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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


  MARCH 2002



Please note that I will be away from March 24 to 31 inclusive and there will be no email replies until late March 31 or April 1. I will also be away April 3 through to the evening of April 5. If you need to contact me during this period please telephone 07973-363370. Please do not phone the landline numbers as messages will have to be relayed sometimes lose their meaning when passed on. Alternatively you may send a SMS Text messages to my mobile phone on 07973 363370. I had hoped to get email working on the Psion Revo which I now carry on my trips but there appears to be some problem achieving this at present.

John H. Luxton, March 23, 2002

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: Gary Andrews, Ian Collard, Michael Pryce, Edwin Wilmshurst and "others".


Tony Brennan's web site Around Dublin Port now has a new URL - please update your favourites directory


Edwin Wilmshurst advises that some call dates for the ENDEAVOUR have now changed. The new dates for Dartmouth are May 2,18 June 3,19.only.

SEA CONTAINERS \ Isle of Man Steam Packet Company

SEACAT SCOTLAND arrived on Merseyside on Friday March 22, entering the Liverpool Docks via Langton River Entrance around 15:35. She turned to face south and berthed West Langton. Sea Co's lay-over berth for fast craft. On Saturday morning she proceeded to Canada Dry Dock around 09:45.

SEACAT ISLE OF MAN departed from Merseyside following completion of her refit by North Western Ship Repairers at Canada Dry Dock on Thursday and sailed to Douglas. By Friday she was in Belfast to release SEACAT SCOTLAND. Presumably work on SeaCat Scotland will be completed by later next week to allow SEACAT ISLE OF MAN to return to Douglas to take up her sailings which commence with a day trip to Dublin next Thursday. It is reported that SCIOM had a rather slow start on the Belfast to Troon route on Friday Match 22.  It being after midnight before the last sailing from Troon returned to Belfast on Friday night.  The delay appears to be due to her rushed entry into service following dry docking.


On March 22, 2002. Sea Containers Ltd. today announced its results for the quarter and year ended December 31, 2001. Net losses for the quarter were $9.1 million ($0.49 per common share) on revenue of $296 million, compared with net losses in the fourth quarter of 2000 of $15.8 million ($0.85 per common share) on revenue of $306 million. This improvement of $6.7 million ($0.36 per common share) was accomplished despite leisure earnings net of minority interest being $5.6 million less primarily due to the effects of the September 11th terrorist attack. Strong fourth quarter performance from the company’s ferry operations, particularly the Silja and Isle of Man Steam Packet subsidiaries, as well as a $3 million improvement in container leasing earnings after interest expense, contributed to the better results.

For the year 2001 net earnings were $4.5 million ($0.24 per common share) on revenue of $1.3 billion, compared with net earnings of $44.9 million ($2.42 per common share) on revenue of $1.4 billion in 2000.

Mr. James B. Sherwood, President, said that the year 2001 was especially difficult for the company because of events which were beyond its control but, fortunately, were of a non-recurring nature. He said the year started with the U.K. rail network in chaos because of speed restrictions imposed by the infrastructure provider, Railtrack. This was followed by the Selby rail disaster on February 28th, then came the foot and mouth disease epidemic which caused a large reduction in tourist travel to and within the British Isles. The cancellation of the summer motorbike racing season in the Isle of Man when the farmers refused to allow their land to be used by visitors, was especially costly. This was followed by September 11th which greatly reduced earnings of the company’s Orient-Express Hotels Ltd. subsidiary in the third and fourth quarters. Mr. Sherwood said that had these events not occurred and the company had achieved its budget for the year its earnings would have been at least $2.50 per common share higher.

He went on to say that there has been a significant improvement in the company’s results starting with the fourth quarter of 2001. He cited Silja’s fourth quarter increase in operating profits from $3.8 million in 2000 to $7.6 million in 2001, in part due to the long-awaited net wages legislation having been passed by Sweden and Finland, but also due to increased carryings and revenue. The company’s fast ferry services in the Irish Sea, English Channel and New York City showed a significant improvement as well. Only earnings from rail lagged in the leisure traveller sector of the market, due in part to the bankruptcy of the infrastructure provider and a massive consequent attack on the U.K. railway system by the media.

"Of particular interest is the improvement in container leasing profits after finance costs, which were $3 million better than in the fourth quarter of 2000," Mr. Sherwood said. "Although lease rates traditionally decline in step with lower interest rates, operating profits have declined less than have interest costs. The first quarter is the worst period of the year, yet demand for leased containers has been higher in 2002’s first quarter than in 2001’s, and inventory levels in Asia, the main driver region for container leasing, are at the lowest level for some time. There is considerable evidence that inventory levels of Asian produced goods are very low in North America and Europe and this may herald a period of increased demand in Asia for GE SeaCo’s container fleet."

"Orient-Express Hotels turned in a splendid performance relative to its competitors. Despite September 11th net income for 2001 was $30 million, down only 25%. Fourth quarter results were ahead of "Street" forecasts and the company has announced three important hotel acquisitions at very favourable prices since the beginning of 2002. The company has very little exposure in Moslem countries which are being shunned by tourists. Its European Venice Simplon-Orient-Express three tourist trains currently have booking levels above those of 2001 at this time. Devaluations in South Africa, Brazil and Australia have reduced U.S. dollar profits on translation but the economies in all three countries are doing well and the company’s hotel properties are being well supported by the public. We think 2002 will prove to be a satisfactory year for Orient-Express Hotels."

 Mr. Sherwood said the company still plans to sell 5 million Orient-Express Hotels common shares and discussions are being held with long term investors to this end. He also reaffirmed that it was the company’s intention to spin off to the Sea Containers shareholders as many of Orient-Express Hotels’ common shares as practical but he felt this could only be accomplished on the back of a strong earnings year which would demonstrate to the company’s creditors that its obligations post spin-off would be met without difficulty. The bondholder suits which had been asserted against the company to stop the spin-off have been struck down by the court so there is currently no judicial impediment to a spin-off.

Mr. Sherwood reported that GNER’s claim against Railtrack had been aided by a determination by an arbitration panel that a "Network Change" had occurred. GNER feels it has prudently reserved against this claim in its accounts.

Mr. Sherwood said that GNER’s rail franchise had been extended by two years to April, 2005 and discussions had started on a further extension which would allow it to order new trains immediately.

He said that a number of changes were taking place in the company’s ferry business which should improve 2002 and future years’ results. Among these are the acquisition of a much larger fast ferry for the SNAV-Hoverspeed Adriatic ferry service, the recent introduction of a new large fast ferry into SeaStreak, the New York City ferry service, the purchase of m.v. Oresund for reconstruction and long term charter to Silja, giving Silja an important increase in freight capacity on its Turku/Stockholm route, the start this summer of pure cruise ship operations by Silja with m.v. Silja Opera, offering short cruises from Helsinki to Tallinn and Visby in the summer and from Stockholm to St. Petersburg and Riga in the autumn and spring, the start of a new cargo ship service by Silja later in the year and a further development in the Baltic which cannot be disclosed for the moment.

He indicated that Sea Containers was likely to increase its shareholding in Silja upon the exercise of a "put" on April 20, 2002 by certain shareholders representing 26% of Silja’s shares.

Mr. Sherwood said that he expected GE SeaCo and/or Sea Containers to purchase at least $100 million of new marine containers in 2002. He said that Sea Containers’ proprietary "SeaCell" two palletwide container was gaining increased acceptance in the market and both royalty sales and leases should increase significantly in the future.

He indicated that the company had now retired $31 million of its public debt falling due in mid 2003 and end 2004 but since the debt is now trading in the mid 90s, i.e. closer to par, it is increasingly less attractive to buy it in.

He concluded by saying "it seems most unusual to me that the market capitalization of the shares owned by Sea Containers in Orient-Express Hotels is greater than the market capitalization of Sea Containers itself, giving negative value to Sea Containers ex Orient-Express Hotels. We think investors should consider carefully values in Silja, the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company, fast ferry operations, GNER, the largest marine container leasing business in the world together with GE Capital Corporation, not to mention a thriving property business including the Corinth Canal in Greece and profitable farming interests in Africa and Brazil."


ROYAL IRIS OF THE MERSEY - the former MOUNTWOOD was renamed ROYAL IRIS OF THE MERSEY by Mark Dowd, chairman of Merseytravel this week. The vessel has been out of service for over a year as her major refit was delayed following the collapse of Cammell Laird during 2001. Local press adverts feature the River Discovery Cruises which are due to commence this Easter and feature a revised triangular route which will run out as far as New Brighton. The revised route is bound to provide enhanced photographic vantage opportunities for shipping enthusiasts who wish to photograph vessels on the river.


LÉ NIAMH - you can follow the vessels voyage to the far east by visiting the Óglaigh Na hÉireann web site and clicking on the LÉ NIAMH's diary. 


Douglas Harbour - February Harbour Traffic Figures

Passenger figures compiled by the Harbours Division for February 2002 at 19,216 show a 2.4% decrease on the figure for the same period in 2001 which was 19,685.

The year to date figure at 37,299 passengers shows a 3.6% increase over the same period in 2001 which was 35,990.

During February car and motorcycle traffic through Douglas Harbour decreased by 4.3% from 6,382 vehicles to 6,110 vehicles.

The year to date figure at 11,918 vehicles shows a 2.2% increase over the same period in 2001 which was 11,659.

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


minus 9%






plus 9%





 Freight Traffic

February commercial vehicle metreage increased by 8.2% from 31,356 metres to 33,932 metres.


"The slight fall in passenger traffic is attributable to a reduction in the number of passenger sailings during the period the Ben My Chree was on biannual overhaul. Overall the figures are reasonable and still the second best ever February passenger figures.


The Manx Independent reported this week that a

JHL'S COMMENT: It is difficult to see how a new operator could compete with the Steam Packet given the recently renewed linkspan user agreement. Unless, or course,  the new operator could obtain a side loading vehicle ferry such as the Lady of Mann. These are not exactly common vessels! Alternatively the vessel would have to be foot passenger only with some lifting on/off of vehicles. A couple of years ago there was a proposal for a passenger only service from Whitehaven to Douglas, but that failed to materialise.

It is interesting to note that the operators Direct Ferries is in negotiation with  are only interested in providing a service during the "season". Winter operations are not on the agenda. Though unlikely, it should be borne in mind by those who favour introducing competition to the Isle of Man routes, that any short term gain from competition could seriously damage the present service. Sea Containers are committed to the route for the whole year. It would be wrong to allow an outsider in to steal the cat's summer cream.


The world's largest privately owned yacht arrived in the Devon port of Dartmouth this week.

LE GRAND BLEU, is a £150 million super yacht owned by American communications tycoon Craig McCaw, has been the centre of attraction since arriving in the River Dart last week.

The 360ft vessel, with her 30-strong crew, had been set for long weekend stop-over to break the voyage from Bergen in Norway to the Mediterranean.

But bad weather in the Bay of Biscay forced her skipper, Richard Kirkby from Babbacombe, to delay raising her anchor for two days. The luxury vessel comes complete with helicopter pad, a speed boat and a sailing yacht strapped to her decks.

The vessel, whose 52-year-old Washington-born billionaire owner is credited as the inventor of the cell-phone industry, is making her third visit to Dartmouth in three years


Schedules for all WAVERLEY and BALMORAL sailings, including the Irish Sea can now be accessed



A £3.85 million state-of-the-art plant for producing the prime ingredient used in snack foods, is to be built in the Port of Liverpool — the latest in a string of developments by companies in the port totalling more than £20 million.

The masa flour plant is to be built at Royal Seaforth Dock by Cargill Plc, a major world provider of agricultural and food products based in the United States, which has been operating in Liverpool for several decades.

The plant, on which construction work will start immediately with a completion target of Autumn this year, will be located alongside Cargill’s dry corn milling complex at Royal Seaforth.

It will provide European manufacturers of snack foods, particularly tortilla chips, with supplies of quality masa flour produced from European grown maize rather than crops grown in the United States.

General Manager of Cargill’s Royal Seaforth complex, Fred Mahoney, commented: "At present we import masa flour from Cargill in the United States, but with increasing EU demand, Cargill has decided to invest in our existing facility in the North West of England.

"Cargill will be able to offer customers the convenience of a UK supplier with the assurance of present US quality."

Mersey Docks and Harbour Company Chief Executive Peter Jones said: "We welcome this latest investment in the Port. Cargill have a well established track record of investment and successful operation in Liverpool. This latest commitment of nearly £4 million is but one of a series of significant investments customers are currently making in the Port of Liverpool."

The new masa flour plant will be environmentally friendly, utilising Cargill developed UK/US patented dry technology which produces a comparable if not superior product to traditional "wet" processes but without generating liquid waste.

The development project has been supported with a £500,000 regional selective assistance grant from the Department of Trade and Industry and with the assistance of South Sefton Regeneration Board, the North West Development Agency and Sefton Metropolitan Borough Council.

Alan Johnson, Minister for Employment Relations and the Regions, said: "I am delighted that the DTI has been able to support the project with an offer of a £500,000 RSA grant as part of the funding package that is enabling the project to go ahead in this country.

"The added efficiency created by the plant plus the spin-off jobs resulting from the construction phase, combine to make this excellent news for the local economy."


A new multi-million pound hub for the Northern Ireland operations of leading logistics provider, the Roadferry Group owned by the Mersey Docks and Harbour Company, is nearing completion in the Port of Belfast.

Roadferry, which pioneered roll-on roll-off Irish Sea shipments in the 1970s and is currently shipping more than 48,000 trailers a year, expects to move into its new warehousing and office complex of nearly 10,000 sq metres early in April.

The strategically located development at the entrance to the Port and close to major shipping terminals and motorways, has been undertaken by Belfast Harbour Commissioners for Roadferry to utilise on a long lease.

Once operational, the hub which will be staffed by a team of more than 40, will work around the clock responding to an expanding business which has outstripped Roadferry’s existing facilities in North Belfast and Portadown.

Nicola Walker, Roadferry’s Commercial Manager for Ireland and Scotland, said: "Moving into the new facility and maximising its commercial potential is an exciting prospect for Roadferry. After operating at full capacity for some considerable time, we are looking forward to having this high quality and centralised hub, encompassing all our operations in Northern Ireland.

"We have every confidence that the new Belfast warehouse will complement the existing facilities at Santry, North Dublin, in driving forward Roadferry’s standing among established and new blue chip clients."

Built on a six acre site only metres from the Port of Belfast’s Victoria roll-on roll-off and container terminals which serve key shipping routes to Liverpool and Heysham, the state-of-the-art warehouse will rise almost 14 metres to the eaves and will have 1,500 sq m of external canopy and 14 dock leveller loading bays.

Initially, approximately 2,140 sq m will accommodate high bay racking providing 6,000-plus pallet spaces. A large area of open space will be used for block storage and there will be a defined area for groupage sorting managed by Link Transport, the Group’s Northern Ireland distribution arm.


The Western Morning News reported this week that the grand opening of the National Maritime Museum Cornwall has been delayed for three months.

The decision to postpone the opening from late June until September will mean that the £21 million attraction, which is estimated to pull in 180,000 visitors a year and 30,000 in August alone, will miss a first, vital summer season.

It will also be a setback for staff who have been busy drumming up worldwide interest for the museum in Falmouth. A big push was made at the London Boat Show earlier this year, where Princess Anne was invited to visit the museum when complete.

But director Peter Cowling said that the postponement had to be done and that he was confident the museum could cope with the loss of hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of summer takings.

"We have always had a very robust business plan up our sleeve that can cope with this," he said.

"It is very disappointing that we have had to make this decision, not just for us but for all those people who were hoping to come and see us.

"That is why we are making the announcement now, so they have plenty of warning."

In an effort to cut losses and keep some of the people planning to visit this summer, museum staff plan to announce summer tours of the under-construction facility, similar to the pre-opening Eden Project tours.

Mr Cowling said that alarm bells about work not finishing on time had started ringing before the end of last year.

He said: "Since Christmas we have become increasingly concerned about the tight building programme.

"We have got 12 brand new galleries and a lot of what we are putting in is technology-based. One gallery will knock the spots off anything in the museum world. And we have to make sure everything is exactly right. So, after Christmas we instigated a thorough review and from the answers we got from that, we decided we had to delay the opening."

One of the reasons believed to be behind the delay is the shortage of skilled tradesmen available to fit out the building.

Mr Cowling said that the delay should not affect the planned visit of the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh, who are due to be shown the museum on May 1 to start her the Jubilee Tour of Britain.

Terry Vernon, museum chairman, said that trustees had not wanted to compromise quality with speed.

"With so much to play for there was no way we were going to cut any corners," he said. "An examination of timetables over recent weeks has made it clear that the only way contractors and developers could achieve the original opening date was to compromise on quality.

"That is something which we, as trustees of a top quality national museum, are not prepared to accept.

"The innovative design and architecture of the museum, including the unique tidal gallery where visitors will be able to view boats from below the waterline, is important to this project. It continues in the footprint of other superb new attractions in Cornwall such as the Eden Project and the Tate St Ives.

"When we are open fully it will be an outstanding building with exhibitions which will be the envy of the world."

It is expected that, in the summer, visitors will be allowed onto the museum site to see into the galleries, use the external walkways and view a selection from the national small boat collection.


RTÉ reported on Friday that Police divers have located the wreckage of the Kilkeel trawler, the Tullaghmurray Lass. The trawler went missing with the skipper, Michael Green, his son, and grandson on board five weeks ago. However, there is still no sign of the bodies of the crew.

Police say wreckage was found yesterday by the British fishery protection vessel, the KEN VICKERS. Police divers were sent to investigate the area at first light and found the remains of the vessel seven miles off the County Down coast and some 42 metres below the surface.

The Marine Accident Investigation Branch has been informed and it is expected to make further enquiries into the incident. It is believed the vessel had been badly damaged at the stern end.

The Irish Independent reports that detailed investigations are to be conducted by both the Department of the Marine and New Ross Port Company into the weekend grounding of an oil-tanker on the river Barrow.


A potentially serious threat to the environment was averted on March 9 when it was determined that none of the 25-tonnes of diesel contained within the wing tanks of the WHITHAVEN had escaped into the Barrow.

The 66-metre, 760-tonne tanker ran aground at Ferry Point, near Great Island, shortly after 01.30  as she made her way down river from the port of New Ross, having discharged her cargo.

The tanker was heading to sea, en route to Milford Haven in Wales, when she grounded on a rocky bank. The incident happened during reasonable weather conditions, just before high tide at a sharp left-hand bend in the river.

Five crew members as well as a pilot were taken from the tanker at around 07.30 after she developed a starboard list, but returned to the vessel some five hours later.

Throughout the weekend, detailed surveys of the Barrow were undertaken to assess the extent of any possible pollution threat. An initial surveillance by helicopter reported only a 'slight sheen on the river surface' consistent with water overflowing from the ship's bilge tanks.

Further examination fortunately showed no evidence that any of the diesel in the ship's wing tanks had escaped.

Having been successfully refloated, the WHITHAVEN is moored at a jetty near the Great Island Power Station, Campile. Divers from the Department of the Marine carried out an assessment of damage to the ship's underbelly on Monday.

Meanwhile, the incident will be the subject of an investigation by the Marine Survey Office of the Department of the Marine and Natural Resources. The matter is also being investigated by New Ross Port Company.


RTÉ's excellent weekly maritime programme Seascapes will be broadcasting a Titanic special on April 11 live from Cóbh, the Titanic's last port of call. Seacapes is broadcast on RTÉ 1 at 21:02 each Thursday and can be received at 567AM. Alternatively you can listen on the web or download a recording of the programme from company's web site. Cóbh is organising a weekend of Titanic memories to recall the events 90 years ago and Seascapes will broadcast live from the Cork Harbour town to mark the occasion, with a programme reporting the events and talking to those who remain so interested in the liner. The events will include a Parade of Sail through the harbour and the laying of a wreath at the anchorage in the harbour where the Titanic boarded the Irish passengers.


It is reported that RO-RO traffic through the port of Fleetwood increased strongly last year, with the port's principal customer, P&O, achieving growth of 10% in freight traffic.

P&O carried 140,000 freight units on its Fleetwood-Larne service and passenger numbers also increased, according to Callum Couper, ABP&'s port manager for Garston and Fleetwood.

"It is a very strong route. The growth is reflecting increased driver-accompanied traffic, more passengers and also new car distribution contracts," he said.

P&O European Ferries has a contract to carry cars for distribution in Northern Ireland.

Fishing is the other main activity at the port and the daily Fleetwood Fish Auction achieved a 20% increase in turnover last year, meeting a strong demand for fish supplies from local processors.

About GBP7m worth of fish was auctioned during the year with 40% of the fish sold landed at Fleetwood and the balance brought overland from mainly Scottish and Irish ports.

ABP also operates a 300-berth marina at Fleetwood and it is understood that plans are in hand for an expansion of the Fleetwood Harbour Village, a development which includes a factory shopping complex.

Meanwhile, on the Mersey the port of Garston handles an entirely different mix of cargo and achieved an increase of 6% in tonnages last year.

Hydro Agri's new distribution terminal came on-stream in November so made only a small contribution to results for 2001, although this operation is expected to boost volumes for 2002.

Last year total throughput at Garston reached about 600,000t, said Mr

The port has traditionally handled low-value bulk cargoes and these commodities continue although the overall strategy is one of diversification in order to attract more "added value" business.

"Last year saw the re-emergence of traffic such as aluminium and other metals and we also had a general improvement across the board, including animal feeds, wheat, steel and timber," said Mr Couper.

"We are working towards handling more specialised cargoes with added value. We see a lot of business moving around and we need to keep scanning to see if we can offer a transport option for some of these flows.

"We are always looking for coastwise movements that come in through the south coast and we are looking out for manufacturing process type activities that require water and rail connections and land on the dock estate."

The Garston Agribulk Store opened for Hydro Agri (UK) in November is a 3,600 sq m storage, bagging and distribution terminal accommodating bulk and bagged fertilisers. From here, Hydro Agri supplies fertilisers to the
farming areas of Lancashire and Cheshire.


On Friday March 22 the core companies of Tasmanian shipbuilder Incat were placed in receivership. National Australia Bank, the group's main creditor, appointed David McEvoy of
PricewaterhouseCoopers receiver of three Incat companies.

Mr. McEvoy said today NAB was owed less than $80 million. The Tasmanian Government has also loaned the company $30 million. Incat, which has not completed a sale for 15 months, won export awards as it sold its giant catamaran fast ferries around the world in the 1990s. At the height of its success Incat was Tasmania's biggest private sector employer with a workforce of more than 1000.

Without a sale for 15 months, however, its cash-flow problems have grown and its workforce has shrunk to about 400. Company founder and chairman Robert Clifford said he believed more ferries would be sold and the company would return to good times. The three companies in receivership cover the group's construction, marketing and ship-owning activities. Nine other companies, some of them
offshore, are unaffected. Incat is close to clinching a sale to Canada and Mr Clifford said his company needed only one more sale after that of one of its newer boats -- worth about $90 million each -- to clear debt. 

He said Incat's problems were partly cyclical, with few ferries having been sold by anyone in the past 12 months. Nor had it recovered from the collapse of an overseas deal about two years ago, leaving two vessels unsold.

Incat has 14 vessels for sale, although some are on charter and some are older and less valuable.
Mr Clifford said that he had recently talked to most of Incat's customers in Europe, where 22 of its ships are operating, and nearly all were planning on newer, bigger vessels in the near future. He had no doubt there would also be military orders from the United States, which has an Incat ship on charter for trials.
Mr Clifford said the captain's reports about the ship's performance were "unbelievably good".
He said the receivership would make no technical difference to its US prospects because the Americans would be dealing with Incat's two US companies. "Obviously, by association, it won't be good," he said. Mr Clifford said that while he did not want federal government money, Canberra could have done more to help.

"The government has a major role in showing the American government its faith in the business and to foster relations between the two governments on military work," he said. "They can do a tremendous amount in that area and I'm disappointed that they haven't followed through." Mr McEvoy said NAB would continue to fund Incat, which would remain responsible for day-to-day management. He said that given the group's assets, the level of debt was manageable and there would be no fire sale of ships. Tasmanian Premier Jim Bacon said he was extremely disappointed by NAB's decision to appoint a receiver. He said the government loan, the biggest made to a privately owned company, was fully secured but it would not be increased.

On Saturday March 23 it was reported that key players surrounding Incat remain confident of the company's future.

Incat chairman Bob Clifford, says he is still confident of getting more ship orders.

"There is no doubt that there are going to be a lot of military orders, I cannot tell you when, it is obviously up in the air," Mr Clifford said.

David McEvoy from PricewaterhouseCoopers says a range of options to get the company back on track will be explored.

"I am optimistic that we'll be able to effect a good outcome because the potential is there to realise those assets.

"There are no guarantees and we do have prospects to pursue," Mr McEvoy said.

The State Government says a $30 million loan given to the company is fully secured.

Tasmanian Senator Eric Abetz says $90 million of taxpayer funds in the form of ship bounty and programme assistance since 1989 is considerable support.

Senator Abetz says the Federal Government has also opened doors to the US and UK militaries.

He says the issue should be about support from the Federal Government but more about the actions of the State Government in helping the company.

"When you here that Incat says that all they have to do is sell one ship and receivers would be able to leave and you realise 14 days earlier the State Government had bought two ships from overseas you really do have to ask the question," Senator Abetz said.



Welcome to a short mid week update. The next update will be posted on Saturday evening.

Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Kevin Bennett, Justin Merrigan - Incat and "others".

SEA CONTAINERS \ Isle of Man Steam Packet Company

SEACAT ISLE OF MAN is due to return to the Isle of Man this week. The fully refurbished craft is anticipated to arrive in Douglas harbour on Thursday afternoon (2 1st March).

SEACAT ISLE OF MAN will commence her schedules with a day excursion to Dublin on Wednesday 27th March departing at 08:00 hrs and returning from Dublin at 17:45 hrs. Adult fare is just £21.00.

The craft will thereafter operate a daily service to Liverpool together with sailings to Belfast and Dublin through until October. Twice daily schedules to and from Liverpool in conjunction with SUPERSEACAT THREE commence from 28th' March.

Hamish Ross, Steam Packet Managing Director, said.. "SeaCat Isle of Man like all our vessels has undergone a major refurbishment programme and our passengers will I'm sure be, impressed with the craft, We're very pleased to welcome her back again to her homebase and the busy schedules that await her"

SeaCat Isle of Man will operate another popular "Round the Island' Cruise on Saturday 6th April departing Douglas at 14:00 hrs returning back at approximately 16:00 hrs. Passenger's fares are just £10.00. This day is also Manx Children in Need Day and the Company will donate a portion of the ticket receipts to the charity.


On Sunday movie makers were noted at work at East Float, Birkenhead  on the quayside besides the former Clan Line transit sheds and around the bulker RIO EXPRESS. 

A "fake" police car in the old style police "jam butty" traffic livery plus a van labeled "port authority" could be seen. Film unit notices pointed to LA Unit. I would be pleased to hear if anybody else has further information.

The Ships on Film and TV listing has once again been update, and  the opportunity has been taken to split the list between ships appearing in Motion Pictures and ships appearing in TV Dramas. The list will be extended to include naval vessels in the near future and relevant information would be welcome.


LE CIARA [P42] is listed at attending the Navy Days at Chatham Dockyard June 2 to 4, 2002.



It’s three in a row for Incat with the announcement the 86m Wave Piercing Catamaran Incat 045 will leave the Hobart shipyard in mid-April bound for service with Italian operator Tris. This latest contract follows hard on the heels of two deals finalised since January - the sale of a new 98m Evolution 10B craft to Canada’s Bay Ferries and the deployment of the 74m Condor 10 with the UK’s Condor Ferries.

Incat 045, trading as Winner, will enter service for Tris (Traghetti Isole Sarde) on the Genoa - Palau, Sardinia route. Well known as the former Royal Australian Navy craft HMAS Jervis Bay, Winner has a capacity for up to 900 persons and 200 cars and can travel at speeds of over 40 knots.

Sailing from mainland Italy at 8.45 am, arriving in Sardinia at 2.15 pm, Winner will return at 3 pm with an arrival in Genoa at 8.30 pm. On Mondays the vessel will call at Porto Vecchio, Corsica.

Tris is headed by Mr Nicola Parascandolo whose vision and foresight has brought this family concern from the cargo ship operation founded by his father in 1953 to the successful enterprise it is today. With a substantial fleet of nine ships, including Winner, Tris operates a network of busy routes from Genoa, Savona and La Spezia to Sardinia and Corsica.

Incat first established contact with Tris in 1997. Commercial Director Leith Thompson recalls "Mr Parascandolo was a guest onboard Incat 044 in Naples and having fully inspected the craft was most impressed with the high speed Wave Piercing Catamaran concept. Since then Tris and Incat maintained regular contact with each other and it is very pleasing that after four years of study Mr Parascandolo has elected the Incat product as being the most suitable for his requirements."

With the charter of Winner Tris is bringing a new way of thinking to ferry operations in
Italy where routes up to 200 nautical miles with fast craft can be very competitive compared with conventional medium speed tonnage currently operating 8+ hour crossings. In service Winner will save passengers between 3 and 5 hours per crossing compared against other services.


The use of Bollinger / Incat USA chartered 96 metre Joint Venture HSV-X1 by the United States military is an indicator of how the concept of high speed craft as a multi mission platform is rapidly being embraced by military forces around the world.

The High Speed Vessel Joint Venture will be under the watchful eye of Marine Corps operational commanders as they explore its potential operational and tactical roles for the first time during exercise Battle Griffin-02 in Norway March 7-14. The vessel and its crew, based at Naval Amphibious Base Little Creek in Norfolk, Va., left port Feb. 5 for Blount

Island, Fla., and Morehead City, N.C., and Rota, Spain, to embark troops and equipment before travelling to Norway.

Joint Venture, also known as HSV-X1, is a 313-foot, wave-piercing catamaran built by Incat Australia Pty, Ltd., the world's leading producer in high-speed passenger and vehicular vessels. Three of Incat's ships, which have the capability of travelling in excess of 40 knots in heavy seas and relatively shallow waters, have held records for the fastest crossing of the Atlantic Ocean.

It is the Navy's first high-speed vessel and has been operated and tested jointly by a Navy and Army crew since March 2001. The Navy modified the leased Australian commercial vessel, once used as a high-speed passenger and automobile ferry, with an advanced hull and propulsion technology capable of carrying about 350 fully-equipped Marines and more than 450-tons of light-armoured personnel carriers, trucks and equipment. In addition to its high speed, the HSV-X1 has roll-on/off ramp allowing quick and efficient load outs and equipping. It also has a flight deck that would be used as a sea-based medical platform and for other taskings received from the Marine Air-Ground Task Force commander, according to Maj. Lawrence Ryder, JHSV project manager.

Another feature the HSV has is a shallow draft along with a high-powered water jet propulsion system, which can give the HSV more flexibility and allow better manoeuvrability in ports larger ships do not have access to, said Ryder. This gives commanders more ground for unloading troops and equipment around the world. "With this kind of capability, we can run in and get out quickly," said Ryder.

Battle Griffin will give the Marine Corps a chance to explore for the first time, the employment of the HSV-X1 in an inter-theater deployment role and utility of the HSV technology during expeditionary manoeuvre warfare.

Commanders will also assess how the vessel will impact operations with personnel and equipment during support deployment, employment, sustainment and redeployment of a MAGTF in a cold environment. The exercise will provide valuable insight and feedback on the capabilities and any additional requirements for potential procurement and development of the vessel in the future.

HSV-X1 will be used as a platform to test various concepts, such as its ability to move equipment via coastal routes from an arrival port in Southern Norway to the exercise in northern Norway, and the movement of equipment and Marines within the exercise area. Some of the HSV-X1's other operational roles during Battle Griffin include replenishment and re-supply at sea; special insertion and redeployment operations; reconnaissance; command and control; anti-submarine and mine warfare; humanitarian assistance and evacuation; surface warfare and force protection.

Ryder said Marine Corps commanders gained some interest in the vessel after seeing it used for logistical operations between Australia and East Timor during a two-year charter to the Royal Australian Navy. The HMAS "Jervis Bay" quickly transported large numbers of troops and equipment as part of the United Nations Transitional Administration during the East Timor crisis in 107 trips covering over 100,000 nautical miles. It carried over 20,000 passengers, 430 military vehicles and shipped over 5,600 tons of equipment travelling at an average of 43 knots fully loaded. It travelled 430 nautical miles between Darwin, Australia and Dilli, East Timor in under 11 hours.



Some adjustments have been made to the update schedule to allow for some forthcoming wanderings and commitments. The next update will be on Wednesday March 20. Please note I will be away between March 24 and 31.


A reminder there was an extra mid-week update during the past week.

Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Stan Basnett, James Edgar and "others".

SEA CONTAINERS \ Isle of Man Steam Packet Company

Services to the Isle of Man were disrupted on March 14 as a result of a toxic gas leak in Douglas. It is believed that an old sewage pipe became blocked, which resulted in hydrogen sulphide being emitted in the Walpole Avenue, close to the Sea Terminal.

This resulted in alternative arrangements having to be made for passengers and vehicles. Passengers were checked in at the Sefton Hotel whilst vehicles were escorted along the promenade in groups of ten from the hotel to the BEN-MY-CHREE. The Ben finally departed an hour and a half behind schedule, though it is understood some passengers were left behind at the Sefton!

The BEN-MY-CHREE returned to Douglas at 19:30. All foot passengers were instructed to check in at the Sefton Hotel at 18:30 for the delayed evening sailing, whilst all private vehicles were to check in at the War Memorial on Douglas Promenade. Commercial vehicles had to report to the Police Incident Control vehicle at Regent Street on Lock Promenade for marshalling.

SUPERSEACAT THREE evening sailing to Douglas on  March 14 was cancelled as was the 07:00 return to Liverpool due to adverse conditions.

PONTUS - The floating terminal was repositioned from its winter lay-up berth at Birkenhead's Vittoria Dock, back to the Prince's Landing Stage on March 13.


It appears that Sea Containers has been approached by a consortium of interested parties interested in the purchase of the Hoverspeed operation on the English Channel.

The consortium envisages the replacement of all the high speed ferries with hovercraft. Initial services would be operated by the two SRN4-3 THE PRINCESS ANNE and THE PRINCESS MARGARET - currently in store at the Lee on Solent Hovercraft Museum in Hampshire.

These two craft would immediately replace all SeaCats on the Calais service. The SRN4s would operate the same hourly interval service as prior to their premature withdrawal on 1st October 2000. 

The consortium then plans to order new 65 metre hovercraft capable of carrying up to 112 cars and 1000 passengers though it is reported that passenger configuration would be around 600 to 700 to enable a more spacious seating configuration. The new hovercraft costing around £50m each would offer the 60 knot speed of the SRN4-3 craft but for half the fuel consumption.

Services would be offered between Dover - Oostende, Dover - Calais and Dover Boulogne. Reports suggest that Sea Containers has ignored the consortium's advances


This is the logo recently adopted by North Western Ship Repairers which has appeared on the wall of the Bidston Dry Dock and in slightly different form on the company's vehicles.

The logo comprises a compass rose with arrow pointing in a north westerly direction towards the letters NSL which have been styalised into the shape of the forward end of a ship. Simple, but distinctive and effective.


On Sunday March 17 an attempt be made to fill Windermere's Hawkeshead car ferry with Citroen 2CV
vehicles when the Horizon-tally Opposed Citroen 2CV Club holds a rally in the Lake District.

Cars will set out from the Crooklands Hotel and travel via the Lyth Valley to the ferry, before a stop off in Hawkshead for lunch.

Club member Jim Rogers, of Warton, said a similar event two years ago attracted 34 cars, and organisers are hoping for a high turnout again this year.


Up to twenty jobs are to be lost  at the Douglas head office of Bibby International Services (Isle of Man) Limited.

A statement released by the company states that every effort has been made to retain staff. However, the significant loss of the Chevron Texaco contract has forced a restructuring of operations.

Bibby's client Chevron merged with Texaco last year and a review of requirements has led to them ending their five year relationship.


On March 14 ICG parent company to Irish Ferries issued a preliminary statement for the trading period for the 14 months to December 31, 2001.


  • Due to the change in year end, announced last September, these results cover 14 months to 31 December 2001 and are not directly comparable with the previous year’s figures due to seasonal trading patterns in November and December.
  • Investment of €99 million during the period including m.v. "Ulysses", the world’s largest car ferry of its type.
  • Adverse impact of Foot & Mouth Disease in mid-season now past.
  • EBITDA of €53.5 million.
  • Record Roll-on Roll-off freight carryings achieved following introduction of m.v. "Ulysses".
  • Adjusted earnings per share (before goodwill charges) of 47.5c.
  • Recently announced 5 year charter of Isle of Innisfree and extension of m.v. "Pride of Bilbao" charter underpin outlook for 2002 and beyond.




As previously announced, in September of 2001, Irish Continental Group plc ("ICG" or the "Group") has changed its year end to 31 December. This is to align the reporting year with the new tax year in the Republic of Ireland, the marketing calendar of the business and norms within the travel and tourism business generally. (Results for the 12 months to 31 October 2001 were previously announced on 16th January 2002).

Therefore, ICG is now issuing 14 months figures to 31 December 2001. As a result of the inclusion of the traditionally loss making months of November and December, the profit is lower than the 12 month results to 31 October 2001 and the 14 months results are therefore not directly comparable with preceding 12 month figures.

EBITDA for the 14 months was €53.5 million. Operating profit before exceptional goodwill write off for the 14 months was €24.6 million. The interest charge was €12.4 million while there was a zero tax charge.

Profit before tax and exceptional item amounted to €12.2 million for the 14 months to 31 December 2001. Adjusted earnings per share (before goodwill) was 47.5c. Turnover for the 14 months was €348.5 million. The exceptional write off of goodwill, already reported in the 12 month results, amounted to €3.2m resulting in earnings per share after goodwill charges of 33.9c.


The proposed final dividend is 11.4c per share making a total dividend for the 14 months to 31 December 2001 of 17.1c. This compares with the dividend of 14.25c paid in respect of the year to 31 October 2000. It is proposed to pay the final dividend on 31st May 2002 to shareholders on the register at the close of business on the 26th April 2002.



2 Months to 31 December 2001

The carryings and detailed results for the 2 months to 31 December are set out below:

14 Months to

2 Months to

12 Months to

12 Months to




















Freight Units





Containers (teu)





Terminal (units)




















Operating Profit

Ferries & Travel

- Continuing





- Exceptional










Container & Terminal





Net Interest





Profit Before Tax





* Turnover figures have been restated to standardise presentation of all revenues.


2 Months to 31 December 2001

The Ferries and Travel division includes the activities of Irish Ferries, the ferry chartering business and the travel services activities. Trading was in line with plan. Revenue was €29.2 million, passenger carryings were 191,000, cars carried amounted to 49,000 while 32,000 freight units were carried. There was an operating profit of €0.2 million in the 2 months.

12 Months to 31 October 2001 (as previously reported)

Profit before interest and exceptional charge in the division was €22.3 million (2000: €27 million) on turnover of €187.2 million (2000: €194.9 million). Passenger revenue was impacted in the Spring and Summer period by Foot & Mouth Disease. Freight revenue and chartering revenue showed no adverse impact from Foot & Mouth Disease.

It was a year of substantial change on our Irish sea routes. On the Dublin/Holyhead route, the prime sea route into the Republic of Ireland, we introduced m.v. "Ulysses" in March. The vessel won the award "Most Significant New Build Ferry" at the Cruise & Ferry awards in London in May of 2001. The 1997-built m.v. "Isle of Inishmore" was then transferred to Rosslare/Pembroke, resulting in a major upgrade in capacity and quality on that route.

Irish Ferries – Passenger Revenue

Despite the severe impact of Foot and Mouth disease on sea travel to Ireland from the UK in the period from late February to early September, a recovery in carryings in the latter weeks of the year resulted in passenger carryings overall declining by only 4% to 1.73 million passengers. On the Dublin/Holyhead route, where our DublinSwift fast ferry continues to develop its market, passenger numbers were broadly unchanged at 1.14 million while on the Rosslare/Pembroke route, where the impact of Foot and Mouth Disease was more marked, there was an 16% decline to 0.38 million passengers. On the Ireland/France route, passenger numbers were unchanged at 0.21 million. Average passenger yields across all routes for the year as a whole were up by 10%. Across our route network car carryings were 374,000 cars (2000: 400,000 cars).

Irish Ferries Roll-on Roll-off Freight Revenue

It was a record year for Roll-on Roll-off freight on both corridors of the Irish Sea with our total carryings up by 11% to 182,000 trucks. With the introduction of substantial new capacity on our m.v. "Ulysses", a 13% increase in freight units to 119,000 was achieved on the Dublin/Holyhead route.


Revenue from the charters of the m.v. "Pride of Bilbao" and the former m.v. "St. Patrick II" were in line with the previous year.

Travel Agencies

This was a challenging year for our travel division. The impact of Foot and Mouth disease on travel to Ireland, declining commission rates across the industry, and internet development costs associated with affected profitability. This was exacerbated by the events of September 11th, which impacted on air travel worldwide. As a result of the above the Group has written off the goodwill incurred in the acquisition of Tara Travel in 1999. This non-cash charge amounts to €3.2 million and has been treated as an exceptional item.


2 Months to 31 December 2001

Turnover for the period was €17.5 million while the operating loss of €0.7 million for the 2 months was in line with normal seasonal patterns with the normal reduction in freight movements over the Christmas and New Year period.

12 Months to 31 October 2001 (as previously reported)

It was a year of restructuring and recovery in the Container and Terminal Division. Turnover was €115.3million (€119.5 the previous year), while an operating profit of €2.8 million was recorded compared with an operating loss of €0.6 million in 2000.

Container Lift-on Lift-off Freight

During the year our focus has been on recovery in margins in Eucon’s services between Ireland and the UK and the Continent, and our dedicated feeder services Eurofeeders and Feederlink. We are engaged in a programme to restore pricing to levels which will generate an appropriate return for the group.

Total container freight volumes carried on our own services fell 7% to 365,000 twenty-foot equivalent units as we eliminated a number of marginal routes and traffic flows to strengthen our focus on higher margin business and more balanced trade flows. We also implemented tariff increases to recover cost increases we had experienced in 2000. Overall yields rose by 3%.


During the year we eliminated some unprofitable short-sea container handling to concentrate on Continental business, which is more suited to the Lo Lo mode. As a result units handled fell by 12% to 218,000 twenty-foot equivalent units although revenue and profits increased.


2 Months to 31 December 2001

EBITDA during the 2 months was €5.1 million. Period end net debt amounted to €187.0 million representing gearing of 95%.

12 Months to 31 October 2001 (as previously reported)

EBITDA amounted to €48.3 million for the year to 31 October (2000: €47.8 million). Total investment in the year amounted to €95.7 million, comprising the final payments of €83.4 million on the m.v. "Ulysses" and other capital expenditure of €12.3 million. Net debt amounted to €183.5 million giving a comfortable gearing level of 92% (62% in 2000). Interest cover was 2.4 times (2000: 3.6 times). Year-end cash balances amounted to €25.1 million. Shareholders’ funds at year-end amounted to €199.2 million.

Our taxation charge for the 12 months to 31 October 2001 was €0.3 million due to capital allowances arising from our investment programme.


The outlook for 2002 is promising. The introduction of m.v. "Ulysses" and the m.v. "Isle of Inishmore" on their respective routes gives us annualised additional freight capacity of approximately 60%, in a market which has shown consistent growth over many years. The impact of Foot & Mouth Disease is now behind us and we look forward to a resumption of more normal levels of passenger traffic into Ireland, particularly from the UK.

On February 26th we announced that we had concluded two charters within our chartering division. Firstly, we have entered an agreement to charter the m.v. "Isle of Innisfree" to P&O for their Portsmouth / Cherbourg service from 1 July 2002 for 5 years. Secondly we have extended the charter of the m.v. "Pride of Bilbao" for 5 years from October 2002 when the current charter expires. These charters which will generate charter income of approximately €70m over 5 years, provide a diversified cash flow complementing our ferry operations and short sea container activities and underpin the quality of ICG’s ferry fleet, one of the most modern in Europe.


LE NIAMH arrived at Hong Kong where she will spend  St. Patrick's Day on Thursday March 14. The ship is currently on a courtesy visit to Asia.


EUROPEAN PIONEER had arrived at West Alexandra, Liverpool either late Friday or early Saturday March 15/16. On Saturday morning she was noted undergoing maintenance work by North Western Ship Repairers. 


This week it was reported that the covers are being removed from Plymouth's famous landmark after more than a year. The famous Smeaton's Tower Lighthouse is being unveiled following a half a million pound restoration project.

The tower will be revealed by the official reopening at 6pm on Friday, March 22. The tower's red and white stripes remain but the red will be a more earthy colour to reflect the original hue. Shutters are back on the windows and the cornice which ran around the bottom of the lantern has been restored. The stonework of the tower has been treated to help protect the masonry from the elements.

Specialist workers have also reinstated fixtures and fittings inside the tower, repointing the stonework with lime mortar and restoring the lantern room.

Restoration of the Grade I-listed building, originally built on the Eddystone in the 1750s and relocated to Plymouth in the 1870s, was financed largely by a National Lottery grant, with contributions from the city council, English Heritage and the Single Regeneration Budget.


Forthcoming Royal Navy vessels scheduled to call at Liverpool are as follows:

HMS EXPLOIT [A167] Archer Class March 27 - 29 NE Huskisson #1 Branch Dock

HMS EXPRESS [A163] Archer Class March 27 - 28 NE Huskisson #1 Branch Dock

HMS LANCASTER [F229] Duke Class Type 23 April 25 to 30 NE Huskisson #1 Branch Dock

HMS SUTHERLAND [F81] Duke Class Type 23 May 2 to 7 NE Huskisson #1 Branch Dock


A London man caught trying to unload smuggled cigarettes from a ship in Dundalk port last year was jailed for three and a half years at Dundalk Circuit Criminal Court this week. Robert Terence Tibbs (29) of Cannington, London, pleaded guilty to attempting to evade customs duties valued at €15,960,000 due on the haul of 70m cigarettes seized by customs officers at Dundalk Port on December 11.

He had been with the MV Anto as it prepared to leave the United Arab Emirates for Ireland with its load of contraband and later flew into Ireland to meet it in Dundalk Port.

Passing sentence in Dundalk Circuit Criminal Court yesterday, Judge Raymond Groarke said there was an amount of gall involved in the manner in which the unloading of the cigarettes was to take place. The court heard that around 3.30am a mobile crane, a forklift truck and an articulated lorry with an empty trailer had arrived on the quayside to off-load the containers of cigarettes.

Two of the 16 containers had been removed from the hold of the MV Anto when customs officers and Gardaí approached the ship around 4am.

Tibbs was in the hold at the time and was one of seven men who fled the ship when the alarm was raised.

He was detained a short time later at an exit barrier from the port and made an early plea of guilty to the charge.

The court heard Tibbs had been in Ajman in the United Arab Emirates when the ship started its voyage to Ireland via Gibraltar.

Judge Groarke said it was clear the entire operation involved very careful planning and a considerable amount of expertise as well as a vast financial investment involved in the use of the ship, its crew and the machinery on the quayside.

The MV Anto had been kept under surveillance by the Irish Naval Vessels the LE ORLA and LE
AISLING from December 5 until it entered Dundalk Port.


It was reported on March 14 that negotiations are under way in an effort to secure the future of
the Belfast shipyard Harland and Wolff.

The company has put a proposal to the British Government for a restructuring of the business, but if it fails then it is expected Harland and Wolff will face closure.

This latest crisis has been prompted by the usual problems - a lack of new work - and now it is compounded by a shortage of money.

With the banks and the government unwilling to bail the company out - and with large debts to its parent company, the Norwegian firm Olsen Energy, Harland & Wolff has been casting around for ways to finance another restructuring.

On Thursday, the company put forward a business plan to the UK government which would involve about 140 further redundancies - and would see it focus on areas of business where it believes it can compete.

However, to raise the money, it needs to sell another chunk of its land - and this will require the backing of both the Stormont Enterprise Minister Reg Empey and Regional Development Minister Peter Robinson.

If the company fails to secure ministerial backing it will face little option but close the yard and management are already preparing to issue redundancy warning notices to all 500 workers in the shipbuilding company.



An extra update to catch up with news and photograph submissions.

Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Michael Pryce, John Lawlor, Edwin Wilmshurst, Ian Collard and "others".

SEA CONTAINERS \ Isle of Man Steam Packet Company

RAPIDE of Sea Containers arrived in Belfast on March 12.  She is due to take up the Belfast - Heysham route on 28 March.


The former Southern Railway ferry arrived at Portsmouth last Saturday. The Denny built vessel had spent some time laid up at Newport, Wales following the collapse of the Brasspatch restoration scheme. More details:


On March 12 Swansea Coastguard co-ordinated a medical evacuation of a twenty year old Belgium fisherman from the LUNDY GANNET, a 35m fishing vessel, approximately forty miles south-southwest of Lundy Island.

The Coastguard received a satellite call from the skipper of the Belgium registered fishing vessel that was operating out of New Haven, at 18.15 requesting medical assistance for the young fisherman who was an asthmatic. The Coastguard made a link call between the Queen Alexandra Hospital in Portsmouth and the vessel, which resulted in the doctor advising immediate evacuation of the casualty.

The Swansea Coastguard scrambled a rescue helicopter from RAF Chivenor, which then airlifted the casualty to North Devon District Hospital in Barnstaple, to receive medical attention.


SCILLYNEWS reports The Pilot Gig SLIPPEN has returned to her berth on a St. Agnes slipway before making her longest journey yet, a trip to Boston, USA, as part of a Museum display commemorating the wreck THOMAS W. LAWSON.

The SLIPPEN was based on the Western side of St. Agnes, and due to this position, she saw some of the most enduring rescues ever carried out in the Islands. In 1907 the SLIPPEN was famously used to search for survivors from the seven masted American oil ship, the THOMAS W. LAWSON. The American Schooner got into trouble in the western Rocks, and despite pleas from locals, the Captain refused to abandon ship. Instead, he took on board a knowledgeable Scillonian Pilot, William Cook Hicks.

During a squall overnight, the lights on the Lawson were seen to go out and nothing could be done until daybreak. At first light, a crew set out in the SLIPPEN to look for survivors. Only three were found; two lived beyond a week. The St. Agnes Pilot was never recovered. Pilot gigs were phased out over the next 25 years, being replaced by more reliable motor boats. Very few of the original Pilot boats survive. The Campernel (pictured) was another gig based on St. Agnes, in a day when these traditional craft contributed a great deal to the local way of life.

The SLIPPEN has undergone a full refit carried out by Island boat builder Peter Martin at a cost of £10,000, which is testament to how much work she needed. The refit was paid for with proceeds from World Championships.

The SLIPPEN made one final trip before her voyage to America. She was brought back to the slipway she was launched from, nearly 95 years ago, on that historic day. She will now be shipped to Penzance, on to Southampton and then Boston, the gig is due to arrive back in Scilly in six months time.

The SLIPPEN, recently described as “the most beautiful boat in the Islands”, has been painted in the same colours as the St. Agnes gig Shah; blue with a white band. The Shah was built in 1873 and is still considered one of the best racing boats around.


The Port St Mary lifeboat  launched on the night of March 12 to assist and Irish fishing boat which had made an unwelcome catch trawling up an unexploded WWII mine.

The 22 metre beam trawler from Newry was fishing 14 miles west of the Chicken Rock. The Lifeboat was launched at 20:10 to escort the fishing vessel REBECCA ELIZABETH towards the coast to find an area of water 18 metres deep, with a sandy sea bed, so the mine could be lowered to the bottom and marked for safe disposal at a later date. Once the mine was deposited the REBECCA ELIZABETH set off for Whitehaven. 

A Naval Bomb Disposal team was reported to be travelling to the Isle of Man on March 13 aboard the BEN-MY-CHREE to deal with the mine.


The EUROPEAN PATHFINDER appears to be having problems again so the EUROPEAN
ENDEAVOUR has again moved up the schedule to cover.

Due to technical difficulties, some P&O Irish Sea sailings on the Larne to Cairnryan route were cancelled earlier this week..

Monday's 17.30 and Tuesday's 01.45 and 09.15 sailings from Cairnryan to Larne were been cancelled.

From Larne to Cairnryan, Monday's 21.30 and Tuesday's 05.30 sailings were also been cancelled.


P&O issued the following press release to announce the return to the Larne - Cairnryan route of SUPERSTAR EXPRESS:

Larne welcomes back a record-breaking Superstar on 15 March 2002 when P&O Irish Sea's Superstar Express returns to recommence the only one-hour ferry service between Ireland and Scotland.

With the emphasis on speed, style and service, the popular fast ferry, which operates until September, will make 5 return crossings per day with a capacity on each crossing for 800 passengers and 175 cars.

James Esler, Sales & Marketing Manager, P&O Irish Sea comments:.

"The return of the Superstar Express has been eagerly awaited by our customers who have previously enjoyed the speed and reliability of this unique service.  We have modified the onboard facilities and we are looking forward to welcoming back our existing customers and would encourage new customers to experience this excellent service for themselves."

Onboard Superstar Express, passengers can enjoy the superb facilities of Fables Restaurant and Poets Bar or choose to upgrade to the exclusive Club Class lounge where a dedicated steward will serve complimentary tea/coffee and sandwiches and daily newspapers and magazines are available.  A children's video area will ensure that younger passengers will have plenty to keep them occupied on the short crossing.

Superstar Express will operate alongside European Causeway on the Lame-Cairnryan service.  A brand new £36m ship, European Highlander, will join the route in July 2002.  Together, the three ships will offer 12 daily sailings from Ireland to Scotland, a service not matched by any other ferry operator.

SUPERSTAR EXPRESS was noted at trials off the Larne coast early on March 13.


KONINGIN BEATRIX departed from Rosslare for the last time at 17:30 on March 13.


James Fisher has reported a strong set of results which have resulted in the shares surging to a three year high. Pre-Tax profits have risen 62%. 

Company Chairman Tim Harris has confirmed plans for the expansion of the company's product tanker fleet which could be completed by the year end.

James Fisher's pre-tax profit grew to £8.1m from £5m in 2000, whilst earnings per share leapt 71.4% to 16.01p from 9.34p.

Taxable profit was struck after several charges and gains relating to discontinued operations and write-downs. When these are stripped out Fisher's profit was even higher at £8.5m. The stock market welcomed an upbeat and frank statement from Mr Harris, who took over at the beginning of the year, by lifting the shares 11.5p to 120p. 

The company is looking to obtain at least one 13,500 dwt tanker with options by the end of the year.
and is also planning the replacement of eight 3,000 dwt vessels with fewer but larger vessels.

Pre-Tax profits would have been higher but for a £1.94m loss associated with the joint venture involving Cammell Laird that owns the diving support vessel FISHER CAVALIER. This vessel is reported to be "technically under arrest" in Galveston over a dispute with the charterer.



Welcome to this weekend's update. A new section in the news area has been created entitled "Viewpoint" to provide an area for views and comments on the Maritime scene. The first article in this area concerns the often raised point of reasonably priced day return fares.

Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Brian Chambers, Mike O'Brien, R Watson, Ian Collard, Kevin Bennett and "others".

SEA CONTAINERS \ Isle of Man Steam Packet Company

RAPIDE departed from Alfred Lock, Birkenhead for trials at 13:00 on March 7. She was noted again passing Seacombe at 17:30 having been berthed that the Prince's Landing Stage Landing for a while and entered Langton Lock at 17:45. [Photo Ian Collard]

On Saturday she was noted at West Langton undergoing further preparatory work. 

SUPERSEACAT THREE Adverse weather conditions let to the cancellation of the sailings to and from Dublin on Saturday March 9, though the evening to Douglas did sail, though behind schedule. On Sunday the morning sailing arrived from Douglas late around 10:55. Dublin sailing was again cancelled whilst the 21:00 sailing to Douglas was rescheduled to 04:00 on Monday morning.


Sea Containers, operators of the world's largest fast ferry fleet, has finalised its fleet deployment of the vessels for 2002.

Hoverspeed's fast ferry English Channel service from Dover to Calais will be operated by three SeaCats 'HOVERSPEED GREAT BRITAIN',  SEACAT DANMARK and SEACAT FRANCE [ex ATLANTIC II] providing an 'On the hour every hour' service from 0600 to 2100 for the fastest channel crossing in just 50 minutes berth to berth. The craft are undergoing a complete interior refurbishment with new seating supplied by Beurteaux of Australia and improved services to provide a unique experience.

The level of service will be greatly enhanced with a table service to every passenger, along with an enhanced 1st offer, considered the best in the Channel. Speed, style and service will continue to differentiate Hoverspeed from other cross channel operators.

The Newhaven-Dieppe service re-starts on 22 March operating a SUPERSEACAT and DIAMANT will resume operating on the Dover-Ostend service on 25 March.

On the Irish Sea network a 100-metre monohull SUPERSEACAT THREE is operating the historic Liverpool-Dublin route. The service resumed on 28 February. The craft, can carry up to 620 passenger and 140 cars on the under four-hour crossing. It will also provide services from Liverpool to Douglas, Isle of Man.

RAPIDE will take up the Belfast-Heysham service on 28 March with extra car and passenger capacity at 145 and 630 respectively. This is a larger vessel than HOVERSPEED GREAT BRITAIN, which previously operated the service. SEACAT ISLE OF MAN will provide fast ferry crossings from Douglas to Belfast, Heysham, Liverpool and Dublin starting on 27 March.

SEACAT SCOTLAND continues to serve the Belfast-Troon route, which celebrates its third anniversary in April. The craft has recently undergone a refurbishment programme, which includes a new look passenger interior, bar area and shopping facilities.

In the Baltic Sea the popular duty free route between Helsinki, Finland and Tallinn, Estonia will continue to be served by SUPERSEACAT FOUR. The service will start on 28 March.

The joint venture fast ferry service with SNAV on the Ancona, Italy to Split, Croatia route will operate between June to October - its third season. A new high-speed craft, which will retain the 'CROAZIA JET' brand, will be introduced. It has capacity for 676 passengers, 156 cars and 8 coaches.

In the United States, a fleet of five high-speed catamarans operated by SeaStreak America Inc., provides commuter services to several points in Manhattan, New York and New Jersey. The company has helped to revitalise the fast passenger ferry industry in the New York Metropolitan area. Last year SeaStreak carried 550,000 commuter passengers, a 30% increase on 2000.

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


The Clyde & Western Isles & Bristol Channel timetables are now available on our Website @ 

Online Booking is only available for Easter & Western Isles Cruises at present. If you wish to book for any other cruise please contact our office on 0845 130 4647. 

Timetables for all other areas to follow next week. Online booking for these areas to follow as soon as possible.


ROYAL IRIS OF THE MERSEY is now expected in service for Easter. It is understood that the  "Heritage Cruises" will be replaced by "River Explorer" trips during the summer months with a Liverpool to off New Brighton - Seacombe - Birkenhead and crossing directly back to Liverpool. In winter an upriver route will be offered. There are no docks cruises planned for this year apart from the Friends of The Ferries charter on June 15.


McTay Marine, of Merseyside and Appledore Shipbuilders of Devon have won contracts to construct vessels for the state owned operator. The McTay order is worth £4m and the Appledore order is worth £6m. Concern has been expressed in Scotland that the decision could lead to redundancies at Fergusons shipyard on the Clyde.


STENA EUROPE Mike O'Brien has the first photos taken of the ship at Fishguard on Saturday March 9. at

Meanwhile photos of STENA EUROPE at Rosslare Europort can be found on Brian Chamber's Rosslare Europort website at:


This week the Western Morning News reported that seven ports have teamed up with local councils and major tourist attractions to try to triple the number of cruise ships visiting Devon and Cornwall over the next three years.

And if the partnership succeeds, it could mean an extra £2.2 million being spent by passengers in the region.

The ports - Penzance, Fowey, Falmouth, Plymouth, Dartmouth, Torbay and the Isles of Scilly - have joined forces with partner Destination Southwest, whose officials will be promoting the region at the industry's annual Sea Trade convention in Miami this weekend.

And next week, marketing executives from Cunard Line will be meeting up with Destination Southwest's cruise operations director Bob Harrison, who hopes to lure the famous QE2 back to the West country.

Already the company has one of its luxury liners - the Caronia - scheduled for a visit to Falmouth next year and Cunard Line's corporate communications manager Eric Flounders said last night that the region could expect more calls from their ships, including the QE2.

"The QE2 has been to Plymouth and Torbay before and both destinations are certainly a possibility again," he said. "The fact that we have done it more than once indicates that it worked, so you can be fairly certain it will happen again."

Currently, about 70 cruise ships a year stop over in the region, but the new marketing team hopes to push the number to near the 200 mark by 2005.

Fowey harbourmaster Captain Mike Sutherland, who chairs Destination Southwest, said: "Bringing together different destinations will enable passengers to enjoy the South West's unique flavour."


The Belfast Telegraph reports that the threat of strike action is hanging over the P&O ferry service between Larne and Cairnryan. The RMT union said it had notified management that it was balloting its 50 members on the route with a view to industrial action.

The move is a response by the union to the possibility of compulsory redundancies among Larne-based crew.
Stephen Todd, regional official for the RMT, said seven staff would lose their jobs unless voluntary redundancies were achieved within the next fortnight.

The cutback is a result of the decision by P&O to withdraw European Mariner, a freight ship, from the route with effect from last week. Mr Todd said: "We are disappointed that the company is threatening compulsory redundancies and are in the process of a ballot over industrial action."

But a spokesman for P&O said it was optimistic that the reduction in the workforce could still be achieved by voluntary means. She said: "Since we announced an extension of two weeks in the voluntary severance scheme, interest has intensified.

"We hope that the voluntary package will be taken up and that we will not have to impose compulsory redundancies." But P&O admitted that if enough volunteers did not come forward, then compulsory redundancies would be inevitable.

The spokesman said the European Mariner had been laid up as part of a review of the allocations of ships to various routes. The Larne-Cairnryan service is currently operated by the EUROPEAN CAUSEWAY car ferry and the EUROPEAN ENDEAVOUR, which handles mainly freight. The fleet will be augmented from next Friday by the SUPERSTAR EXPRESS fast ferry, and from July by the new £36m EUROPEAN HIGHLANDER car ferry




A new lifeboat was delivered by road to Looe on March 5. The £14,000 boat, number D574, will be named REGINA MARY after the sister of the donor, Lawrence Allen of Somerset. Both will attend a naming ceremony in Looe this year.

The REGINA MARY is 16 feet long and powered by a 40hp motor. She will carry a crew of three at speeds of up to 20 knots to incidents from Rame Head to Polperro.

Designed as a rapid response craft, she can work for up to three hours at a time searching 60 nautical miles. She is made of a synthetic material called Hypalon.  The boat will be housed in the RNLI lifeboat station at Middleton's Corner, East Looe quay.

She replaces the SPIRIT OF THE RAOC, which will work for two years at Cowes on the Isle of Wight


HMS COURAGEOUS - the decommissioned nuclear-powered submarine Courageous was moved to the dry dock this week where she will become the first exhibit of her kind in Britain open to the public.

It is hoped that HMS COURAGEOUS will be unveiled at Devonport Naval Base, Plymouth, Devon, in time for the port's Navy Days this summer. Over 55,000 visitors are expected at the August Bank Holiday weekend event.

The three-day event hosted by the naval base over the August Bank Holiday weekend is expected to attract more than 55,000 visitors.

Captain John Binns, responsible for preparing the submarine as an exhibit indicated that a  number of adaptations needed to be made to the submarine itself to make it safe for people walking round it, he said.

"We hope to strike a balance between adapting COURAGEOUS into an exhibit without compromising any realism of what conditions would have been like for those who served on her," said Captain Binns.

The public are likely to tour the boat at 3 Dock and see the control room, sleeping accommodation, galley and wardroom area.

The periscope would be housed in a separate area to avoid congestion, a spokeswoman from the naval base said yesterday.

The Navy said groups of ten people at a time would be able to have guided tours of the submarine.

HMS ECHO the new 3,500 tonne survey ship was officially named at a ceremony held at Appledore Shipyard, North Devon, on March 4. The traditional champagne-bottle ceremony was performed by Lady Haddacks, wife of Vice-Admiral Sir Paul Haddacks, Nato's director of international military staff.

HMS ECHO, which will be based at Devonport, will be one of the Royal Navy's star vessels, equipped with the latest technology enabling it to operate as a world-class hydrographic and oceanographic survey ship.

Among its impressive array of technology are multi-beam echo sounders and side-scan sounders, along with advanced navigation and communication systems.

The ship is 90.6 metres long and will carry a crew of 81. It has been built to withstand extremes of climate, including freezing Arctic conditions.

HMS ECHO will be commanded by Lt Cdr Martin Jones, and will work with the Royal Navy fleet in front-line operational roles. This will include supporting mine warfare and amphibious operations.

Work on building the vessel began at Appledore Shipbuilders in July, 2000.

Construction should be complete in around eight weeks, when the ship leaves the covered yard for mast and funnels to be fitted. Sea trials will then begin.

HMS FEARLESS the amphibious assault ship is to be decommissioned and sold for scrap earlier than originally anticipated. It had been the intention to withdraw the ship from service in November a few months her replacement HMS ALBION is due to enter service early in 2003.

However, following FEARLESS's  long deployment in the Arabian Sea, and given her age, the necessary maintenance work which she would need for another eight months service was felt not to be cost-effective.

It is understood that to keep the ship in service until the autumn, would have cost about £2 million.

HMS FEARLESS has had millions spent on her over the years to keep her in operation, particularly on her engines and boilers.

She was launched in 1963 and commissioned in 1965. A defence review carried out by the Conservative Government in 1981 had called for HMS FEARLESS to be taken out of service.

The Falklands war intervened and the ship remained in service.

Decommissioning was suggested again in 1990, but again HMS FEARLESS survived, although she has at last come to the end of her days.

HMS FEARLESS has played a high profile role in numerous deployments, including landing amphibious assault troops to retake the Falklands in 1982. Later, Major General Jeremy Moore set up his headquarters in FEARLESS and the initial surrender negotiations were conducted with General Menendez on board in the Commodore's cabin.

HMS FEARLESS also hosted diplomatic negotiations over the future of Rhodesia in 1968.

Most recently, she moved straight from the highly successful joint exercise with the Omani Armed Forces, Saif Sareea II, in September/October 2001, to active operations in the coalition against terrorism following the atrocities of 11 September.



This week the Maritime and Coastguard Agency announced that five ingots of Cornish copper will be making a homecoming next week when the Receiver of Wreck returns them to Cornwall. The five ingots were part of a shipment of copper which had laid on the seabed for 120 years before it was salvaged last September.

The Camborne School of Mines Museum will display four of the ingots and the Helston Museum will display one. The five ingots will be presented by Sophia Exelby, the Receiver of Wreck, at the

Camborne School of Mines Museum on Tuesday 12 March at 4.00 pm. 54 tons of the copper ingots were salvaged off the steam ship, ‘St George’, by a commercial salvage company last year. The copper is thought to have been mined in Cornwall, before being taken to Wales

for refinement. The ship sank 15 miles off St Agnes Head in 1882 after it began taking on water with a heavy load on board in stormy weather. The salvage company reported its find to the Receiver of Wreck, which is based at the Maritime and Coastguard Agency in Southampton. The Receiver then began to research the wreck and its 9,550 ingots of copper in an effort to find an owner. Since no owner has been forthcoming it has now been decided that the majority of the copper will be smelted, but that five of the ingots will be kept as historical artefacts and that these will be displayed within Cornish Museums.

Sophia Exelby, Receiver of Wreck said:" Wherever practical, we offer historic wreck to institutions, such as museums, where it will remain accessible to the public. We endeavour to ensure that artefacts are offered to a museum within the area of the find site. We are therefore delighted that we have been able to place the ingots with a local museum within Cornwall."

"In this particular case we have had to recognise the commercial as well as the historic value of the cargo and to strike a balance between the two. The whole of the cargo is worth approximately £48,000. If no owner is forthcoming at the end of the statutory one year period, the bulk of the cargo's value will go to the salvor."

The Ingots were recovered by RMS Titanic Inc using their survey vessel SV EXPLORER. The Merseyside Branch of the WSS paid a visit to the ship when she visited Merseyside following recovery of the Ingots last Autumn. These were still on board at the time of the society visit. 




Please note that an extra update was posted on Monday - check "What's New" for details.

Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Ian Collard, Justin Merrigan - Incat, Michael Pryce and "others"


RAPIDE undocked from Bidston Dry Dock at the start of the week. She was noted at Liverpool Landing Stage on Thursday afternoon March 7. She then proceeded to enter the Liverpool Dock system. Please note that the information that suggesting she visited Belfast on March 6 was not correct. She is not due there until next week.

SEACAT ISLE OF MAN crossed the Mersey on Tuesday March 5 from Bidston Dry Dock to Canada Dry Dock. On Wednesday March 6 she was noted down on the blocks. Her departure from Bidston Dry Dock which was scheduled to accommodate RFA SIR BEDIVERE suggests that work on her was not completed.


SIR BEDIVERE arrived at Bidston Dry Dock, Birkenhead on Monday March 4 for refit by North Western Ship Repairers.


Local press reports indicate that that A&P have customers lined up for the Cammell Laird yard this summer.

David Ring, boss of A&P Holdings which bought the stricken Birkenhead yard last year, said talks with potential customers are going well and the riverside landmark is on course to re-open on time.

"We are still progressing plans to get started this summer," the boss of the Southampton based group said.

"Discussions are going reasonably well with customers. We're still in talks, but we're targeting local area operators and we will have work to re-open with," he insisted.

"We're feeling quite confident," he added. The reborn yard will employ about 100 staff to start with, rising soon after to 300 working on refits, repairs and perhaps small conversions.

"But we don't want eyes bigger than our belly," warned chief executive Mr Ring.


STENA EUROPE is expected at Fishguard for berthing trials on 9 March followed by Rosslare on 10 March. She is reported to have  left the shipyard in Gothenburg where she has refitted  at 16.20 on March 6

She is scheduled to take up service at Rosslare 13 March commencing with the 0900 sailing. This will release the KONINGIN Beatrix to sail to Poland.


It is reported that P&O have sent the former Larne - Troon vessel EUROPEAN MARINER to Barrow for
lay up pending further employment/charter/sale.


It was reported earlier this week that the  environment committee of the Panamanian legislature will debate a proposal for a new law banning nuclear shipments through the Panama Canal this week. If implemented, the law could force specialist carrier Pacific Nuclear Transport, the British Nuclear Fuels subsidiary that carries controversial cargoes from reprocessing plants in Europe to utility clients in Japan and back, to sail the long way round. But the canal authority and the Panamanian government are opposed to the legislative move, arguing that the law would be unconstitutional and would violate several international agreements that Panama is signed up to. 




The Irish Sea Shipping update schedule for March to May has now been posted. Please note that as the 2002 season is now underway the weekend updates will gradually revert to Sundays until the autumn to allow for my nautical wanderings which usually occur on Saturdays!

Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Ian Collard, Kevin Bennett, Chris Jones, Dave Stuart, Adrian Sweeney and "others".

SEA CONTAINERS \ Isle of Man Steam Packet Company

BEN-MY-CHREE - On Sunday February 24, a crane noted by a correspondent could be seen on Victoria Pier, Douglas fitting ballast four ballast boxes to the fo'csle of the ship. The purpose of the exercise is to try and get the bulbous bow fully immersed to its design depth to give the vessel another knot speed at least. The steel ballast boxes are shaped to the flare of the bulwarks and welded to the deck and can be seen from the lounge. 

SEACAT SCOTLAND was reported to be back in service on Saturday March 2, after being off the Belfast - Troon route since experiencing technical problems on Monday. Repairs were carried out at Harland and Wolff.

SUPERSEACAT THREE reopened the Liverpool - Dublin route for the 2002 season on Thursday February 28. She is seen here departing on the 10:15 sailing to Dublin. [Photo: Sara Cass]

It is understood that non-landing day trip fares on the Dublin route will be reinstated. Enquiries should be made in person to the Liverpool Terminal.

RAPIDE and SEACAT ISLE OF MAN remain in North Western Ship Repairers


The Isle of Man Steam Packet Company have very firmly started out to make 2002 a successful year.

A record January has produced a dynamic start to the year:

Passenger traffic increased by 10.9% @ 18,083 passengers (2001 – 15,305)
Vehicular traffic increased by 10.1% @ 5,808 vehicles (2001 – 5,277)
Freight traffic increased by 2.6% @ 32,122 metres (2001 – 31,322)


The Irish Independent reported that two English drug smugglers who managed to escape from the clutches of Gardaí while Custom Officers at Rosslare were searching their van were arrested in London over the weekend. Ninety seven kilogrammes of cannabis resin, with an estimated street value of 1.3 million euro, was found in the van that the men were driving, by customs Officers on Tuesday.

The two men arrived in Rosslare Port on the MV Normandy ferry from Cherbourg in France on Monday evening. Customs officials suspected the men and decided to search the van. Because they have no power to arrest on suspicion, the Officers allowed the men to stay in the Talbot Hotel in Wexford town for the night. Their passports were held by officials and their mobile phone numbers were noted.

A detailed examination of the van which had been converted into an AA style recovery vehicle yielded nothing. Sniffer dogs were used in this search.

On Tuesday officers tried to contact the men who are both from Liverpool on their phones. When these calls were not answered they went to the Talbot Hotel and found that the pair had disappeared.

At this stage the Officers became extremely suspicious and searched the van again. This time they pulled the van apart and used fibre optics and cutting and drilling equipment.

The hash was then found in two secret compartments near the axle of the van. These compartments were covered up with welded plates. In fact a new chassis had been welded on top of the original chassis for the purpose of smuggling.

A senior Wexford based detective told the press that local Gardaí were not aware of the situation until Wednesday of last week. He said the two men went back to England by ferry on Tuesday from Dublin. The men were subsequently arrested in London on Saturday in relation to charges of possession of over £100,000 worth of ecstasy tablets.

The detective thinks that it will be unlikely that the men will face charges in Ireland because “the chain of evidence has been broken” and they face very serious charges in England. However, a file will be sent to the DPP in relation to the drugs find.

The huge drugs haul is one of the largest ever at Rosslare Port and the biggest find by Customs Officials this year at the port.


The Southern Star reported that an Antiguan registered 200 foot cargo vessel "Doris T" , with eight persons on board, ran in to difficulties last Friday as she attempted to shelter in Bantry Bay from gale force winds. The vessel attempted to anchor west of the Roancarrig lighthouse about a quarter of a mile off Curryglass Head but fouled her anchor on a cage of a fish farm belonging to Beara Atlantic Salmon Ltd. The vessel could not manoeuvre and was being washed ashore and issued a "Mayday" message to Bantry Coastguard Radio.

The crew of Castletownbere Lifeboat were mustered at 01.55 a.m. and the lifeboat was launched at 2.04 am under Coxswain B.O’Driscoll, Second Coxswain M. Martin-Sullivan, and crew B. Gonnelly, A. Sparrow, P. Stevens, M. O’Donoghue, J. Cross, and P. O’Conor. The lifeboat arrived on scene at 2.24 a.m. in gale force conditions to assess the situation. The ship’s anchor was snagged on a fish farm cage on the starboard side and she was going full ahead on her engines to maintain her position. In addition, another fish-farm cage was located 200 metres to the stern of the boat and presented another potential danger.

The crew of the ship could not see the fouled anchor chain and so requested advice from the lifeboat as to how to proceed. The lifeboat advised the captain of the vessel that there was no option but to cut the anchor chain in an attempt to free itself and steam in a westerly direction to avoid the other cages to the stern off the ship. After about 30 minutes the anchor chain was eventually severed and the ship was able to pull away from the mangled fish farm cage. The lifeboat then escorted the vessel in an easterly direction to the eastern entrance to Berehaven Harbour and into Bantry Bay.

As the "Doris T" required no further assistance, the lifeboat returned to the scene of the incident and noted that the damaged fish-farm cage was now located in the centre of the channel between the mainland and Bere Island. The lifeboat reported its new position to Bantry Coastguard Radio so that it could a navigational warning.

Castletownbere lifeboat then returned to port, refuelled and was ready for service again by 4.12 am.


A disabled pensioner died on board the LORD NELSON in mid-Atlantic after it proved impossible to transfer him to another ship or airlift him to hospital.

A coroner's inquest in Cork heard on Friday March 1 that Bob Reilly (78) from Liverpool died on Tuesday from a collapsed lung after a fall 500 miles south-west of the Irish coast.

Yesterday in Cobh, Cork Coroner Frank O'Connell said there was little more the crew of the three-masted sailing ship Lord Nelson, under Capt John Etheridge, could do for Mr Reilly, who had one leg.

He had declined hospital treatment after an initial fall when the ship docked at Madeira and then the Azores. Avid sailor Mr Reilly had fallen during heavy seas on February 13.

On February 26 he complained of feeling unwell and his condition rapidly deteriorated. He drifted off to sleep and was certified dead.

Pathologist Dr Margaret Bolster indicated that he probably suffered a second fall which because of weakened ribs, led to one rib perforating the lining of his right lung which slowly filled with blood and fluid and finally collapsed


The former Southern Railway passenger ferry SOUTHSEA which as been laid up at Newport since her extrication from the Bristol Dry Dock which followed the collapse of the Brasspatch Plc restoration scheme departed from Newport Docks on February 16 towed by the tug Kingston bound for Portsmouth via Falmouth.


On March 2 it was noted that the ship yard now has a new sign by the main gate to Bidston Dry Dock, Birkenhead. This sign replacing the former modified sign which once carried the Wright and Beyer name. Also a new logo is in the course of application on the building nearest the road. Looks like an arrow pointing in a North Westerly direction towards the letters NWS. [Photos next week].


EUROPEAN SEAFARER departed from Canada Graving Dock on Friday March 1, after attention by North Western Ship Repairers.


It is understood that HMS ECHO will be floated out of the main shed at Appledore on Saturday March. She is expected to stay at New Quay for a while before probably going round to Falmouth for further work.



At about 20 minutes past midnight Swansea Coastguard were informed by the crew of the tug `Hurricane H' which was on passage from Avonmouth to Swansea, that they had run aground on the Scarweather sandbank in the Bristol Channel 10 miles south west of Swansea.

During the passage the vessel, a 280 ton tug, with four crew on board had been buffeted by heavy weather, which were westerly winds of force 5 - 6 with a heavy sea swell. The tide was ebbing when she ran aground just half an hour before low water.

After coming ashore and upon checking around the vessel the crew identified that she remained watertight throughout and had retained full power, although had been bounced on the outgoing tide, and
became hard aground with a severe starboard list.

Swansea Coastguard requested the launch of the Mumbles Lifeboat and brought a Search and Rescue Helicopter to a state of readiness. The Agency's Counter Pollution Officer was also alerted.
 Terry Baldwin, Swansea Coastguard Watch Manager said:

" Due to the list the crew were unable to gain access to their liferaft and as the tide flooded the tug became stern on to the sea. The crew took up positions donning liferafts and taking safety equipment with them in order to evacuate should it prove necessary, but at 02:40 the vessel became free and the crew have reported that the hull has remained sound throughout. During the operation the skipper of the vessel became ill and had to relinquish control of the wheel to a crew-member. The lifeboat is now leading the tug for the rest of its journey into Swansea where further checks will be made. [Photo Chris Jones Collection]


DAWN MERCHANT - Technical problems with Langton Lock on the morning of March 2 resulted in a significant delay on the morning arrival from Dublin. DAWN MERCHANT was noted off the new Twelve Quays landing stage stemming the tide as she awaited the lock. She finally moved off around 10:00 and proceeded to Langton. She arrived on her berth at Canada #3 Branch Dock after her scheduled departure time of 11:00. She finally managed to get away again on her delayed 11:00 sailing for Dublin around 16:00. She passed her sister, BRAVE MERCHANT in the in bound on the 09:00 sailing from Dublin.


The UK's largest purpose built bunker terminal is due for completion at the Port of Liverpool in mid-April following a £1.5 million investment by Henty Oil Limited, with grant aid from the Department of Transport, Local Government and the Regions (DTLR).

Six new 3,000 tonne heated tanks are in the final phase of construction at the firm's Huskisson Dock facility in a "green" scheme which will enable the terminal to be completely supplied with ship's fuel oil by sea instead of road tanker.

Henty Oil have also expanded their fleet of bunkering barges from two to five, including the 560 tonne Stanley H which from April, will be dedicated to fuelling the NorseMerchant superferries operating from Liverpool's new in-river Twelve Quays Terminal for Irish Sea passengers and freight.

The bunkering development has been planned for more than three years by the firm which began operations in Liverpool eight years ago and now supplies over 200,000 tonnes of fuel a year — 75% of the Port's needs.

With the additional tankage the Henty Oil terminal will be able to receive handy-sized vessels discharging up to 18,000 tonnes of fuel oil and has facilities to blend any one of 16 different marine bunkering grades.

"We can supply every type of vessel from the small coaster running on diesel fuel to the Panamax vessel operating on heavy fuel oil," said Managing Director Paul Henty. "Our ability to supply the terminal totally by sea also eliminates the need for 22 road tanker deliveries every day to keep us supplied."

Henty Oil began operation in Liverpool with four second-hand tanks providing a total of 2,300 tonnes of capacity. Eighteen months ago they added a large 4,500 tonne tank for the storage of exports of calcium chloride.

"With the addition of six new 3,000 tonne tanks we are creating the largest purpose built bunker terminal in the whole of the UK with the dual facility of being able to feed vessels visiting the Mersey from anywhere in Europe," added Mr Henty.

As he spoke, a vessel arrived from Poland with 12,000 tonnes of fuel oil. "By importing directly into the facility we have been able to reduce prices and make the Mersey more attractive for taking on bunkers."

Frank Robotham, Director of Marketing for the Mersey Docks and Harbour Company commented: "Henty Oil's latest phase of expansion further increases bulk liquid storage capacity in Liverpool and makes a significant contribution to the competitiveness of the Port for shipowners."

Henty Oil's expansion plans also include development of a fuel oil terminal at Liverpool's sister port of Heysham, 50 miles further north on the UK West Coast. The firm currently operates a bunker terminal for British Gas, meeting the requirements of the offshore industry in Morecambe Bay. The further development of facilities at Heysham will enable Henty to supply fuel oil to the ferries operating out of the Port.


This week the Cornish press reported that
timber from the giant "wood slick" which engulfed Whitsand Bay when the freighter Kodima ran aground on February 16, has washed up in Guernsey.

The 6,400 tonne Russian freighter was abandoned in high seas when her cargo slipped and she began to list badly, putting her crew's safety at risk.

Amid battering storms, the stricken ship shed her deck cargo - 4,000 cubic metres of Swedish pine which was then registered as a hazard to shipping.

Most of the wood has been washed up on the wind-blasted Cornish beaches to the delight of hundreds of "wreckers" - local people who claimed salvage of the cargo.

A Cornish firm is still in the process of using industrial machinery to remove timber from some of the beaches of Whitsand Bay, south east Cornwall, after which it will be broken down to make chipboard.

Coastal research consultant Michael Fennessy, who has been tracking the ship's timber as an exercise in the movement of objects lost at sea in storm conditions, said yesterday he was not surprised that wood from the Kodima's deck cargo had reached Guernsey.

Dr Fennessy said: "This is pretty much what we expected. We can simulate the position and how they might be expected to move.

"Now we are more than three weeks on from the incident - three weeks is quite a time and any computer simulation trying to track the pieces would generally throw a wobbly."

Dr Fennessy added that reports of the timber were getting fewer as it becomes more broken up and less recognisable.

He added: "When this was first in the minds of the public the timber was still fresh and easily recognisable. Now it has been battered and broken, it is not as easy to tell what it is."


Manx Radio has reported that serious damage to the police inquiries into the sinking of the Solway Harvester has been narrowly avoided. The UK Department of Transport, had planned to publish the Marine Accident Investigation Branch's report into the accident - without consulting the Attorney General of the Isle of Man.
If it had been published the contents could have seriously prejudiced any criminal proceedings arising from the local investigation. The Conservative MP for Galloway and Upper Nithsdale, Peter Duncan is describing it as an unforgivable blunder by the UK Department of Transport:



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