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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





Welcome to this weekend's update. The Wednesday update had a strong cruise ship theme. However, by the end of the week "cruise ships" had become something a rather dirty couple of words on Merseyside. The county's citizens awoke on Friday morning to discover that relations between Merseyside ship builders Cammell Laird and the Carnival Corporation owned Costa Crociere had finally broken down and the COSTA CLASSIC was returning to its home port leaving the 26,000 tonne mid body module sitting on the slipway at Birkenhead and leaving hundreds of ship yard workers' jobs in jeopardy. 

One hopes that the problems are resolved quickly and amicably and Laird's does get to complete the largest lengthening job on a passenger ship yet to be undertaken. If things aren't resolved one wonders if QUEEN ELIZABETH 2 will get such a warm Merseyside welcome on her next visit. Carnival Corporation are of course owners of Cunard Line as well as Costa Crociere.


Some work has been undertaken on the page bottom navigation bars. You may find that some pages have two navigation bars. This is not an error as such but has resulted from the transfer of the menu bar from the page area into the shared borders. a large number of the old bars have been removed. But to avoid having to upload again all the text pages in one go, the removal of the remainder will take place in future updates. 


Please note that the next update will be on Sunday December 3. There will be no response to e-mail between 23:00 on Monday November 27 and Friday evening December 1 as I will be taking a group of pupils to Waterford, Cobh and Dublin. 

Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Tony Brennan, Brian Chambers, Michael Pryce, Patrick C. Taylor and "others".


On December 12 John Taylor of the Merseyside Branch of the WSS will present an illustrated lecture on Cammell Laird 1967 to 1993. This had originally been scheduled for the September meeting, but had to be cancelled due to the fuel crisis. The meeting commences at 19:00 hours at Sam's Bar, Tithebarn Street, Liverpool. Visitors are welcome.

SEA CONTAINERS\The Isle of Man Steam Packet Company

BEN-MY-CHREE - High winds delayed the 09:00 Douglas to Heysham sailing on Sunday November 26. The ship finally departed at 10:30. The return 14:15 from Heysham being delayed as a result.


The future of the Port of Heysham is to be discussed by Tynwald, the Manx parliament on Tuesday. Sea Containers have indicated that they are in discussions to sell the port. One of the most likely purchasers is considered to be the Mersey Docks and Harbour Company.


Following the recent announcement that Hoverspeed would not operate the Folkestone - Boulogne service in 2001 a rather interesting series of interviews was recently carried in the French regional press with Francis Leroy, President of Boulogne Chamber of Commerce, Guy Lengagne, mayor of Boulogne and Rory Colis,  of Shepway Council

Leroy said he is hopeful of getting a replacement service but is certain Hoverspeed won't return.  He also expressed that it was difficult for any new service to use Dover due to the amount of business already at the port and he is unsure how helpful Sea Containers would be in getting a new operator from Folkestone. It appears British, Greek and Scandinavian groups have expressed an interest in running the service.

He denied that port rates had caused the departure of Hoverspeed and said Sea Containers had been well supported by the Chamber of Commerce and the local community.

There are also calls for funding to be provided to modernise Boulogne to make it more attractive for a new operator.

Colis stated that it is vitally important James Sherwood makes the position of Sea Containers clear (Sherwood is due to meet a delegation next week to discuss the closure of Folkestone - Boulogne) - to find out whether Folkestone - Boulogne is closed for good as a Hoverspeed route and if so whether there is any chance of new passenger operator being allowed to operate the service and under which conditions.

Meanwhile the mayor of Boulogne has called for the port of Folkestone to be bought from Sea Containers and put into public ownership.  I can't quite clarify whether of not he is suggesting the French buy it or the local council in Folkestone, but he states the port would cost around 60 to 70
million francs to purchase.


The Dover - Ostend 2001 schedule - appears  to confirm 2 SuperSeaCat for Dover and DIAMANT for Ostend with one roundtrip per day on the Ostend route operated by a SSC. This would of course leave the RAPIDE available for deployment on the Irish Sea possibly at Liverpool.



At a meeting on Wednesday evening November 22, Sefton Council decided not to force the proposed on river linkspan facility to a public inquiry. The Labour group on the council which had been seeking an inquiry were defeated by the Liberal Democrats and Conservatives.


This week the lengthy dispute at the Marine Terminal Ltd Container berths on the South Wall at Dublin was finally resolved. Marine Terminals Ltd was acquired by the MD&HC as part of the Imari Group earlier this year.

However, industrial action by employees at the terminal was instigated after new working conditions were rejected. For sometime the usually busy South Wall container berths have been empty. Back in October a visiting Netherlands's Naval flotilla was berthed at the MTL terminal - something which would normally not have been possible.

In a ballot last week MTL employees accepted changes in work schedules and a three months severance option. MD&HC claim that the cost of the dispute may reach up to £3million however, in the local press Peter Jones of the MD&HC indicated that the resolution of the dispute will lead to improved productivity and efficiency in the future.



The ISLE OF INISHMORE and  ISLE OF INNISFREE of Irish Ferries have now appeared on the sales lists.  This would appear to confirm that Irish Ferries fleet strategy with the introduction of the ULYSSES is to consider future traffic requirements on the Rosslare route whilst at the same time seeking to obtain the most attractive sales price for one of their vessels.

For example, it may be the case that a comparatively better offer may be made for the smaller vessel.

There has been an awful lot stated about which ship is to be sold, however, it has always been the case that no decision has been taken and that the above would apply.

It is possibly more likely it will be the ISLE OF INISHMORE that is sold but if Irish Ferries were to get an extremely attractive offer for the ISLE OF INNISFREE they would hardly turn it down and there is always the potential of traffic growing sufficiently on Pembroke - Rosslare to justify the larger vessel.

ISLE OF INNISFREE - Due to strong gales from the North West, the Pembroke Sailing on Saturday morning November 26 was cancelled with the vessel  storm bound at her # 1 Berth at Rosslare.

JONATHAN SWIFT - The gales also led to the cancellation of the JONATHAN SWIFT sailings between Dublin and Holyhead on Saturday.


FRANÇOISE arrived at Rosslare on Saturday morning from Brest, however, she did not return to Brest as scheduled on November 26 and was stormbound at #3 berth.


TOPI the stone carrying hopper vessel which sank in the harbour along side Carlisle Pier at Dún Laoghaire remains sunk. The area is sealed off with anti-pollution, floating booms.  There is a Wreck marker-buoy at the spot. Divers have done a small amount of patch-work on her but there is no immediate plans to raise her.


A new book The History of the Port of Dun Laoghaire written by Maritime Historian John de Courcy Ireland will be published shortly by De Burca.

In the Irish Times this week John de Courcy Ireland has expressed his concern over the future of the harbour part of the management of which will pass to Marina Marketing and Management from March 2001 from the existing harbour company.

Mr de Courcy Ireland is critical of these new developments and claims that the Dún Laoghaire Harbour Company should do ten things to restore harmony between the citizens and itself.

1. Guarantee that the facilities around the Coal Harbour will remain. 2. No extra charges for small boat owners without consent. 3. Restore the facility to enable members of the public to hire a rowing boat. 4. Dun Laoghaire should be helped to restore regular cruises Dun Laoghaire around Dublin and Killiney bays. Notices should go up at spots connected with the historic events. Some of the port's great yachting events in the past, such as Marconi's first broadcast of a sporting event, should be recalled. A list of Harbour Masters should be displayed, with the major events of their term of office. Summer walking tours should emphasise the harbour's beauty as well as historic spots. 9. Trade-union leaders should be approached to discuss the idea of Dun Laoghaire becoming a centre of trade-union sailing and boating clubs. 10. An annual public Suggestion Day should be instituted.

Dún Laoghaire harbour is a fascinating place and many maritime enthusiasts, in particular those interested in the shipping routes operating from the harbour will want to add the new book to their collection.


EUROPEAN PATHFINDER was forced to take shelter off the coast at Arklow on Saturday November 25 as she was unable to dock at Rosslare Europort due to the adverse conditions. 


KONINGIN BEATRIX  afternoon sailing from Fishguard was cancelled on Saturday November 25 due to the gale force winds on the Irish Sea.


Dublin Port was closed for several hours on Saturday November 25 following a leak from a petrol store in the port. The Chief Fire Officer declared the area as unsafe and all traffic was stopped from entering the port area.

The fuel leak was reported at 10:15 and is believed to have happened as petrol was being transferred from one storage silo to another. 


LE RÓISÍN and LE AOIFE were involved in a search and rescue operation in conjunction with the Irish Coastguard and Castletownbere Lifeboat off Mizen Head for four men missing off the Castletownbere Trawler ST GERVASE which foundered in the early hours of Thursday November 23 only hours after putting to see.

However the search was hampered by deteriorating conditions. On Friday Naval divers located the wreck in 30 metres of water and recovered a body.

Gardaí released the names of the four missing men; they are Gary Kane of Castletownbere; Timothy Angland from Cork City, Jacques Diger, originally from France but living in Castletownbere, Kieran Harrington, also from Castletownbere.


IRISH COAST GUARD by Brian Chambers

Last weekend, Coast Guard Volunteers, and members of the Civil Defence took part in training exercise in Curracloe, 12 units of the Coast Guard and local defence units, and the Order of Malta took part in the training exercise, six of the team were from the County.

Due to the bad weather over the weekend the Air Corp Alouette 3 from Baldonnel had to cancelled their appearance, on Sunday a Big Sikorsky Helicopter landed in a field in the Curracloe area, and Coast Guard volunteers were able to see the large helicopter, and were told about its capabilities in a rescue mission.


"This is Cornwall" reported that three hundred pasties made in Falmouth were delivered to the crew of HMS CORNWALL this week when the frigate returned home after a seven month deployment.

The Royal Navy's Task Group 2000, of which HMS CORNWALL was part, sailed from British waters on May 7 and, 207 days later they were back, after circumnavigating the globe.

The Task Group also included HMS SUTHERLAND and destroyer HMS NEWCASTLE , which were supported by Royal Fleet Auxiliaries FORT VICTORIA and BAYLEAF.

The ships were met in the English Channel by the SAINT PIRAN , Cornwall's sea fisheries enforcement vessel, which escorted them into Falmouth where they anchored in Carrick Roads.

SAINT PIRAN , with Carrick Council's vice-chairman Phil Tregunna on board, then had the important job of transporting the 300 hand-crimped pasties from Falmouth Docks to HMS CORNWALL .

The pasties were baked in Falmouth by Pengenna Bakery, which is an active supporter of the campaign to win the Cornish pasty protected geographical indication (PGI) status in the European market.

Jerry Saunders, manager of Pengenna Bakery, said: "We are used to meeting orders by post, but this will be the first time we have supplied to a whole Royal Navy crew. However, we are pleased to be able to make this delivery, with the help of the sea fisheries vessel, and to support Cornwall's efforts to protect the integrity of its most famous food product."



Coastguards and pollution experts went on standby after a Chinese cargo ship became disabled off the Cornish coast with steering problems in strong winds on Saturday evening on November 25. The vessel called for coastguard assistance at 21:30 when passing north of the Isles of Scilly

HEBEI TREASURE  is carrying more than 40,000 tonnes of metal ores, including magnesium which reacts violently with water, as well as 370 tons of diesel and other fuel.

However, the 220-metre ship recovered some power and was able to head to Falmouth at three knots arriving there on  Sunday afternoon. She is being followed by a tug 

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) said the 36-crew ship had 70 tons of diesel oil and 300 tons of fuel oil on board.

"If she grounded she could just sit there, or begin leaking oil," a spokesman said. "Our first concern would be the oil, as the cargo hatch would have to be breached before the water could get to the magnesium ore."

The HEBEI TREASURE was transporting bauxite and magnesium ore from China to Cork in Ireland.


The following vessel: was detained by the Maritime & Coastguard Agency at Irish Sea ports during October 2000:

Ship's Name


Date and place of detention

20/10/00 - Belfast



Type of vessel

Oil Tanker

IMO number



St. Vincent & Grenadines


Ogaramba Diugwu Ltd - Lagos, Nigeria

Classification Society

Russian Maritime Register

No. of previous detentions


Total no. deficiencies


Grounds for detention

Detained 4 days. Safely equipment, SAFCON, IOPP & International Loadline Certificates expired


COSTA CLASSICA - The major news story of the week concerns the about turn of the Costa Crociere cruise ship which had been en-route to Cammell Laird at Birkenhead. The ship was heading for Birkenhead when it put into La Corunna to put ashore Cammell Laird staff who were on board and then set sail back to its home port of Genoa.

For some weeks there have been rumours doing the rounds that the project was behind schedule and that Costa had not awarded Cammell Laird the contract to lengthen the COSTA ROMANTICA.

With the ship turned around the Costa Crociere technicians at Cammell Laird's Merseyside yard were escorted from the facility by security guards.

Lloyd's List reports that Costa Crociere is justifying its decision on the grounds of alleged "heavy delays" in the yard's preparations for the conversion, and the subsequent risk that the contract would not be completed within the scheduled 17 weeks to March 22, 2001.

Cammell Laird has dismissed the allegations of work being behind schedule pointing out that the mid body module was ready for launching on November 26 as planned. The module is 44.6m which would lengthen the 53,000grt COSTA CLASSICA to 79,000grt 

Meanwhile, the Italian company -which is now a wholly owned subsidiary of US-based Carnival Corporation - said it has not exercised its right to terminate the contract due to the delay. However, Costa Crociere notified Cammell Laird of an application for arbitration to determine whether it had the right to postpone delivery of the vessel and/or terminate the contract.

Following legal advice Cammell Laird considers that Costa Crociere has no such right. The Italian company has appointed Professor Guido Alpa an expert in Italian commercial law as arbitrator as the contract is subject to Italian law. 

Costa Crociere have indicated that though arbitration has commenced the company would resume the work if and when it was deemed that Cammell Laird was ready to go ahead.

Costa Crociere issued a statement indicating that the company had "postponed delivery of the ship to the yard, which would be premature given the actual progress and schedule of the work. The duration of the postponement is not subject to the completion of the arbitration proceedings.

It is claimed that Costa Crociere has been indicating that preparations for the conversion work was awry and that Cammell Laird failed to react. It is also claimed that senior officials from Cammell Laird were due to visit Genoa this week to work out a solution but had failed to turn up.

If the contract fails to go ahead it will leave a major hole in the company's balance sheet. The Daily Post indicates that group profits for the year will be reduced from £19m to around £6m. 

In addition a large number of jobs both of employees and subcontractors are also in jeopardy.

By Friday evening local radio reports were indicating that the company has managed to secure three contracts for work on other vessels in the meantime.

Over on the east coast at Cammell Laird Tyneside things were looking better, the company has secured a contract to convert the Coflexip Stena Offshore vessel CSO CONSTRUCTOR. This vessel will be converted into a pipe layer from its present role as an offshore diving support vessel. Over 2,000 tonnes of steel will be used in the work which will see the vessel lengthened by 15m.

On Sunday morning Cammell Laird announced that the launching of the mid-body module had been postponed until Monday November 26 due to adverse weather conditions.


Two maritime memorials were unveiled in Cornwall this week. 

At Barnoon Cemetary, St. Ives the Mayor unveiled a plaque which has been placed on the grave of two seafarers. Gyula Szabo and Ernest Stanovic died when the SS ALBA was wrecked off Porthmeor Beach in 1938. The plaque replaces a decaying wooden cross. The plaque was financed by several local groups.

Meanwhile at Newlyn a plaque was unveiled at a new development of sheltered accommodation opened by Penwith Housing Association.

Rosebud Court takes its name from the Newlyn Trawler ROSEBUD [PZ87] which sailed from the fishing village to the Houses of Parliament in London during 1937 to save the famous Cornish fishing village from a massive redevelopment project which was proposed by the local authority. The protest was successful preserving most of this attractive fishing village. The plaque at Rosebud Court is mounted on a length of the trawler's timbers, salvaged from the hull recently broken up at Leland Saltings.


The Irish Times reports that the Minister of the Marine and Frank Fahey is to introduce measures to reduce congestion at Dublin port and to strengthen regional ports. Lorna Siggins, Marine Correspondent, reports. The Minister for the Marine and Natural Resources, Mr Fahey, has signalled a "radical" shakeup of port structures within the next year.

Mr Fahey wants to introduce measures to reduce congestion at Dublin port and to strengthen regional ports. He has initiated a number of studies aimed at identifying the measures needed to revitalise regional ports. Full or part privatisation of the provision of port services is among the measures under consideration. Addressing the Irish Institute of Master Mariners in Galway
at the weekend, the Minister said also the Government was committed to introducing incentives in the next Budget for the shipping sector, following a Cabinet discussion on the issue.

The Minister has made several references over the past two months to a thorough review of the port network. Last week he said he intended to divert sea traffic from Dublin while the port tunnel was under construction. 

Speaking on RTÉ Radio's Seascapes, he said he was considering incentives for regional ports which would help to draw shipping away from the capital during the five-year construction period of the tunnel.

Last month, also in Galway, the Minister said he had commissioned an assessment of the current port model and a possible move to full or partial privatisation of port services provision. He also said he intended to transform the regional ports in Dundalk, Co Louth, Wicklow and Bantry, Co Cork into corporate management structures. And he urged port companies to utilise property assets for commercial, residential and leisure use.

A separate study on port access and intermodal requirements was compiled by Arup Consulting Engineers and ORM Consulting, funded by the EU Operational Programme for Transport. It identifies a basket of projects which would help to relieve port access and bottlenecks and ranks the projects in order of priority.

Mr Fahey told the Irish Institute of Master Mariners that far too little of port container traffic is distributed by rail, at a time when the State's roads are "clogged up". It was "ridiculous" to think trains coming from Dublin to Waterford had to travel via Limerick at night, due to the lack of rail signalling staff.

The Minister paid tribute to the institute for its role in the establishment of an Irish Maritime Development Office within the Marine Institute. A director, Mr Glenn Murphy, was recently appointed and the aim of the office is to co-ordinate a strategic framework for the overall development of the shipping industry and ancillary services.

The project team heading construction of the new £30 million maritime college in Ringaskiddy, Co Cork, is expected to go to tender by the middle of next year, the Minister said. Last week's Budget Estimates earmarked £11.5 million next year for seaport investment, as part of an overall Exchequer commitment of £46 million under the National Development Plan. The funding has been provided to target new port infrastructure and to remove existing and potential constraints and bottlenecks. It is also aimed at helping those regional ports and harbours which are "disengaging from commercial cargo/transport activity", according to the Minister.

The Irish Exporters' Association (IEA) is seeking special tax measures in the next Budget to revitalise the shipping industry. It has called on the Minister for Finance, Mr McCreevy, to introduce fiscal treatment of ship owning companies, whereby corporation tax would be applied on the basis of an EU tonnage tax regime; seafarers' tax allowance while at sea; and training measures which would support construction of the new maritime college for seafarers at Ringaskiddy, Co Cork.


This week it was announced at about IR£50m is to be spent on major developments at WATERFORD PORT . A new IR£5m crane will be installed to within the next 18 months to replace a crane destroyed in a storm four years ago. The Port of Waterford Company, plans to develop two kilometres of quay facilities at Belview and undertake development work on the north quays in the city.


At a recent reception in Drogheda to mark the launch of their new joint service between Rotterdam and Ireland, the short sea specialists Geest Ireland and Norfolkline Containers reported that the first three sailings had each been well supported by their customers. Furthermore, they revealed that the scheduled departure and arrival times had been achieved despite the atrocious weather conditions which afflicted Northern Europe during late September/early November.

Norfolkline Containers has been operating a regular container service between Rotterdam and Waterford since 1997, building up to a three-ship operation by the following year and upgrading to newer and larger vessels in 1999. Geest Ireland, a joint venture between Holland’s Geest North Sea Line and Ireland’s Quality Freight, entered the mainland Europe – Ireland trade in early 1995 but as a non-vessel operator, purchasing slots from other lines including Norfolkline. Now the two companies have jointly inaugurated a new, weekly service linking Rotterdam with Drogheda, 45 km north of Dublin and 115km south of Belfast.

Speaking at a press conference prior to a customer reception celebrating the new service, Norfolkline’s Rene Wubben explained why the two companies had chosen to start this new service and to use the port of Drogheda. Answering his own question "Why Drogheda?", he gave five reasons:

"Drogheda provides us with an alternative to the Dublin congestion. It allows us to expand further into the Irish market. It addresses rising haulage costs and it reduces dependency on one port. Separate routes provide our customers with increased choice and provide us with greater flexibility."

Wubben added that co-operation from the port authority and the Drogheda city authorities had been excellent:

"We have had a great deal of support. Even the traffic lights have been re-phased in recognition of the increased traffic while in 2003, we will have a new by-pass taking vehicles away from the town."

Wout Pronk, managing director of Geest North Sea Line and a director of Geest Ireland, continued this theme, highlighting the implications of rising fuel costs:

"Transport operators throughout Europe are under severe pressure to maintain efficient, low-cost services. The cost of energy is increasing and history has shown that it is unlikely ever to reduce. It can only go higher.

"The cost of employing drivers is rising too – and even higher wages don’t seem to be attracting sufficient people. Transport operators must react and launching this new service to Drogheda is just one way of combating the problems we are facing at present.

"It is important to reduce trucking distances. The port of Waterford is doing an excellent job but it is too far south to serve all of our markets. Dublin has its own problems including traffic congestion in the city centre that causes delay to trucks entering or leaving the port. Drogheda, on the other hand, is relatively traffic free and has excellent access to the main north-south highway linking Dublin and Belfast.

"By launching this new service, both Norfolkline and ourselves – because we are a customer on the Waterford service – now have two separate gateways into Ireland."

The two companies revealed that they will add a second ship to the schedule at the end of February or in early March so as to provide a twice-weekly service.



Welcome to a rather large mid-week update which has a strong cruise ship feel. Tony Brennan has forwarded a selection of view of cruise ships which have called at Dublin Port during 2000, whilst Patrick C. Taylor has sent a good selection of cruise ship photographs taken recently in the Caribbean. Patrick has also forwarded some on board shots taken on Royal Caribbean's SPLENDOUR OF THE SEAS. 

There is also another selection of Neil Ralph's classic photos of the 1960s this time depicting the Belfast Steamship Company on Merseyside.

Finally, also discovered, but never included in the What's New page or indexed is a set of views showing SUPERSEACAT THREE arriving at Dublin in October.

Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, John Shepherd, Neil Ralphs, Tony Brennan, Patrick C. Taylor and "others".

SEA CONTAINERS\Isle of Man Steam Packet Company


Gary Andrews writes: "The latest edition of Northern Ireland Leisure Travel News carries a story that a Belfast councillor has called for SeaCat to be more forthcoming with why services are cancelled.

Jim Rogers, Chairman of Belfast City Council Development Committee described the company's surprise announcement of the early ending of the Heysham service as "simply not good enough".

He added: "I am a great supporter of SeaCat but its time we had some guarantees about this service. There has been a number of problems during the summer season with this particular vessel and now we have had this brief statement saying that the SuperSeaCat has been taken off three weeks early.

"We are trying to work with SeaCat and other ferry companies in trying to bring visitors to Belfast. The Heysham service has certainly been bringing many new visitors here, but this latest announcement does not help us in trying to market Belfast on the UK mainland and bring people over by this popular route.

"This change of timetable has also caused disruption to the holiday plans of Ulster people, particularly those heading to and from the Blackpool illuminations".

Hamish Ross was again reported as saying: "It is not a decision we have taken lightly. However, we considered it was advisable to bring forward the date of the essential planned work on the craft to ensure minimum disruption to the service.""

Gary adds: "The activity around SUPERSEACAT TWO is non-stop, or rather it doesn't stop as it hasn't started!!"


Passenger figures for the Harbours Division for October 2000 show a 12.5% increase on the same period last year. October 2000 recording a total of 41,623 compared to 36,997 in October 1999.

The year to date figure of 570,758 passengers shows a 7.2% increase over the 532,245 recorded in 1999.

Car and motorcycle traffic through Douglas Harbour in October 2000 showed an increase of 6.7 % from 9,540 in 1999 to 10,176 vehicles in October 2000.

The year to date figure of 147,162 vehicles shows a 7.1% increase over the 137,417 recorded in 1999.

Passenger figure breakdown by route is as follows:

Dublinminus 18%2,5272,068
Heyshamminus 12%22,28519,664
Liverpoolplus 70%11,06618,775

Freight traffic metreage increased by 11.1% from 31,190m  to 34,738 when compared to October 1999.

Director of Harbours, Captain Michael Brew commented: "October passenger traffic at 41,623 is a record for any October, exceeding last October's figures by 12.5% which in itself was also a record. The daily service available to Liverpool this October contributed to the large increase on that route and explains the reduction on the Heysham route. With frequent services still available to both Heysham and Liverpool along with a range of special offer fares, traffic growth is expected to continue. Services to Liverpool are now being operated by the LADY OF MANN with fast craft returning in Spring 2001."


Civil Engineering contractors Christiani & Neilson has gone into administrative receivership shortly before it was due to start work on the construction of the Twelve Quays ro/ro Terminal at Birkenhead. This facility being constructed for Norse Merchant Ferries Belfast and Dublin services.

Mersey Docks & Harbour Company now have to find a new contractor for  the Wirral terminal. A MD&HC spokesman  said: "Christiani & Neilson had been selected for the job, although details were still being finalised. However, we have begun discussions with another contractor and we are confident there will be no material delay." He said it was not envisaged that there would be a need to tender once again for the job of constructing the £27million facility for Irish Sea ferries.

It is not yet known if the need to locate a new contractor will further delay the Twelve Quays scheme which is due to open towards the end of 2001.

In addition to the delay in starting work on the Twelve Quays terminal, the collapse of Christiani & Neilson has resulted in the suspension of the restoration of Southport Pier.

On the evening of Wednesday November 22, Sefton Council are due to decide on whether to support the Langton on-river linkspan or oppose the scheme until a detailed environmental impact assessment is made.

Meanwhile local press reports suggest that P&O which will use the Langton facility may consider taking their services elsewhere. The Deeside port of Mostyn is a likely contender as a deepwater berth is available. 


 Around two years ago it was announced that Isle of Wight based FBM Marine had leased the Cammell Laird south yard from Marconi for the construction of fast ferries.

Since then FBM Marine has been acquired by Babcock but to date no vessels have been built. Now FBM Babcock claims that it is optimistic that it will be constructing high speed passenger on the Mersey within 12 months. Currently the south yard is being used by Cammell Laird for the construction of the new mid section of the COSTA CLASSICA.



The Maritime & Coastguard Agency announced on November 21 that seventeen foreign ships were under detention in UK ports during October 2000 after failing port state control safety inspections. The list consists of 10 ships detained in October, along with 7 ships still under detention from previous months. The rate of detentions compared with inspections carried out over the last 12 months is 6.1%. This is an increase of 0.2% from the 12 month rate to September.

The ships detained included:-

  • *       A bunker vessel re-flagged to Bolivia for an international voyage was detained in Newcastle with 45 deficiencies indicating serious shortcomings in ship and equipment maintenance and emergency preparedness. Deficiencies included, no lifeboats or immersion suits, no remote stop for engine room fans, emergency bilge suction seized and MF/HF radio inoperable.

  • *       Following a report of holes in hatch covers, a Panamian general cargo vessel was inspected and detained in Southampton with cracks, corrosion and holes in bulkheads, hatch coaming, covers and deck.


On November 22 the skipper of the 25 metre Portavogie fishing trawler ‘INVESTOR M’ contacted Belfast Coastguard at 12:52 today when the vessel picked up nets in her propeller about a quarter of a mile east of Rathlin Island. With control of the vessel lost, the fear was she would soon end up on the rocks in the strong winds currently prevailing.

With a gale warning in force for the Irish Sea and a strong wind warning for Malin, Belfast Coastguard requested the launch of both the Red Bay inshore lifeboat and the Portrush all weather lifeboat.

The inshore lifeboat arrived on scene 01:50  and attached a towline to ‘INVESTOR M’. Within minutes the all weather lifeboat arrived on scene, the tow was passed from the inshore lifeboat to the all weather lifeboat and, with only seconds to spare, the vessel was taken undertow as she passed The Point brushing the rocks as she was pulled back from disaster.

‘INVESTOR M’ was taken to the safety of Ballycastle, all four crew are said to be unhurt.

Belfast Coastguard Watch Manager, Michael Speers commented:

"We appreciate the speedy response from the crew of both lifeboats involved here, their prompt and efficient action on scene prevented the worst from happening."


It is understood that Cammell Laird has purchased Lloyd Werft's shareholding in the Grand Bahama repair yard. Lairds will also take over the management of the Freeport based company which is owned jointly with the Grand Bahama Port Authority.

It is believed that Lloyd Werft probably decided to pull out of the Grand Bahama venture because of increased business for its Bremerhaven based yard.

Back Home Up Next





I would like to thank those who have signed up for the Irish Sea Ships news group. At the time of writing there are 66 members which is very  pleasing. The first week has also seen 46 messages posted.


The use of e-groups for an automated Maritime Queries section is under consideration. This would have several advantages. Queries would appear faster, as would replies. It would also save me time editing the queries page on the site and allow me to devote more time to further M&ISS developments including the Photo-CD ROMs which have been in limbo for the past three months. 


Weekly Page Views (Last 3 Weeks)





Week 46 of 2000

Week 45 of 2000

Week 44 of 2000

The number of hits recorded by Mersey & Irish Sea Shipping  has exceeded 1000 in a week for the first time. For the past week which ended at 15:00 on Sunday November 19 a total of 1006 hits has been recorded. Earlier this year had looked as though this target would have been reached sooner. However, the technical problems from May to July resulted in a reduction for a period of time before the numbers started to build up again. 

The growth in visitors is really a result of a team effort. Whilst I may assemble all the stories and material the overall content would be much poorer if it wasn't for the efforts of all contributors. - Thank you - everyone!

Finally a reminder that there will be a Wednesday update on November 22 at around 23:00.

Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, John Shepherd, Justin Merrigan - Incat, John & Jenny Williamson and "others".

SEA CONTAINERS\Isle of Man Steam Packet Company

Sea Containers announced its results for the quarter and nine months ended September 30, 2000 on November 13. Net income for the quarter was $54.7 million, excluding a $28 million gain from the sale of shares by its Orient-Express Hotels Ltd. subsidiary in August. 

Mr. James B. Sherwood, president, said that results for the quarter from leisure and rail operations had been excellent but ferries had earnings lower than expected due to special circumstances, while marine container leasing results were less than had been anticipated due to weak demand in the Far East.

Operating profits from leisure activities in the third quarter were $18.8 million, up 16% over the prior year period. This strong performance was achieved despite the effects of a weak Euro. About one third of the leisure properties are located in Euro countries. For the nine months operating profits from leisure were $50.3 million, up 15% over the prior year.

Rail had a good third quarter, recovering the ground lost earlier in the year. For the quarter rail operating profits were $10 million, up 27% over the year earlier period. For the nine months rail earned $24 million, approximately the same as in 1999.

Ferries’ operating results suffered a downturn in the third quarter due to several factors. In the case of Silja, the company’s 50% owned affiliate, the company’s share of operating profits was $7.5 million compared with $13.2 million in the third quarter of 1999. Fuel costs accounted for $2 million of the downturn but losses on the Scandinavian Gulf of Bothnia service due to withdrawal of duty free shopping privileges inadequately compensated by government subsidy, plus start up costs in connection with a fast ferry service between Helsinki and Tallinn, contributed to the shortfall. The Gulf of Bothnia one ship service will be withdrawn at year end and costs of operating the fast ferry service (which has been a success in terms of passenger volumes) should be lower in 2001.

Many of the company’s other ferry services were crippled for three weeks in the peak third quarter season due to strikes and protests relating to higher fuel prices. In the English Channel a fishermen’s blockade paralyzed French ports for a week and then fuel protests in the U.K. brought Britain’s ferry travel to a halt for a second week, followed by a fuel strike in France for yet another week. In the Irish Sea, the U.K. protest seriously impacted carryings because motorists were unwilling to leave home when they could not be certain of being able to obtain fuel for their cars. English Channel and Irish Sea fuel costs for the ferries were $4 million higher in the third quarter compared with the year earlier period. The effect of all these events was to reduce third quarter operating profits from ferries other than Silja to $10 million from $17 million in the same period of 1999.

In the third quarter marine container leasing operating profits were $13 million, only slightly down from the year earlier period. The container rental component of these profits was up $0.6 million from the second quarter. "The small improvement in the third quarter this year is disappointing," Mr. Sherwood said. "GE SeaCo, our 50/50 joint venture with GE Capital, had expected to see considerably more revenue because it is traditionally the strongest demand time of the year. Utilization was flat in the period."

Mr. Sherwood said many of GE SeaCo’s container lessees had confirmed that third quarter cargo volumes had been less than expected which in turn reduced demand for containers.

"The enormous increase in energy costs is adversely impacting both the ferry and marine container leasing markets", Mr. Sherwood noted. "People are facing very real increases in home heating and automobile running costs and this is reducing demand for discretionary travel and purchases of imported goods. The weak Euro is also a factor for Europe because oil prices are dollar based."

He went on to indicate how the company was addressing the weakness in the ferry businesses. "We have withdrawn our two hovercraft operating on the English Channel between Dover and Calais and will replace them in 2001 with two SuperSeaCats which have twice the capacity of the hovercraft. We have given up our Folkestone to Boulogne ferry route which was being subsidized by the Dover/Calais service. Our Ancona/Split SNAV – SeaCat service in the Mediterranean will use a SeaCat again in 2001 although it will probably need a larger vessel in 2002. Our New York City ferry service, SeaStreak, is short of capacity and two new vessels are under construction and will enter service in 2001. We have withdrawn our unprofitable Gothenburg/Frederikshavn service. Basically, we have shed the unprofitable fast ferry services and redeployed our fleet to achieve the most favourable revenue vs. cost combination. The service pattern of our profitable Isle of Man Steam Packet Company will remain unchanged. Fuel surcharges will be applied on all routes where they can be collected."

"In the case of Silja, besides cessation of the Gulf of Bothnia service and improved cost structure on the Helsinki/Tallinn fast ferry service and collection of fuel surcharges, we believe the Finnish seafarers’ union will allow Silja to achieve economies in shipboard manning costs from March 2001 and the Finnish government will allow Finnish ships to be on the same tax footing as ships of other Nordic flags such as Denmark. Failing this, Silja will leave the Finnish flag.

Improved profitability from marine container leasing may be slower than expected", Mr. Sherwood indicated. "We still think quarter by quarter increases in operating profits are achievable but not to the magnitude earlier envisioned. We continue to wring costs out of the business and to sell off idle older units. Europe is now seeing a slight surplus of lease outs over drop-offs so utilization there is improving. The U.S. still remains in surplus and GE SeaCo has had to stop drop-offs in New York and Chicago. Fortunately, lessees have been cooperative in allowing this because they recognize the problem. New container demand for long lease remains healthy. All new container purchases are made by GE SeaCo."

Mr. Sherwood said the company had recently sold its debt-free land holdings in Bathside Bay in Britain for book value of approximately $15 million. It is also engaged in negotiations to sell the port of Heysham and part of the port of Newhaven and expects to complete these transactions in the coming months. The company feels that port ownership is not a core business and would be best left to others prepared to make the appropriate capital investment to improve the ports.

Mr. Sherwood commented on the complex situation concerning GNER, the company’s rail franchise in the U.K. "The franchise renewal decision is expected imminently and we have no reason to suspect that the new franchise will not be awarded to GNER. GNER’s performance during the four years it has operated the franchise has been excellent within the constraints of Railtrack plc, the track authority whose delivery of track, signalling and stations has been less than perfect. In the case of three other franchises which have been recently renewed or extended, the decision was based largely on past performance.

"The unfolding of events concerning Britain’s track infrastructure since October 17, 2000 strains credibility. On that day a high speed GNER train travelling at 115 mph around a curve north of London, derailed. Sadly, four passengers in the restaurant car were killed when the car, by now on its side, slid with enormous force into an electricity pylon. Seven other passengers were sufficiently injured to remain in the hospital overnight and they were discharged shortly thereafter. The robust construction of the cars prevented more deaths and injuries."

"The chief executive of GNER and I rushed to the scene of the crash and were told that preliminary evidence indicated the cause was a broken rail. When we inspected the crash site we could see new rails loose alongside, implying a rail change was planned. In the days following the GNER train was exonerated from any responsibility for the accident and it emerged that the track was dangerously worn, the situation had been known for months and no speed restriction had been imposed. Needless to say, GNER was not aware of this situation. Once this tale of incompetence began to emerge, Railtrack decided to put hundreds of speed restrictions on the U.K. rail network while the rails were examined. While it was initially expected this process would only take a few days, it now appears that either Railtrack allowed the entire network to deteriorate to an unacceptable level or they have over-reacted to the accident, because the speed restrictions largely remain in force today. Since the accident the operation of the entire U.K. rail network can only be described as chaotic. In addition, floods have impaired the ability of train companies to operate in recent days."

"GNER is insured for the consequences of the derailment including disruption of services. This applies to delays due to flooding as well. Railtrack is talking about major delays due to track and switch renewals which could extend into next spring."

"Sea Containers and other franchise holders feel that unless Railtrack reopens the network to normal operation very soon, it will have committed a fundamental breach of contract and obligation to maintain a safe, reliable and available network."

Mr. Sherwood concluded by saying that Sea Containers’ finance costs in the third quarter were lower than in the year earlier period because of profit realized from the sale of foreign exchange contracts. He said that there were no developments in connection with the spin-off of shares in Orient-Express Hotels other than a motion by the company to dismiss the bondholder suit would likely be heard quite soon. The company remains in a lock-up period until next February with respect to disposal of its 63% shareholding in Orient-Express Hotels.

JHL's COMMENT: It is interesting to note how much rationalisation has taken place in the ferry operation during the past year, compared to the rapid growth just two years ago. The revelation that two SuperSeaCats will be deployed on the English Channel certainly makes one wonder what the Irish Sea deployments will be. Speculation continues that the Incat 81 RAPIDE will make an appearance on the Irish Sea either on the Liverpool - Dublin/Douglas route or as is now appearing more likely Belfast - Heysham. 

The above report also confirms local press reports that Sea Containers are seeking to sell the port of Heysham, Mersey Docks & Harbour Company are believed to be in discussions with the company. 

SUPERSEACAT ONE - It now appears that the Fincantieri MDV1200 vessel being offered for sale is SUPERSEACAT ONE. 

LADY OF MANN - Blue Riband facilities are being provided on the Lady of Mann using one of the passenger cabins which has been provided with members' book. Basic tea and coffee were available in the cabin as normal, and it has been confirmed that additional drinks could be obtained by showing the club card at the cafe or bar.

PICASSO - which has been laid up at Vittoria Dock, Birkenhead for some time is currently subject to active closed bidding due to end on November 30.

Bids are recommended of around $1 million for collection at Birkenhead from where she can sail under her own power.

However, as her Sea Containers  suspended class in spring 1999 when she was laid up (not because items were overdue) but because there was no point in having her classed when laid up and certificate due dates are not suspended) it is estimated it would cost $220,000 to bring her back in class.


Peter Mugridge has written with details of his web site  where he has a selection of photographs taken on the final weekend of the Sea Container's hovercraft operations. One tip - click on the pictures to view all for the relevant dates; this isn't obvious at first.  The lower of the four photos on the pictures index page will only enlarge as it is the only one, but the upper three take you further.


MERSEY VIKING / LAGAN VIKING - Both vessels are noted to have acquired the new Norse Merchant blue, yellow, red wavy pennants logo at least one side of their funnels! Unfortunately a 3-D effect as was a feature of the " Viking Sail" logo using raised panels has not been achieved as the logo is now painted on. 

SPHEROID - Remains laid up adjacent to the Duke Street Bridge, West Float, Birkenhead. She has now been there for almost a year, despite there having been rumours early in 2000 that she had been sold. She still carries the original Merchant Ferries livery.

MERCHANT VENTURE - Remains laid up in Alexandra Dock. Presumably she might be used to cover winter refits on the company's routes?


British Waterways are proposing to extend the Leeds - Liverpool Canal which currently ends at Stanley Dock on wards to the Albert Dock complex.

Apparently much of the navigation will be via Salisbury, Waterloo, Trafalgar and Princes Dock. The infilling around the former B&I terminal will have to be dug out, but that shouldn't present too much of a problem and besides MD&HC have  this area identified for a residential/business/recreational area.

However, at Prince's Dock the straightforward becomes  improbable, especially given the difficulties MD&HC and Sea Containers have experienced trying to provide improved terminal facilities at the Pier Head.

From Prince's Dock a new canal cut would be made either across the Pier Head piazza into the Canning Half Tide basin - that will certainly upset Mrs. Mackerel and her friends.

The alternative, is to run parallel to the main Strand road in front of the Royal Liver buildings. A rather crude artists impression shows a large sight seeing barge [Not narrow boat!] passing between the main road and under the bridge which crosses to Beetham Plaza Apartments [formerly Wilberforce House] and presumably entering Canning Dock at the former Georges Dock passage behind the Road Range Showrooms.

JHL'S COMMENT: To bring canal boats through to Prince's Dock would not be difficult and could be achieved with little effort, however, extending through to the Canning Dock and thus linking up with the Albert / Kings Dock area does not appear to be a well thought out idea.


It has been confirmed that Stena Line's return to Larne has been postponed until 2001 due to contractual difficulties. The company is still unable to give a precise date for the reopening of the Stranraer - Larne route.

Alan Gordon, route director with Stena Line, said: "The negotiations have taken longer than we had anticipated and, in view of this, we are now focusing on a start date for the new service of early 2001.  Until all contractual matters have been resolved we cannot give an exact
starting date. "Mr Gordon offered apologies to customers and said Stena remained confident that shifting the two conventional ferries to Larne would enhance the overall choice the company was able to give the public.

Denis Galway, general manager at the Port of Larne, said contracts were being finalised by the respective legal teams.

He said: "We are dotting the 'i's and crossing the 't's and I am optimistic we will have the matter resolved shortly." The return of Stena to Larne after a gap of more than five years will mean that next summer there will be 48 arrivals and departures a day at the port.

Stena Line announced in April that it was proposing to switch the Stena Galloway and Stena Caledonia from Belfast to Larne, but would continue to operate the HSS from Belfast.

A date of September was originally given for the move, but that was deferred to later in the year.

The conventional ferries will be able to complete the journey from Larne to Stranraer in two hours 15 minutes - an hour less than the schedule for the trip from Belfast.


 RTÉ Seascapes reported this week that work is now well underway to complete the replica emigrant ship DUNBRODY at New Ross, County Wexford.

A specialist German Tall Ship company Navcon Consulting is completing the project which has been delayed for two years due to financial problems. 

The DUNBRODY will be launched on Sunday, February 11 at 08:30. The ship will then be towed to the quayside at New Ross where she will open as an exhibition ship and museum. However, construction work is being undertaken to full ocean going standard and it remains the longer term objective for the vessel to put to sea.


The Irish Sail Training organisation is looking for crew for the sail training ship ASGARD. Positions of Master, Mate, Engineer, Boatswain and Cook are offered. The closing date for applications is November 29.

Full details and application forms available from : The Secretary (Competitions), Coiste an Asgard, Colaiste Caoimhin, St.Mobhi Road, Glasnevin, Dublin 9 - phone 01-8042739 - e-mail:


The present sailing arrangements on the Dublin to Liverpool route are:


-  Sailing Ex Dublin: EUROPEAN ENVOY 14:30 - CELTIC SUN 2000 - EUROPEAN LEADER 01:00 and CELTIC STAR 06:00

-  Sailings Ex Liverpool: EUROPEAN  LEADER 13:00 - CELTIC STAR 17:30 - EUROPEAN ENVOY 02:00hrs  and  CELTIC SUN 09:00


- Sailings Ex Dublin CELTIC SUN 04:00 - EUROPEAN LEADER 08:30 - CELTIC STAR 12:00. - EUROPEAN ENVOY 22:00.

- Sailings Ex Liverpool EUROPEAN ENVOY 10:00  - EUROPEAN LEADER 22:00.

-  Sailings Ex Dublin EUROPEAN LEADER 10:00 - CELTIC STAR 13:00 - EUROPEAN ENVOY 2200 - Normal sailing schedule resumes Monday

-  Sailings Ex Liverpool Sunday CELTIC STAR 01:00 - EUROPEAN ENVOY 10:00 - EUROPEAN LEADER 22:00  - Normal sailing schedule resumes Monday.


There is growing concern that the world's first mechanically-powered submarine may break up on the seabed within the next year.

Archaeologist Alex Hildred claims money must be found to raise the Birkenhead built RESURGAM, as soon as possible before it is lost forever.

The vessel was built by the Rev George Garrett but sank off the coast of Rhyl in 1880. It lay undiscovered until 1995. 

For the past five years the Resurgam Trust Foundation has been trying to raise funds to raise the submarine.

Ms Hildred, who works in Southampton with the Mary Rose Trust, said: "The submarine should be raised and taken out of danger. If that doesn't happen, then the submarine will not stand another winter, or maybe two, because of the physical threat to it."

She makes the claim in a BBC2 programme The Hunt For Resurgam, to be screened next Thursday.

American Bill Garrett, grandson of the submarine's inventor, said: "The important thing now is to get her into a place of safety so that she can be saved."

Efforts are being made to raise £35,000 for a feasibility study into the project. About £9,000 has been promised by CADW, the Wales Tourist Board, and an anonymous American.

The cost of raising the Resurgam, which sank in a storm on its maiden voyage from Birkenhead to Portsmouth, is estimated to be about £1.5m, but the whole project, including the conservation centre, is put at about £12m.


The Cammell Laird #4 Dry Dock was reopened on Wednesday November 15 by Department of Trade & Industry Minister Richard Caborn. However, instead of being present in person the opening of the Dock was performed by video link due to the fact that the Minister had to be present in the House of Commons for the reading of the Transport Bill. The opening ceremony was marked by the opening of sluices in the newly constructed caisson which allowed the historic dock to fill with water.

The #4 Dry Dock has been recommissioned to permit apprentices to undertake work on a range of historic and modern vessels.

The dock is the last remaining of the original dry docks which formed part of the original John Laird shipyard.  The dock was the birthplace of the famous Confederate States Navy vessel CSS ALABAMA in 1862. 


COSTA CLASSICA it is understood that work on lengthening the cruise ship is around three months behind schedule.


The MD&HC is hoping to avoid calls for  a public enquiry that would further delay plans for the construction of the Langton - on river ro/ro berth.

The company has been shocked to learn that the proposals are being opposed by a powerful and diverse lobby within Sefton Council. The council's planning committee is demanding a public enquiry into the plans to revitalise Langton. 

The committee is supported by Labour councillors who want the traffic and environmental implications of the proposed terminal to be investigated.

However, the Liberal Democrats in the hung council and council officers are against such an inquiry.

MD&HC originally had plans for a Liverpool river terminal at Trafalgar Dock until residents objected. It shelved that idea just six weeks before a public enquiry was due to start, almost two years ago, believing a move to Langton could speed up the process and offset the need for an inquiry.

The development at Langton will be used primarily by P&O Irish Sea services.  Phil Simpson, of P&O European Ferries which runs four daily crossing to Ireland, commented: "We are keen to see a river berth and have been waiting for a number of years." Naturally we would be disappointed at any further delay."

The groups calling for the inquiry fear that high traffic already generated by the docks will be
exacerbated by a new terminal and other plans for a £200M hotel, shops and leisure development on nearby dock land.

It has been explained to Sefton Council by MD&HC that with the construction and opening of the Twelve Quays terminal at Birkenhead for Cenargo's Norse Merchant Ferries services to Ireland there will actually be a reduction in the present levels of traffic. Sefton council's planning committee is due to meet on November 22 to consider its position.


LEEDS CASTLE [P258] Castle Class offshore patrol vessel arrived on Merseyside at Huskisson Dock #3 Branch on Saturday November 11. She is one of only two remaining members of the Castle Class offshore patrol vessels constructed by Hall Russell in 1981.The Castle Class vessels have a rear helideck and can operate helicopters including Seakings. LEEDS CASTLE's sister ship DUMBARTON CASTLE is on long term deployment in the Falkland Islands.


Construction of the second, as yet un-named, member of the Róisín class vessels is reported to be ahead of schedule at the Appledore shipyard in Devon. 

It is expected that she will be launched in February and handed over to the Irish Naval Service in late April 2001. The new vessel will replace LE



Last week it was reported that a Quebec diver who spent more than 30 years promoting the wreck of the EMPRESS OF IRELAND as a Canadian Heritage site is about to sell most of the artefacts he has recovered from the ship to a U.S. dealer for $1.5 million U.S.

Philippe Beaudry, the founding president of the EMPRESS OF IRELAND Historical Society, has applied to Heritage Canada for a permit to export the marine artefacts to Leonard Lyons, a private collector from St. Augustine, Fla.

Beaudry was not returning telephone calls, but in previous interviews with the press, he has voiced his frustration with the lack of interest Canadians have for their maritime heritage.

The EMPRESS OF IRELAND, a Canadian Pacific steamship, collided with a Swedish freighter, STORSTAD, in heavy fog off Pointe Aux Peres near Rimouski in the early-morning hours of May 29, 1914. The vessel had been en-route to Liverpool. 

The ship rolled on its side and went down in 14 minutes. It was the worst maritime disaster in Canadian history, killing 1,012 people, including 167 members of the Salvation Army on their way to England for a convention.

The loss of life in the tragedy was 840, exceeding the numbers lost on the TITANIC [832] and LUSITANIA [791].

Beaudry, a Longueuil entrepreneur, estimates he spent $225,000 of his own money defending the wreck.

He has twice attempted to mount an exhibition of his artefacts at the Old Port in Montreal, and wanted to put together a travelling exhibition across Canada. He never could get the financial backing needed for his plans. He recently said he expected a fair return for his investment. Presumably, if no one in Canada is interested in his collection, he is free to sell it to the highest bidder.

Among the items listed on the export application permit are the ship's brass staircase fixtures, the captain's telephone, the starboard navigation lamp and the fog bell from the main mast recovered from the wreck site.

The Canadian Culture Export Review Board has blocked the sale for six months, but unless a Canadian buyer is found for the collection by Jan. 15, Beaudry would eventually be free to ship his collection across the border.

"We're shocked. We are astounded Mr. Beaudry would even consider exporting his collection," said Serge Guay, director-general of the Musee de la Mer in Rimouski, a museum Beaudry helped found 20 years ago. "He has often spoken about the historical importance of these objects and of keeping them in Quebec."

The museum opened a new $1.4-million building dedicated to the wreck in June, and is the obvious place for Beaudry's collection. "Obviously we are a small museum and don't have the kind of money Beaudry wants to spend on acquisitions," Guay said. "We would like to get some of the things he has. We have contacted him, and his position is the museum has to buy the entire collection or nothing."

Because the wreck falls under Quebec's jurisdiction, Guay said he has appealed to the Quebec's minister of culture, Louise Beaudoin, for help. The museum is also eligible for a movable cultural-property grant from Heritage Canada, which could chip in up to 50 per cent of the purchase price.

"Under the act, any heritage institution can come to the federal review board before the end of December and ask us to determine a fair cash offer," said Mark O'Neill, Heritage Canada's acting director of cultural properties. "If Beaudry rejects the offer, he would not be allowed to ship the artefacts out of the country for two years."

One of the difficulties, says O'Neill, is that often it's hard to determine a fair market value for archaeological artefacts.

The first artefacts from the wreck were removed by divers in 1964 . Four years later, one of the ship's 20-tonne propellers was retrieved, then divers from Syracuse, N.Y., started taking ship souvenirs across the border illegally.

Beaudry made the first of his 600 dives to the wreck in 1970. His crusade to have the wreck protected as a Canadian heritage site began the following year when the ship's propeller was sold for scrap in the U.S. Ironically, it is largely because of Beaudry's ongoing efforts that Quebec two years ago declared the wreck a protected site. Scuba-divers can still to dive to the ship but are no longer allowed to bring anything up.

Leonard Lyons, who wants to buy the collection, told The Gazette he sees the artefacts as an investment.

"These things are a piece of history. They're nice to have," Lyons said. "In the art world, in the world of collecting, everything is up for sale. Things always follow the market. They always cross borders."

David Zeni, a former U.S. navy officer who two years ago wrote the definitive book on the sinking, Forgotten Empress, is appalled by the impending sale. It would, Zeni said, "be a mistake" to scatter these artefacts to the wind as trophies for private collectors.

"That," he said, "would be a very sad chapter in the preservation of Canadian history."


The Isles of Scilly Steamship Company has not ruled out the purchase of Land's End Aerodrome, Cornwall,  following the decision of Penwith Council to sell the facility. 

The aerodrome is owned by the council, but leased to the Isles of Scilly Steamship Company, is used as the main base for the Steamship Company's Skybus Airline. Skybus operates air routes from Scilly to Land's End, Plymouth, Newquay, Bristol, Exeter and Southampton. The company's present lease expires in 2013.  

Chairman of the Isles of Scilly Steamship Company, Mike Hicks says that the company is disappointed  that there had not been more communication with Penwith Council. Mr. Hick's said:" Obviously a change in landlord is a major concern to us. In the height of the summer we employ as many as 50 people at Land's End and it generates income for the area. We fly huge amounts of freight to the islands and a reasonable amount of flowers are flown in the early season and that's apart from the passenger traffic. Its a very important airfield."


On Friday November 17, Harland and Wolff faced fresh uncertainty after the High Court in London overturned an arbitration claim for over £20 million against a customer.

Mr Justice Tomlinson allowed an application by BMBF (no12) Limited over the construction of a shipbuilding contract which means that it is under no obligation to pay any amount to the yard.

Lawyers for Harland and Wolff Shipbuilding and Heavy Industries Ltd, which claimed that 500 jobs hung on the decision, immediately indicated it would appeal the ruling as soon as possible.

The judge said that the arbitration award, of September this year, that the buyer must pay the yard $27 million and £3.3 million within 14 days must be set aside.

The dispute arose over the construction and delivery of a deep-water drill ship, known as the GLOMAR JACK RYAN.

BMBF, which took possession of the vessel in August and sailed it across to Texas, alleged there was a list of items which needed rectification by the builder before it could be in a deliverable state.

Harland and Wolff contended that the vessel was ready for delivery, or alternatively was ready apart from items for which the owner was responsible.

The arbitration turned on a clause in a March 1998 contract which, the arbitrators concluded, brought about the result that the buyer's right to take possession of the vessel in its unfinished state carried with it an obligation to complete the vessel in accordance with the contract and specifications.

It also concluded that the buyer exercising his entitlement would remain liable to pay to the builder such instalments of the contract price as were unpaid as at the date when possession was taken.

The owner argued that this was a novel construction.

But Harland and Wolff said that it could not have been the intention of the parties that the owner should be able to take possession of a vessel which was 98% complete and yet escape liability to pay the final, delivery, instalment which comprised 20% of the contract price.

The judge said he had reached the ''clear view'' that the arbitrators' analysis was unsustainable.

''I would substitute therefore declarations that, on the assumption that the owner has validly exercised its right to take possession of the vessel in its unfinished state pursuant to ... the contract and elected to remove it from the builder's yard.

''There is no obligation on the owner to complete the vessel 'in accordance with this contract and the specifications'.

''And the owner is not liable and will not become liable at any time in the future to pay the delivery instalment, or any part thereof.''

Mr Vernon Flynn, counsel for Harland and Wolff, said the judgment would have a ''very significant impact'' on the future of the yard and its workers and was likely to have a ''substantial adverse effect'' on Northern Ireland's economy as a whole.

This was despite a lifeline from the British Government in the form of a £1.25 billion order for 10 vessels to carry troops and heavy equipment which Harland and Wolff will share with Govan in Glasgow and Swan Hunter on Tyneside.

Andrew Popplewell QC, for BMBF (No 12) Ltd, a special purpose English company indirectly wholly owned by Barclays Bank plc, said there had been ''a great deal of crying wolf'' by the yard, which was still in business.

Harland and Wolff, which was ordered to pay the costs of the court hearing, was granted permission to appeal.

The judge said the relevant question of construction was one of public importance.

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Welcome to the latest update. As you may have already noticed a new Irish Sea Ships EGroup has been established. 

Many regulars will recall there was an abortive attempt to set up an internal message service within the M&ISS web site around eighteen months ago though this was frustrated by technical difficulties. 

However, EGroups offer an excellent method of providing an Irish Sea Shipping message service. EGroups allow both receipt and sending of messages by your usual e-mail software, unlike Yahoo Groups which actually requires you to visit the Group and post messages. 

Regular visitors to Mersey & Irish Sea Shipping are recommended to register with the Irish Sea Ships EGroup, as the group will also contain update and maintenance news from the web site.  

Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Ian Collard, Kevin Johnson and "others".


An Irish Sea Ships EGroup has been established

Irish Sea Ships

This group is for enthusiasts and professionals interested in ships and port operations on the Irish Sea and adjacent areas.

The area of coverage being: the north/ east / south coast of Ireland from Derry to Tralee and the coast of the UK from Stranraer to Dartmouth including the Isles of Scilly.

Those interested in all types of vessel are welcome - Liners, Cruise Ships, Ferries, General Cargo, Container, oil/gas, Naval, Specialist, Sail Training etc. etc. 

The Group will also act as a news outlet for the Mersey & Irish Sea Shipping - On Line Shipping Magazine

SEA CONTAINERS\Isle of Man Steam Packet Company

SEACAT SCOTLAND is expected to remain in Douglas undergoing refit work by Fort Street Services until early December with work being carried out on hull, main engines and auxiliary machinery she will then travel to Birkenhead for dry-docking.

SEACAT ISLE OF MAN which is currently operating the Belfast - Troon service will return to Douglas on the departure of SEACAT SCOTLAND for her winter refit.

SUPERSEACAT THREE - when SEACAT ISLE OF MAN is withdrawn from the Belfast - Troon service SUPERSEACAT THREE which is currently laid up at West Langton, Liverpool will take up the service. It is presumed that SSC3 will be refitted when SEACAT SCOTLAND returns to service.

Although the Liverpool - Dublin service has closed for the winter, the Liverpool Echo has continued to list SSC3 departing for Ireland from Langton Dock in its ships  working at the port column!

SUPERSEACAT TWO Ship yards on Clydeside, Merseyside and the Fal have been asked to tender

RAPIDE [Incat 038] - There is a rumour that the former Holyman vessel which has operated on the Dover - Ostend route may operate out of the Mersey in 2001 possibly instead of SSC3. 


The Sea Containers’ Adriatic new joint venture with SNAV on the Ancona, Italy to Split, Croatia, route, has proved a huge success in its first year of service.

The CROAZIA JET  [ex: ATLANTIC II] has carried more than 33,000 passengers and almost 8,000 vehicles between June and September this year, surpassing all expectations.

As a result, Sea Containers has announced that the service will continue next year running between 14 June and 7 October.

David Collins, General Manager of Sea Containers Ship Division, said: "This is Sea Containers’ first ferry venture on the Adriatic Sea and we have been delighted at the response. There is clearly a strong demand for a fast ferry link between the two ports."


On the Baltic Sea, the service between Helsinki, Finland and Tallinn, Estonia has seen good growth since the £20 million ‘SuperSeaCat Four’ was introduced in April this year. Between April and September, more than 419,000 passengers and 40,000 vehicles were carried on ‘SuperSeaCat Four’ between the two ports.

David Benson, Senior Vice President of Sea Containers’ Passenger Transport Division, said: "It is encouraging to see the growth of these two new ventures and the potential they hold for the future."



A documentary featuring the sinking of the SOLWAY HARVESTER is being made for worldwide distribution. Lone Wolf pictures is working on a programme on the triumphs and tragedies of fishing for the National Geographic channel. A spokesman for the company said the documentary, Lost At Sea, will be seen worldwide. The documentary deals with fishing as a way of life over the generations, its triumphs and tragedies, the spokesman said. One of the stories we are focusing on in our documentary is the SOLWAY HARVESTER sinking. The Kirkcudbright registered scallop dredger sank about 10 miles off the coast of Douglas on January 11 with the loss of all seven crew members. No broadcast date has been announced.


The Scottish Daily Record reports that police have confirmed that they are investigating claims that the KARIANDA, sister ship to the SOLWAY HARVESTER was deliberately scuttled.

Dumfries and Galloway Police have interviewed seaman Leigh Shields, who claims that he helped to sink the scallop dredger KARIANDA in August.

Mr. Shields, 17, claims he was ordered to sink the scallop dredger by skipper Alex Foster and had burned two holes the size of 50p coins in the ship's hull with a blowtorch to help send her to the sea bed.

A police spokesman said: "In conjunction with our colleagues from the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, a joint investigation is now taking place in relation to the allegations surrounding the sinking of the KARIANDA."

Roy Aitken, a third crew member has also come forward to claim the fishing boat was deliberately sunk.

He said: "The boat was taking in water and I was told holes had been burnt in the hull to help it sink. But I did not play any part in it. I am now prepared to tell the authorities the truth."

All three crewmen were rescued by helicopter when the KARIANDA sank off Stonehaven, near Aberdeen in August .

The scallop dredger was the sister boat to the SOLWAY HARVESTER, which sank in the Irish Sea last January with the loss of all seven crew.

The Scottish Daily Record has revealed that Isle of Man police, who are probing the SOLWAY HARVESTER tragedy, had met with detectives investigating the sinking of the KARIANDA.

Both vessels were owned by millionaire Richard Gidney, proprietor of Jack Robinson Trawlers.

There is no suggestion the SOLWAY HARVESTER was sunk deliberately. But the Isle of Man police are believed to have asked to look at the safety record of the KARIANDA to see if it may help in their investigation.

The KARIANDA was up for sale at the time of her sinking and had earlier been detained in Mallaig after inspections by MCA and marine surveyors.

An insurance claim would be worth around £300,000 but this is unlikely to be paid before full investigations are complete.

Skipper Alex Foster has repeatedly denied that he had ordered the sinking.

Owner Richard Gidney says that he could be the victim of a vendetta by fishermen he had sacked.


PRIDE OF RATHLIN - laid up at Harland and Wolf, Belfast since her withdrawal from the Larne - Cairnryan service has been sold to the far east for further service.

The vessel was noted with her engines obviously running at Harland & Wolff at around 13.00 on 10/11/00.  She did not however, arrive in Larne later in the afternoon as had been originally expected.  

She was noted lying off Larne late on the evening of November 10 and remained in the same position on the morning of November 11.

The PRIDE OF RATHLIN has had  all P&O markings painted out (though the blue paint used on her hull isn't an exact match and the white "P&O" is still visible!) She has been renamed "BSP III" possibly a temporary name. Port of registry is Belize and is now believed to be in the hands of her new owners.

The "BSP III" is now expected in Larne Harbour on Monday (13/11) to load  fuel tankers which have been purchased by her new owners from the customs service who had seized them for fuel smuggling. 

The new owners of the Rathlin would appear to be PT Sungai Budi in Indonesia.

This company bought the MIE MOLS in May 1996 and had renamed her BSP II. Later she was renamed ONTOSENOI I. Further information on her owners will hopefully follow.


On November 10 it was announced that the Larne - Fleetwood morning sailing on Monday 13 November 2000 has been cancelled along with the Fleetwood - Larne morning sailing.


Following the book MERSEY SHIPPING - THE TWILIGHT YEARS published this summer Ian Collard has produced another collection of nostalgic photographs mainly from the 1960s and early 1970s. 

Ian is has also just completed another book "Liverpool and Birkenhead Docks" and is currently working on "Isle of Man Shipping - The Twilight Years"


The frequency listed in the Marine Radio section which was previously unidentified as operating within the port of Liverpool on 161.450  has been identified by Kevin Johnson as Norton's Canada Dock Scrap Yard Berths at Canada Dock.


The last survivors of the TITANIC are going to sail to the spot where the liner sank, on board the QUEEN ELIZABETH 2.

They will dine on oysters and roast duckling in a meal copied from the menu retrieved from the wreck of the Titanic and they will throw wreaths into the sea where the Titanic went down, in memory of the 1,513 passengers who died in the tragedy.

The five survivors - most in their nineties - have been invited onto the QE2 voyage as VIP guests, the Sunday Mirror reports. They will be joined on the voyage from Southampton to New York by dozens of relatives of Titanic victims.

The transatlantic crossing, which recreates the liner's doomed maiden voyage, is planned for April 14 next year - the 89th anniversary of the disaster.

Among the passengers making an emotional return will be the youngest survivor, 88 year old Millvena Dean. She was only ten weeks old when she was bundled into a sack and lowered into a lifeboat.

She was rescued by the Cunard liner Carpathia but lost her father in the tragedy. The other survivors invited on board the QE2 are Michel Navrati, 92, Barbara Dainton, 92, Lillian Asplund, 94, and Winnifred Van Togerloo, 96.

Sean Szmalc, president of the Falkirk Titanic Society which is organising the trip, said: "It will be the first ever staged, a chance for people to pay respects at the place where loved ones lost their lives."


RMAS NEWTON - The Royal Fleet Auxiliary Oceanographic Research Vessel has been occupying the Bidston Dry Dock of Cammell Laird group company Wright and Beyer since the summer undergoing a comprehensive refit to extend its working life.

RMAS NEWTON, was originally built in 1976 by Scott's Shipbuilding Co, Greenock Scotland. Birkenhead based marine and engineering services company, Ocean Fleets Limited were awarded, after competition a circa £5 million prime contract by the Ministry of Defence, to undertake the complete design of the ship life extension package, the development of a detailed specification, the procurement of all new equipment, the competitive tender for a shipyard to undertake the refit package and the project management of the refit itself. Following a competitive tendering process and amid fierce competition from other major shipyards, Ocean Fleets Limited awarded the contract for the refit package to Wright & Beyer Ltd, part of  Cammell Laird Holdings PLC.

The order to supply the three new main propulsion diesel engines had earlier been placed with Ruston Diesels a division of MAN/B&W based in Newton-le-Willows also on Merseyside. Ocean Fleets Managing Director, Peter Sorahan said, " This has been a very exciting project and I am pleased that Merseyside companies have been able to demonstrate their technical capability and cost effectiveness in today's competitive market place. Cammell Laird had the appropriate facilities with all the necessary in house skills and resources, they were able to demonstrate a track record in relevant ship conversion work and also provided best value for money." 

The ship life extension package currently being undertaken by Cammell Laird involves replacement of the existing main propulsion diesel engines and gearboxes, improving reliability and meeting the International Maritime Organisation's (IMO) standards on NOx emissions. 

The three new diesel engines are Ruston RK215 medium speed units each with an output of 1,360 kW at 1000 rev/min. The A.C. and D.C. generators and D.C. propulsion motors driven by the new engines will remain unchanged however the main propulsion control system which also encompasses the control of other machinery powered from a constant current loop will be significantly upgraded employing the latest technology. 

The existing alarm and monitoring systems will be replaced by equipment utilising the latest technology, incorporating all the existing alarm point inputs and those associated with the new engines and propulsion system. CCTV systems for all machinery spaces will also be installed. 

The retractable azimuthing bow thruster has been replaced by a Bromvall CP tunnel thruster, with the existing electric motor being retained. The controls for the bow thruster will be replaced with equipment suited to the new unit. The opportunity has also been taken to replace various other items of ancillary equipment that can no longer be supported or is no longer suitable for continued service including, a new diesel-driven emergency fire pump, a new sewage treatment plant, calorifier and reverse osmosis plant. In addition to this, machinery space ventilation systems, UHF communications and onboard engineering capabilities have all been upgraded The aft mooring arrangements have been re-engineered to provide a tidier aft deck arrangement following the removal of the towing frame and associated winches, as well as the installation of a larger crane. Two new lifeboats and davits are to be fitted and the foremast is to be completely replaced. In the accommodation, the existing galley will be completely upgraded to modern standards and other spaces throughout the accommodation are to be refurbished including the provision of a new laundry, shower and toilet facilities. 

Due to the ship containing asbestos material in the ceiling and bulkhead panelling, a majority of the ceiling panels and a large number of bulkhead linings disturbed by the work will be removed and replaced using approved materials. In addition to the ship life extension modifications Cammell Laird is also undertaking normal dry-docking, repair and classification work to meet the requirements of Lloyds Register and the MCA. The  refit work is scheduled to be completed towards the end of November.



Her Majesty's Coastguard, as part of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA), along with the Merchant Navy and the UK Fishing Fleet will be represented at the Remembrance Sunday ceremonies at the Cenotaph and Westminster Abbey on Sunday 12 November. The MCA will be represented at the Service of Remembrance at Westminster Abbey by Mr. Tom Coppin, Principle Officer Coastal Resources representing the Chief Coastguard; and at a service to be held at the Merchant Navy Memorial, Tower Hill by Mr. John Garner, Head of Operations. Mr. Garner will lay a wreath in memory of those members of the Merchant Navy and Fishing Fleet who lost their lives during both World Wars.

Captain Robert Thornton of Cornwall will represent the British Merchant Navy at the Cenotaph and will lay a wreath in memory of those men who lost their lives in both World Wars. Captain Robert (Bob) Thornton joined the Royal Fleet Auxiliary Service as a Cadet in 1969 and rose through the ranks and was promoted to Captain in December 1995. He is currently serving in the Headquarters in Portsmouth as Chief Staff Officer for manpower and training. Marching from Wellington Barracks, in Birdcage Walk to the Cenotaph the Royal Navy, Royal Marines, Merchant Navy and Fishing Fleet contingent will be joined by members of HM Coastguard and the National Sea Training College. The procession to the grave of the Unknown Warrior in Westminster Abbey will be attended by its Immediate Past Master, Captain Graham Maurice Pepper representing the Merchant Navy and Fishing Fleet. Captain Pepper was born in Gillingham, Kent, in July 1946. He served at sea with Shaw Savill and parent company, Furness Withy until 1986, obtaining his Master Mariners Certificate of Competency in 1974 and is presently Operations Manager of Star Reefers, London. Representatives of the Merchant Navy, Fishing Fleets and other organisations within the industry will also be present.



ESTONIA - A report in Fairplay this week reveals that there was an explosion on board the ill fated ferry. 

Apparently a careful examination of two pieces of metal removed from the wreck by divers working on a documentary for a German TV company have confirmed there was an onboard explosion.

Back Home Up Next



Welcome to the latest update, once again the weather has produced quite a few weather related stories some of the highlights being reproduced below.

Also featuring in this update is a new gallery which includes pictures of two classic tankers on the Mersey in 1967 from the Neil Ralph collection. There is also an illustrated voyage report on the last weekend of operation of the Sea Containers SRN4 hovercraft by Sara Cass which marks the end of over 30 years operation of the amphibious ro/ro vehicle ferries. Hovercraft have certainly proved to be a means of travel which have stirred passions over the years. Back in the 1960s the craft were seen as the future for many ferry crossings - even across the stormy Irish Sea to Douglas.  However - the cross-channel service remained the only one offering a commercial ro/ro service for private vehicles. 

Readers are reminded that the next update will be on Sunday, November 12

Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Tony Brennan and "others".

SEA CONTAINERS\Isle of Man Steam Packet Company

Once again adverse weather conditions played havoc with schedules on Sunday and Monday November 5/6.

SEACAT ISLE OF MAN - Has now replaced SEACAT SCOTLAND on the Belfast - Troon service. However she did not operate during the adverse weather on Monday and Tuesday. She apparently operated her morning sailing to Troon but later sailings were cancelled due to adverse weather.

SEACAT SCOTLAND - A correspondent noted her at the Victoria Pier on Sunday trimmed bow down to put the jet nozzles out of the water. Fort Street Services appeared to be working on the cables controlling the clam buckets.

SUPERSEACAT THREE - Sunday's final SSC3 sailing to Douglas and 07:00 return on Monday was cancelled as was her final Liverpool - Dublin sailing on Monday. Passengers being diverted to Merchant Ferries. SSC3 departed from Prince's Landing Stage at 12:00 and was due to enter Langton Lock at 13:30 after the LADY OF MANN had locked out. 

BEN-MY-CHREE - the Sunday evening 19:45 from Heysham and 02:15 return sailing from Heysham were cancelled. The 09:00 sailing to Heysham, on Monday November 6 was put back to 10:00 and then cancelled at 10:30. The next sailing was the 19:45 sailing from Douglas to Heysham which was due to convey passengers diverted from the cancelled 07:00 SUPERSEACAT THREE sailing. Coaches being provided at Heysham to convey foot pax to Liverpool.

LADY OF MANN - Locked out of Langton Lock at around 12:50 on Monday. She was due to depart from the Landing Stage at 16.00 to operate from Liverpool to Douglas with the passengers stranded from the cancelled Sunday evening sailings to Douglas. The LADY OF MANN was noted by an observer to be passing Formby at around 12:55 on Tuesday inbound for Princes Landing Stage. She is due to commence regular service between Liverpool and Douglas from Thursday.



HSS STENA EXPLORER due to adverse weather Stena Line suspended all sailings on the Holyhead - Dun Laoghaire route on Monday and Tuesday. The Holyhead to Dublin route was remained operational.

HSS STENA VOYAGER sailings were cancelled on Monday and Tuesday. Later sailings on Wednesday were also cancelled.

KONINGIN BEATRIX sailings between Fishguard and Rosslare were also suspended on Monday November 6 and also on Tuesday.


ISLE OF INNISFREE - The Monday morning sailing from Pembroke was unable to berth at Rosslare  due to adverse conditions and had to return to Pembroke. The 15:00 Pembroke - Rosslare and the 21:30 Rosslare - Pembroke services also being cancelled.

ISLE OF INISHMORE - the 09:45 Dublin - Holyhead and 15:45 Holyhead - Dublin service were cancelled.

JONATHAN SWIFT - Services cancelled Monday to Wednesday.


Severe weather at Dún Laoghaire on Sunday/Monday resulted in the capsizing of the stone hopper vessel TOPI owned by the Finnish company Sillanpaa OY.

The vessel had run aground near Dún Laoghaire and had been towed into the harbour and berthed at Carlisle Pier for the night. However the vessel began listing badly and she capsized at around 11:45 on Monday morning.

A spokesman for the Irish Coastguard said that there was no significant threat of pollution from the boat. He said that the fuel tanks had been secured and the fuel on board the vessel is light diesel oil, which will disperse in the water. "

TOPI is a sister vessel to the VILLE. The two vessels along with the larger ship MARI had been undertaking work on the Dún Laoghaire Marina project. Earlier this year VILLE and MARI had been involved in maintenance work on the Great South Wall at Dublin.  Those on Merseyside will be very familiar with VILLE and MARI as they worked on the Wallasey groynes project two years ago with VILLE featuring in the video "All In a Days Work 2" produced by Avid publications.


PRIDE OF RATHLIN - Gary Andrews reports that the PRIDE which has been laid up at Harland & Wolf following withdrawal from service in August has been moved within the yard to allow a drill platform TRANSOCEAN DISCOVERER to berth.


The company is thought to be considering the Eckero Linjen owned Helsinki-Tallinn route vessel NORLANDIA as a replacement for the SUPERFERRY. 

NORLANDIA was built as the first OLAU HOLLANDIA and became the NORD GOTLANDIA on Gotlandslinjen’s Visby to Nynashamn and Oskarshamn route in 1991. The vessel, which can accommodate around 800 passengers in berths and 484 cars, was purchased by Eckero Linjen in 1997 when the Gotland concession was transferred to another operator.


The captain and crew of the Bibby Line vessel DERBYSHIRE, which sank 20 years ago with a loss of 44 lives, exonerated of any blame for the disaster, thus overturning the findings of a 1997 investigation.

Victims' relative had  disputed the findings of the previous inquiry which found "bad seamanship" in failing to properly secure a hatch cover led to the vessel foundering.

Reporting its findings on Wednesday November 8, the latest inquiry, headed by a High Court judge, placed blame for the disaster on inadequate hatch covers which bent and buckled as the vessel battled a typhoon in the Pacific in September 1980.

The 160,000 tonne ship sank in just two minutes with the loss of all 42 crew members and two of their wives.

The new inquiry found the inadequate hatch covers allowed sea water to enter the space above the cargo causing the vessel to plunge deeper, increasing the pressure on other hatch covers which burst and directly led to the massive ship sinking 2.5 miles to the bottom.

Mr. Justice Colman concluded that minimum strength requirements laid down by international convention for massive ships like the DERBYSHIRE are "seriously deficient".

He called on the government to press "strongly and urgently" for new standards for hatch cover strength.

The judge said any amendment should be applicable not only to new ships but all existing bulk carriers because present hatch cover design "poses an unacceptable risk to the safety of those vessels and their crews".

Paul Lambert, chairman of the DERBYSHIRE Family Association, said: "Without a shadow of a doubt this is a vindication of the families and the decision by John Prescott to hold the second inquiry."

Mr. Lambert, who lost his 19-year-old brother, Peter, in the tragedy, added: "I don't think there are any winners because there are still 44 people dead at the end of the day."

In a statement, the families' solicitor, Stephen Cantor said the relatives were "very pleased".

He added: "Hopefully, the recommendation the judge has made will now be implemented and save suffering among those at sea in the future."

The latest inquiry was ordered by the deputy prime minister - Mr. John Prescot.

The former seaman described a £2.7m government expedition to the wreck site - 2.5 miles under the Pacific Ocean - as "one of the century's greatest feats of underwater detective work".

More than 137,000 photographs and 200 hours of video film evidence were brought before the latest inquiry.

An investigation was initially ruled out because the government at the time said there was no evidence of "a ship, survivors nor wreckage".

However, in 1987, an inquiry was launched after the vessel's sister ship,  KOWLOON BRIDGE, broke in two off the coast of Ireland.

The 1987 inquiry concluded that the DERBYSHIRE, which was carrying a heavy cargo of iron ore, was overcome by 80ft waves.

Ten years later investigators discovered that an unsecured hatch may have been a major contributor to the tragedy.

Assessors concluded that the bow end of the vessel had flooded and the cargo hatches had been ripped off, permitting water to flood in.

They said the 160,000-tonne bulk carrier had been "unprepared to take the rigours of typhoon seas" and had been ripped apart in minutes.

Since the DERBYSHIRE sank, more than 300 bulk carriers have foundered with the loss of more than 1,000 lives.


On Tuesday November 7 the Daily Post revealed that pans for the £27million Twelve Quays ro/ro facility will go ahead despite concerns about the loss of public access to the waterfront. 

Over 200 letters and four petitions objecting to the Twelve Quays scheme had been received by Wirral Council  since the MD&HC application was authorised in April.

However, planning officers are expected to tell councillors at a meeting on November 9 that the objections raise no new issues and the construction of the facility should go ahead.


FRANÇOISE has been cleared to resume the conveyance of livestock on the Rosslare - Brest freight service. The conveyance of animals had been halted pending a Department of Agriculture investigation into the deaths of livestock on board early in October. This occurred when a livestock truck overturned.


On Tuesday November 6 Cabinet office Minister Ian McCartney today praised the success of the Government sponsored Mersey Basin Campaign for its work in
regenerating the Mersey Basin's 2000 km of watercourses.

The work by the campaign and the Mersey Basin Trust has been vital to the success of the clean and litter free waterside campaign, which is having a positive knock-on effect on the local community and businesses in the area.

Mr. McCartney highlighted the trailblazing role of the campaign partners, who have made a difference to the sustainable development of rivers in the region. North West Water, the community groups working with the 17 River Valley Initiatives received special congratulations for winning European Structural Funds and the Single
Regeneration Budget; Salford Quays was praised for the regeneration of the canals and the Mersey Basin Business Foundation for increasing business support for the many projects.

In his key note speech at the Mersey Basin Conference he emphasised the importance of The Royal Bank of Scotland Business and Environment Awards, The Unilever Dragonfly Awards and the high level entrance requirements of the projects that have entered.

Cabinet Office Minister Mr. McCartney said:

"Both businesses and homes in the area have a stake in the community and ensuring high water quality. Keeping the waterways of the Mersey Basin clean means seeing an increase in economic assets."

"Clean and litter free waterways can add value to businesses and homes. The value of land alongside rivers can increase by up to 40 per cent."

"The Mersey Basin rivers have changed beyond recognition. Over 80 per cent support fish today compared with 50 per cent in 1985."

"As a Government we have always believed that businesses have a stake in their community and that such co-operation is to be encouraged - indeed lies at the heart of sustainable development."

Over the past six years, the Campaign has raised around #5.5m from the private sector, which has gone into regenerating the rivers and educating people.

Plans for the next ten years are already in place, with local business and voluntary organisations and charities pledging to maintain the rivers, protecting them as valuable assets for future generations.

Initiatives to ensure that 100 per cent of Mersey Basin rivers can support fish by 2010 are already in place. The campaign set out its Manifesto Commitments in 1999 which aims to create new partnerships and ensure that businesses incorporate these into their business plans.

The following examples show that organisations have committed to improving the area in partnership with the campaign:

* Salford Council, Going for Green, Waterwatch and Viridor Waste to tackle the problem of collecting and removing water-borne litter along Salford Quays.

* The Leisure Guide to the Mersey Estuary "Making the most of the Mersey" is sponsored jointly by the Campaign, the Environment Agency, Merseytravel, Octel and the Mersey Valley Partnership.

* The Healthy Waterways Trust aims to regenerate the canal and river between Salford Quays and Manchester City Cathedral.



Between 13:00 and 15:30 on November 5, and in gale force 8 winds, Milford Haven Coastguard co-ordinated the rescue of 14 adults in 5 yachts during a winter series race held by Neyland Yacht Club, based on Milford Haven Waterway.

Milford Haven Coastguard requested the launch of the RNLI lifeboat from Angle the crew of which, along with the assistance of other local Port vessels, were able to tow all five yachts to the safety of various marinas on Milford Haven Waterway.

The first call for assistance came when one yacht became 'jammed' under pylons; other yachts then called the Coastguard when the weather simply became too much for them.

Milford Haven Coastguard Watch Assistant, John Edwards said:

"Due to the prompt response of all the vessels assisting in this rescue a more dramatic situation was averted.

"The Coastguard would recommend all putting to sea seriously consider weather conditions and the weather forecast before they put to sea, as even experienced sailors can get in to difficulty as demonstrated here."


QUEEN MARY 2 Carnival has confirmed the contract with French shipbuilder Chantiers de l’Atlantique, to construct the new super-cruise ship QUEEN MARY 2 for Cunard Line.  At 150,000 the ship will be the largest ocean liner ever built.

Larry Pimental, Cunard Line president and CEO, said: QUEEN MARY 2 will be the heir to all that has gone before and she will be a showcase of the art of shipbuilding in its most refined and masterful form.” The £538 million vessel is due to enter service in 2003.

Patrick Boissier, chairman of shipbuilders Alstom Chantiers de l'Atlantique said: "We are pleased to have been selected for one of the most sought after and highly anticipated shipbuilding contracts in modern day cruising."

QUEEN MARY II  will measure 237ft (72 metres) from keel to funnel top, towering over 200ft above her waterline, and will cover an area of 3.5 acres. She is 1,132ft (345 metres) long and will have a crew of 1,254

•Her power plant will produce sufficient electricity to light a city the size of Southampton (population 200,000) and the engines will produce 157,000 horsepower - the equivalent of 1,570 family cars.

•The main dining room, which will span the width of the ship will seat 1,310 passengers.

•A 1,100-seater main lounge will feature Broadway-style productions

•There will be a nightclub, a planetarium, an education area where passengers can take instruction on seamanship, cooking and languages, and a casino

•There will be four outside swimming pools, one with a sliding glass roof, a promenade deck, kennels and pet areas

•There will be nine classes of cabin from duplex apartments and penthouse suites - both of which will feature butler service - to standard cabins

•She will be able to reach speeds of almost 30 knots (nearly 35mph)


M&ISS readers may well recall the Greek flagged passenger vessel THRAKI II (1994, 300 p, 40x7x1.9, 18 kn) which was chartered by a certain Captain Hope to inaugurate a new Whitehaven to Douglas passenger service during 1999. The service of course didn't materialise. 

It has become apparent that the vessel has been refused permission to operate on the Kavala - Thasos route in the light of the Greek Government's recent clampdown on ferry operators.



I am not certain if it was just intuition that led me to put back this update after my return from holiday. However, as it has transpired, the decision to reschedule to Friday November 3 has proved fortuitous given the quantity of news to report including a number of major stories of direct relevance to the Irish Sea area

Given the prevailing conditions, there are quite a few weather related stories. I have not attempted to cover all weather disruptions in depth, though reading below one should get a flavour of how some services have been affected. I would like to thank all those who have sent e-mails and phone text messages over the past couple of weeks.

For those who enjoy perusing and solving other people's Maritime Queries do ensure you check out the queries section posted with this update.

The full update schedule for November and December has also now been posted. 

Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Sara Cass, Kev Bennett, John Shepherd and "others".

SEA CONTAINERS\Isle of Man Steam Packet Company

SUPERSEACAT TWO It appears that the vessel has been offered for sale and an advertisement has been seen on a ship broking web site, though surprisingly NOT on Sea Containers own

SUPERSEACAT THREE - Sunday October 22, the Liverpool to Douglas and return sailings were cancelled due to adverse weather conditions. An observer noted that during the bad weather on Saturday and Sunday October 28/29 SSC3 was berthed in Langton Dock.

LADY OF MANN - The bad weather saw the Lady re-enter service earlier than expected. She departed from Alexandra Dock on Thursday October 26 and proceeded to Douglas. She sailed from Douglas for Dublin at 20:15 Thursday October 26 eta 00:45 (i.e. on schedule departure from IOM) and was scheduled to return from Dublin at 01:45 Friday eta Douglas 04.30. This was later revised to 08:30 which led to the return sailing to Dublin being delayed. The LADY OF MANN also operated the 18:00 Liverpool to Douglas on Saturday. 

On Sunday the LADY got away from Liverpool on Sunday morning with an eta in Douglas of 14:30. She is then returned to Liverpool carrying passengers from the cancelled 07:00 SCIOM sailing and operated the delayed Liverpool - Douglas evening sailing. 

On Monday SCIOM's Douglas to Liverpool morning sailing was cancelled and the LADY operated the return sailing to Dublin, originally scheduled for 15:00 by SCIOM at 10:00


The Belfast Telegraph reported last week that forged SeaCat vouchers are circulating across Northern Ireland. Conmen have forged complimentary £10 fuel vouchers which have been handed to motorists travelling on SeaCat and are selling them off for discount prices.

As a result of the fraud, these vouchers are no longer issued. Anyone who has been issued with a genuine voucher is asked to contact Sea Containers.

Anyone who has been offered a voucher from any other source is asked to contact the police who are trying to trace the forger.


According to a report in Le Marin - Hoverspeed decided on October 19 to close Folkestone - Boulogne. On the evening of November 2 Meridian TV confirmed the ending of the Folkestone - Boulogne SeaCat service and revealed that Sea Containers have put Folkestone Harbour up for sale.


Sea Containers Properties Ltd has disposed of land at Bathside Bay, Harwich to Hutchinson Ports (UK) Ltd. for the development of a new container handling facility which will provide enough capacity to handle four of the latest generation of container ships simultaneously.


In the wake of the Hatfield derailment it is reported that Sea Containers is suspending a  major advertising campaign 

The £900,000 promotion is frozen indefinitely as a mark of respect. "It's been put on hold in the interests of taste and sensitivity, we can confirm," said a GNER spokesman, adding "It's difficult to say when the campaign will now begin. The issue is being reviewed day-by-day" The campaign will focus on the operator's low-cost products.


Recently there have been rumours circulating that Sea Containers were considering the sale of Heysham Port. 

On Wednesday the Daily Post newspaper claimed that the Mersey Docks and Harbour Company were poised to buy Heysham Port and were ready to make a bid for the facility of between £20m and £30m.  A spokesman for Sea Containers said that no formal offer had been made but said that the company was always ready to listen to offers. 

The Daily Post claims that an insider close to decision makers confirmed that senior level talks were taking place. 

JHL'S COMMENT: It is obvious that Sea Containers is currently in the process of not only rationalising operations but also disposing of assets. This of course begs the question of why? Could it be that the company is mustering its resources to expand into a new area of operations? One thing is certain, Sea Co developments look set to keep the enthusiast's gossiping throughout the winter months!


On October 28 the Belfast Telegraph carried a report concerning the restoration of the former short lived Sea Containers Ballycastle to Campbeltown route:

UP to 120 jobs could be created with the re-introduction of the Ballycastle to Campbeltown ferry, a new report has revealed.

The research - compiled by EKOS consultants in Scotland - shows the Kintyre peninsula and the Moyle district could gain "significant" social and economic benefits from the scheme.

The study found unemployment was above average in both areas, with 9.6% in Moyle compared with the 5.2% Northern Ireland average.

It also claimed the new ferry would have "limited impact" on the existing Ulster and Scottish market.

Speaking after a meeting on the issue in Campbeltown, Scottish Office Minister Brian Wilson insisted the ferry would lead to wider economic benefits for Northern Ireland and Scotland.

He said: "Kintyre and Moyle are fragile communities facing similar problems of relatively high unemployment and incomes below the national average.

"The establishment of a ferry link would completely alter the dynamics of their locations by putting them at the centre of a Scotland-Ireland link rather than at dead ends of their respective regions.

"The draft final report produced by consultants EKOS will form the basis of a case for the UK Government to establish a Public Service Obligation on the route in accordance with EU legislation.

"I'm confident we are making progress and that, with the continued support and efforts of the organisations represented on the action group, the people of Antrim and Argyll would have the ferry service they both need and deserve. "The action group is made up of representatives from the Northern Ireland Assembly, Scottish Executive, Westminster, local authorities, local enterprise networks and other interested parties.

Further to the above, a reliable source has informed an M&ISS contributor that Caledonian MacBrayne's ISLE OF ARRAN is hot favourite to operate on the route in 2001. The ISLE OF ARRAN's place on the Islay run will be taken by the LORD OF



15 October 2000 P&O Irish Sea's freight services between Fleetwood and Larne have been boosted with the introduction of an additional round trip sailing of the EUROPEAN NAVIGATOR.

"The additional round trip will offer operators departure times of 16.00 ex-Larne on Sunday arriving at Fleetwood at 24.00 and departing from Fleetwood on Mondays at 03.00hrs arriving Larne 11.00 hrs. These additional crossings mean that P&O offers even more freight sailings than any other operator on the Irish Sea," said Phil Simpson, Sales Manager UK for P&O Irish Sea: "The new sailings mean that drivers can meet early Monday deliveries or make the early Monday cross Channel sailings both of which provide additional flexibility for our customers."

P&O's Fleetwood - Larne freight services are operated by the EUROPEAN NAVIGATOR, EUROPEAN PIONEER and the EUROPEAN SEAFARER.


Adverse weather conditions last weekend led to disruption of the Rosslare - Cherbourg service operated by EUROPEAN PATHFINDER.

The Sunday October 29 service was cancelled and rescheduled to a 13:00 departure on Monday October 30. However, this sailing was also cancelled with normal services resuming on Tuesday October 31 with the scheduled departure from Rosslare.


Due to adverse weather conditions the 22:00  sailing from Dublin on October 30 was rescheduled to depart from Dublin at 02:00 on Tuesday October 31.


PRIDE OF RATHLIN - The former Larne - Cairnryan vessel which was made redundant following the arrival of the EUROPEAN CAUSWAY in August remains laid up at Harland & Wolff's yard at Belfast.



KONINGIN BEATRIX - On Sunday October 29 a man, Michael Davis, died after falling overboard into the Irish Sea. The KONINGIN BEATRIX was bound for Fishguard at the time of the incident. Weather conditions at the scene were reported to be bad.

The vessel turned around and Dublin and Swansea Coastguards organised a major rescue operation.

An Irish Coastguard helicopter winched the victim to safety after he had spent more than an hour in the water. 

Two rescue helicopters were scrambled to head for the scene - Rescue 116 from Dublin and Rescue 169, based at RAF Chivenor in north Devon.

The man was sighted in the sea about 20 miles from the port of Rosslare as rescue helicopters were heading for the scene.

The casualty was flown to Wexford hospital where attempts at resuscitation failed.

An attempt to launch a lifeboat by ferry crews after the man was spotted in the sea had to be abandoned because of the weather conditions.

Dyfed Powys Police officers boarded the ferry when it docked Fishguard ferry port to question passengers and crew about the incident.


Plans to reopen the Larne to Stranraer route this autumn have now been delayed until the early part of 2001 due to contractual issues which have taken longer than anticipated to resolve. An e


The following report appeared in the Financial Times, October 31:

Stena AB, the privately-owned Swedish shipping group, moved on Tuesday to rescue Stena Line, its financially-troubled associate company, launching a cash bid for the ferry operator that values it at just SKr492m ($49m).

It said Stena Line had "suffered large losses in recent years" and its financial position was "very weak".

The move came as Stena Line, a listed company, announced a SKr1.5bn rights issue to help cover its losses, service debt and repay a convertible debenture loan of SKr558m next April.

Stena sphere companies own 53.2 per cent of Stena Line's shares and 78.6 per cent of its votes. Stena AB said it would support the rights issue in respect of its holdings and might guarantee it.

It would also offer SKr8 per share for the outstanding shares in the company, providing an exit for other shareholders who did not want to subscribe for their rights.

Stena Line has proved a disastrous investment. The company's shares peaked at SKr60 per share in February 1994, but have since plunged as low as SKr5.3 in July this year.

The company, whose main routes are in Scandinavia and the UK, has been heavily hit by the abolition of duty-free sales within the European Union last year, by rising fuel prices and falling passenger and car transport volumes.

Stena Line announced on Tuesday pre-tax losses of SKr270m for the first nine months of the year and warned that losses for the full year would exceed last year's SKr496m, excluding write-offs. It noted that average retail spending per passenger in Scandinavia had fallen 31 per cent in Scandinavia and 45 per cent in the UK during the period.


RTÉ reports that Minister of State at the Department of the Marine has strongly criticised the air-sea rescue services in the South East. Hugh Byrne said that some of these services are being provided by another government department -  that of Defence. The Wexford Deputy was responding to news that it will be at least another two years before a medium range rescue helicopter is available in Waterford.

Minister Byrne said the current Alloutte helicopter service being provided from Waterford Regional Airport is grossly inadequate and is nothing more than a PR exercise. The political row comes after the death last weekend of a man who fell from a ferry 17 miles off the coast of Rosslare. 35-year-old Michael Davis died after he fell from the KONINGIN BEATRIX 17 miles off Rosslare on Sunday. An Alloutte helicopter crew based at Waterford Regional airport was the nearest air rescue operation to the location.

The Irish Coastguard, which co-ordinates such missions, says that a 17 mile journey off the coast is beyond the declared operational capability of the Aloutte and did not call out the crew. However, it is understood that a Sikorsky helicopter was being scrambled from Dublin and this would have provided what is known as "top cover" for the Alloutte.

RTÉ understands that many other rescue operations have taken place with Alloutte's flying up to 30 miles off the coast, and questions are now being asked as to why this did not happen last Sunday.


A new ferry, an option of a night crossing and later departures are some of the changes for better service in store for the Marine Atlantic Gulf ferry schedule next year.

Capt. Sid Hynes, Marine Atlantic’s board chairman, told the semi-annual meeting of Hospitality Newfoundland and Labrador Thursday in Corner Brook that the schedule for the 2001 peak summer season can be released now because they will be taking delivery of the new ferry STENA CHALLENGER next April.

He said the addition of the STENA CHALLENGER to the fleet means the capacity problems that have dogged the ferry service for several years will be solved, making it possible to draw on long-term schedules.

“With the STENA CHALLENGER providing the stability in the fleet that we needed, it
is likely that next year’s schedule will be the backbone of schedules for
years to come,” said Hynes.

The addition in 2001 means Marine Atlantic’s carrying capacity will increase by 10 per cent over 2000, allowing the corporation the greatest capacity it has ever had.

Hynes said Marine Atlantic will have a capacity of 30 per cent over demand in 2001 as the fleet’s carrying capacity will amount to the equivalent of 10,000 family vehicles per week.

Daytime crossings from Port aux Basques to North Sydney will depart at 8 a.m., an hour earlier than this year.

“This gives travellers extra time to catch the vessel in the morning,” said Hynes.

The Argentina/North Sydney service will continue with three round trips weekly, but next year will include one night crossing, a change from the three day crossings this year.

“We wanted to give people a choice,” said Capt. Allan Rowsell, Marine Atlantic’s president and chief executive officer.

“By changing the schedule to include a night crossing, we’re giving people the opportunity to choose the time of day they prefer to take the trip.”

Both day crossings of the ferry Joseph and Clara Smallwood will depart North Sydney at 6 a.m., arriving in Argentia at 8:30 p.m., giving travellers some daylight driving time once they get to the east coast of the island.

The Argentia service will be extended to October again next year, making one
round trip per week for the extra month.

With Marine Atlantic’s capacity problem appearing to be solved, Rowsell said the requirements will be met for the trucking industry which accounts for 60 per cent of their business. Marine Atlantic says it will have carried more than 500,000 people between Newfoundland and Nova Scotia by the end of this year.


From Monday October 23 a new Riverboat service was launched on the River Lagan, Belfast.

The route is serviced by the JOYCE and is operated by the Lagan Boat Company a firm that already operates cruises on the Lagan.

The vessel departs Cutter's Wharf, Stranmillis and arrives at Lagan Lookout (basically at Donegal Quay) - taking 20 minutes.

Sailings will run ex Cutter's Wharf at 07.30, 08.30 and 09.30 each weekday with return sailings from Lagan Lookout at 16.00, 17.00 and 18.00.  What isn't clear is whether the ship sails light on returning each time - one would presume not but ultimately there will be few using it and for operational reasons it is probably easier not to shout about these trips.

Fares are £2 single, £3 daily return and £12.50 weekly return.

Quite how the service does remains to be seen - the bus service is considerably cheaper (the fare for the same trip in the region of 80 - 90 pence) and on a good day not too bad a walk....though Laganside Corporation has spent £200,000 on the infrastructure for the service.


In the awards last week Stena Line was voted the best Ferry/Shipping Company whilst Best Sales Support to the Northern Ireland Travel Trade went to Sea Containers.


The report into the loss of the Bibby Line bulk carrier DERBYSHIRE is due to be published next Wednesday.

Inquiry chairman Mr Justice Colman has studied more than 135,000 photographs and 200 hours of video film evidence.

The forty two crewmen died when the 169,000-tonne bulk carrier sank are expected to be exonerated by the forthcoming inquiry report, according to Liverpool MP Maria Eagle.

The DERBYSHIRE foundered with a crew from north-west England along with two of their wives when it was hit by Typhoon Orchid south of Japan 20 years ago.


A memorial to the crew of the scallop dredger SOLWAY HARVESTER has been erected on the Isle of Man at Douglas Head. It comprises a granite bollard from Whithorn Harbour mounted on a plinth  with a plaque placed by the Isle of Man Government.

The inscription on the bollard reads: " To the Manx Community in grateful thanks for their compassion and generosity following the loss with all hands of "SOLWAY HARVESTER" 11th January 2000". 

The plaque carried the Manx and Scottish flags and the inscription "A little piece of Whithorn in the Isle of Man".

The relatives of the crew will attend an official unveiling ceremony to be held on January 11, 2001 on the first anniversary of the tragedy.


The Douglas Harbour master's launch BRIDGEEN was found to have sunk on Monday October 30. The five ton vessel has been lifted out of the water pending a decision to repair or replace. The BRIDGEEN's fibreglass hull was holed by a log believed to have been brought down river and into the harbour during recent heavy rain.


In traditional tabloid fashion, The Sun newspaper carried an  indignant article noting the chartering of a German Navy U-boat. Obviously it made good press in the light of the temporary withdrawal of the Trafalgar class submarines pending repairs ....

"A SINGLE submarine was on duty in British waters yesterday - a German U-BOAT.

The U12 was HIRED at £6,500 an hour because all the Royal Navy's top subs have been tied up for urgent safety checks. The 22-man boat sailed into Plymouth Sound, flying the German flag and with her officers in the conning tower, for training exercises. Last night the amazing deal to rent the sub, which carries the recognition number S191, had Navy-watchers choking on their pink gins.

Sun military adviser Major General Ken Perkins said: "British sailors will think it is a rum do that the best navy afloat cannot provide its own boats for training. Admiral Nelson must be turning in his grave."

The 500-ton U12 arrived on Monday as all of Britain's 12-strong fleet of Trafalgar class nuclear subs were confined to dock.

It meant the 32-year-old vessel - one of the first built by Germany after the war - was the ONLY operational submarine in Britain's territorial waters. One British sub, one of the four Vanguard class carrying the Trident nuclear deterrent, was at sea - but believed to be on the other side of the world.

The role of U12, which can pack up to 21 torpedoes, was to lurk off our coast and act as a "target" for British frigates and destroyers. A senior Navy officer admitted: "This is an unfortunate combination of circumstances.

'Sickening' ... Major General Ken Perkins

"But the Germans are our NATO allies and the submarine we are renting from them will play a vital part in exercises." Last night it emerged that the German sub is only the latest in a series we have rented for deep-sea war games. We have even hired subs from the navies of several other countries including Portugal, Sweden and Italy.

And to add to the farce Britain has four unused diesel-powered subs of its own, costing £620million, waiting in mothballs to be leased to Canada.

Military experts blamed defence spending cutbacks for the rent-a-sub system.

Major General Perkins said: "The U-Boats which came within a whisker of bringing this country to its knees in the war now provide training facilities for the Royal Navy. "The accountants call it cost-effective use of resources - sell off mothballed subs and when we want one, hire it from NATO.

"It makes me sick and it's bad for morale. That's something the MoD bean counters would not know how to value."

Former Navy officer Mike Critchley, editor of Warship World, said: "It is a regrettable state of affairs that the only submarine at sea in UK waters was a German U-boat on hire to the RN - the result of defence cuts from past years."

Mr. Critchley added: "This dates back to 1993, when a political decision was taken that four new Upholder class diesel submarines were no longer required.

We're sunk ... U12 arrives with
flag flying proudly

"They were laid up and moved to Barrow-in-Furness in Cumbria. Efforts were made to sell them overseas without success.

"The best offer the RN got was a lease with the option to purchase with the Canadians.

"With no conventional boats in the fleet, our Navy is forced to hire them in from other navies to give our own surface forces realistic training."

The MoD insisted there was "nothing unusual" in hiring foreign boats for exercises.

And a Navy source said: "Although the figure is £6,500 an hour we do not actually pay this because we offer reciprocal training facilities."

Britain's entire front-line fleet of Trafalgar hunter-killer subs was ordered back to base ten days ago by Admiralty chiefs. The recall followed a row over one, HMS Tireless, which docked in Gibraltar with a leak in her nuclear reactor cooling system.

Spanish authorities were furious over the safety of the sub - and Tony Blair became embroiled in the storm when he visited Madrid last week.

Of Britain's four Vanguard class subs carrying Trident, only one is at sea at any time.

A senior officer said: "Renting foreign submarines such as U12 provides a unit to train against in increasingly complex anti-submarine warfare. "It is a means of reducing the burden on our own sub fleet, whose time is better spent out on operations."

Germany was the first country to employ submarines in war and used 140 U-Boats to sink 10million tons of Allied shipping in the 1914-18 War.

During the Second World War thousands of merchant seamen and Royal Navy sailors were killed in torpedo attacks.

Germany built 1,161 U-Boats, of which 785 were destroyed. The rest surrendered - or were scuttled by their own crews."

A MINISTRY of Defence spokesman said in a statement to The Sun last night:

There is nothing unusual in German U-Boats participating in Royal Navy Operational Sea Training. They have been doing so for over 30 years.

This is a very cost effective method of providing our forces with a valuable training asset and reduces the burden on our own submarines.

The use of U-Boats is completely unrelated to the recent sale of the Upholder submarines. We were using diesel electric submarines from foreign navies in this role when we had many of our own.

The German Navy are only one of a number of providers of training Submarines. We also use vessels from the Netherlands, Italy, Portugal, Turkey, and Sweden in exactly the same way.

The use of U-Boats is completely unrelated to the current problems being experienced by the Royal Navy's Nuclear Submarine Flotilla. All four of our Trident boats are unaffected by the problem identified on some of the Trafalgar class submarines.



The Maritime & Coastguard Agency [MCA] relaunched its innovatively re-designed web site last week with the new easier to remember web address:

An automatic redirection service takes visitors using the old address direct to the new site where visitors can browse for information on aspects of the work of the MCA, including all our news releases; publicity material including safety literature; ship detention listings; consultation documents; Marine Notices; our Annual Report and Business Plan; and much more.

MCA Communication Manager, Marie Smith said:

"We will be enhancing our new web site over the next few months so it’s a good idea to add us to your favourites list to keep up to date with what we have to offer. You can let us have your views on the new site by using our 24 hour information service accessible through our website which allows visitors to send us their queries and comments where ever they happen to be in the world and at any time."


On October 26 at 00:15, Brixham Coastguard received an urgent mayday call from the Plymouth registered, 44 foot long fishing vessel TARDIS OF YEALM after the two crewmen on board requested assistance following a collision with rocks at Bolt Trail near Salcombe in south Devon.

Brixham Coastguard immediately requested the launch of the RNLI Lifeboat based at Salcombe, Hope Cove Coastguard Rescue Team and the Royal Naval Helicopter based at Culdrose.

Peter Davis, Watch Manager at Brixham Coastguard Station said:

"As the Lifeboat arrived on scene it became obvious that the fishing vessel was sinking fast and both crewmen had climbed onto the wheelhouse. The lifeboat was unable to get close to the fishing vessel, as it was only 25 feet from the cliff edge.

"A rocket line was fired over the fishing vessel and the crew pulled the lifeboat dinghy over to them, before boarding, then as they were pulled to the safety of the lifeboat the ‘Tardis of Yealm’ slipped beneath the surface.

The crewmen were returned to Salcombe and reunited with their families.

The weather on scene was favourable with moderate sea and swell, good visibility and south westerly winds force 5-6.


On October 27 the cargo vessel ELEKTRON which grounded on St. Kilda earlier this month was successfully refloated at 18:45 with the aid of the salvage barge SALVAGE CHIEFTAIN and the TAMACHA,  an 80 tonne bollard pull Russian tug.

The ELEKTRON was  held in sheltered waters whilst seagoing towing equipment was rigged and  the vessel trimmed and secured ready for passage to the River Mersey where arrangements have been made for the vessel to discharge its cargo and be repaired.

Initial salvage action was taken to remove fuel and other pollutants from the vessel soon after her original grounding and there has been no further pollution during the refloating process.

However, at 06:30 on October 29 Clyde Coastguard received an urgent call from the 77 metre, 1628 gross tonne, Norwegian registered cargo vessel ‘Elektron’ after she hit bad weather.

Severe weather conditions and force 10 winds were hindering the progress of ELEKTRON as she continued her journey under tow to Merseyside. Six salvage team members on board requested an evacuation. 

The Coastguard Rescue Helicopter ‘Mike Uniform’ was immediately scrambled and arrived on scene at just gone 9:00 a.m. after it too had been delayed by the bad weather. All crew were recovered and flown to Stornoway Coastguard Station where they await better weather. 

Weather at the scene was reported as winds force 9 with rough sea and swell. 

At 10:15 on October 30 Clyde Coastguard passed search and rescue co-ordinations to Belfast who monitored ELECKTRON's progress as the vessel headed towards Belfast Lough, it waited to the east of Islandmagee in order to stabilise a 20-degree list to port.

The RNLI Trent Class Lifeboat from Larne arrived at the ELEKTRON at 10:45 on October 30 and the RAF helicopter at Aldergrove was placed on immediate standby.

Toby Stone, Principal Counter Pollution and Salvage Officer said:

"The salvage team and salvage chief are on board ELEKTRON and are attempting to restrict further water intake using pumps.

"The original salvage team, airlifted amidst storms, are flying down from Stornoway to re-board the vessel this afternoon and assist with the pumping process.

MCA Surveyors are studied video footage of the vessel taken by the RUC traffic surveillance aircraft.

Weather on scene is calm and overcast.


At 11:15 on October 28 Falmouth shipping agents Fox & Co. advised Falmouth Coastguard that the 9367 tonne liquid petroleum gas (LPG) tanker, ‘HAVLYS’, on route from Houston to Hamburg, would be calling at Falmouth 23:00 on October 29 with steering problems.  on October 28 Falmouth shipping agents Fox & Co. advised Falmouth Coastguard that the 9367 tonne liquid petroleum gas (LPG) tanker, ‘HAVLYS’, on route from Houston to Hamburg, would be calling at Falmouth 23:00 on October 29 with steering problems. 

It was agreed by the Principal Counter Pollution and Salvage Office and the Regional Duty Officer that the tanker, which It was agreed by the Principal Counter Pollution and Salvage Office and the Regional Duty Officer that the tanker, which It was agreed by the Principal Counter Pollution and Salvage Office and the Regional Duty Officer that the tanker, which was carrying 5000 tonnes of propolyne would be met by the emergency towing vessel FAR SKY and escorted through Lands End and on to Falmouth. FAR SKY moving to Mounts Bay in anticipation.  It was agreed by the Principal Counter Pollution and Salvage Office and the Regional Duty Officer that the tanker, which was carrying 5000 tonnes of propolyne would be met by the emergency towing vessel FAR SKY and escorted through Lands End and on to Falmouth. FAR SKY moving to Mounts Bay in anticipation. 

At 02:30 on October 29 an emergency call was made from HAVLYS after the tanker experienced steering gear failure and was being hampered by fierce weather conditions 250 miles off Lands End. Falmouth Coastguard requested Norfolk Coastguard to assist the Vessel’s owners in finding a tow, without success.  on October 29 an emergency call was made from HAVLYS after the tanker experienced steering gear failure and was being hampered by fierce weather conditions 250 miles off Lands End. Falmouth Coastguard requested Norfolk Coastguard to assist the Vessel’s owners in finding a tow, without success. 

By 04:00 HAVLYS  had effected repairs and was underway once again, with an estimated time of arrival at the Bishop Rock around 19:00 the same day. FAR SKY proceeding to rendezvous with HAVLYS at dusk. 



On Thursday October 26 it became apparent that Cammell Laird had missed out on the multi-million pound MoD contract, part of which is to go to a foreign yard. 

Cammell Laird had hoped to secure part of a £1bn order to build a fleet of six roll-on roll-off ferries for the Ministry of Defence. During October it had been tipped by at least one Sunday newspaper as being one of the successful bidders.

Merseyside Labour MPs, led by Birkenhead's Frank Field, reacted with outrage to the news, claiming that Cammell Laird was being punished for being successful: "The whole of this announcement was propping up failures!" Mr Field claimed it was an "Old Labour" deal whereby the work was specially offered like a "soup bowl" to failing yards. He also attacked the decision to buy four ferries from a German yard. Mr. Field said in the Commons yesterday: "What sense does this decision make, placing orders with a firm that is going to build in Germany and probably sub-contract in Poland? What message should we take back from you about employment prospects on Merseyside?"


On Friday October 27 it also became apparent that Cammell Laird that the company would not be getting the order to lengthen the Costa Crociere's COSTA ROMANTICA. The company is presently working on building a new section for the COSTA CLASSICA, which is due to be inserted into that vessel later this year. 


On November 1 it was announced that Cammell Laird, the ship repair and conversion company, has signed a contract to build two cruise ships which would be the first such vessels to be constructed in the UK for over 25 years.

The deal which is thought to be worth up to £344m, is conditional on government subsidy for the yard and loan guarantees for a start-up cruise company, Luxus.

A Department of Trade and Industry official said the department was processing applications for support from Cammell Laird and Luxus "urgently". Les Royle, chief executive of Luxus, described the group as a consortium of senior cruise industry figures which includes Jim Davis, a former director of P&O and now chairman of the International Marine Industries Forum and Luxus.

The Cammell Laird contract is Luxus's first venture, but people at Cammell Laird and DTI said they were satisfied with the company's credentials. "The contract is for two ships, and if that's successful we'd want to take an option for two more," said Mr Royle. If the contract proceeds, it should come as a big boost to British shipbuilding, taking it back into one of the most lucrative and fastest growing markets in the world.

UK shipbuilding has seen its market share decline from nearly 38 per cent of the world market in 1950 to less than one per cent today. The last cruise liner built in the UK was the VISTAFIJORD, by Swan Hunter on the Tyne, in 1973.

Cammell Laird, which last week lost a £300m contract for six  ro-ro ferries to rivals in Britain and Germany, is expected to share the work between its yards on Merseyside, Tyneside, Teesside and Gosport on the south coast.

Brett Martin, Cammell Laird's deputy chief executive, said: "The key thing now to winning this contract is DTI support and we are very, very confident if they come up with the support we can deliver."

Last week Stephen Byers, the trade secretary, raised hopes by telling Cammell Laird workers: "There are two very big orders that could come to Cammell Laird's in the near future. My department is working to ensure orders come to Merseyside."

The contract is believed to be for two 28,000-ton, 400-berth luxury cruise ships.

Building work could be worth more than £206m but the total contract, including lifetime maintenance and repairs, could be worth more than £344m.

Cammell Laird is expected to bid for the maximum 9 per cent of the ship's cost from the DTI's shipbuilding intervention fund, which closes at the end of this year.

Luxus, which had approached Harland & Wolff earlier this year with the cruise ship proposals, is also likely to ask for mortgage guarantees for up to 80 per cent of the build cost, also from the DTI.

There is an interesting local connection between Mr. Les Royle and Merseyside. He was grew up in Liverpool in the 1950s, his father being a manager with Elder Dempster. Local news reports indicate that as a nine year old he was taken to Cammell Lairds to see the launch of the last large passenger ship at the yard - Union Castle Line's WINDSOR CASTLE in 1959.


A report in Fairplay indicated that Cammell Laird is facing protests from about 40 small local repair firms who have filed a claim in a local court for abuse of monopoly following the take over of the Marseilles ship yards earlier this year. 

The plaintiffs claim that since the arrival of Cammell Laird they no longer have direct access to ships and dry-docks to effect small repairs, but must work via Cammell under reportedly “tough financial conditions” which, they say, jeopardise their survival. 

The small companies are members of Grenamar, a group of companies which altogether employ about 1,100 people in Marseilles and achieve an annual turnover of FF700M ($93M) a year. Grenamar estimates that Cammell’s dominant position could cause the loss of 500 jobs among these small companies.


The historic King Harry Ferry, which has operated across the River Fal for more than 100 years, is up for sale. An advertisement for the company appeared in the classified advertisements section of the Western Morning News last week.

The chain ferry, which operates between Trelissick and Philleigh, provides a year-round service to local people and tourists, providing a direct link to the Roseland peninsula from the Truro area and saving a lengthy detour by road.

The decision to put the company on the marker was taken by a majority of the company shareholders at a special meeting held in September.

Chairman Margaret Simmons-Hodge explained that when the company was first formed, shares were owned by a few key shareholders who all lived in Cornwall and were actively involved in running the ferry.

Over time these shares have come into the hands of more and more people as they passed through each family generation so that now very few of the shareholders live in Cornwall.

The shareholders now hope that the ferry will return to its original position of being run by just one or two people who either live in or have strong business connections with Cornwall, so it can be effectively developed in the future.

Mrs Simmons-Hodge said: "We are all very sad at this outcome, but it seems the best way to secure the long-term future of the ferry and the continued employment of the hard working ferry crew and their managers who provide a safe and reliable seven-day service throughout the year."

It is not very often that one sees a ferry company for sale in the classified section of a newspaper. The advertisement ran as follows:

"The Directors of the King Harry Steam Ferry Company Ltd invite offers for the purchase as a going concern of the business and trading assets of the King Harry Ferry. Principal features include: 70ft chain ferry carrying vehicles and passengers between Feock and Philleigh on the River Fal in Cornwall. Well established local trade and seasonal holiday trade. Turnover c £490,000, assets include two riverside cottages. For further information please telephone 01344 453967"


The Irish Minister for Agriculture, Joe Walsh, has confirmed that his department may be unable to recover a £1 million subsidy, given to a shipping company three years ago and declared illegal by the EC earlier this month. The Animal Welfare organisation, Compassion in World Farming, says the situation is a scandal.

JAMES FISHER & SONS               

The Barrow in Furness based James Fisher & Sons Plc have welcomed the MoD announcement last week which named the AWSR consortium, of which James Fisher is a member, as a preferred bidder for the provision of the MoD's Strategic Sealift Service. 

David Cobb, Chairman of James Fisher, said: "The six ship ro/ro programme is the welcome culmination of a considerable amount of work over a long period of time with our partners. The process has built a strong bond between the consortium members who, in combination, offer unrivalled experience in ship ownership and operation. It is important to note that such talent is available within British shipping companies."

"James Fisher's business is underpinned by a strong contract base. A 20 year customer relationship such as the RoRo contract is a perfect strategic fit."

AWSR Ltd is an all-British consortium comprising James Fisher, Andrew Weir Shipping Limited, Bibby International (IOM) and Houlder Offshore Engineering.

This latest success for James Fisher adds to its portfolio of contracts with the Ministry of Defence. The company already manages a warehousing and stock control system for RAF Sealand and charters  RFA OAKLEAF to the MoD. In addition it is currently bidding for the provision of Marine Support to Ranges and Aircrew Training.

The news also follows the recent announcement by James Fisher that it is investing £40 million in the purchase of two ships for conversion to cable layers which will double the company's participation in this fast growing market.


RTÉ Seascapes reports that a deal has been agreed to enable eight seamen stranded at Cork Dockyard, Cobh for the past 18 months to fly home and have their wages paid. The plight of the seamen was reported in a previous news update.

Seven of the seafarers are from the Dominican Republic, one from Panama. They were hired to sail four tugs and a barge from Ireland to the Dominican Republic, but were stranded after one of the tugs developed engine trouble and all had to return to Cork. 

The owner had not paid them for ten months. Other workers and managements of local firms in the industrial estate based around the yard have bought food for them and also provided warm winter clothing. 

The Seamen's Union has been representing their case. The owner of the tugs, Frances Ollyburg, arrived in Cobh to meet the Union and the seafarers with local solicitors. After the meeting it was announced that a deal had been agreed to sell one of the tugs to raise enough money for the men. They hope to leave within a fortnight.


PS WAVERLEY - concluded her short 2000 season following her major refit - on Monday October 16. She then entered George Prior Dry Dock at Swansea. She then moved to Avonmouth on October 22 where she laid up pending work on her port boiler. She will operate some Christmas cruises on the Clyde this year.


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