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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


  JUNE 2002

June 30


Welcome to this week's large update. I would like to thank the many contributors who have sent news and photographic contributions. I hope I have not overlooked anything, but sometimes this can happen!

Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Keith Messant, Ian Collard, Trevor Kidd, John Williams, Jenny Williamson, Tommy Dover and "others".

SEA CONTAINERS \ Isle of Man Steam Packet Company

RAPIDE appeared to miss some sailings on the Belfast to Heysham route this week.

LADY OF MANN  departed Langton Lock, Liverpool at 14.51 on Thursday June 27 bound for the Azores.

SUPERSEACAT THREE has been noted using a tug for berthing at Liverpool Landing Stage recently. On Saturday one of her engines had to be shut down on her return sailing from Dublin whilst off the north Wales coast. This resulted in a late arrival at Liverpool where she was assisted to her berth by Adsteam's COLLINGWOOD. She departed late for Douglas at 20:20. Though observers report that she did not loose any more time.

SEACAT ISLE OF MAN will operate a special cruise on Bank Holiday Thursday [Tynwald Day] July 4. The 'Firework Cruise' will be visiting Laxey Bay to allow passengers a spectacular view of a firework display organised by Laxey Commissioners to celebrate the Queen's Golden Jubilee.

SeaCat Isle of Man will depart from Douglas at 21:15 hrs and subject to weather conditions, cruise to the South of the Island to Castletown the ancient seat of the Lord of Mann, a title held by Her Majesty the Queen before setting course for Laxey Bay.

On board, passengers will be invited to toast the health of the Lord of Mann in her Jubilee year, with a complimentary glass of wine.

Tickets are priced at £10.00 adults and £5.00 children and are available from the Company's Ferry Travel Shop in Sea Terminal or by telephoning 01624 661661.


Silja Oyj said Silja Holdings Ltd. has offered to buy all the shares of the Finnish ferry operator it doesn't already own. Silja Holdings, a subsidiary of Bermuda-based ferry operator Sea Containers Ltd., already owns 75 per cent of Silja. Silja said it'll apply for a delisting from the Helsinki exchange. Lazard AB will act as the financial adviser, along with Opstock Ltd., the company said.


The Round Ireland yacht race got off to a good start on Saturday June 6.  The English yacht TEAM TONIC was the first boat home, she crossed the finish line in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

The tug BROCKLEBANK  arrived on Sunday 23/6/02 after a courtesy call at Arklow, she departed at 05:30 the next morning bound for the Isle of man,

Scot line's new SCOT VENTURE made her debut at Wicklow on Tuesday June 25,she discharged a part timber cargo,before sailing at 20:00 hrs heading north at impressive speed.

Cruise liner CLIPPER ADVENTURER did not turn up at Wicklow on Thursday, instead she dropped anchor off Arklow. Tenders landed passengers at  the recently opened marina. She was noted off Wicklow later that evening, passing the  BLACK WATCH heading southbound out of Dublin.


The visit of King Harald and Queen Sonja of Norway to this week's Tynwald Ceremony will see some interesting vessels visiting the Irish Sea.

The Norwegian Royal Yacht NORGE is due at North Brocklebank Dock [former Norse Merchant Belfast Terminal] arriving July 3 and departing July 4 for the Isle of Man where she will remain until July 6.

Norwegian Naval Vessel VIDAR is due at Husskisson #1 Branch Dock on July 6.

Some historical notes from Keith Messant:

R.M.Y. "Norge", ex "Philante", was built by Camper & Nicholson, Southampton, in 1937, for T.O.M. Sopwith, the aircraft manufacturer.   

After WWII service with the R.N*. she was bought by the Norwegian people for the Norwegian Royal Family.   

L.O.A. 263ft, Beam: 38ft, Dft: 14ft 6in,  1 611tons TM, Cruising 14 kts. Engines quoted as M.A.N. 8-cyls evildiseasels of 3000 b.h.p.   Reputedly the largest diesel yacht built in Britain.  A very good looking vessel, often to be seen at her moorings in Oslo Fjord. 


Seawaves reports HMS ROEBUCK is due Liverpool July 12

According to a report in the Manchester Evening News this week  HMS BRONINGTON could be moving by next month to join the ships of the Warship Preservation Trust at Birkenhead.
The report says that although it was hoped that she would get more visitors when the Imperial War Museum at Salford Quays opens next week, the museum would not be able to assist with escalating repair costs, whereas the Warship Preservation Trust may be in a position to assist.


Sail training brigs


CONSTELLATION The largest cruise ship ever to enter Irish waters is due to visit Ringaskiddy, Co Cork on June 25. She arrived at 07:30 sailing 17:30. On Wednesday June 26 she called at Dún Laoghaire anchoring in the bay between 0600 -1800 with passengers being ferried ashore

The 91,000 ton Constellation of Celebrity Cruises, 20,000 tons bigger than the QE2 entered service in April this year and can accommodate up to 2,450 passengers with a crew of 999.


MERSEY VIKING -  Merseyside police have confirmed on Friday that they had arrested a man under the prevention of terrorism act.

The man was held at a local police station after being arrested in Wirral at the Twelve Quays ferry terminal. The ferry's departure to Belfast early on Friday morning was delayed.

The police had become suspicious when the man asked to be let of the ship. This led to the vessel being searched by anti-terrorist officers, but nothing suspicious was found.


First of all it must be clearly stated that this is a rumour based on information posted to the Ostend Ferries Newsgroup. It is not confirmed fact. It is not known if there is some truth full or partial in the claim. 

However, a poster to that group claims that Norfolkline will get one of the Norse Merchant Ferries vessels deployed on the Liverpool to Dublin route in September.  Norfolkline already charter MIDNIGHT MERCHANT and NORTHERN MERCHANT.

If anyone if there is substance to this rumour or not please drop ISS a line! 

However, it the suggestion would appear extremely unlikely as both DAWN MERCHANT and BRAVE MERCHANT would not be easy vessels to replace given their high freight capacity, though NMF have been reported to be seeking an increase in passenger capacity to around 500 per vessel and there has been talk of new vessels in 2004/5.


QUEEN ELIZABETH II Two crew members on the QE2 were airlifted by a  helicopter from RAF Chivenor to University Hospital in Cork on June 24, after suffering severe burns on board the liner in the mid-Atlantic. 

The Filipino men aged in their 20s were working in the ship's engine room when they were showered with steam from a faulty boiler valve yesterday afternoon. The men's condition is described as stable but serious.


EUROPEAN HIGHLANDER P&O Irish Sea's new Larne - Cairnryan ship arrived in Larne at 19:20 on June 26 direct from Japan. She is due to enter service on 1 July.

P&O have issued the following release concerning the Larne to Cairnryan Schedule from 1st July.

With the arrival of our new vessel the European Highlander and dry dock commitments for the European Causeway the following schedule will operate on our Larne / Cairnryan service from 1st July: - 1st to 7th July - during this period our full sailing schedule of up to 9 sailing per day will operate with European Highlander, European Causeway and European Endeavour. 

8th to 16th July - during this period we will drop the 0530hrs and 1330hrs sailings Ex Larne and the 0915hrs and 1730hrs sailings Ex Cairnryan. All other sailings will operate normally with the European Highlander, European Endeavour and European Pathfinder. 

From 17th July - we will commence our new sailing schedule with European Highlander and European Causeway. 


It was reported by RTÉ that the  future of the Famine Memorial Ship, the Jeanie Johnston, has been
placed in doubt following a recommendation by the Kerry County Manager that a rescue plan for the project be abandoned.

The Tall Ship, which was built in Tralee and is close to completion, has attracted controversy as a result of considerable budget overruns.

The County Manager, Martin Nolan, said he will make his recommendations at a meeting of the Kerry County Council and Tralee Town Council next Monday. It is understood that the Manager has concerns about the costs of maintaining the ship, and the lack of plans for its future.


The Western Morning News reported this week that one of the world's most lavish yachts is to be built in Plymouth after dockyard operator DML beat off stiff competition to win the contract for the multi-million-pound contract.

The huge luxury ship will be the biggest yacht built in the United Kingdom for half a century - since the Royal Yacht Britannia.

DML bosses described the coup as excellent news which put the firm centre stage as a major player in the super yacht world.

The new five-deck, 76-metre yacht will be more than half the length of a Royal Navy frigate and will be big enough to carry its own helicopter, three boats and a mini-submarine.

The mystery private buyer behind the deal is being kept a closely guarded secret but whoever it is will have access to world-class luxurious surroundings, including a fully-fitted gymnasium, steam room and hot and cold swimming pools on the upper decks.

DML's specialist unit, Devonport Yachts, was chosen to design and build the steel-hulled craft, which will feature a spectacular glass main staircase rising through the four decks of guest accommodation to the upper deck.

Starting in August, the hull will be made at Appledore Shipbuilders Ltd, in North Devon, while the aluminium superstructure will be simultaneously fabricated at Devonport.

Following the shipment of the hull to Devonport next spring, outfitting and completion of the yacht will be undertaken in one of Devonport's covered dry docks for delivery in early 2005.

Dennis Gilbert, chief executive of DML, said: "It is the latest in a series of refit, conversion and new-build contracts and puts DML centre-stage as a major player in the super yacht world.

"It represents a valuable addition to Devonport's growing yacht build, conversion and restoration portfolio."

The good news for DML comes as another successful Plymouth-based shipbuilder is celebrating the completion of a £10 million project to develop new boat-building units in the city.

A topping-out ceremony will be held on Monday to mark the milestone for Princess Yachts International at the site of its 5,100 sq metre factory unit in Newport Street.

It will enable Princess Yachts to manufacture its latest and largest luxury motor cruiser, with direct launching into the River Tamar.

Of the new superyacht, Mr Gilbert added: "This is really excellent news for the development of this important commercial business area." Capable of travelling at speeds of up to 17 knots - about 19mph - the yacht will feature a helicopter pad on deck, a mini-submarine, a fully-fitted gymnasium, steam room and hot and cold swimming pools on the upper decks.

The craft will be able to carry 200,000 litres of fuel and 80,000 litres of water.

Yacht designer Nick Myers is working with DML's design team on the project, and believes it will provide a range of opportunities for specialist suppliers.

The finely finished craft will be built to full Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) standards for chartering up to 12 passengers.

It will have accommodation for 20 crew and four staff and will be fitted with an extensive communications network system, providing high-speed worldwide communications capabilities.

The helicopter deck will be capable of receiving a wide range of helicopters.

And the design of the craft incorporates a large enclosed garage within the stern part of the hull that includes a wet dock capable of docking a 13-metre-long tender.

The yacht also carries two eight-metre-long tenders, a separate rescue boat on the main deck and a three-tonne crane on the fore deck to stow the mini-submarine.

She will be powered by diesel electric propulsion and a fully-automated power management system featuring three Wartsila 9LSOC diesel generators capable of 1,530 kW at 900rpm, and two 1,800kW drive motors.

The waterline length will be 69 metres and she will have a cruising speed of 12 knots, about 13mph.


Local press reports indicate that the families of the 99 men who died in a Liverpool Bay submarine tragedy will soon be given the opportunity to study official papers concerning the disaster on June 1, 1939.

The move, promised in the next four to six weeks, will break a deadlock in which the families protested that they could not afford travel costs and fees needed to access the documents held at the Public Records Office in London.


The European Commission said this week that the Irish Government is in breach of EU rules
requiring that at least one-quarter of the annual total of ships entering the ports of any EU member state must be inspected.

The aim of the 1995 Directive is to crack down on the number of substandard vessels using EU waters.

Ireland is close to the minimum threshold, inspecting 21% of incoming vessels last year, but the Commission said today it was nevertheless asking the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg for a ruling that Ireland is in breach of European maritime safety rules.

France is also being put in the dock with just 9.6% of shipping entering French waters inspected last year.

``The number of inspections carried out by the two member states in question clearly remains insufficient, despite the financial and training measures they have put into effect,`` said this week's statement.


On Thursday June 27 a man employed by scrap metal contractors working on the demolition COSTA CLASSICA mid section was crushed to death by a falling metal plate on Thursday June 27.

BNFL / PNTL / James Fisher & Sons plc

PACIFIC PINTAIL / PACIFIC TEAL news reports from Japan on June 28 indicated that the ships conveying plutonium-uranium mixed oxide fuel from Japan to Barrow-in-Furness will depart Japan on Thursday July 4.

ATLANTIC OSPREY sailed from Birkenhead on June 28 on engine trials.

June 23



Work on the first Irish Sea Shipping CD Rom covering the period 1994 to 1998 is now completed and it is currently being tested. It is anticipated that it will be possible to announce details of its release next weekend.

The second CD ROM which will comprising digital photographs taken between January and June 2001 should be available by the end of July. 


Gary Andrews, Brian Chambers, Tony Brennan, Michael Pryce, Tommy Dover, Ian Collard and "others".


The result of the ISS Best Irish Sea Operator poll which closed on June 20 was as follows.

POLL QUESTION: Which company, in your opinion, is the best operator on the Irish Sea?

- P&O Irish Sea, 7 votes, 25.00% 
- Stena Line, 4 votes, 14.29% 
- Sea Containers [Isle of Man Steam Packet Co \ SeaCat], 3 votes, 10.71% 
- Norse Merchant Ferries, 3 votes, 10.71% 
- Seatruck Ferries, 1 votes, 3.57% 
- Irish Ferries, 9 votes, 32.14% 
- Swansea Cork Ferries, 1 votes, 3.57% 

Once again the turnout was disappointing with only 28 votes - just under 10% of the ISS Yahoo Group members. 

The result certainly re affirms Irish Ferries as the preferred Irish Sea carrier. 

One shouldn't look too much into Seatruck's low polling. As a freight carrier, she is not likely to have the same profile as the other passenger and freight carriers. With hind sight I think it would have been better to have excluded Seatruck from the poll. However, the low vote for Swansea Cork Ferries does make one wonder about this operator which is possibly still suffering from the negative effect of the CITY OF CORK charter last year. Hopefully, with SUPERFERRY now owned by the company things will improve.

It is interesting that Stena Line should have scored more than Sea Containers [IoMSPCo / SeaCat] and Norse Merchant considering some of the recent negative comments about this operator.

This poll will be run at the end of the year to see if perceptions have changed in the light of journeys made this season.

N.B. The delayed "One that Got Away" preserved ship poll will commence during the course of the coming week.

SEA CONTAINERS \ Isle of Man Steam Packet Company

LADY OF MANN - the charter to AçorLine commences on July 1. The ship is expected to depart from Liverpool for the three day passage to the Islands.


ISLE OF INNISFREE on the afternoon of June 16 the vessel is reported to have undocked from #2 Dry-Dock at A&P Falmouth and moved to County Wharf, Falmouth to complete her repaint into P&O livery.



The Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA) on Nune 20 that 11 foreign ships were under detention in UK ports during May 2002 after failing port state control safety inspection.

Latest monthly figures show that 8 foreign ships were detained in UK ports during May 2002 along with 3 other ships still under detention from previous months. The overall rate of detentions compared with inspections carried out over the last 12 months is 6.4% which is identical to the 12-month rate to April.

In addition to those vessels detained, approximately 10 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.

The ships detained included a St Vincent & Grenadines flagged general cargo vessel with serious wastage undermining the structural integrity of the vessel. The vessel was originally detained following inspection in Seaham; at this stage cargo prevented a full inspection of the cargo spaces. A follow up inspection was undertaken on the discharge of the cargo and further deficiencies were identified. The crosspiece at the junction of the main longitudinal deck girder and the main transverse beam across the end of the hatch opening was badly wasted. This formed the primary support underneath the forward, port side corner of the hatch coaming. In addition to this welding in the side frame adjacent to the forward access hatch ladder was found to be cracked and in need of repair. The vessel was released from detention with short-term certificates for a single voyage in ballast under favourable weather conditions to a repair yard in the Baltic where permanent repairs could be undertaken.

An Indian General Cargo vessel detained on Teeside with serious corrosion in a number of areas of the ship has been put up for sale either for further trading or for scrapping.

The list details the name, flag state, owner or operator and classification society of each detained ship together with the summary of the main grounds for detention. (A copy of the list is attached to hard copies of this press notice).


Tommy Dover writes that Saturday June 22 saw the start of the 2002 Round Ireland Yacht Race at 14:00 with 30 yachts on the starting line for the 704 mile race. The starting gun being fired from naval vessel LÉ AOIFE. The race organised by Wicklow sailing club is held every two years.

STV TENACIOUS anchored in the bay on Monday June 10,she departed next day heading south.

Coasters calling to the port during the past week included STK 1338 and SCOT RANGER.

The coastguard S61 helicopter was also in the area on a training exercise during the week.

CLIPPER ADVENTURER is expected to be the first small cruise ship to call at Wicklow at the end of the month. Passengers being tendered ashore for sightseeing tours.


Passenger figures compiled by the Harbours Division for May 2002 at 78,006 show a 36.6% increase on the figure for the same period in 2001 which was 57,104.

The year to date figure at 205,998 passengers shows a 17.1% increase over the same period in 2001 which was 175,899.

During May car and motorcycle traffic through Douglas Harbour increased by 90% from 12,044 vehicles to 22,888 vehicles.

The year to date figure at 56,315 vehicles shows a 31.4% increase over the same period in 2001 which was 42,855.

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


plus 176%






plus 27%






plus 70%






plus 11%






all plus






all plus






all plus





Warren Point

all plus





Freight Traffic

May commercial vehicles metreage increased by 16.7% from 36,821 metres to 42,954 metres.

Director of Harbours, Captain Michael Brew comments:

"Inbound TT race traffic contributes towards excellent figures for May 2002, which are the best May passenger figures for many years. Monthly commercial vehicle meterage also exceeds 40,000 metres for the first time."


EUROPEAN NAVIGATOR took a special sailing from Campbeltown to Rosslare on Saturday June 22. The vessel conveyed 14 wind turbines for the Carnsore Point Windfarm in County Wexford. She arrived at Rosslare on the morning of Sunday June 23.


Greenpeace has dropped its legal efforts to stop a nuclear shipment from Japan on board PACIFIC TEAL and PACFIC PINTAIL after British Nuclear Fuels said there would be no "irreversible" preparations until publication of a report by Britain's Environment Agency.

The agency is investigating whether the shipment of plutonium MOX fuel should be classified as radioactive waste. If so, transport would require a licence from the agency.

BNFL has told Greenpeace it does not anticipate loading the vessels until at least two days after the agency advises on the status of the fuel. The company added that preparatory steps it and its shipping subsidiary, Pacific Nuclear Transport, were taking prior to loading the flasks on to one of a pair of armed of vessels were "reversible." The proposed shipment is generating increasing diplomatic and grassroots opposition from many countries lining each of three possible routes that the ships might take.

Environmental campaigners are planning to intercept the shipment with flotillas of small vessels. BNFL, however, has yet to state publicly which way the ships will sail from Japan to Britain.

June 19


For those who have not visited the site since Sunday, please be aware of Monday evenings extra updates covering the opening of the Twelve Quays terminal.

Though there are only a few news items in this update there are a number of new photo galleries, please check the "What's New" page for details. These updates include more material from my trip to Cóbh and County Cork. 

Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Ian Collard, Jim Edgar, Michael Pryce and "others".

MERSEY VIKING opened the £25million Birkenhead terminal at Twelve Quays on Monday June 17 with the evening departure for Belfast.


In a recent interview with Lloyds's List Martin Drye, newly appointed general manager of the former Cammell Laird yard has played down concerns that  silting since the yard's closure last year could delay the proposed relaunch he said: "Over the next few weeks, we will bring the yard up to speed, in order to secure vessel contracts within the next couple of months."

The former Cammell Laird Birkenhead operation spent £250,00 on maintenance dredging annually in and around the dry-docks and wet basin. Once a contract was signed with a local dredging company, the dock gates could be cleared of silt within two or three weeks said Mr. Drye.

The interview reveals that the initial focus of the yard would be dry docking and repairs for Irish Sea operators with no major conversion work being undertaken in the short term. 

June 16



Unfortunately due to a combination of circumstances including an overload in submissions, my own photographic activities and the need to devote further time to completing the first Irish Sea Shipping CD  over the past few days something of a backlog has built up which I have been unable to clear. I have therefore focused the update on the more newsworthy items and have held over some material, including that which was intended for this update from my recent trip to Cóbh. There is an update scheduled for Wednesday June 19 which should enable some of the backlog to be cleared though with outside commitments building from work, as it does at this time of year, it may be mid July before I can finally get back on top of things!

Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Edwin Wilmshurst, Jenny Williamson, Ian Collard and "others".

SEA CONTAINERS \ Isle of Man Steam Packet Company

LADY OF MANN following the conclusion of the special sailings and TT season the Lady has returned to her lay-up berth at Alexandra Dock passenger terminal, Liverpool. 

On Saturday June 15 work was noted in progress on board in preparation for her charter to Acor Line. Vehicle gangways were noted stowed on her stern ramps.



BREMEN - the German cruise ship made a call at Douglas on Sunday June 16, berthing at Victoria Pier #2 berth. 

Laxey Towing's pilot boat GIRL MARY can be seen making its way back to Battery Pier. Photo: Jenny Williamson.




The mission ship ANASTASIS  ex"Victoria" built 1953, 11,695grt will be  visiting Bristol between August 30 and September 10.


During the TT festival Manx Radio set up a temporary website in their studio on Douglas Head overlooking Douglas Harbour. However, Manx Radio have decided to continue the web cam. It shows an updated picture of Douglas Harbour showing a clear view of all the berths. Access is via


The Isles of Scilly Steamship company has taken delivery of a second De Havilland Twin Otter aircraft following a lengthy inter-island hopping voyage from Canada.

The Twin Otter aircraft, was bought by the Isles of Scilly Steamship Company to add to its Skybus fleet which operates from Bristol, Exeter, Newquay and Land's End to St Mary's in the Isles of Scilly. which is not capable of high altitude flying and has a relatively short range, 

"The delivery flight from Canada was a phenomenal feat," said a company spokesman. "Chief pilot Richard Ashby and engineering manager Ron Graham had to make the long journey at a maximum ceiling of 12,000 feet, as the cabin was not pressurized.

"Restrictions on them made the flight very similar to others made by the aviation pioneers of the early 20th century. In addition, both crew had to wear immersion suits which are needed for survival in cold temperatures, which proved cumbersome and rather uncomfortable."

Having been modified with four additional fuel tanks to increase its range, the Twin Otter could stay in the air for 11 hours before refueling was required. From Calgary in the west of Canada to Land's End is around 4,000 miles but a straight-line route was impossible as it would have involved being in the air for too long.

The pair took off from Calgary on June 7, and had to fly via Hudson's Bay, over Greenland to Iceland followed by long stretch over the sea to Stornaway in Scotland. The final leg saw them fly over Scotland and England to Land's End, where they were given a well-deserved welcome by the management and staff of the Isles of Scilly Steamship Group.



A brand new £36m ship has become the most recent addition to the P&O Irish Sea fleet and will soon be arriving in Larne to operate the Lame-Cairnryan route.

EUROPEAN HIGHLANDER, built by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, received a warm send-off on 1st June as she set sail from Japan on her homeward journey to Larne.  Under the command of Captain Jim McMullan, EUROPEAN HIGHLANDER will arrive in Larne on 26th June 2002 and following berthing trials in Larne and Cairnryan, will make her first, much-anticipated, commercial sailing on 1st July.

Operating alongside her sister ship, EUROPEAN CAUSEWAY, the new ferry will provide a tremendous boost to both tourist and commercial traffic offering seven round trips per day with departures every three hours. Her arrival is keenly awaited by customers already familiar with EUROPEAN CAUSEWAY which has gained a second-to-none reputation for reliability since her introduction in August 2000.

Graham McCullough, General Manager, Loch Ryan Route said, "Reliability is a key issue within this industry and while we cannot control the weather, we can provide ships which respond positively to all weather conditions. EUROPEAN CAUSEWAY has established herself as the most reliable ferry operating between Ireland and Scotland and we are confident that EUROPEAN HIGHLANDER will quickly gain a similar reputation."

Like her sister ship, EUROPEAN HIGHLANDER will make the crossing in 105 minutes and match her capacity of up to 410 passengers, 375 cars and/or 116 commercial vehicles and will offer twin-deck, drive through bow and stern loading. Facilities onboard the new ship will be similar to EUROPEAN CAUSEWAY and will include the popular Fables Restaurant and Poets Bar as well as a video lounge, quiet lounge, children's video area, games area and shop.  An exclusive area for commercial drivers will include separate restaurant, lounge and shower facilities.

Graham McCullough adds: "Larne-Cairnryan is one of P&O's key routes and the arrival of EUROPEAN HIGHLANDER is a further demonstration of our confidence in the route which has benefited from investment of over £8Om in the past 2 years.  With the new ship operating alongside EUROPEAN CAUSEWAY, we will provide a seamless service to our customers and strengthen our position as the leading operator on the Irish Sea."

P&O Irish Sea's Larne-Cairnryan service provides the shortest and fastest crossing between Ireland and Britain.  Between March and September, EUROPEAN HIGHLANDER and EUROPEAN CAUSEWAY, are joined by the record-breaking Superstar Express, offering a crossing time of just one hour.

To complement the Larne-Cairnryan route, P&O Irish Sea also operate additional passenger and freight services from Larne to Troon in Scotland and Fleetwood in North England and a freight only service to Liverpool, giving commercial and tourist customers more flexibility and choice.

In addition, passenger and freight services are also operated from Dublin to Liverpool, Mostyn in North Wales and Cherbourg in France and between Rosslare and Cherbourg.

EUROPEAN SEAFARER - The vessel remains in Canada #2 Branch Dock, Liverpool undergoing repairs. 

P&O have cancelled the European Seafarer's passenger schedules until the end of July.

<photo: Ian Collard>

ROYAL PRINCESS [44,000 grt] has become one of the largest cruise ships to call at Falmouth on January 12 on a round Britain cruise. Local press reports indicate that the vessel's call has injected nearly £60,000 into the local economy.

Bob Harrison, of Destination Southwest - a group launched in March to promote the Westcountry as a stopping-off point for cruise ships around the world - said the ship's arrival was a financial boon for the Westcountry.

He said that although the worldwide figure for passenger spending at destinations was £36 per person, the real figure could be much higher.

Based on Swedish data which recorded average passenger spending to be £98 per person, he said a good estimate for the Westcountry would be about £50 per passenger, not including port revenue and tour operations. In the case of the ROYAL PRINCESS, the estimated spending power of the passengers would be £57,500. Mr. Harrison said that this money would not only be spent in Falmouth, but would also go to local travel companies and visitor attractions.

And he said that the future for the region as a magnet for such ships looked extremely promising.

"We are very excited with the reaction from the industry with regards the Westcountry and we can only go onwards and upwards," he said. "We are targeting all cruise liners but the advantage of Destination Southwest is that we have the facilities to be able to take the biggest ships in the world."

Last year, 22 cruise liners stopped in Falmouth, this year the number has increased to 26 and next year they are expecting just under 40 ships.


The Western Morning News reported this week that voluntary members of one of Cornwall's coastguard teams have been given special awards for bravery after rescuing crew members from the stricken petrol tanker WILLY which ran aground on the South Cornwall coast on New Year's Day.

Members of the force, who drop their paid day-jobs to be called out at the bleep of a pager, were commended after risking their own lives to save others as the ship ran aground.

The MV WILLY ran aground on the rocky beach at Kingsand and Cawsand, with her tanks full of highly volatile petrol vapour making her a bomb waiting for ignition.

A rescue helicopter could not be allowed near the ship since it was highly likely the vapour would have choked its engines or the static electric charge from the aircraft could have caused a large explosion.

Members of the coastguard set up lines from the shore and set about wading into massive seas to bring members of the ship's crew ashore one after another.

Coastguard sector manager for South East Cornwall, Gerry Wood, said: "They set up cliff lines from shore to ship. They wore lifejackets and waded out through the breaking surf, surf so heavy that I saw them inflate their own lifejackets in the belief they were going to be swept away.

"That is one enduring memory for me. They made their way in darkness and extreme weather, to a ship that was still lifting and moving with the swell, they successfully rescued 12 crew members.

"It is entirely due to the Tamar Coastguard's fine effort and in the best traditions of HM Coastguard that no loss of life occurred. That night and during the following day Tamar Coastguard remained on scene assisting with evacuation of Cawsand village, a difficult and for some residents, an emotional time.

"It should also be noted that members of the team live in Cawsand and indeed were involved in evacuating their own families. This task was handled with fine tact and diplomacy and was commented upon by a senior police officer.

"Through the ensuing days, and often in the full glare of national and international media, Tamar Coastguard in conjunction with Looe Cliff Rescue Team (CRT), Plymouth CRT, and St Austell CRT, maintained a watch on the vessel, ensuring the safety of salvage crews, monitoring for pollution and providing information to the general public and residents of Cawsand. This task, involving long, cold and often mundane hours, was carried out cheerfully and with good humour.

"This was a fine effort in the very best traditions of HM Coastguard. Tamar Coastguard cliff rescue team worked effectively and efficiently in difficult and extreme circumstances under the gaze of emergency services and the public."


The Irish Government has moved to restore the prominence Marine portfolio.  The post general election reshuffle had seen the abolishment of the Department of the Marine and its inclusion in the Department of Communications and Natural Resources.

Following protests and lobbying from the marine sector,  the government has decided that a new name will be used for the combined departments - that of The Department of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources.


A report in the Daily Post this week indicates that announcement of a major investment for the port of Holyhead will be announced shortly. It is hoped this will lead to the regeneration of the town's economy.

Stena Line which operates the port is seeking funding from the European Union's Objective 1 programme for infrastructure developments, including improved berthing which will allow much larger ferries to use the facilities.

The shipping line is seeking £4.7m in European Regional Development Funds towards the cost of the project which will represent an additional investment on the Holyhead-Dublin Irish Sea route of some £50m.

For the period from 2003 to 2010, the project will generate an additional 347,000 passengers through the port and 118,000 freight units and will save an hour's travel time for each passenger by improving turn around performance and providing additional capacity.

The benefits to the port are obvious, but just as importantly the huge investment is expected to provide new impetus to efforts to kick-start efforts to rejuvenate the economies of both Holyhead town and Anglesey.

Stena's port manager Captain Wyn Parry said: "The project is not just about developing the port. It is about developing the whole region and, of course, bringing the economic benefits that the town of Holyhead badly needs.''

Approval for Stena's bid for EU funding is expected within a week or two and will provide evidence that, despite complaints about red tape and delays strangling some projects, the Objective 1 programme is beginning to deliver tangible results.


Environmental Group Greenpeace this week threatened to take legal action to stop a cargo of plutonium large enough to make 50 nuclear bombs which is expected to leave Japan this week bound for Cumbria.

The armed merchant vessels PACIFIC PINTAIL and PACIFIC TEAL are due to arrive in the Irish Sea in August, bound for the controversial multi-million pound mixed oxide (MOX) plant at Sellafield.

A Greenpeace spokesman said: "We believe this transport is unlawful.

"We have written to (Sellafield operator) BNFL and the Environment Agency to tell them so, and we are prepared to take legal action to prevent it."

Greenpeace believes the growing threat of international terrorism since September 11 makes the convoy vulnerable to attack.

A spokesman for BNFL refused to comment on security but said the ships "are among the safest that sail the oceans."

The vessels left Britain five weeks ago and it is thought they will enter the North-West Pacific Basin this week.

The nuclear fuel was shipped to Japan three years ago but after staff at BNFL admitted falsifying safety records, Britain was ordered to take back the contentious cargo.

Environmental groups maintain the Government's nuclear policies are flawed and it is wrong to press ahead with the global trade in reprocessed plutonium and uranium, known as MOX fuel.

A BNFL spokesman said: "We gave an undertaking to our customers that we would bring the fuel back in 2002 and that is what we are going to do.

"For obvious reason we do not discuss cargo routes and I obviously cannot talk about detailed matters of security.

"These are among the safest ships that sail the oceans. They have a number of safety features and are double hulled and reinforced to withstand collisions. All the safety systems are duplicated."
The Japan Times reported that PACIFIC PINTAIL and PACIFIC TEAL were due to arrive at 
a special port for the nuclear power plant in Fukui Prefecture on Friday June 14 and will commenced their return sailing to Barrow in early July.

The ships will transport the MOX fuel, currently stored at Kansai Electric Power Co.'s nuclear plant in Takahama, to British Nuclear Fuels PLC (BNFL), the British manufacturer of the fuel.

The voyage will face flotillas of protesters who warn of the threat of terrorist attacks on the ships carrying the plutonium-mixed fuel.

The shipment is to be conducted in the wake of a scandal in which BNFL falsified manufacturing data for MOX fuel shipped to Kepco in 1999.

Following the scandal, plans to use MOX fuel for the first time in Japan were cancelled, and Tokyo and London agreed in July 2000 that BNFL would take the fuel back to Britain at the British firm's expense.

The sources said Kansai Electric will probably take action to offer new contracts to manufacture MOX fuel, which is expected to eventually pave the way for the resumption of Japan's stalled "pluthermal" energy project.

Kansai Electric's plutonium thermal project will probably be resumed in 2005 at the Takahama plant, if procedures go smoothly, they said.

The project, in which MOX fuel is used in light-water reactors, is seen as the core of Japan's nuclear recycling projects. Power companies throughout the country plan to start pluthermal use at 16 to 18 reactors by 2010, but such plans have been foiled due to opposition from local residents, including objection in a plebiscite.

Initially, Japan aimed to introduce the repeated use of plutonium in fast-breeder reactors, but the scheme hit a snag after a serious sodium leak at the prototype fast-breeder reactor Monju in Fukui Prefecture in 1995. In addition, there was an attempt by the operator to cover up the extent of the accident.

Monju now sits idle.

According to the sources, the freighters will probably sail to Kobe for refuelling and to allow the crew to rest after unloading a special container for MOX fuel at Takahama.

The ships will return to Takahama to pick up the MOX fuel and leave for Britain.

The special container will be moved to a facility where MOX fuel is stored. After the Land, Infrastructure and Transport Ministry confirms there is no abnormality in the container, MOX fuel will be loaded into it, the sources said.

Before the departure, the ministry will check the safety of the container again by measuring radiation levels.

Should further contracts be granted for the manufacture of MOX fuel, then these interesting, if somewhat controversial ships will remain in the news.

ATLANTIC OSPREY - remained in Birkenhead Docks on Saturday June 15.



On June 11, 2002 MD&HC announced that plans for a £14m "Boutique" Hotel For Princes Dock had been submitted to Liverpool City Council for approval.

If the £14 million project is approved, the hotel, which will be owned by Marylebone Warwick Balfour plc (MWB) will be of 4-star quality with 151 bedrooms all individually decorated in contemporary style. It will also have a brasserie and a small leisure centre.

The proposal for Princes Dock's second top quality hotel is in line with the Mersey Docks and Harbour Company's "vision" for the site. Potential operators of leisure, health and fitness, restaurant, wine bar and other complementary retail facilities are also being targeted by the Group.

Commenting on the MWB proposal, Mersey Docks Chief Executive Peter Jones said: "We would be delighted to welcome such a prestigious hotel and company. This second hotel would contribute greatly to the image we are cultivating of Princes Dock as the 24 hour, 7 days a week place to live, work and play."

The 9 storey hotel with its distinctive architecture, will occupy Plot 5 on the east side of Liverpool's premier waterfront location, adjacent to the established 4-star Crowne Plaza Hotel. The agreement for lease has been exchanged between Princes Dock and MWB (Liverpool) Limited.

The chic addition to Liverpool's hotel choice is planned as part of MWB's rapidly expanding hotel business. MWB have hotels in Manchester, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Leeds and Newcastle and have four currently under construction in London and one in Birmingham.

Princes Dock has two fully let office buildings with a third now under construction. A revised masterplan put before Liverpool City Council also incorporates a residential tower of luxury apartments.

Agent contacts for the Princes Dock Development Company are Irving Rice and Partners of Liverpool Tel: 0151-476-0001 (Office accommodation Nick Rice and Mark Worthington, Retail and Leisure Malcolm Irving and Jonathan Owen) and GVA Grimley, Manchester Tel: 0870 900 89 90 (Office accommodation Jill Brown and Simon Reynolds, Retail and Leisure Roger Ahmed).


The Twelve Quays ro/ro terminal is due to open on June 17. A correspondent reports that LAGAN VIKING was noted at Twelve Quays on the morning of Wednesday June 12.

June 9


I have returned from Ireland with quite a collection of nautical photographs for the site. The first batch appears in this update. Whilst I have been away Ian Collard has been capturing some of the scene on this side of the Irish Sea. There will be more material from my trip to Ireland in the next update. 

I don't know if it is coincidence but for the second occasion in the past five years or so my holiday has coincided with a shipwreck. Five years ago the container ship CITA ran aground on St.Mary's Isles of Scilly whilst I was staying there. As I drove down to Cóbh last Monday I heard on the radio that the heavy lift CLIPPER CHEYENNE had sunk at Foynes harbour. So it was a case of heading off to Foynes for photos on Tuesday. It also presented itself as a good opportunity to sample the nearby Shannon Ferry in more  interesting weather conditions than prevailed on my first visit last year. Photos and voyage report next week.


I would like to thank everyone who has taken the time to respond to the proposals for commercial activities to support the running costs of the web site. It has been valuable to receive your ideas and thoughts.


As announced last week the Maritime Contacts Group is now closed.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: Gary Andrews, Clive Jackson, Ian Collard, Michael Pryce

SEA CONTAINERS \ Isle of Man Steam Packet Company

The number of bike fans attending this year's TT has broken all previous records.

37,548 people travelled to the Island on the Steam Packet, 39 more than two year's ago, which was a record year itself.

The company has also carried over 12,800 motorcycles, and over 4,000 cars and vans

SUPERSEACAT THREE was noted by two correspondents making a fast run up the Mersey on June 3 <photo right Ian Collard>. She had made a request to Mersey Radio to make a faster than usual approach to Prince's Landing Stage due to a medical emergency on board.

SEACAT ISLE OF MAN - a correspondent reports that a lightly loaded SCIOM departed Liverpool Landing Stage for Douglas on the evening of Friday June 7 with just 16 passengers and one car! Her morning arrival from Douglas on Friday was also reported running at a reduced speed of just 21 knots. 


EUROPEAN SEAFARER was noted berthed in Canada #2 Dock, Liverpool on Sunday June 3, she remained there on Saturday June 8. She has been replaced on her Fleetwood sailings by recently refitted EUROPEAN MARINER which is shortly expected to commence a two month charter to Color Line.



PEMBROKE FISHER - the 14,122 dwt tanker Montebello , which has been purchased by
James Fisher of Barrow from Italy's Fluviale di Navigazione, has been booked into A&P
Group's Tyneside facility for re-activation and sales docking. The vessel has been laid up in Rotterdam since November. When redelivered it will be renamed Pembroke Fisher. 

ATLANTIC OSPREY - the BNFL owned, James Fisher managed vessel remains at West Float, Birkenhead whilst she undergoes engine repairs.


£100 Million new ship confirms the future of ferry travel

Papenburg, 05.06.2002 - The first Northern European car ferry to feature such cruise ship facilities as an open deck swimming pool and cabins with either sea view balconies or terraces will be introduced by Brittany Ferries in the spring of 2004. It will operate on the company's routes from the UK to Spain and France, and between France and Ireland.

The company confirmed today (Wednesday June 5) that a contract to build the £100 million, 40,000 tons vessel, to be called Pont-Aven, has been signed with the German shipbuilders Meyer Werft of Papenburg. The ship will carry 2,200 passengers, 650 cars and 20 lorries. Pont-Aven will be 185 metres long with a 31-metre beam and will offer more space per passenger than current ferries. A service speed of 27 knots will mean the existing 24-hour crossing time between Plymouth and Santander in North Spain will be reduced to under 20 hours.

The open deck pool and café will be constructed under a transparent dome that can be opened or closed depending on the weather. The 650 cabins will all have en suite facilities while the top suites will have balconies or terraces. Other on board features will include a range of dining opportunities in à la carte and self service restaurants, bistros and tea rooms, a central atrium with panoramic lifts, a shopping mall, and cocktail and cabaret bars.

This September, Brittany Ferries will be introducing the £80 million 36,000 tons Mont St Michel, currently fitting out in Rotterdam, on its Portsmouth-Caen Channel route The company's Managing Director, David Longden said: "The arrival of these two new ships in the next 24 months will take ferry travel onto an even higher level in terms of comfort, quality and value for money, which our competitors will find hard to match. This new building confirms Brittany Ferries' total confidence in the future of ferry travel."



Date of Offence: 26th September 2001

Offences: Pollution contrary to Section 131 of the Merchant Shipping Act 1995.

Details: The Maritime & Coastguard Agency prosecuted F.T. Everards Shipping Ltd., Owners of the coastal tanker "AVERITY" in Chester Magistrates Court on 20th May for a breach of the Pollution provisions of the Merchant Shipping Act 1995, following an incident at Stanlow Oil Refinery on the Manchester Ship Canal on Wednesday 26th September 2001.

The AVERITY had arrived at White Oil Dock No.1 Berth at Stanlow in the early afternoon of Tuesday 25th September 2001 to load two cargoes of Ultra Low Sulphur Diesel (ULSD) and Kerosene.  The vessel deballasted on arrival but there was a delay before loading commenced.  Loading of the ULSD finally started at 00:30 on Wednesday 26th September 2001.  Some twenty minutes after loading commenced the Seaman on watch detected a discoloration in the water, which he traced back to the ship's side in the vicinity of the pumproom.  The Seaman went down into the pumproom and found that both of the sea valves were open.  After closing them the AB informed the Mate, who was in charge of loading operations.  Unfortunately there was a misunderstanding between the Mate and AB and loading was not stopped.  In fact shortly afterwards loading of the Kerosene commenced.  Loading was eventually completed at 03:20.  When figures were compared it was found there was a difference of approximately 155 tonnes of ULSD.  Only when the discrepancy became apparent was the alarm raised.  It was found that ULSD had entered the enclosed dock but had been contained by a "bubble barrier" across the entrance and none of the product had entered the Canal proper.

The Magistrates said that when taking mitigation into account, they noted that the company had entered an early guilty plea, had no previous convictions, had paid the full clean up costs and had taken preventative measures to avoid a reoccurrence.  However, this was a serious offence of strict liability that had resulted in a large spillage. They had also taken into account that there had been a delay in raising the alarm, and a breakdown in communication between the crew.

Mr David Pickup, Surveyor in Charge at the Liverpool Marine Office, stated "this incident shows the importance of checking and security of sea valves.  It also emphasises the point that loading/discharging should be stopped immediately by any person involved in the operation if they believe there has been a pollution incident."

Penalty: £10,000 plus £7,173 costs


Local press reports indicate that receivers of Cammell Laird plc have failed to sell the mid body module constructed for the COSTA CLASSICA and as a consequence the unit will probably be scrapped. A large array of fixtures and fittings will be auctioned off.

Meanwhile the former Cammell Laird yard in Sunderland is to reopen under the name of the Wear Dock & Engineering Company.

The new proprietor is Harry Wilson's Tyne Slipway & Engineering Co Ltd, which has taken a short-term, five year lease on the facility and has purchased all the allied engineering workshops, cranes, quayside facilities etc.


The Daily Post reported this week that divers have launched a major salvage operation in a bid to recover one of Merseyside's most famous vessels.

Built in 1862 by Laird Brothers in Birkenhead, the CSS Alabama is the most notorious commerce raider in maritime history with near-legendary tales of her battle prowess during the American Civil War.

But after a 22-month career, she was lost following a battle with USS Kearsage off the coast of Cherbourg in the English Channel.

Since 1989 there have been several dives to recover artefacts lost at sea and to discover more about the history of the ship and its crew.

Everything above the sea-bed has been recovered, but now organisers want to excavate the remains of the hull which is buried.

Throughout June there will be three dives in a joint operation between the governments of America and France.

The Association of Friends of the CSS Alabama will lead the salvage attempt. President Robert Edington said: "The dives are excavations of the remains of the hull. There will be six US underwater archaeologists and about a dozen French volunteer divers, plus several French Navy divers."

The crew of the Alabama included 31 Merseyside sailors fighting for the south. They joined in one of the most destructive maritime episodes in which they boarded 447 ships, including 65 Union vessels.

The Alabama was commissioned in 1861 by James Dunwoody Bulloch, but unbeknown to Laird Brothers Bulloch had ordered her for the Confederate States of America.

She was built from the finest English oak with iron fastenings and her bottom was copper sheathed. The vessel was tall-masted with a mix of rig and screw-driven steam and two 300-horsepower engines that enabled her to travel at 10 knots which could be increased with raised sail.

In June, she undertook sea trials with a small crew under the command of Matthew Butcher, with Bulloch and a small group of dignitaries on board.

Only Butcher and Bulloch knew that there was no intention to return to Liverpool. They announced the trials were going so well that the men had decided to remain at sea overnight to complete them.

The £47,000 ship was, in fact, already on her way to the Azores where she arrived in August to become the Alabama and was handed over to the command of Raphael Semmes.

After a trail of destruction through the West Indies and the North Atlantic, Alabama eventually met her match in USS Kearsage in June 1864.

The admiral's great, great grandson Captain Oliver Semmes will be in Cherbourg for the dives.


Mersey Chambers, the grade II listed building, headquarters of the Liverpool based shipping company T & J Harrison is to be sold. Offers in the region of £2 million are being sought. Paintings and ship models from the building will be offered for auction.

With the building being offered with vacant possession, the remaining staff employed by parent company Charente will then relocate.


On Monday June 3 the heavy lift ship  CLIPPER CHEYENNE [5970 grt] sank during ballasting operations at Foynes on the River Shannon.

The vessel, was preparing to lift a dredger, when it listed alarmingly and sank within 15 minutes.

Booms were erected to contain any oil which might leak from the vessel's tanks. It is expected that salvage work will take at least two weeks.

The press reports indicated that the crew escaped to safety without injury though the Chief Officer is reported to have suffered chest pains following the drama, and was taken to the Mid West Regional Hospital in Limerick for tests.

CLIPPER CHEYENNE is operated by Compagnie de Management D'Orbigny of Paris she was captained by a Russian with a 14 man Polish crew.

 The ship had docked at Foynes at midnight on Sunday to prepare for yesterday's highly specialised task of lifting the dredger that was being used to cut a trench for the Trans-Shannon gas pipeline from Rinelon, on the County Clare side of the estuary, to Mount Trenchard on the Limerick shore.


Stafford Shipping of New Ross celebrated its 50th Anniversary last weekend when celebrations were held on board the replica emgirant ship DUNBRODY.

The event commemorated the discharge of the 450 tonne coal carrier THE KERLOGUE on May 30, 1952.


PS LINCOLN CASTLE which is berthed at Grimsby now has a new web site which can be found at:

June 2


Welcome to this weekend's update.  Before you hurry down the page to the main news bulletins could I trouble you to read a somewhat extended "Notes & News" this week?

Please note that I will be in Cóbh for a few days from Monday through to Friday, and will not return home until Saturday June 8. If you need to contact me urgently please use my mobile number for a phone or text message. Please do not call the landlines  as messages relayed by family sometimes loose their meaning or become confused!


'Irish Sea Shipping - The Online Shipping Magazine' has functioned in one form or another since 1995.  During this period I have lost track of the costs incurred running the site, though ISP and phone charges have certainly been quite substantial during this period.

Now that the site has become firmly established, receiving well over 1000 hits per week to its home page and considerably more "side door" entrances via search engines to specific pages it is time to examine ways of defraying the running costs.

Adoption of a subscription scheme is one way to address the cost problem, however, as those of you who I have corresponded with privately will know is something I am totally against and I doubt my views are likely to change. I firmly believe in an "open house" policy offering access to all and a free sharing of news and views. 

Access charges would, in my opinion, alienate people and are definitely not the way to go at the present time, though I am aware of at least two maritime sites which have gone in this direction. 

The solution to the cost problem is to use the site as a shop window. Given that that there are in excess of 1000 visitors per week to 'Irish Sea Shipping' there appears already to be enough passers by already looking in that "shop window".

To this end I am looking at two strategies:

  • Sell goods via the web site.
  • Host paid for advertising for other organisations' commercial activities preferably for a nautical or related activities. 

The " ISS Shop"  will be developed first. For some time I have been working on producing a number of  photographic CD's containing the maritime photographs I have taken over the past eight years. These CDs would contain images presented in much higher resolution than is practical on a web site due to file size and storage space considerations.

Due to time constraints producing these CD's has been a stop - go process for the past 18 months. However, I am now reaching the stage where I will have three collections of photographic CD's available this summer with hopefully a fourth one appearing this autumn.

To keep costs down these CD's will probably be produced "in-house" rather than farmed out to a commercial duplicator - though that may in the end depend on demand available time and other practicalities !

The aim of the venture is to subsidise the substantial running costs of the site. It is certainly not my intention to try and turn Irish Sea Shipping into a full blown commercial enterprise. This is an hobby not a business! Consequently these photographic CDs will be sold at a realistic, down to earth prices offering good value for money.

Furthering the shop concept I may also look at developing the sale of other nautical items at a later date and also offer selected  auctions of collectables via Ebay. Though this is a longer term proposal which will need further investigation. 

Attracting commercial advertising is something to be investigated over the coming months though this would be carefully implemented. I don't think visitors would welcome a large number of those infuriating "pop up" ads suddenly appearing on every page. However, border advertising and an  advertisers arcade of pages would be a solution.

I think that these proposals offer a sensible balance and help in moving Irish Sea Shipping towards a self supporting operation. I would certainly welcome visitors' opinions on the proposals. Please email directly on with the subject heading "COMMERCIAL ACTIVITIES" or feel free to openly comment on the Irish Sea Shipping Yahoo Group if you have something to say.


It is now over a year since the launch of the Maritime Contacts - Yahoo Group. 

This group was established to enable seafarers and maritime enthusiasts to post contact information, seek out old colleagues and friends etc. However, in over a year only 13 messages have been posted and only 27 members have joined. 

The group has obviously failed to meet its aim of providing an automated contacts facility. I have therefore decided to close the group and give notice that I will be requesting its deletion by Yahoo next week end. 

Given lack of use, it would have been a matter of time before Yahoo decide to pull the plug themselves as they prefer a certain amount of traffic to groups.


Last weekend there were some heated comments made by contributors to the group both for and against a particular Irish Sea operator. 

As a consequence I thought it might be appropriate to set up a new Irish Sea Ships poll in which YOU have the opportunity for to vote for the company which in your opinion is the best operator on the Irish Sea. You have a choice as under:

  • P&O Irish Sea
  • Stena Line
  • Sea Containers [Isle of Man Steam Packet Co \ SeaCat]
  • Norse Merchant Ferries
  • Seatruck Ferries
  • Irish Ferries
  • Swansea Cork Ferries

To vote, please visit the following web page: 

The poll remains open until June 20 to give everyone plenty of time to vote and hopefully secure a better turn out than the 10% recorded during the last poll!


Some weeks ago you may recall it was announced that a poll to identify the Classic Ship which should have been preserved but wasn't was to be held.

Unfortunately as I was about to set up the poll this week I discovered that I have managed to delete the nomination emails which I had requested to enable a ballot to be constructed. Unfortunately I discovered that I had  managed to delete the nomination emails.

Could I please ask everyone who nominated a classic ship to be included in this poll to send your nomination again to  with the subject heading: "CLASSIC NOMINATIONS"?

Rules for nominations are:
Ship must:

  • have sailed on Irish Sea / Celtic Seas / Clyde or Bristol Channel
  • have been scrapped after 1945
  • be a passenger vessel or ro/ro

Thanks for taking the time to read this much longer than usual Notes & News section!

John H. Luxton 


The following have sent material either directly or via the Irish Sea Ships Yahoo Group: Gary Andrews, Jenny Williamson, Tony Brennan, Tony Atkinson, Phil Welsh, Ian Collard, Chris Jones, Kevin Bennett and "others"

SEA CONTAINERS \ Isle of Man Steam Packet Company


With the return of the Isle of Man TT festival after its absence in 2001 due to Food and Mouth disease precautions it was rather unfortunate that problems developed with the BEN-MY-CHREE. It is understood that a "vibration damper" on the port engine failed (the one on the other engine has already had to be replaced) this combined with a problem with one of the propellers - resulted in  serious vibration.

As a consequence the BEN-MY-CHREE missed the overnight round trip on May 29/30 whilst repair work was carried out, however, SeaTruck Ferries RIVERDANCE was able to provide cover. RIVERDANCE had been off service for minor repairs which had just been completed when the SOS came, the charter was a bonus for Seatruck and filled the slack time before she could drop back into her normal schedule.

RIVERDANCE arrived at Douglas around 07:25 on May 30 after SEACAT ISLE OF MAN had departed. Its is understood that RIVERDANCE may have bumped the span when berthing and an observer reports engineers in evidence inspecting the span whilst traffic was off loading. [Photo: Jenny Williamson]

Merseyside correspondents report that confusion reigned at various times at Princes Landing Stage. SUPERSEACAT THREE experiencing bow thruster problems which resulted in some damaged belting.

On May 29 it was reported that SUPERSEACAT THREE experienced bow thruster problems and as a consequence damaged her belting [again!] when berthing at Prince's Landing Stage. Adelaide Steamship's tug BRAMLEY MOORE was noted assisting in pulling SSC3 off the stage on May 30

On May 30, SSC3 departed late at 09:15 for Dublin. SEACAT ISLE OF MAN  arrived lightship from Douglas off New Brighton at 17:00 cruising around the river whilst the late running SSC3 berthed. SSC3's 18:15 Douglas sailing did not get away until 20:00. SEACAT ISLE OF MAN's 19:30 departure was finally noted passing New Brighton around 21:44 two hours behind schedule.


Sea Containers has unveiled a new look web site for its Irish Sea services. Though still at the familiar address the site has been completely redesigned and looks very good. It of course offers on-line booking. However, there remains no mention of the special day return fares on the Liverpool to Dublin route on the on-line booking page.  To obtain these you must enter the code DT NLD.


On May 31, Sir Reg Empey MLA, Minister for the Department of Enterprise Trade and Investment, paid tribute to the tremendous contribution made by SeaCat to the economy of Northern Ireland.

Guests at a special luncheon in the Belfast Harbour Commissioners offices heard him congratulate the company which is celebrating 10 years of fast ferry service between Northern Ireland and Scotland.

SeaCat, the pioneers of fast ferry travel on the Irish Sea, first sailed on 1st June 1992 from Belfast to Stranraer.  The introduction of the wave-piercing catamaran ‘SeaCat Scotland’ had a major impact on the ferry market, as the craft’s high technology represented a breakthrough and for the first time day trips became a practical possibility.

The benefits, both economic and social of the SeaCat operations on the Irish Sea have been evident on both sides of the water, not only through direct employment but also through trade and tourism.

The Minister said: “Ease of access to Northern Ireland, is probably the most important factor in maximising tourism potential”

“This year Northern Ireland is looking forward to a strong recovery in tourism and attracting our near neighbours as holiday visitors from Scotland, England and the Isle of Man, is key to our success.

 “SeaCat has provided a massive contribution to the tourism and leisure industry and over the years has shown its confidence by working with, and encouraging, many tour operators to provide holiday packages to Northern Ireland.”

The Minister continued: “Last year, despite travel restrictions as a result of Foot and Mouth, we saw growth in visitor numbers from Great Britain of 11% and from Scotland, of 16 % and I believe that this provides a very sound springboard for further growth this year.

“With an increased marketing presence in key overseas markets through Tourism Ireland Ltd, I am also confident of significantly increasing visitor numbers from outside the UK and boosting the contribution that the tourist industry can make to the local economy.”

Hamish Ross, Managing Director of Sea Containers’ Irish Sea Operations explained: “We are proud to have served the communities of Northern Ireland and Scotland for the past decade and to have played a significant role in contributing to the success of the commercial and tourist industry.  We look forward to continuing our high standard of service on all our seven routes in the Irish Sea.”

In 1999, SeaCat took the decision to move its Scottish base 60 miles further up the Ayrshire coast to Troon, considerably shortening the travelling time from Edinburgh and Glasgow.

“The decision to move to Troon has proved to be highly successful, in just three years we have already carried over one million passengers and a quarter of a million cars,” Mr. Ross said.

This has also been a major benefit to a number of tour operators who work closely with SeaCat.  As highlighted by Dermot Cairns, Marketing Manager of short break specialists Travelbreak, “Since SeaCat moved to Troon our short break business to Glasgow has trebled.  The sailing time and short onward journey gives families and couples the chance to pack up their cars and be in Glasgow in a few short hours.”


EUROPEAN MARINER was noted afloat in Bidston Dry Dock on the morning of June 1. An Adsteam tug was noted waiting outside the yard. A correspondent writes that the vessel was fitted with a new main mast last Sunday. 


CARONIA will make an appearance on the Irish Sea during September 2003 She departs Southampton September 23 and calls at St. Peter Port 24, Cóbh 25, Liverpool 26, Greenock 27, Douglas 28, Cruises the Irish Sea 29 and arrives back at Southampton on September 30.

One wonders if the mid bodied section of her fleetmate COSTA CLASSICA will still be gracing the Birkenhead waterfront in the former Cammell Laird yard when she arrives? 

Meanwhile this week, Carnival has moved to deny rumours that they would sell Cunard if any problems with the authorities arose over their proposed acquisition of P&O Princess.

COSTA CLASSICA mid body section is currently being offered for sale by Babcock Disposals on behalf of the Cammell Laird receivers on the internet. You can find comprehensive details at: . One wonders who will but it? Perhaps it might prove attractive for a European government which might be seeking a novel residence for illegal "economic migrants"?!



BALMORAL finally broke her "Mostyn Duck" on May 28, making her first visit to the port after having her schedules frustrated in previous years. 

A correspondent notes that car parking was arranged near the port office building and a minibus used to take people to the berth. (Minibus driver got lost between the two on the first run). Only problem for BALMORAL was getting a gangway ashore as there was a scaffolding railing the full length of the berth. There was a tune minute wait for man to find spanner!

Interesting run out from Mostyn was reported  - the pilot elected to stay on board to Llandudno and as the tide was high he and Captain Steve Michel gave us a close run along the coast once we had passed the Rhyl buoy. The incoming EUROPEAN AMBASSADOR was seen some distance to the north. We closed the Little Orme and then went past Llandudno before turning back to berth starboard side to on the Pier.


Those enthusiasts who have been concerned that BALMORAL has not received the same attention as that lavished on her  famous fleet-mate WAVERLEY will be please to hear news of the BALMORAL Regeneration Project. The following letter from Nick James has been circulated to members of the Paddle Steamer Preservation Society:

"BALMORAL is still powered by her original Newbury Sirron engines dating from 1949. Those engines are now reaching the end of their reliable working life, and, if BALMORAL is to continue in operation, it is essential that she receive a "heart transplant' in the near future. 

We now have a unique and timely opportunity to carry out this and other necessary work, at relatively modest cost to the ship's supporters. An application is being prepared to the Heritage Lottery Fund (who have now confirmed their funding of the Completion Phase of the WAVERLEY Rebuild) to re-engine BALMORAL and carry out further improvement works over a period of two years.  

The engines would be renewed this coming winter. The after end of the Promenade Deck would be renewed in timber and the Dining Saloon and its windows refurbished the following year. The total project cost fails within the HJ's £500,000 limit for small applications. Partnership funding of a minimum of £125,000 would be needed. 

The BALMORAL Restoration Fund already has £47,000 in hand, and the value of the redecking work carried out in the 2000/2001 winter refit can also count towards partnership funding provided the HLF application is lodged in early summer, which it will be. We are now asking all the ship's supporters to contribute to a target of £50,000 to complete the partnership funding for this exciting project. 

Further support is being sought from the public authorities bordering the Bristol Channel. BALMORAL is, of course, a historic ship in her own right. As time has passed, her operation has also become more and more important to the continuing operational preservation of WAVERLEY. BALMORAL allows us to support the infrastructure necessary for WAVERLEY's operation by providing a more frequent service from many ports and piers than could WAVERLEY alone. 

The investment which has recently been put into Bristol Channel piers at Clevedon, Penarth and Ilfracombe, for example, all of which are essential to both ships, would never have been made by the Heritage Lottery Fund and others without the regularity of service which can only be provided by WAVERLEY and BALMORAL together. Without those piers, the Bristol Channel sailings would become unviable, and the Bristol Channel is the second highest revenue-generating area for our ships, exceeded only by the Clyde.

BALMORAL also enables us to maintain the necessary numbers of skilled personnel to operate WAVERLEY. Without BALMORAL, the opportunities available for training crew in the skills needed to operate historic coastal ships would be reduced to a level which would jeopardise the continuing operation of WAVERLEY. The opportunities for deck officers to acquire the numerous pilotage certificates necessary to operate around the UK coast would also be severely reduced, making the economics of what is already a knife-edge business considerably more problematic.

For these reasons, the re-engining of BALMORAL is vital not just for the continuation of BALMORAL's operation and of the service she provides in so many areas of the UK coastline; it is also essential if the operation of WAVERLEY is to remain secure. The upgrading of the after end of BALMORAL's Promenade Deck and of her Dining Saloon will be the first of a series of improvements to the ship and her accommodation to take place over the next few years. Re-engining is a necessary first step in this; it will make her cheaper to operate and much cheaper to maintain, thereby releasing funds for the additional improvements.

You may be wondering why the plan is to re-engine BALMORAL rather than restore her original machinery. Regrettably, to restore the original machinery would be prohibitively expensive and would mean the ship would have to be taken out of service for two seasons. Many of the parts which would have to be replaced are beyond the ability of the present-day British manufacturing industry to supply. The major problems are caused by the inevitable corrosion which occurs as a result of sea-water cooling, and by fatigue in the main structural parts of the engines. These problems have been addressed over the last few years, but the remedies can only be short-term.

BALMORAL's main engines will be replaced with medium-speed engines of attractive appearance, maintained in her open engine-room. It is intended 'that her current Sirron engines will be statically preserved, and strong interest has already been expressed by Southampton City Council to preserve one of them in the local Maritime Museum, and the other as a memorial to the city's shipbuilding industry, subsequent to the relocation of Thomycroft's (the yard who built BALMORAL) to Portsmouth.

A final bonus is that BALMORAL's new engines will be more powerful (and quieter) than her current machinery, reflecting the 18-knot speed for which her hull was designed rather than the 16-knot capability of the machinery which was installed. It will make her even more versatile in operation than she already is.

If you can, please give, or, for sums of £250 or more, pledge whatever you can afford to support this vital project by completing the enclosed form. The £50,000 to be raised by supporters of WAVERLEY and BALMORAL will be essential to unlock the potential £375,000 of HLF funding, and this opportunity to do so much at relatively little cost to the ships' supporters (compared to the £1.1 million which has been raised by PSPS to secure the WAVERLEY Rebuild) will not recur. We have to bite the bullet now!

The address for donations and pledge forms: Kathleen O'Neill, Waverley Steam Navigation Company Ltd, Anderston Quay, Glasgow G3 8HA.


The Irish Times reported on May 30 that shares in ferry operator, Irish Continental Group, rose slightly  upon news that the company is recovering well from last year's foot-and-mouth-related downturn in trading. The shares had risen by 10 cents to euro 8.65 by mid-day but were up just five cents by the end of the day.

Shareholders at the group's annual general meeting heard that the Irish Ferries operation had seen an 18 per cent rise in the number of cars carried to Ireland in the year to date, compared to a 10 per cent increase in the total number of cars carried by all the ferry companies on these routes.

Speaking after the meeting, Irish Continental managing director, Mr Eamonn Rothwell, put these figures into context. He said the current incoming car market across the Irish Sea was down by 12 per cent when compared to 2000, the year before the foot-and-mouth outbreak. While such a fall was "a little disappointing", he said Irish Ferries had broken the trend by staging a 3 per cent increase in volumes over the same period. "We've outperformed the market," he said.

Company chairman, Mr Tom Toner, said the firm had been helped by Ulysses, the world's largest car ferry, adding that, as of yesterday, forward car-ferry bookings were ahead of the same point in 2001. In the roll-on roll-off freight market, he told shareholders the Irish Ferries business had grown in line with an overall rise of 3 per cent in freight travel into the Republic in the year to date. Shareholders are to receive a final dividend of 11.4 cents per share for the year-ending December, 2001, based on pre-tax profits of euro 9 million for the preceding 14 months.


On May 29, Eamonn Rothwell, managing director of Irish Ferries   accused Dublin Port of overcharging its customers in order to pay for overmanning in the port.

"There are no volume discounts in Dublin as there are in other European ports. Furthermore, charges are high because Dublin Port is a State company and has 350 employees, whereas a port like Larne has only 150 employees," said Mr Rothwell.

However, a source within Dublin Port challenged Irish Ferries' view.

"We don't give volume discounts because this would be unfair to the smaller operators. We try to be fair to everyone," he said.

On the manning issue, Dublin Port said it had already shed up to 70 staff and was planning to reduce its workforce by a further 100.

"Larne is not comparable as it only handles one-third of the throughput of Dublin Port," he said.


ARKLOW FREEDOM: During the night of the 26th - 27th May the coaster ARKLOW FREEDOM (2,373/92), broke down approximately 10 miles south of The Lizard. The Coastguard chartered tug ANGLIAN PRINCE at the time was at anchor in Mount Bay and immediately weighed anchor and steamed to the casualties position. By the time the tug had arrived the casualty had managed to get her engine started and she proceeded with the tug as escort into Mount Bay.

The ARKLOW FREEDOM was built at Ferus Smit BV., Holland in 1992 as the Liberian registered coaster MB Clyde. In May 1997, she together with her three sisterships were sold to Arklow Shipping Ltd of Arklow, and registered under the subsidiary company Amoy Enterprises Ltd., Arklow.



Holyhead Coastguard assisted a tanker late on the evening of May 26 after it needed to make repairs in the middle of the traffic separation scheme north of Anglesey.

The Coastguard were called at just after 23:00 by the tanker BRITISH SHIELD to report that it needed to change its fuel pump and would therefore have no engine power. The vessel began to drift and at the time it was thought that it could have started to drift towards the coast. The Coastguard requested Holyhead and Moelfre Lifeboat to launch and they went alongside the vessel in case of any problems.

After reviewing the wind and tidal conditions the Coastguard confirmed that there should be no danger of the vessel coming ashore and that the vessel was starting to drift out to sea. The closest point at which it came to shore was 6 miles. There were south westerly force 4 off shore winds on scene with a slight sea.

At 02.20 the vessel reported that it was undertaking engine trails and by 03.00  it was under way again.

The 2800 gross tonne British registered vessel was on route from Rotterdam to Merseyside when the incident began. It had eleven crew on board and was carrying a cargo of palm oil.

Carl Hiltunen, Watch Manager for Holyhead Coastguard said: "We had good communications with the vessel and they kept us informed at all times of their progress. The two lifeboats stayed with the vessel until they had completed their engine trials in case of problems and we ensured that all contingencies were in place. The weather was particularly favourable during the course of this incident, however, we would have been very well prepared had we needed to take action in less favourable conditions."



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