is that Stena is set to return to Larne Harbour. There are several versions of this story currently circulating. The first is of an entire move of the Belfast - Stranraer operation to Larne including the HSS (which of course needs specialist terminal facilities not present at Larne). Other versions of this speculation include that Stena will operate a Larne - Stranraer freight only operation (from September 1999) or merge their North Channel services with those of P&O European Ferries to Cairnryan.
These rumours are likely to be almost definitely nonsense (I'm only reporting them in the unlikely event I am wrong). Apart from anything else the recent increases in P&O's own services have meant that there is already extensive pressure on berths at Larne harbour. Indeed, it isn't impossible that P&O will need to build further facilities in the short to medium term future even to keep their own services running efficiently. Additionally, I suspect Stena have quite a "tight contract" with the Port Of Belfast and will be unable to simply move their freight operation.
The main cause of the rumour would appear to be that Stena representatives are said to have been seen at Larne Harbour and that British Telecom engineers have been seen entering in the former Stena offices at Larne Harbour. (Stena's lease of the offices is continuing to run - having been a long-term contract signed as recently as around 1992). Of course, there is a multitude of reasons why both events could have occurred, if they did take place at all.
The other rumours in Larne at the moment are that the Jetliner will be leaving the Larne - Cairnryan service, although some have stated it will happen in the near future, it is more likely to be June 2000 if true (when the craft's 4-year charter is due to end). There continues speculation that the Larne Harbour Cairnryan high-speed operation will become an Austal craft service to Port Glasgow service next June.
STENA JOBS BOOST by Gary Andrews
Stena Line recently announced that it is to bring a further 30 jobs to it's operations at Stranraer in both ship and shore positions. The firm also announced that it is to spend £0.5 million in new automated ticket check-in booths at the port. The announcement came at a recent meeting in Belfast between Bo Severed, President Of Stena Line, and Stranraer councillors Alex Sloan, Tommy Sloan and Willie Scobie. The meeting had been prompted by a request by Alex Sloan to all three Loch Ryan operators to confirm their commitment to Stranraer and Cairnryan services. (No doubt as a result of Sea Containers decision to scale down their Stranraer operation in favour of
Bo Severed told the councillors Stena was fully committed to the Belfast - Stranraer route as a key service in its network as shown by the investment of recent years in facilities such as the HSS.
Stena Line's Belfast- Stranraer Route Director, Alan Gordon said:" The key issue for the Loch Ryan Corridor is the improvement of the road infrastructure. We hope that the Government, the Scottish Office and the local authority will upgrade the infrastructure to and from Stranraer to complement the state of the art fast ferry technology and to match the commitment shown by Stena Line".
COMMENT: Whilst I believe that Stena have no plans no quit the Port Of Stranraer the firm could reassure the local population by finally completing their plans for upgrading the port to the same standards of Belfast. It should be remembered the Stena Voyager will soon have been in service 3
years and we are still waiting to see evidence of longer-term facilities being provided at the Scottish end of the operation. Stena scheme finds approval with truckers.
More than 1,200 commercial drivers have joined Stena Line's "Truckers' Club" since the pilot scheme was set up on the Belfast - Stranraer service in November 1998. Stena Line Group management were so impressed that the scheme is now to be expanded throughout the firm's route network.
Membership of the club provides drivers with a range of privileges including reserved onboard catering, discounted shopping, dedicated lounge areas, a driver information service and free leisure travel tickets for the driver and his friends or family.
The scheme was piloted on the Belfast - Stranraer route, as it is one of the firm's busiest freight routes, accounting for more than 1/3 of overall traffic. Alan Gordon, Stena Line's Belfast - Stranraer Route Director said:
"The introduction of the "Truckers' Club" reflects Stena Line's continuing commitment to freight customers, aiming to reward our most frequent travellers with exceptional service and facilities - no matter what route they may be travelling. Freight drivers use our ferries more than any other
passengers, in some cases two or three times per week, so it's vital that we offer the drivers what they want."