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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


JUNE 2000

June 26


The technical problems which have prevented the update of the Mersey & Irish Sea Shipping web site have moved closer to a resolution. Unfortunately I remain unable to perform a main site update at present.

On Friday new passwords were received from City Netgates. Unfortunately these do not appear to function. On contacting City Netgates on Saturday June 24, the technical support person was not able to log on either!

However, I have been assured that the matter should be resolved by tomorrow, Monday June 26. This will enable me to post an update to the main site on Wednesday June 28. Though if I am able to access the site tomorrow some new material will appear as I have to perform maintenance in any case and new some new material is already prepared for posting.

I had not intended to post a mid week update this coming week, however, there are quite a few new features to be uploaded, and therefore I will post one on Wednesday providing the technical problems have been resolved.

Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Adrian Sweeney and "others".

John Luxton

June 25, 2000


LADY OF MANN During mid May Mersey and Irish Sea Shipping revealed that the Lady would be replacing the SuperSeaCat during the winter months. The local press have now become aware of this and under the heading of "Cat's You Lot" the Liverpool Echo announced the decision to Merseysiders on Friday afternoon. This was followed up by a similar report in the Echo's sister paper the Daily Post.

In true Echo style the report was somewhat confusing with the title Isle of Man Steamship Company being used halfway through the article before referring back to the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company.

It is still not quite clear if the Liverpool to Dublin route will close entirely for the winter. Sea Containers spokesman Simon Dey commented to the Daily Post: " A final decision has not been made about the winter months yet. It's only June at the moment so it's early days. But we might run the LADY OF MANN and use the SuperSeaCat as backup." 

LADY OF MANN departed Cammell Laird for the Azores on Monday June 26 at around 18:15.

CLAYMORE - returned from her Faeroes charter and entered Alfred Lock, Birkenhead at 14:00. She has once again joined the Sea Co redundant assets fleet at Vittoria Dock, this time berthed bow inwards. It will be interesting to see what the immediate future holds for this attractive little ship now that the plan by Kintyre Ferries to reopen the Ballycastle to Campbeltown service has not materialised for the 2000 season.


On Saturday June 24, the Daily Mail newspaper published details of special offers for readers. On the Liverpool to Dublin route a 50% discount is offered on any published fare. The offer is valid until October 31, though bookings must be made by July 7. 

On the Heysham to Belfast route  there is an offer for a car and four people for £220 which includes  one night's bed and breakfast in a three star hotel based on two people sharing a room, Additional nights available for £25 per person. The hotels are Ballygally Castle Hotel and the Quality Hotel, Carrickfergus. 

Bookings are to be made by Travelbreaks on 0870 443 0360 between 09:30 and 17:30 [Monday to Friday] and 10:00 to 13:30 on Saturday. The offer is subject to availability at the time of booking and the offer excludes APEX and promotional fares. Amendments will cost £25. There are no refunds. Credit Card payments are subject to a 2% surcharge [non for Switch]. Offer applies to foot passengers and private cars only.


The company has recorded a very successful TT Festival period this year. In 2000 38,000 passengers [34,000 - 1999] 3,950 vehicles [3,800 - 1999] and 14,100 [12,620 - 1999] motor cycles travelled to the island during the festival period.

Hamish Ross, Isle of Man Steam Packet Company managing director said," During this exciting period in our operating year our teams our teams provide round the clock sailing schedules. A tremendous effort by everyone has made the 2000 TT a great festival."


The commissioning of the second Dublin linkspan has led to some schedule adjustments:

Liverpool - Dublin

Heysham - Dublin

Heysham - Belfast

Liverpool - Belfast













































































Dublin - Liverpool

Dublin - Heysham

Belfast - Heysham

Belfast - Liverpool














































































8.5 hr day  

7.5hr night

8.75 hrs




It is noted that crossing times for day time sailings between Liverpool and Dublin are quoted as being 8.5 hours whilst the night crossings when one would really expect a longer time to be allowed for the night time sailings.


Three fishermen were rescued off the County Louth coast on Friday morning, June 23, after their boat collided with another vessel near Clogher Head and sank. It is reported that both vessels were based at Kilkeel in County Down. The Clogher Head lifeboat carried out the rescue after the alarm was raised shortly before 01:00. The other vessel, with five people on board, was damaged but was able to return to its home port.


HMS INVINCIBLE [R05] The aircraft carrier [through deck cruiser]  arrived on Merseyside on Thursday afternoon and moored off the Albert Dock complex at the mid river moorings first used during the 1993 Battle of the Atlantic commemorations and reinstalled by the RMAS over the past few weeks.

On Friday a Royal Marines Band Concert was held on board the 19,500 ton ship constructed by Vickers in 1979.

HMS BICESTER [M36] Hunt Class mine countermeasures ship constructed by Vosper Thornycroft berthed in the Canning Half Tide basin [north] whilst at Birkenhead sister ship HMS CHIDDINGFOLD [M37] and type 23 frigate HMS NORFOLK [F230] berthed at the West Float. 

HMS UNSEEN [S41] Upholder Class submarine which was completed by Cammell Laird in 1991 is understood to be returning to Lairds on 2nd July, prior to her departure as part of a leasing deal with the Canadian Navy.

The last of the class HMS UNICORN [S43] was the final vessel to be launched by the former VSEL owned Cammell Laird company in 1993 and many thought her launch had brought the curtain down on Cammell Laird's long history. 

However, Upholder class submarines have not shared the same success as the shipyard. As a result of defence cuts all the class were paid off in 1994 and were taken to Barrow-In-Furness for lay-up in 1998. 


The Grand Turk, star of the TV series "Hornblower" arrived on Merseyside somewhat behind schedule at around 05:30 on Sunday June 25 and berthed at Canning Half-Tide basin outside the main entrance of the Merseyside Maritime Museum. She should have arrived in time to open to the public on Saturday June 24, however, her departure  from Whitehaven had been delayed by adverse conditions which had prevented the opening of the harbour gates. 

The Grand Turk is a replica 6th rate Royal Navy Frigate which is operated by Turk Phoenix Ltd. She was constructed in Marmaris, Turkey from mahogany and iroko. Her masts comprise solid tree trunks which were grown in the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire.

The vessel measures 152 feet in length [hull length 119feet] , with a beam of 34 feet. Height of main mast is 117 feet. Weight 314grt. Draught 10ft.

Propulsion is by sail [10 knots] or two Kelvin Marine Diesels. She is also fitted with bow thrusters. The operating company Turk Phoenix has an long history dating back to 1195 when early records show that the Turk family of London built to galleys for the "Defence of the realm". Over the centuries the Turk family have produced a wide range of vessels including pleasure boats for Queen Victoria. The present proprietor is Michael Turk. The Grand Turk is registered and based in London.

I visited the vessel on Sunday morning just before the crowds started to arrive. An illustrated report will appear on the  main web site in due course.


A report in the Belfast Telegraph reveals that a permanent coastal cruise ship will be based on the River Foyle and is expected to commence operations within the next few weeks.

The £300,000 ship will offer daily cruises from Derry to Donegal and is expected to be come one of the most popular tourist attractions in the area. The vessel will also be made available for the use of schools and community groups.

The venture is being run by Charles Hegarty who claims that the venture will be a huge boost for the local economy. "The River Foyle is probably Derry's greatest asset and it is about time
more was made of it," he said.

Mr Hegarty said the ship would offer a variety of cruises.

"The vessel, which we have not yet named, will be able to cater for up to 170 people. As well as daily cruises from Derry to Greencastle, the ship will also be available for hire for corporate events or anyone who wants to celebrate a special occasion.

Year round operations are planned depending on weather conditions.

The operators claim a potential huge demand for the service following the success of the BALMORAL's visit to Derry for the Battle of the Atlantic commemorations earlier this year when over 4,000 passengers enjoyed a cruise.


SAINT PIRAN - the new Cornwall Sea Fisheries Fisheries Protection Vessel was named by County Council Chairman James Philips at a ceremony at Falmouth last week. After the naming ceremony which was carried out with the traditional bottle of champagne the new vessel was blessed by the Bishop of Truro Bill Ind. 

Named after the patron saint of Cornwall, SAINT PIRAN is a 27 metre craft with a top speed of 20 knots. She cost £2.1million and was constructed as a replacement for the VERIFYER which has been taken in part exchange by the Dutch shipbuilder Damem. 


The Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company has announced the Executive Directors of the future P&O and the new cruise company, P&O Princess Cruises, in preparation for the demerger of the cruise company in October this year.

As previously announced, Lord Sterling, Chairman of P&O, will also become Chairman of P&O Princess and Peter Ratcliffe, currently responsible for the cruises division, will become Chief Executive Officer. They will be joined on the Board by Nick Luff, currently Finance Director of P&O, who will become Chief Financial Officer of P&O Princess.

Sir Bruce MacPhail, Managing Director, and the other Executive Directors of P&O will continue on the Board of the future P&O. They will be joined by Joanne Curin, currently Finance Director of P&O Ports and P&O Cold Logistics, who will become Finance Director of P&O on completion of the demerger.

The Chairman of P&O, Lord Sterling said: "I have great pleasure in announcing the board structure of both P&O Princess and the future P&O. At the same time I look forward to welcoming Joanne Curin on to the P&O Board when she takes up the position of Finance Director later this year. Joanne’s considerable experience in finance and corporate development will make her a valuable asset to the P&O Board."


It appears that  Scottish haulier is to bid for the Caledonian MacBrayne ferry company
after becoming embroiled in a dispute with the firm.

Colin Macaskill is at loggerheads with the company over payments for "ghost" lorries which are block-booked onto the ferries but fail to check in at the port.

Mr Macaskill, who pays CalMac more than £1 million a year in fares to transport his articulated lorries from Stornoway, Isle of Lewis, to Ullapool said he would be putting in a tender for the publicly subsidised company.

He attacked the company's managers for not providing an adequate service and pledged to ensure it was "run by an islander for the islanders".

The Scottish Executive has been forced to allow private companies to bid for CalMac under the European Union's state aid rules.

Fears have been raised in the Scottish Parliament that privatisation would lead to the break-up of CalMac's network, with the most competitive routes being "cherry-picked" at the expense of services to remote islands.

Mr Macaskill has a standard block-booking for 28 lorries per month on CalMac's Stornoway to Ullapool crossing.

The company charges 25 per cent of the £342 standard fare for lorries which fail to book in for the crossing, while other companies make no charge for the "ghost" lorries as they are known.

Commercial director Ken Duerden said the company had not received payments for eight ghost lorries, while the reasons for a further 22 non-crossings had been accepted.

Back Home Up Next

June 21


Apologies that the Wednesday update has not been posted to the main site. However, technical difficulties continue. City Netgates the new ISP have been in touch today, and have promised to get things sorted as soon as possible. At present an update to the main may be possible by Sunday, however, I can't promise anything yet.

I'd like to thank those people who have both e-mailed and phoned concerning the site problems. If you know of anyone having access problems please tell them that the news updates will continue as usual on the back up site. .

Though the main site is not accessible to me for making updates, I am continuing to update the copy which is stored on my PC. When the main site returns there will of course be quite a few updates, including a LADY OF MANN voyage report, pictures of her Warrenpoint and Round the Island trips etc. 

Once again apologies for the break in normal service. It will be resumed as soon as possible!

Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Incat and "others"


LADY OF MANN - The company have announced that the LADY brought  3000 additional passengers to the Isle of Man during her programme of special excursions operated last week. Over a four day period the LADY OF MANN operated excursions from Fleetwood, Llandudno, Whitehaven and Warrenpoint to Douglas. 

The exact total of passengers 2,947 were taken to the Island from ports previously associated with the company's 170 year history.

The programme of special excursions concluded on Saturday evening when the LADY OF MANN undertook a 170th Anniversary Special Cruise "Around the Island" with 567 passengers on board who enjoyed an excellent buffet and live entertainment.

The LADY is currently in Cammell Laird where she is being prepared for her summer charter to the Azores. At present it is expected that the Lady will depart Lairds on either Sunday or Monday.

JHL's COMMENT: The LADY OF MANN's loadings certainly were impressive considering these excursions were undertaken outside of the main summer holiday period of July and August. There must be a good case for developing the special excursion market from Irish Sea ports to both the Isle of Man and Ireland using the LADY. 

CLAYMORE is due to return from her Iceland charter around the same time as the LADY OF MANN departs. [Perhaps SeaCo should explore her use for summer holiday excursion work?!]


The Liverpool Bar Lightfloat is now in the south Clarance Graving Dock. Last update the Bar Light was erroneously attributed to both MD&HC and Trinity House. It is of course an MD&HC responsibility.


The Port of Liverpool has ordered another three new ship-to-shore gantry cranes for the Royal Seaforth Container Terminal, only months after two similar cranes went into service.

The multi-million pound order was placed by the Mersey Docks and Harbour Company with Liebherr Container Cranes Limited who manufactured the first two units for the UK’s third largest container port.

The trio will be built to similar specifications at Liebherr’s plant in Killarney, County Kerry, and will be shipped across from Ireland to Liverpool in knock-down form, to be erected on-site at the terminal.

Mersey Docks’ General Manager of Operations John Farrar expects the first of the new gantries to be in service towards the end of 2001 with the other two introduced in the first quarter of 2002.

"In the limited time since the first of the new Liebherr cranes were commissioned in Spring, they have performed beyond expectations," he said. "They are already achieving some very good productivity figures and the addition of a further three gantries will again enhance the performance.

The ship-to-shore cranes, which will be capable of dealing with slightly larger than Panamax size vessels, are being purchased as part of a major investment programme for the Royal Seaforth Container Terminal. They will replace three Paceco Vickers cranes which have been in operation at the terminal since it was opened in 1972.

The terminal redevelopment which has already topped £15 million, includes the construction of a new logistics centre, multi-lane fully computerised terminal gate, 25 bay container interchange area and a 30% expansion of the container stacking park. More than half of the straddle carrier fleet is being replaced by 14 new Preussag Noel machines and new IT terminal management systems are being introduced.

"The three new gantry cranes will make their own powerful contribution to the performance of a terminal which in recent years has seen a 50% improvement in productivity and steady growth in annual volumes to more than 500,000 teu (20ft equivalent units)," said John Farrar.

The new gantries will have a height of 105ft (32 metres) under the spreader, an outreach of 125ft (38 metres), a 40-tonne basic lift capacity with a heavy lift capability on the hook of 50 tonnes, and an extra heavy lift capacity of 60 tonnes.

The enhanced technology of the gantries provides faster movement of containers on and off ships, plus major reductions in the time taken for the boom of the crane to be lowered and lifted. It also allows safe working in higher wind speeds than is possible with the older cranes.


Twelve foreign ships were under detention in UK ports during May 2000 after failing port state control safety inspections, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) announced today. The list consists of nine ships detained in May, along with three ships still under detention from previous months. The rate of detentions compared with inspections carried out over the last 12 months is 5.7%. This is unchanged on the 12-month rate to April.

The ships detained included:-

  • A Hong Kong-registered bulk carrier detained for 5 days in Immingham. The 24 deficiencies included a defective fire main, defective breathing apparatus, several defective air pipes, several access hatches and doors with defective securing arrangements and defective port holes on the weather deck. The surveyor observed that the cargo operations were not being conducted in accordance with either the Bulk Cargo Code or the ship’s Safety Management Certificate;

  • A Panamanian-registered bulk carrier detained for 4 days in Grangemouth. 14 deficiencies were noted, including an inoperative emergency fire pump and serious radio deficiencies.

Six of the nine ships detained in May were registered with flags targeted for priority inspection under the Paris Memorandum of Understanding on Port State Control.

A list of foreign-flag ships detained following inspections by surveyors from the MCA is published monthly and is also placed on the Internet at:


Ship's Name

Manley Havant

Date and place of detention

16/05/2000, Portbury



Type of vessel

Bulk Carrier

IMO number





Cometas Shipping Company - Mariupol, Ukraine

Classification Society

Lloyd's Register

No. of previous detentions


Total no. deficiencies


Grounds for detention

Detained 2 days. Plastic hose used to connect diesel generator day tank to filter and from filter to steel supply pipe.


UK Horizons has commissioned a new 13-part, 30-minute series following the work of a Northern Ireland lifeboat station.

Called Lifeboat Rescue, the series will be transmitted in the autumn a focus on the lives of men and women at Portrush station.


It is hoped to lift the SOLWAY HARVESTER conditions permitting this week. The lift ship NORMA owned by the Belgian company Scaldis Salvage and Marine has arrived on the island. The trawler will be taken to Ramsey Shipyard for examination. A correspondent noted the NORMA at work with Laxey Towing Company's tug WENDY ANN in attendance on Wednesday, June 21.


Norway based Torghatten Trafikkselskap has confirmed an order for a second £5 million ferry. During the spring, Cammell Laird was awarded the construction contract to construct the LEKA FERGA. This vessel is now under construction at the company's Tyneside yard. Construction of the new order is expected to commence in the late summer. 

Meanwhile, reports in the local press inicate that Laird's is taking action to counter a high profile political and media campaign aimed at persuading the Government to give a £200m MoD contract to the Govan shipyard on the Clyde.

Cammell Laird is concerned that although it has been short listed for the work, most attention is being paid to the Clydeside yard where there could be substantial job losses should the work go elsewhere..


Coiste an Asgard which operate the sail training vessel ASGARD II now has their own official web site at: 


The Jeanie Johnston, the replica 19th century Irish emigrant ship, is now due to set sail on her high profile Millennium Voyage to North America from County Kerry in late July. The delayed departure stems from a late launch caused by two weeks of stormy weather off the Kerry coast and the additional time required for the fitting out of the ship to the highest standards.

The Jeanie Johnston is now expected to arrive in North America in September. Mr John Griffin, Chief Executive of the Jeanie Johnston project, said that the late departure of the ship is regrettable particularly as the ship will now miss the New York, Boston and Chicago tall ship events. "This is a big disappointment for us and all our supporters. There is an enormous welcome awaiting the ship in America and Canada and we are trying to get her there as soon as we possibly can. The Jeanie Johnston will probably be the most sophisticated timber-hulled ship afloat and this takes time. The ship is now fully rigged and once the interior is completed we will be setting sail." he said.

The Jeanie Johnston will now remain in North America until the Fall of 2001. The revised schedule will also include extra ports of call in the southern states and President Clinton is still expected to greet the ship when she visits Washington in October.

The Jeanie Johnston combines as a sail training ship, museum and corporate event venue. At each port of call the ship will be open to the public as a living history exhibit depicting life and conditions aboard an Irish Famine ship.

The original Jeanie Johnston was built in Quebec in 1847 and never lost a passenger during 16 trans-Atlantic voyages. The re-born Jeanie Johnston is a powerful symbol of North-South and trans-Atlantic co-operation. She will be largest Irish sailing ship afloat when she takes to the high seas later in July.


A milestone in the history of Incat will be commemorated on June 23. Not only is it ten years since the Tasmanian shipbuilder produced the world’s first high-speed, car-carrying catamaran, it is also ten years since Incat wrested the coveted Hales Trophy for the Blue Riband of the Atlantic from the USA after 38 years.

At any stage in the long history of the Blue Riband, to win the coveted award was to achieve supremacy. Introduced during the 1860s by the transatlantic shipping companies the Blue Riband brought publicity, and consequently greater custom, to the holder. By gentlemen’s agreement it was decreed the honourable ship had the right to fly a long blue pennant from her mainmast – the Blue Riband was born.

The essence of the Blue Riband actually dates back to the 1830s, when ships such as the Sirius, 8.03 knots, and the Great Western, 8.66 knots, fought over the honour of being the fastest transatlantic Liner. Over the years numerous attempts were made to gain the honour of being the holder of the Blue Riband. To encourage innovation in passenger transport and formalise Blue Riband arrangements, Mr Harold Hales, British Member of Parliament for Hanley, commissioned and donated a four foot high, solid silver trophy, known as the Hales Trophy, in 1935.

The trophy was to be awarded to the "Ship which for the time being has crossed the Atlantic Ocean at the highest average speed" and although Cunard refused to recognise the trophy the already feverish quest for speed intensified even more. The last liner to win the trophy was the United States on its maiden voyage in 1952, averaging 35.59 knots. The sale of the United States in 1973 saw the end of Blue Riband challenges for the time being. No other liner could match her for speed and, with Cunard’s apparent disinterest in speed challenges, the Hales Trophy was set to remain in the US.

New interest in the Blue Riband was rekindled in 1985 when Virgin attempted to regain the Hales Trophy for Britain. It took Richard Branson two attempts to successfully complete the crossing. As Virgin’s craft was not a passenger ship she failed to meet the criteria for the trophy and amidst intense media interest, the coveted prize remained in the US.

That changed in 1990 when the Incat-built Hoverspeed Great Britain broke the 38 year old record held by the United States. There was no doubt about Hoverspeed Great Britain’s criterion for the challenge and the first Incat wave piercing, car-carrying catamaran established the record at 36.97 knots. The purpose of the trophy was to encourage the continued development of technology and design in passenger shipping. The Hoverspeed Great Britain was certainly innovative so little wonder that Incat set the challenge firmly in its sights.

Eight years after HGB a new Incat-built craft, Catalonia, raised the average speed to 38.877 knots and just one month later, in July 1998, the Cat-Link V set a new record speed of 41.284 knots. For the first time, three ships to win the trophy in succession had been built by the same shipyard.

As we near the 50th anniversary of the United States’ maiden and record breaking crossing we witness the boundaries moving ever onwards. When the United States was laid up the Blue Riband of the Atlantic all but passed into shipping history – at least until a shipbuilder from Hobart arrived on the scene. One thing is certain, there will be a further quest for the trophy and new records will be established.

June 18


First of all, apologies for the technical problems which have effected the main site since Monday June 12. I hope most M&ISS regulars have now found their way to the Archive and Back Up site. 

At present it looks as though the main site will not be functioning again until the second half of the week. As I have already explained in a mass e-mailing to many known regulars the problem concerns the movement of the site from one ISP to another as the original host ISP has decided to withdraw from the hosting business.

Various problems have been encountered, I have missed phone calls from the new host, they admit that not everything is up and running properly yet etc. However, I have reason to believe that the new hosts will provide a better service once everything is sorted out and will allow the site to move forward to the next stage of development.

Following a call on Friday afternoon City Netgates, the new ISP, they should be in a position to dispatch information and their update details to me on Monday which should allow me to undertake the mid week scheduled update.

Therefore, I do not expect to be able to perform a main site update until next Wednesday June 21 [22:00 at the earliest]  and correct the present problems. If a full repost is required it may be Thursday before a main update appears. Furthermore it is likely that the scheduled mid-week news posting may not be included in the main site posting. This will depend on time and any site housekeeping tasks I may have to undertake at this end.

Once again I would like to apologise for this break in continuity but would like to reassure everyone that Mersey & Irish Sea Shipping is very much alive if not exactly well at present! Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible.

Consequently this Sunday, June 18 is confined to a news only posting. However, there is certainly a fair amount of news for you to get your teeth into! Next weekend there should be a number of additions to the site including a LADY OF MANN "Round the Island" voyage report.

John Luxton

June 18, 2000

Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Mike Pryce, John Shepherd, Brian Chambers and "others"


LADY OF MANN - The LADY OF MANN's programme of special excursions during the past week appear to have proven popular with good loadings reported. I managed to undertake the "Round The Island" cruise on Saturday June 17. An illustrated Voyage Report will appear next week. On Sunday June 18, she departed Douglas around 08:00 and was on Prince's Landing Stage by around 11:15.

She had been loaded with two vehicle ramps from Douglas and at Liverpool a crane had been brought to the Landing Stage to load the Liverpool vehicle ramp. Manoeuvring this appeared to cause some problems as the small wheels appeared to get caught. However, this was soon placed on board, The LADY OF MANN quickly crossed the river and entered Cammell Laird wet basin at around 12:12. She is expected to be there for a few days whilst the aircraft style seating in the forward lounge is removed to create a dance floor.  She is expected to be in Lairds for around a week before departing for a summer charter to an Azores based subsidiary of Empress De Navigacao Madierense. This company chartered the vessel in 1995 and 1998. In 1995 she operated on the Madiera - Porto Santo service, and in 1998 on inter-island services in the Azores. The LADY is expected to be accompanied by some company engineering crew.

On completion of her charter she will return in late September well in advance of her winter services, details of which have yet to be announced. However, it is expected that she will operate the Liverpool to Douglas service instead of a fast craft. 

There has been no further news as to whether she will undergo the SOLAS upgrade which will be required before the next TT festival on the Isle of Man.


Plans by Sea Containers to redevelop the site of Imperial Buildings in Douglas appear to have encountered difficulties. A report in the Manx Independent this week reveals that the plans could be blocked by Douglas Corporation. 

Last month the Isle of Man Government gave the go-ahead for the scheme which includes 22,000 square metres of office space, catering, conference, boardroom and leisure facilities as well as an underground car park. 

The Corporation has objected on the grounds that the development is too large. The borough engineer Ian Clague said that the corporation support the plans but were unhappy about the proposed scale of the development. "We fell that, although we applauded the redevelopment, that the proposed site and scale is far too big for where it sits," he said. "With regard to the amount of office space proposed, given that there are other sites that are not completed we need to get those completed before others go up. In general we are saying we applaud the area being developed but the proposal needs to be scaled down."

An appeal concerning the application may not be heard until October.


Sea Containers have announced a package of Summer Special fares between Belfast and Troon and Belfast and Heysham. 

SeaCat’s increasingly popular crossing from Belfast to Troon allows for quick and easy access by car or train to Glasgow, Edinburgh and the rest of Scotland. The crossing takes only 2 ½ hours by high-speed catamaran !

Belfast – Troon (Valid from 04/07/00 – 27/08/00)

Starflight (Valid on 20.30 / 21.30 ex Belfast and 23.30 / 00.30 ex Troon)

£139 Car + Driver (3 Day Return or Single)
Trailers / Caravans £50.00
Additional Adults £10.00
Kids go Free ! (Maximum 5)

Seasonal 3 Day (3 Day Return Valid Monday – Thursday & Saturday)

£149.00 Car + Driver
Additional Adults £15.00
Additional Children £5.00

Seasonal 3 Day Weekend (3 Day Return Valid Friday & Sunday)

£169.00 Car + Driver
Additional Adults £15.00
Additional Children £5.00

The Belfast to Heysham SuperSeaCat service has grown from strength to strength since its launch in 1999. The vessel, which was built in Italy at a cost of £20 million, can cater for 630 passengers and 145 vehicles. The state of the art monohull vessel, which is 100 metres long, crosses between Belfast and Heysham in just under four hours.

Belfast – Heysham (Valid from 04/07/00 – 27/08/00)

Starflight (Valid on 17.30 ex Belfast and 22.15 ex Heysham)

£149 Car + Driver (4 Day Return or Single)
Trailers £60.00 (max 5.5m)
Caravans £60.00 (max 5.5m)
Additional Adults £20.00
Kids go Free ! (Maximum 5)

Seasonal 4 Day (4 Day Return Valid Monday – Thursday)
£169.00 Car + Driver
Trailers £70.00 (max 5.5m)
Caravan £70.00 (max 5.5m)
Additional Adults £20.00
Additional Children £10.00

Seasonal 4 Day Weekend ( 4 Day Return Valid Friday & Sunday)
£189.00 Car + Driver
Trailers £70.00 (max 5.5m)
Caravans £70.00 (max 5.5m)
Additional Adults £20.00
Additional Children £10.00

On the Liverpool to Dublin route 4 day returns are available for car and driver from £169.00 until August 27, 2000.

All fares can be booked through local travel agents or by contacting SeaCat on its Central Reservations Line on 08705 523523.


Passenger figures for the Harbours Division for May 2000 show an 8% increase on the same period last year. May 2000 recording a total of 60,489 compared to 56,019 in May 1999.

The year to date figure of 174,409 passengers shows a 8.7% increase over the 160,409 recorded in 1999.

Car and motorcycle traffic through Douglas Harbour in May 2000 showed an increase of 38.5% from 12,117 in 1999 to 16,782,405 vehicles  May 2000.

The year to date figure of 45,701 vehicles shows a 17.4% increase over the 38,912 recorded in 1999.

Passenger figure breakdown by route is as follows:




plus 18%




minus 45%




all minus




plus 8%




plus 13%




all minus



Freight traffic metreage increased by 22.9% from 30,611  to 37,634 over when compared to May 1999.

Director of Harbours, Captain Michael Brew commented: "May 2000 passenger traffic figures are influenced by a number of factors including slightly more TT traffic than last year, no day trip sailings from Fleetwood and Llandudno and a shorter series of sailings this year by the BALMORAL. Allowing for these various factors growth in passenger traffic remains very strong, particularly on the Liverpool route which is benefiting from the extra capacity offered by SUPERSEACAT THREE. Freight Traffic is also at an all time height with the freight metreage figure of 37,634 being a record for any month."


Though it is not common for M&ISS to comment on the racing yacht scene, though I think is appropriate to mention the yacht ISLE OF MAN which is the Island's entry into the BT Global Challenge Yacht Race. On Saturday the impressive vessel was berthed close to the new harbour lift bridge at Douglas, prior to a naming ceremony due to be held on Sunday June 18. The vessel certainly looked impressive, a VERY large Manx flag flying from its mast. Photographs will appear in due course.


The luxury private yacht LEMU, the worlds largest epoxy resin yacht, which was fitted out at the Semple Cochrane dry dock at Penzance, undertook sea trials in Mounts Bay last Sunday. 


The Bar Lightfloat, a familiar sea mark for sailors and passengers entering and leaving the Mersey approach channel has been taken off station temporarily for maintenance work. It is currently berthed outside the Clarence Graving Docks. The light float has been temporarily replaced by a buoy.


It appears that the ferry service between Campbeltown and Ballycastle is unlikely to restart during 2000. 

This is reported to be due to the lack of time. There are only three weeks left until the main holiday season begins and insufficient time remains to complete the purchase of the ship and perform the essential recruiting, safety training and publicity work. 

The circumstances are reported to be further complicated by the situation regarding the ship, the CLAYMORE, presently owned by Sea Containers. In spite of extended negotiations the purchase of the ship could not be agreed, but negotiations are continuing in an attempt to resolve this. There is not enough time left now to do all the remaining work before the season starts, and in the meantime the ship has been chartered out by Sea Containers to the Faeroes Islands.

There is reported to have been an immense groundswell of goodwill from the local communities on both sides of the Irish Sea and this has carried the will to succeed forward, but the various enterprise bodies and councils are restricted by European law and no financial help is available to put the service back in place. The Scottish Executive is presently dealing with this same law with regard to Calmac's services.

Having invested a considerable amount on this project. Kintyre Ferries are continuing to work hard at putting the service back in place.


An insight into the future plans of Cenargo for the company's Irish Sea services has appeared in Lloyd's List. According to the report operations are to be merged under the banner of Norse Merchant Ferries later in 2000.

The acquisition by Cenargo of Norse Irish Ferries last October brought the Liverpool-Belfast ferry operator under the same umbrella as Merchant Ferries, which operates Liverpool-Dublin, Heysham-Dublin and Heysham-Belfast services.

At present the to operations have continued as separate companies, however the new combined structure

The report indicates that the Norse Merchant brand will be launched in October. Commenting on the plans, managing director Philip Shepherd said, 

A new computer system is to be introduced throughout the group, and this should be in place across the board by October, said Mr. Shepherd. As for possible job rationalisation, Mr. Shepherd indicated that there is not a lot of slack in any part of the business and there are not going to be great opportunities for rationalisation. I don't see any major losses.

The company hopes that by the third quarter of 2001 the Twelve Quays river terminal at Birkenhead will be operational. When this is achieved the company intends to increase the frequency of day-time sailings on the Belfast route from three sailings to five sailings. Eventually departures every six hours are planned.

The commenting on the question of possible effects of the Merseyside changes on the service operated from Heysham, Mr. Shepherd said:  "We don't foresee any changes. Indeed, we have recently
commissioned our second linkspan berth in Dublin. This will enable us to immediately offer significant schedule improvements, particularly on sailings between Heysham and Dublin. "We are out in the market now, listening to customers and finding out how they foresee the structure of services in the future. "We will respond to their requirements but routes must be viable."


STENA EXPLORER: The vessel appears to have run into trouble when leaving Holyhead on Sunday June 11.

As the HSS approached the breakwater, passing the Rio Tinto jetty, the ship collided with some floating debris which were ingested in the inboard starboard waterjet.  The captain attempted to dislodge it by reversing the craft, but this failed.  

The ship proceeded on three engines arriving at Dún Laoghaire one hour behind schedule. On Arrival at Dún Laoghaire divers were summoned to inspect the damage. 

By Thursday 15 June, the craft was still running on 3 engines, the 16:05 HSS sailing from Dun Laoghaire was delayed by 1 hour 45 minutes and more onboard vibration than usual is reported to be present.

All HSS sailings on Monday June 19  have been cancelled to enable engineers can rectify the problem.  Intending passengers will be transferred to Stena Line's conventional ferry "Stena Challenger" or Irish Ferries "Dublin Swift" sailings and are advised to contact Stena Line, on 0990 70 70 70 (01 204 7799 in the Republic of Ireland).


GULFSTREAM's vessel FRANCOISE  was reported out in the bay off Rosslare on June 14. The vessel then docked at the #2 ramp after the morning ferry departures. Cattle trucks were then tested on the ramp.

The new freight service got underway  on Thursday, 15 June 2000, with the first sailing to Brest, undertaken by the FRANCOISE. This vessel has two freight decks, the top deck is open, ideal for carrying livestock trucks. The ship has 5 vehicle lanes on each deck, she is not fitted with bow doors.

On June 17 it was reported that FRANCOISE had developed engine trouble and was running behind schedule arriving at Rosslare at 16:00


ISLE OF INNISFREE was reported fog bound in Pembroke docks on June 16, 2000. All freight, cars, coaches and passengers were diverted to Stena Line's Fishguard to Rosslare services operated by KONINGIN BEATRIX and STENA LYNX III.

ISLE OF INNISFREE 's delayed early morning sailing from Pembroke eventually arrived at 12:50  with 65 units of freight, the vessel docked at No1 Berth, and stayed and then remained on the berth to take up the 21:30 sailing back to Pembroke.


At 18:30 on June 14 the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) along with many other organisation commenced Exercise "Undaunted" in the Western Approaches to the North Channel between Malin Head (Republic of Ireland) and Benmore Head.

The Exercise is to test the operational liaison between the Maritime Rescue Centres at Belfast and Malin and the deployment of appropriate land, sea and air facilities. HM Coastguard and the Irish Coast Guard will jointly address the complex issues stemming from a developing distress situation at sea.

The scenario  began when an explosion causes a fire in the galley of the 54ft fishing vessel `Undaunted’ from Greencastle with 12 sea anglers on board. The fire soon spread to the engine room, the vessel started to flood.  The Skipper then abandoned the vessel into 3 liferafts. After the initial mayday from the Skipper no further communication would be possible. The original location co-ordinates from the Skipper, giving a position in the Irish Sea, turn out to be inaccurate due to faulty equipment.

Meanwhile a 10m fishing vessel, 0.5 miles north east of Sheep Island suffers engine failure due to the water trap and fuel filters being water logged. The lift pumps are also choked with dirt, and with the weather deteriorating, the Skipper alerts the Coastguard.

MCA Regional Inspector Brett Cunningham commented:

"Maritime Search and Rescue often requires an international response that is not restricted by boundaries or borders. The success of a Search and Rescue Mission depends on the speed with which the operation is planned and carried out. Immediate decisions on the best course of action and the timely activation of rescue facilities are critical to the success of the response."

"The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (UK) and the Irish Coast Guard are fully committed to this concept and to that end intend to jointly exercise their co-ordinating roles during this major exercise."

This multi-agency response will also include the Irish Army; the Northern Ireland Health Service; the Northern Ireland Fire Service; the Royal Air Force; the Royal National Lifeboat Institute; the Royal Ulster Constabulary; and the British Red Cross.

The exercise will ran until 23:00 on June 14 and lessons learned will be applied to Search and Rescue (SAR) procedures to increase proficiency and emergency services co-operation.


At 10:53am on Wednesday June 14,  Liverpool Coastguard were alerted to an incident where a light aircraft, on route form Isle of Man to Liverpool’s Speke Airport with five people on board, had ditched 700 yards off the edge of the runway during high tide and landed in the River Mersey.

Liverpool Coastguard immediately co-ordinated Coastguard Rescue Teams from Hoylake, Crosby and rescue boats form County and Southport to the scene, and requested launch of New Brighton and Hoylake RNLI lifeboats.

Two rescue helicopters form RAF Valley were scrambled to the scene to join the Police helicopter `Mike 1’ and the Police diving unit from Runcorn. 

The aircraft crashed into the Mersey at 140 mph, just one-third of a mile short of Liverpool Airport's runway. On board the air ambulance was patient Stephen Charlton, from Douglas, Isle of Man, and his wife Lynn. Mr Charlton was being transferred to the Walton Neurological Centre at Fazakerley Hospital, after suffering a stroke last week. He was cared for on the journey by a 37-year-old staff nurse and a 21-year-old female medical student who also perished. The pilot of the twin-engine Piper Navajo Chieftain, 58-year-old Keith Whyham, from Blackpool was also killed. 

The wreckage of the plane was retrieved by barge and will be taken away by air accident investigators to assist in the determination of the causes of the crash.


Work has continued on preparing the moorings for the visit to the River Mersey of the or the aircraft carrier [through deck cruiser] HMS INVINCIBLE which is due to arrive on Merseyside  on June 22. Two weeks ago the Moor Class mooring lighter MOORFOWL [Y33] had been working on the moorings. This week on Thursday SALMOOR [A185]a SAL class Mooring and Salvage vessel was noted at work, she was also at work on Sunday morning June 18. The SAL class vessels are multipurpose vessels designed to lay and maintain underwater targets, navigation marks and moorings.

Work to prepare the moorings for use has now involved three vessel, MD&HC's MERSEY MAMMOTH, MOORFOWL and SALMOOR. One wonders if, that given all the work involved the moorings will remain in position so as to facilitate the river mooring of large Naval vessels in the future?


On the evening of Saturday, June 24 the "Sacking of Baltimore" is to be re-enacted by the inhabitants of the attractive West Cork village.

In 1631 a fleet of Algerian pirate ships sailed into Baltimore and kidnapped 100 citizens, taking them to the slave markets of Northern Africa. The script for the re-enactment which involves 40 villagers has been written by Garda officer Patrick Flaherty.


The replica 18th Century Royal Navy 22 gun frigate GRAND TURK which starred as Hornblower's "INDEFATIGABLE" in the TV series had its departure from Fort William, Scotland delayed by 36 hours due to adverse conditions earlier this week. However, she arrived at Bangor, Co Down on Thursday June 15

The Belfast Telegraph reports that the spectacular vessel,  was welcomed by King Neptune, and characters in costume accompanied by music celebrated the occasion.

The ship, which helped the ITV drama series Hornblower to Grammy success, will play a vital role in a conservation project, raising £5m for the National Trust's Neptune Coastline Campaign during a 14-port circumnavigation of the UK.

The aim of the campaign is to protect our coastline for the enjoyment of everyone.

The National Trust owns over 60 miles of the Northern Ireland coastline, including much of the spectacular scenery of the north coast.

Communication officer Gary Hewitt revealed it cost the Trust £45 to purchase a single foot of coastline.

"We also employ hundreds of wardens around the UK, ensuring that scenery and habitats aren't damaged, that wildlife is protected and that, as far as is possible, the public can enjoy access to the coast," he said.

The Grand Turk will open from 10am to 5pm daily until Sunday. Admission is £4 for adults, £2 for children, and £10 for a family of two adults and up to three children. Her next port of call will be Liverpool where she is expected to arrive on June 24.

Back Home Up Next

June 11


I have received notice from that my web site will be transferred in the very near future from 1 Way Internet to Net Gates, another Bristol based internet provider. Documentation and a telephone conversation  suggests that as far as users and site owners are concerned the transfer should be transparent. A conversation with their technical department revealed that their server carries two mirror back ups so should the worst come to the worst there is adequate backup for the system and hopefully there should be no down time. I am mentioning this so called transparent transfer just in the eventuality that something does go wrong and users find themselves unable to get in to the web site! Should there be any technical problems I will post details on the uk.transport.ferry news group and e-mail any regular contacts.

M&ISS Weekly Page Views (Last 5 Weeks)







Week 23 of 2000

Week 22 of 2000

Week 21 of 2000

Week 20 of 2000

Week 19 of 2000


The table below shows the access graph for Mersey and Irish Sea Shipping ending at 15:00 on Sunday June 11, 2000. Once again the access record has been broken. The highest number of weekly accesses had stood at 826 recorded in March. Since then the figure has fluctuated between the low seven hundreds and low eight hundreds. A dip was recorded in weeks 21 and 22 which would be partly due to the fact the site was not always accessible due to the problems with the ISP server, the week 22 dip similar access problems were noted on my return from Ireland combined with the usual bank holiday week dip. With summer holidays approaching I would not imagine any more access records being broken until the early autumn, however, the next target will be 1000 per week.  


For some months a map of all the M&ISS graphic sites has been available and accessible from the graphics menu. I have now extended the facility to a full site map which can be accessed from several locations including the front page. I hope users find this useful in enabling them to move around and find everything which is on the site. Any problems, please let me know.


There has been a slight change to the update schedule since it was posted last week, due to work commitments. This effects the first mid week update in July. 

As scheduled, there will be no mid week update this Wednesday June 14. The next updates will be Sunday June 18 and Wednesday June 21.

Once again thanks for all the messages received this week. If you have not had a response, please e-mail again. Sometimes, the volume of messages causes replies to be accidentally missed.

John Luxton

June 11, 2000

Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Adrian Sweeney, John Shepherd, Stuart Cameron and "others".


Monitoring Mersey Marine Frequencies on Sunday evening revealed that a fire had broken out at the Tranmere Oil Tanker Cleaning Berth situated is south of the Tranmere Oil Terminal. Mersey Inshore Rescue boats were reported in attendance along with the Wijsmuller tug OAKGARTH which had employed its fire monitor on the blaze. Another Wijsmuller tug YEWGARTH which appeared to be berthed at Tranmere also offered assistance. Merseyside Fire Brigade were also reported to be in attendance.



At the annual meeting of shareholders held in New York on June 6, James B. Sherwood, President of Sea Containers Ltd.  said that the company was considering a plan to sell a $250 million amortizing bond to a U.K. financial institution secure d by the cash flows of its Irish Sea ferry business and to use the proceeds to retire public debt at a significant discount. He said that the company might additionally give investors the opportunity to swap common shares for debt. Provided the debt could be acquired at a sufficient discount to par, the company would consider retiring all of the $550 million of outstanding public debt. He noted that these plans were being considered in light of exceptional concerns expressed by bondholders about the probable spin-off of Orient-Express shares following an initial public offering planned in July. "I can appreciate that debt holders see Sea Containers’ earnings declining if Orient-Express is spun off. I would point out, however, that from your Board’s viewpoint a substantial amount of new cash is coming into Sea Containers as a result of the IPO and both container and passenger transport earnings should in due course make up for the loss of profits from Orient-Express Hotels," Mr. Sherwood said.

In reviewing the company’s operations, Mr. Sherwood indicated that earnings from the company’s marine container leasing activities should rise quarter by quarter this year, starting with the second quarter, but would probably not surpass those of 1999 until 2001 and thereafter. Passenger transport operating profits might be down relative to the 1999 results due to higher fuel prices this year and a decline in English Channel ferry volumes caused by higher fares. Fares had to be increased because of loss of profits due to cessation of duty free sales. Effective July 1, 1999 The European Union prohibited duty free sales to persons moving between member countries. He noted that the company hoped to offset these declines by profits from the sale of some of its U.K. port interests this year. Earnings from GNER should be much higher in 2001 and 2002 because there will be only a very small subsidy reduction while volumes and prices should continue to increase.

Before the initial public offering of Orient-Express Hotels, a special general meeting of Sea Containers shareholders will be held to vote on resolutions which will facilitate the spin-off of the company’s shares in Orient-Express Hotels to Sea Containers shareholders in 2001. The spin-off would be subject to various consents and the opinion of the company’s tax advisors that such a spin-off would not be taxable to the U. S. recipients.

Mr. Sherwood stressed that while a spin-off of Orient-Express Hotels would cause a dilution of Sea Containers’ earnings from leisure in the second half of the year, he felt that the benefit of new capital coming into the company from the sale of Orient-Express Hotels shares would offset such dilution.

The U.K. government has indicated its intention to decide in July on the company’s application for a new 20-year rail franchise, Mr. Sherwood said. The revised application for the franchise is to be submitted on June 26. The current franchise expires in 2003.

Sea Containers will maintain its existing dividend policy and review it once the initial public offering of Orient-Express Hotels is completed.


The company apparently made something of a mistake when sponsoring straw bales for the Isle of Man TT Races. The bales displayed the incorrect dialling code for the UK telephone booking service.

LADY OF MANN - With the TT Festival drawing to a close, the Lady will undertake a number of special excursions this coming week.

Tuesday 13 June

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

Wednesday 14 June

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

Thursday 15 June 

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

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

Friday 16 June

Warrenpoint to IOM 09:30 returning  IOM to Warrenpoint 19:30

Saturday, June 17

Round the Island depart Douglas 19:00 return 23:00

Work unfortunately precludes my participation in the weekday sailings, however,  JHL will be on board the LADY OF MANN on June 17 and a Voyage Report of the "Round the Island" will appear in due course. I also look forward to meeting up with some M&ISS readers. 

TT OBSERVATIONS by Adrian Sweeney

My trip to the IOM on Thursday was most pleasant if a little crowded on the way back. The Lady of Man's early morning sailing from Douglas (07.45) only got to Heysham at after mid-day so the sheer volume of traffic had delayed her. 

The Ben also arrived half an hour late but we did leave on time for Douglas at 14.15. The Lady had left Heysham light as soon as she could and when we arrived in Douglas at 17.45 she was busily loading for her 19.30 sailing. 

I was on that sailing. She left 45 minutes late( the Ben left first) and we had over 500 bikes and over 600 passengers on board. It was still a pleasant sail though. The SSC3 was observed entering Douglas again light from Liverpool as she had done on the Wednesday.


Some reports suggest that former IoMSPCo turbine steamer Manxman has been sold.  Further details are not yet known


This week's Manx Independent carries the story that a one hour documentary is to be made for a UK broadcaster which will investigate the dangers of the TT. The documentary is provisionally titled "TT Experience: Right or Wrong" and is due for screening on terrestrial TV after the 2001 TT.

The focus of the documentary which is being produced by Brian Kreisky of the Isle of Man based Videovision Broadcast will be consideration of whether the races  are too dangerous for modern-day bikes. 

Despite claims that it will be impartial, the documentary will not be looked on in a kindly light by biking enthusiasts and it will obviously be of great concern to shipping enthusiasts as well. Whilst some ship enthusiasts may very well follow the TT Races themselves others with little interest in the motor cycles certainly  welcome the added variety and intensive services offered by the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company over the TT Races period. 

If a subsequent outcry into the TT Festival were to result in curtailment or cancellation of the Festival it could have a significant effect on the pleasures of not just those interested in the motor cycle races but also ship enthusiasts as well. With most of the visitors to the TT Festival travelling by sea a reduction in revenue could result in effects being felt by travellers at other times of the year. 


EGREMONT - On Saturday June 10, the Daily Post newspaper revealed that the future of the former Wallasey Ferries vessel is looking a little uncertain. Unlike the ROYAL IRIS the EGREMONT has enjoyed a happy retirement since her withdrawal from service in 1975.

After removal of her engines, she was sold to the Island Cruising Club of Salcombe, Devon, just a few miles from her birth place at the Philip of Dartmouth yard, for further use as a floating club house offering both residential and social facilities. 

Unfortunately, the club is facing hefty costs when her next certification is due in 2002.  As the vessel is  unpowered costs are incurred not only for repairs but also for towage. 

The future of the EGREMONT will be discussed at the AGM of the Island Cruising Club next week. A club spokesman has already stated that they would be interested to hear from any potential purchasers. 

JHL'S COMMENT: Only earlier last week, it was announced that part of the MD&HC scheme for redeveloping the Salisbury/Clarence/Waterloo/Trafalgar Docks area would feature a vessel offering hotel accommodation berthed in one of the Clarence Graving Docks. Given that the fact that the EGREMONT is equipped with both cabins and a bar - perhaps this is the ideal vessel for the development?


The WSS Merseyside Branch AGM and Member's Slide Evening will take place on Tuesday June 13 at 19:30. The meeting will be held at SAM'S BAR in Tithebarn Street, NOT the James Parsons Lecture Theatre at the JMU.


The "Trip Out Guide 1999/2000- A guide to the passenger boat services of the British Isles" is a publication well known to many enthusiasts, providing information on operators and their fleets covering the whole passenger vessel scene. 

Geoff Hamer, the author/publisher has now issued a Year 2000 supplement which includes updated information. The supplement costs 80p inc. P&P whilst the Trip Out Guide including supplement costs £4.85 inc P&P. Copies can be obtained from Geoff Hamer at PO Box 1287, London, W4 3LG.


The Isle of Man Government has signed a contract with Scaldis Salvage and Marine Contractors of Belgium to raise the wreck of the scallop dredger SOLWAY HARVESTER which was lost in adverse conditions on January 11 with the loss of her seven man crew. Though their bodies were recovered shortly after the tragedy weather conditions hampered the raising of the vessel. 


GRANUAILE II, the former CIL tender, replaced by a new state of the art vessel GRANUAILE in February 2000, appears to have been sold. She was noted at Dublin, berthed at the South Wall, just inside the East Link Bridge on Monday May 29. [Left] 

However, Stuart Cameron reports that she is now at the Richards Shipyard at Great Yarmouth [right]. Her names have been burned off and considerable other work is now in hand. Does anyone know she has been acquired by? Her pleasing lines with clipper style bow, suggest she could be ideal for conversion. into a luxury passenger vessel or private yacht. 


WAVERLEY: Stuart Cameron wrote to the Scot Ships news group this week:

Most of you will know by now that Waverley will not return to service until 18th August and having visited the ship I can well appreciate the reason for the delay. Simply, this is such a big one off job that nobody really realised the extent of work to be done. However, although later than hoped, I'm sure the final product will be worth waiting for. Prior is a relatively small company but what they may lack is size of resources they make up in enthusiasm for the task, determination to get things as good as they can be and quality of workmanship.

We spent a lot of time on the ship -still looking very sorry for herself in mainly red oxide paint, although the first black paint has just appeared on the hull at the waterline astern where the new draught marks indicate that she is drawing about 4 feet at present. There is no aft deck shelter - or at least there wasn't one on Saturday, but the structure was due to get lifted aboard on Monday 5th so watch the Rebuild diary at Martin Longhurst's web page for that event. Readers will be glad to know that the structure in aluminium will have the same 'wings' on the upper deck as the original - at
one time it was feared that they may have to be excluded to save top weight. The deck shelter will be painted in brown wood grain in July like it was in 1947 - might take a bit of getting used to. On Saturday, standing right aft on the promenade deck, with no deck shelter and no funnels Waverley looked like a strange kind of mini aircraft carrier! Very incongruously, the fine wooden stairway made by Tony Horne a few years ago still rises up from the from of the dining saloon - or where the dining saloon will be - to fresh air on the promenade deck. A new stairway now rises from the middle of the dining saloon to the open promenade deck aft to meet fire escape requirements. Just aft of it a 'dumb waiter' has taken up residence to convey meals from the new servery down a deck to the new lower dining saloon - a welcome extra space for busy days. All the stairs are being rebuild in steel but will be wood covered and you shouldn't know the difference in the end.

The boilers are well established in their new home now and main steam valves etc have been fitted. Ian MacMillan is inventing a new hood to try to keep noise from the forced draught fan motors to a minimum. The re-location of the bunkers from two side tanks to a single awthwartships tank should assist in making the retention of trim / stability easier. As a result of the boiler room rearrangement the forward access door has moved from the port side casing to the casing facing the entrance to the crew accommodation. The task of reassembling the engine has now begun. Ian told us that the misalignment found in the engine was an almost unbelievable 1.25 inches! He reckons that this couldn't have come from simple wear and tear and must be due in part to the 'Gantocks' in 1977 and possibly earlier groundings.

In the joiners shop we saw some very impressive examples of new furniture being assembled - none of your MFI kit stuff here. Aboard the intricate pattern of deck planking on the sponson tops looks truly magnificent.


Ferguson's of Port Glasgow faces a bleak future after losing out on a Ministry of Defence contract to build two survey vessels according to press reports. 

Staff at Ferguson's have been informed that the order for the survey vessels has been awarded to Appledore of Devon.

The contract was crucial to the future of the Port Glasgow yard as the company's  order book is empty when the new Caledonian MacBrayne ferry, HEBRIDES, is completed.

The survey ship contract would have provided work for the next three years for Ferguson's.


Nuclear fuel carrier PACIFIC SANDPIPER was noted in Cammell Laird's [Formerly Wright & Bayer's] Bidston Dry Dock which she visited earlier this year. She departed from Birkenhead on Sunday afternoon, June 11.


Coiste An Asgard operators of the sail training ship ASGARD II now have a new web site. It can be found at and contains all the latest news and information about the vessel.


The Belfast Telegraph reported on Saturday that  Harland and Wolff's bid to win a £240m-plus contract to build up to six ferries for Ministry of Defence use is back in the melting pot.

However, the Belfast firm, one of the UK yards seeking to land the deal, will have to await the outcome of a fresh tendering process due to finish on July 8.

The strategic sea-lift project - involving privately-owned merchant roll-on, roll-off ferries on contract to the MoD for military operations over the next 20 years - is being revised.

The MoD has asked the four consortium chasing the lucrative order - which could be worth £1bn over the full term - to re-submit bids.

An Office of Fair Trading ruling and other factors changed the nature of Whitehall's assessment.

This week H&W - which is desperate to win new contracts to keep it afloat - announced that it was to shed almost 300 jobs.

There was controversy in March when it emerged the six ships - which are intended to give the armed forces new capacity to transport equipment - could be built abroad because European, especially German, yards were offering lower prices.

Although the details of the Ministry's requirement for the ships has not altered, the new factors led to a fresh assessment about the implications of formal bids.

A senior official said that reports that the Clyde's Govan yard had already been earmarked for the order had "done a disservice to others".

And, speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, he insisted that "there has been no decision". "The circumstances in UK shipyards have changed," said the source.

Among the new elements is H&W's announcement of a separate ro-ro ferry contract, which could impact on the workload of the Belfast design team, and a ruling, after the merger of BAe Systems, that Govan should be available to all the consortiums for construction of the ships.

The source could not say if the consortiums had been aware before the formal tenders of the ruling, which obliges Govan to offer "fair and reasonable" terms to all the consortiums wanting to place orders.

The Ministry maintains that, despite the delayed decision, it still plans to make the final decision on the construction contract within the next few months.

Officials emphasise that it will be based chiefly on achieving "value for money" and protecting taxpayers' interests.

Back Home Up Next

June 7


Apologies, that this evening's update is a little behind schedule. Please ensure you check out the "What's New" page to find all the latest updates. Finally I have provided two links from the main menu bar to two "Yahoo!" shipping discussion clubs - "Ferries in Focus" and "Ships & The Sea".

Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews and "others"


The floating terminal PONTUS was noted at Langton Dock recently, though little exterior work appeared to have been done by last Saturday morning. The shuttering from her windows has now been removed as have the protrusions from her sides which were obviously used for some anchoring arrangements. However, she still wears Silja Line livery. 


MOORFOWL [Y33] a Moor Class mooring lighter has been an unusual visitor to Merseyside during the past few days. MOORFOWL, built by Mc Tay Marine, is usually based at Devonport Dockyard. However, she has ventured north to Merseyside to complete the installation of moorings for the aircraft carrier [through deck cruiser] HMS INVINCIBLE which is due to visit Merseyside later this month. 


Annual Mersey River Festival runs from June 16 to 21. Full details can be found at the Mersey Tourism web site


Further details have been unveiled for proposals to redevelop the Central Dock area. 

The £200m development  will provide for a 21st Century living and working environment. There will be provision of luxury apartments, bars, cafés and workplaces some of it accommodated in historic dockside buildings. It is proposed that a ship will be berthed in one of the Clarence Docks to provide a 100 bed hotel.

The Liverpool Echo claims that the vessel will be a "cruise liner" anyone familiar with the Clarence Dry Docks will realise that they would not be able to accommodate anything nearly so big!

In Salisbury Dock and Collingwood Docks there will be a marina, with a water sports facility provided in the adjacent Nelson Dock. Furthermore a through waterway will be provided between Trafalgar Dock and Waterloo Dock despite the fact that much of the original dock area in this vicinity has been in filled in recent years. The historic six sided Victoria Clock at the Salisbury River Entrance is to be fully restored. 

The published plans look quite attractive and hopefully the scheme, funded by both public and private investment, will be a success. 

JHL's COMMENT: One should bear in mind that the Trafalgar Dock, once occupied by B&I Line, would have made an ideal location for marshalling area for the Liverpool ro/ro berth had the location not run into opposition. This investment mirrors that undertaken at the Albert Dock and adjacent areas in the mid 1980s. Whilst this has proved to be quite successful in terms of housing museums, visitor attractions, wine bars and various eateries, retail outlets have not always thrived, evidenced by the continuing large numbers of vacant retail outlets available for letting. 



On Sunday June 4, Liverpool Coastguard co-ordinated a search for the FELINIA a 26ft catamaran missing 12 miles north west of the Isle of Man.  A call was received at around 05:15 after a pan call was intercepted by Douglas Harbour control, followed by a brief call on a mobile phone to Belfast Coastguard. All communications with the vessel were then lost. The vessel was believed to be taking water on her starboard side.

On receipt of the call Liverpool Coastguard immediately requested Peel and Donaghadee Lifeboats along with Port Erin Inshore Lifeboat to begin a search for FELINIA.  In addition, rescue helicopter 177 from Prestwick and rescue helicopter 122 from RAF Valley proceeded to the scene  the P&O vessel "EUROPEAN PIONEER’’ is acted as on scene commander.

The catamaran was located off Millin Bay, Northern Ireland. The skipper of the vessel called the Coastguard on channel 16 at 08:30 to report that he was in a dangerous position and still taking on water.

A pump was lowered to the helicopter from rescue helicopter 122 enabling the catamaran to make it to the shore. The Donaghadee Lifeboat  escorted the catamaran to Strangford Loch and the Portoferry Lifeboat brought her in.


On Sunday June 4 Falmouth coastguard  received a distress call from the fishing vessel ANTHONY STEVENSON, one of the Stevenson fleet of trawlers based at Newlyn at 09:45. It was reported that  the vessel was taking water and that its engine room was flooded. There were three crew on board the light grey 75 ft fishing vessel which was just off the Isles of Scilly.

Falmouth Coastguard requested a helicopter with a pump on board from RNAS Culdrose to go to the scene, along with the St Mary's Lifeboat. A broadcast was also put out for all vessels in the area to proceed to the scene to assist if they could.

Simon Whiteley, Falmouth Coastguard Watch Manager said:

"The rescue helicopter and lifeboat placed pumps on board the vessel and it was pumped out. The vessel was towed to Newlyn, by its sister vessel JACQUELINE STEVENSON. St Mary’s Lifeboat  escorted the two vessels as far as Wolf Rock where Penlee Lifeboat relieved her and escort the two into harbour. Conditions have been favourable for the operation, with light north westerly winds, a slight sea and good visibility.


The Belfast Telegraph reported this week that 280 Harland & Wolf workers are to get their redundancy notices. 

Although the shipyard has secured a provisional ropax order worth £300m from Seamasters, and has signed a letter of intent with Luxus Holdings for a £240m cruise ship deal, it still faces a shortfall in demand for work in the short term.

A Harland & Wolff spokesman said: "We have sought to accommodate where possible requests for voluntary severance in order to minimise the number of compulsory redundancies.

"Hence the majority of those who are going are taking voluntary redundancy and all those who are leaving are receiving pay in lieu of notice.

"We have been in discussion with the trade unions, shop stewards committee and the individuals concerned and regret the need to take this step, but it is the only way we can manage the impending gap in production.

"As we announced some time ago, it is necessary to reduce the workload from 1,300 to 1,000 which is what we need to fulfill the ropax contract." In March, a total of 1,750 workers at H&W - almost the entire workforce - was put on protective notice because there was no sign of a major order being secured.

Now that new business is in the pipeline, and the programme of 280 redundancies has been agreed, the notices which were issued to the rest of the workforce are being rescinded.

Even if the ropax contract is firmed up within the next few weeks, it will be towards the end of this year or the start of next before steel-cutting starts in the fabrication areas at the yard.

While concentrating its efforts on finalising the two major orders, H&W is also seeking smaller scale contracts to tide the yard over until the bigger contracts come on stream.

June 4


I have returned after visiting Ireland this week with most Maritime objectives for the trip attained. Weather was rather mixed. However, I have gathered quite a lot of new material for the web site. This will be posted over the next few updates to equalise the amount of work required. To commence with this update there are two photo features on Ireland's two new Tall Ships. 

On Wednesday there should be two illustrated Voyage Reports - Merchant Ferries DAWN MERCHANT and RNLB ANNA LIVIA.

Finally an apology. Last week I accidentally routed the link to Peter Westhead's picture of OCEAN BREEZE = ex Shaw Savill's Southern Cross, directly to the picture rather than the page. This has now been corrected.

Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Adrian Sweeney, Brian Chambers, Alan Lee, Joe Butler and "others"


The annual pilgrimage of bikers heading to the Isle of Man TT races has started as riders prepare for the first festival of the new millennium.

The worlds’ most famous motorcycle road racing event is now in its 93rd year (began 1907). As always the vast majority of bike fans and their machines travel to the races through the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company, a subsidiary of Sea Containers’ Irish Sea Operations.

Hamish Ross, Managing Director of Sea Containers’ Irish Sea Operations said: “The Steam Packet, its ferries and staff, play a vital role in the success of the annual Tourist Trophy Motorcycle Festival, not only in bringing competitors and fans to the island, but also as a proud and generous sponsor of related events. Last year we carried 34,000 passengers and more than 12,600 motorcycles in the TT period with around 300 sailings throughout the festival fortnight.”

Motorbikes and associated support staff and vehicles will be carried to and from the Isle of Man from the Sea Containers owned Port of Heysham as well as from Liverpool Pier Head, Dublin and Belfast.

Simon Mills, Marine Operations Manager and an avid collector of Ducati and Triumph motorbikes added: “This year we are expecting to carry around 14,000 motorcycles and will be using six vessels – which includes both fast ferries and conventional ships. The busiest day is Friday 9th June with up to 14 inward sailings to the island. Every year presents a fresh challenge in the way we carry the bikes. As a keen motorcyclist myself – I already own 12 – I am all too aware of the need to look after some very valuable hardware. Our deck crews on board each vessel undergo special training to ensure they can tie down the motorcycles very quickly. This ensures a fast turnaround as each vessel will be in constant use throughout the TT period. Each car deck is fitted with purpose built padded barriers to improve the securing during the TT period. We are constantly striving to find new ways of speeding up the securing process.”

The Isle of Man Steam Packet Company is a major sponsor to a unique exhibition during the 2000 TT Festival.

The Joey Dunlop Exhibition 2000 will be held at the Island’s Summerland complex from 1st June until 10th June.

During this period members of the public will be presented with a unique opportunity to view the many trophies and memorabilia won over many years by 23 times TT Winner Joey Dunlop and to meet the great man himself.

Steam Packet Managing Director, Hamish Ross will officially open the exhibition on Thursday 1st June.

Admission to the exhibition is £5.00 with accompanied children free and is open daily excluding TT Race days.


Some observations on the first week of TT. I have sailed on 3 days this week, Sunday, Wednesday and Friday. 

Generally speaking the first week of the Steam Packet's busiest period seems to have run reasonably according to plan. The LADY OF MANN OF MANN is very busy and on the 3 occasions I have sailed on her this week she has carried 390, 506 and 498 motor bikes and it has been the same on all the other sailings including the 02:00 sailings. On Friday the 14:00 sailing was carrying over 900 passengers and although delayed because of the heavy loading, only leaving Heysham at 14:45 she made up time and was berth to berth in 3 hours 4 minutes. 

All crew from the bridge downwards are extremely busy but the whole operation is being conducted in a thoroughly professional and cheerful manner. The officers and crew have been doing very well to get the ship out on time despite the huge numbers of bikes and passengers and once boarded the Customer Service Supervisor and his assistants have been doing a fine job looking after them all, many of them of course not being British.

The ship herself is running very well despite her long layoff. One or two "tweakings" have been needed with the port fin and the variable pitch of the propellers but nothing untoward has happened to impede her working to full capacity. There is also optimism on board that the Company will upgrade her to the new SOLAS regulations. 

The only gripe about the service of the LADY OF MANN is that Heysham Port are once again using the silly coach method to take foot passengers the 200 yards to the ship. This is security and safety gone stupid. The coach is a disgraceful way to board the foot passengers; they are crowded like cattle on an old bus when it would be far more comfortable, dignified and, dare I say it, safe to walk the tiny distance. Of course the crew of the LADY OF MANN have no say in this operation. It is entirely down to the Security people at Heysham. Where would we be without them! (Not on a stupid coach, that's for sure)

The BEN-MY-CHREE has also been running well. She has been doing her share of the TT traffic though of course her capacity is needed more for the regular freight. On Friday her 14:15 sailing carried over 400 passengers and because the LADY OF MANN was delayed she sailed first. The LADY OF MANN sailed 10 minutes later and arrived at Douglas about 5 minutes behind her, both vessels docking about the same time, the BEN-MY-CHREE at the Edward Pier while the LADY OF MANN has been using her usual berth on the north side of Victoria. It has been noted that the observation deck on the BEN-MY-CHREE is closed off for evening and night sailings, the reason being the crew accommodation is underneath and some may be off duty asleep. 

It is disappointing that this problem cannot be solved to everyone's satisfaction with perhaps the laying of soundproof deck cladding on the observation deck. As the starboard side open deck down the steps is now always crew only, presumably again because it is next to the crew's cafe, then for these sailings there is less open deck space than when the ship first appeared and was so heavily slated by all and sundry. It is no use the company taking the plaudits for improving the vessel if these improvements are only there half the time.

The rest of the fleet have also been working flat out. SUPERSEACAT THREE has been doing the evening sailing as per timetable and the SEACAT ISLE OF MAN has been the mainstay of Liverpool and Dublin. SUPERSEACAT TWO has taken several Belfast to Douglas sailings as well. 

The only incident to report concerns the SUPERSEACAT TWO. It seems that on Thursday afternoon and evening services were disrupted by high winds and rough seas. This had a knock on effect on the Friday. What made matters worse was that on the Thursday evening the SUPERSEACAT TWO, presumably trying to make up time approached Douglas harbour entrance too quickly managed to slow down but was then caught by her own wash and was flung about with considerable force. It is reported that over 50 motorbikes are now an insurance matter.

Nevertheless the Company and it's people have done well during the first week and in the best traditions of the Steam Packet are moving thousands of bikes and people speedily and efficiently.


STENA GALLOWAY was noted to be bow-in at Stena's lay-up berth at Belfast during her daytime "rest" on May 31  (she always sits with her bow pointing to the Lough as opposed to the city). 

(The 'Galloway and 'Caledonia day about get about 11 hours off - something that will end when the Larne route re-opens).  On closer inspection it was noted that one of her life boats had been removed from her starboard side and was sitting under what can only be described as a tent on the quayside.  

Gary Andrews writes: Stena's Larne conventional ferry service is due to re-open on 1 September.

From their point of view it would probably be better sooner - these days each vessel only operates two roundtrips per 24 hours.

Then again they don't have the traffic for more sailings...and they need to time what sailings they do have to pick up maximum traffic with the result the vessels sit doing nothing for long stretches at a time - the worst being the 05.30 Belfast arrival - doesn't depart Belfast until 17.45!!

(The 08.00 ex Belfast and 12.30 ex Stranraer roundtrip was cancelled a number of months ago due to hideously bad traffic levels).


MERCHANT VENTURE - went to the aid of the 45ft motor cruiser MAGNUM on the afternoon of June 1. The cruiser made a distress call which was picked up by Belfast Coastguard from a position 10 miles south west of the southern tip of the Mull of Galloway.

 After a position had been given all communications with the vessel were lost. The Coastguard then relayed the mayday and the roll-on-roll-off ferry MERCHANT VENTURE responded and went immediately to the scene. It reported to the Coastguard that MAGNUM was sinking and that the three people on board had taken to their liferaft.

Belfast Coastguard Watch Manager Steve Palmer said: "After relaying the mayday message we immediately requested assistance from rescue helicopter 177 from Prestwick and Portpatrick and Donaghadee Lifeboats. They went straight to the scene and after an assessment of the situation it was decided that the three people would be winched from their liferaft and airlifted to hospital. By 2.30 pm the three were on board the helicopter and on their way to Cross House Hospital in Kilmarnock, Scotland for medical checks. There was a moderate sea on scene with south to south-westerly Force 4-5 winds."


ROTTERDAM - the luxury cruise ship berthed at Belfast on Saturday June 3. She became the largest passenger vessel to berth at the port for the past 40 years since the launch of the CANBERRA.

The local press claim that the arrival of ROTTERDAM just days after the restoration of the Executive at Stormont - marked the start of an estimated £2m spin-off bonanza for the local economy.

ROTTERDAM is the first of eight cruise liners bound for Belfast during summer 2000. Each visit is expected to generate around £250,000 for local traders.

Belfast's new Lord Mayor, Sammy Wilson - undertaking his first official duty since his election on Thursday - boarded the ship shortly after it berthed at the Stormont Dock to welcome the crew and passengers to the city and present the captain with the city's Coat of Arms.

The ship boats ten passenger decks, two swimming pools, one of which features a sliding glass dome, six lounges, three restaurants, a casino, theatre library as well as a £2m art collection.

The mainly American passengers have paid around $25,000 each for the two week cruise which has taken in Spain, Portugal and Dublin.

On Friday evening ROTTERDAM was noted moving astern out of Alexandra Basin, Dublin and despite poor weather conditions, it is hoped that at least one photograph taken from near berth 49 should appear on M&ISS in due course. Unfortunately low light levels precluded the use of the digital camera.


Reports in the local press this week indicate that the freight train operator English, Welsh & Scottish Railways [EWS] is undertaking a feasibility study in conjunction with the Mersey Docks and Harbour Company, Rail Track and Wirral Council into the reopening of part of the Birkenhead Dock railway system.

The Birkenhead Dock railway system fell into disuse around ten years ago, and a number of sections have been lost to road improvements. However, the mainline remains intact, though rather overgrown. 

With an increase in the amount of traffic being handled at Birkenhead Docks,  along with the opening of the new Twelve Quays Ferry Terminal  Terminal, EWS have recognised the potential for reinstating the rail link.  There had been a suggestion two years ago, that the railway might be reopened but at the time things did not progress as far as a feasibility study.


On Friday June 2, part of The Dock [Regent] Road was closed to traffic to allow a film production company to recreate scenes for the new movie "Liam" which is based on the book "The Back Crack Boy". Filming was undertaken in the vicinity of Stanley Dock and the Stanley Dock lift bridge. Photographs in the local press indicates that the film makers appear to have recreated a good likeness of the 1930s Dock Road. - though sadly there is now no Overhead Railway! The star of the film is the actor Ian Hart, who appeared as Joe O'Reilly in the film "Michael Collins".


On May 27th Norcontrol Simulation AS of Norway arrived at the new Centre with the new ship simulator. Over the next month the Simulator will be installed and commissioned at the Lairdside Maritime Centre.

The Simulator consists of the UK's first and only 360 degree bridge with two supplementary bridges networked to a comprehensive instructor control room
which will enable detailed and specialist maritime ship-handling and ship-operations training and research to take place on Merseyside.

The multi-million pound Lairdside Maritime Centre will be officially opened in September during the Maritime Industries North West Exhibition week, sponsored by the North West branch of the Nautical Institute and based at the
Mersey Maritime Museum.


Birkenhead based Carmet Towing has acquired another vessel. It arrived on Saturday June 3 from Wisbech via the Caledonian Canal. Named STINT the small tug was formerly operated by the Admiralty as AUDREY. It is similar to the CARMET's existing BEAVER GEM.


The company has been selected as the preferred bidder for exclusive rental rights of three of Marseilles dry docks. The smallest is the same size as the largest at Birkenhead, whilst the largest is three times bigger. It is expected that the contract to operate the dry docks will be signed on July 7.


This week Harland & Wolff announced that it had been awarded a letter of intent by Luxus Holdings, a newly formed American-backed, London-based company, to build the two cruise ships, subject to finalisation of the contract.

A spokesman for H&W said it was a "significant boost" for the yard, which to reduce its core shipbuilding workforce from 1,300 to 1,000 during the summer.

H&W chief executive Brynjulv Mugaas said the breakthrough, together with the recently announced £300m Ropax contract, meant that the company was beginning to compile an order book which reflected its key competencies. Although a letter of intent has been signed, it could take up to two months for the deal to become a firm contract.


Yet another scheme to build a new  RMS TITANIC has been revealed in the Sunday Life newspaper. A multi-millionaire South African Sarel Gous is to present a plan for the construction of  TITANIC II to Belfast City Council. 

Sarel Gous has already had talks with Harland & Wolff's technical department. The new vessel will be the largest ship in the world, bigger than Cunard's QUEEN MARY II, the construction contract for  which Harland's  recently failed to secure. 

Estimated costs for the new ship would be around £500m, and Mr Gous has already spent £200,000 of his own money developing plans. 

In the past few years a number of people have proposed the construction of a replica of the TITANIC, and Jim Lee of H&W's technical department revealed to the newspaper gets at least one enquiry over the possibility of constructing a TITANIC replica every week. 

However, Mr. Gous proposals appear to involve a large cruise ship carrying the TITANIC name - rather than being a replica - which has been proposed by countless other organisations in recent years. It will be interesting to see what is the outcome or whether the plans will go the same way as other TITANIC proposals.


The replica 18th Century Royal Navy Frigate "GRAND TURK" which featured in the recent "Hornblower" TV series as HMS INDEFATIGABLE has now commenced its British Isles tour, sponsored by the National Trust. 

However, there is a slight change in plans for her visit to Northern Ireland. She will now call at Bangor, rather than Belfast as originally planned.

The ship will be at Bangor for a five day visit from June 14 to 18 during which it will be open to the public. GRAND TURK is due to visit Merseyside later this month.


Plans to sail a replica of an Irish Famine Ship across the Atlantic have been delayed because the vessel is not yet ready, the full size replica of the "Jeanie Johnston, a ship which carried thousands to new lives in North America in the 1840`s and 1850`s had been due to leave Tralee, Co. Kerry for the US in late May 2000, but fitting out the three masted barque has taken longer than anticipated and it is now expected to depart in late June or early July 2000, the original ship famously never lost a passenger to disease or the sea in 16 voyages during the mid 19th Century.


Officials from Marine Accident Investigation Branch have confirmed that a report into the sinking of the fishing vessel AMBER ROSE will be published within the next six weeks.

The MIB constructed a scale model of the Amber Rose in an attempt to ascertain why the vessel sank off the coast of the Isle of Man in October 1998.

They responded after calls were made for the report to be released immediately.

The Celtic League pressure group had hit out at a delay in publishing the report into the tragedy, when Portavogie man Thomas Hughes was drowned.

His body was recovered from the wreck four months after the vessel sank. His son Mark (16) was among the four crewmen who were rescued.

The Celtic League said that delays in learning why a vessel founders can cause further loss of life.


The purchase of an Emergency Towing Vessel has been approved by the Irish Government. The vessel will cost unto IR£18m. The Minister for the Marine, Frank Fahey, has announced that the Marine Emergency Advisory Group, under the chairmanship of the Coast Guard, would seek to identify the type of vessel required and prepare for its acquisition.

The Minister said: "We will identify the most cost-effective means of acquiring this vessel and see what other uses it could also be put to. There is no doubt that it is needed. The coastal environment is vital to our future, with 70 per cent of all oil imports passing within 200 miles of the South coast. We must be protected against maritime disasters."


A massive Russian made Kiev-Class Aircraft Carrier, more than twice the size of Croke Park in Dublin, was under commercial tow bound for China from Northern Russia, the Irish Coast Guard, and the Naval Ship the LE EITHNE was keeping an close eye on the progress as it pass through the designate Irish Pollution Responsibility Zone, the Aircraft Carrier is 900 ft long.



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