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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


MARCH 2000

March 29, 2000


A rather large mid week update. Much larger than planned! The news update includes quite a lot of news from outside the usual areas of coverage in the World News section, but which will be of interest to visitors to the site. The next update will be on Sunday. I'll be on the BEN-MY-CHREE on Saturday, so hopefully my first "BEN" voyage report for 2000 will be on-line then. Once again I would like to thank the many correspondents and contributors.

Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Justin Merrigan, John Williams, Adrian Sweeney, Michael Pryce, Brian Chambers and "others".


SUPERSEACAT TWO - a correspondent reported that SSC2 was seen in Douglas on Tuesday March 27. She also visited Heysham on March 29 for berthing trials.

SEACAT ISLE OF MAN - the vessel returns to service on March 30. I understand much interior work has been undertaken and seating recovered.

LADY OF MANN - is to be surveyed afloat this year and repainted whilst in Alexandra Dock.


I understand that a the Liverpool Bar at Belfast, adjacent to the Sea Containers Terminal is to be demolished to allow Belfast Harbour Commissioners to build a car park for SeaCat passengers


On Wednesday March 29, it was reported that the giant  £4m catamaran built by Pete Goss for round the world was severely damaged 26 miles off the Isles of Scilly whilst undergoing sea trials.

The 120-foot-long TEAM PHILIPS craft, designed to slice through the water at 40 knots, was on the third day of sea trials when disaster struck.

Falmouth Coastguard confirmed that a 25ft section of the port bow had broken off, and that the boat's starboard hull had also been damaged.


It appears that the new build for the Liverpool to Dublin route will be named EUROPEAN AMBASSADOR. 

P&O retain options for a further two ro-pax vessels which must be exercised by the end of the year. It is expected that provided the EUROPEAN CAUSEWAY is acceptable these will be exercised - one for Cairnryan - Larne and one for Liverpool - Liverpool.


It was reported in the Sunday M&ISS news update that it was likely that Stena Line would withdrawn STENA LYNX III from the Rosslare - Fishguard route from September. This appears to have been confirmed with the vessel being returned to its owners at the conclusion of the charter period in September 2000,

Only a spring and summer fast ferry operation will be operated on the southern corridor during 2001.

The decision to withdraw fast ferry services between Fishguard in west Wales and Rosslare in Ireland is being condemned by local councillors.

Stena Line has announced it is to reduce the fast ferry service from nine months to six months of the year.

As a result, between September and the Spring, passengers will have to use the company's slower conventional ferries instead.

Pembrokeshire county council condemned the cuts, saying it had gone to great lengths to encourage business links between Wales and Ireland. Potential investors may now be put off by the three-and-a-half-hour journey between Fishguard and Rosslare, the council said.

Stena Line is reportedly blamed the decision on a loss of revenue brought about by the end of duty- free shopping.

The number of people using Stena Line's ferry services between Ireland and Wales fell by 336,000 during 1999.

The worst effected service was Holyhead to Dún Laoghaire, which saw a drop in passengers of 377,000.

However the company's ferries between Fishguard and Rosslare - and Holyhead and Dublin - saw a slight rise last year compared to 1998 figures.

Mary Gallagher, Stena's Route Director, commented on BBC Radio Wales that it was unclear as to what vessel would operate the service in 2001, but it could be something bigger and newer. She reiterated the change being blamed purely on the loss of duty-free as well as placing much stress on the losses of the route and Stena in general with a statement along the lines of "all routes must pay their way".  

JHL'S COMMENT: Whilst Stena appear intent on laying the blame on the demise of Duty Free shopping revenue, it must be obvious to many ferry enthusiasts that operational reliability in autumn and early winter must have been a consideration. Anyone who monitors the Ceefax/Teletext Ferry Information will be aware that Rosslare - Fishguard is particularly prone to cancellation at the first sign of bad weather. The particularly exposed nature of the route at the mouth of St. George's Channel, renders it one of the first Irish Sea fast ferry routes to cancel if gales blow in from the south west. Whilst one can understand the councillors' dismay, surely it makes sense to operate a reliable conventional ship only service, than have an expensive weather bound catamaran sitting around for days on end? However, one must wonder if this is just the first round of cuts to hit Stena's Irish Sea routes?


Some firm facts have finally come to light regarding the Marine Atlantic purchase of a Stena ferry. (Caused by a ship broker who worked for months to line up a new ferry going public on what happened).

The broker is claiming that the Crown corporation's ship selection process is suspect and calling on the federal Transport Minister Collenette to either hold an inquiry or start from scratch and entertain new proposals for a ferry purchase.

When first approached by Marine Atlantic last August to help find a used ferry the broker was issued the general specifications for three possible scenarios: a day ferry, a night ferry and a freighter-type vessel.

The broker eventually came up with nine ships, three possible vessels for each category, and submitted the information to Marine Atlantic. He and other brokers also lined up meetings between corporation officials and ship owners in Europe.

According to the broker, officials with the corporation were interested in one of the ferries he sold them on, the KONINGIN BEATRIX (falling into the overnight ferry category).

A decision was to have been taken in December but that month Marine Atlantic appointed a new chairman, Capt. Sid Hynes.

Hynes changed the specifications, saying he wanted, among other things, an ice-class vessel - which the KB isn't and threw out all work done at that point.

Hynes then decided to bypass the brokers and deal directly with the ship owners (no doubt why the broker in question went to the Newfoundland press).

Marine Atlantic is still said to be close to a deal to purchase the STENA CHALLENGER, a ferry that, according to the broker, wasn't even for sale until Hynes was brought on board with the corporation.

The broker also makes a thinly veiled allegation, stating that Marine Atlantic should have worked via brokers to avoid conflict of interest situations"

The deal to buy the 'Challenger is said to be all but done. The vessel, will be transferred to Marine Atlantic next year - the firm will charter a vessel for this summer.

The issue is very political in Newfoundland and there is real pressure on Marine Atlantic to get another vessel in service for this summer on the North Sydney - Port Aux Basques route.

Meanwhile the big question is - where does this leave Stena's Irish Sea fleet for next summer?


P&O's new terminal at Cairnryan opened for the first time on 26 February, I travelled through the port almost one month later on 25 March.  The new building is of a modern construction and whilst not what one would call luxurious it is a thoroughly pleasant building (I know of no ferry terminal which is "luxurious" as that doesn't generally equate with the practicality necessary for such a facility).

The new terminal is bright and spacious and it is obviously designed to be easily kept clean and tidy at all times.  The entrance area includes the check-in and ticket desk, access to this is also available from the departure lounge.  After passing through security passengers are then able to make use of the departure lounge.  The departure lounge includes a reasonable amount of seating and the usual "essential services" one would expect.  There is also a reasonably large children's play area and an
attractive area containing a Fables snack bar, which would appear to offer an "at seat" service.  It is understood that car passengers are able to access the departure lounge from the vehicle boarding lanes.

Foot passengers then leave the departure lounge through a sea side exit and board a bus to take them to the conventional or fast ferry berth. Meanwhile, foot passengers arriving at Cairnryan are now taken to a new arrivals area which also houses baggage reclaim.  This area also leads into the reception area of the terminal.

The old terminal has recently been demolished and work on some of the port layout is inevitably not yet complete.  For example, the new long stay car park is not yet complete, meaning that the short stay car park is fulfilling a dual role, causing parking problems. However, I would expect that once the work at Cairnryan is complete, P&O will have a port of which any operator would be proud.  Whilst P&O's previous Cairnryan terminal was extremely pleasant it really wasn't suitable for a modern ferry service and at peak times reached breaking point - the impressive replacement deserves praise.

On the same day as I experienced P&O's new port at Cairnryan I paid a visit to Stranraer.  Speculation in Scotland suggests that Sea Containers' now abandoned West Pier port may be re-developed by the local authority for use as a marina.  It appears that SeaCat will not be using the port again, following the closure of their Belfast - Stranraer service on 13 March. SeaCat will continue to use Stranraer as a back-up port but have apparently reached an agreement with Stena to use their conventional ferry berth at the port.

I then thought I'd pay a visit to Stena's Stranraer port to take a look to see if any rapid transformations had taken place such as had taken place at Cairnryan.

Absolutely not!

Outside Stena's reception building at Stranraer is an artists' impression of the re-developed Stranraer port - the fact that this is now faded says everything you need to know!  The HSS will soon be in service four years and apart from the HSS berth itself and various temporary structures leading to the HSS ramp (at Stranraer there is no overhead walkway for foot passengers) the port remains as it did in pre-HSS days with no sign of a proper HSS terminal ever being constructed.

Meanwhile the port layout remains rather chaotic with arrangements that amount to cars travelling with Stena entering the port via a public car park!

Given that P&O have managed to develop an impressive port on a site of which a significant amount consists of recently reclaimed land, it is depressing Stena cannot provide their customers with facilities at Stranraer that match their terminal at Belfast.

In this battle - it's a clear win to P&O.


The Irish government has approved funding for the completion of a major tourist project in the South East. The Department of the Marine has announced that the DUNBRODY famine ship project is to get enough funding to complete construction of the 178-foot vessel, currently being built in New Ross. 

The JFK Trust which is responsible for the project had been looking for IR£1.7million following a funding shortfall. 

Originally it had been planned to construct the DUNBRODY to full seagoing specification and undertake a voyage to the east coast of America. However, when completed she will be come a museum ship at New Ross. Later this year, another emigrant ship replica the  JEANIE JOHNSTON will undertake a trans Atlantic voyage to the USA from Tralee.


Frank Field MP for Birkenhead was  today reported to be demanding to know if  Merseyside shipyard workers had been described as "no-good" by the Ministry of Defence..

Cammell Laird shipyard is hoping to win a share of a £210m contract for six ro-ro vessels for the Ministry of Defence.

It has been claimed by the local press that UK government officials have stated that the think that no British ship yard was good enough to win the contract.

Commenting to the local press Mr. Field said: "This contract could be worth 3,000 jobs and I am very worried that Cammell Laird is not being given a fair chance. Cammell Laird is a dynamic shipyard, winning orders from around the world. It would be outrageous if its position was undermined by officials."

The Ministry of Defence has denied speculation that it has briefed against British shipyards. The that the final decision on the £210 ro/ro order will be announced later in the spring.



On March 28 as part of their Australian Royal Tour, HM Queen Elizabeth II and HRH The Duke of Edinburgh visited Incat’s shipbuilding facility at Hobart’s Prince of Wales Bay.

During the visit the Royal Couple, were guided by Incat’s Chairman and Founder Robert Clifford and Incat Tasmania Managing Director Craig Clifford, and had the opportunity to overview shipbuilding activity. 

Highlight of their visit was a viewing of the latest Incat vessel. The 96 metre Evolution 10 class Wave Piercer INCAT056  which is at an advanced stage of construction for a major European operator. Queen Elizabeth toured the superstructure of INCAT 56 while Prince Philip inspected the starboard engine room of the craft. A demonstration of lifesaving equipment followed with the 74 metre CONDOR 10 being the centrepiece.

Prior to leaving the yard the Royal party met some of the 1000-strong workforce and their families.

Of the 30 Incat vessels built since 1990, all but one is operated outside Australia. The exception being HMAS JERVIS BAY chartered to the Royal Australian Navy and currently in service ferrying Interfet troops and equipment between Darwin and East Timor. From the Americas to New Zealand, Incat leads the way in fast ferry design and construction.

New markets have recently opened for Incat vessels with the increased capacity to carry large heavy freight vehicles. During 1999 Incat delivered two 96 metre Wave Piercing Catamarans to leading Spanish ferry operator Fred. Olsen SA for service in the Canary Islands. This was followed by another 96 metre craft in January 2000. The latest craft to roll off the Incat production line will be INCAT 056 for service with European operator Tasmediterranea as MILENIUM.

Incat is a private company, founded by Chairman Robert Clifford AO, and the culmination of almost 30 years of direct business activity in the ferry and tour boat industry. Incat’s extensive shipbuilding activity is conducted from a modern facility (over 32,000 sqm is under cover) located at Prince of Wales Bay in Hobart, Tasmania, Australia.

The sophisticated Hobart shipyard has recently been expanded and is now capable of producing four to five ships per year. Incat will complete construction of a new dry dock this year, which will enable the company to build an additional two 120 metre, 1200 tonnes vessels a year. Each craft will be capable of operating at 50 knots fully loaded, with lightship speeds of around 65 knots.

Incat is proud of its longstanding relationship with Britain. This association began in 1986 when the first ships to be exported from Tasmania to Britain were delivered to Sea Containers as OUR LADY PATRICIA and OUR LADY PAMELA. It was perhaps fitting for the Royal Couple to visit the yard for in 1987 it was the OUR LADY PAMELA, proudly wearing the Royal Standard, that ferried them across the Solent from the Isle of Wight to Portsmouth

In 1990 the Incat-built HOVERSPEED GREAT BRITAIN entered the history books by winning back for Britain the Hales Trophy – the Blue Riband – for the fastest crossing of the Atlantic by a passenger ship. The coveted award had been held by the liner UNITED STATES since 1952 when she broke the previous record held by Cunard’s mighty QUEEN MARY.

Since 1990 Incat has taken the worldwide ferry industry by storm. In Britain alone there are 13 Incat-built craft operating on routes to Ireland, France and the Isle of Man – true testimony to the quality and comfort of Incat ships.

March 26, 2000


Hello again everyone! For the first time in a few weeks I have not posted any new galleries, though there are a number of updates to existing pages and I have also undertaken some basic house keeping on the site. However, there is at least one new  gallery scheduled to appear in the mid week update. During the next week or so some of the older material will be archived, some of it transferred to the archive site and other taken off line. 

This week I have made the  Archive  and Back Up News site easier to access by adding a prominent link from the Contents list which appears at the top of most main pages on the M&ISS site. Don't forget there is much more material on the archive site. Whilst this will have been viewed by many long standing regulars, newer visitors might not have seen the material. The archive site also contains all the news bulletins posted from 1997. It is quite fascinating to look back at how things have developed and changed over the past four years or so.

Weekly Page Views (Last 6 Weeks)









Week 12 of 2000

Week 11 of 2000

Week 10 of 2000

Week 09 of 2000

Week 08 of 2000

The number of visitors to the site reached an all time record high of 826 between 15:00 GMT on Sunday March 19 and 15:00 BST on Sunday March 26. Part of the increase has been due to the fact that the mid week update has resulted in an increase in readers around what was the quieter mid week period. Though I had become aware that some readers were not entering M&ISS via the front door, but come in via the "What's New" page. If you come in that way your entrance is now being counted. Therefore, the number of visitors was probably already higher than it first appeared before I started counting entrants who entered the site via "What's New".

Of course the success of the site is only partially down to my efforts if it wasn't for the host of correspondents and contributors M&ISS would not be the success which it has become. 

Thank you all! 

John Luxton

March 26, 2000

Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, John Williams, Stephen Errity, Stan Basnett, John Shepherd, Simon Smith and "others".


On March 23, 2000 Sea Containers issued its 1999 report. Net income before change in accounting principle was $60.6million a 12% increase over 1998. Earnings per share before accounting change were $3.27 - up 5%.

For the fourth quarter of 1999 net income was $8 million on revenue of $330 million compared with $15.6 million on revenue of $347 million in 1998. In the fourth quarter ferry earnings were less than expected, the company blaming unusually high fuel prices and exceptionally bad weather in the British Isles. The company also claimed that travel over the Millennium holiday period was also less than expected because of Y2K worries and the decision of many to make New Year’s Eve into a family-at-home event.

Sea Containers passenger transport division reported operating profits of $70 million in 1999 compared with $62 million in 1998. This improvement was achieved despite start up costs of three new fast ferry routes and a large subsidy reduction to GNER which resulted in a reduction of $1.4 million in rail operating profits compared with 1998. GNER’s subsidy reduction in 2000 will only be $21 million compared with $33 million in 1999. Pricing and volume increases should raise GNER’s revenue by 9% in 2000 or $59 million.

The Belfast to Stranraer/Troon fast ferry routes and the Gothenburg/Fredrikshavn conventional services also suffered losses, the former through intense rate competition and the latter because of termination of duty free. The Belfast/Troon service is being streamlined in 2000 by dropping the port of Stranraer and the Gothenburg service is being downsized. Silja Line has taken over the sales and marketing of the Gothenburg service which should increase carryings. A small conventional ferry service operated between Scotland and Northern Ireland has been wound up due to losses.

The acquisition of a 51% [now reduced to 50% interest] in Neptun Maritime which trades as Silja Line in April 1999 is reported to have made a meaningful contribution to passenger transport division operating profits in 1999. Though higher than expected fuel costs reduced operating profits for the division by at least $6 million from the forecast given to shareholders at the June, 1999 annual general meeting.

Mr. James B Sherwood, president, said that the ferry industry was quickly responding to the loss of duty free sales by raising fares and reducing services where volumes are inadequate. He stressed that the bulk of Sea Containers’ passenger transport business is not duty free sensitive, such as GNER, Neptun Maritime, the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company, Northern Ireland routes and the company’s ports.

Mr. Sherwood said that GNER’s 20 year franchise replacement application was lodged on February 21st. It provides for a $3 billion investment over 20 years to be funded by natural growth in volume and most fares rising in step with inflation. $1.6 billion of this investment will be financed by Railtrack Plc, owner of the track and signalling.

Mr. Sherwood made comparisons between Sea Containers  franchise application and that of their sole competitor the Virgin Group which proposed an ambitious alternative $10billion scheme: The Virgin plans will not result in any more pathways or capacity into London than GNER’s plan yet will have an annual cost at least $700 million greater, which will have to be borne by the government. Their plan provides substantially less improvement in stations and the total travel experience than GNER’s. GNER has a reputation of delivering Britain’s best long distance railway while Virgin has the reputation for delivering the worst. GNER and Virgin compete on many of the Scotland to London and intermediate city routes and to grant Virgin a monopoly would likely restrict competition and result in higher fares. Mr. Sherwood said he felt GNER will be awarded the new franchise on comparative merit.

Mr. Sherwood said the marine container leasing business had a disappointing year in 1999 with operating profits down $13.7 million from 1998 to $61.6 million. 

The leisure business showed excellent growth in 1999 with operating profits up $15.3 million to $64.8 million, an increase of 31% over 1998. In broad terms Italian, Portuguese, South American and North American hotels and restaurants were all well ahead of 1998, while southern Africa hotels, tourist trains and river cruises were slightly behind. Investments in Peru made a meaningful contribution. Mr. Sherwood said the leisure division has had a strong start in 2000.

Rising interest rates and the cost of debt in connection with the $103 million Neptun Maritime purchase increased interest costs by $6 million in 1999 over 1998.

Mr. Sherwood indicated that he expected GE SeaCo, the company’s 50/50 joint venture with GE Capital, to buy at least $100 million of new containers in 2000 and Sea Containers will probably buy an additional $50 million on its own. The company expects to bring into service 2 new fast ferries and acquire the vessels operating on the Dover/Ostend route at a cost of about $60 million. New hotels and improvements to existing properties should have a capital cost of $75 million before taking into account acquisitions which are still in the discussion stage.

He indicated that the company is seriously exploring methods to enhance shareholder value other than through higher earnings. In this connection he announced that Orient-Express Hotels Ltd., the company’s wholly-owned leisure business subsidiary, would be publishing a separate 1999 annual report to shareholders. He said that some recent analyst reports fail to recognize the growth potential in the GNER, Neptun Maritime, fast ferry, marine container and leisure businesses. It is the role of management to adjust promptly to changing circumstances and he said Sea Containers has done this and the results should become evident before long.


SUPERSEACAT TWO - on March 24, she was noted by Gary Andrews running trails in Belfast Lough around 13:50. Later that afternoon she was berthed outside the Clarendon Dock Prudential Building.

Gary writes that he thinks, but cannot confirm, that SUPERSEACAT II will use the old Liverpool berth - last used in 1990 and basically mothballed.  There appeared to be some work taking place in the vicinity and signs of initial work in the marshalling area suggested they may be about to start work on a walkway from the terminal.

The revised schedule for the Belfast - Troon SEACAT SCOTLAND sailings following closure of the Stranraer route is as follows:

Belfast: 07:45, 14:15 and 20:30* - was 07:45 and 18:30.
Troon: 11:00, 17:30* and 23:30* - was 11:00 and 21:45.
(* 1 hour later on Saturdays presumably to target football supporters and general day trippers - a very good idea, business wise anyhow).

SUPERSEACAT THREE - Three men, believed to be from the Isle of Man, were arrested on the evening of Friday March 24 when SSC3 arrived at Prince's Landing Stage on its evening sailing from Douglas. A fight is believed to have broken out in the bar at around 22:00 involving a number of passengers. 

Commenting to the local press a police spokesman said:" It is not yet apparent why they were travelling or what triggered the disturbance. They were the worse for drink and allowed to sober up in the cells overnight before being questioned this morning. A number of other passengers were ejected and they dispersed quietly after advice from the six police officers who attended."

One of the three men arrested suffered facial injuries in the brawl but is reported to have refused hospital treatment. The men were held at St. Anne Street police station.


Sea Containers have announced proposals to replace the existing Isle of Man Steam Packet Company Offices - Imperial Buildings - with an impressive new six story headquarters building.

The new building, designed by Stephen Le Roith Architects of London, will occupy the present Imperial Buildings site and that occupied by the Goods Warehouse and have a floor area of 22,800 square feet. 

In addition to providing company offices, offices accommodation will also be provided for other companies in addition to conference, leisure and board room facilities. Beneath the building will be an underground car park. Distinctive features include  a 1,600 square feet landscaped atrium space with a glass roof available for public meets, corporate entertainment, art displays and various functions. 

Managing Director of Sea Containers Property said that the new building would be a landmark for the millennium and transform the gateway to Douglas. 

Sea Containers has submitted at planning application for permission in principle to the Isle of Man Government. If the application is successful more detailed plans will be submitted.


Day trip facilities for travel from Liverpool to Douglas, Isle of Man will be available on a daily bases from Thursday March 30 until October 2. Weekend day trips will be available Friday to Monday until October 29. 

The morning sailing from Liverpool will be operated by SEACAT ISLE OF MAN whilst the return sailing will be provided by SUPERSEACAT THREE. Day trip visitors and business travellers will have around nine hours ashore.

In 1999 the SuperSeaCat & SeaCat fast ferry services brought in around half a million passengers a year to Merseyside from the Isle of Man and Ireland. With this new frequent service the great north west cities of Manchester and especially Liverpool are now closer than ever for those seeking a day out with a difference, business or pleasure.

Chris Brown, Director of Tourism Operations for Mersey Tourism said: "This is great news for Liverpool and Merseyside, tourism already generates half a billion pounds spending in the local economy and supports 18,000 jobs. Initiatives like these will help us to achieve our tourism vision to double annual spending and create a further 12,000 jobs in the sector by 2005. We look forward to welcoming even more visitors from the Isle of Man." The Isle of Man is hosting many special events this year, most notably "Homecomers 2000". This will be an opportunity to welcome back people of Manx descent from around the world (anyone for example with the surname Corkhill, Quayle, Cringle or Kerruish can trace their ancestry
back to the days when Viking rule held sway on the Isle of Man).

Geoff Le Page, Director of Tourism for the Isle of Man Government added: "The new Liverpool schedule offers the opportunity to develop the day trip market from the north west of England. There are many people who have not visited the Isle of Man for many years, or who still haven't made a visit, and the day trip schedule will allow them to discover the unique heritage and landscape of the Isle of Man. This is likely to result in many day trippers returning for a longer visit."


I paid a visit to Sea Containers' old Stranraer terminal - it is obvious some staff are still based there whilst the Troon move is completed presumably also to deal with any passengers who turn up for the sailings.

According the Stranraer press, Sea Containers has reached an agreement with
Stena to use their Stranraer facilities as their back-up port.  Stena's conventional berth has accommodated the STENA LYNX I and STENA LYNX III on occasions. The most shocking thing here is SeaCo / Stena co-operation!

There is much discussion in Stranraer currently concerning a new marina with a suggestion that it should be located at the West Pier site formerly used by SeaCat.


STENA LYNX III - It is believed that the vessel will leave Stena in September 2000 and that Stena have no immediate plans for her replacement.


NORTHERN MERCHANT - after entering service at the beginning of the week operating under charter to Norfolkline between Dover - Dunkirk - the ship was soon withdrawn and the service temporarily suspended. Apparently NORTHERN MERCHANT (24,046 gross), arriving at Dover loaded from Dunkirk, landed heavily while berthing at Dover on March 22 in dense fog. No injuries were reported and the ship returned to Dunkirk for discharge. Damage to the ship was reported to be superficial and a survey was underway on Friday March 24, 2000. However, the linkspan also needed repairs.

Lloyd's also reported this week that Cenargo International is in negotiations with Astilleros Espanoles over orders for two additional ro-pax ferries.


Merchant Ferries appears to be trying hard to boost day time private vehicle traffic on the Liverpool to Dublin route with a spring offer of a £99 Car +2 return fare [this is against a brochure price of £150] which is being promoted in the local press.


The former B&I Line and Belfast Car Ferries passenger gangway, partially dismantle around the start of this year following damage, was noted this week to have been completely removed. The facility has been unused for many years. Norse Irish and Merchant Ferries board foot passengers by minibus.


A brief visit to the waterfront around 16:00 on Saturday revealed the Mersey Mammoth heading away from Seacombe carrying on her deck the north boom of the landing stage. This has been notified as being adrift for some weeks since a period of adverse weather. 

Radio transmissions between Mammoth and Mersey Radio suggest that the boom will be offloaded at Canada #1 North for repairs and will be taken back to the stage next Friday.

Meanwhile there is very little left of the old Seacombe Stage. The pontoons now appear to be all that is left and they have been lifted up onto the quay side at Mortar Mill Quay, East Float.


Please note information posted earlier this month concerning sailings from Liverpool was inaccurate. The full on-line timetable for P.S. WAVERLEY & BALMORAL can be accessed on line at

Once again there will be two sailings by BALMORAL from Liverpool but unfortunately only one of these is at weekend. On Saturday May 20, there will be a trip to Llandudno for time ashore or a cruise to the Menai Straits. There will also be two round Anglesey cruises.

On Wednesday May 24 there is  a repeat of the above cruise however, as a promotion to pensioners any senior citizen can bring a friend free as one free ticket is offered for every one purchased.

Between May 18 and 23 BALMORAL will offer a program of sailings from the usual North Wales departure points with addition of Mostyn on the River Dee. - The sailing from Mostyn is scheduled for an 11:00 departure on Thursday May 18 to Menai Straits and terminating at Llandudno with coach return to Mostyn. Departure point will be the outer berth at Mostyn Docks - free car parking is available. 

There are also to be three trips from Whitehaven Harbour including two to the Isle of Man. Also on offer is a period return with the option of an overnight stay on the island.

There will also be one trip from Workington to the Isle of Man on Friday May 12. 

Though the Sea Containers won't be operating between Argyll and Antrim this year, there is the opportunity for passengers to make the crossing by BALMORAL from Campbeltown to Red Bay with optional trips to Giant's Causeway and Bushmills Distillery or a cruise around the Antrim Coast and Rathlin Island. 

Coleraine and Derry feature in a program of cruises from Ireland which includes a Battle of the Atlantic commemorative cruise from Coleraine and Derry to view warships in Loch Foyle on Saturday May 6. 

I have only highlighted some of the more interesting trips on offer in the Irish Sea area. For full details of all cruises you should visit

The latest news on the WAVERLEY rebuild can also be found there.



From March 27,  P&O will increase the level of service on its Liverpool - Dublin service when a fourth daily roundtrip is introduced.  The CELTIC SUN will be used to provide the additional capacity.

The new sailings will be at 05.00 ex Dublin and 17.00 ex Liverpool.  The existing schedule will remain un-altered with departures ex Liverpool at 04.00, 10.00 and 22.00 and ex Dublin at 10.00, 16.00 and 22.00.

Phil Simpson, Sales Manager UK for P&O Irish Sea said:

"The timing of the new sailings from both Liverpool and Dublin are important because it now means that P&O offers the first sailing of the day out of Dublin Port and then a crossing virtually every six hours.

"The new 17.00 sailing out of Liverpool is ideal for those operators keen to miss Dublin's rush hour traffic.  Drivers will have cleared Dublin Port by 01.30 which means they will be able to make next day deliveries anywhere in Ireland and avoid the traffic.

"Our three ships on this route are currently operating at virtually full capacity and demand is still increasing. This fourth crossing ensures that we can meet that demand and customers on both sides of the Irish Sea will now have a greater choice."

The CELTIC SUN can carry up to 70 units, with cabin accommodation for 12 drivers.  The vessel was built in Spain in 1998 and has a service speed of 17 knots and a complement of 18 crew.

The press release stated that the CELTIC SUN is a sister vessel to the CELTIC STAR, however, this does not appear to be the case! CELTIC SUN is actually the Estonian Shipping Company's LEMBITU [DART 7]. The present chartered CELTIC STAR  was constructed in Japan for Japanese owners. 

LEMBITU's sister ship VARBOLA is currently on charter to MERCHANT FERRIES, operating on that company's Heysham - Dublin service.


The US Navy's Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer U.S.S. BARRY will be visiting Cobh, Co. Cork on April 14. A correspondent thinks it likely that the vessel may be open to the public. 


Last week M&ISS reported on the LEMU, which was stuck in Semple Cochrane's dry dock at Penzance, Cornwall. On Monday March 20, with the assistance of 70 tons of airbags and the help of two small fishing boats the world's largest epoxy-resin was extracted from the dry dock. She is now berthed in Penzance harbour awaiting the fitting of her two masts.


The DEEPWATER NAVIGATOR [ex- PEREGRINE VII] departed from Cammell Laird for the final time this week. Almost three years after she arrived for a major rebuild and enlarging.


A report in the Belfast Telegraph this week reveals that the  Government has reaffirmed its commitment to giving Harland & Wolff every possible support in its efforts to win fresh business.

The Economy Minister, Adam Ingram, made the comment after a meeting with a trade union delegation from the Belfast shipyard. Mr. Ingram said: "H&W has tremendous potential and it is in everyone's interest that we dispel the myth that the loss of the Queen Mary contract was fatal for the yard. "I am confident there is a good future for the shipbuilding and marine construction industry here in Northern Ireland."

Mr Ingram said he had taken on board a number of helpful and positive suggestions which the union delegation had put forward and said he would pass them on to management at H&W.

He said: "With regard to possible Ministry of Defence work, I confirmed to the delegates that I have written to Baroness Symons, Minister for Defence Procurement, representing the yard's case. "Mr Ingram said it was extremely important at such a crucial time that there was full co-operation between management, employees and the unions.


A web site which has been brought to my attention this week is the P&O Portsmouth Enthusiasts' Site run by William Harvey. You can find William's site at:

Back Home Up Next

March 22, 2000


First of all apologies for those people who were unable to access the main M&ISS site from Sunday evening through to Monday morning. The ISP's server crashed when I was uploading on Sunday evening which resulted in the site being down for some hours. 

Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Geoff Hamer, Brian Chambers, John Shepherd, John Williams and "others".


SEACAT DANMARK has arrived today to take up Gothenburg-Fredrikshavn.
SUPERSEACAT ONE is currently docked at Cityvarvet.
SUPERSEACAT TWO departed Cammell Laird March 22 and proceeded to Belfast
SUPERSEACAT FOUR left Cityvarvet last week and has now departed for Finland.
BEN-MY-CHREE - A correspondent informs me that the BEN has been doing some really fast crossings this week. On Tuesday March 22, she left Douglas at 19:45 and was off the roundhead at Heysham harbour at 22:40. A mid passage passenger update indicated speed was 20 knots.


The Sea Co / Virgin rumour which appeared in the M&ISS Lamb Banana page on Sunday has made it to the Liverpool press on Tuesday, with the Business column of the Liverpool Echo picking it up. - One wonders if it will be picked up by the Manx press?

A contact informs me that they have been in touch with Sea Containers who maintain the official line that they never comment on speculation and went as far as to suggest this is extreme wide of the mark speculation. The same contact on approaching Virgin was informed that Virgin was a rail and air operator and had no interest in entering the ferry business.

I guess we will just have to wait and see. One imagines that if there were to be any developments in this area it may come when the Sea Containers annual report is published. There again it could all have just been a case of the rumour mill working over time!


HMS COTTESMORE departed from Canning Half Tide and HMS GUERNSEY departed from Canada #1 Branch Dock on the morning tide of March 20.

RFA GOLD ROVER  has begun a 68-day dry docking at the A&P Falmouth shipyard in Cornwall. She joins RFA OAKLEAF [chartered from James Fisher & Sons], the largest vessel in the RFA fleet, which is halfway through her two-month refit at the Falmouth yard. The Rover class of small fleet tankers is designed to replenish warships at sea with fuel, stores and water. During her career GOLD ROVER has accompanied HMY BRITANNIA on a royal tour and acted as a tanker for Flag Officer Sea Training.


STENA INVICTA  departed Rosslare Europort for the last time on Monday March 20,  the vessel departed at 08:46 for Fishguard. STENA INVICTA had been covering the KONINGIN BEATRIX during the KB's period in dry dock and covering on the Dublin to Holyhead route.

KONINGIN BEATRIX arrived back at Rosslare Europort on Monday evening at 18:00 to resume sailings on the Rosslare - Fishguard route with the 21:50 departure for the Welsh port.


Geoff Hamer writes that the former Mersey Ferry ROYAL IRIS which is berthed on the Thames 
is now looking even more dilapidated than last year, and is quite an eyesore with broken windows making her look more derelict.


NORTHERN MERCHANT entered service on Monday March 20, on the 13:00 sailing to Dunkerque on charter to Norfolkline.


Two men aboard a motor yacht which went adrift in the Irish Sea on Sunday March 19 were rescued unharmed.

The 33ft ROSEMARIE ANNE was towed into Holyhead harbour by the local lifeboat.

The vessel got into difficulties  25 miles off  the port at Anglesey, Wales.

Its distress call was picked up by a Stena Line ferry which was remained on standby close to the yacht until the lifeboat arrived on the scene.

The rescue operation was co-ordinated by Holyhead Coastguard after reports that the yacht had lost power and was starting to take on water.

Conditions in the Irish Sea were said to be mild, with some fog and very little wind.

A spokeswoman for Holyhead Coastguard said the two crew were safe and well while arrangements had been made to transport the yacht to a local boat yard


Things might be looking up for the troubled Belfast ship builder, Harland and Wolff. The company  is reported to have confirmed on Monday that the  yard was pursuing a variety of possible new contracts following the failure of its bid to land the QUEEN MARY II project.

A yard spokesman  refused to be drawn on the details, but said they were following up a number of possibilities in the cruise liner and offshore sectors. The spokesman said: "All our efforts are concentrated on trying to convert some of this potential new business into firm orders as quickly as possible."

"Although we were obviously disappointed at missing out on the Queen Mary II, we are now focusing our efforts on exploring every other opportunity which exists for new business."

It was reported at the weekend that Harland and Wolff was in  negotiation with a Norwegian shipping company over a contract to build up to six passenger liners.

Harland & Wolff has also been approached by a second firm with a tender for a shipbuilding project, in addition to the Norwegian contract, 

The company management also believe they are close to securing a major contract for oil rig conversion which analysts say could be worth £100m.

The tenders were discussed during a meeting between Brynjulv Mugaas, chief executive of Harland & Wolff, and senior officials from the Confederation of Shipbuilding and Engineering Unions in Belfast last week.

The president of the Northern Ireland CSEU admitted that the outlook for Harland and Wolff was more optimistic, though he warned that unless contracts were secured lay offs would have to commence in June.

March 19, 2000


A reminder for those visiting the site for the first time since early last week, there was once again a mid-week update and there will be another one in the coming week. It should be on-line by 22:00 on Wednesday March 22. Mid week updates are show highlighted in white on the "What's New" page.


Part of the pleasure of following the shipping scene is the constant round of rumours which circulate amongst ship enthusiasts. Some turn out to be completely inaccurate and wild. However, others have some substance or actually turn out to be true. It is often difficult at times to work out what is plausible and what is unlikely and what should be included in M&ISS or just ignored. I feel, however, that to completely ignore rumours would be a dis-service to readers, however, to put too much weight on them may also distort the picture. Consequently I will continue to include such material but of course it will be clearly indicated as a rumour. The more fanciful rumours, of course, being relegated to the "Lamb Banana Page". 

However, one rumour which really does refuse to go away is that concerning the take over of a ferry operator by the Virgin Group. The story has now been running since the new year, and now almost a quarter of the way through 2000, it still will not go away. If you visit the Lamb Banana page you will find the latest manifestation of it. 


A few weeks ago I mentioned that I was compiling a listing of ships which have appeared in films and TV series. Initially there was a good response to this request for information, however, material now appears to have dried up. This is just a reminder that the project is still on going and more information would be gratefully received.

The  terms of reference for the database are as follows:

The ships must:

  • be a passenger ship/ferry or freighter/service vessel posing as a passenger ship. 

  • have been registered in the UK or Ireland  or been used on services to/from the UK and/or Ireland. 

  • The vessel does not now have to be still in existence. 

  • Program details should, if possible, include the name of film or TV series (plus episode name if known) plus any other relevant notes including date of production/screening.

Finally a reminder to check back on the M&ISS site for the next update on Wednesday March 22 at around 22:00.

John Luxton

March 19, 2000.

Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Neil Ralphs, John Williams, Alan Lee and "others".


SEACAT ISLE OF MAN: reported to be 'running down' in Alfred Lock at 17.50  to proceed directly to Douglas. She A correspondent noted her sitting on the outside of the Victoria Pier on Saturday morning.

LADY OF MANN: Further to last week's rumour which was reported in a late update, I have received further information suggesting she will receive a SOLAS upgrade. Of course all the speculation regarding her future is likely to continue until the company makes an official announcement.


The cross-Channel service between Folkestone and Boulogne resumes on March 31, 2000. 

Recognised as one of the most attractive of the Channel ports, Boulogne is France’s premier fishing port, and home to Europe’s largest marine life centre, Nausicaa. With the SeaCat discharging passengers close to the town centre, Boulogne has retained its appeal as a day-trip destination.

New developments to the service for 2000 include a new-look passenger terminal and Hoverspeed’s largest store on the Continent, selling wine, beer, spirits, and tobacco, all at French duty rates and saving up to 50% on UK high street prices.

Departures from Folkestone at 07:45, 11:45, 14:30 and 18.00 with return sailings from Boulogne at 10:30, 14:00, 17:15 and 21:00.

Fares for a car and up to nine passengers start from just £89 for an Apex five day return or £165 for a standard return (book by March 31). Day returns start from £8 for foot passengers or £49 for a car and up to nine passengers.

HOVERSPEED GREAT BRITAIN - This year sees HSGB celebrate her Tenth Birthday. Originally built by Incat as the CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS she shot to public attention on her debut run by snatching the Hales Trophy for the Atlantic Blue Riband from the then holder SS UNITED STATES. She completed the trans-Atlantic crossing and passed the Bishop Rock Lighthouse, Isles of Scilly on June 23, 1990 with a crossing time of 3 days, 7 hours and 54 minutes. Thus shaving two hours and fifty four minutes off the UNITED STATES crossing time. HOVERSPEED GREAT BRITAIN held the Hales Trophy for eight years.



P&O Irish Sea's new Larne - Cairnryan ro-pax ferry, the EUROPEAN CAUSEWAY, will be launched on Monday (20 March) at Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Shimonoeki, Japan.

Following the launch, the vessel's remaining superstructure and fitting out will be completed by the yard, prior to the final delivery of the ship in August 2000.  The vessel will then enter service on the Larne - Cairnryan route replacing the PRIDE OF RATHLIN.

Capacity is confirmed as 410 passengers and a combination of 107 freight vehicles or 375 cars.

JETLINER the fast craft which is coming to the end of its charter to P&O cancelled its 09:15 Larne to Cairnryan sailing [and consequently the 11:00 Cairnryan to Larne] on Saturday March 18. The reason for the cancellation made by her captain at around 09:20 was as being a "significant technical" problem.

The cancellation was made with the vessel fully loaded, with a large compliment of football supporters amongst the passengers. Thus everyone was forced to disembark. However, the serious technical problem appears to have been resolved with her back in service for the 12:45 sailing. 


Meanwhile on March 16 the company announced preliminary results for 1999:


The key figures are as follows:



Total operating profit:
  Continuing operations
Discontinued operations





Headline profit



Profit/(loss) on sale of fixed assets and businesses



Profit on ordinary activities before taxation



Profit attributable to stockholders



Earnings per £1 nominal of deferred stock (FRS 3 basis)




The successful Netherlands's ship builder Van der Giessen de Noord, responsible for some superb Irish Sea tonnage as the ISLE OF INNISFREE, ISLE OF INISHMORE and BEN-MY-CHREE  has been awarded an Export Award by the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs.

The Export Award was offered to the President of van der Giessen-de Noord, Mr Dick Brink, during a special export meeting on March 14,  co-hosted by van der Giessen-de Noord and the Rotterdam Chamber of Commerce, who has nominated to the award.


NORTHERN MERCHANT - commences charter sailings for Norfolkline on March 20, 2000. She was observed on Saturday March 18,  in Dover laid up off No 1 berth Eastern Arm.


I have been forwarded a copy of the March edition of "Cammell Chat" the Cammell Laird newsletter.

Here is a round up of the ship news from around the groups yards taken from the news letter:


Work is ongoing on the SEAWAY CONDOR for Stolt Comex, which includes the fitting of a new 1,200 tonne mid-body section. STENA CALEDONIA  is in dock for a major dry docking and upgrade to SOLAS requirements and fitting internal steelwork. The DEEPWATER NAVIGATOR [ex-PEREGRINE VII] has successfully completed sea trials and is due to leave the yard shortly. SUPERSEACAT TWO remains in the wet basin where she moved last Sunday.

Several vessels have been into the Bidston Dock for dry docking and general refits including BEN-MY CHREE, HIGHLAND PIONEER, a rig Support vessel the tanker UNITED STAR and  PACIFIC SANDPIPER, a nuclear fuel carrier.

At Warbreck Engineering's Clarence Dry Docks work since January has included TORT & HEN a working barge for undertaking damage repairs and the tug GLADSTONE which has been in for Voith repairs.


The former Channel Islands ferry ISLAND COMMODORE is still undergoing conversion work to convert it into a cable-laying vessel whilst the ASTANA is having a cable deck spread on the aft end completed. Both vessels were involved in a re-naming ceremony last month by Mr. David Foot, the Chief Executive of Global Marine with the ISLAND COMMODORE being re-named WAVE SENTINEL and the ASTANA now known as the BOLD ENDURANCE. Other projects at the yard include three Cory Towage vessels in for general repairs and the ARCO ADUR in for load line conversion.  The ARCO BECK is undergoing general repairs, both ARCO ADUR and ARCO BECK are owned by Hanson Aggregates.


CSO INSTALLER, the fifth Global Marine vessel to be docked in the North East in recent months has arrived at the Hebburn yard. CSO INSTALLER is to be converted to a cable handling vessel with approximately 300 tonnes of steelwork being carried out together with accommodation upgrades. New cable equipment will also be installed onto the vessel.

The cruise ship EDINBURGH CASTLE has left after extensive repairs to bring her back into classification. She has been chartered to Premier Cruise Lines and is heading for Cape Canaveral, USA.

Work is continues on the AFRICA MERCY (ex DRONNING INGRID) on conversion from a rail ferry to a hospital ship for Mercy Ships.

The vessel is due to be re-named on April 4, at a ceremony that will be performed by Dame Norma Major DBE, Patron of Mercy Ships UK.

Mercy Ships is an international Christian charity, which takes medical care, relief and development aid to some of the world’s poorest countries. The DRONNING INGRID is being converted into one of the world’s largest hospital ships. The vessel will become part of a fleet of three ships operated by Mercy Ships that travel the world with the aim of serving one million people each year.


MUZAFFER AZIZ  entered the yard for general repair and whilst in dock underwent a general survey. This survey revealed around 150 tonnes of steel renewals and repairs are now underway. AMPURIAS is in #1 dry dock for general repairs which include full blasting and coating in addition to steel repairs to bulbous bow and general survey items. KINSHIP underwent successful last minute testings to mooring chain stoppers as she prepared for her next cargo collection, the tests were completed within the required time limit. Work on JAMESTOWN has included thickness gauging tests recently completed by Cammell Laird QA department.


The BUZZY B, a 90 ft sailing yacht is undergoing major refit work at the Gosport facility and work is well underway while the BLUE LEOPARD is in for external repairs with the possibility of an interior galley refit. The ZACA A Te MOANA, a 110ft sailing yacht is undergoing major interior refit after initially entering Campers for machinery and uplifting work. The CASSIOPEIA, an ex-marble carrying wooden yacht is having extensive re-planking work along with repaint and modifications.


Cammell Laird once again exhibited successfully at Cruise Shipping as one of the leading companies on the British pavilion. The show provided the company with an opportunity to highlight the cruise ship contracts completed within the Group over the past twelve months with the EDINBURGH CASTLE, SUNBIRD and CAROUSEL all being docked at the Group’s yards for refit projects.

One of the main talking points of the show was the arrival in November 2000 at the Birkenhead yard of COSTA CLASSICA for Costa Crociere. This will be the world’s largest ever, cruise ship conversion. The COSTA CLASSICA will be lengthened by 44.6m to 265.4 metres with an increase in tonnage from 53,000 to 79,000 tonnes. The extension will include the addition of an entire new deck and will increase the vessels accommodation capacity to a maximum of 2,485 passengers.


The Liverpool Daily Post reported this week that Cammell Laird's involvement in a bid to participate in the construction of six vessels for the Royal Fleet Auxiliary could be put in jeopardy should the government choose a tender which includes construction at either a yard at Guangzhou in China or yards in Korea owned by Daewoo or Hyundai.

The government requires six new RFA vessels for the Rapid Reaction Force to be built under the Private Finance Initiative. Under the PFI the ships will be operated by a private company. Cammell Laird has teamed up with Maersk UK which is one of the consortia that has been short listed for the work. However, Maersk UK must also produce other bids, one from its own yard in Denmark and another in the far east.

An other consortium on the short list is a joint Italian-Belgian partnership between Cobelfret and Grimaldi working in conjunction with the troubled Belfast shipbuilder Harland & Wolff. In an editorial the Liverpool Daily Post describes the idea of building the RFA vessels in China as "half baked". The Ministry of Defence is  expected to announce its decision in about a month. Construction of the vessels beginning in the summer.


The Belfast Telegraph reported this week that councillors are seeking an urgent meeting with management and senior shop stewards from the crisis-hit Harland and Wolff shipyard.

Jim Rodgers, chairman of Belfast City Council's development committee, said both management and shop stewards have been invited to separate meetings of the committee." We cannot give the Yard financial aid, but we want to give civic leadership and support", he added.

"We want to discuss with management and shop stewards what assistance we can

Meanwhile it is reported that plans to build an £85m ($134m) luxury vessel the NEW BRITAIN that would promote Britain worldwide, save Harland & Wolff, and increase the national cadet intake has been put on hold after doubts over financial viability. 


The Penzance Dockyard of Semple Cochrane [Formerly Holmans and latterly the Penzance Dry Dock and Engineering Company.] has been in the news this week.

Since last October the dry dock has been occupied by the very large luxury yacht LAMU. The yacht is the largest epoxy resin vessel in the world. However, attempts to float the yacht out of the dry dock and tow it around to Penzance wet dock for stepping of the two 47 metre masts failed.

The blame is being placed on abnormally high barometric pressure which is preventing tide from lifting the yacht off the blocks in the dry dock. The company is hopeful of being able to float the vessel out in the coming week. Michael Thomas, dockyard managing director, told the local newspaper that "We're just waiting for the tide to build back up again from Sunday onwards."  

Back Home Up Next

March 15, 2000


Once again another mid week update. Not quite so much news this week, but then no-one can predict the quantity of news which will arrive. This update also features two add ional Gallery Pages.

Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, George Robinson, Robert Watson, Norm Vernal and "others".


SUPERSEACAT TWO - An announcement by Manchester Branch members at the local WSS Meeting on Tuesday evening suggests that there is a possibility that SSC2 may travel up the Manchester Ship Canal as part of a promotion for the Lowry Centre before entering service on the Belfast to Heysham route.

SUPERSEACAT THREE - A 49 year old man from the Wirral was airlifted off the vessel following a suspected heart attack on Sunday March 12. A helicopter from RAF Valley took the man to hospital in Bangor, North Wales.

LADY OF MANN - Visitors to the site on Sunday evening between 21:00 and 00:00 will have missed some late additional information concerning the Lady. It can be found immediately after this update.


Irish Ferries won the prestigious 'Ferry Freight Operator of the Year' at the IFW European Freighting Industry Awards 2000 ceremony held in London on March 13.

P&O Stena Line and Stena Line were declared in the runner up positions.

The judges commented particularly on Irish Ferries strong commitment to Freight during the last five years, evidenced by the shipbuilding programme. In particular, they praised the record of reliability and punctuality of their Irish Sea services, along with their dedication to improving facilities for freight drivers ashore and afloat. Reference to their unique twin-tier loading / discharge arrangements at our Irish Sea ports was made whilst the decision to build 'ULYSSES' received special mention.


Ships listed as currently detained at Irish Sea Ports through various deficiencies by the Maritime & Coastguard Agency. For full details 


Place of Detention




Ellesmere Port


Still under detention March 13.




Still under detention end February.


In recent years there has been much debate about fast ferries, their advantages and disadvantages over conventional ships. 

From Canada, news has come of the sudden demise of British Columbia Ferry Corporation's PACIFICATS. 

The government of British Columbia has decided to abandon its fast ferry program by sell off the vessels and absorbing the massive debt of the British Columbia Ferry Corporation.

Minister Joy MacPhail stated that "The fast-ferry program was a failed experiment and we now need to move on. The Pacificats will be but up for sale immediately."

 The three catamaran ferries which have been completed are already hundreds of millions
 of dollars over cost and have added half a billion dollars to the ferry corporation's debt.

The initial projected building cost of the Canadian built vessels, was $210 million. However the cost has now reached $470 million. It is unlikely that much of this money can be recouped from the sale of the vessels which are being offered for just $40 million each, thus creating a loss of over $340 million.

Though the losses are high Paul Ramsay, British Columbia Finance Minister, said that it was better to bail out now rather than wait until later. "What we're trying to do and I think what we're succeeding in doing, is making sure that British Columbia Ferries  can look ahead and not back. Look ahead to a future that isn't a billion dollars in debt."

Some critics are wondering if the government isn't being too hasty trying to sell  the ships at a time when the market is very soft.

The first vessel EXPLORER was introduced in July 1998 on the Vancouver to Nanaimo route. Island residents  complained about  the huge wake thrown by the ferry and said the seats weren't even  comfortable. To add insult to injury the ferry broke down often and proved to be unreliable.

In  January, the British Columbia government was forced to admit that the fast-ferries were providing poorer service. One of the PACIFICATS  by a more dependable, conventional ferry in January.


Some new web sites which have been brought to my attention:

History of Hoylake, Merseyside, which includes some Maritime Material

Whilst not of direct maritime interest I have been asked to mention which is an online literary agent based in Ireland. It is a place where writer's who wish to advertise their work can have it published over the internet.

Additional Late Update March 13, 2000

The following information was received in the early hours of Monday, March 13.

LADY OF MANN: I have received information from Adrian Sweeney that there is a rumour gaining ground on the Isle of Man that a buyer has already been found for the LADY OF MANN after the TT. 

The buyer is suggested to be from either the Philippines or Portugal and that Sea Containers have no intention of spending money on upgrading her.

Consequently the post TT excursions will be her last and the Round the Island Cruise on June 17 will be her farewell sailing. It is claimed that Sea Containers will cite cost as the reason and will reassure the island that fast craft and an additional  chartered vessel during the TT will serve the needs of the island admirably.

This it must be emphasised is only a rumour but it should be noted that Hamish Ross has been very careful not to commit the ship to anything at all after June. In fact the announcement of the Llandudno excursion on the 14th June seemed to suggest that it was the excursion for the year.

JHL's COMMENT: One hopes that the above rumour is nothing more than that and there is no substance in it. However, until Sea Containers are prepared to make a statement concerning the future of the LADY OF MANN and her compliance with the SOLAS requirements its is certain that rumours such as these will circulate.

March 12, 2000


This week saw two mid week updates, the one planned for Wednesday March 8, and an extra update which appeared on March 9 was posted following the arrival of significant amount of additional news. These appear below this update.  Providing a mid-week update has certainly reduced pressure on weekends and helps to keep the news bulletins up to date.

This week I will once again post a mid week update on Wednesday March 16 at around 21:00.

To identify mid-week updates these will be highlighted in white on the "What's New Page".

Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Stan Basnett, Brian Chambers, Norm Vernal, Joe Butler, Stephen Errity.


LADY OF MANN - The company has confirmed the Llandudno to Douglas cruise on Wednesday 14 June. Departure from Llandudno will be at 10:00 with arrival at Douglas at 13:20. The return sailing from Douglas to Llandudno will depart 19:00 with arrival back at Llandudno at 22:20. Reservations should be made at the Douglas office by phoning 01624 661661. Bookings at Thomas Cook in Llandudno will attract a £1.00 per person fee. The fare is £19.00 adults and £10.00 children. 

Managing Director Hamish Ross said:" Our company has a long associations with the port of Llandudno. Our special day excursions in recent years have been immensely popular and space has quickly sold out. We anticipate another full sailing this year and look forward to welcoming  our passengers aboard the LADY OF MANN.

The following report by the Isle of Man Examiner has been forwarded concerning the future of the LADY OF MANN

"The Steam Packet is assessing the work needed to upgrade the LADY OF MANN to meet safety specifications.

Transport Minister Tony Brown, responding to a question from Leonard Singer (APG Ramsey) in the House of keys on Tuesday, said no decision had yet been made on whether to move ahead with the work.

Mrs. Singer also quizzed Mr. Brown on whether the Steam packet was planning to provide a 'suitable back-up conventional vessel' for next year if it chose not to upgrade the LADY OF MANN.

Mr. Brown said "My Department understands that the Steam Packet is presently carefully assessing the SOLAS compliance work required to the LADY OF MANN in conjunction with the relevant authorities. As such, no decision has yet been made with regards to the possible upgrade of the LADY OF MANN.  My department understands that the Steam packet is hopeful it will be able to justify completing the SOLAS works, subject to commercial realities and changes in future requirements". Mr. Brown added: "The question of back-up vessels for 2001 will be a matter for the company to determine, once it has
made a decision with regards to the LADY OF MANN and determined its schedules and fleet depositions for that year".

Mr. Singer raised the issue of the user agreement between the Government and the Steam packet. He asked whether the company was obliged to provide a conventional vessel under the agreement, and wanted to know what action the Government could take to ensure a back-up vessel was provided.
Mr. Brown said the requirement of a type of vessel was not part of the agreement."

SUPERSEACAT TWO - The ship was scheduled to depart from dry dock at Cammell Laird on the Sunday afternoon tide [March 12]. A transmission to Mersey Radio was received around 14:15 indicating that the dry dock gate was open but there were difficulties starting the engines. She eventually emerged at around 15:00 running only on one engine. She then entered the wet basin.

On completion of her refit work she is expected to lay up in Belfast and undertake crew training before reopening the Belfast - Heysham service on April 18.


MIDNIGHT MERCHANT - it appears likely that the fourth of the Merchant Ferries vessels will be deployed on the company's Liverpool to Dublin service to provide additional capacity. As reported a few weeks ago the third vessel NORTHERN MERCHANT will be chartered to NORFOLK line for operation between Dover and Dunkirk. 


The MOUNTWOOD is currently being refitted in Clarence Dry Dock, by Cammell Laird subsidiary Warbreck Engineering.


JONATHAN SWIFT departed from Cammell Laird on Thursday and resumed service between Dublin and Holyhead with the 06:15 from Dublin on Friday March 10.

NORMANDY arrived back at Rosslare on March 10 following her dry docking in Poland.  NORMANDY took up the summer service to France the same evening with the 22:30 sailing from Rosslare Europort.


STENA LYNX III returned to Rosslare Europort ready to take up  the summer Rosslare - Fishguard Service. The Incat vessel arrived at 12:30 and docked at No 4 Berth, she departed back to Fishguard at 13.05.

On Saturday, March 11 STENA LYNX III services were cancelled due to technical difficulties, passengers were diverted to the 21:30 STENA INVICTA sailings.

LARNE HARBOUR by Gary Andrews
March 11, 2000

The land reclamation project at the south end of the harbour is progressing really well with some of it already surfaced and virtually ready for use. I'm not sure how much is left to be reclaimed but it is a much larger area than I thought - you might be looking at a site for 50 + trailers.

The land levelling exercise at the north end (which is providing the material for the land reclamation!) is also going well.  The highest part of this area was maybe 12 foot above the rest of the port and included an old "Pie" electronics factory.  The area where the factory was is now completely level and there is only a relatively small area beyond that still to be levelled which is maybe only 4 feet high.

The overall effect of the two projects will be to provide excellent vehicle marshalling areas of the type any port would be envious!

I saw the 03:00 EUROPEAN NAVIGATOR sailing from Fleetwood arriving and it appeared to be close to capacity.  Meanwhile the EUROPEAN TRADER's 11.30 to Cairnryan appeared to also be fairly full.  The EUROPEAN ENDEAVOUR was at the Curran Quay having weekend maintenance carried out (work appeared to be taking place on her bow door).


The next meeting of the Merseyside Branch will be at the James Parsons Lecture Theatre, Liverpool John Moores University at 19:30 on Tuesday March 14. The lecture will entitled "North to South by Norwest" and presented by Don Mac Arthur.

The Manchester Branch will meet at Britons Protection Hotel, 50 Great Bridgewater Street, Manchester at 19.45 hours on Thursday March 16. The meeting is billed as a "Naval Night" presented by Mike Thompson


The Department of the Marine has not accepted the application of Dublin Port to reclaim 52 acres of land for expansion of the port facilities. Apparently the Department wants a full Environmental Impact Study to be carried out and further consultations to be undertaken with local residents and other interests.

Steven Errity informs writes that the South Wall will be closed to the public until December 2000 whilst renovation work continues on the wall and Poolbeg Lighthouse. The wall will be completely resurfaced which should make for a more pleasant walk but enthusiasts will be deprived of an excellent vantage point for photography for most of 2000!


The replica emigrant ship JEANIE JOHNSTON which is being constructed at Blennerville, Tralee will be launched on 18 April for final fitting out and stepping of masts. 

The ship is a replica of the original JEANIE JOHNSTON was constructed in Quebec City in 1847  by the Canadian shipyard of  John Munn  for the Donovan family of Tralee.  The vessel was a triple-masted barque, 123 feet long and weighing in at 408 tons. She was constructed of oak and pine, and was copper-fastened. Like the majority of the ships of the period she was a cargo and passenger vessel. She brought timber and foodstuffs to Ireland and took on passengers for the return journeys to the United States and Canada. Her passenger capacity was 200 and she carried a crew of 17.

The original ship made at least 16 voyages from Tralee to the east coast of America between 1848 and 1855. Her main route being to Quebec.

It was during the winter of 1848 during the great famine that the JEANIE JOHNSTON arrived at Tralee from New York carrying 360 tones of Indian Corn, 1000 barrels of flower, 1,100 bags of yellow meal and 30 tons of wheat seed.

During the Winter of 1848, at the height of the great famine, the JEANIE JOHNSTON arrived back in Tralee from New York with badly need famine relief. The cargo consisted of 360 tons of Indian corn, 1000 barrels of flour, 1,100 bags of yellow meal and 30 tons of wheat seed.

During her career she carried hundreds of emigrants to north America without a single fatality.

The Donovan family sold the JEANIE JOHNSTON in 1856 to William Johnson of Tyneside, England who continued to operate her on trans-Atlantic routes until she foundered in the mid-Atlantic. Her safety record was maintained to the end as she sank slowly giving time for her crew to abandon ship and be rescued by a Dutch ship the SOPHIE ELIZABETH.

The replica vessel was designed by Fred Walker, Chief Naval Architect to the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich who was also responsible for the  design of the Australian replica of Captain Cook's HMS ENDEAVOUR which was built in Freemantle.

The keel of the replica vessel was laid by President Mary McAleese, patron of the JEANIE JOHNSTON project on May 5, 1998. Construction work has included contributions from young people throughout Ireland.

When completed the replica JEANIE JOHNSTON will sail to North America in the Summer of 2000 retracing the route of the Irish emigrant ships. After spending 12 months visiting ports along the east coast of the USA and Canada as well as the Great Lakes she will return to Ireland in 2001.


HMS LIVERPOOL & HMS CROMER arrived on Friday March 10. The Sandown Class minesweeper HMS CROMER [M103] built by Vosper Thorneycroft in 1991, berthed at Canada Half Tide basin outside the Merseyside Maritime Museum.

Cammell Laird built HMS LIVERPOOL berthed at Canada #1 Branch North after doing a fast run past the Liverpool waterfront. I understand that the wash from the LIVERPOOL caused some minor damage to the stern ramp of SUPERSEACAT THREE which was berthed at the Landing Stage. HMS LIVERPOOL then entered the dock system and berthed at Canada Dock. She was open to the public on the afternoons of March 11 and 12. 

Photographs of HMS LIVERPOOL & HMS CROMER have been posted.


Friday saw great disappointment for Harland & Wolff. There had been considerable hope that the company would secure its future through obtaining the contract for construction of QUEEN MARY 2. Only on Thursday Carnival had been suggesting that H&W were still in with a good chance.

However on Friday morning it was announced that Harland and Wolff had not been successful in securing the contract from Miami based Carnival Cruise Lines to construct QUEEN MARY 2 for the company's Cunard line subsidiary. The contract  will go to the French shipyard Chantiers de L'Atlantique.

The yard now faces the threat of closure with the loss of more than 1,700 jobs as the company has no new orders on its books and will complete existing work by June.


Solway Harvester is to be lifted by the MV SEAWAY  EAGLE during the first 2 weeks in April weather

The specialised vessel is due to work in the Morecambe Bay gas field at that time and is to fit the lift in while operating in the area.

There had been previous proposals to use the Mersey Mammoth does not look like going ahead now.


March 9, 2000


Welcome to the second mid-week update. The arrival of several news items this evening resulted in the decision to issue a second update. First of all this news update starts with a correction.

Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Roel Broer and others


Roel Broer has written with information concerning the Dutch coaster Bernice which grounded in Belfast Lough. 

The ship is owned by Rederij van der Kooi, Pijnacker -Netherlands and not Paul Hase as stated. When BERNICE departed under tow she was heading for  Vlaardingen for repairs at the yard of "VlaardingenOost". She arrived at Vlaardingen on February 6, 2000.



The future of the Belfast to Stranraer route had been uncertain since the company's main Ireland - Scotland service was switched to Troon in April 1999. Following the switch, Dumfries and Galloway Council indicated that they would terminate the company's lease on the terminal at Stranraer unless service frequency on the Belfast - Stranraer service was increased.

On Thursday March 9, Sea Containers announced that following the success of the Belfast - Troon service, it would concentrate it Ireland - Scotland service at the Ayrshire port.

Regular services from Stranraer will cease on March 13, but Stranraer will serve as a back-up port in the event of operational need. Staff affected by the decision will be offered a transfer to other SeaCat operations.

Last year the service from Troon carried 202,000 passengers and 44,000 vehicles and with a crossing time of just two-and-a-half hours to Belfast, quickly established itself as a very popular route for passengers travelling from Glasgow, Ayr or Edinburgh.

Hamish Ross, Managing Director of Sea Containers Irish Sea Operations, said the decision was in direct response to the positive feedback from passengers who want the shortest journey time between the main centres of population in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

"Troon, with its proximity to Glasgow and the Central Belt and excellent road and rail links, has proved to be an attractive gateway to Northern Ireland boosting tourism generally," said Mr. Ross.

"We are keen that staff affected directly by our decision to consolidate will remain with the Company and we will be having discussions in the next few weeks on the various opportunities and alternatives available," he said.

"We will also be meeting with Dumfries and Galloway Council to explain our decision and discuss the issues arising from it," said Mr. Ross.

Sea Containers transformed the Irish Sea North Channel ferry market in 1992 with the introduction of the world's first high-speed car and passenger carrying catamaran SEACAT SCOTLAND. The introduction of fast craft services facilitated day trips between Scotland and Ireland. Since then both Stena Line and P&O have both introduced fast ferry services on the northern corridor.

In March 1999 Sea Containers re-opened the Belfast-Heysham service after nearly a quarter of a century and  SEACAT DANMARK carried 143,000 passengers and 40,000 vehicles up to the end of 1999. 

For 2000 SUPERSEACAT TWO will be introduced to the Belfast - Heysham route which will reopen on April 18 providing increased passenger and vehicle capacity.


Passenger figures for the Harbours Division for February 2000 show a 9.8% increase on the same period last year. February 2000 recording a total of 17,945 compared to 16,350 in February 1999.

The year to date figure of 32,963 passengers shows a 15.3% increase over the 28,582 recorded in 1999.

Car traffic in February showed an increase of 5.8% from 5,111 in 1999 to 5,405 in February 2000.

The year to date figure of 10,092 vehicles shows a 10.2% increase over the 9,158 recorded in 1999.

Passenger figure breakdown by route is as follows:




plus 13%




plus 7%



Freight traffic metreage increased by 16.8% from 25,467  to 29,738 over when compared to February 1999.

Director of Harbours, Captain Michael Brew, commented: "The reintroduction of fast craft with SUPERSEACAT THREE commecning weekend services on 24 February 2000, has helped to contribute to record passenger figures for any February. This is the fifth consecutive month for record traffic figures which highlights the strong growth in year round traffic. March will see further increases in fast craft capacity with the SuperSeaCat Service to Liverpool becoming daily from 24 March and SEACAT ISLE OF MAN coming into service on 30th March."

STENA LINE by Gary Andrews

Marine Atlantic's purchase of the STENA CHALLENGER appears to have fallen through.  The deal was due to have been announced last Friday but it is reported that at the last moment Stena increased the price by Canadian $4 million.

Negotiations continue with Stena but agreement now looks rather unlikely and the firm is considering trying to charter an appropriate vessel (said to be able to sleep up to 1,500 passengers).

Judging by reports from Newfoundland, Marine Atlantic will be savaged politically if they buy the 'Challenger which is far from the vessel that they seem to be expecting.


HMS LIVERPOOL [D92] will be on Merseyside from March 10 to 16. The Cammell Laird built Sheffield Class Type 42 Destroyer is expected to arrive at Canada Dock at 11:00 on March 10.

HMS LIVERPOOL will be open to the public on Saturday and Sunday, March 11 & 12 from 14:00 to 17:00. Last admissions will be 16:30.

Whilst on Merseyside, the ship's crew will attend a service at Liverpool Cathedral on Monday March 13.  


The Mersey Inshore Rescue Service which is based at Liverpool Landing Stage has renamed a rescue RIB the MERSEY JAGUAR. The renaming comes as a result of the granting of £80,000 sponsorship by Jaguar Cars towards the boat's £80,000 annual running cost.


It was announced on March 9, 2000 that the British government has offered an aid package to assist Belfast shipbuilders Harland and Wolff win the multi-million pound Cunard super liner contract it needs to secure its future.

The Department of Trade and Industry announced it had agreed "in principle" to guarantee finance for the construction of QUEEN MARY 2 should HARLAND & WOLFF secure the contract.

On Wednesday, March 8, H&W issued 90 day redundancy notices to all its 1,745 staff as the company has no new orders on its books and will finish existing work by June.

A government spokesman said it had been working closely with the company and understood the importance of securing the Cunard order.

Trade and Industry Secretary Stephen Byers met Harland and Wolff owner Fred Olsen and local MPs to discuss the situation, according to the government spokesman.

He said: "The DTI and Northern Ireland Office have now informed the company that we can offer a funding package, including an offer in principle of finance under the Home Shipbuilding Credit Guarantee Scheme. The details of the package are commercially confidential."

The guarantee, means the UK government will provide loans of 80% of the contract value of a ship during construction.

This money would be repaid on completion of the contract and payment by the purchaser.

East Belfast MP Peter Robinson, whose constituency includes the shipyard said: "The company is such an integral part of the Northern Ireland economy that if it closes there will be a depression throughout the whole business community.

"Harland and Wolff face either a feast or a famine. But if they don't get this order, then the serving of notices makes it fairly clear it will be difficult for the yard to trade."

Cunard president, Larry Pimentel, has stated that the company was looking for the most competitive bid and Harland and Wolff remained in contention.

Mr Pimentel said: "They absolutely have a chance but it is all going to get down to economics and also an ability to have terms and conditions that make sense."

It is expected that Cunard will make a decision within the next two weeks.

Should Harland and Wolff secure the Cunard contract it is understood that some of the fitting out work will be sub contracted to Cammell Laird.

March 8, 2000


Welcome to this mid week news and site update. There are a number of new items which can be accessed via the "What's New" section. 

Acknowledgements: Severn Princess Restoration Group, Gary Andrews, Patrick Hill, Paul Heine, Brendan O'Friel and "others"


LADY OF MANN - The long term future of the last classic Isle of Man Steam Packet Company ship remains in some doubt.

This week the Isle of Man Government responded to a question posed by Leonard Singer MHK during question time at Tynwald. 

Transport Minister Tony Brown MHK responded by making the following points:

  • No decision had yet been taken by the Steam Packet on the LADY'S upgrading.

  • The BEN MY CHREE alone could meet the requirements of the User Agreement
    for a conventional vessel.

  • The LADY OF MANN was used to help the company grow the market in excess of the
    requirements of the user agreement ("which it has been very successful in doing") and as such any upgrading of the Lady was a commercial matter for the company.


In recent weeks there has been much speculation as to whether the Belfast ship yard of Harland and Wolf would secure the contract to construct the new Cunard super liner QUEEN MARY 2. At one point it had been anticipated that an announcement would be made concerning the QUEEN MARY 2 contract during the present week.

This now appears to have been put back by at least another two weeks and consequently the entire workforce of Harland and Wolff in Belfast has been served with a 90-day protective redundancy notice. 

Notices have been issued to over 1,700 employees in the ship building division and two subsidiaries because of an empty order book. The survival of the yard now looks set to depend on securing the QUEEN MARY 2 contract.

The company said that it had  no option but to put the workers on notice because of the uncertainty of securing future orders. 

The yard says it can deliver the  QUEEN MARY 2 on schedule and at the right price, however, there is uncertainty as to whether the financial package required to build the ship can be assembled.

The company recently lost an order to Korea and the Royal Navy orders have been put back by the UK Government. It had been hoped that the yard my be in line to construct one of the new super carriers for the navy, though this project would not commence for a few years.


The "Friends of the Severn Princess" have announced that their new look web site is now complete. []

The site details the complete history of the project so far, right up to the preparations to remove the engines from the vessel last weekend.  When the engines are removed pictures will be posted on the site and subscribers to the e-mail news letter will be notified.

The SEVERN PRINCESS Voyage Home account now includes additional items, particularly about the school of dolphins which accompanied the Princess all the way from Kilkieran, across the tempestuous Irish Sea, and turned back only as she entered the safety of Mumbles Harbour, on the Welsh coast.

The difficult 500 mile journey was completed at little more than walking pace and took three days and three nights, mostly in a howling gale.


The COMMODORE CLIPPER [near sister to Sea Container's BEN-MY-CHREE] which entered service on the Commodore Ferries service to the Channel Islands in the autumn has been withdrawn from service for at least one week following problems with the starboard drive shaft.

The problems arose last  Saturday on the approach to St Peter Port harbour. She entered the harbour astern, on one engine. She then proceeded to St Helier where she was taken out of service pending repairs. 

March 5, 2000


Welcome to another major update this week. I am pleased to report that the request for information on ships on TV and in Movies has resulted in an encouraging response and that an updated listing is now available on the web site. 

Once again there is more material available for inclusion than time available to include it all, this wasn't helped by a trip on SUPERSEACAT THREE yesterday! A voyage report will follow soon.


This week I will make an additional site update on Wednesday evening to try and get through the backlog of material which I wish to get on line. It is not known if this update will include additional news at this stage or not.

Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Joe Butler, John Williams, Neil Ralphs, Adrian Sweeney, Patrick Hill, Graham Mackenzie and Mathias Wolff and "others". 


SUPERSEACAT TWO it is understood that the "T" foil still remains to be fitted at the end of the past week. Work on terminal modifications at Belfast to accommodate SSC2 are also reported not to have commenced yet.

SUPERSEACAT THREE It appears that SSC3 did a "Liverpool Bay Cruise" on Wednesday March 1, 2000. A correspondent observed her passing C12 approx 10:55, but she returned passing C12 inbound at 13:05. Her return was due to deteriorating sea conditions.

Prior to reopening the Liverpool - Dublin service on February 24, earlier that week SSC3 had visited Holyhead for berthing trials. The berthing trials were understood to be to ascertain the suitability of Holyhead in case of the need for diversion.


The company have announced record breaking traffic figures for January 2000.

January 2000 saw the following impressive increases over last year:-

Vehicle carryings up over 15% from 4,047 (1999) to 4,687 vehicles.
Passenger carryings up almost 23% from 12,232 (1999) to 15,018 passengers.
Commercial meterage up over 8% from 23,394 (1999) to 25,280 metres.

Isle of Man Steam Packet Managing Director, Hamish Ross said "Following an excellent 1999, we are in top gear entering an exciting year 2000, providing greater capacities, greater frequencies and superior speeds. Our new service enhancements and widely available range of year round promotional fares will ensure that 2000 is another exceptional year".


Local press reports that there is some doubt over the exact nature that the new passenger facilities will take. Whilst the former Silja Line floating terminal PONTUS has been shown in publicity photographs attached to the north end of Prince's Landing Stage this may only be a short term solution. Alec Don of the Mersey Docks & Harbour Company planning department said in the Liverpool Daily Post that providing passenger facilities actually on Princes Parade at development plot 7 had not been ruled out.


Following the announcement last week that Sea Containers were abandoning the seasonal route it appears that another company is considering reopening the seasonal Irish Sea route.

Adverts in local papers have appeared from a Campbeltown Company known as Southsea Shipping Company. Southsea Shipping is inviting the submission of constructive information to enable them to assess the viability of the Ballycastle to Campbeltown route.

During the week the "Oban Times" reported that, a meeting was held in Glasgow on Wednesday 1st March, when three prospective operators outlined their plans to run the Ballycastle service.  They met with the Scottish Office, Argyll and Bute Council, Moyle District Council and Argyll and the Isles Enterprise.


The Appledore Ship yard in North Devon which recently completed the latest vessel for the Irish Naval service is reported to have given 90 day redundancy notices to 300 employees, about half of the yard's staff. The company will complete many existing contracts by then and has issued the notices as a precautionary measure should they fail to secure further orders.


KONINGIN BEATRIX departed from Cammell Laird on Monday February 28. She will operate on the Dublin to Holyhead route covering for the refit of STENA CHALLENGER. She is expected to return to Rosslare on 20/21 March. KB's schedule on the Dublin to Holyhead service is rather different from that operated by STENA CHALLENGER. She departs Dublin 12:00 and 23:59 and Holyhead 06:00 and 18:00

STENA CALEDONIA arrived at Cammell Laird on Tuesday February 29 for refit and SOLAS upgrade, She initially berthed in the wet basin before moving to #5 dry dock, which had been occupied by KONINGIN BEATRIX.


Stena Line's 1999 results reveals that the company performed dismally during the year with losses increasing over those for 1998.

The abolition of tax and duty free retail sales, as well as major one-off costs in the fourth quarter, mainly the sale of the shares in SPN, have heavily affected Stena Line´s results for 1999. The loss before tax was SEK 496 million compared to a loss of SEK 324 million in 1998.

Result 1998 and 1999 in summary

Full year January- December

SEK million






Operating expenses



Income from operations



Income/loss before income taxes



Net income/loss



’1999 was a difficult year,’ says Bo Severed, Stena Line´s CEO. ’When tax and duty free sales disappeared we lost 20% of our revenue overnight, and it was a very profitable area. Despite all the restructuring efforts over the year’s, the results were worse than last year.’

The year 2000 will continue to include cost-cutting measures, as well as future investment. New onboard concepts will be launched, investments in the Internet will continue and a training programme introduced for all employees, mainly based on further developing a modern service culture. The company’s new vision, objectives and strategy focus more clearly on the customer. And, during the autumn, the first of two new vessels will go into operation on the Hook of Holland - Harwich route.

’The changes we made last year in the form of new pricing strategies for both travel and freight are beginning to have an effect and will positively influence the results this year. But because we will have a full year’s affect of the abolition of tax and duty free sales, an upturn will not be seen before the latter part of the year,’ he concludes.


JETLINER returned to service on March 1. She will operate for the next few weeks before the Austal catamaran SUPERSTAR EXPRESS enters service.

Further a field the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company have announced that it has signed a contract with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd for the construction of two 113,000 grt cruise ships. These are the largest cruise ships ever ordered by the P&O Group and the first to be ordered from MHI.

The ships are for the Princess Cruises fleet and are due for delivery in July 2003 and May 2004 respectively. They are part of an expansion programme which will double the size of the Princess fleet over the next five years and will support the expansion of Princess into the Caribbean.

The ships will have many innovative features and will further extend the Princess concept of Grand Class Cruising with its emphasis on choice, innovation and customer service. They will have diesel and gas turbine propulsion. Not only is this both efficient and environmentally sound but it will also enable better space utilisation with the gas turbine being installed in the funnel area, thereby enabling an even wider range of public rooms and on board facilities to be introduced.

Lord Sterling, Chairman of P&O, who was present for the contract signature, said: "Although this is the first time that our cruise ships will have been built by Mitsubishi it cements a long standing relationship that P&O has with the company. MHI is one of the most technically advanced yards in the world and we have every confidence that they will deliver outstanding vessels for Princess."

Remaining outside the Irish Sea area but no doubt of great interest to those following the shipping scene is news concerning the 60,600 grt cruise ferries ordered from Fincantieri for the Hull - Rotterdam service.

On March 1, 2000 a keel laying ceremony took place at the Marghera yard of the Fincantieri Group in Venice, Italy. The first cruise ferry will be delivered in April 2001. A second sister ship will be ready for delivery in December 2001.

The breadth of the keel is 31.5 meters and its weight is 260 tons which can be compared to that of 260 average cars. The first vessel, which will sail under British flag, will have a capacity of 1,360 passengers, 250 cars and 3,400 running meters of freight space plus 1,500 running meters for double stacked cargo. At 60,600 grt it will be the biggest cruise ferry in the world. It will introduce a new concept in luxury accommodation and innovative facilities on the overnight sailings from Hull to Rotterdam (Europoort). "These state of the art vessels will catapult us into a new Cruise ferry era", says Peter A. van den Brandhof, Managing Director of P&O North Sea Ferries.

After the keel laying ceremony Peter van den Brandhof also revealed the names of the new cruise ferries, stating that "Following P & O tradition and wishing to recognise the importance of the Ports of Hull and Rotterdam to P & O North Sea Ferries the British flagged vessel will be named ‘Pride of Hull’ and the Dutch flagged one ‘Pride of Rotterdam’ " . Fincantieri, renowned for building cruise ships for P&O Princess and other leading cruise operators, is delighted to confirm that the building is progressing according to schedule. Mr Attilio Tirelli, Yard Director of Marghera Shipyard: "We are proud to be building the biggest Cruise ferries in the world for P&O North Sea Ferries and that we are able to deliver them to on time".


A report in the Belfast Telegraph this week revealed that the outcome of Harland and Wolf's bid to construct the £400million QUEEN MARY 2 may be revealed next week.

There is widespread speculation that Carnival Corporation, the Cunard Line parent company, will announce its decision at the annual cruise convention in Miami which runs from March 7 to 11.

However, industry sources suggest that it could take Carnival longer to come to a final discussion due to the scale of the project.

Harland and Wolf are reported to have been in talks with a number of UK marine outfitting companies including Antrim-based Mivan, which recently completed a refit of the QUEEN ELIZABETH 2.

A spokesman for Harland & Wolf stated that the company was in discussion with a number of companies in order to fine-tune their proposal, and planned to submit a more competitive bid to Carnival Corporation later this week.

The competition for the QUEEN MARY contract is now considered to be just between H&W and Chantiers de 'lAtlantique of France. However, with the completion of two deep sea drilling ships in June, securing of the Cunard project is of great importance to the future of the yard.

JHL'S COMMENT: If Harland and Wolf were selected to construct Cunard's new passenger ship, a name other than QUEEN MARY might be appropriate. Given the close association between H&W and the former Oceanic Steam Navigtion Company, which merged with Cunard in the 1930s, perhaps a White Star name might be more appropriate? Something along the lines of OLYMPIC or OCEANIC perhaps?  


Irish Ferries JONATHAN SWIFT arrived at Cammell Lairds on the evening of February 29. She had arrived on the Mersey sometime before high water and was not able to enter Lairds immediately. As a result she was noted by an observer attempting to berth at Prince's Landing Stage.


On 28 February the Canadian federal government granted Marine Atlantic $74.3 million (Canadian $) (around GBP£33 million) to buy a ferry from a "European operator" and to carry out the necessary ship and port upgrades.

It is intended that the vessel will be service by June. A spokesperson for Marine Atlantic refused to comment on the vessel in question due to the delicate negotiations taking place with the European operator.

However, it appears that the vessel concerned may be the STENA CHALLENGER. She would probably be used on the  North Sydney - Port Aux Basques service.  A daytime roundtrip would be operated, leaving North Sydney around 08:00 retruning by late evening.  The company's J & C SMALLWOOD would be used full time on the Argentia service.

There had been some speculation that the vessel which Marine Atlantic were interested in purchasing way the KONINGIN BEATRIX.

If the STENA CHALLENGER left the Dublin to Holyhead route  one can only speculate on her replacement. Whilst KONINGIN BEATRIX could be used, this vessel really offers to much passenger accommodation on a route which is for freight and accompanied vehicles only. If the KB's role was to extended to foot passengers then surely that would undermine the Holyhead to Dún Laoghaire route.


A few months ago there was speculation that a flotel could be berthed on the River Mersey to provide accommodation for asylum seekers in the UK. Now the Irish Government is also considering such a move.

This week the Minister for Justice confirmed that the government is considering housing asylum seekers in floating hotels, or flotels, as they are known, moored off the coast. A similar system is in use in the Netherlands.

Speaking on Morning Ireland programme, John O'Donoghue said that the Government had an obligation to house asylum seekers in spite of the shortage of suitable accommodation.


Four campaigners from the environmental group Greenpeace were arrested after they tried to stop the docking of a Greek ship carrying US owned genetically modified foods on Saturday March 4.

Merseyside police said the protesters had attempted to gain entry to property owned by the Mersey Docks and Harbour Company in Liverpool and had been arrested to "maintain peace, protect life and property and prevent crime".

IOLCOS GRACE was boarded by Greenpeace campaigners briefly while it was off the coast of Wales last week in an attempt to stop it from landing and unloading its cargo.

Five Greenpeace protesters were arrested last Saturday after they boarded the ship from rubber boats. Two of them clung onto its anchor chain and another three locked themselves into the anchor chamber to try to stop the ship reaching its destination.

After the five taken off the ship by police, the IOLCOS GRACEe sailed into deep water off the northwest coast of England without docking.

Police said on Saturday that now that the ship had docked in Liverpool they would work to ensure that its cargo was unloaded "without placing anyone at risk".

Merseyside Police added that while they were committed to "the right to peacefully demonstrate" the actions of the protesters had been "unlawful and created safety risks for everyone involved".


TRIDENT BIBBY ONE: The Liverpool based shipping company Bibby has recently taken delivery of an off-shore support vessel. The vessel is a self propelled jack-up platform with thee 260 feet hydraulically operated steel legs.

The new vessel was constructed in the United Arab Emirates and is expected to enter service in March 2000. The vessel is to be employed in a range of offshore operations including the construction, support and repairing of pipelines and other heavy lift duties. An onboard crane has a lifting capacity of 210 tonnes

The vessel is to be managed by Bibby Harison Management Services and crewed through the Manx based Bibby international services.


Two fishing vessels were detained this week by Maritime & Coastguard Surveyors after significant safety flaws were found.

The vessels `KARINDA BA 356' and `ST. KEVERNE H34' belonging to Jack Robinson (Trawlers) Ltd of Hull were detained as part of a routine inspection carried out to ensure such vessels are safe to go to sea.

Various safety features on board both vessels were deficient these included:

- defective bilge alarm in the fish hold
- Charts for the areas being fished were out of date
- Not enough lifejackets on board for the crew
- Seals on hatches need repair and replacement
- Fire extinguishers need servicing
- Escape hatch clips in need of replacement.

Two further vessels belong to the same owner 'TORBACH-N TN2' and `SOLWAY RANGER BA 818' were inspected at the same time in Kircudbright and although minor deficiencies were found they were not serious enough to detain the vessel.

John Garner, Head of Maritime Operations said after the inspections had been carried out:

" The vessels were detained as part of a routine inspection programme as recommended in the recent safety bulletin issued by the Marine Accident Investigation Branch following the tragic loss of the 'Solway Harvester' and it's seven crew. The watertight integrity of the main deck has been compromised on these vessels, which is unacceptable.

" Fishing vessel owners be in no doubt that we will take action where we discover poorly maintained vessels which may compromise safety and the lives of fisherman."


RTÉ reports that there is great dissatisfaction in the Irish Naval Service about the new Defence White Paper. Previous commitments to the Service on personnel in a consultants' study of the Navy have not been contained within the Paper.

The white paper was condemned by a former INS Commader of 41 years, Captain Peadar McElhinney, who recently retired as Officer Commanding the Haulbowline Naval Base. Capt. McElhinney said that trust had broken down between the Navy and the Department of Defence and he called for the Taoisech to intervene. 

Capt. McElhinney also said that the Flag Officer Commanding the Naval Service should have a more senior role in advising the Minister. At present the Navy has to route any contact with the Minister through the Army.


A new Full Mission Ship Bridge Simulator is currently under construction at Birkenhead.

The simulator will be named the Lairdside Maritime Centre and is a part of Liverpool John Moores University.

Manufactured by Norcontrol of Norway the simulator will consist of three bridges. The main bridge will have a full 360 degree view and it will be configured for detailed pilot ship handling training.


On Tuesday evening's tide [29 February] Irish Ferries JONATHAN SWIFT and Stena Line's STENA CALEDONIA arrived. KONINGIN BEATRIX had departed on Monday evening. STENA CALEDONIA is in #5 dry dock, SUPERSEACAT TWO in #6 and JONATHAN SWIFT in #7.

DEEPWATER NAVIGATOR [PEREGRINE VII] was noted departing the yard last week for trials. She was noted anchored south of the Mersey Bar on Saturday March 4. She the proceeded up river to Cammell Laird, berthing on the evening tide in the wet basin.

Local press reports suggest that Cammell Laird remains in acquisitive mode with the company expressing an interest in three Marseille's ship repairers Marine Technologies, Travofer and CMR Marinvest. The three companies own nine dry docks between them including one which measures 465m x 85m - the largest in the Mediterranean

In addition the company is reported to have opened negotiations with Cascade General of Oregon which owns the largest ship repair facility on the Pacific Coast of the USA.


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