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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


  OCTOBER 2002



Ensure that you check the What's New page as there has been an on-going programme of site updates this week to catch up with material submitted and obtained by your web master during his recent travels.

Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Tony Brennan, Chris Jones, Justin Merrigan, Cornish Shipping, Scilly News and "others"

SEA CONTAINERS \ Isle of Man Steam Packet Company

LADY OF MANN a correspondent reports that the Lady sailing from Douglas to Dublin on Monday October 28, had a medivac off Port St Mary. Plan one was a rendezvous with PSM Lifeboat - but it was too rough to effect the transfer - so helicopter was called from RAF Valley which airlifted the casualty to the National Sports Centre from where ambulance took the casualty to hospital. 

SEACAT ISLE OF MAN - arrived at Belfast on October 28. She will provide refit cover for SEACAT SCOTLAND before proceeding to her winter lay up.

SEACAT FRANCE was due A&P Falmouth for refit on October 28.


The Dock Museum, Barrow-in-Furness has produced its first calendar featuring images from The Vickers Photographic Archive held by Barrow Museum Service. The Calendar uses scenes from in and around the Barrow Shipyard to chronicle its wide range of shipbuilding and engineering work, and is complemented by a series of Postcards, which have been best sellers at the Museum since their release in the summer. The pages from the Calendar can also be separated into individual postcards, and are captioned with details of the images.

The Mayor of Barrow, Councillor Pidduck, has been invited to officially launch the Calendar at The Dock Museum on the 16th November 2002, and large photo quality versions of the images used, can be seen by the public in The Studio at The Dock Museum throughout the afternoon of the 16th November.

The Calendar is on sale now at the Dock Museum priced at £4.00.

For more details see



At 10:20 on the morning of Sunday October 27  Liverpool Coastguard received a call from the Master of the `Togmore', a 100 metre work barge with 89 people on board, who is presently undertaking pipeline  work north west of the Isle of Man, south of Kirk Michael, after he became worried for the safety of his vessel and crew after being caught up in the severe gales which swept through the areas.

The Master of the vessel told that Coastguard that they were on a 6m mooring but had lost one of its 5 anchors in severe weather and he had became concerned for the safety of his vessel and it's personnel.

Liverpool Coastguard alerted Peel Coastguard on the Isle of Man, in order to evacuate non- essential personnel if it necessary. Ramsey and Peel lifeboats were launched to the scene and the warship HMS ANGLESEY also stood by. The barge had a further line attached to a tug, which assisted in holding the vessel.


The Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA) have announced that 16 foreign ships were under detention in UK ports during September 2002 after failing port state control safety inspection.

Latest monthly figures show that 11 foreign ships were detained in UK ports during September 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 6.2% which is identical to the 12 month rate to August.

The vessels detained included an Antigua and Barbuda flagged general cargo ship which was inspected following reports of grounding because of navigating with out of date charts. The local charts which had been used to enter the area were out of date and showed a channel which had been discontinued by the Harbour Authorities since 2 July 2001 due to reduced depth of water. On approaching this area the Master failed to realise that he was proceeding towards the discontinued channel as the new buoyed channel was not shown on his out of date and uncorrected charts.

The ship grounded and had to wait until high water to free itself and then be moved to a safe anchorage with the help of a local pilot. This highlights the importance of having the current charts available. The incident was reported to MCA by the local Harbour Master and a subsequent inspection revealed a total of 24 deficiencies, for example the Cargo Ship Safety Radio Certificate was invalid and movement of the port side liferaft was restricted as this was blocked by a car.

A Netherlands flag historic sailing passenger ship was also detained. Its fare-paying passengers included a group of school children booked on the ship for a day’s sailing which had to be cancelled for the day due to the nature of deficiencies. A total of 19 deficiencies were recorded including out of date charts and distress flares. The emergency fire pump was also found to be inoperative. Such deficiencies caused real concern given the nature of the voyage and the relative inexperience of many of those on board.


In the last update it was reported that ISLE OF INISHMORE now boasted the first Beauty Salon on the Irish Sea. A correspondent has point out that it is not an Irish Sea first as the STENA FELICITY which operated on the Rosslare - Fishguard route had the first!

HMS COLOSSUS reports that Time Teams excavation of the HMS Colossus wreck site is finally to be aired on Channel four this week, following a project fraught with controversy. The popular Channel four archaeological documentary, fronted by Tony Robinson, will be shown on 9 o’clock primetime television this Thursday October 31.

Channel four is promoting this programme as a ‘documentary special’ and has worked with the British Museum and the Archaeological Diving Unit to bring up priceless shards of Etruscan pottery and assist in the recovery of a 5metre figurehead from the sand.

The wreck was originally discovered in 1976 but the new site was found in 1999 some 1km from the original site. It is still not clear who discovered the new site first, armature divers from St. Mary's or a team from St. Mary's and Bryher. The Time Team programme had been scheduled for an earlier broadcast date but the programme ran into difficulties when the salvor in possession of the wreck demanded £100,000. Since that time, the team have focussed on creating a 3D model of the debris from the wreck and how it has been affected by weather and tides.

Channel Four promote this programme by saying “This Time Team documentary special tells the story of HMS Colossus and its demise, and explains how two sections came to lie so far apart on the seabed. With the help of Brian Lavery and other experts, the programme revisits the first excavation 26 years ago and tells the story of the scandalous 'ménage à trois' of Nelson, Sir William Hamilton and 'that Hamilton woman', Emma. The documentary culminates with the latest exciting and important finds, their safe excavation and preservation”. This documentary is a must for all Scilly enthusiasts and represents one of the biggest programmes centred around Scilly in recent years.


The National Maritime Museum at Falmouth has been recognised for its contribution to life in the town. The Royal Town Planning Institute has given the attraction its planning achievement award because of its benefit to the public. The museum is still under construction and will open to the public in December.


The Clipper 2002 Race commenced from the Albert Dock, Liverpool one day late on Monday October 28. The start had been postponed on Sunday due to adverse conditions.



Your webmaster has returned from a metrologically interesting visit to the Isles of Scilly and South West. Constantly changing forecasts, some severe weather, and some unexpectedly glorious weather were highlights of my trip. Needless to say the camera has been working overtime and there is much new material for the website. However, today I have been busy catching up with the news and some of the submissions received whilst I have been away. 

The postponement of the Clipper Race 2002 due to take place today has had the beneficial effect of allowing more time to be dedicated to the update than I had thought would be possible. However, there remains much material to be posted. 

I envisage that a number of updates will be posted over the coming days, therefore it will be worthwhile checking the "What's New" page on a regular basis this coming week from Tuesday onwards! 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: Gary Andrews, Ian Collard, Jenny Williamson, Chris Jones and "others".

SEA CONTAINERS \ Isle of Man Steam Packet Company

BEN-MY-CHREE reports from correspondents indicate that the Ben has acquired some damage to the stern recently. Does anyone know how it happened?

LADY OF MANN did not operate he scheduled 07:00 Douglas to Liverpool sailing on Saturday October 26. On Saturday September 26, SEACAT ISLE OF MAN operated the LADY OF MANN's morning 07:00 sailing from Douglas. 

The LADY OF MANN departed from Douglas later as she had been rescheduled to cover for SUPERSEACAT THREE Liverpool to Douglas sailing due to adverse conditions.

SEACAT ISLE OF MAN had actually concluded her Manx sailings for this year when she was hastily reactivated. She is due to head north to provide refit cover on the Troon - Belfast route on Monday.

All Sea Containers Irish Sea day time sailings were cancelled on Sunday October 27, due to adverse conditions.



Passenger figures compiled by the Harbours Division for September 2002 at 63,217 shows a 12.1% increase on the figure for the same period in 2001 which was 56,375.

The year to date figure at 558,808 passengers shows an 18.2% increase over the same period in 2001 which was 472,824.

During September car and motorcycle traffic through Douglas Harbour increased by 15.2% from 13,356 vehicles to 15,384 vehicles.

The year to date figure at 145,529 vehicles shows a 35.8% increase over the same period in 2001 which was 107,155.

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


Plus 56%






minus 3%






minus 7%






Plus 24%





Freight Traffic:-

September commercial vehicles metreage increased by 5.5% from 35,542 metres to 37,486 metres.

Director of Harbours, Captain Michael Brew comments:

Another excellent month for Sea Passenger Traffic continuing a well established trend. Both the Liverpool and Belfast routes show strong growth this month. Passenger Traffic to the end of September 2002 already exceeds the total traffic in 1998 and this highlights the rates of growth seen in recent years.


GRY MARITHA is now sporting the new ISSCo logo on her starboard side. 

GRY MARITHA missed her Penzance to Hugh Town sailing on Monday October 21 and her return sailing on Tuesday October 22.

SCILLONIAN III which is now operating her autumn schedule of Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday sailings did not sail on Monday October 21 nor Friday October 25. Passengers being transferred to Isles of Scilly Steamship's Skybus air service between Land's End and St.Mary's. Wednesday's sailing from Penzance was delayed from 09:15 to 11:45 to allow conditions to moderate. Only 12 passengers were carried on the outward sailing from Penzance, though quite a few more made the return sailing. 

A number of video clips of SCILLONIAN III have been posted to the Irish Sea Ships Yahoo Group - please go to the files area of the group and open the "Film Clips" folder to access.

Photographs will appear on the Irish Sea Shipping  site during the coming week.


DAWN MERCHANT the former Liverpool - Dublin route vessel which went on charter to Norfolk Line this autumn was holed beneath the waterline on October 24 when she was in collision with the harbour wall on departure from Dover. The vessel began to list and returned to the berth for passengers and vehicles to be discharges. There were no injuries reported.

Mike Cory, safety manager for Bluewater Marine Management, which operates the ferry on behalf of Norfolkline, said the damage to the ferry was being assessed.

He said: "She will have full repairs carried out under supervision by the coastguard before the ship goes back into service."


ISLE OF INISHMORE the company has announced the opening of the first  beauty salon on the Irish Sea. Passengers travelling between Pembroke and Rosslare, on the luxurious Isle of Inishmore, will now be able to choose from a comprehensive range of beauty treatments including facials, massages, manicures and leg waxing.

The salon is run by, a Wexford based company, and has been created to offer a wonderfully relaxing environment in which passengers can indulge and pamper themselves. All the beauty treatments on offer are competitively priced and use products based on natural plant and marine extracts, guaranteed to revitalise and soothe the skin.

JONATHAN SWIFT - sailings were cancelled on October 27 due to adverse conditions in the Irish Sea. 


EUROPEAN PATHFINDER has been sold to Greek interests. She has been seen in the A&P Tranmere Basin, Birkenhead carrying the new name REGINA I.


It appears that P&O Princess have, subject to shareholders' approval, agreed to merge with the Carnival Corporation and abandon plans for a merger with Royal Caribbean.

The decision came after Miami-based Carnival agreed late on Thursday to create a dual-listed company with P&O Princess, which will value P&O at pounds 3.5bn. The merger will value the combined group at more than $20bn and strengthen Carnival's position as the world's largest cruise company with 62 ships already in operation and more on order.

The deal also creates a fees bonanza for the various sets of professional advisers who will share a total of $130m between them. P&O Princess will pay a success fee of $25m to its advisers on top of the $55m already incurred. The bulk of the money will go to its lawyers, Sullivan & Cromwell in the US and Freshfields in the UK.

Royal Caribbean said it had no plans to improve the terms of its own merger proposal. However, the company's advisers said it had not yet given up as the deal now has no cash element and Royal Caribbean believes this may prove unpopular with P&O shareholders. A Royal Caribbean spokesperson said: "We've got many months to see what we might do. We will see how the market reacts."

P&O Princess hid its disappointment at failing to secure the deal it had originally wanted but conceded that the revised Carnival offer was more attractive to shareholders. Peter Ratcliffe, the chief executive, said: "We sat down and looked at the two offers and believed Carnival's was the superior one financially."

The creation of a dual-listed structure gets around the problem whereby UK shareholders might have been unhappy holding shares in an American listed company.

Jamie Rollo, an analyst at ABN Amro, said: "I think it's game set and match to Carnival. There aren't any hurdles left so it's just a question of time."

The dual-listed structure will see the Carnival and P&O boards have identical members, with the combined companies managed by a unified executive team. The members of this team have yet to be decided and Mr Ratcliffe declined to say if he would stay on. "Nothing has been decided. I tend to focus on the immediate task in hand," he said.

Carnival said there would be minimal job losses and there is limited overlap between the two companies. P&O Princess will keep its head office in London and its brands, such as Princess Cruises and Swan Hellenic will be retained. Under the dual-listed company structure P&O Princess will be listed in London and Carnival in New York. However, Mr Ratcliffe said the combined group was likely to be called Carnival in the United States and Britain.

P&O has paid the $62.5m break-fee to Royal Caribbean for pulling out of their merger. The southern European joint venture between the two companies will also be terminated on 1 January.

The deal is expected to be completed in the first three months of 2003. It must be approved at P&O Princess' shareholders meeting on 14 February.

JHL'S COMMENT: The news that Carnival has further strengthened its monopoly will no doubt be greeted with dismay by some shipping enthusiasts. There are many on Merseyside who will never forgive Carnival as parent company to Costa Crociere for walking away from the COSTA CLASSICA job directly leading to the collapse of Cammell Laird.


Due to adverse conditions the start of the Clipper 2002 race from the Albert Dock, Liverpool due to commence on the afternoon of Sunday October 27, has been postponed until Monday afternoon - October 28.


The twenty five year old Swansea Maritime Museum closes this weekend to make way for a new £30 million National Waterfront Museum.

Construction work on the new museum will commence early 2003 and is part of the local council's attempt to make Swansea one of the top waterfront cities in the UK.

The city was chosen over three years ago as the location for the national museum after a nationwide search to replace a developing site in Cardiff.

The Grade II listed building, which was built as a warehouse in 1904, will be incorporated into the new glass-fronted building.

The 20,000 exhibits which are stored at the marina site will be put into storage for two years while the new site is built.

When completed the national museum will have about 200,000 exhibits but there will also be interactive activities with the emphasis on visual designs.

The new maritime museum will come under the control of the National Museums and Galleries of Wales and end years of uncertainty about a home for the national collection of artefacts.

In June 1999, the Welsh Office rejected criticism of the demolition of the Cardiff Bay site in a damning report by the Welsh Affairs Select Committee.

The Cardiff maritime museum had hosted a number of exhibitions, including a celebration of the 100th anniversary of the car in Wales.

It held permanent exhibits illustrating the history of Wales's industrial docklands and coal mining in the Valleys.

The collection has been housed at Nantgarw near Cardiff since the closure.


A Russian owned cargo ship anchored in Torbay on Saturday October 26 after a major rescue operation in heavy seas off the South Devon Coast.

The Cypriot-registered BOTHNIA STONE lost power and sent out a mayday which was picked up by Brixham Coastguards on Friday night.

It had to shed more than 1,000 cubic metres of wood into the sea as it listed badly in storm force nine winds.

Accompanied by lifeboats from Plymouth, Guernsey and Alderney and a rescue helicopter the vessel made its way into harbour at approximately 0800 on Saturday.

The Russian freighter's crew had managed to restart the ship's engines after it became stranded during gales in the English Channel.

They sent a mayday call at 21:50 BST Friday saying the ship's engines had stopped after being flooded with sea water 25 miles south of Start Point, Devon.

However, the 20-strong crew ignored coastguard requests to be winched off the vessel and instead managed to restart their engines.

The crew dumped 700 cubic metres of timber, which helped to reduced the list on the boat from 40 to 20 degrees.

Coastguard watch manager Rodger Brimacombe said: "The French Coastguard are warning shipping of the dangers posed by the timber, and our colleagues in Falmouth Coastguard are also making similar warning broadcasts in their area."

The Coastguard and Plymouth lifeboat were sent out to assist and a rescue helicopter was shadowing the boat to safety.




Please note that I will be away from Saturday October 19 to Saturday evening October 26. During that period of time there will be no response to emails. If you wish to get in touch please phone or text my mobile number. Please to not phone the landline numbers during this period. As relayed messages often loose their meaning when conveyed! [CONTACT DETAILS]

If you are sending a large number of photograph attachments for inclusion in Irish Sea Shipping, please could you not submit them whilst I am away to ensure that my mailbox is not overloaded. 


There will be a small update on Friday evening, October 18 to catch up with any late breaking news. If anyone is forwarding information for inclusion could you please do so by 18:00 on Friday at the latest. The next main update will be on Sunday evening October 26.

Acknowledgements: Ian Collard, John Williams, David Fairclough, Michael Pryce, Edwin Wilmshurst and "others"

SEA CONTAINERS \ Isle of Man Steam Packet Company

LADY OF MANN - work is well underway preparing the Lady for her winter season. On Wednesday October 16, she was observed in Alexandra Dock with her port side repainted and work obviously very much in progress. 

SUPERSEACAT THREE missed her Liverpool - Dublin sailing on Tuesday due to adverse conditions.


STENA LYNX III - overlooked in previous updates - this vessel is laid up for the winter in the wet basin at A&P Birkenhead, along with several members of the P&O fleet including SUPERSTAR EXPRESS.


EUROPEAN NAVIGATOR departed from the wet basin at A&P Birkenhead on the evening of October 16.


MERCHANT VENTURE which spent some time laid at Birkenhead's Vittoria dock before refit and reactivation as part of Cenargo's contribution to Norse Island Ferries has suffered a mechanical failure.

The ro/ro vessel was caught out in the bad weather over the weekend and diverted to Rosyth. A bearing had failed on her port side engine leading to problems with her crankshaft. From Saturday, Norse Island will charter P&O'S European Mariner  to take her place.

At the time of her reactivation many the doubtful condition of her engines appeared well known in maritime circles.


The Merseyside  press reports that there is the possibility that the two proposed Royal Navy aircraft carriers could be built at the former Cammell Laird shipyard by BAe systems.

BAe Systems are owners of the Cammell Laird south yard which includes the erection slipways and construction hall. Though currently leased to FBM, no vessel has been built in the south yard by that company. Though Cammell Laird Plc did construct the ill fated COSTA CLASSICA section on there.

The aircraft carriers will weigh in at 50,000 tonnes, considerably larger than the current Invincible Class of through deck cruisers.

The value of the contract is £2.9 billion. The Government is expected to announce a final decision as to the winner of the contract in 2003. Construction work will commence in 2004. Commissioning of the vessels will take place in 2012. Of course if BAe win the contract the construction could well be undertaken at the company's main north west facility at Barrow.


ATLANTIC OSPREY is to be based at the Cumbrian port of Workington. The vessel, which was due to arrive a the port on Tuesday October 15  will be used to transport shipments of mixed oxide (Mox) nuclear fuel for the company's customers in Germany and Switzerland.

The Port of Workington has handled nuclear shipments since 1980, but the last
time such an operation took place there was 1999. BNFL said its decision will provide extra income for the county council-run port and help support jobs there.

The company says it will be able to use the facility more frequently and make its transport needs more flexible.

Cumbria County Council has welcomed the move and said the nuclear industry
continued to make a contribution to the west Cumbrian economy.

The council said it was also happy with BNFL's security procedures which would
be needed when shipments are made. Mark Fryer, leader of Allerdale Council, described it as a positive move for the town.


The last surviving member of Captain Johnny Walker's anti U-boat flotilla may find a new home at Canning Dock, Liverpool according to reports in the Daily Post.

English Partnerships which operate the Albert Dock Complex have offered a berth to the vessel in Canning Dock, close to the Merseyside Maritime Museum.

English Partnership South Docks harbour master Bill Broadbent said: "We think Whimbrel will be a great asset to the Albert Dock as Britain's national memorial to the Battle of the Atlantic.

"We need something of this status to attract the public to the Albert Dock complex. The historical context is perfect with the Capt Walker connection and Liverpool's role in the Battle of the Atlantic.

"This is the last remaining warship from the Battle of the Atlantic and if she is lost then she is lost forever.''

John Livingston said: "Whimbrel will finally come to rest as the Battle of the Atlantic museum ship on Liverpool's famous waterfront, returning back home where she belongs in the very dock from which she used to sail. The ship will be also within hailing distance of both the Pier Head's Capt Walker and Merchant Navy memorials.''

He added: "We have only six weeks to save Whimbrel, so the situation must be closely monitored to be sure there is no repetition of the fiascos that cost the city outstanding tourist attractions by failure to offer a site for the Imperial War Museum of the North and the only German U-boat retrieved after being sunk by the allies in WWII.

"We cannot allow such catastrophes to recur."



Due to problems installing some new software in the computer used to compile Irish Sea Shipping, I regret that today's update is somewhat brief as six hours have been wasted.

However, two updates are scheduled for the coming week on Wednesday and Friday and hopefully I will be able to catch up with news and other submissions before I go down to the south west next weekend. 

It is quite likely that there will also be additional updates on Monday and Tuesday to enable me to catch up. Check "What's New" for details on a daily basis this week.

SEA CONTAINERS \ Isle of Man Steam Packet Company

RAPIDE departed from her berth at the company's Belfast terminal on the morning of October 11. The vessel has proceeded to Harland and Wolff's yard for repairs and refit following a major on board engine room fire in August.



Sir Derek Bibby, president of the long established Liverpool ship owners Bibby Line, died in tragic circumstances this week.

Sir Derek who was terminally ill with leukaemia, inhaled mix of agricultural chemicals at his home at Willaston, Wirral on Wednesday.

Paramedics took Sir Derek to Arrowe Park Hospital at Birkenhead. However, the Hospital's casualty unit had to be evacuated  when the chemical reaction in his body caused a major chemical incident alert. 

Described on local radio by the vice-chairman of the Liverpool Shipowners as "a giant on the shipping scene" Sir Derek was a generous man who had been a long-term benefactor of the Birkenhead Youth Club. 

He had also addressed the Merseyside branch of the World Ship Society.


The Ayrshire Post reported on October 10 that P&O has confirmed moves to bring a fast passenger ferry service to rival the SeaCat operation from Troon to Northern Ireland.

A spokesman at P&O Irish Sea told the Post plans are at an early stage, and stressed that a final decision has still not been made.

However, she added: "The season for our Cairnryan-Larne service is April to September, so we would be looking at a similar time frame, starting at the same time.

"Just now we are at the stage of looking at what would be needed to make it happen."

She confirmed infrastructure is already in place for a fast passenger vessel to start sailing from the Troon terminal, and P&O would be looking to increase its share at SeaCat's expense.

She also insisted the new Ayrshire run would complement, rather than replace, the service out of Cairnryan where the company operates a one-hour SuperStar Express crossing alongside its 105min ferry sailings.

However, the development is bound to cause concern to staff dependent on the Loch Ryan port. Sea Containers expressed the same intention three years ago when it introduced its SeaCat route between Troon and Belfast as a summer service alongside its Stranraer crossings; the Wigtownshire service was terminated at the end of one season.

P&O's new expected crossing time into Larne was not disclosed, though clearly it will have to offer an attractive alternative to SeaCat's 2hr 30min service to Donegall Quay in the centre of Belfast.

At present P&O offers a four-hour no-frills passenger sailing between Troon and Larne aboard its freight vessels during the summer only.


PRINCESS VICTORIA a report in the Sunday Mail newspaper on October 12 reveals that the captain of a Royal Navy submarine ignored an SOS from the first generation ro/ro ferry.

The PRINCESS VICTORIA sank on a voyage from Stranraer to Larne with the loss of 133 lives.

Now a retired submariner has revealed that his vessel was just one hour away as the stricken boat sent her first mayday in mountainous seas.

But instead of heading for the floundering ferry, the sub's captain decided to ignore it - because he felt local boats would rescue the 127 passengers and 49 crew.

As the sub silently slipped into the Atlantic, the Clyde-built, six-year- old ferry perished in what was called a "19th-century shipping disaster in the 20th century".

Ex-rating Ken Goble, 74, realised the truth only weeks ago when he came across a book on the tragedy. Yesterday, a distraught Ken said: "It was a disaster that should never have happened."

At the time, Ken, of Morecambe, was a 24-year-old yeoman of signals serving on the A Class submarine HMS ANDREW.

He revealed how his sub, on a journey from Rothesay to Bermuda, picked up the SOS sent out by PRINCESS VICTORIA radio signaller David Broadfoot at 10.32 on the morning of January 31, 1953.

The stern doors of the ferry, which had left Stranraer at 08.06, had been smashed open by huge seas, whipped up by raging, 110mph winds.

Ken said: "Our captain was advised and told we were the nearest vessel and asked if we should reply to it.

"He said we were not to reply, but to let him know if anyone else did.

"The captain may have had his reasons. A ship that does reply to an SOS must then accept responsibility and go to the vessel.

"Also, a submarine is not the ideal vessel to take part in a rescue operation."

But there was one crucial way HMS ANDREW was ideally equipped to provide vital life-saving assistance.

She was equipped with the latest in radio, radar and communication equipment and could easily have acted as a command centre for the search. Instead, this was left to a lifeboat from Donaghadee and the destroyer HMS CONTEST, which sailed from Rothesay - both with poor, ship- to-shore radios.

It was a disastrous decision. Both rescue vessels believed the PRINCESS VICTORIA was off Galloway. But she was drifting off course, within sight of Northern Ireland.

The ship sank at around 14:00 - three and half hours after the SOS - with Captain James Ferguson, 55, still on his bridge. She took with her three quarters of her crew and passengers.

But it was nearly another two hours before the Donaghadee lifeboat arrived at the scene and picked up 40 survivors. The cargo vessel ORCHY also rescued some.

Ken said: "What a different story it would have been if HMS ANDREW had closed to PRINCESS VICTORIA's position. She had state-of-the-art radar. She could make 17 knots.

"We could have co-ordinated the rescue operation and guided all vessels to the PRINCESS VICTORIA. The lifeboat would certainly have got to her in time."

HMS ANDREW, however, sailed on to Bermuda with her crew oblivious to the tragedy she was leaving in her wake. She did not return to the UK until June, 1953.

Ken said: "It was only when I was in Galloway the other week on holiday with my wife, Jean, that I picked up a book on the PRINCESS VICTORIA in Stranraer.

"That was when I realised that, when we received the SOS, we were just an hour away from the ferry and, if we had turned back, all these lives would have been saved.

"Not one woman or child survived. The whole thing is diabolical.

"When the Andrew got back to Britain, we had a heroes' welcome because we had just made the first underwater crossing of the Atlantic.

"But what I have found out was a complete shock. I felt anything but a hero. I was disgusted. The difference we would have made would have been crucial."

The scar left by the sinking of the PRINCESS VICTORIA is still raw in the communities of Stranraer and Larne. Jack Hunter, author of The Loss of the PRINCESS VICTORIA, the book read by Ken, said: "The wound has not yet healed."

Billy McMillan, 66, of Stranraer, lost his brother David and the memory still causes him to weep. He said: "David was a pantry man on the ship. He was only 21. He gave his coat to a fellow called Willie McAllister, from Larne, who was on a lifeboat.

"He told us David insisted on going back to try to rescue a woman with a baby in her arms. David was eventually picked up by a lifeboat, but died of exposure. For that sub to ignore an SOS is just terrible."

The fact that the ferry - capable of taking 1500 passengers - had just 127 on board is a measure of the severity of the weather. There is a suspicion that the only reason she sailed at all was because some high- ranking politicians wanted to get home.

The passenger list included the Deputy Prime Minister of Northern Ireland Major, J. M. Sinclair, and the MP for North Down, Lt Col Sir Walter Smiles.

Jack Hunter said he did not want to criticise the commander of HMS ANDREW.

He said: "A submarine could not take on survivors and he would have presumed that other vessels would be on the scene quickly. Sadly, with the benefit of hindsight, we know that didn't happen and the presence of the sub would have been significant."


CLAYMORE - the vessel suffered technical problems on her voyage from Merseyside to her new home in Scotland. CLAYMORE had to put into one of her former ports of call - Campbeltown for engineers to replace a failed engine piston lining.

The ship then resumed her journey north but Pentland Ferries plans where scuppered when the Northlink Ferries changed the schedule of their Pentland Firth Service, keeping the Hebridean Isles at Scrabster overnight. They had hoped to run the Claymore from Scrabster to St Margaret's Hope. Now she will run to Gills Bay on the mainland.


SEA CONTAINERS \ Isle of Man Steam Packet Company

SUPERSEACAT THREE suffered slight superficial damage in three places on October 8 at Dublin. She experienced bow thruster problems and with the exceptionally high spring tides tide her bow made contact with the fuel line on the quay wall at berth 49. This caused slight damage to the name on her bow and bending the fuel line plus some damage to her port side from making contact with the yokahama fender. Her departure required tug assistance from the CLUAIN TARBH.


The highest monthly sea passenger traffic figure since August 1988 has been recorded with passenger figures maintaining tremendous growth.

The Isle of Man Steam Packet Company have released figures confirmed by the Governments Department of Transport and recorded as follows:-

Passenger traffic increased by 5% @ 109,879 passengers (2001 – 104,661)

Vehicular traffic increased by 23.3% @ 24,880 vehicles (2001 – 20,186)

Freight traffic increased by 1.5% @ 37,346 metres (2001 – 36,807)

Year to date figures confirm the sustained growth pattern:-

Passenger traffic increased by 19% @ 495,591 (2001 – 416,449)

Vehicular traffic increased by 38.7% @ 130,145 vehicles (2001 – 93,799)

Hamish Ross, Steam Packet Managing Director, said “Carryings remain strong in what has been a year of good growth in all sectors of our business.  The reliability and frequency of our sailing pattern with our mix of conventional and fast ferry capacity, coupled with a widely available year round programme of special offer fares, has paid off in terms of greatly increased carryings.  We will be working hard with our partners in Tourism to build on the success of the year so far.  Together we must also continue to extend the ‘season’ for visitors, making the Isle of Man a popular short break destination for most of the year.”



The company issued the following press release heralding the return home of the LADY OF MANN:

The Isle of Man Steam Packet Co passenger car ferry Lady of Mann has arrived back in home waters after another summer of sterling service in the Azores.


During what has become an annual charter Lady of Mann has operated 12 weeks "island hopping" around the central archipelago of the Azores crewed by Steam Packet Captains and engineers with locally employed crew.


Carrying both locals and holidaymakers the vessel has become a seasonally familiar sight in the Azores and something of a surprise to unsuspecting Manx holidaymakers in the area.


Lady of Mann completed the 1,450 mile journey back to Liverpool in approximately 3 days and is now in dock in Liverpool.


Her first work in home waters will be operating the popular October Irish Weekend to and from Dublin over the weekend of 25th October.  Following this Lady of Mann will commence her usual winter weekend Isle of Man/Liverpool schedules.



It appears that HMS SHEFFIELD  the Type 22 frigate based in Devonport which has served in the Gulf, the Adriatic, the Far East, the West Indies, and the South Atlantic, is to be decommissioned following Government cutbacks introduced to pave the way for the commissioning of the proposed new aircraft carriers

The Western Morning News reported that John Burnett, Liberal Democrat MP for Torridge and West Devon, and a former troop commander in the Royal Marines, said he was "appalled" at the news.

"The new aircraft carriers will require sufficient surface protection and that has to come from frigates" he said. "It seems a complete contradiction. I am surprised and dismayed by this news. The Navy has been forced to make huge cuts in the last 15 years and more and more is being demanded of them.

"There are no firm orders on the new carriers as yet and they will take years to build. With the current political climate it seems a short-sighted decision. It is completely premature to write them off." The Royal Navy is facing the loss of up to ten of its warships to pay for the two new aircraft carriers which will cost £13 billion. In total 32 destroyers, frigates and mine hunters will be lost.

The losses are the latest in a series of cutbacks enforced on the Navy, prompting fears it will be unable to function as an effective part of NATO.

Ian Liddell-Grainger, Conservative MP for Bridgwater, said it was "crazy" to slash the size of the fleet at a time when Britain still had military commitments around the world and could shortly be going to war in the Gulf.

He said: "To cut ten ships in order to build two aircraft carriers is crazy - those aircraft carriers will probably need ten ships to protect them. This is absolutely ridiculous. We are a maritime nation with dependencies around the world - in the Falklands, Gibraltar and so on, and responsibilities to the people there. Only the Navy can do that job. We have long-standing commitments to NATO and if we are unable to meet them - as we may not be able to do - then what is the point in having any forces at all?"

Shadow Defence Secretary Bernard Jenkin has accused the Government of "sheer dishonesty" over the way it had portrayed the decision to build the new carriers. "Last week it was all about building up the Royal Navy. Now we know the truth," he said.

"We now need an open and honest debate about how the Government will match Britain's defence commitments with the declining size of the Navy. I cannot imagine how they can justify withdrawing the Falklands guard ship - that's the mistake we made 20 years ago."

The MoD have not released details about the other ships which will be decommissioned. A spokeswoman said: "We cannot comment on leaked documents. A whole series of reviews are undertaken each and every year to ensure we maintain our operational capability as outlined in the Strategic Defence Review. We can confirm that HMS Sheffield will be decommissioned because of a warship Support Agency Review in which the refit interval has increased from nine to ten years for Type 23 frigates. Because of this HMS Sheffield can be taken out of service."

The cuts will take the fleet below the Government's 1998 Strategic Defence Review requirement of 26 operational destroyers and frigates.

Gary Streeter, Conservative MP for South West Devon said: "This represents a very myopic policy. We have been the defence budget is on the increase but it appears to be the opposite. The need for the two aircraft carriers is understandable but we were not told that other ships would be lost to pay for them. It is like robbing Peter to pay Paul."

And while the Navy has confirmed that HMS Sheffield will be taken out of service, the future of four other Type 22 frigates based at Devonport - HMS Cornwall, HMS Campbeltown, HMS Cumberland and HMS Chatham - is as yet unclear.


The Western Morning News reported that ferry operators are soon to be invited to "pitch" for business from a planned park and float scheme.

The plan, to ferry visitors to and from Falmouth's upcoming National Maritime Museum Cornwall, is to be introduced alongside a park and ride, currently under development at the former BP depot at Ponsharden.

A spokesperson for the NMMC explained: "Work commenced on the 2.6 hectare site on August 5 and will have a major impact on Falmouth, not only greatly improving the existing transport facilities in the town, but also adding to the continued investment into the town's renewal." Costing £3.3m in total, the project has attracted major funding.

The largest award is £1,635,000 from Objective One, there is £621,000 from the South West Regional Development Agency, and another £535,000 from Cornwall County Council. Contributions have also come from Carrick District Council, Cornwall Enterprise and the NMMC.

Peter Cowling, NMMC Director, said: "Our construction programme will allow us to be ready for the Summer season.

"Kier Western have fully committed themselves to this project, and we look forward to bringing this new facility into use next year."

"The park and ride will run to both the Moor and to the museum.

"We will also be developing the park and float scheme and will shortly be inviting a number of ferry companies to pitch for the business."

Bill Bawden, Director of Objective One, said: "The project will build on our traditional maritime strengths."



On Friday October 4, 2002 the MCGA announced that  following a Means Inquiry before Barnstaple Magistrates yesterday, the owner/skipper of an angling boat was sentenced to prison for failing to pay fines imposed on him at a prosecution brought by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) on 20 November 2001.

Mr. Derek William Parkin had been convicted by Barnstaple Magistrates for failure to carry a liferaft and lifebuoys aboard his vessel, failure to have his vessel properly surveyed and not being qualified to take charge of it, for which he had been fined the sum of £7,000 plus £5,000 costs.

During the original hearing, Magistrates had heard how Mr. Parkin had taken passengers including small children to sea at Combe Martin on 1 August 2001, without any items of safety equipment on board and without the required qualifications to do so.

Following an appeal against sentence by Mr. Parkin in January at Exeter Crown Court, the Judge reduced his fine to £3,000 but the costs remained the same, he also gave him a further six months to pay. However, Mr. Parkin still failed to pay either the fine or the MCA's costs, and Magistrates sentenced him under a Committal Order to a term of 73 days in prison.


At 10.14 on Monday October 7,  Belfast Coastguard received a call from the fishing vessel VALHALLA which was taking on water 20 miles east of Kilkeel Head, Northern Ireland. A further fishing vessel GIRL MARGARET who was fishing nearby, proceeded to assist the VALHALLA after receiving a call via VHF Radio. This vessel was quickly on scene and took off the two man crew from the VALHALLA. The rescued men were from Ardglass.

The Kilkeel lifeboat was requested to launch as was a rescue helicopter with a pump onboard.

By the time the lifeboat arrived the VALHALLA had already sunk.  The weather conditions are south easterly winds of force 4, with calm seas.

The liferaft carried by the under 10 metre VALHALLA floated free as the vessel sank. The liferaft has was recovered by the GIRL MARGARET.

Diana Gadd, Duty Watch Manager of Belfast Coastguard said:

“ The skipper of the ‘Valhalla’ was carrying the correct life saving equipment and was fully prepared for the emergency situation he found himself in.”


WAVERLEY - it appears that the paddler will be going to George Prior's yard for the second stage of her rebuild next week. As a consequence BALMORAL will operate the end of season Bristol Channel sailings. 



Please note an additional update will be posted later in the week to catch up on material and undertake maintenance. 

Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Trevor Kidd, Edwin Wilmshurst, Dave Crolley, John Williams, Kevin Bennett, Ian Collard, Jim Edgar, Tommy Dover and "others".


Chris Brindle's Maritime sites have adopted a new group branding strategy "Shipinfo".  In future this will be the common name for all of the Brindle Maritime sites i.e. Shipinfo Cruise Ships / Shipinfo Car Ferries etc. All sites now feature a direct link to a central site at designed to promote special articles, contact and contributor information and showcase the group sites. As well as providing a common name for future site launches.

  Shipinfo now has 23 websites split into 5 main areas

  • Cruise Classics – Cruise Ship & Liners sites - 6 sites

  • Car Ferry Collection - 4 sites

  • Sexyfish Photo Sites - 2 sites

  • British Classics Sites - 3 sites

  • Information & Other sites - 8 sites

Several sites have also been updated in the last few weeks

  • Car Ferries now includes a number of fleets from outside of Europe as well as receiving a cosmetic overhaul
  • Classic Ships has received a new sea side look
  • Cruise Ships has been renamed Cruise Ships One and a sister site Cruise Ships Two has been set up as an overflow site for special features
  • Sealinks has recently been updated with Webcams and will also soon feature links to Video Tours

All sites now also feature links to the Manxman Steamship Company site which itself has also been subject to a major rebuild

SEA CONTAINERS \ Isle of Man Steam Packet Company

LADY OF MANN - rather like the migration of birds the return of the LADY OF MANN from her summer charter heralds the onset of autumn. The LADY OF MANN returned home from her charter to Acor Line on Friday October 4, 2002. She entered the Liverpool Dock system around 11:00 and proceeded to her usual lay-up berth at the Alexandra Dock passenger terminal. The Mersey Ferries which have been using this berth whilst work has been undertaken on the Alfred Lock, Birkenhead, being evicted to the opposite side of the dock to make way for the Lady's return home! With the Lady back home most enthusiasts will be looking forward to her winter season which commences later this month on both Douglas - Liverpool and Douglas Dublin routes. For details of LADY OF MANN autumn / winter sailings


CLAYMORE departed on the morning tide from A&P Birkenhead on Saturday October 5 for her new career with Pentland Ferries, Scotland.


SALMAID continues her work on the Mersey Naval Moorings in preparation for the 60th Anniversary  Battle of the Atlantic commemoration next year. Towards the end of the week, two large anchors and mooring chains were noted on the quayside at West Langton. On Saturday morning there appears to have been a mishap on board around 10:30 as an observer reports that the Mersey Inshore Rescue Boat was summoned and a crew member taken to the Landing Stage to a waiting ambulance.


The number of Naval vessels due at the Port of Liverpool in the coming weeks now stands at six. HMS DULVERTON arrived as scheduled on October 2. 

To follow are: HMS Iron Duke, HMS York, HMS Sheffield, HMS Anglesey and HMS Liverpool. For more details


A web site has been established to promote the Battle of the Atlantic 2003 Commemorations to be held on Merseyside next year.

The Commemorations will be held over the May Bank Holiday weekend May 3 to 5. There is not much information on the site at present, though it does give details of some events and provides for information on ships taking part. 

NEWS FROM ARKLOW from Tommy Dover

STV ASGARD II was noted in Arklow for repairs on October 10. Her bow split has been removed, and her figurehead is under a blue cover, no details as to the reasons for repairs.

The coaster ARKLOW BAY was loading out fertiliser. Sillanpaa Oy staone carriers JOPI and VILLE were also tied up, JOPI looked like she was having some maintenance work carried out , whilst VILLE was loaded with rock, ready to sail. The pusher tug INDUS was also receiving attention.



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