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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



October 21


Welcome to the latest update. Unfortunately time has prevented me from posting all that I had intended. I have some new photographs of the EUROPEAN CAUSEWAY from Gary Andrews and more items from Neil Ralph's collection of classic colour photos. However, these will have to wait a little longer for posting.

There will be no responses to e-mails from 09:30 on Sunday October 22 until around 18:00 on Sunday October 29 as I will be away. 

Due to one or two other commitments I have had to make some slight adjustments to the update schedule for early November. The next update will now be on Friday November 3 rather than Wednesday November 1 as originally notified. I will post the December schedule during November.

Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Philip Parker, "justinvest" and "others".

SEA CONTAINERS\Isle of Man Steam Packet Company

SEACAT ISLE OF MAN On Friday SCIOM sailed about 09.20 - having delayed because of bad weather - but didn't reach Liverpool until around 13.00. Apparently she sailed a very northerly course - as if heading for Heysham - and then ran down the Lancashire coast.

PONTUS the first passengers to use the Liverpool floating terminal PONTUS did so on Friday October 13. She has been used for both foot passengers and motorists. The foot passengers being escorted down in batches to relieve crowding in the terminal on Prince's Parade. The well equipped cafe is proving popular and because the PONTUS is a "ship" alcohol sales may begin there shortly.


This week I was contacted buy the owner's representative of the PRINCE ALBERT. The former Yugoslav passenger vessel which has been berthed at Canning Dock since June 1999.

I have been informed that the yacht has recently changed ownership. However, she was never repossessed and/or her owners liquidated as various local rumours appeared to suggest. Here recent move in Canning Dock was to facilitate dredging works.

Work is currently progressing on board and work on her engines is due to be completed soon, which will enable the vessel to put to sea.

According to the owner's representative local press coverage of the yacht's story was 99% incorrect.



It appears that the Larne - Stranraer service will not now open until the new year.


Stena Line has appointed Michael McGrath as its new Freight Director. He is 39 and was previously at TNT where he worked as their Branch Manager in Western Sweden. "It's very inspiring to be able to continue developing Europe's largest marine transport network," he states. "One of the most important tasks is to co-ordinate and develop our freight business with Scandlines."

Michael McGrath is also a former employee of Stena Line, when he worked as Business Controller and Business Development Manager at Stena Line Freight. He was also in charge of freight activities in the UK for a while.

"We are very pleased to have Michael back in the fold again," says Bo Severed, Stena Line´s CEO. "With his experience of both the industry and Stena Line he is the right person to run our freight activities, an area that is becoming increasingly important. Over the past few years we have concentrated on our freight business by opening new routes and investing in new RoPax vessels."

Michael McGrath will take over as Freight Director on 1 December.

Stena Line and Scandlines AB transported more than 1.4 million freight units on 20 routes and from 27 destinations in Europe in 1999. Göteborg, 16 October 2000 Stena Line AB


Stena has become the latest operator to impose a fuel surcharge on its sailings.  Passengers on Stena Line services will pay a £1 surcharge on each single journey to cover the company's rising overheads.

Alan Gordon, Route director for Stena Line's Belfast to Stranraer service said: "The dramatic increase in the cost of fuel has given Stena Line no alternative but to introduce this fuel surcharge.

"We have resisted this move as long as possible but with fuel prices increasing throughout the year we can no longer continue to absorb these charges.

"After much deliberation we have been forced into taking this action." The move mirrors that taken by Sea Container's Irish Sea business last month.

The firm which operates both the Super SeaCat and the SeaCat fast ferry services added a £2 surcharge per journey.



Plans to infill Bidston Dock and turn the site into a warehouse site have been criticised by local residents who want to see the dock retained as a water feature.

MD&HC have identified the site as being ideal for transport and storage on account of its position between the river and M53 motorway. The reinstatement of the rail link from the dock to the site of the planned Twelve Quays ro/ro terminal is also under consideration. 

A local resident and teacher, Robert Hughes is currently urging other local people to voice concern at the proposals. Mr. Hughes is reported by the Liverpool Echo as saying: "My argument is that Bidston Dock has always been part of a natural waterway. The whole of the Birkenhead Dock complex is formed from a Mersey tidal inlet. If the dock has served its purpose, there should be a moral obligation to return it to the way it was. It should not be filled in.

MDHC spokesman Eric Leatherbarrow commented" At the moment the dock is still being used, but we are to fill it in to create a large area of land which can be developed for warehousing and distribution. The dock is industrial land owned by the Port of Liverpool. We are simply adjusting the usage to match modern requirements. We are also looking at the possibility of re-establishing the rail links from the dock into Birkenhead."

JHL'S COMMENT: In the light of the decision to infill the dock, work on which has commenced in the north east corner, one must question why resources were wasted by replace the swing bridge across the Bidston Dock entrance just a few years ago.


A plaque is to be unveiled at Clarence Dock, Liverpool at 13:00 on Sunday October 22, 2000. 

The plaque inscription will read in Gaelic and English: "Through these gates passed most of the 1,300,000 Irish migrants who fled from the Great Famine and 'took the ship' to Liverpool in the years 1845-52"

The plaque is one of several in Liverpool which have been funded by the Great Famine Commemoration Committee. In 1998 The President of Ireland Mrs. Mary Mc.Aleese unveiled a famine monument in the grounds of St. Luke's Church


New grants for the sea fishing industry in Cornwall, Isles of Scilly and Merseyside were launched this week under the European Union structural funds programme.

Their core aims will be to increase fishermen's safety, improve quality of fish caught and make fishing methods more environmentally friendly.

Fisheries grants for the remainder of England will be launched early next year once the European Commission has agreed the programme.

Speaking in London today Elliot Morley, Fisheries Minister, said:

"I am delighted to launch the fisheries grants programme for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly and Merseyside which will implement their strategies for the fishing industry under their Objective 1 programmes. I have already announced that #5 million will be available for these grants for the next three years from April 2001. We are now accepting expressions of interest.

A priority will be to increase the safety of fishing, by strengthening the culture of safety among fishermen, through training. The grants will also help increase the sustainability of the fishing industry by giving encouragement to maintaining the
quality of fish caught, fishing in environmentally sustainable ways, and supporting the development of regional fisheries management initiatives.

In Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, grants will be available for a range of investments such as:

- the modernisation of fishing vessels to improve fish quality;
- selective types of fishing gear;
- improvements in fishing port facilities;
- improvements in fish processing and marketing;
- aquaculture developments;
- fish promotion;
- regional fisheries management initiatives; and
- promotion of sustainable fishing methods.

In Merseyside, with its much smaller fishing industry, grants will be directed at measures to improve quality and hygiene on board vessels, and at modernising storage and processing facilities.

MAFF and the local Government Offices will work closely with the Cornwall and Merseyside Partnerships to help implement the fisheries strategies.

I will launch grants for the rest of England early next year once we have received a formal Commission Decision on the UK's fisheries programme for the area outside Objective 1."


On October 17 Clyde Coastguard co-ordinated the airlift of a Greek Master of a tanker who suffered a compound fracture of his arm over 200 miles west of Scotland.

The Coastguard received the call at 16:20 from the Irish Coastguard in Dublin who in turn had been contacted by the crew of the oil tanker `SEA SPRITE' reporting the injury to their 48 year old Master some 80 miles west of Eagle Rock off the west coast of Ireland.

The Maltese registered tanker with 123,000 tons of crude on board was bound for the United States in heavy weather with force 8 winds and a heavy sea swell when the accident occurred earlier today. Most of the crew are also Greek.

An Irish Coastguard helicopter - a Sikorski 61N - was scrambled from Shannon

to airlift the injured master to Ireland. The vessel was asked to head back to the Irish coast.



A report by RTÉ indicates that the Department of Agriculture has been ordered to recover £1m subsidy it  gave three years ago to a company involved in live cattle exports. The European Commission found that the subsidy, to Gaelic Ferries, was a "state aid", and therefore incompatible with the common market. The Department has been given two months to recover the £1m, plus interest.


Readers may recall the former Dublin Port tugs CLONTARF and COLLIMORE which appeared on Merseyside early in 1999 and were featured on a M&ISS gallery page until earlier this year and were also featured in the news update early in September when they were observed berthed at Cork Dockyard at Cobh in the company of the larger tugs BRANDON BAY and TRALEE BAY.

It had been understood that these vessels had been sold to 'Barcazaz Dominicana' in the Dominican Republic.

The tugs left Birkenhead and were towed to Cork Dockyard for sandblasting prior to being towed across the Atlantic to Santa Domingo.

CLONTARF was reported to have been in good condition while at Birkenhead despite it's external appearance with it's supercharged engine in working order. COLLIEMORE, the older of the 2 was bought with it's engine completely stripped following an apparent overspeed.

Engine parts were reconditioned by Collingwood Engineering in Liverpool & it was reassembled before the tugs were towed to Ireland.

This week RTÉ reported that the  General Secretary of the Seamen's Union has said that the owners of four tugs on which eight foreign seamen have been stranded for 17 months in Cork Harbour will not pay the men's fares home. 

The Seamen's Union has identified the owners of the vessels who have not honoured promises made to the union to provide money to get the eight stranded seafarers home.

The Union's General Secretary, Bob Carrick, says that because they will not deal with the situation, he now intends  to ask the Admiralty Court here to arrest and sell the four tugs and a barge which the owners bought in Ireland and for which they hired the seafarers to sail them back to the Dominican Republic, where seven are from. 

The other crew member is from Panama. Since their plight was highlighted by RTÉ News, offers of help have been made. Three of the men are over 70. Mr Carrick said that the London embassies of the Dominican Republic had indicated they would look into the case. He said that no one should be left in the men's situation. Local workers in Cork Dockyard have been providing the abandoned seafarers, who are living on two of the tugs, with food.

Back Home Up Next

October 18


Welcome to the mid-week update, which due to time constraints comprises just the news update and a couple of query responses. The next main update will be posted on Saturday evening which should contain more gallery material. Please remember that after Saturday's update I will be away all next week and will not be responding to e-mails until Sunday evening October 29 with the next site updates being Wednesday November 1 and Sunday November 5.

Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, David Long, Brian Chambers, James A. Pottinger and "others".

SEA CONTAINERS\Isle of Man Steam Packet Company

Winter day trip fares on the Douglas to Liverpool route will be priced at £20 for foot passengers, with a car + 4 day excursion available at £85.

LADY OF MANN - has been chartered to aid the work of the Church Army and will operate a "Pilgrimage to St. Patrick's Island, Peel, IoM" on Sunday May 20, 2001. The fare will be £29 which I understand includes coach travel from your home town to Heysham

Departure from Heysham is 09:00 arriving at Peel for 13:15. Departing Peel 18:30 to arrive at Heysham at 22:45. Closing date for bookings at January 26, 2001. Though a church organised trip I understand the promoter D. Hartley [Tel: 01254 670145] will be happy to take bookings from people just wanting to go along for the sail as they have 900 tickets to sell!

It appears that the LADY OF MANN's SOLAS upgrade will be undertaken after the conclusion of her winter service.

SUPERSEACAT TWO - has been withdrawn from service for the remainder of the operating season on the Belfast - Heysham route.  A statement from Sea Containers reveals that it is "in order to allow essential technical work to be carried out on the SUPERSEACAT it is unavoidable that the Belfast - Heysham service will finish earlier than scheduled with immediate effect October 13,  2000." The vessel has been out of service since at least October 8.

It is believed that the problems are of a structural, rather than mechanical nature.

The sudden withdrawal of the Belfast - Heysham service appears to have angered passengers according to reports in the Belfast Telegraph some of whom are reported in the newspaper as being unhappy at being diverted via Troon.

Hamish Ross, managing director of Sea Containers Irish Sea Operations, said the reason to withdraw was to allow "essential technical work" to be carried out on the fast ferry.

"We considered it advisable to bring forward the date for the essential planned work on the craft to ensure the minimum disruption to the service," he said.

"We apologise to all customers for any inconvenience this may have caused to customers' travel arrangements." The company also denied that there was an ongoing problem with the service.

A spokeswoman said that during the 2000 season, the SuperSeaCat had only cancelled 3.5% of crossings for technical reasons and 3.5% due to weather.

She pointed out that during the 2000 season, 147,000 passengers had travelled

SEACAT SCOTLAND & SEACAT ISLE OF MAN both vessels will refitted in Douglas by Fort Street Services, the company's in house engineering department. 

SEACAT ISLE OF MAN will provide a relief for SeaCat Scotland, which is expected to be the first of the vessels to be dealt with. It is understood that the last winter overhaul to be undertaken by Fort Street Services was performed on the MONA'S QUEEN.


Disaster struck part of the Sea Containers empire on Tuesday October 16 when the 12:10 Kings Cross to Leeds train was derailed near Hatfield at almost 115mph.

Four of the 200 people on board the GNER electric train were killed in the disaster. The remaining people on board had a lucky escape, of those injured the majority were described as having only minor injuries. 

The President of Sea Containers Ltd, GNER's parent company James B. Sherwood has expressed his deepest sympathy to the families and friends of those who sadly lost their lives and to those who were injured in today's derailment at Hatfield.

Mr. Sherwood was spoke from the site of the incident, together with GNER's Chief Executive Christopher Garnett.

"We are all shocked by this tragedy and our own inquiry is already under way as well as those of the rail safety authorities to determine the cause of the incident. Nothing is more important to us, together with the rest of the rail industry, than the safety of our passengers and staff and we will of course co-operate fully with any inquiry", he said.

By Wednesday reports were suggesting that the cause of the derailment was due to a track defect with the track authority Railtrack Plc admitting that the track in the area was "not good".


Following the recent overturning of a truck on board the freight ferry FRANÇOISE which operates out of Rosslare Europort, the Department of Agriculture have been undertaking an investigation into the death of seven cattle. Consequently the vessel has not been carrying livestock recently. However, it is hoped that livestock shipments can be resumed at the weekend.


The company has been undertaking dredging works in the Canning Half-Tide basin and Canning Dock using the dredger SOSPAN. 

SOSPAN has been supported by the AVANTI which is operated by Barrow based Bay Towage and Salvage Company. []. The AVANTI is a diminutive Damen Pushycat 1500 tug which is hauling a plough around the dock to loosen up the silt. Its been quite interesting watching the operation on a couple of occasions. - Photographs in next update.


Despite rumours that a decision would be made in the near future Reuters reports that the Scottish Secretary John Reid denied on Monday that a decision had finally been made about a government contract for roll-on, roll-off ferries.

Unions at the Govan shipyard in Glasgow say that if the contract does not go
their way, the future of the yard could be threatened.

BAE Systems, which acquired Govan from Norwegian shipbuilder Kvaerner last year, has also said jobs at the yard depended on winning a Ministry of Defence order for the six ro-ro ferries, worth about one billion pounds.

The Mail on Sunday newspaper said recently the government will announce later this month that Merseyside-based Cammell Laird and Danish shipping group Maersk, have won the contract.

Bids were first sought in April. One from Germany is also on the table.

"Speculation about Ministry of Defence contracts is just that -- speculation," Reid said in a statement. "We are continuing to look at all the options, with a view to ensuring a future for the Govan yard.

"We are aware of the difficulties at Govan and everything possible will be done to ensure that they get a fair chance to continue to do what they do best, which is to produce ships."

The government's problem is that because the "ro-ro" ferries will be used primarily for commercial not military purposes and it has turned to the private sector to do the work, European Union competition rules apply which do not allow preferential treatment for British yards.

As the government has designated the contract as both commercial and military, EU competition rules apply, requiring an open tender and no preferential treatment for UK yards.

The government threw a lifeline to the Glasgow shipyards in July, awarding contracts for three new warships to defence groups BAE Systems Plc and Vosper Thorneycroft Holdings Plc .

Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon said the contract should safeguard 5,500 jobs across the industry, including 1,500 at BAE's Govan and Scotstoun shipyards on Clydeside in Glasgow.

But building will not begin until 2002, leaving the yards short of work in the meantime.


SUPERSTAR EXPRESS It is understood that the vessel will be departing for Falmouth for winter lay-up on Friday/early Saturday


The Upholder class submarine HMS UNSEEN, recently refitted at Cammell Lairds was officially renamed HMCS VICTORIA two weeks ago. The ceremony to name Canada's latest submarine was held at Barrow-in-Furness.

Canada has spent $750 million in acquiring the diesel-powered submarines to replace their obsolete Oberon class submarines. The Victoria is the first of four used British submarines that are being rebuilt for delivery to the Canadian navy. The submarine is scheduled to arrive in Halifax on 23 October and will be commissioned as a Canadian navy vessel on 18 November.



The MCA has announced that fifteen foreign ships were under detention in UK ports during September 2000 after failing Port State Control safety inspections. 

 The list consists of 11 ships detained in September, along with 4 ships still
under detention from previous months. The rate of detentions compared with inspections carried out over the last 12 months is 5.9%. This is unchanged from the 12 month rate to August.

The ships detained included:-

- A Maltese-flag bulk carrier detained for the third time in 18 months under the Paris MOU. On this occasion she was detained for 8 days in Portbury. Thirty two deficiencies were noted, indicating serious shortcomings in the Safety Management System.

- A Maltese-flag general cargo vessel detained in Belfast. Twenty four deficiencies were noted, including holed ventilators, defective emergency batteries and defective engine room quick-closing valves. The lifeboats were found in a condition that would prevent their safe launch in an emergency.

- A Panamanian-flag bulk carrier detained in Avonmouth. Thirty deficiencies were noted, indicating serious shortcomings in ship and equipment maintenance and emergency preparedness.

- A Cambodian-flag bulk carrier detained for the fourth time during the last 24 months.


Consultation on the Code of Practice for Small Fishing Vessels has now ended and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) have met South and South West of England industry members of the Code Steering Committee to take delivery of their comments on the Consultation draft of the Code.

After meeting with fishermen's representatives, Alan Cubbin, MCA's Director of Safety Standards, said:

"The consultation process has prompted a mixed reaction from fishermen. Though significant numbers are in favour of updating existing safety standards, there is still some concern amongst fishermen about the processes of risk assessment, annual self certification, and inspection. We need now to analyse the responses to consultation and to consider how best to address the concerns which fishermen and their representatives have put to us."

The comments received today, together with over 150 responses from individual fishermen, fishermen's organisations, and other organisations with an interest in fishing safety, will now be analysed and will form the basis of a report to Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions' Ministers later this month. Decisions on the final content and application of the Code are expected in November.

Back Home Up Next

October 13


Welcome to the latest site update. Please ensure you check the "What's New" page to check for all the new updates this week. The next update will be posted on Wednesday October 18.

As usual I would like to thank a number of contributors and this week particularly thank James Edgar for spotting a long-running "howler" on the radio information page concerning Mersey Radio! 

Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Donna Cooke, Ronan Casey, James Edgar

SEA CONTAINERS\Isle of Man Steam Packet Company

BEN-MY-CHREE - Due to adverse weather conditions the 19:45 Douglas to Heysham and 02:15 Heysham to Douglas sailings were cancelled on October 8/9.

SEACAT ISLE OF MAN - Adverse weather led to the cancellation of the 07:00 Douglas to Liverpool and 10:30 Liverpool to Douglas sailings on Tuesday October 9.

SUPERSEACAT TWO - the Heysham service has now been cancelled Monday October 8 through to Friday October 13 for "technical reasons".

SUPERSEACAT THREE - adverse weather conditions on Tuesday resulted in the cancellation of the sailings from Liverpool to Dublin and Douglas.


The Isle of Man Steam Packet Company celebrated with their passengers recently when the Company's half-millionth passenger this year to date travelled on BEN-MY-CHREE from Douglas to Heysham.

Newlyweds Hadrian and Linzi Briggs were unaware that they were the lucky passengers and were presented with champagne, chocolates and a future free return journey with the Company.


Silja Line is to consider switching flag on its SILJA EUROPE at the behest of the vessel's German owners and financiers. The company has called in personnel representatives to discuss a situation in which Silja says it cannot operate profitably under Swedish or Finnish flags.


Passenger figures for the Harbours Division for September 2000 show a 11% increase on the same period last year. September 2000 recording a total of 64,701 compared to 58,272 in September 1999.

The year to date figure of 529,135 passengers shows an 6.8% increase over the 495,248 recorded in 1999.

Car and motorcycle traffic through Douglas Harbour in September 2000 showed a decrease of 1.5 % from 16,469 in 1999 to 16,214 vehicles in September 2000.

The year to date figure of 136,986 vehicles shows a 7.1% increase over the 127,877 recorded in 1999.

Passenger figure breakdown by route is as follows:




minus 14%




minus 18%




minus 4%




plus 14%



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

Director of Harbours, Captain Michael Brew commented: "An 11% increase in passenger traffic has produced the best September figures for many years. Car and motor cycle traffic shows a slight decrease primarily as a result of the UK fuel crisis during part of September. Allowing for the impact of the fuel crisis, the passenger figures are excellent highlighting the ongoing positive growth in traffic resulting from fast craft and frequent services."


The Bidston Observatory based Proudman Oceanographic Laboratory has recently relaunched its web site. You can find the site at


The Rock Lighthouse at New Brighton which is adjacent to Fort Perch Rock is a well known Merseyside landmark. However, it has lain unused for years. A report in the Liverpool Echo on Tuesday October 10 suggests that its years of darkness may be over. 

The lighthouse if to be included in a £116,000 regeneration programme which will see the flashing of names and messages in Morse code. On October 28 the names of passengers who sailed on the OCEAN MONARCH bound from Liverpool to New York will be flashed in Morse.

OCEAN MONARCH was destroyed by fire in 1848 ten miles off Rhyl, with the loss off around 170. The lighthouse Morse code display will be operated by a computer. 


It appears that the industrial dispute that closed Dublin's South Bank Quay Terminal, seems set to run for many months with the new terminal owners, Mersey Docks and Harbour Company, and SIPTU workers unable to reach a settlement. The terminal, prior to its closure, was handling approximately 2,000 forty-foot containers of exports weekly to destinations in the UK, Northern Europe, the Mediterranean and the Middle East. The diversions to Cork and Waterford have already resulted in these already busy ports becoming congested which is leading to shipping delays.


Due to essential maintenance STENA CALEDONIA was withdrawn on Thursday/Friday 12/13 October. 

As a result the following departures were cancelled:

Ex Belfast
17:45 hours Thursday, 12th October
02:20 hours Friday, 13th October

Ex Stranraer
22:10 hours Thursday, 12th October
06:30 hours Friday, 13th October


New Rotterdam – Drogheda container service

Commencing 20 October, Geest Ireland Ltd and Norfolkline Containers are to launch a new, weekly container service between Rotterdam and the Irish port of Drogheda, 30 miles (45km) north of Dublin. Future plans call for the new link to be upgraded to twice-weekly next February.

Using a 340TEU container vessel, sailings will depart Rotterdam every Friday evening, arriving Drogheda on Monday mornings. This will allow container deliveries on Mondays and Tuesdays.

Sailings from Drogheda are on Tuesday evenings, arriving Thursday evenings in Rotterdam.

According to Geest Ireland Director, Trevor Dumbleton, Norfolkline and Geest decided to establish this vessel sharing agreement to meet strong demand for space between Ireland and the European mainland. The port of Drogheda was chosen in preference to Dublin in order to maintain service standards, says Dumbleton:

"The Irish trade is booming and the pressure on shipping capacity is enormous. We looked at a Dublin service but felt that the port’s container terminals were already working at close to their maximum throughput.

"Regrettably, the road transport situation in Dublin is desperate. The roads around the port are severely congested at most times of the day, making on-time deliveries really difficult. In consequence, haulage rates are disproportionately high.

"When construction of the new Dublin underground system commences, we can only see the situation deteriorating further."

Norfolkline’s Corporate Container Division Manager, Fred Steeneken, continues:

"Both companies felt that they needed to provide their customers with an alternative. Drogheda has an excellent new container facility, the Tom Roes Point Terminal, which is presently being developed for container operations at a cost of IR£14 million. Containers, once discharged, can be on the road almost immediately and will not be delayed in city centre traffic jams.

"Similarly, we will be able to offer last-minute cut-offs for loading as we can be sure there will be no delays between the shipper’s premises and the ship."

Drogheda has built its reputation on providing first class customer service and is also better located for traffic to/from N Ireland, the port being just ten minutes from the main north-south motorway linking Dublin and Belfast.

Geest Ireland has been serving the Irish market on an nvo basis since the mid 1990s and, most recently, has tended to route most containers on the Rotterdam – Waterford service of Norfolkline. Norfolkline entered this trade as a container carrier in 1997 although it has operated trailers in and out of Ireland for a much longer period.

Geest Ireland Ltd is a joint venture company between Quality Freight of Dublin and Geest North Sea Line of Rotterdam. It offers convenient "one stop shopping" services to many of its customers as well as "just-in-time" deliveries and door-to-door operations. Via the port of Rotterdam, Geest serves much of Continental Europe including Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Luxembourg, Spain, Austria, Italy, and Switzerland. Geest also serves Eastern Europe including Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and parts of the former Yugoslavia.

Norfolkline Containers operates a direct container route between Rotterdam, Holland and Waterford, Ireland, offering fast transit times. Direct, scheduled sailings with sailing times adapted to short sea door-door customers’ requirements have been set. The three vessels employed on the route have container capacities ranging from 262 to 450 TEU.

Norfolkline employs these vessels using its own containers, offering a door-to-door service from the Continent to Ireland, and also carries the containers of third party container operators. Norfolkline is operating 40ft and 45ft pallet-wide reefers and 40ft and 45ft pallet-wide dry cargo boxes, 20ft ISO containers and 40ft collapsible flat containers.

The new Geest/Norfolkline Drogheda service will also cater for shipper-owned containers and for deep-sea (feeder) traffic, providing Irish exporters with a congestion-free route to the thousands of global destinations served via the Dutch port.

Drogheda Port: A brief outline

Drogheda Port is one of Ireland’s premier multimodal ports with current annual cargo throughputs of one million tonnes. According to Paul Fleming, Drogheda Port’s Financial & Commercial Manager, the port has built its reputation on high levels of customer service, flexibility, and the rapid turnaround of vessels. He explains that it is ideally located to serve the entire Irish market:

"Geographically, the Port is situated on the historic River Boyne on Ireland’s east coast with direct access to both Dublin and Belfast on Euroroute E01. Located 45km north of Dublin, its proximity to Dublin enables it to serve a significant market area of over 1.2 million people. It is ideally positioned on the Northern Trading Arc for marine traffic both to and from Europe, Scandinavia and the Baltic States.

A weekly general cargo and container service to Norway, Sweden and Denmark has established Drogheda Port as Ireland’s Gateway to Scandinavia.

Tom Roes Point Terminal

The port has just completed the largest single project undertaken in the port’s development. A new container/paper terminal has been constructed at a total cost of IR£14 million and completes phase one of the port’s current development strategy. The project has been has been part financed by the European Regional Development Fund.

Drogheda Port has been identified for national strategic development over the next five years.

The terminal consists of two deepwater quays capable of accommodating vessels up to 5,000 tonnes deadweight and 120 metres in length.

Specifics of the development

  • Deepwater pocket to allow vessels to remain afloat at all stages of the tide.

  • Accommodate vessels up to 5,000 tonnes dwt.

  • New 90,000 sq ft warehouse specifically designed for the storage of paper

  • Clear of residential development and congestion.

  • It will have a direct link onto the M1 (E01) Dublin – Belfast motorway which will be completed within 3 years.

  • Adjacent to the rail link which adjoins the main Dublin/Belfast Railway.

  • Expected to cater for over 400,000 tonnes of cargo in first year.


The October 1 news bulletin reported on one of the largest Marine Emergency exercises which was to take place on Tuesday and Wednesday October 3/4 off the Cornish coast.

A report in the Cornishman Newspaper suggests that major exercise turned into a real life drama thanks to adverse weather conditions in Mount's Bay on Tuesday October 3.

For participants on board the Isles of Scilly Steam Ship Company's SCILLONIAN III which was taking part in the exercise had to be taken to hospital suffering from acute sea-sickness after the vessel was buffeted by gale force winds.

The passenger/cargo ship which serves the Isles of Scilly had departed from Penzance carrying 100 "passengers" earlier that morning heading for a rendezvous point 10 miles SW of the port. 

At this point the vessel was to be involved in a mock collision with the James Fisher plc owned tanker RFA OAKLEAF. 

However, whilst the emergency and rescue services expected to be dealing with staged injuries, exercise directors based at Falmouth Coastguard found themselves with real casualties on their hands. 

As conditions deteriorated plans to evacuate a number of "passengers" from the SCILLONIAN III by helicopter and lifeboat were abandoned. 

A spokesman for the West Country Ambulance Service said, "Four of our paramedics were dropped onto the SCILLONIAN III to treat mock casualties but then it became obvious the weather was becoming rougher and the exercise went "live". Because it was too dangerous to pick people up they brought the SCILLONIAN III back and our paramedics treated those suffering from nausea. We picked them up with one ambulance when they arrived and took them to the West Cornwall Hospital for a check up."

Captain Paul Rowe, master of the SCILLONIAN III said that being stationary had probably been the problem. 

Though the search and rescue phase of the exercise had to be abandoned the rest of Exercise Kernow which involved more than 200 persons and 25 agencies continued as planned.


On Wednesday October 11 the Minister for Agriculture, Joe Walsh announced that his department will investigate reports that seven cattle died on a ferry sailing between Ireland and France on Tuesday October 10. 

It is reported that the animals died on the MV FRANCOISE during a voyage from Rosslare to the port of Brest. Mr. Walsh said that the operators of the ferry had informed his department that one of the ten trucks carrying livestock had apparently overturned during the voyage.


The planned round Ireland voyage of the tall ship JEANIE JOHNSTON due to commence in October has been delayed until the new year.

Fitting-out has still not been completed on the ship at Fenit in County Kerry. It had originally been planned to sail to America in June, but that date was also missed. It is now unlikely to depart from Fenit until early next year.


Regular readers may remember the luxury yacht BOADICEA which visited the Mersey some time ago. A correspondent informs me that she was noted at  the Customs House on the Brisbane River, Brisbane Australia, presumably from the Sydney Olympic Games, on October 3.


Back Home Up Next




Though the next update had been scheduled for October 6, the need to perform a maintenance update to install the new Maritime Ring link resulted in a news posting being made on October 4.

News from the October 4 posting can be found below.

Please note that the next scheduled site update will be on Friday October 13. 

Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Kevin Bennett, Brian Chambers, Justin Merrigan - Incat and "Others"

SEA CONTAINERS\Isle of Man Steam Packet Company

PONTUS - It is understood that the PONTUS floating terminal should now open for passenger use on October 16.

SUPERSEACAT THREE - On Wednesday October a correspondent noted SSC3 running late 18:30 at the Bar, berthed at Landing Stage at 19:35. The 18:00 Douglas sailing being cancelled.

SEACAT ISLE OF MAN - On Thursday October 5 the 10:30 Liverpool to Douglas sailing was aborted and the vessel returned to Liverpool due to a medical emergency. The vessel recommenced its journey to Douglas at around 12:30.

PEVERIL - Sea Containers issued the following news release concerning the sail of the former IoMSPCo ship:

Sea Containers Chartering Ltd. has sold the 1,685 dwt ro-ro vessel 'MV Peveril', to Marine Express Inc. of Puerto Rico for an undisclosed sum.

'MV Peveril' will be best remembered on UK shores as the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company's freight ship. During 17 years' service with the Steam Packet, between 1981 and 1998, the Peveril carried the vast majority of freight to the island community, providing an essential link with the mainland.

In 1998 the Steam Packet, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Sea Containers, invested £24 million in the new state-of-the-art ro-pax vessel 'Ben-My-Chree' (Manx for 'Girl of my Heart'), making the Peveril redundant. The vessel will now be used to trade between Central America and the Caribbean islands.

'MV Peveril' was built in Kristiansands, Norway, in 1971 as the 'Holmia' for Baltic ferry operator Silja Line, which is now 50 per cent owned by Sea Containers. She is capable of 15 knots and can accommodate up to 510 metres of heavy goods vehicles on the main and upper decks.

The Peveril was marketed through Sea Containers Chartering Ltd's unique web site, The site provides detailed information on the company's vessels available for sale or charter.

'Princess Margaret' and 'Princess Anne', the two SRN4 Mk III hovercraft formerly in service on the English Channel for Sea Containers wholly-owned subsidiary Hoverspeed, completed their final crossings on Sunday, 1 October. Both craft are now available for purchase at a cost of US $7 million (for the pair), including all associated spares and jacks. The hovercrafts have been replaced with SeaCat catamarans, which have 50 per cent more capacity.


The former Yugoslav passenger vessel PRINCE ALBERT which has resided for the past 18 months in Canning Dock has been moved from the berth adjacent to the entrance to the Albert Dock complex and berthed on the quay wall which is alongside the main road. She did briefly occupy this position shortly after arrival when her bow faced north. This time she is berthed bow facing south. The move is to facilitate dredging works in Canning Dock.


KONINGIN BEATRIX - On October 3 the evening sailing to and from Fishguard was cancelled due to adverse weather conditions with strong SW winds on the Irish Sea.

STENA FORWARDER  - Further information about the new vessel which will enter service on the Holyhead - Dublin route next year has come to light. The 24 knot vessel is a new building for the Visentini Group from whom she will be chartered. STENA FORWARDER is due to enter service in March 2000. She is expected to be of somewhat similar design, though with additional passenger accommodation to LAGAN VIKING and MERSEY VIKING which are chartered to Cenargo. She will also have the distinctive shark's fin style funnel carried by these vessels.

STENA CALEDONIA was noted by an observer at the Chaine Quay, Larne on Thursday October 5 at around 10:30  This was clearly a berthing/pilotage exercise with the Larne - Stranraer route due to re-open.  Stena are now advertising the service as re-opening on 6 November.


ISLE OF INNISFREE - The evening sailing from Rosslare to Fishguard and return was cancelled due to adverse weather conditions.

On Thursday October 5, RTÉ reported that a spokesman for Irish Ferries says that he believes the problem over staffing levels which caused disruption to passenger services on the Rosslare - Pembroke route earlier the day could be resolved quite easily.

It is understood that 10 of the 12 catering staff attached to the ISLE OF INNISFREE failed to report for work on Thursday evening. The spokesman said that there were no obvious outstanding industrial relation matters and he hopes
staff levels will be resumed as normal later today. Meanwhile Irish Ferries passengers have been accommodated on the Stena sailing from Rosslare to Fishguard.

Irish Ferries said that about 140 passengers, who were scheduled to travel on a sailing from Rosslare to Pembroke on Wednesday evening, were left stranded in Rosslare because of the unofficial industrial action. 

The action affected the ISLE OF INNISFREE 21.45 sailing. It eventually set sail behind schedule, but with only freight on board. The company said that it could not rule out further disruption to its services. 

Irish Ferries management said that they deplored the action.


There are rumours that the company is close to ordering another two ro/ro vessels from the Spanish builders Astilleros Espanoles (AESA) following the delivery of the MIDNIGHT MERCHANT and  NORTHERN MERCHANT for  charter to Norfolk Lines.


Condor has announced that it is to withdraw the CONDOR VITESSE from the WEYMOUTH - FRANCE service. 

Condor will maintain its route from Weymouth on the English south coast to the Channel Islands with the smaller, 776-passenger

Explaining Condor's decision to withdraw the French service, the company's sales manager Nick Dobbs said that day-trippers from Weymouth preferred the Channel Islands as a destination. 

CONDOR VITESSE will enter service for Brittany Ferries in summer 2001 on a route from Poole to Cherbourg and St.Malo via the Channel Isles. This represents Britanny Ferries first involvement in fast ferry operations



On October 2, Swansea Coastguard was alerted to an incident at 21:20  70 miles due west of Barnstaple, north Devon when A French crewman, working on board a 25 metre French registered fishing vessel SHIPMATE sustained leg injuries.

RAF Rescue Helicopter 169 from RAF Chivenor was immediately scrambled to airlift the man from the vessel but had to abort due to severe weather conditions on scene. The man was reported to be in a stable condition on board the vessel and which headed for Milford Haven where the Milford Haven MRSC  took over co-ordination and arranged for medical reception.

A short while later at 22:45 Swansea Coastguard received yet another request to airlift an injured crewman from the 45,000 tonne Norwegian oil carrier SIBO NANCY which was anchored 10 miles south of Swansea.

The crewman had been caught off guard by a large wave and sustained injuries to both chest and back. RAF rescue helicopter 169 was again tasked and after refuelling at Chivenor, flew to aid the casualty.

During this time medical advice was sought and permission to airlift the injured man off the vessel was given. The casualty was taken to Morriston Hospital near Swansea for treatment.

Swansea Coastguard Watch Manager, John Sibley said:

"The helicopter winching operation was successful. It was a direct result of crew and aircraft working together efficiently that enabled the safe evacuation of the casualty."



Ferguson Shipbuilders of Port Glasgow has secured a £17m contract to construct a new anchor handling tug for Stirling Shipping of Glasgow. Delivery is scheduled for the second quarter of 2002.

Ken MacDonald, Stirling's chartering director, suggested that more investment may be a likely option because of advantageous market conditions. He observed: "The North Sea and overseas deepwater exploration markets are developing in a very encouraging way at a time when the vessels supporting them are ageing. These factors, together with the influence of oil prices provide an excellent opportunity."

In the last five years, Stirling Shipping has spent £75 million in new tonnage and presently operates 15 offshore support vessels, 12 platform supply vessels and three anchor handling-tug-supply vessels.

The latest order will be the fifth consecutive vessel constructed by Ferguson for Stirling Shipping. Richard Deane, Ferguson's general manager, said: "The economic benefits of this order will be noticeable immediately, with employees being rehired and employment levels to rise by 90 by the end of the year."

The new tug will be a sister ship to the Ferguson-built STIRLING IONA, delivered earlier this year. Although the vessels will not be identical, as the newest tug will be equipped with a larger 380 ton anchor handling and towing winch capacity, with greater bollard pull at 175 tons. Station keeping capabilities will be supplied by three 1,000 HP tunnel thrusters and a dynamic positioning system.

The improved capabilities of Sterling's latest order reflect the company's desire to expand its field of operation, while catering to market demands. Mr MacDonald commented:

"We are trying to build in customer requirements for the present and the future. We see opportunities around the United Kingdom, particularly West of Shetland, but we are also interested in entering the South American and West African markets."


Calmac &  Royal Bank Preferred Bidder for Northern Isles Ferry Services

Hebridean and Clyde ferry company Caledonian MacBrayne and its partner Royal Bank of Scotland have been named as the preferred bidder to run the passenger, car and freight services to Orkney and Shetland. 

The Scottish Executive today [Thursday, October 5] named the new CalMac and Royal Bank company (which had the project name of NorthLink Orkney and Shetland Ferries) as the preferred bidder to operate the subsidised ro-ro ferry services to the Northern Isles which are currently operated by P&O. 

With finance from the Royal Bank of Scotland, this new company will build three new vessels which have been specially designed to meet the needs of the Northern Isles routes. The company plans to provide a new improved timetable, more sailings, shorter journey times and attractive fares on the routes from Scrabster to Orkney and Aberdeen to Orkney and Shetland. 

Captain John Simkins, CalMac’s managing director, said: “We are extremely pleased to have been named as preferred bidder. We worked hard to put together a competitive bid which meets the needs of the islanders through combining CalMac’s considerable ferry operating experience with the financial strength of a major Scottish financial institution. We look forward to reaching a satisfactory conclusion on the contractual details.” 

The new company is well advanced in talks with shipyards who have tendered for the contracts to build the three new ships which will meet all the latest UK and international safety standards as well as providing extensive passenger facilities. All cabins are en-suite and the majority are two-berth with a number of four berth cabins for families and cabins specially adapted for disabled passengers. There will be a choice of restaurants, bars and lounges, children’s play area and the two Aberdeen to Shetland ships will also have a cinema.

Jeff Thornton, head of the public sector finance group at Royal Bank said: “We are delighted that the bid has been successful and look forward to this new business venture with CalMac. This is a natural development of our proven investment and financial expertise. ” 




The flagship of Australia’s Olympic business program and a key component of a high-profile business strategy designed to snare export "gold" for Australia, the impressive 98 metre INCAT TASMANIA (057) departed from Sydney at 18:00 on Friday October 6.

Arriving in Sydney on September 9 and berthed alongside the Austrade-managed Business Club Australia Centre at Darling Harbour’s Wharf 7, the INCAT TASMANIA has formed the spectacular centrepiece for Australia’s Olympic shop-front to the globe.

More than 16,000 international and domestic business visitors have visited both INCAT TASMANIA and the Centre to attend many of the 90-plus presentations held there outlining Australian capability in a wide range of areas.

Spearheaded by Minister for Trade Mark Vaile, along with Federal and State ministers, heads of industry associations and other business leaders, the presentations centred on ICT, agribusiness, biotechnology, infrastructure, engineering and education.

A number of bi-lateral trade associations working in conjunction with Austrade also used INCAT TASMANIA to stage a series of presentations focusing on the export opportunities developing in several of Australia’s key trading partners. These included the United States, Japan, China, Germany, France, Korea, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom.

Austrade’s Global Manager – Olympics and Sport, David Faulks, described INCAT TASMANIA’s presence during the Games period as vital in presenting local business with a rare opportunity to increase awareness of Australia’s export capability to a global audience.

Launched in August, INCAT TASMANIA is the largest vessel of its type to be built in Australia. A near sister to the HMAS JERVIS BAY, which saw active service during the East Timor crisis, INCAT TASMANIA is Hobart bound where she will complete a final fitout prior to sale to overseas interests.

One of INCAT TASMANIA’s on board features during her stay in Sydney was the famous Hales Trophy, the accolade given for the fastest trans-Atlantic crossing, which Incat-built ships have held for the last decade.

On Sunday October 10, The Rotary Club of Kangaroo Bay will host an open day on board INCAT TASMANIA at Hobart’s Elizabeth Street Pier between 10.00am and 5.00pm. Admission is $3.00 for adults and $2.00 concession. Bridge and Engine Room tours are an additional $2.00 each. All proceeds will go to Rotary

The following schedule for INCAT TASMANIA is approximate and subject to change:

Friday October 6, 2000

1.30pm Departure from Wharf 7, Darling Harbour

1.45pm Arrival Fleet base 5, Garden Island, Sydney for embarkation of 200 invited guests

2.00pm Depart Garden Island with guests on board

4.00pm Return to Garden Island for guest disembarkation

6.00pm Depart Sydney Harbour for Victoria

Saturday October 7, 2000

8.00am Arrive Port Welshpool, Victoria

10.00am Depart Port Welshpool, Victoria

7.00pm Arrive at Elizabeth Street Pier, Hobart, Tasmania

Sunday October 8, 2000

10.00am -5.00pm Open day conducted by the Rotary Club of Kangaroo Bay at Elizabeth Street Pier, Hobart

6.00pm Transfer from Elizabeth Street Pier to Macquarie Wharf No.6, Hobart

Back Home Up Next



I had intended to post the next site update on Friday October 6. However. as I needed to edit the Maritime Ring Information on the front page I have decided to post a NEWS ONLY update this evening - Wednesday October 4. I will post a further update on Friday as advertised.

Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Dave Crolley, Nick Widdows, Martin Albreght and "others".


LADY OF MANN's winter sailings will depart Liverpool at 19.00  Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings and depart from Douglas at 07.00 on Friday Saturday, Sunday and Monday. 

[JHL's COMMENTS: - The departure times from Douglas are particularly disappointing. The original 07.00 times were placed in the timetable when it was anticipated that the Liverpool - Douglas service would be operated by SUPERSEACAT THREE. However, with the withdrawal of SSC3 from November 7 and the need to provide sufficient time for that vessel to operate the Liverpool to Dublin route removed, one must question the logic of maintaining the 07:00 departure from Douglas. 

Such an early departure is not very convenient for islanders who need to use public transport to get to Douglas, even for those with their own vehicle it will mean a very early start. A departure around 08:15 or 08:30 would have been much more realistic and still provide a long day on Merseyside for islanders. 

The early departure from Douglas on Sunday spoils the possibility of Merseysiders having a weekend on the island. The 19:00 sailing from Liverpool is fine on Friday, but a departure from Douglas around 13:00 would have been more friendly.]

ATLANTIC II [CROATIA JET] service on the Mediterranean is reported to be doing well and is likely to be operated on 2001.


EUROPEAN SEAFARER's two recent visits to Cammell Lairds twice - September 23 and September 30 were to enable a bow thruster to be removed and a new one fitted a week later.  


BRAVE MERCHANT - A correspondent informs me that as soon as the vessel arrived in Liverpool late on Tuesday afternoon October 3 painters set to work applying the new Norse Merchant Ferries wavy line logo.

However, I understand that the launch of the NORSE MERCHANT FERRIES brand has been delayed until the new year. It was originally scheduled for October.


Stena Line has announced the introduction of a new Ropax (freight and passenger) ship to replace the STENA CHALLENGER on its Holyhead-Dublin service, boosting both freight and passenger capacity on the route.

The STENA FORWARDER has been chartered from the Italian Visentini Group and will start service in Spring 2001.  STENA FORWARDER will operate in conjunction with the HSS Stena Explorer - the world's largest high-speed ferry - jointly providing up to 12 sailings a day between Holyhead and Dun Laoghaire/Dublin.

The STENA FORWARDER can accommodate 1,000 passengers - double that of the STENA CHALLENGER - and has capacity for 2,100 metres of freight and 100 cars - an increase of some 60 per cent.  The ship will offer over 100 cabins and a superior range of onboard facilities.

Capable of a speed up to 24 knots, the STENA FORWARDER is much faster than STENA CHALLENGER enabling the crossing time between Holyhead and Dublin to be reduced by up to 45 minutes.

Route Director for Stena Line's Holyhead services, Vic Goodwin, said, "We are delighted to have secured this ship which will provide a much needed boost to both freight, coach and passenger capacity, shorten journey times and improve the quality of service to our customers.  This major investment emphasises Stena Line's commitment to strengthening the links between Ireland, the UK and continental Europe."

Stena Line carried 1.5 million passengers, 277,000 cars and just under 100,000 freight units on the Holyhead-Dun Laoghaire/Dublin routes in 1999 and is anticipating significant growth in the market due to the buoyant Irish economy and the improved road access to the port following completion of the A55 duelling programme across Anglesey in December.



It looks as though White Horse Fast Ferries has been a victim of "The Dome" the following letter was issued to shareholders by Peter Lay.

I write with regret to inform you that, from Friday 29th September 2000, this Company ceased operating river transport services in central London.

The losses suffered by operating services to the Dome and the lack of positive cash flow generated from central London services have resulted in our being in default with creditors. Also, an application to the new Mayor’s assembly for revenue support to enable us to maintain services whilst developing ridership has been rejected.

The Directors of this Company are now left with no option but to cease operating non-viable services, eliminate all non-essential expenditure, and place assets for sale.

The Holiday Inn have exercised their right to take possession of the vessel they sponsored. This will be operated in the future by others.

The four other vessels operated in central London will be lifted out of the water at Gravesend and placed on the market for sale, in agreement with lenders.

We will continue to operate the Gravesend-Tilbury Ferry service, which does produce positive cash flow, at least until 31st March 2001. At this time, the current revenue support agreement with local government expires. I have written to the local authorities involved and have informed them that the only justification for us to continue to operate the Gravesend-Tilbury Ferry service is if there is a commitment, or at least a strong political will, by local government to fund further infrastructure and provide revenue support subsidy for river transport. With such a commitment, a more extensive network of lower Thames services could be developed in the future.

The first priority for us now is to clear outstanding creditors and eliminate debt finance. This can only be achieved through asset sales. Once this is done, we will assess what business opportunities remain. The decision will then be taken either to liquidate any remaining assets and wind up the Company or continue to trade on a reduced scale. We will, of course, take into account when making final decisions the tax allowances provided to Shareholders under the Enterprise Investment Scheme.

Lastly, I wish to thank staff for their efforts and note the fact that all Directors have waived their entitlement to a salary.



Premier Cruises have apparently ceased trading. The company is noted on Merseyside as having chartered the Cammell Laird owned EDINBURGH CASTLE - renamed BIG RED BOAT II for the charter.

Back in late August Police and Coast Guard officials investigated reports that hundreds of passengers aboard the BIG RED BOAT II were stuck inside the vessel at a New York dock with no power or clean water.

Now comes news that Premier Cruises have suspended their services indefinitely as from September 14 following the seizure of ships by creditors

 A report in the Los Angeles Times on October 1 highlighted the plight of intending passengers, most of whom have paid for cruises who will now have to seek a refund from the Federal Maritime Commission, their credit card company or travel insurance provider.

One wonders who the EDINBURGH CASTLE will be sailing for in 2001? 

Back Home Up Next



October 2000

Friday 6


Friday 13


Wednesday 18


Saturday 21


Wednesday November 1


Welcome to this week's large update! However, this will be the last scheduled Sunday update for the remainder of October. 

The update schedule for the remainder of the month is shown opposite. The change in schedule is due to my wanderings and other commitments. 

The usual pattern of updates recommences in November. 

There are a number of new galleries this week several of which include images from Neil Ralphs, Kevin Bennett and Tony Brennan. 

Once again I would like to thank the various contributors and forwarders of information which have permitted this week's large update:

Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, John Shepherd, Tony Brennan, Kevin Bennett, Neil Ralphs, Dave Crolley, David Fairclough, Brian Chambers, Simon Dey, Jenny Williamson,

SEA CONTAINERS\Isle of Man Steam Packet Company


On Tuesday it was announced that a fuel surcharge of £2.00 per person is to be imposed on Irish Sea routes: Liverpool - Dublin, Troon - Belfast and Heysham - Belfast. Routes to the Isle of Man are excepted.


PONTUS - The floating terminal did not open for passenger use on Monday September 25 as originally intended. Apparently it has not received approval from the Merseyside Fire Brigade.


LADY OF MANN is currently laid up at the Alexandra Dock passenger terminal, Bootle.

PEVERIL - This week the last ship to wear the [almost] traditional colours of the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company slipped quietly away after spending over two years laid up in Vittoria Dock. 

Early on the evening of Wednesday September 27, PICASSO moved aside to allow the PEVERIL now renamed CARIBBEAN EXPRESS to clear the berth. She was reported in Alfred Lock shortly after 21:30 and departed at 21:53. 

She departed for Santa Domingo under the Panamanian flag. Before leaving the river she went down to the Sloyne, presumably for compass adjustments. 

She has been sold for further service in the Caribbean. 

SUPERSEACAT THREE - missed a number of sailings this week partly due to essential maintenance and partly as a result of the weather. 

Her sailings to Dublin on Monday and Tuesday were cancelled as was Monday's sailing to Douglas. [No scheduled sailing on Tuesday.] This was for maintenance work which was carried out at West Langton. 

On Wednesday the sailing to and from Dublin was cancelled due to adverse weather conditions whilst the 18:00 sailing from Liverpool to Douglas was delayed until around 21:10.

On Thursday sailings were once again cancelled due to adverse weather conditions.

On Friday SSC3 appeared to be back to normal - well almost - Correspondent John Shepherd noted that she sailed at 08:10 for Dublin with 506 passengers bound for Dublin. John observed her evening departure for Douglas seeing her pass the Rock at 19:00.  As she was increasing speed, John noted an enormous cloud of black oily smoke erupting from the vessel's funnels. This lasted for about ten minutes and rose to a height of about 150feet (he used the adjacent wind generators on Seaforth Dock wall as a yardstick). As the wind was right aft, this pall of smoke totally enveloped SS3.

THE PRINCESS ANNE / THE PRINCESS MARGARET - the final sailings by the last operational SRN4 passenger hovercraft operated on Sunday October 1 with the 18:00 ex-Dover and 19:30 ex-Calais. The vessels have been put on the market for £4m for the pair, plus spares etc. Warwick Jacobs from the Hovercraft Museum said they should be preserved for the nation. "They've earned their place in the history books - they should be alongside the Cutty Sark, the Victory and other greats in the maritime history of Britain." he said. 

Britain is now left with only one scheduled passenger hovercraft service, between Southsea, Hampshire, and the Isle of Wight.

According to a report on the BBC web site if a buyer for the craft currently being advertised on the Sea Containers web site is not found they will go to the Hovercraft Museum at Lee on the Solent, Hampshire.


SEACAT ISLE OF MAN - Sunday morning's sailing from Liverpool (Captain Colin Duggan, Chief Officer Tom Harrison) (actual departure time 10.23) was interrupted for a short time just after passing the Bar Light. A small unoccupied dinghy was spotted, which was inspected at close quarters, and then brought aboard the SeaCat (11.05 to 11.12). There was little time lost on voyage, and arrival in Douglas, in worsening weather, was at 13.06 (finished with engines).

The SeaCat left Douglas at 15.00 light ship for Liverpool, to cover SuperSeaCat 3's inability to take the 18.00 voyage to Douglas. SSC3's passengers for the 21.15 Douglas to Liverpool sailing are being directed to BMC's 19.45 sailing to Heysham, with the promise of bus connections to Liverpool for foot passengers,


STENA LYNX III - sailings between Fishguard and Rosslare were cancelled on September 27 and 28 due to adverse weather conditions.


HMS BRECON [M29] Hun Class Mine Countermeasures Vessel visited arrived at Merseyside on Thursday September 28 for a visit berthing at the Canning Half Tide basin adjacent to the Merseyside Maritime Museum.

The MoD moorings off Pluckington Bank have now been removed, The Dukes Buoy has now been returned to its usual location. It is unfortunate that the moorings could not have been maintained so as to facilitate the regular river berthing of larger RN vessels. One wonders just how much their installation and removal cost as both procedures appeared to be quite time consuming.


MIDNIGHT MERCHANT, 22,152 gt, has arrived at the A&P Falmouth shipyard in southwest England from Spain where she was handed over to her new owners by builders Astilleros Espanoles, Sevilla. She will enter service under charter to Norfolk Line on that company's English Channel service.


The Irish Times reports that four out of eight vessels inspected in Irish ports by SIPTU this week have been the subject of "blacklisting" threats because of poor working conditions.

One of the vessels has been detained by the Department of the Marine for essential repairs. The SIPTU inspections are part of a "week of action" organised by the International Transport Workers' Federation against widespread use of "flags of convenience" by ship owners.

Mr. Tony Ayton SIPTU industrial officer said two of the ships facing notice of industrial action, or "blacklisting", are German owned but registered in Antigua. Neither the PELAYO nor the RHEINMASTER had agreements with the ITWF over pay and conditions. They have been given 14 days' notice to conclude agreements and if they fail to do so, ITWF affiliates will be free to take appropriate industrial action against them without further notice. Both vessels had been berthed in Dublin this week but the PELAYO left following inspection by SIPTU.

The newspaper reports that in Waterford the crewmen on a Syrian owned vessel which is registered in Cambodia were being paid just $250 per month instead of the ITWF permitted minimum of $1,200.  SIPTU is still reviewing the situation because, Mr. Ayton says, the average wage in Syria is only $140. SIPTU also has to decide whether to serve notice on the Greek-owned ARACHOVITIKA BAY. The Pakistani crew asked the union for help but they were all flown home and replaced by a Sri Lankan crew before Mr. Ayton could visit the vessel. He said he has had difficulty arranging appointments with the captain and there were language problems in communicating with the new crew.

However, the vessel does have an ITWF agreement, according to its Irish agent, Mr. Gerry O'Kelly, of Dublin Maritime. He said the detention of the vessel in Dublin was due to work required by the Department of the Marine on its steelwork and machinery. Mr. O'Kelly said the detention had nothing to do with working conditions and expressed surprise that Mr. Ayton was not satisfied. He said the union was free to visit the ship.



UK Shipping Minister Keith Hill today called on governments and the maritime industry to work together to outlaw substandard shipping.

Congratulating the International Maritime Organisation on the success of its Quality Shipping Campaign, he said:

"Success depends on maintaining maritime partnerships. Not only do substandard ships pose a threat to the safety of human life and the marine environment, but they also compete unfairly against those in the industry who comply with international standards. There is therefore a natural convergence of interest between responsible flags, responsible shipping companies and the wider maritime industry."

Mr. Hill welcomed the IMO's efforts to assist flag states:

"When flag states do not discharge their duties or where the responsibility chain fails, calls for new regulations become harder to resist.

"I applaud IMO's undertaking to strengthen its technical co-operation activities, which should further assist those flag administrations which have the will, but lack the means to improve their performance. I also welcome the agreement on criteria and performance indicators for use by flag states in completing their self assessment forms.

While recognising this was a major step forward, Mr. Hill wanted flag states to do more:

"As a first step, I would call on all flag States that have not already done so to complete and submit their self-assessment forms. And, in the spirit of transparency I would call on members states to publish those assessments."

Mr. Hill urged the maritime industry to do more to help get rid of substandard shipping and said there was now no excuse for not doing so:

"Substandard ships would not be able to operate if no one was prepared to own, manage, class, finance, charter, and insure them. The EQUASIS database - a concrete initiative to emerge from IMO's Quality Shipping Campaign - is now up and running. It gives all sectors of the shipping industry access to the safety record and history of the ships they may engage in business with. Shippers now have the information they need to distinguish good ships from bad, and to act accordingly by giving preference to the compliant vessel, so rewarding owners who are committed to quality. No longer can ignorance be an excuse for engaging in business with the substandard."

In a letter to IMO's Secretary General William O'Neil, on the occasion of World Maritime Day, Mr. Hill also looked forward to rapid progress to prevent major pollution incidents in the future:

"Following the ERIKA oil spill disaster, proposals have been put forward to accelerate the phasing out of single hull oil tankers ahead of schedule. I welcome your personal efforts in facilitating a fast track for a possible decision to amend the MARPOL Convention in a way that responds directly to the increasing environmental concerns
of coastal states, both in Europe and elsewhere.

"I hope that IMO will once again be able to deliver a fast and satisfactory solution to what is an urgent need."



A major maritime exercise is scheduled to take place in Mounts Bay and Falmouth Bay for Tuesday 3rd and Wednesday 4th October 2000. More than 200 people will be taking part, representing over 25 agencies and organisations.

Exercise Kernow will test the interaction between the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) and local ports and services around south west Cornwall. It will also test the national and local authorities and emergency services preparedness for a major maritime search and rescue incident and oil spill around south west Cornwall.

The scenario that responders from all participating Agencies will face will involve the ferry `SCILLONIAN III' whilst on passage from Penzance to Isle of Scilly with approximately 100 passengers and is involved in a collision with the motor tanker `AMITY' south of Penzance. A serious engine room fire ensues and the ferry is disabled with a number of ferry crew and passengers injured.

The James Fisher owned Royal Fleet Auxiliary vessel OAKLEAF will represent the tanker and the MV `SCILLONIAN III' will play the part of the ferry. This will produce a very serious incident, which will have two phases, running concurrently.

The first, a search and rescue (SAR) operation will require the evacuation of ferry passengers by helicopter and lifeboat, and the second will involve severe damage to the tanker and will release large quantities of oil into the water.

The search and rescue phase will be co-ordinated from Her Majesty's Coastguard rescue centre at Falmouth where a salvage control unit and marine response cell will also be set up in order to deal with the oil recovery at sea.

The local authorities will set up a rest centre at Penzance and a shoreline counter pollution response centre in Truro. The `media', will be played by journalists from `Media First', a media training company based in Newbury, and press officers from the Central Office of Information in Bristol and elsewhere, all of whom will be based at a media centre in Falmouth and will replicate the pressures of reporting such a large incident.

Exercise Director, Dave Lewis said:

"Exercise Kernow will be one of the largest maritime emergency and counter pollution exercises ever to be held in the UK. Local and national oil spill contingency plans of the participating authorities will be exercised to test the alerting, mobilisation and management of resources for search and rescue and the welfare of survivors; counter pollution at sea and on the shoreline and marine emergency salvage operations. "

John Garner, Head of Operations at the MCA said:

"Exercises of this kind are invaluable in testing the Agency's search and rescue, counter pollution and salvage procedures during a major incident at sea. We will be building on experience gained during recent incidents, such as the grounding of the DOLE AMERICA off the Isle of Wight, and the MULTITANK ASCANIA fire on board a chemical tanker in the Pentland Firth last year. Also from previous national exercises such as Exercise Dalriada' in the Clyde last year, and 'Exercise Humex' earlier this year in the Humber Estuary.

"Exercise Kernow will use live assets including RNLI lifeboats, Sea King helicopters from the Royal Naval Air Station at Culdrose, Coastguard surveillance aircraft, and emergency tugs and oil spill response equipment will be deployed at sea and the near the shoreline to provide actual booming in certain areas."

John Lobb, Cornwall County Council Portfolio Holder for Emergency Planning and the Fire Brigade said:

"This is a vital test of the new National Contingency Plan for counter pollution. We feel that it is particularly timely in the light of the recent tragic ferry sinking in Greece. The County and District Councils are proud to be taking a lead role in this Exercise.

"The Fire Brigade and emergency planning departments, in liaison with many other organisations, aim to ensure the safety of the public and the protection of our coastal environment."

Inspector Richard Eccleston of Devon and Cornwall Constabulary said:

"The Police welcome the opportunity to work closely with other Agencies and it does give us the chance to test out in detail our various contingency plans for dealing with this type of emergency."

Exercise Kernow will be the third of four major exercises held on the recommendation of Lord Donaldson to test the new MCA regional organisation.


Milford Haven Coastguard and Irish Coast Guard jointly co-ordinated the rescue of a single-handed yachtswoman from the 6 metre French yacht CAROLINE LIQUIDE dismasted in adverse weather conditions approximately 70 miles south west of St Anns Head. A mayday alert was received from the yacht by the merchant vessel BETTA LIVESTOCK 17 and was relayed via their shipping agent to Falmouth Coastguard.

Milford Haven Coastguard scrambled rescue helicopter R193 from the Royal Naval base, Culdrose to the scene, whilst Irish Coastguard requested the launch of the RNLI Dunmore East all weather lifeboat. An Irish Sea Fisheries Protection flew over the scene monitoring the situation.

Rescue helicopter R193 and the Sea Fisheries Protection aircraft established communications with the skipper, who refused to leave the vessel stating she required only a tow. Rescue helicopter R193, after refuelling in Cork returned to the scene and remained airborne until it was certain the lifeboat, could  effect a tow.

Weather on scene was severe gale force 9 south westerly winds with a visibility of about 2 miles.


A 76 year old single-handed Canadian sailor, named as John Mye, sailing the 32ft Yacht PANDERAMA was located on Thursday September 28 by search and rescue Nimrod aircraft from RAF Kinloss about 750 miles out in the Atlantic.

Falmouth Coastguard was first alerted after receiving a satellite signal at 6:11 a.m. from an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB). Unfortunately the EPIRB was not registered so information on the name on the vessel in distress was unobtainable until the aircraft spotted the yacht and relayed the information. Falmouth Coastguard was then able to contact the man’s son who said his father only took the EPIRB with him when the son insisted, and that if he had used it he must be in genuine difficulties.

Falmouth Coastguard tasked the Nimrod from RAF Kinloss at 8:34 a.m., which arrived on scene and began searching at 9:34 a.m., locating the yacht at 12:40 a.m. This aircraft has returned to Kinloss to refuel, a further aircraft may be tasked if necessary.

ACL's container vessel ATLANTIC COMPANION responded to the Coastguards distress relay communication and is currently proceeding to the scene due to arrive at around 2 p.m., the crew on board ATLANTIC COMPANION took Mr. Mye on to the container ship from his yacht. The operation being hampered by the storm force 10 north westerly winds and big seas.

Mr. Mye left Canada about 3 weeks ago and is said to enjoy good health but does suffer from rheumatoid arthritis which may have been effected by recent weather.


During the early hours of Thursday morning Falmouth Coastguard were closely involved in the search and rescue of a 76 year old Canadian national from a yacht in heavy seas in the mid-Atlantic after an emergency position indicating radio beacon (EPIRB) signal was heard.

In ferocious weather conditions of force 9 strength north westerly winds various vessels responded to the call for assistance, however at the same time the 50,350 ton P&O container vessel JARVIS BAY sailing from Halifax to Antwerp also alerted the Coastguard to a serious incident on board. In the pounding seas their Chief Officer had been washed down the deck and had suffered serious leg, back and midriff injuries.

After medical advice was sought both from P&O and the Aberdeen Royal Infirmary it was confirmed that the injured officer needed to be airlifted from the vessel to the nearest hospital where specialist medical treatment is required.

The position of the JARVIS BAY’ at the time of the incident was 28 degrees West or nearly 1,000 miles out into the North Atlantic and well beyond helicopter range. In discussions with the Master the vessel then began making its way back towards Ireland. Presently on manoeuvres west of Ireland was Dutch Naval Task Force who are equipped with Lynx helicopters. They have were requested by Falmouth Coastguard to maintain position to provide support and an emergency landing platform - or for refuelling purposes - for an RAF search and rescue helicopter R 169 which lifted off at 02.00 on Friday from RAF Chivenor heading for Southern Ireland.

The rescue helicopter landed at Castletownbere in west Cork in the early hours of the morning and refuel. In the meantime an RAF Nimrod aircraft took off from RAF Kinloss in Scotland and flew out into the Atlantic to provide top cover for the proposed winching operation.

Once airborne again after taking on fuel, the Sea King rescue helicopter rendezvoused with the container vessel 330 miles west of the Isles of Scilly, 210 miles south west of the coast of Ireland around 08:00.

Simon Rabett, Watch Manager at Falmouth Coastguard said:

" This will be a very delicate operation and a real test of the pilot and winchman’s abilities given the ferocity of the forecast weather - which is much the same as today - with a heavy swell and big seas. The injured man will have to be taken off the vessel in a stretcher from the bridge wing of the vessel whilst the aircraft hovers above.

" A doctor will also be taken along to assist the flight crew and the helicopter will be at its limit of capabilities given the distance it will have to travel. The aim will then be to get the injured English Chief Officer back to a hospital in Cork in Ireland for the necessary treatment he requires."


This week Cammell Laird announced plans to raise £76m in debt during October to finance expansion in continental Europe and the USA.

The shipyard, whose net debts totalled Pounds 46.2m at the end of April, said the issue of 10-year bonds would also support an increase in working capital.

Juan Kelly the company chairman commented: "The fundraising will provide a platform for further growth".

He also announced a first-quarter loss for the group of £342,000 for the first quarter to July compared to a previous profit of £702,000

During the summer the company acquired a 49 per cent stake in Cascade General, a yard in Portland, Oregon, that owns one of the biggest floating repair docks in the US. In addition the company also won a 20-year exclusive lease on three dry docks at Marseilles, including the biggest facility in Europe. Cammell Laird has a £4m option to raise its stake to 65 per cent in the next two years and hopes eventually to own the yard completely.

The bond issue, expected to be priced in October, comes just a month after Cammell Laird raised some £13.7m through a share placing.


A speculative report in the Mail on Sunday on October 1 predicts that on October 25 the British Government will announce that the Cammell Laird / Maersk consortium bid for the MoD ferry contract has been successful.  


Ship’s navigators, marine pilots and maritime personnel from across the world are set to dock on Merseyside thanks to the UK’s first 360° field-of-view ship simulator which launched this week in new purpose built premises situated adjacent to the historic Cammell Laird shipbuilding site.

At the official launch on Wednesday 27 September, Simon Sherrard, President of the Chamber of Shipping performed the opening ceremony. The press launch for the Centre earlier this week gained major coverage with features on BBC and Granada as well as colour pictures and features in many of the national papers.

The £1.6 million Lairdside Maritime Centre, which has been partially funded through an ERDF grant, is part of the School of Engineering which has a long history in the provision of maritime education and research.

Bert Kunze, Director of the Centre, comments: "The building houses the UK’s most advanced ship-handling simulator, the first with a full 360 degree visual image, which can simulate a variety of ports using sophisticated computer graphics and twelve video projectors." 

The simulator surrounds a five tonne replica of a ship’s bridge to give mariners realistic experience but in a risk free environment. A whole variety of ships and conditions can be simulated. It’s possible to choose the time of day, the roughness of the sea and even the height of the tide.

The centre will provide an advanced training, consultancy and research facility that will cater for demand at a local, national and international level. In addition to offering standard courses, the centre’s staff will have the capability to undertake detailed topographical, hydrographical, tidal and visual database modeling to produce new exercise areas to meet client’s individual training needs.

The Centre has been developed with the support of the Lairdside Development Team, the Metropolitan Borough of Wirral, Government Office North West and the North West Development Agency.



(from 'Leading Lights', Vol.3, No.3, September 2000)

The Mersey Docks and Harbour Company is selling its lighthouse on the north coast of Anglesey. The lighthouse, a house, two cottages and eighteen acres land are on the market at £175,000. The lighthouse is operational and automated  and so any purchaser will have to lease back the light room and fog-signal building to the MD&HC, and live with a fog signal likely to sound its single blast every forty-five seconds when the regular mists swirl in.

The lighthouse was built in 1834 as one of the lights to mark the approaches to the port of Liverpool, along with the adjacent pilot station. It cost £1,165 to build the eleven-metre light and fog signal tower, and the associated keepers' dwellings. Point Lynas is one of the more unusual designs, having the lantern room at ground level. The light was electrified in 1951 and changed to automatic operation in 1989.

The level of interest in the sale has been high from private individuals, but the Isle of Anglesey Council hope that it can be purchased for public use and are hoping that public funding may be made available in a partnership between heritage trusts and public authorities


WOODCHURCH - on Tuesday September 26 the vessel passed through Langton Lock, bound for Clarence Dry Docks.


The 170 year old Charente Steamship Co. Ltd (Thos. & Jas. Harrison, Managers) - the Harrison Line - has sold its container business to P&O-Nedlloyd. Commenting to the Daily Post newspaper, Mr. Michael Seaford, Chairman of Harrison Line, said:" Our withdrawal from this sector reflects a desire to concentrate on other maritime and logistics activities better suited to the company's size and structure. In recent years we have invested heavily in warehousing, transport, air freight and distribution services as well as supplying charts, nautical publications and navigational equipment."

As a result of the sale of the container business there are expected to be 49 redundancies out of the 110 employees, though the company intends to remain at the head office, Mersey Chambers near the Pier Head. 


P&O announced on September 20 that the company's Cairnryan - Larne service has been boosted  with the introduction of two extra sailings on the short sea crossing.

"The new sailings will offer operators departure times of 05:30 hrs from Cairnryan and 09:15 hrs ex Larne which will enable them to meet tight delivery schedules in the run up to Christmas," said Phil Simpson, Sales Manager UK for P&O Irish Sea: " The two new sailings will operate between Tuesday and Friday every week and provide increased flexibility for our customers."

P&O's Cairnryan - Larne freight services are operated by the EUROPEAN CAUSEWAY, EUROPEAN ENDEAVOUR and EUROPEAN TRADER.

EUROPEAN SEAFARER - arrived at Cammell Laird on Saturday September 30 at around 12:40. She was escorted into the yard by Howard Smith tugs CANADA and TRAFALGAR. Comms traffic revealed that she only had one bow thruster working and that a second tug was advised, as only one had been booked. She picked up a pilot for the final run into Lairds between Seacombe and Woodside.


Two fishing vessels were detained by the Irish Naval Service for alleged fishing offences this week. The LE AOIFE detained a Spanish registered fishing vessel for alleged under recording of catch, and logbook offences, 150 miles south of Cork harbour on Tuesday morning September 26. The vessel was escorted to Cobh to be handed over to local Gardaí. 

On Tuesday afternoon the LE DEIRDRE detained an Irish registered fishing vessel, 50 miles west of Mizen head, for alleged breach of monthly monkfish quotas. The vessel was escorted to Castletownbere, to be handed over to local Gardaí. This brings to 36 the number of fishing vessels detained for various offences by the Naval Service so far this year.


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