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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



30th August 1999



LADY OF MANN - Successfully operated her final special summer excursion from Llandudno on Monday 23rd August. A correspondent informs me that rumours are circulating of a much more extensive program of excursions for 2000.


Reports from Belgium suggest that Holyman (UK) Ltd has sold their 50% share in the Holyman -Hoverspeed Seacat Ostend-Dover route to Sea Containers. Sea Containers are said to have bought the shares for an approximate value of $9 million.

The DIAMANT and RAPIDE will be integrated into the Sea Containers fast ferry fleet, paving the way for the 81-m Incat craft to be used on other routes and greater vessel interchangeability. There has already been speculation that the craft due to be displaced from the Ostend route for the forthcoming winter period could be used on the Belfast - Heysham route.


The Herald reported that on 23 August the Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) stated that the Ballycastle - Campbeltown ferry service will continue even if the Argyll and Antrim Steam Packet Company pulls out of the service.

As reported last week, the Sea Containers subsidiary has announced that the service is under review with an announcement on the future of the service due in September. The statement was made by the Chairman and Chief Executive of the Highlands and Islands Enterprise as the agency launched its annual report.

The ferry service began in July 1997 following £10m worth of public investment and the insistence by the then Scottish Secretary of State Sir Michael Forsyth that it was run by a private sector company. Public sector operator, Caledonian MacBrayne was instructed by the Scottish Office to sell its back-up vessel CLAYMORE to Sea Containers, despite being keen to run the service itself.

The service has at times been controversial. Sea Containers surprised many last year by beginning the service on May 8, only to suspend it from June 1 to June 19 because the CLAYMORE was on a private charter connected to the Isle Of Man TT. Despite the public funds in setting up the service there was no minimum level of service demanded by the Government, this has led to criticism with the service only operating from 18 June to 26 September this year.

The service is said to be fundamental to the Highlands and Islands Enterprise's strategy for Kintyre. It was projected to contribute £7.7m to the Scottish economy, £2.8m staying in Argyll, with up to 250 jobs created in Antrim and Kintyre. HIE's chairman Jim Hunter was reported as saying:

"We continue to give a high priority to Kintyre and the present operators were due to review their commitment to the ferry at this stage. What we do know is that this July for example traffic on it was up on July last year. We continue to be committed to that link. I would be very keen to see it

HIE Chief executive Iain Robertson added:

"I think the marketing of the scheme was not as good as it perhaps should have been in the first two years. We have the facility in Campbeltown now and if we lose the first operator I am sure we will be able to find another."

GARY ANDREWS' COMMENT: It now looks certain that in the likely event of Sea Containers withdrawing from the service, Caledonian MacBrayne will step in.

One would, however, in such an event question whether a service which is basically being government subsidised should be permitted given that it does aim to attract trade (albeit only to a limited extent) from other Northern Ireland - Scotland operators.

Whilst I do not have access to the research carried out prior to the service being commissioned, I personally doubt that the service would ever create the economic growth along the lines suggested
by Highlands and Islands Enterprise.


Rumours, fuelled by an ITV Teletext report, suggest that Sea Containers is talking to two potential operators who may commence sailings this winter between Newhaven and Dieppe. The other operator would take freight, passengers and cars. The name of Viking Ferries has been mentioned, this is a small Le Havre based company, along with Delom.

There are also somewhat unlikely rumours that Hoverspeed may abandon hovercraft services and leave Dover Hoverport. This move would allow the development of a marina and improved facilities for cruise ships. The rumour suggests that SeaCo would move the Hoverspeed SeaCat services to Ramsgate.



As many readers will know, the SS SHIELDHALL is a preserved steamship based at SOUTHAMPTON and operates coastal cruises along the south coast on England.

Graham Mackenzie has sent details of a new video about this vessel:

At long last, a video dedicated to "Shieldhall" is now available. This is the result of over two year's work by the volunteers that own and run "Shieldhall" and Perfection Productions.

Each video sold yields a donation to the ship to keep her running into the 21st century.

The video runs for approximately 1 ¾ hours and takes the story from the ship’s launch right up to the present day and is on VHS format. Other formats are available on request. There is archive material, which took a lot of effort to uncover and many high quality shots of "Shieldhall", yesterday and today. You can almost smell the steam and hot oil.

The normal purchase price is £12.50, plus £2.00 postage and packing. Please make cheques payable to "Perfection Productions".

You can buy the video on board and save the postage and experience this wonderful ship at first hand.

If you require a different format, please ask for details from the address below.

Perfection Productions,

"Shieldhall" Video Offer,

PO Box 114,



SO43 7ZD


Liverpool Councillors are due to consider plans by the Princes Dock Development Company to demolish a length of dock wall which separates the Princes Dock site with Bath Street.

Local press reports suggest that parts of the 20 feet high wall, built in 1815, is the world's oldest dock wall, being constructed in a post Napoleonic War job creation scheme.

Council planning officials have recommended that the demolition plans are rejected as its demolition could adversely affect Liverpool's waterfront being designated a World Heritage Site. English Heritage, The Millennium Walk Committee and the Victorian Society are also opposed to the plans.

The brick wall also boats some fine granite gate piers which have recently been granted listed building status. However, these structures would be preserved in situ. Plans to remove sections of the wall are being made as part of the on-going office developments on the Prince's Dock site



This week (26 August) saw the publication of Stena's Interim report, 1 January -30 June 1999. The (unaudited) figures indicate an improvement in Stena's financial position, however, the company continues to make a significant loss.

On 10 March 1998, Stena Line's English Channel routes were transferred to P&O Stena Line as a consequence the results of the operations for the first six months of 1998 and 1999 are not fully comparable. In order to facilitate the comparison, comments to the results are given both excluding and including the English Channel operations.

Revenue, excluding the English Channel operations, rose 6% or SEK 196 million from SEK 3,199 million to SEK 3,395 million. Income from operations, including the English Channel operations, improved from a loss of SEK 305 million to a gain of SEK 26 million. The result before income taxes improved from a loss of SEK 530 million in 1998 to a loss of SEK 233 million for the first six months of 1999. The result for the last 12-month period amounts to a loss of SEK 27 million.

Tax and duty free sales disappeared within the EU on 1 July 1999. Although the decision to abolish tax and duty free sales was adopted several years ago, detailed new rules within the EU was formed only weeks before 1 July. As a consequence Stena Line claim to have had little time to prepare a detailed retail offer onboard and to agree procedures and local rules with the local authorities. The retail supply chain needed to be adapted to reflect the final outcome of the new conditions, leading to late deliveries and in some cases shortages of goods onboard. These circumstances had a negative effect on retail sales during the first weeks of July.

The impact of the abolition of tax and duty free sales on Stena Line is still uncertain, as the peak season is under way in a large part of the operation. During July, however, there was a decline in onboard sales across all routes concerned. A certain fall in passenger volumes has been seen in July, while the number of private cars remained unchanged and the freight volumes rose. July 1999 compared to July 1998 saw passenger figures decline by 7% (7% UK, Scandinavia 6%), private cars remain static overall but caused by a 4% decline in the UK and 2% increase in Scandinavia and the number of freight units increased by 3% (caused by an unchanged UK market and 7% increase in Scandinavia). Stena Line expects that higher ticket fares and freight rates in combination with the refocusing of the Scandinavian business will partially compensate for the loss of tax and duty free sales.

Stena Line reported slightly decreased first half carryings across the current route network (i.e. excluding English Channel figures for the early part of 1998). Passenger numbers decreased from 4,244,000 to 4,219,000, tourist vehicle numbers decreased from 737,000 in 1998 to 732,000 in 1999 and freight units decreased from 349,700 in 1998 to 348,400 in 1999. This fall in carryings can mainly be traced to the Goteborg - Kiel and Holyhead - Dun Laoghaire routes. Stena's Belfast - Stranraer route showed a reasonable improvement on similar figures for 1998, however, an accurate comparison is with 1997 figures given that the absence of the HSS for most of the first half of 1998 lost Stena considerable North Channel traffic. Such a comparison indicates relatively static passenger levels.

COMMENT: It would appear that Stena are making some progress in resolving their financial difficulties. However, a detailed study of the figures suggests that the firm still needs to reduce operational costs (result of HSS?) and it is arguable that given the Scandinavian routes appear to be
performing stronger than the UK routes, it may be sensible for Stena to focus on that area. I would suggest readers pay a visit to the report themselves for further information


Stena are advertising inclusive day trips from Holyhead to Dun Laoghaire which include coach trips to: the Irish National Stud, Japanese Gardens and Dublin [Monday, Thursday and Saturday]; Powerscourt Gardens and Dublin [Sunday, Tuesday and Wednesday]; Ballykisangel [Avoca] and Wicklow Mountains [Wednesday, Friday, Sunday]. Fares from £32 to £36 depending on tour and day of week. Children's fares are from £15. Bookings on 0990 707070.


Mersey Radio reports that work on replacing the Seacombe Landing Stage is due to commence on 30th August. However, passing the new stage in East Float on 29th August revealed that much work remains to be done. Presumably the work announced on Mersey Radio concerns preparations for removal of the old stage.


There was another break in sailings for the new Irish Ferries Austal Ships vessel JONATHAN SWIFT last week. Sailings between the 08.30 ex Holyhead on 23rd August and the 08.30 sailing on 27th August (inclusive) to allow for "routine maintenance".

JONATHAN SWIFT arrived in Birkenhead on the morning of 23rd August at Wright & Beyer. John Shepherd reported that the vessel was scheduled to leave Alfred Lock, Birkenhead at 09.00 on 27th August but didn't depart until 1005.

JONATHAN SWIFT passed the Brazil Buoy at 10.22 and increased to full sea speed and was expected to take up the afternoon sailing from Holyhead. The late night roundtrip ex Holyhead at 0230 on 27th and 28th August were also cancelled.

With the school holidays coming to a close its not surprising that a new round of special offers have appeared on Irish Ferries routes for 5 day short break returns. Ranging from a car + driver return on Pembroke to Rossalare service for £69, Holyhead - Dublin [Inishmore] £99 and £139 [Jonathan Swift]. Car + 2 fares are also available from £119 and car + 3 to 5 from £179. Offers valid until 30th September.

JHL's COMMENT: It is good to see these fares being marketed as car plus 1, plus 2 etc. For single people or couples who travel with a vehicle, particularly during the peak summer season having to pay the same fare as say a group of 5 people has always struck me as being VERY UNFAIR. I would certainly like to see a trend in which fares were charged at vehicle including driver then each passenger charged a supplement.


MERCHANT VENTUREe was reported to be departing Merseyside on 23rd August. She has spent the past few months laid up. First in the Bidston Dock, but more recently in the West Float next to the Duke Street Bridge. At present it is not clear if she has been sold, chartered or is covering for another Cenargo vessel.

A vessel which appeared to SPHEROID is currently in dry dock at Cammell Laird.


Both Manx Radio and the Manx Independent newspaper reported that the Admiralty Marshal at the request of her Greek Owners has arrested the THRAKI II.

Captain Eddy Hope who had planned to open up a Whitehaven to Douglas passenger service from September had chartered the vessel. Work had been underway at Whitehaven to prepare the 222 tonne vessel, which was to have been, renamed CELTIC PRINCESS.

However Mr. Hope confirmed in the press that the vessel had been arrested and that a complex legal situation prevented further comment. Though he stated that he will "… get another vessel and operate that instead. - I am not giving up."

JHL'S COMMENT: Once again a challenge to the established order of things on Manx routes has come to and end, this time before it had chance to get started. History is littered with attempts at dislodging the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company from its perch - all but Sealink-ManxLine either closed or agreed terms. Whether the diminutive THRAKI II ever stood a chance at being a practical passenger vessel may never been known. From pictures of her, she looks as though she would have been much more suitable for trips up the River Dart or short coastal excursions rather than attempting the more turbulent waters of the Irish Sea.


The cruise ship ROYAL VIKING SUN is due to make a call at Liverpool on Saturday 4th September 1999. She is expected to arrive around 08.00 and depart at 19.00 for Dublin departing Dublin at 18.00 on 6th September. She calls at Waterford [Dunmore East] on Tuesday 7th September from 08.00 to 18.00.

VISTAFJORD will be renamed CARONIA at a ceremony at the Pier Head in November.  


The cargo vessel LURIC sailed from Liverpool on 26th August bound for Cuba. Loaded with 2 fire engines, 17 ambulances, 15 buses, 3 cars, plus computers and medical supplies the vessel was carrying goods collected by the Cuba Solidarity Campaign in association with the Unison trade union.

The campaign has sent a container of good each year for the past few years. The organisers hope that the action will draw attention to the continuing trade blockade by the United States of America on Cuba.


P&O are to introduce an additional vessel at Fleetwood in September according to reports in the local press on 25th August. The name of the vessel was not revealed and neither is its destination port, though it appears certain to be Larne or possibly Dublin. Departure from Fleetwood will take place early morning

With the refit period of the Larne P&O European Ferries vessels complete the EUROPEAN NAVIGATOR has now taken up relief duties on the Liverpool - Dublin route. She is currently operating the 09.30 ex Dublin and 22.00 ex Liverpool (understood to be the schedule of the EUROPEAN ENVOY)

The EUROPEAN LEADER remains on the 10.00 sailing ex Liverpool and 22.00 ex Dublin though she is due for dry-docking at Cammell Laird on 29 August.

EUROPEAN ENVOY was noted in A&P's Falmouth Yard undergoing attention on Thursday 26th August. Shipyard workers were busy applying white paint to her upperworks.

New Year Sailings

P&O New Year sailings are as follows.   The last sailings of 1999 will be the 12.45 Jetliner sailing from Larne and the 14.30 Jetliner return from Cairnryan on 31 December.  The first sailings of the new millennium will be the Pride Of Rathlin's 0800 sailing from Larne on 2 January 2000 and the11.00 Jetliner sailing from Cairnryan.

P&O APEX OFFERS by Gary Andrews

Following the success of the spring introduced Apex fares in significantly boosting traffic on the Larne - Cairnryan route, P&O European Ferries have brought back the deal for the autumn.  Prices and sailings are as follows.

Single Apex prices for a car + 5 adults.
26/8/99 - 31/12/99: Off peak £35 Shoulder £45 and Peak £55.

Sailings. (All sailings Jetliner unless otherwise indicated).
Off peak (All week).
Ex Larne: 06.00, 08.00 (Rathlin), 15.30 (Rathlin), 19.45, 23.30 (Mon. - Fri.)
(Rathlin), 22.59 (Sun.) (Rathlin).
Ex Cairnryan: 04.30 (not Sun) (Rathlin), 07.30, 11.00, 11.30 (Rathlin), 19.30

Shoulder. (Monday to Thursday and Saturday).
Ex Larne: 09.15, 12.45, 16.15.
Ex Cairnryan: 14.30, 18.00, 21.30.

Peak. (Friday and Sunday).
Ex Larne: 09.15, 12.45, 16.15.
Ex Cairnryan: 14.30, 18.00, 21.30.

Bookings must be made 14 days in advance of travel and booked by 15 December 1999.   No refunds or ticket changes are available.  To book call P&O on 0870 24 24 777.

Other P&O offers

P&O have also introduced an "autumn sail" offer for 72-hour returns. Prices for a car and two passengers start at £89.

P&O are offering double air miles this autumn on all fares.  When you spend at least £30 on your ticket you will get one air mile for every £1spent.


Last week the story of a proposed bid for P&O from Carnival Cruise Lines was mentioned.

A correspondent has also drawn my attention to an article in the Financial Times, which appeared a few weeks ago concerning a possible tie up between Associated British Ports and P&O.

Since this was rumoured ABP shares have risen from their 'established' level of £2.80/2.90, which has prevailed with little sustained variation for several years, to £3.47, valuing the company at £1219M. Since P&O sold out of Felixstowe, their presence in UK ports is mainly via part-ownership of Southampton Container Services and Tilbury Container Services (with ABP as fellow shareholder in both!). The Australian-based P&O Ports has recently bought into some US activity, paralleling ABP's 1998 purchase of American Port Services (which has a share also in the new Zeebrugge car terminal). Speculation may also be fuelled by the fact that ABP's new Chief Executive came from Stena, where he had been instrumental in achieving the P&O-Stena accord on the Channel.


The world's only remaining sea going paddle steamer, PS WAVERLEY, made her final journey down the Clyde on 30 August before undergoing a £3.5 million refit. 

The 52-year-old vessel was built on the Clyde and spends much of her time cruising in the Clyde along with regular cruises along the south coast of England.  She is to be stripped down and
re-built in her original 1947 style.  The restoration work is currently out to tender and after refitting the Waverley is expected to be back steaming
on the Clyde by July 2000. 

Speaking on BBC News 24 a spokeswoman spoke of a healthy future for the vessel with the firm headed by a young and progressive management team.   It was added that there is a hope to appeal to a younger generation with theme cruises and new events.

Waverley now heads south for a programme of cruises on the south coast and concludes with a short spell on the Bristol Channel in October.


Belfast Harbour Commissioners have recently printed their 1998 Report and Accounts.   The report makes interesting reading, especially given the likelihood that the port will soon become a private public partnership and be an extremely attractive investment.

A few extracts from the report follow:

Turnover increased from £18,838,000 in 1997 to £19,232,000 in 1998. Operating profit before exceptional items increased from £8,487,000 in 1997 to £10,197,000 in 1998.  Inevitably profit before taxation also increased, from £10,139,000 in 1997 to £12, 564,000 in 1998.

1998 was described as "another satisfactory trading year for the Port".  A record level in the number of freight vehicles using the Port's ferry services was partly off-set by a decline in bulk cargo mainly due to reduced imports of coal.


Belfast remained Ireland's busiest passenger port.  However, the number of passengers and passenger cars using the port in 1998 declined slightly compared to the previous year.  1998: 1,783,000 passengers, 400,000 passenger cars, 1997: 1,856,000 passengers, 413,000 passenger cars. This fall is attributed to the combined effect of civil unrest during the summer period, which adversely affected the number of visitors to Northern Ireland, and Stena Line's decision early in the year to temporarily re-deploy the Stena HSS serving the Belfast - Stranraer route to the Harwich - Hook Of Holland service.

Passenger numbers in 1999 are set to rise and there is a hope of record levels being set due to Sea Containers' decision to introduce the new Seacat services to Heysham and Troon and the enhancement of the Isle Of Man service.  The first full year of the provision of daytime sailings by Norse Irish Ferries on the Belfast - Liverpool route is expected to further boost the number of passengers using the port.

It is stated that permanent peace in Northern Ireland will allow the region

to realise its full tourism potential and the Port will contribute by ensuring "through its modern passenger terminal facilities that the travel experience to and from Northern Ireland is a favourable one".


1998 saw considerable growth in the number of freight vehicles moved through Belfast, increasing from 310,000 in 1997 to 330,000 in 1998.

Stena Line's HSS service is reported to have exceeded expectations with regard to freight traffic, proving particularly popular for the transportation of "time sensitive" food cargoes associated with the national supermarket chains that have recently become established in Northern Ireland.

Belfast Freight Ferries, acquired, during the year by the Cenargo Group, continued to hold a strong position in the Irish Sea market, operating at or near capacity on its Belfast - Heysham roll-on/roll-off freight service throughout 1998.

Norse Irish Ferries, a firm also due to be acquired by Cenargo, operator of the Belfast - Liverpool freight and passenger service, in 1998 extended its operation to include three daytime sailings per week in additional to the nightly sailings previously offered.   The nightly service operated at or
near full freight capacity throughout the year, while freight carryings on the daytime sailings continues to increase steadily as this new element of the service becomes established.

It is forcefully stated that the provision of a river berth in the Mersey remains "a matter of urgency" for the future growth of the Belfast - Liverpool service.

Other highlights of 1998 included the opening of the new Norse Irish Ferries Victoria Terminal 2 passenger terminal by Lord Dubs, Northern Ireland Minister for Agriculture and the Environment. Meanwhile 1999 has seen the upgrading of passenger facilities at the Donegal Quay terminal to
accommodate the expansion of Sea Containers' services.

For further information on the Port Of Belfast see


The Minister for Defence, Michael Smith TD, has given the thumbs down to a Department of Finance proposal that the Irish Naval Service and Air Corps should be merged. The proposal makes sense from an economic point-of-view, but the two distinct branches of the defence forces were against the proposal.


Development work is currently underway at New Ross Port, County Wexford. An IR£7 project is in hand to increase the size of vessels, which can gain access to the port. Currently the largest vessels to be handled have a maximum tonnage of 4,000. The development work will permit access by vessels of up to 6,000 tonnes.

The port has engaged Dutch Dredging of Sliedrecht as principal contractors with civil engineering work being undertaken by Jons Civil Engineering. Consulting engineers are Malone O'Regan of Waterford.

Work will include realigning the channel to remove an acute bend whilst a training wall and eight groynes will be constructed between Stokestown Point and Carrickcloney. New navigation aids will also be installed.


A decision is expected soon from the Irish Minister for Arts and Heritage, Sile de Valera, on weather plans to return Erskine Childer's Yacht ASGARD to sea going condition can go ahead.

The ASGARD is one of only eight classic yachts constructed to the designs of Colin Archer which still exist. The yacht was the property of Robert Erskine Childers, author of the famous nautical spy novel "Riddle of the Sands". Childers used the ASGARD to carry arms purchased in Hamburg to Howth near Dublin for use by the Irish Volunteers during 1914. The arms later being used in during the 1916 Easter Rising.

Last year Minster for Defence, Michael Smith had offered support for plans to make the vessel sea-worthy again. However, the Asgard Restoration Project think that the Minister for Arts and Heritage will be influenced by advice from the Heritage Council and the yacht will remain in the yard of Kilmainham Gaol, Dublin where she has rested for the past 20 years. Unless anyone knows otherwise this must be the only vessel of any size in gaol anywhere in the world!


An IR£18m marina is to be developed in Dún Laoghaire Harbour with IR£12m being paid by the Dun Laoghaire Port Company with the balance coming from grants and Marina Marketing and Management.

Marina Marketing and Management have secured the management contract. Planning permission is already held and an application for to the Department of the Marine for a foreshore licence has been made. The Department of the Marine is expected to make its decision early next month.

Apparently some objections have been reported with users of existing moorings being forced to move into the marina which will have higher charges. The new marina will offer 680 berths. Currently there are around 600 boats in Dún Laoghaire Harbour, thus even with the loss of the current 200 moorings the marina will offer a significant increase in capacity.

However, public access is noted as an area of concern. The development plans were given a prominent mention in this week's Liverpool Echo which pointed out that frequent high speed ferries linked Dun Laoghaire with Liverpool[!J !]

JHL's COMMENT: My initial reaction has to be oh no - not another marina. I am afraid that the spread of "Marinaisation" has robbed many interesting ports around these isles of much of their character.

Just a few days ago I was in Penzance. Earlier this year, when the closure of the local dry dock was announced there was speculation that the site could be developed as a hotel with a marina in the adjacent harbour. Happily within a short time the shipyard was rescued by Semple Cochrane plc putting paid to the redevelopment.

My own interest revolves around large vessels. Yachts and cruisers etc. falls into the same category as cars. Useful for enjoyment and getting from place to place but that’s it.

Endless rows of mainly white fibreglass yachts, cruisers, etc. moored in a harbour are about as interesting as the row upon row of caravans which spoil many an interesting sea side town. Small vessels don't look quite so bad spaced out in a conventional harbour but tightly packed into marina berths it is a different matter.

I note that above some concerns have been expressed at Dún Laoghaire about public access. What this means I have yet to ascertain, but the I would imagine that any plans to restrict access to the long piers at Dún Laoghaire, a favourite promenade for visitors and locals alike, would not be well received.

John Luxton

30 August 99

Back Home Up Next



There are reports in at least one Sunday newspaper that the chairman of the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company, Lord Sterling, has recently rejected at £7 billion take-over bid from Carnival Cruise Lines. Carnival purchased the Cunard Line business from financially troubled Kvaerner last year.

P&O is currently in the process of disposing of its non-shipping activities whilst significantly increasing the size of its cruise fleet and introducing new ro-pax ships on the Irish and North Seas services. Carnival is reported to be only interested in the Cruise business and would sell off the ferries and port operations. However, it is suggested that the rebuff has not dampened Carnival's enthusiasm.

What implications such a take-over could have on P&O Irish Sea operations, which are currently going through a  period of expansion and investment, could only be open to conjecture at present. However,  the sale of P&O's ferry services to another Irish Sea operator could allow some consolidation and reorganisation of current Irish Sea services  to  take place.

Given that Carnival owns around 35% of the cruise market and P&O 15% such a take-over might result in an investigation into competition in the USA.

21st August 1999 


Welcome to this week's update.

First some news about the web site. As announced last week the archive site has now adopted the dual role of Archive AND Emergency site. This move makes sense as it is easy to import each week's news update into the Emergency site and thus the full news will always be available there should the main site go down. However, visitors should note that only the Main Site carries the full update of features, reports etc. and they should only use the Archives and Emergency Back Up site for news in case of difficulty.

The old emergency web site is now being developed for Dún Laoghaire Lifeboat.

Please note that I will be away from Monday 23rd August [I know I said Sunday last week!] until late on Saturday 28th. No e-mails will be answered during this period. I will also be away from 1st September to 4th September inclusive. The next update will be on MONDAY 30th August.

There should be photo features on the CRYSTAL SYMPHONY and the ROYAL DAFFODIL. I had hoped to have these available this week but the processors let me down.

I am currently doing some research into digital cameras with a view to being able to get news pictures much more quickly. Obviously a reasonable quality one is desired and I have short listed several models.   Hopefully if my planned disposal of excess railway paraphernalia continues according to plan and I can raise some cash I hope to obtain one within the next few months.

Finally, many thanks to the numerous correspondents who have sent material for inclusion in the site.

Have a good week and happy sailing!

John Luxton


LADY OF MANN - The Lady of Mann undertakes her final Llandudno - Douglas special excursion on Monday 23rd of August. All 900 tickets for which have been reported sold out for some time.

JHL's COMMENT: Hopefully, given the success of the LADY's special excursions from Llandudno and Fleetwood this season perhaps we might see an expansion of her excursion program for summer 2000? SeaCo should consider some unusual routes? Fleetwood - Llandudno with a cruise round Puffin Island. What about some day excursions from Belfast and Dublin to the Isle of Man?

SEACAT DANMARK - following technical problems reported last Sunday which necessitated some rescheduling of SEACAT ISLES OF MAN and the LADY OF MANN on the Douglas to Liverpool and Belfast routes SEACAT DANMARK remained out of service on 16th August. Normal service resumed on the 17th August.

SEACAT ISLE OF MAN - A regular correspondent travelling on the 22.30 Douglas to Liverpool on Friday 20th August found the port side lower seating area and the upper viewing deck area closed off during the voyage. The reason being "passengers numbers". The overall effect being to make the rest of the ship more crowded than it would have been. The correspondent remarking that to him "passenger comfort and convenience took second place to the amount of cleaning that needed to be done at Liverpool"

PORTS - A Circular being issued to passengers at Douglas yesterday states that improved car marshalling and baggage handling facilities should be provided at Heysham next year.


Sea Containers have said that they are reviewing the future of the Ballycastle - Campbeltown ferry service and will be making a decision about the viability of the route at the end of September.

The Sea Containers subsidiary, the Argyll and Antrim Steam Packet Company admits demand on the route has been disappointing. The conventional ferry between Campbeltown and Ballycastle recommenced its summer seasonal service early in June and had only carried 3,000 passengers and 1,000 vehicles up to the end of June. The service began in July 1997 and initial demand was encouraging, however, with all North Channel operators under pressure, it would seem that the peripheral service has been a major casualty.

The service created 50 jobs and was made possible by the upgrading of the harbour facilities in Northern Ireland and in Scotland at a cost of £10 million. The CLAYMORE, purchased for the service from Caledonian MacBrayne, received a £100,000 refit in 1997 and boasts private cabins, a business lounge and room for up to 300 passengers and 50 cars, in addition to commercial freight.

Sea Containers has said that they were expecting much better traffic levels and that the service is under review, though they insist that all operations are regularly reviewed and no decision has yet been taken. However, there is pessimism that the route will not be back next season.

Sea Containers have issued the following statement:

"Passenger and vehicle carrying remains depressed and a decision will be taken before the end of the current season, which is the end of September. All commercial operations are kept under constant review. Any thing in advance of that decision is pure speculation."

GARY ANDREW'S COMMENT: The Ballycastle - Campbeltown route was always viewed by many as a specialist route. Both Ballycastle and Campbeltown are quite remote and only really convenient to their immediate communities. From a Northern Ireland perspective the only real reason for which I would consider using the service would be for a holiday touring Scotland. The route's geographical disadvantage combined with lower than expected prices on the Loch Ryan routes meant it was always going to be tough. The poor traffic levels are disappointing given the great efforts by Sea Containers to provide competitive packages that have been promoted by significant mail shots. However, the signs of uncertainty have been all present, Sea Containers had said in 1997 that they expected the route to operate March/April - October each year within a few years. In 1999 the service began later than in 1998 and is due to end earlier.

I would suspect that Sea Containers will withdraw from the service. However, given that the route was to a large extent a government development project I would be very surprised if Caledonian MacBrayne didn't step in to take over the service. Would this mean that the CLAYMORE would end up back in Caledonian MacBrayne ownership? We will see!" Passenger and vehicle carrying remains depressed and a decision will be taken before the end of the current season, which is the end of September. All commercial operations are kept under constant review. Any thing in advance of that decision is pure speculation."

GARY ANDREW'S COMMENT: The Ballycastle - Campbeltown route was always viewed by many as a specialist route. Both Ballycastle and Campbeltown are quite remote and only really convenient to their immediate communities. From a Northern Ireland perspective the only real reason for which I would consider using the service would be for a holiday touring Scotland. The route's geographical disadvantage combined with lower than expected prices on the Loch Ryan routes meant it was always going to be tough. The poor traffic levels are disappointing given the great efforts by Sea Containers to provide competitive packages that have been promoted by significant mail shots. However, the signs of uncertainty have been all present, Sea Containers had said in 1997 that they expected the route to operate March/April - October each year within a few years. In 1999 the service began later than in 1998 and is due to end earlier.

I would suspect that Sea Containers will withdraw from the service. However, given that the route was to a large extent a government development project I would be very surprised if Caledonian MacBrayne didn't step in to take over the service. Would this mean that the CLAYMORE would end up back in Caledonian MacBrayne ownership? We will see!" Passenger and vehicle carrying remains depressed and a decision will be taken before the end of the current season, which is the end of September. All commercial operations are kept under constant review. Any thing in advance of that decision is pure speculation."

GARY ANDREW'S COMMENT: The Ballycastle - Campbeltown route was always viewed by many as a specialist route. Both Ballycastle and Campbeltown are quite remote and only really convenient to their immediate communities. From a Northern Ireland perspective the only real reason for which I would consider using the service would be for a holiday touring Scotland. The route's geographical disadvantage combined with lower than expected prices on the Loch Ryan routes meant it was always going to be tough. The poor traffic levels are disappointing given the great efforts by Sea Containers to provide competitive packages that have been promoted by significant mail shots. However, the signs of uncertainty have been all present, Sea Containers had said in 1997 that they expected the route to operate March/April - October each year within a few years. In 1999 the service began later than in 1998 and is due to end earlier.

I would suspect that Sea Containers will withdraw from the service. However, given that the route was to a large extent a government development project I would be very surprised if Caledonian MacBrayne didn't step in to take over the service. Would this mean that the CLAYMORE would end up back in Caledonian MacBrayne ownership? We will see!


Book early 2000 deals.

Hoverspeed has recently published APEX fares for the year 2000. Once again in 2000, Hoverspeed will offer more short sea routes to the Continent than any other operator, with services from Dover to Calais, Folkestone to Boulogne, and Newhaven to Dieppe, as well as the sole cross-Channel link between the UK and Belgium, from Dover to Ostend.

The 5-Day Return fare for a car + 9 passengers must be booked by 7 January 2000 and will cost; Folkestone/Boulogne £75 (off peak) £89 (peak), Dover/Calais £79 (off peak) £99 (peak), Dover/Ostend £79 (off peak) £99 (peak) and Newhaven/Dieppe £89 (off peak) £119 (peak)

The Standard Return fare for a car + 9 passengers must be booked by 7 January 2000 and will cost; Folkestone/Boulogne £109 (off peak) £135 (peak), Dover/Calais £119 (off peak) £149 (peak), Dover/Ostend £119 (off peak) £149 (peak) and Newhaven/Dieppe £139 (off peak) £179 (peak).

Hoverspeed SeaCats to the rescue.

Hoverspeed's SeaCats, ATLANTIC II and HOVERSPEED GREAT BRITAIN, have been kept busy in recent times coming to the aid of stricken boats in the Channel.

Hoverspeed's SeaCats, ATLANTIC II and HOVERSPEED GREAT BRITAIN, have been kept busy in recent times coming to the aid of stricken boats in the Channel.

On August 14, the Dover-based SeaCat, ATLANTIC II, went to the aid of the yacht, Maybo Eagle, which was taking on water. Enroute from Calais to Dover at over 30 knots, the SeaCat was quickly on scene, and stood-by the casualty until the Dover Lifeboat arrived. Captain Steve Ainscow then manoeuvred the craft to create a lee for the lifeboat to transfer the yacht's two crew.

On August 16, the Folkestone-based SeaCat, HOVERSPEED GREAT BRITAIN, was involved in a search when the crew on the bridge spotted an upturned dinghy. Having notified the Dover Coastguard, the SeaCat completed a sweep of the area, although nothing was found.

Two weeks ago, the ATLANTIC II made a dramatic rescue of three men from London, whose rigid inflatable was adrift in the shipping lanes without power or adequate safety equipment. A spokesman for Hoverspeed said:

"The speed of the SeaCats means they can react quickly to incidents in the Channel, and are very often the first to arrive on scene."

Hoverspeed opens largest cross-channel shopping outlet.

The largest cross-Channel shopping outlet to be opened by any UK ferry operator opened its doors in Boulogne on August 20. Hoverspeed is expanding its retail operation at the popular French port, with a brand new store, to take advantage of the continuing boom in cross-Channel shopping.

Hoverspeed remains the only UK ferry operator actually retailing duty-paid goods from land-based Continental stores, with outlets in Boulogne and Dieppe in France, and Ostend in Belgium.

The new look store brings together under one roof, the former duty-free shop along with Hoverspeed's speciality wine retailer, The Grape Shop. With an expanded range of over 400 French and New World wines, the new outlet also offers a comprehensive selection of spirits, tobacco, cosmetics, fragrances, electrical items, gifts and confectionery, all at pre- duty-free prices with
savings of up to 50% on UK high street prices.

Hoverspeed is the sole operator from Folkestone to Boulogne, with a 55-minute crossing by SeaCat, four times daily. Day trip fares start from £49 for a car and up to nine passengers or from £5 for foot passengers.


A visit to Douglas on 17th August revealed that no further work had been carried out on the dismantling of the KING ORRY's gangway. The structure remained in the same position on the quay. Presumably the gangway may have been hurriedly removed to allow passengers arriving from the ROTTERDAM [see below] unimpeded access to the Victoria Pier walkway leading into the Sea Terminal building.


A new twin hulled vessel has entered service with Cory Towage. The POLLGARTH is designed as an oil spill response vessel which will patrol the River Mersey  and have the capability of collecting 50 tonnes of pollutant per hour. The vessel has been financed by Mersey Docks & Harbour Company, Associated British Ports and The Manchester Canal.


The ROYAL DAFFODIL [ex OVERCHURCH] re-entered service on the Liverpool - Seacombe - Woodside - Liverpool ferry service on Monday 16th August.

I travelled on the 11.00 sailing from the Pier Head and I must say I am VERY impressed by the transformation effected during her £1.7m refit in Manchester.

She certainly is superbly fitted out, It would be easy to say to a much better that the old ROYAL DAFFODIL as I recall. The old ROYAL DAFFODIL was never as refined as the ROYAL IRIS.

The new Wartsilla engines which power ROYAL DAFFODIL appear to run much more smoothly, with not so much vibration on moving away as her former engines provided.

The principal changes are in her passenger accommodation and overall external appearance. First of all the forward passenger gangway space has been removed. She now only has an aft gangway space, very much along the lines of the former Wallasey Ferries vessels EGREMONT and LEASOWE who departed from the Mersey in the 1970s

On the main passenger deck a large forward saloon has been created. Seating runs around the side of the saloon, with moveable tables and chairs are provided to enable the vessel to be made available for various functions. On the starboard side there is a cloakroom and forward of this a galley and bar servery area.

There are stairs giving access to the upper saloon from within the forward saloon. The upper saloon is similarly furnished. The upper deck is equipped with a bar. Additional seating has been squeezed onto the forward facing open deck above the bows.

The funnel has been moved aft several feet. An upper open deck has been created around the funnel, access to which is via a double staircase. A new master's cabin has been fitted between funnel and wheelhouse.

The aft staircase leading to the gangway area has now received a deck house covering. All in all the transformation is quite remarkable though personally I noted a couple of points, which I wasn't quite so happy about.

First of all it is no longer possible to walk around the back of the vessel on the shelter deck at the stern - "Crew Only" notices and gates bar the way.

The new upper promenade deck around the funnel was roped off -crew only - pity as the wide stairs suggest that it could be opened up. There even appears enough space to put a couple of seats up there. Or perhaps it will be open one day or even used for putting a gangway on at low water at Llandudno Pier perhaps?

A revised commentary has been provided, though at present there appears to be some problems with audibility in some parts of the vessel. [I do wish the commentary would stop repeating the factually incorrect tale of a skeleton being found when the SS GREAT EASTERN was scrapped on Tranmere Beach. Several histories of the vessel have firmly debunked this legend.]

Apart from the points raised above I must say how impressed I was with the vessel. I had hoped to have some photographs available for this week's update, but unfortunately they have yet to return from the processors.

A correspondent examined the current vessel certification:

Class IV limit plying category D waters is Crosby Light float with max 396 passengers valid to 31.10.99.

Class V limit for Cat ABC waters (above Rock Light) is 860 as a ferry and 396 on cruises over 30 minutes and on Manchester Ship Canal - valid to 28/4/2000. In all cases crew of 5 is carried (Master/Mate/Engineer/ 2 deckhands). Any catering crew carried count as pax for certification purposes.

Cruises to Llandudno and Blackpool are planned next year; this would be a class III voyage.

If ROYAL DAFFODIL operates coastal sailings next year, Waverley Steam Navigation are certainly going to have a hard job twisting the ordinary passengers' arms to walk up the gangway of the BALMORAL on her occasional visits to Merseyside.

Though given the fact that BALMORAL can go to see with over 600 on board, if the ROYAL DAFFODIL's class III licence is only the same as, or lower, than that for river cruises, her fares might prove to be higher?


On the 16th August, Irish Ferries announced that the Holyhead to Dublin JONATHAN SWIFT sailings on the 19th August and the 08.30 sailing on 20th August were cancelled for "operational reasons". However, these sailings were reinstated on the 17th August.

STENA LYNX III, which operates Stena's Fishguard - Rosslare is reported to have lost quite a few sailings this week due to a combination of poor weather and "technical reasons".


Gary Andrews reports that the role of the former Stranraer - Larne vessel CALEDONIAN PRINCESS is in some doubt. The Newcastle newspaper The Journal reports that the future of the TUXEDO PRINCESS the former Sealink Irish Sea vessel CALEDONIAN PRINCESS, one of the most famous sights on the Tyne, is under threat after inspectors raised concerns over its safety.

Council officials say the TUXEDO PRINCESS, which was Tyneside's first floating nightclub, should not be allowed to re-open after the emergency services found a series of problems.

The vessel, which opened for business on the Tyne in the 1980s before sailing to the Clyde, was scheduled to return her former position when the TUXEDO ROYALE [ex Dover, ex Earl Siward] sails for Middlesborough at the end of August. Owners, Quadrini Leisure, have spent £600,000 in the last year refurbishing the former car ferry but licensing officials from Gateshead Council are recommending their application for a public entertainment licence be refused.

Inspectors found the TUXEDO PRINCESS had not been granted planning permission or an electrical certificate. Reports into the noise the nightclub would cause as well as one by the Marine Surveyor were also outstanding. The Fire Authority has also demanded "outstanding" work must be completed following a fire in June that caused widespread damage. A spokesperson for the Fire Authority confirmed they had inspected the ship but could not comment on why they had asked for "outstanding" work to be done. The Fire Authority told the Journal:

"We were on the boat in the last month and have filed a report with Gateshead Council on what we found. Whether they act on our findings is up to the council."

The return of the CALEDONIAN PRINCESS to the Tyne has been hit by a series of mishaps since owner Michael Quadrini first announced his plans in January 1997. Its departure from Glasgow was delayed for six months because engineers in Scotland had filled the River Clyde with boulders to shore up a crumbling bridge. The ship eventually arrived on the Tyne in May 1998, where it has been berthed beside the Spillers Factory while engineers carried out its

It was pencilled in to take over from the smaller TUXEDO ROYALE, which was due to sail to its new home near Middlesbrough Football Club's Riverside stadium, at the start of this year but the swap has been repeatedly delayed.

A spokesman for Gateshead Council said they will again inspect the TUXEDO PRINCESS early next month to decide whether it is fit to open on September 17. He said: "This work must be completed before a public entertainment licence could be granted. We understand the owners solicitors have asked us to defer their application for a public entertainment licence from August until September while more work is done."

Judith Reay, day manager of the Tuxedo TUXEDO ROYALE, said the Quadrini Leisure group would not comment on the situation until their solicitor had considered the council's report.

GARY ANDREWS' COMMENT: The CALEDONIAN PRINCESS will always be held with a great deal of affection by those with an interest in the Larne - Stranraer route. However, it appears the vessel, which whilst not having the most dignified of retirements had nonetheless remained apparently well looked after. If the attempts to re-launch her nightclub career on the Tyne fail one hopes that she will be taken to the breakers yard before we have another MANXMAN situation.


P&O report successful July.

Despite what has been a difficult summer for many operators, P&O European Ferries has announced a substantial increase in its figures for July '99 with tourist vehicles up 15% and passengers up 12% over the same period last year. P&O was the first ferry operator to introduce the low cost Super Apex fares and these, along with reduced political tension during the month, have contributed to the increases.

This is more good news for the shortest, fastest crossing, Larne - Cairnryan, a popular route in which P&O continue to invest with a brand new £33 million ship and a £4.5 investment in the Port Of Cairnryan announced earlier this year.

The new ship will continue P&O's record breaking tradition, set by the Jetliner - the only one hour crossing between Scotland and Ireland, by cutting the conventional crossing time to just 105 minutes. This will make it the fastest conventional crossing on the Irish Sea and directly comparable in speed to fast craft operating from other ports.

The £4.5 million development at the Scottish port of Cairnryan is part of a continued strategy to improve all aspects of P&O's service and will include a new terminal building, improved check-in facilities, extended vehicle marshalling areas and quay works. The new terminal, which is scheduled to be operational by April 2000, will feature reception areas, booking offices, baggage handling area, snack bar / shop, kiddies play area, baby changing area and facilities for the disabled.

While the Larne - Cairnryan service remains the company's main passenger route, in January facilities for motorists were introduced on P&O's Larne - Fleetwood, Dublin - Liverpool and Rosslare - Cherbourg services offering a choice of super economy Value Routes.

The response has been so encouraging that last month P&O European Ferries signed for yet another brand new £33 million freight and passenger ferry. The vessel will join the Dublin - Liverpool service in January 2001 and, like all other new P&O ferries, continue to improve crossing times by
reducing the journey by two hours to just six.

John Kersey, Managing Director of P&O European Ferries Irish Sea comments:

"These multi-million pound developments will not only consolidate our position as market leader on the Irish Sea but confirm our determination to offer all our customers innovative fares, a choice of destinations and a service that is second to none."

GARY ANDREWS' COMMENT: It certainly seems to be P&O that are the success story on the North Channel at the moment. Whilst other companies are talking about reviewing services, P&O European Ferries are the only company investing in their operation. Given the success story, one wonders how long before the Larne - Cairnryan operation will be operated by two ro-pax ferries and a larger fast ferry, possibly the ideal line-up for the route for future growth? Additionally, the success of the Value Routes would suggest there is scope for full ro-pax services on all routes. P&O deserve praise for increasing their traffic in what have been difficult conditions; it was P&O that became customer champion by introducing Apex fares to the North Channel. Finally given the recent disappointing figures for Sea Containers North Channel operations one would be very interested to hear results from Stena. How has Stena's business been affected by these recent developments?

Worry over P&O Ardrossan jobs.

There is growing concern in Scotland that as many as 40 jobs could be lost at Ayrshire port of Ardrossan, with the expectation that P&O European Ferries Irish Sea is to switch it's Larne service to another port. The Larne - Ardrossan service has roots going back 27 years.

It is widely known that P&O have examined both Troon and Port Glasgow as alternatives, and it would appear that the Inverclyde port is currently favoured. It has been reported that talks with Clydeport over a move to Port Glasgow are already well progressed for when P&O's contract for Ardrossan expires at the end of next year. Ardrossan is severely capacity restrained, current Larne - Ardrossan vessels, European Highlander, European Endeavour and European Trader are about the largest that can be accommodated.

P&O European Ferries' Personnel Director, was reported in The Herald as saying:

"We have been operating from Ardrossan since the early 1970s and have had good service from the port. However, Ardrossan has simply become too small for the type of operation we wish to see in the future. It is well known that we have an agreement to operate from Ardrossan until the end of 2000, and we are now looking at alternative arrangements."

Mr Donnelly was reported to have said that the company was likely to favour Port Glasgow, as Troon "was a bit on the small side" for the firm's operational needs. It was asserted that the move would not undermine the firm's commitment to investing in the development of a modern operation at Cairnryan.

There is an estimated 40 jobs that could be affected by the closure of P&O's Ardrossan base. One local councillor insisted the company should reward the loyalty it has been shown throughout the years by maintaining a presence on the Ayrshire coast. Councillor Margaret Munn, who said she had become resigned to P&O's eventual departure, said:

"It would be a blow if P&O were to move out, but if that happens then I would hope that the firm could show loyalty to the Ardrossan workforce by relocating to Troon, as opposed to Port Glasgow. I know that is what the employees would want and I'd be much happier if the facility could be retained here in Ayrshire. However, with the recent news of a multi-million pound development programme by Clydeport at Ardrossan harbour, we are optimistic about the future for the port. There will be a lot of positive things happening here at Ardrossan harbour - a revamped waterfront programme that will include shopping developments, new leisure facilities and housing."

The Herald reports that a spokesman for Inverclyde Council declined to comment, while a Scottish Executive spokeswoman said:

"We are aware of the competition between ports on the Clyde and in south-west Scotland for business to Northern Ireland and elsewhere. This is a matter of commercial judgement for the ports and shipping operators concerned."

Hauliers from northern and central Scotland would favour the shorter crossing time to Larne meaning business could potentially be increased. Meanwhile, Clydeport, which owns substantial land at Ardrossan harbour, is expected soon to announce plans for a £12.5m redevelopment scheme to include an upgraded ferry terminal for the Caledonian MacBrayne Arran service. Proposals to expand the existing yachting marina are also expected to be

GARY ANDREWS' COMMENT: The news of P&O moving the Ardrossan service to Port Glasgow or Troon has been common "unofficial" knowledge for almost a year and the newspaper reports are hardly revelations.

P&O's decision to move from Ardrossan isn't just some "whim", it must move to another port to allow larger vessels to operate the service. Additionally, the current sailing schedule is such that it creates poor utilisation of vessels. It is impossible for one vessel to operate two round trips every day on the Ardrossan service, as a result the current complicated structure of using the European Highlander for the night time roundtrip and one of the Cairnryan freight vessels for the daytime roundtrip is necessary. A move to Port Glasgow or Troon would allow one vessel to operate two daily return trips - either the European Navigator or European Seafarer is likely to operate the service. The biggest question that a remains is whether or not P&O will offer some kind of passenger service on the route. Regarding the Ardrossan jobs, it is always sad to hear of redundancies, however, it is unlikely that such staff wouldn't be offered the chance to work at P&O's new Scottish base.

In conclusion, the P&O service will continue to grow and the move is vital
to secure it's future.


The Mersey Docks and Harbour Company, operator of the UK's second largest port group, announced record half-year turnover and profits this week.

The Group with ports in the North West and South East of England, reported record volumes in the key sectors of containers and roll-on roll-off traffic at Liverpool and a 31% rise in fresh produce handled by Medway Ports following major investment in new facilities.

In his report on the six months to 30th June, 1999, Chairman Gordon Waddell said turnover at £92.6 million (1998: £87.8 million) and profit before tax up nearly 8% at £25.6 million (1998: £23.8 million) represented record performances for the Group. "The advances achieved in key market sectors in both Liverpool and Medway reflect the success of the Group's investment programme, which provides the platform for future growth," he added.

Profits from Port Operations increased to £24.1 million (1998: £22.3 million) on a total throughput of 15.2 million tonnes of cargo (1998: 16.4 million tonnes). At Liverpool, containers handled hit a new high of 247,000 ten (Twenty foot equivalent units) against 238,000 ten in 1998 and Irish Sea ro-ro traffic rose to 195,000 units (1998:156,000 units).

Following an adverse court decision on the planned development of a site at Pier Head, Liverpool, alternative ways were being examined of providing facilities necessary for the retention and future development of the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company's services between Liverpool and Dublin and the Isle of Man, for the benefit of both the Group and the City.

Mr Waddell said the consultancy business of the Group continued to be active and work had now started on the Grain Terminal being developed at the Port of Mombasa in Kenya.

On property, the Chairman reported that work had started on the next phase of the Princes Dock development at Liverpool, comprising an 81,000 sq ft office block and infrastructure works for the site. The number of enquiries regarding the Princes Dock site justified the continuing programme of development by the Princes Dock Development Company in which the Group has a 50% interest, said Mr Waddell.

The Board of the Mersey Docks and Harbour Company declared an interim dividend of 5.50 pence per share (1998: 5.0 pence), a 10% increase, which will be paid on 30th October, 1999


Time is running out for Irish people wishing to travel with Brittany Ferries to stock up for their millennium party while enjoying a short break in France.

From now until 2 October Brittany Ferries are offering passengers the chance to travel to France for as little as £77 per person return based on four adults, car and 4 berth cabin (price excludes government tax).

Brittany Ferries are also offering passengers the opportunity to purchase the widest range of products, fine wines, spirits and tobacco at French duty prices. This means big savings of up to 25% on Irish High Street prices. On ex Irish sailings on board shops open as soon as the ship has passed the 12-mile Irish waters point and will remain open until the ferry docks in France. On the return voyage the shops open immediately on boarding and close when the ship reaches the 12 miles Irish waters limit.

Brittany Ferries are also accepting advance booking from 1 September for holidays and ferry travel next year.


CRYSTAL SYMPHONY [50,202 grt] built in 1995 visited the River Mersey on Tuesday 17th August. The Lord Mayor of Liverpool greeted passengers before embarking on coach tours of the area. The vessel sailed on Tuesday evening bound for Dublin. The Mersey Ferries - Woodchurch and Mountwood providing tender facilities to the ferry landing stage. Liverpool City Council is hoping to attract further visits by Cruise Ships in the future.

ROTTERDAM Holland America Line's ROTTERDAM made her first visit to the Isle of Man on Tuesday 17th August. She is the largest cruise ship to visit the island. She anchored in Douglas Bay. Of her 1400 passengers, 950 came ashore by tender for a wild wet Manx morning bus trip to Cregneash heritage village in the south of the Island or to take a Manx Electric Railway trip to Laxey.

ROTTERDAM had come from Guernsey and Dublin and was believed to be proceeding via the Chicken Rock round to Shetland and the Faroes. There were though to be a lot of Canadian passengers - many with Manx connections - on board.

HEBRIDEAN PRINCESS I am informed by a regular correspondent that HEBRIDEAN PRINCESS (ex CalMac's COLUMBA) arrived in Port Erin Bay around 11.30 on 18th August dropping anchor inside the old breakwater.

She is a smart looking ship with dark blue hull and red boot topping with a white line. Apparently she is looking smarter than in her CalMac days. Her car lift (with side flaps) has been removed and the sides plated over to give a smooth hull line. She was due to proceed to Peel or Port St.Mary the following day before making her way to Douglas for a passenger change over.

She used her hydraulic crane mounted on the foredeck to launch and later recovered a rigid inflatable, which made a quick trip to the jetty. After the 49 passengers had lunch, she used her two tenders to put them ashore for an afternoon coach trip.

It appears as though her tenders and the RIB are stowed in the old forward garage deck, which is accessed by the crane, though the lift has been removed. The crane lifts the tenders with the use of slings. The tenders have a capacity of 12 passengers and are boarded from a stage placed in front of the door just above the waterline.


The resolution to increase the authorised share capital of the company and approve the issue of nine bonus shares for each existing ordinary share was carried at this week's AGM.

The company expressed a desire to be involved in the building of the new Aircraft carriers planned for the Royal Navy for the first decade of the new century. John Stafford, Chief Executive pointed out that #5 Dry Dock was of sufficient size to construct a carrier.


The Barrow and Liverpool based shipping company, James Fisher and Sons plc has, for the second time in just over a month denied press speculation that it is in take-over talks.

Once again the Daily Mail newspaper has reiterated speculation that the likely predator would be Cammell Laird who could offer as much as £1.45 per share.

The company has denied knowledge of take over approaches and says it is looking into possible opportunities in cable laying and a gas tanker joint venture.

At the Cammell Laird AGM on Wednesday it was expressed that the company was not particularly looking at becoming an operator.

John Luxton

August 15, 199


Back Home Up Next

16th August 1999



LADY OF MANN: The Lady of Mann operated two special sailings this week to Douglas. From Llandudno on Monday 9th August and From Fleetwood on Tuesday 10th August.

Both sailings were very well supported with all 900 tickets sold for the Llandudno sailing, whilst the Fleetwood sailing attracted over 850 passengers. There are unconfirmed rumours circulating that there will be one more excursion from Fleetwood in September. Meanwhile the next Llandudno excursion will be on 23 August it is reported to be sold out.

On her return from Fleetwood on Tuesday 10th August, the LADY OF MANN, under the command of Captain Bridson put in a very creditable performance. The ship achieved a crossing time of just 2 hours and 50 minutes from ropes off to ropes on.

Other recent crossings suggest that the Lady certainly is on top form. Following requests from a reader last week, I have now provided details of all advertised timetabled sailings for the LADY OF MANN for the remainder of the current timetable up to 11th March 2000.

SEACAT SCOTLAND: Following the mishap at Troon, which resulted in SEACAT SCOTLAND being damaged. The company later denied witness reports that one of the vessel's propshafts had broken prior to the collision.

LATE NEWS: Due to the cancellation of SEACAT DANMARK between Belfast and Douglas there are a number of sailing changes on Sunday evening and Monday morning 15th /16th August.

SEACAT ISLE OF MAN will operate the Belfast route as detailed below:

17.15 Belfast to Douglas departs at 02.00 on 16th August
20.45 Douglas to Belfast departs at 22.30

LADY OF MANN will operates the 22.30 Douglas to Liverpool. [This is a good move as it will avoid the LADY having to return light to Merseyside on Monday morning]

Passengers on the 01.45 Liverpool to Douglas diverted via Heysham for travel on the BEN-MY-CHREE.

SUPERSEACAT TWO the company has announced that the Newhaven to Dieppe service is to operate throughout the year following five successful months of operation. Passenger numbers are recorded as receiving another major boost this week as over 20,000 passengers and 5,000 vehicles crossed to Dieppe to view the total Eclipse. [One has to question the validity of the claim of 20,000 passengers when one takes into account the capacity of the craft and frequency of the sailings! - JHL]

Sea Containers will operate a daily service from Newhaven to Dieppe on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays to the end of the year, with a full week's service operated during the October half term holidays. SUPERSEACAT TWO will depart from Newhaven daily at 08.30, returning from Dieppe at 17.00.

Services will be suspended for a six-week refit before resuming in mid February 2000. The full summer service recommences in April. The Newhaven route director David Stafford said:" I am delighted to be able to confirm year-round services from Newhaven, vindicating our belief in the route, and the support of the many people who have used the service over the last few months. Today's news means that we can continue to build and develop the day trip and short break markets during the winter season."

A few weeks ago a Brighton cat tried to stow away on board SUPERSEACAT TWO for a sailing to Dieppe. Security officers discovered the cat under the bonnet of a Rover Metro. The owners of the car were from Durham and had spent the night in Southover Street, Brighton. The cat probably sneaked in to the engine compartment for a sleep. The feline was handed over to the Cat's Protection League whilst efforts were made to trace its owner.


With a host of new routes, Sea Containers witnessed significant traffic growth in the first six months of 1999, with combined carryings of more than 4 million passengers and 566,000 vehicles on all routes. The company now operates ferry services from ten different countries.

In January, Sea Containers acquired Express Navigation, Inc., (renamed SeaStreak America Inc.), its first ferry interest in the United States. The company runs a high-speed passenger ferry service from Wall Street's Pier 11 on Manhattan's East Side to Highlands and Atlantic Highlands in New Jersey and Pier 4 in Brooklyn. By the end of June the service had carried 138,000 passengers.

April marked the acquisition of a majority shareholding in Neptun Maritime Oyj, the main part of which is Silja Line, operating services between Finland and Sweden, Finland and Estonia and Finland and Germany, via Estonia. The company carried more than 2.8 million passengers and more than 134,000 vehicles in the first six months of the year.

SeaCat AB, which operates the SUPERSEACAT ONE between Gothenburg, Sweden, and Frederikshavn, Denmark, carried 258,000 passengers and 47,000 vehicles during the period.

Hoverspeed opened the Newhaven - Dieppe service in April with the SUPERSEACAT TWO. The company, which also operates services between Dover - Calais, Folkestone - Boulogne and in a joint venture with Holyman on Dover - Ostend, carried more than 1.6 million passengers and 294,000 vehicles during the six-month period.

Hoverspeed is now the only short sea cross channel ferry operator to offer more than one choice of destination in continental Europe.

Following the European Union's decision to abolish duty free sales, Hoverspeed is maximising its duty paid sales through its three land based stores in France and Belgium. The company will continue to retail at French duty rates both onboard and through its land-based stores, with prices remaining at duty free levels. At the same time, passengers can benefit from higher purchasing limits, due to the end of vendor control.

Sea Containers' Irish Sea Operations also continued to grow. The new Belfast - Heysham SEACAT DANMARK service, introduced in March, has carried 48,000 passengers and 14,000 vehicles, while the new Belfast – Troon route, introduced in April, has carried 56,000 passengers and 12,000 vehicles. The Belfast-Stranraer service has carried 124,000 passengers and 36,000 vehicles during the six-month period. Demand on this route has led to an extra summer service being introduced and it is anticipated further sailings will be added in the autumn.

The Liverpool-Dublin service, which introduced the new £20 million SUPERSEACAT THREE in April, has carried 111,000 passengers and 20,000 vehicles since recommencing service in March.

The Isle of Man Steam Packet Company carryings continue to grow on the company's ferry services between Douglas, Isle of Man, and Liverpool, Heysham, Belfast and Dublin. In the first six months of 1999 the company carried 235,000 passengers and 75,000 vehicles.

The Argyll and Antrim Steam Packet Co., which operates the conventional ferry between Campbeltown, Scotland and Ballycastle, Northern Ireland, recommenced its summer seasonal service early in June and carried 3,000 passengers and 1,000 vehicles up to the end of June.

David Benson, Senior Vice President, Passenger Transport said:

"The first six months of 1999 have been very promising. I am delighted to see our ferry operations expand into North America and the Baltic Sea. We are well prepared to continue our growth into the next millennium."

Meanwhile on 10 August Sea Containers announced its results for the quarter and six months ended June 30, 1999. Led by strong performance from passenger transport and hotels, the company reported net earnings of $23.2 million on revenue of $330 million for the quarter. Net earnings were up 33% over the second quarter of 1998. Diluted earnings per common share for the quarter were $1.25, up 32% from the $0.95 reported for the year earlier period.

For the six months, excluding the effect of a compulsory change in accounting principle, net earnings were $26.8 million, up 50% over the prior year, while diluted net earnings per common share, also excluding the effect of the compulsory accounting change, were $1.25, up 28% over the prior year.

Mr. James B. Sherwood, president, said these excellent results were achieved despite a decline of $2.4 million in operating profits from marine container leasing in the second quarter compared with the year earlier period. He indicated that from mid-April container lease outs have exceeded container returns and overall there has been no significant decline in lease rates. At June 30, GE SeaCo SRL, the marine container leasing joint venture with GE Capital, had acquired $35 million of new containers since the beginning of the year and leases have been made for this equipment at satisfactory rates. Utilisation of the fleet is currently 77% compared with 74% at April 15th.

For the first time in the second quarter, operating profits from both passenger transport and hotels ($23.3 million and $18.4 million, respectively) have exceeded those from container leasing ($15.5 million), highlighting the success of the company’s strategy to expand substantially its passenger transport and leisure businesses during a period when marine container leasing is in the doldrums.

Within the passenger transport sector, profits for the quarter from the Silja investment in Finland and Hoverspeed in the English Channel, were substantially more than budgeted, while Irish Sea, ports and GNER (rail) profits were somewhat less compared with the year earlier period. The company’s Sweden/Denmark ferry service was ahead of budget and New York ferry service operations broke even. On a combined basis, operating profits for the passenger transport division for the quarter were $23.3 million compared with $16.9 million in the year earlier period.

The company’s leisure division reported operating profits of $18.4 million for the second quarter compared with $14.1 million in the same period of 1998, led by strong performances from Italian, North and South American and Portuguese properties. Southern Africa properties were weak, although results from the Westcliff in Johannesburg, opened in March 1998, were better than in the year earlier period. Results from the company’s tourist trains and cruise ship were on a par with the year earlier period.

Mr. Sherwood said that the passenger transport division, having acquired Seastreak (formerly Express Navigation, Inc.) in New York in January and Silja in Finland in April, is not only highly satisfied with the initial results of these companies, but is also considering investment in a Mediterranean based operator at year end.

Mr. Sherwood said the third quarter, the main earnings period of the company, was progressing according to plan, and he reaffirmed his forecast made at the June 8th annual meeting of shareholders, that diluted earnings per common share in 1999 should be at least 20% greater than the $3.11 reported in 1998, excluding the charge relating to the compulsory accounting rule change in the first quarter. He concluded by saying that the report from consultants on the proposed company name change was expected in September and would be considered by the board at their October meeting.

GARY ANDREW'S COMMENT: It seems that the Sea Containers’ success story continues. Of most interest to the ferry world in the results announced are the news of a potential Mediterranean purchase for the firm and that the plans for a name change are progressing. No doubt Sea Containers will continue to provide much of interest to the ferry enthusiast.


Dismantling of the Isle of Man Department of Transport owned gangway on Victoria Pier, Douglas commenced on Friday 13th August. It was built for the department by the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company's engineering department "Fort Street Services".

The moveable gangway linked the KING ORRY to an extension of the Victoria Pier passenger walkway ensuring that passengers had a completely weather proof journey from departure lounge to ship. However, with the sale of the KING ORRY the structure, which has had a comparatively short life, had become obsolete.

Around 11.00 on Friday it was noted drawn forward on its wheels clear of the covered walkway. Before 12.00 slings, held by a Department of Transport crane had been attached around the section, which linked with the ship. By the evening this section had been removed and was sitting on the quay.

JHL'S COMMENT: Today, passengers travelling on the BEN-MY-CHREE use an elevated walkway to cross Douglas Harbour and then descend to the level of the Edward Pier continuing their journey along a ground level covered walkway. They then have to leave the shelter of this walkway to walk up the BEN-MY-CHREE's gangway. Having done this on two occasions during heavy rain, it’s a long enough exposure to get a good drenching and have to splash through puddles between the gangway and the end of the walkway. I suppose this is called progress?

It is to be regretted that the Isle of Man Government had not seen fit to spend additional money to continue the elevated walkway along the Edward Pier and provide access to the BEN-MY-CHREE at a higher level via a movable gangway. I recall press reports, which suggested this had been considered but was ruled out because of the cost. A moveable high level gangway has recently been commissioned by Dublin Port to serve Irish Ferries vessels using berth 49.

It is nothing short of amazing that the Isle of Man Government, so ready to organise a select committee to investigate the   shipping services provided by Sea Containers [which are such  significant improvement over that offered by the old Isle of Man Steam Packet Company] cannot get their act together to provide a decent passenger gangway for the principal service vessel.

Sea Containers, on the other hand have modified their facilities at Heysham to ensure an almost under cover journey from terminal to ship.

Perhaps its time that The Isle of Man government sold Douglas Harbour and the Sea Terminal to Sea Containers Ports? Then the present inferior walkway would not have cost the Manx taxpayer a penny and probably Sea Containers  might have developed a more satisfactory solution?


The owners of the MANXMAN, which suddenly began sinking on the Wear last month, are still waiting to hear what the damage will cost. Insurance assessors are believed to be visiting the MANXMAN, moored at Pallion Engineering on the Wear under the Queen Alexander Bridge, Sunderland, in the next few weeks


Celtic Sea Charters is the new operator proposing to introduce a Whitehaven - Douglas passenger service along with coastal cruises in Scotland and Ireland has announced that the introduction of its vessel THRAKI II [To be renamed CELTIC PRINCESS] has been delayed. The company blames the need to replace the ship's fire safety equipment for the delay and hopes within the next three weeks.


The ROYAL DAFFODIL [OVERCHURCH] re-entered service with a private cruise on 13th August after her £1.7m refit. She is expected to commence operations on the Mersey Ferries Heritage Cruise on 16th August.

Meanwhile, work on fitting out the new Seacombe landing stage continues at Mortar Mill Quay, East Float, Birkenhead.


The small Yugoslav passenger/cargo ship PRINCE ALBERT never appears to be out of the Merseyside news. [The local press insists on calling the vessel a luxury yacht!] On Thursday evening the Ukrainian crew were due to be escorted to Heathrow Airport for deportation.

The International Transport Workers Federation claimed that the crew, hired to convert the vessel into a floating restaurant had not been paid for over three months. Local ITF representative Tom Molloy presented the crew with a gift of £10,000 and is quoted by the Liverpool Daily Post as stating, "The crew has been caught in the middle of this mess. We will be seeking to have the ship arrested so that wages can be claimed from him [Captain Khanenko]."

Local ship's chandlers, Joseph P. Lamb, owned by local businessman and politician Sir Trevor Jones has been supplying the crew with food.

The owner of vessel, Captain Khanenko denies the accusations and blames competitors at the Albert Dock for trying to make trouble.


Last week comment was made concerning the fare for the Mersey Ferries Millennium Cruise. I have since received information, which suggests that compared to what is being offered in London the £200 fare is a bargain.

Geoffrey Hamer writes: "Mersey Ferries' cruise on 31 December is cheap compared with prices being asked in London. The BALMORAL was rumoured to be coming here with the chartered asking over £700 a head for an evening on the Thames.

The PRIDE OF BILBAO is due to sail from Dover on 31 December to London and return the next day. The fare, including one night aboard and three meals, starts at £785.

This certainly makes the Mersey Ferries sailing on board the newly refitted ROYAL DAFFODIL [ex OVERCHURCH] a bargain - if you can afford it!


An unfortunate accident happened to a passenger travelling with Irish Ferries on Thursday 12th August when a woman was crushed against a pillar on board the ISLE OF INISHMORE by a moving truck whilst she made her way to a coach on which she was travelling.

The woman was flown to Ysbyty Gwynedd Hospital at Bangor, where she remains critically ill.

The Health and Safety executive is reported to be investigating the incident.

On the previous evening a passenger fell overboard from the mv JONATHAN SWIFT - see below.


The campaign to save the Liverpool Coastguard Station at Crosby has been successful.

The deputy Prime Minister John Prescott announced this week that unlike several other stations proposed for closure the Liverpool Station would be retained. Following advice from Lord Donaldson who said that the station had a particularly heavy workload and stressed that the centre had a strategic location in the event of a maritime pollution incident, given the large number of takers which travel to and from Merseyside.

Original reorganisation proposals would have seen the Liverpool Station closed and the are of Operation of Anglesey Coastguard Station extended as far north as Scotland.

PENINSULAR & ORIENTAL S.N.Co News by Gary Andrews

The refit period of P&O European Ferries (Irish Sea) freight vessels continues. The EUROPEAN NAVIGATOR is understood to be due back in service from dry-dock having been previously released for overhaul from the Larne – Cairnryan route by the EUROPEAN NAVIGATOR on 29 July. The EUROPEAN NAVIGATOR was observed continuing to operated in place of the EUROPEAN ENDEAVOUR on 11 August. The European Highlander is currently operating additional trips on the Larne - Ardrossan route to cover for the absence of the sailings by the EUROPEAN TRADER and EUROPEAN ENDEAVOUR caused by the refit period.

The EUROPEAN NAVIGATOR operated the Larne – Fleetwood evening sailing on 7 August and Fleetwood – Larne morning sailing on 8 August in place on the EUROPEAN SEAFARER, presumably to allow routine maintenance to the EUROPEAN SEAFARER. Clive Jackson reports that the EUROPEAN SEAFARER returned to service as normal operating the morning sailing from Fleetwood on 9 August and presumably the evening sailing from Larne on 8 August. Similarly the EUROPEAN NAVIGATOR operated the schedule of the European Pioneer on 14 August.

The EUROPEAN LEADER is due for dry-docking at Cammell Laird on 29 August and is understood that the EUROPEAN NAVIGATOR will cover her sailings on the Liverpool – Dublin route during the refit period. It certainly seems that the EUROPEAN NAVIGATOR is on course to have the most interesting operational summer of any vessel in the P&O fleet operating at some point on almost all P&OEFIS routes.


There is currently strong speculation in Lancashire that P&O European Ferries are set to introduce a third vessel to the Fleetwood – Larne route, perhaps as soon as September.

No vessel has been linked with the service and it is possible that it may simply involve the EUROPEAN NAVIGATOR or EUROPEAN HIGHLANDER operating additional sailings. If a "full" third vessel is to be added to the route, the sensible solution may be to release the EUROPEAN PATHFINDER from the Rosslare – Cherbourg route and transfer her to the Cairnryan operation in place of the EUROPEAN NAVIGATOR and in turn transfer the EUROPEAN NAVIGATOR to the Fleetwood route.

The spin-off of such a move would be that the EUROPEAN PATHFINDER would be more suited to the fast turnaround times required for the Cairnryan service. There is still great hope at Fleetwood that P&O will build ro-pax vessels for the service along the lines of those already ordered for Cairnryan and Liverpool.

Meanwhile repairs are continuing the Isle of Man berth in Fleetwood. As the repairs were not complete for the LADY OF MANN's Douglas excursion on 10 August there has been much speculation as to why money is being spent on a structure which is rarely used. Up to the early eighties P&O occasionally used the IOM berth as a layover berth, and it has been suggested it may again be required for this purpose should a third vessel be introduced.


This week there was great news for those of us who were deeply annoyed by P&O’s decision to remove many of their ferries from the British register, with an announcement that could see a large number of the ships returning to the British flag.

One particularly good aspect to the news is the potential that the new P&O cruise ferries for P&O North Sea Ferries and the new ro-pax ferries for the P&O European Ferries (Irish Sea) may now be British registered.

The following is largely taken from a P&O press release on the news and helps to explain the significant development.

The Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company has strongly welcomed the Government’s shipping initiative announced on 12 August, including the acceptance of Lord Alexander’s report recommending the introduction of a tonnage tax system. This will make the UK a competitive location for international shipping businesses and has the potential to bring enormous benefits across all sectors of the industry. Commenting on the announcement, P&O Chairman Lord Sterling said:

"This is the biggest boost to our shipping industry in the last 20 years and makes the UK competitive again in world terms. "Although there will be no link between tonnage tax and flag, I am now committing P&O to bring at least 50 ships onto the UK register. They will include Grand Princess - the world's biggest cruise ship - as well as other cruise ships, ferries, container ships and bulk carriers. This will make a total of over 100 P&O ships registered here and will increase the tonnage on the UK register by 75%. "At the same time we will double the number of British cadets we train to over 300 and we would expect to go beyond this in time. The UK will become the base for more of our international strategic and operational management. We will place more purchasing and equipment orders here and carry out more refits in British yards."

A tonnage tax is beneficial in that it provides certainty as to future tax liabilities, flexibility because the constraints of a capital allowance system would no longer apply, and clarity as to a company's tax position. Although actual payments of tax by a company may not be significantly reduced, the liability for deferred tax is removed.

Lord Sterling added: "London is still considered the maritime centre of the world. I believe that a tax friendly regime will encourage foreign companies to locate here and UK companies to consolidate their presence. The long-term benefits to employment and wealth creation could be immense."

"There is great pride in this country in our maritime history and we in P&O are very conscious of the role of the UK fleet as the ‘fourth arm of defence’. As we enter the new millennium, we now have the opportunity of rebuilding our maritime heritage and ensuring that the younger generation is as proud of the Red Ensign as their forebears."

A tonnage tax or, more accurately, a tonnage-based corporation tax, significantly reduces the tax burden on shipping profits. The arrangements in the UK will permit shipping companies either to remain within the existing capital allowance based system or to elect to be taxed on profits calculated by reference to the tonnage of their fleets. The tonnage-based profits will be low and the resultant tax liability will be considerably less than that of the existing system. Companies will make ten-year elections for either the tonnage system or the status quo in relation to profits arising from their shipping activities.

Under the present capital allowance system, liabilities may be deferred and little tax may actually be paid. Thus while the tonnage basis will give rise to a lower tax liability it will not necessarily reduce tax payments. The tonnage system will, however, give certainty that a major liability will not arise and will give companies greater flexibility in planning and financing their capital expenditure as they will not be inhibited by the need to defer tax.

Each national tonnage tax regime is specified in detailed rules and procedures that are tailored to national circumstances and policies. Lord Alexander’s report sets out the main features of the UK regime. The details of the final legislation will be important but we understand that the Government is committed to ensuring the UK regime is internationally competitive. Legislation is expected to be introduced in the Finance Bill next year, with the new regime back dated so as to be in effect from the start of each company’s then current financial year (i.e. for P&O, from 1 January 2000).

Once legislation has been enacted, it is expected that all P&O’s UK shipping businesses will elect for the tonnage-based system. As a consequence the firm’s annual tax charge should be reduced and earnings per share should benefit and their overall tax position should be considerably simplified, particularly in relation to deferred tax, and P&O should have a more flexible structure for our shipping interests in future.

A tonnage based tax regime has been introduced in a number of countries in the EU and elsewhere. The one in the Netherlands, which the UK shipping industry has advocated as the basis for one here, has been highly successful in rejuvenating Dutch shipping. Germany introduced a tonnage tax this year while Greece has had one for some time.

The European Commission has expressly approved the concept. Norway also has a tonnage tax while a number of other European and non-European countries provide tax privileges for shipping through a variety of arrangements.

The introduction of a tonnage tax in the UK was specifically recommended by the Shipping Working Group which was set up in 1997 by the Deputy Prime Minister and brought together all sectors of the UK shipping industry. Its proposals provided the basis for the DETR paper "British Shipping: Charting a New Course", published in December 1998. Lord Alexander was subsequently asked to conduct an independent enquiry on the subject and report to the Treasury. His report, recommending introduction of a tonnage tax regime and accepted by the Government, was published on 12 August.


The Managing Director of Dart Line has been appointed managing director of Cenargo's Ferry Division. He will be in overall charge of Merchant Ferries, Belfast Freight Ferries and the recently acquired Norse Irish Ferries.

Prior to working for Dart Line he was with Sally Line and has experience of passenger operations, which becoming increasingly passenger orientated.


Plans have been announced for a new steel terminal costing £2m at Gladstone Dock. The terminal will be served by a new rail link from the existing dock lines.

A dockside warehouse will be provided, with an adjacent berth of 385 metres. The warehouse will be provided with two gantry cranes with a lift capacity of 30 tonnes.

Another rail link is planned to connect new warehousing at the Freeport Terminal as part of a £20m plan. A MD&HC spokesman commented to the local press: "The rail link under lines the growing importance of freight movement in the Port of Liverpool and Freeport by train which now amounts to 2 million tonnes of cargo each year. More than 40 trains a week serve Britain's most central deep sea port and largest freeport, including a daily Italian service carrying containers and swapbodies to and from Novara near Milan, via the Channel Tunnel. Other freight now moved by rail includes containerised coal for Northern Ireland and scrap metal."

JHL's COMMENT: It is certainly interesting to see the new growth of the dock railway network. Until the early 1970's the Port of Liverpool had an impressive rail system operated by busy diesel shunters and small saddle tank engines one of which survives in the Liverpool Museum Transport Collection.

The dock railway system included the much lamented mainline station at Riverside used by ocean liner trains, but sadly never exploited to support passenger sailings to the Isle of Man or Ireland which used the adjacent landing stage and Prince's Dock.

However, with the closure of the south docks and the retraction of the dock system northwards beyond the Pier Head most of the railway system fell in to disuse, though miles of abandoned tracks can be followed around the docks.

In recent years there has been a change of emphasis with the remaining system being progressively expanded again with the provision of new sidings and links.


The cruise ship CRYSTAL SYMPHONY [50,202 grt] built in 1995 will pay a visit to the River Mersey on Tuesday 17th August. The CRYSTAL SYMPHONY is expected to be in the river from around 08.00 to 22.00. Passengers will have time to either explore Liverpool or participate in coach tours of the area.


One wouldn't normally expect to see this operator mentioned in Mersey and Irish Sea Shipping. However, DART 2 has entered the area, arriving at Dublin Port for dry-docking.


The liner NORWAY (ex-FRANCE) [76,049 grt] anchored off Dun Laoghaire on 10th August.


It is reported that South Hams District Council has decided against selling the Dartmouth Lower Ferry. The crew aboard the Council’s ferries TOM AVIS and TOM CASEY which operate the Dartmouth- Kingswear route had hoped to buy the service and are angry at the news.

River Dart ferry and pleasure cruise operations have been in the news recently following the Dart Valley Railway Company's acquisition of Dart Pleasure Craft and Riddalls Red Cruisers earlier in the year.


The Company's AGM will be held this Wednesday at the Village Hotel, Bromborough. At the meeting shareholders will vote on a resolution to increase the authorised share capital of the company and approve the issue of nine bonus shares for each existing ordinary share.


A few weeks part of the news posting was given over to airing my personal views on the state of the Maritime Heritage of these islands.

Gary Andrews forwarded some information concerning Dunoon Pier, Scotland.

Apparently the Victorian Pier used by the Clyde steamers is in a very poor condition and will have to be closed later this year for assessment. There are fears that the pier is so decayed that it may not be possible to save the structure putting into jeopardy the Caledonian MacBrayne ferry service from Gourock. The Waverley Steam Navigation Company are also users of the pier.

Argyll and Bute council is reported as regarding the matter as the area's biggest crisis since the departure of the United States Navy from Holy Loch in 1992 and is calling on the Scottish Executive for action.

The cost of replacing or repairing the listed structure is put at £6.5m. An alternative proposal to provide a protecting breakwater for the existing structure would cost over £4m.

Councillor Dick Walsh, commented: "We've spent hundreds of thousands of pounds maintaining the pier. Every winter we have to find at least £100,000 to repair it and its condition continues to deteriorate. We're throwing good money after bad. We'd be as well putting the money in a barrow and tipping it over the end of the pier."

A decision about the pier's future has been delayed for a long time, pending the publication of a Government review into Clyde ferry services.

A leaked draft of the consultant's report suggested the option of letting vehicular traffic be carried by privately-owned Western Ferries via the out-of-town landing at Hunter's Quay. This would also be bad news for foot passengers, who can step off a train at Gourock, walk on to a Caledonian MacBrayne ferry, and be taken directly to Dunoon town centre.

Local businesses fear for their future if the pier is demolished and ferry services cease

John Luxton

August 15, 1999 

Back Home Up Next

August 8August 8


This week I would like to apologise for the recent deterioration in the quality of spelling on the site for which I have had my fingers well rapped by two regular visitors to the site!

After examining last week's news update I decided to run the spell checker over most text pages on both the main M&ISS site and the archive site. Yes there where quite a few mistakes - even some really obvious ones - WINDEMER for Windermere comes to mind and that was in a section heading in bold capitals! Then there were half a dozen other words which cropped up with monotonous regularity!

I will now undertake to check things more thoroughly in future, though I notice this deterioration has been more noticeable in recent months.

Once again there are quite a few news items and features for your perusal. Please go to the "What's New" page to check for all the details of new material. You may also note that some more older material has now been transferred to the M&ISS Archives Site including the new 1997 and 1998 News Bulletins and the older Maritime Questions.

Whilst on the subject of Maritime Questions I have decided to abandon trials of and automated posting and reply systems as I am having problems getting things to function correctly. Therefore, all Maritime Questions should be posted to me directly for inclusion with each week's updates.

Once again I am very grateful for the numerous contributions by e-mail and snail mail which have arrived this week.

Have a good week!



LADY OF MANN: This coming week the Lady will operate two special excursions. From Llandudno on Monday 9th August and Fleetwood on Tuesday 10th of August. The Llandudno sailing has been sold out for some time with 900 tickets issued. I understand that 700 tickets have been sold so far for the Fleetwood sailing.

SEACAT DANMARK - A few weeks ago SUPERSEACAT THREE went to the aid of a stricken yacht off Anglesey. This week it was SEACAT DANMARK, which rendered assistance to a vessel in distress: The vessel answered a May Day call from the fishing boat LIBERTY, a Belfast registered fishing boat, which had started taking water.

SCD deployed her fast rescue boat and was joined by the Peel Lifeboat, a Royal Navy helicopter from Prestwick and three other fishing boats. Once and extra pump and a winchman had been placed on board the LIBERTY, SEACAT DANMARK resumed her voyage. The Peel lifeboat remaining on standby.

SEACAT SCOTLAND Following last week's collision with a concrete pile whilst leaving Troon on the 11.15 sailing to Belfast on 30th July the vessel remained out of service until 2nd August.

A report on Yahoo news suggested that the force of the collision threw passengers to the floor, though no one was injured. A Falkirk passenger, Charlie Johnston was reported as saying: "There was a big bang and shudder and it was fortunate most people were already in their seats. I saw children waiting in a queue for food being thrown into barriers. It could have been much worse."

Eyewitnesses told the Daily Record that they believed one of the catamaran's propshafts braking, making it impossible for the captain to steer correctly. A witness at Troon told the newspaper: "I was just watching it leave and it had dropped its ropes and was about 30-feet out. Suddenly there was a cloud of black smoke which completely covered the ship and then an almighty bang."

Sea Containers later denied claims of significant repairs being made and said there was only minor superficial damage.


Once again the prospect of the TSS MANXMAN being used as a Museum of the TT [Tourist Trophy Races] on the Isle of Man.

The Tynwald Minister for Tourism and Leisure, David Cretney MHK stated that this had been one of more than 30 ideas suggested by the public. Mr. Cretney would not rule out the possibility of the vessel being purchased by the nation but expressed concerns over whether the vessel is seaworthy enough to bring to the Isle of Man.


Work is believed to be well advanced on providing a new £30million deepwater quay and ro/ro facility at Mostyn on the Dee Estuary. The berth will be accessible at all stages of the tide.


As readers will be aware, the new Merchant Ferries ships BRAVE MERCHANT and DAWN MERCHANT are named after race horses Dancing Brave and Dawn Run. This being perpetuated on board by an interesting, and different racing theme.

It is reported this week that the race horse Dancing Brave, BRAVE MERCHANT's namesake has died. The horse was nominated "Horse of the Year" in 1996. There is a large sculpture of the horse in BRAVE MERCHANT'S bar.


P&O's EUROPEAN SEAFARER re-entered service following dry-dock on her evening sailing from Larne on 30thJuly. This allowed the EUROPEAN NAVIGATOR to stand down from Larne - Fleetwood service relief duties, having operated the morning sailing from Fleetwood on the same day. For the record the two vessels were observed "switching over" at Larne around 18.30 on 30th July.


Some new promotions are in progress to tempt people aboard the HSS. On the North Channel, Gary Andrews reports that a new Northern Ireland day trip programme has been via the Belfast - Stranraer HSS service.

More than 100,000 brochures have been distributed across Scotland and the North of England for the trips, which include trips to such attractions as the Giant's Causeway, Mountains of Mourne and Glens of Antrim. Bookings are reported to be very good on the excursions.

Meanwhile on the central corridor Stena have now matched Irish Ferries 5 day return fare with a car and 5 passengers for £199 and are also promoting discounts on spirits and beers at low prices e.g. Smirnoff at £11.99, case of Beck's Bier at £18.99.

Last week the company began advertising a promotion on Merseyside in conjunction with First North West Trains. A Liverpool - Dublin two for the price of one offer from £51. This allows foot passengers to travel by train from Liverpool to Holyhead to connect with HSS STENA EXPLORER travel to Dun Laoghaire and then take the DART into Dublin.


The Mersey Docks & Harbour Company's floating crane has been busy this week.

On Wednesday the crane was in action in Sandon Dock in which it raised the sunken tug WACHTEL.

The WACHTEL has lain sunken near the sealed Sandon River entrance for some time. This small tug had been used to support German Navy U-boats

During the latter part of the week providing heavy lift facilities for underwater engineers Keilston Marine at Seacombe.

Keilston have been engaged to install storm water outflow pipes as part of work being carried out by Birse for North West Water as part of the Mersey clean up project.

On Thursday evening's high water the Mammoth was noted alongside the river wall just south of the Seacombe Floating Stage working in conjunction with divers, the jack-up barge CONQUEST and work boat PHOBOS.


The ROYAL DAFFODIL [ex-OVERCHURCH] is expected to commence operations on the ferry service on 16th August.

The vessel will also be used on a special Millennium Eve party. The party includes music provided by a 1960s group The Undertakers, a disco and half bottle of champagne and a reception at the Woodside Terminal restaurant. Departure from Woodside Terminal is at 20.30 with drop off at the Pier Head at 01.45 and Woodside at 02.00 on New Years day. The fare is £200 with 250 tickets available. Booking forms are available from Mersey Ferries on 0151-330-1444.

A spokesman for Mersey Ferries, said: "Mersey Ferries is offering a cruising entertainment evening giving a magical window into the next Millennium in the heart of a Magical City"

JL's COMMENT: £200 appears to be rather a high price to pay for a floating Millennium Party. Given that two-week cruises are available on a late August Mediterranean sailing of the APOLLON from just £599 [see below]. Whilst the DAFFODIL may carry a few wealthy party-goers I guess there won't be many ship enthusiasts aboard as that kind of money can buy quite a lot of travel at other times of the year.


JONATHAN SWIFT's operations have been rather erratic of late. Services were cancelled on 1st and 2nd August for technical reasons. She was also out of service on the 4th August and a radio report suggested that things would not be back to normal until this Monday 9th August. 

Cammell Laird is understood to have tendered for the refit of the NORMANDY.


Another advertisement has appeared in the local press this week announcing major reductions on the APOLLON's Mediterranean Cruise, due to depart Liverpool on 28th August returning 11th September. Inside 2 berth cabins are reduced from £899 to £599, Outside 2 berth cabins reduced from £1099 to £699. Inside budget from £1049 to £649. Inside standard reduced from £1099 to £699. Outside standard from £1299 to £799 and Outside Superior Plus from £1599 to £999. Fares quoted per person sharing. These fares are advertised by Cruise World which can be contacted on 01902 845125.

JL's COMMENT: This is the third cruise for which I have seen significant last minute reductions offered by Cruise World. One wonders how good the loadings have been after last years problems with the EDINBURGH CASTLE and if the need to offer heavily discount fares reveals low demand to the extent that cruises from Liverpool will not be operated in 2000.


The company has tendered for the upgrading of the cruise ships COSTA CLASSICA and COSTA ROMANTICA as well as the ro/ro ferry NORMANDY that operates for Irish Ferries on the Rosslare - Cherbourg/Roscoff routes.

Work is reported to be continuing on the PEREGRINE VII, with the crew now back on board and the commencement of propulsion trials. The next step will be the commissioning of the thrusters.

Oceanic Marine Investments Ltd - a division of Cammell Laird Holdings has purchased the containership SUN PEGASUS. The vessel arrived at the wet basin on 26th July for possible conversion or re-sale. The company's shares closed the week at an all time high of £10.10.


The former TYNE FISHER, which has been laid up at CAMMELL LAIRD, departed from the yard on 29th July. Renamed PACSA I she has been sold to PACSA NAVIERA S.A. and will be based in Valpariso, Chile.

CAST LINE by Philip Parker

Last month the Cast vessel "CAST LYNX" suffered a fire in her engine room whilst in the French port of Le Havre.

The fire broke out on a boiler while the vessel was berthed at the Quai de l'Atlantique container terminal and was rapidly brought under control by crewmembers.

Damage was very limited and only within the engine room, the vessel's cargo was unaffected by the incident, however her schedule was delayed.

The current sailing's of two vessel calls each week at Liverpool's Royal Seaforth Container Terminal are ending this month with one larger vessel calling on weekly basis with both east and west bound containers.


NORASIA LINE by Philip Parker

After much trumpet sounding earlier this year when they arrived Norasia Line have quietly left the River Mersey. The line has now deployed their fast vessels on other trades. Norasia is looking to charter more suitable tonnage for the north Atlantic after never really challenging the major established operators these routes.


John Luxton

August 8, 1999

Back Home Up Next

August 1, 1999


Having just returned from a few days holiday it was interesting to catch up with various developments during the past week. Fortunately it's been a rather quiet week.

First of all can I thank the readers who have supplied material for this week's update? Also I note that quite a few people have signed the now repaired Visitors' Book from which I had managed to loose all the entries from late March!

This week the first priority will be to make the Automated Questions section functional which, presently, is managing to loose all message posted!

Whilst I was away things did not quite develop as planned. I did undertake my usual cruise round the Devonport Dockyard at Plymouth. There were quite a few interesting vessels to be seen. - [Gallery pages to follow] This turned out to be quite a damp experience thanks to a combination of strong SW winds and my attention being distracted by Brittany Ferries QUIBERON from noticing a large wave as the PLYMOUTH VENTURE crossed the Sound!

I couldn't track down the SEVERN PRINCESS at Chepstow; I'll have to take another look when I am down that way in a month's time. The trip on the Western Lady Ferries was a non-starter. As I drove into Brixham the two Fairmiles were at moorings out in the harbour and were not operating. As for a trip on the Dart Valley Railway's recently acquired vessels - low water at Totnes and large crowds at Dartmouth persuaded me to go elsewhere!

Passing through Penzance the other day it was pleasing to see the harbour busy and the recently reopened shipyard busy. When I return to the south west for a few days in late August I'll undertake a photo survey of Penzance for M&ISS.


LADY OF MANN on July 24 the LADY operated a special sailing from Douglas to Port St.Mary. The Vernon Kinley Memorial Cruise sailed from Douglas at 20.15 with a load of 500 passengers, which included Captain Kinley's relatives, colleagues and friends. Also on board were company officials, local people and enthusiasts.

Ticket sales had been limited to 500 to ensure things did not get too crowded. A hot buffet had been included in the ticket price, which was served on the upper vehicle deck.

The LADY OF MANN was dressed overall - Captain Tommy Harrison who had served with Captain Kinley as mate on most of the special trips of recent years - was in charge of flags and had volunteered to sail as mate on this cruise.

The LADY was commanded by Captain Peter Corrin, last master of TSS MANXMAN, and now Marine Operations Manager. Pilotage into Port St.Mary was provided Dave Mc.Kaig. The LADY received a rousing welcome at Port St.Mary, which included a choir.

An on board band which had been playing then went ashore to accompany a display of Manx dancing alongside the ship. After an hour at Port St.Mary, the LADY OF MANN departed for Douglas, pausing briefly at Kallow Point where Captain Kinley had anchored the BEN-MY-CHREE overnight after her voyage from Holland last summer.

JL'S COMMENT: The above information was forwarded by a regular correspondent and that together with a more extensive voyage report on the LADY's operations that day forwarded by Adrian Sweeney which can be found elsewhere on the site is a reminder that I missed a wonderful trip. I just wish the cruise had not coincided with a prior arranged holiday. Perhaps, given its success, it could become an annual event? A fitting tribute to Captain Kinley who always made his voyages that little bit special for the interested passenger.

SEACAT SCOTLAND: on July 30, whilst departing from Troop on the 11.15 sailing to Belfast SEACAT SCOTLAND struck a submerged concrete pile. None of the crew or 440 passengers on board were injured. The vessel returned to her berth and passengers and vehicles were sent to Cairnryan for the 14.40 Jetliner sailing to Larne. Sea Containers reported that only minor damage was sustained and that it was hoped to have SEACAT SCOTLAND back in service by Sunday August 1st. However this did not happen and services from Belfast to Troop and Stranraer remained suspended on Sunday. With SEACAT SCOTLAND out of action alternative provision had to be made available as Gary Andrews reports:

"On 30 July the 14.15 Belfast - Stranraer and 16.15 return were cancelled, as was the 18.15 Belfast - Troop sailing and 21.30 return.

Passengers and cars were transferred to Stena. However, with both SEACAT SCOTLAND and STENA HSS bookings very heavy, Stena were forced to delay the STENA GALLOWAY'S 16.30 Belfast - Stranraer sailing to 18.00 in order to accommodate passengers from the cancelled Sea Containers' sailings.

This rather unfortunate delay meant that passengers due to arrive in Stranraer at 15.45 on the 14.15 SeaCat sailing ex Belfast arrived at 21.15.

Interestingly Stena were telling passengers and freight customers booked on the 16.30 Belfast - Stranraer sailing that the delay was due to "operational problems" - what they didn't mention was that these problems belonged to Sea Containers and not Stena!"


The news of a reduction in service on one of Sea Container's routes reached the Belgian media this week. The Oostende Ferry Site reported that on July 29 Sea Containers announced [on national TV and newspapers] that one of the two SeaCats deployed on the Dover - Oostende service will be withdrawn from the route. A Sea Containers spokesman claimed it was "Due to the abolition of duty free and unfair competition from the Channel Tunnel and Sea France." The move will involve up to 173 redundancies.

A union spokesman said:" This is a sad move but we saw it coming. We are hoping to save 25 jobs. The mechanics are specialists in the work that they do and Hoverspeed would like to keep them. They would move with the SeaCat to another route."

At present it is not clear which vessel will be moved - DIAMANTE or RAPIDE. There will be much speculation in the coming weeks as to where the vessel could be deployed perhaps there is just a chance that we might see one of these interesting vessels on the Irish Sea perhaps to replace one of the older InCats? The added capacity might be suited for the apparently very successful Heysham - Belfast route.


Clive Jackson reports that having operated on the Fleetwood - Larne route to allow the European Pioneer to go to refit the EUROPEAN NAVIGATOR is currently operating in place of the EUROPEAN SEAFARER. The EUROPEAN PIONEER and EUROPEAN SEAFARER switched over at Fleetwood on 14 July. With holiday periods currently in progress the opportunity has been taken to undertake maintenance work on the Fleetwood ro-ro berth. The Isle of Man berth is also being repaired, a rather surprising move given the berth is only due to be used one more time this summer.


The cable laying vessel ATLANTIS   stranded on sandbanks off Ainsdale on Tuesday July 27th making a dramatic sight on the sands near Southport. Photographs of this unusual vessel appearing in the Liverpool Echo.


The former Yugoslav cargo/passenger ship PRINCE ALBERT owned my Merseyside Maritime Ltd has been in the news again this week. In the last news posting it had been revealed that concerns had been expressed locally about the conditions of employment of the Ukrainian crew who were on board undertaking modifications for the vessel's new role as a floating restaurant berthed in Canning Dock.

This week immigration officers accompanied by police served the Ukrainian crew with illegal entry papers, and whilst allowing the crew to remain on board for a few days, are making arrangements to return the crew home.


All JONATHAN SWIFT high speed services were reported cancelled on August 1, 1999 due to "technical problems".


Technical problems on the Dun Laoghaire - Holyhead HSS service continue with Stena cancelling the 13.45 and 18.25 sailings of the Stena Explorer on the Holyhead - Dun Laoghaire route on August 3 for maintenance.

The company is offering a Liverpool - Dublin two for the price of one offer from £51 in conjunction with First North Western Trains. This allows foot passengers to travel by train from Liverpool to Holyhead to connect with HSS STENA EXPLORER travel to Dun Laoghaire and then take the DART into Dublin.

JL's COMMENT: The fare is quite competitive, but just why anyone from Liverpool would choose to effect three changes of transport to undertake a journey which could be undertaken directly with minimum fuss by either Sea Containers or Merchant Ferries is quite beyond me. Anyone preferring the sort-sea crossing would be better served by taking the Bus Éireann service from Liverpool via Chester to Dublin, which travels on board the ISLE OF INISHMORE. Given the delays experienced on the Holyhead - Dun Laoghaire route I wonder how many bored passengers might get to know the architecture of Holyhead Station intimately whilst passengers preferring the direct route to Liverpool sail past with Merchant Ferries or Sea Containers!


HMS BOXER [F92], Broadsword Class Type 22 Frigate which visited to Liverpool last weekend, and was berthed in Canada #1 Branch North has been decommissioned.

BOXER arrived at Devonport Dockyard around 07.30 on Thursday morning to pay off.


Charlie Tennant reports that when passing Silver Marine at Rosneath on the Gareloch on Friday he noticed that RNLB SIR EDMUND HILLARY (47-032) was back in the water having the finishing touches applied after overhaul and should be returned to Douglas, IOM soon.


A fishing boat almost sank after being a "hit & run" victim in the Irish Sea at 01.30 last Sunday morning.

The crew of the fishing vessel RENEGADE sent a distress call to Holyhead Coastguard stating they had been hit by an unknown, larger vessel and were sinking. The crew were rescued and their boat taken back to Howth by the Howth Lifeboat.

An investigation is being carried out to identify the mystery ship responsible for the collision.



It is reported that the EDINBURGH CASTLE, one of the three vessels purchased by the company from the receivers of Lowline should be available for sale or charter by December 1999.



Michael Pryce reports that Condor 10 completed her last commercial crossing of Cook Strait for Tranz Rail on 11th July 1999 as planned, but she still remains laid up in Wellington, with no certain departure date.

She is planned to operate a Port Everglades to Freeport service for U.S. company Boomerang Pty. Ltd., but charter arrangements and payments do not yet appear to have been finalised.


The RONDA MARINA [formerly chartered to Stena Line as STENA SEALYNX II to operate the Dun Laoghaire - Holyhead route prior to the introduction of the HSS STENA EXPLORER] has been reported to be laid up at Portland, Dorset since July 19. She had been employed on Buquebus's Algeciras - Ceuta service until replacement by the mono hull ALBAYZIN. The vessel is reported as being available for sale or charter.

RONDA MARINA has joined the CAT LINK I [CONDOR 11] which has been laid up at Portland for the past year.

John Luxton

August 1, 1999



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