The Irish Sea Shipping Archive

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


  AUGUST 2002

August 29



Welcome to this additional update posted to enable me to catch up with additional material.


Problems opening full size images on the Navy Days 2002 page have been reported. Repairs are underway and should be sorted by the time you read this.

Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Ian Collard, Jim Edgar, Justin Merrigan - Incat, Richard Crosby and "others"

SEA CONTAINERS \ Isle of Man Steam Packet Company

CLAYMORE - it was announced on August 21 that  Pentland Ferries have purchased MV
Claymore from Sea Containers and that they intend to operate a year -round service competing with Northlink who take over from P&O Scottish Ferries on 1st October.

It is believed that they are in negotiations with one of the Hauliers who is a partner in Norse Island Ferries to secure their Orkney - North Coast business.

It is interesting to note that this is the second laid up vessel on Merseyside to head northwards to challenge Northlink. Norse Merchant Ferries MERCHANT VENTURE is also heading northwards to join Norse Island Ferries.


Scilly News reports that during the last month there has been a more activity with Trinity House's helicopters. They have been busy servicing both Bishop Rock and Round Island Lighthouses.

Bishop Rock is being repainted and has had it's two lightening conductors serviced.

Round Island Lighthouse has also been repainted, there has also been visits by planners in regard to the forthcoming solarisation. Both Round Island and Wolf Rock Lighthouses are to be converted to solar power as announced by Trinity House on 26 July 2002.

A press release on the Trinity House web site states that "Solar power will be used instead of diesel generators to operate the light and fog signal at each of the Lighthouses. This will eliminate the requirement to transport and store fuel offshore and eradicate potential pollutants from exhaust and heat generated by the existing diesel engines. The scheme will achieve annual savings in excess of £55k."

Rear Admiral Jeremy de Halpert said: "The solarisation of Round Island and Wolf Rock Lighthouses is a further step in our plans to harness alternative energy sources and avoid adverse impacts on the environment."


A correspondent reports that the PRINCE ALBERT, formerly owned by Norton Stewart Investors and berthed on Merseyside since 1999 did arrive at Ipswich. 

It is reported that the plywood superstructure at the rear of the upper deck and the atrium roof has been removed.


Due to the popularity of the new Dublin to Cherbourg route, operated once a week by EUROPEAN AMBASSADOR, P&O have announced that the seasonal service has now been extended until November 3, 2002.


WAVERLEY is to operate a charter sailing from Belfast on Monday September 2 between 19:30 and 22:00.


Barrow in Furness based James Fisher & Sons plc has reported an impressive first half to the current trading year which will enable the company to fulfil its expansion plans into marine support services.

EC Hambro Rabben & Partners have been appointed as corporate finance advisers
to help identify potential acquisitions.

Fisher's first-half pre-tax profit rose 15% to a record £6.1m ($9.55m) from £5.3m in the like period of last year. The underlying performance was stronger still with profit from continuing
operations growing 25% to £6.1m from £4.9m.

Cash-flow increased to £12.7m from £11m, enabling the group to reduce net gearing to 67% from 82% at the end of last year during a period of modest capital expenditure.

James Fisher's first-half retained profit of £5.57m exceeded the £5.15m chalked up for the whole of 2001, helped by a net £505,000 tax credit due to the release of deferred tax following the adoption of the tonnage tax regime.

Chairman Tim Harris is optimistic on prospects: "James Fisher's core expertise is as a
marine service provider and we are confident that we shall continue to produce growth in profitability for the benefit of our shareholders both organically and by acquisition."

There will be a 12.25% increase in the interim dividend from 1.96p to 2.2p per share.

It is not difficult to see why Mr Harris is keen to expand in marine support services.
While this business is the junior partner in terms of gross profit, producing 17% (£1.6m) compared with cable ships' 45% (£4.3m) and tankships' 38% (£3.7m), its return on capital employed is far superior - 41% against 15% and 11%, respectively.

Tim Harris aims to build the profits from marine support services to a level similar to those from tankships and cableships. On the first-half figures, Mr Harris said tankships' result was "creditable given that the market trend in the first half-year was weaker than last year".

This was reflected in carryings under the group's contracts of affreightment which fell to 2.7m tonnes from 3.1m tonnes. The decline in tankships' gross profit was held to 4% on a drop in turnover of almost 9%. 

In May, Fisher finalised a 10-year bareboat charter for the 1997-built Monte Bello (now PEMBROKE FISHER) which at 14,122 tonnes is the largest tanker in its fleet.

The vessel, owned by investors arranged by P.D. Gram & Co, is "already producing excellent results" after entering service in July. Fisher's chief executive Angus Buchanan confirmed the intention to replace eight mainly 1980s-built tankers of around 3,000 dwt with fewer, but larger, vessels.
The group had several designs in hand and was looking to support an order for three vessels, with options for two more vessels. With three vessels in operation throughout the first-half, cableships more than doubled its gross profit.

Fisher said Global Marine Systems had given notice that it would not renew the charter of the NEXUS, which is expected to contribute £2.3m to this year's profits, when it expires in December.

Given the state of the cable laying market, Fisher expected a lower contribution from the NEXUS in the medium-term but added that the vessel's "competitive capital cost" should enable an "acceptable return". 

The diving support vessel FISHER CAVALIER, a JOINT VENTURE with Cammell Laird, which is in receivership, was a £500,000 drag on Fisher's profitability. The group intends to dispose of the vessel.


A&P Birkenhead has reported that the recent dry docking and repair of the EUROPEAN ENVOY has been successfully completed. The vessel, which is owned by P&O European Ferries (Irish Sea), entered the new A&P Group facility on Saturday 3rd August 2002. The dry docking work included approximately 4.0 tonnes of damaged shell plating, and passenger certificate renewal. The work
was completed on Friday 9th August following which the 4,267dwt passenger vessel departed the dry dock and returned to service in the Irish Sea. The ship superintendent, Paul Radcliffe, commented: "For the first visit since re-opening the yard we have received good service from all concerned..."

Martyn Drye, general manager at A&P Birkenhead said: "We are delighted to have completed our first dry docking in our No. 5 Dock and hope we can build our relationship with P&O European Ferries (Irish Sea)." The EUROPEAN ENVOY had joined the EUROPEAN PATHFINDER (also owned by P&O European Ferries (Irish Sea)) and the German owned KAY L which were also undergoing dry dock and repairs at the Birkenhead facility. Drye said, "We have been developing our business over recent weeks and it was very satisfying to have three vessels in our yard at one time."


August 27



Your web master has returned from a brief trip down to the west country to another bulging email bag! Please bear with me if you are awaiting replies or have submitted news material as time has precluded the inclusion of all material and in replying to all emails

Once again there is a backlog of material to post and I will endeavour to catch up as soon as possible with an extra update on either Thursday or Friday. 


Remember you can order the current ISS CD Rom on-line until August 30 using Ebay. Just click on the link at the top of the page. Orders placed and paid for online via Ebay are usually dispatched within 48 hours. 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: Gary Andrews, Ian Collard, Tony Brennan, Jim Edgar, Michael Pryce, Kevin Bennett, Edwin Wilmshurst and "others".

SEA CONTAINERS \ Isle of Man Steam Packet Company

RAPIDE - the vessel which appears to have been plagued with problems during her season on the Belfast - Heysham service is once again out of action following an engine room fire on August 21.

The fire broke out in the engine room after the vessel had departed from Belfast on Wednesday August 21 bound for Heysham. The fire broke out around one hour into the voyage and was reported to have been promptly extinguished. There were 244 passengers on the vessel  which turned around and headed back to Belfast. 

The Coastguard said it was not asked to take any action.  Many passengers were reported unhappy with the way they said the incident had been handled. "They didn't actually give us any information for about an hour and a half," said one passenger.

"We were sitting there knowing nothing - all we saw was smoke coming out of the back." Another traveller added: "It was very panicky because you didn't know what was going on.

"There were a lot of staff running to and fro and you didn't know where you were." Brian McKibbin, a spokesman for Seacat, said a full investigation was now under way into what had happened.

"We aren't sure why it happened and what we will do now is initiate an immediate investigation," he said. "We had fire crews here to ensure the safety of our passengers is paramount and that they were never in any danger.

"We now have to go on board and see what has happened." The Marine Accident Investigation Bureau has also been notified about the incident.

As a consequence of the fire the Belfast - Heysham service has now been cancelled until Wednesday September 11. Passengers with bookings for cancelled sailings should phone 02890 234023 to make transfer arrangements to other routes.


MERCHANT VENTURE was reported to be on the move within the Birkenhead Dock system around 07:00 on August 23 enroute to Alexandra Dock, Liverpool. She departed Alfred Lock at 11:00 assisted by two tugs. She has the fleet name NORSE painted on the hull though she has not  completed the overhaul as she had to move out of the dry-dock to free the dock for SOLWAY FISHER.

BRAVE MERCHANT On August 26 BRAVE MERCHANT undertook berthing trials on the south berth at Twelve Quays. 

Customs Officers have seized about a half tonne of hand-rolling tobacco worth around £100,000 from a boat on the River Dart, near Dartmouth.

The motor cruiser TRIO arrived on the River Dart from France on Sunday evening.

After its arrival, Customs Officers boarded the vessel, which was moored at Dartside Quay, near Galmpton, they found the tobacco.

Four men, all from the West Midlands, were arrested and taken to Torquay Police Station, where they are being interviewed by Customs Officers.

The Customs cutter VIGILANT escorted the vessel to Plymouth, where an on-board search is to be carried out.

The duty evaded on the goods amounted to about £56,800.

Customs Law Enforcement spokesman Bob Gaiger said: "This is the first time we have confiscated such a large amount of tobacco from a recreational boat in the West Country.

"We are delighted with this seizure. Smuggling tobacco is not a victimless crime.

"It costs the taxpayer £9 million every day in lost revenue, money which could be better spent on public services rather than lining the pockets of smugglers."

The arrests come just days after it was revealed that children were used by a smuggling ring bringing tobacco to the UK from France.


WAVE SENTINEL - on August 22 a crewman was killed after being crushed by half a ton of aluminium on board the cable ship off the Cornish coast.

A Sea King helicopter from RNAS Culdrose was scrambled to the WAVE SENTINEL, about 12 miles off Land's End, just before 13:30 on August 22.

Petty officer Mac McCloskey, winch operator aboard the helicopter, said that the injured man, a 43-year-old from the Philippines, was pronounced dead soon after they arrived.

He was taken to the Royal Cornwall Hospital, in Truro. A spokesman for the Marine Accident Investigation Branch said that an inquiry would be carried out.

August 20



Once again another reminder that the Irish Sea Shipping web site address is now . I will stop scanning on a daily basis for new mail from September 1. Scans will then be undertaken weekly until October 31 when the "merseyship" mailbox will be discontinued. Please ensure you have updated your address books!


If submitting material for inclusion in the next update if possible please do not forward emails with large [over 500k] attachments until April 27 to avoid the mailbox become congested.


I have caught up with some of the backlog in this update. I will try and complete a JONATHAN SWIFT voyage report for the August 27 update, providing I have not mislaid my notes! 

Please note there is NO update this Sunday.


I have a number of items on offer on EBAY at the moment. 

Of nautical interest being, offered again for sale as the previous bidder did not complete, the sale is the battery powered STENA HSS model.  for more information.


Gary Andrews, Ian Collard, Chris Jones and "others".



Sea Containers Ltd. announced on August 14 its results for the quarter and six months ended June 30, 2002. For the quarter, net earnings were $16 million ($0.79 per common share) on revenue of $410 million compared with net earnings of $6.2 million ($0.33 per common share) on revenue of $326 million in the year earlier period. Earnings before interest, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) were $83.6 million compared with $72.4 million a year earlier. For the six months, net earnings were $10.0 million ($0.52 per common share) on revenue of $682 million, compared with net earnings of $7.1 million ($0.38 per common share) on revenue of $618 million in the year earlier period. EBITDA was $125.2 million compared with $129.5 million a year earlier. The year earlier period included $20.2 million gain on port sales.

During the second quarter of 2002 Sea Containers increased its shareholding in Silja Oyj Abp, the leading Baltic ferry operator, to more than 50% which has necessitated the consolidation of Silja’s assets and liabilities with Sea Containers other assets and liabilities at June 30, 2002. Sea Containers currently owns about 93% of Silja and its tender offer to acquire the remainder of the shares expires on August 26, 2002. Any shares not tendered by that date will be compulsorily acquired as permitted by Finnish law. Sea Containers has consolidated 50% of Silja’s profit for the month of April, 2002 and 100% for the months of May and June. Sea Containers has not currently guaranteed any of Silja’s debt. Silja’s operating profits for the second quarter of 2002 were $18.4 million compared with $7.8 million for the same period in 2001. For the six months ended June 30, 2002, Silja’s operating profits were $20.4 million compared with $1.9 million in the year earlier period.

Sea Containers does not consolidate 50% owned companies. Its largest such investment is in GE SeaCo SRL, a container leasing JOINT VENTURE with GE Capital Corporation. GE SeaCo had assets of $519 million and liabilities of $386 million at June 30, 2002. Its total net earnings for the quarter and six months ended June 30, 2002 were $7 million and $13.3 million respectively, compared with $5.1 million and $9.7 million in the year earlier periods. Sea Containers has taken to its profit and loss account only 50% of these earnings. Sea Containers has guaranteed $93.5 million of GE SeaCo’s debt at June 30, 2002.

The company’s largest division, passenger and freight transport, had operating profits in the second quarter of $35.3 million, up 59% from $22.2 million in the prior year period. Excluding non-recurring items, all three divisions made gains: Silja, GNER and other ferry businesses. Effective March, 2002 GNER resumed track access payments to Railtrack, the infrastructure provider, and Railtrack resumed penalty payments for its failure to meet performance requirements. A major track subsidence in Scotland has resulted in exceptional penalty payments. The subsidence problem will not be fully rectified until mid-2003. Traffic volumes have improved on English Channel ferry routes now that the foot and mouth disease problem has been resolved. Isle of Man ferry traffic is now back to normal for the same reason. Higher earnings on Isle of Man routes have offset weakness in the Belfast-Troon route which is being impacted by no-frills airline competition. New York City ferry services are profitable, as is the company’s JOINT VENTURE in the Adriatic.

Operating profits of leisure investments were down from $20.8 million in the second quarter of 2001 to $17.9 million in the second quarter of 2002 due to lingering effects of September 11th. Orient-Express Hotels has forecasted that its earnings in the second half of the year will be greater than in the second half of 2001 which was impacted by September 11th and net earnings for the year 2002 will be higher than those of 2001. Sea Containers sold 301,800 Class A shares of Orient-Express Hotels in the second quarter of 2002 at an average price of about $20 per share. It stopped sales when the stock market generally weakened later in the quarter.

Mr. James B. Sherwood, President, said that shareholders have asked about the company’s plan to sell and spin off its 60% shareholding in Orient-Express Hotels. He made the following points:

1. No decision will be taken regarding a spin-off until year end as such spin-off requires the consent of the company’s banks and they will not consider the matter until the year’s results are known.

2. Any shares received in a spin-off would be taxable to U.S. tax paying recipients because Sea Containers does not own 80% of the voting power in Orient-Express Hotels which is a requirement of the IRS for a tax free spin-off.

3. The company wishes to sell Orient-Express Hotels shares to retire public debt falling due in 2003. It has so far sold 1 million shares, leaving 18.4 million shares available for sale or spin-off. Because of uncertain market conditions it is impossible to quantify now how many shares will be spun-off, if any.

4. The company wishes to exit the Orient-Express Hotels investment during 2003.

Operating profits from container leasing were $3.8 million compared with $8.6 million in the year earlier period. Mr. Sherwood said that the reduction did not reflect that demand for older containers has increased significantly in the second quarter but it had been necessary to incur substantial positioning and repair expense to bring the units back into service. Repairs are expensed when incurred. Also, the seasonal refrigerated container fleet was returned in the quarter. It is expected to go back on hire late in the year. This fleet is used to move perishables from the southern hemisphere to the northern hemisphere in the November – April northern hemisphere winter. The GE SeaCo owned fleet utilization at July 31, 2002 was 97% while the utilization of older GE Capital and Sea Containers’ owned units which are managed by GE SeaCo, called the "pool fleet" was 76%. At January 1, 2002 GE SeaCo fleet utilization was 96% and utilization of the pool fleet was 72%. GE SeaCo has acquired $63 million of new containers in the seven months ended July 31, 2002. Mr. Sherwood said that demand for pool fleet containers continues to be strong. Earlier in the year the demand was principally for 20’ and 40’ length high cube dry cargo containers but recently demand has increased for 40’ standard height dry cargo containers as well. This will necessitate positioning and repairs of this equipment. Mr. Sherwood said that GE SeaCo was now seeking rate increases for the "pool" fleet. Significant savings in storage expense are being made as utilization rises.

Finance costs declined from $35.7 million in the second quarter of 2001 to $31.1 million in the second quarter of 2002.

Mr. Sherwood said that despite considerable effort, GNER’s claim against Railtrack in relation to the Hatfield rail disaster and aftermath has not been settled. The parties are still significantly apart. Railtrack’s position is that it admits causing the loss of revenue and additional costs incurred by GNER but is seeking to escape liability by whatever legal means are at its disposal. GNER has withheld from track access and other payments the money it believes is owed to it. GNER has claimed it is entitled to full compensation because of "Network Change" as provided in its contract with Railtrack. GNER has taken the matter to arbitration and has won, however, Railtrack has appealed the decision to the Rail Regulator. The Regulator has informed GNER that he will not rule on this matter until late September, 2002.

RAPIDE - It is understood that this vessel is still not healthy. A correspondent noted that she was still at the Belfast terminal at 08:15 on August 20.




  • Turnover continued to improve, increasing by 6.6% to £133.3m (2001: £125.1m)
  • Underlying earnings per share up 1.3% at 22.93p (2001: 22.64p*)
  • Interim Dividend up 4.6% to 6.8 pence per share (2001: 6.5p)
  • Twelve Quays roll-on, roll-off terminal commenced operations
  • Acquisition of 50% joint venture in Northwestern Shiprepairers and Shipbuilders Limited
  • Full ownership of Princes Dock Development Company Limited
  • Revised Princes Dock master plan approved by Liverpool City Council
  • Commencement of Liverpool-Mediterranean Express container service

"In spite of continuing uncertainty in economic conditions, the Group has performed satisfactorily. Our strategy of investing for growth in our core businesses continues. There have been a number of developments during the first half including the start of operations at Twelve Quays, commencement of construction of the new animal feed store in Liverpool and the continued investment at Marine Terminals. The Board believes that benefits will begin to show in the second half of the year.

"The outlook for the remainder of the year remains cautious but positive, on the basis that progress will be maintained through business gains until a sustained recovery in international trade occurs."

August 18



Another rather large update again today! Please note that additional material was also posted to the site on Monday August 12. Please check <What's New>" for update information.

In the past few days I appear to have been overwhelmed by material either received from contributors or which I have collected myself. Therefore, not everything I would like to have included in this update is included and material is consequently held over. There will be a further update on Tuesday August 20.

Please note from Wednesday 21 I will be away until August 26 inclusive <contact details>. I will be off to Devon and Cornwall for a few days including a visit to Plymouth Navy Days which of course will result in even more material for!


Irish Sea Shipping's email address has changed to . Please note the old "merseyship" email address will be discontinued shortly and all new site related correspondence should be sent to the new address.  Please delete from your address books.

Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Edwin Wilmshurst, Tony Brennan, Chris Jones, Dave Crolley, John WIlliams, Ian Collard and "others".


RAPIDE - the vessel's technical problems appear to be continuing with only one sailing operating on Sunday August 18. Her morning sailing from Belfast being delayed until 10:40 and her return sailing delayed until 17:30 with an arrival at Belfast scheduled for 22:30 which suggests she is running on three engines.

SUPERSEACAT THREE - Heavy loadings and slow turn arounds appear to have been responsible for late running in recent days. Her even sailing from Douglas on Saturday August 17, did not reach Liverpool until just after 02:30 on Sunday morning about an hour and half behind schedule.


RTE is broadcasting a interesting series of Maritime Lectures 

Click on the link below to listen to recordings of programmes broadcast so

Programme 1The first lecture in the series comes from explorer and mariner Paddy Barry, (who has just returned from Alaska), on the subject of "Ireland's Mariners, Explorers and their Vessels".

Programme 2:
'Ireland's Emigrant and Convict Ship Trail' delivered by Michael Martin of 'The Titanic Trail' in Cóbh

Programme 3:
'Ireland's Naval and Merchant Marine Service' from the Flag Officer of the Naval Service, Commodore John Kavanagh

Programme 4:
'The Fishing Industry and Harvesting the Sea' by Jason Whooley who runs The South and West Fisherman's Organisation in Castletownbere


A correspondent advises that ABP has withdrawn photo passes from the Port of Southampton effective from August 19, 2002 on health and safety grounds. Whether this effects other ABP ports remains to be seen.


The two MD&HC Caissons  which have recently been refurbished at North Western's Clarence Dry Dock were taken to Mortar Mill Quay, Birkenhead where they will be used this weekend to block Alfred Lock enabling it to be pumped dry for repair work to be undertaken.

It is expected that the lock will be dried out on three separate occasions during  August / September for 1 week for this work to be undertaken


PRINCE ALBERT the former Yugoslav passenger ship departed from Liverpool early on Thursday morning under tow of tug GOLIATH bound for Ipswich. The ship has been on Merseyside for three years, during which it was owned by a company known as Norton Stewart Investors. It had been intended to operate her as a restaurant in Canning Basin, but permission was not forthcoming. She later tried to leave the Mersey loaded with tyres bound for west Africa in January 2001 and had to be rescued after she lost power and her anchors. If anyone has any further information on this vessel's progress to Ipswich or her new owners please send details to .


RTÉ reported this week that a review is to be carried out into the public funding of the JEANIE JOHNSTON emigrant ship project, which has so far cost more than €12m.

The review will be a joint undertaking by the Department of the Marine and Kerry County Council, with the Minister for Communications and the Marine appointing Sean Cromien, a former Secretary General of the Department of Finance, to carry out the review.

Dermot Ahern told RTÉ that taxpayers deserved to know the full background to what had happened in the funding of the project and how public monies were managed.

He said that he welcomed the latest initiative involving the Kerry Group, the County Council and Shannon Development and wished it well. This initiative had saved the Jeanie Johnston project from liquidation and given it a final chance of success.

Minister Ahern said that the vessel had obtained the certificates it needed for sea-going and said his Department would be supporting the latest initiative and he believed it could have benefits for Ireland. But, he said, there remained serious questions to be asked and answered about the public funding.


SCILLONIAN III experienced problems with the water cooling system on the port engine of on her return sailing to Penzance on August 10. As a consequence she was withdrawn from service on Monday August 12. Unfortunately SCILLONIAN's problems coincided with technical problems on the helicopter service on the Monday and poor visibility which disrupted air services.

The Cornishman newspaper reported that the travel chaos resulted in a honeymoon couple having an unusual crossing to the Islands on the freight ship GRY MARITHA:

The Isles of Scilly freight ship carried its most unusual cargo to St Mary's this week - a honeymooning couple and their quadbike.

Richard and Alison Whiteside had originally booked to travel on SCILLONIAN III but the ferry was unable to sail on Monday after it broke down.

The Isles of Scilly Steamship Company had offered to book the couple on the next flight to the Isles of Scilly, but this was turned down after Alison said she did not like flying.

So at 17:00 on Monday the couple boarded the freight ship the GRY MARITHA in Penzance along with all the latest supplies needed on the island, from light bulbs and lollipops to building supplies and frozen food.

The couple, from Honiton in Devon, said they did not mind their unusual mode of transport in the least and, if anything, it had made their honeymoon even more of an adventure.

Alison said: "I really wouldn't fly and it's very nice of them to arrange this."

Louise Ramzan, sales and marketing manager for the Isles of Scilly Steamship Company, said a cabin was prepared for the couple's four-hour journey. They then travelled on to Bryher for a week's camping.

The Gry Maritha's master, Captain Maurice Goulden, said he had carried a number of unusual passengers in the last ten years, but a honeymoon couple was a first.

"We carry everything that goes to the islands from wholesale food to fuel, but it's the first time we have taken newlyweds," he said.

The SCILLONIAN III, which can carry 600 passengers, had begun to suffer engine problems on Saturday during its return trip from the islands, and engineers pinpointed the problem to a cooling water system on the port engine.

Most passengers were diverted on to Isles of Scilly Skybus flights run by the steamship company.

On Tuesday engineers were completing repairs to the passenger ferry and it was expected to resume a normal service by early afternoon.


ISLE OF INNISFREE has now been renamed PRIDE OF CHERBOURG for her charter to P&O. 

Chris Jones photographed her at Falmouth this week. 

She is seen here renamed and in full P&O livery, which somehow managed to make the ship look bigger!



The Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA) announced on August 13 that 14 foreign ships were under detention in UK ports during July 2002 after failing port state control safety inspection.

Latest monthly figures show that 9 foreign ships were detained in UK ports during July 2002 along with 5 other ships still under detention from previous months. The overall rate of detentions compared with inspections carried out over the last 12 months is 6.1% which is a decrease of 0.2% on the 12 month rate to June.

July was the first month of the Paris MOU concentrated inspection campaign on ISM, and of the 9 vessels detained 7 were found to have ISM related deficiencies. Two of these vessels were detained for failing to have ISM in place by the due date. While the remainder had the appropriate certification in place, the nature of the deficiencies showed that the system was ineffective or had broken down.

One vessel, a Brazilian flagged bulk carrier, whose safety management system had been in place since ISM was introduced for this type of vessel in 1998, had 42 deficiencies. Fire safety was compromised in a number of ways including holed firemain, hoses not ready for use and inoperable emergency closing valves for the fuel tank.

A Norwegian flagged general cargo vessel, which had been covered by ISM since July 2002 was found to have numerous ISM related deficiencies and was inadequately prepared to meet these requirements. 10 people were onboard the vessel but there was only sufficient safety equipment for 8. In addition to this 3 children were on board with no appropriate lifejackets. There was no evidence that emergency steering gear drills had been completed in accordance with the programme, and the Chief Engineer was unable to demonstrate the operation of this equipment.


At just after 23.00 on August 12 Belfast Coastguard received a Mayday call from the five crew on board the 35 foot motor cruiser `Princess Jenny' who reported that they were aground on rocks and taking water at BallymcCormick Point on the southern side of the entrance to Belfast Lough.

The Bangor in-shore lifeboat was requested to launch along with the Donaghadee all-weather vessel. The Bangor Coastguard Rescue Team were also sent to the area. When the vessels arrived and after an assessment of the situation the in shore lifeboat carefully took off all five individuals and transferred them to the Donaghadee lifeboat.

Two crew members from the larger lifeboat were then transferred to the `Princess Jenny' and a tow line was attached and the vessel was taken into Bangor Harbour where it was transferred to a lift hoist as she had taken a lot of water in her short journey and had some damage to her hull.

Of the five people on board one female had slight head injuries and has been taken to hospital for medical attention. The remaining four are presently warming up at the lifeboat station.

Steve Palmer, Belfast Coastguard Watch Manager said:

" These people must have had a frightening experience tonight. The on shore stiff breeze was between force 5 to 6 tonight with a moderate sea. Fortunately there was good visibility this evening but in the darkness this must have been a very difficult situation and our thanks are due to the two lifeboat crews for their prompt action in bringing the people off and taking the vessel into the Harbour."


Officials from the Department of the Marine have begun an investigation into a collision between a trawler and a Maltese registered cargo ship off the Wexford coast this morning.

The accident happened off the Tuskar Rock just before 03:30

The trawler, the BARA SEGAL, began taking on water after the collision with the bulk carrier SEAHOPE and was towed back to Rosslare Harbour by Rosslare Lifeboat. A lifeboat spokesman said that until they got the second of three pumps on board the trawler they were sure it would have sunk. 

None of the six-member crew was injured. However, a number of the fishermen who were on the trawler have said they feel very lucky to be alive.

An eight inch hole in the trawler was caused by the collision. the ship SEAHOPE continued to Dublin for examination by the Department of the Marine. <photo Tony Brennan>


EUROPEAN CAUSEWAY ran into difficulty when approaching the port of Larne on conclusion of a voyage from Cairnryan.

The captain of the ferry, averted the grounding of the ship by lowering the anchors when the vessel suffered complete engine failure on Tuesday August 13..

However, a large yacht moored at Larne was less fortunate and is understood to have been damaged when the ferry clipped it as it berthed.

A spokeswoman for P&O Irish Sea Ferries yesterday outlined what happened.

The ship was coming into the port so it was on reduced speed anyway.

It lost power temporarily and the captain automatically dropped the anchors which would be routine in this situation.

That brought the ship to a stop but by that stage the power had been restored to the ship and it moved on to berth at the harbour, she said.

Describing the incident as unusual she said an investigation had been launched into the cause of the engine failure.

She declined to speculate on what might have happened had the ship gone aground, but stressed the incident had not been very serious.

However, the spokeswoman added: The master, certainly by his quick action and by his regular training and drills, managed to avoid a more serious situation.

She confirmed no one had been injured in the incident nor had she received any complaints from passengers or reports that they had been unduly alarmed.

They would have been kept informed of what was going on, she said.

The spokeswoman added that the ferry had collided with a smaller boat.

Once it was being manoeuvred on to the berth there was slight contact with a yacht that was moored but it was light contact.

No one is thought to have been injured on the yacht, which is believed to have been owned by someone from the East Antrim Boat Club.


It was reported on Thursday August 15 that CARRIGALOE [ex KYLEAKIN of Caledonian Macbrayne] and now owned by Cross River Ferries of Cork was withdrawn from service after it was damaged by heavy seas The vessel had set sail from Greencastle in County Donegal carrying 24 cars when high waves damaged the vessel's ramps. The ferry was then escorted back to Greencastle by the local Lifeboat. No-one was injured.


On the November 15 Norse Merchant issued a following press release heralding the introduction of a third ship to the Liverpool - Belfast service. The press release also explains the planned replacement of DAWN MERCHANT by NORSE MERSEY, which having reduced passenger capacity of 60, will not be made available to passengers other than freight drivers. The company justify this reduction in facility stating that passenger demand is lower in the winter months. What will happen when BRAVE MERCHANT heads south at the end of the year remains to be seen. Will there be a NorseMerchant Ferries Liverpool - Dublin passenger service in 2003? Given that the company is moving to the new river berth and will have a much higher profile on Merseyside by virtue of being opposite the Sea Containers terminal at the Pier Head, this move to down grade the passenger service appears short sighted.

NorseMerchant Ferries, a subsidiary of Cenargo International, is to introduce a third vessel to its Liverpool - Belfast service. Built in 1996, the 2,119 lane metre LINDAROSA will join MERSEY VIKING and LAGAN VIKING on this route from 4 September 2002, increasing the number of daily sailings available to three on Tuesdays to Saturdays and two on Sundays and Mondays.

A dedicated freight vessel, LINDAROSA will carry up to 150 trailers and a
maximum of 12 drivers. Phillip Shepherd, Managing Director of NorseMerchant
Ferries, comments:

"It was always part of our planning to add this third ship once we transferred our operations to our new riverside terminal, Twelve Quays. On our old terminal, we simply didn't have the space to increase the number of sailings.

"Since moving to Twelve Quays, we have increased the number of sailings from ten to 12 per week; two a day except on Sundays and Mondays when we have just one sailing. This has been made possible simply because our ships can now round-trip in 24 hours; this was impossible when operating from our old berth in the enclosed dock system.

"LINDAROSA will add another five sailings a week in each direction to our schedule and offer more choice to our unaccompanied traffic. This will have the bonus of freeing up space for accompanied vehicles on our 22:30 sailing where demand is very high."

MERSEY VIKING and LAGAN VIKING, which also carry passengers, provide sailings from Liverpool and Belfast at 10:30 and 22:30. LINDAROSA will sail from Liverpool at 03.00 and 15:00 from Belfast, thus complementing the present schedule, explains NorseMerchant Ferries' Freight Sales Director, Declan Cleary:

"Discussion with existing and potential customers identified a real need for the 03:00 sailing. Because of the LINDAROSA's 19 knot service speed, late loading vehicles are still able to achieve deliveries in Belfast from mid-day onwards. Similarly, the 15:00 sailing allows delivery throughout the UK mainland during the early hours of the next day."

Liverpool - Belfast vessels have been sailing out of the purpose-built Twelve Quays terminal since mid-June, with the Dublin service set to follow in early September. As its vessels no longer have to pass through Liverpool's enclosed dock system, NorseMerchant Ferries is able to shave approximately one hour off sailing times.

NorseMerchant has also announced that it has chartered the 1995-built NORSE MERSEY to replace DAWN MERCHANT on its Liverpool - Dublin service. 

This exchange is set to take place when the Dublin service transfers to Twelve Quays next month. NORSE MERSEY is no stranger to Liverpool having previously been employed by NorseMerchant Ferries (then Norse Irish Ferries) on the Liverpool-Belfast route between 1995 and 1997. Declan Cleary explains that Norse Mersey will offer slightly more freight capacity than DAWN MERCHANT:

"As on the Belfast route, we are looking to increase freight capacity to Dublin. Norse Mersey can carry around 150 trucks and 60 drivers; unfortunately, she cannot carry private cars and their passengers but demand for this is not so strong in the winter months."

DAWN MERCHANT, owned by Cenargo, has been chartered to Norfolkline and will join her two sisters NORTHERN MERCHANT and MIDNIGHT MERCHANT on the Dover-Dunkirk route. Michael Hendry, Chairman of Cenargo International, explains:

"Norfolkline has been very successful with NORTHERN MERCHANT and MIDNIGHT MERCHANT and now wants to improve frequency. Chartering DAWN MERCHANT, an identical vessel, is the ideal solution as it maintains uniformity in the fleet."

August 11



If you have not visited the site for a few days, please note that there was a major update on Thursday August 8.

This Sunday's update has been posted rather earlier than usual so it is really a Saturday update! This is due to the fact that I will be undertaking a "triangular" voyage on SEACAT ISLE OF MAN on Sunday and will not return home until late.

Following reports of problems experienced by some users when accessing the Irish Sea Shipping homepage - [hover buttons not appearing or functioning being the main problem] - I have made some alterations which have resulted in the removal of the hover buttons and a redesign of the Irish Sea Shipping front page.

There are now just two large picture buttons - both take you into the site - the older button depicting DUNBRODY will take you to the contents, whilst SEACAT SCOTLAND appropriately takes you to the usual "What's New" Page. It gives the site a rather different and refreshed look.

From either of these pages the rest of the site can be accessed as usual.

Acknowledgements: Tommy Dover, Adrian Sweeney, Tony Brennan, Cornish Shipping and "others".

SEA CONTAINERS \ Isle of Man Steam Packet Company

RAPIDE was reported out of service again on August 9 being noted by a correspondent at Belfast on Friday morning.


BLACK PRINCE will operate to and from Liverpool in 2003 as follows:

On August 9 a cruise from the Greenock to the Canary Islands terminates at Liverpool. She sails later that day for a cruise to Oban, Stornoway, Greenland and Iceland - arriving back in Liverpool on August 23.

On August 23 she commences a round Ireland cruise calling at Waterford, Cobh, Glengarriff, Dingle, Rossaveal, Killybegs and Dublin before returning to Liverpool on August 31. She then sails for Southampton


Wicklow rowing club hosted its annual regatta on Monday 5 August, the club took first place in some races, and came second in the senior All Ireland Race. ST PATRICK of Ringsend took first place honours. Skiff racing is very popular at Wicklow and along the east coast as a sport. In between races the Wicklow lifeboat carried out a display, an exercise with a Coastguard helicopter was cancelled after the helicopter was called to a incident in Dublin Bay. Coaster visitor's during the week included NOORTZEE, ANKE and SENIORITY, this is possibly her last call under Everard colour's, as I believe she is on the sales list ?

The GREATER MANCHESTER CHALLENGE paid a courtesy visit on Tuesday, the KASKELOT was also in the bay for most of the same day, lying at anchor !

Shortly after 23:00 on Thursday night the Wicklow lifeboat was launched, she proceeded south to escort the Norwegian yacht NORA into Arklow. The Arklow lifeboat was also out on a "shout" to a yacht 25 miles offshore, they were expected to arrive back with the yacht at 07:00 Friday morning.

Rosslare and Dunmore east lifeboats were also at sea that night, and I believe a tanker was in trouble in the Bay of Biscay. On Wednesday evening I took a trip to Rosslare, I just missed the arrival of STENA EUROPE, but ISLE of INISHMORE was approaching the port. ferry 

Offshore a Crescent tanker was southbound, I had seen her off Wicklow port a few hours previous. The trawler BRIDGET CARMEL was tied up near the ferry berths. The RNLI Arun class lifeboat 52-45 was on station. That evening from our campsite in Wexford we saw the new Wexford inshore lifeboat on exercise in the bay and the STENA 'LYNX' depart for Wales, the two other ferries were also observed starting their return night crossings. Next morning we headed for New Ross, we took some shots of the sail vessel DUNBRODY, the Cypriot MELISSA was berthed farther down river. After a short drive we arrived at the Belview port outside Waterford city the Maltese bulk vessel PERELIK ,a German coaster and 2 containerships were alongside the quay. In Waterford the survey vessels SIREN and BLIGH were observed, 2 livestock vessels and some beam trawlers were also noted. We moved on to Waterford airport to see the new Coastguard s-61n SAR helicopter for the south east coast, she has only been on station a few months, Before that the service was operated by the Irish Air Corps. Dunmore East was the next port of call, three ships were sheltering just off the port, one being the coaster CONFORMITY a regular caller to Wicklow a few years ago as EMS LINER.

On our return journey we stopped at Arklow, the BEN VARREY and UNION NEPTUNE were in port, the Manx coaster was expected to sail the next morning, while the UNION NEPTUNE had not completed discharge of her cargo. The new work vessel ENVIRO SHARM is still in Arklow, her departure to the Far east must be getting closer! Arriving back at my homeport of Wicklow we were greeted by the presence of Everard's SENIORITY at the north quay, this being possibly her last call before going to UNION Shipping as some reports are suggesting! Offshore the tug INDUS and a barge were going south for Arklow. The tugs INDUS and WILLEM S are working at Bray head on a coastal protection project.


Adrian Sweeney of the Manxman Steamship Company was interviewed by Manx Radio this week. You can listen to the interview via a link on the Manxman Steamship Company website at: 


Demolition of the former Norse Merchant Ferries Brocklebank Terminal, commenced last week had been completed.

The north Brocklebank Quayside is being used for piling up more of that major Liverpool export - scrap metal ! The growing pile on this quay appearing to be mainly of the non-ferrous variety on this quay when viewed on Thursday.


LEONARDO: Cornish Shipping reports that on Thursday August 1  the Falmouth Lifeboat went out to the small survey vessel LEONARDO A to collect her skipper who needed medical attention.

Falmouth Coastguard requested that the Falmouth Lifeboat RNLI Richard Cox Scott (17-29) be launched to carry out the Medical Evacuation of the Captain of the LEONARDO. which was entering Falmouth Bay. At 07.33 the Offshore Lifeboat left her berth to rendezvous with the vessel in Falmouth Bay. The Captain and one other crew member were transferred to the Lifeboat, and they were then landed ashore at the Lifeboat Station at 08:11, where a car was waiting to take the Captain to a local doctor for treatment.

The vessel had been renamed LEONARDO A and registered temporary under the British flag for the delivery voyage to La Spezia, Italy. When she arrives in Italy the "A" will be drop and she will be simply be called LEONARDO under the Italian flag and registered at La Spezia. 

The reason for all this is that she is to be the first vessel to be registered under a new Italian Register, but that is not in operation yet. Therefore it was for convenience she was placed under the British flag, and because there is already a Leonardo on the British register, the letter 'A' needed to be added.

The research vessel had been ordered by an Italian University from McTay of Bromborough as Yard No. 128. The vessel will be operated on NATO projects in conjunction with the University. This brought about complications as it took a couple of years for all the NATO members involved with her to agree on her design. In the end she has an array of English, Continental and American electrical socket outlets installed in her Instrument Room so any country using her can take aboard their own equipment and are able to plug it all in. It is intended that she will work off the Italian coast for a couple of days at a time.

She has a shallow draft in order to get into small ports and rivers that are of interested to the scientists aboard. She is designed to undertake underwater research, both warfare and environmental. Her bare hull was built in Poland and shipped over on a heavy lift ship and lifted off in the Mersey by the Mersey Dock and Harbour Co. floating crane Mammoth. This was cheaper than constructing her in the yard at Bromborough. Finally, before her delivery voyage, she conducted successful trials on the Clyde as there is shallow and sheltered water there. 



Round Island Lighthouse , Isles of Scilly and Wolf Rock Lighthouse off the coast of Cornwall are to be converted to solar power operation under plans announced by Trinity House – the General Lighthouse Authority for England, Wales and the Channel Islands

Solar power will be used instead of diesel generators to operate the light and fog signal at each of the Lighthouses. This will eliminate the requirement to transport and store fuel offshore and eradicate potential pollutants from exhaust and heat generated by the existing diesel engines. The scheme will achieve annual savings in excess of £55k.

Commenting on the proposals, Trinity House Chairman, Rear Admiral Jeremy de Halpert said: " the solarisation of Round Island and Wolf Rock Lighthouses is a further step in our plans to harness alternative energy sources and avoid adverse impacts on the environment. This is very much in line with Government policy on the greater use of renewable energy sources."

Work on solarising the two lighthouses is expected to commence early next year with completion by September 2003.

Trinity House has already converted 380 lighted buoys to solar power operation together with 6 light vessels and 15 lighthouses – including the famous Eddystone.


Trinity House have announced 'restructuring' proposals - including the closure of its district maintenance depot in Penzance by August 2004.

Trinity House currently employs 29 staff at the site, which was originally used as an operational base for ships and lighthouse activities in the area. The present buildings were constructed in 1892.

Administrative functions will be transferred temporarily to Harwich pending the outcome of a study into the feasibility of 'co-locating' most staff on a single site in either Southampton or Harwich.

In announcing the proposals, Trinity House chairman, Rear Admiral Jeremy de Halpert, said: "There has been an increasing realisation throughout THLS that costs can be significantly reduced through changes in process and working practices.

"On thorough examination of a series of depot options, it has become apparent that the overheads of maintaining five depots - including Great Yarmouth - and five separate locations in Harwich alone are simply too high for an increasingly automated operation."

The proposal to close the Penzance maintenance base is part of a wider re-structuring plan to be studied by the Department for Transport, and a final decision will be made later in the year.

Trinity House says job losses will be kept to a minimum through the retention of a group of technicians in Cornwall, early retirements and the voluntary relocation of staff wherever possible.

It will offer re-training and out-placement course employees at the depot, to help prepare them for alternative employment.

The Trinity House National Lighthouse Centre in the depot area is presently the subject of a separate business case, which will be reported on by consultants later in the year.

Lighthouse services provided by Trinity House are financed through commercial shipping calling at ports in the UK and Ireland - at no expense to the taxpayer.

[JHL'S COMMENT: The fact that the National Lighthouse Centre, which occupies part of the building, should be part of a consultants report should be a cause for concern for those concerned about the future of our maritime heritage. This excellent little museum is well worth a visit. It would be a shame if this museum was to close, but it would free up the building for alternative use.]



Carlton Television is to go into production next year with a brand new drama set in the vivid, exciting world of the modern Royal Navy.

MAKING WAVES will be produced - at sea and on land - with the full help and co-operation of the Royal Navy.

The drama will be set on a Type 23 frigate, the mainstay of today's Royal Navy. There are 17 in the Fleet, able to operate anywhere in the world. The production will have full access to the Royal Navy's high tech training facilities, as well as their technical expertise and advice.

MAKING WAVES charts the lives and adventures of the men and women who live and work on the fictional HMS SUFFOLK, as well as their families and loved ones ashore.

Admiral Sir Nigel Essenhigh KCB ADC, First Sea Lord and Chief of the Naval Staff, says:

"I am delighted that Carlton TV have decided to work with the Royal Navy on this series. Showing the Royal Navy in action on land, in the air and on the sea, will make for very exciting television and I am certain that our shareholders - the British public - will thoroughly enjoy watching this series."

Ted Childs says:

"I believe that the modern-day Royal Navy is a very appropriate setting for a contemporary drama series. The young men and women who make up the crew of a Royal Navy frigate lead a varied and exciting life. The high-tech world that is a warship at sea makes considerable professional and personal demands on all its crew members."

HMS Suffolk is a 3,500 ton frigate and carries the latest radars and weaponry, including a Royal Navy Lynx Helicopter.

The ship is designed to go anywhere and do anything, from submarine-hunting in the North Atlantic to typhoon relief in the Indian Ocean, from drugs patrols in the Caribbean to UN embargo operations in the Gulf. The 170 men and women onboard are at the very forefront of the Navy's efforts to defend the country's interests, wherever they may be.


At a press conference attended by Margaret Hodge, Minister for Lifelong Learning and Higher Education, the chief inspector of the ALI, David Sherlock, named the Royal Naval Supply School as being one of only 24 organisations to receive the top two inspection grades for all aspects of its training

The Royal Naval Supply School is the Lead School for Supply Issues in the Royal Navy, its aim is to train Royal Naval personnel and those of other Services, including Reserves, Ministry of Defence personnel and International students in Supply Branch disciplines.

Each year the Royal Naval Supply School offers training to 2500 personnel, including new recruits in catering and hospitality, of whom 250 are young apprentices training to be stewards or chefs. Trained in-house by qualified assessors, trainees work towards NVQs at level 2 as part of their professional Naval Training. The Royal Naval Supply School has been particularly effective in retaining interest in its courses with 93% of modern apprentices remaining on the course in the year 2000-2001

The Commanding Officer of HMS RALEIGH, Commodore Laurie Brokenshire, formerly the Royal Navy's Service Director of Education said, "I am extremely proud of the Supply School's achievement. HMS RALEIGH, and indeed the Armed Forces in general, is committed to Work Based Learning as a vehicle for delivering high quality training to the men and women of the Royal Navy. Our participation in the Modern Apprenticeship Scheme has been very successful and, since the inspection last September, we have expanded our provision to include Modern Apprenticeships in Distribution and Warehousing and Business Administration for our Stores Accountants and Writer trainees."

David Sherlock said: "The ultimate aim of inspection is to improve quality standards and ensure that young people are getting the best possible education and training. Excellent provision does exist, as HMS RALEIGH has proved-and the sharing of good practice is essential to drive up standards."


THE CATHERINE [PZ32] operated by the Newlyn based trawler owners W.Stevenson & Sons made a surprising catch last Monday when it trawled up a torpedo warhead around three miles south of Tater Dhu lighthouse.

After alerting Falmouth coastguards that a suspect object had been found, skipper Edwin Madron from Mousehole was told to proceed slowly to Newlyn while the Royal Navy's Explosive and Ordnance Disposal Unit was despatched from Plymouth.

They were met one mile out from the harbour by its master, Andrew Munson, William Stevenson, the bomb disposal unit and a member of the Penzance coastguard cliff rescue team.

Mr. Stevens, a Coastguard, spokesman said that the object was probably a warhead from a WW2 German torpedo.

The warhead is estimated to have contained around 220 lbs of high explosive and a 500 meter 'exclusion zone' was established around The Catherine.

"It was then decided to drop the object in 25 meters of water to the seabed," said Mr. Stevens "Navy divers then went down and placed high explosives next to it. The subsequent explosion sent water 50 or 60 feet into the air from the surface and was seen by many members of the public."

Added Mr Stevens: "The moral of this story is that there is still some amount of Second World War ordnance in the sea - and anything suspicious trawled up should be reported to Falmouth Coastguard."

It is known that German U-boats during World War Two were active in Mount's Bay.

August 8


I have now returned from my trip to Ireland with the camera memory cards full of interesting nautical images, many of which are now available for viewing - check out "What's New" for comprehensive details. This update has been completed in something of a rush given the amount of material posted. Please report any technical problems!

I would also be grateful if anyone experiencing difficulties viewing the front page of the web site would let me know - I have had reports of this page not displaying correctly.


A reminder that the second and final round of the One That Got Away Classic Ship poll concludes on August 11

All ships scoring less than two votes in the first poll have been eliminated to narrow the field.

Place your vote now to decide the overall winner from the following list

  o PS Cardiff Queen [1947]
o Lady of Mann [I] 1930
  o Mona's Isle [1950]
  o King Orry [1946]
  o SCILLONIAN [II] [1956]
  o Cambria [1949]
  o Hibernia [1948]
  o St. Tudno [1926]
  o Jeanie Deans [1926]

To vote click on the link:

Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Ian Collard, Chris Potter - The Hovercraft Museum, Chris Jones, Antoin Daltun, Brian Chambers and "others".


Aiden McCabe is currently researching the trade union organisation of Irish seafarers:

Towards A History Of Irish Seamen's Unions

The topic will be briefly addressed in a Thomas Davis lecture to be broadcast on RTE Radio 1 on Monday 26 August at 9pm

Meanwhile, Aiden would be interested to hear from anyone who could help unravel the history of the NUS, ISU, SUI and various other seafarers' unions among Irish seamen and women. His sources so far have been trade union annual reports, the Seaman (journal of the NUS), interviews with various leading seamen's trade union representatives, and files in the National Archives. He is particularly interested in the 1933 break by the ISPWU from the NUS, the 1951 Dublin seamen's strike, the setting up of the ISU and the strike that ensued, and Irish support during the 1966 NUS dispute.

If you can help email Aiden on

SEA CONTAINERS \ Isle of Man Steam Packet Company

RAPIDE is due to take over Belfast - Troon on 4 October - she finishes the Heysham route on 30 September replacing SEACAT SCOTLAND. The seasonal Heysham route ceases operation on September 30.


Hamilton, Bermuda. July 31, 2002. Sea Containers Ltd  announced on July 31 that its subsidiary Hoverspeed Ltd. has been successful in its legal challenge of UK Customs and Excise procedures.

HM Customs and Excise have been checking and detaining Hoverspeed passengers and seizing their goods and the vehicles in which they travelled. The High Court ruled today that the Customs’ policy currently in place could be regarded as a "disproportionate executive policy" and Hoverspeed won on all points.

President of Sea Containers Ltd., Mr James B. Sherwood said the implications of the judgement are very far reaching. "No longer will HM Customs and Excise be entitled to stop passengers at random. They will only be able to do so if they have specific grounds to suspect that passengers are acting unlawfully. This represents an important and authoritative statement of the law on the key issues of freedom of movement and the human rights of the travelling public".

The case involved a review of HM Customs and Excise policy under European Community and Human Rights law. The Court found that the basis of Customs’ policy is incompatible with European Community law. HM Customs and Excise current stated policy of stopping individuals based on generalised trend intelligence rather than specific intelligence has also been declared unlawful.

Hoverspeed brought the challenge as the activities of HM Customs and Excise at its Dover terminal, including the high level of detention of passengers and the seizure of goods, was having an adverse effect on its business.

The Court has said that Customs must have "reasonable grounds to suspect the person who they are checking" and that in the absence of such suspicion "they have no right to impede Community travellers" movement at the frontier for purposes connected with the collection of excise duty.

"Hoverspeed does not condone smuggling and has always co-operated with HM Customs and Excise providing intelligence, information and facilities to assist in the fight against tax evasion. However we had no choice but to mount this legal challenge on this important issue not only on behalf of the Company but the rest of the ferry industry and the travelling public", Mr Sherwood said. He added that Hoverspeed, which carries around 2½ million passengers and half a million vehicles a year on its fast ferry services from Dover to Calais, France and Ostend, Belgium, will be seeking compensation from HM Customs and Excise for the damage caused to its business.



Sea Containers Ltd. announced on August 8 that its wholly-owned subsidiary, Silja Holdings Ltd., had received acceptances of its tender offer to acquire all the outstanding common stock of Silja Oyj Abp, bringing its total shareholding in Silja to 92%.  The significance of the 90% threshold is that Silja Holdings may now compulsorily acquire all the remaining shares in Silja in accordance with Finnish law.  Sea Containers shareholding in Silja was increased to 75% in the second quarter of 2002 which will result in consolidation of Silja’s assets and liabilities with those of Sea Containers at June 30th.  At June 30, 2002 Silja’s assets were approximately $667 million and its liabilities were approximately $432 million.  On August 6, 2002 Silja reported an operating profit for the quarter ended June 30, 2002 of $18.4 million.

Under an agreement in place at the time of the initial public offering of common shares in Orient-Express Hotels Ltd. in August, 2000, effective July 22, 2002 a subsidiary of Orient-Express Hotels acquired 18,044,478 Class B shares in Orient-Express Hotels from Sea Containers Ltd. and a subsidiary of

Sea Containers Ltd. acquired 12,900,000 Class B shares in Sea Containers from subsidiaries of Orient-Express Hotels Ltd.  These shares are not counted as “equity shares” while they are owned by the subsidiaries for purposes of earnings per share calculations under U.S. generally accepted accounting principles, but can be voted by the subsidiaries.  Each subsidiary will have the power to defeat a hostile takeover bid which is not recommended by its board of directors which would mean, in a takeover situation, that the board could ensure the highest price was achieved for the benefit of all shareholders.

Sea Containers has indicated that it intends to reduce its “equity” shareholding in Orient-Express Hotels to 50% or less in order to deconsolidate Orient-Express Hotels from its balance sheet. 

  The company’s Hoverspeed subsidiary won a landmark case against the U.K. Customs & Excise in a decision of the High Court in London which was handed down on July 31st.  In an attempt by the U.K. Treasury to force residents to buy goods incurring high excise and VAT taxes in Britain rather than in France and Belgium where the taxes are much less and payable to the governments of those countries, Hoverspeed’s passengers entering Dover, England were systematically harassed, their possessions seized (including cars) and subjected to other indignities, in contravention of European Union law and the Human Rights Act.  The High Court pronounced that such actions were unlawful and in many cases disproportionate to the accusation of importation for resale, which was the excuse used by Customs & Excise to justify their actions.

  This decision opens the door for Hoverspeed to claim for revenue lost by it due to the actions of Customs & Excise which caused the loss of tens of thousands of passengers and cars and retail revenue on its English Channel services in recent years.  It remains open for Customs & Excise to appeal the decision of the High Court in which case collection of damages would have to wait for a favourable outcome.  Hoverspeed is currently calculating the quantum of its claim for damages.

Sea Containers will announce its second quarter results on Wednesday, August 14, 2002 and will hold a conference call for investors at 10 a.m. New York City time on that day.  To access the conference call, dial 212-896-6021.


The Dublin - Liverpool based DAWN MERCHANT and BRAVE MERCHANT are to be chartered by Cenargo to Norfolkline for their Dover - Dunkirk service.  They will join sisters, NORTHERN MERCHANT and MIDNIGHT MERCHANT.

DAWN MERCHANT will be the first to go and will leave Liverpool around 2 September, arriving at Dover on 9 September. 

The Polish / Filipinos crew will be replaced by an all UK crew. En-route to Dover she will receive
heavy belting in Holland, to stop the damage being caused to MIDNIGHT MERCHANT and NORTHERN MERCHANT they will follow her in turn. The DAWN MERCHANT will not be converted to
twin deck loading at this stage and will continue to use her internal ramps.

The Visentini built NORSE MERSEY [61 pax] which operated the Belfast - Liverpool route from being built in 1995 until 1997 will be chartered to replace the DAWN MERCHANT.

It is believed that Cenargo currently have a pair of 600 passenger ro/pax vessels under construction in Italy, similar to STENA FORWARDER with a delivery date in 2004. These new builds will replace MERSEY & LAGAN VIKING which will switch to the Liverpool - Dublin route and be reflagged from the Italian to the Bahamian register.

It is not yet clear which vessel will replace BRAVE MERCHANT which is expected to proceed to the Channel later in the year.

There have also been problems with the new Birkenhead Twelve Quays terminal. Observers will have noted that the Belfast sailings suddenly switched to the south berth around a month ago. Repair work has been on going on the north berth with Mersey Mammoth being noted present on a number of occasions. 


EUROPEAN LEADER was noted back in service on Fleetwood - Larne service on August 2, having left Canada Dry Dock Liverpool the previous day, though lacking P&O flag logo on starboard funnel.

EUROPEAN SEAFARER switched to Mostyn - Dublin service to cover for EUROPEAN ENVOY which now at A&P Birkenhead [Cammell Laird] for refit.

EUROPEAN HIGHLANDER was officially named at Cairnryan Wednesday August 7.


GRANUAILE is reported to have towed the South Rock Lightvessel KITTIWAKE to the Cork Dockyard at Rushbrooke on August 8. She has been replaced temporarily by a light buoy. 


The heavy lift ship CLIPPER CHEYENNE  which sank in Foynes Harbour, County Limerick
in June during an operation to place a dredger on board, was raised in July.

The vessel is Registered in the Bahamas and was on Contract to a French Company when the accident occurred.


EUROPA will visit Merseyside on August 28. She had been originally listed as making a call at Lundy Island that day. The Mersey Ferries web site suggest that the ferries will make a good vantage point for the vessel which will presumably anchor mid-river.


There are unsubstantiated rumours that Irish Ferries have looked at acquiring SPIRIT OF TASMANIA for the  Rosslare Cherbourg / Roscoff


Many readers will be familiar with the large orange chemical tanker GINA [renamed GINA 1 for her last voyage] which spent some time on Merseyside this year. Gina 1 ( Gina 02,Ina 98, Lady Ina 97, Silver Horn 95, Nyhorn 91) 17,958grt / 1975. She was sold by Panama flag interests associated with Pelican Marine, Mumbai to Shree Saibaba Ship Breaking Co, India and was beached at Alang for demolition at Alang on June 12, 2002. She had departed Merseyside on May 13.


Antoin Dalton writes about a number of recent publications may be worthy of note by those interested in the Irish Sea Shipping Scene:

RN Forsythe: Irish Seas Shipping Publicised, Tempus Publishing, Stroud

An account of Irish Seas shipping through sales publicity including timetables, postcards, etc from the author's collection in colour and black and white, with a preponderance of items from 1950-1980..  Price is marked at £16.99: In Waterstone's Dawson St, Dublin branch at €27.40.

Timothy Collins: Transatlantic Triumph & Heroic Failure: The Story of the Galway Line, Collins Press, Cork.

A maritime, business, engineering and social account of this ambitious project 1858-64, including American Civil War activity.  Priced at €20.

Bill Irish: Shipbuilding in Waterford 1820-1882: A historical, technical and pictorial study, Wordwell, Bray . Priced at €31.75.

Contents as described.  Very well-illustrated and including lists of vessels built at Waterford and an account of the Malcomson family and their contributions to broader business developments in milling, banking, railways, mainly in Munster, though there were also involvements with the Galway Line and north Rhine-Westphalia.

Also Tom McCluskie: Harland & Wolff: Designs from the Shipbuilding Empire, Conway Maritime Press (1998). Now available from Chapter & Verse, St Stephen's Green Shopping Centre in Dublin (and probably elsewhere) reduced to €12.68


RFA SEA CENTURION [A98] is due Canada Graving Dock, Liverpool on August 11 for refit by North Western Shiprepairers. This will be the ships first call on Merseyside. Owned by Stena Line, the Stena 4 Runner ro/ro ferry is chartered to the RFA.

HMS OCEAN [L12] The helicopter assault ship will not appear at Plymouth Navy Days over the August Bank Holiday according to

HMS ROEBUCK [A130] is due at Huskisson Dock, Liverpool September 12.

August 1



Please note that from August 2 until the evening of August 7 I will be away. There will be no replies to emails during that period. Any urgent need to contact me must be via mobile phone - voice or text. <details>

During my absence if you wish to send me emails with large attachments [over 750k] please could you wait until August 8 to avoid the mailbox becoming overloaded! One day Broadband will reach my exchange!!

The next update will be one week today, Thursday August 8. There is NO Sunday update this week!

Please note it will not be possible to dispatch any orders for the Photographic CD during this period. 

Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, David Fairclough, Sara Cass, Kevin Bennett and Tony Brennan.

SEA CONTAINERS \ Isle of Man Steam Packet Company

RAPIDE  has been withdrawn from service  to allow for essential maintenance on a mechanical problem and consequently the Belfast to Heysham service is suspended. Passengers are asked to contact SeaCat on the customer reservations line. Phone 08705 523523 for transfer arrangements. The company had suggested she would return to service on August 2, however, a correspondent informs me that she will not sail tomorrow morning.


The work on the Liverpool Sea Terminal improvements is expected to commence this autumn. This will provide for increased and improved car marshalling provided by covering the 'cut' which housed the old floating roadway to the landing stage, and land inland of the Memorial to the Heroes of the Engine Room (the 'Titanic' memorial). The gardens around the memorial will be re-landscaped but the memorial itself will not be disturbed. 

Three booths at the entrance to the car marshalling area will provide check-in and enquiry facilities. A bus stop and turning area will be located adjacent to the memorial. 

All passenger facilities will be provided on-board Pontus, the floating passenger terminal, which will be relocated closer to the north end of the landing stage to provide more direct access to the vessels for both foot passengers and vehicles. All office and sales staff will also be located on Pontus.

Waiting facilities on Pontus currently seat around 120 passengers, however, the capacity is to be increased to more than 300, with corresponding improvements to toilet and catering facilities plus the installation of a lift between the two floors to cater for people with disabilities. 


The replica emigrant ship JEANIE JOHNSTON, and the two Square Sail vessels EARL OF PEMBROKE and KASKELOT will be visiting Dublin between August 2 and 5. The ships will be open for inspection from 10:00 to 19:00 - price €10.00 pay on board.

EARL OF PEMBROKE will be offering Dublin Bay cruises for €25 at 10:00 and 14:30. Tickets available from Dublin Tourism Offices in O'Connell Street or Suffolk Street or the Docklands Development Authority on Custom House Quay.


A new chapter in British maritime heritage has been signalled with the official launch of the Manxman Steamship Company, a new organisation formed to purchase, restore and preserve the classic passenger ferry Manxman built at Cammell Laird Shipbuilders, Birkenhead.

Manxman, the last of eight similar ships built between 1936 and 1955 was also the final passenger only turbine steamer constructed for the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company - which had operated such ships since 1830 - and served the Isle of Man from the UK and Republic of Ireland until being withdrawn from service in September 1982. 

Manxman Steamship have successfully secured an agreement with agents for the ships owner to buy her, restore her externally and tow her from the North East where she is currently berthed to her new home in Birkenhead for a projected cost of £200,000. It is envisaged that funds will be secured from Manx and North West companies and individuals to meet the initial costs. Importantly the refurbishment will offer employment and training opportunities on Merseyside. 

Manxman is a truly worthwhile project – a ship that represents the very best of tourism to the Isle of Man, being from an era when millions of people from all over the British Isle travelled to the Isle of Man year after year on the Steam Packet ships. The advent of foreign holidays sadly seeing the demise of many ships like the Manxman 

Once home, the ship will be converted into a heritage and leisure facility with museums, shops and restaurants amongst the facilities proposed. Restored to her original Steam Packet livery with the engine room amongst other onboard areas restored, the ship will present a truly wonderful site at her berth close to the brand new Twelve Quays development and will offer a taste of a bygone era of sea travel so fondly remembered by millions of Manx and North West people.

 As with all preservation projects of this scale, fund raising is of paramount importance and we would be delighted to discuss our project further with any organisation of individual who may be able to support us financially or in any other practical way.

Lord Alton has agreed to become the patron of the Manxman Steamship Company which aims to preserve the former Isle of Man Steam Packet Company ship MANXMAN. On July 22, the Manxman was accepted onto the National Historic Vessel register paving the way for additional funding.


There has been a major update to the Ships of Mann web site


The two Camels which were reported to have moved in the last update to outside Clarence Graving Docks are now in the docks.


Denis John Murphy, founder of Swansea - Cork Ferries passed away on July 20th aged 68. Mr. Murphy, a prominent Cork businessman was born into involved in the textile industry and proprietors of St. Patrick's Wollen Mills.

After graduating from the University of Leeds in textile technology he joined the family business taking control when his father died. Changing fortunes in the textile industry led to Mr. Murphy redeveloping the site of the old Wollen Mills as an industrial estate which is now home to small commercial and industrial tenants.

Twice serving as chairman of the Cork Harbour Commission he decided something needed to be done when the State-owned ferry company, B&I Ferries, withdraw from Cork in the early 1980s.

The decision was a blow to Cork Harbour and commercial life in the city generally, particularly tourism. This occurred around the time of major industrial closures by Ford and Dunlop.

Denis Murphy was among a core group of people who decided that something would have to be done. Negotiations began around the idea of a number of local authorities who were affected by the B&I decision, coming together to set up their own ferry company. Cork County Council, Kerry County Council, Cork City Council and the West Glamorgan County Council, in Wales, set up Swansea Cork Car Ferries Ltd in 1984. It was indicative of Denis Murphy's input that he was appointed chairman.

The company started operations in 1987, using a chartered ship. It operated again in 1988 but had to miss out on the 1989 season because a ship had not been chartered in time. "It's very hard running a ferry company without a ship," Denis Murphy remarked at the time.

The company was back in action in 1990, bringing business to Cork Harbour and tourists to the Munster region generally. However the finances of the company were in a perilous state, with accumulated losses of approximately IR£2.6 million. However, the season worked out well and the company's fortunes improved, and has been profitable every year since. 

In 1993, Strintzis Lines of Greece, bought the company for a price reported at the time as IR£1.27 million. The purchase included a commitment to continue to operate the Cork-Swansea route for a number of years.

In 1999, a consortium of Cork business figures linked to the company bought it back with Denis Murphy being among the group. He was chairman of the company at the time.

In January of this year the company bought its first ship, having used chartered tonnage since it commenced operations. 

It had been one of Denis Murphy's dreams that the company he'd helped establish would one day own its own ship and he was a very proud man the day the deal was signed.

Denis Murphy had a number of other business interests and was a past president of the Cork Chamber of Commerce and a former president of the Chambers of Commerce of Ireland.


EUROPEAN LEADER entered Canada Graving Dock on Monday July 29 and departed on Thursday August 1.


At the weekend the Irish Lights Vessel Granuaile  was involved in the search operation for survivors from a fishing boat off Fethard-on-Sea in County Wexford. GRANUAILE had been servicing buoys off the South Coast at the time of the incident.



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

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

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