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IRISH SEA NEWS BULLETIN

February 2001

February 28

NOTES & NEWS

Welcome to this mid week update which contains a very unusual LADY OF MANN voyage report written by Adrian Sweeney and illustrated by John & Jenny Williamson and covers exercise LOMEX undertaken on Sunday February 25.

In the next update there should be a RAPIDE Voyage Report. Andrew King has forwarded scans of some very interesting Mersey Maritime Postcards and there should also be some other readers contributions as well. Once again many thanks for the feed back and contributions

Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Adrian Sweeney, John & Jenny Williamson, Tony Brennan, Alan Lee and "others"

SEA CONTAINERS \ Isle of Man Steam Packet Company

RAPIDE - the rumours surrounding the vessel's ability to berth at Douglas were somewhat exaggerated. I understand that she will be able to put both ramps down everywhere, except at the Victoria Pier in Douglas where only the port side one will be used. On the afternoon of Wednesday February 28 RAPIDE visited Langton Dock for some last minute work. The starboard side escape chute appeared to be undergoing attention, whilst work was noted being undertaken on the port side hull, where railings appeared to have been removed. The appearance of RAPIDE on Merseyside makes a welcome change and it is hoped that she has a successful season on the Irish Sea. 

BEN-MY-CHREE the 09:00 Douglas to Heysham and 14:15 return sailing were cancelled due to high winds on February 27.

LADY OF MANN after arrival at Prince's Landing Stage on Monday, the Lady sailed across the river to Cammell Laird for her SOLAS upgrade and she berthed in the wet basin.

HOVERSPEED GREAT BRITAIN - is to be dry-docked on the south coast. If she is not ready in time SEACAT ISLE OF MAN will operate on the Belfast to Heysham route for a few days.

GNER 

For the second time within six month disaster has struck Sea Containers rail operations caused by a freak road accident. A Land Rover pulling a car on a trailer ran off the M62 motorway and on to the East Coast mainline. 

The 04:45 Newcastle to Kings Cross train travelling at 125mph, hit the vehicles and derailed, fouling the northbound track. Shortly afterwards northbound coal train crashed into the derailed passenger train resulting in 13 fatalities and a large number of injuries.

CRUISE SHIP CALLS

MERSEYSIDE - CORRECTION

I erroneously included the wrong date for the visit of the  CLIPPER ADVENTURER (BHS) 4376/75 ex ALLA TARASOVA (Ru)-97, owned by Clipper Cruise Line of St Louis, USA in the last update. The ship will call on July 21 NOT July 27 as originally indicated. She will berth at Gladstone #2.

IRISH FERRIES

NORMANDY - departed from Cammell Lairds on Monday February 26. However, a report from Brian Chambers indicates that due to adverse conditions she was unable to berth at Rosslare and had to seek shelter off the Waterford coast.

ISLE OF INNISFREE - due to adverse conditions the vessel did not sail on Tuesday morning. It was hoped that she would be able to sail Tuesday evening for Pembroke before heading off for refit. The Rosslare to Pembroke service then being operated by the NORMANDY. However, conditions did not improve due to high NE winds. She finally set off for dry docking in Brest on Wednesday afternoon.

ULYSSES

Crowds are expected to line the approaches to Dublin Port at noon on Sunday next (March 4th) to welcome Irish Ferries' new EUR100 million cruise ferry ULYSSES, the world's largest car ferry, which arrives into Dublin ahead of its introduction on the Dublin - Holyhead route beginning at the end of March.

Built in Finland, ULYSSES ranks as the world's largest car ferry for the fact that no other ferry - existing or under construction - can match its vehicle carrying capacity.  Housed within its gigantic car decks are almost three miles of vehicle lane parking space - room to carry 1,342 cars or 240 articulated trucks per sailing.  To the man on the street...that's twice the car parking capacity of the St. Stephen's Green Shopping Centre.  In just one day of operations, ULYSSES has space to carry up to 5,368 cars or 960 freight units - a convoy almost as long as Dublin's M50 motorway.  It has a complement of 2,000 passengers/crew and will operate two return sailings daily with a voyage time from Dublin - Holyhead of just over three hours. At 50,938 gross registered tonnes ULYSSES has a towering presence in the water.  Standing 12 decks high, it has a keel-to-mast height of 167.5 ft - just 30 ft shorter than Dublin's Liberty Hall.  Its high ceilings, spacious reception areas and wide walkways give ULYSSES a liner-like feeling of openness and spaciousness.  Amongst its many impressive features is a wide 'promenade' walkway encircling the full interior of the vessel. On board features include a complex of bistro-style restaurants, waiter service and themed food outlets, two cinemas, a 500-seat traditional Irish pub, a 350-seat top deck Observation Lounge with breath-taking views to sea in all directions.  Other amenities include a shopping mall, Victorian-style children's playroom, reading room and television lounges equipped with latest wide screens, video games zones, an electronic gaming area, crew gym, fully-equipped medical centre and helicopter landing pad.  One 'breathtaking' feature is a glass-fronted passenger lift which operates on the outside of the vessel high above the water. Two striking interior art works are a bust of James Joyce in wood carved by Irish sculptor Cornelius Breen and a number of impressionist paintings of Joyce and Nora Barnacle by Irish artist Tom Roche.  The Joycean connection is also reflected in a walking tour which conveys the story of Joyce and ULYSSES and in the names given to the public areas on board.

ULYSSES is the fourth new vessel introduced by Irish Ferries on their Ireland - Britain routes in recent years bringing their investment in new ships and services to over EUR450 million.  Before ULYSSES enters service, swimmer Mairéad Berry - Ireland's 25-years old Paralympic Games gold medal winner - will be its 'golden godmother' at a special naming ceremony to be held in Dublin Port towards the end of March.  In the presence of An Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern TD and other guests, Mairéad will say the words 'I name this vessel ULYSSES.  May God bless her and all who sail in her' before sending the traditional bottle of champagne crashing off the ship's hull.

Asked how she felt being asked to name the world's largest car ferry, Mairéad said that she was 'honoured and delighted' to be chosen.  'I am very excited and looking forward to the ceremony...it will be a proud day for me and for my family' she said.  Responding, Irish Ferries' Managing Director Éamonn Rothwell said 'we are delighted that Mairéad has agreed to be godmother to ULYSSES.  Ireland's world-beating swimmer naming Ireland's world-beating car ferry...it's a magical combination'.

CAMMELL LAIRD

This week Lloyd's List reported that Cammell Laird has pioneered the use of a new time saving technique to repair ro/ro ferry decks. The work was undertaken during the refit of EUROPEAN SEAFARER.

The repair employed a new system, SPS Overlay, devised by Intelligent Engineering and the chemical manufacturer BASF. It permitted the damaged deck to remain in situ, overlaying a thin plate upon it, and injecting liquid elastomer between the two.

Some 1,100 sq m of the ro-ro’s vehicle deck was reinstated in this fashion, with 72 laminated panels being put in place inside16 days.

The final appearance saw the deck changed from the “washboard” effect caused by years of heavy traffic, to a completely level deck. The vessel’s fixed upper deck ramp was also overlaid in the operation.

Instead of a major work of “ship surgery” in which the damaged deck would have to be cut out, risking damage to the structure, pipes and wiring beneath, the SPS Overlay technique requires the deck to be blasted clean before spacers and backing bars are welded to it.

New large steel plates were then welded to the bars to form cavities into which the polyurethane elastomer was injected. A typical cavity thus formed would have a surface area of some 20 sq m and it was found possible to inject eight panels in an eight-hour shift.

The liquid elastomer, which bonds to top and bottom plates, sets within 15 minutes and is cured within three hours.

The repair, which was undertaken without interfering with other repair work taking place throughout the ferry, employed a team from the BASF subsidiary Elastogran to do the injection work, while the steelwork was done by the Cammell Laird repairers.

The similar work is being undertaken on EUROPEAN NAVIGATOR.



FISHERIES GRANTS FOR CORNWALL AND THE ISLES OF SCILLY
NOW OPEN TO APPLICATIONS

Grants for the sea fishing industry in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly under the European Union structural funds programme are now open to applications.

Their core aims will be to increase fishermen's safety, improve quality of fish caught and make fishing methods more environmentally friendly. Fisheries grants for the remainder of England will be launched in the spring.

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

"I am delighted to open to applications the fisheries grants programme for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly which will implement their strategies for the fishing industry under their Objective 1 programmes. I have already announced that #5 million will be available for these grants for the next three years from April 2001 and the programme has been open to expressions of interest since October. The application forms are now available.

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

"Grants will be available for a range of investments such as:

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

"MAFF and the local Government Offices will work closely with the Cornwall Partnership to help implement the fisheries strategy.

"Applications may be submitted at any time. Applicants wishing to be considered in the first round should submit their applications to South West PESCA Ltd by the end of March. Initially applications will be approved at six-weekly meetings of the Cornwall Objective 1 Working Group."

CLYDEPORT

According to a recent report in Lloyd's List Clydeport has planning permission in place for its proposed £6m ro-ro terminal at Port Glasgow, but this project appears to have found its way back on to the shelf.

The scheme, for part of the former Scott Lithgow site, was drawn up with P&O Irish Sea as the potential anchor operator, but P&O is instead relocating from Ardrossan to ABP’s Troon.

Clydeport chief executive Tom Allison is quoted as saying:

“When the P&O decision came through it naturally was a setback. We are still committed to the plan and I still want to go down that road — I believe it is ideal for the huge volumes from the Scottish central corridor. However, we have quite a few projects on the go at the moment, so it is not the number one priority.”

Clydeport is investing £700,000 in a new passenger terminal at Ardrossan, to serve Caledonian MacBrayne’s ferry service to Arran. Due for completion in June, the terminal is part of Clydeport’s regeneration of Ardrossan Harbour.

MARITIME & COASTGUARD AGENCY

FALMOUTH COASTGUARD CO-ORDINATE ASSISTANCE FOR
FRENCH FISHING VESSEL


At 00:21 on Monday February 26, Falmouth Coastguard were alerted to a distressed French fishing vessel which had began to leak diesel from its fuel tank, half a mile south of The Lizard.

The 21-metre fishing vessel, carrying ten tonnes of diesel, had ceased fishing, when she ran into difficulties. Falmouth Coastguard immediately began to co-ordinate assistance for the French vessel, despite being unable to communicate directly with the 5 French speaking crew.

Instead Falmouth Coastguard have been communicating with the French crewmen via the Dutch salvage tug TORAX, which had been in Mounts Bay in between The Lizard and Lands End.

The tug TORAX is made its way to the scene and transfered salvage pumps. In the meantime Falmouth Coastguard requested the launch of the RNLI Lifeboat from Lizard and the Royal Navy Sea King Helicopter based at Culdrose. A salvage pump was installed to keep the vessel afloat.

The Emergency Towing Vessel FAR SKY was also tasked and headed to the scene.

February 25

NOTES & NEWS

UPDATES

For those of you who have not visited the site since last weekend please note that an additional update was posted on Thursday February 22. The Thursday news bulletin can be found below this posting. Please check "What's New" to check out other updates.

Due to various commitments during March I have had to adjust the scheduled mid week updates slightly. Details can be found on the Update Schedule page.

DETENTION LISTS

Including the MCA's detention lists for ships at Irish Sea ports apparently caused problems with the page formatting. The monthly list of ships detained at UK Irish Sea ports will now appear as a separate page which can be accessed from the Maritime Information menu. This will enable people to find the information more readily rather than keeping it inside each month's news page.

Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Dave Crolley, Stan Basnett, John & Jenny Williamson, Patrick C. Taylor and "others"

SEA CONTAINERS \ Isle of Man Steam Packet Company

RAPIDE On Friday the vessel sailed for berthing trials at Holyhead and Douglas. It is understood that at Douglas there were problems getting her to fit either of the linkspans. Of course it might just be one of those rumours which are associated with new ships, there were certainly a few flying around when the BEN-MY-CHREE arrived in 1998. On Saturday she made another fleeting visit to Douglas for further trials. Stan Basnett has sent some photographs. It is interesting to note the large number of Sea Co staff gathered around the port ramp. It is understood that the RAPIDE also visited Heysham for berthing trials. 

Additional metal work appears to be in the process of being fitted to the outside of the Liverpool linkspan road deck presumably to cope with the vessel's much greater beam.

LADY OF MANN - On Sunday February 25, the LADY complete with volunteer passengers took part in a major maritime exercise designed to simulate response to a fire at sea. Operation "Lomex" involved the participation of the coastguard, fire service and lifeboat service, however, the intended participation of a rescue helicopter did not materialise. 

SUPERSEACAT TWO is reported to have finally left her berth on February 22 and went out on engine trials on February 22 and 23. Repairs which resulted in her premature withdrawal from the Belfast to Heysham route have now been undertaken. However, it is understood that she is still operating on three engines. She is currently rumoured to be departing Belfast in mid-March.

SEACAT ISLE OF MAN - it appears that she will reopen the Belfast to Heysham service whilst HOVERSPEED GREAT BRITAIN is dry docked, before taking up her duties from Douglas on routes to the UK and Ireland.


IRISH FERRIES

Fog disrupted sailings between Rosslare and Pembroke on February 19 with the ISLE OF INNISFREE reportedly fogbound at Pembroke.

ULYSSES

  • The Marino Casino which takes its name from a garden pavilion erected for the first Earl of Charlemont to the north of Dublin. The building is considered to be the finest example of neo-classical architecture in Ireland. On board the ship the Marino Casino will house the latest generation of gaming machines.

  • On the top deck, deck 11 can be found the Martello Observation Lounge and Bar. With 350 seats the lounge will offer panoramic views and takes its name from the Sandycove Martello Tower, near Dún Laoghaire.

  • The 500 seat traditional Irish Pub will be known as Leopold Blooms. This will serve a varied menu of hot dishes, soup and sandwiches. 

  • For the children there will be Silly Milly's Fun House styled along the lines of a Victorian Fun House, children will find games and puzzles to keep them amused. 

  • On board shopping will be available in the Grafton Shopping Arcade, taking its name from one of Dublin's most famous shopping streets.

  • Nora Barnacle's Food Emporium will provide three different styles of food outlet.

  • The Volta Picture Theatre has two screens offering  the latest in Hollywood movies. 

  • A high-tech entertainment centre will be provided at Cyclops - this will have the latest video and electronic games.

PENINSULAR & ORIENTAL STEAM NAVIGATION COMPANY

It is believed that EUROPEAN TRADER will be laid up at Harland and Wolff as was PRIDE OF RATHLIN after withdrawal pending sale and delivery to her new owners.

ISLES OF SCILLY STEAMSHIP COMPANY

The Isles of Scilly Steamship Company, operators of sea and air services to the Isles of Scilly are planning to build a replacement for the 1977 Appledore built RMV SCILLONIAN III. 

A report in the Cornishman newspaper this week states that the company is seeking to raise between £15m and £20m to construct a new vessel SCILLONIAN IV which will be larger, faster and more comfortable. The new vessel will have a speed of 22knots which would reduce the present crossing time from around 2 hours 40 minutes to 2 hours. 

The recently appointed chief executive of the company Jeff Marston will put into place a new management structure which aims to improve the company's profitability.

STENA LINE

STENA GALLOWAY will be withdrawn for SOLAS upgrade and will be off service Saturday 3rd March until Sunday 24th March 2001.

The last service before withdrawal will be 06:30 March 3  from Stranraer and the first service afterwards is anticipated to be in the afternoon of March 24 from  Belfast.

STENA BEATRIX A shipbroker has reported that although the KONINGIN BEATRIX is not for sale as such it is understand that if offered the right price Stena would definitely be keen to sell her.  (Having previously almost sold the vessel to Marine Atlantic of Canada, the new owners of the STENA CHALLENGER).

The shipbroker in question reports that delivery may be possible for Autumn 2001 and that she would be very suitable for upgrading to a cruise ship with 542 cabins, 1350 berths.  (Suggesting provisional plans for a conversion have been drawn up).

The asking price is said to be around $50 million which seems a little on the expensive side.

PRINCE ALBERT

PRINCE ALBERT The former Yugoslav passenger vessel, now described as a private yacht that was to have become a floating restaurant at the Albert Dock has been detained by the Maritime & Coastguard Agency. The vessel is listed in the January 2001 detentions list as still under detention at the end of the month.

The 875grt PRINCE ALBERT is owned by Newton Stewart Investors. The vessel was detained by MCA inspectors on January 9, 2001 two days after a major rescue operation was mounted involving a tug, lifeboat and RAF helicopter to bring the vessel back to Liverpool after she had run into difficulties following whilst undergoing engine trials.

The vessel, carrying the Caribbean registration of St Vincent & Grenadines is recorded by the MCA as being dangerously unsafe with defective steering gear and constant ingress of water into forward bilges.

ASSOCIATED BRITISH PORTS

GOOD YEAR FOR ASSOCIATED BRITISH PORTS’ NORTH-WEST PORTS 

Associated British Ports’ (ABP) ports in the North-West delivered good results in 2000, with developments in trades such as agribulks, forest products and roll-on/roll-off (ro-ro).

GARSTON
At Garston, the completion of a 4,800 sq m extension to a grain store in August - as part of a £2 million investment programme - enabled the port to handle significantly higher volumes of agribulks in 2000. The port’s growing reputation as a first-class centre for the storage and distribution of specialist grain products complements Garston’s traditional role as being the primary source of steel for the automotive industry in the North-West.

FLEETWOOD
The Port of Fleetwood’s importance in the growing Irish Sea trade was boosted by the addition of a third ship on P&O Irish Sea’s Fleetwood/Larne service. There are three return sailings a day on the service, which has been running at near-capacity throughout 2000.

The fishing industry at Fleetwood however was dealt a severe blow by the Government’s three-month ban on any fishing in the Irish Sea, as part of stock-conservation measures.

BARROW
The Port of Barrow continued to support the offshore industry in 2000, with a new platform for the Millom West gas field being assembled and shipped through the port in the Summer for Burlington Resources. The year 2000 also saw the launch of Wave Knight, the first surface-ship built at the port-located BAE Systems Marine shipyard for many years. Wave Knight is a tanker which will be used by the Royal Fleet Auxiliary.

In August, Barrow’s potential as a cruise port was once again recognised with the successful visit of Ocean Majesty, the 10,417-tonne luxury cruise liner on charter to Page & Moy Ltd.

AYR & TROON
The Ports of Ayr & Troon handled over twice as much timber in 2000, thanks to the success of the new “TimberLink” project. The environmentally-friendly scheme – which is being supported by a £4.4m Freight Facility Grant awarded to ABP by the Scottish Executive – is helping to reduce road traffic in Scotland by transporting logs by sea to Ayrshire from the Argyll peninsula. Around 70,000 tonnes of timber were handled on the new service in 2000, removing some 1.2 million lorry miles off the roads.

In April, Sea Containers’ Irish Sea Operations (‘Sea Containers’) moved its operations from Stranraer, making Troon the only Scottish port of call on the high-speed ferry service between Scotland and Ireland. In addition, Sea Containers increased the number of sailings on the SeaCat passenger service from two return journeys a day to three.

In August, ABP received the necessary consents and approvals for the construction of a major new ro-ro terminal at Troon for P&0 Irish Sea’s service to Northern Ireland. By moving its operations to Troon, P&O Irish Sea will be able to use larger vessels than are currently being used on the route to Larne. The construction of the new terminal, which will be located on the port’s East Pier, is under way; it is scheduled to be operational by July 2001.

Fertiliser throughput at the Port of Ayr increased by some 83 per cent over 2000, boosted by imports for Hydro Agri, a new customer. ABP is currently developing a brand-new storage and distribution terminal for fertilisers, which will be operational in Summer 2001. The new terminal, which will provide 5,000 sq m of covered storage space, will be used mainly for the handling of Hydro Agri’s imports of fertiliser from Norway and The Netherlands.

Budha Majumdar, ABP’s Port Director, Short-Sea Ports, said:

“2000 has been an good year for ABP’s ports in the North-West. Our strategy of long-term investment in new facilities for customers has led to exciting new developments in trades such as agribulks, forest products and ro-ro. The prospects for 2001 are promising.”

TRADE DIVERSIFICATION BOOSTS PERFORMANCE OF ABP’S SOUTH WALES PORTS

Success in winning new customers, broadening the range of trades handled at Associated British Ports’ (ABP) South Wales Ports – Newport, Cardiff, Barry and Swansea & Port Talbot – has boosted performance during 2000, and growth has been seen in a number of traffics including coal imports, chemical exports and forest products.

Coal volumes at Newport have grown with the start of new business handling coal imports for AES Fifoots Point Power Station, which are used to complement the power station’s coal supply portfolio. This follows the port’ s investment in a new rail spur on South Dock, allowing the coal to be transferred directly by rail. The new rail spur is also available for other freight movements, and Newport is continuing to develop its non-ship-borne trade, with a further increase in road-to-rail traffic handled during 2000. Newport’s dry bulks trade also received a boost recently when agreement was reached with Optiroc Exclay Ltd, the world’s largest producer of light expanded clay aggregate, to handle imports of lightweight aggregates.

Cardiff’s dedicated Forest Products Terminal was expanded during 2000 with the completion of Cardiff Timber Terminal, providing an additional 5,500 sq m of covered storage to accommodate the port’s rapidly-growing forest products trade. The port also completed an investment in its chill store facilities, built in response to growing customer demand. The extended chill store provides an additional 2,800 pallet spaces for a range of chilled
products.

During 2000, ABP announced a £2.5 million investment in a new distribution terminal located at the Port of Cardiff, which will be operated by ABP’s warehousing and distribution subsidiary, Slaters Transport. Cardiff Distribution Terminal – as it will be known - will become operational in the first quarter of 2001, and has already secured its first customer, leading pet-products specialist The Bob Martin Company.

Barry has performed well during 2000. Its chemicals traffic continues to expand following the completion of Dow Corning’s Genesis project, and the port has successfully developed other traffics such as molasses and grain, with regular grain imports for Rank Hovis having restarted after an absence of five years.

Swansea & Port Talbot has also won new business. At Swansea, a new trade in handling glass imports commenced during the year, and at Port Talbot Dock, an investment by the port’s customer Civil and Marine Slag Cement Limited has resulted in new bulks business.

Commenting on the performance of ABP’s South Wales Ports for 2000, John Copping, Port Director, said:

“In a challenging business environment, our performance has been encouraging. The ability to diversify the range of trades handled and widen our customer base is an important part of our growth strategy, and these results show clearly that we are beginning to achieve this.”

MARITIME & COASTGUARD AGENCY

BARBARA AGROUND

On February 23, Liverpool Coastguard reported the coastal vessel BARBARA aground in the Wyre estuary. They were alerted shortly after midnight by the P&O ship EUROPEAN PIONEER. The BARBARA was en route from Glasson Dock to Hamburg and had seven crew on board.

SEA ANGLERS RESCUED FROM FOG

At 14:20 on February 21, Swansea Coastguard was alerted by the friend of a father and son lost in dense fog on their 16ft boat ‘Sea Spray’. The pair had called ashore when their radio aerial broke and their compass fell apart leaving them hoping they were sailing back to Mumbles but not completely sure of their own location or which direction they were sailing in.

The father and son, from Ebbw Vale in Newport left Swigg Buoy in Swansea Bay one and half hours previously and thought they were heading north east back to the Bay but were in actual fact heading in the opposite direction towards Port Talbot.

Swansea Coastguard requested the launch of the RNLI all weather lifeboat from Mumbles, tasked Coastguard Rescue Teams from Port Talbot and Mumbles. The Port Talbot team carried out at visual search of the shoreline. The lifeboat was assisted in the sea search by the Sea Fisheries Protection vessel that was in the area at the time the crew of which soon located father and son, escorting them back to Port Talbot deep water harbour.

The boat then suffered engine failure but was towed by the lifeboat back to Knab Rock where the two were helped ashore by the Mumbles Coastguard Rescue Team. Neither men needed medical assistance.

Swansea Coastguard Watch Assistant, David Jones commented:

"Both father and son expressed their relief to me when they realised help was on it’s way, they had both become worried about the situation they were in and did the right thing in alerting someone ashore who knew to contact the Coastguard straight away."

CAMMELL LAIRD 

The prospects of the two 400 passenger Luxus cruise ships being built in the UK have all but faded.

According to Lloyd's List earlier this week unless the DTI cut its requirement for a performance bond, or refund guarantee from $250m to $150m the contract would be "dead in the water".

However, neither Cammell Laird or Luxus, are in a position to finance a bond of this size. Cammell Laird assets are estimated to be around 66% of the $150m whilst its market capitalisation is only around $54m due to the heavy fall in share price following the cancellation of the COSTA CLASSICA contract. Lloyd's List speculates that the performance bond requirement would have to be reduced to around $50m to enable the contract to proceed.

It appears that Luxus is now considering construction of the vessels in France where Cammell Laird has a facility in Marseilles.

February 22

NOTES & NEWS

EXTRA UPDATE!

Due to the amount of new material, and the fact that I am still on holiday has led to another unscheduled update to help clear the back-log. Not all material submitted since last Sunday has been included in this update, some of which will be held over until next Sunday.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: Gary Andrews, Tony  Brennan, Sara Cass, Kevin Bennett, Justin Merrigan - Incat, Alistair Deayton, Nick Widdows and "others".

SEA CONTAINERS \ Isle of Man Steam Packet Company

SEACAT ISLE OF MAN departed Douglas at around 05:30 on February 19, bound for Cammell Laird's [Wright & Beyer] Bidston Dry Dock.

BEN-MY-CHREE the 20:00 sailing from Douglas to Heysham on Saturday February 17 encountered thick fog and slowed up arriving off Heysham harbour around 01:20 on Sunday February 18. However no berth was available and she waited outside.  She finally berthed and pax were disembarked at 03:55. She finally arrived back at Douglas at 08:30 and rather late. This of course delayed delivery of the newspapers in the Isle of Man

The 19:45 sailing from Heysham on February 19 was also delayed by dense fog. Her return 02:15 sailing from Heysham was delayed until 07:25 with an eta in Douglas of 11:00. Consequently the 09:00 sailing to Heysham was cancelled with pax being diverted to the 19:45. Passengers for the 14:15 ex-Heysham were diverted to a special sailing operated by the LADY OF MANN which departed from Liverpool at 16:30.

RAPIDE - went into Langton on February 19. Mechanical problems delayed her departure from the stage which delayed the LADY OF MANN's inbound sailing. An emergency exercise has been held on board RAPIDE with rescue boats deployed ed. 

On Thursday February 22 RAPIDE sailed for Dublin. Kevin Bennett reports that she left her Langton Dock berth at around 07:47 and was in the river by 08:20. Tony Brennan in Dublin reports that she arrived there at approximately 12:15. She was still at Dublin at 14:00 though she was back in the River Mersey around 18:00 where she moved to the stage, with the LADY OF MANN anchoring in the River for the night.  She appears to have lost her Hoverspeed and SeaCat logos during the past few days.


PENINSULAR & ORIENTAL STEAM NAVIGATION COMPANY

EUROPEAN PATHFINDER will replace the EUROPEAN TRADER on the Larne - Cairnryan route.   EUROPEAN TRADER will be sold.  Gary Andrews notes that Interestingly the EUROPEAN TRADER is one of the few ferries around our coasts of that kind of vintage still to retain her original name.  The 'Trader has operated the North Channel service since 1996.

The EUROPEAN SEAFARER will replace the EUROPEAN PATHFINDER on the Rosslare - Cherbourg route and as well as bringing an increase in capacity is undoubtedly a much more suitable vessel for that length of route.  Though the 'Pathfinder has undoubtedly built up a good level of traffic on the route since instigating it in 1993.

The EUROPEAN NAVIGATOR will remain on Larne - Fleetwood until the "Causeway2" enters service on the Larne - Cairnryan next Summer and will transfer to Larne - Troon.  Presumably at this stage it is the intention that she is to be replaced on Larne - Fleetwood by either the EUROPEAN ENDEAVOUR or EUROPEAN PATHFINDER.

The EUROPEAN HIGHLANDER will operate Larne - Ardrossan (Troon from this summer) until replaced by the EUROPEAN NAVIGATOR as above.  Her fate is not yet decided.

Mostyn - Dublin will commence July 2001 using the EUROPEAN AMBASSADOR and EUROPEAN ENVOY.

MERSEY FERRIES

MOUNTWOOD will go into dry dock in March to meet an increase in demand  for charter work. The vessel - one of the ferries' three strong fleet - will be given a new look, with extended passenger facilities and new, low emission engines. MOUNTWOOD, which was built in 1960, will undergo the work at the Wright and Beyer yard in Birkenhead, which is part of the Cammell Laird group. It follows the success of remodelling the OVERCHURCH and re-naming her the ROYAL DAFFODIL.

Vessel improvements so far have led to a significant increase in charter work which is reported to be up by two thirds. Projections suggest there will be even more people riding on the ferries in the coming summer.

PORT OF MOSTYN 

On February 20 the Port of Mostyn announced the construction of phase 2 of its port redevelopment has now commenced. The cost of the project is £17m with construction being undertaken by JV Van Oord, Harbour and General and Birse Constructions.

The second phase development will include the following:

A new 180m length riverside berth with 20 acres of land for cargo handling and warehousing operations.

A new roll on roll off ferry terminal is also being constructed. A long term user agreement for this terminal has been completed with P&O Irish Sea Ltd. P&O Irish Sea Ltd have confirmed they will introduce a Mostyn - Dublin service from this terminal in late summer of this year.



ELDER DEMPSTER

MARIANNA VI (ex AUREOL) which operated for Elder Dempster out of Liverpool is to be scrapped by Indian breakers after being laid up for a considerable period. The vessel was built by Alexander Stephen and Sons at Glasgow. Her statistics: 14,083 GRT, 537 x 70 feet, Twin screw, diesel engines, 16 knots. 253 1st, 76 cabin class passengers; crew 145. She was launched on March 28, 1951 and made her maiden voyage between  Liverpool and Lagos November 3.


MARITIME & COASTGUARD AGENCY

18 FOREIGN SHIPS UNDER DETENTION IN THE UK DURING JANUARY

Eighteen foreign ships were under detention in UK ports during January 2001 after failing port state control safety inspection, the Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA) announced this week.

Latest monthly figures show that 12 foreign ships were detained in UK ports during January 2001 along with 6 ships still under detention from previous months. The overall rate of detentions compared with inspections carried out over the last 12 months is 7.6%. This is an increase of 1.3% from the 12 month rate to December. The ships detained included:-

A St Vincent & Grenadines flag tanker detained for the third time in just less than 2 years under the Paris MoU. On this occasion she was detained for 12 days in Felixstowe. Twenty eight deficiencies were noted, including some which could have seriously affected the vessel's ability to control a fire in the engine room. The Master and Chief Engineer certificates did not comply with STCW requirements.

A St Vincent & Grenadines flag 875 ton pleasure yacht [PRINCE ALBERT!] detained at Liverpool as being dangerously unsafe with defective steering gear and a constant ingress of water into forward bilges.

A Russian-flag general cargo vessel still under detention in Falmouth with cracks on decks, defects in tanks and hatch covers unable to be secured weather tight due to damage, corrosion and distortion.

Eight of the twelve vessels detained in January were registered with flags targeted for priority inspections under the Paris Memorandum of Understanding on Port State Control.

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 www.mcga.gov.uk


WORLD NEWS

INCAT NEWS

INCAT NEWS SITE GOES LIVE

World leading fast ferry builder Incat has taken its ever popular web site, www.incat.com.au, one step further with the addition of a News Facility section.

The Incat news site is maintained by dedicated content management staff at the shipyard in Hobart, Tasmania. Visitors to the Incat web site can now check back regularly for up to the minute information relating to new vessels, technical details, media releases and for details about our ships in service.

The Incat News site also contains a photo gallery for media use. Members of the media can now access password protected hi-resolution images for publication, direct from the site.

Just as Incat’s high speed ships continue to evolve, so too the web site follows a natural course. The site is at the heart of Incat’s strategy to carry our message to the global audience with an interest in all things high speed.

February 18

NOTES & NEWS

EXTRA UPDATE

Please note that there was an additional, unscheduled update posted on Thursday February 15 - please check "What's New" for details.  

CRUISE SHIP CALLS

I have commenced compilation of the Irish Sea cruise ship calls list for 2001 for ports on the Irish Sea and adjacent areas. A limited amount of  information is now available, with the 2000 entries now deleted. If anyone has information of forthcoming cruise ship calls at their local port for the forthcoming coming season please send details to: merseyship@btinternet.com 

GONE TO IRELAND

Please note that I will be in Ireland from Monday to Wednesday and there will be no responses to e-mails from around 17:00 on Sunday evening until Thursday.

E-MAIL REMINDER

Just a reminder that all M&ISS e-mail should now be sent to merseyship@btinternet.com .

Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Patrick C. Taylor, Mike O'Brien, Kevin Bennett, Sara Cass, John & Jenny Williamson and "others".

VIEWPOINT: FARE DEAL FOR ENTHUSIASTS? 

Do shipping enthusiasts get a "fare" deal from ferry companies? I imagine until the end of Duty Free in 1999 we all thought that fares were wonderfully cheap and we sailed back and forth for nominal fares filling our film rolls and notebooks whilst the booze cruisers filled their carrier bags. I dare say we also bought a few duty free goodies as well, though probably nowhere near as much as some of the professional "booze cruisers".

The saying "All good things come to an end" held true and the Eurocrats put paid to Duty Free on  June 30,  1999. At that time everyone forecast that fares would increase which invariably they did. That increase was understandable given the substantial loss of revenue incurred. However, there does appear to be one group of passengers that have suffered more than others mainly as a result of the withdrawal of certain fares and ticket types.

My main concern is for those people who enjoy sailing on ferries just for the journey. I am not just talking about ship enthusiasts but also groups of ordinary people who would just like to take a trip for a day out and then return home on the next sailing. 

For example in 1999 after Duty Free ended, Sea Containers continued to issue day return fares on the Liverpool to Dublin route. Whilst the £10 duty free flyers were no longer available, the alternative £19 day return fare aimed at those wishing to return on the evening sailing was available for return travel on the afternoon return sailing. 

However, at the start of the 2000 Season no such day trip fares were available. The alternative was to purchase a short break return, but this was considerably more expensive. However, once in Dublin there was enough time when checking in for the return sailing to purchase your next ticket in punts which afforded a 20% or greater saving on the sterling fare thanks to the favourable exchange rates. Later in 2000 £19 non-landing fares were once again available from Liverpool. On visiting the Liverpool Terminal this week to book a trip on the LADY OF MANN next weekend I enquired if the "non-landing" fares would be available on the Dublin route for 2001. Apparently no decision has been made as yet. 

UNFARE CONDITIONS

The Isle of Man routes have never enjoyed Duty Free status and day excursion fares were always higher by comparison to those offered on the Liverpool to Dublin route between 1997 and 1999, though still competitively priced. Since the Sea Containers take-over of the Isle of Man Steam Packet company such  fares have become even better value for money.

As I write this I have in front of me a 1994 fares list - pre Sea Containers take over. Looking at the fares listed for the Isle of Man routes many comparative fares are cheaper now than seven years ago. One has to be very unlucky, usually caused by leaving your booking too late at busy times, not to be able to secure a good fare either as a foot passenger or with a vehicle. This year day trip visitors to the Isle of Man will be able to avail themselves of  an Isle of Man Explorer Ticket for £27 which will include the return ferry fare AND unlimited travel on all Isle of Man public transport including the Snaefell Mountain Railway. 

The Isle of Man Explorer Ticket obviously represents excellent value for money and will save a full day visitor a significant amount of money over that  they would have had to spend on bus/train/tram tickets.  This all in £27 ticket is £1 less than the tariff "A" day peak period return fare offered in 1994.

After the praise comes the criticism. This does not concern fares but a new condition imposed by Sea Containers which hits ship enthusiasts quite hard. The condition is contained in the small print of edition 2 of the 2001 Isle of Man timetable.  It did not appear in issue 1 and effectively drives passengers wanting to make short day trips into the higher priced footloose fares.

The condition reads "Day excursion fares - Outward journey must commence before 11:00 and return journey must commence the same day" There is an exception, apparently for day trips from the Isle of Man to Heysham return is possible on the 02:15 the following morning. 

This restriction is particularly unfair to those wishing to go for a sail. For example a day trip from Heysham to Douglas out on the 14:15 and returning on the 19:45/20:00 will now cost a minimum of £38 [footloose] compared to £20 or £25 day return. The same will apply to anyone wishing to undertake an evening trip to and from Douglas from Liverpool on RAPIDE, afternoon trips from Douglas to Liverpool [plus her Dublin sailing next Christmas] on LADY OF MANN during her period of operation and also anyone wishing to travel on SEACAT ISLE OF MAN to Ireland and Heysham from Douglas.

The number of people who would undertake such journeys is rather small, and I doubt they would turn up in enough numbers to pose capacity problems on all but the busiest of summer and TT sailings. Besides the number of available spaces on busy sailings could be controlled by the booking system as before.  Therefore, one must ask why impose this restriction? What is the logic behind it? 

Perhaps some people have been buying day-returns instead of singles on some journeys and it has been imposed as a revenue protection exercise. [But then you are not supposed to carry luggage on day-return tickets or so the notice at Liverpool reads.]  If it is for revenue protection increase the cost of the day return to that of the standard peak single £29 which would still represent reasonable value for money.  

What I would like to see is ferry companies realise that there are people, not just ship enthusiasts, but also members of the general public who would welcome a day excursion to sea at reasonable fares. It is not just enthusiasts who fill the decks of BALMORAL and WAVERLEY "just for a sail". 

Providing competitively priced facilities would fill up empty seats when it its less busy, provide additional income in the shop, bar and café etc. This recent condition change on Isle of Man routes might be small but it will effect people including myself. 

I usually make around five or six return trips from Heysham to Douglas during the spring and summer on the BEN-MY-CHREE. Yes, Sea Co I'll still make these journeys paying the higher footloose rate. I like the ship and the pleasant afternoon sail across to Douglas, a brisk walk along the promenade or around Douglas Harbour before returning on the evening sailing to Heysham. However, no more money will be extracted from me as I will probably make one less journey and not spend as much on board when I travel.

A REFRESHINGLY "FARE" ATTITUDE TO ENTHUSIASTS

Now after the criticism of Sea Container's apparently penalising enthusiasts wishing to undertake certain trips  it is pleasing to note that another ferry operator which sails out of Heysham is willing to make facilities available for enthusiasts even though they are a freight service. Well done SeaTruck!

This week the following message appeared on the Irish Sea Ships group posted by Alistair Eagles, Sales Director of SeaTruck Ferries:

"Seatruck Ferries are pleased to offer any ferry enthusiast highly discounted trips aboard our vessels on the daytime crossings from Heysham to Warrenpoint or Warrenpoint to Heysham. Sailings take 9hrs passing south of the Isle of Man and the navigation of the scenic Carlingford Lough.

Spaces are limited but we would be happy to provide an insight into our busy operation including engine room and bridge visits.

Anyone interested should email me alistair@seatruck-ferries.co.uk.

Further information regarding the Seatruck Ferries service can be found at www.seatruckferries.com"

CONCLUSION

It is probably unfair to single out Sea Containers as being guilty of not recognising the potential for exploiting day trips to sea for enthusiasts and others. The criticisms above probably apply to other ferry operators around the UK in one form or another. [I have been informed that Stena Line, do not allow day trips between Belfast and Stranraer on Saturdays.] I would certainly be interested in hearing of other people's experiences. The best place to post them would be on the Irish Sea Ships Group http://groups.yahoo.com/group/IrishSeaShips 

For those people in the industry responsible for setting fares and conditions please try to understand there are people out there prepared to fill up your empty seats for a reasonable day trip fare. BUT please don't impose unreasonable conditions which force such people into higher fare bands. Remember if your ship returns to its starting point as most ferries do, in the same day there may always be someone who wants to go along "just for the sail".

SEA CONTAINERS \ Isle of Man Steam Packet Company

SUPERSEACAT THREE departed from Merseyside on Monday February 12. She passed the Rock, New Brighton outward bound at 15:30.

RAPIDE arrived at the Pier Head at 20:05 on Thursday, February 15. On arrival she still wore her Hoverspeed fleetnames.  She was due to remain on the stage until 07:00 when she was to have come off to allow the LADY OF MANN to berth and board passengers for her 08:30 sailing to Douglas. However, a correspondent monitoring comms traffic on the Mersey informed me that she was experiencing engine problems. RAPIDE then travelled out to the Bar whilst the LADY OF MANN boarded, before remaining at the stage for most of Friday. She once again left the stage at around 17:15 to allow the LADY OF MANN to berth on her arrival from Douglas and prepare for the 19:00 departure. Another cruise down River and out to sea followed before she returned to the Landing Stage once more.

On Saturday February 17, RAPIDE departed from Liverpool in very murky conditions bound for Douglas around 10:30 running on three engines. She reported all secure on the Landing Stage to Mersey Radio at around 19:20 on Saturday evening.

PICASSO Sea Containers are obviously having problems selling the vessel which remains laid up in Vittoria Dock, Birkenhead. According to ship broker reports the asking price of the ship is now $750,000, previously $1,000,000 and $1,750,000 had originally been asked for.

LADY OF MANN - It is understood that that the original suggestion that cabins 1 and 3 would be knocked together to create a Blue Riband Lounge will not now take place when the vessel is refitted this spring. However, the smoking lounge near the bar will be divided in two to provide the new facilities.

The programme of special excursions now looks as being:

  • Douglas to Troon - 19 May

  • Troon to Douglas - 20 May

  • Llandudno to Douglas - 21 May

  • Douglas - Whitehaven - Douglas  -Whitehaven - Douglas - 22 May

  • Fleetwood - Douglas 23 May

  • Llandudno - Douglas 24 May. 

Passengers from Douglas may use the two Llandudno sailings to provide for a short break using footloose fares.


ISLE OF MAN DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORT

Passenger figures for the Harbours Division for January.

During January car traffic through Douglas Harbour increased by 12.6% from 4,687 vehicles to 5,277 vehicles.

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:

20002001
Heyshamplus 32%7, 4439,802
Liverpoolminus 17%6,9115,707

Freight traffic metreage increased by 23

Director of Harbours, Captain Michael Brew commented: "January 2001 passenger figures are again a record for any January, continuing the trend of on-going growth seen in recent years. The travelling public are obviously taking advantage of the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company's fare offers and availability of services to travel more frequently that in previous years."

SEA CONTAINERS FINALISES FAST FERRY DEPLOYMENT

On February 13, Sea Containers finally issued a press release confirming vessel deployment for 2001:

Sea Containers, operators of the world's largest fast ferry fleet, has finalised the route deployment of the craft for 2001.

Three 100-metre monohull SuperSeaCats will be introduced by Hoverspeed on its English Channel services in late March from Dover to Calais and Ostend complemented by SeaCat 'Danmark'. SuperSeaCats will mean a big increase of car and passenger capacity - each of the craft can carry up to 700 passengers and 145 vehicles - on the short sea routes.

The seasonal service from Newhaven to Dieppe, which re-opens on 31 March, sees the introduction of a new look high-speed craft. The 81-metre catamaran 'Diamant' will provide up to three return sailings during the peak period. Hoverspeed reinstated the long established link between the two ports in April 1999.

On the Irish Sea network 'Rapide', the sister ship of 'Diamant', will be introduced on the Liverpool - Dublin route when the service resumes on 1 March. It will also provide daily services from Liverpool to Douglas, Isle of Man.

SeaCat 'Scotland' recommenced service on the Belfast - Troon route on 9 January, SeaCat 'Hoverspeed Great Britain will replace a SuperSeaCat on the Belfast - Heysham route when the service restarts on 29 March. The historic route was re-opened in March 1999 by Sea Containers after 25 years. SeaCat 'Isle of Man' will provide fast ferry crossings from Douglas to Belfast, Heysham, Liverpool and Dublin, starting on 5 April.

In the Baltic Sea the popular duty free route between Helsinki, Finland and Tallinn, Estonia will continue to be served by SuperSeaCat Four. The service will start at the end of March.

The joint venture fast ferry service with SNAV on the Ancona, Italy to Split, Croatia route will operate between June and October served by the 'Croazia Jet' SeaCat. In its first year of operation the service carried 33,000 passengers and 8,000 vehicles surpassing all expectations.

In the United States two new vessels will be added to the fleet of SeaStreak America Inc, which provides fast commuter services from New Jersey to Wall Street and Brooklyn. Measuring 43-metres and carrying 400 passengers with a cruising speed of 38 knots (about 45 mph) the craft will complement the company's existing services.

Senior Vice-President of Sea Containers' Passenger Transport Division, David G. Benson said: "We continue to be at the forefront in the development of fast ferry services and passengers can look forward to the continuation of high levels of onboard service which have become synonymous with our operations worldwide".

CENARGO: NORSEMERCHANT FERRIES

The official Merseyside launch of the newly merged NorseMerchant Ferries took place this week. Though technical problems with Langton Lock caused the launch party to be switched from LAGAN VIKING [which had to put back into the river and enter the dock system from Gladstone Lock] to BRAVE MERCHANT.

As part of the official launch the company issues the following press release:

The newly merged Norse Merchant Ferries, the result of combining two established Irish Sea operators, Merchant Ferries and Norse Irish Ferries, said today that it is carrying more than 30% of the Ro/Ro freight moving on the Irish Sea. Over the next two years, the company is targeting a 50% share from Northern Ireland and a 40% share from Dublin, which will make Norse Merchant Ferries the market leader.

The prediction comes in the wake of the recent announcement that the company has secured exclusive use of the new Irish Sea terminal at Twelve Quays, Birkenhead. Work started on the all-weather £22m Mersey River berth on 11 January and the first phase 25-acre terminal will be operational by early 2002.

The all-weather twin-berth facility is not affected by tides and will give NorseMerchant substantial advantages over its competitors - cutting one hour off passage times between Dublin and Belfast and allowing the fastest ever direct access to the British motorway network.

Once the new river berth at Birkenhead is operational the company plans an aggressive programme of development to increase market share and significantly increase both the freight and passengers levels.

Mirroring the Birkenhead facility the company has also announced that it is opening negotiations with the Port of Belfast to create a similar 'super-terminal' for the newly merged operation with a further investment of over one million pounds.

Ever increasing diesel costs are adding to the environmental pressure to minimise the road movement of trailers. When combined with the legal constraints of rest periods for HGV drivers and the draconian new European Directive on Working Times to be imposed on the haulage industry, it is obvious that hauliers will change from using short sea routes to longer sea crossings that minimise running hours and costs on the roads while maximising driver efficiency.

Formally launching the newly merged company at a ceremony in Liverpool today, Lord Thomas, Chairman of the NorthWest Development Agency welcomed the investment being made by NorseMerchant Ferries which, he said, had already paid dividends with an unprecedented sailing reliability rating of over 98% on its routes from Liverpool to both Belfast and Dublin during the past year. This is despite the worst weather experienced to date.

"Cutting sailing times and providing faster direct access to the motorway network in Great Britain and Europe will not only give a tremendous boost to the competitiveness of our freight industry but will also improve access for tourists. It is a real vote of confidence in Merseyside," Lord Thomas said.

"The emergence of NorseMerchant as one the largest player on the Irish Sea has given passengers and businesses many more competitive options. Once the terminal at Twelve Quays is operational the company will have the ability to switch customers between the routes from Liverpool to Ireland, giving greater flexibility to customers."

"The fact that NorseMerchant has increased its freight and passenger business from Liverpool through both Dublin and Belfast is a strong indication of its service commitment and it will no doubt build further on the solid foundation of a single company," Lord Thomas said.

Michael Hendry, Chairman of NorseMerchant Ferries explained that the company had made a multi-million pound investment in ships and harbour facilities and was now launching a major marketing campaign in the United Kingdom and Ireland to encourage even more traffic onto its services.

"We have provided more choice in the Irish Sea market which has inevitably brought down prices to the benefit of the local economy.

"Our Ferries offer standards of accommodation and comfort comparable to many cruise ships. By making the investment in these larger RoPax ships, it enables us to develop our tourist passenger markets while underpinning the success of our core freight business.

"Our confidence in targeting further growth is the result of our agreement to have sole use of the only river berth in Liverpool, shortening passage times to Belfast and Dublin by at least an hour in each direction, thereby allowing us to increase the number of sailings and ships on these 'main line' services.

"We have already been approached by the major supermarket groups and retail store chains who have been impressed by the reliability of our new ships. They are to support their Irish import and export operations using Twelve Quays. Having this new facility will slash millions of trailer miles compared to using both the traditional Holyhead and Stranraer routes, representing a cost saving to the customers of at least £20m per annum.

"Many distributors are already in discussions about establishing regional distribution centres (RDC's) adjacent to Twelve Quays.

"The resulting environmental benefits also fulfil the important commitment of the major retailers to their increasingly environmentally conscious customers.

"We firmly believe that the Norse Merchant name will be immediately established as a recognised brand with a reputation for safety, reliability and care, providing our customers with the kind of competition that has been lacking until now."

WAVERLEY EXCURSIONS

The programme for the 2001 Irish Sea cruises from south west Scotland, north west England, Isle of Man and North Wales is now available. There are some interesting additions to this year's programme including a trip from Barrow-in-Furness to the Isle of Man. There will also be sailings from Mostyn.

MERSEY DOCKS & HARBOUR COMPANY

TERMINAL TERMINATED

Demolition of the former Trafalgar Dock B&I Terminal commenced this week. This terminal opened in 1972s was considered to be state of the art at the time, with impressive buildings which still look modern today. However, it was to have a tragically short operational life being made redundant in 1983 when B&I moved their services further north to Brocklebank Dock. 

After years of lying unused it was proposed in the late 1990s that the buildings be utilised in plans for the development of an on-river linkspan berth to be built just off the river wall nearby. However, with some of the residents of the Waterloo Warehouse apartments objecting to the site of a terminal close to their homes and threatening a public enquiry, MD&HC decided to draw up proposals for an alternative terminal at Langton Dock. 

On Saturday February 17, it was noted that demolition of the north end of the heavily glazed building was well underway. It is certainly sad to see the demise of the only modern purpose built terminal on the Mersey. Since its construction just about all terminal facilities have relied upon the uninspiring, ubiquitous portakabin!

LANGTON LOCK

On Monday morning February 12 Langton Lock experienced technical problems which prevented it from closing behind the inbound LAGAN VIKING. Divers having to be sent down to rectify the problem, whilst LAGAN VIKING had to re-enter the river and use Gladstone Lock to enter the port.

SOUTH AFRICAN INVESTMENT

MD&HC is to invest R100M ($12.7M) to acquire half the equity in the terminal operations of
Capespan Group Holdings at the South African ports of Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth and Maputo in Mozambique. 

The company will become a 50/50 joint venture partner in Fresh Produce Terminals, operator of the only dockside temperature controlled warehouses in the four ports. The combined terminals, which offer a total of 41,500 temperature controlled pallet spaces, annually handle more than 1M pallets of fresh produce - more than 90 per cent of all fruit exported from South Africa. Mersey Docks operates Britain's major fruit port at Sheerness on the Medway where in 1999 it opened a £35M fresh produce terminal and deep water berth in a joint venture with Capespan. 

LEASOWE LIGHTHOUSE

The former MD&HC Leasowe Lighthouse on the Wirral  is to benefit from a £50,000 Heritage Lottery Fund  Grant which will enable work to be undertaken to renovate the lighthouse structure and prevent damp penetrating the structure.

DUNBRODY 

The replica emigrant ship DUNBRODY was launched at New Ross, County Wexford on Sunday February 11 by the Taoiseach Bertie Aherne TD and Ms. Jean Kennedy-Smith the former US Ambassador to Ireland. Photographs of the launch ceremony can be found on the DUNBRODY web site at http://www.dunbrody.com.

The vessel will open as an exhibition ship in May, though it is hoped that she will be upgraded to sea-going condition in the future.

ROYAL NAVY VISITORS

HMS SANDOWN [M101] - the Sandown class minehunter arrived at Liverpool on Friday February 16, for a weekend visit berthing at Huskisson Dock. She is due to depart on Monday February 19.

JAMES FISHER & SONS

On February 16, Lloyd's List reported that Barrow based James Fisher & Sons,  Britain's second largest quoted shipping group, has restructured its top level management responsibilities.

Angus Buchanan, a main board director and managing director of James Fisher Tankships, has been appointed group operations director. In this capacity Mr Buchanan will be responsible for all the group's shipping activities. Fisher has also appointed Ian Serjent, another main board director and managing director of James Fisher (Shipping Services), to the position of group technical director. Mr Serjent will be responsible for all technical aspects of the group and serve as director in charge of all non-shipping activities, including commercial matters relating to offshore operations. Mike Shields remains group finance director. All three report to executive chairman David Cobb. Apart from its fleet of clean products tankers, Fisher owns small general cargoships, cable layers and a heavylift vessel. The group also manages British Nuclear Fuels' specially constructed vessels which carry nuclear cargoes.


STENA LINE

KONINGIN BEATRIX - In order to carry out essential maintenance on the vessel the following departures are cancelled: Ex Fishguard 0315 hours Tuesday, 13th March Ex Rosslare 0900 hours Tuesday, 13 March. It appears that she may be going back to Germany for repairs after Easter.

STENA LYNX III - A correspondent, Mike O'Brien noted that she was at sea undergoing engine trials this week. He was invited on board and noted that the passenger section had been gutted and was in the process of being refitted for the coming season. You can view Mike's photos at: http://www.abergwaun.com

NEW FRENCH SHIPPING OPERATION FROM RINGASKIDDY

Gulf Stream Irlande has commenced a new shipping service from Rigaskiddy [Port of Cork] to Brest. Three sailings per week are operated with departures from Ringaskiddy on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. There is capacity for 32 units. The company is offering an unusual additional service which allows up to 10 drivers of unaccompanied lorries to be flown in either direction and taken to meet their vehicles at the port Crossing times are 17 hours.

ISLE OF MAN COASTGUARD

At 07:45 on Sunday February 18, the Manx fishing vessels CARDIA and OCEAN HUNTER were reported to be in collision some 10 miles off the coast of the Isle of Man. Manx Radio reported that all the crew of the Cardia were successfuly evacuated onto the OCEAN HUNTER which arrived in Douglas at 09:00. There are no reports of any injuries.

MARITIME & COASTGUARD AGENCY

On February 15 a `mayday' signal was received at 02:15 by Liverpool Coastguard. The call was from the Newry registered fishing vessel AUDENTIA which had four crew on board and reported she was in danger of sinking 15 miles north west of Peel on the Isle of Man following the flooding of the engine room..

After the mayday signal was relayed into the area by the Coastguard various other vessels responded and began making their way to the scene. The Peel lifeboat from the Isle of Man was requested to launch as was the Donaghadee lifeboat from Northern Ireland. A fast workboat BEN LOYAL was first on scene and managed to take off all four men from the fast sinking fishing vessel. It was then considered too dangerous for anyone to go back onboard and attempt any salvage of the vessel, and she sank at about 04.00.

Paul Parkes, Liverpool Coastguard Watch Manager said after the rescue:

" The BEN LOYAL has now landed all four crew ashore at Portavogie and fortunately no injuries have been reported. We would like to thank the crews of all those vessels who responded so quickly to the Coastguard's call for assistance given the speed of the sinking.

" The weather overnight locally was fairly calm with south westerly winds force 3 with a slight to moderate sea. The UK Hydrographic Office have been informed of the site of wreck and the Marine Accident Investigation Branch have also been informed."

HOLYHEAD COASTGUARD CO-ORDINATE RESCUE OF DISABLED CARGO VESSEL OFF ANGLESEY

Just after 09.30 on February 13, Holyhead Coastguard was advised by Holyhead Harbour Control that there was a disabled cargo vessel off Anglesey.

Holyhead Coastguard quickly established contact with the disabled cargo vessel SPRUTTENBURG, a Cypriot registered, 2265 GT vessel with 7 crew on board, and found that the vessel had experienced a gearbox failure which had resulted in the vessel’s propulsion system being jammed ‘astern’.

Holyhead Coastguard made contact with SPRUTTENBURG’s owners, Vega of Hamburg and their underwriters, Samuel Stewarts of London. By 11:40 a.m. the underwriters had confirmed that the tug YEWGARTH from Liverpool had been tasked to assist SPRUTTENBURG and was expected on scene at around 7:00p.m. this evening.

At half past two it was confirmed that the tug YEWGARTH had left the Mersey and was underway. In the meantime Holyhead Coastguard monitored SPRUTTENBURG'S position closely, which at this point was approximately 17 miles south of the Isle of Man and 22 miles north of Anglesey.

MAIB PUBLISHES REPORT INTO ROSS ALCEDO

The Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) today published its report into a fire on board the fishing vessel Ross Alcedo while underway about 32 miles north-west of the Isles of Scilly. The incident occurred on 16 January 2000.


ARACHOVITIKA BAY 

ARACHOVITKA BAY which has been laid up for over a year at the Grand Canal Docks in Dublin was sold at auction for IR£85,000 this week. The auction was held under orders of the Admiralty Marshal and the High Court in Dublin to enable funds to be raised to pay the five man crew's wages and fares home to Pakistan. However, the sum raised is insufficient to cover all the wages owed to the crew. However, in a new twist to the story a report in the Sunday Independent on February 18 reveals that a dispute has arisen as to the ownership of navigational equipment which's valued at IR£50,000. The new Greek owner claims that the equipment is part of the ship and his property. Whilst the crew claim it is theirs and should be sold separately. The dispute has been sent back to the High Court where the Admiralty Marshal has agreed to deal with it as quickly as possible. 

February 11

NOTES & NEWS

NEW EMAIL ADDRESSES

Please note that the following email addresses should now be used for correspondence:

The existing email addresses will continue to function for the medium term. However, it would be of assistance if the new addresses could be used where possible for future correspondence. 

Once again I am grateful for the various contributions received this week.

John H. Luxton, February 11, 2000

Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Michael Pryce, Patrick C. Taylor, Tony Brennan, Alistair Eagles - SeaTruck Ferries, Sara Cass, Robert Watson, John Williamson, Kevin Bennett, Mike O'Brien and "others". 

SEA CONTAINERS \ Isle of Man Steam Packet Company

On Wednesday February 7, The sale of the port of Heysham to the Mersey Docks and Harbour company was announced conditional on clearance by the Office of Fair Trade. [See MD&HC below.]

LADY OF MANN - There is a possibility that the LADY will make a visit to Troon during May 2001. Troon was of course the LADY OF MANN's birthplace 25 years ago. It is understood that the itinerary could be Douglas to Troon on Friday May 18, with the return sailing to Douglas on Saturday May 19. It appears that the trip might include an overnight stay in at a hotel. It is also understood that departure from Douglas will be connect with sailings from Heysham. An official announcement is expected in March.

There will be a Maritime Safety exercise on board the LADY OF MANN in conjunction with the Coastguard service on Sunday, February 25. The exercise will simulate a fire at sea. A report on Manx Radio indicates that the company is looking for volunteers. Anyone interested should telephone 01624 661661 if they wish to take part.

SUPERSEACAT THREE - quite a lot of activity appeared to be going on around SSC3 on Saturday morning at the West Langton berth where she has remained since she laid up for the winter. Her liferafts were noted to have been removed. A forklift was noted taking new ropes and packing cases on board. A correspondent monitoring radio  transmissions on Friday February 9, noted that SSC3 had been due to exit Langton Lock during the morning, but this had been cancelled due to engine problems. 

HOVERSPEED GREAT BRITAIN - despite quite intense speculation that the Belfast - Heysham service would not reopen in 2001 despite its appearance in the 2001 brochures Sea Containers has confirmed that the former Hales Trophy holder HOVERSPEED GREAT BRITAIN will operate on the route during 2001. The company issued the following press release:

THE CAT'S BACK ON BELFAST - HEYSHAM

The world record breaking* SeaCat `Hoverspeed Great Britain' will be introduced on the Belfast-Heysham route by Sea Containers Irish Sea Operations when the service restarts on 29 March 2001.

The 74-metre catamaran will replace the monohull SuperSeaCat which has been transferred to serve English Channel routes. The crossing time will remain the same at just under four hours at an average speed of 37.8 knots (42 miles an hour), carrying 577 passengers and 80 vehicles.

The historic route was re-opened in March 1999 by Sea Containers after nearly quarter of a century and 300,000 passengers and 80,000 vehicles have been carried to date.

Hamish Ross, Managing Director of Sea Containers Irish Sea Operations said: "The response to the route from customers has been excellent and we are confident that our high standards of service together with the
introduction of some innovations will continue to prove very attractive".

Onboard features of the craft include airline-style at-seat service, café serving meals and refreshments, a lounge bar, shop and a 1st class lounge. There is also an outside deck area for passengers.

The SeaCat 1st service is new - a sectioned off seating area where customers will have a dedicated member of staff, complimentary tea, coffee and soft drinks and 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 £105 for a car and driver for a single journey.

M&ISS understands that the service will be operated on a constant review basis and no decision has been taken for operation in 2002.

PIER HEAD

Following the announcement that planning permission had been granted for the revised Sea Terminal plans at the Pier Head a meeting was held by opponents to the scheme on Tuesday February. Local press reports suggest that the opponents led by Mrs. Lorraine Mackerel may well apply for a judicial review. It was at the judicial review stage that the original plans were rejected.

It is to be hoped that should a judicial review be pursued, on this occasion that the protestors' luck runs out and that Sea Containers gain the terminal which they deserve at the Pier Head.

BALLYCASTLE - CAMPBELTOWN

The Herald newspaper reports that the government is willing to subsidise the ferry service between Campbeltown and Ballycastle in Northern Ireland for five years.

However,  there would have to be dramatic progress over the next few weeks for an announcement to be made in time to restore the service for summer 2001.

That seems unlikely, not least because the government may yet have to overcome a challenge from one of the three ferry operators sailing across the Irish Sea without subsidy.

George Foulkes, the new Scotland Office minister, will chaired in Belfast on February 8 with his opposite number in the Northern Ireland Office, Sir Reg Empey, representatives of the enterprise agencies, Argyll and Bute and Moyle councils, and politicians.

Supporters of the project believe they could withstand a challenge from P&O, Stena or SeaCat because the Argyll/Antrim service would not be "trade-distorting" as it would be predominantly tourist traffic and would not run for a full year.

A spokesman for the Scotland Office said: "I can confirm that a meeting of the ferry action group will take place in Belfast on Thursday evening. But much work remains to be done in a number of areas including the arrangements to pay subsidy to any future operator of the route."

The seasonal service last operated in 1999. The CLAYMORE remains laid up in Birkenhead Docks and is currently offered for sale by Sea Containers.

MERSEY DOCKS & HARBOUR COMPANY

The Mersey Docks and Harbour Company ("MDHC") announced on February 7 that it had agreed terms with Sea Containers for the acquisition of Heysham Port Limited for £25m cash.

The acquisition is being structured such that Heysham will be acquired for a cash consideration which, when added to the debt assumed, will total 25 million. The debt assumed will be repaid. In addition to the 25 million consideration, MDHC will make a cash payment in respect of working capital, which is not expected to exceed 1.5 million. The consideration will be met from MDHC’s existing bank facilities.

Heysham’s audited profit before interest (other than finance lease charges) and tax for the year ended 31st December,1999 was 2.5 million (EBITDA: 3.35 million). The net assets being acquired are estimated to amount to 13.8 million.

Commenting on the acquisition, Peter Jones, Chief Executive of MDHC, said: "Heysham complements the Port of Liverpool’s activities in the Irish Sea market. Heysham also handles the Isle of Man’s freight and passenger ferry service while Liverpool handles the Sea Cat services to the Isle of Man."

The agreement is conditional on clearance by the Office of Fair Trading and a further announcement will be made in due course.

2000 PRELIMINARY RESULTS

On February 8 MD&HC unveiled it preliminary results for the year ending 2000 the highlights of which were:

  • Turnover increased 21% to 229.9m (1999: 189.9m)

  • Pre-tax profit, before exceptionals and goodwill was 52.3m (1999: 52m)

  • Exceptional and goodwill charge write down of 14.4m

  • Underlying earnings per share rose to 43.24p (1999: 42.45p)

  • Final dividend of 13.0p making 19.0p for the year, an increase of 8.5% (1999: 17.5p)

  • Total throughput at Liverpool exceeded 30 million tonnes

  • Acquisition of Port of Heysham for 25 million

  • Twelve Quays river terminal for roll-on roll-off ferries given the go ahead

However the company revealed that the number of passengers passing through the port fell during 2000 and blames the fall on the abolition of Duty Free Sales mid way through 1999. In 1999 passenger figures stood at 668,000 compared to 631,000 in 2000. However, the fall in passenger numbers is mainly accounted for by the end of the £10 "booze cruises" offered by Sea Containers Ferries on the Liverpool - Dublin route.

At Liverpool handling volumes reached 30m tonnes an increase from 28.8m tonnes in 1999.  Ro-Ro units increased from 426,000 to 497,000. Whilst containers handled showed an increase from 515,000 to 540,000.

The company hopes that in the near future plans for the redevelopment of the Central Docks for commercial and leisure use will be placed before Liverpool City Council for planning approval.

ROYAL NAVY VISITORS ON MERSEYSIDE

On Friday February 9, four Royal Navy vessels arrived at Liverpool and berthed at Huskission #1 Branch [north].

The vessels were:  Hydrographic Research ship HMS ROEBUCK [H130], Island Class patrol vessel HMS ANGLESEY [P277], Hunt Class Mine Countermeasures Ship HMS MIDDLETON [M38] and Sandown Class Minesweeper and HMS GRIMSBY [M108].

HMS SANDOWN is due to visit on the weekend of Saturday and Sunday February 17 / 18, 2001.

HMS COVENTRY is due to visit Merseyside for the Battle of The Atlantic commemorations on the weekend of Saturday and Sunday May 5, 2001. [May Bank Holiday weekend].

WARRENPOINT HARBOUR

French paper supplier Emin Leydier Recently shipped into Warrenpoint Harbour 1240 tonnes of semi-chemical flutting reels for use by a local manufacturing company.   The consignment of 558 reels was discharged in less than 7 hours beginning at 0800 hours and completing at 1545 hours giving an average discharge rate of 86 reels per hour, equating to 215 tonnes per hour.

The pre-slung reels when landed on the quayside were then lifted by clamptruck and transported to the adjacent warehouse where they were inspected for damage and then stacked according to the receivers requirements.

The ship's agent for the vessel was Anley Maritime Agencies and all cargo handling was carried out by Warrenpoint Harbour Authority Personnel.

MARITIME & COASTGUARD AGENCY

MCA TO CONDUCT MAJOR EXERCISE IN NORTH WALES

The Maritime & Coastguard Agency announced on February 6 that Exercise Snowdon, a major maritime exercise to be conducted by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA), was scheduled to take place off Anglesey in North Wales on Wednesday 7th and Thursday 8th February 2001. More than 200 people will be taking part, representing over 25 agencies and organisations.

Exercise Snowdon will test the interaction between the MCA, local ports and organisations who provide emergency services around North Wales. It will test national and local authorities and emergency services preparedness for a major maritime incident in the area. The Exercise will include search and rescue operations and counter pollution activities. The exercise will be conducted in real time throughout both days, with only the initial key incidents pre-planned.

The search and rescue phase will be co-ordinated from Her Majesty’s Coastguard Co-ordination Centre at Holyhead. A Salvage Control Unit and a Marine Response Cell will be set up locally for the exercise in order to deal with the "pseudo" oil recovery at sea.

The local authorities will set up a rest centre and a shoreline counter pollution response centre. The `media’ will be played by journalists from a real media training company and will be joined by press officers from the Central Office of Information. They will be based at a media centre at the Treaddur Bay Hotel in Holyhead and will replicate the pressures of reporting on such a large incident.

Exercise Director, Peter Morris says:

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

John Garner, Head of Operations at the MCA says:

" Exercises of this kind are invaluable in testing the MCA’s search and rescue, counter pollution and salvage procedures during a major incident at sea. We will be building on experience gained during recent incidents, such as the grounding of the `Dole America’ off the Isle of Wight, and the `Multitank Ascania’ fire on board a chemical tanker in the Pentland Firth. Also from previous national exercises such as Exercise Dalriada in the Clyde, Exercise Humex in Humber and, more recently, ‘Exercise Kernow’ last year in Falmouth.

" Exercise Snowdon will use live assets including RNLI lifeboats, Sea King helicopters from the Royal Air Force at Valley, and oil spill response equipment will be deployed at sea and near the shoreline to provide actual booming in certain areas."

Alan Williams for Anglesey County Council Emergency Planning Team says:

" This is a vital test of the MCA’s new National Contingency Plan. The County and District Councils are proud to be taking a lead role in this Exercise.

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

Bill Murphy, Divisional Officer for the North Wales Fire Service says:

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

A spokesperson for North Wales Police says:

" We are looking forward to playing our part in this extensive exercise and welcome the opportunity to carry out our role along with the other emergency services who would be, by necessity, involved in an incident such as this."

WRECK AMNESTY FOCUS ON WALES

On the 23 January 2001 the Minister of Shipping, Keith Hill offered a Wreck Amnesty to finders, providing immunity from prosecution under section 236 of the Merchant Shipping Act 1995.

The Wreck Amnesty will now focus on Wales and journalists are invited to the launch in Wales at the National Museum of Wales in Cardiff at 11 a.m on the 13th February 2001.

The Amnesty will run for three months from January 23rd 2001 - April 24th 2001 and 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 has been 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:

"I am delighted to be able to focus on Wales and the profusion of wreck material which lies off the Welsh coast. Welsh divers and sea users will know that the Amnesty will end on 24th April 2001, and that any wreck recovered before the 23rd of January 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 the 23rd of January, 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."

MERSEY FERRIES

ROYAL DAFFODIL finally departed from Clarence Dry Docks on Monday February 5. On Saturday she was at the lay-up berth in the East Float in company of MOUNTWOOD. WOODCHURCH is currently operating the ferry service. 

CENARGO - NORSEMERCHANT FERRIES

Michael Hendry, chairman of NorseMerchant Ferries called for an upgrade in infrastructure and the provision of more land to improve facilities for the company's operations at Dublin Port.

Mr. Hendry said:" "We are desperately short of space in Dublin. We need further land to be made available if we are to reach our potential and our customers are to reach their potential. The port tunnel in itself won't be enough. We need the eastern by-pass as well," he said.

Mr. Hendry was speaking at the announcement of the merger of Norse Irish Ferries and Merchant Ferries to form Norse Merchant Ferries.

He said that Norse Merchant had increased its freight and passengers through Dublin by 70 per cent in the past two years.

The newly-merged company is targeting a 40 per cent market share of ro-ro freight moving on the Irish Sea within the next two years. This would make it the market leader in this area.

Norse Merchant estimates its share of the Irish Sea freight market is more than 30 per cent, ranking it second to P&O Ferries. [However, the company aims to increase its share of the market to 50% according to a statement at the Belfast launch]. It operates four separate services on the Irish Sea - twice daily passenger and ro-ro freight services link Liverpool with Belfast and Dublin, while dedicated ro-ro services operate four times a day between Heysham, Belfast and Dublin. .

In Liverpool, Norse Merchant is set to move to a new purpose built riverside facility, the Twelve Quays terminal, early in 2002.

Major distributors and supermarket groups are already in discussions about establishing regional distribution centres adjacent to Twelve Quays to support their Irish import and export operations, according to Mr. Hendry
.

LAGAN VIKING / MERSEY VIKING - during the past week or so the "vikings" have lost their Norse Irish Ferries fleetnames on the hull sides. However, the vessel's hulls still remain red and have not yet acquired the charcoal black livery depicted on the company's web site www.norsemerchant.com and recent promotional material. The overpainted NIF fleetnames still show through.

SPHEROID, which has been laid up by Duke Street Bridge in Birkenhead, is expected to depart for service with Greek operators on the Mediterranean soon.

MERCHANT VENTURE, currently laid up in Vittoria Dock, is for sale. The asking price is quoted as being $3,000,000 though is expected in reality to be less.

Meanwhile a report in Lloyd's List this week revealed that Cenargo has won a High Court action over DAWN MERCHANT and BRAVE MERCHANT which the company claimed had failed to meet specifications.

The company has been awarded $1.08m in respect of two vessels which failed to meet up to specifications.
Cenargo, sued Spanish shipbuilders, Empresa Nacional Bazan de Construcciones Navales Militares, claiming that the two ferries, DAWN MERCHANT and BRAVE MERCHANT did not have the agreed container capacity and were not capable of meeting their intended speeds. Now Mr. Justice Andrew Smith has upheld their claims that both vessels failed to meet the capacity requirements and has also held that the BRAVE MERCHANT was not capable of the specified speed. However, he dismissed the claim as far as the speed of the DAWN MERCHANT was concerned. 

Both vessels are employed on the new merged group's route between Liverpool and Dublin. Cenargo argued that contracts for construction of the two vessels at a cost of $44.7m each, specified that that each vessel was intended to have a capacity to carry 146 trailers and that they were to have a guaranteed speed capability of 23.3 knots. However, it claimed that that these specifications were not achieved. The judge, in finding for Cenargo and awarding damages, said he was satisfied that each vessel only had capacity to carry 142 containers and that as far as the BRAVE MERCHANT was concerned she was capable of 22.76 knots, not the specified 23.3 knots. As far as the DAWN MERCHANT was concerned though he said he did not consider the evidence showed that this failed to reach the speed requirements. 

The judge awarded $450,000 in respect of each vessel for the lack of container capacity and $180,000 in respect of the speed deficiency in respect of BRAVE MERCHANT . The judge said the first defendants in the case had been Astilleros de Sevilla SRL, but as a result of a group reorganisation another Spanish company, Empresa, had taken over the obligations of Astileros. Negotiations leading to those arrangements had started in 1995 and a letter of intent was signed on January 17 and 18 under which Cenargo placed an order with Astilleros for the design, construction and delivery of the two vessels. Two months later on March 15, Cenargo entered into sales contracts to buy the hulls from a company called Twinkleigh, which was in the Astilleros Espanola group. The vessels were largely constructed at Astilleros' yard in Seville, Spain, but after being launched, they were taken to Cadiz and dry-docked for painting and other completion works before they underwent sea trials.

NORSEMERCHANT - HIGH SPEED?

During the official launch of the new NorseMerchant Ferries it emerged that the company was considering the introduction of a new High Speed service operating between the new Twelve Quays terminal at Birkenhead and Dublin. The report suggests that such a service could start as early as 2002. It may involve a high speed vessel capable of carrying 1000 passengers and 220 cars. Birkenhead - Dublin crossing time will be 4 hours. It is interesting to note that the capacity specifications almost match the redundant BC Ferries "Pacificats" which are currently available for sale. The service is likely to be seasonal. 

HEYSHAM - BELFAST

New tonnage is likely to be introduced on the Heysham - Belfast service within three years. The new vessels being specifically designed and are known as "Heysham max" being the maximum size of ship viable for operation into Heysham harbour.

PENINSULAR & ORIENTAL STEAM NAVIGATION COMPANY

P&O Irish Sea Ferries will inaugurate a new service from Mostyn on Deeside to Dublin commencing September 2001. The service will commence on completion of a new 300m ro-ro berth at the River Dee port in North Wales. P&O claim that the Mostyn - Dublin service will complement the existing service between Liverpool and Dublin. It is expected that two round trips per day will be operated. 

M&ISS has received unconfirmed reports that the Langton Linkspan will not go ahead and that the port of Liverpool will not offer facilities for a second vessel of the European Ambassador class.

PRIDE OF BILBAO - not a ship which usually appears on M&ISS given the fact that she operates outside the area of M&ISS coverage. However, she is actually owned by Irish Ferries and chartered to P&O. Therefore, the announcement that P&O  are offering a special St.Patrick's Day cruise fare qualifies her for an appearance!

EUROPEAN SEAFARER - departed from Cammell Laird just after midnight on Sunday February 11. Earlier in the week she had moved from the dry dock to the west basin.

ENJOY ST PATRICK’S DAY AT SEA

P&O Portsmouth invites you to celebrate St Patrick’s Day with a difference on an Irish MiniCruise to Spain – with the Bachelors topping the bill.

The three-day MiniCruise will leave Portsmouth on March 17 for Bilbao onboard Pride of Bilbao, the Cruiseferry with the greatest passenger capacity operating out of the United Kingdom.

Joining the Bachelors, who had hits in the 1960s with ‘The Sound of Silence’ and ‘Diane’ will be Paul O’Brien & Joe Murphy, Wraggle Taggle and a full supporting programme.

Pride of Bilbao will leave Portsmouth at 20:00 on the Saturday evening, arriving in Bilbao on Monday morning, March 19. Passengers will have up to four hours to explore the city, home to the Guggenheim Museum, before leaving at 1230 to arrive back in Portsmouth at 16:30 on Tuesday, March 20.

Prices are £69 per person* (based on a minimum of two people sharing a standard inside cabin).

To book please call P&O Portsmouth’s Reservations Department on 0870 242 3322, and quote ‘Irish MiniCruise’.

*All prices are based on a minimum of 2 people sharing a cabin.

IRISH COAST GUARD

The King & Spanish Government has been presented with an award in recognition of the help given to the trawler OROSA which was wrecked on the west coast with the loss of 12 of the 13 crew. The award was made to Eugene Clonan, Incident Manager who accepted the award on behalf of the Coast Guard, rescue services and local people.

JAMES FISHER & SONS / PNTL

New Zealand news sources report that a flotilla of small ships is preparing to set sail for the Tasman Sea, to observe the two  nuclear fuel ships transporting plutonium from Japan to France.

The Barrow-in-Furness registered PACIFIC PINTAIL and PACIFIC TEAL will pass close to New Zealand territorial waters. Flotilla spokeswoman Pia Mancia says the skippers of the vessels have a commitment to conduct a peaceful protest. She says they represent a number of countries including Australia and New Zealand, as well as the Pacific Islands, France, Poland and Holland, with others still being recruited.

PORT OF BELFAST

This week the Belfast Telegraph reported on dredging work which is part of a package of  improvements at  the Port of Belfast.

The Port Commissioners are spending a total of £7m in upgrading facilities at the port, a key part of which is a major dredging exercise.

The Victoria Channel, which is the main shipping artery, is being widened by 50%, a move deemed necessary because of the increasing traffic volumes.

A spokesman for the Harbour Commissioners said traffic had doubled over the past decade. It had also diversified with the dawning of the fast ferry era, he pointed out.

The project is part of a package of improvements being made by the Commissioners which the port says is necessary for continued safety and efficiency.

In addition to the five-month channel widening project, which is scheduled for completion next month, the Commissioners have also upgraded the port's radar system.

The new system, which becomes operational at the end of this month, will provide better radar coverage within the port and Belfast Lough, and extended coverage of the Irish Sea.

The Commissioners have also acquired a new pilot boat. It now means that a fleet of three modern pilot boats is available around the clock in all kinds of weather.

The future of the Port of Belfast is currently being debated by the Assembly's Regional Development Committee.

The option of privatisation has now virtually been ruled out, and everything is pointing towards maintaining trust port status, but granting the Commissioners extended powers.

In addition, part of the landbank currently controlled by the Commissioners is expected to pass into the ownership of the Department for Regional Development.

Several issues remain to be resolved, including the question of whether the Treasury would seek to claw back any of the proceeds of land sales or re-drafting of contracts for the Harbour Estate.

STENA LINE

STENA CHALLENGER - the soon to be replaced vessel experienced an on-board chemical spill on the open vehicle deck following a stormy passage from Holyhead. 

The vessel arrived at Dublin Port at 01:30 around seven hours behind schedule on February 7. The Dublin Fire Brigade and a chemical company met the vessel on arrival at the port. As a precaution the 150 passengers and crew were kept on board until the spill was cleaned. The cleaning operation being concluded at around 06:00.

Stena Line Port Services Manager said:  "Passengers were not in contact with the spill," said Mr. Doyle, who
added that the chemicals were stored on a deck not accessible to the public.

Stena Line were hopeful that sailings could be resumed on with the 21:30 departure.

HSS  STENA DISCOVERY remains at Harland & Wolff Belfast ( as at February 9) - she is due back on her Harwich - Hook route with her 07:20 departure from Hoek van Holland on February 16.

KONINGIN BEATRIX - an unconfirmed report forwarded by a correspondent suggests that KB will be going to dry-dock in Germany to rectify an existing engine problem. This would take place after the Easter holiday period. It is not known if a replacement will be deployed or if STENA LYNX III only would maintain the link.

STENA SHARES DELISTED

This week Stena Line requested that its shares be delisted from OM Stockholm Exchange

Following discussions with the OM Stockholm Exchange, the Board of Directors at Stena Line AB has decided to request that Stena Line´s B shares will be delisted from the OM Stockholm Exchange. The final quotation day will be 20 February 2001.

The reason for the Board´s decision about delisting is that Stena AB has over 98% of the capital and more than 99% of voting rights in Stena Line following a public offer. Stena AB has also informed Stena Line that it intends to acquire the outstanding shares in Stena Line via a compulsory purchase procedure. Under these conditions advantages no longer exist for trading in Stena Line´s shares and the company no longer complies with the listing requirements of the OM Stockholm Exchange.

 SEATRUCK FERRIES

SeaTruck Ferries, operators of the Heysham - Warrenpoint service now have their own web site at www.seatruckferries.com.

Repairs to the Warrenpoint linkspan have progressed quickly enabling ro/ro freight ferry operator Seatruck Ferries to effect an earlier than expected return on Monday February, 5th.

The linkspan has been out of operation for four weeks following a mechanical failure on January 3rd. During the interim period Seatruck Ferries transferred its operation to the Port of Larne where it was able to maintain its 2 sailing per day schedule to the Port of Heysham in Lancashire.

Since the failure engineers have been working day and night to ensure a minimum downtime for the linkspan which provides a vital link to the Irish Midlands for a wide range of customers including many from the local area. On returning to Warrenpoint Seatruck Ferries will revert to their normal sailing times providing departures to suit both next day and less urgent traffic.

While in Larne the service has seen a good level of support although Seatruck and their customers are undoubtedly looking forward to ‘coming home
’.
Seatruck still expect to meet its volume targets in 2001 and is confident that its independent, friendly and efficient service will win over even more customers as the year progresses.

Seatruck Ferries Managing Director Kevin Hobbs commented:

"While 2001 could have provided a smoother start it has been extremely encouraging to see the level of support provided by our loyal customers. Equally I must thank our staff for their huge effort which helped to get the temporary Larne service operational so quickly. It is fantastic that the ramp is almost ready for use so soon after the problem occurred. This event more than ever has taught us just how valued the Warrenpoint service is. We are stronger for it, and look forward later this year to building on our current capacity and providing more choice for all operators."

BRITTANY FERRIES

A report in the Dublin Evening Herald this week indicated that Brittany Ferries are considering the introduction of a new service to Dublin from France. The service would use a fast conventional vessel offering a crossing time of 13 hours and could be operational by 2005.

CAMMELL LAIRD

On Wednesday February 07 2001 Lloyds List reported that Cammell Laird had warned the British Government that it would close down facilities unless financial backing for the Luxus cruise ship project was confirmed by the end of the week. 

Needless to say the backing wasn't confirmed and is still awaited. Corporate Development Director Brett Martin has suggested that the ships could be built in at the Cammell Laird facility in Marseilles, France should the Government support fail to materialise. 

Mr. Martin said: "We have a reserve position with Luxus. It would be the only measure open to us to build them in Marseilles to protect our interests. It is not our preferred option."

Mr. Martin was speaking after it emerged Laird's chairman Juan Kelly had written to Stephen Byers, Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, warning that time was running out for a decision on whether his department would support the $500m shipbuilding project with grants.

EU rules state that ships constructed with the help of shipbuilding intervention fund grants must be completed by the end of 2003, at which time the grants will be scrapped.

The Luxus project is expected to take 33 months to complete. "Realistically, we need to start work on the ships within the next few weeks otherwise there would only be a few weeks of slack left to meet the 2003 deadline and that would be too dangerous," said Mr. Martin.

Brett Martin stated that if the UK Government did not support the Luxus project it would have to reconsider its strategy to develop the UK yards as the hub of the company's operations.  


HARLAND & WOLFF

H&W has sold property worth £41m to its parent company Fred Olsen Energy, to improve its balance sheet. A report in Fairplay indicated that  The deal includes leases held by H&W Properties, which has long-term debt of about £5M, and commercial redevelopment area Titanic Quarter. “In addition to the Titanic Quarter, with about 100 acres of land, the transaction includes 35 acres of partly-developed commercial land adjacent to the yard,” FOE said. The deal is being funded by a £16M reduction of inter-company debt and a £25M assumption of external bank debt. After the transaction, FOE’s exposure at H&W is reduced to £48M. This continues to be secured by assignment of H&W’s claims on Global Marine, for which it recently built two drill ships.

February 04

NOTES & NEWS

SITE MAINTENANCE

As noted in Wednesday's update the Voyage Reports for 2000 have been transferred to the Archive Site. In addition all the old Maritime Questions messages have now been removed from the main site. All future Maritime Questions messages should be directed via the Maritime Questions Group. 

Clicking on Maritime Questions from any Menu will take you to a page giving further details of the benefits of this change and provide a link to the Maritime Questions Group. 

E-MAIL CHANGES

I have recently been experiencing difficulties with my e-mail. On several occasions in the past couple of months the email server has either refused to handle incoming or out going mail and sometimes even both. What is more some outgoing messages are being returned as undeliverable, though in at least one instance though I have been receiving a message back, the recipient has been receiving them - very confusing!

Consequently,  in an attempt to reduce on-line costs I have decided to switch to a BT Surf Package and subscribe to their Internet service. It makes sense having everything. In the near future I will post details of new e-mail addresses. However, I will ensure that there is a lengthy change over period from the old addresses to the new ones to ensure that contact is not lost with all correspondents. 

MERSEY & IRISH SEA CD-ROM 

Work is now well underway on the M&ISS CD ROM which will provide a selection of high quality maritime images sourced from Photo-CD which were taken by myself in the period 1994 to 1998. At present the CD-ROM content will draw mainly from the Irish Sea and adjacent areas though there might items from elsewhere. Whilst some of the images will have appeared on M&ISS in the past many have not, and all images will be presented in a much high resolution than is possible on the web site. 

Presentation will take the form of a web-site format with thumbnail image indexes which will be linked to high resolution 1024 x 768 images. Some commentary and notes will also be included in many of the sections. I am also considering including M&ISS news archives from 1997 to 2000 on the disks as they will take up minimal space and allow purchasers to refer to past news items without having to go on line and access the archive site. Furthermore, as there is a limit to what the M&ISS Archive Site capacity it may be necessary to take some of the older news archives off line during the coming year.

M&ISS UPDATE SCHEDULE

The site update schedule for March has been posted. I am not anticipating any conflicts with other activities during that month. There has been another slight change to the schedule for February, however, I am now aware of what I am doing during the week February 18 to 24, this means there will not now be an update on Friday evening February 16, instead the update will be on Sunday 18 but in the late morning.

Once again I would like to thank the various contributors who have sent in news material for this week end's update. Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Patrick C. Taylor, Mike Edmondson, Niall Magner and "others".

Have a good week.

John Luxton, February 4, 2001

SEA CONTAINERS \ Isle of Man Steam Packet Company

RAPIDE - The arrival of the vessel on Merseyside has been delayed and she is unlikely to arrive on February 8 as previously stated. This week the RAPIDE is reported to be operated on the Calais - Dover route replacing SEACAT DANMARK. It is believed that at least one, possibly two SUPERSEACATS will arrive at Ostend on February 22 for crew training.

LADY OF MANN - The proposed Church Army charter sailing from Heysham to Peel and return on May 20 has been cancelled due to lack of support

ISLE OF MAN DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORT

Planning permission is being sought to provide a covered walkway on the Government owned linkspan at #5 berth on Edward Pier which will link with the adjacent harbour walkway tower.  Last year a covered walkway was provided on the Victoria Pier linkspan. This will allow passengers to board vessels via the stern ramp. Captain Mc.Parlin said: "All the fast craft have stern doors so when we did one at the Victoria Pier last year it was very acceptable both for the passengers and ourselves." 

SILANPAA OY

Niall Magner writes that the MV TOPI has been refloated successfully in Dún Laoghaire harbour using 4 airbags attached to the starboard side of the vessel. In the end Mersey Mammoth was not required and stayed put. The condition of the vessel is not good, the hull is buckled in places and the bridge and crew quarters are extensively damaged. Niall reckons that she  is beyond repair and looks like being declared a total loss. It is now likely that the TOPI will be towed into Dublin and broken up at Hammond Lane Breakers.

MAIB

MAIB PUBLISHES REPORT INTO CELTIC KING AND DE BOUNTY

The Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB)  published its report into the collision between the UK registered feeder container ship CELTIC KING and the Belgian registered fishing vessel
DE BOUNTY during the past week. The collision occurred on 19 March 2000 off the south- west coast of Wales, to the south of The Smalls traffic separation scheme.

SYNOPSIS

At about 19:12 on 19 March 2000, the United Kingdom registered 4,015gross tonnage cargo ship CELTIC KING was in collision with the Belgian registered 38 metre fishing vessel DE BOUNTY. The MAIB was informed of the accident at 22:43 that day. Captain D Wheal and Captain P Kavanagh carried out the investigation. CELTIC KING was on passage from Dublin to Le Havre with a cargo of containers. The chief officer was on the bridge. A lookout, who could be contacted at any time, was on stand-by below. The chief officer altered course at 17:55 to 196o true to take the ship through The Smalls traffic separation scheme. The ship was making good a speed of 13.1 knots. The range of visibility was about 0.5 to one mile at that time.

At about 18:30, he observed a radar echo about 6 miles away on the starboard bow. The ARPA (Automatic Radar Plotting Aid) predicted that its CPA (Closest Point of Approach) ahead was about 2 miles, the vessel was making good a course of about 110o and a speed of about 6 knots. At about 19:02 the chief officer lost the echo in the sea clutter and used the manual clutter control to try and find it. He then saw a vessel on his starboard side at close range. The range of visibility had reduced such that he could not see the bow of his own ship. The bow of the other vessel collided with CELTIC KING and damaged the forward end of her accommodation superstructure. DE BOUNTY, a beam trawler, had shot her gear away at 17:00; the mate relieved the skipper at about 17:30 to take the navigational watch. The skipper went to his cabin, which was behind the wheelhouse, to read. The mate kept to the tracks which the skipper had entered into the electronic chart system. At first, the mate headed north, then turned the vessel and steered her in a generally southern direction.

At about 18:42 the echo of CELTIC KING appeared on DE BOUNTY's radar set on the six-mile range scale. The mate knew that the echo was a ship heading towards DE BOUNTY but he did not plot her movements. At about 19:03, he turned the fishing vessel to port on to an easterly heading and made good a course of about 050 degrees. At about 19:07, he altered course to starboard and made good a course of about 072 degrees.

He then became concerned that a close quarters situation was developing, and made a sound signal on the whistle. This alerted the skipper, who entered the wheelhouse and saw an arced echo at close range. The skipper and the mate looked out of the wheelhouse windows and saw the starboard side of a ship at close range. The skipper put the engine astern but it was too late, and DE BOUNTY's bow collided with the ship. The fishing vessel sustained only minor damage.

The mate of DE BOUNTY wrongly assumed that CELTIC KING was obliged to keep out of the way of his fishing vessel in restricted visibility, and kept to the planned track on the electronic chart system. The chief officer of CELTIC KING did not appreciate the changes in course made by DE BOUNTY after the initial prediction made by the ARPA. Had he done so he might have taken suitable early and substantial action to avoid a close quarters situation. The MAIB has no safety recommendations to make at this time.

CONCLUSIONS

FINDINGS DE BOUNTY

1. The mate had the navigational watch of the fishing vessel until shortly before the collision, when he was joined by the skipper.

2. The vessel was engaged in fishing throughout the time of the incident.

3. Although there was severely reduced visibility throughout the incident, the mate did not make any sound signals until just before the collision.

4. The planned track, to be followed by the mate, was entered by the skipper into the electronic chart system.

5. Overall, courses and speeds varied throughout, but generally the mate headed in a northerly direction then turned to a southerly direction and finally towards the east.

6. The echo of CELTIC KING appeared on DE BOUNTY's radar just after 18:42 at which time she began to make a steady course of about 154 degrees.

7. The mate did not make a systematic plot of the echo.

8. At about 19:03, the mate altered course to port and towards CELTIC KING, which was in contravention of Rule 19 of the Collision Regulations.

9. The mate had detected the presence of CELTIC KING and when a close quarters situation was developing, he was under an obligation to keep out of the way of the ship.

10. At about 19:07, he made an alteration of course to starboard, which placed DE BOUNTY on collision course with CELTIC KING.

11. When the ship was seen at close range the skipper did take avoiding action but it was too late.

CELTIC KING

1. The chief officer was the officer of the watch throughout the incident.

2. There was no lookout on the bridge, nor was the master called to the bridge when the visibility became severely restricted, the speed of the ship was not reduced and no fog signals were sounded. Two
radars were in use and the automatic helm was in operation.

3. At about 18:30 the chief officer became aware of the echo of DE BOUNTY which was on the starboard bow at a distance of between 6 and 7 miles.

4. There were three other echoes on the port bow but they did not affect the incident.

5. The ARPA predicted the fishing vessel was making good a course of 110o and a speed of about six knots. It also predicted that she would cross ahead by two miles.

6. From DE BOUNTY's computer plotted track, this prediction was the initial course made by the fishing vessel in the incident.

7. DE BOUNTY made a subsequent series of substantial course alterations, and the ARPA updated the data on the echo. However, the chief officer did not appreciate the changes in course.

8. None of the fishing vessel's new courses brought her on collision course with CELTIC KING except for the last one.

9. The clearing distances for the various tracks were too small in severely restricted visibility and with plenty of sea room.

10. After the fishing vessel altered course, at about 19:03 towards CELTIC KING, her radar profile would have probably diminished.

11. The chief officer lost the radar echo of the fishing vessel in the sea clutter at about 19:03 when she was about three miles away.

12. The chief officer spent valuable time trying to find the echo and he wrongly assumed that the fishing vessel would remain on course and cross ahead.

13. The chief officer may have been suffering from a degree of fatigue, which might have affected his judgement when faced with the unpredictable movements of a vessel in severely restricted visibility.

CAUSE

DE BOUNTY altered on to a collision course with CELTIC KING after which neither vessel took effective avoiding action.

CONTRIBUTORY CAUSES DE BOUNTY

1. By keeping to the planned track on the electronic chart system, the mate wrongly assumed that he should stand-on, and that only CELTIC KING was obliged to keep out of the way of his fishing vessel in restricted visibility.

2. The mate did not plot the radar echo of CELTIC KING when on the various courses but knew instinctively that she was moving rapidly towards his own vessel.

3. The mate did not call the skipper for assistance when he saw the echo of CELTIC KING and/or when he became concerned that a close quarters situation was developing.

4. The mate did not make any sound signals until the later stages of the incident.

5. The planned track took the vessel between 3 and 4 miles to the south of the termination of the south-west bound traffic separation lane, an area where particular caution was needed.

CELTIC KING

1. The chief officer did not appreciate the changes in course made by DE BOUNTY from that of the initial prediction made by the ARPA. Had he done so he might have taken suitable early and substantial action to avoid a close quarters situation.

2. The chief officer wrongly assumed the fishing vessel would maintain the initial ARPA predicted course and speed.

3. The chief officer did not call the master and lookout for assistance.

4. The chief officer did not sound any fog signals.

5. The chief officer did not appreciate the fishing vessel's changes in course, which would have been updated by the ARPA.

5. Having lost the echo, he should have reduced speed and navigated with caution.

6. The chief officer showed signs that his performance had been impaired which may have been due to an element of fatigue.

RECOMMENDATIONS

The MAIB has no safety recommendations to make at this time


MD&HC 

Bidston Dock - land fill work now appears to be proceeding at speed, with the boom now extending halfway along the length of the dock. It still makes one wonder why so much money was invested in the new swing bridge in the mid 1990s.

Twelve Quays, work is getting underway to provide for the new ro-ro terminal for NorseMerchant Ferries. The northern quayside of Wallasey Dock appears to be being broken up. Wallasey Dock is to be filled in to provide a vehicle marshalling area and trailer park.

WEB SITE NEWS

A new ferry web site has appeared on the web provided by the Passenger Shipping Association:

FIVE EASY STEPS..." FROM THE FERRY INDUSTRY

www.ferryinformationservice.co.uk

More than 45 million ferry journeys are now taken annually to and from Britain and the Continent, the Republic of Ireland and on British domestic routes. www.ferryinformationservice.co.uk, is the brand new website launched by the UK's ferry industry to provide detailed information to all potential travellers on these routes.

www.ferryinformationservice.co.uk is part of the Passenger Shipping Association, which represents the UK s leading ferry companies. The new website is designed to provide helpful hints for travellers and holidaymakers taking their cars, caravans and motorbikes to UK islands and countries throughout Europe.

The website features an easy to use European map detailing all routes. Visitors to the site can also click through to find further information on each ferry company, travel times and frequency.

William Gibbons, director of the Passenger Shipping Association said: "Nothing could be simpler than loading up the car, driving onto your chosen ferry and heading off across the sea. Unlike airlines, the only limit on the amount of luggage you can take with you is the capacity of your car, caravan or trailer. Whether you pack it neatly in a suitcase or just throw it in the boot at the last minute, it will be within reach, all the time.

Many of Britain's near neighbours may drive on the right, and speed limits and local rules may differ slightly from country to country the Ferry Information Service website tells holidaymakers what to expect and the rules of the road. But it is surprising how little difference there really is and how quickly even the first time driver in Europe will adapt.

www.ferryinformationservice.co.uk will also include links to the individual ferry companies websites, relevant tourist offices and other holiday information sites.

A section featuring ferry news and statistics will also be on the site.

STENA LINE

HSS STENA VOYAGER  requires essential maintenance and will be off service from Saturday February 3 2001 until Monday  February 5..

The last service will be 10:00 ex Stranraer with services resuming with the  12:20 ex Belfast. Conventional ferry timetables will be adjusted to cover peak sailing times.


HARLAND & WOLFF

This week Fred Olsen Energy, parent company of the Harland & Wolff yard has said that the yard is "assumed to be financially self-sufficient" from February, 2001 as a result of securing the construction of  two ro-ro ferries for long-term charter to the UK Ministry of Defence (MOD).

Commenting on the deal Fred Olsen Energy said, "With that contract and various smaller orders currently in progress, the yard is assumed to be financially self-sufficient from February onwards. The timing of the MOD contract is of the essence for the viability of the yard. Delay will inevitably lead to further work force reductions." 

FOE, which indirectly holds a 70.9 per cent share in H&W, has advanced the yard financial support totalling £89M ($130M), including a £50M loan guarantee.

RAMSEY SHIPYARD

The Mezeron Line owned company Booth W. Kelly which operates Ramsey Shipyard, has secured its second new build project within a year. Last year fishing vessel MANX RANGER was constructed for a local operator. Now the yard will build a 20 metre passenger ferry which will operate on Lough Erne in Ireland. It will be operated by a hotel and provide sightseeing excursions on the Lough. Passenger facilities will include a bar and dance floor.

The new ship will be conveyed by Mezeron Line ship AUDLYN RIVER to Belfast for onward transport by road to Lough Erne. 

CAMMELL LAIRD

NORMANDY - The Irish Ferries vessel which is currently refitting at Birkenhead was noted to have acquired a coat of grey primer and no longer appears to be trying to be yet another BIG RED BOAT !

However, Cammell Laird's  BIG RED BOAT II the former EDINBURGH CASTLE [ex- EUGINIO COSTA] still remains unemployed following the collapse of her charterer Premier Cruise Lines during Autumn 2000.

The 35-year-old ship (ex Eugenio Costa ) was bought by Cammell Laird from the receivers of British company, Lowline, at the end of 1999. After renovation she was chartered to Premier as the BIG RED BOAT II.

The BIG RED BOAT II is owned by the Progress Group which was formed by Cammell Laird and which is jointly owned with International Shipping Partners

Lloyd's List reported that  it emerged in a footnote to the shipyard's accounts this week that Progress still owes its shareholder £26m ($39m) of the original purchase price for the ship.

However, Brett Martin, Cammell Laird deputy chief executive, said reports that this was another bad debt and that chief executive, John Stafford, had resigned because of it were entirely wrong. "The money was always due to be paid over a number of years and we never anticipated getting anything before May this year," said Mr. Martin. Much would depend on when and if the ship could be chartered again, he added. EDINBURGH CASTLE was operated by Lowline for one season in the UK market before that company went into receivership. Premier, the leading operator of second-hand ships, was a natural home for her. 

But, in general terms, the charter market for a cruise ship of that age is not easy.

FERRY PUBLICATIONS ENTHUSIASTS'  EXCURSIONS 2001

Irish Weekend (Trip A) 7/8/9 June 2001

Sail from Liverpool to Dublin with NorseMerchant Ferries. Overnight in Dublin for the next two nights, which will then allow our party to travel on Irish Ferries' new vessel ULYSSES and Stena Line's new freight vessel the Stena Forwarder. Our return to Liverpool will be made on the European Ambassador. Price: From £157.50. For further information, please send stamped addressed envelope marked 'Trip A'.

Dover Weekend (Trip B) (Date to be fixed)

This ever popular weekend is still in the process of being organised but it is anticipated that details of the trips with Norfolk Line, P&O Stena Line, Falcon Ferries and TransEuropa Ferries will be available by the end of February 2001. For further information, please send stamped addressed envelope marked 'Trip B'.

Brittany Ferries Weekend (Trip C) 29/30 September 2001

Transfer from Portsmouth by coach to Poole to catch the 12.30 sailing of the Baifleur to Cherbourg. Overnight in St. Malo with return sailing on the Bretagne. Price to include lunch on both days, reception and lectures. Price from £117.50. For further information, please send stamped addressed envelope marked 'Trip C'.

P&O North Sea Ferries (Trip D) 23/24/25 November 2001

Sail outward on Friday night from Hull on the giant Pride of Rotterdam. On the Saturday the trip will include a visit to see the new Brittany Ferries' ship being built at Rotterdam (subject to final arrangements). Transfer by coach to Zeebrugge via the Breskens ferry. Sail back to Hull on the Norland. Price from £109, including dinner and breakfast and all coach transfers. For further info, please send stamped addressed envelope marked 'Trip D'.

Prices shown are for EFS Club Members sharing cabin/hotel rooms. Non members pay approx 5% more. Single cabins/ rooms are usually available at a supplement.

If you are interested in joining one of the above trips and would like a booking form or further details, please send a stamped addressed envelope marked with the appropriate letter as above to:

Mrs Pat Somner,

Ferry Publications, P0 Box 9,Narberth, Pembrokeshire, SA68 OYT

 
 

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