The Irish Sea Shipping Archive

About ISSContactContentVoyage ReportsISS Amazon Shop
PhotographsFeaturesShip AISShips on FilmNews
Finished With Engines: Irish Sea Shipping is now closed to new updates - J.H. Luxton Photography - Transport, Industrial History, Regional Photographs UK & beyond


August  2001

August 29


Despite intentions it has still not been possible to catch up with myself! However, I have managed one new photo feature - Moondance wearing the new SeaTruck livery. I will try and get through the backlog on Sunday!

Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, John Williams, Dave Crolley, Sara Cass and Kevin Bennett.

SEA CONTAINERS \ Isle of Man Steam Packet Company

RAPIDE - The recently applied SEACAT and Isle of Man Steam Packet logos appear to have proved less than permanent and lacking durability with parts already noted to be disappearing on both sides!


All the Howard Smith tugs on the Mersey are beginning to be repainted in Adsteam colours, i.e. Yellow funnels with black tops.

WIJSMULLER tug BATTLEAXE arrived at Eastham with a barge last Thursday (23rd) & then moored up in East Bramley Moore dock. Interesting she was flying a St Vincent flag. BATTLEAXE used to be based on the Clyde but it is not know if that is still the case.


Despite what already seems like a very overcrowded market, reports reach me that a consortium (all well known in the Irish Sea freight market) is planning a Belfast - Heysham service to rival that of Norse Merchant Ferries.

It seems the route is at quite an advanced stage of planning with berthing arranged at Belfast and a plan to use Dart Line vessels (I presume this means Bazias Class vessels - the "1" and "5" of the series potentially available).

It is hard to believe there is room for another operator and one dreads to think how Heysham would cope with another 2 berthing slots per day.  This may be the most major problem that the service would face in that the sailing times from Heysham would not be conducive to a convenient service.


The former Customs & Excise tender ENDEAVOUR, based at Liverpool in 1960s, has been berthed in Canning Dock, Liverpool for last couple of weeks. She is now privately owned & apparently her owner intends to berth her here for about 6 months.


MOONDANCE departed from Bidston Dry Dock on Tuesday August 28, resplendent in her new livery of "steel blue" hull, with white upper works. The ship now carries the Crescent plc logo on her superstructure with the Seatruck fleet name on her hull. The vessel berthed at East Float overnight before departing from Alfred Lock on Wednesday morning.

Meanwhile Seatruck have issued the following press release:

Heysham-based Seatruck Ferries has dry-docked its freight ferry MV Moondance with newly formed North Western Ship Repairers, using Birkenhead's Bidston dock.

The dock is not far from the Cammell Lairds facility, and North Western is led by John Syvret (ex-MD of Cammell Lairds). Seatruck is the first company to use North West for a full dry-docking. Kevin Hobbs MD of Seatruck, says,

"We are delighted that North Western has stepped in to offer the quality service that we require. Merseyside has once again proved itself as a centre of excellence for ship repair and conversion. There is a real need for this type of facility in the North West."

Seatruck welcomes the new facility that is well placed to provide for its needs on their Irish Sea route.

"Our priority is to ensure minimum downtime for our freight ferry service between Heysham and Warrenpoint," says Hobbs. "We are seeing growing demand on the route and we want to use local facilities so that the ship is out of service for the minimum time possible. We have a lot of confidence in the skill bank available here. They have done a great job and we are getting back in service on time and on budget today."

Previously Seatruck had dry-docked both its vessels with Cammell Lairds who also undertook major conversion work to both freight ro/ro ferries. Seatruck Ferries is part of the U.K.-based Crescent Group. It operates a freight only service between the UK and Ireland on the Heysham-Warrenpoint route.

The Crescent group of companies comprises four distinct divisions operating throughout Europe. Crescent Tankships, the group's petroleum product distribution arm, is recognized by a number of oil majors as a reliable and high-quality products carrier. Crescent Shipping, the group's dry cargo shipping division, is a leading European dry bulk distribution and logistics partner on short sea and river trades. Seatruck ferries is the group's RoRo arm. Crescent Marine Services, the group's ship management division, is a fully certified technical and commercial manager specializing in high-intensity short sea management.


Merchant seamen from Swansea who died during the World War II will be commemorated in the city for the first time at the weekend.

The service will take place at St Mary's Church on Sunday, Merchant Navy Day.

The service will commemorate the lives of 200 men and teenage boys from Swansea, for whom the local branch of the Merchant Navy Association is campaigning for a memorial.

Secretary David Thompson-Jones said: "It will be the first service of its kind to be held in Swansea."

He added: "Merchant seamen from Swansea played a big part in the war."

"Many non-military ships and crews risked all to make sure the Allied Forces were kept well-supplied."

Merchant Navy Day is held near September 3, when the first British civilian ship, the Athenian, was sunk just hours after the declaration of war in 1939.

The service commences at 11.30am, and will be officiated by Canon Alum W Evans, who is the Swansea branch's chaplain.

Meanwhile, the campaign for a memorial will take another step forward today when Merchant Navy Association members meet Swansea Council planners and councillors to discuss possible sites near the Marriott Hotel and around Swansea Barrage.

The Swansea branch —which is the only one without a monument —has raised £17,000 of the £60,000 needed to build the memorial.


On 24 August 2001 P&O Irish Sea announced that services between Liverpool and Dublin will be boosted from early September by the introduction of PRIDE OF SUFFOLK. This ship will provide additional freight and driver accompanied capacity in the run up to the busy Christmas period.

PRIDE OF SUFFOLK, which can carry up to 100 freight units, will operate the 04.00 ex Liverpool service providing operators with the opportunity to make same day deliveries throughout Ireland. The vessel has a service speed of 17 knots and will replace CELTIC SUN which has been on charter to P&O Irish Sea for the past two years. The three other ships operating on the Liverpool - Dublin route are EUROPEAN AMBASSADOR, EUROPEAN ENVOY and CELTIC STAR.

"The timing of P&O sailings from both Liverpool and Dublin are important because it offers operators the first sailing of the day out of Ireland and the first sailing into Dublin. Customers then have the option of a P&O crossing virtually every six hours on the Liverpool-Dublin route." said John Kersey, Managing Director of P&O Irish Sea: "The reliability of our services has increased customer demand and the introduction of PRIDE OF SUFFOLK will enable us to satisfy the increasing number of customers wishing to use the Liverpool - Dublin services.

"While we have seen overall freight ferry capacity grow on the Irish Sea in the past 12 months more and more operators are finding that timing is critical which is why we have seen demand for a number of our services increase. The introduction of EUROPEAN AMBASSADOR on this route earlier this year has proved very popular and the additional capacity that PRIDE OF SUFFOLK brings to the fleet will we are sure be welcomed by our customers."

August 26


Welcome to this weekend's update. I must apologize for this posting appearing slightly later than normal. However, being away during the week put me behind things and I must admit to still having to hold over material for inclusion. There will be a mid-week update on Wednesday evening when hopefully I can catch up with things!

Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, John Williamson, Andy Ascham and Alistair Eagles of SeaTruck Ferries, Tony Brennan, Jenny Williamson, Dave Crolley, Mike O'Brien and "others".


RTÉ's excellent weekly maritime news programme SEASCAPES will be changing broadcast times from Thursday September 6. The programme will now start at 21:00 on Thursdays. You can tune into RTÉ1 in the UK on the AM band at 567Mhz.


Steam Packet Profiles is a new book by Ron Evans. The work features profiles and plans of the ships of the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company 1830 to 2000. It comprises 94 pages in A4 format. Over 100 scale drawings are included along with 19 black and white photographs. The book is obtainable from the Lexicon Bookshop, Douglas and the St Paul's Bookshop, Ramsey as well as direct from the author - Ron Evans, 16 Beech Crescent, Darrington, West Yorkshire, WF8 3AE. Price £15:00 [p&p £1.50]

SEA CONTAINERS \ Isle of Man Steam Packet Company

RAPIDE appears to have been somewhat off schedule over the past week. The scheduled arrival time from Dublin is 17:00 with departure for Douglas at 18:15[SX] and 18:30 [SO] A Wirral based observer made the following notes:

  • Sunday August 19, arrived 17:45, departed 18:52

  • Monday August 20, arrived 17:51 departed 18:49

  • Tuesday August 21, arrived 17:58 departed 19:12

  • Wednesday August 21, arrived 18:00 departed 19:10

  • Thursday August 22, arrived 17:51 departed 19:27 

  • On Friday she departed Liverpool for Dublin rather late at 08:49 and did not return to Liverpool until 22:17. Departure of the 18:15 to Douglas being delayed until 23:58.  A crossing time to Douglas of around 3.5 hours to 4 hours was notified. RAPIDE arrived back in Liverpool 07:39 on Saturday. The 08:00 sailing to Dublin and the return 13:00 being cancelled. However, the 18:30 to Douglas did sail with the return 21:45 ex Douglas alongside on time.

It is understood that Friday's problem had been due to a blown turbo charger which necessitated the operation of the vessel on reduced power. It appears that late running JONATHAN SWIFT and heavy loadings were responsible for the other delays. During the summer there has been some slippage in the timetables caused by terminal, perhaps more allowance should be made in the schedules for next year?

HOVERSPEED GREAT BRITAIN and SEACAT SCOTLAND - adverse weather conditions led to the cancellation of services on the routes from Belfast on August 21.

SEACAT ISLE OF MAN - despite adverse conditions which led to the cancellation of Irish Ferries JONATHAN SWIFT, SCIOM ventured forth from Douglas with the 07:00 sailing to Liverpool on August 21. SCIOM returned to Douglas, however conditions resulted in the afternoon sailing to Dublin was delayed until 20:30.

It appears that  Sea Containers' Channel plans for Winter 2001 - 2002 currently appear to
be as follows.

Dover - Ostend: DIAMANT. (Finishes at Newhaven on 1 October) The timetable mention of a SuperSeaCat is either a mistake or suggests that a SuperSeaCat will be used for overhaul.

Belfast - Heysham on 1 October).

The SUPERSEACATS being laid up for the winter.


On August 24 a man jumped into the River Mersey from the Landing Stage and was in danger of being carried under the Pontus. He was caught be two security guards who managed to hold him above water until the County Rescue lifeboat could get to the scene.


MOONDANCE arrived in North Western Ship Repairers Bidston Dry Dock last week for repaint and maintenance. 

The vessel is being repainted in a new livery. Not the experimental light blue and biscuit which was applied to RIVERDANCE by Cammell Laird last year. The new hull livery is described as steel blue - the corporate colours of Crescent plc, SEATRUCK ferries parent company.. The vessel will acquire large hull side fleet names, though she will loose the funnel logo.

MOONDANCE is expected to depart from Bidston Dry Dock late Tuesday afternoon.


STENA LYNX III - On August 25 STENA LYNX III was involved in a rescue when she stood by the yacht LUCKY CHARM which was in difficulties off Rosslare. The yacht taking on water and experiencing intermittent engine failure. 

On August 21 - due to adverse conditions STENA LYNX III sailings were cancelled.


A new vessel has appeared at North Sandon Dock, Liverpool. She appears to be some sort of fishing vessel and carries the name DAINTY LADY, crudely painted on with no port of registry.


On Monday August 20 two tall ships arrived in Liverpool as part of the "Sea Trek 2001" celebrations.

The ships commenced their voyage earlier in August carrying amongst their passengers decedents of passengers who had emigrated to the USA in the mid nineteenth century.

The Norwegian tall ship, SORLANDET, berthed in the Canning Dock, was opened to the public whilst the Russian ship MIR berthed at the Landing Stage.

During 1851, 85,000 Mormons [Members of the Church of Latter-day Saints] from Scandinavia and Britain left for the United States from the port of Liverpool.

The ships sailed on Tuesday August 21.



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

Latest monthly figures show that 14 foreign ships were detained in UK ports during July 2001 along with 5 other ships still under detention from previous months. The overall rate of detention is 6.6% compared with inspections carried out over the last 12 months. This is an increase of 0.4% from the 12 month rate to June. The ships detained included: - 

  •  A Turkish flagged general cargo vessel detained for three days at Ellesmere Port with 24 recorded deficiencies which included a number of severe health and hygiene related deficiencies. There was a serious cockroach infestation in the galley and handling areas, the temperature of the frozen meat room compartment was +2 degrees, while the domestic fridges didn’t work. The cleanliness of the food preparation areas i.e. galley worktops, cooker and sinks was inadequate and the equipment used in meat preparation all required thorough cleaning.  

  • A Netherlands flagged general cargo vessel detained for 5 days at Par with 23 recorded deficiencies. Various documentation including the safety plan, safety training manual, and the SOPTEP contact details were either unavailable, out of date or did not relate to the equipment on the ship. At the same time numerous life saving appliances were defective. The EPIRB battery had expired in December 2000. The last entries in the oil record book were for June 2001 and the crew were unable to demonstrate the oily water separator. 

  • A Georgian general cargo vessel with 30 recorded deficiencies which included severe corrosion to the engine room deck head, the main deck, and the starboard lifeboat lifting arrangements. There was a large amount of bilge water (40cm) in the engine room and three generators were either inoperative, under repair or leaking excessive amounts of fuel and oil.   


Last Sunday the half tide gate which now maintains water within the inner harbour was opened at low water. This resulted in a drop in water level which had the effect of causing some craft to lean against their moorings, some sustaining damage. 

It appears that there had been a problem with the gate's level measuring system which prevented the gate operating on properly on the falling tide last Sunday. An investigation into the gate's problems has been undertaken by Calderfield Hydraulics and the Department of Transports own advisors.

Meanwhile the gate is to be operated manually and the DoT has requested that boat owners forward claims for damage.


The restored schooner KATHLEEN AND MAY sailed from Bideford North Devon on her maiden post restoration voyage to Youghal, County Cork on August 26.


It is possibly another one of those Merseyside "pie in the sky" proposals which don't come to anything. However, this week the Liverpool Daily Post revealed that plans to establish a canal bus service between Bootle and the Pier Head have received the backing of Liverpool City Council.

The plan is for a fleet of up to 10 narrow boat buses to provide a service along the Leeds and Liverpool Canal between Bootle and the Albert Dock. Though this would be dependent on the British Waterways proposals for the Pier Head Canal Link being given the go-ahead. 

The plan presented by Councillor Roger Johnson received all party backing



More than 600 Royal Marines and eight Royal Navy and Royal Fleet Auxiliary ships began a week-long series of challenging exercises in North Devon on August 22.The Maritime Task Group left Plymouth for the North Devon coast, marking the start of the Argonaut 2001 deployment.
Marines and sailors will take part in amphibious training exercises at Braunton Burrows until Tuesday in Exercise Channel Wader.

The exercises will help Marines and sailors prepare for a series of demanding exercises in challenging conditions alongside allies in the Mediterranean and Middle East. The five-month overseas operation will demonstrate the UK's ability to deploy, operate and sustain a Maritime Task Force with a total of 24 ships – the largest Royal Navy deployment since the Falklands conflict.
The deployment consists of three main groups – a CVS group (aircraft carrier) led by HMS ILLUSTRIOUS, an amphibious group led by HMS FEARLESS and a mine countermeasure group.
At Braunton Burrows, marines and sailors will take part in ship to objective manoeuvres and low-level tactical training. The aim is to enhance the deployment's operational capability before the main focus of Argonaut 2001 begins in the Mediterranean and Middle East.

The focal point of the foreign operations will be Exercise Saif Sareea II in Oman to demonstrate the UK's joint rapid reaction force capability. Argonaut 2001 will include a series of goodwill visits to more than 20 countries including Oman, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Jordan, Egypt, India and Kenya.

SCOTT [H131] - the Appledore built survey ship visited Merseyside for the Bank Holiday weekend berthing at Canada #2 North.


On August 22 a body was  discovered on a ship transporting grain from the Ivory Coast in West Africa to Ireland. The ship, the AURA was docked at Belview port two miles from Waterford City.

The body was discovered, buried deep in the hold, when the grain was being unloaded. Work was immediately suspended and Gardaí alerted.

The badly decomposed body was taken to Waterford Regional Hospital for a post-mortem. It is though that the man may have tried to stowaway in the hold and subsequently suffocated.



SUN PEGASUS which has been laid up in the Cammell Laird wet basin for some considerable time has been sold by Cammell Laird group receivers for what is believed to be around £350,000 to the Syrian Company 'ALMA-MYRA TRANSPORT AND SHIPPING CO LTD'   

This company has apparently owns three similar vessels. Following the purchase on Monday this week a Russian Master and Senior Engineers / Electrician are now on board together with Syrian Crewmen to prepare the vessel for sailing. 

A very great deal is reported to need doing and it is possible vessel will be towed shortly to North Western Ship Repairers at Bidston Dry Dock  for underwater inspection.

SUN PEGASUS  was built in Romania to a standard design 7580 GRT -Hull number 782 from Galatz Santierul Naval - Class Romanian Register. Delivered with the name of 'CARANSEBES'  

She was renamed 'SUN PEGASUS' in August 1996 operated by ROMLINE. She was subsequently arrested in Antwerp around late 1997/early 1998 for non payments and languished there until sold by receivers auction on 11th June 1999 being acquired by Cammell Laird Group Plc for a figure of US$1.1Million.

During her period in Belgium she had apparently a skeleton crew and many items on board disappeared - either possibly sold for pocket money or transferred to other similar Romanian vessels. (This is one of a class).

Cammell Laird then had her towed dead ship to the Mersey and into the wet basin where she has languished - not properly laid up and hermetically sealed from elements.

The intention was apparently for Cammell Laird to convert her as a speculative venture into either a 400 passenger cruise vessel - or more likely into a cable layer in which Cammell's had the expertise. This was to be done as the next project after completion of the COSTA CLASSICA conversion.

As the other similar vessels in this companies ownership are DNV class it is likely she will be reclassed from Romanian Register to them rather than preferred BV Class as it would take too long to do the new plans and paperwork. Intention is that vessel - if, as and when operational - will trade NW Europe to E.Med with container trunking services. It is likely she will re-flag to Malta. No new name has yet been decided. 


The Cammell Laird's receiver has been forced on the defensive following last weeks controversial sale of the Tyneside and Merseyside yards to the A&P Group.

The receiver Ian Stokoe has received criticism from unions, local politicians and other bidders who had planned to operate the Birkenhead yards as a going concern.

In an interview with the Daily Post, Mr Stokoe insisted that he had treated all the bidders equally. He said that claims that he had misled some bidders about the deadline for completing their bids were "a complete misrepresentation."

He added: "I gave them every opportunity to put their bids in and they didn't take it. They had four months to put together an offer."

Mr Stokoe has also been criticised for selling the yards to a group backed by Royal Bank of Scotland, the same bank that appointed him as receiver when Laird's collapsed last April.

On this, he said: "The appointing creditor has to approve our fees, but you have to look at this in the round and go back to the real issue.

"We had a situation whereby management of Cammell Laird entered into high risk contracts, principally the Costa Classica, which went badly wrong.

"Nat West (acquired by RBS before the collapse of Laird's) put an extra £5m into the pot to give the company the chance to survive. But it wasn't enough.

"Laird's own financial advisers, Close Brothers, looked at this and concluded there was no way Laird's could survive without significant further funds. They couldn't find the funds, so they asked the bank to appoint a receiver."

Mr Stokoe said there was no conflict of interest in selling Laird's to Royal Bank Private Equity backed A&P because it was "a completely separate part of the bank."

He added: "We went back to each of the other interested parties before we concluded the sale."

Mr Stokoe said A&P had offered the best price and had proved their funding was in place.

A&P paid just under £10m for Laird's. Answering the claim that he had failed to sell the business as a going concern when rival bidders wanted to reopen the yards within a matter of weeks, Mr Stokoe said: "I would like to think I have sold to a major player in the ship repair industry and that they will eventually reopen it.

"I wanted to see it sold as a going concern. "We took on contracts in the receivership with considerable risk to ourselves."

Merseyside Euro-MP Chris Davies written to the European Commission's competitions commissioner, Mario Monti, to express his concern about the sale.

Mr Davies has asked Mr Monti to rule on whether the takeover of Laird's by A&P is an abuse of a dominant market position.

The North West MEP believes that the only grounds for an investigation are under Article 82 of the European Union treaty, which covers abuse of such a position.

It also appears possible that the Office of Fair Trading may also hold an inquiry into the A&P deal. The OFT is reported to have written to A&P's legal advisors requesting that they submit details of on the implications of the purchase. The Office of Fair Trading would then use the information as a basis for deciding if an inquiry should take place.

It certainly looks as though the Cammell Laird saga could have much further to run. 

August 19



Welcome to this week's update. Unfortunately it is necessary to record in the news the passing of two well known maritime operations. - The sale of Cammell Laird Birkenhead and Tyneside to A&P Group who appear to have bought the assets to remove competition and intend to keep the yard closed and the closure of the Cornish company Curnow Shipping, long associated with the UK - St. Helena - South Africa service. The contract of which was recently awarded to Andrew Weir shipping.


Sorry but M&ISS is not going into the business of wreck forecasting. The month that the DOLFIN grounded at Mousehole was erroneously identified as November 2001 in the last news bulletin. It should of course have read November 2000. I would like to thank the observant readers who spotted this.


Please note that I will be away for a few days from around 10:00 on Sunday August 19 until the evening of Friday August 24. If you need to contact me urgently please use my mobile number 07973 363370 - You may also send phone text messages to that number. Please DO NOT use the landline numbers whilst I am away.


Pressure of time has forced me to hold over a number of items intended for this week's update as it has been necessary to post earlier than usual due to my departure for Devon. Hopefully the backlog will be caught up next weekend when the M&ISS update reverts to its usual Sunday evening update time. 

Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Tony Brennan, Ian Collard, Dave Crolley, Kevin Bennett, Alistair Eagles and "others".


Just published "Isle of Man Shipping the Twilight Years" is another collection of Merseyside photographer Ian Collard's wonderfully nostalgic photographs supplemented by reproductions of period handbills, tickets and other ephemera. A full review will follow in next week's M&ISS update. 

SEA CONTAINERS / Isle of Man Steam Packet Company

RAPIDE During week beginning August 13, logos finally started to appear on RAPIDE. By Wednesday August 15 she had acquired starboard side "SEACAT" and "Legs of Man". By Friday the port side "SEACAT" had appeared but not the legs.

It is understood that on Saturday August 11 RAPIDE carried a record number of passengers on the Liverpool to Dublin service. A correspondent who was monitoring radio traffic on the river noted that a certain amount of interest was recorded in the loading figures for the 08:00 departure to Dublin.  Passenger figures were 641 + 8 and 152 vehicles.


According to Lloyds List the visit of the cruise ship ASSEDO due on August 27 has been cancelled


PORTAFERRY II The newly constructed car ferry has been undergoing trials on Merseyside this week prior to delivery to the Northern Ireland Department of Regional Development. 

The vessel was constructed by McTay Marine of Bromborough. Weighing in at 200grt the vessel has a top speed of 12knots and a capacity of 28 cars and 260 passengers. 

PORTAFERRY II is expected to enter service during autumn 2001 on the Strangford to Portaferry route across Strangford Lough, County Down. 


TOPI  left Langton Lock 20:20, on August 6 being towed by the tug THOR bound for Klaipeda, Lithuania on the Baltic. No info if she has gone for scrap or re-build.

The vessel spent some time last winter capsized in Dún Laoghaire harbour following a mishap. She was raised in February and then brought to Sandon Dock earlier this summer


LAGAN VIKING arrived at Dublin at 01.00 hours Sunday August 12th from Belfast for repairs following what is believed to have been a collision with a dolphin on or near her berth following an engine or thruster failure. Work was undertaken at Dublin port berth 45.

On Friday August 17 both LAGAN VIKING and MERSEY VIKING were noted at Brocklebank / Langton

MERSEY VIKING was berthed at the West Langton berth for several hours with passengers and drivers on board while the LAGAN VIKING loaded at the terminal to operate a day time sailing [not scheduled on Fridays obviously a certain amount of catching up was in progress]. The LAGAN VIKING departed around noon. MERSEY VIKING then being assisted to the berth by a Howard Smith tug. 


MOONDANCE is expected to arrive on Merseyside on August 20 for maintenance and depart on August 28. Work will be carried out by North Western Ship Repairers. 


On August 14 The Mersey Docks and Harbour Company Announced Interim Results for the six months ended 30th June, 2001


  • Turnover up 23.7% to £125.1m (2000: £101.1m)

  • Profit before tax and goodwill amortisation rose 6.1% to £29.2m (2000: £27.5m)

  • Earnings per share increased 6.3% to 23.75p (2000: 22.34p)

  • Interim dividend of 6.5p per share declared (2000: 6.0p)

  • Ports Division reported strong growth in key cargo markets

  • Shipping Division returned to profitability

  • Continuing development of sound business platform in core businesses

Commenting on the results Mersey Docks' Chairman Gordon Waddell said: "Results for the first half of the year were satisfactory and the Group continues to make progress notwithstanding a backdrop of deteriorating market conditions.

"Mersey Docks' strategy is to invest for growth in its key cargo markets and we are confident that the developments achieved to date will contribute positively to the prospects for the Group's existing businesses."


This week it was discovered that the restored historic schooner KATHLEEN AND MAY is a tall ship which is just too tall!

The ships masts are 86ft whilst the Torridge Bridge under which the vessel has to pass is 78ft above high water. The vessel has been restored at the north Devon port of Bideford and is due to commence her maiden post restoration voyage to Youghal in County Cork on August 26. In her working days the ship sailed regularly between Bideford and Youghal.

The North Devon Journal reports that an urgent investigation has been undertaken in a bid to solve the bizarre problem which has left boat owner Steve Clarke to declare: "I can't believe it." 

Now a triangulation survey using special lights is proposed to make absolutely sure the measurements are correct. But so far all responses from experts have come up with one figure for the height of the bridge -– 78ft.

It was hoped to sail out to Ireland on the launch of the Bideford Water Festival on Sunday August 26, but now all plans have been put on hold until the ship building team can work out a solution.

Mr. Clarke said: "Everyone told us there was a 10ft clearance. I can't believe it. The masts are eight feet too tall. We can reduce that on a low tide, but we still can't get it below three feet."
Chopping the tops off is simply out of the question, as it would affect the balance of the boat out and look ridiculous, according to Mr Clarke.

Instead, a complicated operation is proposed to lower the top halves of the masts to allow the ship out under the bridge and then pull them back up when the ship has cleared the structure.
But this procedure could take up to two days.

In Ireland a ceremony will be held and a cheque for £10,000 presented to the restoration project from the Youghal town council.

The grandson of Captain Aherne, the last captain to sail her, will be travelling to Bideford from Amsterdam to be on the maiden voyage.



On August 14 Swansea Coastguard were contacted at 16:30. by the crew of the Barry Dock Lifeboat who informed them of 40 potentially stranded people on a local island. The crew of the chartered 12 metre LEWIS ALEXANDER, had contacted the lifeboat informing them that that they had broken down during the afternoon whilst in Barry Dock, and that they were unable to pick up the 40 people, who they had taken earlier to Flat Holmes Island in the Bristol Channel.

The passengers had been taken to the Island, a local nature reserve, during the late  morning by the now disabled vessel and were due to make the return journey during the afternoon.

The Barry Dock lifeboat immediately launched to pick up all passengers but will had to make two journeys to ensure everyone is brought off the Island.

James Instance, Watch Manager at Swansea Coastguard

" Fortunately, the weather today is very calm and clear with light south westerly winds, excellent visibility and blue skies. We understand that Cardiff County Council owns the chartered vessel the `LEWIS ALEXANDER’, and that the lifeboat will have to make at least two trips over a couple of hours to ensure everyone is brought ashore safely.

" No one is at any risk this afternoon and we are grateful to the crew of the lifeboat for responding so quickly to the call for help."


The Cornish ship management company Curnow Shipping is to close down. The company recently lost the UK Government contract for the operation of the RMS ST. HELENA liner service which operates between the UK - St. Helena - South Africa.

RMS ST HELENA has completed her last voyage for Curnow and is currently being refitted at A&P in Falmouth before taking up her first voyage for new operators Andrew Weir Shipping on August 28.

In a Lloyd's List report Curnow's managing director Simon Sugrue said: "Our office is up for sale and Curnow Shipping will gradually disappear.  "Unfortunately, as a company we had no significant business apart from managing the St Helena contract. We made the decision to call it a day.

 "There will be handful of redundancies out of the 126 people we employ. Many are transferring to the new management company."
 Sixtyone-year-old Mr Sugrue said that it was disappointing that the company was closing. "I would rather it hadn't happened this way," he said. He now intends to retire from shipping business.

 The Serious Fraud Office raided Curnow Shipping in May and took away boxes containing files and documents and their investigations are said to be continuing.

 G C Fox and Co, the long established shipping agency acquired by Curnow Shipping two years ago, is in the process of changing hands.  


Despite the belief put about by the local press that a sale decision on the Birkenhead and Tyneside yard  would not be made until the coming week it was announced late on the afternoon of Friday August 17 that the Cammell Laird yards had been sold to the A&P Group for a rumoured £10 million.

Union fears that a sale to A&P, which emerged as a late bidder last week against two management buy out bids, would mean the closure of the yard appear to have been well founded.

David Ring, chief executive of A&P, said that he did not have enough contracts to fill the two yards he already owns, let alone enough to re-open Cammell's Birkenhead, Teesside and Hebburn yards.

Cammell was bought for about £9 million with finance from Royal Bank Private Equity, the venture capital arm of Royal Bank of Scotland that owns 85 per cent of A&P. The yards were not bought as going concerns, meaning the remaining 250 staff will be made redundant.

"We do not have a goal for re-employment at any of the yards," Mr Ring said. "We cannot promise that the yards will open up again." He added that the yards will only be opened if there is a significant increase in demand, an unlikely prospect since ship repair orders have been in decline in the UK for the past five years.

Last year A&P made a loss of about £2 million, Mr Ring said. At its peak the company employed about 1, 800 workers, but that number has shrunk by half.

The company hopes to rent out the Cammell yards to other smaller companies to perform marine-related industrial work, but no contracts have yet been secured.

The admissions by A&P confirmed fears voiced by the AEEU engineering union, which last week wrote to Patricia Hewitt, the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, demanding that she intervene to stop the sale to A&P.

Mr Ring defended the acquisition, however. "We believe our bid is the best option for maintaining a long-term ship repair capability in the UK where possible, for attracting new work. This deal will make A&P a much stronger player in the world market."

Mike Morgan, Cammell Laird director, described the decision to sell the yard to A&P as "disappointing". He said he would have preferred the yard to have been sold to the management buyout team led by John Syvret, a former apprentice-turned-managing director. "Now it looks as though the yards will just close," he added.

The decision to sell to A&P has caused an outcry on Merseyside. There have been calls for the deal to be referred for a Monopolies and Mergers investigation. Birkenhead MP Frank Field is reported to have spoken to trade and industry minister Brian Wilson to investigate if a referral is possible.

JHL's COMMENT: For the record it is interesting to note that the Royal Bank of Scotland, Cammell Laird's bankers just happen to own 85% of A&P Group! 

Obviously much advantage has been taken of the present situation with no regard to the socio-economic impact on areas surrounding the yards. 

It is also rather strange that A&P should be claiming there is a lack of work, when the recently resurrected Wright and Beyers yard - now NorthWestern Ship Repairers - once part of the Cammell Laird group and operated by a team led by John Syvret appears to be quite busy.

August 12



An error crept into last Sunday's update - I inserted the incorrect hyperlinks to the pictures of R SEVEN at Cóbh. The link I inserted just took people to the already posted pictures of R SEVEN on Merseyside. Sorry about that. I have flagged the Cóbh pictures which are now accessible as a new update for this week


Please note that the news bulletin was updated on Wednesday August 8. Wednesday's update is below this update. The next scheduled update is Sunday August 19 around 09:00. 

Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Justin Merrigan - Incat, Nick Parkes, Ken Fletcher and "others"


The next meeting of the Merseyside Branch will take place in the function room at Sam's Bar, Tithebarn Street, Liverpool on Tuesday August 14 at 19:00. 

Phil Welsh and John Luxton will be presenting a slide show "From Packet to Container" 

Visitors are welcome.

SEA CONTAINERS / Isle of Man Steam Packet Company

RAPIDE - appears to have had problems keeping to time on Thursday due to a combination of heavy loadings increasing turn round times and engine trouble. On Thursday August 9 RAPIDE experienced engine trouble on the return from Dublin. One engine was shut down for a short while. It was thought that the problem could have been due to an intake blockage. This resulted in the vessel being turned and run astern for a short distance between Lynas and Great Orme's Head. Arrival at Liverpool was around 17:25. Though most of the delay was attributable to a late [13:15] departure from Dublin.

On Wednesday August 8 the 18:15 departure from Liverpool was 40 minutes late arriving at Douglas at 21:15. Departure from Douglas was delayed until 22:03 with arrival at Prince's Landing Stage at 00:25.

PICASSO - Recorded name for new owners Aegean Carriers is MARINO as recorded by  Det. Norske Veritas. 


SEA CONTAINERS LTD. announced their second quarter results for 2001 this week indicating that the company was likely to have a satisfactory earnings year in 2001" despite the effect of foot and mouth disease on ferry travel and lower world trade.

For the quarter ending June 30, 2001 net earnings were $6.2 million ($0.33 per common share diluted) on revenue of $326 million. For the six months net earnings were $7.1 million ($0.38 per common share diluted) on revenue of $618 million.

Mr. James B. Sherwood, President, said that two factors were mainly responsible for the lower second quarter results. First and foremost has been the slide in world trade which has resulted in operating profits from container operations declining by $6 million from the prior year second quarter and by $7.8 million in the six months. Second, the foot and mouth epidemic in the United Kingdom. This caused the Isle of Man government to cancel the motorcycle races in June, the government of the Republic of Ireland to seek through extensive advertising to deter travel to Britain and there has been a decline in inbound visitors from continental Europe to the UK. Press publicity has incorrectly implied that many tourist attractions in Britain are closed because of the epidemic.

Mr. Sherwood said that no end was yet in sight for the decline in world trade. One of the largest container carriers has reported a volume decrease of 5% in 2001 on Europe/Asia compared with 2000 while an 8% increase had been budgeted. Freight rates have collapsed on Europe/Asia to 50% of 2000 levels and most carriers on that route are believed to be operating at a loss.

Mr. Sherwood said that the foot and mouth disease epidemic was now receding but the disease had not yet been eradicated. He expected the problem to have passed by year end so 2002’s revenues should be unaffected. He said the impact of the foot and mouth crisis on Passenger Transport Division earnings in 2001 could be as much as $15 million in lost operating income. "We had expected improved earnings from this division to more than compensate for weak container earnings, but have been let down by the effects of this epidemic", he added.

Mr. Sherwood said that at the request of analysts at the June 7, 2001 presentation in New York City it had been decided to change the format of earnings releases to make the numbers easier to interpret. In today’s release earnings of Silja Ltd., Rail (GNER), GE SeaCo SRL and Sea Containers’ pooled container fleet together with related container activities have been shown separately at the earnings before interest and tax level. Sea Containers’ 50% share of interest costs in the Silja and GE SeaCo companies has been included in "net finance costs" of Sea Containers. This presentation highlights that in the second quarter Silja’s operating income was up $352,000, Rail’s income was up $4 million, other passenger transport operations were down $2.7 million, leisure operations were down $1.1 million (but were higher at the net income level), GE SeaCo’s operating profits increased by $1.1 million but Sea Containers’ pooled containers and related container activities declined by $7.1 million. The Plantations, Property and Publishing Division increased operating profits by $291,000. Finance costs declined by $2.3 million due to lower interest rates on the group’s floating rate debt.

"This presentation shows that we have enjoyed improvement in Silja, rail, GE SeaCo, plantations, property and publishing and had lower interest costs but these positives have been overshadowed by the downturn in world trade and its effect on the leasing of pre-1998 purchased containers (most containers purchased from 1998 onwards have been bought by GE SeaCo), as well as the foot and mouth disease impact on UK ferry travel." He indicated that gains on asset sales had permitted the company to report higher net earnings for the six months compared with 2000.

Mr. Sherwood said that the company’s 63% owned subsidiary, Orient-Express Hotels Ltd., is filing today a registration statement with the SEC to permit sale of 5 million Class A common shares of Orient-Express Hotels owned by Sea Containers. Mr. Sherwood indicated that a large profit would likely arise in Sea Containers from the sale of these shares. Orient-Express Hotels earlier reported a 6% increase in net earnings for the second quarter and a 10% increase for the six months.

Mr. Sherwood said that the company’s intention to spin-off shares in Orient-Express Hotels is unchanged. One bondholder suit opposing the spin-off has been dismissed by the court and the plaintiffs have indicated an intention to appeal. The other suit has been assigned to the same judge who heard the first suit and the company has filed a motion to dismiss it as well. The timing of the spin-off will depend on sale of the 5 million shares, litigation which might bar the distribution such as an injunction, approval of the company’s lenders and the board being satisfied that the company can reasonably meet its future obligations. Mr. Sherwood said that the spin-off was unlikely to take place before the end of this year.

He concluded by saying "Sea Containers is likely to have a satisfactory earnings year in 2001 due largely to gains on asset sales. The problem is that insufficient profits are coming from containers and fast ferries because of factors beyond our control. We must wait for world trade to revive and the foot and mouth epidemic to pass. In the meantime we must build on our strengths, reduce costs and weed out unprofitable activities to achieve improved results."


Photographer Nick Parkes has launched a new web site which features pictures from his exhibition "A Tall Order" - Study of Life Aboard the STA STVAROS S NIARCHOS which is on display at the Williamson Art Gallery and Museum, Birkenhead until September 2.


PRINCE WILLIAM - The new STA Brig is due to make its first call on Merseyside in September. She is  to arrive at Birkenhead on around mid day on September 4.


On Saturday August 11, it was noted that the former Yugoslavian passenger vessel PRINCE ALBERT had been moved further north along the berth at West Langton Dock, Liverpool. She is now located very close to the now defunct Langton / Alexandra swing bridge.

Work appeared to be in progress on Saturday morning removing tyres from the vessel as well as some old domestic equipment which looked to be refrigerators.

Meanwhile the following entry was found on the Plymouth Shipbrokers web site by a correspondent:

Built 1955, Yugoslavia, used as cruise ship and converted to restaurant vessel 1987.           Construction:-  Steel.
Dimensions:-  LOA 187ft, Beam 30ft, Draft 11ft.
Tonnage:-  GRT 878.61    NRT 567
Propulsion Machinery:-  2 x MAN MGV 40/46
Generators:  3 x Diesel Generators, recently fitted, giving 380 Volt / 220 Volt.Navigation equipment.
Accommodation:-  Forward and aft for approximately 36 persons, numerous showers and toilets.  Large aft dining/dance area with featured domed ceiling. Facility/bar area with receptions off, with port and starboard dining areas.
Lying:  Liverpool                      Price: £220,000 (offers)


Work is currently being undertaken on the Battery Pier at Douglas. New sheet piles are being driven into the bed of the outer harbour, as work continues on renovating the battery pier in Douglas.  The job will take about a month. The pier will be closed during the period of work. However, work will be suspended to enable tankers to use the fuel berth.


The wreck of the Irish cable-guarding vessel stricken on rocks close to the Cornish port of  Mousehole is finally being cut up - after Penwith Council decided to take a direct role in its removal.

The remains of the DOLFYN are currently being removed for scrap in small sections to facilitate transportation. The work is being carried out by Cornish company Mojo Maritime on behalf of the council. Penwith council intends to begin recovery cost action against the owner of the 94-ft former trawler when the work has been completed

The council decided to act after concern grew over the safety of the remains of the vessel. The DOLFYN had grounded on November 29, 2000 following an engine failure when she had been running into Newlyn for supplies and minor repairs.


HMS TORBAY [S118]  Devonport submarine HMS Torbay's return to service from a major refit could be delayed after a problem was detected with her nuclear reactor. The Trafalgar-class attack boat has been out of action since early 1999 while DML engineers have carried out a comprehensive £120 million refit.

Work has now entered its final stages and she was due to undergo sea trials within the next few weeks, prior to resuming underwater patrols . But engineers discovered a problem while working on an undisclosed part of her nuclear reactor – and are holding talks with Rolls Royce who designed and built the unit.

The new problem has emerged less than three months after a line was drawn under the saga involving HMS TIRELESS [S117], Torbay's sister boat, which remained in Gibraltar for a year while a leak in her reactor cooling system was fixed. The TIRELESS defect led to the entire fleet of attack submarines being recalled last October and, on inspection, just one of the 12-strong fleet was deemed fit to return to duty. Slowly but surely, the fleet is now returning to strength. Three of the seven boats which make up the Devonport-based Second Submarine Squadron are fully operational. The remaining boats are all undergoing maintenance – HMS TRENCHANT [S91] is reported to be half way through a two-year refit, TURBULENT [S110]is having her weapons upgraded, and TALENT [S92] is having her reactor defect repaired. When HMS TORBAY returns to service, she will be equipped with a new weapons package.


Press reports indicate that a decision is likely this week on which bid for the yard has been successful. There is suspicion surrounding a third bid from a group which is yet to reveal its identity.

Unions are concerned that A&P, Cammell Lairds rivals are being the third bid and might not be committed to the Birkenhead site. 

The other two bids are from groups led by former Cammell Laird management.

August 8


Welcome to this mid week update. Due to the pressure of other commitments it is rather smaller than planned. Hopefully I should be able to provide something more substantial this week end. 

John H. Luxton, August 8, 2001.

Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, John Williamson and "others"


PICASSO - two M&ISS contributors have written explaining the apparent differences in the ship's new name - noted when she departed for a new home in Greece. MARINO  and MAPINO are both correct - one and same. On Greek flagged vessels the stern name and port registry uses Greek characters.  The Greek 'R' prints as a 'P' - the other letters are same in Italic - so 'MAPINO' on stern is correct as is 'MARINO' on the bow.


Mersey Ferries will be operating a cruise as part of the Sea Trek 2001 Celebrations to be held on Merseyside later this month. The  Tall Ships Fireworks Cruise - view the fireworks display and tall ships visiting Merseyside for the Sea Trek 2001 celebrations will depart from Seacombe at 21:15 and Pier Head at 21:30 on Monday August 20.

MOUNTWOOD  - A report in the Liverpool Daily Post has revealed that Merseytravel has lost around £400,000 as a consequence of the collapse of the Cammell Laird group.

Merseytravel had paid £700,000 in stage payments to Cammell Laird subsidiary Wright and Beyer to undertake rebuild work on the vessel which has been in Clarence Dry Dock, Liverpool since the early spring. 

However, when Cammell Laird called in the receivers only £300,000 worth of work had been completed. 

Merseytravel may have to make budget cuts to complete the £2.5 million pound refit though the authority is reported to have its legal team exploring the possibilities of recovering money from the receivers.

As reported in M&ISS a few weeks ago, problems have been encountered in attempts to rename the vessel ROYAL IRIS as the name is still applied to the previous ROYAL IRIS, currently laid up in deteriorating condition on the Thames. According to the Daily Post the alternative name will be ROYAL IRIS OF THE MERSEY. 

The new name will be something of a mouthful, obviously in everyday use one imagines that it will be shortened to ROYAL IRIS - but one must ask from an enthusiast's point of view - why not just leave the vessel's name alone? Nothing will quite compare to the futuristic lines of the previous ROYAL IRIS.


It is reported in the north Devon press that the Lundy ferry the OLDENBURG has been roped into a mooring row in Ilfracombe harbour.

A district council-commissioned report shows the boat has been breaking harbour bye-laws by blocking other boats' access to landings. Local harbour users are angry that the district council has allowed the dispute to progress so far.

John Barbeary, who runs fishing vessel and passenger boat, the QUEEN OF CORNWALL , said: "If the district council had consulted with the harbour users before they decided to put the OLDENBURG there, this could all have been avoided."

The problems began when the new harbour was sufficiently completed to allow the OLDENBURG and other boats to begin operations for the summer. But a row soon broke out because other boats could not use landing stages when the 120ft OLDENBURG was taking up all the space. To resolve the row, North Devon District Council commissioned harbour experts Marico Marine to produce a report.

That report was received by the council at least two weeks ago, but was only released this week, confirming fears expressed by harbour users that district council bye laws were being broken in allowing the OLDENBURG to remain moored alongside the Old Pier Head.

Paul Roberts, general manager of the Lundy Company, said: "There were two areas in which there were concerns in regard to bye laws and we have addressed those two issues.

"We have responded to the people who wrote the report and have put a new operational procedure in place, so we are now not infringing the bye laws." The concerns relate to the tying up and securing of the ferry as well as the manning of the boat to allow access for other vessels to the landing stages.

The report stated: " OLDENBURG infringes Bye Law 13 by not sufficiently tending to its moorings with due consideration of the rise and fall of the tides.

"We also understand that when the vessel is laying by, there are insufficient crew on board to immediately mobilise the vessel to move along the pier to facilitate other vessels to berth."
The report added: "The recognised landing areas are a harbour amenity and should be reasonably available to whoever wishes to use them. Our survey has determined that this is not the case."
Mr. Roberts recognised the concerns, and said: "The moorings will now be kept tight at all times. And we have a manning policy so whenever we are moored at landings one or two, we will move away from the pier and then just move back when other boats need to land. They can also tie alongside us and disembark across the OLDENBURG deck."

The whole episode has angered harbour users however, who feel the row could have been avoided if they were consulted earlier on. Mr. Barbeary said: "Ilfracombe is a small tidal working harbour and a vessel of the OLDENBURG's size will cause problems, and this would have been pointed out to them at the time.

"The vessel is interfering with the day to day running of the harbour and breaking the bye laws. But she could operate in exactly the same way as she has over the last 12 years, without any problems.
"Rate payers did not need to spend all of this money on a report, and I hope the council will now keep their word and act on the recommendations, which is all we have asked from the start."
North Devon District Council was accused of giving the OLDENBURG preferential treatment. But Steve Wells, the council officer responsible for the harbour, said: "It was not our intention to treat anyone different. We are not trying to give her preference, but it does take a bit of space for her to berth.

"No one has sole use of the harbour and everyone has to work together to make sure it works. The district council is trying to encourage activity in the harbour and Ilfracombe."
Mr. Wells also denied claims that the OLDENBURG was allowed to remain moored while breaking bye laws, even though the report has been in district council's hands for at least two weeks.
Further meetings to discuss the issue were held with maritime experts yesterday and the report and further possible solutions will be discussed with Ilfracombe Area Committee next we


The Falmouth based  Cornwall Maritime Museum in Falmouth will close at the end of this summer. The majority of items in the museum's collection will be integrated into the National Maritime Museum Cornwall 

The museum has been run entirely by volunteers for the past 20 years providing interesting and historical displays for residents and visitors.

It is due to the museum's involvement that Falmouth's new international attraction, due to open next June, has been developed. An initial application for support from the Heritage Lottery Fund led to the joint venture with the National Maritime Museum Greenwich to provide a waterside home for the National Small Boat Collection in Cornwall.

Captain George Hogg, curator of the Cornwall Maritime Museum and the new Cornwall Galleries, has been a driving force throughout the project. He said: "We are taking the very best from the existing museum and developing the stories further. It is impossible for me to select a favourite artefact, however, a fine working model of a steam launch certainly ranks highly in my book. It will form part of an important collection of models which will be available for study when the new museum is open next year."

The Cornwall Maritime Museum is currently open Monday to Friday, between 10am and 4pm, and on Saturday between 10am and 1pm.


HMS LINDISFARNE [P300] - The captain of a French fishing trawler brought into Plymouth by the Royal Navy under suspicion of fishing offences appeared before city magistrates earlier this week.

The ETOILE DU DESTINE was intercepted by Portsmouth-based HMS LINDISFARNE while on patrol in the Western Approaches, 20 miles from Plymouth, on Monday afternoon.

Officials from the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) carried out an investigation into the hours in the log book before bringing charges against the Normandy registered trawler.

The vessel and it's crew were brought to Sutton Harbour, and on Tuesday the ship's master Jean Paul Caillouey, 54, appeared before Plymouth magistrates.

He pleaded guilty to failing to record the quantity of fish species retained on board, and to failing to supply a safe boarding ladder. Magistrates heard that when Royal Navy officers went to board the trawler they saw that the ladder was unsafe because it didn't have a required spreader board.

One officer boarded the vessel and saw the master attempting to fill in a log book as he approached him, said Ali Raffati, prosecuting for DEFRA.

In mitigation, Nick Lewin said that the ship's master filled in his own record every few hours and then, every 24 hours, filled in an official log. He said: "He failed to transpose his record to the official record.'' He said the matter of the unsafe ladder would be corrected by the French fishing company his client worked for. Magistrates fined Caillouey £400.


The Irish Times reports that the Irish Maritime Development Office (IMDO) is to press the Minister for Finance, Mr McCreevy, to introduce a new tonnage tax system for shipping in his next budget, due to be unveiled in December.

The Minister rejected a similar proposal from the IMDO last year, but observers believe that a refined submission will have a greater chance of success this year.

The European Commission has been a proponent of tonnage tax for a number of years.

The proposed system, supported by the Minister for the Marine and Natural Resources as well as by various shipping industry groups, would allow shipping companies to be taxed on profits calculated by referring to the tonnage size of a fleet as opposed to actual profits or gains from the trade, as is the norm for corporation tax purposes.

One of the advantages of tonnage tax is that the taxable profits can be predicted (given that the tonnage of a ship does not change) so a tonnage tax company can budget for its tax liabilities with a large degree of certainty.

This is seen as an attractive option for many shipping companies, including Irish Continental.

According to an IMDO spokesman, a tonnage tax system is "almost imperative" if the Republic's shipping register is to be maintained at anything approaching healthy levels.

The Irish fleet has been dwindling in recent years and now numbers less than 50 seaworthy vessels.

The spokesman said that the transparency of a tonnage regime would help to preserve that fleet, and may even help to attract additional registrations from non-EU countries.

Ancillary shipping services would also be boosted, he explained.

Nine out of the 15 EU member states currently have tonnage regimes in place.


Today accountancy firm PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC) revealed it has received a second management buyout bid for the UK shipyard assets of struggling shipbuilder Cammell Laird.

The company has already received a separate management buyout bid led by Dave Gillam.

The second bid, is lead by former executives John Syvret and Brett Martin, and is for the Birkenhead and Tyneside yards, a spokesman for the team said. On Wednesday evening August 8, Radio Merseyside revealed that a third bid, from an as yet unknown party has been received. There is some speculation that this may be from A&P. 

Unions are reported to be pressing receivers to choose a successful bidder sooner rather than later.

 August 4


I have now returned from Cóbh with more material for M&ISS. The first instalment of which appears in this edition - check "What's New" for details.

Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, John Shepherd, Justin Merrigan - Incat and "others"

SEA CONTAINERS / Isle of Man Steam Packet Company

RAPIDE was noted as arriving late at Douglas most days during the past week. On Thursday the evening sailing for Liverpool did not get away until 22:00 and on Friday departure was not until 22:15. High passenger loadings appear to be to blame which effects the turn round time


Liberal Democrat MP for Argyll and Bute, Alan Reid,  met George Foulkes, Under Secretary of State for Scotland this week, to discuss the prospects of re-instating the ferry service from Campbeltown to Ballycastle.

Speaking after the meeting Alan Reid said, " I emphasised to the Minister that Kintyre has high levels of unemployment, and that an all-year-round ferry service is a very important element in the strategy to revive the local economy.

"If all goes according to plan, we will have a ferry service up and running by next Spring. Unlike the last attempt to run the service, this time the Scotland Office intend to impose tight rules on the operators, which will compel them to run a regular, reliable service.

"The Scotland Office has received expressions of interest in the service from three shipping companies. They are currently evaluating these expressions of interest. They are also considering three options - a 6, 9 or 11 months a year service. If it goes ahead the initial contract would be for a five-year period. The service would then be reviewed.

"The Scotland Office has also commissioned a study into the benefits that the ferry service would bring to both Scotland and Northern Ireland. This study will be completed by the end of August. The Scotland Office hopes to proceed according to the following timetable.

"In the middle of September, the Scotland Office, the Scottish Executive and the Northern Ireland Executive will meet to decide whether or not to go forward to the next stage - issuing formal tender documents. If they decide to go forward, draft tender documents will be issued for consultation, before formal tender documents are issued in mid-October.

"The winner of the contract will be the company which submits the bid which offers to run the service for the lowest subsidy, while meeting the specifications in the tender. The Scotland Office hopes to appoint the successful company in January and start the service next Spring."

Alan Reid concluded by saying: "Having spoken to the Under-Secretary of State, I shall now write to Scottish Executive Ministers also, to emphasise to them the importance of his ferry to the Kintyre economy, and urging them to pay their share of the subsidy required. I shall also urge them to go for the 11-month option."


The small passenger vessel which was brought to Whitehaven in 1999 with a view to establish a passenger service between Whitehaven and Douglas remains laid up at Whitehaven and was reported on local TV news recently as having been vandalised to the  point where she is unseaworthy. The vessel only made one trial crossing before the venture collapsed in a dispute between the Greek owners and local charterer.


The MD&HC subsidiary Marine Terminals Limited, operator of the Republic of Ireland’s major container terminal, Marine Terminals Limited (MTL), have unveiled details of their IR£17 million investment in the Dublin Port facility

A computer generated image reveals a sophisticated container terminal on the south bank of the Liffey, encompassing 15.5 hectares with a 700 metre long quay, served by a forest of ship-to-shore and stacking area gantry cranes.

Expansion of the existing terminal to take in an adjoining facility will treble container storage capacity from 2000 teus (Twenty Foot Equivalent Units) to 6,500 teus.

MTL will discharge and load ships with five gantry cranes, 2 capable of lifting 40 tonnes, 1 of 32 tonnes capacity and two of 30 tonnes – all built by manufacturer Liebherr which has an Irish production plant in Killarney, County Kerry. 

Another 4 new 40 tonne capacity rail mounted gantries will service the container stacking area, moving boxes to and from the quayside and inland haulage transport.

The terminal will have 260 reefer points for refrigerated boxes.

The development programme, which is expected to be completed by June 2002, will increase the length of quay offering a depth of 10.2 metres at lowest overall tide, from 400 metres to 570 metres. Another 130 metres of berthing space will offer a minimum depth of 8.5 metres.

John Forrester, Managing Director of Marine Terminals Limited which was acquired by the Liverpool based Mersey Docks Group last year, said the rebuilding programme would shift the Republic’s most important container handling facility into top gear.

"MTL is already the most significant container terminal in Southern Ireland and this substantial investment by Mersey Docks will greatly enhance its future potential," he said.

Shipping lines currently calling at the terminal include Seawheel and BG Freightline.

"But with the greater efficiencies offered by restructuring the working arrangements and re-equipping the terminal, we will be looking to substantially enhance the business handled," added Mr Forrester.

MTL will offer ships a round-the-clock service other than Saturday and Sunday nights. The terminal will be open to road transport 07.00 hrs to 19.00 hrs, seven days a week.

MTL was acquired by Mersey Docks – Britain’s second largest port group – in July, 2000, as part of the Irish based logistics and port services group Imari Limited.


The Dún Laoghaire Harbour Company plans to restore the Victoria Fountain during 2002. 

The ornate cast iron drinking fountain which stands by the entrance to the port area was virtually destroyed by vandals in 1981. It was erected to commemorate a visit to Kingstown by Queen Victoria. 



On August 3 it emerged that a second bid has emerged from former employee Following the buy-out plan put forward by ex-MD John Syvret and ex-group deputy CEO Brett Martin, the new proposal has been proposed by former managers Dave Gillam and Steve

According to local sources the aim was to buy the business as a going concern that would provide job security for the remaining 250 employees.

Receivers PricewaterhouseCoopers warned, however, that the move had come too late to prevent the mothballing of the Birkenhead yard on August 6 with the loss of all jobs. 

Fairplay reports that it is  believed there are now six bids for some of all of Cammell Laird’s yards. John Syvret and Brett Martin are bidding for facilities in Birkenhead and Hebburn and said they have the backing of an investment company. Dave Gillam and Steve Brookfield are being advised by a corporate finance partner at Ernst & Young and have the backing of Mersey Docks and Harbour Co, the Department of Trade and Industry and Lloyds TSB bank.


Fairplay reported this week that workers at the  French repair yard CMR (Compagnie Marseillaise de Reparation), which last week called in receiver  demonstrated Marseilles blocking the port entrance in a call for government help. 

CMR, which until last week was under the control of the Cammell Laird, was yesterday granted six months in which to re-organise its activities, after which, if no take-over plan is approved, it will be forced into liquidation.

The receivers will evaluate CMR and its development prospects between now and October 1, while a commercial team will re-open commercial contacts with former CMR clients. Patrick Castello, CGT union leader at CMR, said: “Obviously we are satisfied with the Tribunal decision on a six months’ grace period, but on the other hand we have very little time to re-build an industrial project for the company. The government has to realise this and find appropriate measures to assist us.” Several take-over proposals have been made for CMR, but no firm offers.


Visit for Transport, Industrial Heritage & Regional Digital Photographs and Growing Online 35mm Archive

Irish Sea Shipping - What's New July 2008Irish Sea Shipping - What's New August 2009Back Home Up Next 

Irish Sea Shipping © John H. Luxton 1995-2018. Content © John H. Luxton and Contributors