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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



January 31


Welcome to this mid week update. First of all a reminder that in the next few days the 2000 Voyage Reports will be transferred to the archive site from the next update on Sunday.

Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, John Lawlor, David Sallery, Nial Magner and "others".



Public notices have appeared in the local press for the stopping up of highways in conjunction with the development of the vehicle marshalling facilities in St.Nicholas Place. However, the objectors to the Sea Terminal development led by Mrs. Mackrel have arranged a meeting for next Tuesday to consider their next move. Objectors have period of six weeks in which to make objections to the High Court.


MOUNTWOOD - Marine Radio communications with Mersey Radio on Tuesday evening January 30, revealed that MOUNTWOOD was suffering from engine problems and was forced to conclude the evening sailings slightly earlier.

ROYAL DAFFODIL - The vessel which remains in Clarence Graving Dock appears to have sustained some damage. It is understood that this occurred when she was on her way to resume service.  As a result of strong winds she came into contact with a swing bridge and then rebounded and damaging her side. As a result she had to return to dry dock for repairs. This has resulted in delays in refitting and re-engineering the MOUNTWOOD.


Niall Magner writes that the stone carrying vessel TOPI which has lain almost submerged at Dún Laoghaire since she sank in an autumn storm appears to have had her position stabilised since last Wednesday. The ship is now lying evenly on her starboard side with the use of special airbags attached to the vessel. Consequently it appears that the use of heavy lift equipment may not be required. It had been thought that the Mersey Docks & Harbour Company's MERSEY MAMMOTH might have travelled to Dún Laoghaire to perform the lifting operation.


The Dublin Port company has been warned by P&O that it must resolve traffic problems in the port area. Speaking at the naming ceremony of the EUROPEAN AMBASSADOR P&O Irish Sea chairman Graeme Dunlop said that there was no point in companied investing in new vessels if there were difficulties with port access and exits.

While Mr. Dunlop  was pleased that the Dublin Port tunnel was under construction, he hoped there would be other facilities added as well so that the ferry company could get its freight and passengers into and out of the port quickly.

Meanwhile on the UK side of the Irish Sea rumours are once again circulating that P&O are considering the adoption of the Deeside Port of Mostyn as an alternative to the Liverpool, should there be further delay in the provision of the Langton Linkspan facility. However, tidal constraints at Mostyn may very well mean that such a move would be unlikely.


The replica emigrant ship DUNBRODY will be launched at New Ross on February 11. To permit preparations  for the event the boat yard where the ship was constructed will open to the public for the last time this coming Sunday. 

Around 2,000 guests will attend the launch at 07:00 amongst them will be Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, and the former US Ambassador to Ireland Ms. Jean Kennedy-Smith. The ship will then be taken to the quay at New Ross around 10:00.

The DUNBRODY will then be berthed at the quay and house an interactive museum conveying the story of Irish emigration. It is hoped that at some time in the future the ship will be upgraded to full sea-going condition as was originally envisaged at the start of the project before financial problems were encountered. The ship has so far cost around IR£4 million. The upgrade to sea going condition would be in the region of IR£700,000 

Over 100,000 visitors have visited the ship during its construction., It is hoped that once complete and berthed at New Ross Quay up to 70,000 people will visit each year. [Dunbrody web site ]


The China Shipping Group is considering  the introduction of a call at Liverpool as part of its new move the transatlantic trade. Management have visited the port in recent days to examine the possibility of including Liverpool on one of its planned transatlantic routes.

China Shipping currently uses the port of Felixstowe on the Asia-Europe service.  However, there are certain service windows that could lead to the inclusion of Liverpool as a single North Europe , either in the new Mediterranean/US east coast service, expected to be launched in April, or a further North Atlantic service which could start later this year.

The most likely is the inclusion of Liverpool in the new Med/US east coast service, which would mean an eastbound call included in the schedule. Thus, if all goes to plan, China Shipping Group will launch its fortnightly service with two 2,700 teu ships between Naples, Genoa, Fos, Valencia, NewYork-New Jersey; Norfolk, and Naples, and include an eastbound call after Norfolk.

China Shipping plans to increase frequency to weekly in June by linking the service with its existing Asia-Mediterranean service, creating a pendulum service that would deploy 12 ships.


According to a report in the Belfast Telegraph on Tuesday the dispute between Harland & Wolff and Global Marine over an unpaid bill for £23m will return to court within a few weeks.

Harland & Wolff  has decided to press ahead with an appeal against a ruling by the High Court in London in November that Global, the American company, was not obliged to foot the bill The November 17 decision had reversed the initial arbitration finding that H&W was entitled to receive some £22m of the £23m which is at stake.

The next court battle is expected to take place in February or March, but a firm date has yet to be set. A spokesman for H&W insisted it was confident there were good grounds for appeal. But Global Marine is equally adamant that it has no further liabilities to meet. The £23m which is at issue represents the final instalment for the second of two £200m deep-sea drill ships which H&W built for Global.

The American company refused to make the payment, arguing that the job had not been completed on time or to its satisfaction. For its part, H&W insisted it had completed the specified work on schedule, and in accordance with the contract it had undertaken. A spokesman for the yard said it expected the new hearing to last two weeks.

Global said it was confident its appeal would be upheld by the appeal. Once responsibility for the £23m bill is settled, H&W and Global will be preparing to lock horns in a further dispute over an alleged overspend of £133m on the drill ship contract. The two parties are still at odds over who is responsible for the additional expenditure on the two vessels.

Last week, H&W announced it was putting most of its 500-strong shipbuilding workforce onto short-time working.

The yard is still waiting the go-ahead to start work on a £60m order for two ro-ro ferries for the Ministry of Defence.

At the same time, H&W is continuing its efforts to turn a letter of intent from Seamasters International for six ferries into a firm £300m order.


The Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) has today published its report into an accident which occurred whilst the Bahamian registered tanker ALFA BRITANNIA was berthing at Tranmere oil terminal near Birkenhead. The accident was on 18 November 1999 and resulted in injuries to crew members on board the gig-boat Osprey.


At 19:32 on 18 November 1999, while the 56,115 gross tonnage tanker ALFA BRITANNIA was berthing at the North Stage of Tranmere oil terminal in the River Mersey, a mooring line parted. The mooring line then whip lashed and struck the gig-boat OSPREY, causing various injuries to all of her four crew members. Liverpool Coastguard informed the MAIB of the accident at 20:48 that day.

The tanker was delivering a cargo of crude oil to the terminal and was berthing at the stage, which had a number of dolphins (mooring platforms). The first line forward was a breast line, which was taken to dolphin No8 by OSPREY and her crew. The wire line had an 11m long nylon tail, the eye of which was placed over a bollard on the dolphin.

The mooring line was heaved in by the ship's crew and made fast. When the gig-boat was taking the second mooring line, by the ship's side, the first mooring parted. The whiplash caused the line to hit the gig-boat, resulting in injuries to the crew and one in particular, who suffered multiple injuries. Another crew member was thrown into the river but was rescued by OSPREY in difficult circumstances.

Two different test-houses examined the nylon tail and found that dynamic loading had caused it to part. The load imposed on the tail originated from the movement of the ship as she finally came alongside.

The pilot's intended instruction to the master had been for him not to make the breast lines fast before the ship was in her final position alongside. However, there is conflicting evidence between what the pilot thought he had instructed and what the master thought the pilot had instructed.

The master thought the pilot had instructed him to keep the first breast line tight, and he ordered the chief officer, who was in charge of the forward mooring party, to do so. Because all verbal communications were in Korean, the pilot did not know whether his intended instruction had been passed properly, or at all, to the
chief officer.

The accident was caused by a breakdown in communications between the pilot and the ship's officers in that his intended instruction not to make the breast line fast was not carried out.

Recommendations are made to Shell UK Oil Products Limited on producing mooring guidelines, specific to the operational requirements and conditions for Tranmere oil terminal, and specific mooring plans for each ship.


On Monday January 29 Cammell Laird announced interim results which revealed a loss of £3.5million for the six months to October 31 compared to a profit of £7.7m in the same period last year.. There will be no interim dividend.  Full year losses, when will reflect the full effect of the termination of the COSTA CLASSICA project are expected to be much greater. The company has already reportedly spent £34.3m on constructing the mid-section module.

It was also announced that John Stafford, chief executive and founder of the present Cammell Laird had resigned. He will be replaced on a temporary basis by finance director Jon Schofield whilst the present deputy MD Brett Martin will assume responsibility for company strategy.

The company is also reducing the size of its board of directors from 11 to 6. The smaller board will include three non executive directors including the chairman Juan Kelly.

According to a report in Lloyds List it is revealed that Mr. Stafford  was not happy with the company's move to an international dimension. "He had already had talks about his future and the COSTA CLASSICA affair forced his hand," said a company source.

Chairman Juan Kelly indicated that the company had been advised that Cammell Laird have a very strong case in law against Costa Crociere. However, it appears that the Cammell Laird may still seek to settle the matter amicably.

Cammell Laird lawyers are filing for dissolution of the contract on the grounds that Costa Crociere are in breach of contract. Cammell Laird still have  been instructed to file for dissolution of the contract in the pending arbitration in Italy on the grounds that Costa are in breach. Cammell Laird deny Costa Crociere's allegations that the mid body module was late and unfinished.

News is still awaited concerning enhanced government guarantees for the Luxus Cruise Ship project. Should the Luxus project go-ahead it is expected that it would provide work for three years.

January 28


Welcome to this weekend's update. First of all a reminder that the next update will be on Wednesday January 31. I have now posted a definitive update schedule for February.


Users of the Irish Sea Ships and Maritime Questions eGroups should now be aware that they have been taken over by Yahoo. If you mainly use these groups via e-mail you will not have noticed many changes, however, it is recommended that you visit the group internet pages and convert your membership to Yahoo.

Also note that the URLs of the group pages have changed, however, the former addresses still appear to work. Irish Sea Ships new URL is  whilst Maritime Questions URL is 

Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Alan Lee, John Lawlor, Ferry Information, Colin Smith and "others".

SEA CONTAINERS \ The Isle of Man Steam Packet Company

SEACAT SCOTLAND - no sailings were operated on Monday 22 due to adverse conditions.

LADY OF MANN - A reminder of an item that appeared some time ago. - The LADY OF MANN has been chartered to sail on a public excursion for the Church Army from Heysham to Peel on Sunday 20th May 2001. Timings are

Heysham dep 09:00
Peel arr 13:15
Peel dep 18:30
Heysham arr 22:45

The return fare is £29 adult and £20 child. Bookings can be made via Derek Hartley, 154 Sear Brow, Blackburn, Lancs, England BB1 8DZ Tel 01254 670145. Cheques payable to Derek Hartley with SAE.


Sea Containers have fully updated the Irish Sea web site to reflect the deployment of the RAPIDE on the Liverpool - Dublin and Liverpool - Douglas routes from March. SUPERSEACAT THREE has joined the KING ORRY, MANX MAID, MANXMAN and other notable vessels in the picture Gallery  depicting vessels "previously in the [Irish Sea] fleet" A retouched picture of RAPIDE has appeared in the current fleet photographs. She is seen wearing the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company roundel.


STENA CALEDONIA has been in dry-dock since 16 January and will be until 28 January for annual refit.

STENA GALLOWAY will be dry-docked in March (3 - 29 March) - this will be her SOLAS refit.  Unlike the STENA CALEDONIA she will not be fitted with sponsons, instead she will have transverse bulkheads (small doors/gates) fitted to her main vehicle deck.


Seatruck are hoping to resume their Warrenpoint - Heysham service on February 5 and work on the Warrenpoint berth is said to be progressing well.

All things considered the firm is said to be quite happy with traffic on the Larne - Heysham route.  Although down things could have been so much worse.

It is anticipated that the MOONDANCE will be repainted in the same livery as the RIVERDANCE at her refit in August.


ULYSSES - it is understood that the propellers of the vessel sustained damage when being launched which might have resulted in a delay in delivery. This has been denied by the Finnyards PR-manager who commented "Our new building No. 429, the Ulysses, will not be delayed, but delivered slightly before the planned delivery time. During the trials at the quay one of the propellers got some scratches on the blades, which are now being smoothed."

NORMANDY - remains in Cammell Laird - on Saturday January 27 she appeared to be mainly "red" in colour having been given a coating of red primer. Unless of course Cammell Laird are planning on turning her into another "BIG RED BOAT"!!


As from 1 February Granada will no longer be providing catering services for P&O Irish Sea.


Two interesting vessels were berthed at Birkenhead this weekend. The cable ship ATLANTIDA which has been undertaking work in the Irish Sea and the TYCO PROVIDER [ex-Soviet STAKHANOVETS YERMOLENKO of 1978] a heavy lift ship.


ROYAL DAFFODIL - Remains in Clarence Dry Dock. On Saturday January 27 the ferry service was being operated by MOUNTWOOD with the WOODCHURCH laid up at Duke Street, in the West Float.


The ARACHOVITIKA BAY which has been berthed near the Grand Canal Docks for a considerable time is to be auctioned on Thursday February 15 at Maritime House, Dublin under order of the Admiralty Marshal. The remaining Pakistani crew are understood not to have been paid for some time and living in poor conditions on board.



MCA Surveyors detained the Russian vessel AGNA in Falmouth on January 24 which had previously been detained at Esbjerg, Denmark on the September 9, 2000.

When AGNA arrived in Falmouth with its cargo of fertilizer, it was inspected under normal Port State Control measures, with the vessel targeted because of its high risk factor. A number of similar deficiencies were found and the AGNA was once again detained.

The vessel has since been attended by Russian Maritime Register of Shipping surveyors at Falmouth, who have suspended class and withdrawn the load line certificate.

The RMR have also issued a conditional load line certificate to allow her to make a one-way journey back to Riga, Latvia for repair.

Simon Robins, Falmouth based Surveyor for the MCA said:

" AGNA will travel with ballast only, no cargo. Conditional to this journey is her reporting every four hours to Falmouth Coastguard, who will be monitoring her journey. The vessel is currently being prepared for departure, possibly tonight."

" Earlier last year the vessel was sent to a dry dock in Riga, Latvia for repair to items including its cargo hatch covers, corrosion of ballast and other tanks and cracking in the decks, where the defects were allegedly rectified."


On January 23, the Minister of Shipping, Keith Hill offered a Wreck Amnesty to finders, which will provide immunity from prosecution under section 236 of the Merchant Shipping Act 1995.

It is intended that the Amnesty will run for three months from January 2001 – April 2001. The Amnesty will offer immunity from prosecution only under this section of the Act for offences committed before the start of the amnesty. This will apply only to the section of the Act that deals with items of wreck found, or brought within, United Kingdom territorial waters.

Keith Hill, Minister for Shipping commented: " This is the first Wreck Amnesty both for the UK, and as far we as are aware, internationally.

" The Amnesty will be offered through the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, which is leading the way in making finders aware of the law. We are hoping to encourage finders and others who were previously ignorant of the law to come forward and report past finds. We are also hoping for a good response from divers, salvors, museums, antique dealers, fishermen and others who may possess unreported wreck material. 

Veronica Robbins, Receiver of Wreck added:

" The Amnesty will end on 24th April 2001. Any wreck recovered before today which has not been reported by then will not fall within the Amnesty and prosecutions for failure to report such wreck may be brought. In respect of wreck found after today, finders are reminded that in order to comply with section 236 of the Merchant Shipping Act 1995 they are required to report all wreck finds within a reasonable time to the Receiver of Wreck.

"As a result of the Amnesty other offences may come to light and there is no intention to offer other amnesties in respect of these offences. However, during the Amnesty, such offences may be looked at in a favourable light, if there are no aggravating circumstances."


This week the Maritime & Coastguard Agency announced that 114 foreign ships were detained in UK ports during 2000.

The latest monthly figures show that 8 foreign ships were detained in UK ports during December 2000 along with 5 ships still under detention from previous months. The overall rate of detentions compared with inspections carried out over the last 12 months is 6.3%. This is an increase of 0.3% from the 12 month rate to November.

Of the ships detained between 1 January and 31 December:-

  • six of the seven flag states with the poorest detention rates were those targeted by the Paris MoU for priority inspection;

  • flag states targeted by the Paris MoU for priority inspection accounted for 51% of all detentions;

  • this year's figure (6.3%) shows a reduction of 0.5% in detention rates from the previous year.

Commenting on the sustained reduction in the detention rate Maurice Storey, Chief Executive said: "The constant decline in the annual detention rate is a good indication that our efforts to enforce high standards are proving successful. We will endeavour to maintain this trend and continue to target potentially sub-standard vessels should they enter UK ports."

Wider industry access to international ship inspection data is now available on the Internet with the introduction of the EQUASIS information system at The system collates existing safety-related information on ships from both public and private sources and data is regularly updated so that information remains as reliable as possible.

A list of foreign-flag ships detained following inspections by surveyors from the MCA is published monthly and is also placed on the Internet at The list details the name, flag state, owner or operator and classification society of each detained ship, together with the summary of the main grounds for detention.

Below are details of two vessels detained at ports on the Irish Sea or adjacent sea areas during December.

Ship's Name


Date and place of detention

5/12/00 - Garston



Type of vessel

General Cargo

IMO number





Denizsan Gemi Isletmetilici, Istanbul

Classification Society

Bureau Veritas

No. of previous detentions


Total no. deficiencies


Grounds for detention

Detained 2 Days. Oily Water Seperator Automatic operation defective.  10 x Lifebuoys canvas rotten (hand hold) ropes falling off.  Starboard side quick closing valves operating wire from deck broken.

Ship's Name


Date and place of detention

7/12/00 - Plymouth



Type of vessel

General Cargo

IMO number





CV SO Transmere

Classification Society

Bureau Veritas

No. of previous detentions


Total no. deficiencies


Grounds for detention

Detained 1 Day. Vessel not manned to flag requirements.


L.E. NAIMH [P52] The new Roisin class ship for the navy currently under construction at Appledore Shipyard, Devon will be named L.E. NIAMH 

The Irish Naval Service has a 50 year old tradition of naming its ships after characters in Celtic mythology and Irish history. The patrol vessels are given female names and the auxiliaries are named after males.

In a departure from procedure, the Minister for Defence, Mr. Michael Smith TD, invited the country's secondary school students to become involved in the selection of a name for the new ship. The name was chosen through a competition in which individual students suggested a name and justified that name in a short essay. Two hundred and thirty four entries were received before the closing date. 

The first prize winner in the naming competition is Michael Kearney [13] of Oranmore, Galway who will be invited to attend the naming ceremony at Appledore and the Commissioning ceremony at Haulbowline Naval Base, Cobh. The L.E. NAIMH will replace the oldest vessel in the fleet - L.E. DEIRDRE

L.E. AOIFE was involved in a rescue mission on Saturday January 27. The vessel was sent to the aid of  the Spanish trawler GALAXIA. The   Irish Coast Guard Marine Rescue Centre on Valentia Island co-ordinated the rescue effort. The coastguard received the distress call from the GALAXIA at 14:30, when the vessel was situated 60 miles west of the Blasket Islands 

A naval team from LE AOIFE barded the trawler after ten of the 12 crew were evacuated onto the Valentia Lifeboat. The trawler's captain and mate remained on board to assist the navy firefighting team.

The fire was successfully extinguished, however, the trawlers accommodation area was badly damaged though the vessel retained engine power. Another Spanish trawler arrived on the scene and the trawler was towed to Valentia


The former Commissioners of Irish Lights tender GRANUAILE now operates as an oceanographic survey vessel out of Great Yarmouth. RTÉ Seascapes reports that she has been undertaking seabed surveys of the south and south west approaches to British waters.


On Tuesday January 23, it was announced that Costa Crociere has terminated its $86m contract with Cammell Laird for the lengthening of the COSTA CLASSICA.

Luigi Foschi, chairman of Costa Crociere, said that he had no choice and that there was no chance that the Birkenhead yard would complete the lengthening project to his company's satisfaction.

Cammell Laird is reported to have spent $59m building the mid-body module for insertion in the COSTA CLASSICA. Though Costa Crociere has not made any payments.

On Friday January 26 Cammell Laird revealed that they would seek to recover the costs incurred in the COSTA CLASSICA project in court. Speaking to Lloyd's List finance director John Schofield said:" This is our fall back position to recover our costs and loss of profits."

Mr. Schofield said he was surprised that Costa had written to cancel the contract as the shipyard believed that only the arbitrator could sanction that.

Arbitration was set up in Italy late last year when it became apparent that Costa would not go ahead with the lengthening contract.

According to reports in the local press that with 5 vessels in the yard the number of workers are now around 900 just over 100 less than before the COSTA CLASSICA turned around in November.



According to press reports another analysis of metal removed from the wreck of the ESTONIA found no evidence of an explosion aboard the vessel which sank in the Baltic Sea in 1994, killing 852 aboard, a German newsmagazine reported Saturday.

Der Spiegel said the test, which it commissioned from Berlin's Federal Institute for Material Research and Testing, showed changes in the structure of the metal were a result of ``mechanical stress.''

The pieces were taken from the ferry by a team of divers led by Gregg Bemis of Santa Fe, N.M., and German TV producer Jutta Rabe, who investigated the wreck in August, despite opposition from the Swedish government.

The scientists also carried out comparative experiments on similar ship metal from the Estonia's German builder, Meyer Werft.

The experts found a simple explanation for changes in the structure of the samples,'' the magazine said. ``They came about because the shipyard had cleaned rust from the parts of the Estonia with a turbine that shoots tiny bits of steel onto the metal at great speed.''

Earlier this month, a group of survivors and relatives called for a new investigation into the sinking of the ferry based on technical reports they claim prove an explosion caused a hole in the ship.

Lennart Berglund, chairman of the Foundation of Estonia Victims and Relatives, released three separate reports by German and U.S. laboratories indicating that characteristics of the metal pieces were consistent with the effects of an explosion.

The ferry sank quickly to a depth of more than 250 feet off the Finnish coast in a storm en route from the Estonian capital, Tallinn, to Stockholm on Sept. 28, 1994. Only 137 people survived and the site was declared a final resting site for 758 unrecovered bodies.

An official 1997 report by an Estonian-Finnish-Swedish commission blamed faulty locks on the bow doors and a slow-to-react crew for the tragedy.

January 21



The News Bulletins for 2000 have now been transferred to the Backup Site. Given the reliability of Mersey & Irish Sea Shipping on its new host I have decided not to keep an up to date duplicate of the News Bulletins on the Archive Site. In recent weeks, some updates have been omitted and no one appears to have noticed! In future should a technical problem arise the current news bulletin will be posted to the Irish Sea Ships eGroup. The archive site will now be used to store material removed from the main web site. 

At present the 2000 Voyage Reports remain on the main site. However, these will be transferred shortly to the Archive Site to ensure the main site remains manageable


Once again can I thank everyone for their contributions. 

Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Justin Merrigan - Incat, Patrick C. Taylor, Aiden Mc.Cabe, Tony Brennan, Charlie Tennant and "others".

SEA CONTAINERS \ The Isle of Man Steam Packet Company

RAPIDE - Sea Containers has issued a press release announcing the deployment of the RAPIDE on the Liverpool - Dublin route on March 1, 2000.

A new look fast ferry will be introduced on the Liverpool-Dublin route by Sea Containers Irish Sea Operations when the service restarts on 1 March 2001.

The 81-metre catamaran RAPIDE will replace the monohull SuperSeaCat Three which is being transferred to the English Channel. The crossing time will remain the same at just under four hours at an average speed of 37.8 knots (42 miles an hour) and with comparable passenger and vehicle capacity.

The route between the twinned cities was re-established by Sea Containers in 1998 and more than 727,000 passengers and 144,000 vehicles have travelled to date.

Hamish Ross, Managing Director of Sea Containers Irish Sea Operations said: "The arrival of RAPIDE at Liverpool demonstrates our commitment to improving services for customers and will ensure economic benefits to the city and the Merseyside area continue. We are very excited about the arrival of the new look craft on the Pier Head".

Onboard features of RAPIDE, which has previously operated on the English Channel, Dover-Ostend route, include airline style at seat service, café serving meals and refreshments, a lounge bar on the upper deck, and a 1st lounge. There is also an outside deck area for passengers.

The SeaCat 1st service is a new innovation - a sectioned off seating area where customers will have a dedicated member of staff, complimentary tea, coffee and soft drinks and complimentary newspapers and magazines. The service is open to all customers including children for an upgrade price of just 10 per person per single leg crossing. Upgrades can be made at the time of reservation, when checking in or whilst onboard. Special APEX fares (bookable 14 days in advance) are available from 80 for a car and driver for a single journey.


Liverpool - Dublin

Dublin - Liverpool

1 March - 4 April

30 October - 5 November



5 April - 29 October



I have been informed that RAPIDE will leave the port of Oostende on February 8 with DIAMANT leaving for Newhaven on March 23. One SuperSeaCat has to be in Ostend by February 17 to commence crew training with operations commencing on March 22 with an 08:45 sailing

RAPIDE is currently operating the Ostend-Dover route instead of the DIAMANT. DIAMANT is out of service due to engine problems. The repairs could take another 4 or 5 weeks.


The government has approved plans for the development of the Sea Terminal at Liverpool's Pier Head. The announcement follows a public enquiry held in the autumn at which there were over 100 objections.

The plans were given the go-ahead on Friday by deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott, Secretary of State for Transport and the Regions.

The MD&HC proposals were an alternative to the original plan that was rejected by the high court following objections.

Commenting on the decision MD&HC chief executive Peter Jones said: "We can now look forward to the development of the facility. It will enhance Liverpool's position as an attractive gateway for travel between Britain and Ireland, bringing major benefits to the city and its people."


The new NorseMerchant ferries web site is now on-line. Interestingly it features the former NIF vessels with charcoal black hulls - the same as the rest of the fleet. Also on the vessel sides appears

For full details of the this years schedules and fares visit - there is a £2 per booking online discount and a 10% discount for all reservations made prior to the end of February for advance bookings up to September. For these advanced bookings - payment of a deposit only is required.


On Friday January 19  Cogema, France's state-owned nuclear fuel company, announced two armed ships carrying uranium and plutonium mixed oxide (MOX) fuel bound for Japan had departed the northwestern French port of Cherbourg 

The two Barrow registered James Fisher managed PNTL vessels -- the 5,087grt PACIFIC PINTAIL and the 4,648-ton PACIFIC TEAL -- are carrying Cogema fuel bound for Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant in Niigata Prefecture.

Cogema officials said the two ships left port shortly after 5 p.m. They are scheduled to arrive in Niigata within two months, officials of the utility said Thursday.

In Tokyo on Saturday, Tepco confirmed that the vessels will pass through the Tasman Sea that separates New Zealand and Australia on their way to Japan, after sailing around South Africa and across the Indian ocean.

The two ships are equipped with guns as a security measure against hijacking.

According to the environmental group Greenpeace, the MOX fuel, extracted from spent nuclear fuel shipped from Japan to be reprocessed in France, contains 230 kg of plutonium, the key ingredient for nuclear weapons.

On Thursday, New Zealand Foreign Minister Phil Goff condemned the shipment, describing it as a cause of concern for Pacific states which pride themselves on being nuclear-free.

This is the second shipment of MOX fuel from France to Japan. A similar shipment by Cogema in 1999 attracted strong criticism from New Zealand when it entered the Tasman Sea.

Six members of Greenpeace were arrested Friday after attempting to prevent the MOX fuel from being loaded onto the ships.

A correspondent reports that on Friday 19th January 2001 a considerable amount of construction work was taking place at Troon Harbour due to the transfer of P&O Irish Sea from Ardrossan. The whole of the headland/breakwater opposite Sea Containers linkspan and the now closed Ailsa Shipyard is being totally redeveloped with space for a terminal building and what will be a fair sized marshalling area beside the marina. This area has been fenced off for some years and was until recently signposted as unsafe and contaminated. It would seem that when operational ferries will berth on the seaward side of the headland/breakwater. The money being invested by both the Port and P&O must be considerable and in total contrast to temporary nature of the adjacent Sea Containers Terminal



On January 19 Her Majesty's Coastguard  released figures for last year, which show a slight decrease in the number of Search and Rescue incidents on the previous year :

The total number of incidents in 2000 was 12,008 compared to 12,220 in 1999 with the total number of persons assisted falling to 14,717 in 2000 compared to 17,535 in 1999. The number of persons rescued increased from 5,215 in 1999 to 5,217 in 2000. Lives lost decreased from 251 in 1999 to 234 in 2000. In increase in the number of District Coastguard Team call outs was recorded- rising from 7992 in 1999 to 8250 in 2000.

Director of Maritime Operations and Chief Coastguard John Astbury said: "I take comfort from the figures released today that there has been a slight decrease in the overall number of search and rescue incidents co-ordinated by the Coastguard in the last twelve months, despite the acknowledged increasing use of the sea.

"I am also very pleased to see the figure for individuals being assisted has shown a decrease when we consider how many people use the sea and coastline for pleasure and leisure purposes. Understandably there are always a number of high profile incidents - sometimes with tragic results - which we can draw upon to remind the public of the need for safe attitude and practice when at sea or on the shoreline.

"The Coastguard would also like to thank all those members of Coastguard Rescue Teams, RNLI Lifeboat crews, Coastguard and Military Helicopter crews and those crews on board fishing boats and merchant vessels who regularly respond at our request and often put their own lives at risk in helping another seafarer, or an individual in distress.

"Whatever the size of the incident co-ordinated from any Coastguard Station it is a matter of team work and co-operation from many different organisations that ensure that each is brought, hopefully, to a successful conclusion. I would like to thank all those organisations and individuals who are involved in Maritime Search
and Rescue.

"We are not however complacent and we will continue to work towards reducing the number of incidents, and all those who go to sea or use the beaches can help by being aware of the dangers that exist, and take sensible precautions to decrease those risks. However, it is an unfortunate fact of life that accidents will always happen and no one should hesitate to contact HM Coastguard if they are in the slightest doubt about their own safety or the safety of others"


Milford Haven Coastguard recorded 429 incidents in 2000 compared to 437 in 1999. Total number of persons assisted was 389 in 2000 compared to 416 in 1999. Total number of persons rescued was 211 in 2000 compared to 217 in 1999. Only 7 lives were lost in 2000 compared to 12 in 1999. District coastguard call outs also showed a decrease from 461 in 1999 to 447 in 2000.

Milford Haven Coastguard District Controller Peter Morris said:

" Out of the 429 incidents dealt with by Milford Haven Coastguard, an incident that is typical occurred one dark evening just after Christmas in the Llansteffan area near Carmarthen. " Our operations room received a 999 call from a member of the public who informed the coastguard that they had been summoned by a neighbour who had received a mobile phone call from a friend saying that he was cut off by the tide on some rocks with the water up to his knees. Unfortunately he did not give his position and the mobile phone contact had been lost.

" Through careful questioning and good local knowledge the coastguard were able to identify the possible area where the man may be. A RAF helicopter from Chivenor was called as was the Dyfed Powys Police
helicopter which is fitted with an infra red search facility. On the ground the Llansteffan Auxiliary Coastguard Response team commenced a search on foot and the Ferryside Inshore Rescue Boat was launched to search along the shore from seawards.

" Repeated calls to the trapped person on his mobile phone number failed to gain a response and concern was growing as the area is rather remote with many mud banks and a fast rising tide. The sea
temperature was also very cold. Fortunately the area identified by local Coastguards as being the most likely position where the man was trapped proved correct and after an hour of searching the man was found. By this time he was floating in the water and very hypothermic. He was rushed to hospital by helicopter where he

" This incident could be used to prove that mobile phones can save lives. In this case it did. However the mobile phone is no replacement for the normal sensible precautions that everyone should take before venturing out along the extremely beautiful but often remote coastline of West Wales.

" A mobile phone is a good back up however in this area the network coverage cannot be relied upon, especially on the foreshore. It is no substitute for sensible common sense precautions taken prior to setting out. The Coastguard also urge those going to sea to fit VHF radio and not to rely on the mobile phone.


Swansea Coastguard recorded 808 incidents in 2000 compared to 767 in 1999. Total number of persons assisted was 359 in 2000 compared to 840 in 1999. Total number of persons rescued was 507 in 2000 compared to 455 in 1999.  There were 10 lives  lost in 2000 compared to 7 in 1999. District coastguard call outs showed an increase from 624 in 1999 to 691 in 2000.

Swansea Coastguard District Controller, Graham Andrews said: "Of the many incidents dealt with by Swansea Coastguard this year probably our most notable events were two incidents involving Russian nationals.

"The first on 20 January when the Chief Officers of the general cargo barge 'Marschenland' was reported missing overboard. The man had been seen at 23:30 hrs on the 19th when the ship was at anchor off Barry. He was reported missing when the vessel was in transit from the anchorage to Newport. The lifeboat from Barry, The two inshore lifeboats from Penarth, Rescue Helicopter 169 from RAF Chivenor; Coastguard teams from Barry and Penarth carried out a search over two days, but unfortunately nothing was ever found of the man.

"The second was when a Russian teenage girl fell to her death at Ilfracombe on the 20th of July. The girl had been with a party of students from the Channel Language School when, in reduced visibility, at the top of a 300-ft cliff at Hillsborough she slipped and fell. Despite all attempts by Coastguards and other emergency services sadly she was pronounced dead on arrival at hospital.

"Whatever the size of the incident co-ordinated from Swansea Coastguard it is a matter of team work and co-operation from many different organisations that ensure that each is brought, hopefully, to a successful conclusion. I would like to thank all those organisations and individuals who are involved in Maritime Search and Rescue and especially all my colleagues in Swansea District


Holyhead Coastguard recorded 623 incidents in 2000 compared to 563 in 1999. Total number of persons assisted was 426 in 2000 compared to 418 in 1999. Total number of persons rescued was 371 in 2000 compared to 312 in 1999.  There were 8 lives lost in 2000 compared to 9 in 1999. District coastguard call outs  revealed an increase from 466 in 1999 to 474 in 2000.

Holyhead Coastguard District Controller Jim Paton said:

"Out of the 623 incidents dealt with by Holyhead Coastguard, one specifically stands out locally with the grounding of the MV `Coastal Bay'.

"Holyhead Coastguard had first received a call at 12.30 am on the 21st July reporting that the 88 metre vessel with seven people on board had run aground at Church Bay. The vessel was on its way from Dublin to Liverpool with a mixed cargo including a container of firelighters when it struck the North Welsh coastline of flat rock and sand not long before high water.

"Holyhead Coastguard then made an immediate request for Holyhead Lifeboat and Holyhead Coastguard Rescue Team to assist. Once on scene, the lifeboat put a line on board 'Coastal Bay' and attempted to pull her off the shore whilst the vessel used her own engines in an effort to try and pull herself off. This attempt was unsuccessful. A further attempt was made at lunchtime on the 21st July but the vessel remained firmly aground awaiting the next high water.

"Finally, a tow line was placed on the 'Coastal Bay' from a powerful tug with a 66-ton bollard pull and as the high water rose at just before 2.00 am on the 22nd July and with the assistance of Holyhead lifeboat which maintained safety cover, the vessel came cleanly and quickly off the beach in near perfect conditions of a flat sea and mild weather.

"The prompt action that was taken at the time by all concerned resulted in a very positive outcome from what appeared at the outset to be a significantly damaging episode to the Welsh coastline.

"Whatever the size of the incident co-ordinated from Holyhead it is a matter of team work and co-operation from many different organisations that ensure that each is brought, hopefully, to a successful conclusion. I would like to thank all those organisations and individuals who are involved in Maritime Search and Rescue and especially all my colleagues in Holyhead District.

"We all hope for a continued decrease in the number of incidents and all those who go to sea or use the beaches can help by being aware of the dangers that exist and take sensible precautions to decrease the risks. However, accidents will always happen and no one should hesitate to contact HM Coastguard if they are in the slightest doubt about their own safety or the safety of others."


Liverpool Coastguard recorded 844 incidents in 2000 compared to 825 in 1999. Total number of persons assisted was 923 in 2000 compared to 1070 in 1999. Total number of persons rescued was 275 in 2000 compared to 285 in 1999.  There were 32 lives lost in 2000 compared to 14 in 1999. District coastguard call outs revealed a decrease from 652 in 1999 to 564 in 2000.

Liverpool Coastguard District Controller Donald McDonald said:

"The past year has seen changes in incident trends, more people in trouble on the coast, with fewer vessel's in trouble at sea. Tragically we have seen an increase in lives lost. Two major incidents this past year saw the loss of 12 lives, with the loss of the fishing vessel 'Solway Harvester' on the 11th January, with seven young men losing their lives. And on the 14th June a light aircraft transferring a patient from the Isle of Man to Liverpool ditched into the River Mersey whilst on final approach and tragically all five occupants lost their lives.

"Overall it has been a busy year within Liverpool District, and the rescue teams have dealt with a wide range of incidents successfully which is a credit to them. "Whatever the size of the incident co-ordinated from Liverpool Coastguard it is a matter of team work and co-operation from many different organisations that ensure that each is brought, hopefully, to a successful conclusion. I would like to thank all those organisations and individuals who are involved in Maritime Search and Rescue and especially all my colleagues in Liverpool District.

"We all hope for a continued decrease in the number of incidents and all those who go to sea or use the beaches can help by being aware of the dangers that exist and take sensible precautions to decrease the risks. However, accidents will always happen and no one should hesitate to contact HM Coastguard if they are in the slightest doubt about their own safety or the safety of others"


Falmouth Coastguard recorded 943 incidents in 2000 compared to 1008 in 1999. Total number of persons assisted was 519 in 2000 compared to 310 in 1999. Total number of persons rescued was 450 in 2000 compared to 390 in 1999.  There were 24 lives lost in 2000 compared to 20 in 1999. District coastguard call outs revealed a decrease from 336 in 1999 to 247 in 2000.

Falmouth Coastguard District Controller, Colin Sturman said: "Of note locally, was the rescue at the end of September, of a 76 year old single-handed Canadian sailor, named as John Nye, sailing the 32ft Yacht 'Panderama' who was located 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 a RAF Nimrod aircraft spotted the yacht and relayed the information back to the Coastguard. 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.

"A container vessel 'Atlantic Companion' responded to the Coastguards distress relay communication and proceeded to the scene due to arrive at around 2 p.m., and the crew on board the 'Atlantic Companion' undertook the very difficult task of getting Mr Mye on to the container ship from his yacht. The operation was severely hampered by the storm force 10 northwesterly winds and big seas.

"The Coastguard have now recommended the Master of the `Atlantic Companion' for a Thomas Grey Silver Medal, awarded by the Marine Society for his outstanding efforts that night.

"Whatever the size of the incident co-ordinated from Falmouth Coastguard it is a matter of team work and co-operation from many different organisations that ensure that each is brought, hopefully, to a successful conclusion. I would like to thank all those organisations and individuals who are involved in Maritime Search and Rescue and especially all my colleagues in Falmouth District.

"We all hope for a continued decrease in the number of incidents and all those who go to sea or use the beaches can help by being aware of the dangers that exist and take sensible precautions to decrease the risks. However, accidents will always happen and no one should hesitate to contact HM Coastguard if they are in the slightest doubt about their own safety or the safety of others."

Belfast Coastguard recorded 270 incidents in 2000 compared to 286 in 1999. Total number of persons assisted was 327 in 2000 compared to 350 in 1999. Total number of persons rescued was 105 in 2000 compared to 102 in 1999. Ten lives were lost in 2000 compared to 5 in 1999. District coastguard call outs showed a decrease from 273 in 1999 to 239 in 2000.

Belfast Coastguard District Controller Brett Cunningham said: "Out of the 259 incidents dealt with by Belfast Coastguard, one specifically stands out locally with the crippled merchant vessel 'Elektron' on the outskirts of Belfast Lough, 2 miles off shore, north of Larne late in October.

"After running aground on St Kilda earlier on in the month the 'Elekron' was re-floated with the aid of the salvage barge 'Salvage Chieftain' and the Russian tug 'Tumcha', an 80 tonne bollard pull. 'Tumcha' then began its tow of 'Elektron' on her passage down the Irish Sea towards Belfast.

"Clyde Coastguard passed search and rescue co-ordinations to Belfast who oversaw 'Elektron's' progress at two hourly intervals. The vessel by then had suffered a 20 degree list (tilt) to port and the Coastguard had it wait to the east of Islandmagee in order to stabilise the tilt.

"The RNLI Trent Class Lifeboat from Larne arrived at the 'Elektron' to stand by her and the RAF helicopter at Aldergrove was put on immediate standby.

"The salvage team and salvage chief remained on board 'Electron' and assisted in restricting further water intake using pumps. Fortunately the incident was brought to a successful conclusion and the vessel eventually came into port.

"Whatever the size of the incident co-ordinated from Belfast it is a matter of team work and co-operation from many different organisations that ensure that each is brought, hopefully, to a successful conclusion. I would like to thank all those organisations and individuals who are involved in Maritime Search and Rescue and especially all my colleagues in Belfast District.

"We all hope for a continued decrease in the number of incidents and all those who go to sea or use the beaches can help by being aware of the dangers that exist and take sensible precautions to decrease the risks. However, accidents will always happen and no one should hesitate to contact HM Coastguard if they are in the slightest doubt about their own safety or the safety of others"


This week it was revealed that there has been a big increase in the number of hoax calls to the marine
emergency services. Most of these calls originate from the  Dublin area, according to the annual figures for the rescue services from the Department of the Marine. 

The Minister for the Marine  has warned that these calls can endanger the lives of rescue crews on helicopters and lifeboats.


The former Liverpool based sludge vessel operated by North West Water until her withdrawal in December 1998 has been renamed CAPE GEORJEAN and placed under the Bolivian flag. She departed from the Tyne at 21:37 on January 13. She arrived on August 24, 1999 and had been arrested.


A report in Lloyds List this week indicated that the fate of Luxus Holdings' £350m ($523m) plan to build two cruise ships at the Birkenhead yard hung in the balance as the British government was still considering the whether to increase its financial backing for the proposals.

Luxus chief executive Les Royle has confirmed that European yards have shown an interest in building the two cruise ships should it not be possible to construct the ships at Birkenhead.



Bollinger Shipyards Inc. and Incat announced a major new venture to market and build high speed vessels in the United States this week. The strategic alliance between Bollinger and Incat USA combines a proven builder of a variety of high speed, reliable and efficient patrol boats for the US Navy and Coast Guard, and the premier builder of the world’s fastest vehicle passenger ferries.

With its sights set on the military, Louisiana-based Bollinger / Incat USA is committed to revolutionising the way navies think about and use fast craft technology. The energetic new partnership has been working on a proposal to the military for a wavepiercing craft, similar to the existing heavy freight capacity 98 metre Evolution 10B class catamaran, that can carry 500 persons and a variety of military vehicles and equipment at speeds of more than 40 knots over long ranges.

Already proven in the commercial market the Evolution 10B is a vessel capable of carrying passengers and a highway mix of freight. Owners and operators have the flexibility to configure vessel loadings to suit seasonal fluctuations whilst maximizing revenue. Deployed on a high volume tourist route, the operator will opt for maximum car capacity by utilising the optional mezzanine vehicle decks. To maximise flexibility during shoulder seasons or to provide a dedicated freight service, the mezzanine decks when lifted to allow a high concentration of heavy highway vehicles.

Like its commercial counterpart the military vessel must be an efficient and effective platform. The Coast Guard, Navy and Army sections of the US Military each has its own unique requirements. From very fast boats for patrol, interception and rescue work to very fast heavy lift ro-ros required for troop and equipment movements the needs of the military are immense. Bollinger / Incat USA now offers this vessel capability to the military.

In a Coastal Patrol & Rescue Vessel role the craft has the flexibility to perform a multitude of tasks. Loading the required equipment, the vessel becomes a dedicated unit for a specific mission. Fitted with a helicopter landing area and hoistable boat ramp for the deployment and retrieval of smaller 60 knot rapid response craft, the Patrol Vessel’s large deck area can also be used to carry containerised modules designed and fitted out for a wide variety of uses. These include medical facilities, temporary accommodation, detention cells, messing facilities, relief equipment, stores and vehicles.

In an army role the wavepiercing catamaran will work in multiples, getting right into ports inaccessible to larger heavy lift conventional roro vessels, enabling the rapid deployment of troops. Likewise for the Navy, but on a larger scale.

In such a role the Incat craft eliminates the need for large conventional ships to be at sea for long periods of time. Two large naval ships covering an entire coastline could be replaced by six smaller fast craft working out of home ports and equally distributed around the sea board performing the same duties better. At the same time there is the added benefit of increased crew moral from less time at sea.

Joining forces to provide the total military solution, Bollinger’s existing US infrastructure and political standing coupled with Incat USA’s technical expertise creates a powerful presence in US shipbuilding. The deal to build the high speed catamarans in Louisiana has the potential to totally transform military and coast guard activity at sea, not just for the US but for navies around the world.


A report in Fairplay this week reveals that an explosive device led to the sinking of the Est Line ferry ESTONIA in 1994.

Three laboratories, in Germany and the US, studied a fragment of metal cut from the vessel’s hull, according to Reuters. Lars Ekbom, an associate professor at Sweden’s Royal Institute of Technology, who studied the reports said: “I cannot find any room for doubt,” adding that he could not understand how the official investigation had blamed other factors for the disaster. One of the German labs said the fragment showed “exposure to extremely heavy shock forces, such as happens from the effects of a substance detonating.” The second German institute said the cracking of the metal “was induced by a detonation or some projectile.” The US Southwest Research Institute’s preliminary finding was that “an explosion was far more likely than a mechanical loading event to have produced the observed microstructural features.”

January 17


Time pressures have meant that this update is a little thinner than intended and has been prepared rather hastily. However, I hope to catch up with things by Sunday when there will be a number of new items including a LADY OF MANN voyage report.

If you have sent an e-mail during the past few days and have not received a response please mail again. My e-mail server has been down at least twice and I suspect messages have either become lost or may have been bounced back.

Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Patrick C. Taylor, Tony Brennan, Justin Merrigan - Incat, Geoff Hamer and "others".

SEA CONTAINERS \ The Isle of Man Steam Packet Company

SEACAT ISLE OF MAN - arrived in Douglas on January 12 for the commencement of her refit.

RAPIDE - it is now confirmed that the 81metre Incat vessel will replace SUPERSEACAT THREE on the Liverpool - Dublin and Liverpool - Douglas routes this year. As the vessel is slower than SSC3 a retiming leaflet has been issued which shows departures from Liverpool 15 minutes earlier than that shown in edition 1 of the Liverpool - Dublin timetable.

HOVERSPEED GREAT BRITAIN - The latest rumour suggests that this vessel may appear on the Belfast - Heysham service iof of course it reopens as rumours continue to suggest it may not!


Passenger figures for the Harbours Division for December 2000 show a 8.7% increase on the same period last year. December 2000 recording a total of 22,057 compared to 20,293 in December 1999.

The total figure for 2000 at 610,950 passengers shows a 6.9% increase over the total for 1999 which was 571,290.

Car and motorcycle traffic through Douglas Harbour in December 2000 showed an increase of 11.8%  from 5,988 in 1999 to 6,694 vehicles in December 2000.

The total figure for 2000 of 159,296 vehicles shows a 7% increase over the 148,939 recorded in 1999.

Passenger figure breakdown by route is as follows:

Dublinminus 27%492385
Heyshamplus 8%10,99911,907
Liverpoolplus 8%8,1638,843

Freight traffic metreage increased by 8.9%% from 30,122m  to 32,817m when compared to December 1999. The total figure for commercial vehicle metreage for 2000 at 393,603 metres shows a 10.7% increase over the total for 1999 which was 355,514 metres.

Director of Harbours, Captain Michael Brew commented: "Passenger Traffic for 2000 at 610,950 is the first time since 1985 that traffic has exceeded 600,000. Passengers, vehicles and freight traffic all show good levels of growth over the year highlighting the benefits that increased frequency and capacity have brought. 2001 will see similar levels of service available with fast craft SeaCat services returning in March. The expectation is that ongoing growth seen every year since 1996 should continue this year."


The heavy lift to raise the stone carrying vessel TOPI is expected to arrive at Dún Laoghaire harbour on January 23 or 24. The vessel capsized following damage sustained during adverse weather in late autumn 2000. 


The 2001 Cruise programme for ASGARD II is now on line at the Coiste An Asgard web site


A stronger than expected second-half was not enough to prevent ferry operator Irish Continental Group suffering a fall of almost one-third in full-year profit.

However ICG believes that the company has a platform for renewed growth as a result of its investment strategy.

Pre-tax profit dropped 29% to E19m ($18m) from E26.8m in 1999. The end of duty free sales and the increase in fuel costs and haulage were blamed for the decline.

However, the second-half performance produced only a small reduction in taxable profits from E24.2m in 1999 to E23.7m in 2000.

Irish Continental commented: "The stability of the second-half performance, which was at the higher end of our expectations, provides welcome evidence that the process of re-adjustment to the more difficult cost environment is being implemented successfully."

A final dividend of E0.095 per share is being paid which lifts the total for the year 20% to E0.1425 per share.
The group's ferries and travel division reported a profit before interest of E29.8m, down from E32.4m.
Turnover was up to E194.9m from E153.5m. 

Despite the full-year effect of the abolition of duty-frees, Irish Continental said record passenger carryings were achieved with overall growth of 6.7% to 1.8m passengers.

The Dublin/Holyhead route achieved 14% growth to 1.15m passengers, and Ireland/France 5.7% to 207,000 passengers. However, Rosslare/Pembroke suffered an 8.1% decline to 0.45m passengers. Across all routes, car carryings advanced 13% to 400,000 vehicles.

Irish Continental experienced a record year for ro-ro freight on the Irish Sea with total carryings up 4% to 160,800 trucks.


The four Moroccan stowaways found on a ship which docked in Cork last Wednesday were flown home on January 14. The four were escorted out of Dublin Airport by four Gardaí from the National Bureau of Immigration. The men had been held at Mountjoy Gaol after indicating that they were not interested in applying for asylum in Ireland. The four men had stowed away on the CHESHIRE on New Year's Day when the vessel departed from Morocco bound for the IFI plant near Cork.


Further to the news that the Laxey Towing Company has acquired the TOTNES PRINCESS Geoff Hamer has sent the following notes:

The TOTNES PRINCESS was previously the EASTERN BELLE in the Millbrook Steamboat Co's fleet at Plymouth.  Both she and the Dunkerque veteran MY QUEEN were laid-up in Old Mill Creek at Dartmouth last summer.  The only Dart vessel to find a buyer then was the WESTERN BELLE (also from the Millbrook fleet) which went to Hampton Court on the Thames, but was only used for a few days in July ferrying people to the annual flower show from the coach park.


The DEVONAIR BELLE is advertised to run regular trips this winter from Dartmouth, with occasional sailings from Totnes - see


A dedication ceremony took place on Douglas Head at 10:30 on Sunday January 14 for a recently erected memorial to the crew of the scallop dredger SOLWAY HARVESTER 

The SOLWAY HARVESTER's sister ship SOLWAY RANGER was noted in Douglas Harbour on Sunday morning. The SOLWAY HARVESTER was lost with all hands on January 11, 2000 within Manx territorial waters and subsequently raised by the Manx Government.

The Manx Government was represented by Chief Minister Donald Gelling MHK.

January 11


Welcome to the January 11 update. Please note that there is no scheduled update for Sunday January 14 as I will be going to the Isle of Man on Friday evening and will not return until Sunday evening. Obviously there will be no email responses during this period. 

Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Patrick C. Taylor, John Williams and "others"


SEACAT SCOTLAND is reported to have resumed service on the Belfast - Troon service.

SEACAT ISLE OF MAN is now in Douglas for her refit after being relieved by SEACAT SCOTLAND

HOVERSPEED GREAT BRITAIN - Information that HSGB has appeared in Silja livery was erroneous. She retains her usual SeaCat Livery.

RAPIDE - This week I was informed that RAPIDE will operate Liverpool to Dublin. However, there has been so much speculation recently that in reality one might not know accurately which vessel will operate the service until March 1!!!!


There appears to be growing doubts over the future of the Belfast - Heysham service and whether the service will actually recommence in 2001 despite the fact it appears in the Sea Containers Irish Sea timetable.

The following article appeared on Morecambe On-Line on Thursday January 11:

"The future prosperity of Heysham Port has received another body blow with the news that the Belfast route is to be downgraded.

Two years ago Sea Containers, current owners of Heysham Port, reopened the historic Heysham to Belfast route with a daily crossing being provided by SEACAT DANMARK.

Last year the service was upgraded with the launch of the SUPERSEACAT  TWO.

However losses of £3.5 million and growing problems within Sea Containers has now meant that the SuperSeaCat has had to be replaced.

When sailings start again later this year they will once again be provided by the SeaCat DANMARK with just one crossing being made per day. [The 2001 Timetable at present shows two sailings per day through the summer with a single sailing operating on one day per week and in the shoulder periods.]

The difference between the two vessels is immense with the DANMARK only having the capacity to carry 500 passengers and 80 vehicles, compared with 700 passengers and 170 vehicles of the SuperSeaCat.

Things did t exactly go to plan last year, a spokesman for Sea Containers said.

Passenger numbers were down, possibly due to poor marketing, and an awful lot of money was lost due to the fuel crisis. And things haven t been helped by the low cost airlines which offer people a much cheaper alternative to

The downgrading of the Heysham to Belfast route is just one more blow to the future of the port."


The announcement that Corsica Ferries have been selected to operate the new local authority subsidised ferry service between Newhaven and Dieppe which is due to commence operations by the end of February must throw doubt on the long term future of the seasonal service operated by Sea Containers. The route is to be operated by The SARDINIA VERA, which has a capacity for 50 lorries and up to 1,400 passengers.


An interesting advertisement appeared in the Jobs pages of the Liverpool Echo on Thursday January 11 from  Liverpool Duck Tours Ltd.

The company is planning to operate a sightseeing service in Liverpool using "rebuilt and updated DUKW amphibious vehicles". For those not familiar with these they are 6 wheel amphibious craft which saw military service from WWII onwards. On Merseyside they were once used for sightseeing trips at Southport many years ago before later being operated by the council lifeguard service.

The company will offer a tour of the city heritage docks all in one vehicle! The company is looking for vehicle fitters along with three full time PCV Drivers and one part time PCV drivers. Training will be given in operating the vehicles in the water. The company will operate the 30 seat DUKWs seven days per week. 

I imagine there will be a few enthusiasts out there who will fancy a trip on one of these unusual vehicles. The company is advertising a February start date for the vacancies, though it is not clear when passenger operations will commence. 


A ground breaking ceremony was undertaken at the Twelve Quays ro/ro site to mark the start on the work on the new river berths at Birkenhead on Thursday January 11. Lord Thomas of Macclesfield signalled the commencement of construction work using a mechanical digger. Following the collapse of Christiani & Neilson the contract will now be undertaken by AMEC construction. The main construction work is due to commence on January 22. 


TOTNES PRINCESS - The Laxey Towing Company has acquired one of the former Ridalls of Dartmouth passenger vessels. The vessel is reported to be at Pembroke en- route to the Isle of Man.  Ridalls was acquired by the Dart Valley Railway plc in 1999 and merged with the DVR's then recently acquired Dart Pleasure Craft.
The vessel which is to be renamed will be operated out of Douglas for corporate hospitality cruises and operated as a coffee bar in the inner harbour.


More information has emerged concerning the failure of the Warrenpoint linkspan which has resulted in the Irish terminal being diverted to Larne last week.

The problem with the Warrenpoint linkspan arose when it was being raised after the ship left on Wednesday night, January 3. A valve on one of the hydraulic rams failed which then caused an overload on the opposite ram which also failed in consequence. The ramp then descended with the seaward end now resting on the river bed.

Two new rams will have to be made and the end of the ramp lifted so they can be fitted. The ramp is too far out from the quay for a shore crane to be used to lift it so the most likely solution will be to place air bags under the ramp at low tide and let the tide do the lifting. It is expected that repairs and subsequent tests will take 5 to 6 weeks.

Alternative diversionary ports considered were Dublin, Belfast and Larne. The only slots on offer in Dublin were on the NMF linkspan and timings were not good. Slot times on offer in Belfast were worse but P&O were willing to offer space/willing co-operation on the berth used by the HIGHLANDER. To fit in with this sailing times had to be altered and are now midnight and 11.00 ex Heysham and 23.00 and noon from Larne. The night sailing from Heysham cannot use No1 linkspan as this is used by the BEN-MY-CHREE  so they use the one used for NMF Dublin. Voyage time is 9 hours..

A portakabin office has been set up at Larne and staff are bussed up from Warrenpoint


Following last Sunday's drama - PRINCE ALBERT remains berthed at West Langton north of SUPERSEACAT THREE.


Hundreds gathered in St Ninian's Priory church in Whithorn, in the Machars area of Galloway in a show of support for the families of the victims of the SOLWAY HARVESTER disaster which took place on January 11, 2000.

A service of hymns and readings was led by the Rev Alex Currie, the local Church of Scotland minister, who described it as "a moment of quiet reflection".

The seven who drowned all came from the Machars area of Galloway which includes the villages of the Isle of Whithorn, Whithorn and Garlieston.

They were Skipper Andrew Craig Mills; his brother Robin Mills, 33; their cousin David Mills, 17; Martin Milligan, 26; John Murphy, 22; David Lyons, 18 and Wesley Jolly, 17.

The prayers were read for them on a calm moonlit night in stark contrast to the storm which had battered the south west of Scotland and the Irish Sea on the night of the tragedy.

The dead men's bodies had been recovered from the wreck of the boat by divers after the Manx government pledged to return them to their families for burial and the  ceremony was taking place at one of the churches in the Machars which had seen hundreds gathered for the funerals of the men last February.

The prayers were also said for a successful outcome into the investigations into the cause of the loss of the Kirkcudbright-registered vessel.


PACIFIC SWAN - one of the Barrow-in-Furness registered spent nuclear fuel carriers has attracted the attention of the anti-nuclear movement.

Plans to transport a highly radioactive 80-ton cargo of French-processed, spent nuclear fuel around Cape Horn -- one of the world's most treacherous stretches of water - has alarmed Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina and Chile, whose coastlines are on the planned route.

The Pacific Swan, set sail from Cherbourg, France, on December. 19 with a cargo of Japanese nuclear reactor waste bound for Japan where it is due to arrive in February. 

The environmental group Greenpeace fears the passage around South America's southern tip could become the preferred route for transporting nuclear waste between Europe and Japan, replacing the traditional, shorter route through the Panama Canal. Four coastal Latin American countries along the route - Brazil, Uruguay, Chile and Argentina - have condemned the shipment.


EUROPEAN AMBASSADOR - Further information about, and photographs of, the on-board accommodation can be found at the P&O Irish Sea web site:

P&O Issued the following press release concerning the launch of the  new vessel.

A unique and historic Ambassador's reception took place today (7th January 2001) when P&O Irish Sea's brand new £35 million superferry, European Ambassador, sailed into Liverpool for the first time following her 10,800 delivery voyage from Japan

The arrival of the ship marks a new era for P&O Irish Sea's Liverpool - Dublin service. European Ambassador will offer the fastest service speed on the Irish Sea and will significantly reduce the crossing times on the route. With a 22.00 hour departure time from Liverpool and an 05.30 arrival time she will be the first ferry into Dublin Port in the morning, a schedule which will be particularly welcomed by freight customers.

Excellent facilities are provided for freight customers, with capacity for up to 123 (13.5 mt) commercial vehicles and an exclusive bar and restaurant for commercial drivers.

Carrying up to 405 passengers and 375 cars, European Ambassador will provide a superb passenger service offering the full P&O on board experience including Fables Restaurant, Poets Bar, video lounge, sea shop, children's play and electronic games areas, comfortable cabins and P&O's exclusive Club Class

John Kersey, Managing Director, P&:O Irish Sea, Said: "This is an historic day for P&O Irish Sea. The introduction of European Ambassador is confirmation of our commitment to the Irish Sea services and our determination to offer customers first class service on all our routes."

European Ambassador goes into service at 22.00 hours on Monday 8th January from Liverpool. She will be officially christened at a prestigious ceremony on Friday 26th January in Dublin.

Since Monday the EUROPEAN NAVIGATOR has been operating in place of the EUROPEAN TRADER on P&O's Larne - Cairnryan route.

The EUROPEAN TRADER (which since just before Christmas has been undergoing a major overhaul at Larne) will re-enter service on the Cairnryan service on Wednesday evening with the EUROPEAN NAVIGATOR then returning to the Fleetwood service as previously indicated.


The Irish Times reported that assistance from the Irish Naval Service was sought by immigration officials at Cobh on Tuesday January 9. The INS team took part in a search for four Moroccan stowaways who had been detailed on board the LPG tanker CHESHIRE owned by Bibby Line of Liverpool and registered in Douglas, IoM

The search commenced after the vessel had berthed at the Irish Fertilizer Industries jetty near Cobh.

The four stowaways, who were discovered on board the vessel while it was en route to Cork from the port of Safi in Morocco, had been detained in a cabin under orders of the ship's captain.

While the ship was  berthing the stowaways broke a porthole window on the side of the vessel facing away from the quay and managed either to jump into the water or to escape to a lower level.

Gardaí from Cobh and immigration officials from Anglesey Street Garda station in Cork under Sergeant Ted Holland were commenced a search whilst an inflatable from LE RÓISÍN, which was at anchor in Cork Harbour, began a precautionary search of the area around the IFI jetty. Crosshaven lifeboat also assisted in the search in case the men had managed to take to the water.

According to Garda sources in Cork, the CHESHIRE called to a Spanish port while en route to Ireland. The Irish immigration authorities were alerted to the presence of the four stowaways before its arrival in Cork.

There appears to have been some confusion initially as to where the vessel would berth in Cork, and immigration officers were waiting for it to arrive in Ringaskiddy at about 3.45 p.m. However, the CHESHIRE berthed instead across the harbour at the IFI jetty, where the search for the men then began.

The four stowaways were discovered in the early hours of Wednesday morning still aboard the CHESHIRE  and apprehended by Gardaí as they attempted to escape.

The four Moroccans were taken to Cobh Garda Station. It is understood that the four are requesting asylum.


There is fresh hope that Cammell Laird my yet build two new cruise ships for Luxus following the announcement that Trade and Industry Secretary Stephen Byers will make a revised underwriting offer within the next week. 

The government originally offered guarantees to 60% of the construction costs, however, Luxus claimed that 80% was required to underwrite the proposals to enable them to secure the necessary investment. 

RFA ARGUS arrived at Cammell Laird laid on Sunday evening.

PATRIOT Lloyds List on January 9 reported that at the end of last year, US ship repairer Cascade General, Portland, now part of Cammell Laird Group, completed the re-flagging and major five-week major modification of United States Lines' 33,800 gt passenger cruise ship PATRIOT.

The five-week project was the first-ever re-flag of a foreign cruise ship by the US Coast Guard, and required an act of Congress to allow an exemption to the Jones Act. Following her final assignment as a floating hotel during last year's Sydney Olympics, the 17-year-old ship officially changed ownership before entering the Columbia River. Detailed advance planning by Cascade General ensured that work began in four specific areas the moment the ship arrived. These were new bow and stern thrusters; conversion of three public spaces to suit the Hawaiian market; complete re-fit with Coast Guard- approved safety equipment; and identity change. 

The vessel's 12 lifeboats and four tenders did not release simultaneously at the bow and stern, as required by US Coast Guard regulations. All 16 boats were lowered and transported to a building bay where a production line was set up. The wires were replaced and davits serviced while each hull underwent structural alterations and reinforcement to accept the new Norwegian Durapart releases. Each boat was then tested on the water with a 20 tonnes load to check the functioning of the hydrostatic release and manual over-ride. 

The re-flagging process also included an official inclination test, new emergency signage and lighting, replacement of all inflatable liferafts, and the distribution of 2,500 new US-designed lifejackets throughout the ship. A new crew of five hundred also joined the ship during the Portland stay and took part in full abandon ship and fire drills to the satisfaction of the Coast Guard's safety officers. Under the Coast Guard's Alternative Compliance Programme, Lloyd's, which has classified the ship since her launch, will continue as certifying authority on everything except safety issues. The PATRIOT received her final Certificate of Inspection from the Coast Guard and Lloyd's Register on December 23 and departed for San Francisco. "This was the first re-flagging of a foreign cruise ship to the US flag," said a Cascade spokesman. 

"The successful completion of this conversion has a great significance for many people in the maritime community, besides ourselves. "It puts a modern cruise ship under the American flag for the first time, gives American Classic Voyages a first-class vessel for their Hawaiian service, and revives a historic name in shipping - the United States Lines. "Cascade General is proud to have been a partner in the project."


Brombrough based McTay Marine has secured a £5.5m contract to construct a research vessel for the Saclant Undersea Research Centre in Italy.  This will secure work in the yard until 2002. The yard is currently constructing a new vessel for the Strangford Lough ferry service in Ireland.


John Williams has forwarded details of a number of interesting web site which may be of interest:  - lists all known wreck sites in UK (& some abroad) + details of the ships/wrecks listed. - list of links to other websites - lists all maritime museums worldwide. which contains a long list of maritime links (inc.MS) which claims to be th world's largest ocean shipping memorabilia-selling site.

Finally some other new sites of interest: is a showcase for the work of Marine Artist Gordon Bauwens. Prints can be ordered on line. Finally Carnival-Cunard followers may be interested in dedicated to the new QUEEN MARY 2. 

January 7, 2001



During the past week I discovered that the "Site Map" was not working properly. It was showing pages which had been deleted and had failed to show updates undertaken during the past couple of months. This problem has now been resolved and the "Site Map" navigation feature now functions again.


Things have been rather hectic today as I went out to photograph EUROPEAN AMBASSADOR. Little did I expect that I would spend the next few hours watching the little PRINCE ALBERT being rescued by a tug, lifeboat and helicopter, hence much of the update has been done in a bit of a rush. I am glad much of the news was written up last night!

There will be an additional update on Thursday January 11. There will be no update next Sunday as I will be on the Isle of Man next weekend. 

Have a good week!

Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Patrick C. Taylor, John Lawlor, Nick Widdows, Tony Brennan, John & Jenny Williamson, Mike O'Brien, Jon Godsel, Dave Crolleyl and "others".


SEACAT ISLE OF MAN - is expected to end her turn on the Belfast - Troon service this week as SEACAT SCOTLAND returns from refit.

SEACAT SCOTLAND - has returned to Belfast and was noted undergoing some final paint work touching up before re-entering service on January 8 or 9.

SUPERSEACAT THREE - remains laid up at West Langton, Liverpool where she has remained since laying in November.

RAPIDE - is reported to be leaving Portsmouth Dockyard where she has been refitting for the past month.

LADY OF MANN - Subject to confirmation it appears that the Lady's programme of special sailings this year will take place between Monday May 21 and Thursday May 24. It is understood that one of the special sailings will may include an excursion from Troon.

Fred Olsen Lines is rumoured to be considering a Folkestone - Boulogne route to replace the former Sea Containers service which closed at the end of the 2000 Season.


EUROPEAN AMBASSADOR - due to delays caused during adverse weather conditions on the final leg of her delivery voyage the original intention of a Thursday January 4 arrival on Merseyside was changed. Instead the vessel called at Dublin Port first on Saturday before setting sail for Liverpool where she arrived late on Saturday January 6.


On Sunday January 7 the PRINCE ALBERT which has been a resident in the Albert Dock since June 1999 was brought back into the Mersey by the combined efforts of the RNLI, RAF and Howard Smith Towage. 

It appears that the vessel departed Liverpool Canning Dock on the Saturday evening tide for engine trials. However, her engines failed and she was forced to drop anchor somewhere off Formby. However, with deteriorating sea conditions she started dragging her anchors which led to a rescue mission being launched. It is understood that she may not have had a fully working radio system and that for some time a mobile phone had been relied upon. 

She was brought up the Crosby channel by Howard Smith tug CANADA, the whole process appearing rather precarious. Out from the shore the sea appeared quite choppy and she was seen to be heading in all sorts of strange directions not usually noted when observing in bound ships. She also had a very noticeable list to port and appeared to be very heavy in the water. 

Monitoring radio messages revealed that the RAF were enroute with a Seaking - this appeared from the direction of RAF Valley meanwhile the Hoylake lifeboat and inshore rescue boat could be seen. The lifeboat and helicopter brought additional pumps out to the vessel which had been taking water. 

There was some concern noted in the radio messages that should she go down she might block the channel. However, the vessel was stabilised and brought in near to the river wall at Langton. Another Howard Smith tug emerged from the lock sometime after 15:30 and PRINCE ALBERT was brought into the Liverpool Dock system. 

I understand she has been berthed at West Langton at the Merseyside Fire Brigade were pumping her out around 17:00.


The Warrenpoint linkspan has failed and consequently SeaTruck has had to divert its sailings from Heysham to Larne. Times at Larne: arrivals 09:30 and 20:00 departures 12:30 and 23:00. It is understood that the Warrenpoint linkspan my be out of operation for up to 6 weeks.


HSS STENA VOYAGER paid a visit to Larne Harbour on Friday January 5 arriving around 10:45. It wasn't clear what time she left Stranraer but a highly impressive crossing time must have been achieved given that she had operated the 07:40 Belfast - Stranraer sailing which departed from Belfast at 07:42. One wonders if such a fast crossing might give Stena some thought for moving the Irish terminal to Larne from Belfast? The conventional ships are due to revert back to Larne sometime in the new year.

The vessel was berthed at the port's Curran Quay for several hours to allow an underwater survey to take place. She had been due to depart at 14:00 but did not leave until 15:15.

She was then due to return to her Belfast berth before recommencing service with the 12:20 sailing from Belfast on Sunday January 7. During her time out of service general maintenance will be undertaken and new carpets fitted.  

KONINGIN BEATRIX sailed for dry docking. on Sunday January 7. The Fishguard - Rosslare service is suspended between January 7 and 12.


ULYSSES is expected to undergo sea trials in late January 2001. She is expected to arrive in Dublin around February 7 and is expected to enter service on Sunday March 4 replacing ISLE OF INISHMORE on the Dublin - Holyhead service.

NORMANDY entered Cammell Lairds on Tuesday January 2. She is due to return to service on February 14 after her refit and SOLAS upgrade which includes the fitting of sponsons. This will necessitate some alterations to the company's berth at Pembroke Dock.

NORMANDY will then relieve the ISLE OF INNISFREE for her refit before resuming the French service on March 2.

ISLE OF INNISFREE will be dry-docked at Falmouth in mid February for two weeks. 

On Saturday January 7 the ISLE OF INNISFREE evening sailing was delayed at Rosslare due to a lifeboat moving from its stowed position. The boat  (starboard side) suddenly began to move downwards, it was "dangling" over the ships side for about an hour and a half before the crew were able to gain control. It overturned and was hanging upside down which made things worse.  A second lifeboat was lowered to try to gain access to the stricken boat.

She finally sailed at 23:45 (2hrs 15 mins behind schedule) with roughly 150 cars and sixty freight units. Passengers were well compensated for delay, they were given £50 voucher to use against their next trip.

JONATHAN SWIFT is expected at Falmouth for dry docking on January 10 for around two weeks,

BERE ISLAND FERRIES from Nick Widdows []

The former Passage East ferry F.B.D. DUNBRODY which is now operated by Bere Island Ferries of County Cork between Castletownbere and Bere Island was badly damaged after breaking free in recent gales and is beyond economic repair.

The previous vessel used on the route, the MISNEACH (an Irish built smaller version of a CalMac island craft) has resumed operation on the service.

The operator, Mr Colm Harrington, is looking for a replacement for the DUNBRODY, preferably a drive through vessel. He is aware of Cornelius Bonner's clutch of ex-CalMac vessels at Arranmore but being only front loading, one of these would not be entirely suitable.

Has anyone else got any ideas of suitable vessels that are or are likely to be viable that he could purchase?

The service is operated commercially, without subsidy, so cost is a very important factor.



Associated British Ports Holdings PLC (ABPH), the UK's largest ports group,  announced on December 22, 2000 that it has made a further property disposal from its Cardiff Bay estate. The Group has sold an investment property, the NCM Building, to The Cardiff Bay Partnership (The Partnership) for £18.4 million.

ABPH will receive a combined net cash consideration of £54.1 million from both transactions, after deducting the Group's £15.8 million investment in its 45 per cent stake of The Partnership. This will be reinvested in the Group's core ports and transport business.

Grosvenor Waterside Group PLC, ABPH's property development subsidiary, will continue to act as general partner, managing the portfolio on behalf of The Partnership.

Commenting on this latest disposal, Bo Lerenius, ABPH Group Chief Executive, said:

"The momentum of our strategy to realise value by disposing of non-core assets continues, and the establishment of The Cardiff Bay Partnership is proving to be a valuable tool in achieving this goal."

On the same date ABP also sold disposed of its residual freehold interest in Ocean Village, Southampton and the 1.3 hectare freehold site at Queensgate North, on part of the group's Cardiff Estate. The Cardiff site has been acquired for residential development by Alfred Mc.Alpine. 


DART 3 is reported to be in dry dock at Dublin.


DAWN MERCHANT remains in Canada Dry Dock, Liverpool.


Fairplay reported this week that more than 300 jobs are to be created at the UK port of Sheerness through the construction of a pre-delivery inspection centre and a fruit packing plant. The £2M PDI centre, to be built by Mersey Docks subsidiary Medway Ports, will prepare 200,000 new cars a year from France, Spain and Italy for the distribution division of Peugeot Citroen. The £1.5M pre-packing facility is described by operator Capespan International as the latest development in ‘ship to shore to store’ logistics. In 1999, more than 400,000 vehicles and nearly 600,000 tonnes of fruit were handled by Sheerness.


COSTA CLASSICA - This week Lloyds List revealed that  Cammell Laird has submitted a bid to carry out routine dry-docking work on the ship. There is also talk of work on a vessel for the South African Navy.

RFA ARGUS - The arrival of the ship has been delayed by a day or so.

 January 3, 2001



Happy New Year!

Welcome to the first update of 2001. 

Users should be aware that the Year 2000 news bulletins will only remain on the main site for the next two weeks. In mid January, they will be transferred to the archive site. On the archive side the 1997 news bulletins will be removed. I think that a three year on-line archive is sufficient - unless of course M&ISS visitors think differently! However, I must point out that there is a low 25meg limit to the storage capacity on the archive site. 


Following the successful launch of the Irish Sea Ships e-Group in November I have now transferred the Maritime Questions section to e-Groups. This will speed and automate the posting and reply process freeing my time to spend developing other aspects of the M&ISS site. Please note that all future Maritime Questions should be posted to the Maritime Questions eGroup - there are ample links throughout the M&ISS site and on the top menu bar. 

However, there are a number of queries on the existing Maritime Questions section of the web site. Replies to these queries should be forwarded by e-mail as usual. 


It has been brought to my attention that some users have been experiencing difficulties making satisfactory print outs of the news bulletins. I have made some slight changes to the format of the pages and hopefully they will now print out properly without cutting off the right hand side of the page.


Partly related to the printing problems referred to above is the question of resolution. At present M&ISS is produced with an optimum user resolution of 800x600. However, many computers can comfortably handle the higher 1024x768 resolution. For some weeks I have been editing in this higher resolution format but endeavouring to preserve 800x600 for viewing. 

Unless it is going to cause major difficulties for users I would like to consider using 1024x768 throughout. Please try the higher resolution on your computer and let me know if you are experiencing any problems - any feedback would be welcome at .

Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Patrick C. Taylor, Nial Magner, John Williams and "others".


LADY OF MANN - A wander round Liverpool Docks on New Year's Day it was unusual to note that the LADY had not retreated to her usual berth alongside the former Alexandra Dock Passenger Terminal. Instead she was berthed at Alexandra Dock Branch #2 north near the scrap yard in company with one of the Harker Oil barges. There was nothing at her usual berth. By January 3 the Lady had returned to her usual between service lay-up berth at the Alexandra Dock Passenger Terminal.

RAPIDE - In the last update it was erroneously reported that she was refitting at Falmouth. This is incorrect. She had spent much of December dry docked at the Portsmouth Naval Base.



On January 1 Falmouth Coastguard were alerted at 07:40 by Valentia Irish Coastguard Radio Station that they had received a call for assistance from the crew of the Falmouth registered, Spanish owned, fishing vessel PEMBROKE. 

The crew reported that the vessel had suffered rudder damage, had stopped in the water and required assistance 180 miles west of the Isles of Scilly.

Falmouth Coastguard were passed the call as the position of the boat given by the crew fell within the search and rescue region covered by the UK, and the Coastguard began full broadcast action asking for assistance from any nearby vessels. A short while later the status of the emergency changed as the crew reported that they were taking in water and needed help and pumps as quickly as possible.

A rescue helicopter R 193 was scrambled from the Royal Naval Air Station at Culdrose at 08:30 and a second helicopter was also scrambled at the same time. An RAF Nimrod aircraft - to provide top cover - was launched from RAF Kinloss in Scotland.

The crew were flown to Cork airport where they arrived shortly after 13:05. The crew are Spanish, Portuguese and


At 11:32  on January 2 Holyhead Coastguard was alerted by the Police to a land slip that had occurred at the Lleyn Peninsula in the village of Nefyn. Several cars had fallen over the cliff as a result of a mud slide. 

Holyhead Coastguard tasked three Coastguard Cliff Rescue Teams from Porthdinllaen, Aberdaron and Abersoch; requested the launch of the RNLI lifeboat from Porthdinllaen and scrambled the rescue helicopter from RAF Valley. The Police helicopter is also on scene.

The lifeboat crew recovered one person who was confirmed as deceased upon arrival at the lifeboat base. Another person has suffered serious crush injuries and was airlifted by the RAF to Ysbyty Gwynedd hospital in Bangor.

HM Coastguard warned anyone thinking of spending time at coastal areas to be aware that land slips may occur, especially around cliff areas, as much of UK has suffered extraordinary amounts of rain fall recently.


NORMANDY - Arrived at Cammell Laird, Birkenhead for refit on Tuesday afternoon, January 2.

ULYSSES - I have received two photographs from Nial Magnar which shows an almost complete ULYSSES at Finnyards. She certainly looks to be an impressive vessel and certainly more stylish than ISLE OF INISHMORE which lacked the pleasing lines of her smaller sister ISLE OF INNISFREE. 


Cammell Laird Tyneside has reached a key stage in conversion of CSO CONSTRUCTOR operated by Coflexip Stena Offshore. The vessel is being converted from a diving support vessel to a deepwater pipe layer.

Almost 1,000 tonnes of mid-body steelwork and equipment have been removed and the vessel cut in two. Four 300 tonnes jacking trailers from Mammoet Heavy Lifting parted the vessel on December 20 to enable the new 30 m mid-body section to commence construction.

The first steel sections to be placed in the dry dock make up the tank top and moonpool of the vessel, weighing collectively 300 tonnes. Other fabrication work in progress is the crane pedestal body. In parallel, new system integration, a significant repair scope and ballast tank life extension programmes are also in progress.

COSTA CLASSICA - the vessel will not return to the yard for completion of the extension work until the end of the new cruising season. As a result 189 employees were made redundant yesterday, these are in addition to the 250 redundancies which occurred in December when the COSTA CLASSICA failed to arrive at the yard. 

At present the Merseyside operation  has enough work for the remaining 600 workers until April. 

NORMANDY - The Irish Ferries vessel arrived at Birkenhead for dry docking on Tuesday January 2.

Luxus claim that they require the backing of the full 80% of UK Treasury guarantees if their two new cruise ships are to be built at Cammell Laird, Birkenhead. The present government offer falls short of this.


Twenty four sailors from Eastern Europe serving aboard a Cypriot registered ship in Dublin who have received no pay for the past five months were finally paid on January 2.

The sailors had approached SIPTU which represents the ITF when their ship docked at Ringaskiddy last week and the owners faced the vessel being arrested if payment was not made.


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