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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



December 31, 2000


Apologies for the later than planned update. It would have been better if I had stuck to the original intention of posting at 21:00 today. Anyway I have finally completed the update and would just like to take this opportunity to whish a


The next update will be on Wednesday January 3, 2001. 

Acknowledgements; Gary Andrews, David Fairclough, Justin Merrigan, John Williamson and "others"

SEA CONTAINERS/Isle of Man Steam Packet Company 

SEACAT SCOTLAND is back at Douglas completing her refit.

BEN-MY-CHREE - 14:15 departure from Heysham was reported to be delayed until 16:00 due to adverse weather conditions on Sunday December 31.


EUROPEAN ENVOY joined EUROPEAN HIGHLANDER for the seasonal holiday lay-up at West Alexandra, Liverpool.

It is understood that one possible long term plan for the Liverpool to Dublin route will see deployment of EUROPEAN AMBASSADOR and second European Ambassador class vessel along with PRIDE OF FLANDERS and PRIDE OF SUFFOLK. Though there is some suggestion Felixstowe - Zeebrugge may get these latter two vessels to replace the RODONA and SAPPHIRE - the subsequent shuffle would also allow the EUROPEAN PATHFINDER to go).


It is now eight years since the plans for a river terminal on the Twelve Quays site at Birkenhead were first published. Two years later, in 1995, plans were announced for a similar terminal on the Liverpool side of the Mersey. In January 2001 the schemes have got absolutely nowhere. The Mersey Docks and Harbour Company is still bogged down in its 'raging apathy and lethargy'; whilst the ferry operators P&O, Merchant Ferries and Norse Irish are now threatening to abandon Liverpool altogether or to take legal action against the MD&HC.

The Millennium celebrations were hardly over before the Twelve Quays scheme was again delayed because of a dispute over a Grade 2 listed building, a pumping station, on the river wall at Wallasey. The fact that it would be necessary to demolish the 130-year old building had apparently been ignored by all the earlier planning applications for the scheme. Just days later, the MD&HC announced that its Trafalgar Dock scheme had been abandoned in favour of a 70-acre residential, recreational and commercial development on the proposed ferry terminal site.

On 19th May 2000 the Mersey Docks & Harbour Company issued a Press Release announcing a new site for a terminal at Langton Dock, a mile to the north of the original Trafalgar Dock scheme. The 40-acre site would have a marshalling area for 575 heavy goods vehicles and cars, plus passenger facilities. It was expected to be operational in the first quarter of 2002.

The Press Release went on to state that work on the Twelve Quays scheme was scheduled to start in the summer of 2000 for completion in the third quarter of 2001.

Chief Executive of the MD&HC, Peter Jones, said: "The Port of Liverpool currently handles one third of all trade between Britain and Ireland. The Langton and Twelve Quays river terminals will increase capacity in the sector by 50% and at the same time eliminate the single biggest obstacle to Liverpool's continuing expansion as Britain's major gateway to Ireland - the need for the ferries to enter the port's enclosed docks."

The Birkenhead Twelve Quays scheme suffered another minor 'blip' when in September 2000, protestors objected to the loss of public access along the river wall between Seacombe and Woodside. They seemed to ignore the fact that this access has never been possible because of the Alfred Entrance Locks.

November 2000 was not a good month for either scheme. Directors of the MD&HC learnt that the Langton proposal was being opposed by a powerful lobby within Sefton Council who feared that the high traffic levels generated by the docks would be exacerbated by the new terminal. The issue had arisen over an application for a Harbour Revision Order by the docks company. As the local authority, Sefton must be consulted by the Department of Environment, Transport and Regions. The Sefton Council lobby chose to ignore the fact that traffic levels in its area will actually diminish when Norse Irish and Merchant Ferries transfer to Twelve Quays across the Mersey at Birkenhead.

After six years of sheer frustration, P&O reacted by threatening to move from Liverpool to new deep-water berths in the Dee estuary at Mostyn, although this was quickly denied by a company spokesman. P&O have invested £33million in a new ferry for its Liverpool-Dublin service, the EUROPEAN AMBASSADOR,  which is due to enter service in January 2001.

In the event, Sefton Council reversed its decision to object and the MD&HC is now pressing the DETR for an early response in relation to the Harbour
Revision Order.

If the events in Bootle had reached a stage of sheer farce, then almost unbelievable fiasco was about to be unveiled across the Mersey at Twelve Quays.

The construction company which had been awarded the contract, Christiani and Neilson, went into administrative receivership on 25th November 2000, just days before work was about to start on the scheme. The leader of Wirral
Borough  Council made what must amount to the understatement of the year: "There have been a few false dawns, and I hope this is not another one!"

The MD&HC was reported as being in urgent talks with a new developer in an attempt to salvage the existing timetable for the Twelve Quays project. It was hoped that swift action could reduce the delay by weeks instead of months. Further extended delays could have legal implications involving Merchant Ferries and Norse Irish (both part of the Cenargo Group). A Cenargo spokesman refused to say whether there were any penalties which could be invoked if the terminal was not open by Autumn, 2001.

Just three days after the Christiani and Nielson collapse, Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott hailed the growth of Irish Sea traffic business through the port of Liverpool and the plans to revitalise Twelve Quays at Birkenhead when he published a White Paper on ports. Mr Prescott said: " For the past decade there has been consistent and strong growth in Irish Sea ferries freight volume through Liverpool. The number of ro-ro units has increased from 94,000 tonnes to 430,000 tonnes in ten years." He went on: "THE STORY OF TWELVE QUAYS SHOWS HOW BOOMING TRADE CAN BE EXPLOITED TO REGENERATE DERELICT PORT FACILITIES."

The story of Twelve Quays is one of farce, fiasco, frustration and many other 'f-words', and is now entering its second decade. There is now no likelihood of the terminal being completed in 2001 - the summer of 2002 may be a possibility. The Langton scheme looks like running into 2003 before the first ferries berth.

For the foreseeable future P&O, Merchant Ferries and Norse Irish must continue to put up with "the single biggest obstacle" to their continued expansion: the ninety minutes that are lost on each and every crossing by having to lock through from the tidal River Mersey into Liverpool's enclosed dock system.   


Dublin - Holyhead

Due to severe weather conditions on Sunday December 31 the 09:45 ISLE OF INISHMORE departure from Dublin and the 15:45 return sailing from Holyhead have been cancelled as were all JONATHAN SWIFT sailings

Rosslare - Pembroke

The ISLE OF INNISFREE 09:15 departure from Rosslare and the 15:00 return sailing on Sunday December 31 have been cancelled due to adverse weather conditions.

French Service

The service has ended for the NORMANDY's refit. The service resumes on March 2. 


The Rosslare - Fishguard service is suspended between January 7 and 11.


On December 26 the Courtmacsharry Lifeboat was sent at 06:30 to the aid of a French yacht being sailed single handedly from Brest to Kinsale. The yacht had been in collision with a Norwegian tanker, five miles off Old Head of Kinsale. The yacht which as overturned in the collision was towed into Kinsale by the lifeboat. The single crewman was unhurt in the incident.



On December 27 just after 10:20 Clyde Coastguard were informed of a collision between two vessels, POOLE SCENE a small passenger ferry based  operated by the Clyde Marine Motoring Company of Greenock and NORD SEA a container vessel operated by Reederei NORD Klaus E Oldendorff Ltd of Limassol. The collision occurred off Greenock. 

Both vessels were brought into Greenock. Ambulances took 19 passengers off the POOLE SCENE to hospital with minor injuries. The collision between the vessels occurred during poor visibility.


Mustoe Merriman Herring Levy has been appointed to handle Stena Line's creative account, which is worth up to £4m.

Swedish company Stena Line is the world's leading ferry company. Mustoe Merriman won the business following a pitch against incumbent J Walter Thompson and two other unnamed agencies.

Stena's media account has been handed to Total Media, which pitched as a partner agency to Mustoe Merriman. Media was previously handled by MindShare, but it is not known if the agency repitched.


A web site has been brought to my attention which should be of interest for anyone interested in Merseyside and its Maritime Heritage. "Reflections" is a black & white photo archive which mainly comprises images dating from 1945 to 1963, though many earlier images are also included. Many of the pictures can be viewed on-line by clicking on thumbnails. Printed 10x8 enlargements can be ordered on-line for a modest charge: .


A report in the Observer on Sunday December 31 states that TITANIC survivors have reacted angrily to plans to build a replica of the liner in Belfast.

Almost 89 years after it went down with the loss of 1,503 lives, two entrepreneurs - one Irish, the other South African - hope to recreate the splendour of the doomed luxury liner, including artefacts from the sunken ship. But the vessel that symbolised British power, and whose sinking in 1912 epitomised its hubris, is still provoking controversy almost a century later.

One of the remaining five Titanic survivors still alive, 88-year-old Millvina Dean, who was only nine weeks old when the ship struck an iceberg and sank, said she disagreed with plans to recreate the liner. Speaking from her home in Southampton, she said: 'I really don't think it's a good idea, especially to make money from this tragedy. I would never set foot on this new ship. It would be too painful.

'I don't mind if these people want to build a new luxury cruise liner but they should not use the Titanic name. Nor should any artefacts be taken from the original ship itself. They should be left where they are."

Her family boarded the Titanic in Southampton on their way to America to set up a new life in Wichita, Kansas.

Her father Bertram was drowned, but she, her mother Eva and her brother Bertram Jnr survived after being put into lifeboat Number 12. They were later rescued and returned to England on board the Adriatic.

The entrepreneurs behind Titanic II reject claims that they are cashing in on the tragedy.

'Of course, it was terrible what happened,' said Belfast-based Mark Blackburne. 'But it's worth remembering that Titanic was a triumph of engineering and architecture, which means an awful lot to people around the world, especially in Belfast where it was built. Titanic II will be a fitting memorial to those that designed, constructed, worked and sailed on the Titanic.'

Blackburne and his South African partner, Sarel Gous, aim to reproduce the splendour of the luxury liner.

Going one step beyond James Cameron's recreation for his blockbuster movie, Titanic, RMS Titanic Shipping Holdings Ltd plans to build Titanic II in Belfast, where the first ship was constructed.

Titanic II's interior has been designed to match the opulence of its celebrated predecessor. The ship will feature a permanent museum displaying original artefacts from the vessel and the grand staircase will be modelled exactly on Titanic's.

The entrepreneurs' plan hinges on a flotation on the Stock Exchange in March, when investors will be asked to buy shares in the name of the ship that sank in 1912.

If Blackburne, the chairman of the Ulster Titanic Society, and Gous raise £10 million from the share option, then several corporate banks will lend the company up to half of the estimated £360m needed to recreate Titanic.

Titanic II will be larger and heavier than its predecessor. According to Blackburne, Titanic II will be 1,200ft long and weigh 96,000 tonnes. The first Titanic was 882ft and weighed 46,000 tonnes.

Unlike the original vessel, the poor and huddled masses - typified by Leonardo DiCaprio in the film - would be unable to afford to travel on Titanic II. Prices for a week on board will range from $15,000 for the most luxurious cabins to the cheapest, a mere snip at $1,500.

Blackburne denies that the project is pie-in-the-sky, insisting that it makes sound business sense. 'We're getting around 80 calls per week, mainly from rich Americans who want to book tickets on Titanic II even though it isn't even built yet. Thousands have called us via the Titanic societies on the internet, inquiring about when they will be able to sail on it.

'The company has spent more than £10,000 on marketing and research and we think this is a very viable business proposition. Titanic's name alone is worth its weight in gold.

'Titanic II will hold 1,500 passengers, and judging by the number of inquiries we've got since we started this project three years ago we could fill the ship several times over.'

Blackburne's alliance with Gous began after he presented an earlier proposal to Titanic's builders, Harland and Wolff, for a yacht with a Titanic theme inside.

'When I went to Harland and Wolff with my idea for a theme yacht in homage to Titanic, a kind of floating museum if you like, the company told me Sarel had been speaking to them about a more challenging project, to replicate the original Titanic. Harland and Wolff were consultants for my project and Sarel's, so it was natural we came together,' he said.

Speaking from his home in Pretoria, Gous said that, while his fascination for all things Titanic was a romantic one, he also believed Titanic II would generate profits.

'If we raise the first £10m, then I am absolutely confident the corporate banks will come on board and we will start work in the autumn of 2001,' he said.

'March to April will be a critical period for Titanic II. Once we get the initial capital we aim to offer the project to Harland and Wolff in Belfast - that's the first option given the historical connection to the first Titanic.'

Gous added that he hoped the British Government would also provide backing, particularly as Titanic II could save thousands of jobs under threat at the ailing shipyard in east Belfast.

The two men said investors would be able to make money even before a single bolt was riveted into Titanic II's hull.

The company has already produced Titanic memorabilia for sale, ranging from crystal models of the ship to baseball caps and key rings.

JHL's COMMENT: M&ISS has recorded several proposals to build TITANIC replica's in the wake of the James Cameron movie, a nunber of reports being consigned to the Lamb Banana section. RMS Titanic Shipping Holdings's plans have appeared before on the site however the company really need to take a look at the present cruise ship market. 

In recent months there have been several cruise companies failing and other established operators holding back on ordering new tonnage.  There is also some strange logic behind this particular project. One could understand a plan to build a replica of TITANIC, but surely a new larger version of the ship isn't a replica just another large passenger ship which may possess a passing resemblence to the original TITANIC. Have these and other entrepreneurs who have considered building Titanic replicas not considered that if there was any gain to be made by constructing a replica one of the existing shipping companies would already have done so? 

I doubt that few backers for the project will be found and that investors' cash will probably sink faster than the original ship. One awaits further developments with interest, but I doubt TITANIC II will see the light of day. 

Back Home Up

December 24, 2000



First of all I would like to wish all visitors to the M&ISS site a very Merry Christmas and trust that you have an enjoyable holiday. Apologies for failing to meet the mid-day posting schedule, however, things just took much longer to put together than anticipated! 

On the subject of schedules the January update schedule is now on-line as well as details of LADY OF MANN scheduled sailings for 2001. The Lady's schedule for Christmas 2001 looks particularly interesting!

In addition to the usual gallery updates I there is a P&O San Francisco to Alaska Cruise feature from Frank Gradwell which should be of interest at a time of year when people's thoughts are turning to the planning of next summer's holidays. 

The New Year's Eve update will feature a Review of the Year and a BEN-MY-CHREE voyage report as I will be doing the Heysham - Douglas - Dublin - Douglas - voyage over December 28 and Douglas to Heysham on December 29.

Finally I would like to thank the numerous correspondents who have sent material and exchanged news and views during the past year. It is your contributions which have helped make Mersey & Irish Sea Shipping so successful. - Many Thanks.

 Have a good holiday!

Best Wishes 

John H. Luxton

Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Patrick C. Taylor, Justin Merrigan, Frank Gradwell, John Williamson and "others".

SEA CONTAINERS/Isle of Man Steam Packet Company 

SEACAT SCOTLAND - had been berthed at West Langton, Liverpool since leaving Canada Dry Dock earlier in the week. She departed from the Mersey early on the afternoon of December 22 and returned to Douglas. 

SUPERSEACAT TWO -  is reported to have returned to the Belfast terminal following refit on the Clyde. The ship arriving back some time between the mornings of December 20 / 21.


The 2001 schedules are now on line and the timetable booklets are available from company offices and travel agents. A summary of advertised sailings for the LADY OF MANN until January 7, 2002 has been posted to the LADY OF MANN sailings information page on M&ISS.


In 2001 a new day return ticket will be available for visitors to the Isle of Man during the spring, summer and early autumn. The "Island Explorer" ticket is priced at just £2 more than the summer day return [£25]. However, the ticket INCLUDES unlimited travel on buses, railways and horse tramway including the Snaefell Mountain Railway. 

This offers a genuine saving over having to buy tickets for any of these on arrival. It is to be hoped that Sea Containers promote this in the railway and bus enthusiast press in the coming year as well as in the north west of England regional press.

Day excursion fares with cars make an appearance early and late in the year. Unfortunately for Merseysiders we will only be able to take advantage of this in October for trips to and from Douglas due to the timetable. 


Travelbreak (who appear to operate package deals for SeaCo via the Belfast - Troon and Belfast - Heysham routes) are offering daytrips to the McArthur Glen Designer Outlets in Livingston.

The trips cost just £10 per person with departure on the morning sailing ex Belfast and return on the evening sailing ex Troon. Departure dates are December 15, 19, 20 and 22 and January 2, 3, 5, 9, 10, 12, 16, 17, 19, 23, 24, 26, 30, 31.

Bookings are via Travelbreak 028 9071 4614.


I have been informed that Captain Fulvio de Sanctis, one of the original masters employed on the newly introduced SuperSeaCat service between Liverpool and Dublin passed away this week.

In 1999 Captain deSanctis transferred from Liverpool to Dublin to the Newhaven-Dieppe service. 

Justin Merrigan writes: "Those of you who sailed on SuperSeaCat Two between Liverpool and Dublin during 1998 would probably have known Capt. Fulvio deSanctis.

Sadly Fulvio suddenly passed away in his sleep on Thursday.  A very young man his passing has shocked his colleagues and many friends between Dublin and Dieppe.  He'll be missed.

I last sailed with Fulvio during the summer of 1999 when I travelled to Newhaven to "do the trip" with him.  

His fast "get-aways" from Dublin will always be remembered, as will his quips over the radio - Justin - I go!  And with that SSC2 would be away like a flash!

I last saw him as I photographed SSC2 from the breakwater at Newhaven - he spotted me and amidst much waving and whistle blowing I promised myself I would make another trip with him again soon.

Safe passage Fulvio.




Dublin Liverpool Christmas Schedule
-  Ex Liverpool 22/12, 23/12 - Normal sailings. --- 24/12 - 0400hrs sailing only (subject to cargo levels) --- 25/12,26/12 - No sailings --- 27/12 to 30/12 - 2200hrs sailing only --- 31/12, 01/01 - No sailings --- 02/01 -1700hrs and 2200hrs only --- 03/01 - Return to normal schedule.

-  Ex Dublin 22/12, 23/12 - Normal sailings --- 24/12 to 26/12 - No sailings --- 27/12 to 30/12 - 2200hrs only --- 31/12, 01/01 - No sailings --- 02/01 - 1600hrs and 2200hrs only --- 03/01 - Return to normal schedule.

Dublin Liverpool Sailings 21/12
-  Ex Liverpool - Envoy 1630hrs - Celtic Sun 2100hrs - Celtic Star 0500hrs

-  Ex Dublin - Leader 13.30, Celtic Star 17.30

-  Ex Liverpool on 22/12/00 - Leader 01.30, Celtic Star 05.30, Envoy 16.30, Celtic Sun 21.30.

-  Ex Dublin on 22/12/00 - Leader 13.30, Celtic Star 16.30, Envoy 04.00, Celtic Sun 08.30.

EUROPEAN SEAFARER - arrived at Cammell Laird on the evening of December 23. Comms traffic revealed that there was some delay in the vessel entering the yard which resulted in the vessel cruising the river. 

EUROPEAN PATHFINDER arrived at Cammell Laird [Wright & Beyer's] Bidston Dry Dock on December 22 for work over the holiday period.

EUROPEAN HIGHLANDER has laid up for the Christmas holiday period at West Alexandra Dock, Liverpool.


The signs at the entrances to Canada #3 Branch Dock and Brocklebank Dock have been replaced with new ones bearing the name Norse Merchant Ferries.


HSS STENA DISCOVERY  - An OPEN verdict has been recorded at the inquest on John Sibley, who was swept to his death from a fishing boat by a wave from HSS STENA DISCOVERY in 1999

A coroner's  jury at Ipswich Crown Court found that Mr. Sibley died by drowning after being immersed in water on July 17, 1999, at the Shipwash Bank off Harwich.

There were three verdicts which could have been recorded by the jury, accidental death, unlawful killing or an open verdict. The coroner, Dr. Peter Dean, did not put the case for unlawful killing to the jury after hearing submissions from legal representatives for the parties, including the Sibley family.

Maria Pittordis, of Hill Taylor Dickinson, said the jury returned an open verdict as there was not enough information to "establish all the facts". Andrew Higgs, of Davies Arnold Cooper, who is acting for Mr. Sibley's widow, Marilyn, said that his client had decided not to submit a request to the coroner for the case for unlawful killing to be put to the jury because
this would have been likely to result in an adjournment of proceedings to allow Stena Line time to produce further documentation.

Postponement would have meant a delay in issuing Mr. Sibley's death certificate. Mr. Higgs said that Stena's Dutch managing director, Pim de Lange, had "finally" apologized to Mrs. Sibley in his presence and had assured her
that the matter would be resolved by Christmas. Mrs. Sibley is taking legal action against Stena in the Admiralty Court
but there has been a stay of proceedings until January 8 to allow for the inquest and discussions between the two parties.
Mrs. Sibley's lawyers sought and obtained security of £500,000 ($716,000) from Stena Line Ms Pittordis described the death of Mr. Sibley, who could not swim and was not wearing a lifejacket, as a "very sad and tragic case" and expressed condolences to his widow and family. A Marine Accident Investigation Branch inquiry into the accident found
that the 15ft wave that swept Mr. Sibley to his death was generated by the 19,638 grt HSS STENA DISCOVERY "during or after the alteration of course made to the south of South Shipwash Buoy".

According to evidence given by the skipper of the fishing boat PURDY, Denis Hayman, she was in about 2 metres of water at the time she was hit be the wave. The MAIB maintained that Mr. Hayman had "placed PURDY in a dangerous position with regard to the wash waves that the STENA DISCOVERY was known to produce". The report also claimed that Stena Line had a "shortfall in safety management... despite prior knowledge of the problems experienced on the Irish Sea routes." Stena denies the allegation.

Mr. Higgs said that if Stena had had a risk assessment passage plan for the voyage in question the tragedy "would not have occurred". It is now a requirement for all fast ferries to file a specific risk assessment passage plan and operating licences will now be renewed if they do not.

KONINGIN BEATRIX - There is a rumour circulating that the KB has been sold to Canada. STENA CHALLENGER was sold to Marine Atlantic during 2000 and will enter service with that operator in April 2001. How accurate the KB rumour is, is not known.


The Liverpool Echo reported that the Department of Trade and Industry has agreed to provide the financial backing needed to allow US cruise-line Luxus Holdings to confirm a £320m contract to build two 28,500-tonne cruise ships. In a statement, the DTI said it was prepared to guarantee bank loans taken out by Luxus to cover the cost of the contract. However, doubts remained last night about whether the loan guarantees ­ thought to be worth £200m ­ were being provided on terms that would persuade Luxus' bankers to forward the cash needed to pay for the ships. Nevertheless, the news will raise hopes of a return of shipbuilding to the River Mersey for the first time in seven years. It could mean work for 1,000 staff at the company's Merseyside and North East shipyards. 

One Whitehall source close to the negotiations indicated the loan guarantee, provided under the terms of the Home Shipbuilding Credit Guarantee Scheme, covered about £200m of Luxus' debt. Another Government source said: "We have worked very hard doing all we can to provide the finance while at the same time balancing the interests of the tax payer. "Is this enough to attract the project? We hope so." The DTI said earlier this week it would make
grants available worth £25m to subsidise the cost of the work.

The Royal Fleet Auxiliary vessel RFA ARGUS which had due to be received for extensive work at the Tyneside yard which will see the replacement of the vessel's present hospital facility will now arrive at Birkenhead on January 6 for the work to be undertaken.

Over the holiday period EUROPEAN PATHFINDER is undergoing maintenance at the Bidston Dry Dock whilst EUROPEAN SEAFARER arrived at the Birkenhead on December 23 for an extensive refit, due to last until February. SeaTruck's RIVERDANCE was dry docked on December 24.


RIVERDANCE arrived at Cammell Laird on the morning of December 24 for dry docking.



On December 21 Falmouth Coastguard  strongly recommended that the Master of the Antiguan and Barbudan registered general cargo vessel JENS R [1960 grt] owned by the German company Bockst Legel should accept a tow from the Coastguard Emergency Towing Vessel (ETV) FAR SKY when the Master issued a general communications warning that the vessel had lost all engine power off Land's End.

Falmouth Coastguard pick up the communication at 07:42 and immediately made contact with the vessel, the Master was preparing to anchor until such time as repairs could be made. However, Falmouth Coastguard considered the vessel, now within 3 miles of cliffs at Land's End, would be unable to safely anchor whilst sitting in a 60 metre depth of water and above major telephone cabling.

FAR SKY arrived on scene and JENS R  accepted a tow to Falmouth.


At 08:12 on December 20  the 10.4 metre Looe based fishing vessel VALERIE MAY issued a Mayday when her engine room began to take in water at a rate of knots leaving the two crew on board fearing for their safety.

Brixham Coastguard scrambled a rescue helicopter from the Royal Naval base at Culdrose and requested the launch of the Fowey RNLI all weather lifeboat. Both rescue units arrived on scene by 08:40 at which point the crew on VALERIE MAY had managed to stem the flow of water into the engine room.

A crew member from the lifeboat boarded the fishing vessel with pumping equipment, the all weather lifeboat attached a tow and both vessels made their way to Fowey Harbour.

Coastguard Watch Manger, Kevin Hird commented: "The crew of the stricken vessel did the right thing in calling mayday, even though they were later able to stem the flow, the situation could have deteriorated before the rescue units arrived."

The weather on the scene was south-easterly force 4 with visibility at 4 miles.


With Christmas and New Year just around the corner. HM Coastguard would like to advise people who have bought or are intending to buy presents for use on the sea or along the coasts.

Choose carefully, think twice before getting the 'Turbo' version. It is far better to build up a skill with the 'Basic' model before moving on to the more advanced version. If you are stuck for a present for a sea enthusiast, then how about safety equipment such as flares, lifejackets, toolkit, first aid box, VHF Radio, VHF DSC, Navtex receiver, protective clothing or better still 'an instructional course from a properly qualified body', such as the Royal Yachting Association (RYA). Invest in training, it really does save lives.

Mariners looking for a 'New Year's Resolution' could resolve never to put to see with a 'known' or 'foreseeable' machinery fault. If everyone did that, we suspect that the Coastguard casualty statistics would fall dramatically.

For those of us who like to walk off the Christmas dinner along our beautiful coastal footpaths then HM Coastguard would like again to remind you to keep away from the edge of all cliffs; do not attempt to climb the cliffs and keep children and animals well under control. The cliffs are particularly dangerous this time of the year due to the vast amount of rain water the soil has had to absorb over the year.

If you are a parent of young children it may be a good time to remind your children of the dangers along the coast. Point out the landslides you see along your route, ask them to tell you of other dangers they know. Also, what should they do if things go wrong, how to contact the 'Emergency Services' such as HM Coastguard. We think that you will all be surprised at their answers and how well informed they are. Especially if they have recently had a safety talk at school from a Coastguard Officer.

If anyone would like further advice, safety leaflets or addresses of other recognised organisations, then please contact your local Coastguard.

And from all of us at the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, may we wish you all a very Merry Christmas with a safe and prosperous New Year.


On December 18 at  18:07  Brixham Coastguard received a mayday alert from the 28ft fishing vessel ARRANT stranded on rocks on the west side of Looe Island, Cornwall along with the 31ft fishing vessel MARIGOLD, which had gone to the assistance of the ARRANT and ended up washed over rocks sitting in water but likewise stranded.

Brixham Coastguard scrambled the rescue helicopter from the Royal Naval base at Culdrose, tasked the Looe Coastguard Rescue Team and requested the launch of the Looe inshore lifeboat along with the Fowey lifeboat.

The Looe lifeboat arrived on scene at 18:21 and was able to get ARRANT clear of the rocks, the vessel had retained steering and power and appeared to be sound. Fowey then assisted the MARIGOLD.

Brixham Coastguard Watch Manager Alf Tupper commented:

"Luckily for both these vessels the RNLI lifeboats were able to get to the scene within minutes of the mayday and so averted any injury or further damage to the vessels."

ARRANT, with two crew onboard, is registered in Fowey, MARIGOLD, also with two crew onboard, is registered in Looe.

Weather on scene was force 3 south-easterly winds with good visibility.


On December 18 the Maritime & Coastguard Agency announced that twenty one foreign ships were under detention in UK ports during November 2000 after failing port state control safety inspections. The list consists of 12 ships detained in November, along with 9 ships still under detention from previous months. The rate of detentions compared with inspections carried out over the last 12 months is 6%. This is a decrease of 0.1% from the 12 month rate to October. The ships detained included:-

  • A Panamian general cargo vessel detained in Fowey with 40 deficiencies. The inspection revealed a poor level of maintenance with various key safety items not working. The officers and crew of the vessel lacked adequate knowledge of emergency drills and signals, particularly fire drill techniques. Food in the provision room was contaminated with insects.

  • A Hong Kong bulk carrier found with a Safety Management System failing in emergency preparedness based on crew's poor performance during a fire drill and implementation of maintenance programme with cracks found in hatch coaming and an inoperative emergency fire pump.

  • A 16 year old Maltese registered bulk carrier with main deck hatchways to steering gear and tunnel corroded through and a lifeboat which could not be released from the ship. The ship safety management system had not detected or recorded these and other defects despite having been recently audited.

Eight out of the twelve ships detained this month were registered under Paris MoU blacklisted flags.

The new detentions at ports in the Irish Sea and adjacent sea areas were:

Ship's Name


Date and place of detention

28/11/2000 - Fowey



Type of vessel

General Cargo

IMO number





Ikarian Moon

Classification Society

Bureau Veritas

No. of previous detentions


Total no. deficiencies


Grounds for detention

Still under detention at the end of November. VHF/DSC no transmission. Incorrect navigation charts. Rudder angle indicators not working. Emergency escape trunk doors not sealing. Fire hose couplings split or cracked. Infested rice.

Ship's Name


Date and place of detention

29/11/2000 - Liverpool



Type of vessel

Bulk Carrier

IMO number





TNR Denizeilik VE Ticaret AS

Classification Society

Class NKK

No. of previous detentions


Total no. deficiencies


Grounds for detention

Detained 2 days. Hatchway covers - severe corrosion.

Ship's Name


Date and place of detention

27/11/2000 - Falmouth



Type of vessel


IMO number





General Maritime SA

Classification Society

Class NKK

No. of previous detentions


Total no. deficiencies


Grounds for detention

Still under detention at the end of November. No hot tapped water in accommodation. No flushing water in toilets. No heating in accommodation. Main steam boiler, emergency fire pump and oily water seperator - not working.

Ship's Name


Date and place of detention

23/11/2000 - Belfast



Type of vessel

Bulk Carrier

IMO number





ICDAS, Istanbul

Classification Society

Bureau Veritas

No. of previous detentions


Total no. deficiencies


Grounds for detention

Detained 6 days. Unable to launch lifeboats. VHF/DSC/MMSI not entered. EPIRB unable to arm. Provision of fire-fighting equipment in engine room. Deficient SOLAS radio batteries. Incorrect stowage liferafts. Unsatisfactory handrails and ventilator closing devices.

Ship's Name


Date and place of detention

10/11/2000 - Newport



Type of vessel

Bulk Carrier

IMO number



Hong Kong, China


Libo Maritime Management

Classification Society

Class NKK

No. of previous detentions


Total no. deficiencies


Grounds for detention

Detained 5 Days. Cracks and holes in No 3 hatch coaming. Liferaft casing damaged. Emergency fire pump inoperative. Scavenge spaces drained through rubber hose direct into sludge tank. Safety management system failing in emergency preparedness (fire drill) and implementation of maintenance programme. Following corrective action, major non-conformities downgraded to non-conformities for further auditing. (ISM Auditors ABS)


RTÉ reports that the  Waterford Port Company has submitted a development plan for the Belview Terminal to Kilkenny County Council. It would extend the jetties to 3 kilometres and provide new storage buildings and other facilities. In addition, it is intended to move the headquarters of the company from Waterford city centre to Belview. At Waterford there are proposals for additional cruise liner terminal facilities, more provision for leisure marine activities and major waterfront, shoreside developments. The Chief Executive of Waterford Port, John Clancy, has also suggested that there should be an amalgamation of the port companies at New Ross and Rosslare with Waterford, to form a south/east regional ports authority.


This week it has become apparent that twin hulled high speed yachts, rather like their twin hulled fast speed ferry counterparts do not take kindly to severe sea conditions as British yachtsman Pete Goss finally realised that the TEAM PHILIPS yacht, abandoned nearly two weeks ago was probably lost.  

Over recent years the capabilities of high-speed ferries have improved steadily with some of the latest designs being able to operate satisfactorily in seas of 5 metres or more. 

However it looks as though much more work will be required before a high-speed sailing vessel will be able to withstand the rigours of a north Atlantic winter. 

TEAM PHILIPS was abandoned during a gale in mid-Atlantic on December 10, the £4m craft was tracked until contact was lost on Tuesday. On Friday December 22 Pete Goss announced that the project had drawn to a close after an aerial search had failed to locate the yacht.

Goss said: "This is a very sad day for all of us and I would like to thank all of our sponsors for their unfailing commitment over the last three years.

"For me, it has been a privilege to have been custodian of such a special dream which has touched so many.

"Accepting the risks, we chose to drive in the fast lane. Defeat, however, sometimes has to be accepted. As a team we can look it in the eye knowing that we gave it our all.

He added in a statement: "We dared to dream and we are proud of what we achieved."

His sponsors said Team Philips was a unique project and at the cutting edge of technology. "In such a pioneering yacht there is always an element of risk, which we acknowledged from the outset."

The giant catamaran, said the sponsors led by Dutch electronics giant Philips, was innovative and beautiful. "She captivated all who saw her and evoked emotions that we are all proud to have been associated with." Should Team Philips ever be found, the sponsors had agreed to work with Goss again.

Team Philips was abandoned by the seven-man crew on Sunday about 750 miles (1,200 km) off the coast of Ireland, after being hit by a series of heavy waves. The crew, including Goss, were rescued by a German cargo ship, which battled through gales to reach the catamaran.

The abandonment of TEAM PHILIPS was the latest in a series of mishaps which have plagued the vessel since its launch earlier this year: In October, the catamaran turned back 18 hours into a trial voyage to New York after one of its masts began to sway. In March, it suffered near disaster off the Isles of Scilly when part of its starboard bow snapped off.

The team was conducting sea trials in preparation for The Race, a non-stop round-the-world race which starts in Barcelona on December 31, when they were forced to abandon ship.


CELTIC EXPLORER - Damen Shipyards of the Netherlands have been awarded an IR£23m contract for the construction of a second marine research ship for Ireland. The new vessel will be 65.5m long and based at Galway Port. Delivery will be in September 2002. She will join the present research vessel CELTIC VOYAGER. Minister for the Marine Frank Fahey said:" The new vessel will enable us for the first time to explore all of our national maritime territory and do research work in waters beyond our limits."

Mr. Fahey also announced that the new vessel would be fitted out to a standard that would make it one of only three vessels in Europe that is compliant with the ICES'209' report for fish survey purposes. The CELTIC EXPLORER will also used for oceanographic work, environmental monitoring, acoustic research, oil recovery support and instrumentation deployment, the Minister said.


And now a seasonal Costa Crociere passenger's tale regarding COSTA RIVIERA. Whilst one must feel sorry for Mr. Amin and his fellow passengers it is pleasing to see Costa getting a lot of bad press in public. 

A newsagent and his family told today how their dream Mediterranean Christmas cruise turned into a nightmare.

Bharat Amin, his wife Amita and their sons Sachin, eight, and Dhilan, six, were among 700 passengers forced off the Italian luxury liner Costa Riviera after sewage seeped into cabins.

Passengers complained and Italian cruise company Costa Crociere flew them home free and refunded their money.

The company has admitted the ship was not ready to sail after spending four weeks in dry dock for refurbishment.

Mr. Amin, 40, who runs a shop in East Street, Brighton, is now back home with his family in Hove.

He said: "It is my sons, I feel sorry for. They were really looking forward to spending Christmas on board a luxury cruise liner in the Med and telling their friends about visiting Egypt, Israel and Greece."

The Amin family paid £699 for each adult fare and £299 per child for the 11-day cruise.

When they stepped on board the ship at the Savona, north Italy, the lounges looked new, the vessel was decorated for Christmas and everything seemed fine.

Their first inkling something was wrong was when Sachin used the toilet in the cabin and water came gushing out, flooding the bathroom.

They were told several other cabins had experienced similar problems, and the matter would be dealt with shortly.

As the liner left port, it was clearly listing. A crew member told Mr. Amin the ballast had not been loaded correctly and would be adjusted during the voyage.

Mr. Amin said: "If the sea had been rough, we would have clearly been in trouble."

Then the family was woken at 1am by the smell of diesel fumes in the cabin.

As they went on deck to escape the smell, they could clearly see the liner was listing to the right.

Mr. Amin said: "The next morning everyone was complaining. The decks were awash with water and some parts of the ship really smelt.

"There were some weird smells and sewage smells. It was disgusting. We could not drink any water. We had to pay out for bottled water from the bars."

When the boat reached Naples, the Amin family went ahead with a pre-booked excursion. They were not eager to return to the COSTA RIVIERA for another night.

Mr. Amin said: "We saw people walking away from the ship with their suitcases. I asked what was going on and I was told the company had cancelled the cruise and was offering full refunds and free flights home.

"We collected our bags, arranged for a flight home, and that was the end of Christmas in the Mediterranean.

"We did not want to spend another night on board. I was worried for the health of my boys."

Back Home Up

December 20, 2000


Welcome to this mid-week update. First a reminder that the December 24 and also the December 31 updates will be posted around mid-day.

It is often difficult to predict the amount of work the news bulletin requires, however, I would anticipate that the December 24 news bulletin will be fairly light - famous last words?!  Hopefully that being the case, the December 24 update will contain I a number of new galleries which will include interesting material forwarded by Frank Gradwell and more of Neil Ralph's classic archive photos. 

There has been a lack of voyage reports emanating from my keyboard in recent months. However, I should rectify this in the December 31 update when there should be a Heysham - Douglas - Dublin - Douglas report for the BEN-MY-CHREE's post Christmas visit to Dublin on December 28.

Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, David Fairclough, Charlie Tennant, Justin Merrigan, Dave Crolley, John Shepherd, Patrick C. Taylor, John Williamson and "others".

SEA CONTAINERS/Isle of Man Steam Packet Company 


The confusion over the deployment of Irish Sea vessels continues! Latest information received suggests that RAPIDE will operate on the Belfast - Heysham route with SEACAT DANMARK operating Helsinki -


BEN-MY-CHREE - is currently using the Victoria Pier, Douglas due to technical problems with the hydraulic rams on the Department of Transport owned Edward Pier linkspan. 

The photograph by Stan Basnett shows the BEN departing for Heysham on the 09:00 sailing on December 20

SUPERSEACAT TWO was noted by a correspondent on Tuesday December 19th at midday berthed on the Clyde adjacent to the dry dock and about 200 metres down river from HMS ST. ALBANS (F83). The Duke Class (Type 23) Frigate launched earlier this year is currently fitting out at BAe Systems (Yarrows), Scotstoun, Glasgow .It would appear departure of SUPERSEACAT TWO from the Clyde after refit is imminent but will obviously be dependent on the Irish Sea conditions.

SEACAT SCOTLAND - has left Canada Graving Dock, Liverpool.


Though I have yet to pick up a copy I understand that the 2001 timetable is now available. It runs from January 1 2001 to January 7 2002. John Williamson has sent some interesting highlights:

The Lady's TT schedule runs from Friday 25 May 13.45 Heysham - Douglas to Monday 11 June 19.15 Douglas to Heysham. She takes the day sailing to give BEN-MY-CHREE an engineering break on Tuesday 5 June. This leaves Mon 21 to Thu 24 May available for day excursion sailings.

The LADY OF MANN returns for winter service with the Irish October weekend, advertised 08.00 Douglas - Dublin Friday 26 October and 18.30 Dublin - Douglas Mon 29 October.

She then takes over the Liverpool - Douglas service at weekends from 9 November and takes the first of the two Christmas Dublin sailings Friday 21 December, when her Friday 08.30 Liverpool - Douglas sailing is delayed to 10.30. She departs Douglas at 16.00 for Dublin. She departs Dublin on at 21.30 for the return sailing to Douglas. The post Christmas trip to Dublin is taken by the. BEN-MY-CHREE on Saturday 29 Dec 08.00 Douglas  - Dub and 13.30 Dublin - Douglas.


Hoverspeed recently issued the following press release to promote the Channel services in 2001:


Fast car ferry operator Hoverspeed is set to dramatically transform its cross channel fleet in 2001 on the short sea routes between Dover to Calais and Ostend.

From March the company will be introducing a fleet of three SuperSeaCat monohull high speed craft which, with an average age of just two years, will see Hoverspeed operating the newest vessels on the English Channel.

The SuperSeaCat introduction will focus on the key Dover - Calais route, doubling car and passenger capacity and re-establishing the fastest, surface port to port crossing time of just 35 minutes - as pioneered by Hoverspeed during the previous 32 years of hovercraft flights. Operating from Hoverspeed's exclusive terminals, cross channel customers will experience the fastest turn up and go, seamless service between Dover and Calais with up to 10 return sailings daily.

For the first time ever, a SuperSeaCat will also operate a service from Dover to Ostend, the sole cross channel link between the UK and Belgium. Crossing time will be 1 hour 45 minutes. With additional SeaCat services, up to three return sailings daily will be provided.

Geoffrey Ede, Hoverspeed Managing Director said: "SuperSeaCat will bring new standards of style, comfort, service and speed to the cross channel market and give Hoverspeed a major competitive edge, particularly on the high profile Dover - Calais route. This exciting development to our fleet will make 2001 a landmark year for Hoverspeed and give passengers a truly unique way of crossing the channel."

At 100m long, SuperSeaCat will be the largest monohull fast ferries operating in UK waters and have capacity for 700 passengers and 145 vehicles. The state-of-the-art car ferries, built in Italy by Fincantieri, can operate at speeds of up to 40 knots.

On board service and facilities will feature all that passengers have come to expect from Hoverspeed. This includes airline-style, at-seat service for refreshments and shopping, or alternatively visit the craft's on board shop, panorama bar and café. There is also an outside deck, together with a bridge viewing area, from where passengers can observe the captain and crew.

Hoverspeed's exclusive 1st service will also be a key feature on SuperSeaCat. Each craft provides a 1st lounge for up to 40 passengers. An upgrade supplement gives passengers priority loading and unloading, access to the on board 1st lounge, complimentary drinks and meals.

The major transformation to Hoverspeed's cross channel fleet will effect changes to the company's fast ferries on other services in 2001. The Newhaven - Dieppe route, a seasonal service between 31 March and 31 October, will be operated by an 81 metre SeaCat. With a crossing time of 2 hours and up to three return sailings daily, the craft has capacity for 675 passengers and 145 vehicles.


The news that a French county council has agreed to buy the Sussex port of Newhaven from Sea Containers appears to have whipped up some jingoistic sprit in some newspapers.

Seine-Maritime, a local authority in upper Normandy, is thought to have had a bid worth at least £10 million which has been accepted in principle by Sea Containers.

The Independent" states that "the deal is believed to be the first time one public authority in Europe has
bought a commercial business in another European Union member state. The initiative is designed primarily to help save the haulage industry and about 1,000 local jobs in Dieppe.

Both ports, whose income was based heavily on the once regular cross-Channel freight and rail passenger services have suffered since the opening of the Channel Tunnel, which has undermined Dieppe's historic value as the port with the fastest route to Paris.

The year round ferry service ended in January 1999, leaving only the seasonal SeaCat service running between April and October. As a result, haulage companies in Dieppe are threatening to relocate to the south to Rouen, closer to Le Havre.

The Seine-Maritime council would also invest a further £10million, including £4million in EU subsidies, to reconstruct the obsolete harbour facilities at the Sussex port. It has also invited tenders from other ferry operators willing to restart a permanent Newhaven-Dieppe service. An announcement is expected before Christmas.

The deal to buy Newhaven is reminiscent of similar proposals for the purchase of Dover by the Port of Calais which met with opposition in the UK. However, the Newhaven deal appears to have been welcomed by the local Liberal Democrat MP, Norman Baker.

The plans have been reported to have been welcomed by the socialist led French government, though the purchase has been criticised by left wing members of Seine-Maritime's council. The Independent reporting that a Communist council member, Pierre Trehet, said he was 'astonished' that the right-wing majority on the Council should use French public money to rescue a privately owned British company.


The Dún Laoghaire Lifeboat web site has been update with details of the Station's service call-outs for the Trent Class all weather boat - ANNA LIVIA and the Inshore Lifeboat, IRISH DIVER for the period January 1 to December 3, 2000.


EUROPEAN AMBASSADOR the latest vessel to be built for P&O Irish Sea has commenced he 10,800 mile delivery voyage from Japan to Liverpool under the command of P&O Irish Sea master Captain Neil Spencer.

The vessel was constructed by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries shipyard at Shimonoseki, Japan,  to operate on the Liverpool to Dublin service.

The delivery voyage is expected to take 23 days. The vessel's progress can be followed on a daily basis on the P&O Irish Sea web site: Her arrival at Liverpool should be on Thursday , January 4.


There are unconfirmed reports that the replacement for the Swansea - Cork from March 12 will be the VILLE DE SETE ex - SAINT PATRICK II which may be renamed CITY OF CORK. Silja Lines WASA QUEEN had originally been tipped as being a likely contender to take over the route.


Tanker LOUGH FISHER was towed 'Dead Ship' into Cammell Lairds On Sunday afternoon by Howard Smith Tugs TRAFALGAR on the Bow & WATERLOO on the stern.

On December 19, there was better news for Cammell Laird with the announcement that the government was offering a £25m grant from the Ship Building Intervention Fund which will go towards the contract to build to luxury cruise ships for the Luxus consortium of America

Trade and Industry Secretary Stephen Byers confirmed he had made a conditional offer of Shipbuilding Intervention Funding to the yard.

Cammell Laird is also seeking government guarantees to underwrite up to 80% of construction work on the two vessels, through its loan guarantee scheme. 

A spokesman for the Department of Trade and Industry said: "We hope to make a decision on the loan guarantee by the end of this week."

The £25m grant, which was what Laird had requested from Mr. Byers, is not conditional on European approval - but it will only be paid once Luxus secured the private funding to go ahead with the deal. Recently reports suggested that Luxus had not yet secured full funding for the project.

The DTI spokesman added: "This is an important step forward for the yard."

Councillor Phil Davies, chairman of Wirral council's economic regeneration committee and deputy leader of the council, said this morning: "This is absolutely tremendous news after all of the recent disappointment."

Birkenhead MP Frank Field added: "It is quite clear that Laird's has passed its test with flying colours. The world market in shipping now knows that the government has total confidence in Cammell Laird.

On Wednesday, the local press were stating that union leaders were claiming that the DTI guarantees for the Luxus contract would only amount to 50% rather than 80% of the cost. This would of course lead to a significant shortfall and may well put the whole deal in doubt. An announcement is expected on Thursday.


By Monday the ITF had yet to serve arrest papers on the troubled passenger ship which operated out of Liverpool in 1998 as the EDINBURGH CASTLE.

The ship had avoided arrest at Port Canaveral on Wednesday when it sailed just hours before the ITF successfully applied in court for the vessel’s seizure and a maritime lien for wages, benefits and repatriation costs.

Fairplay reported that that owners International Shipping Partners claimed that the crew would be paid on arrival at Freeport, Bahamas. However, the ship dropped anchor off Freetown and the ITF were said to be considering the send out of a launch to serve the arrest papers.

On Wednesday the BIG RED BOAT II was still reported to be at anchor off Freetown.


The many people on Merseyside who were angered and dismayed by Costa Crociere's decision to not to deliver the COSTA CLASSICA to Cammell Laird last month will get some satisfaction from news that a member of the Costa fleet has earned the company much bad press early in the week even though the vessel had only just left an Italian ship yard after refit .....

Costa Crociere were forced to abandon a 10 day Mediterranean cruise by the COSTA RIVIERA due to sanitation and ballasting problems. The ship had recently re-entered service following a month long dry docking at Genoa and was two days into her first cruise following refit when the decision to abandon the cruise was taken.

Of the 840 passengers on board, 187 decided to fly home from Naples at the company's expense. One hundred and fifty five of these passengers being British. Costa have offered passengers a full refund and a 50% credit against another cruise.

COSTA RIVIERA's passengers had complained that the ship had a noticeable list and toilets would not flush. There was also reported to be a smell of sewage throughout the ship Costa Crociere admitted that the ship had a 4° list and the vessels pipework had developed leaks following the refit at the San Giorgio Del Porto shipyard in Genoa.

Costa stated that about 70 of the cabins were affected by sewage problems, but that passengers had been relocated in 40 spare cabins.

Italian health and safety authorities had cleared the ship for sailing before the cruise was abandoned. Costa said that if the cruise had continued it could not guarantee its normal standards.

It is hoped to have the vessel repaired either in Savona or Genoa in time for a New Year cruise which departs on December 27.

Back Home Up

December 17, 2000


This is the update that nearly didn't happen!. On Saturday evening the telephone line died. BT were contacted immediately, however, by Sunday afternoon there was no sign of the fault being repaired. An advertisement in a Sunday newspaper indicated that they were prioritising repairs in flooded areas! Fortunately I do have a second phone line but this is nowhere near the computer, therefore it was off to B&Q to get a very long extension. Fortunately I am now back on line!


The next site update will be on Wednesday evening December 20. There will be an update next Sunday, Christmas Eve at around mid-day. I have retimed the posting to enable visitors to the site to catch up with the latest news before getting immersed in Christmas celebrations!

Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Justin Merrigan, Stuart Cameron, Simon Dey, Jenny Williamson and "others".

SEA CONTAINERS/Isle of Man Steam Packet Company 

BEN-MY-CHREE - It appears that the Saturday morning Douglas to Heysham sailing on December 9 was rather lively. The  BEN left Douglas into a force 9 with heavy swell. She fell off a 5 metre wave and took a 30 degree roll. There was a lot of damage on board, fortunately not  to vehicles as far as the correspondent is aware. Many people were reported to be very ill, including some of the crew.

To ease the discomfort to passengers the ship, headed into the wind, which involved sailing towards North Wales, with much pitching, until she reached a point where it was possible to turn her stern to the weather and head back North to Heysham. 

SEACAT SCOTLAND - remains in Canada Dry Dock.

SUPERSEACAT THREE - remains at West Langton


Speculation continues as to what the deployment plans for the Sea Containers fleet will be in 2001. Early in the week the plans looked like being:

  • SEACAT ISLE OF MAN: Isle of Man Routes.


  • RAPIDE: Heysham - Belfast 

  • SUPERSEACAT 3: Liverpool - Dublin/Douglas


  • SUPERSEACAT 1, 2 and 4:  Dover  to Calais/Ostend - 1 daily trip to Ostend all other services on Dover to Calais. 

  • DIAMANT: Newhaven to Dieppe

  • SEACAT DANMARK: Helskini - Tallin

  • CROAZIA JET [ATLANTIC II]: Ancona - Split

However as the week went by information appeared to change with DIAMANT being deployed on Heysham - Belfast and instead of RAPIDE. By Friday information received from the Sea Co communications manager in Liverpool indicated that it would be SEACAT DANMARK would reappear on the Heysham - Belfast route. 


This week a Detective Constable employed by Sussex police was acquitted at Lewes Crown Court of indecently assaulting a woman passenger during the inaugural voyage of SUPERSEACAT TWO on the Newhaven to Dieppe route on April 22, 1999.

Brent Beckett, 40, a detective constable with Sussex Police, denied indecently assaulting the 33-year-old woman.

Christine Laing, prosecuting, told how Beckett was representing the force on the first sailing of the SUPERSEACAT TWO  from Newhaven to Dieppe. He was among 200 people invited on board the ferry on a round trip to Dieppe.

Guests were offered a champagne breakfast and drinks from a free bar throughout the voyage, Lewes Crown Court heard.

It was alleged Beckett became loud and abusive, making comments containing sexual innuendo, to women on the ferry as well as placing his hands on a woman's breasts before pushing one hand between her legs.

During the hearing Miss Laing for the prosecution said: "The woman was shocked and upset. It is the prosecution's case that the bar, which ran free on the ship, was the downfall of this defendant and it is clear from the evidence that, as the day progressed, he became hopelessly drunk."

Beckett, wearing a dark suit and shirt and tie, sat motionless as Miss Laing told the court how guests set sail from Newhaven at around 10:00

They were offered a champagne breakfast and buffet on board the fast service to France, as well as the free bar. The jury was told how he was on board as a serving police officer, who was stationed at Newhaven.

As the day went on, guests noticed his behaviour deteriorate, until a female member of the group he was in said he started to make "a nuisance of himself".

The woman said he was becoming increasingly drunk before he invited her for a private drink with him.

Another member of the group asked Beckett's alleged victim to join them, to offer "female support".

The court heard how a button came undone on the complainant's blouse. She was alerted by another member of the group. Miss Laing said the blouse may have "accelerated" Beckett's behaviour.

The woman pushed him off when he touched her arms, but he pinched her bottom, the court heard.

Miss Laing said as the woman tried to push away from him, he placed his hands on her breasts, before letting one hand slip down to her groin.

She told him "leave me alone, you have no right to touch me". He is alleged to have said: "You know it's what you want."

She said Beckett was later interviewed under caution and accepted he was drunk but blamed a medical condition and did not recall the incidents.

The woman said in cross examination that she then went upper deck to the first class area where she found her friends.

She told the jury that she was shocked and did not mention what had happened as many of her friends were feeling the worse for wear because they had been drinking and the crossing was fairly rough.

The next day, she made a complaint to police at Seaford and was then interviewed at her home by a detective inspector two weeks later.

However, when the jury retired they took just over one hour to find Brent Beckett not guilty

Mr. Lobbenberg  for the defence had asked why the woman had not reported the offence to friends on the boat, or to Mr Beckett's colleague, DC Andrew Walker, who was also on the ferry.

He told her: "This took place in a very public place in the middle of a coffee bar, with lots of people around; it was lingering touching.

"You did not tell your friends on the boat, you did not tell the policeman on the boat and you did not tell your husband when you got home."


The disposal of the ports business appears to be well underway. This week it was reported that Sea Containers has  signed a memorandum of understanding regarding the sale of the UK port of Newhaven to the Conseil General de Seine Maritime, which governs the Upper Normandie region of France and the city of Dieppe. 

The asking price is rumoured to be around $14.5m which reflects the current poor state of the port and the need for substantial investment in upgrading and refurbishing facilities.

A new operating company comprising both UK and French interests will be created but Conseil General de Seine Maritime will hold the majority stake.


Passenger figures for the Harbours Division for November 2000 show a 3.3% decrease on the same period last year. November 2000 recording a total of 18,135 compared to 18,752 in November 1999.

The year to date figure of 588,893 passengers shows a 7% increase over the 550,191 recorded in 1999.

Car and motorcycle traffic through Douglas Harbour in November 2000 showed a decrease of 1.6%  from 5,534 in 1999 to 5,440 vehicles in November 2000.

The year to date figure of 152,602 vehicles shows a 6.8% increase over the 142,951 recorded in 1999.

Passenger figure breakdown by route is as follows:




minus 10%




plus 6%



Freight traffic metreage increased by 9.5% from 32,148m  to 35,190 when compared to November 1999.

Director of Harbours, Captain Michael Brew commented: "Whilst November 2000 passenger figures show a slight fall they are still the second best November figures after last year's record figure. The main reason for the small decrease in numbers is the impact of half term traffic. The November 1999 figure included a significant amount of returning traffic to the island on 1st and 2nd of the month. This year this traffic was accounted for in the October passenger figures which were a record for any October. Excluding the impact of half term traffic, the underlying trend still shows ongoing growth, despite the recent adverse weather.

Freight traffic continues to show significant growth with the total metreage for the first eleven months of 2000 of 360,786 exceeding total metreage for 1999 which was 355,514."


During the Autumn the politicians and others have been trying to resolve the problem of subsidising the ferry service formerly operated by Sea Containers using the former Caledonian MacBrayne vessel CLAYMORE. It is understood that an application is being sent to Brussels for agreement from the European Union to public money being spent on helping to run the service next year. We are waiting for the reply to that application and then will be proceeding at full speed towards the 2001 season.


MERCHANT VENTURE has left the berth at Alexandra Dock [West] which she has occupied for some months and crossed the river to join the Sea Containers collection of redundant assets in Vittoria Dock, being berthed east of the CLAYMORE.

SPHEROID remains by the Duke Street Bridge in Birkenhead and is presumably the last vessel to carry the original Merchant Ferries livery with MF funnel markings.  


EUROPEAN AMBASSADOR was expected to sail from Japan on Wednesday December 13 at 13.00 under the command of Captain Nicholas C E Spenser. Her first call will be Singapore and she is expected to be in the Red Sea on Christmas Day. Her final call is in Gibraltar on January 1. Here arrival in Liverpool is expected to be on Jan 4.

Three P&O ships are due to be refitted at Cammell Laird over the next couple of months. Details below.


RMS SAINT HELENA the management contract for the vessel which provides the sole link to the remote island of St.Helena in the South Atlantic will be due for renewal in August 2001. The service is supported by the British Government and has been operated by Curnow shipping of Cornwall for almost 25 years. A report in Lloyd's List on December 16 suggests the Curnow may expect a good deal of competition this time around.


The EILEAN DHIURA, constructed for Argyll County Council by McTay Marine of Bromborough in 1998 was damaged on Thursday December 14 whilst operating on the Islay to Jura route. 

The vessel's front vehicle ramp was ripped off by a freak wave. The loss of the ramp resulted in around 6 inches of water washing onto the vehicle deck. 


A report in the Liverpool Daily Post this week indicated that Luxus who recently signed a deal worth up to £300m to build two new cruise ships has revealed that it has only been able to secure £70m of financial backing. 

COSTA CLASSICA a spokesman for Carnival Corporation, [the Costa Crociere parent company] Tim Gallagher told Lloyd's List the reason Costa Classica turned round and went back to Genoa was that Cammell Laird would not renegotiate the contract at a stage when, according to Costa, it was 11 weeks late with the work. "We have built 22 ships in six countries and there have always been problems," said Mr. Gallagher. "But we have always been able to renegotiate the contract."

This week the Cammell Laird made 250 employees redundant following the stalling of the COSTA CLASSICA work. Brett Martin, deputy chief executive blamed “the continuing uncertainty surrounding this contract” as the reason for “a level of over-manning that cannot be sustained.” 

The yard has retained 680 staff and 263 apprentices. This week the yard has secured a number of new contracts including work on three ships for P&O.

EUROPEAN SEAFARER is due to arrive at the yard in December for refit and survey work which will last until early February. She will be followed by EUROPEAN NAVIGATOR which will arrive for a five week refit in February. Over the Christmas and New Year period EUROPEAN PATHFINDER will undergo maintenance from December 22 through January 8.

The P&O refit programme will largely be enabled by the arrival of the EUROPEAN AMBASSADOR at Liverpool allowing the EUROPEAN LEADER to transfer to Larne - Fleetwood in January.

Much of the work is to bring the vessels up to the appropriate SOLAS standards - particularly the EUROPEAN NAVIGATOR which will be opening the new service Larne - Troon service for accompanied and unaccompanied freight in June.


On Saturday December 16 Lloyd's List indicated that Cammell Laird's Tyneside operation should be able to announce a number of new orders in 2001. Presently the yard is engaged in the construction of two small ro/ro ferries for Norwegian operator Torghatten Trafikkselskap. The first ship is due for delivery in February and the second will have its keel laid in February with delivery in August.

Tyneside manager David Dobson revealed news of another key order the company hopes to secure in the New Year. He said: "I firmly expect that within six weeks we will be able to announce another newbuild order for a European company, which will secure 200 jobs." Mr. Dobson declined to give details but said the order had been lined up as a result of the Norwegian ferry contract and would be slightly bigger.

In January helicopter support ship RFA ARGUS - will arrive on Tyneside for a multimillion pound refit which will see the replacement of the present hospital facility


It appears that the troubled former EDINBURGH CASTLE which operated a programme of cruises out of Liverpool in 1998 has sailed into further controversy. On December 14 Fairplay reported that the ship was facing arrest on its arrival in Freeport, Bahamas on a voyage from Port Canaveral. The vessel arrived at the latter port on completion of a five week long US Government charter.

Court papers were served as the ITF claim that the BIG RED BOAT II’s manager, International Shipping Partners, owes the ships crew 45 days wages. ISP is part of the Progress Group which is 49% owned by Cammell Laird.

Earlier this year the EDINBURGH CASTLE was chartered to Premier Cruises which went into receivership in the autumn.


It was reported by RTÉ that six of the seven south American seamen who were abandoned by the owners of several tugs at Cobh, County Cork for 19 months faced a last minute setback in their plans to return home at the end of the week.

US Immigration officials claimed that their visas were not in order and would not allow men to land in the USA to make connection with onward flights to the Dominican Republic and Panama. 

However, the Seamen's Union was working towards a solution to the problem which would enable the crewmen to be given tourist visas by Delta Airlines.


LE ROISIN celebrated her first birthday in service at Dublin Port last week. The ship had been adopted by the City of Dublin earlier this year  continuing the tradition of a coastal town or city forming a special bond with a Naval Service ship. The Lord Mayor of Dublin visited the ship to mark the occasion. During her first year of operation the vessel has steamed over 15,000 miles carrying out such duties as fishery protection, drug interdiction and search and rescue. Whilst undertaking fishery protection duties, the vessel has sighted over 400 fishing vessels of which about 200 were boarded and inspected.


The Ministry of Defence has today invited UK shipbuilders, ship repairers and marine service providers to tender for the potential supply of a force of patrol vessels for the Royal Navy using novel and money-saving procurement methods.

The proposed Future Offshore Patrol Vessel (FOPV) capability will supersede the Royal Navy's existing Island Class Offshore Patrol Vessels which are employed on patrol duties and used for fishery protection duties on behalf of the Ministry of Agriculture Fisheries and Food.

The MOD is proposing to acquire the capability through a partnering arrangement with industry and is seeking innovative means for providing the service in the most cost-effective and responsive manner.

The new force would be manned by the Royal Navy, as now and will reduce operating and support costs, compared with those of the Island Class.

Baroness Symons, the Minister for Defence Procurement said:

"Smart Acquisition means the MOD is constantly looking for new and better ways of procuring equipment to meet the needs of the Armed Forces. The approach taken to meet the requirement for a class of Future Offshore Patrol Vessels is an example of the MOD and industry working together and breaking new ground in defence procurement. I am sure British industry will welcome this new opportunity."

And Fisheries Minister Elliot Morley added:

"Effective enforcement, whether on land or sea, is crucial in conserving fish stocks and ensuring a long-term future for the industry.

" The Fishery Protection Squadron has a significant role to play and it needs to be well placed to cope with the future demands which will be made on it."

Invitations to tender have been sent to the following companies:

- Appledore Shipbuilders Ltd.------------Appledore Devon
- Babcock Engineering Services Ltd-------Fife Scotland
- BAE Systems Land & Sea Systems --------Farnborough
- DML Devonport Royal Dockyard Ltd-------Plymouth
- Ferguson Shipbuilders Ltd.-------------Port Glasgow
- Seascope Offshore -------------London
- Swan Hunter (Tyneside Ltd.)------------Newcastle Upon Tyne
- Vosper Thornycroft (UK) Ltd.-----------Southampton.


The King Harry ferry, which provides a short cut to the Roseland peninsula, will be out of action until after Christmas following a collision with a tug.

The chain ferry collided with the tug  ST PIRAN  during the week. The ST PIRAN was one of two tugs towing the ferry to Falmouth for survey.

The damage means it will be out of action over the festive period and those on the Roseland setting out to do Christmas shopping in Truro will have to make a long detour.

Last month M&ISS reported that the ferry company is up for sale. "This is Cornwall" reveals that 18 bids have so far been received.


The Mersey Docks and Harbour Company expects to announce the main contractor for the £25 million Twelve Quays River Terminal project at Birkenhead before Christmas. On-site work is due to get under way in January for completion early in 2002, when Cenargo's ferry services to Belfast and Dublin will transfer across the Mersey from in-dock berths at Liverpool to provide an initial six sailings a day.


Waverley arrived back at Glasgow Anderston Quay at 20:10 on Saturday evening December 16. She had been stormbound earlier in the week at Milford Haven. Now back at Glasgow she will take up her remaining programme of Christmas cruises 

On Sunday one of the first tasks to be undertaken will be  to hoist a large (3m) Christmas tree up to the top of her mast - about a century ago it was traditional for all Clyde steamers sailing at Christmas time to carry a Christmas tree at the mast head. 


The port operator issued its quarterly trading statement this week:

Trading has been strong across all the Group's principal businesses. The key factors underpinning this performance are as follows:

Group turnover for the year ending 31 December 2000 is expected to increase by at least 8% as a result of strong throughput at the UK ports and substantial property sales. Underlying pre-tax profit for the year to 31 December 2000 is expected to be at the upper end of current market expectations. In addition to the underlying results, the Group's strategy of disposing of non-core assets has continued and profits from the sale of the Red Funnel Group and from the sale of investment properties are expected to exceed £12 million.

Turnover from the Group's ports and transport activities is expected to show an increase of at least 7%, leading to a similar rise in operating profit.

Ports and Transport - Europe Business at the UK ports has continued to develop well, benefiting from the organisational changes put in place last year, the actions of the new management team and the investment programme of recent years.

Growth has been experienced in unit-load traffic, including roll-on/roll-off, containers and vehicle imports/exports. Tonnages of oil have also increased, together with imports of coal and forest products and exports of agribulks.

Several new developments involving long-term agreements with quality customers have been announced during the year. These are in line with the Group's strategy of growing existing business and developing new business through rigorously targeted investment. Owing to the long lead times in these developments becoming operational, they will have only a modest impact on this year's results but they are expected to lead to an increase in the growth rate for the Group's UK ports in 2001.

In October, the Group submitted its formal application to the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (DETR) to develop Dibden Terminal at Southampton. The development will be demand-led and secured under long-term customer contracts. Dibden Terminal will eventually offer six deep-water berths, fully integrated road and rail interchanges, facilities for storage and other ancillary services. The Group expects to know the outcome of its application to the DETR during 2002. The terminal is being developed in order to meet the continuing substantial growth in deep-sea container traffic and the first berths are expected to become operational
towards the end of 2004.

In line with the Group's strategy of growing its core ports and transport business by acquiring related businesses which will develop and extend the value-added services its ports can offer customers, Northern Cargo Services Ltd (NCS) was acquired in September for a total consideration of £1.6 million. NCS is the largest general stevedoring company at the Port of Hull and is the sole operator of the Group's new Finland Terminal. In October, the Group acquired the Berkeley group for a consideration of £9.5 million. The two principal companies within the Berkeley group provide technical facilities and labour for the processing of vehicles and act as one of the two main general stevedores at the Port of Southampton, handling mainly roll-on/roll-off cargoes. Both NCS and the Berkeley group have performed in line with the Group's expectations in the periods since acquisition.

Ports and Transport - USA - AMPORTS
Turnover and operating profit will be substantially ahead of last year. The Seaport division has won three new vehicle-processing accounts in the second half of the year which will together add an additional 90,000 units per annum to vehicle volumes once these accounts become fully on-stream during the course of 2001. In the second half of the year, the Aviation division also added new business. The division secured a five-year management contract at Teterboro Airport, New Jersey, the busiest corporate aviation facility in the United States. In addition, an aviation refuelling facility was purchased at Gulfport-Biloxi, Mississippi, for a consideration of £4.4 million, increasing the number of such facilities owned by the Group to five. This facility has performed in line with the Group's expectations in the period since it was acquired.

Overall, the Group's associates are expected to produce an operating profit ahead of last year, with Southampton Container Terminals handling over one million container units during the year for the first time ever. For the full year this is expected to represent at least 15% growth in the throughput of container units compared to the previous year.

The Group's policy of selling mature, non-operational port-located property and exploiting the potential of the property portfolio continues. As a result of sales made in 1999 and 2000, operating profit from property investment rentals is expected to decline. However, operating profit from property development is expected to be above the 1999 level, reflecting substantial property sales during the year.

The ongoing sale of investment properties will continue to reduce the Group's income from investment property rentals. Furthermore, although development land sales will continue to produce profits, this profit stream is likely to start to decline in 2001. This decline in investment and development property profits should, however, be compensated for by the increased growth generated by the capital investment strategy within the Group's core ports and transport business.

Since 1 January 2000, the Group has sold £154 million of non-core assets.

In October, the Group announced the creation of The Cardiff Bay Partnership ("The Partnership"), a limited-liability partnership with Norwich Union. Under the terms of the agreement, The Partnership, in which the Group has a 45% stake, acquired from the Group a portfolio of properties in Cardiff Bay for £53 million. This represents a continuation of the Group's strategy of realising value through the disposal of non-operational port-located property and it is anticipated that a further property will be sold by the Group to the Partnership in the near future.

ABPH recently announced the sale of the Red Funnel Group, the Southampton-based ferry and towage business, for a cash consideration of £71 million. The sale of the Red Funnel Group is part of ABPH's strategy of disposing of non-core assets, leaving the Group to focus on operating ports and value-added businesses within those ports.

Following the sale of the Red Funnel Group, £70 million will, in due course, be returned to shareholders by means of a share repurchase exercise. The Group's previous share repurchase programme was completed in October 2000 and resulted in £150 million being returned to shareholders.

Mr Tim Bowdler, 53, Chief Executive of Johnston Press plc, will be joining the Board of ABPH as a non-executive director on 1 January 2001.

At the Annual General Meeting in April 2001, Mr Stuart Bradley, formerly Managing Director of Associated British Ports and Chairman of the Red Funnel Group until its recent sale, will be retiring after 13 years on the Board, having by then reached the age of 65. Also at the Annual General Meeting Mr
Peter Dean will be stepping down after 20 years as a non-executive director.



At just after 15:30 on December 10, Swansea Coastguard received an urgent 999 call from a member of the public reporting that two surfers were in difficulty on the rocks at Worms Head, Gower.

Rhossili Coastguard headed straight to the scene and the RAF Rescue Helicopter based at Chivenor was immediately tasked to assist in the search. Rhossili Coastguard located one casualty clinging to the rocks and reported that the other had been caught in a rip tide and had become separated from his board.

The RNLI lifeboat from Mumbles was requested to assist in the search, the RAF Rescue Helicopter arrived on scene and winched the one casualty to safety from the rocks before proceeding to search for the remaining casualty.

The RAF helicopter soon located the second casualty and winched him aboard, where it was ascertained that his condition was critical. Both casualties were immediately airlifted to Morriston hospital in Swansea.

John Sibley, Watch Manager at Swansea Coastguard said:

"The conditions off Worms Head were quite atrocious, with gale force winds and a very heavy swell. The surfers were rescued by the RAF helicopter under extremely difficult conditions.

Weather on is westerly gale force 8 with waves rough sea and heavy swell.


Just before 12:00  on December 10, Milford Haven Coastguard received word that an incident had occurred as an RNLI Inshore Lifeboat returned towards its boathouse when it became caught between two waves in disturbed water on the Aberdovey Bar in West Wales.

The lifeboat, which had been on exercise in the area, came to a standstill in the water and its helmsman was thrown overboard, injuring his back in the process. Although the lifeboat came along side the helmsman in an attempt to recover him from the water, the casualty stated that owing to his back injury it would be in his best interest to await helicopter recovery.

Milford Haven Coastguard had immediately requested the assistance of the RAF Rescue Helicopter from Valley, in Anglesey upon hearing of the incident which was on route to the scene, while the RNLI lifeboat maintained visual contact with the casualty, occasionally loosing sight of him in the rough waves.

During this time the RNLI Inshore Lifeboat from Borth, which had also been dispatched, arrived on scene and decided to recover the helmsman from the water as the RAF helicopter was still some 20 minutes away and there was growing concern for the man’s safety.

After a successful transfer, the helmsman was taken to Aberdovey where he was met by the RAF helicopter and airlifted to Bronglais Hospital, in Aberystwyth.

Nigel Porter, Watch Manager at Milford Haven Coastguard said:

"The weather on scene was southerly force 7 with waves of up to 3 metres high. This was a successful rescue for all involved."


On December 14 Falmouth Coastguard were involved in co-ordinating the search for the missing Master of the German container vessel STUTTGART EXPRESS. He disappeared earlier this afternoon after checking the refrigerated cargo on board the deck of the vessel when she was 200 miles west of Lands End.

The vessel was steaming towards Europe and the crew noticed his disappearance when he failed to check in on the bridge as usual at 16:00. His last known sighting was at 13:00 when he told colleagues he was about to go on deck.

By 17:00 this evening the vessel had been thoroughly searched by the crew, and the STUTTGART EXPRESS' was turned back to begin a sweep of the area planned by Falmouth Coastguard after taking into account wind and sea conditions that existed between his last known sighting earlier in the day and 16:00 when he was due on the bridge.

Peter Bullard, Watch Manager at Falmouth Coastguard said:

" We have been unable to launch any aircraft into the area to assist in the search as the distances involved means the helicopters would be working at the very limits of their capabilities - and in darkness. They could only be used if the man - who is in his 50's - was spotted in the water, kept in sight, and the helicopter was able to go straight to his position.

" Equally a Nimrod aircraft would not be able to contribute much by searching for such a small target in the confused and mountainous swells that exist tonight in those open seas. Gales have been sweeping through the area throughout the day with winds being recorded at severe gale 9 to storm force 10, although that has calmed this evening to south westerly force 6.

" A few vessels have responded to our call for assistance, but a successful outcome to this search and rescue is likely to be limited given the sea temperature of about 10 degrees at this time of year compounded by the knowledge that the man was not wearing any life saving equipment when he went on deck. The remaining 22 crew on board are using the vessels searchlights either side of the vessel in order to sweep the area and fortunately there is good visibility locally which may assist them."


This week the Irish Times ran a story which has a certain uncanny feel to it. What are the odds on such an incidence as this happening? Perhaps in years to come this will join the list of salty tales of the mysteries of the oceans

"A Spanish fishing vessel believed to have sunk a week ago has floated 140 miles in to the south-west Irish coast and has landed on rocks close to where its sister ship was wrecked more than a decade ago.

Navigational warnings have been issued since Friday, giving the location of the ship, the British-registered Spanish owned  ZORRO ZAURRE, now submerged on rocks near Roancarrig lighthouse in Bantry Bay. The ship was last heard of when it got into difficulties with 13 crew on board 140 miles south of Mizen Head on November 30th.

All the crew were airlifted by the RAF to Cornwall after the vessel sprang a leak. The crew described the ship as being swamped with water and said they believed it was within an hour of sinking.

On Friday December 8, the Irish Naval service ship LE ORLA was asked to follow up a report that a slight diesel slick and fish boxes had been seen in Bantry Bay just east of Castletownbere.

A Naval Service diving team identified the sunken wreck, which landed 400 metres from its sister vessel, the NUESTRA SENORA DE GARDOTZA.

Mr Gene O'Sullivan, of Valentia Coast Guard, said the ZORRO ZAURRE had come in "like a submarine," semi-submerged, and it was a miracle it had not collided with anything. "Like a ghost ship," Mr O'Sullivan said.

The vessel is not believed to pose any major pollution threat, but will be inspected further and buoyed.



A report in Lloyd's List this week reveals that three independent laboratories have confirmed that fragments recently salvaged from the wreck by Gregg Bernis and Jutta Rabe showed evidence of bomb damage.

The questions now are whether there will be a new inquiry and how the official investigation failed to detect bomb damage, or was it that they were - as their detractors claim - covering up a far more sinister underworld crime with Western government pressure to make certain the true facts never came out?

December 10, 2000



The Irish Sea Ships eGroup is proving to be a lively debating forum for Irish Sea shipping matters. If you have not already joined visit During the past month there have been over 250 postings and there are now 103 members. [As at 15:00 on December 10].

There is currently a poll underway on the group surveying ferry preferences for a Dublin - Liverpool journey for a car and driver. You may vote by clicking:

Yahoo Groups and Egroups will be merging their operations, this should not effect the operation of the groups but should lead to enhanced features being made available.


Recently I was able to obtain two rare 1/1200 models of the former Blue Riband holder SS UNITED STATES produced by Hornby in the Minic Range of model ships last manufactured in 1980. One of these models is up for auction on EBay. The model is in mint & boxed condition and has never been removed from its display box packaging. If you would like to view a photograph and place a bid  


A number of gallery pages have been withdrawn from the main site and transferred to the Archive Site which has been updated. In particular this concerns Sea Containers material from early in 2000.

Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Adrian Sweeney, Charlie Tennant, David Sallery, Patrick C. Taylor, Stuart Cameron, Michael Pryce and "others".

SEA CONTAINERS/Isle of Man Steam Packet Company 

SEACAT SCOTLAND - the vessel arrived at Canada Graving Dock, Liverpool at the start of the week to complete its winter refit, much of which has been completed "in house" by Fort Street Services in Douglas.

SEACAT ISLE OF MAN - it now appears that SEACAT SCOTLAND will return to service around January 6. Thus allowing SEACAT ISLE OF MAN to return to Douglas for her refit. Originally it had been thought that SUPERSEACAT THREE would have replaced SEACAT ISLE OF MAN on the Belfast - Troon to free up that vessel for the commencement of her refit.

SUPERSEACAT TWO a correspondent noted SSC2 occupying the now separated dry dock at BAe Systems (Yarrows) at Scotstoun, Glasgow. It is understood that  the arrangements are similar to SEACAT SCOTLAND's 's extended refit there during January and February 2000 with facilities rented and work sub contracted to outside parties including Garvel and Turner Diesel.

LADY OF MAN - further news on the LADY OF MANN's winter 2001 timetable in addition to that mentioned last week. The 19:00 service on Thursday does not operate after the first week in January. However, she will depart from Liverpool at 08:30 on Fridays until the end of February returning from Douglas at 13:45 and sailing again from Liverpool at 19:00. Thus day trip sailings will be available from Liverpool on Fridays which should prove popular with enthusiasts! 

The winter service timetable will be 





Liverpool dep: 08:30 & 19:00

Douglas dep: 13:45

Douglas dep: 07:00

Liverpool dep: 19:00

Douglas dep: 13:45

Liverpool dep: 19:00

Douglas dep: 07:00


WASA QUEEN - the Silja Line vessel is noted for sale at $10m - a contributor wonders if this is a suitable replacement for the Swansea - Cork Ferries SUPERFERRY.



P&O Irish Sea's Larne - Cairnryan route has received another major boost with the announcement that a second new £35 million fast conventional ferry is to join the fleet in 2002.

The service, which provides the shortest and fastest Irish Sea crossings, has already welcomed two vessels this year - the newly built EUROPEAN CAUSEWAY which is proving very popular and the SUPERSTAR EXPRESS which has a one-hour crossing time.  In addition, a new terminal, which was part of a £4.5 million development at the Port Of Cairnryan, became operational last February.

Graeme Dunlop, Chairman Of P&O Ferries said:

"Larne - Cairnryan is one of P&O's key Irish Sea routes.  We have already invested more than £50 million in this route over the past 18 months and are demonstrating our commitment by ordering another fast conventional ferry to replace older tonnage.  This will provide a tremendous boost to both tourist and commercial traffic."

The ship, which has been ordered from Mitsubishi Heavy Industries of Japan, will be a sister vessel to the recently introduced EUROPEAN CAUSEWAY making the crossing in 105 minutes and matching her capacity of up to 410 passengers, 375 cars and/or 107 commercial vehicles.  With twin-deck drive through bow and stern loading, the vessel will handle a mix of passenger and freight traffic.

John Kersey, Managing Director, P&O Irish Sea, added:

"The commissioning of this additional fast conventional ferry is an indication of our confidence in the Larne - Cairnryan route.  We continually strive to anticipate, meet and indeed exceed our customers needs and expectations.  With the new ship operating alongside the EUROPEAN CAUSEWAY, we will provide a seamless service to our customers and strengthen our position as the leading operator on the Irish Sea".

Facilities onboard the new ship will be similar to the EUROPEAN CAUSEWAY and include the popular Fables Restaurant and Poets Bar as well as a video lounge, quiet lounge, children's video and play area, games area and shop. A customised area for commercial drivers will include separate restaurant, lounge and shower facilities.

P&O Irish Sea has another new ship coming into service on the Dublin - Liverpool route in January 2001.  EUROPEAN AMBASSADOR, with a capacity for up to 410 passengers, will be capable of service speeds of 23 knots which will significantly reduce the current crossing times. This new ship brings the company's investment in its Irish Sea operations to more than £120 million over the past two years.


Building Yard: Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Shimonoseki, Japan.
Delivery Date: May 2002.
Flag: Bahamas.
Gross Tonnage: 20,800 tonnes.
Dead-weight Tonnage: 4,335 tonnes.
Length: 156 metres.
Beam: 23.4 metres.
Draught: 5.5 metres.
Passenger Capacity: 410.
Cargo: 375 cars or 107 x 13.5 m freight units (1,750 lane metres).
Engine Power: 31,680 Kilowatts.
Service Speed: 23 Knots.
Stabilisers: 2.
Crew: 55.
Technical Consultant: Three Quay Marine Services, London.
Interior Design: Dugdale Management & Design.


Once again the racing catamaran TEAM PHILIPS is in difficulty. On Sunday morning her crew abandoned ship and were taken aboard by the German cargo ship HOECHST EXPRESS some 800 miles west of Ireland.

The deserted Team Philips was being tracked by satellite from the mission control before a decision was made on what to do next a spokesperson revealed.

Coastguards had issued a mayday alert early on Sunday asking ships to assist the ocean racer after it was battered by giant waves in storm-force gales as it crossed the Atlantic.

Project leader Pete Goss agreed to evacuate the hi-tech craft when it was revealed that another powerful storm was heading towards her and could blow her up to 300 miles further away from help.

The crew was not said to be in immediate danger but Mark Orr, managing director of Goss Challenges, told BBC News 24 the mayday was an "act of prudence".

Team Philips had sustained damage after sailing in severe conditions on Saturday.

JHL'S COMMENT: To some people the similarity between the vessel's twin hull configuration and that employed by some wave piercing high-speed ferries is striking. 

The latest generations of these high-speed ferries are steadily increasing their operational capabilities in adverse sea conditions, with the latest craft being able to cope with 5 metre seas. However, many of the smaller earlier high speed craft have maximum operating limits of 3 metres which sees many of them in port at the first sign of bad weather.

TEAM PHILIPS is a significantly more fragile craft and this appears to have been born out by the latest problems. Thankfully there have been no casualties in this latest incident but one must wonder just how sound the concept is. Perhaps Mr. Goss should have spoken to ferry operators about the suitability of twin hulls before embarking on this project?



A Panamanian flagged general cargo ship CAPTAIN NICHOLAS M has been detained in Fowey, Cornwall after Maritime & Coastguard Agency Surveyors found numerous deficiencies on board the 3,000 gross ton ship.

After an initial inspection on board, a 10 page list of deficiencies was compiled including:

- Various alarms not working or removed
- Food in the provision room crawling with bugs
- Rudder angle indicators not working despite having been notified to the vessels Master in Spain earlier in the year
- Fire hose couplings split or cracked
- Fire plan inaccurate
- Emergency escape trunk doors not sealing
- Most navigational charts on board not corrected
- VHF Digital Selective Calling (DSC) on both port and starboard side not working

Captain Chris Moss from the Falmouth Marine Office said:

"This is a particularly poor ship. Crucially the officers and crew of the vessel lack adequate knowledge of emergency drills and signals particularly fire drill techniques which could have tragic consequences if a fire broke out whilst the ship was at sea. The emergency muster lists for the crew do not even relate to this ship".

"Poor maintenance was also evident. Various items were either broken, not working or in the case of safety plans for rafts and lifeboats simply not applicable for this vessel! The Master has been given a complete list of the deficiencies so far identified. Although the serious defects are not attributable to the classification society,
Bureau Veritas, they have nevertheless been brought in to further investigate additional faults.

Our own Surveyors called a halt to the inspection when we reached the tenth page of deficiencies and all of those faults identified as `detainable' will need to be corrected before we allow her to set sail again."


At 16:44 on December 6, Swansea Coastguard received an urgent 999 call from a member of the public, Graham Lucas, a 22 year old man who had fallen into a 20ft gully after veering off the 'Tarka Trail', a coastal path just north of Fremington in Barnstaple.

Mr Lucas became lost at just after 16:30. as light fell and left the trail in an effort to find a short cut when he took an awkward fall into the gully. Mr Lucas then made a 999 call and was put through to Swansea Coastguard who immediately began to co-ordinate a search on his behalf.

The Instow Coastguard Team based in north Devon, headed directly to the scene to begin the search while Coastguard Bernie Kemble based in Swansea remained on the phone to the casualty who fortunately had a full battery on his mobile.

During this time Mr Lucas began to complain of dizziness and tingling to the Coastguard who then recognised that the injuries were more severe than originally thought. The RAF Rescue Helicopter based at Chivenor which was on exercise in Bideford Bay was immediately tasked to the scene to assist in the search but was hindered by the dense foliage on the ground and the fact that the casualty was unable to move to attract attention.

The Coastguard in communications with the casualty was able to hear the helicopter moving overhead and it soon became clear that it was necessary for the winchman to lower himself to locate the casualty.

At the same time the Instow Coastguard Team arrived on scene assisted by two members of the public, Mr Stephen Keen and Mr Gary Horsham from Bideford and eventually found the casualty at 17:20.

Difficulties were compounded when the RAF Rescue Helicopter was unable to airlift the casualty from his position and had to return to base for two extra crew members.

Upon return to the scene the helicopter crew and Coastguards transferred Mr Lucas on a stretcher down a 30 metre slope to the beach area, where he was eventually airlifted and taken to the North Devon District Hospital in Barnstaple.

Perry Anderson, Watch Manager at Swansea Coastguard said:

"This was a difficult search and rescue due to the casualty's position, it was difficult for the helicopter to pin point his location.

"We owe today's success to the intensive search carried out by the Coastguard team, RAF Rescue Helicopter crew and the help the two members of the public provided and would like to extend our thanks to all."


The Receiver of Wreck is responsible for that part of the Merchant Shipping Act 1995, which deals with wreck and salvage. All wreck recovered from the sea must by law, be reported to the Receiver of Wreck.

Following the recovery of large quantities of hardwood from the Dale Peninsula from the weekend of the 3rd December 2000, it may be pertinent to clarify the details regarding the reporting of wreck. Anyone who has recovered this wood (or any other items of wreck), no matter how small the quantity, must now report it to the Receiver of Wreck. To do this, you will need a Report of Wreck and Salvage form. This can be obtained from the Receiver of Wreck, or from your local coastguard station (address below). Failure to report is an offence under section 236 of the Merchant Shipping Act 1995.

The recovered material is held by the finder on indemnity to the Receiver of Wreck. The finder cannot dispose of this material until the Receiver has given permission to do so.

It is the Receiver of Wreck’s responsibility to reunite owners with their property. If the legal owner wishes to have their property returned, then the finder will be entitled to a salvage award. If the owner is not found, or waives their legal right to the material, the finder will normally be allowed to keep the recovered material.

For further information or a Report form, please contact:

Receiver of Wreck
Maritime and Coastguard Agency
Spring Place
105 Commercial Road
SO15 1EG

Tel: 023 8032 9476


DOLPHIN - The former trawler being used as a Cable Laying guard ship, which grounded off Mousehole, Cornwall whilst enroute to Newlyn just over a week ago is a complete loss. Reports in the local newspaper warn the public to keep away from the vessel which is breaking up.


David Sallery notes that there has been a large dredger working off Prestatyn with 3 coasters taking away the dredged sand, it has been off here for 2 weeks and previously was used in Mostyn port. The dredger has 3 retractable legs?


Andrew Goldie writes that he has recently been aboard the DEEPWATER NAVIGATOR (formerly PEREGINE VII) which was extensively rebuilt at Cammell Laird between 1997 and 1999. She is currently lying off Macae (100km NW of Rio de Janerio), Brazil having various technical problems sorted out prior to operations.


The current spell of adverse weather has seen the PS WAVERLEY storm bound at Millford Haven, Sunday December 10. She was on her way back to the Clyde after undertaking maintenance work at Avonmouth in readiness for her programme of Christmas cruises.


Recently Stena Line´s Board of Directors have recommend shareholders to accept the offer from Stena AB:

Background and income outlook

The abolishment of tax and duty-free sales and the establishment of fixed-link routes have changed the conditions for ferry operations in Europe. Despite comprehensive preparation work and ongoing adaptations by the Stena Line Group, the negative effects of market changes on income have been broader and more extensive than expected.

Conditions characterized by high fuel prices, a strong USD and a weak passenger market around the UK, which was described in the interim report for January 1 - September 30, 2000, remained unchanged in October and November. At October 31, the rolling 12-month result showed a loss of SEK 697 million.

Assuming that goodwill write-down totalling SEK 315 million, as presented in the interim report, will be implemented, which we regard as likely, and the USD exchange rate against SEK will remain slightly higher than SEK/USD 10, this year's result after net financial items will amount to a loss of about SEK 1,000 million. The company's result, accordingly, excluding the goodwill write-down, will amount to a loss of about SEK 700 million.

Under current conditions, no appreciable improvement in income can be expected in 2001.

Tender offer for shares

Stena AB extended an offer on October 30 to acquire all Class B shares in Stena Line AB for SEK 8 per share. The Board of Directors of Stena Line AB has conducted evaluations of the offer since it was made public. D.Carnegie AB has been commissioned to provide assistance in the evaluation work.

Recommendation to shareholders by Stena Line AB's Board of Directors With regard to the public offer from Stena AB to Stena Line's shareholders, the Board of Directors of Stena Line AB submits the following recommendation:

The Board's recommendation is based on current market conditions and available information. In view of Stena Line's strained financial position, the company's projected income, substantial capital requirements and short-term difficulty in generating liquid funds that are not used to amortize bank loans, it is the opinion of the Board of Directors that the offer is acceptable and, accordingly, the Board recommends that shareholders in Stena Line accept the offer from Stena AB.

In formulating its recommendation, the Board has also considered opinions expressed by the investment bank D.Carnegie AB, which was commissioned by the Board of Stena Line AB to render its judgment on Stena AB's offer.

New share issue The Board will provide additional information on the previously announced new share issue when results of the tender offer are finalized.


Visentini of Italy are currently offering for sale/charter two ro-pax ferries that appear to be sisterships of the STENA FORWARDER, currently being built for charter to Stena and due to enter service on the Holyhead - Dublin route in the Spring.

The vessels are due to completed in October 2001 and March/April 2002.

The ships are for sale for somewhere in the region $43.5 - $50 million or for charter at a daily rate of $21,300 - $24,500.  This includes deck and engine crew.

It is unclear what the details are of Stena's charter though the above offers some indication of the package they will receive.


STENA ALEXITA - operated by Stena Ugland Shuttle Tankers IDA of Norway was observed at just before 09:00 on June 16 a surveillance aircraft being operated on behalf of the Scottish Fisheries Protection Agency observed the vessel, later determined to be the STENA ALEXITA, trailing an oil slick. This oil slick was 3.5 miles long. 

The Court heard that the Inspectors from the Maritime and Coastguard Agency boarded the vessel on arrival at its next port of Milford Haven. During later investigations into the incident it became apparent that about 1.5 tonnes of oily water had been pumped overboard during a routine operation when there was a breakdown in the ship's procedures. 

The Court noted the co-operation of the Managers, who had instigated their own detailed investigation and as a result had put in place procedures to prevent a re-occurrence. The company was fined £7,500 plus costs for a breach of 1996 Prevention of Oil Pollution Regulations.


The Irish Lights Calendar for 2001 featuring twelve photos of Irish Lighthouses by John Eagle has been published. It is available for IR£5.00 from: Commissioners of The Irish Lights, 16 Lower Pembroke St Dublin 2 Cheques payable to "Commissioners of Irish Lights" Posting & Packaging extra: Ireland & Gt Britain IR£ 1.00, Rest of Europe IR£ 2.00, Rest of World IR£ 3.00.


It remains unclear as to what is to happen to the COSTA CLASSICA contract. Early in the week the Liverpool Echo claimed that the dispute had been solved and the an article appeared in Lloyds List on December 7 indicating that under a new plan Cammell Laird will
complete the fitting out of the 44.6 m long mid-body module to the level required for it to be fitted into the COSTA CLASSICA.

Once that level is reached and certified, Costa Crociere will buy the block for a portion of the total value of the order. Costa Crociere would pay the remainder on completion of the job, likely to be in the winter/spring of 2002.

Lloyds List reports that the unspecified amount of cash Costa would pay on completion of the mid-section block - if the agreement is reached - would help Cammell Laird deal with its financial obligations. To finance this contract, Cammell Laird took out a £50m ($79m) revolving credit facility, due to expire in October 2004. According to bond offer documents, if the yard fails to receive payment under the Costa Classica contract by April 30, 2001 a default under the new credit facility will occur.

Back Home Up

December 3, 2000


Welcome to this week's update. Once again there are quite a few news and other items for you to peruse. 


Unfortunately sometime on Sunday afternoon I managed to crash Outlook Express. When it restarted all my general Inbox material except that which is filtered from certain regular correspondents had disappeared as far back as September!. If you have e-mailed me recently please get in touch again. This has never happened before and I am now wondering if my recent installation of CleanSweep might have had something to do with it. Hope not! Once again I would like to thank the various contributors this week.

Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Brian Chambers, Justin Merrigan - Incat, Michael Pryce, Patrick C. Taylor and "others". 


M&ISS visitors might like to check out a new web site which covers Fishguard and the surrounding area. The maritime scene features strongly.

SEA CONTAINERS/Isle of Man Steam Packet Company 


Sea Containers has confirmed in the Manx Press that the Port of Heysham is for sale, however, Sea Containers’ spokesman Steve Lawrence said the  expected the sale "Will have no effect on the Steam Packet. I say that quite unequivocally. There will be no impact at all."

There currently appears to be a rumour doing the rounds that P&O may transfer operations from Fleetwood to Heysham, should Heysham be sold to Mersey Docks and Harbour Company as appears likely. Consequently it is also rumoured that ABP at Fleetwood has approached Sea Containers  with a view to transferring the present Heysham to Douglas service to Fleetwood. 
However, tidal problems at Fleetwood would probably make a regular pattern timetable impossible as P&O departures are very much governed by tidal considerations.

On Wednesday November 30 an extremely rare 30 tonne Finwhale was washed (dead) into Heysham Harbour. These are extremely rare in British waters and has attracted much attention from zoologists etc. The dead whale was lifted from the harbour after a suitable large crane had been hired and a suitable lifting net obtained.


SEACAT ISLE OF MAN -  Belfast - Troon sailings were cancelled due to the 'severe' weather conditions on Wednesday November 29.

SUPERSEACAT TWO has been dry docked at Glasgow for her annual refit. The vessel left Belfast around 04:30 on November 27. It is envisaged that the dry dock work will take 2 weeks and the vessel will then return back to Belfast.

THE PRINCESS ANNE, THE PRINCESS MARGARET - It appears that the two redundant hovercraft are to be preserved. Despite being offered for sale by Sea Containers the two craft are to be transferred to the Hovercraft Museum at HMS Daedalus on the Solent. The move had been scheduled for this week but appears to have been delayed by the weather.

LADY OF MANN was noted running late on Saturday. Her morning Douglas to Liverpool sailing arriving at Liverpool over 1 hour behind schedule.

SEACAT SCOTLAND - It is understood the SEACAT SCOTLAND will replace SEACAT ISLE OF MAN on the Belfast - Troon route on 9 January 2001. SEACAT SCOTLAND is currently undergoing refit work in Douglas by Fort Street Services. She is expected to be dry-docked on Merseyside in the near future.


Whilst the 2001 timetable brochures and on-line timetables are not yet available playing around with the on-line booking service reveals that the Sunday departure of the Lady of Mann after the Christmas holiday period will be retimed to a much more user friendly 13:45 ex Douglas. This makes weekend trips to the Isle of Man with a reasonable return time possible again. Enthusiasts will be pleased! The 07:00 departure was just too early!  

Further investigation of the on-line booking facility shows SuperSeaCat II identified for Belfast - Heysham, however, Liverpool - Dublin and Liverpool - Douglas just show SuperSeaCat. This could of course be the RAPIDE rebranded as a SuperSeaCat! SuperSeaCat [RAPIDE?!] operations on Liverpool - Dublin appear to commence March 1. SEACAT ISLE OF MAN is shown as operating on the Irish Sea again next year. 

It will certainly be interesting to see the full timetables. Playing with the booking system is rather time consuming! 


New hours and working conditions have been announced for Belfast based crew, I understand that this has led to low morale and high tensions between staff and management.


Some interesting comments made by IoMSPCo Managing Director Hamish Ross on today's Sunday Opinion and Mannin Line programmes on Sunday December 3:

  • There will be a board meeting this coming week to discuss the Lady of Mann's refit and SOLAS upgrade.

  • Sometime in the future there might be a fast ferry service to Scotland from Douglas.

  • Whilst they recognise the popularity of the special sailings such as to Fleetwood, Llandudno etc, the main driving force in the company will be to develop the core routes to Douglas.

  • The roof area of the Sea Terminal will be opened to the public for viewing purposes next year. [One wonders just how much of  a view will be possible with the walkway obscuring the view!]

  • The company is in discussion with the Department of Transport to provide post check-in waiting facilities at Douglas, to allow passengers to check in and pass through security before boarding commences and thus avoid delays and make boarding smoother. 


EUROPEAN PIONEER - At 04:30 on Friday December 1 whilst departing Fleetwood, the vessel went aground in the Channel with 87 passengers on board.

The vessel was not thought to have sustained any damage coming to rest on sand banks as did her fleetmate EUROPEAN LEADER in the Mersey, earlier this autumn.

She refloated herself on the next tide. However, she did manage to disrupt the timetable somewhat with EUROPEAN SEAFARER and EUROPEAN NAVIGATOR  having to wait in Morecambe Bay until the PIONEER could move.

It appears that the grounding was due to wind direction or error as mechanical problems have been ruled out.


ISLE OF INNISFREE ran into difficulties on Friday morning. At 07:15 Milford Haven Coastguard received a call from the Master of the vessel which had lost all power 3 miles West of St Anne’s Head. ISLE OF INNISFREE was carrying 130 passengers and 83 crew. The ship put down anchor in this position in an attempt to make repairs, but the strong winds and tide pushed the ferry northwards towards the Isle of Skokholm, just off the west coast of Pembrooke.

Milford Haven Coastguard immediately requested the launch of the RNLI lifeboats from St David's and Angle, arranged for the rescue helicopter from RAF Chivenor to standby on ground at Withybush airfield in Haverfordwest and tasked three tugs, DALEGARTH, MILGARTH and ANGLEGARTH from Milford Haven port.

Although the tugs eventually managed to attach lines to the ferry, initially there had been difficulties, failing on two occasions before eventually doing so. ISLE OF INNISFREE was then able to carry out the necessary repairs to her engine room.

Weather on scene was fairly poor with southerly force 7 winds. When repairs were completed the ship continued her crossing to Rosslare. 

The problem appears to have been caused by the cooling pumps cutting out and activating the fail-safe's for the engines.

ISLE OF INISHMORE - The arrival at Holyhead of the Thursday evening sailing from Dublin was delayed due to adverse conditions. With the winds blowing off the berth the vessel failed on its first attempt to berth at Salt Island and was forced to go out again into Holyhead Bay. The ship finally berthed around 03:20 some two hours behind schedule. 

JONATHAN SWIFT - Adverse conditions during the past week saw many sailings cancelled. 


Recent visitors to Port Erin may have been puzzled to see the lifeboat (covered in a blue tarpaulin) and a large RNLI tractor parked on the ramp running down to the beach opposite the Bridge Bookshop. This arises from work being done by divers on the boathouse slipway to extend into deeper water the rail tracks on which the normal launching trolley runs - so that even at low water on spring tides the lifeboat will float (rather than have to be pushed) off the trolley. Whilst this work was being done the slipway has been inoperable - hence the need to make alternative arrangements to launch the lifeboat.

The tractor and trolley in temporary use are of a type used to launch Atlantic 21 lifeboats across beaches in many places around the British coast, but - as this is the only lifeboat of this class in the Isle of Man - had to be borrowed from the UK. The tractor is of a type built to be able to operate underwater but is smaller than those used to launch the 'Mersey' class lifeboats at Peel and Ramsey.

After launching (whether for training or on a "shout") the lifeboat is recovered over the beach onto the trolley and then towed along the lower promenade round to outside the lifeboat house for cleaning down and re-fuelling - before being returned to its temporary home where there are no facilities for this to be done.

The work should be completed by now and the lifeboat returned to normal operation.


There have been problems and cost overruns with the JEANIE JOHNSTON emigrant ship project. The total cost of the projected reported by RTÉ's Seascapes is now IR£5.5. It is expected that fitting out at Fenit will be completed in February 2001 and she will sail to American and Canada next year.

DUNBRODY from Brian Chambers

DUNBRODY - In New Ross, Co. Wexford, a very successful auction was held in the Brandon House Hotel to raise money for the "Dunbrody Famine Ship Project", and also for the new Visitor Centre, the auction brought in £6,000 in the Hotel, good bidding started for items of furniture, which two were produced at the Dunbrody Shipyard, and another was to be able play golf with the Kilkenny hurler legend, D.J. Carey, this was bought by a Wexford hurler.

Other good news for the people involve with the "Dunbrody Project" was approval of planning permission for the Ship`s on shore facilities, this building will have a tourist office, video display room, ticket sales area, retail area, office spaces, toilets, and car parking.

HOOK LIGHT HOUSE from Brian Chambers

Hook Lighthouse open to the public. This summer was very successful for the Hook Lighthouse Visitor centre in Co. Wexford, the visitor centre received a commendation from the Interpret Ireland Awards, it was presented in Smithfield in Dublin, up to 23,000 visitors have been to the lighthouse, the lighthouse may be the oldest one in the world, and in 1996 the lighthouse became fully automated.


A report by Annanova this week reveals that the owner of the SOLWAY HARVESTER has rejected recent allegations that he had allowed the sister ship of the SOLWAY HARVESTER, which sank with the loss of all seven crew, to dredge over the sunken vessel while the dead men were still on board.

Fisherman Kevin Smith, who worked on the SOLWAY RANGER, claimed he had been told to carry out the dredging task by Richard Gidney, who he said had been convinced the Harvester had been hit by a submarine and wanted evidence.

The Harvester went down during a storm off the Isle of Man in January.

But Mr. Gidney, who owned both boats, said he was distressed by the allegations, which he said were false.

He said: "It is correct that on January 21 the SOLWAY RANGER was fishing within miles of the SOLWAY HARVESTER and did recover, from the seabed, certain items of equipment that we believe had fallen from the SOLWAY HARVESTER during its sinking."

He added that immediately the items were identified, the skipper reported this to him by telephone.

Mr. Gidney said he informed the Isle of Man police to tell them of the findings and arranged for the items, and ship's log, to be collected by a police officer when the SOLWAY RANGER returned to port in Kirkcudbright.

"The SOLWAY RANGER at no time went within the exclusion zone and returned as expected with its catch. The items were recovered about two miles from the eventual resting place of the SOLWAY HARVESTER," Mr Gidney said.

He said he and trawler operators Jack Robinson had both tried to help the police and Marine Accident Investigation Branch as much as possible in efforts to discover why the SOLWAY HARVESTER was lost.

The families of the dead men were still grieving, as he was, he said, and he said he would make no further comment until the results of the investigation were known.


COSTA CLASSICA - The mid body module was launched on Monday, November 27 as rescheduled due to adverse conditions on the Sunday. The module was then towed into the wet basin to await the outcome of the arbitration proceedings between Cammell Laird and Costa Crociere, part of the Carnival Corporation.

This week Carnival Corporation chairman and chief executive Micky Arison strongly criticised Cammell Lairds in an interview with Lloyds List.

Commenting to the newspaper Mr. Arison said: "We gave them [Cammell Laird] a very, very important contract and ability to prove that they can compete in significant cruise ship building and the result so far has been quite disappointing, In the past we have been heavily criticised for not having considered the UK for the [Cunard's] QUEEN MARY project. The last bid on the QUEEN MARY was that Harland & Wolff was doing the steel work and Cammell Laird was going to do the outfitting. Thank God we didn't proceed on that basis."

Mr. Arison explained that Costa decided to delay delivery of the COSTA CLASSICA because the shipyard had not reached the required level of preparation for the transformation. 

According to him, until the same Thursday the ship was expected at the shipyard, Costa tried to talk with the shipyard in order to obtain guarantees and negotiate new re-delivery conditions. But, he underlined, the yard failed to supply any answer and the ship was ordered to reverse her route. "We have had issues with yards where they were in delay for various reasons. Always in the past [with other shipyards] we have been able to sit down and work out issues and resolve the problem with some sort of negotiation and amending agreements. But in this case Cammell Laird has taken what I would consider an unusual turn - putting out press releases, inaccurate propaganda. I'm not sure why they did that or what's their interest to do that but obviously we are quite concerned and upset.

"They made accusations about Italian subsidies which don't exist and our alleged intention to carry on the job at other yards. Ridiculous, ridiculous statements they have been made and I don't understand it." Cammell Laird's position is that there is a contract in place and that they are fulfilling it. The yard's financial director, Jon Schofield, told Lloyd's List that the mid-section body was ready as agreed under the contract and that Brooks Bell & Co, a third party surveyor, had certified that they are "about on time. "We are just waiting for the COSTA CLASSICA to arrive in order to carry on with the job. We believe that Costa is on breach of the contract," Mr. Schofield said. Mr. Arison's position was different. "This is a shame," he said. "I saw statements in which the shipyard claims the mid- body is finished. "It's unusual and disconcerting that instead of sitting down and finding out a solution they are making unbelievable statements".

The on schedule launching of the mid body module did not impress Mr. Arison who commented: "They would have done better to paint it before launching it," he said. "My understanding is that they launched it without painting it. "They just launched it to make a point. You can launch a piece of steel. The issue is what is the condition of the mid-body inside. "I haven't personally seen it but my understanding is that from deck 8 above there is virtually nothing" The real situation remains unclear but Mr. Arison confirmed that the group has not scrapped the project yet. "Indeed we still want to carry on the lengthening of the COSTA CLASSICA," he said despite being unable to project any possible development, such as whether it is it still technically possible to transform the ship and get her back before the summer season. "I don't know. To my knowledge there is no serious negotiation going on despite the fact that for months we requested it. "There have been requests coming from Genoa, from [Costa Crociere chairman and chief executive Pier Luigi] Foschi's office to sit down and work out some sort of understanding based on the work carried out and it hasn't happened. Such behaviour from a shipyard has never happened to us before. I'm disconcerted."

"For Cammell Laird to have an interest in going into the cruise business and have us as their first major customer and then to behave in this fashion doesn't promote their abilities to attract cruise customers."

Cammell Laird's  angry response to Micky Arison's comments also appeared in Lloyds List. Brett Martin said:" "If Costa believed the project was so much off the rails, why did they send the ship off in the first place? This is the key question," he said. "In our opinion the project is not late. If you asked us if we could finish the ship by March 22 next year the answer would be 'yes'. But I believe the two sides should thrash out their differences round a table rather than through the columns of the press."

Mr. Martin also denied the alleged lack of communication between the two companies stating that Cammell Laird chief executive John Stafford had been in Genoa on the day the COSTA CLASSICA had departed for the UK. Mr. Martin said:  "I am surprised by this. We have been in contact with Costa at all levels. In the last two weeks the chief executive must have been in Genoa three or four times," said Mr. Martin. He claimed most of the fitting out of the mid-section had been done as far as was possible before insertion into the ship. The section had also been primer- painted.

On a brighter note Lloyds List also reported that  Les Royle, chief executive of Luxus Holdings, which has options for the construction of two cruise ships at Birkenhead , said the problems with Costa Crociere made no difference to his order.

On Friday Cammell Laird’s received a further setback following a decision by credit rating agency Standard & Poor’s to place the group on credit watch. Last January the shares stood at 145p. At Friday's price the company is capitalised at £103M. Last year the company had revenues of £138M and reported pre-tax profits of £16M. S&P’s move follows confusion over Costa’s turning of the COSTA CLASSICA back to Genoa rather than proceed with a conversion contract at the Merseyside yard. Should Cammell Laird fail to receive the full £51M payment from Costa it could represent a significant blow to the heavily geared company. S&P added its action “reflects the possibility that bank facilities may need to be renegotiated in the near term”.


A 21-year-old fisherman probably drowned after falling overboard or being dragged into the sea by a rope around his foot, an inquest has heard.

 Daniel Kebble was fishing alone in his boat, the HARBOUR LIGHTS, one mile off the Cornish coast when he disappeared on January 8 this year. Family and friends searching for him recovered wreckage from his 26ft boat in Talland Bay, Polperro, that night, but his body was never found.

The jury at the inquest at Bodmin found the cause of death was presumed drowning and returned a verdict of accidental death. Mr. Kebble's father, Terry Kebble, said he had loved the sea from an early age. He said his son left school at 16 to work with Polperro harbourmaster Chris Curtis.  Two years later he bought his boat, the HARBOUR LIGHTS.

He said his son, who always fished alone, had completed courses in sea safety, firefighting at sea and sea survival.

Marine Accident Investigation Branch inspector Richard Barwick said it was likely that Mr. Kebble fell or was dragged overboard by his fishing gear after deploying a net.

Mr. Kebble did not normally wear a lifejacket and would have been pulled under by the weight of his clothes and boots once in the sea.  The MAIB recommended that all fishermen working single-handedly should wear lifejackets and carry waterproof portable VHF radios, he added. After the inquest, Terry Kebble told how the Harbour Lights Trust Fund had been set up in Daniel's memory to provide lifejackets for fishermen.



This week Minister for Transport Lord Macdonald signalled to the rail freight industry that it is at the heart of the Government's integrated transport policy with the award of a £15.6 million freight facilities grant to The Bristol Port Company.

The money, and an additional £6 million of private funding, will be used to refurbish a large section of the disused Portishead branch line and provide a rail link into the Royal Portbury Dock. It will also be used to establish a general cargo terminal and a coal terminal. The link will remove from the roads around 1 million heavy goods vehicle trips each year, carrying cars, coal, plasterboard and paper.

Recent growth has taken rail freight's share of domestic freight traffic to 7%. Extra support is being provided to maintain this momentum.

In July this year the Government announced a #180 billion 10 year investment programme of public and private cash. Transport 2010 - The 10 Year Plan provides £60 billion for railways. We estimate that increased rail freight growth will reduce the amount of lorry traffic on our roads by 1 billion vehicle kilometres by 2010.

Lord MacDonald said:

"I am delighted to announce this freight facilities grant to the Bristol Port Company, by some way the largest ever made in Great Britain. Without this grant, the traffic would continue to move by road.

"Investment in schemes like this will help to achieve our aim of an 80 per cent growth in rail freight over the next decade. We have provided approaching #100million in grants to move freight from road to rail or inland waterways and will make yet more available if there is demand. The money is there; it is up to the transport industry to come forward with schemes."


The Belfast Telegraph reported this week that  BELFAST Harbour Commissioners today welcomed the publication of a new economic appraisal of the options for the Port of Belfast.

The report, by consultants PricewaterhouseCoopers, favoured a restructuring involving the maintenance of trust port status but with extended powers.

Gordon Irwin, the Commissioners' chief executive, said the PwC report had largely endorsed the proposals put forward in October by the Commissioners themselves.

He said: "This report confirms that a trust port would have a viable future, even if we forfeit a substantial portion of non-port land.

"Extended powers would open up possibilities such as enabling us to borrow money, develop property and take part in joint ventures.

"It would even mean we could buy another port in Britain. In short, it would mean we would be able to get out of our cage." The non-port land which would be transferred to the Government would include the sites currently leased to Shorts and Harland & Wolff.

But the Commissioners would be left with a third of its existing land portfolio, retaining ownership of dockland sites, including the land on which various terminals and the Clarendon Dock development are built.

Mr. Irwin said: "We would accept the conclusions in the PwC report, and we see our future as being a modern port in terms of facilities and efficient operation, not reliant on European Union grant aid or public funds.

"The report suggests that this balance can be struck in that the viability of the port can be sustained." A decision is expected to be taken shortly on the issue by Regional Development Minister Gregory Campbell.

Mr. Campbell has already made it clear that he favours the option of a trust port with extended powers.

He said he proposed to bring forward legislation to place a statutory duty on the three other trust ports of Coleraine, Londonderry and Warrenpoint to consult with the Department in advance of any planned change in land use, or the proposed disposal or re-letting of harbour land.



A 26 metre Jersey based Beam Trawler EVERTMARIJTJE with five crew on board called Milford Haven Coastguard on Wednesday November 29 to report that in poor weather her propeller had been fouled and that she was unable to move and was approximately 8.7 nautical miles off St Govans Head in South Wales.

The crew reported via the emergency VHF channel 16 at 02:26 a.m. that they were unable to clear the obstruction in rough seas and winds of force 8 gusting to force 9 and that the vessel, registered in Plymouth as J219 with the call sign GCSY, was drifting towards the local headland and that they required immediate assistance.

The Angle lifeboat was immediately asked to launch to stand by the vessel in case anyone needed evacuating from her, and through local contacts the Coastguard located the tug MILGARTH from the tug company Wisjmuller, which was sent to the area in order to take the vessel under tow, and keep her away from the shoreline.

Andrew Hodgson, Watch Manager at Milford Haven Coastguard said:

" As of 5.00 a.m. this morning the vessel was 4 to 5 miles off the headland. Her fishing gear is reported to be in and the anchor has been deployed, but the crew is telling us that is presently not holding her, and in the fierce winds locally she is slowly being blown towards the shoreline. However, the Angle lifeboat is now within 5 miles of the vessel and the tug is due to arrive at around 7.00 a.m.

" For salvage purposes, a Lloyds Open Form has been signed with the owners and it is the intention of the tug once she has a line on her to bring her into Milford Haven later this morning.

" The estimated time of arrival of the Coastguard Emergency Tug `Far Sky' based at Falmouth was 10 hours away and with 16,000 litres of red diesel on board and 45 gallons of engine oil, urgent action needed to be taken in securing a local tug to bring her under tow and keep her away from the coastline. The vessel has full life saving equipment on board and we are constantly in touch with her as the salvage efforts proceed. The Agency's Counter Pollution Branch have also been informed this morning."


RAF rescue helicopters winched the 13 crew members of a sinking Spanish fishing vessel to safety on Thursday November 30.

The British-registered boat, the ZORRO ZAURE, was within 30 minutes of sinking as her 13 crew-members were airlifted off at about 07:00. The 110-foot vessel, was 200 miles south west of Lands End, when it began taking in water around 02.30.

The ZORRO ZAURE broadcast a distress signal, which was received by Valencia radio and passed to Coastguards at Falmouth, Cornwall.  The Coastguards scrambled helicopters from RAF Chivenor in Devon and RAF Kinloss in Scotland.

At one point, it was thought that the Spanish crew would have to abandon the boat and take to their liferafts with an Emergency Position Indicating Beacon.  At 07:00, the boat was still afloat and the crewmembers were being winched off by helicopter. 

Falmouth Coastguard duty district officer Steve Huxley said: "It was a race against time.  The weather conditions worsened through the night and obviously being 200 nautical miles from Lands End presents us with logistical problems as well."

At the time of the rescue, there was a force eight to nine gale, with heavy seas and a 9ft swell.


Falmouth Coastguard received numerous 999 calls early on November 30 after a 94 foot ex - trawler DOLPHIN acting as a guard ship for a cable laying vessel hit rocks off Mousehole just south of Newlyn at just before 12:30.  

The steel vessel with four crew on board was making its way in towards Newlyn to replenish supplies of fresh water when the engine cut out and the vessel was driven on to rocks.

The Penlee lifeboat was immediately requested to launch by Falmouth Coastguard and all four crew were taken off very quickly with one crewmember suffering from minor hand injuries.


The rumour that Barrow-in-Furness based James Fisher & Sons Plc was interested in acquiring the Southampton, Isle of Wight and South of England Royal Mail Steam Packet Public Limited Company other wise known as Red Funnel has finally been laid to rest with the news that the American Investment Bank JP Morgan has made a £70m offer for the company

Red Funnel, which was established 140 years ago and transports 2.5m passengers a year between Southampton and the Isle of Wight, was put up for sale in June, with Merrill Lynch handling the disposal. Analysts valued the business at between £70m and £80m. The business initially attracted more than 30 expressions of interest. JP Morgan beat off Gresham, a small venture capitalist.

The Southampton-based Red Funnel business also includes a towage division, the Vectis Transport road haulier and a catering wing. AB Ports bought the business in 1989 for £27m, including debts. It made profits before tax of £7.5m last year on turnover of £24.5m.



The December NUMAST Telegraph has reported that a Norwegian investigation into the causes of the SLEIPNER fast ferry disaster in November 1999 in which 14 people died has criticised the captain and crew for poor navigation. Fourteen people died when the craft ran aground.

The investigation commission also found the company's procedures to be inadequate and found faults with certain equipment on board - such as emergency power sources being below the waterline.

The commission, set up by the Norwegian Justice Ministry, said the catamaran's equipment should have enabled safe navigation. "The direct cause of the grounding was that the navigators were navigating wrongly and did not
know the vessel's exact position when approaching Bloksene," the report stated.

Investigators said the vessel seemed to have been off course for some time. Just before the accident both navigators were busy adjusting radar screens and neither was keeping a lookout.

The report says the vessel was built to correct seaworthy standards, although the electrical system did not  meet requirements. Liferafts lacked approved hydrostatic releases, and there were other 'considerable weaknesses' in the evacuating and lifesaving arrangements - with inadequate lifejackets being blamed for some of the fatalities.
"In the commission's view, the captain and his crew did  not perform satisfactorily," said the commission, "even when taking into account that conditions after the grounding were extreme.

The owner of the vessel, HSD, was criticised for not properly ensuring safety, and the Norwegian Maritime Authority was criticised for allowing the SLEIPNER to operate in a significant wave height of one metre. More industry and public resources need to go into training, said the report.

Bjorn Haav of the Norwegian Maritime Officers Association told the NUSMAST Telegraph that criticism of the company was 'very weak', but agreed with the criticism of the maritime authority.


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