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Finished With Engines: Irish Sea Shipping is now closed to new updates - J.H. Luxton Photography - Transport, Industrial History, Regional Photographs UK & beyond


July 2001

July 29



A reminder that there was a mid week update on Wednesday - please check the "What's New" page for details.

John H. Luxton

July 29, 2001

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: Gary Andrews, John & Jenny Williamson, Ian Collard, Justin Merrigan - Incat, John Lawlor, Mike Pryce and "others


Gary Andrews has established another Ferry Yahoo Group - Ferries of Northern Europe:

Ferries Of Northern Europe is a group for shipping enthusiasts to exchange news and views on the ferries and ferry services of Scandinavia and the Baltic.
The description of the group as 'Northern Europe' is to give the broad geographical description of the group. Ferry areas that will be considered are North Sea services, Germany, Poland, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Norway, the Faroe Islands, Iceland and Greenland. Posts on other "on topic" services/countries are also welcome.

SEA CONTAINERS / Isle of Man Steam Packet Company

SEACAT ISLE OF MAN  14.30 sailing from Douglas for Dublin on July 26 was delayed until 18.30  (ETA Dublin 21.15). The 4 1/2 hour delay appears to have been caused by engine problems(?). The return sailing is was a similar 4 1/2 hours late, and arrival in Douglas would be at an "unsocial" hour, the Steam Packet said that they will provide transport for the arriving passengers.

PICASSO has now been renamed. However she is carrying the name MAPINO on the stern and MARINO on the bow. Not MARINA as reported last week.  Work is underway preparing for her departure to the Mediterranean where she will operate for Aegean Carriers. 


It is rumoured that Sea Containers will return HOVERSPEED GREAT BRITAIN to the Dover - Calais route for the winter where she would operate alongside SEACAT DANMARK. All SuperSeaCats being laid up or chartered to southern Europe. How true this information remains to be seen. Sea Containers are well known for sudden changes of direction and its a case of believe nothing unless you see it happen! 


KONINGIN BEATRIX is due to be off service for three week commencing the first week in September to allow for crankshaft repairs. She will be replaced on the route by STENA GALLOWAY which will transfer from the Stranraer - Belfast service.

STENA FORWARDER was reported arriving late at Dublin this morning on July 27 resulting in the cancellation of the 09:15 / 15:15 round trip. She is due to be dry docked between July 30 and August 4 for essential maintenance.

The last sailing before docking will be Sunday 29 July 21.30 hours from Dublin. She will return to service on Sunday 5 August 03.15 hours from Holyhead.


It appears that the Birkenhead yard will not be sold as a going concern and will be mothballed. However, this might only be in the short term according to local press reports.

John Syvret and Brett Martin had hoped to keep the Birkenhead and Hebburn yards operating as going concerns - but despite support from City financiers a bid will not be in place before the deadline for closure on Tuesday.

Mr Martin said: "We have attempted to carry on running the yards as a going concern, but we just ran out of time to get the finance in place.

"We know what it takes to run the company and we are confident we can do it in the future.

"We have got some solid financial backing and the bid will be a good one."

Mr Syvret said: "We are some way down the road, but the deal is not finalised until it is finalised. We are making headway and that's positive news."

"There is a lot of due diligence that needs to be done and that's taking a lot of time and effort."


Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast has begun work on a multi-million pound contract to construct a floating pontoon and linkspan bridge for the Port of Liverpool’s new two berth  Twelve Quays River Terminal.

Once the 1,200 tonne steel pontoon is completed in September it will be towed across the Irish Sea, followed weeks later by the 450 tonne, 80 metre long linkspan which will connect with a fixed bridge to link it to the shore.

The structures are a key element of the Mersey Docks and Harbour Company’s plans to launch a new era in travel and trade between Liverpool, Belfast and Dublin with development of the £25 million terminal for roll-on roll-off ferries.

The Belfast yard won the contracts totalling £2.5 million against strong UK and European competition. Work began first on the nine sections of the 70 metre long, 42 metre wide pontoon, which will be welded together before the three day crossing from the River Lagan to the Mersey.

The linkspan bridge carrying three 4 metre wide traffic lanes and two pedestrian walkways is also under construction for completion also in September.

Both structures were designed by marine engineering consultants Transmarine Ltd of Newcastle-upon-Tyne who are also managing the fabrication and installation for Mersey Docks.

Tim Bownes, Chief Engineer for Mersey Docks, said: "It is fitting that the pontoon and linkspan bridge are being constructed in Belfast, the predominant destination for the NorseMerchant ferries which will be operating from Twelve Quays."

The River Terminal which will reduce the Irish Sea crossing by an average of 90 minutes by eliminating the need for the ferries to lock in and out of Liverpool’s enclosed docks, is expected to be operational in the first quarter of 2002.


MOUNTWOOD - It is understand that around 12 weeks work remains on the vessel which is in Clarence Dry Dock, having arrived there in March. There are rumours that proposals to rename the vessel ROYAL IRIS have run into difficulties, however, another name with a ROYAL prefix may be used. perhaps it might be better to leave her as MOUNTWOOD. 


Reports in the local press suggest that the Historic Warships at Birkenhead may move to a new home by the former Jesse Hartley designed Hydraulic Pumping Station at Four Bridges situated opposite the entrance to the new Twelve Quays ro/ro terminal. A feasibility study is to be carried out an application will be made for European Funding.


The three masted schooner KATHLEEN AND MAY which has been undergoing an extensive rebuild at Bideford in north Devon is expected to make her post refit maiden voyage to Ireland on August 26, 2001


PACIFIC SANDPIPER -  A report in Lloyd's List this week describes how the Barrow based PACIFIC SANDPIPER  slipped through the Panama Canal unnoticed on the night of July 18, carrying a shipment of nuclear waste from Japan to the UK:

"Protestors on land had little idea that the focus of days of campaigning was sailing into the Caribbean. Global environmental group Greenpeace had been flagging the issue for weeks beforehand, with some success. 

Panamanian newspapers carried several articles detailing environmental concerns surrounding the carriage of nuclear waste by sea. 

Diplomatic pressure was mounting too. On July 12, six days before the ship sailed through the canal, the Central American Parliament, which brings together the region's governments including that of Panama, issued a statement condemning such shipments, not just through the canal but on a global level.

Almost as a premonition of what was to come, it accused Pacific Nuclear Transport, of carrying secret shipments of radioactive waste through the canal in the last two decades.

The parliament called for an outright ban on shipments of nuclear waste. But the war of words was not one-sided. Diplomats from the UK, France and Japan, the three countries with the largest stakes in this type of transport, met Panamanian government officials in the run-up to July 18. They were accompanied by officials from nuclear industries in all three countries, including BNFL. Routine procedures, they claimed.

Faced with increased pressure against shipments though the canal and the region in general, BNFL has also employed a former Panamanian journalist to handle its public relations from Washington. She was amiable and helpful when contacted by Lloyd's List on July 16, just two days before the ship sailed through the canal. Asked when the vessel was due to arrive in Panama - an unknown quantity at the time, though subject to plenty of speculation - she said "middle of next week".

That would have meant around July 25. The Panama Canal said July 20. She also stressed that, while BNFL and its partners respected the position taken by the Central American Parliament, it was a view stemming from the campaign of misinformation waged by environmentalists. As an aside, she drew attention to a recent confidential meeting of the council of the International Maritime Organisation, of which she had records, during which senior maritime officials voiced concern about Greenpeace's marine protests. 

Funnily enough, Lloyd's List had already seen this information, published that very morning by Panamanian daily newspaper El Universal, which had obtained the leaked IMO documents. Asked if she had played a part in placing the story in the press, she laughed and asked not to be named. The IMO has, indeed, sought information from Greenpeace about alleged infringements of collision regulations. But the issue is not as damning of the environmental group as El Universal made it out to be. Indeed, IMO officials are mostly quick to point out that Greenpeace plays a valuable role in the organisation. They might want to ask how BNFL got hold of the information weeks before the report of the council meeting is published. But these sorts of tactics are to be expected. Greenpeace plays that game too. It is quick to point out a long list of what it claims are the potential dangers of transporting these products by sea, but usually fails to add that the transportation is perfectly legal and tightly regulated by both the IMO and the International Atomic Energy Agency.

The Panama Canal Authority said that the ships used to transport these cargoes are much smaller than many of the ships carrying dangerous products through the canal, making them safer than, say, product tankers with liquid gas in the narrow confines of the canal. But the reactions of governments in the region cannot be ignored.

Neither can widespread public concern at these shipments. And a niggling question remains, which Greenpeace continues to ask. "If this is all so safe, why is it so secret?" said Greenpeace International's Rosa Moreno. "This anti-democratic silence and arrogant disregard for the sovereign will of the countries of the region will reaffirm Latin American and Caribbean peoples' commitment to stop these nuclear transports." BNFL would argue that the secrecy is born out of pressure from the likes of Greenpeace, which has breached security to board one of these vessels in the canal before.

So who is right and who is wrong? It depends on who you are listening to."


July 25


A rather short update I am afraid as I am little pressed for time, thus some items have had to be held over. Next main update will be on Sunday July 28 around between 12:00 and 15:00. Please note that I will be away next week and there will be no e-mail responses after around 15:00 on Sunday until Saturday August 4.


The LNRS 2001 - 2002 programme of meetings has been published. 

SEA CONTAINERS / Isle of Man Steam Packet Company

Despite heavy losses in traffic due to the cancellation of major Island events The Isle of Man Steam Packet Company’s core business remains firm and continues to achieve growth.

The UK foot and mouth outbreak led to the cancellation of the June TT Race Festival, the Manx Grand Prix to be held during August and some other special events.

As anticipated by the Company, June 2001 traffic figures show the impact of the loss of the TT Races.

Traffic figures compiled by the Department of Transport show:

Passenger traffic decreased by 45% @ 59,542 passengers (2000 = 109,423)

Vehicle traffic decreased by 60% @ 15,096 vehicles (2000 = 37,818)

Year to date figures show: Passenger traffic decreased by 17% @ 235,441 (2000 = 283,832)

Vehicle traffic decreased by 30% @ 57,951 (2000 = 83,519)

Commercial meterage for the month of June increased by 1% @ 37,069 metres (2000 = 33,731)

Hamish Ross, Steam Packet Managing Director said: “The decisions taken to cancel several special events including the TT Races due to the continuing foot & mouth epidemic in the UK have hit our carryings badly. Our underlying business without these events however remains very strong. In alliance with our partners in tourism, especially the Department of Tourism, we have had a strong marketing campaign with a simple message – “The Isle of Man Welcomes You With Open Arms”. The Island remains very much open for business and has so much to offer our visitors”.


The former Romanian Royal Yacht LIBERTATEA which has spent 18 months in Clarence Dry Dock, Liverpool has been moved to another berth within the dock estate. 

The 300 foot steam yacht was constructed as the NAHLIN by John Brown & Company on Clydebank in 1930 for Lady Yule. In 1936 the yacht was chartered by Edward VIII for an Adriatic cruise with Mrs. Wallis Simpson. In 1937 she was sold to King Carol of Romania who renamed the ship LUCEAFARUL. With the abdication of the king and the establishment of a communist regime the yacht gained the name LIBERTATEA, ending her days in post communist Romania as a floating restaurant.

She was returned to Britain in late 1999, initially to Devonport, before being towed to Liverpool in Spring 2000. She was then installed in the Clarence Dry Dock, which then operated by the Cammell Laird subsidiary Warbreck Engineering. 


The following is reproduced from the excellent Scilly News web site 

Forget the Bermuda Triangle, with 3 maritime incidents off St. Agnes in the past week, the area is fast becoming known as the 'Scilly rectangle'.

The first of the three incidents occurred early in the week when the diving vessel (ex - naval auxiliary) MENTOR dragged her anchor whilst moored in Per Conger. The wind was luckily blowing in a Northerly direction and the boat floated out of the harbour, miraculously missing 'The Cow' and 'The Brow'. At the time, all the divers and crew were in the Turks Head Pub, on shore and it was not until a visitor notified bar staff that the Mentor had apparently disappeared. After that there was a frenzied rush to get to the tender and the boat was regained and brought back into harbour, presumably using two anchors this time.

The second incident happened in the same bay a day later when the wind had shifted into a southerly direction. A yacht dragged her anchors early in the morning and just as the crew were about to leave to move to another bay, they felt her keel rubbing on the sandy seabed. "I looked out of the door,” said a crewmember "and all I could see was granite. The crew were incredibly lucky, as if the wind was in a slightly different direction they could have found themselves on Gugh shore or St. Agnes Shore. The crew then took the boat around to Cove where she lay on secure moorings for the next few days.

The third and most serious incident happened on Friday the 20th when, as a Yacht let the Cove, she caught a rope from some crab pots around her propeller. The strong wind then pushed her onto a prominent rock on the southern end of Gugh, the Hakestone. She was being pressed hard against this rock for about 3/4 of an hour. It is probable that they attempted to release the rope but when it wouldn't shift, the Lifeboat was called. The Lifeboat left St. Mary's at about 11:30 and raced around to the cove were she set about attaching a line and towing the yacht clear. Damage will not be fully assessed until the yacht dries out at low tide.

This bout of incidents is totally unprecedented, so many in such a short space of time in such a tiny area. The geographical proximity, out of interest, was about 350m by 1km.


Three new ferries have been ordered to replace the existing ones which operate the Torpoint Ferry that links Devonport, Devon with Torpoint in Cornwall. The new vessels be 505 bigger than the present vessels. The multi-million pound deal will see the ferries crossing the Tamar by April 2004. But campaigners fear it could cause environmental problems.

Ferries have crossed from Devonport to Torpoint for more than 200 years. This once sedate form of travel is now an economic necessity, and delays of up to an hour at peak periods have resulted in the ferry company's decision to introduce the new 'super ferries' which are capable of carrying up to 73 cars each.

Tony Whetton, operations manager for the Torpoint Ferry, says the new technology these days is leaps ahead of what they have at the moment:

He said: "We've got to do a degree of retraining. The whole thing is going to be a big change for us and we're looking forward to it."

The new ferries will be able to carry lorries of up to 44 tonnes, more than twice the capacity of the present vessels, raising fears of Euro 'super lorries' choking Torpoint's narrow streets.

Mike Howells is a local campaigner against heavy lorries. He said: "If you have a slight hiccup with just one 44 tonne lorry, the whole transport system in Torpoint will be flawed". Mr Howells says that would end in the area being gridlocked.

The news met with mixed reaction from many travellers on the ferries yesterday. Some drivers said that they found the present system was archaic and in need of modernisation.

A financial deal has yet to be struck but the new ferries are expected to be leased over 20 years at a cost of £1m a year.


Cammell Laird shipyards are to be mothballed when work runs out next week, receivers have announced. Contracts at Birkenhead on Merseyside and on Tyneside will both end next Tuesday, leaving both yards with no work and more than 500 workers facing redundancy.

Receivers said that it was now "unlikely" that the yards could be sold as going concerns.

A statement from PricewaterhouseCoopers said: "In these circumstances the receivers will have no option but to mothball the yards, retaining a skeleton staff to maintain them until they are sold."

Charlie Leonard, GMB union The company blamed much of its financial problems on a U-turn by cruise firm Costa Crociere over a £50m ship-lengthening deal.

Union leaders from the two yards were told of the care-and-maintenance plans
at a meeting in Birkenhead.

Charlie Leonard, regional organiser for the GMB union in Merseyside, said the move would deliver a "massive blow" to the local economy.

He said: "Only around 20 people will be kept on at the yard and almost 400 jobs will be lost.

"People will have to look elsewhere for work and that will have a knock-on effect for businesses in the area."

He urged the team behind a management buyout of the Birkenhead site to move swiftly to preserve Cammell Laird.

He said: "We are being told by the buyout team that they will make an offer imminently.

"We are telling them to move quickly to save the jobs."

Meanwhile a management buyout bid to takeover Laird's yard in Tyneside has already foundered.

About 160 workers at the North-east site are pinning their hopes on the yard being bought by another shipbuilder.

Jimmy Skivington, GMB organiser in the North-east, said: "I'm still hopeful that a buyer will be found.

"I don't believe this latest announcement was a major shock because the situation was being discussed for several weeks.

"I still believe a buyer will be found."

Laird's yard in Birkenhead will close next week once MoD refit work is completed. The Tyneside yard will be mothballed following the end of repairs to the Royal Fleet Auxiliary ship Fort Grange next week.

Ian Stokoe, from PricewaterhouseCooper, said: "Since their appointment more than three months ago, the receivers have endeavoured to continue trading the Cammell Laird business with the overriding aim of achieving a going-concern sale.

"In this process the receivers have received tremendous support from the workforce in what have been very difficult circumstances and from the Ministry of Defence which has continued to award work to the group.

"The receivers have successfully undertaken a number of new contracts for the MoD and commercial owners during the receivership period in order to provide every opportunity to achieve going concern sales.

"Unfortunately, despite these efforts, work will run out around the end of July.

"In these circumstances the receivers will have no option but to 'mothball' the yards, retaining a skeleton staff to maintain them until they are sold.

"Although the receivers have discussed a going-concern sale with many interested parties, it now appears clear that all have been deterred by the possible liabilities they might incur under the Transfer of Undertakings legislation.

"As such, a going-concern sale now looks unlikely.

"Although this is not the outcome that so many have tried very hard to produce, the receivers still hope that the yards will be sold very quickly to a purchaser that will ultimately use them to re-create employment in the ship repair and conversion sector."


In a surprise move the recently restored historic Cammell Laird #4 Dry Doc has returned to commercial use. It is believed that it is being leased by North Western Ship Repairers which recently acquired the Wright and Beyer Bidston yard which was also part of the Cammell Laird group.

The #4 Dry Dock was the birthplace of the Confederate States Navy's  CSS ALABAMA. It was restored recently as part of the Lairdside initiative.

July 22


Welcome to quite a large update this week. Please check the "What's New" page to ensure you do not miss any updates. The next update will be on Wednesday July 25.

Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Mike Pryce, David Fairclough, James Edgar, Tony Brennan, John WIlliams, Dave Crolley, Geoffrey Hamer, John Shepherd, Ian Collard, Adrian Sweeney, John Williamson and "others".

SEA CONTAINERS / Isle of Man Steam Packet Company


On Tuesday July 17, SEACAT ISLE OF MAN sailed to Belfast, not Dublin at 14:00 due to the prevailing weather conditions. Foot passengers being bussed to Dublin.

She spent the night in Belfast before returning to Douglas at 11:00 on Wednesday July 19. Consequently her Wednesday morning return trip to Liverpool was cancelled with passengers transferred to the BEN-MY-CHREE.

On Tuesday evening there were three Sea Containers fast craft at Belfast SEACAT ISLE OF MAN, HOVERSPEED GREAT BRITAIN  and SEACAT SCOTLAND.

RAPIDE - On July 18 RAPIDE experienced difficulties, with the Laxey Towing Company's WENDY ANN being required to stand by. The problem is thought to have been in her trim tabs. Once on the berth divers went down. The 21:30 sailing was delayed until 02:30 arriving at 05:30. Passengers were offered hotel accommodation if they preferred and passage on the Ben-My Chree the next morning. Thursday). During the latter part of the week RAPIDE appeared to have difficulties maintaining her schedules, in particular the evening return trip from Liverpool to Douglas.

PICASSO - The Picasso has finally been sold after many months of lay-up at Vittoria Dock, Birkenhead. Sale completion is expected on Monday. The new owner is a small company AEGEAN CARRIERS of Crete owned by Mr. Emanouel Boulis. At present the company only owns one ship. PICASSO will be renamed MARINA under the Greek flag. She will operate as a ro/ro cargo ship between Crete and Piraeus.

A Greek Master and Engineer are already on board. The new owner and crew are expected to arrive on Monday. Departure should in around a week's time subject to re-registration docs and survey passed with Class Society DNV.


On July 19 the company announced that it had been contacted by the U.K. Strategic Rail Authority and informed that the process to award a new 20 year franchise for the operator of intercity services on the East Coast Main Line had been terminated, and it now wants instead to negotiate an extension of the existing franchise with GNER for an additional two years. 

Such extension is permitted without a tender process and merely requires that the government is satisfied as to the level of services to be provided in the extension period and that the cost will be good value for the taxpayer. No subsidy would be payable in the extension period as the GNER franchise will be profitable without subsidy, so the financial terms will be based on the payments GNER will make to the SRA during the extension period.

GNER has been informed that the SRA will most likely seek half hourly services on the London/Leeds route from 2003, early refurbishment of the Intercity 225 fleet, increase of customer satisfaction and safety precautions, station upgrades and more spare locomotives to increase reliability.

GNER believes it is important to order new rolling stock now to avoid overcrowding and reduce journey times. One of the reasons it has pressed for a long new franchise is to permit this new rolling stock to be financed as the financial institutions require guaranteed long term usage contracts. It has always been within the power of the government to provide "backstop" guarantees to rolling stock owners/financiers in event a franchise is terminated but up until now it has refused to use these powers. It is understood that the government will now review this policy.

Mr. James B. Sherwood, President, said that the government’s decision did not come as a complete surprise. The Hatfield rail accident in October, 2000 revealed that the track provider, Railtrack, had let the entire rail network deteriorate to an unacceptable level, presumably in its attempt to increase profitability. Railtrack has incurred a massive cost in restoring the network to acceptable standard, including payments to the train operators for lost revenue. Railtrack is now in a position where it can neither easily raise new equity nor sell bonds so its ability to fund improvements to the network is in doubt. In addition, the improvements made or in progress have come at huge cost overruns, raising questions about the justification for some of the projects and the contracting process. Questions have been raised as to whether Railtrack can even fund existing maintenance. Clearly, the future role and funding of Railtrack requires new definition and until that is done it is probably unwise to award long term franchises.

Mr. Sherwood said Sea Containers had recommended at the time of rail privatization that the track, signalling and station infrastructure be given to the six main regional intercity operators who would then provide access to the network by other operators under supervision of the Rail Regulator. He said that in light of the ramifications of the Hatfield accident this recommendation had been renewed to the SRA. "We see track, signalling and stations as cost centres and not profit centres. If the infrastructure is in the hands of the main operators they will set priorities and take the most cost effective decisions to ensure the railways are operated to peak efficiency at lowest cost. Freight must be costed on a marginal basis if it is to survive and the freight operators must in return operate their trains outside of peak passenger times. All operators must accept down time of the network for track and signalling repairs and improvements without penalties as today, sharing the down time equitably". Mr. Sherwood said that Sea Containers would be asking for a fundamental review of these matters in the process leading up to a new franchise award in 2005.

Mr. Sherwood said that considerable cost had been incurred by GNER in its preparation of bids for the 20 year franchise and it would be seeking recovery through credits from the SRA.

"The government has made it clear to us that it is not opposed to the award of a new long term franchise and we will be seeking this once the upgrade of the East Coast Main Line has been properly defined and financed. In the meantime GNER expects to deliver its usual high quality service to its passengers at least to 2005," he concluded.


Officials investigating the sinking of the fishing boat SOLWAY HARVESTER today said they could not comment on leaked details of the report into the tragedy.

According to the Scottish Mail on Sunday, the official report has ruled there is insufficient evidence to bring charges of corporate manslaughter against the boat's owner.

But it says the report highlights a shocking chain of events led to the loss of the scallop dredger and its seven crew last January.

According to the leaked report, investigators also discount early theories that the vessel sank due to a collision with a submarine or a cargo container.

The seven men drowned off the Isle of Man on January 11, 2000 in high winds and heavy seas when their Kirkcudbright-registered scallop dredger sank almost instantly in an incident which is still under investigation.

The fishermen were all from the villages of Garlieston, Whithorn and Isle of Whithorn in the remote Machars area of Galloway in south-west Scotland.

The Manx government paid for divers to recover the bodies of the crew after pledging to return them to their families.

The wreck of the boat was raised last June to help establish the cause of the sinking.

The official investigation has been carried out by the Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) and Isle of Man police.

The investigation team will makes it report public next month.

According to the newspaper, it blames lapses in safety inspection, a general neglect of the boat, poor crew training, inadequate lifeboats, and atrocious weather conditions for the tragedy.

A MAIB spokeswoman said: "We cannot speculate on what may or may not be in the report.

"I can confirm that a draft report is due out next month with a final report due out towards the end of October."


Proposals to reinstate the former Sea Containers Ballycastle to Campbeltown route.

On the front page of this week's Campbeltown Courier
there is an advert placed by Russ McLean's Landwest Shipping. -


"As Caledonian MacBrayne have announced they will not bid for the Campbeltown-Ballycastle route 2002-2006, Landwest Shipping have submitted a locally-based bid.  In addition to running a safe, efficient and reliable service, Landwest Shipping believe that there are two key areas where significant attention requires to be paid:


"Rigorous promotion with national Press features similar to the English cross-Channel ferry France For A Pound initiatives.  It is a priority to relentlessly raise the profile of this route.  The whole point of the Irish Ferry is to boost local tourist numbers and business.


"Local businesses and representatives are to be consulted on how to maximise the benefit of the ferry to the local community.  In the event of Landwest Shipping being awarded the contract, there will be two Ferry Liason Committees, one in Argyll and one in Antrim, designed to bring about creative ideas and initiatives on how to maximise the benefit to the local communities of the Irish Ferry.

"Local businesses, community leaders and folk with an interest in the ferry are herby invited to make their ideas and initiatives known to Russ McLean, Landwest Shipping, Harbour Buildings, Old Quay, Campbeltown, Argyll, PA28 6ED.  Telephone (01586) 551555.  Fax (01586) 551777.  Mobile 07810 383815."


Around 3,000 visitors from around the world went aboard the replica emigrant ship JEANIE JOHNSTON when she was open to the public for the first time at the port of Fenit, Co. Kerry.

The ship's web site reports that Visitors spoke highly of the "magnificent craftsmanship" of the shipwrights and the "excellent" tours given by the tour guides.

The visitors were greeted by members of the Jeanie Johnston crew including Capt. Mike Forwood before been taken on a tour of the ship. The tours were given by members of the shipbuilding team, voyage crew and other project members.


It is pleasing to note that the Ministry of Defence has blocked plans for a windfarm off the Merseyside coast according to a report in the Liverpool Echo this week. For too long the landscapes of these islands have been visually polluted by windfarms. Whilst they don not look out of place in heavily industrialised areas such as along the Mersey riverfront at Seaforth, their installation in the open countryside is a different matter.

Recent plans to install off shore farms have led to the prospect of our seascapes being ruined by further wind farms.

The site opposed by the MoD is one of two proposed for Liverpool Bay as part of a Government initiative to boost renewable energy sources, creating up to 1,000 jobs and bringing £500m worth of investment into the region. Officials at the Ministry of Defence have objected to a windfarm planned for Southport because they say it will compromise the safety of military aircraft and interfere with radar from nearby Wharton in Lancashire.

The Ministry had been expected to block up to half of the 18 offshore sites licensed for development around the country when it completed an investigation this month.

SeaScape Energy, the firm who won a contract to develop turbines at Burbo Bank off the coast of Crosby, received written assurances from the MoD that there is no problem with their plans.

However, although the site planned by developer EnergieKontor UK Offshore, 10km off the coast of Southport, has been blocked the MoD has not yet informed them of the objection.

The Ministry had already voiced its opposition to a plan by ScottishPower to build an offshore windfarm near Blackpool because it says the turbines could interfere with radar for the nearby BAe Systems aircraft-testing range.

The Southport site at the bottom of the Ribble Estuary, is on the edge of the same BAe testing range, based at Wharton in Lancashire, that led the ScottishPower plans to be blocked.

A spokesman for EnergieKontor said: "We are in the rather strange position that we haven't had a response from the MoD. As a consequence we are not willing to comment further at this time."

The MoD says research has shown wind turbines which are up to 300ft high are a risk to low-flying military aircraft. It also claims studies show the action of the turbines can interfere with radar.

Possible objections from the MoD are frustrating for the Government, which hoped to boost renewable energy to 10pc of electricity supply by 2010.

Three months ago the Crown Estate which owns much of the seabed around the coast announced it had licensed four sites in Liverpool bay to developers EnergieKontor and SeaScape Energy.

The companies were expected to tap into the expertise of local businesses including Cammell Laird, British Nuclear Fuels, the Mersey Docks and Harbour Company and shipbuilders VSEL.

Work is due to begin in 2004 if planning permission is granted.


The R SEVEN paid an unexpected call to Merseyside on Monday July 16. The recently introduced cruise ship had been due to call at Belfast following a call at Dublin on July 15. However, following recent disturbances in the Northern Ireland capital the ship changed its itinerary and substituted a Liverpool call. The vessel berthed at the West Langton Cruise Terminal which last saw major use by Direct Cruises during 1999. 


The Belfast Telegraph reports that the terminal for the proposed River Foyle ferry is almost ready as search for an operator continues.

WORK on a project which will launch a cross-border passenger ferry service on Lough Foyle linking Magilligan Point and Greencastle in Co Donegal is nearing completion.

The finishing touches are being put to a new terminal facility at Magilligan - similar work at Greencastle has been completed.

And, provided an operator can be found, the new ferry service should be operational by early spring of next year, a spokesman for the North West Region Cross Border Group has confirmed.

The £4.5m scheme is on course to give a tremendous boost to the tourism in the Limavady and Donegal regions.

It is a joint venture between Limavady District Council and Donegal County Council and has attracted funding from the EU's Special Support Programme for Peace and Reconciliation.

Contributions have also been received from the International Fund for Ireland form the Irish government as well as from the Limavady and Donegal councils.

"The construction work on the terminal building at Magilligan Point is due for completion in October and work on the Greencastle side is now virtually complete," the group's spokesman said.

"The work at Magilligan proved more difficult as there was nothing there to start with, whereas at Greencastle there was already a small harbour."

He added that everybody was very pleased that the project had reached this stage and that both local councils particularly were looking forward to its launch.

From ancient times, the land area from west Donegal through counties Tyrone, Londonderry, Antrim and on to the west of Scotland has been a trade and monastic corridor with many associations with St Colmcille/Columba.

And as a report published by the IFI, which has made a grant of £1m towards the project, points out: "These links existed very firmly up until the late 1960s when civil disturbances in Northern Ireland reduced the tourism and economic activity between the west of Scotland and this region of
exceptional natural beauty.

"In recent years the International Fund and other agencies have been associated with many economic initiatives to restore the linkages along this corridor.

"A key element of the corridor is the establishment of a link across Lough Foyle between Greencastle in Co Donegal and Magilligan in Co Londonderry through the provision of a ferry service.

"Recognising the importance of this economic, cross-border and cross-community project, which will connect two isolated regions with different cultural traditions and its position as an essential component to the future development of the Columan Corridor, the International Fund and the European Union have adopted it as a joint flagship."

It means that for the first time there will be a roll-on, roll-off ferry service in a region which is hoping to benefit from the influx of tourists which it will undoubtedly attract


L.E. NIAMH [P52] has been delivered to the Haulbowline Naval Base at Cóbh from Appledore Shipbuilders in Devon. The vessel will be formerly commissioned by the Minister for Defence in August.


On July 21  Ulster's beleaguered tourist industry received a boost  with an American cruise liner returning to Belfast dock - despite US State Department fears over violence.

The MS AMSTERDAM - the largest cruise liner to visit the city this year - arrived in Belfast with more than 1,300 passengers on board.

The AMSTERDAM's arrival comes just days after another vessel - R SEVEN  - cancelled a Belfast stopover because of sectarian violence which erupted in the north and east of the city.

The superliner, launched just last October, is Holland America Line's latest "flagship of excellence", boasting 10 passenger decks and an art collection valued at more than £2m.

It first docked in Belfast last month, and is one of 15 scheduled liner visits to the city this summer.


PRINCE ALBERT Little appears to have happened with the vessel over the past week, though if I am not mistaken her noticeable list has been reduced!

By way of a comparison Geoff Hamer visited her sister ship the NINA (ex OSIJEK) which has been refitted after several years laid-up and is enjoying a busy trade as a cafe and bar.

NINA is in Rijeka as a cafe and bar, but doesn't seem to have had any structural alterations.  She is moored without any permanent fixtures, so looks as though she could cast off for an excursion (though Geoff doesn't know if her engines are still working).  She is very smartly painted and varnished, looking as though she has been refitted recently.  Rijeka was one of the main ports of the Austro-Hungarian empire so the waterfront has a row of grand Teutonic buildings that look out of place by the Mediterranean; a busy road runs along the waterfront, and the quays are used as car parks, so the NINA has little completion and was busy.


Lloyd's List reported that BNFL has purchased a ship from Adler und Söhne. The vessel concerned is the 1986 built 3,640grt ARNEB an INF2 class multipurpose
dry cargoship,

The ship will enter service alongside the EUROPEAN SHEARWATER and will be renamed ATLANTIC OSPREY

A spokesman for BNFL said some modification would be carried out. This is
likely to include security features, but no details were given. A BNFL subsidiary, Pacific Nuclear Transport, also operates a fleet of armed vessels transporting nuclear cargoes on behalf of the British company and its partners. Transport of nuclear products is condemned by environmental groups and criticised by governments round the globe. BNFL insists that the transport is tightly regulated, legal and safe. BNFL vessels are managed by Barrow in Furness based James Fisher and Sons Plc



The service record for the Inshore Rescue boat IRISH DIVER has been updated


The experimental RNLI hovercraft will be on trials at Morecambe from 23 July then Flint and West Kirby from 20 August.



Surveyors from the Maritime and Coastguard Agency detained a Bahamas flagged cargo ship RMS ARAMON after finding many deficiencies following a routine inspection. This small cargo vessel, which was carrying steel to Belfast, had six crewmembers on board. Over 30 deficiencies were identified before the inspection had to be suspended.

David Carlisle, Surveyor-in-Charge at Belfast Marine Office said:

" This vessel posed a significant fire hazard with oil leaks in the engine room, generator room, bow thruster room and around the steering gear. The level of oil in the bilges was of particular concern while oil soaked rags were left lying around and oil drums were left open. A problem with the firing system for the boiler meant that the boiler had to be fired by using burning rags held on the end of a wire which given the amount of oil around was alarming."

Other defects included quick closing valves which were not working, emergency escapes which were unusable, no record could be found of lifeboat drills having taken place and there is no evidence of the record of the man overboard boat being launched. An inspection by the Bahamas in January this year had also identified many defects.

The inspection has been suspended until such time as the Flag State and Classification Society can confirm compliance.


An emergency call was received by Falmouth Coastguards at 14:38 on July 19 from a member of a climbing party alerted Falmouth Coastguard to seriously injured climber at Bosigran near Lands End.

The St Just and Penzance Coastguard Rescue Teams were immediately sent to the area and a Royal Naval rescue helicopter R193 was scrambled from RNAS Culdrose. Mike North, the Coastguard Sector Manager from Lands End is also on scene.

There appears to have been two climbers who fell, and whilst one is `walking wounded’ the other is more seriously hurt. A Naval doctor was dispatched with the helicopter and a Naval diver is at present on a ledge 150 feet below the cliff top with the fallen climber.


On July 16 the Maritime and Coastguard Agency announced that fourteen foreign ships were under detention in UK ports during June 2001 after failing port state control safety inspection, the Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA) announced today.

Latest monthly figures show that 9 foreign ships were detained in UK ports during June 2001 along with 5 other ships still under detention from previous months. The overall rate of detentions is 6.2% compared with inspections carried out over the last 12 months. This is a decrease of 0.3% from the 12 month rate to May. The ships detained included: -

  • A ro-ro passenger ferry detained for the second time in 3 months for lack of emergency preparedness and poor control of passengers on the car deck. Improvements to drills witnessed after the last detention in March had not been sustained. The owners have now demonstrated significant changes in their safety management regime to both the auditors, Lloyds Register, and MCA who will continue to closely monitor the vessel.

  • A Malta flagged bulk carrier detained at Newcastle. Small holes, through which daylight could be seen, were found between the forecastle space and No. 1 hold. Any water entering the fo'csle space would have gone straight in to No. 1 hold. Similarly explosive gasses from a cargo such as coal would have been free to enter working spaces.

  • A tanker loaded with petrol detained for poor emergency preparedness. A fire drill called for by MCA surveyors lacked any realism. For example a CO2 extinguisher was used to tackle a simulated oil fire; the crew in attendance wore loose facemasks with the air supply switched off; and no first aid treatment was given to a fire casualty. Similarly senior engine room staff did not take any active role in the drill in the early stages even though it was set in the engine room. A number of serious hardware defects including deck corrosion between hatches were further evidence of a safety management system which was failing. Following its own re-audit Lloyds Register uncovered a number of major non-conformities and following a review of the company’s performance withdrew its support for the Document of Compliance and declined to issue a safety Management Certificate to the ship under its new Panama register.


Holyhead Coastguard scrambled a rescue helicopter R 122 from RAF Valley  on July 15 when just before 13:00, a series of 999 calls were received, alerting the marine emergency service to a man who was clinging to a stanchion underneath Llandudno pier.

The calls described how the 27 year old man who had been drinking with a group of friends had been fishing off the end of the pier and had jumped into the water after his lines had become entangled.

The man had been washed underneath the pier and had climbed out of the water and was by then clinging to the stanchion bleeding profusely from lacerations to his arms and legs, and was suffering from hypothermia.

Holyhead Coastguard requested the launch of the Llandudno in shore lifeboat and the Llandudno Coastguard Rescue Team was also sent to the area. The inshore lifeboat managed to get to the man and took him to the beach where the helicopter had landed. He was then given medical attention before being flown the Glan Clwyd Hospital located just outside Llandudno.

Rob Cramp, Holyhead Coastguard Watch Manager said:

" The incident occurred at low water today and despite the fine weather with sun and blue sky and with light north westerly winds hypothermia can set in quite quickly if cold water immersion takes place unexpectedly.

" We would always advise that individuals don’t take such risks particularly near piers which can be potentially dangerous places with the wash of the tide and heavily encrusted stanchions and supports, particularly if any alcohol has been consumed."


Swansea Coastguard were contacted at 20:00 On July 15 by the crew of SORRENTO LADY a 35-foot Birchwood motor cruiser which had been holed and was taking water rapidly 1.4 nautical miles off the coast near Porthcawl.

The two people on board – a married couple on their way from Sharpness to Swansea - requested immediate assistance from the Coastguard as they then felt they were in danger of sinking. The Coastguard then requested the launch of the Porthcawl RNLI in-shore lifeboat and the Mumbles all-weather lifeboat as well as broadcasting a mayday relay into the area. One other vessel PRIME TIME responded to that call but was stood down when the in-shore lifeboat reached the vessel in distress.

The crew of the SORRENTO LADY were taken aboard the inshore lifeboat and brought ashore at Swansea, whilst the all-weather Mumbles lifeboat took the damaged craft in tow.



Receivers Pricewaterhouse Coopers have announced that Cammell Laird's yacht-building subsidiary Camper & Nicholsons, of Gosport, had been sold to Finnish company Nautor's Swan as a going concern for an undisclosed sum. The deal includes the contracts of 114 staff.


The management buyout bid for the Tyneside yard has been withdrawn. Group managing director David Skentelbery confirmed to remaining staff at Hebburn that a management-led bid to take the yard out of receivership had failed to attract the necessary funding. He said: "We have taken the decision to let the staff know that we will be very unlikely to table a bid. "We have not managed to fully fund the bid. There are a number of factors for this. The main one is that there aren't a great deal of people who want to invest in shiprepair and conversion." Mr Skentelbery added that European Union legislation on redundancy could leave any potential buyer with a bill of up to £2m ($2.8m). The loss of a multimillion-pound order to refit the Royal Fleet Auxiliary vessel ORANGELEAF to rival shiprepairer A&P had proved a further obstacle.

The disheartening news came despite hopes that the management buyout scheme could have attracted a government grant worth £800,000 - roughly 10% of the total bid needed. Mr Skentelbery paid tribute to the commitment of the Hebburn workforce during such a difficult time, adding: "I still believe this yard has a great future as a shiprepair and conversion yard." A spokeswoman for PwC said that the collapse of the Hebburn buyout meant that, after three and a half months of talks with potential bidders, no formal approaches had been tabled for either of Cammell Laird's facilities at Birkenhead or on Tyneside.

Jaap Kroese, the owner of the Swan Hunter yard at Wallsend, has confirmed that he is still keen to take over the Hebburn yard, but only when it has closed. He is considering using the Hebburn yard to accommodate overspill work, in particular offshore orders. Mr Kroese said: "We are still interested in buying the yard once it is closed. "We are not going to do anything right now, but we would tell the workforce not to panic.

July 15


Welcome to this week's update. This week I was informed by Yahoo Groups that the Maritime Contacts group has not been particularly successful - in other words the site has not received any traffic since it was established. If this situation continues it may consequently be deleted by Yahoo. 

Maritime Questions was never intended to be a high traffic site and was aimed at providing a personal contact area for former sea farers, enthusiasts  etc. I may therefore return the contacts feature to within the web site should Yahoo decide to pull the plug. 

However,  Irish Sea Ships and Maritime Questions continue to be successful with the ISS group handing well over 200 messages each month now. Maritime Questions has a smaller throughput of messages but it has allowed many people to resolve queries. 

Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Tony Brennan, Cornish Shipping, Bristol Channel Maritime, Justin Merrigan - Incat, and "others".


Over the years many of us will have built up collections of photographs and slides and we could probably all imagine how we would feel should our collections become lost or damaged. Unfortunately Frank Gradwell has had the misfortune to loose his 500 slide box depicting his experiences of coastal cruising since 1965. 

Frank's collection is in a ten x fifty capacity black plastic box marked simply "cruising"

Frank uses it to fund raise for the Paddle Steamer Preservation Society and it is of course a completely irreplaceable record of personal and cruising events throughout that period right up to autumn 2000.

Frank is aware that he had it in February when he used it for a slide show. Following that it lived in his car boot. He suspects that it may have been taken during the Chassen Road May Day Rally though he is not entirely sure.

If anyone does come across Frank's collection please e-mail him on


RAPIDE - despite adverse weather conditions on Wednesday July 11 which saw the disruption of P&O's Liverpool to Dublin sailings and the cancellation of some of Irish Ferries JONATHAN SWIFT sailings the RAPIDE operated the 08:00 Liverpool to Dublin. She departed Liverpool at 08:03 with 233 passengers. She arrived at Dublin at around 12:15. Departure from Dublin was around 13:40 with a load of comprising her own load of cars and passengers plus some vehicles diverted from the cancelled JONATHAN SWIFT sailing.

RAPIDE passed C12 around 18:10, New Brighton 18:20 with her on the stage around 18:40. She departed for Douglas somewhat behind schedule.

BEN-MY-CHREE - adverse conditions delayed the 09:00 sailing from Douglas to Heysham with the BEN only departing from Douglas at 10:55. She had a rescheduled Heysham arrival of 14:30. The 14:30 departure was re-scheduled to15.30 with an eta in Douglas of 19.00 - but by the 17.40 "Seawatch" broadcast this had dropped back to 19.30. This had the effect of delaying her 19:45 sailing from Douglas to Heysham.

SEACAT ISLE OF MAN - A number of correspondents have noted SCIOM notifying crossing times between Liverpool and Douglas of three hours this week.  

PEVERIL [CARIBBEAN EXPRESS] CARIBBEAN EXPRESS never made it to the Caribbean following her sale by Sea Containers for around $500,000. She is currently at a ship yard in Santander. It is reported that a rag was caught up in the gears which led to the problems. An offer to purchase the ship from her current Puerto Rican owner for around $350,000 has been rejected.


Passenger figures compiled by the Harbours Division for June 2001 at 59,542 show a 45.6% decrease on the figure for the same period in 2000 which was 109,423.

The year to date figure at 235,441 passengers shows a 17% decrease over the same period in 2000 which was 283,832.

During June car and motorcycle traffic through Douglas Harbour decreased by 60% from 37,818 vehicles to 15,096 vehicles.

The year to date figure at 57,951 vehicles shows a 30.1% decrease over the same period in 2000 which was 83,519.

Scheduled Routes show the following changes in passenger numbers for June:-

  • Belfast minus 50% from 6,439 to 3,200

  • Dublin minus 38% from 4,664 to 2,882

  • Heysham minus 56% from 42,527 to 18,787

  • Liverpool plus  6% from 46,587 to 33,756

  • Fleetwood all minus from 1,399 to nil [no Lady of Mann sailings]

June commercial vehicle metreage increased by 1% from 33,731 metres to 37,069 metres.

Director of Harbours, Captain Michael Brew commented: "June 2001 passenger figures show the full impact of the cancellation of the TT Races, the initial impact of which appeared in the May figures. Excluding the TT period, the underlying trend however remains positive with passenger traffic outside of the race period increasing by 5.5%.

The Liverpool fast craft ferries operated by SEACAT ISLE OF MAN and RAPIDE remain very popular with traffic on this route, again excluding the TT period, increasing by approximately 15%."


The EUROPEAN CAUSEWAY is at Harland & Wolff, Belfast for annual dry-dock/guarantee dry-dock. She finished with the 04.15 ex Cairnryan on 11 July and is due back with the 23.59 ex Larne on 17 July.

The EUROPEAN ENDEAVOUR is currently filling in for the 'Causeway - any remaining passengers being accommodated on the SUPERSTAR EXPRESS. 

The EUROPEAN ENDEAVOUR's normal sailings are currently cancelled.  The ship is due to take the EUROPEAN CAUSEWAY's place at dry-dock with Harland & Wolff, Belfast on 17/18 July.

Larne - Fleetwood.

With the EUROPEAN PIONEER at dry-dock at Cammell Laird, the Fleetwood vessels have moved up the roster.  The EUROPEAN LEADER is operating 'Pioneer sailings, the EUROPEAN NAVIGATOR, 'Leader sailings and the 'Navigator sailings are cancelled.


Strong winds on Wednesday July 11 caused disruption to P&O sailings between Liverpool and Dublin. 


MERSEY VIKING and observer has noted the vessel with a black hull at A&P Falmouth.  

SAGA MOON has been operating on the Liverpool - Belfast service during MERSEY VIKING's refit. However the company have announced that the following sailings are cancelled for "technical reasons" Sunday 21:00    Liverpool to Belfast, Monday 21:00    Belfast  to Liverpool and Tuesday's 09:00    Liverpool to Belfast. One would assume that work on MERSEY VIKING is slightly behind schedule and that SAGA MOON is required elsewhere!


The first ship on a new Gearbulk service from East Canada to the UK has made its maiden call at the Port of Liverpool — bringing the carrier’s vessels handled by the Mersey Docks Group of ports to one a week.

The new build, totally enclosed forestry carrier (TEFC) JAEGER ARROW arrived at the Royal Seaforth Forest products Terminal on her first east-bound voyage to discharge over 2,000 reels of newsprint, employing two gantries and two fully weather-enclosed side hatches serving five holds.

The 23,575 dwt fully geared carrier, which is a smaller version of ships Gearbulk has employed on the British Columbia/Pacific Rim trade, will make a monthly crossing from Stephenville and Botwood, Newfoundland to Liverpool.

The world’s leading forest products carrier now has four services calling at: Liverpool on the UK West Coast and Mersey Docks’ South East of England port of Sheerness.

Liverpool has been handling Gearbulk’s monthly West Canadian service since the 1980s and the Medway port has an even longer relationship, with three ships a month calling on the South American East and West Coast services.

Mersey Docks Director of Marketing Frank Robotham said he was delighted by the further strengthening of the relationship between the ports group and such a significant player in the trade. "The JAEGER ARROW represents a US$40 million investment by Gearbulk in the future of East Canadian forest products into the Port of Liverpool. The addition of a fourth service at our ports is a reflection of the quality of service the shipping line receives at both gateways," he added.

To mark the occasion, Mr. Robotham presented a Port of Liverpool plaque to the JAEGER ARROW’s Master Captain Arne Vik who was due to retire at the end of the maiden voyage.

Built in Korea, registered in Nasau and manned by a crew of 21, the new vessel is of a size compatible with the range of the potential ports of call on the dedicated East Canadian service.

Her newsprint cargoes are handled and distributed by Stanton Grove Ltd, mainly into the Midlands and North West region of England. Agents for the service are Edward Nicholson Ltd of Liverpool.

Gearbulk’s West Canadian service into Liverpool calls at British Columbian ports which include Kitimat, Watson Island and several terminals in Vancouver. The carrier’s South American services into the Medway port of Sheerness cover the Concepcion Bay area of Chile on the West Coast and the Norsul Gearbulk Joint Service from Argentina and Brazil.


Towards the end of the week the Sea Core jack up vessel "DEEP RIVER" which has been engaged in erecting the dolphins for the Twelve Quays project has moved into the dock system near the Historic Warships. 

A correspondent noted that three of her legs had been removed by a large crane and has subsequently heard that the "DEEP RIVER" was subject to some sort of collision with a tanker which damaged the legs, cabling and other essential items hence necessitating repairs.

Can anyone confirm or deny this report?


HMS SCOTT [H131] survey ship is due to visit Merseyside on August 24.

HMS MONMOUTH [F235] a type 23 frigate has returned to her home port of Devonport after taking part in the dramatic rescue of a yacht, trapped by dense fog and strong winds.

The Type 23 frigate was exercising in the Irish Sea when the 170 crew received a mayday message from a yacht,  SEREN, that was on its way to the Azores and had run into difficulty.

The skipper of the SEREN had injured his back and his wife, who had little seafaring experience, was left to man the helm, with a dangerously reduced visibility of less than 200 yards.

The alarm was raised and the Irish Coastguard scrambled a helicopter and sent a lifeboat to sea. However, HMS MONMOUTH, a Duke-class frigate, was within 15 miles of SEREN, and steamed to her aid.

HMS MONMOUTH arrived first on the scene, and a small team of her sailors was sent across to the yacht in the ship's seaboat. Navy medical personnel assessed and stabilised the SEREN's skipper, while their colleagues took control of the yacht until other emergency services arrived.

Executive Officer of HMS MONMOUTH, Lieutenant Commander Alex Lochrane said: "It was good fortune that we were close to the yacht and able to offer assistance. "Having stabilised the situation, we were pleased to be able to assist the professional rescue services." HMS MONMOUTH returned to Devonport this week having completed her sea training and is now undergoing routine maintenance.


The public will have their first opportunity over the weekend of July 14/15 to board the JEANIE JOHNSTON Replica Irish Emigrant Ship at Fenit Co. Kerry.

Visitors will be offered guided tours of the upper and tween decks of the ship on Saturday and Sunday next, July 14th and 15th, between 10am and 5pm and admission is free.

For safety reasons access within the ship is limited but people will see first hand the inside of the vessel as it will operate in sailing mode as well as a preview of the ship fitted out in museum format.

Staff from the project will conduct the tours and the Captain and some members of his crew will be on board over the weekend to greet visitors.



Milford Haven Coastguard were contacted on the evening of July 10 on the emergency VHF Channel 16 by the crew of the 11,591 registered ton, 127 metre long car carrier `AUTOPREMIER’, which was then on passage from Rosslare to Pasajes in Northern Spain, to report that they had suffered an engine room fire on the medium speed engine. There are 13 crew on board.

The crew of the Norwegian registered vessel reported that the fire had been extinguished by expanding foam and that the area was being monitored from an adjacent compartment. They reported that a broken fuel pipe had caused the fire but that fortunately there had been no injuries.

Their present position was given as 50 miles west of St Annes Head in South Wales in sea area Lundy. The vessel is presently loaded with 50 new cars and one new lorry and is carrying 360 tonnes of fuel oil and 45 tonnes gas/oil in her bunkers.

A Wijsmuller tug ANGLEGARTH was dispatched from Milford Haven to bring the vessel under tow into Milford.


PORTAFERRY II The new £2.7m ferry which is currently fitting out at McTay Marine's berth at East Float, Birkenhead was launched from the company's Bromborough yard on June 26.

It is expected to cross the Irish Sea towards the end of next month, with an introduction into service scheduled for the autumn

Up to 260 passengers and crew can be carried on the new vessel which will also have the capacity to carry 28 cars and up to 15 metre heavy goods vehicles.

A DRD Roads Service spokesman said: "The significant investment in a new vessel reflects Roads Service's commitment to ensure the continuation of a safe and reliable ferry service which is so important to social and commercial development in this area."

Derek Pedlow, Ferry manager, who visited the Birkenhead shipbuilder's dock during its construction, said that he was looking forward to taking delivery of the new ferryboat.

"While the reliability record of the service is good it is becoming increasingly difficult to maintain the MV PORTAFERRY which is now about 40 years old," he said.

The Strangford Lough ferry service provides an transport link 364 days a year for cars, commercial vehicles and foot passengers between Portaferry and Strangford. Crossings take about eight minutes. The alternative road journey is 64 kilometres and takes about 70 minutes by car.


COASTAL WAVE Whilst outbound from CARDIFF on July 10,  the Container Vessel grounded on the east shore of Flat Holm island for approx. half an hour, Barry Dock lifeboat was launched  during which time the vessel managed to free herself .  The German skipper was positive that no damage had been received and departed down channel towards Dublin.


COMPTON CASTLE - The former fleetmate of the preserved paddle steamer KINGSWEAR CASTLE which for many years has served as a floating cafe and florists shop at Lemon Quay, Truro was badly damaged in an arson attack this week.

Police and fire officers were called to the scene at 03.14 where 4 fire men with breathing apparatus extinguished the fire. The fire is being treated as suspicious, youths were seen in the area. Police are appealing for any information

The COMPTON CASTLE has had a chequered career since her withdrawal from revenue earning service on the River Dart in 1962. Between 1964 and 1978 she served as a floating café at Kingsbridge. During this time, her engine which had been maintained in working order was steamed in 1971 for an episode of the BBC Drama series Onedin Line. Her engine room can be seen in one of the second series videos of this popular drama series. Though the engine room is supposed to be that of a conventional vessel rather than a paddle steamer. 

In 1978 COMPTON CASTLE was sold to a new owner at Looe who planned to restore her to revenue earning service on the River Dart. However, by 1980 restoration work had come to a halt and she was sold to a new owner in Truro in 1982. 

In Truro COMPTON CASTLE's  boiler and engine were removed and sold to Bembridge Maritime Museum and much of her upper works and sponsons were also replaced.



Incat has announced the Evolution One12 an 112m Wave Piercing Catamaran which offers a passenger capacity of up to 1,000. Its vehicle deck capacity offers up to 589 truck lane metres plus space for up to 50 cars. Alternatively the vessel can carry up to 312 cars.

July 8


From time to time M&ISS has expressed strong opinions a few contentious matters. One particular hot potato being proposed improvements for the Liverpool Sea Terminal at the Pier Head. The objectors' complaints about hindering access to the waterfront and despoiling part of the Pier Head area were always rather weak compared to the improvements which would have benefited Sea Containers Ferries and their passengers. It was pleasing to note that the opposition was finally dropped earlier in the year.

However, there is a serious threat to our waterfront in the form of the proposed King's Dock Football Stadium which received the provisional go-ahead this week. Combined with half baked plans for a Pier Head Canal and the so-called "Fourth Grace" the Liverpool Waterfront between the Pier Head and Kings Dock is in danger. 

One hopes that sanity will eventually prevail and I would urge as many people as possible to make their opinions known otherwise our waterfront will be ruined.

Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Cornish Shipping, David Fairclough, James Edgar and "others"

SEA CONTAINERS / Isle of Man Steam Packet Company

HOVERSPEED GREAT BRITAIN missed some sailings on the Heysham - Belfast route this week due to technical problems.


This week substantial steel gates have been erected across Prince's Parade [William Jessop Way] to provide a secure crossing from the Liverpool Sea Terminal to the landing stage access bridge.

These gates replace the moveable link-bloc fencing that has been used when boarding and disembarkation takes place. It has created what is essentially a substantial "level crossing" much more secure than that used to protect any railway line.

It is understood that this change was brought about by MCA insistence. Essentially it means that all passengers disembarking now have to exit via the baggage reclaim hall and walk around the north side of the building. In the past, passengers without baggage could usually exit directly onto Prince's Parade [Depending on the security guard on duty!]. This had the advantage of reducing congestion in the confined baggage reclaim hall. 

Now all passengers have to make their way around the north side of the building and along a somewhat uneven pathway created by link-bloc fencing. No problem in daylight, but after arriving on the 21:30 ex- Douglas there are obvious potential trip hazards especially with passengers trying to hurry round to secure one of the few taxis that come down into St. Nicholas Place.

One must ask why forcing all passengers to exit via the baggage hall makes for improved security? If it is a case that provision has to be made for the police or customs "eyeballing" of disembarking passengers, this is already possible on the landing stage with close scrutiny being affected by directing arriving pax through the former on-stage booking office as is done from time to time.


It has been announced today that the Manx Grand Prix has been cancelled. The decision was a unanimous one by the organising committee (Manx Motor Cycle Club) On July 2  following a meeting held earlier in the day with Government, tourist and farming Interests. The IOM Government had encouraged the organisers to run the event  - but suggested certain restrictions which some landowners were unwilling to accept. Apparently four landowners indicated they would not allow emergency helicopter landings on their land - without which acceptable safety cover could not be provided.

The number of extra sailings operated for the MGP is relatively small - usually a few extra night runs by the Fast Craft at each end of the week.  


The Merseyside built PORTAFERRY II is now nearing completion.

PORTAFERRY II has now been moved from McTay's Shipyard at Bromborough to the company's fitting out berth at East Float, Birkenhead and is readily visible from the "Four Bridges" route. 

The vessel weighs 200grt has a capacity of 28 cars and 260 passengers. Speed is 12knots.


On Saturday July 14 a Dock and River Cruise will be operated which will include a sail down the Garston and Eastham Channels and a tour of the Liverpool Dock system.

The ferry departs from Seacombe at 16:00, Woodside at 16:15 and Pier Head at 16:30. Duration is approximately four hours. Fares: £10:50 adult £8:50 child. Advance booking required.  Phone: 0151 330 1444


An additional passenger vessel is due to call on the Mersey on August 27. The St. Vincent registered vessel ASSEDO will berth in the river.


The entrance to the Mersey could soon have a statue to match the Statue of Liberty in New York.

The well known Liverpool sculptor Tom Murphy has created a design for a giant sculpture of a reclining Neptune with a head rising 60ft above the sea bed.

In an interview with the local press Mr. Murphy said  "The head and upper torso will be visible at high tide and almost all the figure will be seen at low tide. It will be designed in a way that will ensure its stability in all conditions."

He has completed a model of the sculpture and is now looking for financial backing for the project which could cost more than £3m.

He believes it will symbolise Liverpool's efforts to become the European Capital of Culture.

He said: "This is an immense project that would require the expertise of many technical, business and industrial professionals.

"The scale of the work means it has to be made in a similar way to a small ship, possibly in a shipyard. It will be sited in the river on a natural obstacle such as a sandbank."

Tom Murphy has produced a number of local statues including the much acclaimed memorial to Captain "Johnnie" Walker RN and the Liverpool Blitz Memorial at St.Nicholas Church.


EUROPEAN MARINER - Charlie Tennant has uploaded pictures of the vessel's first arrival at Troon harbour to the Irish Sea Ships group


P&O Irish Sea and Glasgow Prestwick International Airport announced on July 6 a joint initiative to offer air freight customers throughout Ireland an effective and efficient global link following the introduction of P&O's new Troon - Larne freight ferry service this week.

Using the recently completed East Pier Terminal at the Port of Troon on the West Coast of Scotland the new ferry service now berths just three miles from Glasgow Prestwick Airport, which means it is an ideal link for Ireland's air freight users to take advantage of Prestwick's 22 weekly scheduled freight services.

"The connectivity offered from Troon means that between the two operations we can now provide a quick and efficient service for both import and export shipments throughout Ireland," said Stuart Sinclair, Head of Aviation at Glasgow Prestwick. "We have developed our global freight business to include 22 scheduled 747 freighters each week operated by Cargolux, Panalpina, Polar, Singapore Airlines, Air France and British Airways. These essential 'wide body' services provide customers with connections to Singapore, Taipei, Seattle, Houston, Chicago, San Francisco, Guadalajara, Paris, Luxembourg as well as efficient links to the various airlines global networks."

Confirming the joint initiative P&O Irish Sea Commercial Manager, Phil Simpson said: "Our move to Troon and its proximity to Prestwick has enabled us to offer services to those companies servicing the air freight market. The new berth at Troon also means that we have the flexibility to introduce larger vessels on the route which means that we can reflect the exacting demands of the air freight industry and meet the normal transport operators requirements." The joint initiative will include a sales campaign with P&O Irish Sea and Glasgow Prestwick's teams working closely together to explain the opportunities that the new service will offer to Ireland's logistics industry.


It is reported by the Herald newspaper that there is  deep disappointment in Kintyre that Caledonian MacBrayne has unexpectedly ruled itself out of the running for the Campbeltown - Ballycastle ferry service which is expected to be resurrected next summer, supported by a public subsidy.

The publicly-owned CalMac long had been the local choice of operator, but in 1996 Michael Forsyth, the-then Scottish secretary, insisted that the service be run by the private operator, Sea Containers, and ordered that CalMac sell its ferry, Claymore, for that purpose.

That company ran the route for three years from 1997, but then withdrew, claiming losses.

Recent moves by the Scotland and Northern Ireland Offices to persuade the European Commission that a public service obligation (PSO) was necessary, thereby allowing a public subsidy to be paid, had led most to assume that CalMac would take up the invitation to tender.

However, the Caledonian MacBrayne board has decided that it should not become involved in any additional services outside its existing network until the issue of its own routes being put out to competitive tender, to justify its public subsidy under European regulations, has been resolved.

The company also insists that it does not have a spare vessel for the route.

George Lyon, MSP for Argyll and Bute, said he would raise the matter in parliament. He said: "I am bitterly disappointed by this news. As far as I can see, CalMac has decided to stand back from what will be a vitally important project, for no good reason."

The CLAYMORE remains laid up for sale at Birkenhead's Vittoria Dock.


MD&HC issued the following press release detailing progress on the Twelve Quays Terminal

Work on the Port of Liverpool’s £25 million river terminal for Irish Sea ferries is moving apace - both onshore and off - for completion in the first quarter of 2002.

The jack-up drilling rig Deep Diver is sinking holes between 6 and 10 metres deep, into the bed of the River Mersey to accommodate 14 x 30 metre long mooring and berthing dolphins for the ferries using the Twelve Quays Terminal at Birkenhead.

On shore, contractors AMEC Capital Projects Limited, are constructing the 550 metre long culvert tunnel to carry millions of gallons of water which will be pumped beneath the new development, from the river to the port’s enclosed docks.

The Wallasey Dock currently used to channel the water into the impounded port, will then be filled in to create much of the marshalling area of 565 parking spaces for freight vehicles and cars.

Offshore, the back-hoe dredger Manu Peca, of Westminster Dredging, has removed more than 100,000 tonnes of mainly sandstone from the river bed to increase the depth of water to 7.5 metres below chart datum for the giant roll-on roll-off vessels of Norse Merchant Ferries.

Two of the Irish Sea freight and passenger carriers will be able to berth simultaneously, one at either end of a floating pontoon served by a linkspan bridge from the 34.6 acre (14 hectare) terminal site.

Seven mooring or berthing dolphins are being planted off each berth to secure the 22,000 tonne ferries, while they discharge and load.

Another 24 piles of between 30 and 37 metres in length, will be sunk into the river and on land to restrain the floating pontoon and support the approach bridge.

The Twelve Quays River Terminal, which is being developed by the Mersey Docks and Harbour Company, will cut as much as 90 minutes off the time it takes to cross the Irish Sea by eliminating the need for the ferries to lock in and out of the port.

With completion of the terminal in the first half of 2002, Norse Merchant Ferries will move from in-dock terminals on the Liverpool bank of the river, to operate an initial six sailings a day — four to Belfast and two to Dublin.

Liverpool is Britain’s major port for trade with Ireland and is looking to its river terminal development to continue growth in the Irish Sea sector, which has averaged 17% a year over the past decade.


PRINCE ALBERT - On paying a visit to West Langton Dock during the past week it was noted that a doorway has been cut into the upper deck aft saloon on the port side. This still appears to be full of tyres. The pile of tyres on the quayside remains, though it had been joined by several ropes. 


HMS RAMSEY and HMS BRECON visited Douglas this week as it was the Royal Navy's turn to provide the Honour Guard for Tynwald Day. The vessels were reported not to be open for public inspection due to foot and mouth restrictions in the harbour area. This appears to be strange due to the fact that the LADY OF MANN was open to the public following her recent refit at Cammell Laird.



Two prohibition notices (PN) were served and one small passenger vessel stopped from engaging in commercial activity over last weekend after surveyors from the MCA went to various ports round the coast of Northern Ireland to make clear to owners of charter vessels the legal requirements for operating vessels whilst carrying fare paying passengers.

The team visited vessels to ensure they were complying with the requirements of various commercial Codes used to enhance passenger safety – particularly sea anglers, divers and other day-trippers. The Codes are generally referred to as Red, Yellow or Blue, and are used in lieu of Samuel Plimsoll’s Load Line Rules, which are applied to larger vessels.

Five ports were visited. Local boatmen were made aware of what the MCA intentions were, and the possible legal consequences of operating non-certificated commercial pleasure vessels. On the evidence gained over the weekend it is intended to issue four further PNs later this week.

Tony Skeats, from Belfast Marine Office said:

" The professional boatmen we met over the weekend appear to now understand the need for certification and we received complaints and information about two other boats that will be followed up.

" In Portrush whilst serving a PN on one vessel, another, coded vessel, came along side and was able to load a party of sea anglers unhindered. This had the added benefit that those would be sea anglers who were left at the quayside and denied their sport, realised that in future, they should only hire a coded boat.

" It was obvious from the start of our various visits to vessels that there is a lack of recognition of maritime law and there was a dawning realisation and acceptance only when the operators were informed that we used to be called the Board of Trade many years ago! Hopefully our experiences and word of mouth will bring some encouragement to the owners of boats properly certificated for safety– and deny the un-certificated cowboy.

" In the interests of passenger safety the MCA will actively seek to prosecute owners of commercially operated boats who do not hold the relevant boat and operator certification."


MERSEY VIKING - the vessel arrived at Falmouth on July 2 for refit. Presumably she will acquire the new livery as depicted in the Norse Merchant promotional material. Her sailings on the Liverpool and Belfast route are currently being covered by SAGA MOON which normally operates on the Heysham to Dublin route. 

MERCHANT BRILLIANT departed from Cammell Laird around 21:00 on July 2. She now carries the fleet name Norse Merchant Ferries on her side. But not in the "" style as depicted in NMF's promotional material.



July 3 marked may be remembered as a sad day for those who value the Merseyside waterfront.

It appears that the crazy  scheme to build a football stadium at Kings Dock has been given the go ahead with a target completion date of 2005.

Visually this building which is totally out of character and of too large a scale will be a total disaster. It will spoil the environment for those that have homes in the dockside apartments as well as denying access to the river front - particularly at weekends before matches.

No more parking up over looking the Mersey and watching tugs shepherding the tankers to Tranmere, observing the procession of ships to and from the Manchester Ship Canal. The development is certain to mean the end of the river front car parks at the Kings and Dukes Docks.

Shamefully the leader of the Liverpool City Council appears to be bending over backwards to support the proposals.

The Kings Dock site does need to be developed. For too long it has remained vacant. However, the development should be in keeping with the location and the scale of the surrounding buildings.  

Residential and light commercial use, perhaps even with provision for a smaller arena for concerts and special shows should be used to fill the site. 

There is to be a Public Enquiry into the plans next year. However, an initial meeting to origanise objections to the scheme was convened at a local school on Friday July 6.

At present the planners appeared to wish to destroy the Mersey waterfront after years of regeneration. The past few months have seen schemes for canals and the monstrous "Fourth Grace".


It appears as though the landmark Stanley Dock south warehouses could be doomed. A question mark has hung over the world's largest brick built warehouse for some time. Currently the ground floor is occupied by a Sunday Market, however, the remainder of this massive building is unused. The restricted ceiling height of 6ft effectively preventing re use for apartments.

The building is a Grade II listed and it looks certain that English Heritage will oppose the demolition suggestion.

If demolition does take place the work is bound to take some considerable time given the immense size of the structure. 

July 1



Welcome to this week's update as we enter the second half of 2001 already - doesn't time fly! Not such a big update this week, however, there is a backlog of new material and during late July and August I'll have more time on my hands to catch up with things. Once again I would like to thank everyone for their news items, comments and general support.


The next full update will be on Sunday July 8, however, mid week I will be posting a link to some new ebay auctions from the What's New Page as I anticipate having another collection of Transport and related items for sale.


Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Charlie Tennant, Mike O'Brien, John Williams, Mike Pryce  and "others"


SEA CONTAINERS / Isle of Man Steam Packet Company


BEN-MY-CHREE - on June 28 a female passenger fell from the open passenger deck to the vehicle deck as the ship approached Douglas on her afternoon sailing from Heysham.


The passenger was reported to be in a stable condition in hospital after being removed from the vessel by paramedics. The evening sailing to Heysham was delayed by 45 minutes as a consequence. Police are investigating the incidents.


SEACAT ISLE OF MAN - A Tynwald Week "Round the Island Cruise" will be operated by the vessel on Friday July 6. The vessel will depart from Douglas at 19:30 returning at 21:30. Fares are £10:00 Adults, £5:00 children. Tickets available at Sea Terminal or by phone 01624 661 661.




MERSEY VIKING is due to go to A&P at Falmouth for dry docking this weekend. She will be replaced by SAGA MOON which is moving down from Heysham. One wonder's if she will return in full NORSEMERCHANT.COM livery as depicted in all the publicity?


It is understood that NORSE MERCHANT ferries are now  controlled through ACOMARIT in Glasgow after V-SHIPS Southampton Office which was operating them - and that after the transfer from I.O.M. - was closed.  Technical Superintendents for all the vessels are based at Liverpool.




The Traditional Boat Festival takes place on between July 5 and 8 at Peel, Isle of Man.

There will be a large number of traditional boats visiting for the festival along with the Manchester based Theatre Ship and former Scandinavian Ferry Fitzcarraldo. The vessel was built in Sandnessjoen in Norway in 1971, and operated by state shipping company TFDS (as ms. Bjarkoy) until she was decommissioned in 1991, when she was brought to Britain for conversion. The vessel will offer two performances of "Moby Dick" daily. 


A cross harbour water taxi will be operated by the Sea Cadets. On July 6 the investiture of the honorary Admiral of the Manx Herring Fleet which will be accompanied by a guard of honour from the crew of the new minesweeper HMS RAMSEY. A herring fishery re-enactment will take place at off Niarbyl.


A programme of classic yacht and fishing boat races takes place off Peel with a free fishery talk and slideshow in the Viking Longhouse at 17:30. The talk will be repeated on Sunday July 8 at mid day. On Sunday there will be street entertainers, rafting across the harbour and a prarade of classic sail. 


Over 90 vessels have registered to attend this year's event.




Mike O'Brien who runs the Fishguard web site has a great series of shots of KONINGIN BEATRIX passing the STENA LYNX III and others featuring the Fishguard Lifeboat "racing" with the "KB" - all taken in the space of 5 minutes on June 17.


On Wednesday June 27 2001, the cruise ship "Clipper Adventurer" spent the day at Fishguard - Mike has pictures on-line at:





The yacht ISLE OF MAN completed the 36,000 mile BT Global Challenge at 09:29 on Sunday  July 1. Unfortunately the yacht finished the last leg in twelfth position after various problems. She had been forced to drop anchor after the tide changed and wind dropped as she was about to enter the Solent. 



P&O Irish Sea - Troon - 30th June 2001 - EUROPEAN MARINER (formerly European Highlander) made her first revenue earning visit to Troon Harbour this afternoon without much fuss or ceremony. She berthed at 15.30 somewhat late with a seemingly full load . I understand the delay leaving Larne this morning was sadly due to the formalities required as a result of a crew member's sudden death. 

Although the P&O terminal is far from complete the infrastructure certainly seems far superior and more permanent than near neighbour SeaCat. I believe it is only a matter of time till P&0 and SeaCat compete for the passenger traffic on this route.

Apparently after EUROPEAN MARINER discharges her load she will make a final visit to Ardrossan later today then back to Troon for her sailing to Larne tomorrow.

On July 1, P&O Issued the following press release announcing the new Troon - Larne service:

 P&O Irish Sea today launched its daily Troon - Larne freight ferry service using the recently completed East Pier Terminal at the Port of Troon on the West Coast of Scotland. The new ro-ro berth and terminal facilities at Troon have been developed by Associated British Ports for P&O Irish Sea to ensure that the Company can handle the increasing traffic on its popular Scotland - Northern Ireland sailings.

"We have extensive freight marshalling facilities at the East Pier Terminal at Troon which will allow us to provide more parking for unaccompanied traffic using this route," said Phil Simpson, Commercial Manager, P&O Irish Sea Freight. "The new terminal building has also been designed to cater for accompanied traffic with drivers showers and washrooms and a lounge with snack bar facilities, all of which will make life more comfortable for commercial drivers crossing to Ireland via this link.

"Prior to launching this service we used the Port of Ardrossan for our Scotland - Ireland freight services. But we elected to move to Troon because as well as providing greater marshalling areas it also has better infrastructure links. The new berth will also allow us to introduce larger vessels on this route to handle the peak traffic flows. Troon is also just three miles from Glasgow Prestwick Airport, which is one of Scotland's leading global airfreight hubs, and this means that we can offer connecting services to this market. Our move to Troon reflects P&O Irish Sea's commitment to making life easier for the freight industry by providing excellent on shore facilities that match those found on each and every one of our ferries."

P&O Irish Sea's ferry the European Highlander, which operated the Company's Ardrossan - Larne sailings, has been renamed the European Mariner and is now providing the daily Troon - Larne service

Associated British Ports has invested more than £5 million in the new East Pier Terminal in Troon, which will be officially opened, by Ms Sarah Boyack, MSP, Minister for Transport and Planning, Scottish Executive at a ceremony at the Port on Monday, 9 July .



Last week the Irish Times reported that the Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company is to look again at possible uses for the Carlisle Pier after receiving advice that a commercial enterprise based around the old ferry terminal would not be sufficiently successful.

Phase three of the harbour development plan, for construction after the new terminal and marina, was initially expected to include up market shopping, restaurants and a possible marine facility such as an aquarium, as well as specialist shops selling marine accessories and clothing.

Last year the Harbour Company was approached by at least two developers interested in acquiring it. However a residential element - which often financially underpins similar schemes elsewhere - would be unlikely to get the go-ahead in the harbour.

It is likely that such a move would be seen as an attempt to privatise the harbour - and therefore be trenchantly resisted. There is little enthusiasm for such a debate given the controversy which surrounded the sale of berths in the new marina.

It is understood that the Harbour Company has become disillusioned about the prospects for a lively commercial future for the pier, a view fuelled by a perception of a less-than-hectic demand for new units in Dun Laoghaire and the recent closure of the Icon Centre at Leopardstown.

The Icon Centre and the proposed pier development were strikingly similar in concept, according to Harbour Company director, Mr. Michael Hanahoe. Both relied on a "themed" attraction, seeking to draw high- spending visitors.

According to Mr. Hanahoe, the company still considers a maritime museum or a similar facility as the anchor attraction.

Criteria for future use of the terminal and pier are stringent. Firstly, public access must be continued, there must be a "community gain" in any development, any new building must respect the architectural heritage of the harbour and it must also be commercially successful.

While Mr. Hanahoe acknowledges the "tall order" imposed by the criteria, he feels a private sector partnership may yet be appropriate. At over two acres, the Carlisle Pier alone could represent a significant development opportunity, particularly given that three sides front on to the water.

The situation has moved a long way since last September, when the redevelopment of the whole harbour was being spoken of as an opportunity to create a "thriving commercial and leisure facility".

The Victorian harbour, for which the first stone was laid in 1813, was once the largest man-made harbour in the world, the Carlisle Pier is "unquestionably the single greatest leisure and recreational asset" in the Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown area.

The plan states that "various plans for the development of non- commercial and in some cases social and charitable operations on this site must be disregarded as squandering the possibility of creating and realising a revenue-earning potential afforded by the commercial development of the site".

The coastal plan envisages a "multi-faceted leisure, recreational and entertainment complex on the site to include restaurants, shops, bars, nightclub venues and live entertainment on the site".

ARDROSSAN NOTES - by Charlie Tennant


Ardrossan - Clyde Port Authority have provided a recently opened Travel Centre and Passenger Building for the Cal Mac service to Brodick. It is situated to the rear of the previous and now vacated smaller building nearer the harbour edge. 


The P&O yard and portakabins look much the same as before badly in need of an upgrade. I spoke to some of the staff regarding the imminent move to Troon - they seemed a bit reluctant as most of them live in the Ardrossan area which will mean additional travel to work. It appears that the final official sailing from Ardrossan of the EUROPEAN MARINER to Larne will be Saturday 30th June but to satisfy some of the road haulier's requirements the return from Larne on the Sunday 1st July will probably call at Ardrossan first then Troon. 


It was further suggested she will help save the expense of removal vans!


TROON NOTES - by Charlie Tennant


Troon - Posters displayed on the walls of Seacat's portakbin village boast a new 2 storey permanent terminal building provided by Associated British Ports to be completed by Autumn this year. Sea Con always seem to land on their feet !! The RNLB Boathouse and jetty have now been secured by an 8ft high fence topped with razor wire - perhaps a sign of the times or could it be the N.I. factor. Security generally seems to have been strengthened. The Ailsa Shipyard buildings are now vacated and rapidly heading for dereliction. The work on the P&O terminal building and marshalling area continues but much requires to be done if it is to be operational this coming Sunday. A new road linking Harbour Road to North Shore Road last Thursday meaning that vehicles using both ferry crossings can now bypass the town centre.




The company warned the Irish Government that it will flag its ships outside Ireland unless a tonnage tax is introduced. The lack of of a tonnage tax in Ireland made the group uneconomic in Europe.

“We will not be able to continue to fly the Irish flag indefinitely if our tax regime is more onerous than that of our competitors who are free to trade into Irish ports while enjoying the benefits of other EU countries’ tonnage tax regimes,” declared chairman Tom Toner.


The company has been pressing for a tonnage tax for sometime. However, an increase in pre-tax loses in the six months to April 30 has increased the urgency.


The company revealed that loses to April 20 had increased from €4.7 in 2000 to €7.2m in 2001.

Irish Continental Group plc turnover held at € 124.3m over the period, compared with € 122.9m in the previous interim, as a strong performance in the first four months was badly hit by the foot and mouth disease crisis in April and March.

Mr Toner said: “The restriction on events in Ireland together with the governmental advice on travel between Ireland and the UK resulted in a sharp reduction in our passenger car carrying on the Irish Sea in March and  April.”

Fears of the spread of the farm animal disease from contaminated UK herds drove Ireland in March to delay national St Patrick’s Day celebrations.

It also postponed international sporting fixtures, including its six nation rugby union matches.

The Irish government's call for only essential travel between the UK and Ireland pushed down passenger numbers in the first half of the year by 9.3%, to a total of 551,000, and passenger car traffic down 6.7% to 120,000.

ICG's Container and terminal division profits rose to € 1.4m from € 0.2m on a € 1m
turnover rise to € 56.7m.

This was despite short sea container route cuts for continental traffic that brought a 5% decrease in container volume under 180,000 teu and a 3.4% fall in handling at the Dublin DFT terminal.


It appears that Cammell Laird, Birkenhead may be subject to two separate bids by management teams. One of the groups is led by former managing director John Syvret. The second bid is led by Cammell Laird director Dave GIllam, who joined the Cammell Laird plc board as electrical services director in 1999 was former managing director of DG Electrical which was acquired by the Cammell Laird group.

Mr Gillam plans to lead the new company along with Cammell Laird Merseyside’s general manager Mike Moran and production director John Kennedy.

It is reported in the press that bids could be made to the receivers PricewaterhouseCoopers next week.


The following interview with Stena Line's sales and marketing director Tim Hayes appeared in the Travel Trade Gazette this week. It makes for interesting reading and might be indicative of future changes: 

Q. What impact has foot-and-mouth had on business?

A. It has had a dramatic effect, particularly on our business to Ireland. We were seeing good forward growth on our Irish routes until the crisis started. Since then we have seen a 20 per cent downturn in forward bookings year-on-year. The market has still been sluggish, even with the crisis off the front pages. We estimate that it will cost about £15 million across the whole company.

Q. How can you minimise the losses caused by the abolition of duty- free sales?

A. It was obviously a big blow to every ferry company. But I think the worst of the effects are behind us. What we are doing is working hard to increase yields. We are seeing a very healthy growth in the tourist business, if you set aside the foot-and-mouth crisis. And we're looking at an annual growth of between three and five per cent, both to Ireland and the Continent.

Q. What is the key to winning passengers back to the ferries?

A. I think what you are going to see is a greater enhancement in the quality of the product over the next five to 10 years. We have introduced three ships on our UK routes this year. I think companies are going to tailor their products and services to specific types of passengers. I also think we will be using technology through travel agents to understand our customers better.

Q. There is a lot of talk about consolidation and route closures in the ferry industry. Do you think this is inevitable?

A. Our parent company Stena Line AB has recently been on the acquisition trail with the purchase of a Scandinavian ferry company. Within the travel industry, you can never rule consolidation out. We have no plans for consolidation in UK waters at the moment, but things can change. As a company, we are always at the forefront of looking at the long-term market.

Q. What initiatives have you taken to make the ferry booking process easier for agents?

A. We are currently developing an internet-based facility for the trade, which will not just simplify the booking process but will also offer additional information on our ships and timetables. It is going to be piloted in the autumn with a handful of selected agents. If it is successful, it will be rolled out from then on.

Q. Are you using fluid pricing and, if so, how is it working?

A. We have a devolved pricing structure on our routes. We use what we call "from pricing" for our three routes into Ireland. But our Harwich-Hook of Holland and Stranraer-Belfast routes have fixed prices. We wanted more price flexibility on our Irish routes and it has allowed us to reduce our lead-in fares by between 20 and 25 per cent. It gives the consumer more choice and the "from price" featured in our brochure is guaranteed to be available every day. But obviously, if you book well in advance you have a better chance of getting that price. The low-cost airlines have expanded the market to Ireland and lowered the perception of the price to get there - this is something we had to respond to.

Q. What is your prediction for the ferry business over the next three years?

A. As I said earlier, service standards on ferries will keep rising. Ships will keep getting better, with the emphasis on speed. Companies which can offer day crossings in about two hours will become market leaders, because after this threshold people start to get bored. I also think there will be a greater proliferation of distribution channels through IT technology. But I don't think it will stop people going to traditional travel agents. I also think companies will continue to work more closely with tourist boards.


The Barrow in Furness based ship owner and manager James Fisher & Sons Plc has completed its withdrawal from direct port operations with the sale of its Newhaven port assets to Newhaven Port and Properties. 

“It has been our declared policy for some years to withdraw entirely from direct port operations,” explained executive director David Cobb. “We withdrew from Heysham in 1998 and the withdrawal on equitable terms from Newhaven means that from now on James Fisher will no longer have any operational involvement at Newhaven.” The company will now take a 19.9 per cent shareholding in Syndicate Mixte de Promotion de l’Activité Transmanche, which has purchased Newhaven Port and Properties from Sea Containers subsidiary Ferry and Port Holding. Cobb added, “[The outcome] leaves us free to concentrate on our ship owning, operation and management services.” 

Fisher ceased cargo handling at Newhaven in the first half of 1999 and made a £2.8M provision in its 1998 accounts for port closure costs.


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