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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


MAY 2000

MAY 28


Please note I will be away from Sunday evening until next Saturday morning, and thus there is no mid-week update on Wednesday May 31 and there will be no e-mail replies from Sunday afternoon. The next site update will be on Sunday, June 3. In the meantime please feel free to fill up my mailbox!

On a more serious note please be aware that there appears to be a kak virus floating around and may have found its way into more than one reader's hard drive. Conveyed by e-mail it landing on my computer yesterday, though fortunately McAfee caught it on Sunday morning when I booted up the machine. If you do not have a Virus checker - get one now! Also the risk of infection by this kind of e-mail virus can be reduced by downloading an upgrade to IE/OE5 from the Microsoft Security Bulletin. 

Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Brian Chambers, Bob Jones and "others".

John Luxton

May 28, 2000


The Sea Containers annual report has been published. It gives a good overview of the company's operations and is well illustrated. Copies can be requested on-line at the company's web site at


Last week the Cornishman newspaper reported that the former Isles of Scilly passenger boat SOUTHERN QUEEN is expected to take part in the 60th Anniversary Commemoration of "Operation Dynamo" - The Dunkirk Evacuation.

Originally built in 1926 to operate boat trips out of Folkestone where she remained until 1957 she was then taken to the Isles of Scilly which she operated as part of the St.Mary's Boatmen's Association fleet of passenger vessels which provide seasonal ferry services to the off islands.

Withdrawn in 1994 and replaced by a new, modern vessel, KINGFISHER, the SOUTHERN QUEEN faced an uncertain future, especially when her Scillonian owner threatened to burn her, if no buyer was forthcoming after several seasons of lay-up. 

SOUTHERN QUEEN was saved from destruction and towed to the mainland where she was taken to Crowlas near Penzance where restoration work was commenced by her new owner Philip Hammond in June 1998

SOUTHERN QUEEN will be one of sixty five of the original Dunkirk Little Ships who will undertake the commemorative crossing from Dover to Dunkirk on June 1st, 2000


Type 23 Frigate HMS NORTHUMBERLAND visited Liverpool this week as part of a Royal Navy Careers promotion.


A report in the Daily Post newspaper suggests that Cammell Laird is the sole bidder for a Bulgarian Shipyard. The Bulgarian Government says it expects Cammell Laird to agree a £54m rehabilitation plan with creditors of the state owned Varna Shipyard which faces insolvency. The plan is legal approval in Bulgaria.  


A report in the Sunday Independent has highlighted growing traffic problems at Dún Laoghaire which are attributable to heavy goods vehicles travelling to and from the port.

In 1996 14,695 units passed through the port, this increased to 51,000 units in 1999 and continues to increase. Local residents are reported to be concerned that roads are reaching saturation point as convoys of lorries pass along narrow roads designed for 19th Century traffic, and fear that a serious accident will occur.

Michael Hanahoe of the Dún Laoghaire Port Company insists that the number of units has only increased from 49,000 in 1995 to 51,000 in 1999.

Dept. Marine Official Figures













However, he ignores the fact that in 1996 Stena Line had come to an agreement to route most freight traffic via Dublin Port which resulted in the number of freight units arriving at Dún Laoghaire falling to 14,695. Whilst the initial agreement was welcomed by the then Minister for the Marine Sean Barrett, TD traffic steadily increased. 

Eamon Gilmore TD of the Labour Party said: "What has happened since then [1996] is that the freight only operation is running at full capacity and the freight activity at Dublin Port has already reached 2020 levels. They can't handle any more, so more freight is being channelled via Dún Laoghaire.

Mr. Gilmore asserts the fact that Dún Laoghaire was designed as a passenger port and not a freight as its lacks the supporting road network and facilities.

Michael Hanahoe of the port company suggests that a port tunnel might be an answer to the problem. However, unlike the Port Tunnel scheme in Dublin, no plans currently exist.


Rosslare Europort have been advised by "Gulfstream", (Ireland) that their ship FRANCOISE will arrive at Rosslare Europort on Sunday 28 May 2000.

The vessel will carry out berthing trials from about 09.30 hrs on Monday 29 May 2000, and will also be boarded for inspection by Officials from both Depts. of the Marine and Agriculture Officials.

The vessel still has to do some fabrication works before it can use Berth No 2 Linkspan, the vessel will be restricted to using Berth`s No 1 and No 3 until these works are completed.

The service schedule is:

Monday......Arr. 10:30 hrs, dep. 23:00 hrs

Wednesday...Arr. 10:30 hrs, dep. 23:00 hrs

Saturday....Arr. 10:30 hrs, dep. 18:00 hrs

The Company hope to load for Brest on Monday 29 May 2000, this is dependent on approval from the Department of the Marine.

(I will keep you up to date with more news as soon as I get it)


On May 21 at 15:45 the Rosslare Harbour Lifeboat, SAINT BRENDAN was tasked to the 32 ft yacht, ALICE that was in trouble about 5 miles S/E off Tuskar Rock, the vessel had 3 crew members on board.  

The yacht was on passage to the Isles of Scilly  when a line became entangled in the propeller shaft, the Lifeboat arrived back in Rosslare Europort with the ALICE in tow at 19:00 with all the crew are safe and well.


The arrival of the new Larne lifeboat has been delayed and is now expected this week.


This week the AA published a controversial report on ferry safety which branded P&O's PRIDE OF RATHLIN as the worst ferry in Europe.

The motoring organisation, now part of Centrica plc, conducted a survey of 26 European ferries. In addition to the PRIDE OF RATHLIN which operates on the Larne to Belfast service other vessels which were rated poor were English Channel vessels P&O's PRIDE OF HAMPSHIRE and SeaFrance's MONET

However, the report was said to be alarmist by the Maritime & Coastguard Agency which stated that most of the criticisms related to agreements which are not yet in force.

Complaints about the PRIDE OF RATHLIN include clogged-up sprinkler nozzles, insufficient emergency information and poorly signposted rescue facilities.

The AA investigators also reported unsafe passenger access routes, lack of stability measures, fast rescue boats and evacuation slides.

The report added that many ferry travellers have "no understanding of what to do in the event of an emergency" and that onboard safety management and crew training often left much to be desired.

Though two P&O ferries were criticized in the report one of their vessels NORSUN which operates on the North Sea received a "good" rating. Stena HSS STENA DISCOVERY, also operating on the North Sea was rated "very good".

"It is clear that the best performers in this group set the standards to which other ferries must aspire," said AA policy director John Dawson. "Many of the changes needed are about improvements to important safety details, which can be put right quickly and at little cost."

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency, which inspects vessels sailing from UK ports, questioned the quality of the AA inspections and the report's findings.

"Many of the negative comments concern non-compliance with the Stockholm Agreement, which does not even come into force until later this year," said a spokesman.

"It's a bit like a driver having the book thrown at him for not having the right tyres even when he doesn't have to." We think the report is misleading, we think it is alarmist. Improving levels of safety is an ongoing process." He added that the evacuation slides and fast rescue boats missing from the Pride of Rathlin were already due to be fitted.

A P&O spokesman at Portsmouth said: "Safety is our main concern and all our ships comply fully with regulations."

JHL's COMMENT: One only has to visit the MCA web page to note just how rigorously regulations are enforced, with ships being detained often for minor infringements. As the MCA are required to operate the official inspection system, what qualifies the so-called AA inspectors who obviously pose as ordinary passengers to pass such judgements? The PRIDE OF RATHLIN is due to be replaced late summer before her SOLAS compliance date of September 12. The AA should not be judging vessels on rules which are not yet enforceable. 

When it comes to ferry safety it might be all very good praising a "state of the art" high speed vessel and rating it very good in terms of safety precautions etc, but I think most enthusiasts would consider the robust nature of a traditional vessel such as the PRIDE OF RATHLIN to offer greater all round safety for their passengers! I wonder what the AA would have made of the incident when the DISCOVERY was damaged in adverse conditions ?  

MAY 24


A technical glitch at the ISP probably made the site appear off-line to many prospective visitors on Tuesday May 23. However, this was only the case if you tried to access the frontpage by using the URL - if you used the URL to gain the front page everything would have papered as normal. Apologies to anyone who was frustrated, as I myself was, but the problem was outside of my control.

Two new gallery pages were posted last night featuring SEACAT ISLE OF MAN and LAGAN VIKING taken on Saturday May 20. Posted tonight are pictures of the latest creation from Incat of Tasmania. One wonders just how long it might be before one of their newer vessels are seen on the Irish Sea?

John Luxton 

May 24, 2000

Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Justin Merrigan, Stan Basnett, John Shepherd and "others".


LADY OF MANN departed from Langton Lock, Liverpool and headed directly to Douglas to take up her TT Festival sailings to Heysham on Wednesday May 24. She was noted by a correspondent on the north side of Victoria Pier at lunchtime.


Mersey Mammoth was noted working near Dukes Buoy on the River Mersey on Wednesday May 24 in connection with reinstating the on-river moorings to be used by HMS INVINCIBLE on her visit to Merseyside during June.


On Monday evening Hoylake lifeboat was launched to rescued a fisherman who broke his arm on a Dutch fishing vessel in Liverpool Bay.

The CORNELIA SENIOR had departed from Liverpool at 19:20 hours. Coastguard reports indicate that the man suffered the injury whilst setting nets around 22:00.

The injured crewman was brought back to Liverpool for hospital treatment.


The KATIE HANNAN - Portrush's new £1.8m lifeboat arrived on Sunday. The Severn Class vessel's arrival was delayed for over five weeks due to technical problems. 

 The Katie Hannan will be open for inspection at the annual Portrush Raft Race next Saturday, May 27. All proceeds from the event will be devoted to the local Appeal Fund set up to raise £250,000 to help pay for the new lifeboat. 


On Thursday May 25, the new Trent Class boat is due to arrive at Larne. She is due to be officially names and dedicated at the East Antrim Boat Club on June 24. 


There is a special £85 return fare on offer for car + 2 on the Liverpool to Dublin service day time sailings on bookings for travel up to June 30. [Night sailings £10 supplement]. Reservations must be made before June 2. Details:


Incat of Tasmania have released details of their latest vessel MILENIUM [Incat 056] which has been delivered to  Trasmediterranea S.A. and will enter service at the end of May. 

May 21


Welcome to this week's update. I imagine the main point of interest for more than a few readers will be details of the LADY OF MANN's Round the Island Cruise scheduled for June 17. Bookings for which are now being taken. At present this is the last scheduled public sailing of the LADY OF MANN this year unless of course a decision is made to operate special sailings during the summer holidays.

This week Merseyside has seen a visit from BALMORAL on Saturday May 20 and she is due to return for one more visit this year on Wednesday May 24 for another North Wales cruise. - I know many would share my sentiments that this popular little ship should visit the north west more often. 

Once again, thanks for all the correspondence and just a reminder, if you have e-mailed me and not yet received a response please get in touch again as the volume of e-mail sometimes causes messages to be accidentally overlooked. 

John Luxton 

May 21, 2000

Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Tony Garner, David Sallery and "others".


LADY OF MANN - The Lady re-enters service at the end of the coming week with the commencement of the build up to the TT Races. On Saturday May 20, she was noted at her lay-up berth in Alexandra Dock, to have regained Isle of Man Steam Packet red funnel and dummy funnel. However, she still retains the narrow black topping to the dummy. 

CLAYMORE - Departed from Birkenhead last weekend and called at Douglas early on Sunday May 14 before proceeding to the Faroes for her charter. It appears that she may soon return to her former Ballycastle - Campbeltown Route for a new operator. [see below].


The company has confirmed details of the LADY OF MANN "Round The Island Cruise" on Saturday June 17. The LADY OF MANN departs from Douglas at 19:00 and will take 4 hours to circumnavigate the Isle of Man. On board musical entertainment and a "sumptious buffet" will be provided. The Lady arrives back at Douglas at 23:00. The fare, inclusive of buffet is a very reasonable £15. Only a limited number of tickets will be issued for the cruise. This obviously looks like an important date for the enthusiasts' diary.

An attempt to book a ticket at the Liverpool terminal on Sunday May 21 was not successful, thus it is recommended that prospective passengers phone 01624 661661 to book. 


New uniforms are being introduced for Hoverspeed staff. Styled in Hoverspeed's corporate red, the highly distinctive uniform reinforces the company's airline-style image. For female staff, the uniform includes stylish red skirts and jackets, whilst for the men, the range
includes striking red blazers.

The Senior staff, including cabin and customer service directors, can be easily recognised with a different style of uniform in a dark blue, with fashionable box jackets for female staff.

The new range was created for Hoverspeed by GB Marketing, a specialist corporate wear company working in the airline and shipping sector.

Geoffrey Ede, Hoverspeed managing director, said: "Hoverspeed has always taken great pride in its uniformed crew, who present the most outward sign to the travelling public of a fresh new look at Hoverspeed. Combined with our recent investments in '1st' class travelling facilities. Hoverspeed is truly the fastest and most stylish way to cross the Channel!"


A new web site has been launched which contains the following press release concerning the former Sea Containers Ballycastle to Campbeltown route.

A Kintyre based business has been established to ensure that the ferry service continues to operate both this year and into the future. Extensive and delicate negotiations are being undertaken to secure the use of the CLAYMORE once again and the ship will be a welcome sight back on the route.

Bookings will be available by freephone and over the internet within a very short time when a large publicity campaign will be started.

Recruitment has started for the jobs on board and many of the original crew will be seen again.

The ferry will be based in Campbeltown and run twice a day to Ballycastle starting in early morning, with fresh food served all day and on-board live music and entertainment provided in the traditional idiom. The service will continue to be a relaxed cruise, unlike the
high speed, high volume carrying style of Seacat, Stena and the Jetliner. There is also some prospect of negotiating through ticketing with Calmac to allow onward travel from Ireland to the Scottish islands.

Coach tours are being encouraged to sample this fascinating opportunity to explore the routes used by our ancestors and such trade will bring a boost for local accommodation and tourism businesses, especially in the Spring and Autumn. Freight will also be encouraged as trade links between Kintyre and Northern Ireland are revived.

A temporary web-site has been established at including e-mail and fax facilities, and this will shortly be expanded to include all timetables and fares for the 2000 season.

Continuing this service has been a priority with local people, and now that their wishes are fulfilled, they have the opportunity to use the link and thereby ensure its security in future years"



The Port of Liverpool has applied for a Harbour Revision Order allowing construction of a double-deck link span and berth out into the River Mersey, to enable vessels to discharge and load without entering the Port's enclosed docks.

The Langton River Terminal, on a 40 acre site on the East bank of the Mersey, will have a marshalling area for 575 heavy goods vehicles and cars, plus passenger facilities.

It is expected to be operational in the first quarter of 2002 and will then be utilised by P&O European Ferries who will transfer from their Gladstone Terminal where they currently operate four sailings a day to Dublin.

Langton is one of two river terminals being built by the Mersey Docks and Harbour Company, at a combined cost of £30 million, in response to the Port of Liverpool's expanding Irish trade which last year increased by 32%.

Work is scheduled to start this summer on construction of the Twelve Quays River Terminal at Birkenhead on the West side of the Mersey, with completion expected in the third quarter of 2001, when Norse Irish Ferries and Merchant Ferries will transfer from in-dock facilities at Liverpool.

The Langton Terminal will have both a river berth and a second berth in-dock, providing P&O European Ferries, which is currently building a new combined passenger and freight superferry for the Liverpool route, with maximum flexibility in the services it is able to offer.

An Environmental Impact Assessment Report on the influence of the Langton River Terminal development upon traffic volumes, noise, air quality and other considerations, was submitted by the Mersey Docks and Harbour Company along with the Harbour Revision Order application.

It is anticipated that work could start on construction of the facility by early 2001 with the first ferries sailing from the new terminal by Spring of 2002.

Construction details published in the order include "the construction of a rock berm and twin deck link span together with berthing dolphins adjoining Langton Dock and a bridge to a new link span".

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

"The development of the river terminals will also free up the areas of docks, currently used by ferry services, which can then be applied to satisfying demand from the Port's growing deep-sea business."


The Warship Preservation Trust, bases at the East Float in Birkenhead Docks has secured a verbal agreement with Den Bla Avis the Danish owners of German U-Boat U534 to extend the lease for the foreseeable future. The present four year lease had been due to expire at the end of May.

This means that work will continue on an accompanying visitors' centre being built alongside the vessel at the Trust's premises at Mortar Mill Quay, East Float. 

The site, which also features ex-Royal Navy warships, attracts more than 40,000 visitors a year.

Appearing to the local press Angela Goodrich, of the Warship Preservation Trust, said: "We have reached a verbal agreement with its owners for U-534 to remain here for the foreseeable future. The owners are pleased with the way the submarine has been presented.

"The visitors' centre will hopefully open in the summer. It will contain a lot of the artefacts that were on board when the U-boat was sunk. Among them are personal items belonging to the crew, which gives the exhibition a human touch."

U-534 is the only German submarine to be raised from the seabed after being sunk by the Allies.

It was the last U-boat to sail from Nazi Germany on the final day of the war. It was sunk by a direct hit from an RAF Liberator bomber, although the crew managed to escape.

The sub was raised in 1993 by Danish salvage expert Karsten Ree and has been exhibited at Wallasey alongside ex-Royal Navy vessels HMS Plymouth and Onyx.


BALMORAL - The Sailing from Mostyn scheduled for last Thursday - May 18 was cancelled at the last minute due to adverse weather conditions.


It appears that the seafarers' union NUMAST is likely to call strike action over a pay dispute with P&O.

Workers are being offered a wage increase of between 1.2% and 1.4%, a figure which the union NUMAST describes as "derisory".

The union, which wants an improved offer and national pay bargaining, is to ballot its 600 P&O members later this month.

NUMAST is threatening to target crossings in the peak summer period, including the school holidays and sailings during the Euro 2000 football championships in Holland and Belgium next month.

The seafarers' union intends  to lobby the company's AGM in London on Friday, when P&O is expected to announce a significant rise in profits and passengers.


For the first time in nearly fifty years, a canal boat has navigated The Royal Canal through Dublin. In fact, 8 canal boats made the journey today to celebrate the opening of the Canal to the Liffey. The event was organised by the Royal Canal Amenity Group and the Inland Waterways Association of Ireland. Both groups are actively working towards restoring Irelands waterways. The campaign to re-open the Royal Canal has spanned 25 years. The Royal Canal was closed in 1961 but today, it was officially reopened. The Canal is now navigable all the way to the Abbeyshrule in County Longford. It hoped it will soon be possible to reach the River Shannon from the River Liffey via the Canal.

May 17


In addition to the news in this mid week update is a feature on the LIBERTATEA, which has aroused quite an amount of attention in the media since she arrived on Merseyside a couple of weeks ago.

I have created a page covering this interesting vessel which will be updated as and when more information is received. The local press revealed this week that the ship had been chartered by HRH Edward Prince of Wales and Mrs. Wallace Simpson during their controversial love affair.

Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews and "others"


SUPERSEACAT TWO appears to be back on form after her recent technical problems and was noted arriving in Belfast around 15:30 on her 12:00 sailing from Heysham on Tuesday May 16.

SUPERSEACAT THREE - Hot weather often causes people to do silly things on the water and on Sunday afternoon some youngsters took an inflatable dinghy out from Crosby beach. According to the local press the dinghy was capsized by the wake of the inbound SSC3 on her return sailing from Dublin. 

Two of the young people aged 8 and 15  managed to swim ashore, but their elder brother aged 18 became stuck in mud and had to be rescued by New Brighton Lifeboat and four coastguards. He was taken to Arrowe Park Hospital suffering from severe hypothermia.


The Isle of Man TT is going to be bigger this year than ever before. The Isle of Man Steam Packet Company,  report that they already have over 14,000 motorcycles booked for the fortnight. Motorcycle numbers  show an increase of over 10% on last year.

For those without a reservation the Company advise that they still have foot passenger space available on most sailings to and from the Island, and there is also space for motorcycles and other vehicles during Practice Week and the middle of Race Week. The Company has a record number of sailings serving the Island over the racing fortnight. Over 300 sailings operated by conventional vessels and fast craft will transport fans from all over the World to the ever popular Festival. Practices start from Saturday 27th May with Race Week during the first week of June.

The very popular Steam Packet Road Races held on the Southern 100 circuit will again be sponsored by the Company on Saturday 10th June with a top line up of TT riders taking part.

During TT Week the Steam Packet will be the major sponsor of the ‘Joey Dunlop Exhibition 2000’. Joey is a 23 times winner of the World famous TT Races. This exhibition will provide a unique opportunity to view the many trophies and memorabilia won over many years plus meeting the ace rider himself. The event will be held at the Summerland Entertainment Centre daily throughout the Festival.


WAVERLEY - Due to hold ups at the start of the rebuild project the Waverley's return to service date has been delayed by 6 weeks. The ship will now re-enter service on Friday 18th August 2000 and sail on the Clyde for 11 days. British, Clyde and Scottish Commodore Club members will be contacted soon by letter.

Celebration cruises will be held from Glasgow on 18-21 August and Ayr 22-24 August followed by the Cowal Games sailings

On a more positive note the two new boilers left Annan this morning for Great Yarmouth where they are due to arrive on Tuesday May 16


The Maritime & Coastguard Agency reported this week that nine foreign ships were under detention in UK ports during April 2000 after failing port state control safety inspections.  The list consists of four ships detained in April, along with five ships still under detention from previous months. The rate of detentions compared with inspections carried out over the last 12 months is 5.7%. This is a slight decrease on the 12-month rate of 5.9% to March.

The ships detained included:-

A St Vincent and Grenadines-flagged ship detained for 9 days in Belfast. The 16 deficiencies found by the MCA surveyor included inoperative lifeboat launching equipment, incomplete lifeboat sailing equipment, navigation sidelights that were not fitted or screened correctly and uncorrected navigational charts;

A Panamanian-flag general cargo ship detained for 8 days in Liverpool. This came only a year after having been previously released after six months under detention in the UK. The ship had also been detained in the UK in 1997. On this latest occasion she was detained for an out of date Safety Radio Certificate and missing hatch jointing.

Three of the four ships detained in April were registered with flags targeted for priority inspection under the Paris Memorandum of Understanding on Port State Control. 

Details are given below of ships detained during April at Irish Sea ports:

Ship's Name


Date and place of detention

19/4/00 Liverpool



Type of vessel

General Cargo

IMO number





Dalriada Shipping Ltd - Swansea, UK

Classification Society

Panama Bureau of Shipping

No. of previous detentions


Total no. deficiencies


Grounds for detention

Detained 8 days.
Radio certificate out of date.
Hatch rubber jointing missing.

Ship's Name


Date and place of detention

7/4/00 Belfast




Type of vessel

General Cargo

IMO number



St Vincent & Grenadines


Natol Shipping Ltd - Kingstown, St Vincent

Classification Society

Maritime Register (Russia)

No. of previous detentions


Total no. deficiencies


Grounds for detention

Detained 9 days.
Lifeboat launching equipment inoperative.
Lifeboat sailing equipment incomplete.
Navigation sidelights not fitted or screened correctly.
Navigational charts not corrected.

Ship's Name


Date and place of detention

16/7/96 Ayr



Type of vessel

General Cargo

IMO number



St Vincent & Grenadines


Tres Shipping - Norway

Classification Society

Bureau Veritas
(MCA informed by BV that the vessel was withdrawn from class by them on 8/8/96)

No. of previous detentions


Total no. deficiencies


Grounds for detention

Still under detention at the end of April.
No valid Safety Radio Certificates on board.
Main radio transmitter inoperative.
Survival craft hand-held VHF missing/inoperative.
No record of musters or drills.
No muster list.
Fire flaps inoperative.
Fuel oil emergency shut-off valves inoperative.
Line throwing appliances out of date.
Numerous additional deficiencies

Ship's Name


Date and place of detention

30/12/99 Ellesmere Port



Type of vessel

Bulk Carrier

IMO number





Friendship Co Ltd - Valletta, Malta

Classification Society

Bureau Veritas

No. of previous detentions


Total no. deficiencies


Grounds for detention

Released 5/4/00 after 98 days under detention.
Forecastle front not watertight.
Lifeboat boarding ladder rotten.
Starboard lifeboat exhaust pipe holed.

Ship's Name


Date and place of detention

13/3/00 Belfast



Type of vessel

General Cargo

IMO number





Bennav Shipping Co Ltd - Valletta, Malta

Classification Society

Registro Italiano Navale

No. of previous detentions


Total no. deficiencies


Grounds for detention

Released 29/4/00 after 48 days under detention.
Load Line and IOPP certificates more than 3 months overdue for annual survey.
Certificates suspended six weeks previously.


On the evening of  Tuesday May 16 a a Manchester to Belfast domestic flight with 48
people on board discovered undercarriage problems shortly after takeoff, Liverpool Coastguard implemented its responsibilities towards the `Liverpool Airport Emergency Plan'.

The aeroplane was diverted to Liverpool airport whose runway is situated near to the River Mersey. Under the operation of the Emergency Plan Liverpool Coastguard requested the launch of the County Inshore Rescue Boat, which is dedicated to the airport, and the New Brighton RNLI inshore lifeboat. Coastguard Rescue teams from Crosby and Hoylake attended the scene, arriving just 15 minutes after
the initial alert.

The aeroplane crash-landed on the runway at Liverpool airport tipping onto one wing. All passengers were evacuated using the aeroplane's evacuation chutes; all passengers and crew are accounted for only two passengers requiring hospital treatment for minor injuries.

Liverpool Coastguard Watch Manager, Tony Topping said:

"Local Authorities and all the emergency services including the Coastguard are well prepared for incidents such as this; all contingencies are planned for in the Liverpool Airport Emergency Plan
which is exercised regularly. The rescue units responded swiftly and fortunately were not needed on this occasion."


QUEEN ELIZABETH II At 09:00 on Monday May 15 the QUEEN ELIZABETH 2 reported to Falmouth Coastguard that the Doctor on Board having attended to an 80 year old American passenger requested that the passenger be removed from the vessel to hospital care as soon as possible.

At 10:15 Falmouth Coastguard requested the QUEEN ELIZABETH 2 to change course and head for a point 230 miles south west of Ireland in order to rendezvous at around 03:15 on Tuesday May 16 with a Sea King RAF rescue helicopter from Chivenor, North Devon.

A Nimrod aircraft from the Rescue Co-ordination centre at RAF Kinloss also attend as backup to the rescue helicopter and to act as communication link prior to the rescue helicopter arriving on scene.

In order to reach the rendezvous point the rescue helicopter will left Chivenor, landed and refuelled at Cork and again in Castletownbere before heading out to meet the ship where the rescue team airlift the sick man to a hospital in Éire. The rescue operation was coordinated by the Irish Coastguard Service and HM Coastguard at Falmouth.

May 14


Welcome to this week's update. After a break last Wednesday, the site returns to two updates per week for the next two weeks - news and other circumstances permitting! Once again many thanks for the contributions, comments etc.

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


LADY OF MANN - As of Saturday May 13, when I made an enquiry at Douglas there is still no confirmation of the "Round The Island" cruise for June 17. With less than a month to go, there does not appear much time left. There also appears to be a rumour doing the rounds that the LADY OF MANN may operate the Liverpool to Isle of Man route from November in preference to the SuperSeaCat.

SUPERSEACAT TWO appears to be experiencing engine problems . On May 12 BBC Ceefax reported that Heysham sailings were cancelled. On Saturday May 13, the morning Belfast to Heysham and mid-day return sailing were cancelled. However, she was noted leaving Heysham for Belfast on Saturday May 13 evening. 

CLAYMORE - Reports in the Scottish press suggest that the Claymore may be sold or chartered to a new operator to reopen the Ballycastle - Campbeltown service which Sea Containers abandoned this year.

Apparently a Argyll businessman, John Pinkerton, has been in talks with Sea Containers about a possible purchase of CLAYMORE on her return from the Faroe Island charter which is understood to be only short term.  Although not yet completed, it is reported that he is in the process of arranging finance to acquire the vessel. The BBC reported that the service could resume in July. 


Figures released this week for Isle of Man Steam Packet carryings on services to the Isle of Man have shown another significant increase. Passenger figures for April 2000 reveal an increase of 9% from 51,350 to 55,889. Car traffic showed an increase of 10%  11,371 vehicles being carried this April compared to 10,352 last year. Freight metreage showed an overall increase of 4% over the same period last April rising from 29,398 to 30,474 metres.

Year to date passenger figures indicate an overall increase of over 9% from 104,390 in 1999 to 113,920. Whilst car carryings are up almost 8% at 28,919 compared to 26,795 in 1999.

 Commenting on the increase Hamish Ross, Steam Packet Managing Director said: "our record level of sailings this year have been rewarded by greatly increased business in all our areas of operation. This is the 20th consecutive month of passenger traffic growth we are committed to continuing this upward trend".


Sea Containers Ltd.  announced its results for the quarter ended March 31, 2000 on Wednesday May 10. The loss for the period was $7.9 million (1999 loss of $8.7 million) on revenue of $278 million (1999 $276 million). The first quarter of 1999 was adversely impacted by a $12.3 million charge in connection with an accounting rule change, while in 2000 the Passenger Transport Division was affected by the major European Easter holiday period falling in April instead of March and the requirement to consolidate 50% of Neptun Maritime's (Silja Line) first quarter loss for the first time. 

Profits from marine container leasing were $2.1 million down on 1999's fourth quarter, reflecting the traditional softness in the market following the Christmas and Asian first quarter holiday periods. Leisure Division earnings were up 7% in the quarter over the year earlier period (up 25% if a non-recurring item reported in 1999's first quarter is excluded). Net finance costs were up $3.1 million year to year due to rising interest costs while corporate costs were unchanged.

The Sea Containers 1999 is due for publication on May 15. In it is mentioned that the company has been purchasing limited amounts of its public debt in the open market and that the company's present intention is to conclude an initial public offering of Orient-Express Hotels' common shares in July, 2000.  A substantial part of the $215 million proceeds will be used to repay intercompany debt owed by Orient-Express Hotels to Sea Containers. The foregoing does not constitute an offer of any securities for sale. Publication of the 1999 annual report of Orient-Express Hotels will take place immediately after the share sale.

Mr James B. Sherwood, President, said that he expected the second quarter to be strong for passenger transport because of the phasing of the Easter holidays. Container leasing results should start to show improvement because of strong demand in Asia for master agreement containers, increased worldwide demand for refrigerated containers and delivery of new containers onto profitable long term leases.

 In the leisure sector strength is being seen in earnings of certain key properties such as the Copacabana Palace in Rio de Janeiro and the Windsor Court in New Orleans, while at the same time some of the weaker units have been making steady gains such as The Westcliff in Johannesburg and the Road to Mandalay cruise ship in Myanmar which were unprofitable in 1999. The Westcliff's revenues increased by 47% in the latest quarter compared with a year earlier while the ROAD TO MANDALAY'S revenues are currently 36% ahead of last year.

Mr Sherwood said that purchase of the two Holyman fast ferries and the Observatory and Lilianfels hotels were completed in the first quarter of 2000 at a cost of $91 million while GE SeaCo (a 50/50 joint venture with GE Capital Corporation) bought $32 million of new containers and Sea Containers purchased a further $10 million on its own (the joint venture excludes certain types of equipment and leases due to General Electric Company policies).

Sea Containers introduced SUPERSEACAT FOUR into the Helsinki, Finland to Tallinn, Estonia service on April 17, 2000 and carryings have been ahead of forecast. Silja Line markets the service and this has provoked the ire of the Finnish Seamen's Union which crews a few of Silja Line's ships. This union has consistently refused to recognize the implications of competition from ships carrying flags of Baltic States such as Estonia and Sea Containers believes the time has come to resolve this issue. Negotiations with the union are well advanced and a satisfactory resolution is anticipated.

The application for a new 20 year franchise for GNER is proceeding through U.K. government channels. A revised application will be submitted on June 26th and a decision is expected later in the summer.

Sea Containers in joint venture with Mediterranean Shipping Company's fast ferry subsidiary SNAV plans to start a fast ferry service between Ancona, Italy and Split, Croatia in June using a Sea Containers' owned SeaCat. The service is experimental but the partners feel there is considerable potential in the Adriatic. Greece has now held elections and a new transport minister has been appointed. It is hoped he will comply with EU law and open up Greek ferry routes to free competition, giving Sea Containers the opportunity to enter this large market.

The annual general meeting of shareholders of Sea Containers Ltd., is due to be held at '21' Club, New York at 14:00 on Tuesday June 6, 2000.


A currency pricing switch from punts to sterling for all goods and services sold on board Irish Ferries vessels has been described as deplorable by a tourism spokesman, the change over has meant that items such as food, drinks and cigarettes have increased on board the
Rosslare-Pembroke, and Dublin-Holyhead ferries by up to a third.

An Irish Ferries spokesman said the changeover was to recover some of the very significant increase in fuel costs they had been forced to bear, it is also intended to offset the loss resulting from the abolition of duty-free, fares increases introduced at that time had not fully compensated for the loss.


A reminder - BALMORAL will be operating sailings from Liverpool to Llandudno and Menai Straits on May 20 and 24 departing Pier Head 10:00 [Saturday] and 09:30 Wednesday. For details of other sailings by BALMORAL in the north west visit:


Harland and Wolf has secured its future for the next three years, having gained a £300m contract to construct four fast conventional passenger ferries.

The order, from Seamasters International of the Bahamas, also includes an option for two more ships.

A Harland spokesman said the deal might secure the yard's future for up to four years. Its survival had been thrown into doubt in March when it lost a bid to build a new cruise liner, the Queen Mary. If the two option vessels are also ordered there will be sufficient work for the yard until 2004.

The day prior to the order being announced H&W workers only narrowly accepted a three-year pay deal the company said was vital for securing the future of the shipyard.

The ro/ro ferry order should secure around 1,000 of the 1,300 core jobs at the yard.

Harland & Wolff, controlled by Norway's Fred Olsen Energy, said efforts were being made to secure steelwork and outfitting contracts from the marine and commercial sectors before construction work begins on the ships at the end of this year.

The shipyard last year reported an operating loss before interest of 1.1 million pounds on turnover of £406 million. That compared with a £900,000 profit in 1998.

The first of the new ships is due to enter service in mid-2002 with the remaining vessels delivered before early 2004 if the options for the extra two ships are exercised -- which would bring the order value up to around £500 million.

The Atlantic 4000 ships have a passenger capacity of 1,000 passengers with a top speed of 27 knots.

Harland & Wolff said it expected the Atlantic 4000 to be 15-20 percent more fuel efficient than rival designs because of its reduced steel weight and new hull lines. The ships will be powered by Siemens diesel-electric propulsion systems.


Meanwhile on Merseyside it was noted this week that the remaining section of the former Harland & Wolff Engineering Works on Regent Road, near Canning #3 Branch Dock has been sandblasted. The southern section of the building which was demolished a couple of years ago to provide for trailer parking.


The former Romanian Royal Yacht has aroused interest further a field. Nigel Dempster writing in the Daily Mail on May 10 was speculating on the ownership and future of this attractive vessel under the heading "Return of the Incredible Hulk". He poses the question who is behind the purchase of the yacht LIBERTATEA. 

Dempster explains that records show that the yacht was purchased by Nicholas Edmiston, a broker based in the south of France. Edmiston has apparently confirmed that the LIBERTATEA will undergo a major refit. 


HMS INVINCIBLE [R05] will play host to a Royal Marine's concert on June 23 whilst berthed in the River Mersey. It is reported that this is the first public concert to be performed on the INVINCIBLE whilst she is moored, rather than berthed in dock. Ticket holders will be transported to the ship by Mersey Ferry. Ticket prices are £15. Applications to Mrs. P. Brown on 0151-513-7462

Vessels accompanying the aircraft carrier [through deck cruiser!] will be Hunt Class mine counter measures ship HMS BICESTER [M36] which will berth at Liverpool, HMS NORFOLK [F230], Duke Class Frigate and  another Hunt Class vessel HMS CHIDDINGFOLD [M37] will berth at Birkenhead. The ships will be in port between June 22 and June 27. The ships will be open to the public. 


The famous Liverpool Shipping company Elder Dempster passed into history on May 8 when the company was formally wound up. Though the company had ceased trading around twenty years ago  it remained a dormant subsidiary to parent company SDV. 

Established in 1890 with the merger of the British and Africa Steamship Navigation Company, managed by Alexander Elder and John Dempster, and the African Steamship Company which founded by the son of Birkenhead Shipbuilder William Laird, Mc.Gregor Laird. 

The company continued to operate services between Liverpool and West Africa until the final voyage by the AUREOL in 1972.


IRISH SEA PIONEER - Inadvertently omitted from last Sunday's update was the departure of the jack up platform IRISH SEA PIONEER on the afternoon tide of Sunday May 7.

LIBERTATEA - The former King of Romania's yacht has now entered Clarence Dry Dock and it is understood she may be there for a year long rebuild which will see the removal of her steam propulsion system and the fitting of diesels. [See also above]

For the past twelve months or so there has been speculation that Cammell Laird may enter into some business relationship will James Fisher. This now appears to be the case. It is reported in Lloyds List that Cammell Laird have joined forces with James Fisher to form Fisher Offshore Services. Cammell Laird holding 49% of the company. The OCEANIC CAVALIER will be renamed FISHER CAVALIER and the SUN PEGASUS will join the new company after conversion to a cable layer.  The idea being to gain entry into the undersea cable market.


The Royal National Lifeboat Institution’s Dun Laoghaire Lifeboat landed an injured fisherman on May 12. The casualty, who is in his 20s, was transferred by Ambulance to St Michael’s Hospital, Dun Laoghaire, where he received treatment for an eye injury.

Shortly before midday Dun Laoghaire’s Trent-class lifeboat was tasked to the Waterford registered trawler JOSEPH F, situated some three miles east of the Kish Lighthouse. Weather conditions at the time were poor, with Easterly winds between Force 4 – 5 and limited visibility.

Under the command of Coxswain Ken Robertson the lifeboat proceeded to the casualty, arriving there less than 30 minutes after launching. Accompanying the lifeboat was Dr Donald Brooks who administered first aid to the injured fisherman, Mr Dan Cullimore. The lifeboat returned to Dun Laoghaire, arriving there just after 1300 hrs, and Mr Cullimore was transferred to an awaiting ambulance.

The lifeboat was crewed by Coxswain Ken Robertson, 2nd Coxswain Jim Kennedy, Mechanic Kieran O’Connell, Wayne Farrell, Mark McGibney and Eamon O’Leary. Dr Brooks is the RNLI’s Honorary Medical Officer for Dun Laoghaire Lifeboat.


LE EMER was scheduled to depart from Haulbowline Naval Base for Thessalonika in Greece on Sunday May 14. The vessel is reported to be on a re-supply mission to KFOR and UNIFIL troops. This is the first occasion at which an INS vessel has called at Thessalonika.


RTÉ's Seascapes programme has reported that the Cork Port company has announced a new strategic study of the harbour under which it is intended to spend about £200m. The long-term strategy will cover 20 years and will include developments to handle bigger ships, more containerisation and development of leisure marine facilities.


HMCC SENTINEL became the first British customs cutter to visit  Éire since independence this week when the vessel called at Cork. Her visit marks the closer co-operation between Irish and British authorities. 


Last Sunday May 7, saw the official naming of the famine-era replica emigrant ship JEANIE JOHNSTON by the President of Ireland, Mary McAleese. This was two years to the day after the president had been present at the keel-laying ceremony of Ireland's largest wooden sailing vessel.

Over 5,000 people are reported to have attended the naming ceremony of the three masted barque at Fenit.

President McAleese, the project's patron, said it had begun as an idea and a blank sheet of paper. The project was now "a potent symbol of cross-Border, cross-community and transnational cooperation". The Jeanie Johnston had been dubbed the "ship of peace", she said.

Among the guests were SDLP Northern Minister Sean Farren and the leader of the Progressive Unionist Party, Mr David Ervine, who said that although the ship would survive if there was not peace in the North, the vessel's concept would not.

The ceremony was attended by the project's many supporters including US Ambassador, Mr. Michael J. Sullivan, the Canadian Ambassador, Mr Ron Irwin, Mr. Pat Lynch, Chairman of FAS - the Irish Training and Employment Agency, Mr. Donal Geaney, Chairman, Elan Corporation - the project's main corporate sponsors, and Mr. Liam McElligott, Chairman, Shannon Development.

Also in attendance were the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands, Ms Sile de Valera, whose Department had grant funded the project, General David Taylor, Irish Army, Commodore John Kavanagh, Commanding Officer of the Irish Naval Service and Assistant Garda Commissioner Joseph Long.

The Jeanie Johnston was blessed by the Church of Ireland Bishop of Limerick, Bishop Edward Darling, Canon Robert Warren, also of the Church of Ireland, and the Catholic Dean of the Kerry Diocese, Monsignor Dan O'Riordan.

The Master of the Jeanie Johnston, Capt Michael Forwood, Shipyard Superintendent Michael O'Boyle, and Project Manager, Brian Sweeney led a guard of honour of crew and shipbuilders to greet the President.

The President paid tribute to all groups and agencies who had supported the project and had singled out the Ancient Order of Hibernians and friends of Ireland in the United States and Canada who had given practical support.

Mr. Liam McElligott of Shannon Development presented President McAleese with the Nautical Mile No. 1848 (to mark the first year the ship left Ireland) which the project is promoting as part of its fund raising programme. Individual donors may become exclusive sponsors of the 13,000 mile Millennium Voyage for $100 each.

Earlier Mr. Donal Geaney, Chairman, Elan Corporation, presented the ship's bell to Capt. Michael Forwood at a ceremony in Tralee. Capt. Forwood said the vessel would be due for a "shake-down voyage" along the Irish coast before setting sail on her historic voyage to North America in late May or early June.

The original Jeanie Johnston was a cargo ship built in Quebec City in 1847 and purchased by the Donovan family of Tralee. It was later converted to carry 200 passengers and 17 crew from Ireland to Canada and the US during the famine period. During at least 16 trans-Atlantic voyages the Jeanie Johnston never lost a soul to disease or to the sea. JEANIE JOHNSTON web site:


AURORA - the ship is due back in Southampton docks on Monday morning and is scheduled to leave for a 12-night sell-out cruise to the Canary Islands at 1800 BST that night. The AURORA's maiden voyage having to be cancelled due to technical problems.

Back Home Up Next

May 7


A reminder that there is no scheduled site update for this Wednesday as there are some other jobs I must get done this week including a resumption of filing some of recent photographs! The next scheduled site update will be on Sunday May 14 and the next mid week update on Wednesday May 17.

Once again "Thank-You" to everyone who has supplied information. 

Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Brian Chambers, Stuart Cameron, Alan Lee, Sara Cass, Bill Butland and "others".  Also Simon Dey of Sea Containers for providing the opportunity for photographs of the arrival of the Pontus from Liverpool Landing Stage. 


SUPERSEACAT TWO - was observed running 40 minutes late on its afternoon sailing from Heysham on Friday May 5. She arrived at Belfast at 16.25.

PONTUS - The former Silja Line floating terminal, PONTUS, arrived on the Mersey on Saturday May 6 towed by the Norwegian tug FELIX. The 2,500 tonne terminal is 71.5m in length. It was constructed in Finland during 1991 and will be used to provide terminal facilities at Liverpool as part of the plans to improve facilities at the Pier Head.

CLAYMORE - The redundant former Argyll & Antrim Steam Packet vessel has been chartered to a Faeroe Islands operator believed to be Strandfaraskip Landsins. This company operate quite an elderly fleet - their youngest vessel is the 1980 TERNAN, their oldest the 1959 TRONDUR.  Crossings vary from 25 minutes to 2 hours 15 minutes.

LADY OF MANN - she is currently undergoing maintenance at Alexandra Dock which includes belting repairs. Her starboard side has been painted and it appears that the red spot Legs of Man logo applied last spring is now Steam Packet red rather than Sea Containers red as it was last year. - Or was it just a trick of the light? 

The funnel and dummy shows signs of primer and is yet to be repainted. It will be interesting to see what scheme is used this year. In 1998 she sported a buff funnel and Sea Co red dummy funnel unlined. Last year the lining reappeared but the top black band on the dummy was much thinner than usual. 

Unlike the BEN-MY-CHREE she retains the abbreviated STEAM PACKET COMPANY fleetname on her painted side. 


The next meeting of the World Ship Society Merseyside Branch will take place at 19:30 hours on Tuesday May 9 at The James Parsons Lecture Theatre, Liverpool John Moores University, Byrom Street, Liverpool 3. Captain Eric Askew of the Manchester Branch will present "A Voyage in the Far East".


The cableship GIULIO VERNE arrived at Douglas on Sunday May 7 at 07:00.Originally she had been planned to arrive the previous week. 

The vessel is engaged in Cable Laying work to provide a link between the Isle of Man at Douglas Head and the Lancashire, UK.

The cable will be 105 kilometres long and weighs 5,000 tons - making it the longest AC cable in the world. It has been designed to meet the Isle of Man’s growing demand for electricity and represents the biggest project the Manx Electricity Authority has ever undertaken.

It was manufactured by Pirelli and BICC and will be deployed in a 65 mile long seabed trench by the GIULIO  VERNE, an operation that should take some 45 days to complete. The cable ship will be followed by a tug pulling the ship (Northern Explorer) that carries a seabed plough to bury the cable up to a depth of two metres.

Mr Proffitt said: ‘At the Isle of Man end, the cable is to be connected to the oldest power station site in the Island. The new substation at Lord Street will grant this site a new lease of life.’


SUPERSTAR EXPRESS continues to have problems adhering to schedules. On Thursday May 4, Gary Andrews noted that her 18:00 sailing from Cairnryan had an approximate ETA at Larne of around 20:25. She should have arrived at 19:00.

Things had improved somewhat by Saturday May 6. The 16:15 sailing from Larne was only around 15 to 20 minutes behind schedule.



Broadsword Class Type 22-2 Frigate HMS SHEFFIELD [F96] was a visitor to Merseyside this weekend. She is acting as flag ship for rear admiral Michael Gregory who was attending the annual Battle of the Atlantic Commemoration service at Liverpool's Anglican Cathedral on Sunday May 7. 

HMS SHEFFIELD completed by Swan-Hunter in 1987 carries the name of the former Type 42 Destroyer which sank during the Falklands War in 1982. The sinking of her namesake was remembered by HMS SHEFFIELD's crew observing a minute's silence as the ship sailed up the Mersey on Thursday May 4.  

HMS SHEFFIELD was open for public inspection on Saturday and Sunday May 6/7. On Sunday members of the crew participated in a march through Liverpool to the Anglican Cathedral led by the band of the Royal Marines. 

HMS SHEFFIELD is scheduled to depart on Monday at 13:00.


HMS ST ALBANS, the last Type 23 frigate for the Royal Navy was launched into the Clyde at 1455 on Saturday 6th May 2000 from the BAE Systems (ex Yarrow) shipyard at Scotstoun. A large crowd of onlookers assembled at the new Braehead Shopping centre on the opposite river bank

St Albans was taken in tow by Clyde tugs WARRIOR, FLYING PHANTOM and THUNDERER to the King George V dock where she was canted and towed back down river to berth at the Elderslie Wall for outfitting. Thus the newest Clydebuilt ship afloat (St Albans) passed the oldest (the 1872 coaster Kyles) which is berthed at Braehead.

The picture shows St Albans entering the Clyde from the newly refurbished building hall at Scotstoun.


Vosper Thornycroft have launched a radical multi-hull prototype naval vessel named TRITON

Triton is claimed to be the most radical change in the shape of warships since the ironclads of the 1850s and 1860s, with the designers promising more space for weapons but less water resistance, and therefore smaller engines using less fuel.

Project manager Bob Short, reflecting that warship builders were still using hull shapes little different to those of World War I indicated that naval architects had tended to be, "so conservative". Mr Short said: "We are trying to demonstrate to UK industry that this is not a high-risk solution for them to offer to the Royal Navy."

Triton, weights in at 1,100-tonnes. Test equipment being supplied by the US Navy will determine if the vessel can sail smoothly in rough weather without being pulled apart by the waves. 

Multihulled passenger vessels have still to overcome operational restrictions in poor sea conditions. It will be interesting to see if this prototype naval vessel can overcome such difficulties. One wouldn't want a situation where a the navy was not available to defend the country because the wave height was exceeding 3 metres!


It may be many years since the White Star Line was swallowed up by Cunard and gradually faded out of existence, however, the long defunct line  still produces interesting news items this week concerning two of its notable wrecks.


On this week's Seascapes programme broadcast on RTÉ it was announced that a detailed underwater survey was to be made of the White Star Line's Iron Clipper TAYLEUR which was wrecked off the coast of Lambay Island, north of Dublin on January 21, 1854. The ship which had been on its maiden voyage from Liverpool to Australia was wrecked with the loss of 380 passengers.


An third class passenger inspection card and a menu belonging to Titanic survivor Sara Roth have been sold at auction in London. The inspection card, which was used to prove that immigrants and third class passengers had been checked for infectious disease, fetched $20 000. The card is particularly rare as very few third class passengers survived the disaster. The menu which listed smoked herrings for breakfast sold for more than $32 000.

Meanwhile a new Titanic exhibition has been branded a "Titanic Gaffe" by the Belfast Telegraph. The exhibition at the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry features impressive reconstructions of cabins, boiler rooms, the grand staircase as well as a section of stern and passenger's artefacts.

However, throughout the exhibition there isn't a mention of the ship's origins except for a tiny picture caption which reads only H&W Belfast. The newspaper reports that the exhibition is booked out every day and is on for the next nine months before transferring to Dallas followed by Las Vegas and that a wonderful opportunity at promoting Northern Ireland is being lost.


Liverpool, the spiritual home of Cunard Line remembered the loss of the RMS LUSITANIA  in a ceremony on Sunday May 7. The ceremony is held annually on the Quayside at Canning Half-tide basin. This year marked the 85 anniversary of the sinking. The LUSITANIA was torpedoed off the Old Head of Kinsale by German submarine U20  on May 7, 1915.

David Roberts, maritime publisher and historian laid a wreath by one of the ship's propellers which is displayed on the quayside, part of the Merseyside Maritime Museum.  The moment of impact being marked by a minutes silence at 14:28. A short public service was conducted by Canon Nicholas Frayling, rector of St.Nicholas Church.


STENA CHALLENGER - Due to repair work the following sailings from Holyhead were scheduled for cancellation:

On May 7  ex Holyhead 15:00 and ex Dublin 21:30 and 8 May ex Holyhead 03:15. Additional sailings being provided by HSS STENA EXPLORER departing Holyhead 04:00 and Dún Laoghaire at 06:30.


On Thursday the Daily Post newspaper reported speculation that the MD&HC may be preparing to make a bid for seven Australian grain ports. The South Australian government announced that it is to sell off the ports for around £78m. The government also stated that it would like the ports to be sold to one buyer, though bids for individual sites may be considered. A spokesman for Mersey Docks and Harbour Company is reported as saying: "We do not comment on speculation. We are always looking for the right port in the right place at the right time." 


An unusual vessel arrived on the Mersey on Friday and was observed by a correspondent being brought up Crosby Channel by three tugs. The vessel in rather rough condition, but displaying distinctive regal yacht like lines is the LIBERTATEA. 

Built in 1930 as the NAHLIN by John Brown & Co (Clydebank) Ltd she is 90.22m in length, has a beam of 11.02m and a draught of 4.49m. Propulsion is by four steam turbines. Originally supplied as a Royal Yacht for the King of Romania she survived the years of Communist rule carrying the names  LUCEAFARUL and latterly LIBERTATEA and was recently laid up at Devonport Dockyard after being moved from Constanza on the Black Sea.



Brian Chambers writes that  new ferry service between the Irish Republic and the Northern Ireland is a step closer. 

Shannon Ferries are interested in the East Border Region Committee's latest plans for a service across Carlingford Lough, the new service would link County Louth and County Down. 

The previous ferry service across the Lough operated by the London and North Western Railway Company from Greenore were to Warrenpoint and Greencastle. Warrenpoint closed on October 20, 1920 and the Greencastle service was withdrawn during 1921.


This week the Belfast Telegraph reported that workers at the troubled Harland and Wolff shipyard have been urged to take a pay cut as the company is  in danger of missing out on a major new order unless the workforce signs up to new conditions which include a reduction in pay.

The new terms which have been put to the unions could mean wage reductions of unto 15% or around £50 per week.

Harland & Wolff management stressed that a decision by the unions is required within
a matter of days.

Details of the prospective order have not been published though speculation suggests that it involves a £400m contract to construct for passenger ferries for a Norwegian company. [Colour Line?]

If the contract is secured it is expected that the main workforce will still be reduced from 1,300 to 1,000.


Stolt Comex owned SEAWAY CONDOR returned to the Birkenhead yard after almost a week on trials on Friday. She was observed inbound in Crosby channel at around 09:40 on Friday May 5.

It was announced towards the end of last week that Cammell Laird has collaborated with International Shipping Investors of Copenhagen to form a joint venture company. The new company will be known as the Progress Group of which Cammell Laird will hold a 49% stake. 

Progress Group will identify suitable cruise ships for clients, buy, refit and crew them. Cammell Laird says the move will make it an International marine services company which offers a broad range of services from ship repair to finance. 

The first deal completed by the Progress Group was the purchase of the EDINBURGH CASTLE, previously bought from the receivers of Lowline by the Cammell Laird group and refurbished. Now known as the BIG RED BOAT II she is being operated under charter in the USA.


Brittany Ferries has announced plans for a new ship to be introduced into service in early 2002. The ship, which will represent an investment of £80m, will be a state of the art cruise ferry for its Portsmouth/Caen service. With capacity for up to 175 trucks, 600 cars and 2,000 passengers, it will be the largest ship ever planned for cross channel operations.

Ian Carruthers, Managing Director (UK & Ireland), said, " The company is in negotiations with a number of European shipyards, but we have not yet ruled out acquisition of nearly-new existing tonnage if it can be adapted to meet the standards and capacity required. The size of the ship, at some 36,000 tonnes, will be three and a half times larger than the vessel we will replace on the Caen service."

The new ship plan follows Brittany Ferries' announcement of a further year of substantially improved financial results with turnover increasing by 4.1%, to £195m, despite the loss of Duty Free, during the year ended September and a profit before exceptional items of £17.2m, an increase of 27% over the previous year. After three good financial years, Brittany
Ferries has been able to pay back the reduced charter payments agreed by its ship-owning partners in 1996 and this, in turn, has allowed the company's partners to reinvest in a new ship.


During the year, the Brittany Ferries' fleet of seven ships carried the following numbers on its six routes out of Portsmouth, Poole, Plymouth and Cork to Normandy, Brittany and Northern Spain.

Passengers 2,654,165 passengers Cars 762,650 cars Freight 172,950 freight

These figures gave Brittany Ferries a 52.2% share of the Western Channel passenger market (all routes west of Dover), up from 49.5% and 53.7% of the freight market, up from 50%.


The Brittany Ferries Group's Turnover for the year 1999 increased by 4.1% compared to the previous year. It reached £195 million.

The continuous improvement of the company for the last three years allowed for a reduction in financial costs. Therefore the profits increased by 27% to reach £17.2 million, nearly 9% of the turnover.

After exceptional including earlier repayment of reduced charter fees provided by Brittany Ferries' partnership owning companies in 1996, the company's net income after tax was £0.5 million.

Back Home Up Next

May 3


Welcome to this mid week update. Following several requests I have now provided a coverage guide for the site. The aim of this is to indicate the areas from which most, though not all of the material for the site is drawn from. However, this of course should not discourage you from forwarding news an information from elsewhere! With the removal of the live chat and queries sections I have streamlined the page header menus, however, I am considering a further redesign of these to allow easier access to other parts of the site.  

Acknowledgements: Michael Pryce, Gary Andrews, Justin Merrigan, Brian Chambers and "others".


SEACAT SCOTLAND - Monday evening's [May 1]  Belfast to Troon sailing and the return sailing from Troon were cancelled due to technical problems. 

SUPERSEACAT TWO - Gary Andrews writes that this afternoon [Wednesday May 3] there was no sign of SSC2 at the Belfast Terminal at around 16:30 - a time when SSC2 should have been in the port after arrival on the 12:00 sailing from Heysham. On Tuesday SSC2 was noted arriving ahead of schedule at 15:30. 


Over recent weeks Sea Containers have been involved with Universities and Colleges Liaison officers and Student Unions investigating the market for Student Travel between Northern Ireland and Scotland. It is hoped that by making travel more accessible via the company's new Belfast to Troon Service that more Northern Irish Students will be encouraged to both attend organised Scottish University open/visit days and ultimately to study in Scotland.

The response from University Recruitment Officers and Northern Ireland Schools Careers Officers has been extremely encouraging. The following travel packages have therefore been designed which the company hopes to make available for distribution  at Schools careers fairs in N. Ireland and at Student Unions across Scotland:

Seacat Students Travel Offer

This offer is valid from the 24.4.00 to the 16.6.00 and from the 8.9.00 to the 16.6.01 it is also subject to the following terms and conditions. Students may be asked to produce a valid matriculation card or proof of University/College admission at time of booking or at port. The offer is valid on any of the Belfast to Troon service sailings only and is subject to availability. Students must quote the following relevant codes at time of booking.

Offer / Price / Booking Code
Car & 4 passengers / Standard Single £75 / DT-STS
Extra passenger: Adult / Standard Single £15 / DT-STS
Extra passenger: Child / Standard Single £7.50 / DT-STS
Car & 4 passengers / Standard Return £130 / DT-STU
Extra passenger: Adult / Standard Return £30 / DT-STU
Extra passenger: Child / Standard Return £15 / DT-STU

This offer shall be promoted at University Travel Agents, Student Unions and Careers Fairs in N. Ireland. To book contact local Travel Agent or SeaCat direct on 08705 523 523.

Foot Passengers

Although a student foot passenger rate is available under our standard brochure fares students should also check out the cost of Rail & Sail travel between N. Ireland and Scotland. The considerably shorter rail journey from Troon to both Glasgow and Edinburgh compared to our previous Stranraer service has been reflected greatly in the price. For information and booking of a Rail & Sail Ticket contact your Local Travel Agent or Scot Rail directly on 08457 48 49 50.

Seacat Schools Travel

This offer is designed to encourage students and their parents to attend organised open/visit days at Universities and colleges in Scotland. Many University Recruitment Officers have already agreed to make available our travel pack at promotional events in N. Ireland.

This offer is valid from the 24.4.00 to the 16.6.01 and is valid on any Belfast to Troon Service excluding those in July and August subject to availability terms and conditions. Students or parents may be asked to produce documentation regarding the event they are attending at time of booking or travel.

Offer / Price / Booking Code
Car & 4 Passengers / 3 Day Return £99 / DT-SCH
Extra Passenger: Adult / £21 / DT-SCH
Extra Passenger: Child / £10 / DT-SCH


There has been recent speculation in Scandinavian newspapers that Sea Containers is interested in buying the Danish/German part of Scandlines which operates passenger and freight ferry services in the Southern Baltic Sea.

However, the company has issued a statement dismissing the speculation:

This is the second rumour that Sea Containers has had to deny in recent weeks.


Associated British Ports, operators of Fleetwood and Garston Docks in north west England have rejected a £1 billion take over bid from Nomura. The company handles 25% of all UK sea traffic.


Stena's financial position is reported to have deteriorated further as the company unveiled interim results for the first quarter of 2000.

Losses before taxation increased to SKr545m ($60.8m), from SKr418m in the corresponding period last year. Revenue declined 12% from SKr1,301m to SKr1,142m, with earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation down from a loss of SKr70m last year to a loss of SKr182m.

Income from operations decreased to SKr415m from SKr280m, including a SKr73m share of losses from the P&O Stena Channel ferry joint venture, which gave no dividends.

Due to continuing arbitration, the acquisition of Scandlines has yet to be completed, with Scandlines Denmark claiming pre-emptive rights. A decision is expected by the end of June.

Despite the general gloom there was an improvement in freight and port revenues, up from SKr464m to SKr511m the year before. Average freight rates rose 11% in Scandinavia despite a 3% fall in volumes, and remaining unchanged in the UK, where volumes rose 12%. The abolition of duty-free resulted in sharp falls in average on board retail spend, down from SKr278 to SKr156 in Scandinavia and from SKr139 to SKr57 in the UK.

Private car volumes were reported to be stable, although passenger volumes declined 11%, excluding the closed Halmstad-Grenaa route. This statistic masks a 25% fall in Scandinavia and a 4% increase in
Britain. Despite its poor performance, the company remains upbeat about the future. "The current strength of the European economy is expected to continue and generate growth for freight and travel," the company said. "Higher ticket and freight rates achieved, as well as cost reductions implemented in 1999, will continue to influence results positively."


AURORA - The new P&O Cruise Ship which was named last week by the Princess Royal has failed 18 hours into her maiden voyage. 

AURORA,  constructed by Meyer Werft shipyard in Germany, departed from Southampton on Monday. A P&O Cruises spokeswoman said a propeller shaft bearing had overheated, making it impossible for the 76,000-tonne ship to continue her two-week cruise of Mediterranean resorts.

The Mediterranean cruise has now been cancelled and she arrived back at Southampton on Wednesday morning, May 3.

Managing Director of P&O Cruises, Gwyn Hughes,  said: "We are extremely sorry to bring this news and we are aware that this a great disappointment to our passengers. The situation is totally unforeseen as all the necessary rigorous checks and tests were completed satisfactorily before AURORA entered service. Passengers will be given a full refund and a compensation package. 

Fares ranged from  £2,295 per person for a basic cabin and £7,825 per person for a penthouse suite. Refunds will work out at around £6 million before allowing for compensation. It is hoped that the vessel will be back in service for her second scheduled cruise to the Canary Islands which is due to commence on May 15. 

During the naming ceremony the bottle of champagne released by the Princess Royal failed to break, this being considered a bad omen by seafarers.

SUPERSTAR EXPRESS - The vessel has been noted running very late over the holiday weekend. Engine problems were apparently the reason for her initial delayed entrance into service. By Tuesday May 2, she was back on schedule. 


P&O have released details of the unaudited financial results, statistics and key points for P&O Stena Line for the first quarter of 2000, as well as statistics and key points for P&O’s other ferry operations in the North Sea, Irish Sea, Western Channel and Scottish Isles. 

P&O Stena Line


Results for the first quarter, historically the weakest quarter, were affected by the dampening of demand post Millennium,  the impact of the abolition of duty free and Easter falling in Q2 2000 compared to Q1 1999;


Overall carryings were lower while market shares, other than for freight, were maintained;


average rates increased, particularly for tourist traffic; and


gross on board spend per head remains close to last year’s duty free sales levels albeit at lower margins.



P&O Ferries


Freight carryings continued to increase with record volumes achieved by P&O North Sea Ferries; and


tourist and freight rates were broadly in line with Q1 1999.


P&O Stena Line


Market Share

Q1 2000

Q1 1999

Q1 2000

Q1 2000

Freight units





Tourist vehicles (including coaches)













Q1  2000

Q1 1999

Operating (loss)/profit



Interest and similar items



Headline (loss)/profit



Loss on closure of Newhaven/Dieppe






Carryings and market share include P&O Stena Line’s two routes – Dover/Calais and Dover/Zeebrugge (freight only) – and also Newhaven/Dieppe until 31 January 1999 when it closed.


Market share calculations are in respect of total volumes for the Short Sea and Belgian Straits.


All figures are unaudited.

P&O Ferries (excluding P&O Stena Line)



Q1 2000

Q1 1999

Freight units



Tourist vehicles (including coaches)










The above statistics are an aggregation of P&O’s other ferry routes around the UK namely North Sea, Irish Sea, Western Channel and Scottish Isles.


P&O Stena Line


P&O Stena Line recorded an operating loss of £6.9m.  After interest of £4.5m the headline result was a loss of £11.4m.


The first quarter, which is historically the weakest quarter, was affected by the dampening of demand post Millennium, the impact of the abolition of duty free and Easter falling in Q2 2000 compared to Q1 1999.


Freight carryings marginally declined due to incremental capacity being introduced by Eurotunnel during the quarter. Average rates were ahead of last year.  The total freight market continued to grow strongly with volumes increasing by 12% year on year.


Average rates from tourist traffic increased significantly partly due to a change in mix away from promotional day trip offers which, as expected, led to reduced volumes.


Gross on board spend per head continues at close to last year’s duty free sales levels although margins were significantly affected.


Higher fuel prices resulted in an increase in costs compared to Q1 1999.


Internet bookings continue to grow for both freight and tourist traffic. Increasing numbers of freight customers, in particular, are now taking advantage of being able to pre-lodge driver and vehicle load details as well as using the on-line track and trace service.

P&O Ferries


Tourist and freight rates were broadly in line with Q1 1999.


Freight carryings continued to increase mainly as a result of an extra vessel on the Fleetwood-Larne route introduced in Q3 1999 and P&O North Sea Ferries also performed well with volume records on nearly all routes.


On April 15th, the fastcraft Portsmouth Express came into service between Portsmouth and Cherbourg.  With the capacity to accommodate 920 passengers and 225 cars, the Portsmouth Express makes the crossing in 2 hours and 40 minutes, cutting the conventional journey time in half. As a result of her introduction, the SuperStar Express was transferred onto the Larne-Cairnryan route replacing the Jetliner.  Sailing five return crossings daily, the vessel has the capacity for 800 passengers and 175 cars and crosses the Irish Sea in 60 minutes.



A new station for the Royal National Lifeboat Institution’s Dun Laoghaire Lifeboat will be officially opened on Saturday, May 6th at 2.00pm. The new facilities at the station, which in 1999 was the busiest in Ireland with 52 calls, complements the service provided by the Trent and D class lifeboats on call there.

The opening ceremony will be performed by Dr John de Courcy Ireland, president of Dun Laoghaire Lifeboat Station. After the opening the new building will be blessed by the Rev Pat Mangan and the Rev Victor Stacey.

The new station provides much needed facilities for the crew of the £1.4mn Trent-class All Weather Lifeboat Anna Livia and the £13,973 Inshore Lifeboat Irish Diver. Crew changing rooms and showers have been provided along with a training room, and a workshop to keep the boats in top condition. The station features an RNLI shop where visitors can purchase gifts and souvenirs, including copies of Dr de Courcy’s Ireland "Lifeboats on Dublin Bay", which gives a complete history of the station since 1803.

An improved financial position in the 1980s and a major modernisation programme for the lifeboat fleet, led to a to a major new station rebuilding programme for the RNLI. The early utilitarian buildings had a very limited life, and the rapid modernisation of the lifeboat fleet produced a demand for many new boathouses, often in sensitive areas. Dun Laoghaire was no exception and great care has been taken to ensure that the building blends in with its surroundings.

The crew of Dun Laoghaire Lifeboat, led by Coxswain Ken Robertson, are all volunteers, with the exception of full-time mechanic Kieran O’Connell. Ashore, the management of the station is in the hands of the Honorary Secretary Stephen Wynne, supported by two Deputy Launching Authorities, Hal Bleakley and Seán Doyle, and an active committee. Fund raising activities are ongoing and the RNLI is always interested in hearing from members of the public who can assist in this area.


A major search and rescue operation for two persons reported in difficulty in the water off Dublin Bay’s The Forty Foot was  called off late on Tuesday May 2.

After an hour long search involving two lifeboats, a rescue helicopter, the Gardai and units of Dublin Fire Brigade nothing was been found. 

The alarm was raised when a member of the public reported two swimmers in trouble some 200 yards off The Forty Foot. The search was concentrated in the Scotsman’s Bay area of Dublin Bay.

The alarm was raised at 22:02 hrs and Dun Laoghaire’s Inshore Lifeboat was launched at 22:06 hrs. At 22:12 hrs Dun Laoghaire’s Allweather Lifeboat was launched under the command of Coxswain Ken Robertson. Cox’n Robertson assumed the role of on-scene commander.


The Belfast Telegraph has reported that Harland & Wolff employees will have to sign up to a no-strike deal if the troubled Belfast shipyard is to secure a major new order.

Chief executive Brynjulv Mugaas made the clear-cut comment in a message to the workforce in Harland's Way, the company's internal news-letter, which was published before the current speculation about a £400m order from Norway.

Mr Mugaas said: "Before we are able to secure the new major order which will offer us a future, it will be necessary to have a dispute-free agreement in place. "This will give future customers the necessary comfort in our ability to execute their contract in a dispute free way in accordance with plans, schedules and contracts."

George Matchett, chairman of the Confederation of Shipbuilding and Engineering Unions, said a no-dispute deal was already in place at the yard, but that management now wanted to broaden its terms.

He said: "We think it is premature to agree this before an order has been firmed up, but are keen to hear further details of the proposals from management. So far negotiations have not yet been initiated, so it would be premature to make further comment at this stage." 

At present, the yard's order book runs out in June with the completion of the second of two deep-sea drillships for the American company, Global Marine.


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