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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



November 23


Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Edwin Wilmshurst, Adrian Sweeney, Chris Jones, Justin Merrigan - Incat and "others".

SEA CONTAINERS \ Isle of Man Steam Packet Company

2003 Deployment rumours - these continue to do the rounds with variations and as with previous years it will probably be some weeks before the definitive version is publicly confirmed.

SEACAT FRANCE [ATLANTIC II] is still for sale and not sold. She arrived at A&P Birkenhead last week for lay-up.

SEACAT SCOTLAND is up for sale or sold and will be replaced by SEACAT ISLE OF MAN

RAPIDE will return to Belfast - Heysham in 2003.

SUPERSEACAT TWO and SUPERSEACAT THREE will operate services from Liverpool and Douglas. 

LADY OF MANN - This week the LADY did not return to Alexandra Dock, Liverpool after operating the 07:00 Douglas to Liverpool sailing on Monday November 18. She returned to the Isle of Man for filming duties. It appears that once again the LADY OF MANN will be starring in yet another movie - this time "The Great Ceilidh War" will be added to her existing film credits.

Provisional dates for the LADY OF MANN's special excursion programme for 2003 will be Llandudno - Douglas June 10 and 12,  Fleetwood - Douglas Wednesday June 11 and Whitehaven - Douglas Friday June 13.

Two charter sailings are planned for the Lady in 2003:


The Manxman Steamship Company in association with the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company and Ships of Mann Magazine is to charter the LADY OF MANN on the evening of the Saturday May 24 for a "Round the Island" Cruise.

Departure from Douglas will be at 19:00. Money raised will go towards the purchase and restoration of TSS MANXMAN. The fare will be £16 inclusive of buffet refreshments. 

Further information regarding bookings will be available in the next few weeks.


The Church Army is chartering the LADY OF MANN for a day excursion from Heysham to Douglas and back on Saturday June 14, 2003. 

The timings are:  Heysham depart: 10:00 and Douglas depart 19:00. A fully refundable deposit of £5 per person is requested by Friday February 14, 2003.

Further details from:
Church Army Area Representative
154 Shear Brow


This week the Irish Times reported that the rising popularity of low-cost airlines may undermine the profitability and viability of Irish Sea ferries, according to analysts' warnings.. The Ireland-to-Britain car ferry market contracted by 4 per cent last month, while the Irish Continental Group (ICG), owner of Irish Ferries and one of the sector's biggest operators, reported an 8 per cent fall in business.

Mr Stephen Furlong, analyst at Davy stockbrokers, said low-cost airlines were eating into the sector's traditional customer base. 'Not just Ryanair but EasyJet, BMIbaby, MyTravel and Buzz are all setting up bases in the UK regions and providing competitive alternatives.'

While the freight shipping market remains buoyant, with the sector reporting a 2 per cent rise, ICG experienced a 0.75 per cent fall. Gulf War fears and volatile oil prices posed a further threat to the fortunes of the ferry sector, said Mr Furlong. Davy's sees downside risks to 2003 forecasts of ICG stock but acknowledged that cash- generation remained strong.

ICG stock rose by more than 20 per cent in October on director buying and share buyback activity and the firm posted before-tax profits of €3.3 million for the first half of 2002, compared to €1.7 million in the same period last year.


EGREMONT - the former Mersey Ferry arrived at Penzance on Monday November 18. Its arrival being recorded by Chris Jones. According to reports in the Cornishman Newspaper the distinctive and readily recognisable vessel has been causing quite a stir:

"Fans of the Beach Boys have been flocking down to Penzance Dry Dock this week to catch a glimpse of the "EGREMONT" - one of the original stars of the 1960s smash hit "Ferry 'Cross the Mersey."

The ferry, which is currently owned by the Island Cruising Club and moored in Salcombe, is at the Dry Dock for repairs and painting.

The EGREMONT was built in the 1950s and was one of the Mersey ferries carrying people from Liverpool to Birkenhead and Wallasey.

"We have been inundated with calls about the ferry since her arrival," said Michael Thomas, of Penzance Dry Dock. She has been recognised by ex-pat Merseysiders who recognise her from the '60s. She is certainly a distinctive and grand old lady!"


The Liverpool Echo on November 23, reported that Liverpool Duck Tours which operates the distinctive yellow DUKWs WACKER QUACKER II and WACKER QUACKER II on amphibious tours of the south docks has gone into voluntary liquidation. However, the newspaper reports that the company will continue to operate tours until the start of its scheduled winter shutdown on December 22 and will be back again in a different form next year.


PRINSENDAM The Irish Sea calls for  in 2003 have ALL BEEN CANCELLED, which are as follows; Plymouth 14 , Dunmore 15,Greenock 16,Cobh 25,Douglas 26,Belfast 27, July. Plymouth 22, Cobh 23 Sept. The ship will not be coming to Europe but going to Alaska. 



The Acceptance Ceremony of the Incat-built 98 metre Theater Support Vessel (TSV) contracted to the United States Army has taken place in Hobart, Tasmania, Australia.

USAV TSV-1X Spearhead has been completed at the Incat shipyard in Hobart to meet US Army requirements and delivered to owner Bollinger/Incat USA for charter to the US Army Tank-Automotive and Armaments Command (TACOM).

Speaking to the official party and distinguished guests at the acceptance ceremony, Incat Chairman Robert Clifford said "The United States Army is to be soundly congratulated for having the foresight and vision to recognise the capability of our craft and the contribution they can make towards Transformation. They are to be congratulated also for taking that vision to the next step – not just studying it and talking about it, but actually moving forward and doing it".

He also spoke of the challenge to complete the vessel to Army specifications in the demanding 45 day period since the contract had been awarded. "As Chairman of Incat and Executive Vice President of Bollinger Incat USA, I’m delighted to receive an order, this one brought with it the usual exhilaration, but tinged with apprehension of the huge challenge ahead for our team to achieve the mammoth task of delivery in such a short period.

USAV TSV-1X Spearhead is part of the Advanced Concept Technology Demonstrator (ACTD) program by the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the US Army. She will be used to demonstrate and evaluate her ability to perform during certain mission scenarios, assess its usefulness to the US military and refine the requirements for the next generation of army watercraft.

The TSV is critical to the Army's ability to perform its title 10, intra-theater mission. USAV TSV-1X Spearhead will be utilised on missions to maximize its speed and flexibility and is needed for both sustainment deliveries and the movement of Army prepositioned stocks, and troop units.

Spearhead is a 98m craft from Incat’s Evolution 10B range of Wave Piercing Catamarans. The craft marks the US Army’s second contract for a high speed Wave Piercing Catamaran for evaluation in various mission scenarios and is also their first TSV.

Spearhead after handover is working up under the command of Warrant Officer Four (CW4) William Davis, and is awaiting orders to proceed anywhere on the world on active duty.

Incat is currently constructing another 98 metre craft, hull 061, for US military operations. Military Sealift Command, Washington, D.C. will lease the craft from Bollinger/Incat USA to support US Navy Mine Warfare Command.

November 17

SEA CONTAINERS \ Isle of Man Steam Packet Company

SEACAT FRANCE arrived at A&P Birkenhead, entering the wet basin to join a number of other laid up vessels. There are rumours circulating that she has been sold. SEACAT FRANCE had called at Falmouth on Friday for bunkers.

HOVERSPEED GREAT BRITAIN did arrive at A&P Falmouth on Tuesday November 12 and is in #3 dry dock.

November 16



The next scheduled update will be Saturday November 23, however, this may be subject to change. It is anticipated that an extra mid-week update may be posted. Please check "What's New"  for all updates since last weekend.

Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Patrick C. Taylor, Ian Collard, Chris Jones, Dan Cross and "others".

SEA CONTAINERS \ Isle of Man Steam Packet Company

An announcement on November 14 revealed that Sea Containers were no longer a majority shareholder in Orient Express Hotels.

The company sold  2.75 million class A common shares of Orient-Express Hotels Ltd.  at $12.75 each, raising approximately $35 million in gross proceeds and reducing Sea Containers' equity interest in Orient-Express Hotels to less than 50%.  The sale represents a secondary offering of Orient-Express Hotels shares owned by Sea Containers under an existing shelf registration statement.

Proceeds from the sale will be used by Sea Containers to repay outstanding indebtedness and for general corporate purposes.  Orient-Express Hotels will receive no proceeds from the sale.  

It was revealed earlier in the week that asset sales were planned to enable debt to be repaid. 

There are reports that SEACAT FRANCE [ex ATLANTIC II] has been sold, along with SEACAT SCOTLAND whose services are currently being operated by SEACAT ISLE OF MAN. It may be that RAPIDE is to be deployed on the Belfast - Troon route to compete with P&O's SUPERSTAR EXPRESS which will operate between Larne and Troon.

SUPERSEACAT TWO which has spent the year laid up at Portsmouth is likely to replace SEACAT ISLE OF MAN. During her lay up she has been canibalised to keep her fleet mates in service.

One hopes that SUPERSEACAT TWO  will last the season as her reliability record has been appalling in the past.

Whether the exclusive reliance on the Fincantieri MDV1200  vessels on Manx routes is a good idea remains to be seen. The SUPERSEACATS have a reduced wave-height limit of 3 metres as opposed to the 3.5m of the Incat craft such as SEACAT ISLE OF MAN. One can, therefore, expect more service disruption when marginal conditions prevail. 

Cornish Shipping reported that HOVERSPEED GREAT BRITAIN was due at A&P Falmouth on November 12.


WD MEDWAY II was noted at Birkenhead West Float on Saturday November 16 undergoing work by North Western Ship Repairers.

CORNELIA the suction dredger became probably the largest ship ever to put into Peel Harbour on Monday November 11. The Belgian registered vessel had been working on the Bord Gais Éireann / MEA gas pipeline project. The vessel was in port for the fitting of new sensors to the suction nozzles.


A report posted to Liners List Yahoo Group revealed that the section was floated off the barge GIANT 2 on Friday November 15. The section is moored in the Heysehaven, once part of the Rotterdam Drydock Company, at the same quay where once Rotterdam V was fitted out after her launch. Demolition is reported to be well underway, with fittings etc being removed and the top two decks are now gone.


WIJSLIFT 6 is the jack up rig being lengthened by North Western Ship Repairers on the former Cammell Laird construction slipway and not as previously stated or previously corrected!


Anyone looking across the Mersey from the Liverpool shore will have seen a jack up platform DEEP DIVER registered in PORT VILLA standing on the former Cammell Laird construction slipway. This slipway last playing host to the construction of the ill fated COSTA CLASSICA section two years ago.

The DEEP DIVER, owned by the Cornish company Seacore is being extended by 25 metres and two additional legs are being fitted which will enable the rig to be used at depths of up to 40 metres. 

Completion of the project is expected to be in February. North Western now employ 250, many of whom are former Cammell Laird employees.


RTÉ reported this week that Capt. Tom McCarthy, formerly of ASGARD II, is to be the new Captain of the JEANIE JOHNSTON. At present the finalisation of that appointment awaits High Court approval of the settlement reached with creditors, so that a new company board can be appointed. The vessel is to be given a thorough check-over by Cork Dockyard as preparations move to the final stages for the long-awaited voyage to America, scheduled for late January. So, after all the difficulties and disappointments, it seems that this time - the Jeanie Johnston is nearing her date for departure from Ireland into the Atlantic.


Town Commissioners in Passage West wish to move the drive shaft of the SIRIUS, the first trans-Atlantic steamship which sailed from Cork. The ship was commanded by Captain Roberts a local man.

The drive shaft may be moved from the town centre to a new location in the nearby village of Glenbrook. 

The change in location is to permit changes to the street.


The Manx Independent reports that RAMSEY MHK Allan Bell has attacked Booth Kelly over its handling of the job losses.

Mr Bell, who is also treasury minister, said he'd been aware of the situation at the shipyard for some time and had been working hard behind the scenes to secure a management buy-out, so news that the entire staff had been given notice came as a bolt out of the blue.

He felt it was the owner's way of putting pressure on government.

'It's not the most helpful way to conduct negotiations,' he commented.

'The DTI has been involved in negotiations too and I think we were quite close to coming to an agreement so that a smooth transfer of ownership could take place. I believe government has done all in its power to facilitate this take-over.

'I regret the actions of the current owner and feel he is trying to force the hand of government. His actions are premature and ill-thought out and particularly unfair on the younger employees who may find themselves out of work at the end of the week.'

Mr Bell said the repairs to the main workshop were pivotal to the whole operation but the problem had been in getting an agreement between the DTI and the operators to allow the work to go ahead.

'It is vitally important to Ramsey this company stays in business,' he said. 'There are over 20 people employed there. It's been a central part of Ramsey's history for a great many years.

'Government is seriously concerned and will continue by strenuous efforts to ensure the company stays in business.'

The Department of Trade and Industry has expressed 'surprise and disappointment' at the shock news.

DTI member Leonard Singer, also a Ramsey MHK, said: 'The department has been aware for some time that Booth W. Kelly is for sale and that discussions have been held with a number of prospective purchasers. I am therefore surprised that the company has issued notices of redundancy at this time.

'The department remains committed to working with the present owner, or any prospective purchaser, to discuss the future of the company and to examine the various ways in which the department may be able to assist.'

He added the replacement of the central workshop, condemned on health and safety grounds, would ensure a good working environment.

'The department is committed to commencing work on the main section of the building as soon as possible as the work is now long overdue. Funding of several hundred thousands pounds has been allocated within the department's capital budget for some time,' he said.

'Over the last two years the department has proposed a number of commencement dates to accommodate the company's wishes, but each of these has been put back at their request.'

Speaking as one of the town's MHKs, he added: 'It is important that we should retain these jobs and the shipyard facility in Ramsey.'

Chairman of the Isle of Man Fishermen's Association Ian Morrison said closure of the shipyard and loss of the slipway would be devastating to the local fishing industry.

'We would have to look elsewhere to slip our boats. Even for minor repairs, we would have to look far a field to Scotland or Ireland,' he said.

'Under the present regime, our boats have to undergo an out-of-water survey every four years, so we would have to go elsewhere.

'It's something that has always been there and the workmanship has been second to none. The standard is very high. We feel sorry for the men who are to lose their jobs. A lot of them are highly experienced.

'This is another part of the industry we could do without losing.'

Trades Union Council president Bernard Moffatt has written to Chief Minister Richard Corkill calling on the government to do all it can to avoid losing the shipyard completely.

November 13



Tony Brennan has completely revamped and enlarged his Dublin Port website in
association with Aiden McCabe.

Click on the link to visit


Manxman Ships of Mann the joint venture site operated by Shipinfo and Ships of Mann is delighted to present the Phil Shukie collection of images of the Manxman at Hull. These wonderful images show the ship a week after she arrived from Liverpool and before she entered the Ruscador Dry Dock, whilst open and closed as a night club / restaurant venue and most importantly interior photographs showing how she looked in use. 

SEA CONTAINERS \ Isle of Man Steam Packet Company

BEN-MY-CHREE paid a brief visit to Liverpool to have new propeller blades fitted by North Western Ship Repairers at Canada Graving Dock. She followed the LADY OF MANN across from Douglas which was operating on her scheduled service crossing. The BEN-MY-CHREE departed from Canada Graving Dock on the Sunday morning sailing to Heysham to take up the 14:15 sailing to Douglas. The Sunday morning sailing to and from Douglas was operated by SeaTruck's RIVERDANCE. 


On November 13 Sea Containers announced its results for the quarter and nine months ended September 30, 2002 .  For the quarter, net income was $17.9 million ($0.84 per common share diluted) on revenue of $547 million, compared with net income of $6.6 million ($0.35 per common share diluted) on revenue of $356 million in the year earlier period.  Net income was up 173%, diluted net earnings per common share were up 140% and revenue was up 54%.

For the nine months ended September 30, 2002 net income was $27.9 million ($1.40 per common share diluted) on revenue of $1.23 billion, compared with net income of $13.6 million ($0.73 per common share diluted) on revenue of $974 million in the year earlier period.  Net income was up 105%, diluted earnings per common share were up 92% and revenue was up 26%.

The company’s EBITDA excluding Orient-Express Hotels Ltd. for the quarter and nine months ended September 30, 2002 is summarized as follows:



nine months

Silja Oyj Abp



Great North Eastern Railway



GE SeaCo SRL (50%)



Other passenger transport operations



Other marine container operations



Gains on asset sales, net



Other income






Corporate Costs






The EBITDA in the above table is higher by $3.9 million for the quarter and $14 million for the nine months than shown in the company’s 10Q report due to depreciation and interest on our 50% share of GE SeaCo earnings ($3.9 million in the quarter and $7.3 million in the nine months) and 50% share of Silja earnings ($6.7 million in the nine months).  The company has previously forecast that EBITDA for the full year 2002 will exceed $200 million and continues to believe this will be the case. 

Unfortunately, GNER’s large claim against Network Rail Ltd. (the successor to Railtrack plc) is still not resolved.  This claim relates to lost revenue and extra costs in connection with the Hatfield rail accident and other failings of Railtrack.  GNER has won arbitration awards holding Railtrack responsible for payment of these amounts (which have been withheld by GNER from track access and other charges) but Network Rail appealed to the Rail Regulator.  The Rail Regulator promised his ruling before Sea Containers issued its second quarter 2002 results in August and three further months have now elapsed without decision.  Network Rail admits it caused the revenue losses and extra costs but has refused to accept full financial liability.  Network Rail is now a quasi-government body and the U.K. government funds all its costs in excess of income from the train operators.  Despite the delay, Sea Containers still feels the dispute will be settled on a satisfactory basis.

GNER’s operating profits for the third quarter were $19.4 million compared with $15.1 million in the prior year quarter.  Passenger volumes were about 4% less than in the third quarter of 2000 (the pre-Hatfield reference year) while revenue was slightly greater.  The third quarter of 2001 was impacted by the lingering effects of speed restrictions imposed by Railtrack, so the third quarter of 2002 reflects an improving trend consistent with less such restrictions.

Silja Oyj Abp, now 100% owned, is having an excellent year.  Operating profits for the third quarter were $19.3 million compared with $10 million in the year earlier period when Sea Containers only owned 50% of the company.  The Russian government withdrew visa privileges for the company’s Silja Opera cruise ship at the end of August as part of a political manoeuvre to put pressure on Baltic States to allow access without visas for Russians overland to Kaliningrad .  This necessitated a last minute re-routing of the vessel and revenue was lost.  It appears that the Kaliningrad problem has now been resolved so hopefully the ship will shortly be granted visa privileges for operations to St. Petersburg .  The larger m.v. Sky Wind was introduced into the SeaWind line on Turku/Stockholm on October 10th and the vessel it replaced, m.v. StarWind, started a new freight service on the Helsinki/Tallinn route immediately thereafter.

Other passenger transport operations produced improvements from the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company, Hoverspeed in the English Channel , SeaStreak in New York , and SNAV-SeaCat in the Adriatic but Belfast based services worsened due to no-frills airline competition and technical problems.

GE SeaCo SRL’s operating profits increased to $5.2 million in the quarter compared with $4.5 million in the year earlier period.  However, results from the “pool” and “managed” containers and depots and factories owned by Sea Containers worsened from $2.9 million in the third quarter of 2001 to $1.5 million in the third quarter of 2002.  This worsening conceals an enormous increase in container demand and lease-outs but the costs of positioning containers to demand locations and repairing them there before lease have temporarily reduced profits.  The GE SeaCo owned fleet is 98% on lease compared with 95% at the beginning of the year.  The “pool” and “managed” fleets are 79% on lease compared with 72% at the beginning of the year.  Lease rates for standard dry cargo containers placed on hire in the third quarter have increased by 20% over the previous quarter.  It now appears that GE SeaCo will take delivery of $150 million of new containers against firm lease commitments in 2002.

Orient-Express Hotels Ltd. in which the company has a 57% equity interest, reported third quarter 2002 operating profits of $15.8 million compared with $13.5 million in the year earlier period which was impacted by the September 11th terrorist attacks.

Net finance costs in the third quarter of 2002 were down $1.3 million from the prior year period, to $33.2 million.

Mr. James B. Sherwood, President, said that the company is facing heavy debt repayments in 2003, including $158 million of senior notes falling due on July 1st.  The company had planned to sell part of its shareholding in Orient-Express Hotels to meet this obligation but the share price has declined since May from approx. $20 to approx. $13 today. 

In order to meet these obligations the company’s board has decided to sell certain other assets, to reduce its shareholding in Orient-Express Hotels to slightly less than 50% in order to deconsolidate Orient-Express Hotels from Sea Containers’ balance sheet, to increase Silja’s borrowings and to suspend payment of common share dividends.  Through these and other actions the company hopes to avoid having to sell the bulk of its shareholding in Orient-Express Hotels at today’s depressed prices which do not reflect the fundamental value of that company.  The board feels in these circumstances it is unwise to proceed with the spin-off of Orient-Express Hotels common shares to Sea Containers shareholders.

“In today’s environment of economic worries, fear of further terrorist attack and weaker capital markets, your board feels that Sea Containers should take a highly conservative approach in the conduct of its affairs.  Hence the decisions described above.  Despite these concerns we should not lose sight of the improved financial results,” he concluded.


Sea Containers, operators of the world’s largest fast ferry fleet, has announced a record breaking year for the Ancona , Italy Split , Croatia joint venture route.

The seasonal service (June-September) carried nearly 59,000 passengers and 13,250 vehicles representing an increase of 52% on the previous year.  The craft has been moved to Ravenna , Italy for its winter lay-up.  The service will resume in June 2003 until 15 September.

David Collins of Sea Containers passenger transport division said:  “The success of the route has vindicated our investment in this service and ensures that the service has become a firm fixture in the Adriatic .  The excellent passenger figures for 2002 ensure that the vessel will be back in service next year.”

The service began in 2000 with ‘Atlantic II’, a Sea Containers owned 74m wave-piercing catamaran which had previously operated on the River Plate between Argentina and Uruguay .  This craft also operated the service in 2001.

To provide extra capacity to meet increasing demand, the Austal-built high-speed catamaran, ‘Felix’ was introduced in June this year.  It has capacity for 676 passengers, 156 vehicles plus up to ten coaches and operates in the now familiar ‘Croazia Jet’ livery.

The craft makes the 130 mile (210 km) crossing in 4½ hours, at a cruising speed of up to 36 knots.  On-board facilities include a business class section with private bar, two passenger decks and large duty free shop.  The service is jointly operated by the Italian ferry operator SNAV and Sea Containers’ subsidiary company Hoverspeed




Passenger figures compiled by the Harbours Division for October 2002 at 42,996 show a 5.8% increase on the figure for the same period in 2001 which was 40,621.

The year to date figure at 601,804 passengers shows an 17.2% increase over the same period in 2001 which was 513,445.

During October car and motorcycle traffic through Douglas Harbour increased by 2.9% from 10,742 vehicles to 11,058 vehicles.

The year to date figure at 156,587 vehicles shows a 32.8% increase over the same period in 2001 which was 117,897.

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


plus  15%






plus  2%






Plus 10%





Freight Traffic:-

October commercial vehicles metreage increased by 6.6% from 38,708 metres to 41,275 metres.

Director of Harbours, Captain Michael Brew comments:

"October 2002 is another record month for any October for ferry traffic. Passenger traffic for the year to date already exceeds 600,000. The outlook for the remainder of the year is very positive with Steam Packet special offer fares likely to generate continued traffic growth."


The Marine Administration was advised over the weekend of the loss of the Manx registered fishing vessel FENELLA ANN off the south coast of the Isle of Man.

The Director of the Marine Administration, Capt. Desmond Howell, said -

"The Marine Administration is obviously concerned about the loss of this vessel and at the same time relieved that the two crewmen, Mr Lamont and Mr Watterson escaped injury. I would congratulate the skipper and crew of Heather Maid for their prompt and efficient response in getting to the Fenella Ann in time and rescuing the two men."

Fenella Ann was registered in the Isle of Man and the accident happened in Manx waters. The Marine Administration conducts investigations into all casualties occurring to Manx ships and in this instance will be carrying out a full investigation into the circumstances of the loss. The investigation is designed to establish exactly what happened and why it happened with a view to avoiding any similar accidents in future. The investigation will not apportion blame.

A thorough investigation takes time and it is not anticipated that the final investigation report will be published for several months. The Marine Administration publishes all its investigation reports and will do so for this one as soon as it is complete.

  1. The UK MAIB (Marine Accident Investigation Branch) is the UK body responsible for the investigation of accidents to UK registered ships and accidents in UK waters.
  2. The Marine Administration in the Isle of Man is responsible for undertaking the same role in respect of Manx registered ships.

The Marine Administration has a very good relationship with the MAIB and in cases where it is appropriate will work together


EUROPEAN PATHFINDER - it was reported last month that the ship, currently laid up at A&P Birkenhead had been sold to Greek interests and renamed REGINA I. The vessel remains at A&P, however, she has now been resold to a new owner TransEuropa and renamed BEGONIA. She is expected to depart from A&P probably on Friday November 15 with an eastern European crew.

SUPERSTAR EXPRESS - currently wintering at A&P Birkenhead - the Austal vessel chartered to P&O will operate two routes from Larne during 2003 between April 15 and September 15.

The timetable is as follows:

Larne to  Troon:

Depart Larne: 07:40 & 18:45 

Depart Troon: 10:05 & 21:05

Crossing Time: 109 minutes.

Larne to Cairnryan

Depart Larne:   12:35 & 15:45 

Depart Cairnryan:  14:10 & 17:15

Crossing Time: 60 minutes.

An advance edition of P&O's 2003 brochure is due out very soon so it looks like the firm is going all out to capture a healthy chunk of the North Channel passenger business.


Manx Radio reported earlier this week that the Ramsey Shipyard may close in February 2003 and that staff have been put on notice.

November 6



Please note that as I will be in the Isle of Man there will be no weekend update this week. The next scheduled update is Wednesday next week. However, if a number of submissions are received and significant news breaks, additional updates will be posted. 

Urgent news Friday evening to Sunday evening should be sent as a text message to my mobile number 07973363370.


A new gallery has been added " The Mona's Isle - the Forgotten Enterprise".

SEA CONTAINERS \ Isle of Man Steam Packet Company

SUPERSEACAT THREE completed her 2003 Irish Sea season on Monday November 4 when she returned from Dublin. However, the vessel has remained alongside Prince's Landing Stage. In previous years the fast craft have usually retreated to the dock system for lay-up within hours of the final sailing of the season. One wonders if some relief work elsewhere is envisaged.

LADY OF MANN should commence her main winter programme of sailings with the 08:30 Liverpool to Douglas on Friday November 8. It should be remembered that day trips are available on the Lady's Friday sailings to Douglas from Liverpool. 

BEN-MY-CHREE - The Ben is off service for maintenance after completing the 02:15 sailing from Heysham on Saturday November  9. She returns to service on the 14:15 ex Heysham on November 10. It is believed that an 02:15 sailing from Heysham to Douglas will be operated for freight by SeaTruck's RIVERDANCE. 

The BEN-MY-CHREE is expected to sail for Canada Graving Dock for work on her port


PRINCESS ROYAL the former German ferry HABICHT II which has been laid up in Liverpool Docks since 1994 was noted in North Western's Clarence Dry Dock on Wednesday November 6. Various rumours have surrounded this vessel since she arrived on Merseyside. 

Originally it was said that she was to operate as a floating pub / club along the lines of the Manxman, however nothing materialised. Later it was suggested she would operate cruises to North Wales. The vessel has been laid up in Sandon Dock for some years. 


STENA BRITANNICA is believed to be switching to the Irish Sea when she is replaced by her new build namesake (and sister of STENA ADVENTURER) commences at Harwich. This may well be to cover for the gap between the end of STENA FORWARDER's charter and the introduction of the STENA ADVENTURER entering service on Holyhead - Dublin.

November 3



If you have not visited ISS since last weekend ensure you check "What's New" as there was a rolling programme of unscheduled updates during the past week to catch up with material submitted by contributors and gathered by myself. The next update will be on Wednesday November 6. There will NOT be an update next Sunday. The November to January update schedule has been posted.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: Gary Andrews, Edwin Wilmshurst, Philip Parker, Tony Brennan, "Anderida2002", Cornish Shipping and "others"


As many of you will be aware the BBC is running a TV series which aims to identify through the results of a public poll the Greatest Britain of all time. 

At present Isambard Kingdom Brunel is running second to the late Princess of Wales.

If one considers Isambard Kingdom Brunel's contribution to advancing the design of steam ships in the 19th century and the pioneering of long distance liner services with Great Western, Great Britain and Great Eastern he deserves the vote from anyone with an interest in marine matters. Then of course there were his civil engineering and railway way wonders which were also so ahead of their day.

Irish Sea Shipping urges all visitors to the web site to give

Isambard is really the greatest Briton and the only one with a maritime connection that stands the chance of winning!

SEA CONTAINERS \ Isle of Man Steam Packet Company

The 2003 fleet deployment rumour mill has started to grind in earnest as the main 2002 season comes to a close.

Various rumours are doing the rounds at present and it remains to be seen just what turns out to be fact rather than speculation and misinformation.  However, a posting on an internet chat group served to let one or two "cats" and a hovercraft out of the bag and led to further enquiries .... here's how things stand at present.

SEACAT ISLE OF MAN will go to the channel in 2003. This appears to be a strong rumour  obtained  from a number of sources. Conflicting reports of her replacement have been obtained some  suggest SUPERSEACAT TWO another RAPIDE. RAPIDE is currently refitting at Harland and & Wolff following the major onboard engine room fire during the summer.

Reactivation of SUPERSEACAT TWO which has spent the year laid up at Portsmouth will undoubtedly involve some substantial work as it is understood many of her parts have been used to maintain SUPERSEACAT THREE!

SEACAT FRANCE - a contact in the south west confirms that this vessel did not appear as scheduled for refit at A&P Falmouth on October 28. Apparently her booking was to have been taken by HOVERSPEED GREAT BRITAIN, but she also cancelled. There are rumours that one or both may have been sold with SEACAT FRANCE being the more likely of the two. 

PRINCESS MARGARET a message was posted to an internet newsgroup suggested that the SR-N4 currently laid up at the Hovercraft Museum and which has been offered for sale may be returned to service for 2003. The appearance of this message appeared to cause quite a stir on the group [which will remain anonymous] the message being removed - but it was received by all those who had opted to receive messages by e-mail. Given the reaction of the group moderator to the posting one has to believe that there may be something to this.

There are also rumours of a Belfast to Liverpool SeaCat service, whether that would be a replacement for the Belfast - Heysham service remains to be seen, as once again "the Belfast - Heysham won't reopen next season rumour" is doing the rounds again. This rumour has done the rounds every year since the end of the Belfast to Heysham routes first season so one tends to take it with a pinch of salt!

As stated these are all RUMOURS some more stronger than others. The only concrete facts at present are those concerning SEACAT FRANCE and HOVERSPEED GREAT BRITAIN not appearing at A&P Falmouth. What actually transpires for 2003 remains to be seen!

SEACAT ISLE OF MAN - released SEACAT SCOTLAND on the Belfast - Troon route during on either Wednesday or Thursday.

SUPERSEACAT THREE - deteriorating weather conditions saw SSC3 make an early departure from Dublin at 14:42 on Saturday November 2. Scheduled departure time being 15:30. Her evening sailing from Liverpool to Douglas was delayed until 03:00 on Sunday morning.


A coaster left drifting without power in gale force conditions off Land's End was reported being towed to Falmouth by a tug on November 3. The Danish vessel, SIXTUS, was bound for Mostyn in Wales from Greece. She lost power at around 05:30 on Sunday following the failure of a fuel pump.

The crew were unable to repair the problem and the coastguard tug Far Sky was called out.

It arrived on scene about 12 miles south of Land's End at 10:00 GMT.

The SIXTUS, which is carrying a cargo of marble, was drifting in rough to heavy seas and in gale force winds of force seven to eight, the coastguards said.


Cornish Shipping this week reported on sale of the remaining five Island Class patrol vessels to the Government of Bangladesh. These distinctive little vessels have been a familiar sight over the years around our costs.

The five ships sold are - HMS Alderney P278, HMS Anglesey P277, HMS Guernsey P297, HMS Lindesfarne P300 and HMS Shetland P298. 

All have been regular visitors to Falmouth over the past twenty years. This class, of originally seven vessels, were introduced into the Royal Navy, in the late seventies to replace the Ton Class minesweeper.

The vessels were designed along the lines of a deep sea trawler but with bilge keels, stabilisers and a water ballast arrangement to damp down their motion in heavy weather. Incorporated within the design was the need for them not only to patrol the fishing grounds but also to protect the extensive British interests in the North Sea oil industry.

The vessels were ordered in July 1975 from the Aberdeen shipbuilders Hall Russell on the east coast of Scotland. HMS Jersey was the first into service in 15th October 1976 with the other six being delivered at regular intervals with the final vessel HMS Alderney commissioned into the Royal Navy on the 6th October 1979. The class are 60 metres in length, with a beam of 11 metres and a draught of 4 metres. They are powered by twin Ruston oil engines giving them a service speed of 12 knots and a range of 7,000 miles. The vessels have an Oerlikon 20 mm GAM-BO1 gun fitted forward of the bridge and carry two Avon Sea Rider semi-rigid craft for boarding purposes. The 1,250 ton vessels carry a compliment of 39 officers and men.

The other two vessels were sold off earlier with HMS Jersey being sold to the Bangladeshi Navy in 1994 and was renamed Shahed Ruhul Amin and now operates as a training vessel. Last year HMS Orkney was sold to Trinidad & Tobago and after refurbishment at Devonport where she was renamed TSS Nelson CG-20.

Shortly the first of a new class of patrol vessel will become a regular visitor with the first vessel HMS Tyne nearing completion.



Consideration is being given to the placing of a lifeboat at Kinsale, County Cork for a period of evaluation during 2003.  Discussions have been held with Kinsale Harbour Commissioners and the local council.


Douglas lifeboat launched on the evening of Saturday November 2 to assist a 33m Irish Scalloper with a four person crew. The vessel experienced engine problems in Douglas Bay in gale fore winds. Coastguard officers with line throwing equipment stood by on the breakwater as the lifeboat successfully brought the vessel in. 


NORMANDY: Following industrial action at Cherbourg Normandy diverted to Roscoff for two  round trips this week. 


The industrial action in France saw some changes to P&O sailings. EUROPEAN DIPLOMAT undertook a Rosslare - Brest sailing on Thursday, returning ex Brest Saturday.

Meanwhile on her last weekend of French sailings from Dublin for this season, the EUROPEAN AMBASSADOR made a special Dublin - Rosslare - Brest sailing on Saturday November 2, this being her first visit to the Co. Wexford port.


Plans to relocate the start of the Admiral's Cup Race from Cowes to Dún Laoghaire in 2003 has been shelved following a dispute between the Royal Ocean Racing Club organisers of the event and the Royal St. George Sailing Cub at Dún Laoghaire. 

It had been announced in January 2002 that next years race would move to Dún Laoghaire from Cowes which it has been based since the 1950s. 



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