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April 2001

April 29



Tony Brennan's "Around Dublin Port" website has been restored to it's previous location as follows: is a new web site established by Adrian Corkill in conjunction with the launch of his new CD-ROM "Dictionary of Shipwrecks off the Isle of Man".


Adrian Sweeney editor and publisher of Ships of Mann magazine will be publishing a "Ships of Mann Almanac" next week which will contain photographs of IoMSPCo vessels past and present along with a perpetual calendar which will feature events through the history of the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company. Further information from:


The next update is scheduled for Sunday May 6, however, it may be delayed until Monday May 7, due to the Bank Holiday next week.

Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Clive Jackson, Tony Brennan, Brain Chambers, Charlie Tennant, Alistair Eagles - Seatruck Ferries, FERRYinfomation - Michael Speckenbach and "others".

SEA CONTAINERS \ Isle of Man Steam Packet Company


On April 27 The Office of Fair Trading said that Secretary of State for Trade and Industry Stephen Byers has decided not to refer Mersey Docks and Harbour Co's acquisition of Heysham Port Ltd from Sea Containers to the Competition Commission under the provisions of the Fair Trading Act 1973.

HOVERSPEED GREAT BRITAIN - The Belfast Newsletter reports that the widow of the man who fell from the vessel off the Ramsey has appealed to people to look out for his body. Tracy Carnaghan, from Beechmount Pass in Belfast, also hit out at the delay by Sea Containers in contacting her about the accident involving her husband Tony, 31.

The 28-year-old mother-of-five said the family had been left devastated by the tragedy.

In an emotional interview on BBC Radio Ulster, she said her three sons and two daughters were distraught.

She said: "They can't cope at all. They just keep asking where their daddy is. Is he in the Isle of Man, all the different things, and they have been told different things by different kids and they don't know what is going on.

"One of the wee boys doesn't want to come back and live here anymore. He wants to live with his aunt and uncle and I think that is just his way of trying to cope with it.

"The other wee boy, he hasn't spoke. He wants to say nothing at all."

Mr. Carnaghan had been travelling with friends on Sunday morning to watch Liverpool play at Anfield. He fell from the ferry about 9.30am as it passed close to the Isle of Man.

News of the accident was broken to Mrs. Carnaghan by her brother- in-law Liam, who had been travelling with her husband.

She said during the interview that she first thought he had been joking with her until more family members arrived at the door.

JHL'S COMMENT: Anyone familiar with the layout of the Incat vessels will know that open deck rail height is more than adequate to safeguard the responsible passenger from being in any danger of falling overboard in all but the most extreme conditions and in such conditions these vessels would not operate.


SeaTruck Ferries this week released a press release celebrating the company's fifth year of operation on the Heysham to Warrenpoint route:


The spring of 2001 has seen Seatruck Ferries pass an important milestone in their history on the Irish Sea. For it was just five years ago that the new freight service from Warrenpoint to Heysham was inaugurated. From humble beginnings in 1996 with a single chartered vessel the company now owns and operates two vessels the mv MOONDANCE and mv RIVERDANCE. Confounding the sceptics the service has gone from strength to strength now shipping in excess of 60,000 units per annum on its twice-daily services.

In a ferry industry that has changed immeasurably in recent years Seatruck Ferries have proved their place in the market time and time again. According to Sales Director Alistair Eagles the next five years will see more major changes in line with the burgeoning demand for Seatruck and its services.

"It is fantastic to be celebrating our five year anniversary, it has been an interesting journey so far and we are looking forward to the next stage. In hindsight the Seatruck Story would have been great television! We have had a fair share of hurdles to overcome. Even this year our forced one-month temporary departure from Warrenpoint was an unlikely development, which was dealt with in true Seatruck Ferries style. Without our dedicated team both ashore and on-board we would not have been able to establish an alternative service within 36 hrs of the linkspan failure in Warrenpoint. With our dedicated customer base who have stuck with us throughout our early years we have been able to compete with the other Irish Sea Operators."

The Seatruck Ferries service has exploited a niche in the Irish Sea market. They remain the only Ferry Company operating into the Port of Warrenpoint strategically located in the border region of County Down between Belfast and Dublin. In 1996 while other operators were concentrating their services on the major conurbations Seatruck recognised the gap in the marketplace for a freight service serving the Irish Midlands. In more recent times the sphere of influence has spread wider and Seatruck now regards its Warrenpoint hub as the ideal entry point for traffic throughout the island of Ireland.

"We see no area in Ireland that cannot be served efficiently from Warrenpoint. Customers are using our service on a daily basis for loads that do not fall within our perceived catchment area. Analysis of our traffic flows shows an ever increasing percentage of our traffic moving to Belfast, Dublin, Cork & Galway to name but a few. The excellent road links from Warrenpoint coupled with the increasing congestion in the ferry terminals at Dublin and Belfast has seen hauliers take a fresh look at their operations. Warrenpoint is not only an ideal base for ferry operations but can also offer warehousing and ancillary services at non-city centre prices. We can really offer the whole package here and more and more people are waking up to that fact."

Operating in the UK from the Port of Heysham Seatruck Ferries view the recent consolidation on the Irish Sea as a worrying development for the Irish Sea shipper. Seatruck Ferries now offer the only independent alternative to the combined freight and passenger operations of their competitors. As the only dedicated freight ferry company on the Irish Sea, Seatruck Ferries have focused clearly on serving the haulage industry with an operation that is not compromised by the call of passenger traffic.

"We have no wish to ship passengers, freight is our business and as we grow our operation that is the way it will continue. It is what freight customers want. As other companies alter their operations to take passengers we feel they have taken their eye off the ball. Inevitable conflicts develop between the passenger and freight departments, which can delay freight shipments. Our high level of reliability and unrivalled service level is consistently praised by our customers."

The continued growth of the service has been made possible by the enthusiastic Seatruck team.

"We are a young company who enjoy what we do. Our challenge for the next 5 years is to spread the word to ensure more operators are aware of the advantages of Seatruck. Those who try us will find that we
really are `the way to go!'"


On April 26 correspondent Clive Jackson noted that  at 07:45  MERCHANT BRAVER or BRILLIANT was following either by the RIVER LUNE or DART 3 up to Heysham. As the "Merchant" vessel would have been inward bound from Belfast the other vessel now obviously the Dart 3 was from Dublin. Unless MF have chartered another ship, it would appear that the Belfast service has gone down to 3 vessels - the 2 "Merchant" vessels and the River Lune. VARBOLA is still at anchor.


Stena Line officially launched the STENA FORWARDER on April 28 the vessel being named by An Tánaiste Ms Mary Harney. 

“The Stena Forwarder will give us the opportunity to take account of the growing demand for transport between the UK and Ireland,” says Vic Goodwin, Route Director.

The Stena Forwarder, built by the Visentini Group, is to replace the Stena Challenger on the Holyhead-Dublin route. The vessel will reduce crossing times between Holyhead and Dublin to just three hours, as well as increasing freight capacity by 60%. The ferry has a 2,100-lane metre freight capacity, room for 75 cars and 1,000 passengers, which is twice as much as the Stena Challenger. The interior fixtures and fittings are Italian designed and of the highest quality. The amenities onboard include a shopping facility, restaurant, bars, lounges and over 75 en-suite cabins.

"The Stena Forwarder conforms to the highest standards with substantial capacity for both freight and passengers,” says Vic Goodwin. The Stena Forwarder is a fast ferry, with speeds of up to 24 knots. Together with the HSS Stena Explorer, we can now offer both our freight and tourist customers a unique combination of fast craft and faster conventional ferry services. The Stena Forwarder and Stena Explorer will provide up to 12 crossings daily.”

STENA LYNX III was reported running late on April 28 due to engine trouble on April 28.

KONINGIN BEATRIX - it is reported to be considering replacing the ship as they perceive her as a night ship on a day service.



The Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) on April 27 published the report of its investigation into the grounding of EUROPEAN PIONEER off Fleetwood on 1 December 2000.


EUROPEAN PIONEER, a ro-ro (roll on-roll off) cargo ferry, ran aground on a sandbank while departing Fleetwood in the early hours of the morning of 1 December 2000. She had 103 units of cargo and 57 passengers on board. She was only superficially damaged and there was no pollution. She remained stranded over one tide and was subsequently able to continue her passage.

EUROPEAN PIONEER runs a regular daily service between Fleetwood and Larne, along with two other similar vessels. At the time of the grounding, the master, the chief officer, a seaman lookout and the bosun as helmsman manned her bridge. The master had the con. Both the master and the chief officer each held a Pilotage Exemption Certificate (PEC) for the port. The weather and visibility were good.

The approach to Fleetwood is a very narrow, buoyed channel between drying sandbanks which demands accurate navigation. The bridge team was following a familiar well-tried passage plan, which involved the
master conning the vessel by eye from the bridge-front window.

The role of the duty second officer was to monitor the navigation using radar parallel index techniques and advising the master accordingly. However, on leaving the berth the second officer had duties at a mooring station, and no one monitored the radar in his absence.

A navigational mistake occurred before the second officer had returned to the bridge. A critical buoy was unlit which caused the master to underestimate a turn. By the time the mistake was noticed it was too late to correct it.

At the time of the accident, and unbeknown to the officers and crew, there was a major system fault on the Voyage Event Recorder (VER) and no data was saved. This major fault went unrecognised because there is only one alarm indicator and there was an existing alarm for a known minor fault.

P&O Ship Management (Irish Sea) Ltd is recommended to reconsider the bridge resource management on its ships operating in and out of Fleetwood, and to review its procedures for ensuring the Voyage Event Recorders fitted on its vessels are fully operational for every voyage.


P&O Ship Management (Irish Sea) Ltd is recommended to:

1. Review the level of bridge manning on its vessels and the roles of the bridge team during departure and arrival at Fleetwood;

2. Ensure that the navigation of the master/pilot is always checked/assisted using radar parallel indexing techniques or another suitable and equivalent method throughout the pilotage; and

3. Review its procedures for ensuring the Voyage Event Recorders on its vessels are fully operational for every voyage.


On April 27 the Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB)  published the report of its investigation into the collision the offshore supply vessel HIGHLAND PIONEER and the jack-up rig of the Douglas offshore installation in Liverpool Bay. The incident occurred on 27 January 2000.


At about 06:23 on 27 January 2000, the United Kingdom registered offshore supply vessel HIGHLAND PIONEER collided with the jack-up rig section of the Douglas offshore installation situated in Liverpool Bay. Liverpool Coastguard informed the MAIB of the accident at 09:07 that day. Captain P Kavanagh carried out the investigation.

At 02:55, HIGHLAND PIONEER left her base in Heysham for the Douglas installation.

At 04:00 the vessel passed Lune Deep buoy and made a direct course for the installation. The chief officer set the propeller pitch controls at 85% to give a speed of about 12 knots.

At 05:47, he called the Douglas control room to tell them that the vessel's ETA (Estimated Time of Arrival) was 06:20. He was informed that cargo work would start at 07:00.

At 06:00, the master took over the navigational watch from the chief officer. At that time the vessel was about four miles away from the installation, and she was ahead of time. The master thought that he had reduced the vessel's speed by placing the propeller pitch controls to 60% to give about eight knots. However, other evidence proved that the vessel's speed was not reduced. The lookout went below to call one of the two second officers and an able seaman, and to prepare for cargo work at the installation. The master busied
himself on the bridge, and began to make tidal stream computations at the chart table. From this position he had full view of the radar and the brightly-lit Douglas installation.

At about 06:22, the master looked up and saw the installation was at very close range. He went to the forward console immediately and moved the propeller pitch control levers to full astern. He moved the tiller to hard-to-starboard and activated the general alarm. However, HIGHLAND PIONEER collided with the north leg of the jack-up rig, in way of her forward starboard shoulder, causing considerable damage. The vessel reversed from under the jack-up rig and the master sent a "Mayday" message. The vessel was not taking in water, there was no pollution and two of HIGHLAND PIONEER's engineers suffered only minor injuries.

The cause of the accident was that the master allowed HIGHLAND PIONEER, for a period of time, to approach the jack-up rig of the Douglas offshore installation without properly monitoring her progress until it was too late to avoid a collision.

The operators of the installation and HIGHLAND PIONEER have since implemented a number of actions, including a review of the responsibilities of stand-by vessels, revised guidelines on traffic management, challenging of all vessels approaching the 500m safety zone around the installation, and bridge procedures and passage plans for supply vessels.

The MAIB has no safety recommendations to make at this time.


The MAIB has no safety recommendations to make at this time.


The chief executive of the Port of Warrenpoint, Quntin Goldie has attacked the MD&HC as bullies in attempts to oppose plans to develop facilities at Warrenpoint.

The Mersey Docks and Harbour Company, proprietors of Coastal Container Line which operates services from Liverpool to Dublin and Belfast has lodged objections to plans to develop Warrenpoint at a Public Enquiry.

The Daily Post Newspaper reported this week that Mr. Goldie made the comments after purchasing shares in the Mersey Docks & Harbour Company to enable him to attend the AGM held last week. Mr. Goldie demanded to know why his plans were opposed.

MDHC chairman Gordon Waddell refused to explain why plans to develop the Warrenpoint harbour had been objected to by his company's subsidiary, saying it was in "the best interest of shareholders."

The Irish port is a small operation with only 2m tonnes of cargo a year, compared with the dock company's 30m tonnes. They plan to spend £8m investing in facilities including deep water quays to attract more trade, but say it would not be in competition with any of Mersey Docks' businesses.

"It is ludicrous to suggest we are in competition. These are simply bullying tactics just for the sake of it," said Mr Goldie.

"The strange thing is that one of our main businesses is a ro-ro operation between our port and Heysham, which is of course now owned by Mersey Docks.

"Coastal Line operates between Liverpool and Dublin and Belfast and really has no bearing on what we are trying to do here. We need better facilities because vessels are getting bigger.

"Ours is a small-fry operation in comparison with Mersey Docks but we still serve quite a large community, and it would cost them more to travel to Belfast or Dublin.

"The other point is that we have 45 employees, too. I felt I had to come over here today to put forward our point of view because this could prove fatal for us."

An inspector's report is awaited following the inquiry.

During the meeting, Mr Waddell said: "Coastal objected to the plans because, after careful consideration, it was not considered in the best interests of shareholders.

"We see no necessity to develop Warrenpoint. The best interest is to preserve the status quo."

Afterwards, Mersey Docks declined to comment further.

In a trading statement, the company said business in the first quarter to March 31 was satisfactory. The animal feeds business has not been affected by foot-and-mouth and general cargoes remain unaffected by the slowdown in North America.

A £12m investment in new facilities is taking place at Marine Terminals, the Dublin berths acquired last year.


Powergen PLC, The Mersey Docks and Harbour Company and Cargill PLC have agreed to build a Combined Heat and Power (CHP) plant at the Port of Liverpool, the companies said in a joint
statement. Under this agreement, Powergen will build and operate the 30 mln stg CHP facility which will be capable of producing some 30 MW of electricity and up to 75 tonnes of steam per hour.

Powergen CHP has awarded the turnkey construction contract to Rolls-Royce Power Engineering Ltd, and construction is expected to take around 18 months with up to 150 people employed at peak phases.

Once fully operational, the plant will employ a team of around 10 people on a 24-hour basis, the statement added.

When complete, the station will make an important contribution to the Government's proposed target to grow the installed capacity of such CHP plants to 10,000 MWe by 2010, recognising that they can play a vital part in reducing greenhouse gases, it said.


ISLE OF INNISFREE will enter service on the Napoli - Catania service operated by Pan Adriatic Ferries as the VULCANIA. It is understood that the 220 mile voyage which will take 10 hours. Departures from Catania will be at 20:30  with arrival in Naples at 06.30. Departure from Naples will be at 08.30  with arrival in Catania at 18:30. The company has chosen berth 12 at Calata Piliero for its operations.

ISLE OF INISHMORE - It is understood that she may take up service on the Rosslare - Pembroke route on May 15.


TENACIOUS - the new barque, operated by the Jubilee Sailing Trust which provides Tall Ship sailing experiences for combined crews of disabled and able-bodied, visited Birkenhead's East Float this weekend. During the coming week she due to call at Douglas and Dublin.

April 25


Welcome to this mid-week update. Don't forget to check "What's New" for details of all recent updates.

Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Tony Brennan, Nicholas King, John Lawlor and "others".

SEA CONTAINERS \ Isle of Man Steam Packet Company

The Isle of Man Government has taken the regrettable decision to cancel the Isle of Man TT Races this year due to the Foot and Mouth outbreak in the UK.

What effect this will have on the company's operations both in the short and longer term remains to be seen. In a press release issued on April 24 [see below], IoMSPCo appear to be encouraging bikers to come to the Island highlighting that whilst the races are cancelled the TT Festival will continue. Obviously some sailings will be lost, but hopefully sufficient bikers will still want to travel to the festival to ensure that the full programme of schedules will not be lost and the LADY OF MANN will still be required. However it will be some days before it becomes clear which advertised sailing will continue to operate. 

The Isle of Man Steam Packet Company is writing to fans booked to travel to the Isle of Man for the world famous TT Festival. Regrettably the TT road racing has been cancelled because of the outbreak of Foot and Mouth disease in the UK, but the festival is most definitely ON. The Island is eager to tell the world that it is still very open for tourists. Visitors will experience the usual warm Manx welcome, but are asked to heed any restrictions in force.

The decision to cancel the racing is a very disappointing one. For many thousands, however, the TT Festival is more than just a race meeting - it is a biking convention like no other! It is thought thousands of visitors will still flock to the Island and an exciting special programme of events which has been so much a feature of the festival will continue. We anticipate events planned will include the Red Arrows, the famous firework displays, road sprints, club meetings plus all the usual Island attractions open to the public and unrelated to farming.

The Steam Packet hopes everyone will still travel to the Island to enjoy a unique festival. For those who may wish to alter their travel plans the Company are assisting with options designed to ease their next visit to the Island either later this year or transferring this year s TT booking to the 2002 Festival, but at 2001 fares.

Although the road racing is cancelled, the festival will still provide the opportunity to meet thousands of fellow enthusiasts. The Steam Packet is geared up to deliver extra services to accommodate the demand.

Additional Information for passengers with reservations is available on the Sea Container's Irish Sea web site at:


The former River Dart passenger vessel TOTNES PRINCESS has been acquired by the LAXEY TOWING company and arrived at Douglas on April 14. She will be refurbished at the Ramsey Shipyard and is expected to enter service this summer carrying the name KARINA


ISLE OF INISHMORE arrived back in Dublin on Tuesday April 24 following refit at A&P Falmouth and berthing trails at Rosslare. It had been though that the vessel would be chartered to P&O, however, it is understood that P&O wished to make some extensive alterations to the vessel which Irish Continental Group were reluctant to agree to. 

ISLE OF INNISFREE - Italian interest in the vessel continues and a final decision will be made soon. If ISLE OF INNISFREE departs, ISLE OF INISHMORE will then switch to the Rosslare - Pembroke route.


VARBOLA was reported to still be anchored off Fleetwood which she has remained since Good Friday. The SAGA MOON has been noted  operating on the Varbola's schedule (evening arrival at Heysham) on April 24. DART 3 is also reported to be operating some services though this is not confirmed.


LE EITHNE a 19 year old crewman has been arrested and subsequently charged by Gardaí investigating the death of Brain Gorey a 22 year old AB from Limerick. A post mortem revealed that Mr. Gorey died from drowning, though there were also a number of marks on his body consistent with an assault. RTÉ reports that there was a row on board the ship on Saturday evening and Mr. Gorey was struck a number of times.

Gardaí interviewed the 63 strong crew of the LE EITHNE whilst a team of counsellors from the defence forces personnel support service had been on board the ship since Sunday when Mr. Gorey's body was discovered in the River Liffey.


The first ever UK Wreck Amnesty, launched by the Receiver of Wreck on the 23rd January, officially comes to an end at midnight on April 24.

In its three-month run, the Wreck Amnesty has encouraged divers and dive clubs, fishermen, beach walkers, museums and other sea-users from all over the UK to come forward and report items recovered from wrecked vessels, hovercraft and aircraft which they have in their possession. Thousands of reports have been received, with the last days of the amnesty seeing upwards of 500 reports a day arriving at the MCA headquarters in Southampton.

The aim of the amnesty was to offer an opportunity for all those with unreported wreck finds to set the record straight. The large number of reports submitted to the Receiver of Wreck have also brought to light objects which could be of historic interest, and some which may lead to previously unknown wrecks. The amnesty has also brought to light a substantial number of unstable explosives recovered from First and Second World War wrecks. The Ministry of Defence Police are working with the Receiver of Wreck to ensure that all potentially hazardous material is made safe.

Musket parts, musket shot, cannon and cannonballs have also been reported, along with more modern munitions. While the majority of items have been completely safe, it has been necessary for a number to be removed and made safe by explosives experts. In one particular case, 89 live and unstable shells were removed from one address.

Items reported under the amnesty include portholes and various brass fixtures and fittings, copper and lead ingots, coins, including pieces of eight, pieces of jewellery, silverware, cutlery, and more fragile items such as bottles of perfume, champagne, gin and vodka, and large collections of crockery.

More unusual items reported under the amnesty include toilet bowls, toilet pumps, toilet roll holders and chamber pots, as well as a pair of white lace panties!

Veronica Robbins, the Receiver of Wreck said:

" The Wreck Amnesty has been a great success and we have had lots of positive feedback. In general, finders from all over the UK have welcomed the opportunity to set the record straight. So far we have processed thousands of reports (excluding those from museums), but due to the overwhelming response, it will take time to assess all the material and collate the information that we have received.

"The main aim of the amnesty was to further enhance sea-users’ knowledge of the law and we are sure that in the future people will more readily report their finds now that they understand how straight forward the reporting process is and that by reporting their finds they have much to gain and nothing to lose.

"The penalties for failing to report can be severe, and include fines of up to £2500 for each offence. The Maritime and Coastguard Agency will continue to encourage safe, responsible, legal practices by all sea-users, and will take appropriate action in relation to unreported wreck."

Detective Inspector, Alan Stevens of the Ministry of Defence Police said:

"While not wishing to be alarmist, some people have been in possession of potentially dangerous material which has now been made safe. We are glad that the amnesty had made the public aware of the law and that they have been able to come forward to report past finds without the worry of being prosecuted. We will continue to follow up reports and claims which are made post Amnesty, with the assistance of explosives ordnance experts."



Fairplay reported this week that Cammell Laird's receivership and the cancellation of a major contract has forced Portland shipyard operator Cascade General to sell its major asset - Dry Dock #4 to stave off bankruptcy. Cammell Laird owns 49% of Cascade General which  purchased the 23 hectares, dry docks and equipment it had formerly rented from the Port of Portland for $30.8M last August. 

The port last week lifted a restriction to block the dry dock’s sale, after Cascade said it needed to sell the asset to prevent foreclosure. Cascade owes its primary creditor Transamerica Equipment Financial Services $18.5M for the land purchase. A Cascade spokesman told Fairplay that Cammell Laird’ s receivership was only part of the yard’s problems. Work dropped 80 per cent in the first quarter after a consortium representing oil majors gave notice in October 2000 that they would move work overseas in January 2001.


Meanwhile Trade & Industry  Secretary Stephen Byers has intervened to prevent Merseyside shipbuilder Cammell Laird being sold to venture capitalists. Mr. Byers has informed receivers Pricewaterhouse Coopers that it is important that the company is sold as a going concern rather than being disposed of to the Alchemy group. The prospect of a sale to Alchemy is has concerned union leaders who fear that acquisition by Alchemy would lead to asset stripping.

Just as Alchemy appeared to be being turned away it appears that Patron Capital, a US Venture Capital company has examined Cammell Laird and is reported to be considering a bit which could include reinstatement of the company's former management. 


Local press reports indicate that Patron Capital first examined Cammell Laird six months ago, but were not interested due to Laird's involvement in none core operations such as the ship chartering activities of the Progress Group which included Edinburgh Castle.

A UNITED States venture capital firm yesterday told the Daily Post it was "100pc" interested in buying Cammell Laird's Merseyside shipyard.

Patron Capital now believe that the collapse of the business might facilitate the purchase just those parts of Laird's that fitted Patron's strategy of investing in dock-related assets in the UK. Mr Breslauer of Patron Capital said: "We have expressed interest in working with the receiver on some assets of the business. This 100pc includes Merseyside, Tyneside and other UK docks."

The company has insisted that it is interested in operating the ship yards and not asset  stripping.

April 22



I have generally found that if any major errors appear on M&ISS they have that habit of occurring when I am away and unable to correct them! Once again my absence has revealed an error which was glaring out for over a week regarding the LADY OF MANN [I]. In the hurly burly of trying to get the news bulletin together before going away I managed to state that LADY OF MANN [I] was built at Cammell Laird! She was of course built at Barrow by Vickers Armstrong.


Further information is now available on cruise ship calls. A full listing for  2001 at Cork/Cobh is now available thanks to Tony O'Leary of the Port of Cork Company. Information for other Irish / Celtic Sea ports is still sought.


A reminder that the next update will be on Wednesday April 25. This will be the last scheduled mid week update until the end of June due to the need to create time complete the M&ISS CD-ROM project. 

Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, John & Jenny Williamson, Ken Fletcher, Mike Pryce, Patrick C. Taylor, Tony O'Leary - Port of Cork, Cornish Shipping, Brain Chambers, John Lawlor and others.


Atlantic Container Line [ACL] have a new web site - this appears to be a state of the art web site and is very impressive. A fast modem is recommended for the excellent G-3L virtual tour.

Niall O'Mahony has set up a new web site which provides another resource for enthusiasts. Niall's site aims to record ships and shipping of Irish interest with photos, details and stories from all interested parties. Niall would be particularly interested in obtaining photos and stories of Irish Shipping Ltd its ships, and the men who worked them and hopes to develop the site as a point of information and contact for all seafarers of all ages and experience


SEACAT ISLE OF MAN  operated her Round the Island Cruise on Easter Sunday April 15. She is reported to have sailed "north about" with 209 passengers on board.

On Wednesday April 13 SCIOM set a new record time for the crossing between Heysham and Douglas of 1 hour and 47 minutes. The vessel departed from Heysham at 16:52 and berthed at Douglas at 18:39.

HOVERSPEED GREAT BRITAIN a on Sunday April 22 a passenger is reported to have fallen overboard and drowned whilst the vessel was on its morning sailing from Belfast to Heysham. The 30 year old man is believed to have fallen around 09:40 when the vessel was passing 8 miles off Ramsey on the Isle of Man.

HSGB began a search of the area and was joined by lifeboats, private craft, Royal Fleet Auxiliary vessel and a RAF helicopter. However the search proved to be unsuccessful and was abandoned at 13:10.

A spokesman for Liverpool Coastguard, who co-ordinated the search, said: "This was a very extensive search and the ferry had dropped markers so we can be pretty sure we were searching the right area.

"We believe the man has not survived, particularly with the water temperature being as cold as it is.  We do not know how he came to fall off the ferry but it seems this was an accident rather than a suicide attempt."


On April 12 Sea Containers announced that it had sold the major part of the Port of Newhaven for $22m to the  French Societe d'Economie Mixte Locale de Cooperation Transmanche.

Sea Containers Ferry and Port Holdings is selling the east quay, adjacent land and buildings, harbour authority rights and outer harbour whilst retaining the West Quay and North Harbour.

All vessels using the port will pay access charges to Transmanche, the new harbour authority, said the company.

At the same time, Sea Containers said its Hoverspeed Ltd subsidiary signed an access agreement with respect to the ferry berths and ferry terminals at Newhaven for its fast ferries and an agency agreement to represent Transmanche for passengers, cars and caravans to be carried aboard Transmanche ships between Newhaven and Dieppe.

Hoverspeed has guaranteed to provide a minimum of 100,000 passengers annually for Transmanche's ship.


The Financial Times of April 12,  2001 reports that Maritrade, an Australian company that specialises in high speed ferry services in environmentally sensitive congested waters, is to start a daily commuter service from Carrickfergus and Bangor to Belfast Donegal Quay. It is expected to be in operation from August, with two round commuter trips using 2 "river runners", which are rapid transit, low wash passenger craft constructed by NQEA at Cairns, Queensland, with Lough cruises operated during the working day.


EUROPEAN HIGHLANDER has appeared at Alexandra Dock, Liverpool.

Following her Mersey dry-docking the EUROPEAN HIGHLANDER re-entered service on April 19 on the Larne - Ardrossan route, the cover vessel EUROPEAN PATHFINDER has now moved to her new Larne - Cairnryan home replacing the EUROPEAN TRADER.

EUROPEAN TRADER was observed by a correspondent picking up the pilot and heading into Belfast around 20.00 on April 19 having been replaced on Larne - Cairnryan by the EUROPEAN PATHFINDER.  The vessel will be laid up until she is required for refit cover and finally sold after the summer.


SCILLONIAN III - In 2000 the sailing season of the company's passenger / cargo ship was extended until mid November. For some years the SCILLONIAN has laid up at the end of October until the following spring. This year the ship is scheduled to make crossings from Penzance to St.Mary's on December 17, 19, 21, and January 2 & 4 which sees a further extension to the ship's operating season. Departures are 11:00 from Penzance and 15:00 from St.Mary's.

The company is currently preparing plans for a replacement of the current vessel during 2003.


Tours of A&P's Falmouth Shipyard are available on weekdays until September 12. A tour bus conveys visitors around the yard, with it is understand, opportunities to alight for photographs. Three tours operate each day at 11:00, 12:30 and 14:30. Departures from the main gate.


ISLE OF INISHMORE has been undergoing refit work at A&P's Falmouth Yard in Cornwall. The vessel left the Queen Elizabeth dry dock at Falmouth around 14:00 on Saturday April 21 and proceeded directly to sea. She was scheduled to arrive at Rosslare at around 09:30 on Sunday April 22, however, her arrival in the port was delayed due to strong winds, the vessel remaining off the coast. However by 13:00 she was reported to be on the link span.

NORMANDY - The relics of Saint Therese of Lisieux arrived in Ireland on Sunday April 15 for the start of a 75-day tour of cathedrals and churches around the country. The relics were received by the Bishop of Ferns, Dr Brendan Comiskey, at Rosslare Harbour. 


The troubled freighter ARACHOVITIKA BAY currently laid up at Dublin was sold by Auction on Thursday April 19. The vessel had been sold at a previous auction, however, the purchaser did not make payment beyond an initial deposit which led to the vessel being auctioned for a second time. Proceeds from the sale of the vessel will be used to pay the crew outstanding wages.



Two west country fishing vessels became entangled on April 14 when a slight collision caused the ‘Barbican Maid’, a 9.9 metre fibreglass vessel to become caught in the beams of the 26.1 metre steel hulled ‘Marilyn Jane’. Brixham Coastguard received a call at just after 13:30 to report the accident and that 4 people (one on board the ‘Barbican Maid’ and three on ‘Marilyn Jane’) could be at risk.

The Coastguard immediately requested Plymouth Lifeboat to go the scene, 20 miles south of Plymouth. A message was also broadcast to all shipping and the warship ‘Anglesey’, along with the fishing vessel ‘Albion’ responded and offered their assistance.

Once all vessels were on scene, Barbican Maid and Marilyn Jane were disentangled. Marilyn Jane fouled her propeller and was towed back to Plymouth by the lifeboat. Barbican Maid made he way Plymouth under her own power. The weather on scene during the incident was northerly force 3-4 winds with a moderate sea and good visibility.

Alf Tupper, Watch Manager said:

"The fishing vessels involved notified us in very good time, meaning that we were able to make a swift response in requesting assistance both from the lifeboat and shipping in the area. This ensured that all vessels were on scene quickly resulting in an excellent outcome with no injuries and just some slight damage caused by the collision and entanglement."


On April 14 Milford Haven Coastguard unravelled a bizarre set of circumstances when a call was received at 19:10. from 13 year old Luke Sperway, who stated that two boys from an original group of six had become separated from the main party during a two mile coastal walk back to their caravan site, and that he feared for their safety.

Milford Haven Coastguard immediately co-ordinated a search for the two missing boys tasking the RNLI Inshore Lifeboat and the Coastguard Rescue Team, both from Tenby. Meanwhile, during communications Luke stated that in fact he and the three boys with him were also lost and could not find the right track home. The Coastguard Rescue Team and Lifeboat, now assisted by a Police helicopter began searching for all six boys.

Milford Haven Coastguard kept in constant touch with Luke and in no time the Police helicopter spotted the four boys and guided the Inshore Lifeboat to them. They were taken to Saundersfoot Harbour to help with information about the two boys still missing.

The Coastguard Rescue Team finally found the two remaining boys, Joel Sperway 12 and Scott Jones 14, who were both soaking wet and very cold. They told how, when finding themselves cut off by the tide, they were backed up against cliffs and up to their chests in water and so decided to climb and eventually ended up going through fields and woodland. A passing member of the public gave them directions, which they were following when located by the Coastguard Rescue Team.

All six boys are uninjured but were very cold and tired by their ordeal.

Milford Haven Coastguard Watch Manager, Andrew Hodgeson commented:

"We were very impressed by the calm and collected way that Luke dealt with the dangerous situation he found himself in. Firstly he knew to contact the Coastguard and then he managed to give us very good information on his surroundings and details about the journey he had taken which helped the rescue teams locate all six boys before dark."


On the night of April 17/18 Belfast Coastguard assisted two fishing vessels after they collided in the mouth of Strangford Lough whilst one was towing the other. A mayday message was received from the fishing vessel ‘Walpaul’ via Liverpool Coastguard at 10.40 pm last night to report that assistance would be required. He reported that the ‘Azure Sea’, a Dublin registered 75 ft fishing vessel with 2 people on board collided with the ‘Walpaul’, a converted 75 ft fishing vessel, also with 2 on board. The Walpaul was towing Azure Sea when the tow parted and the Walpaul started taking water

Belfast Coastguard broadcast a mayday relay message to which ‘Salmoor’, a RFA fleet tender vessel responded. A rescue helicopter from RAF Kinloss, along with a Nimrod from Kinloss were put on standby. In addition, Newcastle Lifeboat, Portaferry Inshore Lifeboat and Donaghadee Lifeboat were also requested to attend the scene.

The RFA Salmoor was the first to the scene and launched its fast rescue boat to stand alongside until the lifeboats arrived. Once Newcastle Lifeboat arrived, a tow was attached to the Azure Sea and the vessel was taken to Ardglass. The Donaghadee Lifeboat arrived a few minutes later and the Walpaul was towed by the Lifeboat to Ardglass.17.33,

Thursday, 19 April 2001 


Holyhead Coastguard were called at 15.15  on Thursday April 19 to assist a man and his dogs who had become stuck on cliffs at Angel Bay, near Little Orme, Llandudno. The man, Dan Williams of Penryn Bay, had been walking along the shore with his two dogs, Georgie and Chunk, when Georgie had begun to climb the steep cliffs. Mr Williams called Georgie back, but the black cross Lurcher would not return, so he secured his other dog Chunk, a black Staffordshire puppy at the bottom of the cliffs and began to climb up the cliffs in order to retrieve Georgie. Once he had climbed around 50ft and reached Georgie, he turned round to find Chunk at his feet. He also realised that having climbed the fifty feet to reach the dog, he was now unable to climb back down to safety. A man who was walking by at the top of the cliffs realised his plight and ran to a nearby house to call the Coastguard.

Holyhead Coastguard immediately tasked the Llandudno Cliff Rescue Team and the Sector Manager from Clwyd to the scene and requested the RAF rescue helicopter from Valley to attend. The helicopter was already on exercise in the area and was able to reach the man and his dogs in seven minutes.

The helicopter then airlifted Mr Williams and the puppy Chunk, to safety, whilst the Llandudno Cliff Rescue Team scaled 70 ft down the cliffs and rescued Georgie the dog.

Bungy Williamson, Watch Manager said:

"We are pleased to report that Mr Williams and his dogs are safe and well and that no injuries were sustained. It has been a pleasant sunny day today in the area with a north easterly force 3 wind and good visibility. We would advise people against climbing up or down cliffs unless part of an organised group – cliffs can be loose under foot and it is easy to become stuck. Anyone needing emergency assistance along the coast should call the Coastguard by dialling 999." 


On March 17 the Maritime & Coastguard Agency published the list of ships detained during March. Of the 13 ships detained that month four vessels were detained at UK ports on the Irish Sea and adjacent areas.


The following press release was issued following the appointment of receivers on April 11

Tony Lomas, Michael Horrocks, Edward Klempka and Ian Stokoe of PricewaterhouseCoopers were appointed receivers to Cammell Laird Group PLC on 11 April 2001.


Cammell Laird Group PLC is the holding company for all operating subsidiaries within Cammell Laird Holdings PLC. Operations in Gibraltar, Marseilles and the USA together with a number of UK subsidiaries remain outside the current arrangements. The decision to appoint receivers follows a recent series of events that has caused significant damage to the trading and financial position of the Group.


Edward Klempka commented, "We will continue to trade the company while seeking a going concern sale. We are encouraged by the information we have from the company so far and are actively looking to maximize assets and secure the future for Cammell Laird. Business continues as usual on Merseyside and Tyneside."


The diversity of activities and the range of geographic locations within the company has created the requirement for four receivers to be appointed. All receivers have experience in the sector, with Ian Stokoe previously engaged on the Swan Hunter case.




Later in the week Lloyd's List reported that receivers met with the Ministry of Defence concerning the group's MoD contracts at Birkenhead and Tyneside.

The Birkenhead yard has half completed a £10m ($14.2m) contract on the RFA ARGUS. The receivers  met the MoD to negotiate payment for the contract that is due on completion and to secure a commitment that the work would be completed at the yard.

Mr Stokoe said: "I was highly encouraged by today's meetings and we agreed in principle that work on the Argus will continue." 


The group's Gibraltar, Marseilles and Portland, Oregon autonomous subsidiaries yesterday remained outside the receivership process, but could still be sold off. Mr Stokoe said: "We are looking for a buyer, and it is a matter of conjecture whether that is for all of the group or parts of it." CL Gibraltar managing director Mel Smith said: "We are very much alive and looking forward to the future."

It was announced at the end of the week that KPMG had been appointed as receiver to Cammell Laird Holdings, the ultimate group holding company.

KPMG will work alongside PricewaterhouseCoopers, appointed as receivers to Laird's operating companies last week. KPMG will be seeking to recover money on behalf of Laird's bondholders, who lent Cammell Laird Holdings €125m last autumn.

The bondholders will hope to recover €51m from the disputed contract between Laird's and Italian cruise-line Costa Crociere. The contract with Costa named Cammell Laird Holdings as the party to the deal, not the operating companies.

Press reports suggest that a number of likely bidders for Cammell Laird are emerging. Amongst them are the Royal Bank of Scotland, Cammell Laird's bankers. The Royal Bank of Scotland is the majority shareholder in the A&P ship repair group.  Pricewaterhouse Coopers has said it will contact A&P to see if it is interested in acquiring Laird's.

Receivers are also said to be considering other expressions of interest which include a management - buyout and a bid from venture capitalists Alchemy who were involved in a bid for the Rover car group last year. Swan Hunter is said it might be interested in acquiring Laird's Tyneside yard at Hebburn.


Despite the problems at Cammell Laird Luxus Holdings claims that it still wants to go ahead with the building of two cruise ships. Managing director Les Royal said last week "I intend to carry on with the project, but it will not be here (in the UK). "I am currently working out where we are and will probably know more later this week." However, Luxus chairman James Davies was not so optimistic commenting "I joined the project as an all-British contribution to the (UK) merchant marine. "But the project cannot be resurrected at Cammell's and once you go abroad it becomes a very different proposition."

April 11



Please note that the next update will be on Sunday April 22 as I will be away in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly for the next few days. I will return on Thursday April 19. If you need to contact me urgently you can phone or text message my mobile on 07973 363370. Please do not call my home number as messages do not always get passed on correctly! 

The update schedule for May and June has been posted. I have decided that during May and through most of June there will only be a scheduled update on Sundays - to allow time for me to catch up with some other projects. However, should the need arise, additional updates will be posted and notification of these will be made in the M&ISS Yahoo Group.


The cruise ship call diary is starting to fill out with more information now available for ships calling at Dublin in May. If anyone has information regarding other Irish Sea/Celtic Sea ports please let me know. 


Finally can I take this opportunity to wish all visitors to the site a Happy Easter and hope you all have a good holiday.


A reminder - I note that some correspondents are still using my old email addresses. This doesn't stop me receiving messages but does cause problems when I try and reply as I have to manually change to the BT internet mail address. Please could all regular correspondents please remove the old Cybase addresses and use for private messages and for M&ISS related messages. It just helps speed things up and with the growing amount of mail - every second helps! - Thanks!


Gary Andrews, Justin Merrigan - Incat, Ferryman, Cornish Shipping, Tony Brennan, Patrick C. Taylor and "others".


SEACAT ISLE OF MAN - A special Easter "Round the Island" cruise will be offered on board SEACAT ISLE OF MAN on Easter Sunday April 15. Fares are: Adult £10 Children £5. There will be Easter Eggs for the children. Tickets are obtainable from the company or via travel agents.

HOVERSPEED GREAT BRITAIN was reported at Falmouth taking bunkers on Tuesday April 10 en-route to Belfast where she will take up service on the Belfast to Heysham service.


Sea Containers Irish Sea have announced sponsorship of the Voyager 2001 Challenge in support of the British Heart Foundation.

Daredevil John Power, from the Wirral, will embark on a week-long jet ski challenge in an attempt to become the first person to jet ski between the British Isles two most distant points Lands End and John O Groats.

John, who works as a traffic warden for Merseyside Police, will embark on the epic journey on May 11 calling in at Pembroke, Caernarvon, Douglas (Isle of Man), Troon, Fort William and Inverness before arriving at the British mainland s most northerly point a week later.

Last July, John was the first jet skier to successfully cross between Dublin and Liverpool, following a Holyhead to Dublin Crossing in 1999.

All proceeds from the event will be contributed to the British Heart Foundation to further its research into Britain s No 1 killer, heart disease. SeaCat, which operates ferry services between Liverpool and Dublin and the Isle of Man, Heysham and Belfast and Troon and Belfast, is covering the Voyager team s fuel costs through its sponsorship.

Diane Poole, SeaCat s General Sales and Marketing Manager said: We are thrilled to be supporting this exciting challenge and delighted to be able to help the British Heart Foundation. We wish John the very best of luck in his attempt.

John added: I am extremely grateful to SeaCat for its marvellous support in my record breaking attempt .


Given that Sea Containers has recently decided to divest itself of its port interests the news release made by the company on April 9 that it had had won the public tender to the Societe Anonyme of the Corinth Canal, an undertaking of the government of Greece, to operate the Corinth Canal for a period of 40 years from date of contract signing.

The Corinth Canal crosses the narrow isthmus between mainland Greece and the Peloponnisos, connecting the Saronic and Corinthian Gulfs, approximately 30 nautical miles due west of Athens and Greece’s largest port, Piraeus. The canal was conceived by the tyrant of Corinth, Periandros, one of the Seven Sages of Antiquity, in 620 B.C., however, he was overruled by the Oracle of Delphi who feared the wrath of Poseidon would be unleashed if the Peloponnisos was made an island. Instead, Periandros built a paved roadway across the isthmus, a distance of 4 miles, and boats were portaged. The road was called "Dioclos" and was 14 feet wide, built of limestone blocks and completed in 606 B.C. It is still largely intact and part will be restored as a visitor attraction. In 307 B.C. Demetrios, King of the Macedonians, started excavation of the present water passage. Emperor Nero in 66 A.D. employed 6,000 Judean prisoners from Galilee to continue the canal works, digging from both ends. Nero was sentenced to death in 68 A.D. and works stopped. The Venetians, having occupied the Peloponnisos resumed the work in 1687 A.D. but were forced out of Greece by the Turks before the canal could be completed. Finally, Ferdinand de Lesseps, builder of the Suez Canal, visited the isthmus in 1869 and work resumed in 1882 and the canal was finally opened on August 6, 1893.

The canal today is 6.3 kilometers long, has a width of 24.6 meters and water depth of 7.5 meters. The walls rise 250 feet above the water (see photo attached). The canal is an important tourist attraction and Sea Containers will be offering sightseeing cruises through the canal.

Today, some 12,000 vessels transit the canal annually. The canal company has never solicited traffic for the canal and has never varied their tariffs by offering volume discounts and other incentives for ships and boats. In view of rising fuel costs and the reduction of tensions in the Balkans, trade between the Adriatic Sea and the Eastern Mediterranean should greatly increase.

At the western end of the canal Sea Containers expects to develop a ferry terminal and yacht marina, while at the eastern end it plans to build a major tourist centre on the 130 acres of land included in the concession. The main Peloponnisos/Attica motorway crosses the canal with convenient exits and there are annually 3.5 million persons crossing the isthmus in cars and buses. The Greek government is building a light railway from Athens to the canal and the new ring road around Athens will link into the motorway.

Sea Containers will pay an annual rent linked to estimated European Union inflation. It has agreed to employ half the existing staff (the other half will be redeployed by the Greek government) and has agreed to invest $3 million in the first 5 years. It will pay $1 million to acquire the concession.

Mr. James B. Sherwood, president, said that both Sea Containers’ ferry and ports division and its subsidiary, Orient-Express Hotels Ltd., would participate in the development and operation of the canal.


Sea Containers also made available information concerning its bid to renew the East Coast Mainline Franchise

Mr. Sherwood said that since the company had issued its 2000 earnings release on March 28, 2001 the British government had decided to postpone elections, now expected to take place in June. The government also announced it was taking responsibility for the East Coast Main Line upgrade away from Railtrack plc and placing it in the hands of a public private partnership which would fund and complete the work. Track access charges for users of the East Coast Main Line will secure repayment of associated debt.

GNER has been asked to revise its bid for the new 20 year rail franchise to take into account this shift of responsibility and to indicate its level of participation in the public private partnership. The revised bid must be made on April 17, 2001 and the Strategic Rail Authority expects a final decision to be taken by government ministers before the date of the general election is announced, expected in the first days of May.


The threatened strike by Boatmen operating in the Port of Liverpool has been averted following the agreements with the union. MD&HC has withdrawn all plans for voluntary redundancy and has
given the boatmen a 3% pay rise back-dated to June, 2000.

The company also agreed to recruit two further boatmen on short-term contracts. An independent consultant will be employed as soon as possible to conduct a review of the boatmen's operations.

The company is concerned that the service is full of odd working practices and is not as efficient as it could be, especially as the trend for shipping companies to handle their own berthing continues. For example Sea Containers ceased using the boatmen for berthing at the Princes Landing Stage last year.


STENA FORWARDER remains in Cammell Laird following her arrival on Sunday for repairs to damage caused when she collided with a berthing pontoon at the Irish Ferries berth at Holyhead whilst undergoing berthing trials. It is believed that she might actually have holed herself. How long repairs will take remain to be seen, the news that Cammell Laird has called in receivers may or may not have some effect.


RTÉ reports that the Irish Department of the Marine has drawn up a new safety system for the fishing industry, following 28 deaths at sea last year. Many of the bodies were not found. Fishing boats will have to carry more safety equipment. Training is being made compulsory for fishermen and they are to be compelled to wear lifejackets at sea. In the fishing port of Castletownbere, West Cork, where several fishermen lost their lives last year, a new emphasis is being placed on safety at the local fisheries school.


At around 17:00 on Wednesday April 11 it was announced that Cammell Laird had called in receivers following lengthy meetings at the company's Liverpool HQ on Princes Parade. 

Though it had been obvious that the company was in trouble following the cancellation of the COSTA CLASSICA contract and the lack of progress towards securing backing for the Luxus cruise ship project the sudden announcement on Wednesday morning that trading in the company's shares had been suspended did come as something of a shock. The company having claimed some months earlier that it would be able to trade through the difficulties.

Only on April 9 Cammell Laird claimed it could have the dormant Varna shipyard in Bulgaria up and running by July if given the go ahead to take over the yard by the Bulgarian authorities. 

The company's yards are currently busy with various contracts, with the Birkenhead yard full. The LADY OF MANN is currently undergoing refit and SOLAS upgrade, the new STENA FORWARDER is receiving attention for damage received whilst berthing and RFA ARGUS is undergoing a major refit.

Only two weeks ago it was announced that a major refit contract on the RFA FORT GEORGE had been secured from the Ministry of Defence for its Hebburn Yard. 

All in all its has been a sad day for a company which had revived the Birkenhead shipyard and whose failure has come about through trying to break back into the passenger ship market. An area in which it once had a world wide reputation for excellence - producing such fine vessels as MAURITANIA and WINDSOR CASTLE. However, the attempt to recapture something of the glory days has proved to be something of its undoing. In the weeks that follow there will be time for the inevitable post-mortem. Some might say that the big passenger ship construction business was just not worth the risk - but if the gamble had paid off it would now have been a different story.

However, there does appear to be some optimism that the ship yards can continue to trade and that new owners can be found. For the sake of the company's employees and the communities not only on Merseyside but elsewhere in the UK and overseas one hopes that this is the case and a third Cammell Laird might arise from the ashes. 



Greek operator Ventouris Ferries has announced its entry into the high speed ferry industry through a long term charter of two 78 metre wave piercing catamarans. Both craft will operate on the 122 nautical miles route between Igoumenitsa, Greece – Corfu, Greece – Brindisi, Italy.

The vessels, built as STENA SEA LYNX II (033) and CAT-LINK 1 (035) will be renamed THUNDERCAT I and THUNDERCAT II respectively. In preparation for her new career 033 returned to Hobart for a major mechanical overhaul while 035 proceeded direct to Greece from Charleston, USA.

During the summer season Ventouris Ferries will offer up to three daily high speed departures from both Italy and Greece. In addition, from July onwards Ventouris will also incorporate a regular service to Paxi, Albania. The new high speed service complements seven conventional ferries operated by Ventouris on routes between Greece, Italy and Albania.

The THUNDERCAT I and THUNDERCAT II can carry up to 600 passengers and 150 cars and they will offer a three-hour service between Greece and Italy.

April 8



The next update will be on Wednesday April 11. Following this update there will be a short break as I am off to the Isles of Scilly. I will return on Thursday April 19 with the next update appearing either on Saturday April 21 or Sunday April 22.


Following the success of automating the Maritime Questions section through the use of Yahoo Groups the next step will be to automate the Maritime Contacts section of the M&ISS web site. This will be undertaken later in the month and will once again use the Yahoo Groups facility. More information will be posted later.


Tony Brennan's web site AROUND DUBLIN PORT has moved to a new location it includes photographs of the Foot & Mouth Disease Precautions adopted at the port. The links from this site have been updated.


Weekly Page Views (Last 6 Weeks)

Week 13 of 2001Week 12 of 2001Week 11 of 2001Week 10 of 2001Week 09 of 2001
N.B. The Counter appeared to be malfunctioning in weeks 10 and 11 hence the very low figures

The table reveals the number of accesses recorded by the front page of the site with last week's accesses being just under 1,400.

 Once again  continuous growth is revealed by the numbers accessing Mersey & Irish Sea Shipping. 

However, this is only part of the story. The RAM JAM statistics from the site host reveal significantly higher traffic to individual pages as not all users arrived at the homepage.

Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Brain Chambers, John Lawlor, Mike Pryce, Tony Brennan, Sara Cass, John & Jenny Williamson, Patrick C. Taylor, "Cornish Shipping" and "others"


RAPIDE here is the casualty report from Lloyd's List for Saturday's problems off the Manx Coast.

RAPIDE (Luxembourg)  (Incat 038) London, Mar 31 - Following received from Coastguard Liverpool MRSC, timed 08:47, UTC: Ro-ro m ferry Rapide (4,112 gt, built 1996), LXGB, Douglas for Liverpool, 445 people on board, has three of her four engines not working 9 nautical miles south, south-east Douglas. Fourth engine serviceability giving rise to concern. At 08:35, UTC Douglas harbour was informed. Vessel returning to Douglas.

London, Mar 31 - Following received from Coastguard Liverpool MRSC, timed 09:40, UTC: Ro-ro m ferry Rapide is proceeding to Isle of Man at 5 knots in lat 54 03N, long 04 16W . Vessel is currently taking shelter as a precaution. Initially vessel had primary fuel pump problems which were repaired. Vessel then had air blocking in three of her four engines. 

London, Mar 31 - Following received from Steam Packet Company, dated today: The Steam Packet Company fast craft Rapide experienced some engine problems soon after her departure from Douglas at 07:00 to Liverpool. Engineers are working on the problem and passengers are safe on board. Rapide is maintaining station on reduced power approximately 12 miles off Douglas. The company regrets this inconvenience to passengers. 

London, Mar 31 - Following received from Coastguard Liverpool MRSC, timed 1037, UTC: Ro-ro m ferry RAPIDE ETA Douglas 1130, UTC. London, Mar 31 - Following received from Coastguard Liverpool MRSC, timed 1148, UTC: Ro-ro m ferry RAPIDE entered Douglas harbour without further incident and is now alongside. Incident closed 1145, UTC.

On Wednesday April 4, RAPIDE had to abort her 10:30 sailing from Liverpool to Dublin. She was noted passing the Radar Tower at Seaforth around 12:00. It is understood that engine problems were once again to blame.

On Saturday RAPIDE was noted running late again - 13:00 sailing from Dublin not arriving until 18:38 with departure for Douglas at 19:35.

LADY OF MANN remains in Cammell Laird wet basin. On Saturday April 7, a large hole could be seen on the starboard side of the Lady at the forward end of the main passenger deck, immediately below the bridge. This is obviously the location of the starboard escape chute which is being fitted as part of the SOLAS upgrade.

SEACAT ISLE OF MAN - for this season SCIOM has acquired the corporate "legs of man" logo on he escape chute covers. This is the first time since the 1997 season that she has carried IoMSPCo logos. The vessel commenced operations with a scheduled day excursion to Dublin on Wednesday April 4. <>. Her first journey on the Douglas to Liverpool route was operated as scheduled on Thursday April 5. However, on Friday the SCIOM failed to operate its 07:00 Douglas - Liverpool sailing and return 10:30 Liverpool to Douglas sailing as the vessel was in Belfast operating on the Belfast to Heysham service as HOVERSPEED GREAT BRITAIN has still not arrived. 

HOVERSPEED GREAT BRITAIN - It now appears that the vessel will not enter service on the Belfast to Heysham route until Wednesday April 11.

DIAMANT it is understood that whilst on a Newhaven to Dieppe sailing on Friday morning April 6 one of her engines failed. However, she was able to continue to Dieppe at reduced speed on her remaining engines. The 500 passengers onboard arriving at Newhaven at 13:00 - one hour, thirty minutes late.

The vessel operated her afternoon sailing back to Newhaven but her second roundtrip of the day was cancelled.


It is hoped that the Ballycastle - Campbeltown route may finally reopen in 2002. The service was abandoned at the conclusion of the 1999 summer season after just three years of operation by Sea Containers. Following strong lobbying by councils on both sides of the Irish Sea, has ensured that the service will secure Public Service Obligation [PSO] status. The award of PSO status by the European Commissioners will allow the service to receive subsidies from both the Scottish Office and Northern Ireland Executive.

It is hoped that the announcement of which operator will provide the service in 2002 will be made in August. The chairman of Argyll and Bute council's Transportation Robin Currie says he will push for early talks with Caledonian MacBrayne in the hope they can arrange some special excursions this year to maintain public interest in the service and serve the local communities. Richard Lewis chief executive of Moyle District Council said that every effort was being made to ensure the permanence of the service

The CLAYMORE which operated the service for Sea Containers remains laid up for sale in Vittoria Dock, Birkenhead.


Having been replaced at the end of last week on the Rosslare - Cherbourg route by the EUROPEAN SEAFARER (replaced on Larne - Fleetwood by the EUROPEAN LEADER, released by the EUROPEAN AMBASSADOR entering service on Dublin - Liverpool) the EUROPEAN PATHFINDER is currently at Harland & Wolff at Belfast for a short overhaul.

Next week she is due to make the short journey to her new home port of Larne and take up service on the Larne - Ardrossan route in place of the EUROPEAN HIGHLANDER which is to go to dry-dock.

When the EUROPEAN HIGHLANDER returns the EUROPEAN PATHFINDER will transfer to Larne - Cairnryan replacing the EUROPEAN TRADER which will be withdrawn.


A report in Lloyds List this week confirms what local recruitment advertisements have indicated for some weeks - that the main passenger and freight services on the central corridor will transfer from Liverpool to Mostyn this autumn.

EUROPEAN AMBASSADOR and EUROPEAN ENVOY will transfer to the new route which is likely to commence operations this September some months ahead of the opening of the NorseMerchant Ferries Twelve Quays Terminal on Merseyside. If P&O take up a fourth new building with Mitsubishi a third vessel could be added to the route.

A freight only service will remain between Merseyside and Dublin. P&O had been expected to move to a new riverside terminal near Langton Lock in Liverpool, but this is still awaiting official approval. 


STENA FORWARDER - The official launch of the new vessel will take place at 14:30 on April 26. The champagne christening of the ship will be carried out by An Tánaiste Mary Harney TD. 

The vessel is due to enter service between Dublin and Holyhead on the 21:30 sailing from Dublin on Monday, April 8. However, she surprisingly turned up at Cammell Lairds on the morning tide of April 7, entering the wet basin at 11:00. It was noted that she has acquired quite a few scrapes at least on her starboard side. 

STENA CHALLENGER completed her service with Stena Line on the morning sailing from Dublin to Holyhead on April 8. She is likely to go to #3 dry dock at Falmouth in the next few days.

STENA GALLOWAY has returned to operation on the Belfast - Stranraer service following her SOLAS upgrade.

STENA LYNX III returned to service on the Fishguard - Rosslare route on April 1. Photos or the relaunch can be found at: Mike O'Brien's  web site: However, sailings were cancelled 4 - 7th April due to adverse conditions. She also missed the 13:30 sailing from Rosslare on April 2 due to engine trouble.


CITY OF BRADFORD is an Atlantic 75 RIB inshore rescue boat and at 32knots one of the fastest lifeboats in the fleet. The vessel has been deployed from the reserve fleet to provide inshore rescue facilities during the holiday season. Costing £81,000 the boat was funded by a special lifeboat appeal in Bradford, Yorkshire


The Boatmen have voted to strike from Good Friday, April 13 over measures proposed by Mersey Docks & Harbour Company to reorganise the business, a move which could escalate and bring operations at the port of Liverpool to a halt.

A report in Lloyd's List indicate that the men, who are members of the Transport and General Workers' Union, took the decision to strike at a meeting on Wednesday and claimed that the move was supported by other union sections, including pilotage, towage, floating plant, pilot launches, engineers, docks and stages and the staff association. 

Members of the T&G will be asked to "honour and acknowledge" picket lines, with strike action set to start on April 13.

There is some scepticism  that other port workers would join the action, but if it happens it could create severe problems at the port. However, Mersey Docks & Harbour Company said its contingency plans would cover all eventualities to ensure that the port remained open for business.

Both sides are hoping to resolve the situation before the strike begins.


PRINCE ALBERT - The owing company of the former Yugoslav passenger and cargo vessel has been subject to an in depth investigation by the Liverpool Daily Post & Echo.

This week the newspaper revealed how Norton Stewart Investors had been set up offing huge returns and free cruises for customers. The unregulated company was offering very high rates of return on investments however it was not registered with regulatory bodies.

In a new twist to the story on Friday, it was announced that Captain Khanenko was to be expelled from the UK following the refusal of his application for asylum.

However, Capt Khanenko says he will continue to be involved with Norton Stewart Investors, which he says has branches in Europe and Russia.

Asked  by the newspaper if he would resign as secretary and director of the British company he said: "That is under consideration at this time." But he insisted that everyone who has invested in Norton Stewart would receive the money they have been promised, despite the high "guaranteed" returns.

"It is a high return but that is fair enough. Nobody would be interested to have 6 or 7% interest. We work out these figures from the shipping business, and we don't borrow money from financial institutions."

Captain Khanenko's departure was welcomed by local businesses such as the Carmet Towing Company who are reported to be owed £17,000 for towing the vessel from the Thames to the Albert Dock. The PRINCE ALBERT remains under MCA detention at West Langton Dock, Liverpool following her dramatic rescue in the Mersey approaches in January. 


The lighthouse pier at the Cornish fishing port of Newlyn has been closed to the public by the erection of a substantial gate. The Newlyn Harbour Commissioners are concerned about vandalism but also the potential for claims from the general public who use the pier for walks. 


The King Harry Steam Ferry Company was sold this week to a local syndicate brought together by local businessmen Tim Light of Devoran and Patrick Polglase of Mylor

Mr Light said: "It is not like buying a business - it is buying a way of life. The ferry has been operating for centuries and is part of the fabric of Cornwall. We are just custodian really."

The company was put on the market several months ago. It operates a chain ferry across the River Fal and provides a useful westerly short cut to and from the Roseland Peninsular.


This week the Liverpool Echo reported that diving is set to resume in an attempt to recover the CSS ALABAMA. 

The ALABAMA was constructed in 1862 by Laird Brothers of Birkenhead for the Confederate States Navy. However, after 22 months she was lost in an engagement with the United States Naval vessel USS KEARSAGE near Cherbourg off the French coast.

In 1989, the governments of the United States and France signed an agreement to establish a partnership of archaeological exploration and over recent years, various relics have been recovered, including a ship's pennant, a flag and a cannon.

Now the Association of the Friends of the CSS ALABAMA are launching a new search to discover more about the history of this famous ship.

Divers will return to the wreck site in June for a month of recovery work hoping to bring up more cannons and other relics.

The association's president, Robert Edington, said: "Still to be recovered are the most significant items we feel are still buried in the lower decks of the ship. That treasure includes the crew's boxes, which hold chinaware, cooking pots and the crew's personal possessions."

The crew of the ALABAMA included 31 Merseyside sailors who had volunteered to fight for the Confederacy..

They joined in one of the most destructive maritime episodes in which they boarded 447 ships, including 65 Union vessels, and took 2,000 prisoners, according to the CSS ALABAMA Association.

The ALABAMA was commissioned in 1861 by a James Dunwoody Bulloch the Confederate Sates Agent on Merseyside as a private venture, but in reality Bulloch had ordered her for the Confederate States of America in a bid to win ocean supremacy during the civil war.

She was built from the finest English oak with iron fastenings and her bottom was copper sheathed. The vessel was tall-masted with a mix of rig and screw-driven steam and two 300-horsepower engines.


The new city centre and south docks tour service using former DUKW amphibious vehicles have commenced operations. The amphibious vehicles depart on their tour at the bus stop adjacent to the Atlantic Pavilion in the Albert Dock. I had a brief glimpse of one of the DUKW's on Saturday, resulted in a decision  to delay a trip. The vehicles appear well turned out and are fully enclosed. A trip on a DUKW should prove an interesting marine experience for the enthusiast who has been there and done that when it comes to conventional ships and boats!


The Irish Department of the Marine is to pay UK port authorities to install automatic vehicle spraying equipment to disinfect vehicles boarding ferries for Ireland. 

The ports involved are Heysham, Liverpool, Holyhead,  Fishguard, Swansea and Pembroke. The Minister for the Marine, Frank Fahey, said the move would provide better protection than the disinfectant mats which the British ports have been using. Engineering staff at Dublin port have developed the spraying equipment which will be used in the UK.


Not many shipping companies can boast the conveyance of a Saint. However, Irish Ferries NORMANDY will have the honour of conveying the relics of St Therese of Lisieux from France to Ireland later this month.

The ship is due to arrive at Rosslare Europort at 10:30 on Easter Sunday April, 15. An Irish Army ceremonial unit will carry the 400lb reliquary ashore from the vessel. The reliquary will then be conveyed by "Theresemobile" to St. Patrick's Church, Rosslare. From there the "Theresemobile" will travel to St Ayden's Cathedral Enniscorthy. Wexford, Kilkenny, Carlow, Dublin, Kildare, Westmeath, Longford, Louth, Cavan, Down, Armagh, Monaghan, Belfast, Derry, Donegal, Sligo, Mayo, Roscommon, Galway, Clare, Waterford, Kerry, Cork and Tipperary are all on the itinerary of Saint Thereses reliquary. 

The relics will also visit Dublin's Mountjoy Prison on May 4, as part of the tour, and by helicopter to Saint Patrick's Purgatory, Lough Derg on June 27.

As part of the Saint Therese Roadshow, there will be an exhibition of her pictures in each church, with testimonials from famous devotees of Saint Therese. The World pilgrimage is already over four years old.

Each day it will be in a different church, including almost a month in Dublin. The relics will return to France on June 28 on board the NORMANDY.

ISLE OF INISHMORE  remains at Falmouth undergoing refit. She is reported to have entered #2 dry dock on Friday.

NORMANDY is reported to be doing very well since resuming the Rosslare - Cherbourg service with high passenger numbers and good freight loadings. Passenger feed back on the Cammell Laird refurbishment is reported to be excellent. On Saturday April 8 her arrival at Rosslare was delayed by problems with her port stabiliser. She got away with a full car deck on her return sailing to France 2 hours behind schedule.


The Irish Government is offering IR£2million for the completion of the replica emigrant ship which is currently fitting out at Fenit. Internal fitting out should be completed by the end of the month. Sea trials will be undertaken with a voyage to Cobh and Cork


LE NIAMH - the naming ceremony for the new vessel at the Appledore Ship Yard, in north Devon has been delayed due to the Foot & Mouth outbreak. 



Liverpool Coastguard have been advising mariners of unexploded ordinance off Jurby Head. It is a parachute mine dredged up by a trawler off the Manx coast on Friday April 6. A Royal Navy disposal team was expected to try and detonate the device. A 1,000 metre exclusion zone being placed around the mine. However, on Sunday April 8 it was announced that the mine would be left on the sea bed.


On April 3 The Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) published its report into an accident on the bulk carrier mv DIAMOND BULKER when at anchor in Lough Foyle, Northern Ireland. Two lives were lost in the incident on 5 April 2001.


MRSC (Maritime Rescue Sub-Centre) Belfast notified this accident to the MAIB at 00:20 on the morning of Thursday 6 April 2000. The investigation started the same day with the appointed inspector visiting the vessel in Londonderry later that day.

DIAMOND BULKER is a 28,460 dwt (deadweight) bulk carrier, Philippine owned, Canadian managed and currently trading between South America and Northern Ireland. The vessel with a crew of 20 Philippine nationals carried a cargo of bulk coal loaded in Barranquilla, Colombia, for discharge at Lisahally berth No 3, Londonderry, Northern Ireland. The vessel's arrival was delayed due to bad weather, and she did not anchor in Lough Foyle, County Londonderry, until 18:48 on 5 April.

Military intelligence had reason to carry out a search of DIAMOND BULKER on arrival and made preparations to assemble a combined naval, marine and specialised army search team for the operation. It was agreed that the specialist army search team would carry out the search, with the marines providing armed support and help when requested. The holds were to be searched if there was time, but only after they had been ventilated. No SCBA (self-contained breathing apparatus) sets would therefore be required.

The first attempt was aborted due to DIAMOND BULKER's late arrival. On confirmation of her actual arrival and anchoring, the boarding party, under the command of a naval team leader, boarded the vessel at about 21:00. Once on board, part of the team went to the bridge, while the marines and the army search team secured the deck area. The army staff sergeant in charge of the army search team having quickly examined a bulkhead mounted plan of the vessel, went forward and briefed his team. Half would search forward to aft on deck, while the other half would search the engine room. Both parties were to meet and search the accommodation. During this briefing, the forward army search team was fitted out with emergency breathing kits and gas detectors. The marines, who were attempting to enter a hatch, were told to leave the searching to the army staff. The staff sergeant then returned to the accommodation with the corporal and one of the sappers, to plan in detail the search procedure forward, using the
bulkhead plan. Once completed, the staff sergeant went back to the bridge, while the corporal and the sapper returned to the forecastle.

On resuming the search forward, the two army sappers decided to enter the hatch previously opened by the marines. No pre-entry tests were carried out, and, shortly after entering, both men became unconscious and fell. The marines in attendance called for help and while that was being sought, the army corporal decided to enter the space himself, again without testing the atmosphere. He, too, became unconscious. The staff sergeant ran forward, realised the problem, and immediately rushed back for the ship's SCBA sets. These were brought to the scene, and rescue attempts put into action by the service personnel and the ship's staff. Shore authorities were informed and the emergency services organised to attend. Initially, two of the sappers were found alive but, despite revival attempts by other servicemen, only one sapper, Parris, survived. He was lifted to the main deck and eventually airlifted by helicopter to a local hospital. The other two casualties were brought ashore by boat at a later stage.

The subsequent investigation has resulted in recommendations to the Royal Navy and the Army on training, and to the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) on the availability of dedicated Search and Rescue (SAR) helicopter services in Northern Ireland.



The Vessel

1. DIAMOND BULKER was seaworthy on arrival at Lough Foyle with all certificates valid, and was manned by experienced and certificated officers and crew.

2. The vessel carried two SCBA sets, together with four spare compressed air cylinders. All six air bottles were noted as being between 70-100% full in March. Three were refilled after the accident.

3. No moisture or CO2 readings were taken during the voyage due to bad weather preventing safe access on deck.

4. The results of atmospheric testing carried out on the holds of DIAMOND BULKER showed that, in all the cargo holds, oxygen depletion and carbon dioxide generation took place in varying degrees, during the shipment of coal from Colombia to Londonderry in Northern Ireland.

Search Procedures

5. The search procedures under which this specialist army search team carried out its duties were, and remain, based on building and groundwork searches. No special training is offered nor guidance given on ship searches.

6. The staff sergeant in charge of this specialist search team was placed in a situation which was not of his making. He had received no previous training in the searching of ships, certainly not of large bulk carriers and, although told that the cargo was coal, and therefore unlikely to be an area used for contraband, did not have the detailed background information to readily appreciate the dangers associated with the cargo, nor what equipment was likely to be needed.

7. During the search briefing carried out on Sunday 2 April, and during discussions on board DIAMOND BULKER, the question of searching the holds was discussed and a decision made that if they were to be searched, it would be done after the holds had been ventilated.

8. The staff sergeant instructed Corporal Gaulder not to enter the holds until he declared them safe to enter.

Training & Equipment

9. Neither the army search team nor the marines were wearing any body harness or clothing fitted with a lifting point. It was suggested that it was always possible to rig a lifting sling using ropes, fire hoses etc. This may be true but when speed is essential and the space has a difficult access, a secure attachment point on clothing, or a harness, can be a life saver.

10. The quality of the operational pre-planning has to be questioned given that the boarding party embarked, was transported to Lough Foyle by HMS COTTESMORE and then found no DIAMOND BULKER. Her arrival had been delayed by two days because of bad weather on the voyage. All it needed was a telephone call to the Londonderry harbourmaster to find out. That information had been available from 10:00 on Monday morning, soon after HMS Cottesmore had left Belfast. Although it is understood that HMS COTTESMORE attempted to get an update on the target vessel's arrival through SNONI (Senior Naval Officer Northern Ireland), no update was supplied. Neither the Londonderry harbourmaster nor the vessel's agent have any record of being asked for an arrival update.

11. The search teams should, and indeed must, in the future, have access to a copy of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) International Maritime Dangerous Goods Code (IDFG Code), together with up to date copies of the various codes of practice for the carriage of cargo.

12. Only three of the specialist search team of six had attended the WICS (Working in Confined Spaces) course and were qualified to use a WICS set. As it was the normal practice to split the search team into parties of two, an anomaly had already been created in that in one search team, only one of that team could enter a confined space. The training and operational manual identifies a number of situations that require varying levels of specialised WICS equipment but, again, nothing relating to the problems likely to be encountered during ship searches. This omission is at variance with the section headed CONSTRAINTS AND CONCEPTS and in particular under para 0305 c.
Searchers must work to practised procedures in the Royal Engineers' Regimental Operating Instructions.

13. In the case of the marine support party, it is the inspector's understanding that they were there to provide armed support and to assist as required. This does not appear to be the view of the marines - it was their understanding that after the briefing, "the royal engineers were present to augment our normal search capability". Having been paired with the royal engineer search teams, they followed their normal cursory search routines. They proceeded to follow this routine but in their eagerness to assist, they unwittingly created a situation that led ultimately to the tragedy.
One of their standard operating practices was to leave a door/hatch open if they considered it warranted further, later investigation.

14. Although both marines and the army personnel were carrying Cougar radios, the initial communication on the accident had to be done by word of mouth. The army and marine radio sets were not on a common wave band, but both the army scribe (serviceman appointed to record details of discussions) and the naval search team leader had the appropriate radio, and were standing together on the bridge. The failure of these secure network radios to work when inside a steel structure, such as the accommodation of a ship, had a significant impact on the speed at which SCBA sets could be utilised.

15. The lack of any dedicated SAR helicopters in Northern Ireland, and the time it took for the helicopter to arrive on site (nearly 11/4 hours), resulted in a significant delay in providing medical facilities to the casualties.


1. The coxswain and the marine party provided, and continued to provide, first-aid and resuscitation to all three casualties until such times as they recovered or were pronounced dead by medical staff.

2. The master, officers, and crew of DIAMOND BULKER were co-operative throughout the operation and provided every assistance during the subsequent emergency and rescue operation.


The cause of the accident was low oxygen and increased carbon dioxide levels present in No 1 hold due to an ongoing oxidation process in the cargo of coal.


1. Despite the instructions contained in the army operational manual (para 0306), the staff sergeant had not been given sufficient information or guidance, nor had the naval search team leader fully appreciated the lack of marine knowledge and experience of the army search team. Both the army and the navy had a mutual respect for each other's professionalism, and therefore neither explored the other's knowledge or capability.

2. The army's failure to provide WICS training to all members of the team was due to an operational command decision. These teams are expected to be ready to attempt what can be highly dangerous searches in an alien environment. By not being equipped fully for those operations they are exposed to unnecessary and avoidable risks. These risks could be substantially reduced by ensuring that all team members are properly trained before being exposed to search operations.

3. Although some pre-planning had been carried out, there was a general lack of detailed and combined planning. No rehearsals involving both the marines and the royal engineers had been carried out, nor had the briefings been sufficient for a complex operation involving three differing services. There were misunderstandings, a lack of clarity and poor cohesion from the start of this operation. Not even the arrival time and date of the target vessel was re-checked.

4. Although the marines had received some theoretical training, combined with base camp practical training exercises on merchant ship searches they, like the army, had no actual experience of large merchant vessel searches. They were familiar with ships, but not necessarily with such large bulk carriers.

5. Although the boarding routines were explained to the army in some detail, the naval search team leader did not appreciate the extent of the army's lack of knowledge of ships or the dangers associated with them. The procedures which dictate that the commander should have a sound understanding of the capabilities and methods of operation of the various agencies taking part, make no allowance in the pre-planning phase for either an inter-service exchange of relevant experience or a proper evaluation of the capabilities of the participants.

6. Corporal Gaulder made no attempt to check the hold atmosphere before entry despite having previously briefed both sappers on the use of the WICS sets. In his urgency to assist, he failed to consider possible causes for his men collapsing. His intentions were highly commendable but he broke the cardinal rule of not attempting a rescue


Headquarters, Northern Ireland is recommended to:

1. Investigate fully the perceived need for a specialist army marine search team and to discuss with the appropriate service authorities what level of training is required to provide that service.

Headquarters, Engineer in Chief (A) is recommended to:

2. Consider whether the requirement for specialised marine search teams on deep sea ships might be better served by utilising the existing marine search teams and providing them with whatever additional specialist training is considered necessary.

The Director, National Search Centre, Rochester is recommended to:

3. Investigate and provide suitable marine training for specialised army search teams likely to be engaged in the search of shipping.

The Commanding Officer, 25 Engineer Regiment, Royal Engineers, Massereene Barracks, Antrim, NI is recommended to:

4. Investigate the provision of VHF (Very High Frequency) radio sets capable of being used within steel structures. Although commercially available VHF sets are not "secure", they could be used during ship searches - any interested party would already be aware that a search was being carried out.

5. Ensure that all staff involved in specialised search teams are fully trained in the use of emergency breathing equipment (WICS) and the requirements of the Confined Space Regulations 1997.

The Senior Naval Officer, Northern Ireland is recommended to:

6. Investigate the use of footwear similar to that used by the marines during ship searches, to provide a better grip on steel surfaces for army personnel.

7. Issue instructions stating that in combined operations involving army, marine and naval personnel, all parties must be made aware of the experience and limitations of those likely to be involved at an early stage. On site is too late.

8. Ensure that pre-planning is thorough, arrival times are checked, and that all parties are aware of the risks associated with a particular cargo on the target vessel and that they are familiar with each other's search routines and procedures.

9. Investigate the provision of VHF radio sets capable of being used within steel structures. Although commercially available VHF sets are not "secure", they could be used during ship searches - any interested party would already be aware that a search was being carried out.

The Director, LMT (Logistics, Maritime and Transportation department within DETR) and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency are recommended to:

10. Consider, in the light of this accident, deploying a dedicated SAR helicopter in Northern Ireland, bearing in mind the projected phasing out of the Belfast-based Wessex helicopters on 31 March 2002 and the delay which occurs in responding to accident calls due to the minimum flying time between GB and Northern Ireland.



1. A training needs analysis has been conducted by Headquarters Engineer in Chief (Antrim) which defines the Corps requirement for WICS training. A copy of that analysis was not made available to the MAIB.

2. The National Search Centre WICS course for APs (Authorised Persons) and AEs (Authorised Entrants) has been extended from three and two days respectively to five days each.

3. A National Search Centre instructor has attended the HM Customs and Excise Commercial Vessel Rummage Team course at Liverpool. The Dangerous Goods Code has been obtained for use by instructors. A close liaison is now maintained with the staff at HM Customs and Excise Training Centre at Liverpool.

4. With effect from the course which started on 22 January 2001, elements of the Royal Engineers Search Advisor (RESA) [Rest of the World] Course, which is more orientated towards shipping and offshore energy installations, are being incorporated into the RESA [NI] Course.

5. Planning Aide Memoire, Point 6, Annex A (Pam 6A) is being re-written. The vessel search paragraphs will be revised.

6. All courses are being re-designed as part of the Systems Approach to Training to meet the customers' stated requirements. Deadline end November 2001.


1. Two instructors from the National Search Centre, and also a further two from Moscow Naval Base, have attended separately its Commercial Vessel Search Training Course in Liverpool. This intensive training course lasted three weeks, largely aboard "live" commercial vessels in the port and gave officers a safe system of work in all
aspects and areas of commercial vessel search. It included the identification of all types of confined spaces, their potential atmospheric and physical hazards, gas detection and confined space search equipment.

2. In addition, both teams of instructors were introduced to Ship Search Risk Assessment and the mandatory "Permit to Enter" for any confined space search as operated throughout the UK by its own

3. The training also included ship search planning and co-ordination, interpretation of various ships plans, engine room systems, the correct use of personnel protective equipment, use of fall arrest and full body harnesses, as well as the dangers of shipboard electrical plant and "standby" equipment during search operations.

4. The HM Customs lead instructor personally participated in the training of both teams and is satisfied that knowledge and skill levels have been greatly enhanced. HM Customs have offered their assistance for any time in the future to both teams, along with any further training which they may require.

An active open dialogue has now been promoted and exists between the Army (National Search Centre), Navy (Moscow camp) and HM Customs, Liverpool, with the prevention of shipboard accidents being the primary and ultimate aim.

April 1


This update has a distinctive Irish Ferries theme. Two IF Voyage reports are included, plus a large collection of photographs of ULYSSES both interior and external. 

The next update will be on Sunday April 8. If you have not visited the site since last weekend just a reminder that there was an update last Thursday.  to read it.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: Gary Andrews, Mike Pryce, Adrian Sweeney, Jon Entwistle, Dave Crolley, Brian Chambers and "others".

SEA CONTAINERS \ Isle of Man Steam Packet Company

SEACAT ISLE OF MAN - has reopened the Belfast to Heysham service prior to the arrival of HOVERSPEED GREAT BRITAIN. 

RAPIDE encountered technical difficulties soon after departure from Douglas on the 07:00 sailing to Liverpool on Saturday March 31. When the vessel was around 8 miles off Douglas it appears that all engines stopped. The company claimed that reduced engine power made it impossible to return immediately to Douglas harbour "because of the complexities of berthing in
such circumstances".

At 10:30 some engine power was restored and the Master initially intended to proceed to Liverpool. However in consideration of the time that the vessel had been at sea and to minimise the discomfort to passengers the decision was taken for the craft to return to Douglas when additional power became available at 11:25. The vessel arrived back at Douglas at 12:15.

An observer reports that an Ambulance was present when the vessel returned to Douglas and Manx Radio news confirmed that a passenger received treatment for sickness.

RAPIDE sailed for Liverpool in the afternoon. On Sunday she appeared to be operating normally again.

DIAMANT - the 81m Incat vessel commenced operations on the Newhaven - Dieppe seasonal route when the route reopened on Friday March 30. The Service operates until October 29 and will offer up to three return trips per day. 

To coincide with the re-launch, Hoverspeed has available special day excursion and longer stay short break fares. Day trip prices start from £15 return for foot passengers (£20 Saturdays) and £59 return for a car and up to five passengers (£10 Saturday supplement). Three day return fares for a car and up to five passengers start from £129.

Further new features to the service include a 1st lounge in the Newhaven departure terminal. For an upgrade supplement of £20, passengers will have access to the airport style lounge in addition to the exclusive 1st facilities on board the Seacat during the 2 hour crossing.


Hoverspeed has launched a new 'in flight' travel guide to coincide with the introduction of its new generation SuperSeaCat fleet - now crossing from Dover to Calais in 40 minutes and to Ostend in just 2 hours.

'Discovery' contains detailed destination guides of what to see, eat and drink as well as where to shop, in the popular coastal towns of Calais, Dieppe and Ostend and the Pas de Calais and Seine Maritime regions of Northern France.


A correspondent who booked tickets for the LADY OF MANN Fleetwood excursion on Wednesday May 23 that Island Explorer Fares which offer unlimited travel on Isle of Man Transport railway and road services are not available on these sailings.


Shipbroker Marbid has reported that last week NorseMerchant Ferries purchased the MERSEY VIKING and LAGAN VIKING at a price of around $60 million for the pair. The ships have been on charter to Norse Irish since built in 1997 by Vissentini.


ISLE OF INISHMORE - latest news is that P&O Stena are considering chartering ISLE OF INISHMORE, they spent two days onboard whilst the vessel is in dry dock at Falmouth  undertaking inspections. Italian interests are reported to still be considering chartering the ISLE OF INNISFREE. Presumably a decision on which ship to charter will be made on the basis of which prospective charterer is offers the best deal.


Reports in the local press indicate that boatmen employed on berthing duties are may take industrial action over a pay claim.


On Monday April 2, representatives of leading ferry companies are to meet the UK Government to emphasise the extent to which the present Foot & Mouth Disease outbreak is effecting business.

Lloyd's List reports that  inward carryings to the UK from Scandinavia and Ireland are the worst hit.
but  Channel business has also been affected. Michael Wood, marketing director of Fjord Line, which operates between Newcastle and Bergen and Stavanger, said summer bookings from Norway had almost stopped.

The Irish government has advised people not to travel to the UK and the impact is being felt by Irish Ferries, which runs services from Dublin to Holyhead and Rosslare to Pembroke. At the annual general meeting held last week Irish Ferries chairman said that earlier figures for tourist and freight traffic growth have had to be cut back sharply.  After three months of the company's current fiscal year tourist car numbers were up 5.9%
and freight 6.7%. But since then foot and mouth had cut tourist growth so far this year to just 0.8% and freight to 4.5%.

Sea Containers claimed that the Liverpool to Dublin route was particularly effected  as 40% of the passenger traffic originated in Ireland.



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

Latest monthly figures show that 12 foreign ships were detained in UK ports during February 2001 along with 7 ships still under detention from previous months. The overall rate of detentions compared with inspections carried out over the last 12 months is 6.6%. This is a decrease of 1% from the 12 month rate to January. The ships detained included:-

  • A Turkish flag general cargo vessel still under detention in King's Lynn with 57 deficiencies. Deficiencies included manning and officer qualifications, insufficient LSA (life saving apparatus) for the number of crew and several deficiencies related to crew accommodation matters: dirty mess room, dirty crew toilets, inadequate and hazardous crew shower facilities, dirty fresh water tank and no fresh water on board the vessel.

  • A 27 year old Sao Tome E Principe flag oil tanker still under detention at the end of February with 50 recorded deficiencies. The vessel was found to be deficient in many areas including officer qualifications. Although the vessel had ISM certification, there was no evidence that ISM was being implemented.

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


The Maritime & Coastguard Agency successfully prosecuted Captain Johann Grossman, The German Owner and Master of the cargo vessel NORDSTAR in Ayr Sheriff’s Court last week.

Captain Grossman was fined £500 for sailing whilst his vessel was still under detention, he was admonished for other breaches of Merchant Shipping legislation, which included, sailing from the Port of Ayr without a pilot.

The NORDSTAR had arrived at the Scottish port of Ayr on the 10th October 2000 and, following a Port State Control Inspection by the MCA, the vessel was detained for not having valid Safety Construction, Load Line and International Oil Pollution Prevention Certificates. Permission had been given for the NORDSTAR to sail late on the 21st October 2000 to Greenock for dry-docking and to effect any necessary repairs.

However, early on the morning of 21st October 2000, the NORDSTAR was observed leaving Ayr without a pilot. It became apparent that she was not heading for Greenock but was heading for Hamburg, Germany. She was located and contacted by HM Coastguard with the assistance of the Sea Containers Fast Ferry SEACAT SCOTLAND. Captain Grossman was persuaded to return to Greenock where the NORDSTAR anchored later that evening. The vessel dry-docked at Garvel on the morning of 23rd October 2000.

In his summing up the Sheriff stated: -

" The seriousness of the first charge (sailing whilst still under detention) is reflected in the maximum fine available of £50,000. However since the incident Captain Grossman has lost his ship, his job and owes half a million German Marks he also owes a sum of money in tax. He will now probably have to sell his house. The fine level has been set to reflect his financial situation and would have been much higher if his circumstances had been different."

Captain Singh Grewal, Surveyor-in Charge at the Glasgow Marine Office said:

" The MCA only detains vessels when fully warranted. This case highlights the seriousness with which detention and other aspects of safety legislation should be taken. The MCA has no hesitation in bringing such breaches of Merchant Shipping legislation to the attention of the courts."


STENA CHALLENGER - is reported due at Falmouth for dry docking prior to delivery to Canada. It is understood that a crew has already been despatched to bring the STENA FORWARDER to the Irish Sea from Italy.


EUROPEAN SEAFARER commenced operations between Rosslare and Cherbourg on March 31. 

EUOPEAN PATHFINDER arrived for the last time at 14:00 on March 31, before making her final departure at 16:15 bound dry docking in Belfast.


HMS SHETLAND [P298] - The Island Class patrol vessel was noted in Canada #1 Branch Dock during the weekend of March 31/April 1.

HMS CAMBRIDGE - the shore based gunnery school at Wembury near Plymouth closed this week bringing to an end 150 years of naval tradition

BBC Radio Devon reported that the base has equipped the Royal Navy with world class gunners for decades with the gunnery school which has been based at Wembury Point since 1956. But it began a 100 years earlier on a warship.

The writing has been on the wall for some time at the facility - the guns fell silent more than 18 months ago.

The move was announced a year ago as part of a cost-saving drive by defence chiefs. A year-long review showed that Cambridge's closure will achieve defence savings of £112m over the next 25 years.

A shutdown was also inevitable as most naval gun firing training now takes place at sea or with computer simulators.

The man who first raised the commissioning pennant 45 years ago, former Royal Navy Chief Petty Officer Roland Murley, returned to take part in the closing ceremony, complete with the Band of Her Majesty's Royal Marines.

The radar system will remain there, but there've been no decisions yet on the future of the site.

Shore-based, non-firing training will switch to Portsmouth, but some 43 service staff will transfer to HMS Raleigh at Torpoint.


Once again the troubled ARACHOVITIKA BAY is to be put up for public auction by direction of the Admiralty Marshall under the instructions of the High Court in Dublin. The 1974 built vessel [ex EUDOKIA LUCK] will be auctioned at noon on Thursday April 19, at Maritime House, North Wall, Dublin. The vessel is sold "AS SEEN AS IS". The vessel had been sold at a previous auction, and despite the payment of a deposit, no further money was paid and the vessel has been offered for sale again.


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