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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


APRIL 2000

April 30


Welcome to the last update for April. Whilst there is not so much actual news, I have been able to assemble a number of other updates which quite a lot of additional material posted. In the event that you have not visited the site for over a week or so, just a reminder that a major news posting was uploaded on April 27 and appears immediately below the bulletin for April 30.


Due to technical problems which only became apparent after undertaking the main site update for April 30, I have removed the Live Maritime Discussion and Live Maritime Query features

Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Mike Pryce, Adrian Sweeney, Stan Basnett, John Shepherd and "others".


Reports on Sunday suggest that Sea Containers owned GNER may have been in takeover discussions with Prism Rail plc. However, negotiations are reported to have been broken off until the Shadow Strategic Rail Authority has renegotiated rail franchises.


Atlantic Container Line posted a solid increase in its earnings in the first quarter as transatlantic container volumes and freight rates continued to improve. Company chief executive Olav Rakkenes anticipated promising market conditions for the rest of the period. 


The sail training brig ASGARD II was forced to retire from the Plymouth to Cadiz leg of the Cutty Sark Tall Ships Race due to adverse conditions. Retirement from the leg enabled the vessel along with several other participant ships to run under engines and make better ground.


The MCA has released details of ships detained for various defects during March 2000. The list below shows ships which were detained at Irish Sea ports.

HELLA - Detained for one day at Birkenhead March 7, 2000.

LEO - Detained Belfast on March 13, 2000. Still under detention March 30.

LILIETT- Detained for seven days at Liverpool from March 14, 2000

TRIO VEGA - Detained for four days at Belfast from March 8, 2000. 

NOORDVANG - Detained Ayr July 16, 1996. Still detained March 30

KIMOLOS IV - Detained Ellesmere Port December 30, 1999. Still detained March 30.

BURCUM 1 - Detained Garston on February 14, 2000. Released March 16, 2000.


The Reuters news agency reports that Japanese investment bank Nomura International plans to bid 1.25 billion pounds for Britain's biggest port operator, Associated British Ports according to a Sunday newspaper.

The Sunday Telegraph said Nomura has hired investment bank Warburg Dillon Read to arrange the bid which the newspaper said would be announced by ABP on Monday.

The newspaper said Nomura was said to be interested in the company's strong cash flow, adding that some of ABP's own managers were thought to be planning a rival buyout.

The company reported in February a three percent rise in underlying pre-tax profits to 113.5 million pounds and its stock has outperformed the FTSE All Share Transport Index by 21.6 percent so far this year.

In the North West of  England ABP operates the former railway ports of Garston and Fleetwood. 


JETLINER has been returned to her owners Mjellem & Karlsen Verft AS in Bergen , Norway. It appears it is possible that after her annual dry docking has been completed she may be chartered to a Greek company for operation in the Mediterranean.


Tranz Rail's chartered CONDOR VITESSE completed her scheduled sailings across Cook Strait on 26th April. Her "Lynx" logos were overpainted 27th April.

She cleared Wellington Harbour   the evening of April 28 on her north-bound voyage.

Her route from Wellington is via Darwin, Colombo, Djibouti, Malta to  Weymouth, where she should arrive on May 20.



John Devereux, Coxwain of the Kilmore Quay Lifeboat in County Wexford was awarded the RNLI's Framed Letter of Appreciation for the rescue of the historic tug GOLDEN CROSS on December 21, 1999.

The GOLDEN CROSS, which is currently visiting Merseyside, lost power in Storm Force 10 winds with wave heights reaching 30ft  in the Irish Sea.

Other crew members  on that rescue - Eugene, Brian and Nigel Kehoe, Pat Power, Aidan Bates and Philip Walsh have recieved a collective Letter of Appreciation.


On Friday evening April 28, Stolt Comex's SEAWAY CONDOR departed from Cammell Lairds and was noted passing New Brighton just after 20:00 in the company of two  Cory [Weijsmuller] tugs.



The second Royal Maritime Auxiliary fleet tender ORONSAY has been launched and moved to the company's fitting out berth at Birkenhead's East Float. 

Earlier this year the company delivered the first fleet tender order to the RMA - the OBAN. The new vessel is virtually identical.


There is increased speculation that  Harland & Wolff is on the brink of landing a major shipbuilding contract from a Norwegian ferry company.

H&W is understood to be at an advanced stage in negotiations with a Norwegian company for the construction of four passenger ferries valued at £100m each.

If Harland and Wolff were to secure the  order it  would be a lifeline to the yard, where the 1,800 workforce is currently on 90-day protective notice.

Eeast Belfast Ulster Unionist Councillor Jim Rodgers described the development as "positive news" in a report in the Belfast Telegraph even though H&W was declining to make any official comment.

However  Jim Rodgers, who is chairman of the City Hall development committee, stressed that at this stage the possibility of an order was still just speculation.

Mr Rodgers commented: "That said, such a contract could go a long way to securing a
substantial number of the jobs of the core workforce at the yard. As I understand it from management and unions, there is still a lot of work to be done before this order will be in the bag. By next week things should become clearer, but at least it helps lift the air of doom and gloom which has descended on the yard in recent weeks.

Management is reported to have briefed the senior shop stewards committee at the yard during the past week about the possibility of the Norwegian order being secured.

If the contract is secured it looks as though there may still be some redundancies.

Brynjulv Mugaas, the H&W chief executive, was reported by the Belfast Telegraph not to be available for immediate comment, but he has been quoted as saying that nothing had so far been signed. While developments were positive, speculation that the yard was on the brink of securing the deal was "premature", he said.

In a commentary in the current issue of the H&W in-house magazine, Mr Mugaas said that if the yard was able to accept the challenges which lay ahead, it would be possible to have a viable, self-sustaining shipbuilding company at Queen's Island.

Harland & Wolff's financial results for 1999, which were published on Good Friday, revealed that the pre-tax profit had plummeted from £5.1m to zero, with an operating loss of £1m.


The naval vessel, the LE AOIFE detained an Irish fishing vessel, 25 miles off the Southwest coast near the Tusker Rock Lighthouse on Friday April 28. The vessel, the HORNSRIFF was detained on suspicion of several fishing offences. It has been escorted to Dunmore East and Gardaí have taken control of the vessel.

Back Home Up Next

April 27


Returning from a few days holiday revealed the usual bumper mailbag! Thanks for filling it and keeping me posted whilst I was away. I have also returned with some Maritime News from the south west, some of which appears on this update and some more which will be held over for Saturday. 

Lack of time has precluded the provision of anything more than this news update today. However, I anticipate a number of photographic features, along with updates to the web link pages, the queries page etc. for Sunday's posting.

Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Justin Merrigan, Geoff Hamer, "Devon Bus News", "Sea & Sky" and "others".


Geoff Hamer informs me that there was a error in my report on ATLANTIC II's summer charter. In the original report I stated that the ATLANTIC II would operate from "Anacona", however, this should have read "Ancona"


The Isle of Man Steam Packet Company have again announced another month of increased carryings on their Irish Sea Services.

Passenger figures for March 2000 increased by 2.5% at 25,068 (1999 – 24,458). Car traffic for the same month increased by over 2% with 7,456 vehicles being carried (1999 – 7,285).

The year to date passenger figure at 58,031 shows an increase of over 9% on the same period last year (1999 – 53,040). Year to date car figures at 17,548 show an increase of almost 7% (1999 – 16,443).

Commercial vehicles meterage continued its upward trend increasing by almost 9% to 34,503 metres (1999 – 31,680 metres) and is a record for any month.

Hamish Ross, Steam Packet Managing Director, said: Our Company’s consistent record of consecutive monthly increases in all areas of carryings is quite phenomenal and reflects our commitment to provide a first class service. Our year round twice daily Heysham service continues to cater for our passengers and meets the ever growing demands for freight”.

SUPERSEACAT TWO - the 22:15 Heysham to Belfast sailing on Wednesday April 19 proved to be a lively crossing when the vessel encountered "unexpectedly poor conditions".

It is reported that some passengers were injured (including a crew member) and one report stated that 99% of passengers on board were "violently ill". It is also believed that a man in a wheel chair was thrown out of his craft during the "gale".

On arrival at Belfast two people were taken to hospital: A female passenger fell and hit her head was taken to Belfast City Hospital along with a male crew member who had suffered bruising. The vessel had departed Heysham at 22.30 and arrived Belfast 03.40 a.m. There were 107 passengers, 28 crew and 25 cars aboard.

A spokeswoman said that the weather forecast had been within their sailing limits and such a "rough journey" had not been foreseen.  She added: "Weather conditions deteriorated unexpectedly around the Mull Of Galloway and a number of passengers became ill and a couple were injured."

SUPERSEACAT THREE - the vessel was involved in a rescue operation whilst undertaking her evening Douglas to Liverpool sailing on Wednesday April 19. Full details below under RNLI.


An extract from a recent edition of one of the Stranraer local newspapers indicates that "Seacat's departure from Stranraer will cost the local Council £100,000 per year in lost revenue".


The Virgin Sea Co rumour can be considered truly dead and buried following comments which appeared in the April 2000 edition of Northern Ireland Leisure Travel News: The Duty Press Officer At Virgin Trains stated that the company had no interest in running Irish Sea Ferries: "There is no truth in this rumour whatsoever. We are train operators - not experienced ferry operators. We are definitely not going to throw in the towel on GNER. The east coast main line bid complements our west coast modernisation programme. Virgin Rail Group have put a lot of time and effort into this bid. Under no circumstances will we drop it. The bid will go forward as a final bid."

A Sea Containers Spokesman stressed the rumours were untrue stating: "Virgin are not taking over the Irish Sea ferry service. That is complete nonsense. There is no truth in that at all



A report in the Liverpool Daily Post on Wednesday April 26 suggested that a solution to the Liverpool Pier Head Sea Terminal problem may still be a long way off,

Whilst plans for the terminal facilities and vehicle marshalling area were approved on Tuesday it appears that the revised plans will continue to face fierce opposition.

Liverpool City Council's planning committee approved an application to cover the floating roadway cut and turn it into a vehicle marshalling area for Sea Containers Irish Sea ferry services.

The Mersey Docks and Harbour Company says that the development is essential in order to solve the daily conflict between ferry traffic and regular city traffic in the Pier Head area.

It appears that the objectors are now preparing for a legal battle to block the development, claiming it will deprive the public of valuable open space and ruin the city's application to become a Unesco World Heritage Site.

The objectors are also showing concern that the plans also fail to provide space for any further expansion of the marshalling area, which may consequently lead to future encroachment into the public open spaces.

Merseyside Pensioners' Association spokesman John Manning, said he particularly opposed the loss of public right of way to parts of the Pier Head. "We will stage a mass demonstration in protest against the decision. They will hear a lot more from the Merseyside pensioners."

Lorraine Mackarel, of the Millennium Walk Committee told the planning committee that if they approved the idea she would immediately seek a judicial review in the High Court. She said: "This is not the end of it. I've already sought legal advice and I believe we have good grounds to legally challenge the decision."

Chief executive of the MDHC, Peter Jones said the development scheme was essential if Liverpool was to retain its existing ferry services. He added that English Heritage had been consulted and had no objections to the terminal proposals.

Mr. Jones is reported as saying: "One ferry a day currently operates from Pier Head, compared with 12 ferries a day departing from Holyhead. We are desperately trying to hold on to the services that we have got. At the moment, the facilities we use are inadequate."

MDHC director of planning Alec Don described council decision as welcome and appropriate. "Independent market research shows that 77pc of people in Liverpool are in favour of the proposals."

Patrick Moran, of Merseyside Civic Society, said the plans lacked prestige and could damage hopes of Liverpool waterfront becoming a World Heritage Site.

JHL's COMMENT: Once again the Sea Terminal wreckers are at work. In my opinion I always reckoned that the original proposals were the best, the new proposals are very much a compromise aimed at placating the opposition. 

It is quite clear now, that these people even when presented with an alternative solution, really do not want a convenient sea terminal with easy access by foot to the city centre.

The Merseyside Pensioners Association's comments about organising a mass demonstration suggests that perhaps those in favour of the terminal development need to be giving their strategy to support the project.


MD&HC  announced on April 20 the Planning Committee of Wirral Borough Council approved the scheme subject to the anticipated withdrawal of objections by English Heritage and the Government Office on Merseyside following negotiations with the North West Development Agency over the future of a listed pump house building they own on the site.

It is now expected that a contract for the  development of the 14 hectare (34.6 acre) site incorporating vehicle marshalling area and terminal buildings linked by a bridge to a floating pontoon with a ferry berth at either end, will be let within the next week. Construction work is due to start in June 2000, with completion anticipated in the second half of 2001.

Once finished, the Twelve Quays River Terminal, located directly across the River Mersey from Liverpool's famous Pier Head, will be used by Cenargo owned Norse Irish Ferries and Merchant Ferries. Both services will transfer from in-dock terminals at Liverpool's Brocklebank and Canada Docks respectively.

Mersey Docks Chief Executive Peter Jones described the Twelve Quays planning approval as a landmark decision. "Development of the terminal will provide a significant boost to the Port of Liverpool's Irish Sea business. By eliminating the need for ferries to enter the Port's enclosed docks, the river terminals will reduce voyage times by an average of 90 minutes and increase the competitiveness of the Irish services out of the Mersey.

"The Twelve Quays terminal will also act as a catalyst for other associated commercial activity in the Birkenhead area, generating additional employment, not just in the construction stage, but as an expanding logistics centre for trade and travel between Britain and Ireland."

The development of the terminal which will involve the filling in of Wallasey Dock to create much of the marshalling area of 565 parking spaces for freight vehicles and cars, will provide about 100 construction jobs of which it is anticipated 80% will be recruited locally.

"Once the ferries are sailing from Twelve Quays, the terminal will stimulate a vibrant commercial corridor of complementary services and industries such as warehousing and distribution on available redevelopment sites within Birkenhead Docks, totalling some 88 acres (36 hectares). It will also add to the attractiveness of the Mersey for the growing number of people crossing to and from Ireland, with the positive implications that development has for the many aspects of tourism."

Norse Irish currently offer 10 sailings a week to Belfast, seven night crossings and three day-time departures. Merchant Ferries sail twice a day, morning and evening, to Dublin. Both services are provided by newly built passenger and freight super ferries.

The Port of Liverpool handles a third of all freight crossing the Irish Sea and more than 660,000 passengers a year. The Port's roll-on roll-off cargo volumes on the sector rose 32% in 1999, building on a decade of development which has seen traffic grow by more than 10% per annum.

The Mersey Docks and Harbour Company is planning a second river terminal at Langton Dock for which it is currently preparing a Harbour Revision Order and Environmental Statement for submission to the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions in early May. It is anticipated that the Langton Terminal will be operational approximately six months after the Twelve Quays facility, and will provide both river and in-dock berths to be utilised by P&O European Ferries which currently offer four sailings a day to Dublin from their Gladstone Dock Terminal.

Said Mr Jones: "There is a growing demand from both freight movers and passengers for more services between Liverpool and Ireland. With the final hurdles in the lengthy planning process overcome, Mersey Docks is able to respond by providing modern, state-of-the-art terminals in the most significant development since the construction of the Royal Seaforth Dock some 30 years ago."


P&O reported the following delays on Liverpool - Dublin services on April 20: The 10:00 departure from Liverpool was delayed by 3 hours and the 22:00 sailing from Dublin was reported to be delayed by 1 to 2 hours.

JETLINER was noted at the Harland and Wolff yard on April 24. She was believed to have arrived there on April 20. On April 25 she was reported at Curran Quay, Larne at around 10:20. She no longer carried the P&O "flags" on her "funnels" though otherwise still retained full P&O markings.  It is assumed that various items were being loaded or unloaded from the vessel prior to leaving P&O's management.

JETLINER was reported to have left the port by 17:00 on April 25, destination unknown.


 P&O has opened a new freight terminal at the Port of Cairnryan on the West Coast of Scotland for drivers using its Cairnryan/Larne services. The new terminal, which is part of a multi-million pound development of the Company's Cairnryan/Larne services, will be further enhanced by the introduction of a new  21,000 tonne conventional ferry in August.

The new terminal offers commercial drivers one-stop freight only weighbridge and check-in facilities  to ensure minimum waiting times.  Once in the terminal drivers have their own showers and washrooms and a lounge with snack bar facilities, all of which have been designed to make the drivers life more comfortable.

"We have also extended the freight marshalling areas at the Port, which will improve the loading and discharging times," said Phil Simpson, Sales Manager UK, P&O Irish Sea Freight. "This linked to the freight only check in at the terminal will ensure that even in the busy holiday season we provide commercial drivers with stress free crossings."

The £4.5 million development of P&O's terminal facilities at Cairnryan forms part of the Loch Ryan Integrated Port Facility Project which has improved the access to the Port. The new terminal, which was officially opened, by Donald Dewar, the First Minister for Scotland, will also be handling passengers using the new Superstar Express which has entered service on this route.

"When our new 21,000 tonne ferry comes into service on this route in August P&O will be offering crossing times of just 105 minutes,"  said Phil Simpson. "This will be one of the quickest conventional ferry crossing's on the Irish Sea."


The April 2000 edition of Northern Ireland Leisure Travel News reports that a member of Belfast City Council's Development Committee has claimed that Stena's decision to move their conventional ferry service back to Larne is partly due to increased berthing charges at Belfast.

STENA LYNX III sailings on the Rosslare - Fishguard link were cancelled on April 20 due to adverse weather conditions.



The official opening of the new Dún Laoghaire lifeboat Station will take place on May 6th.

On the afternoon of April 23 the  Dun Laoghaire Inshore Lifeboat rescued four people in two separate incidents on Dublin Bay.

In the first of two rescues the two-person crew of a sailing dinghy were recovered from the water off Dun Laoghaire. The two had been enjoying an Easter Sunday sail in their Wayfarer dinghy when it capsized in the Fresh South Easterly wind. The pair had been in the water for some 30 minutes when a passing yacht spotted their plight and alerted Dublin Coastguard.

The RNLI’s Inshore Lifeboat stationed at Dun Laoghaire was tasked to the scene. Upon arrival the two sailors were found to be suffering from mild hypothermia and were immediately taken to the Dun Laoghaire Motor Yacht Club were they were safely landed.

In what turned out to be a busy afternoon for the Lifeboat the "D Class" inflatable returned to Dublin Bay, under the command of helmsman Kieran Brown, to recover the capsized dingy. En route the crew’s attention was summoned to a Malahide-based fishing launch, the Flying Spray, which had a fouled propeller. The Lifeboat crew successfully cleared the propeller of the disabled boat which was then able to return to Malahide under her own power.

The crew of Dun Laoghaire Inshore Lifeboat was: Kieran Brown – Helmsman, James Doyle – Crew and Gareth Hanlon – Crew.


At 21:30 BST on Wednesday April 19, the Port St Mary Lifeboat was launched to locate and assist the 52 foot long fishing vessel MAGGIE ELLEN which was reported to be unsure of its position to the south east of the Isle of Man.  Three people were on board, however, two were suffering sea sickness. The weather was fresh SE force 5 to 6 with rain and poor visibility (as low as 1 mile).

The vessel reported that its navigation equipment (a GPS) had failed, there was no plotted course and that their steering gear had become jammed to starboard during a passage from Liverpool to Carrickfergus, Northern Ireland. The vessel had left the mouth of the river Mersey at midday steering a course of 030 degrees.

Liverpool Coastguard were able to get a radio direction finder bearing of 157 degree from their mast at Snaefell, I.o.M but the location of the vessel to  south east of the Island could not be determined but was estimated by the Coastguards to be some 25 miles off shore.

Port St Mary Lifeboat was asked to proceed ESE and establish a second VHF radio direction finder (VHF DF) bearing to the vessel. In addition a Seaking helicopter, Rescue 122, from RAF Valley, Anglesey was also tasked. Rescue 122 had been conducting night time exercises and had less than its normal operational endurance.

21:45 Rescue122 whilst approx. 20 miles south of the Isle of Man made contact with the MAGGIE ELLEN, establishes a VHF DF fix on the vessel and estimated its arrival at the vessel to be in 15 minutes.

22:00 in response to the Coastguards 'Pan Pan' radio broadcast , the Royal Navy fisheries protection vessel HMS LINDISFARNE offers assistance but estimates its time of arrival at the MAGGIE ELLEN as being 00:30 (in 2.5 hours). Port St Mary Lifeboat estimates its ETA at 23:20.

With the MAGGIE ELLEN position established as being at 54 deg 59.4 min North, 004 deg 33.45 min West , it is approx. 25 miles for the lifeboats from Barrow in Furness or Douglas, IoM or Moelfre, Anglesey and 32 miles from Port St Mary [however PSM lifeboat would still be quickest to the scene as the other lifeboat are only capable of 18 knots].

22:08 Rescue 122 (R122) reaches the scene and hovers over the MAGGIE ELLEN. At about this time Moelfre Lifeboat is also called out to assist Port St Mary Lifeboat in the event that the casualty's steering cannot not be fixed and towing requires two vessel (one astern of the towed vessel to act as a rudder and brake). The casualty appeared to be going round in circles the helicopter crew plotted its course and ascertain that it is steering in a nor-easterly direction. Ten minutes later R122 reported that radar contact with a fast moving craft some 10 miles to the north west of their current position and that they were running low on fuel and would require releasing from duty before a lifeboat arrives.

22:20 contact is made between the fast ferry SUPERSEACAT THREE and Liverpool Coastguard. The vessel had departed Douglas at 21:45 bound for Liverpool with 541 passengers and 25 crew on board. SSC3 agreed to proceed to standby the MAGGIE ELLEN until further help arrived. SUPERSEACAT THREE heaves to 0.5 mile form the casualty twelve minutes later.

 About this time the fisheries protection vessel HMS LINDISFARNE was released from proceeding to the scene and it was agreed that the helicopter will be released at 23:00. R122 confirms that the MAGGIE ELLEN appeared unable to alter course and she was asked to slow down (in effect it was moving directly away from Moelfre lifeboat approaching from the south west and away from Port St Mary lifeboat approaching from the west nor west).

At 23:00 Seaking R122 leaves . Moelfre lifeboat passes an ETA of midnight. The SUPERSEACAT THREE stays some 2 to 5 cables from the MAGGIE ELLEN. However, a moment of confusion was made when SSC3 reported that it was alongside a two masted yacht and not a fishing vessel as initially reported by the Coastguards. After some radio conversation between Coastguards and the MAGGIE ELLEN it was confirmed she is actually a yacht and not a converted fishing boat. SSC3 reported the weather at the scene as SE force 6, gusting to gale, with 1.5 to 2 metres of wave swell.

At 23:45 Port St Mary lifeboat arrives on scene and Moelfre lifeboat and ETA at the scene of 00:20. At midnight SUPERSEACAT THREE was released to continue its passage to Liverpool. Two lifeboat men from Port St Mary boarded the MAGGIE ELLEN in two separate attempts in order to check the ill crew , assess the steering gear and provide help in arranging the tow. The lifeboat men are Second Cox. Mick Kneale and crewmember George Platt.

By half past midnight a tow line had been established by Port St Mary lifeboat. It  was not known immediately which was the best destination - Douglas was considered the best as Port St Mary was some 32 nautical miles distant. The lifeboat men on board the MAGGIE ELLEN had found that some rope had been allowed to drop over the side and had fouled the rudder. They were able to free it and thus control of steering was regained. During this time the Moelfre lifeboat provided an escort.

At 00:56 it was decided that one lifeboat could manage the tow to the Isle of Man and thus Moelfre was released back to her station. The destination for the tow was revised to Port St Mary (since the MAGGIE ELLEN was originally intending to go around the south of the Island). At first the tow was slow and the ETA at Port St Mary given as 08:45 . However there was a spring high tide at 01:00 that morning once the ebb tide had started the towing speed had the benefit of a tidal set to the west at the rate of up to 1.8 knots per hour. Thus at 02:00 the ETA was revised downwards to 06:45. Between 1am and 6 am a tow of 6 knots was maintained and the weather improved some what dropping to a southerly wind of force 4, gusting to force 5.

The Lifeboat with MAGGIE ELLEN in tow arrived off Port St Mary breakwater at a little after 06:30. The tow line was slipped and the yacht was manoeuvred alongside under its own power.


On Monday April 24 Harland and Wolff, the Belfast shipyard group with 1,700 employees working under the threat of redundancy, has appealed to the UK government to improve the way in which it applies the subsidy regime allowed under European Union rules. 

The JETLINER is reported to have arrived at H&W following the end of her P&O charter on April 20.



Following the acquisition of the two River Dart operators - Dart Pleasure Craft and Riddalls Red Cruisers in 1999 by the Dart Valley Railway plc some rationalisation of the fleet was to be expected.

Geoff Hamer reports that four vessels , the MY QUEEN, PLYMOUTH BELLE, TOTNES PRINCESS and WESTERN BELLE, were advertised for sale as surplus during the winter. The asking price being around £70,000 per vessel.  DPC's web site still lists the  PLYMOUTH BELLE, but not the MY QUEEN, TOTNES PRINCESS or WESTERN BELLE as part of the fleet. The WESTERN BELLE passed through London on April 24 and is presumed to have been bought by an operator on the Thames.  Built at Great Yarmouth in 1935 the vessel has spent her entire peacetime career at Plymouth and Dartmouth.

Finally the Devon Bus site reports that DVR/Dart Pleasure Craft have now also become bus operators and will provide their own seasonal Totnes to Paignton service [Which comemnced April 16, 2000] which will link the Totnes end of the River Link service back to the Paignton Terminal of the DVR's Paignton Kingswear line. In previous years facilities had been provided by the Western National Omnibus Company Ltd, a First Group Company. 


Of note in this year's timetable is that the RMV SCILLONIAN III will operate for an extended period in 2000. The vessel which commenced its 2000 Season on April 1 will continue in service until November 18. Towards the end of the 1999 operating season, which had been scheduled to end on Saturday October 30, 1999, it was announced that the SCILLONIAN III would continue in service for an extra week until November 6. For 2000 this has now been extended to November 18. Thus late season sailings from October 2 to November 18 will operate on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. It was very apparent from personal observations last October, that this time of year is becoming increasingly busy with large numbers of holiday makers and bird watchers staying on the islands. 

The new passenger registration requirements have resulted in some changes for passengers boarding the SCILLONIAN at Penzance and St.Mary's. At Penzance passengers pass through a portakabin on the quay just west of the original ISSCO booking office. At St.Mary's a doorway has been created into the Steamship offices at the foot of the stairs which lead to the harbour master's office. Passengers then file through into the steamship company office to register exiting the office by the original door. 

THE ISLES OF SCILLY STEAMSHIP COMPANY has also adopted a new corporate image and has branded itself the "Steamship Group" rather along the lines of an Irish Sea operation which has also recently suffered a name truncation exercise! The new logos are reproduced alongside.

The ISSCO's in house magazine Sea & Sky claims that the change in emphasis makes it easier than ever before to promote the different parts of the business.

"It started with a conversation about uniforms." said John Hoelen, Passenger Sales Manager "We wanted our front of house staff to present a smart and unified look. It led us led us to think about the kind of image we wanted to present for the whole business"

The company has grown to embrace a wide range of activities and says that it had become increasingly difficult to promote them under one central theme.

"Everything is now unified under the banner of the Steamship Group. It means we can promote Skybus as effectively as the Gry Maritha or the Scillonian. We are telling the world "Whatever you want to get to the Isles of Scilly, we can do it." The logo has taken the traditional elements used by the company when it was founded in 1926 and given them a modern twist ready for the new Millennium. "We are using the red, white and blue on all pro- motional elements. The biggest job so far was using the designs on the new Mercedes mini coach we use for Skybus passengers. It has been 'wrapped' in corporate colours. The images even go across the window, although you can still see out of them."

The company claims that changes have already led to more effective company marketing. 'We have been delighted at how well the logo has adapted to all the different demands we put on it, whether a timetable, advertising brochure or the new company web site. People need to know that you are offering them a service that is modern. easy to use and appropriate to their needs. The new logo reflects that."

As yet the new red white and blue flag logo has yet to be applied to the ships or aircraft, these still continue to wear the ISSCO flag logo.

JHL's COMMENT: There has been a lot of discussion amongst enthusiasts in the past year or so on the subject of corporate image, much of it directed towards Sea Containers who still appear to have failed to address the issue in what appears to be a logical way. The truncation of the well known Isle of Man Steam Packet Company to "Steam Packet Company" was not well received, neither was the new IoMSPCo flag which at first appeared as a slightly modified Japanese flag which had acquired a superimposed "Legs of Man" At least in its more recent appearances noted recently at Heysham the flag has now acquired some black wording.

Unlike IoMSPCo, the Isles of Scilly Steamship company is a free standing company in its own right and not a subsidiary of a larger undertaking. Perhaps their approach is more logical but why loose the all important "Isles of Scilly" element which leaves the company without its geographical identity just as much as the truncating of the IoMSPCo brand has done? Would it not have been better to perhaps adopt the new flag logo and use the wording "Isles of Scilly Steam Ship Company" ?

I have always believed that transport companies should have strong names and corporate images, there appears to be a trend away from this not just at sea, but on land and in some cases in the air - remember the British Airways logo fiasco? At least there are some operators such as Irish Ferries who appear to value a unified image. 

The saving grace with the ISSCO branding is that each element uses a consistent logo - something lacking from Sea Co's shipping operation.


The JEANIE JOHNSTON was launched at Blennerville near Tralee on 19 April. The vessel was not launched from a slipway in the conventional manner.  The 516 tonne vessel was moved across a road and loaded onto a sem-submersible barge 

The ship is to be commanded on her trans-Atlantic voyage by Captain Mike Forwood of Cornwall who has 15 years experience of tall ships. Captain Forwood is currently assembling the crew which will include many young volunteers from the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. The masts will be stepped at Blennerville and not Fenit as originally planned. However, she will be moved to Fenit for further fitting out work and sea trials. Departure for the USA is expected to take place in late May following a formal naming ceremony which will be undertaken by President Mary McAleese.


The Board of the Port of Waterford Company has told the Irish Department of Justice and the Office of Public Works that it will not consent to the berthing of a "flotel"  in the port.  

The Port of Waterford had been approached by the  Department of Justice to examine the feasibility of siting a floating accommodation unit for asylum-seekers on the river in the city. The company said the venture would seriously jeopardise the proposed sale of a prime stretch of the waterfront for commercial development.

Back Home Up Next

April 19


First of all a reminder that the next update to M&ISS will be at 22:00 on Thursday April 27. During the next few days there  will not be responses to e-mails as I will be away. However, please keep the news and contributions flowing! 

I would like to wish everyone a pleasant Easter holiday. 

Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Alan Lee, Justin Merrigan and "others"


LADY OF MANN - With bad weather forecast for Thursday April 20, it looks as though the Lady will be in action and fast craft sailings disrupted. Thought it isn't clear which routes she will operate. A decision on her future is not now expected before the autumn.

ATLANTIC II - Sea Containers has entered into an agreement to charter the Incat vessel ATLANTIC II to the Mediterranean Shipping Company subsidiary SNAV. The vessel will deployed on the seasonal service between Ancona and Split. Initially the service will offer a daily round drip between June 1 and October 1. Commercial and technical management will be provided by SNAV. SNAV currently  operate the SICILIA JET (ex INCAT 043) on the Napoli - Palermo route.

SEACAT ISLE OF MAN was noted making an unadvertised voyage to Liverpool in the early hours of Monday April 17, to convey participants in the annual Student Games festival to the Isle of Man.

SUPERSEACAT TWO commenced operations on the Belfast to Heysham route on Tuesday April 18. The Belfast to Heysham route reopened in 1999, 25 years after closure by British Railways Sealink. For the 1999 season 74m Incat SEACAT DANMARK was deployed on the route. However, its lower capacity led to insufficient space being available at times during the peak summer season. Consequently, Sea Containers decided to introduce the larger Fincantieri built SUPERSEACAT TWO.  

Commenting on the introduction of the new vessel  Hamish Ross, Managing Director of Sea Container's Irish Sea Operations said: "We launched the Heysham-Belfast service in 1999 with the catamaran SeaCat Danmark. After a highly promising start the need for extra capacity became obvious. This year that has been resolved with the arrival of SuperSeaCat . The service is unique in that it offers the fastest direct route from England to Northern Ireland. SuperSeaCat also gives passengers and their vehicles direct access to the heart of Belfast thanks to a city centre berth. We are confident that good teamwork between us as operators, business and tourism interests on both sides of the Irish Sea to maximise the value of the service will bring increased benefits."

Mark Alexander, Deputy Chief Executive of the Northern Ireland Tourist Board added: "The Northern Ireland Tourist Board is delighted at the introduction of another fast ferry on the Irish Sea. The north of England is a very important market in terms of delivering holiday visitors to Northern Ireland. Last year, holiday visitors from Great Britain increased by 21% and we have no doubt that his new and faster service by SuperSeaCat will go a long way in helping us build on recent successes."

Captain Graham MacLean, General Manager, Heysham Port Ltd said: "The arrival of SuperSeaCat marks a major new development for the Port of Heysham reflecting the increasing growth in the passenger market to Northern Ireland. Heysham is now an extremely busy 24 hour Port. With 2 round trips per day to Belfast by SuperSeaCat, this increases ferry sailings from Heysham to 13 per day at peak times. Heysham Port has excellent road connections to the M6 motorway. There is also a train station within the terminal complex which ensures direct access for rail travellers. Whether by road or rail there is quick and easy access to the Lake District, Blackpool and Manchester."


Heysham to Belfast 12:00 and 22:15 

Belfast to Heysham 07:00 and 17:30

The evening sailings do not operate on Tuesdays.

An example of the best value fares on offer

Foot passenger -Heysham to Belfast 6 day return £40 

Vehicle fare: £139 4 day return Car Plus 2 Tues-Thurs or £159 Friday to Monday

SUPERSEACAT TWO arrived in Heysham harbour at around 10:45 on Tuesday morning, being on the berth by around 10:50. 

Some modifications have been made to the quay wall to allow a passenger gangway to be swung into place by a small crane. Passenger access to and from the gangway is direct from the terminal building.  [Since SSC2 operated on the Liverpool route two new shell doors have been fitted one on each side of the vessel.  These lead into the mid point landing on the aft car deck stairs. Thus, unlike on the Liverpool to Dublin route, passenger embarkation and disembarkation is kept separate from vehicle movements. This is a much more satisfactory arrangement than operated at Heysham last year when SEACAT DANMARK was in operation. A bus being used to convey passengers down the #1 berth link span for boarding. However, at high-water the angle of the gangway is a little steep and might cause some passengers difficulty!] 

In addition to the provision of new boarding doors other changes noted included:  The food counter has been removed from the bar area, and replaced by gaming machines. The food servery is now located at the rear of the port side saloon in the same location as that on SUPERSEACAT THREE. The bar counter has been refurbished but remains in its original location on the starboard side. 

The Bureau de Change area on the right hand side of the main staircase is now a tourist information point. SSC2 has also acquired another, higher level, rubbing strake since her operation on the Liverpool to Dublin route. Passengers still retain access to the full open deck area, no fenced off "helicopter area" has been provided as on SSC3.

SUPERSEACAT FOUR commenced operations on the new service between Helsinki, Finland and Tallinn, Estonia on Monday April 17, 2000.

The vessel has capacity for 689 passengers, 164 cars and 4 coaches and will provide three sailings a day increasing to four in the peak season until the end of the year.

SSC IV will cross between Helsinki and Tallinn in just 90 minutes at an average speed of 37.8 knots (70 kilometres / 42 miles an hour). This will mean Finnish passengers can enjoy a long stay in Tallinn, nearly 14 hours and enjoy the culture of Estonia's capital city. The picturesque Old Town with its winding medieval streets has many historic sights. From the city it is easy to travel to the other independent Baltic States such as Latvia and Lithuania.

Sea Containers' Swedish company, SeaCat AB, will provide ship management. Silja Line in Helsinki is the general sales and marketing agent and the service carries the Silja brand name.

Senior Vice President of Sea Containers' Passenger Transport Division, David G. Benson said: "We are confident that passenger numbers on the route, which enjoys duty free shopping and excellent passenger facilities, will increase during the season as a result of the speed, timetable frequency and quality of passenger service."

Facilities onboard SuperSeaCat include guaranteed seating for all 689 passengers on two decks, a 50 seat Business Class Lounge, amusement area, cafeteria and bars, a duty and tax free shop and a mother and baby room.


SUPERSTAR EXPRESS did not enter service as planned. Despite rumours of engine problems the official reason for the delay given by P&O is that modifications are still underway to the club class lounge, play area and shop.  Certain fittings and equipment also have to be transferred from the JETLINER.  The SUPERSTAR EXPRESS should be in service 06.00 Thursday (20 April) - if not before.


The launch of the replica emigrant ship JEANIE JOHNSTON, scheduled for April 18 at Tralee has been postponed until April 19.  The Dutch company responsible for organising the launch decided that it would not move the vessel for safety reasons. The launch will now take place a 7 o'clock on April 19. 


Cammell Laird announced its first new build order on Monday April 17. 

The £5million vessel will be a small ro/ro vessel for Torghatten Trafikkelskap, a Norwegian-based Integrated transport operator.

Cammell Laird has also been granted an option for a new-build contract for a second vessel

Brett Martin, deputy chief executive commented: "The award of this contract clearly demonstrates Cammell Laird's ability to ~ provide cost-effective solutions for the new build market. Norway has over 250 inter-island and coastal ferries and the group believes that there are significant opportunities in this market"

Mr. Martin continued: "This is an excellent first step in our strategy of developing a strong presence in the specialist shipbuilding market."

The design work will be undertaken by Cammell Laird Technical Services with production commencing early summer. Delivery is expected in February 2001.Around 100 workers are expected to be employed on the contract.

The Norwegian ferry will be constructed at the company's Tyneside yard. The last vessel to be constructed by the old Cammell Laird company, then a VSEL subsidiary was the Upholder Class submarine HMS UNICORN [S43], launched at Birkenhead in 1993.  UNICORN has since been leased to the Canadian Navy.

IRISH SEA PIONEER is now in #5 dry dock at Birkenhead.

April 16


Only a small update this week and not quite so many news stories. Things appear to have quietened down on the news front for a while. The next update will be on Wednesday morning, April 19. Please note that from early Wednesday through to late the following Wednesday there will be no responses to e-mail as I will be away. There will be no update on Easter Sunday. 

I hope all M&ISS readers have a pleasant holiday and that you find yourself afloat over the holiday period! 

Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Stephen Errity, John Williams and "others".


SUPERSEACAT TWO - The Belfast to Heysham service is due to recommence on Tuesday April 18.

SEACAT ISLE OF MAN - As part of the celebrations for the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company's 170th Anniversary, SEACAT ISLE OF MAN will undertake a "round the island" cruise on Easter Sunday, April 23. Departure from Douglas will be at 13:00 with return scheduled for around 15:00. Fares: Adults £10 Children £5 - children will receive an Easter Egg from the company. Tickets my be purchased from the Douglas Sea Terminal or by phoning 01624 661661.


Passenger figures for the Harbours Division for March 2000 show a 2.5% increase on the same period last year. March 2000 recording a total of 25,068 compared to 24,458 in March 1999.

The year to date figure of 58,031 passengers shows a 9.4% increase over the 53,040 recorded in 1999.

Car traffic in March showed an increase of 2.3% from 7,285 in 1999 to 7,456 in February 2000.

The year to date figure of 17,548 vehicles shows a 6.7% increase over the 16,443 recorded in 1999.

Passenger figure breakdown by route is as follows:




plus 3%




plus 1%






Freight traffic metreage increased by 8.9% from 31,680  to 34,503 when compared to March.

Director of Harbours, Captain Michael Brew, commented: "Another steady on-going growth in all categories of traffic. Now that both the SeaCat and SuperSeaCat are operating daily on the Liverpool route, further increases in passenger traffic are to be expected. Day trips are now on offer both to and from the Island to Liverpool which should help further expand the passenger market. The freight metreage figure of 35,053 is also a record for any month and highlights the continued increase in commercial freight traffic."


SUPERSTAR EXPRESS is due to enter service on the Larne to Cairnryan route on Tuesday April 18 replacing the JETLINER.



The proposed MD&HC on-river linkspan schemes appear to be a step closer to construction. The Twelve Quays twin berth will be served by Cenargo's Merchant and Norse Irish services to Dublin and Belfast.  


Across the river on the Liverpool a single berth will be provided just north of Langton Lock.  will be used by P&O, along with the existing Brocklebank Dock berth, currently used by Norse Irish services.


It looks as though the suggestion that one of the new Sea Pacer class vessels may be used on the Holyhead to Dublin  to replace STENA CHALLENGER is an unsubstantiated rumour.


The US Navy's Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS BARRY was due to arrive at Cobh on April 14. She was expected to be open to the public on April 15, 16 and 17 between 09:00 and 11:00 & 13:00 and 16:00.


This year sees the 100th anniversary of the construction of the USS HOLLAND, the first US submarine. It was the invention of John Holland from Liscannor, County Clare. The anniversary is being marked by a special exhibition being mounted at the Cobh Heritage Centre at Cobh Harbour, County Cork


Cammell Laird in one of five UK ship builders who have been invited to tender for the construction of two new large landing ships logistic for the Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA), with options for up to a further three ships of the class.

The two new vessels, with an approximate contract value of #130 million will replace the two RFA Landing Ships Logistic (LSL) SIR PERCIVAL and SIR GERAINT in 2003/2004.

Invitations To Tender have been issued to consortia led by Swan Hunter of Tyneside, BAE SYSTEMS at Govan, Scotland, Harland and Wolff, Belfast, Cammell Laird, Birkenhead and Appledore Shipbuilders, North Devon. Orders are planned for later this year.

The new ships, expected to be at least 10,000 tonnes each, will be much larger, more capable and flexible than existing RFA LSLs and will provide a major increase in the capability of the RFA to support amphibious operations and other military tasks such as peacekeeping duties and disaster relief around the world.

The Strategic Defence Review gave a clear commitment to improved specialist amphibious shipping for the Joint Rapid Reaction Forces, including the building of two new RFA landing ships. These vessels will enable the UK to maintain its leading position in amphibious
capability within Europe and help Europe field a stronger and more coherent contribution to NATO.

The ships will offer flexibility for worldwide operations, and will be essential elements in future amphibious warfare operations. They will be the force multipliers for the UK's amphibious warfare fleet, moving the heavy vehicles, equipment, stores and troops that sustain a landing force anywhere in the world and disembark them in tactical
formation directly into combat.

Back Home Up Next



Not quite such a large mid week update this week, though there are a number of news stories of interest.

Once again, thanks to those who have sent information.

Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, John Peacock, Dave Butler, Brian Chambers  and "others". 


The Fairplay headlines indicate that Italy could be the next area of expansion for Sea Containers.

SUPERSEACAT THREE did not operate the 18:00 sailing from Liverpool to Douglas on April 12 presumably due to an unfavourable forecast.


HSS STENA EXPLORER - it appears that the vessel has not been running on full power in the past few days. She was noted running late on her morning crossing to Dún Laoghaire on Saturday when viewed from SSC3.  Information received indicates that her 04.00 sailing on Saturday from Holyhead departed 10 minutes early at 03:50 with arrival at Dún Laoghaire 30 minutes late at 06:10

STENA CHALLENGER does appear to have been sold to Marine Atlantic by Stena Rederi. The ship will remain on charter to Stena Line until 2001. There is some speculation that STENA CHALLENGER might be replaced by one of the new ro/pax vessels ordered for Harwich - Hoek of Holland route


The local press reports that the problem of who is responsible for the grade II listed pumping house which occupies part of the Twelve Quays site at Birkenhead appears to have been resolved. It is expected that the final plans for the Twelve Quays ro/ro terminal will be put before Wirral Council shortly.

When completed, Twelve Quays will provide on-river facilities for Cenargo services to Belfast and Dublin.


The historic tug GOLDEN CROSS which has been berthed at Canning Basin for the past few weeks is to travel up the Manchester Ship Canal to Salford Quays, Manchester for the opening of the Lowry Art Centre later this month. She looks set to remain on Merseyside for the Maritime Festival and the visit of Cunard's QUEEN ELIZABETH II. On July 13, she is expected to escort the QEII on her visit to Merseyside. Cunard are one of the GOLDEN CROSS's sponsors, her funnel is painted Cunard style and carries the names of QE2 and CARONIA. 

The fur coat belonging to Mabel Bennett, a stewardess on the ill fated ship which sank in 1912, is to be auctioned later this week.

Mabel Bennett wore the coat to keep herself warm in a life boat, in which she survived the disaster. She later gave the coat to her great niece, who had considered giving it away to a collection for refugees.  Her great niece changed her mind after learning the true worth of the fur coat.  

The coat is expected to sell for between £3,000 and £6,000 at a convention of the British Titanic Society in Southampton on the 14 April.


St. Agnes Boating is an Isles of Scilly operator which operates the small passenger catamaran SPIRIT OF ST AGNES on the ferry service between St. Agnes and Hugh Town, St. Mary's. 

The company has now launched its own web site which provides full details of the weekly ferry schedule, special trips and information as well as a booking form for crossings made outside of the normal advertised sailing times.  

It is good to see small operators making use of the Internet alongside the big time operators of the ferry world. You can visit the St. Agnes Boating site at:


Ambitious plans have been launched which aim to attract Objective 1 funding for the development of the port of Penzance in Cornwall. 

The plans include a dedicated passengers and freight terminal for the Isles of Scilly Steamship Company, a 200 berth marina, new dry dock, fish farm and a substantial new breakwater / pier. The existing dry dock and Abbey Basin would form a site for a Maritime Museum.

Jack Aitken, Mayor of Penzance unveiled the plans at the end of last week. Commenting to the Cornishman Newspaper, Mr. Aitken said: "Penzance is in a unique position as a port for the north and south coasts, to the Americas and the continent. There would be many full time jobs created by the development."

One wonders if the proposals could also include a ro/ro facility. Several years ago there had been talk of providing a ro/ro berth at Penzance to provide a calling point for Franco-Irish ferry services whose routes pass off Land's End. 


It has been announced that Waterford will play host to the Tall Ships during the Tall Ships Race of 2005.


LE AISLING detained the Belgian registered trawler DE ZEEMEEUW on Monday April 10. She was in Irish waters around 25 miles off the Wicklow coast. The DE ZEEMEEUW which operates out of Canada Dock, Liverpool was detained on suspicion of several fishing offences. A special sitting of Bray District Court on Monday evening resulted in the judge ordering that the trawler be detained for a further 48 hours whilst enquiries are made by the Department of the Marine.

This appears to be the same trawler which came to grief in Liverpool Bay during February 1998, when she was gutted by fire and her crew had to be rescued by rig support vessel GRAMPIAN SUPPORTER. The tug OAKGARTH later brought the trawler back to Liverpool, from where she was eventually towed by another Belgian trawler back to Belgium for repairs.

HARLAND & WOLFF by Brian Chambers

The troubled Harland and Wolff Shipyard's two large cranes, nicknamed David and Goliath, could be scrapped if efforts to save the shipyard fail, they could be sold off for £10 million to scrap merchants, they would be the first assets to be sold off in the yard, the two cranes can be seen from every corner of Belfast City, and they dominate the skyline over the city, Harland and Wolff Shipyard lost out in the battle to secure a life saving £400 million order for a Cunard Cruise Liner

April 9


Welcome to this week's update

As promised last week an update schedule has been posted giving details of dates and times when M&ISS updates will be posted. 

Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Joe Butler and "others".



Sea Containers has launched the Dieppe Discount Club 2000 which offers unto £350 of discounts to promote the Newhaven - Dieppe SUPERSEACAT FOUR service.

Membership costs £4 for which cross-Channel travellers will receive a passport-style voucher booklet offering discounts at a wide range of hotels, restaurants, and bars in Dieppe. The discounts range from a free all-day left-luggage service, buy-one-get-one-free meal offers, to half price two night hotel stays. All the offers are valid through to January 2001.

Passengers can join the Discount Club 2000 at the Newhaven and Dieppe terminals, or on board the SuperSeaCat.

Nick Stevens, Hoverspeed’s Newhaven-based route manager, said: “Dieppe is one of the most attractive of the French Channel ports with a superb selection of restaurants, bars and hotels. The Discount Club 2000 is a passport to great savings for short stay visitors.”

Day trips for a car and up to nine passengers start from £69, or £15 for foot passengers. Five-day returns start from £169, and standard returns from £278. Details from Hoverspeed on 08705 240241.


Mr. Robert Clifford, chairman and founder of fast ferry builders INCAT was a visitor to SUPERSEACAT THREE on Saturday April 8, he was accompanied by Mr. Justin Merrigan INCAT Public Relations Manager.


On April 5 before the Magistrates sitting at Denbigh, Wales, the Captain of an offshore supply vessel was fined £1,250 and ordered to pay £500 towards costs after being convicted of conduct endangering ships, structures or individuals. The prosecution was brought after his vessel, the HIGHLAND PIONEER collided with the accommodation platform in the Douglas Field some 13 miles north of Rhyl in Liverpool Bay, on 27 January 2000.

The HIGHLAND PIONEER a modern purpose built oil rig supply vessel is manned by a crew of 13. It is 64.1 metres long and a gross tonnage of 2099. Registered in London the vessel  is owned by Gulf Offshore N.S. Limited.

HIGHLAND PIONEER had been due to discharge cargo at the Douglas Field at 07:00 but at 06:23 the bow of the vessel collided with the Douglas DA accommodation platform. The ship at the time of the collision was travelling at about 4½ knots with the its bow going under the rear of the platform. The starboard side of the ship made contact with the North leg after the HIGHLAND PIONEER' sustained extensive damage to its starboard side.

The collision was a consequence of the failure of Capt. Gordon Crennell, the Master of the HIGHLAND PIONEER to discharge his duty to navigate the ship properly. The Captain stated that "the reason for the collision is that I was absorbed in computations at the chart table on the bridge and I failed to keep a proper lookout".

The sea farer who had been keeping a lookout, had requested and received permission from the Captain to leave the bridge to call other crew members some 8 minutes before the collision. Shortly after the collision the Captain issued a 'Mayday' to alert the Coastguard and all other mariners of the incident.

The HIGHLAND PIONEER was holed in three places. 79 persons were on the platform at the time. After an emergency muster non-essential personnel were evacuated to Blackpool by helicopter.

Capt. Capon prosecuting for the MCA told the Court that Capt. Crennell had co-operated with the authorities. Capt. Capon summed up by saying "a ship collided with an offshore accommodation platform which was connected to an oil and gas processing platform because the Captain was not looking where he was going. The Captain failed to discharge his duty during those few vital minutes before realising too late he was about to collide with the platform."

"If the collision had been with the platforms linked to the accommodation platform, which were either receiving products from the wells or processing those products, the effects could have been truly catastrophic."

The above photograph shows HIGHLAND PIONEER in Bidston Dock, Birkenhead during February, undergoing repairs by Wright and Beyer Ltd - part of the Cammell Laird group.


According to a P&O press release the additional fourth sailing on the Dublin to Liverpool route the additional sailing provided by LEMBITU [CELTIC SUN] is getting the thumbs up from drivers and operators using the route between Dublin and Liverpool.

"The timing of the sailings from both Liverpool and Dublin has proved popular with a number of drivers and operators in our first week of the new service," said Phil Simpson, Sales Manager UK for P&O European Ferries Irish Sea. "Initial figures show that in week one the  CELTIC SUN was running at 75 per cent of her capacity which has endorsed our decision to introduce an extra sailing on this route. Our other ships on the Dublin to Liverpool route are currently operating at full capacity and demand is still increasing."

The new service offers customers departure times of 05:00 from Dublin and 17:00 ex Liverpool but equally importantly it has ensured that the Company can now offer a freight sailing virtually every six hours between Dublin and Liverpool. "Drivers have already complemented our staff on the excellent food and hospitality they have received on board the new ship,
which like the others on this route allows them to take their statutory rest breaks and still deliver the goods within a tight timeframe," said Phil Simpson.

The ship operating the new sailing is the Estonian Shipping Company's LEMBITU which is to be renamed CELTIC SUN during its P&O charter, The vessel is a modern ro-ro vessel built in Spain in 1998. It can carry up to 70 trailer units and has superb cabin accommodation for 12 drivers. With a service speed of 17 knots and a complement of 18 crew, the additional ship mirrors the sailings on this route of the  CELTIC STAR. The two other P&O vessels operating on the Liverpool - Dublin route are the mv European Leader and mv European Envoy.

NORSE MERSEY [1995] - the former Belfast - Liverpool ro/ro vessel which operated for NORSE IRISH FERRIES until her replacement in 1997 now operates for P&O Ferrymasters on the North Sea ran into some trouble on Monday evening April 3 whilst enroute from Immingham to Rotterdam.

The vessel lost a two containers just east of Spurn Point, the master reporting that the containers had probably sunk, but was unable to confirm this.

At a later stage, it was discovered that the containers hold certain hazardous chemicals. The first contains a marine pollutant, Bulk-para-cresol and the second holds the residue of a substance called Epichlorhydrin.

Using specific search and rescue technology, Humber Coastguard formulated plans as to where the containers might be if they were still afloat, and it is thought likely that they would might be washed up on the Lincolnshire coast. Humber Coastguard  despatched the Cleethorpes, Donna Nook and Mablethorpe Coastguard Rescue Teams to carry out a shoreline search in the vicinity and to the north and south of the area.

Mike Puplett, Humber Coastguard Watch Officer said: "Although it has been reported that the two containers which came off 'Norse Mersey' are likely to have sunk, we want to ensure that there is no possibility that either could have come up on the shoreline. The marine pollutant, Bulk-para-cresol is harmless if leaked slowly into the water and only becomes hazardous if it is leaked in large quantities. The containers were probably lost due to the severe weather in this area over the last couple of days with rough seas and northerly gale force winds."


The annual service commemorating the roll played by Mersey Ferries DAFFODIL and IRIS during the Zebrugge Raid was commemorated by a service on board ROYAL DAFFODIL on Sunday April 9.


STENA CALEDONIA departed from Cammell Laird on Saturday April 8. She was noted by Mersey Radio adjusting compasses in Liverpool Bay  on Saturday afternoon.


On Friday April 7 over 70 casual deep-sea dockers commenced an unofficial dispute at Dublin Port over the use of 15 new recruits. 

Ocean Manpower Ltd introduced the recruits on Friday. The dockers apparently first want a package agreed for those who wish to leave their jobs voluntarily before they work with the new recruits. Ocean Manpower's offer for voluntary lay-offs has been rejected by the Marine Port division of SIPTU. So far, a consignment of new cars has been the only cargo affected by the protest.


A report in the Belfast Telegraph on Saturday April 8, suggest that Harland and Wolff are playing down reports that the company a drawn up plans for restructuring which would reduce the main workforce to just 400.

A yard spokesman is stated that that company was currently examining various options for the future, though he refuted  reports that the core workforce would be reduced from 1,700 to 400, and the company's name would be changed.

The spokesman said: "We believe that H&W, with its world-famous history, remains a strong brand name for the company among its customer base. "Our objective is to find the best way in which to secure Harland & Wolff as a viable shipbuilding company for the future. However, the proposals are still being assessed and will in the first instance be brought forward to the company's shareholders for their consideration and approval."

It appears likely that the matter will be raised at the Harland and Wolff Holdings AGM which takes place on May 15.

Belfast Telegraph reports that the  re-structuring option was outlined at a meeting at Belfast City Hall on Thursday which had been convened by the City Council development committee.

A lack of orders beyond the completion of the present drill ship project and failure to secure the Cunard QUEEN MARY 2 contract has resulted in the workforce being issued protective redundancy notices.


The Irish Naval service has ordered a second Rosin class vessel from the Devon based Appledore shipyard. The contract was signed at the Haulbowline Naval base during the week aboard the LE RÓISÍN week. Speaking on the RTÉ Seascapes programme on Thursday, Defence Minister Michael Smith TD,  indicated that the new vessel will cost slightly less than the original vessel as planning costs would be reduced. Despite the few teething problems the LE RÓISÍN experienced the minister said that he considered the deal with Appledore offered good value. The new ship is expected to cost in excess in IR£22million


According to Lloyds List on Saturday April 8, group sales and marketing director Chris Millman is reported to have said that Cammell Laird looks set to win new building orders this month.

Back Home Up Next

April 5, 2000


Another big mid-week update! Its certainly been a case of receiving more than enough material than I could assemble in the time available. Consequently, I have not been able to post all contributions. These will be held over until Sunday's update. 

At the time of year when one expects the weather to be improving as we run into Spring, winter returned with a vengeance on Monday resulting in widespread disruption to passenger services, some of which is covered below. Of course the big news story of this update is Stena's return to Larne which will take effect from September.

Thanks again for all contributions and feed back.

John Luxton 

April 5, 2000

Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Stan Basnett, Norm Vernal, Brian Chambers and Sara Cass.



The company has confirmed the following special excursions to be operated by the Lady of Mann during June 2000. The excursions are billed as part of the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company's 170th Anniversary.

Tuesday 13 June

Fleetwood to IOM 10:00 returning IOM to Fleetwood 19:00.

Wednesday 14 June

Llandudno to IOM 10:00 returning IOM to Llandudno 19:00.

Thursday 15 June 

IOM to Whitehaven 08:00 returning Whitehaven to IOM 23:00  

Whitehaven to IOM 11:00 returning IOM to Whitehaven 20:00

Friday 16 June

Warren Point to IOM 09:30 returning  IOM to Warren Point 19:30

Tickets are now on sale to callers at the Sea Terminal, Douglas or by telephone on 01624 661661


Record passenger carryings have for any February have been recorded on routes from the UK to Isle of Man.

The passenger carryings increased 10% from 16,350 in 1999 to 17,945 in 2000. Vehicle traffic increased almost 6% from 5,111 in 1999 to 5,405 in 2000. The year to date figures for passengers show an increase of 15% from 28,582 in 1999 to 32,963 in 2000. A 10% increase in vehicle figures year to date have increased by over 10% from 9,158 in 1999 to 10,092 in 2000. Commercial vehicle metreage has shown an increase of almost 17% from 25,647 metres in 1999 to 29,738 metres in 2000.

Commenting on the figures Hamish Ross, Steam Packet Managing Director said "We are keen to build on our achievements of 1999 and our enhanced programme for 2000 presents exciting opportunities for this company and for those travelling to and from the Isle of Man. In particular, the introduction of the SuperSeaCat on our Liverpool services together with the addition of the SeaCat on our Heysham services, will offer our passengers even greater frequencies and superior speeds. Travelling to and from the Isle of Man by sea will be easier than ever".


A recent report in the Manx Independent suggested that the new earlier Saturday evening departure from Liverpool to Douglas was not proving very popular with football supporters who travel to Merseyside for fixtures as it provided insufficient time to get back to the terminal from the football grounds.

It has now been announced that until early May the 18:00 sailing from Liverpool to Douglas has been rescheduled to 18:30.


SUPERSEACAT THREE - sailings on Monday April 3 were cancelled due to adverse weather conditions. Passengers booked on the 18:00 Liverpool to Douglas sailing were transferred to the BEN-MY-CHREE's 02:15 Heysham to Douglas. Passengers for Monday evening's 21:15 Douglas to Liverpool sailing were transferred to the 19:45 BEN-MY-CHREE sailing to Heysham. On April 4, SSC3 operated, but was noted running around an hour behind schedule with the evening Liverpool to Douglas sailing.

BEN-MY-CHREE - appeared to cope well with the adverse weather. 

PRINCESS MARGARET the SRN4  hovercraft, returned to service with Hoverspeed, joining sister craft, The PRINCESS ANNE, on the 35 minute service between Dover and Calais this week. With a service speed of 50 knots (65mph), the hovercraft is the fastest way to cross the Channel.

Hoverspeed provides up to 14 daily return hovercraft departures between Dover and Calais, operating an hourly shuttle service - on the hour, every hour - from 0600 to 2000 during peak periods.

Geoffrey Ede, Hoverspeed managing director, said: "Now in their 32nd year of operation on the Channel, the hovercraft has entered the new Millennium still the fastest way to cross the Channel."


Mersey Ferries has announced an impressive number of Manchester Ship Canal cruises for 2000. 

Also in addition to the Friends of the Ferries Dock and River Cruise, Mersey Ferries will be operating their own Dock and River Cruises on July 21 and August 4.

Mersey Ferries are also establishing their own web site which can be found at However at the time of writing the site is still identified as being under construction.


Stena Line announced on April 3, that they will reopen the Stranraer to Larne route from September 2000. The route will be operated by STENA GALLOWAY and STENA CALEDONIA. HSS STENA EXPLORER will maintain the Stranraer - Belfast link.

Stena claim that the move will boost conventional ship capacity by 20% through increased frequency and shorter crossing times.

"The announcement is significant, especially in relation to the ever-increasing level of freight and tourist traffic in the region" says Bo Severed, CEO of Stena Line. He continues, "We will be able to offer a choice of two ports in Northern Ireland and with the increased frequency and better utilisation of capacity both our passenger and freight customers will enjoy a higher level of service.

COMMENT: Rumours of Stena's return to Larne have been doing the rounds ever since the company switched all operations from the port to Belfast four years ago. At the end of March the rumour was given an airing in the local press and M&ISS featured it on the Lamb Banana Rumour Page. 

STENA CALEDONIA - It appears that the STENA CALEDONIA will not return to service until April 8. The vessel remains in Cammell Laird #5 dry dock, Birkenhead.

STENA LYNX III sailings were cancelled on April 3 due to adverse conditions.

KONINGIN BEATRIX on Monday April 3, Brian Chambers reports that a  very strong N/E gale was blowing very hard at Rosslare Europort. The KONINGIN BEATRIX arrived on time from on the afternoon sailing from Fishguard but was unable to dock at any of the berths. She then sailed for Dublin. She was the due to operate a 01:30 sailing from Dublin to Holyhead in the early hours of April 4 with Rosslare passengers diverted to this sailing. She was then due to return to the southern corridor route with her first departure from Rosslare being scheduled for 21:50 the same day.


ISLE OF INNISFREE was, like KONINGIN BEATRIX noted to have arrived at Rosslare on time on April 3, but due to the adverse weather conditions the ship was unable to dock at her berth, and she then undertook a "mini cruise" before attempting to dock on the morning of April 4.


NORTHERN MERCHANT - It looks as though the vessel will return to service on April 6, when the new Norfolkline cross channel service recommences. The route was closed on March 22 just a couple of days after opening when Cenargo's NORTHERN MERCHANT, which is chartered to Norfolkline, landed heavily against the Dover linkspan. This resulted in some damage to both ship and span. 


JETLINER: Adverse weather conditions led to cancellation of sailings on Monday March 3. 

EUROPEAN PATHFINDER sailing to Rosslare was also delayed. Her morning arrival at Rosslare was reported delayed until 20:30 hours on April 3.


The Irish Naval Service is to be given the power to arrest foreign trawlers which are involved in clashes with Irish trawlers outside of Ireland's twelve-mile territorial sea limits. The move follows complaints from Irish fishermen about harassment on the fishing grounds.

During the past weeks discussions have been taking place between the Departments of the Marine, Foreign Affairs and the Attorney General's Office about legislation which could give the Navy more effective powers within the European Union 200-mile zone. During the talks, the question had arisen over whether other EU navies could claim reciprocal rights to act against Irish fishing boats. But, it has been decided that the Attorney General's Office will draft legislation to allow the Navy to act in incidents where Irish fishermen are threatened.

There have been several serious incidents involving foreign vessels in recent years. The confrontations have occurred between the Irish twelve-mile limit and the 200-mile European Union economic zone and have included Irish vessels being towed backwards, their nets being cut and an incident a year ago when five Irish fishermen had to be rescued after their vessel sank off the Clare coast in a collision with a foreign boat.


Mine Countermeasures Ship HMS BERKELEY [M40], built 1988 by Vosper Thorneycroft was noted berthed at Canada #1 Branch North on Tuesday April 4. This is one of two vessels which are apparently to be sold to Greece during mid 2000.

Aircraft Carrier [Through Deck Cruiser!] HMS INVINCIBLE is due to visit Merseyside between June 22 and 27. At present it is not known if she will berth within the dock system or in the river off the Albert Dock. There has been some controversy reported in the local press as to who is going to fund the raising of the river anchorage put in place for the Battle of the Atlantic commemorations in 1993 which would be used for anchoring the vessel. Mersey Ferries are advertising her visit with a view to her being berthed in the river.


The Belfast Telegraph reports that a Hi-tech park is planned for the "Titanic Quarter" which could create up to 3,000 jobs

The Titanic Quarter of Queen's Island in Belfast has been chosen as the location for Northern Ireland's new £10m Science Park.

Professor Ernest Shannon, chairman of the Northern Ireland Science Park Foundation said: "Early assessments indicate that the Science Park will create over 3,000 hi-tech jobs in the next 10 years.

"In addition it is hoped that it will provide an environment in which local entrepreneurship will flourish and that the partnerships developed with the two universities and major companies will prove to be of long-lasting benefit to all concerned." Professor Shannon praised the support of Harland and Wolff and Belfast Harbour Commissioners in supporting the potential of the Science Park.

Per Nielsen, president of Harland and Wolff Holdings, said the Science Park will ultimately occupy a 23-acre site at one end of the Titanic Quarter development.

"Titanic Quarter will seek to attract and develop a brand of leading international hi-tech companies in areas such as infomatics, telecommunications and multi-media," Mr Nielsen said.

Professor Shannon said work would start immediately on the Titanic Quarter site.


The bad weather on Monday as well as disrupting shipping services also caused problems at Bray Harbour, County Wicklow. Gale force winds drove a crane barge against rocks at the pier which resulted in the vessel developing a dangerous list. The barge had been carrying out harbour works. There was initial concern that a 8,000 gallons of diesel aboard the vessel could spill into the sea.  A coastguard unit from Greystones was dispatched to the scene along with a tug from Holyhead. The fuel  was removed on April 4 and on April 5 the tug was successful in rescuing the barge which has been towed to Dublin Port. 

April 2, 2000


Welcome to the first update for April. As April 1st is gone I guarantee there are no "April Fool" stories in this update! 

On subject of updates, the mid week update on Wednesday March 29, turned out to be much larger than expected. Make certain you visit the "What's New" page to ensure you have not missed anything. It looks as though that the forthcoming mid week update for Wednesday April 5, will also be substantial, including an illustrated Ben-My-Chree voyage report.

On the subject of site updates I would like to advise that there will be a slight change in the update schedule for the week prior to and the week after Easter as I will be away for a few days. More news on this will be posted next week. I am actually considering posting an update schedule which will show the dates and times for forthcoming updates for each month. 

As noted last week, some older items have been removed from the site and archived. I have not transferred the removed items to the archive site yet as this is due to a review of contents in the next week or two, therefore you are advised to download anything of interested from this site as soon as possible. I will not, however, be taking down the old news bulletins or voyage reports.

Once again I would like to express my appreciation to all those who have supplied material for this update.

Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Brian Chambers, Brian Tannam, Justin Merrigan, Philip Parker, John Williams, Geoff Hamer and "others".


Belfast Terminal Observations

Gary Andrews reports that work appears to be continuing and it seems fairly certain that the plan is indeed to use the old Liverpool berth and ramp for the SUPERSEACAT TWO and it appears possible judging by works taking place that a walkway will be provided.

The changes to the port will apparently affect the current marshalling area and it looks likely that the car park to be constructed on the site of the "Liverpool Bar" pub will be used to provide staff parking as well as long and short term car parking for passengers. This will permit the current car park (beside the terminal on the sea side of Donegall Quay) to be used for marshalling.

SUPERSEACAT TWO is reported to be berthed at Pollock Dock, pending her entry into service on April 18.


The Sea Containers Irish Sea web site has been completely redesigned this week. [].

The former banner title SEA CONTAINERS IRISH SEA FERRIES has been removed and replaced by a title SEACAT SUPERSEACAT & STEAM PACKET COMPANY. This appears to move away from a corporate title, "Sea Containers Irish Sea Ferries" may have been a little long winded but it had the advantage of giving a more defined identity. It is about time that a uniform brand name for Sea Containers shipping services was decided on. Whilst enthusiasts and professionals are aware of who owns what, separate identities must cause confusion in the minds of the public. 

Within the site STEAM PACKET COMPANY and ISLE OF MAN STEAM PACKET COMPANY appear with the new logo. There generally appears to be some confusion over the application of the new truncated title both on the site and elsewhere! There must be many out there who bemoan the demise of the old "coiled rope" logo which was very well adapted to the Argyll and Antrim Steam Packet. It is a pity that this logo design was not further developed for services from Liverpool, Heysham and Troon to Ireland. 

It is also  interesting to note that in the web site's  picture gallery the CLAYMORE is still shown as being in the fleet, even though her route from Ballycastle to Campbeltown is still shown. The poor old PEVERIL who also keeps CLAYMORE company in Vittoria Dock, Birkenhead is however, not shown even in the former vessels gallery!


The Dover - Ostend service, now the only cross-channel passenger link between the UK and Belgium resumed its summer schedule on March 31 with five daily departures being offered.

The service is operated by SeaCats RAPIDE and DIAMANT, the largest fast ferries operating on the Dover Straits. 

Departures from Dover are scheduled at 07:30, 10:45, 14:00, 17:15, and 20:30, returning from Ostend at 08:30, 11:45, 15:00 18:15, and 21:30.

Day return fares for a car and up to nine passengers start from just £49, with foot passenger fares from £8. Three-day returns are available from


EUROPEAN CAUSEWAY - It appears from the P&O on-line timetable that the new vessel will commence operations on the Cairnryan - Larne link on August 1, 2000.

The Estonian Shipping Company's ro/ro ferry LEMBITU [which is to be renamed CELTIC SUN] commenced operating an additional sailing for P&O Irish Sea on March 27 providing for an 05:00 departure from Dublin and a 17:00 departure from Liverpool. The deployment of this vessel means that P&O Irish Sea are able to offer four departures each way between Liverpool and Dublin. The photograph by Philip Parker shows Lembitu at the P&O berth at Gladstone Dock on Wednesday March 29, 2000.


It appears that the former Yugoslav passenger/cargo ship PRINCE ALBERT [ex-MOSTAR] which has been berthed at Canning Dock, part of the Albert Dock complex is up for sale.

The PRINCE ALBERT was built in 1955 in Yugoslavia for Jadrolinija as one of four passenger and cargo ships; they were named after cities in the former Yugoslavia and the PRINCE ALBERT was the MOSTAR. She is 57.7 m long and around 878 grt. After service on the Yugoslav coast, she went to Greece in 1966 where she was converted for day cruises and renamed MELTEMI II.

In 1983, she was sold to Epirotiki Lines and renamed APOLLO I, but was still used for day cruises. She came to this country in 1987 when she was renamed and further rebuilt for charter work. She was at Cowes Week in 1987 and was later moored at Greenwich, but she was then used very little and was laid-up at Tilbury for years before being towed to the Mersey by Carmet Towing's tug VALENCIA during early summer 1999.

Shortly after her arrival PRINCE ALBERT  was branded a "slave ship" by maritime unions and has been erroneously described as a private yacht in many reports.

The Prince Albert should have left Liverpool last autumn when her six-month berthing licence expired.

Plans to convert the vessel into a floating Russian restaurant were hindered by planning problems, the Ukrainian crew were deported, and the ship was arrested following a complaint International Transport Workers' Federation regarding non-payment of crew wages.

PRINCE ALBERT has since been released from arrest, but has now been repossessed by the mortgage company and put on the market for sale, said a spokeswoman for English Partnerships, which is responsible for the Albert Dock waterways.

If the yacht is sold the mortgage company will settle debts owed to English
Partnerships for extended berthing fees, and any other suppliers who are
owed money.

"Following that, the new owners will tow her away," the spokeswoman said.

Geoff Hamer reports that Brokers have been advertising a vessel answering to the PRINCE ALBERT's description for £225,000 - though that was probably on behalf of the owner.  

JHL's COMMENT: The PRINCE ALBERT has provided an attractive sight to visitors entering the Albert Dock complex via the Canning Place entrance. The basin, which is empty for much of the year, except for the occasional visiting ship, needs some additional interest. However, the operators of the Albert Dock have been hostile to the berthing of this attractive little ship. 

Shortly after its arrival they suggested that it did not fit in with the image. Then there was the controversy of the crew. From the spokeswoman's comments English Partnerships appear to want to be rid of her. This is a great shame. I am sure people would like to see interesting vessels berthed in the Canning Dock area and for that matter the much larger, though long empty Salthouse Dock. However, the latter would require the reinstatement of a working swing bridge.

The Albert Dock is a great asset to Liverpool, preserving as it does, so much of our maritime heritage. However, the Albert Dock itself and the adjacent basins need more interesting vessels in them. Whilst economics may dictate against static preserved vessels, vessels adapted for other purposes should be considered and perhaps we should not be thinking just about the usual floating restaurant / bar concept which has had not really had much success in the dock in recent years unlike the land based eateries and bars which appear to thrive. 


There has been some doubt over the future of the Proudman Oceanographic Observatory located on Bidston Hill, Wirral for some time. On Saturday the Liverpool Daily Post revealed that the observatory will transfer to the University of Liverpool. New accommodation will be constructed over the next two to three years to provide accommodation. Tough moving to the University campus the facility will continue to be run by the National Environmental Research Council


STENA CALEDONIA is expected to return from Cammell Laird where she is currently dry docked on April 5. Her first sailing is likely to be the 02:20 Belfast to Stranraer on April 5.


The new shipping service from Rosslare Europort to Brest will commence on May 15, 2000, the sailing times. The Rosslare timings supplied by Brian Chambers as follows:

Monday and Wednesday: Arrives Rosslare: 10:30 departs 23:30

Saturday: Arrives Rosslare 10:30 and departs 18:00


SCILLONIAN III - The Isles of Scilly Steam Ship Company's passenger/cargo vessel one of the last of its kind operational in the British Isles, re-entered service on Saturday April 1 with the 09:15 sailing from Penzance to St. Mary's, Isles of Scilly. The company has redesigned its web site with a new corporate image.


The Dublin Corporation sludge vessel SIR JOSEPH BAZALGETTE has been sold to Dubai and has been renamed MARYAM. The ship was originally constructed at Port Glasgow 1963 for operation on the River Thames.

She departed Dublin flying the Argentine flag with San Lorenzo as her port of registry. The photograph by Brian Tannam shows her carrying her new name shortly before departure.


John Williams has brought o my attention International Maritime Research which is run by Ian Stockbridge []

International Maritime Research is a voluntary organisation which is researching the histories of all British Merchant and Naval vessels from 1900 to the present. A key part of this research covers the British, Allied and Neutral ships lost in both World Wars. The central part of the database is the names of 32,000 merchant seamen who lost their lives linked to the history of the ship detailing how they were lost. This information has involved research from a wide range of nautical sources and can fill in the gaps for those researching genealogy.

International Maritime Research has comprehensive information on all British Merchant ships lost in WWII and are now working on Allied vessels and British ships lost in WWI. There is  information on 10,000 merchant vessels lost in both wars as well as full histories of an additional 10,000 ships both pre and post war. For those who lost relative and friends during WWII IMR  can give you information on Merchant or Naval losses.

Part of the IMR web site includes a memorial page which features a different ship each month with the names of those lost.



On March 29, SEAFRANCE MONET was badly holed in Calais harbour after being hurled against the quay in high winds when berthing around 05:15.She was apparently caught by a gust of wind which caused her starboard side  to impact with the quayside. She was reported to be holed in three places with the engine room being flooded.

No one was injured in the incident aboard the ship which was arriving from Dover. Divers carried out emergency repairs and pumps were installed to keep the vessel afloat


The Italian operator Moby Lines, the current operators of former Irish Sea ferries NORSE LAGAN and KING ORRY has revamped their website with a full English language edition.

Moby has also announced details of the construction of two new fast super ships.  The twin ships due to enter service in 2001. The vessels will have a top speed of 29 knots, length of 190m, beam of 27m and capacity for 2000 passengers and 700 cars.

The company claims they will have a décor worthy of the best cruise ships and each of these new ships will have 300 four-berth cabins, elegantly furnished and equipped with private bathrooms and cable broadcasting; an entire deck dedicated to relaxation, shopping and entertainment; an 800-square-metre auditorium on three levels, capable of holding around 700 people; four bar-cafeterias; playrooms for children; swimming-pool; an à-la-carte restaurant seating 200 and a self-service restaurant seating 600; a snack-bar seating 300. 


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