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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


  APRIL 2002



A shorter update this weekend has enabled the upload to be posted earlier than originally planned. Please note that the next update is scheduled for FRIDAY May 2. May I request that any submissions for inclusion are forwarded by 19:00 on May 1 as I will be in Ireland over the coming weekend. 

The Birkenhead Dock plans of John Laird and I.K. Brunel have finally been scanned and can be downloaded for printing. I am grateful for Kevin Bennett for forwarding these plans.

Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Tony Brennan, James Edgar, Kevin Bennett, Ian Collard, Cornish Shipping, Brian Chambers and "others".


LADY OF MANN - work is underway to prepare the Lady for her special sailings and the TT festival. On Saturday April 27, she was noted at her usual Alexandra Dock lay-up berth with one lifeboat released and in the dock.

The old pull down windows on the passenger and crew companionways leading to the car ramp appear to have been cut out and look as though they are to be replaced by conventional windows. One wonders why these windows were not replaced years ago.

SEACAT ISLE OF MAN - Her 10:30 sailing on Saturday April 27 was delayed until 12:20 due to adverse conditions. She had arrived at Liverpool from Douglas almost on time.


RIVERDANCE - arrived at North Western Ship Repairers on Saturday April 27. During her absence from the Warrenpoint - Heysham service P&O's former Larne - Troon vessel EUROPEAN MARINER (which has recently been laid up at Barrow)  will join Seatruck on Monday 29th April for approx two weeks..


SIR BEDIVERE finally departed from North Western Ship Repairers Bidston on April 26.


HMS LANCASTER arrived at Liverpool on April 25 for a weekend visit which saw the crew visit the vessel's "home port" of Lancaster for a ceremonial parade.


SUPERSTAR EXPRESS is scheduled to perform berthing trials at Troon, on Wed 1st May.


STENA FORWARDER  On Wednesday morning April 24, Stena Forwarder was coming astern on to berth 51A
when she clipped one of the heavy rubber fenders completely dislodging it and slightly damaging the concrete upright.  She returned to service with the Thursday evening departure from Dublin. 

Mike O'Brien has photos of Stena Europe raising two lifeboats from sea-level to storage position onboard on his Fishguard web site at:.


PACIFIC PINTAIL, completed her dry-docking at A&P Falmouth on Thursday April 18 and with the aid of the Ankorva and Percuil sailed out into the bay where she anchored for a short time before finally sailing for Barrow-in-Furness.

On Friday the vessel is reported to have sailed to collect mixed oxide plutonium from a nuclear reactor of Japan's Kansai Electric Power Co. The 5,271-ton PACIFIC PINTAIL left the port of Barrow-in-Furness to pick up 255 kilograms of MOX plutonium that was shipped from Britain to Japan in 1999, but was rejected after British Nuclear Fuels Ltd. admitted it had falsified safety data during its production. The plutonium was intended for use at Kansai Electric's Takahama nuclear plant in Fukui Prefecture, central Japan, but is being left there unused.

The ship's route has not been disclosed but it is expected to arrive at the Takahama plant in July, returning to Britain with the MOX plutonium during the autumn.



One of Ireland's biggest Dairy CO-OP has started to import large tankers of bulk milk from the UK, the milk is going to Mallow.

Up to ten Milk Tankers a day have been arriving in the Port of Rosslare on the STENA EUROPE from Fishguard

The Bulk Milk will be manufactured into intervention products.

Around 15 million gallons of liquid milk are now being imported annually into the south according to reliable industry estimates.

A total of 10 million gallons of this is being brought in, in bulk form and 5 million gallons in packaged form.


New railcars for the new L.U.A.S. Dublin Light Rail System are now being imported into Rosslare Europort on board P&O's EUROPEAN DIPLOMAT.

The New Dublin Light Rail Service will commence over next two years.

Negotiations on the mutli-million pound contract to operate Dublin's new  Dublin Light Rail System are nearing completion.

The European company Connex, has been awarded the contract for five years and is currently in discussions with the Rail Procurement Agency here over the financial terms.

The  L.U.A.S. System is due to come into operation on a phased basis over the next two years, with first passengers due to be carried late next year, and will employ in the region of 190 people.


The annual remembrance service in honour of more than 900 American servicemen who were killed during a Second World War military exercise took place on Sunday April 28 at Stokenham Church near Torcross. On April 28, 1944, hundreds of US soldiers involved in Exercise Tiger were killed when their landing boats were sunk by German E-boats off Torcross. Each year, the Devon and Cornwall Royal Tank Regiment Association, which is twinned with the 70th Tank Battalion, US Army, holds a remembrance service for the men. 


Barrow-in-Furness is to stage a £100,000 two-day Festival of the Sea later this year to exploit the town's coastal assets.

The entire dock area between Barrow's Dock Museum and the Association of British Ports pier head, including Devonshire Dock Hall, will be transformed into the main festival site on August 17 and 18.

There will be craft marquees and various ships, which visitors will be welcome to board. These will include ships used by British Nuclear Fuels, BAE Systems in Barrow and the Royal Navy.

The highly-acclaimed Red Arrows will also make a special appearance on Sunday at about 2.30pm.

Barrow's Model Boat Club is also putting on an exhibition and Barrow artists will be hanging some of their paintings in Barrow Library during the weekend.

Bird lovers can take part in the events being organised at Walney Nature Reserve during the weekend and there will be a large fun fair on the docks in Barrow for the youngsters.

The festival is to cost about £100,000 but already the Associated British Ports, BNFL and BAE Systems have agreed to pay for their own displays.

The Countryside Agency has also given a grant for £5,000 to cover the cost of advertising and marketing the event.

Organisers are now seeking sponsorship from local business to help fund the festival, which will be held from 10:00 until 22:00 on Saturday and from 10:00 until 18:00 on Sunday




Please note that the update scheduled for Sunday May 5 has been rescheduled to Friday May 3 at 23:00 due to the fact that I will be off to Dún Laoghaire for the May Bank Holiday weekend. If you are submitting photographs or material for this update please try to send items by 19:00 on Thursday May 2. 

Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Ian Collard, Geoff Hanley, Tommy Dover, Mike O'Brien and "others".


On April 4 I noted the small tug FORAGER [ex AFON WEN] and a jack up drilling platform in Wicklow Harbour. A correspondent from Wicklow has confirmed that the platform and tug is involved in carrying out test drillings for the planned wind farm on the Codling Bank 


Annual General Meeting — Chairman's Statement
Trading in the first quarter has been satisfactory, and in particular volumes in the ports division have improved since our preliminary results announcement on 19th February. In most of our key cargo sectors, performance stands slightly ahead of our expectations.

Although container volumes continue to be held back by weakness on the North Atlantic routes, overall container throughput in Liverpool is in line with last year. Even with static volume, modest revenue growth combined with improved productivity and strong cost control have resulted in margin improvement in this cargo sector. Container throughput at Marine Terminals in Dublin is showing an increase of over 10% compared to last year.

Grain imports have been in line with our expectations, and we are confident that last year's 5% reduction in grain volumes will be reversed in the current year.

A small reduction in Irish Sea roll-on roll-off freight through Liverpool reflects the limited impact of the competing P&O service from Mostyn. We expect volume growth to resume in the second half of the year, stimulated in particular by the opening of Twelve Quays. Berthing trials are due to take place on 1st May and the first NorseMerchant sailings are scheduled for the end of May. At Heysham, volumes have been steady notwithstanding unprecedented levels of rate cutting on competing routes.

At Sheerness fresh produce volumes are slightly down on last year but ahead of our expectations, following the exceptional growth achieved in 2001. Import car volumes have again been strong, and the Group has recently purchased 35 acres of land at Queenborough to accommodate the anticipated future growth in this cargo sector.

Solid performances have been maintained in our shipping and logistics divisions. The markets in which we operate are characterised by overcapacity and price competition, and our aim is accordingly focused on margin retention and improvement.

In the property division, the termination of the Princes Dock joint venture was completed on 15th April, following an independent valuation of David McLean Group's 50% shareholding which resulted in a payment for their shares of £9.9 million. This transaction will secure maximum benefits for our shareholders as the site continues to be developed. At our Spade Lane development in Kent, agreement has been reached with Intier Systems for the lease of 145,000 sq ft, representing approximately half of the total floor space, for a guaranteed term of five years.

The Group has invested heavily in recent years in the acquisition and development of port facilities, and this has created a platform for strong growth in favourable market conditions. In the current year, notwithstanding the uncertain economic climate, the Board is confident that progress will be achieved and the Group will benefit further as and when the predicted recovery in the United States economy gathers pace.


The Brigantine ZEBU, which as some readers will know is a Baltic timber trader which distinguished herself in the 1980's with a 4-year Circumnavigation of the World as Adventure Flagship of the International Youth Expedition Operation Raleigh, has been based in Liverpool for some years. After a few years of sail training in the Irish Sea, she was taken out of active commission and put into a major rebuild under the aegis of the Mersey Heritage Trust. "It is necessary to take a long-term view of the future of historic vessels like ZEBU" says Geoff Hanley, Project Leader. "There comes a point at which maintenance alone will not see a ship sailing on for decades more, and at that point you need to choose to jettison everything which has a limited life, and rebuild the ship on the firm basis of her enduring structures."

In ZEBU's case, a hull rebuild at Clarence Graving Dock by veteran traditional shipwrights from Hull was followed by stripping out the entire interior and systems, revealing that the accommodation which had been built in for Operation Raleigh was "pretty tacky stuff", according to the team who skipped it all. A new hardwood lower deck was built in, new engine room and systems installed, and statutory watertight bulkheads constructed. Next down were the spars, which have been refurbished in the Trust's workshops. A new 32ft main topmast and a new 46 foot course yard have also been made. The winter of 2000/2001 saw the foremast coming out, to be rebuilt in a compound at Derby Road Firestation Yard through 2001.

"During this time she looked pretty sad" says Geoff, "So we've kept her out of the limelight." Now, however, her foremast is back in (a smooth operation in the first weather window in the year on March 3rd), and ZEBU's new standing rigging is complete - six weeks of intensive skilled rigging work, returning her to her identity as a traditional sailing ship. The square-rig is ready go back on, hopefully in time for the River Festival, but first ZEBU is heading for dry dock. So where have the skills come from to do all this specialist work - watch this space; you may be surprised.


It appears that Liverpool's Princes' Landing Stage could be extended in a £10.5 million development which will restore the Landing Stage to its original length. The details were revealed in the local press following a report by specialist consultants to Liverpool City Council.

The extension to the landing stage would facilitate the berthing of cruise ships. It is reported that full details will be revealed to the city council's executive board on Friday, when they are expected to approve the continuation of the project and submit applications for funding.

The terminal is expected to attract between 20 and 30 cruise ships to the city each year, along with more than 25,000 passengers - and is also likely to create around 100 new jobs and bring around £6m of revenue to the region each year. A cruise director will be appointed to promote Liverpool in international markets.

Funding for the project is likely to come from the European Regional Development Fund, the Single Regeneration Budget and the North West Regional Development Agency. Construction would take around two years.


The gig was built by local gig builder Pete Martin in his shed at Porthloo. He built his first gig in 1998 for Mount's Bay called the Storm. 12 months later, he had built is second gig for the same club called the Taran, which is Cornish for storm.

Last year, Mr Martin built the MORLADER for Penryn, which came an impressive fifth for the new crew.

This year, the EMPEROR was launched on Sunday 21 April. All the local gigs and crews went to the launch in support.

It was a double celebration, because the New Inn's brewery had launched a beer the same day with the name 'Emperor' - another good excuse for festivities.

St Martins' used to have two gigs, called the Emperor and Empress


The Norwegian bulk tanker GINA which has been berthed for some weeks in Huskisson #1 Branch Dock was moved to West Langton on April 23. This vessel is believed to have been detained after arriving on Merseyside with a cargo of molasses. 

PRINCE ALBERT has now moved to Clarence Graving Docks. She had been offered for sale for some time and has presumably been sold. Further information is sought.


The Port St. Mary Lifeboat was summoned to assist the 30 foot yacht SCAR MARI around 19:30 on April 23. The vessel was reported lost in fog to the west of the Chickens. The lifeboat towed the yacht back to Port St.Mary around 21:30. Only one person was on board a man who had been on a voyage from Holyhead to Peel.

The crew of the Port St Mary Lifeboat had been out on normal exercise when the call came, and five members of the Baltimore lifeboat crew who had been on-board the vessel at the time, en-route home from Port Patrick, joined them in the rescue.


EUROPEAN MARINER is reported to remain laid up at Barrow.


Though not of direct concern to Irish Sea operations it is interesting to speculate if further changes could be afoot which may affect operations in our local waters.

P&O and Stena Line announced on Tuesday April 23 that they have signed a memorandum of understanding that will lead to a consolidation of P&O's Short Sea ferry interests and a possible rationalisation of ferry services on the North Sea.

P&O is to acquire Stena Line's 40% shareholding in P&O Stena Line. P&O will pay Stena Line approximately £150 million by way of consideration. The acquisition will further strengthen P&O's position in a part of the UK - Continent ferry market that has been consistently profitable and which
offers a strong growth opportunity. P&O intends to build on this and to maximise synergy benefits with its other ferry operations. 

Prior to completion of the transaction, P&O Stena Line is expected to declare a final dividend for 2001 of £9 million which will be paid to P&O and Stena Line as to 60% and 40% respectively.

Separately, P&O Stena Line is today announcing that consultations have commenced with employee representatives about the possible closure of the Dover/Zeebrugge route towards the end of this year. The consultations will also address retonnaging options, with the three ferries currently on the
Dover/Zeebrugge route possibly replacing two older ferries currently on the Dover/Calais route. This would result in an overall reduction in the P&O Stena Line fleet from 10 ships to 8 ships. The Dover/Zeebrugge ferries would require conversion, leading to a further significant overall improvement in the P&O Stena Line fleet.

As part of a separate transaction, P&O North Sea Ferries has entered into consultation with employee representatives about the possible closure of the Felixstowe/Zeebrugge and Felixstowe/Rotterdam routes. Five ships currently operate on these two routes, three of which are owned by P&O North Sea
Ferries and two of which are chartered. P&O is in advanced negotiations with Stena Line regarding the sale to Stena Line of the three owned ships, and the transfer of their crews, with a view to their possible operation on a new Harwich/Rotterdam route. The decision to consult about the possible closure of the Felixstowe routes, and the Dover/Zeebrugge route, results from their inability to achieve an adequate return, despite the best efforts of management.

ommenting on today's announcement, P&O Chairman Lord Sterling said: "The developments we are proposing today present a major opportunity for the future of our whole ferry business. The way we will be able to manage the business together with our strong brand name, the quality of our product and the long term growth in the market will contribute significantly to the improvements that we are already seeing this year."

P&O Stena Line currently operates 10 ships, with 7 on Dover/Calais and 3 on Dover/Zeebrugge. In 2001, its average net operating assets were £276 million and its operating profit £42.1 million; net assets at 31 December 2001 were £132 million. P&O Stena Line was formed on 10 March 1998. P&O has a 60% economic interest and Stena Line 40%. The two shareholders have equal voting rights.

P&O North Sea Ferries currently operates 14 ships, 5 on routes from Hull, 4 from Teesport and 5 from Felixstowe. Two new state of the art cruise ferries were introduced on the Hull/Rotterdam route in 2001, replacing four older ships. In 2001 P&O North Sea Ferries' average net operating assets were £95 million. One-off retonnaging costs of £10 million and an adverse impact from the foot and mouth outbreak of £4 million contributed to an overall loss for the year.

Consultation is taking place with all employees who may be affected by the transactions. The acquisition by P&O of Stena Line's 40% shareholding will be subject to clearance by the European Commission. The sale of three P&O North Sea Ferries ships to Stena Line and the possible closure of the Felixstowe routes will be subject to clearance under UK and Dutch merger control law.


Stena Lynx III arrived back in Fishguard on April 22, photographs can be found on Mike O'Brien's Fishguard site:


On April 24, it was reported by the Press and Journal that concern has been voiced yet again over the delay in transferring powers to the Scottish Parliament to allow the Campbeltown to Ballycastle ferry service to be put out to tender. The draft order was sent to the Scottish Executive at least 10 weeks ago and Argyll MSP George Lyon and MP Alan Reid are now seeking an urgent meeting with Deputy Transport Minister Lewis Macdonald to discuss the delay. Mr Lyon said: "All the Scottish Executive has to do is let the Scotland Office know that they agree with the draft order. I cannot understand why this process is taking so long, that is why I have demanded urgent talks with the minister. The Executive is showing no signs of the urgency that is required. The winning tender must be known by late summer so the service can be advertised in next year's brochures."



The maritime events section of the web site has been somewhat overlook of late in fact its terms of reference referred to Merseyside reflecting the origins of the Irish Sea Shipping web site as Mersey Shipping News. How things have moved on over the past few years.

A number of entries for 2002 have been inserted and further updates for 2002 will follow. The only terms of reference are that material submitted must concern be relevant to the Irish Sea Shipping coverage area either in terms of location or subject of the event. Hence the Titanic convention listed in Stratford Upon Avon counts as being valid. 

Please submit any events by email = with Maritime Events in the subject line to


A classic ship poll is currently under way on the Irish Sea Ships Yahoo group. There is a choice of current classic vessels still operating in the Irish Sea Shipping coverage area and you are invited to make your choice. The poll concludes next weekend. Click on the link to vote:

A future poll which will commence next week will seek to identify the favourite classic ship which operated in this area but which escaped preservation. For this nominations are being sought. Please send your nominations by email - Subject:  Classic Nominations to The terms of reference are: The ship must no longer be in existence in any form and must have been scrapped after 1945.

Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Ian Collard, Edwin Wilmshurst, Kevin Bennett, Justin Merrigan - Incat, David Roberts - Avid Publications, Tony Brennan, John Williams, David Sallery and "others".


Avid Publications the Merseyside based maritime publishers is about to republish the revised and updated Blue Funnel Classic- by award winning author Richard Woodman BLUE FUNNEL - VOYAGE EAST. Other recent titled by Avid Publications include:


by David Zeni

This book tells the fascinating story of ‘Liverpool’s Lost Empress’, the Canadian Pacific Passenger liner RMS Empress of Ireland. On her way home to Liverpool from Canada, she was sunk in a collision on the St. Lawrence River, Canada. Two years after the Titanic, it was, in terms of passenger fatalities, an even greater tragedy.


by David Hollett

One of the very few books to deal with the Involvement of Britain in the US Civil War. A book that reads like the most exciting of novels - but it remains historical fact. Recent history is riddled with tales of how governments and individuals have secretly schemed to undermine efforts to maintain peace throughout the world. Racketeering in the remains of Yugoslavia, sanction-busting in South Africa, America's "Irangate' affair, and the UK's Iraqi 'Supergun' scandal. All of these involve personal profit, political influence - or both. When the grimy details are exposed, the fallout is often acutely embarrassing for the parties involved. The Alabama Affair is no exception ~ this book reveals the turmoil and intrigue surrounding a deal involving the British government, the now defunct Merseyside shipyard of Cammell Laird and a country engaged in civil war, America.


The little known story of the Liverpool Lifeboat Disaster of 1892 is one of those true stories that has simply been waiting around in history be told. Now at last the waiting is over. Jim Sullivan has painstakingly researched these real life events, which, because of his own family’s connection, becomes even more compelling.

Further information on these titles can be found at

SEA CONTAINERS \ Isle of Man Steam Packet Company

The Isle of Man Steam Packet Company, the world's oldest continuously operating ferry enterprise, has sold Pounds 65m of bonds backed by cash flows from its ferries and other assets.

Steam Packet is the exclusive ferry operator for the Isle of Man and has been serving routes between the UK, the Isle of Man and Northern Ireland since 1830.

The asset-backed bond deal was due to launch in November last year but was postponed until after Steam Packet's Isle of Man ferry contract had been renewed. The renewal, which came in February, helped attract investors to the bond issue.

The 10-year fixed and floating-rate bonds are rated BBB by Standard & Poor's. 


Building on its tremendous successes so far, the Steam Packet has announced additional special offer fares to add to its already widely accessible year round programme of special deals.

Car and motorcycle day excursion fares are the latest in the Company's travel initiatives designed to attract and appeal to every need of its customers.

Available Monday to Thursday inclusive, a car + 4 return is available from just £119.00 while a motorcycle + 2 is available from only £45.00!

This special offer is available for travel from April 22  until May 22 and from June 11 until September 30 and is anticipated to be attractive for both business and leisure travel. Car day excursion fares are already available daily from October to March.

BEN-MY-CHREE - Manx Radio reports that Drug Squad officers have made their biggest ever seizure of Cocaine, with an estimated street value of £50 000. This is the second large drugs seizure in less than a month.  In an operation with Customs and Excise they stopped a vehicle as it disembarked from the early morning sailing from Heysham on Friday April 19

RAPIDE was due to operate between Belfast and Troon on Sunday April 21 to accommodate football
traffic. One wonders if her increased capacity over SEACAT SCOTLAND may lead to increased appearances on the Belfast - Troon route.


Something from elsewhere in the Sea Containers empire:

July 4th Cruise

Celebrate Independence Day in style with SeaStreak!

Cruise to the famous Macy's 4th of July Fireworks display aboard a luxurious SeaStreak vessel!  Enjoy the very best views of the fireworks as we anchor in the East River and be part of the magic that is 4th of July in New York!

Dinner Cruise Package

While en-route, you will take pleasure in a sumptuous All-American-Bar-B-Que Buffet and Fireworks Cruise.  Enjoy chicken, ribs, burgers, hot dogs, sausage and peppers, cold salads, corn, watermelon and soft drinks!  Cash bar will also be available. The Dinner Cruise Package is $95 per person and departs from

Highlands at 6:00pm

Fireworks Only Cruise

Feel free to bring dinner onboard!  There will be a cash bar and hotdogs available for sale.

The Fireworks Only Cruise is $60 per person and departs from  Highlands at 5:30pm and South Amboy at 6:00pm.



Reservations are required and space is limited.  Call 1-800-BOATRIDE


RFA SIR GALAHAD departed from West Alexandra after undergoing work by North Western Ship repairers during the week.

RFA SIR BEDIVERE was reported out in the river on Sunday April 21, returning to Alfred Lock. She has been undergoing refit work at North Western Ship Repairers Bidston Dry Dock.


On Sunday morning April 21, WOODCHURCH briefly replaced ROYAL IRIS OF THE MERSEY on the ferry service to allow the ROYAL IRIS OF THE MERSEY to participate in the Zeebrugge Raid Commemorative Ceremony.


Fred Olsen Energy ASA, owners of the struggling Harland & Wolff shipyard in Belfast, has declared its intention to scale down from shipbuilding to repair and conversion of ships and offshore rigs. The owners wish to make 300 hectares available for commercial redevelopment, but meets with opposition from the North Irish authorities. The shipyard has a debt of £90 million to Fred Olsen Energy, but also a claim of £200 million against Glomar Santa Fe from the construction of two FPSOs.


Passenger figures compiled by the Harbours Division for March 2002 at 40,816 show a 56.3% increase on the figure for the same period in 2001 which was 26,120.

Since January the total of 78,115 passengers shows a 25.8% increase over the same period in 2001 which was 62,110.

During March car traffic through Douglas Harbour increased by 31.5% from 7,796 vehicles to 10,254 vehicles.

Since January, the total of 22,172 vehicles shows a 14% increase over the same period in 2001 which was 19,455.

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


plus 35%






plus 72%






all plus






all plus





Freight Traffic

March commercial vehicle metreage increased by 5% from 38,097 metres to 39,987 metres.

Director of Harbours, Captain Michael Brew comments:

March 2002 passenger figures are a record for any March by a significant amount

'Whilst the figures are influenced by some Easter traffic, they highlight the strong on-going growth in sea travel with passenger traffic spread over the whole month.

Freight metreage is also a record for any month and the first time the monthly metreage figure has ever exceed 39,000 metres. At 39,987 metres the total shows that the growth in freight traffic is continuing


Tim Timoleon has written concerning  the Westamaran 88 Catamaran which was noted at Royal Seaforth Dock, last weekend.

The vessel (ex-'Midthordland') was acquired by Danish fast ferry operator Pilen from Hardanger Sunnhordlandske D/S, Norway in 1994 and entered service on the Copenhagen-Malmö, Sweden route. It had been laid up at Malmö since October 2000 following the take-over of Pilen by Scandlines. 

Another contact has recorded that the vessel's destination is Cyprus.


On April 18 More than 200 people from the dockyard marched through the streets of Falmouth objecting to A & P's use of workers from Dover. They claim the company's actions will damage the local economy and cost jobs. Talks between union officials and A&P were reported to be taking place following the protests.


The Irish Examiner reported this week on how Cóbh, last port of call of the ill fated liner, commemorated the disaster 90 years ago:

The  faint melody of cathedral bells carried in the wind as a golden yellow fresh flower wreath was placed on the sea at the last anchorage spot of the SS Titanic off Cork harbour. Surrounded by a flotilla of sailing vessels, the flagship of the Irish naval service, the LE Eithne, dropped anchor 1.2 miles directly south of Roches Point where, 90 years ago, the last of the passengers boarded the Titanic on its maiden transatlantic voyage.

Naval chaplain Fr Desmond Campion led the prayers in memory of those that perished while thoughts were also with remaining survivors.

Cobh restaurateur Vincent Keaney said he telephoned Titanic survivor 90-year-old Millvina Deane at her Southampton home early yesterday. She is one of four survivors still alive.

"She has become a dear friend to many people in the Irish Titanic Historical Society and to people in Cobh," he said. "I assured her our thoughts were with her and that we would remember in our prayers her father and brother, both called Bertram, whose lives were lost."

The historic commemoration has forged new links between schools and local authorities in Cobh and Belfast, the two Irish seaports most famously connected with the Titanic.

"We intend to foster and reinforce the links between Belfast and Cobh," said Cllr Tom Hartley, chairman of Belfast's council's tourism sub-committee. "Our relationship is unique," said Cobh's mayor John Mulvihill, "and we intend to pursue it to strengthen a north-south friendship between two famed ports."

Cobh was en fete was the historic commemoration. Hundreds gathered at vantage points along the promenade and on terrace walls high above the harbour.

At the bandstand in the magnificent Kennedy Gardens, Cobh Fraternity Band struck up concert music contrasting sharply with the more solemn 49 bell carillon of St Colman's Cathedral.

American Cliff Lawrence was researching his family roots in Co Mayo last week when he heard about the commemoration.

"I didn't realise, until my arrival here, Cobh's links with the ship. It's a pleasant surprise for me. It's a very touching tribute," the 60 year old ex television broadcaster said.

Jim Finucane, chairman of the Jeanie Johnson Trust, was aboard the LE Eithne as the famine replica ship - crewed by volunteers and captained by Mike Forwood - came alongside to pay a tribute to the memory of those aboard the White Star liner.


NORBAY was noted on Monday making a trip from Liverpool to Mostyn for berthing trials.


In April 1902, 12 members of the ships company of the Royal Navy battleship, HMS MARS lost their lives during gunnery exercises off the Fastnet Rock. Nine of the victims are buried in the Old Church Cemetery near Cobh, Co Cork.

In 1999 Irish Naval Chief Petty Officer Owen O’Keefe found the graves and he set about restoring them since then. In 2000, the Navy assisted the Cork and County Branch of the Royal Naval Association (RNA) in erecting a small monument near the site.

On Sunday of April 14 , a ceremony, organised by the Cork and County Branch of the Royal Naval Association took place to mark the Centennial Anniversary of the deaths of these 12 sailors.

The ceremony included an Ecumenical Service at Christchurch, Church of Ireland, Cobh and Commemorative address by the Chairman of the Royal Naval Association followed by a Wreath Laying ceremony at the Old Church cemetery.

In attendance were relatives of the deceased men, members of the RNA, representatives of the Organisation of Ex-Servicemen and Women (ONEW) and representative bodies from LE EITHNE and HMS SUTHERLAND who was on a courtesy visit to Cork at that time.

The Band of the 1st Southern Brigade provided musical honours. It was reported by RTÉ's Seascapes that this was the first occasion that Royal Naval personnel present at the commemoration had drilled to commands given in Gaelic.



The Incat-built 98 metre Evolution 10B class Wave Piercing Catamaran The Cat (hull number 059) has been delivered to her new owner, Canada’s Bay Ferries.

Having completed sea trials The Cat, already affectionately nicknamed "Blue Cat" thanks to her eye catching livery, departed Hobart at 2305 hrs 14 April. The new ship will start service on the international route between Yarmouth in Canada and Bar Harbor in the United States in May.

Bay Ferries President, Mr Mitchell McLean said, "I am impressed with the increased carrying capacity achieved with the 98 metre ship. It will allow us to carry heavy freight, more coaches and recreational vehicles than we were able to with our earlier Incat vessel. The new ship offers our passengers a luxurious and comfortable ride. That combination means we will be able to broaden our customer base for increased revenue.

The acquisition is a confirmed vote of confidence in the Incat product considering last season we operated with 98% on time and 84% total customer satisfaction."

With its distinctive "Blue Cat" livery The Cat will carry 900 passengers, and 267 cars or a lesser number of cars plus heavy freight vehicles; an increase of 11% in car capacity and a huge increase in freight capacity over the previous 91 metre craft on the route.

Incat Chairman Robert Clifford said "All customers are good customers, but a repeat customer really makes us smile as it is proof positive we build the best and most reliable fast ships in the world. Incat has been built on a history of selling multiple numbers of vessels to a small but growing list of quality customers."



Welcome to this weekend's update a little smaller than the previous two weeks offerings but still providing a variety of news and views. 

I have received some interesting material from Kevin Bennett which includes photocopies of historical plans of Birkenhead Docks proposed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel and John Laird. I hope to scan and upload this to the ISS Maritime Heritage Site during the coming week. Once done it will be routed from the "What's New" page on the main site.

Given the large amount of material recently uploaded to the site, I will be pruning some older material over the coming week to keep things to a manageable size. This is essential to avoid lengthy update operations. 

In the medium term I am seeking to obtain broadband access to the internet which will facilitate faster updating and greater use of the total 300 megabytes which are available to the site. Unfortunately such an upgrade is dependent on British Telecom. At present south Liverpool does not appear to have broadband access or at least my local exchange does not. I have, however, registered my interest with BT so it will now just be a case of waiting till local facilities are upgraded.

Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, John Williamson, Ian Collard, Mike O'Brien, Justin Merrigan - Incat, Stan Basnett, Keith Messant, Clive Jackson, Andy Evans and "others".


  Ships of Mann In Good Company is the latest special publication from Ships of Mann Magazine. 

This book is a compilation of over 65 previously unpublished photographs of Isle of Man Steam Packet ships and other ships associated with the Isle of Man in the company of other interesting ships and the occasional personality. 

Priced at only £2.50 the book can be obtained from the usual retail outlets or direct from Ships of Mann .

Also recently published is the fourth edition of Ships of Mann Magazine. Full details on the Ships of Mann web site


The Bermuda Sun reported on April 10 that Sea Containers Ltd. may sell its 50 per cent stake in a container-leasing joint venture to General Electric Co.'s GE Capital Corp., Business Week said, citing unnamed investors. GE Capital and Sea Containers are partners in GE SeaCo., and the joint venture is set to expire in 2003 unless the companies extend the agreement or renegotiate, the magazine said. Sea Containers, which operates cargo and ferry ships, plans to sell and spin off its majority interest in Orient-Express Hotels Ltd. this year to reduce $1.6 billion in debt, Business Week said. Sea Containers declined to comment on the joint venture's future, the magazine said.


Noted at the Royal Seaforth Dock, Liverpool on Saturday April 13 was the passenger catamaran DELFINEN alongside the heavy-lift ship BELUGA SUPERSTITION. Lifting slings were attached to the vessel which had arrived as deck cargo. 

It is thought that the vessel was lifted into the water to allow access to the BELUGA SUPERSTITION's holds. Any information on the DELFINEN which is similar to the former Western Ferries HIGHLAND SEABIRD would be welcome.


MERSEY MAMMOTH which has been missing from the Mersey Docks for some days has been reported working on the dock gates at

MERSEY VENTURE - the dredger entered Canada Graving Dock for maintenance work this week.


The Liverpool Daily Post reports that the famous engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel could facilitate a group of ramblers from beyond the grave as they fight to preserve a walkway through the Twelve Quays ferry terminal site.

Archaic parliamentary documents have been uncovered by the campaigners who have launched a fight against the Mersey Docks and Harbour Company over public access to a path at the Twelve Quays development.

The path runs between two ferry terminals Woodside and Seacombe, Wirral, and has been closed to the public since work began to create a new roll-on roll-off ferry terminal.

Now, conservationists claim they have irrefutable proof that the path is a public right of way and should be reopened under an 1844 Act of Parliament.

They have researched 19th century parliamentary minutes in which pioneering Victorian engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel insists that the path must remain a right of way after the building of the Birkenhead docks.

Until now Brunel is not thought to have been directly involved in the creation of the docks. But new evidence suggests he was far more instrumental. As chief engineer of the Great Western railway, he worked hand-in-hand with the engineers behind the dock system, James Meadows Rendel and John Bernard Hartley, son of Jesse Hartley, the man responsible for Liverpool's Albert Dock. Indeed, researchers have found evidence that Hartley showed his plans to Brunel, who made several amendments to create the site we know today.

And at a meeting of the Parliamentary Select Committee in 1858, Brunel, under cross-examination from barristers, says that the esplanade belongs to the public.

The claim, conservationists say, is supported by deeds relating to the land before it was turned into docks.

The fight is being led by the Wirral Ramblers' Association (WRA), which has now been joined by more than 60 regional and national organisations in calling for a public inquiry.

Protester Graham Handley last night said: "Any land that is between low and high water was owned by the Crown and this is true of the dockland.

"Information we have uncovered shows it was handed over by the Crown on the strict condition that it remained a public footpath.

"This proves quite clearly that it is a public right of way."

Wirral Council rejected an appeal by WRA to have the path legally registered on the peninsula's Definitive Map of Rights of Way.

Campaigners, including Wirral Footpaths and Open Spaces Preservation Society, Friends of the Earth, Wirral Cycling Campaign and the Federation of Sea Anglers, have now sent the new information to Margaret Beckett, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

In a quirk of history, the situation has grown into an almost carbon-copy of a battle over the same walkway in the 1850s.

Twelve Quays was then known as the South Reserve as it had been reserved by the Crown for the public.

Charges to bring goods through the port were levied by Liverpool Corporation to run the city as no rates were paid at the time.

The Merchants of Manchester objected to the charges with the ensuing row resulting in some colourful exchanges in Parliament and, eventually, the building of the Manchester Ship Canal. The argument is generally believed to the background to a rivalry which still exists today. Mr. Handley said: "The battle over the walkway in the past is exactly the same as the one that exists today.

"In the 1800s it was between big business and public interest and this is the same. It's history literally repeating itself."

A government spokesman confirmed the department had received the documents but said he was unable to comment until consideration to an inquiry had been given.

The MDHC say there is no right of way and refute the campaigners' claim. 


HMCC SEEKER - The new customs cutter called at Fishguard on April 11. 

The cutter is the latest addition to the fleet of Her Majesty's Customs Cutters (HMCC) which
consists of seven vessels.

HMCC "Seeker" cost more than £4m to build and has advanced tracking, navigation and surveillance equipment.

David Hewer, head of Customs and Excise Maritime Branch, said: "Our new vessel is designed to combat smuggling and enforce Customs control at the frontiers.

"She is one of a highly successful class of fast patrol craft and boasts sophisticated navigation, surveillance and communications equipment."

HMCC Seeker and her sister ship - HMCC Searcher, who is to follow soon - will replace 20-year-old vessels which are being put up for sale.

The cutter is the first vessel to be built for Customs and Excise by Damen Shipyards, Holland, in the 42-metre class.

HMCC Seeker is a development of the earlier Damen Stan Patrol 4100 produced for the Netherlands, Antilles and Aruba Coastguard under contract from the Royal Netherlands Navy.

The cutters operate in British and international waters.


The Manx Attorney General is reported to be deciding if any prosecutions should take place in relation to the sinking of the scallop dredger SOLWAY HARVESTER. 

John Corlett is studying the police report into the tragedy, in which seven Scottish fishermen died.

The Isle of Man Constabulary says it will make no further comment until instructions have been received from the Attorney General's chambers. 

A report, by the United Kingdom's Marine Accident Investigations Branch, will be released once matters have been progressed in the Island. 

The Kirkcudbright registered vessel foundered in Manx waters on January 11th, 2000. 


Merseyside Maritime Museum nets two top heritage prizes Two of the World Ship Trust's prestigious Maritime Heritage Awards are to be presented to Merseyside Maritime Museum for its work in helping to preserve our sea heritage.

The awards go to the Edmund Gardner pilot boat, at the museum's Historic Quaysides, and the museum's top ship conservation and restoration expert John Kearon.

Both awards will be presented by Trust president Jaques Chauveau at a ceremony in the dining saloon of the Edmund Gardner attended by leading figures from the world of maritime heritage.

Mike Stammers, keeper of the Merseyside Maritime Museum, said: "We are delighted to receive these awards which further enhance our standing as one of the great maritime museums of the world."

John Kearon, who has an international reputation for his work in recording and preserving historic ships and boats, said: "It is a great honour to receive this award. I am very proud that my work has been recognised in this way."

The Edmund Gardner, built in 1953, could accommodate up to 32 pilots and served Mersey shipping for nearly 30 years before being replaced by high-speed launches. She has been a popular attraction at the Historic Quaysides for many years.

The World Ship Trust is dedicated to the recognition of, and support for, historic vessels. It bestows its Maritime Heritage Awards upon those ships considered of "transcendent importance" in the context of maritime history and heritage.


A correspondent reports that the recently reopened ferry service between Fleetwood and Knott End has been experiencing difficulties again. The ferry was reported  inoperative at 16.30 and 17.00 on Wednesday evening, hard aground on the bank off the end of the ramp at Knott End.   


I have received the following information from a correspondent concerning the CLIPPER SUN. The cargo ship which spent a number of months berthed near the Duke St. Bridge in Birkenhead following refit by North Western Ship Repairers. The vessel having been sold by Cammell Laird receivers last year.

Apparently the ships owner could not acquire the required certificates to sail and had unsettled bills for repairs including a very large amount due to North West Ship Repairers which covered the original docking.

Main problem was obtaining certified drawings of the ship - the originals from Romania where the vessel was built were in Romanian but for all 'international purposes' drawings should be in English - and Bureau Veritas were requiring these before final approvals. The Piraeus Office of BV handled as ship 'was' Maltese flag. It was likely that several more weeks delay would be likely so the owner got a 'very small/insignificant and not main stream recognised' 'classification company - Marine Services Bureau in Piraeus to attend the vessel. After 2 days of looking round the vessel - and with vessel 'temporarily' reregistered in TONGA (as Malta will not recognise Marine Services Bureau) Marine Services Bureau issued Certificates which enabled the ship to 'satisfy' authorities and sail from a UK port.  It is the  owners intention that when, eventually, the drawings are translated into English he will revert back to BV.  Owner decided to take this route and 'earn some revenue' rather than pay out. With ship stemmed to sail at 01:00 last Thursday April 4 - the ship was still under detention with a high Court writ issued by North Western Ship Repairers. Monies were finally paid early afternoon and detention lifted to enable vessel to sail. Ship apparently broke down 3 times eventually having to have tug assistance through the locks - and then a tug connected all the way to the Liverpool Bar where she broke down again and anchored she was later believed to be heading for Gibraltar.


STENA CALEDONIA - has been out of action during the past week due to a generator fire which occurred on Monday. It is understood that a portable generator is being installed and some rewiring taking place. She was due to return to service on the 20:00 sailing from Belfast on April 13.


C2C, the short sea joint venture involving Belgian firms Cobelfret and European Container Services (ECS), last week launched a new service between Zeebrugge and Warrenpoint in Northern Ireland. The partners have chartered the 361teu capacity INDUNA and will operate a weekly service between the two ports.

There will be an additional call on the westbound leg at the French port of Radicatel, near Le Havre.

Michel Cigrang, Cobelfret agent for C2C, said quality of service had dictated the choice of ports.

"Radicatel is a nice small port with a good service, and we are aware that these days Le Havre is focusing on deep-sea traffic.

"Warrenpoint is well located at the border with good connections to both north and south Ireland. Dublin and Belfast are saturated and again, the big operators are heavily involved there, " he said.

Cigrang said the majority of traffic would be ECS 45ft intermodal boxes, which are proving popular with short sea shippers due to their ability to accommodate an extra pallet.

"Cobelfret intends to extend the customer base beyond ECS and is looking at targeting container operators currently using ferries, " he said.


HMS SHETLAND - The Island Class patrol vessel arrived on Merseyside on Saturday April 13, arriving at Langton Lock around 12:30 and proceeding to berth at Huskisson #1 Branch Dock.


A report in the Plymouth Evening Herald on April 13, suggests that the Ministry of Defence is looking for firms to break up nuclear submarines and possibly bury them in Plymouth. Submarines currently stored on the water could be broken up for disposal on land within the next 20 years.

The MoD has accepted almost all the recommendations contained in a newly-completed independent consultation on plans to store decommissioned submarines on land.

It paves the way for private firms, such as DML, to bid for the work later this year, when potential disposal sites will be discussed.

Plymouth looks certain to be considered a prime site for disposal of the submarines, which would contain 'intermediate' levels of radioactive waste, said Devonport Naval Base.

The base has four submarines earmarked for scrap - HMS Conqueror, HMS Courageous, HMS Warspite and HMS Valiant.

An MoD study in 2000 concluded that, because of space restrictions, storing decommissioned submarines in the ground - known as project Isolus (Interim Storage of Laid-Up Submarines) - was better than keeping them afloat.

The just-finished independent study by Lancaster University, which tested public reaction to the idea, recommended the submarines should be stored in areas where there was already nuclear activity, such as Plymouth.

It also raised concerns about the public's trust in the Ministry of Defence, radiation risks, and the profit motive if the private sector was involved in the disposal of the boats.

The Campaign Against Nuclear Storage and Radiation (Cansar) has opposed the land storage of nuclear submarines and claims the MoD will put profit above safety concerns.

But the MoD today said it would make sure safety would take priority over costs.

Defence Minister Dr Lewis Moonie said: "We have been open and consultative from the start on this important project, and will expect our industry partners to be prepared to take the same bold approach that has been the mark of the work so far."

He said the ministry would take forward the majority of Lancaster University's recommendations.

He added: "Key among these are the need to continue with our policy of openness and trust with the public, and to consider nuclear and environmental safety over cost.

"We will consider further another five recommendations, which concern how future consultation will be carried out."

In the MoD's response to the Lancaster University study, it said: "No site has yet been chosen, but it is recognised that it may be more practical to use a site that has previously been used for nuclear activity."

The four methods of land storage being considered include:

removing the intact reactor compartment - the method adopted by the US Navy - and disposing of the submarine hull

dismantling the reactor compartment into major components, disposing of more material, and storing the remainder as unpackaged waste

further dismantling the major components and storing as packaged waste. A spokeswoman from Devonport Naval Base said any storage of radioactive waste would be subject to civilian or MoD monitoring, depending on its location.

DML, the private firm which runs Devonport Dockyard, said today it was a candidate for work on the separation of reactor compartments.

But a spokesman added: "We currently have no facilities suitable for the storage of reactor compartments in our site, and no plans to create one.

"Therefore, as things stand, it is difficult to see a role for DML beyond the separation of compartments."

St Budeaux ward councillor Brenda Jones (Lab) said she was outraged by the news that firms would be invited to chop up the submarines.

She said: "There are a number of questions that need to be asked. How are these firms going to be vetted? You cannot let any Tom, Dick or Harry do this.

"Will they have some kind of strict safety guidelines to follow as they have in the dockyard?"

She said there were also concerns about where to bury the submarine parts and how deeply, and added: "People who live in the area will be enraged


A government minister is due to visit Plymouth next week to announce major plans for the city's historic Royal William Yard.

Lord Falconer, Minister for Housing, Planning and Regeneration, is expected to outline long-awaited development proposals for the yard, including luxury flats, by the leading UK property developer Urban Splash Ltd.

It was one of the firms asked by the South West of England Regional Development Agency two years ago to work up detailed plans for several buildings following a competition involving 30 development companies.

Manchester-based Urban Splash was then given the go-ahead to prepare detailed development proposals for the Clarence and Brewhouse buildings.

Included in its initial plans were 91 luxury apartments, shops and a high-quality waterfront restaurant.

An arts and exhibition centre was also mooted as part of its plans at the time but no planning application has yet been made.

Tuesday's announcement is expected to confirm progress has been made on the plans, although it is understood it may be expanded to involve other areas of the site.

Urban Splash was set up in 1993 by Tom Bloxham and Jonathan Falkingham who identified a market for well-designed mixed-use developments in the central areas of Liverpool and Manchester.

They were convinced that the many redundant or under-used historic buildings in the cities had a real future and could be adapted for new exciting uses.

The company has skilfully refurbished these buildings by utilising contemporary architectural solutions to complement the quality of the original architecture.

The company has an impressive track record in securing innovative solutions to the problems of inner-city decline, and has successfully transformed important historical areas in Liverpool and Manchester.

With almost £100 million of projects, it has made a major impact in these areas, creating 2,500 new jobs, 600 new homes and transforming the environment.

Urban Splash now has a total of 80 employees with many different skills and expertise, managed by four additional directors.

Urban Splash's successes have been recognised nationally with a series of awards for design, conservation and regeneration.

Recognising the importance of partnerships, it works closely with local authorities and other agencies including English Heritage, whose co-operation will be vital in regenerating the historic area.

Plymouth's Royal William Yard is one of two flagship developments in the South West being driven forward by the RDA, which has owned the 16-acre yard since 1999.


The Isle of Man welcomed its first cruise ship of the year with the arrival on the m. s. FINNMARKEN, from Norway on April 9.

The 15,000 tonne vessel, with 520 passengers on board, is the largest passenger ship to have berthed at Douglas.

Tourism Minister David Cretney presented Captain Per Pedersen with an Isle of Man engraving to mark the occasion.

Tourism chief executive Terry Toohey commented: 'We were delighted that the Isle of Man was chosen as one of the ports of call on the inaugural cruise of this handsome vessel. The operators have subsequently indicated to us that the call was very successful for them and we anticipate this vessel or a sister ship calling again next April.'

The m. s. FINNMARKEN is the newest vessel operated by the Norwegian Coastal Voyage. It was delivered to its owners the previous week and is registered in Narvik, Norway. The maiden voyage started in Bergen and came to the Isle of Man via the Scottish islands. It departed Douglas on Tuesday night for Dublin where she was due to call on Wednesday.


On April 13 police divers recovered the bodies of 33-year-old Michael Greene and his ten-year-old son from the wreckage of their fishing boat, the Tullaghmurray Lass. The vessel sank off the County Down coast two months ago.

The body of 54-year-old Mr Greene, who was also called Michael, was recovered on Friday. The three family members disappeared while on a fishing expedition on February 14. The vessel was discovered beneath 140 feet of water, seven miles offshore


Salmon fishermen blockaded Ireland's second biggest seaport on Friday April 12. The blockade passed without incident.

Cork Port Authority said sea traffic was not disrupted by the commercial inshore fishermen’s protest over catch cuts and a reduction in the length of the salmon season where the catching potential has been reduced by almost 80% in recent years.

More than 10 small fishing boats blocked the channel between Cóbh and Spike Island before staging a protest on the south channel outside the headquarters of the Port of Cork.

Cork Commercial Salmon Fishermen’s Association spokesman Seamus de Burca said a series of similar protests will be staged in the coming weeks at ports countrywide.

Talks are continuing between the minister and fishermen over a proposed new quota system which is based on official catches over the past five years.

A spokesman for the minister said that, in setting the proposed new quotas, consideration was given to likely unreported catches in previous seasons. About half of the 140 licensed commercial fishermen in Cork, from Ballycotton to Beara, took part in the protest.

“Our grievance is not with the port authorities directly but with the Minister for Marine who introduced the draconian cuts,” Mr. de Burca said. The proposed cut in catches for the 2002 season is 37%.

With the season reduced to 40 working days over an eight-week summer period, fishermen claim the cuts and new quota system has no scientific basis.

“Over the last five years, fishermen have put up with a lot of hardship in the interests of conservation,” he said


On April 11, the town of Cóbh remembered the 79 passengers which boarded the White Star Liner TITANIC on April 11, 1912.

Candles were lit for each of the 79 people who boarded the Titanic on her maiden and final voyage at Cobh during a remembrance ceremony. As the doomed liner’s last port of call, the harbour town - then Queenstown - hosted 123 passengers in the final days and hours before they began the trans-Atlantic journey on April 11, 1912.

To mark the 90th anniversary of the Titanic’s brief berthing two miles from the town’s main pier, a weekend of commemoration is being held by Cobh Town Council.

The Remembrance Service in St Colman’s Cathedral began at midday, the same time the magnificent steam liner arrived in the harbour 90 years ago.

The name of every passenger who boarded at Cobh and later died at sea was read out and 79 candles were lit in their honour.

At half past one, 90 minutes later, at the same time the ship left, wreaths were laid at the town’s Titanic Memorial by the Irish Titanic Historical Society and town council chairman Councillor John Mulvihill.

Michael Martin, co-ordinator of the weekend events, who runs the Titanic Trail guided tours of the town, said: “It’s very important to commemorate the human dimension of the tragedy, which a lot of people often reflect on in terms of the technological faults.

“The fact is that 79 people came down here hoping to start out on a better life.

“Some would have stayed here for a night or two and said goodbye to their families for the last time at the quayside,” said Mr. Martin.

Among the survivors of the tragedy were 44 people who had boarded at Queenstown, which has always had very strong links with Titanic history, much of which is recorded in the Queenstown Story heritage centre.

On Sunday April 14, the anniversary of the tragedy itself, the Naval Service flagship LE EITHNE will carry official guests to the last anchorage point of the TITANIC and a commemorative wreath will be laid on the sea surface.



HSV-X1 Joint Venture, the 96m Wave Piercing Sealift Catamaran on charter to the US military from Bollinger / Incat USA has entered the next stage of her experimental programme by transferring from the US Navy to US Army.

The partnership of component commands from the US Navy, Army, Marine Corps, US Special Operations Command and Coast Guard are together exploring the operational implications and opportunities of new marine technologies that are bringing higher speeds, longer ranges and increased payload capacities to surface vessels.

Few people realise the 4th largest "navy" in the world is operated by the US Army who proudly proclaim their motto - Sail Army, quickly being replaced with Sail Army – Fast. The 7th Transport Group is the Army’s "navy" and is one of the most-deployed units in the Army, typically being one of the first to arrive in a theatre.

Administrative control of HSV-X1 was transferred to the US Army at Rota Naval Air Station, Spain on March 20 following an exercise, Battle Griffin, off Norway alongside NATO forces.

While Joint Venture’s new crew acquainted themselves with their new charge, HSV-X1 underwent minor modifications to enhance the craft's capabilities and provide additional versatility in a logistical role.

The Army crew brings to Joint Venture a wealth of experience with the three senior officers alone clocking an impressive 53 years service between them.

HSV-X1 is under the command of CW4 William R. Davis. Davis spoke of Joint Venture’s mission to provide logistical support within theatre, to further test and evaluate the craft in "intra-theatre lift requirements" for the next generation of the Army logistics watercraft, which will eventually replace the Army’s Logistics Support Vessel. His goal to participate and assist in US Army Transformation and to support and lead his crew into new age, cutting edge technology through lessons learned aboard Joint Venture HSV-X1.

A Chief Warrant Officer 4, based out of the 7th Transport Group 24th Battalion, Fort Eustis, Virginia, William Davis has been in the Army Watercraft Transportation Corps for 18 years. He was a Lead Training Instructor / writer for the US Army Transportation School – Marine Operations Branch. Major deployments in which Davis participated include Operations Shield, Storm and Recovery. Davis volunteered for the HSV-X1 program and was selected as Vessel Master aboard Joint Venture, his last assignment as Master on board an ocean going tug.

Joint Venture’s Executive Officer/Chief Mate is CW3 Rebecca Brashears. With 17 years service in the Army, she received assignment to Fort Eustis, Virginia on completion of her basic training. She has served in many assignments from Seaman to Vessel Master on different vessels, including Landing Craft of all sizes, ocean-going and harbour tugs and cargo ships. Major deployments in which Chief Brashears has participated include Operations Uphold Democracy in Haiti, UN Mission in Haiti, Hurricane Mitch Disaster Relief in Central America, and most recently Operation Southern Watch in Kuwait. Her most recent assignment as Instructor/Writer in Marine Operations Branch of the US Army Transportation School led directly to volunteering to participate in the testing of Joint Venture HSV X1.

Chief Brashears prime role as Executive Officer is to command in the Master's absence and as head of the deck department to coordinate training of the crew in all aspects of vessel operations. Her follow-on assignment is to develop Marine Deck Officer training for the US Army's version of high speed vessels, the Theatre Support Vessel (TSV).

Chief Engineer on Joint Venture is Gregory Ellison, A CW3. With 18 years of service to the Army Watercraft Transportation Corps he brings to HSV-X1 experience in the operations of Landing Craft Utility (LCU)2000's, Landing Ship Vehicle (LSV) and tugs ranging from coastal to ocean going. Greg is a certified Instructor for the US Army Transportation School. His last assignment was Chief Engineer aboard LSV 5 out of Ford Island, Hawaii and enroute back to Ft Eustis to become an instructor to the Transportation School was asked to volunteer for the HSV/TSV program.

Chief Ellison’s role is to oversee the operation of machinery from main engines through to electrical. "If it breaks, we fit it", he comments. The Chief Engineer is supported by 1st, 2nd and 3rd officers and eight enlisted engineers. Greg’s aim is to test and run HSV X1 to evaluate its commercial off the shelf technology and how it can be applied to military applications.

APRIL 7 - Extra Update APRIL 6 Update below


CLIPPER SUN [ex SUN PEGASUS] - the freighter which had been acquired by Cammell Laird Plc  with a view to possible conversion to a cable ship finally departed from the Mersey on Friday April 5. She had been refitted at North Western Ship Repairers at Bidston following her sale by Cammell Laird receivers for £350,000 to the 'Alma-Myra Transport and Shipping Company Ltd'. A contact informs me that she has sailed for Gibraltar.


The weather for the return trip could hardly have been poorer, as the Scillonian had to battle into a head sea as she made her way to the mainland. The largely unexpected ferocity of the South Easterly gale meant that the Scillonian had to refuse day trip passengers as the return journey was rescheduled to 2:00 o’clock, barely two hours after she docked.

The heavy seas were coupled with a strong wind and bright sunshine. The fact that these conditions peaked on Saturday was unfortunate for the many visitors who use that day as their day of arrival or departure. Due to the conditions several inter Island boat services were also cancelled.

In recent years, these South Easterly gales have become more and more rare. The gale in this direction brought extremely heavy seas around Peninis Headland and on Gugh Shore.


The Royal Naval Association has organised a commemoration in Cóbh next Sunday to remember those killed in an explosion aboard the battleship HMS MARS in 1902 off the coast of Cork. The commemoration will commence  with a service at Christ Church, Rushbrooke, at 09.45. This will be followed by ceremonies at the Old Cemetery, Cóbh at the graves of the crewmen. Members of the Royal Naval Association, Irish Naval Service, Royal Navy will attend along with civic and other dignitaries. Of the twelve men killed in the explosion two were buried at sea, the body of one was returned home and nine are buried in the cemetery at Cóbh.


The largest container crane in Ireland was handed over by Liebherr Cranes of County Kerry to the Port of Waterford in late March. The new crane can handle Panamax-size vessels, and has a clearance height of 111 feet, a reach of 121 feet and a heavy lift capability of up to 45 tonnes. The Port of Waterford is also planning to commission a ro/ro terminal within the next year and is reported to be in discussion with potential users.


A € 6million contract has been signed for the construction of a 208 metre long pier at Bantry Bay Harbour, County Cork capable of handling cruise ships up to 15,000 tonnes.


The world's largest fishing vessel ATLANTIC DAWN may now been seen operating closer to home following a report from RTÉ that negotiations were recently completed between the Irish Government and the European Commission for the full licensing and registration of the ATLANTIC DAWN as part of the Irish pelagic fishing fleet. As part of the overall agreement the Atlantic Dawn Company has withdrawn the VERONICA from the Irish/EU fleet, but retains its annual quota and fishing effort entitlements in EU waters associated with the vessel. 

The company will be using the ATLANTIC DAWN to take up these entitlements while continuing primarily, according to the Department of the Marine, to focus attention on developing sustainable fishing opportunities elsewhere and positioning itself successfully in the globalised seafood market. The Minister for the Marine, Frank Fahey, said that the Commission had formally adopted a decision to credit the Irish fleet with increased capacity and effort to take account of additional fishing opportunities in West African waters. The Irish South and West Fishermen's Organisation has objected to the effects of the granting of the licence on the Irish fleet.

The ATLANTIC DAWN has its own web site



Once more due to pressure of time I have been unable to complete the update even though I have been working on things since around 14:30. 

Therefore this update will be staged with some more material being posted tomorrow evening just to catch up!

Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Ian Collard, Edwin Wilmshurst, Jenny Williamson, Tony Brennan, John Lawlor and "others".


The address for the Sheildhall web site has been changed to:


SEACAT ISLE OF MAN operated a "Round the Island" cruise on Saturday April 6.


Sea Containers have announced that Illustrated London News will publish a special commemorative edition celebrating the life and times of the Queen Mother on April 15.The company claims that book has had one of the longest gestation periods in the history of magazine publishing. The plans for it were originally prepared in the 1970s, when the Queen Mother was approaching her 80th birthday and it would have been revolutionary to be ready to print in colour overnight. The formula has remained unchanged, although over the years it has expanded in size to 128-pages, and was ready to be published in magazine or book format.

However the deal to publish this as a hard-backed book represents one of the fastest turnarounds in the history of book publishing. Publishers at the Illustrated London News Group (part of the Sea Containers group of companies) and Pan Macmillan came to an agreement to publish a hard-backed book on Thursday April 4. Printing commences on Monday 7 April, and the book, with full coverage of the funeral, is due to appear under the Sidgwick and Jackson imprint on April 15.

Illustrated London News Group’s managing director Lisa Barnard said this was the most extraordinary publishing project she had ever come across. "I inherited this Queen Mother project, which was supposed to be brilliantly conceived, when I joined the company in late 2000. When I looked into it more closely, all was not as I had hoped. Paper had been purchased with great foresight more than 20 years ago, and was lying in a yellowing, brittle state in the North of England in a printers warehouse. Not only was it unusable and a fire hazard, but it turned out the cost had never been accounted for, nor the storage costs, nor the editorial costs which had built up over a quarter of a century. We sold the paper on, which has now been turned into flipcharts. I am delighted therefore that we have joined forces with Pan Macmillan to make this happen and that the book, which is incredibly special, will finally see the light of day."

Sidgwick and Jackson’s publisher Gordon Wise commented: "Sidgwick & Jackson are honoured to be involved in bringing such a prestigious publication into fruition in book form. The depth and breadth of the Illustrated London News’ research marks this particular project out from any other tribute on the market. As one of Britain’s leading magazines of social and historical record and with very privileged access to the ceremonial activities, the coverage the magazine’s editorial team will be able to include of the events of this fortnight will be second to none, and in its integrity will complement the unique formula of the book’s historical record.

Unlike many Queen Mother special editions, which contain much rehashed material from the 100th birthday celebrations, The Illustrated London News’ book is completely original and is published in a unique format. It consists of an intimate biography of the Queen Mother set against a pictorial record of the tumultuous events that took place during the century, with which her life was so intertwined. The biographical chapters are illustrated with many charming photographs and portraits, and the book draws on much material exclusive to the Illustrated London News’ rich archive.

Interspersed between the chapters is a record of the Queen Mother's century, which included such events as the first flight of a Zeppelin and the first transatlantic wireless message, the mass production of the motor car, two world wars, the splitting of the atom, men walking on the moon, the development of computer technology, and the advent of instant world-wide communications. This is presented in diary form with many hundreds of contemporary photography and engravings. [One wonders if there will be a picture of a SeaCat?! - JHL]

This special issue is edited by James Bishop, who retired from the Illustrated London News in 1994 after 24 years as Editor, but who has continued to supervise the updating of the issue. He describes it as a work of intense admiration: "As the years have passed, so has my admiration of the Queen Mother increased - not just because of her indomitable will to live, but also because of the courage she showed in the face of so many of the shocking events of the century through which she lived. The book’s unique approach captures the Queen’s Mother’s life set in the context of these events."


Fifty jobs are likely to be lost at the Wallasey based ships' propeller manufacturer Stone Manganese Marine. The company has provided propellers for many famous vessels including Cunard liners and the former Royal Yacht Britannia.

The company has announced that they will have to start winding down the company from May due to a fall off in work. Stone Manganese Marine's main rival Mecklenburger Metalguss was given substantial state aid in recent years. This has enabled them to reequip, increase efficiency and price Stone Manganese out of the market. 


The "Press and Journal" reported this week that the  ferry link between Campbeltown and Ballycastle may be reintroduced this summer - nine months earlier than anticipated - if the efforts of Russ McLean, managing director of Campbeltown based Landwest Shipping are successful.

The timescale for the Scottish Executive going out to tender for a new operator for the route, which will be covered by a £1million government subsidy, means that a start date of next spring is anticipated.

But Russ McLean confirmed that he is trying to win an alternative temporary subsidy to operate a "warm-up" service on the route during the summer of 2002.

Mr McLean said he met representatives of Argyll and Bute Council, in private, 10 days ago to put forward his proposal.

And he is currently awaiting the local authority's decision over whether it will back his plan.

He said he had already held constructive talks with Sea Containers, about the possibility of buying the Claymore which operated the service and which is now laid up at Birkenhead..

Mr. McLean has now asked the council, and three other bodies, for a subsidy to allow him to operate a passenger service for two months, from mid June/early July this year.

Mr McLean, who is managing director of Campbeltown-based Landwest Shipping, said talks with Sea Containers were at an advanced stage.

He is reasonably confident that he will be able to get enough orders to run the ship as a freight service, having received interest from two haulage companies already.

If he also secures a promise of business from the new Vestas wind turbine factory in Campbeltown, which has secured orders from Ireland, he says his freight service plan will be viable.

But he added: "If we then can't take passengers you will have a lot of unhappy people."

The problem is that the Claymore's passenger-carrying consent has run out and having the necessary inspection work, which will involve having the ship lifted out of the water, to renew the licence will cost about £250,000.

Mr McLean said: "We are looking to buy the ship and we don't mind paying part of the passenger ticket costs but we are asking the council, Argyll and the Islands Enterprise, the Industrial Development Board of Northern Ireland and Moyle District Council to give us £1,000 each per day, that's £56,000
per organisation, for a 56 day period.
"If everyone got their act together we could have a service this year."

Mr McLean did not make it on to the government's preferred list of would be permanent operators of the route when interested parties were asked to put their names forward last year.

But if his current plan to operate a summer service works, he hopes to persuade the Scottish Executive to allow him to bid for the new subsidised route, which is expected to be put out to tender shortly.

The Executive has already announced its intentions to put the route out to tender, as an 11-months-a-year operation, once the appropriate powers are devolved from Westminster.


Further to Easter Monday's story about the New Brighton Lifeboat going to the assistance of the small private craft LADY JANE on Easter Monday the Daily Post carried the following story:

Two children and a pensioner were hauled out of the River Mersey yesterday as a Bank Holiday fishing trip almost ended in tragedy.

The two 12-year-old boys - one a non-swimmer - a 75-year-old man and a 45-year-old man were thrown into the water after their boat capsized and sank off the Wirral coast.

Hundreds of New Brighton day-trippers looked on as emergency services, including coastguards, the New Brighton Lifeboat, and the Merseyside police helicopter, rushed to the aid of the 16ft Lady Jane.

Three were able to swim to a nearby boat while the nonswimmer was pulled to safety. Their boat was towed to the shore.

They were taken ashore by lifeboat crews and treated by paramedics for hypothermia before being transported to Arrowe Park Hospital.

Their conditions are not believed to be life-threatening.

Coastguards suspect the incident, which took place at

3.20pm, was caused by a sudden squall. Coastguard officer Paul Harrison said: "I suspect the accident was caused by the squall but we cannot confirm that yet."

Wirral's Chief Lifeguard, Tony Jones, said last night: "This was a major incident and if it had not been for the timely intervention of another vessel's crew, there could have been a tragedy. The weather was fine when they set off, but this incident shows how it can turn in seconds.

"I urge people who are going fishing on the river to get thorough weather reports from the coastguard and take the advice of the beach lifeguards before setting off on such a venture."..


FINNMARKEN - an unusual visitor to our waters is the newly delivered coastal express vessel. Delivered on April 4 by Kleven Verft in Ulsteinvik. She is the largest and most luxurious vessel built for the Bergen to Kirkenes service. After delivery the 138.5 metre vessel, which has a capacity of 1,000 passengers, embarks on a promotion cruise to the Orkney Islands, Hebrides, Isle of Man, Dublin, Southampton, Amsterdam, Hamburg, Copenhagen, Oslo, Stavanger to Bergen.



It was reported in the west country press this week that public toilets have been closed on all three Torpoint ferries because of bacterial contamination of the fresh water tanks. The coffee machines which run off the same supplies have also been turned off.

The tanks on the PLYM, LYNHER and TAMAR are regularly checked and were pronounced clean after their previous tests five months ago. But the latest routine tests revealed the presence of a bacterium in all of the tanks. Ferries operations manager Tony Whetton immediately ordered the closure of toilets and coffee machines on all three ferries as a safety precaution.

The Tamar, which has been taken out of service for its three-yearly refit, will have its fresh water system routinely cleaned out at Falmouth as part of the refit. The other two ferries are having their systems purged by ferry engineers. The process is expected to take several days, during which the toilets will be closed.

Mr Whetton said: "This is not Legionnaire's Disease or anything like that, and nobody has been taken ill, but it is a bacterial contamination. We don't know yet how it got into the tanks." He said the Tamar will be out of action for almost three weeks, with some delays inevitable due to just two ferries running at peak times.

The previous refit of the Plym was done last autumn, a time chosen after the peak summer traffic and before the onset of winter storms. This year, October was ruled out because of a clash with a six month project to renew the Saltash tunnel.


Shipworkers at Dartmouth's Sandquay naval base were celebrating this week after winning a vital multi-million pound Government contract which will safeguard their jobs for at least the next five years.

The contract to carry on repairing Ministry of Defence powerboats has also triggered off plans to pump £1.3 million into redeveloping the naval college ship repair complex beside the River Dart.

Without the contract, Vosper Thornycroft could have been faced with making redundant up to 75 per cent of the 60 workers at Sandquay.

The redevelopment plans - which involve rebuilding a redundant dry dock and repair sheds at Sandquay to take larger craft - will mean increasing the workforce by up to a quarter.

Vosper Thornycroft had to bid against other ship repair companies across the country to win back the contract to repair the small military craft.

"This is brilliant news for the boys at Sandquay," said Vosper Thornycroft's Dartmouth operations director Dick Rendle. "They have been under pressure for months worrying if they had got jobs."

He said that without the contract the company would have been faced with finding other markets or making the redundancies.


An Irish Ferries chef is feared dead on Saturday April 6 after he disappeared during the Friday evening ISLE OF INISHMORE sailing between Rosslare and Milford Haven. The crewman is believed to have fallen overboard during the crossing. A search was launched a first light today off the coast of south Wales, but that operation has  been called off. The man was reported missing shortly before the ISLE OF INISHMORE docked in Milford Haven and the ship had carried out a tracking search for him as it made its way back to Rosslare last night.


The Finish-built coaster which carried the largest-ever haul of smuggled cigarettes in Ireland's history fetched only €37,000 at auction in Dublin on Thursday.

The 51-metre MV Anto was seized last December by Customs and Excise officers and gardaí in Dundalk. A Londoner caught trying to offload 70 million smuggled cigarettes from the vessel was jailed in March for 3½ years.

The vessel, registered in La Paz, Bolivia, was sold to a Dutch agent who is expected to have it towed to Holland for a refit.

Robert Terence Tibbs (29), of Cannington, London, pleaded guilty to attempting to evade Customs duties valued at €15,960,000, which were due on the haul seized on December 11th last year.

He had been aboard the MV ANTO as it prepared to leave the United Arab Emirates for Ireland, via Gibraltar, with its load of contraband.

It left Gibraltar last December 1st, and berthed in Dundalk on the night of December 10th. During the early hours of the following morning, Customs officers and gardaí raided the vessel as containers were being unloaded.

Mr Tibbs was in the hold, 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 pleaded guilty to the charge.


The replica famine emigrant ship JEANIE JOHNSTON finally set sail for its first sea trials in Tralee Bay, Co Kerry on April 5 - and ran straight into yet another political squall according to a report in the Irish Independent.

There was no pomp and circumstance at the harbour as the costly ship set out to sea two years behind schedule. And those who footed much of its huge cost knew nothing about the event.

The first Kerry County Manager Paul O'Donoghue heard of the sea trials was when senior council officials told him on their return to the Local Authorities Members Association conference, where he was presiding.

Mr O'Donoghue - brother of Justice minister John O'Donoghue - was tersely diplomatic over this latest embarrassing twist in the saga. "The good thing is that it is out there," he said, but added: "I wasn't aware - and I always like to know what's going on."

The council has had to put up almost Euro6m for the project, and councillors recently voted to put in another Euro1m, after much heated debate.

A call for Environment Minister Noel Dempsey to provide an independent inspector to probe the over-spend and to detail Kerry Co Council's involvement was rejected by Mr Dempsey last month.

The Euro15m project has gone four times over its original cost and is supported largely by exchequer funds. Kerry County Council and Tralee UDC are supporting a structured winding down of the project, which they will then take over.

Department of the Marine Surveyor Ian Wallace was on board the vessel along with Captain Mike Forwood and other crew members for the trial of the Jeanie Johnston's engines. An RTE crew was also present.

A spokesman for the Jeanie Johnston company said yesterday's exercise was by no means an official launch. It was a technical exercise, and just a trial run around Tralee Bay.

"There was no snub intended to the council," he said. The tests went successfully, and several further trials, including full sail runs, are scheduled in coming weeks, a Department of the Marine spokesman said.

The 'Jeanie Johnston' has been dogged by controversy and embarrassment. Only a few weeks ago Marine Minister Frank Fahey called the costly famine ship project "a great idea, but a disaster". He recommended the structured winding down of the project.

A focus group of eight government departments, Kerry County Council, state agencies, and the Elan corporation, was set up by the minister to study options for the replica famine ship. But it has not identified a long-term use for the vessel which would not involve the State in ongoing subventions.

Local authorities in Kerry have now "been left with the baby" in the words of one councillor. Jackie Healy-Rae TD recently said if the ship sank, at least the council would be rid of it.

Kerry County Council is now looking at options for the ship, valued at Euro2.8m. These include using it as a training ship for young offenders, and/or as a visitor attraction.


SUPERFERRY it appears that the start of the 2002 season has been delayed due to the ship not yet passing safety checks. Last year the chartered CITY OF CORK had several brushes with the authorities over safety matters.


The Bristol Evening Post revealed this week that the ss Great Britain has launched a new drive to draw visitors - with a horse and cart.

People visiting the world's first iron-hulled, propeller-driven passenger ship were able to take a ride in the horse-drawn cart around the city docks at Easter.

Director and curator Matthew Tanner said: "The horse and cart looks fantastic against the backdrop of the dockyard. We are experimenting with horse and cart rides and if they are popular they will become a permanent feature.

"Ships and dockyards used to be full of animals."

A major restoration project is underway on Brunel's pioneering ship thanks to a £7.7 million grant from the National Lottery.

Trustees still have to raise around £2.25 million to pay for the work but they are confident of reaching the target having already raised £500,000 towards the total bill of £10.5 million.

They want to build a horizontal plate of glass across the dry dock which will seal the bottom half of the hull and protect it from rusting away.

Visitors will able to go 'underwater' beneath the glass to see the ship's hull in all its glory.



Though I have only been away for seven days it is quite amazing just how many things can happen during that short period of time. Sometimes, there can be few newsworthy occurrences in a week, at other times one is pushed to keep up with things. 

However, more often than not, I find that whenever I go away there is an inundation of events and the past week has been no exception! This update has been posted in two parts please check the What's New again to ensure you have not missed material uploaded late on Monday April 1. 

Material from my wanderings to the Isles of Scilly will have to await the next update as will some other news material.

I'd like to thank those who have emailed me directly or posted information to the Irish Sea Ships Yahoo group which has enabled me to compile this update.

Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Kevin Bennett, Sara Cass, Charlie Tennant, James Edgar, Ian Collard, Alan Lee, Edwin Wilmshurst, David Allen and "others"


The Ships of Mann web site has been updated.

Issue 4 of Ships of Mann is now available. Subscribers will receive copies this week and it will be in the mainland outlets this week and on the Isle of Man next week. Also available is our latest "Special" called "Ships of Mann; In Good Company". This is a photographic journey from the early years of the last century to the early years of this, featuring Steam Packet vessels in the "Company" of others.


Liverpool's Shipping Groups is the title of Merseyside author Ian Collard's latest book which was published by Tempus Publications on April 1, 2002.

Liverpool's Shipping Groups is an historical survey of the major shipping groups which operated out of the port of Liverpool in its heyday. 

A full review of this interesting title will be posted shortly.


The cruise ship calls lists have been updated in the second April 1 update with much new information for all areas. I am particularly indebted to Edwin Wilmshurst for this information.

SEA CONTAINERS \ Isle of Man Steam Packet Company

CLAYMORE it appears that the vessel has recent been visited by Steam Packet officials in company of several people from Scotland. It appears that the company that is interested in recommencing the Ballycastle - Campbeltown service wish to use the CLAYMORE and not fast craft as had been suggested in earlier reports. CLAYMORE may be taken to Glasgow where she will be put in class

SEACAT SCOTLAND departed from Liverpool on March 27. She was noted by a correspondent flooding up in Canada Dry Dock at 17:50 and was due in Langton Lock around 20:00. Photographs by Ian Collard show work in progress around the port side hull. When she arrived unexpectedly on Friday March 22, it was noted that there was some minor damage to her belting in this area. She was reported back in service on Belfast - Troon on March 28.

SEACAT ISLE OF MAN operated March 26's first round trip from Belfast to Troon. The evening trip being cancelled. When she arrived back in Belfast she de-stored all the Belfast material ( mainly shop and bar products ) before heading down to Douglas to commence her Isle of Man service on Wednesday. She was reported at one point to be running on three engines.

RAPIDE operated on the Belfast - Troon service on March 27 before re-opening the Belfast to Heysham route  on March 28

LADY OF MANN it is under stood that the Lady was on stand-by to cover for SEACAT ISLE OF MAN on Manx services should SCIOM not be released in time to take up her Isle of Man routes.


February carryings reflected a slight decrease on 2001 figures due entirely to the BEN-MY-CHREE's absence for part of the period undergoing her annual overhaul. It was still, however, the second best February for carryings on record.

Carryings for the month of February and confirmed by the Department of Transport show:

Passenger traffic decreased by 2.4% @ 19,216 passengers (2001 – 19,685)

Vehicular traffic decreased by 4.3% @ 6,110 vehicles (2001 – 6,382)

Freight traffic increased by 8.2% @ 33,932 metres (2001 – 31,356)

Year to date figures show:

Passenger traffic increased by 3.6% @ 37,299 passengers (2001 – 35,990)

Vehicular traffic increased by 2.2% @ 11,918 vehicles (2001 – 11,659)

Hamish Ross, Steam Packet Managing Director said: “We have made an excellent start to 2002 and are confident of growing the visitors numbers to the Island this year. All our vessels have been significantly refurbished during their overhaul periods and I am sure these improvements will be noted and appreciated by our passengers. Working with our partners in tourism, I am confident we can make this a bumper year for tourism after the disappointment and negative impact of the foot and mouth crisis last year.”


A Liverpool City Council scrutiny committee decided on March 26 that plans to return land to the Mersey Docks and Harbour Company for a consideration of £160,000 to facilitate the development of terminal facilities at the Pier Head to be used by Sea Containers should be reconsidered. 

Local press reports indicate that the decision was made with recommendations that the council waits for Liverpool Vision to form a master plan for the entire Pier Head waterfront, taking in plans for Liverpool's Fourth Grace the proposals for a Princes Dock - Canning Dock Canal Link. .

Millennium Walk committee chairman Pat Moran, who opposes the MDHC scheme, said: "This is a victory for common sense. This decision is good for the council and good for the people of Liverpool.

Liverpool Vision proposals for the waterfront include the development of river vessel facilities including a cruise ship terminal at a cost of £25 million.


The Fleetwood to Knott End Ferry re-started operations on Good Friday. The service will be operated by the former charter angling boat HARVESTER which can carry 12 passengers. Sailings will operate every 30 minutes from 08:00 until 18:00 and sailings may be extended during the summer months. The service is being operated by Wyre Waste Management who also own the dredger HEBBLE SANDS and will be able to carry out dredging operations to maintain the service. Local councils are considering operating an all year round service using a purpose built vessel. The operation of the service in 2003 will be subject to a further tender exercise.


This week the Western Morning News reported that the figurehead of an historic Cornish schooner has been returned to her spiritual home 125 years after her ship's launch. The figurehead of the Lady Agnes, one of only four ships to be built at St Agnes, has been flown back to the UK after an international search by St Agnes Museum.

Lady Agnes was the last schooner to be built by Martin Hitchens on the beach at Trevaunance Cove, St Agnes, near Truro, in 1877. His great, great grandson John Hitchens, who heard about the project to repatriate the Lady Agnes figurehead in the Western Morning News, was at its unveiling on March 23.

Mr Hitchens, who now lives in London, said: "I've never lived in St Agnes but I've been fascinated by this project and it's nice to come back here where there is such a strong family connection and see her at home." The figurehead spent time in a Newquay garden, later it adorned a Fowey antique shop before being acquired by a private American collector who lived in Canada.

When she was placed on the open market in Toronto earlier this year, it cost St Agnes Museum Trust £15,000 to buy her, plus other transport, restoration and display costs. Roger Radcliffe, secretary of the St Agnes Museum, was the man behind the quest to bring Lady Agnes back from Toronto to the village from whence she first set sail.


The Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA) announced on March 25 that 20 foreign ships were under detention in UK ports during February 2002 after failing port state control safety inspection.

Latest monthly figures show that 13 foreign ships were detained in UK ports during January 2002 along with 7 other ships still under detention from previous months. The overall rate of detentions compared with inspections carried out over the last 12 months is 6.6% which is an increase of 0.2% on the 12-month rate to January.

10 out of the 13 vessels detained in February were registered with flags targeted by the Paris MOU. In addition to those vessels detained 33 vessels were issued with letters of warning as a result of failure to comply with the STCW95 requirements for crew certification which came into force on 1 Feb 2002.

A bulk carrier was detained at Immingham following reports that the vessel had been in collision with a pier. The vessel was generally in poor condition and the deficiencies found during the inspection indicated a failure to implement effective maintenance procedures under the ISM code. Numerous vents were found to be either seized, corroded or had defective seals. The crew could not demonstrate that the emergency fire pump was working and the firemain was leaking and was badly corroded / holed in places. Subsequent examination of the safety Management System by the ISM Auditors raised 9 non-conformities including a major non-conformity for failure to report previous hull damage to class.


On Monday afternoon April 1, New Brighton lifeboat was launched to aid the small private craft LADY JANE which was reported to have capsized in the Mersey. 


From March 25 Mersey Docks and Harbour Company owned Coastal Container Line has stepped up the frequency using the 230 teu Coastal Breeze and the 140 teu Coastal Sound operating from their Seaforth Terminal on the Mersey and Marine Terminals (MTL) on the Liffey.

The Line was able to respond to customer demand six months sooner than planned because work on a €23 million redevelopment programme of its Dublin terminal is ahead of schedule.

John Forrester, Director of Operations for Coastal and Managing Director of Marine Terminals Limited, said: "We had planned to move to a daily schedule in September, but the work on upgrading the terminal is so far advanced that we have been able to benefit our customers much sooner."

The daily sailings will give Coastal — a subsidiary of the Mersey Docks and Harbour Company — a weekly capacity of 1,000 teu in both directions.

"We can now look forward to providing the quality service our existing and prospective customers have a right to expect," he added. "Coastal is back offering the premier lo-lo service delivered before essential restructuring of the MTL terminal got under way."

The Line switched to alternate day sailings after work began at Marine Terminals to treble container storage capacity and lengthen the quay to 700 metres, offering draft of up to 10.2 metres at lowest overall tide. When the major face-lift has been completed, the terminal's customers will be served by four ship-to-shore cranes and four stacking gantries, plus 260 reefer points.


Last week Scotland on Sunday reported that Clydeport is to push ahead with plans to create a new ferry link with Northern Ireland, Arran and Kintyre from Ardrossan harbour. The company commissioned a 30,000 pounds research project to look into the feasibility of the project and the economic benefits for Ayrshire .

The possibility of a Northern Ireland-Ardrossan ferry service is now a reality as the research completed by Dr Alfred Baird, head of the TMI maritime research group at Napier University Business School, gives the project a green light.

Peter Lawwell, the commercial director of Clydeport, said: "We commissioned the research some six months ago and we looked at routes from Ardrossan and Port Glasgow. The results have been very encouraging and we're now analysing the implications."

Clydeport works alongside Caledonian MacBrayne on the routes to Arran and is hoping to introduce a fast ferry service into Kintyre, then on to Belfast.

"We are also looking at the possibility of introducing a service from Port Glasgow to Derry. It would be an eight to 10 hour sailing but could be marketed as a mini cruise," said Lawwell.

Clydeport abandoned its GBP 6m plans for a new roll-on roll-off terminal at Port Glasgow last summer and switched the focus back to Ardrossan but Lawwell is not ruling it out for the future. He believes both ports can prosper.

The Port Glasgow scheme, which had received planning permission, was drawn up with P&O Irish Sea as the potential anchor operator - but the project was mothballed by P&O's decision to relocate its Ardrossan-Larne service to ABP's Troon instead.

Clydeport has already invested GBP 700,000 in a new passenger ferry terminal at Ardrossan to serve Caledonian MacBrayne's ferry service to Arran that opened last year.

The terminal forms part of a GBP 50m regeneration scheme at Ardrossan harbour, where demolition work began last week. The development is a mix of housing, retail, leisure and industrial units.

Clydeport property director Euan Jamieson said: "We believe our plan presents the best opportunity for the imaginative regeneration of the harbour area, bringing uses which will enhance the life and vitality of Ardrossan, yet allowing expansion of industrial and port activities should their future growth so require."

Clydeport's current projects under way on the west coast include the residential led mixed-use development to be known as Renfrew Harbour, near Glasgow. It is also developing a five-acre site on the esplanade, adjacent to Greenock Ocean Terminal.

Planning applications are in place for Rothesay Dock, a 70-acre mixed industrial and residential development project


STENA EUROPE Mike O'Brien has bridge photographs the ship recently introduced on the Fishguard - Rosslare route on-line on his Fishguard  site


Though the Clyde is just outside the area of coverage of Irish Sea Shipping the following news item is of interest as it looks as though the vessels originally aimed for the failed Loughlink Service on Belfast Lough may find themselves on the otherside of the Irish Sea.


A regular passenger service linking Glasgow with Greenock, Dunoon and Rothesay for the first time since 1969 will be launched this summer.

Scottish company Clydefast hopes to have its fast ferry service 'Doon the Watter' operational by mid-June.

Clydefast will commence operation with two state-of-the-art River Runner 150 vessels, built by NQEA in Queensland, Australia, to help slash journey times down the Clyde. A feature of the vessels is the low wash created when operating at a service speed of 24 knots.

The vessels will allow up to 119 passengers to reach Dunoon from Glasgow's Broomielaw, via Braehead Shopping Centre and Greenock's Custom House Quay, in just one hour and ten minutes. Journey times from Glasgow-Rothesay will be an hour and a half.

Alastair Macleod, Chief Executive of Clydefast, said: "The new service will provide commuters, shoppers and tourists with vastly improved links between Glasgow, Greenock, Dunoon and Rothesay, as well providing quick and easy access to Braehead Shopping Centre and Glasgow International Airport. We plan to run up to ten services a day to Dunoon and Rothesay, eight of these from Glasgow, along with a late service on Friday and Saturday evenings.

"Clydefast's vessels will provide passengers with a new standard of ferry travel and will feature comfortable airline-type seating, on-board widescreen TV and at-seat snack and quality coffee service.

"These outstanding on-board facilities, together with the reduced journey times, convenient timetable and no change required for a railway journey to Glasgow, will provide an attractive alternative choice to both foot passengers and car drivers. Cyclists will be able to bring their bikes without any additional fare charge."

Clydefast plans to purchase two additional, larger 250 passenger vessels within its first year of operation and aims to have an hourly service between Glasgow and Dunoon and Rothesay within two years. An additional five times a day service to Brodick, on the Isle of Arran, is also planned.

"With the huge potential to grow the existing market of 2.8 million passenger journeys across the Clyde each year, I believe Clydefast will attract a considerable growth in passenger journeys," Mr Macleod said. "The service will also help to support the £1billion redevelopment of Glasgow's riverside.

" Charles Gordon, Leader of Glasgow City Council, welcomed Clydefast's innovative proposals, which will lead to the creation of 25 jobs for the initial operation expanding to 100 jobs in 3 years. Mr Gordon said: "Clydefast's announcement that it will launch in June is hugely exciting news for Glasgow and towns on the Clyde it will serve. The Clyde is currently in the midst of a massive regeneration programme and it is essential that the River itself is used to its true potential.

" Mr Macleod, a former engineer who has run his own businesses since 1963, founded Clydefast in 1999 and has spent the past three years researching the technical and market feasibility of a fast ferry service for the Clyde. The venture will break-even from day one, despite the fact it has received no subsidies whatsoever.

Don Fry, the owner of the NQEA Group of companies in Australia has agreed that one of his companies will become a shareholder in Clydefast Ltd. Mr Fry's companies have been prominent in engineering and shipbuilding in Australia for the last 50 years. NQEA has built 215 ships and ferries, many of which have been exported, and Mr Fry intends to take a keen interest in the Clydefast operation.


Strintzis Lines announced on March 15 that it had concluded the sale of the ro/ro ferry BLUE AEGEAN [SUPERFERRY] to Briarstar Limited. Strintzis comments that the company sold the 30 year old vessel as it expects delivery, within the second quarter of 2002, of two ultra modern car-passenger ferries, to be named BLUE STAR PAROS and BLUE STAR NAXOS, which will be deployed on the Cycladic Islands' routes. The photograph forwarded by David Allen shows SUPERFERRY berthed at Ringaskiddy last week.


DAWN MERCHANT made an unusual trip to Llandudno on Sunday March 24. She anchored there for around six hours before returning to Liverpool. Carmet's tug VANGUARD was noted by a correspondent to be in attendance before she left Llandudno. The reason for her trip is not known



Versatility is the new order of the day for the US military and versatile is just what HSV-X1 Joint Venture is proving to be. With her capability to quickly deploy troops and equipment before speeding away from danger HSV-X1 is turning the heads of her many observers.

HSV-X1 Joint Venture, on charter to the US military from Bollinger/Incat USA, made a name for herself when she served as the Mine Countermeasures Command and Control ship during Gulf of Mexico Exercise. More recently the craft has been under the watchful eye of Marine Corps operational commanders as they explore its potential operational and tactical roles for the first time.

On February 5, the craft left her homeport at Naval Amphibious Base, Little Creek in Norfolk, Virginia and set out on a high speed winter Atlantic transit. HSV-X1 completed the passage, unrefueled, in an impressive five days and 17 hours at an average speed of 27 knots.

The purpose of the crossing – Battle Griffin, an exercise off Norway alongside NATO forces between March 7 and 14.

HSV-X1 was 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.

Yet another list of firsts to the already impressive catalogue of achievements saw HSV-X1 carry out 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. Never before has a high speed craft accomplished so much.

The observers could not fail to be impressed. During the early stages of the exercise the craft performed a pre-dawn departure for an amphibious raid on Kyrkseteroera, some 75 nautical miles distant. En route she was diverted to hide in a very small fjord as information received indicated the port facility had not yet been secured. Arriving off a pier at high speed the vessel slowed when within 730 metres and, after a very quick berthing completed discharge of Light Armored Vehicles (LAVs) and other vehicles in ten minutes, with troops following behind. Within minutes HSV-X1 Joint Venture was underway again, departing the area at high speed and proceeding to sea to escort the mv Obregon into port.

As night fell on that hectic day, HSV-X1 came into her own. A night raid into enemy territory took enemy combatants advancing up the fjord toward friendly forces completely by surprise.

The following day mv Obregon was again under HSV-X1 escort and an advance reconnaissance of the entire 40 nautical miles route was completed in just one hour.

Most apparent was HSV-X1’s ability to navigate at high speed in the very tight confines of Norway’s fjords using the electronic chart system ECDIS and radar, particularly in poor visibility due to snow and rain. Additionally, the craft displayed her capability of operating free from mechanical problems in sub-freezing temperatures with frequent snow. Captain Philip Beierl, Officer in Charge said "HSV-X1 was also able to take advantage of narrow weather windows, as we did by departing Trondheim eight hours early, to get ahead of a predicted weather front. A slower vessel would have had to wait two days for a safe departure." In doing so, Captain Beierl demonstrated his advanced understanding of strategic capabilities only available to fast craft that easily out run bad weather.

Captain Beierl continued "The craft showed that we could operate safely at 15 knots in beam or following seas of 6 metres significant wave height."

If HSV-X1 needed to prove she was a workhorse then she did just that towards the end of the exercise, completing a winter intra-theatre lift of US Marine Corps (USMC) retrograde cargo for Larvik. Captain Beierl said "26 LAVs, 6 Humvees and 100 troops, plus long range fuel brought the craft to absolutely full load. Calm weather allowed us to travel an outside passage down the coast, rather than the inside route, saving us several hours. Over 650 nautical miles of Norway’s coastal and inland waters was covered in 24 hours at an average speed of 27 knots. On arrival we offloaded USMC cargo in just 22 minutes." Despite very heavy seas in the final offshore leg of the circuit the round trip was completed in less than 2.5 days.

One of the highlights of the week was when HSV-X1 played host to His Majesty King Harald V. of Norway, the Norwegian Minister of Defense, the Chief of Defense and the US Ambassador to Norway. The party got to see at first hand the impressive capabilities of the craft during a 40 knots passage from Orkanger to Hommelvik, Norway. A demonstration illustrated rapid arrival and departures from austere ports with the craft accelerating to high speed, turning around three miles out and returning to pier-side in under 15 minutes.

Battle Griffin provided the Marine Corps with an opportunity to explore the employment of the HSV-X1 in an inter-theatre deployment role and utility of the High Speed Craft (HSC) technology during expeditionary manoeuvre warfare. The exercise provided valuable insight and feedback on the capabilities and any additional requirements for potential procurement and development of the vessel in the future.

Just some of the many accomplishments achieved by HSV-X1 Joint Venture were;

  • flexibility to respond on very short notice to new requirements with little or no outside support

  • sustained speeds of 40 knots in confined waters leading to tactical surprise by opposing forces not expecting such rapid movements

  • ability to launch an amphibious raid into an austere port with complete offload of vehicles and troops in ten minutes

  • ability to carry and precisely lay large numbers of mines

  • ability to easily manoeuvre in formation with conventional warships

With Battle Griffin complete HSV-X1 Joint Venture turned her bows towards the English Channel and sailed for Rota, Spain where administrative control of the craft was transferred to the US Army for the next stage of her evaluation by the US military.

Transiting the English Channel the craft maintained full speed until entering the Bay of Biscay and turning south. After several hours at slow speed in 4.5 metre head seas Captain Beierl made a 300 nautical miles diversion into the bay to stay in conditions that permitted high speed running. Captain Beierl said "we skirted around Spain’s Cape Finisterre a few hours ahead of a storm. There is no question, a slower ship would have been forced to divert into a French or UK port for at least three days before the weather cleared. We had the ability to divert hundreds of miles and still make schedule."

During the passage HSV-X1 also lost one main engine due to a cylinder head problem. Despite this and the diversion, the craft arrived in Rota on three engines ten hours ahead of her original schedule.

The craft is now about to join US forces active in the war on terrorism in the Persian Gulf.



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