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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


  May 2003

May 23



Several late items of interest have appeared today which have resulted in this extra update. Please see notes below [May 22 News] concerning updates and contacts.


It would appear from a report by Manx Radio  today that the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company will be sold to the Royal Bank of Scotland.


The annual report of the Dart Valley Railway Company has been published. Highlights of marine operations for 2002. The company's Old Mill boatyard has been equipped with a covered slipway at the cost of £116,000.

The charter cruise vessel BALTIC STAR, based at Totnes, was purchased in 2002 along with moorings at Totnes for the vessel.

The Kingswear - Dartmouth Ferry service, which once comprised the shortest crossing operated by British Railways Sealink until its original sale to the local council in the early 1970s. is still reported to be something of a concern to the company. Despite "a 7% increase in income, an in depth study of costs has led to a more secure apportionment, which suggests that the ferry is still a loss maker."  The company states fares have recently increased and may have to be again if the year round service is to be maintained.  

Marine operations produced a turn over of £1,214,060 in 2002 compared to £1,103,735 in 2001. It is interesting to note that marine operations turnover slightly exceeds that provided the Kingswear to Paignton railway service. 


The new passenger vessel OSPREY OF ST MARY'S has been delivered from the Kingfisher Yard at Falmouth. She is owned by St.Mary's Lifeboat Coxswain Andy Howells.

The vessel is an enhanced design based on the KINGFISHER and SAPPHIRE, also both delivered to members of the St.Mary's Boatmen's Association by the same builders. 

Equipped with a flying bridge she has a passenger capacity for 93, of which 35 can be seated inside. She replaces the open passenger launch BUCCANEER, recently sold to Cornwall Ferries, part of the King Harry Steam Ferry Group.

May 22

Acknowledgements: Kevin Bennett, NSL, Gary Andrews, Justin Merrigan - Incat and "others"


The next update will be on Sunday, June 1. Please not that I will be away in Cóbh from Saturday May 24 to Friday May 30. Please try to avoid sending email messages with large photographic attachments during this time. 

All communication should be via my mobile phone - 07973363370 voice or text. Please do not use the landline numbers as messages often loose their meanings when forwarded.  [FULL CONTACT DETAILS]


Though rumours are usually relegated to the "Lamb Banana" page of Irish Sea Shipping until some substance can be reported, I have received information from a number of sources which indicate that P&O may either sell their Irish routes or establish joint service operations with Stena Line. The rumours appear particularly strong in Ireland and a number of variations exist.

It is interesting to note that no announcement has been made concerning the sale of the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company by Sea Containers. It had been expected that information on the sale would have surfaced earlier this week. 

Perhaps some larger reorganization of Irish Sea services is in the offing across a number of operators in the near future? Only time will tell.


LADY OF MANN is understood to have conducted a full emergency exercise at Alexandra Dock on May 22. 

BEN-MY-CHREE was reported to be experiencing some technical trouble on Thursday May 22.


The Isle of Man Steam Packet Company has announced their monthly carryings for April 2003. The upward trend in carryings continues with April 2003 being the best for any April on record.

Traffic figures for April 2003 and confirmed by the governments Department of Transport show the following increases:

Passenger traffic increased by 29.1% @ 64,387 passengers (2002 – 49,877)

Vehicular traffic increased by 31.7% @ 14,825 vehicles (2002 – 11,255)

Freight traffic decreased by 1.5% @ 38,905 metres (2002 – 39,488)

Year to date figures show:

Passenger traffic increased by 7.9% @ 138,113 passengers (2002 – 127,992)

Vehicular traffic increased by 13.5% @ 37,923 vehicles (2002 – 33,427)

The Steam Packet will be operating ‘round the clock’ schedules of their vessels as the Island prepares to meet the influx of thousands of fans, motor cycles, cars and vans arriving for the world famous TT Races the practice sessions for which begin on Saturday 24th May. The Steam Packet will be sponsoring both the Lightweight and Junior Races on Wednesday 4th June and the very popular Steam Packet Races on Saturday 7th June held on the Billown circuit.


Recent newspaper reports that the COSTA CLASSICA section may be reused to convert another passenger ship appear to be groundless. The fate of the section is as follows: The top decks were removed and scrapped and all the equipment [HVAC / Cabins / toilet suites etc] were kept for sale.

The lower 4 decks which included engine room and tanks and 2 decks of completed crew accommodation were retained.

The hull had a bow and stern section installed, and the unit was to be towed to Nigeria to use at a oil refinery island.

The engines were already fitted with alternators to power the azimuth stern thruster and these were going to be used to power the new oil refinery and the ‘workers’ were to use the accommodation.

There is a lot of civil unrest in west Africa and this gives a perfect solution to keeping workers on site with reliable power.

I would like to thank "NSL" for the COSTA CLASSICA information.  

BIG RED BOAT II - It was reported on the Yahoo Group "Liners List" this week that the ship [ex EUGENIO COSTA / EDINBURGH CASTLE] is to be  auctioned in the Bahamas on Friday June 13. The ship had a troublesome period of operation from the Mersey in 1998 when operated by Lowline undercharter to Direct Cruises. Following the collapse of Lowline she was bought by Cammell Laird and refitted on the Tyne before being chartered as BIG RED BOAT II


STENA TRANSPORTER is reported to be suffering from technical problems which require urgent repairs at A&P Birkenhead. Sailings are cancelled until the expected return of the vessel on Saturday May 24. It is believed that corrosion may be the "technical problem". 

STENA CALEDONIA is currently out of service refitting and is not expected back into service until May 27. 

STENA ADVENTURER is reported to have recently departed Korean enroute to the Irish Sea where it is due to commence service on July 1 between Dublin and Holyhead. 

On its 10,000 mile journey, the vessel will pass Singapore, Suez, Port Said and Malta before arriving in Dublin on June 16.


JONATHAN SWIFT is believed to have had another altercation with the Holyhead linkspan whilst working the 20:15 sailing to Dublin on Sunday May 18. As a result she was off service until the 06:50 on Wednesday for repairs.


The Western Mail reports a furious row has broken out between Swansea Cork Ferries and the International Transport Workers Federation over pay and conditions for East European crews.

The ITF union claims some Polish and Ukrainian staff on the MV SUPERFERRY, which sails between Swansea and Cork, work up to 17 hours a day. And they claim pay rates are below the UK minimum wage.

Members of the union have handed out leaflets to passengers on the service, highlighting what they feel to be poor working conditions.

Some passengers have been so concerned they have failed to make the return journey on the huge ship.

But a spokeswoman for Swansea Cork Ferries said yesterday working hours on the MV Superferry were in accordance with regulations. The records of hours worked were open for inspection by the Department of Marine in Ireland and by the British Maritime Coastal Agency.

The spokeswoman added, "We can also confirm a staff association was established on the Superferry to represent the interest of workers on board. "All crew are members of this association and we have established a good working relationship with the association.

 "We do not believe the ITF, despite extensive canvassing, has any members on board the MV SUPERFERRY.

"We can confirm that following discussions with the crew and after negotiations with the manning agency, Grayriver International, new pay rates were applied with effect from November of last year.

"The new rates represent a significant increase in pay scales, which are now at a level in excess of minimum wage rates in a number of EU countries and are higher than those discussed with the ITF in its various representations to us in recent times."

The ITF's co-ordinator, Norrie McVicar, claimed that long working hours had left crew members fatigued.

He claims that some Polish and Ukrainian workers on board are earning the equivalent of just £1.34 per hour.

Mr McVicar said he hoped to have further discussions with the management of Swansea Cork Ferries and councils in Swansea and Cork to discuss the situation.

The Swansea Cork Ferries spokeswoman also said, "The ITF's efforts to demand the crews accept its representation and that we deal directly with the ITF does not respect the rights of the crew and their employers to decide these matters for themselves.

"Paying the ITF to negotiate issues that are already well in hand seems to put the interests of the ITF before those of the employment agency who recruited the staff, Grayriver International, and their customers Swansea Cork Ferries."



Her Majesty The Queen will present the new Colour on board HMS OCEAN, which will be at anchor in Plymouth Sound. Following the Consecration and presentation of the Colour there will be a sail past followed by a fly past. It is expected that over 20 ships and submarines of the Royal Navy, including Royal Fleet Auxiliary and commercial ships, will take part in the biggest Fleet gathering in Plymouth Sound since June 1905 when 35 warships gathered to commemorate the official birthday of King Edward VII.

Members of the public will be able to witness the whole event from The Hoe with the use of big screen monitors.


On Sat 21 and Sun 22 June 2003, the museums, exhibitions and historical buildings at the UK's premier Naval Base will be open to the public. Among the attractions are the Submarine Exhibition Centre, the Royal Navy Field Gun display and the Hangman's cell. Visitors can also take a look at the decommissioned nuclear powered submarine HMS COURAGEOUS, which is the only exhibit of its kind in the country. Tours of the submarine will be by timed ticket only. An added attraction for Sunday 22 June only will be a steam rally.

This is the first of three open weekends planned for 2003. For further information please call 01752 554200.

May 20

Acknowledgements: Kevin Bennett, Justin Merrigan - Incat, Frans Sanderse

LADY OF MANN moved from Canada Graving Dock on Tuesday May 20 to her lay up berth at Alexandra Dock. There may have been some confusion in that it was reported on Sunday that the black band on her funnel had been restored to its full width. That should have read the black band on the dummy funnel. The band on the black area on the actual funnel remains the same. Presumably the reappearance of the wider band is a signal that Sea Containers influence is already on the wane as the sale approaches? 


Further to the report in the last update I know have the full text of the newspaper report concerning the use of the COSTA CLASSICA section:

THE Costa Classica mid-section, the contract for which brought an end to Cammell Laird, may still be used for its intended purpose, it was revealed last night (Tuesday). It is thought the 350-cabin 15-deck mid-section will end up as part of the Italian cruise ship after all, despite its sale by receivers with a view to it being broken.

A source told Wirral News Group: "We believed the unit was to be broken down and sold for scrap but now it looks as if it will be getting used. - "I think the men who worked on it will be gutted to hear this after all they went through. Many will have moved on, but a lot of people lost a lot of
money through what happened."

It is further believed the unit was sold by receivers PricewaterhouseCoopers to undisclosed buy-ers for the sum of £750,000 - a bargain compared to its intended £52m price tag - and is now in Germany or Italy after being moved to Liverpool from Birkenhead.

Each of the mid-section's two engines are worth £1.5m. Due to its precise specifications, the mid-section can only be used for its intended ship, it cannot be used in another vessel.

The question of payment for the completed work by the Birkenhead yard is still in arbitration in the Italian courts. It is further thought the controversial contract contains a clause stating a payment of £23m should have been made to the yard by Costa Crociere if the £53m contract was reneged upon.

The source continued: "The directors of Cammell Laird were criticised at the time for taking such a contract - payment on completion - which is mostly unheard of in the industry. "A carrot was dangled in the form of a two-ship deal which was a way of getting Cammell Laird into the cruise liner market,
that was the whole idea, and it would have been the making of the yard if it had been a success."

A spokesman for PricewaterhouseCoopers commented: "The mid-section was sold last year with the intention of it being scrapped. If the new owner has now decided otherwise, we don't know anything about it."

Birkenhead MP Frank Field, a vociferous critic of the handling of the demise of Cammell Laird, said:

"If the mid-section does end up as part of the Costa Classica, that makes what happened to Cammell Laird even more treacherous. "It makes the pirates of yesteryear look like mere babes in comparison to this behaviour."

Empathising with those who lost their jobs, he added: "Whatever was in the original contract with Cammell Laird, the receivers should still try and enforce it."

Enquiries on the web have revealed that demolition did actually commence in the autumn of 2002,

Demolition was carried out by crane barge ANNA 4 at Heysehaven near Rotterdam and i am informed that there is not thing to see anymore. Though correspondent did not know when scrapping was completed. The photographs were taken in November.

Therefore, one can only come to the conclusion that the Wirral News dug up the rumour which was doing the rounds at the time that the section was taken away from Merseyside. Or that the section was only partially demolished and the remains moved elsewhere. However, that appears very unlikely. 


PEGGY - The historic sailing vessel which is now displayed at the Castletown Nautical Museum is to be considered for inclusion on the Historic Ships Register.

For more info on the Peggy click on link below


The cost of clearing up waste from a stricken vessel which ran aground off the Cornwall - and who will pay for it - is to be discussed in Westminster according to BBC Radio Cornwall.

On Tuesday afternoon Andrew George will meet with the transport minister, David Jamieson.

Mr George will also be calling for a maritime exclusion zone to be established around the Cornish coast.

Plastic from the RMS MULHEIM continues to be washed up along Cornwall's beaches, more than two months since it ran aground on rocks near Land's End.

Mr George is also seeking assurances that the cost of the clean-up will not come from the public purse.

The Cornish MP says the MULHEIM is a reminder of the dangers of shipping around Cornwall, and now wants action to establish an exclusion zone.

He also wants the inquiry into why the MULHEIM ran aground to be speeded up. 


Incat Tasmania announced the receipt of an order for the first Evolution One12 Series 112 metre Wave Piercing Catamaran from Incat USA. Construction will commence shortly, in Hobart, with delivery programmed for 2004.

The vessel will be capable of carrying up to 1500 tonnes deadweight and will be the largest diesel powered fast craft in the world.

Incat Tasmania have selected four 20RK280 MAN B&W engines to provide the 36 megawatts required to power the vessel at speeds of up to 50 knots. Each 20-cylinder RK280 engine is rated for continuous operation at 9,000KWb at 1000 rpm for this application.

Also commencing construction at the Incat Tasmania Hobart yard will be a further Evolution 10B 98 metre vessel for delivery in the first half of 2004. The 700 tonne deadweight vessel will be powered by four 16RK280 engines each providing 7200 kW at 1000 rpm.

The choice of the MAN B&W RK280 series engines for these vessels enables the continued evolution of large, fast vessels, further enhancing the technology and economics of operation of these craft.

They will be the first Incat vessels powered by RK280 engines continuing over 15 years of successful co-operation between Incat Tasmania, MAN B&W Diesel Limited and their customers.

May 18

Acknowledgements: Ian Collard, Tony Brennan and "others"


The next scheduled update is due on Thursday May 22. This will be the last update until Sunday June 1 as I will be off to Cóbh between Saturday May 24 to Friday May 30. 

It would be appreciated that any emails containing large photographic attachments for the web site are not sent between Friday May 23 and Friday May 30 inclusive to avoid overloading the mailbox.

Can I ask that all email for the web site be sent to . All private / confidential email should go to . PLEASE DO NOT USE the email address . Unfortunately the BT spam trap on this address is becoming ineffective and a lot of unwanted junk is coming through. As the latter address is my primary account, there is no way of changing it. 

The only solution is to stop using it and stop scanning it, so that hopefully it will fill up and start bouncing mail back to the senders. Therefore, I must ask that it is not used for any correspondence until further notice.

SEA CONTAINERS \ Isle of Man Steam Packet Company

LADY OF MANN is expected to depart Canada Graving Dock on Tuesday May 20 and commence service as per schedule. An observer on reports on Sunday that the top black band of the dummy funnel has been restored to its full width.


BALMORAL - Photographs of the removal of the ship's Sirron engines can be found on the BBC Bristol Website .



Passenger figures compiled by the Harbours Division for March  2003 at 31,463 shows a 23% increase on the figure for the same period in 2002 which was 40,816.

Since January the total of 73,726 passengers shows a 5.6% decrease over the same period in 2002 which was 78,115.

During March car traffic through Douglas Harbour decreased by 5.8% from 10,254  vehicles to 9,655 vehicles.

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

Belfastplus 63%from908to559
Dublinplus 52%from2,235to329


minus 10%






plus 31%





Freight Traffic:-

March commercial vehicles metreage increased by 0.9% from 39,987 metres to 40,341 metres.

Director of Harbours, Captain Michael Brew comments:

"March 2003 Passenger Figures takes into account the later Easter period this year. Comparing the figures with March 2001 when Easter again fell in April, the 2003 figure shows an increase of 20% confirming that the underlying growth is still positive"


Passenger figures compiled by the Harbours Division for April  2003 at 64,387 shows a 29.1% increase on the figure for the same period in 2002 which was 49,877.

The year to date figure at 138,113 passengers shows a 7.9% increase over the same period in 2002 which was 127,992

During April car traffic through Douglas Harbour increased by 31.7% from 11,255  vehicles to 14,825 vehicles.

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

Belfastplus 63%from2,223to3,618
Dublinplus 52%from2,389to3,621


plus 34%






plus 31%





Freight Traffic:-

April commercial vehicles metreage decreased by 1.5% from 39,488 metres to 38,905 metres.

Director of Harbours, Captain Michael Brew comments:

"April 2003 passenger figures at 64,387 are again record figures for any April. Even allowing for the impact of the later Easter, the Passenger Figures are exceptionally good. Comparing the first four months of this year with the same period in 1996 shows a near doubling of passenger traffic and three times the number that travelled in the same period in 1987."



This week a report appeared in the Birkenhead and Wallasey News entitled "Sold Down The River" it goes on to say that that the Costa Classica mid-section may become part of the cruise ship after all. It is believed that the unit, sold by receivers Price WaterhouseCoopers is now in Germany or Italy. A spokesperson for them said that it was sold for scrap but if the new owner had decided  otherwise, we don't know anything about it. MP Frank Field said that if this happens it will make what happened to Cammell Laird even more treacherous, and makes the pirates of  yesteryear look more like babes in comparison to this behaviour.

[JHL COMMENT: A similar rumour did the rounds about the time that section was towed away last September. The last that was heard about the section was that demolition had started. However it is not know if this was completed. If anyone knows anything definite about this please email .


Plans to save the last surviving Cammell Laird built liner TSS WINDSOR CASTLE from the scrap yard made headline news the Daily Post on Saturday May 17.

May 15

Acknowledgements: Jim Edgar, Ian Collard, Tony Brennan, Kevin Bennett, Ian Jones and "others"


In Tuesday's extra update it was erroneously stated that the sailing ship JULIA arrived on May 13, the JULIA arrived on May 11.

SEA CONTAINERS \ Isle of Man Steam Packet Company

On May 14 Sea Containers announced the first quarter results for 2003. Net earnings for the period were a loss of $10.3 million (loss of $0.49 per common share) on revenue of $351 million, compared with a loss of $6 million (loss of $0.32 per common share) on revenue of $218 million in the prior year period.

The first quarter is traditionally loss making because of the seasonality of the company’s passenger and freight transport business.  It is also the weakest period for marine container leasing because of reduced consumer purchasing post Christmas and Asian holidays which cause factory closures.  In the first quarter of 2002 the company owned only 50% of Silja Oyj Abp while in the first quarter of 2003 it owned 100%, thus it had to include 100% of Silja’s first quarter seasonal losses this year.

Silja’s first quarter 2003 revenue was $115 million compared with $94 million in the year earlier period.  This winter has been exceptionally harsh with heavy ice conditions which cause fuel consumption to rise and prevent operation of aluminium hulled fast ferries.  Fuel costs were $3 million higher than budget in the period due to ice and fears of disruption to world oil supplies because of the Iraq war and Venezuelan strikes, causing a short term spike in prices.  Oil prices have now declined back to more normal levels and Silja is 50% hedged for the second and third quarters at prices lower than current levels so it should recover the overspend in the first quarter in the remainder of the year.  (The company’s other ferry operations are similarly hedged.)  Silja also had a large passenger ship out of service for dry-docking (this work is always done in the slow first quarter) and this caused a $1 million reduction in revenue.

Irish Sea ferry operations showed improvement over the prior year while SeaStreak in New York had worse results due to ice conditions which closed two of its three New Jersey ports for a number of days.  English Channel ferries had increased losses in the period due to the high fuel prices and the Easter holidays falling in the second quarter while last year they fell in the first quarter.

Profits from rail operations include an improved offer from Network Rail to settle GNER’s outstanding claims.  The parties are still about $30 million apart.  The company has only taken to profit the settlement offered by Network Rail which in its opinion is still insufficient to recover GNER’s loss of revenue and other costs related to the Hatfield rail disaster which was the fault of Network Rail’s predecessor, Railtrack.

Collection of GNER’s claims has been strengthened by a recent ruling of the Rail Regulator to uphold on appeal the earlier decision of an industry arbitration panel that “Network Change” had occurred and hence GNER is entitled to recover the consequences.  It is difficult to predict when the claims will be finally settled but in the meantime GNER has withheld from track access payments the amount it believes it is owed.

EBIT from marine container leasing continued to rise year on year, reaching $9.9 million in the first quarter of 2003 compared with $8.2 million in the prior year period, an increase of 21%.  Demand for used standard dry cargo containers flattened as normal in the first quarter but has now risen to the point where GE SeaCo is finding it very difficult to meet demand.  A shortage of space in vessels to reposition containers to locations of demand is contributing to the problem.  GE SeaCo is encouraging the early return of standard dry cargo units from lessees who have them at below current market rates so it can re-lease them at higher rates.  The utilization of GE SeaCo’s own fleet was 98% at May 1, 2003 while utilization of the older “pool” fleet owned by Sea Containers and General Electric Capital Corporation was 83%.  At May 1 GE SeaCo had taken delivery of 23,000 new containers in 2003 at a cost of $45 million.  Demand for new containers is very strong and is expected to continue so.  World trade in containerized cargoes has risen 9% year to date over the prior year period.

Sea Containers owns 47% of Orient-Express Hotels Ltd.’s equity representing 16% of the votes.  Its minority interest in Orient-Express Hotels first quarter losses was $1.2 million.  The Iraq war, SARS epidemic, harsh winter, Easter falling in the second quarter and other transitory factors influenced that company’s first quarter results.  At the end of April, Orient-Express Hotels made a major acquisition of the Hotel Ritz in Madrid , Spain in partnership with a local real estate investor.

The company has signed letters of commitment with three banks led by Citigroup to provide the financing for $158 million of public debt scheduled for redemption on July 1, 2003 .  It has also received satisfactory offers for assets to be sold, expected to yield cash net of debt repayment of a similar amount to the bank loan.  The bank loan is for one year and will be repaid from the proceeds of the asset sales.

In addition, the company expects the SEC to complete shortly a review of the company’s registrations of exchange offers for its 2003 and 2004 maturing public debt.  Even if there is a substantial take up of the exchange offers the asset sales will still be concluded and any surplus cash will be used to reduce other debt.

EBITDA excluding Orient-Express Hotels in the first quarter was $41.4 million compared with $31.9 million in the year earlier period.

Mr James B Sherwood, President, said that he felt comfortable with the company’s outlook.  The drop in fuel prices, favourable decision on the rail appeal, strong growth in container leasing, expected large profits from asset sales and lower interest costs upon the retirement of public debt would all improve the company’s profits.  He said that he expects the value of the company’s 14.4 million common shareholding in Orient-Express Hotels to rise, and when it is sold at much higher prices than today it would provide substantial cash for debt reduction and new investment.  He said that the challenges of the company are to renew its rail franchise in 2005 and to replace profits lost from the sale of the Steam Packet Company and in this latter connection the company is exploring several interesting opportunities.

He concluded by saying that he has recently purchased for his personal account common shares in the company.


It is understood that an announcement concerning the sale is likely to be made sooner rather than later. There had been some speculation in press that suggested the sale could take up to a year, though information reaching Irish Sea Shipping suggests that this is unlikely.


The reinstated Victoria Fountain which has been restored by the Dún Laoghaire Harbour Company was rededicated at a ceremony Tuesday, 13 May. 


The March detention list is now on line at the MCGA web site. Three of the vessels were detained on Merseyside. Two at Liverpool and one at Runcorn.


LOCH PORTAIN  entered Alfred Basin, Birkenhead at around 08:15 on Wednesday, May 15 and departed presumably for trials 09:23.


SALMAID arrived on the Mersey on May 12 to remove the MoD moorings used by HMS INVINCIBLE during the Battle of the Atlantic commemorations.

NEWTON departed from North Western Ship Repairers Bidston Dry Dock around 07:00 on May 15 and proceeded to Alfred Basin before departing.


VAL DE LOIRE - Western Morning News reports that  a woman who was lost overboard when returning to the UK from Spain has been named as Emma Blackwell, 31, from Plymouth. 

A passenger aboard the Val de Loire, she was on the aft deck with others when she somehow fell overboard on Friday. French coastguards, fishing vessels and the Val de Loire carried out a four-hour search. Her body has not been recovered. 

The vessel was on its way from Santander to Plymouth. Steve Dunne, spokesman for Brittany Ferries, said an investigation into the incident had been called off. "We offer our condolences to the family," he said.

May 10

Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Kevin Bennett, Ian Collard and "others"


This weekend's update has been posted early due to the fact that I will be undertaking the SUPERSEACAT TWO Irish Sea triangular voyage on Sunday May 11.  A further update is likely on Wednesday or Thursday.

SEA CONTAINERS \ Isle of Man Steam Packet Company

LADY OF MANN - As at May 7 the LADY was likely to be refloated in Canada Graving Dock in the middle of next week. Work on painting the port side seems complete and painting of the starboard side continues. One rudder remained to be refitted.  Four small  windows on each side right forward (two on each deck each side) have been removed for replacement. 

Quite a lot of on board deck work remains to be done. Some serious work on lifeboat davits is in progress - back to red lead paint level. All the life rafts (as well as the fast rescue boat) have been removed for test/maintenance and some of the lifeboats are still ashore whilst the davit work is done. The anchors and chains are still in the bottom of the dock.


LAGAN VIKING - a correspondent reports that on the afternoon of Saturday May 10, LAGAN VIKING was reported to be down to one engine in bound nine miles from Liverpool Bar. However, ship was able to restart second engine. A request for tugs to stand off when berthing followed. 


When Cammell Laird collapsed in the wake of the COSTA CLASSICA fiasco two years ago, many feared that the historic Birkenhead shipyard could be sold off for redevelopment.

An attempt by Cammell Laird management to secure the North Yard as a base for the newly formed North Western Ship Repairers was frustrated by a higher bid from A&P. 

The south yard, which was never owned by Cammell Laird plc,  has remained in the ownership of BAe Systems, though it has been leased by Cammell Laird plc for the construction of the COSTA CLASSICA section and more recently by North Western Ship Repairers for a contract to lengthen a SeaCore floating platform.

This weekend it was revealed by the local press that Mersey Docks & Harbour Company had made a bid to acquire the south yard with a view to leasing it to North Western Ship Repairers.

Unfortunately MD&HC has been out bid by the development company Stanton Marine of Birkenhead which intends to use the 60 acre site for commercial and residential development. BAe systems going as far as naming Stanton Marine as the preferred bidder. 

Hopefully the plans for redevelopment could fall foul of Wirral Borough Council's planning department that wishes the site to retained as a ship yard. If the erecting shop and slipway were lost the expansion plans of North Western Ship Repairers would be frustrated and the prospect of large ship construction on the Mersey would be lost for ever. 


The Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA) announced on May 8 that 19 foreign ships were under detention in UK ports during March 2003 after failing port state control safety inspection.

Latest monthly figures show that 13 foreign ships were detained in UK ports during March 2003 along with 6 other ships still under detention from previous months. The overall rate of detentions compared with inspections carried out over the last 12 months is 7.0% which is identical to the 12 Month rate to February.

The ships detained in March included the following:

 An Antigua and Barbuda general cargo vessel, 2740 GT, with no radio transmission and reception facilities on the distress alert frequency 2187.5 kHz.

 Four vessels for not being able to launch lifeboats, ranging from seized davits, crew unfamiliar with launching procedure and one case when the lifeboat descended uncontrolled due to a defective brake mechanism.

 Five vessels all with defective fire flaps and corroded vent trunkings. One a 906 GT, Cyprus flag vessel had 24 recorded deficiencies including a complete breakdown on the ISM Safety Management System and was released for a single voyage to a repair yard.


The Falmouth Packet reports that Cornwall Ferries, part of the King Harry Steam Ferry Company Group, are keeping their fingers crossed that a planning decision later this month goes in their favour. If Carrick council planners fail to give permission to the National Maritime Museum for a park and float at Ponsharden in time for the proposed summer opening in June, the matter could end up in court and a number of people will be likely to lose their jobs. 

L1040025.JPG (64263 bytes)
BUCCANEER one of the former Isles of Scilly Passenger Launches acquired by Cornwall Ferries at King Harry passage in April.

Cornwall Ferries, headed by Tim Light, also fears that more job losses could be on the cards from other marine related companies wanting to share the park and ride site. Plans for the park and ride at Ponsharden have been on the cards for some years and were expected to come to fruition next month. The commercial arm of the maritime museum have taken a 125-year lease from the county council on the site which will also be used for boat lay-up, boat construction, storage and training, creating up to 50 or more jobs. But a hic-cup in the planning application, controversy over the number of parking places to be made available and the operational times of the park and ride, along with public access, have caused a delay. If planning permission is not given at a Carrick council meeting later this month the whole summer season could be jeopardy. Mr Light finds himself caught in trap not of his own making having won the contract from the maritime museum. His company has invested thousands of pounds in setting up the park and float contract, staffing and equipment. On the strength of being awarded the contract he bought a number of classic boats in which to ferry passengers to and from Falmouth. He also arranged for a bus service to be laid on from the site to the town centre and staff had been taken on in preparation for the service beginning next month. 

He said everything possible was and had been done to satisfy the planners and allay any fears local residents may have had over the development. If it all went wrong he could see the issue ending up in court. But Mr Light said he remained excited about the prospects of providing a new style service in Falmouth and helping to bring business to the town. Last minute plans were in hand including signing for the approach roads to Falmouth. Everything was in place, he said. "Cornwall's marine sector is growing and our infrastructure has to grow with it," he said. "The situation is serious and I am keeping my fingers crossed." Carrick council meet on May 21 and a decision on the park and ride is expected although strict conditions concerning opening hours and access are expected to be attached.


The Cornishman reports this week that Environmentalists have warned that chemicals and heavy metals which they claim could cause cancer, reproductive disorders and liver disease, could have leaked into the sea from the wreck of the stricken RMS Mulheim near Sennen Cove. Richard Hardy, of Surfers Against Sewage, said samples taken from the vessel showed "substantial quantities of heavy metals and the presence of PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls)" which are potentially harmful to humans.

He criticised the Environment Agency saying it should have taken an immediate sample when the ship struck rocks more than five weeks ago and made the results public.

He claimed the samples taken by SAS and analysed at Exeter University showed the ship's cargo of 2,200 tonnes of waste plastic included PCBs - suspected carcinogens which could also cause skin ailments, reproductive disorders and liver disease.

He said SAS had learned that the cargo was allegedly not sampled before it left Ireland and that it was travelling to a hazardous waste landfill site in Germany. He claimed that the agency should have worked faster to contain the spillage.

But an Environment Agency spokesman said the ship's cargo was sampled twice - once before it left Cork in Ireland and soon after the disaster - and that it presented no risk to people's health.

He said that although the plastic was bound for a hazardous waste site, it was not classified as toxic and would have been used as a separating layer between toxic substances.

But Mr Hardy said: "We are extremely concerned about the long-term impact this incident will have on the Land's End marine environment. We are disappointed that the Environment Agency did not take immediate samples from the hold and have not made these available for public scrutiny.

"As there are PCBs present then it's likely that the other nasties, like dioxins, could exist in a cargo that is over 2,000 tonnes in weight and this is a worry."

Dr Paul Johnstone, of Greenpeace Research Laboratories at Exeter University, said: "The levels of PCBs and heavy metals present in the cargo are environmentally significant and have the potential to cause a widespread impact in this sensitive marine environment."

But a spokesman for the Environment Agency said that under EU trans-frontier shipment of waste regulations, the cargo of plastic was sampled in Ireland before it set sale for Germany.

He said samples taken in Cork were found to be non-hazardous, although low levels of PCBs were found. He added that PCBs were insoluble in water and only posed a risk when mixed with oils.


VAL-DE-LOIRE - It is reported that a  Devon woman is feared dead after going overboard from the ship on Friday May 9. The 31-year-old from Plymouth had apparently been enjoying a drink before the incident aboard the ferry sailing from Santander to Plymouth.

She was on the aft deck of the VAL DE LOIRE with others before she somehow fell overboard just after midnight. The weather conditions were reportedly fine at the time.

The ferry crew was alerted and the captain stopped the ship and ordered an immediate search of the area. The French coastguard also scrambled a search party including helicopters, and local fishing boats joined in.

But the four-hour search failed to find the woman. Detectives from Devon and Cornwall police are interviewing passengers to find out exactly what happened.

The ferry docked four hours late in Plymouth at about 16:30 BST. The woman went overboard as the ferry was off the coast of Finisterre, northern France.

A Brittany Ferries spokesman said the woman was not swept overboard by a wave and the matter was in the hands of the police.

May 06

Acknowledgements: Ian Collard, and "others".
SEA CONTAINERS \ Isle of Man Steam Packet Company

SUPERSEACAT TWO As noted on yesterday's news update, SUPERSEACAT TWO will sail Liverpool - Dublin - Douglas - Liverpool on Sunday May 11 departing from Liverpool Landing Stage at 08:15 and arriving back at 19:15.

It is therefore possible to make a very unusual voyage on this vessel on May 11 as a result of this schedule change. A triangular tour of the Irish Sea is available offering just over 300 miles of sea travel for only £30.00! 

Go to online bookings use code MP/RF6 and just enter Liverpool to Dublin and Liverpool to Dublin return.

Computer automatically routes your return trip - Liverpool Via IOM. The reason for the Douglas call is extra return vehicle traffic created by the Rousch Manx Rally to be held over the weekend.

Over 300 miles of sea travel for just £30. There are not many bargains like that!

A voyage report will appear on Irish Sea Shipping in due course.


It is estimated that over 100,000 people visited Liverpool and Birkenhead for the BA60 Commemoration this weekend. 

The warships departed Merseyside today. 

May 05

Acknowledgements: Ian Collard, Gary Andrews, Tommy Dover, Kevin Bennett, "Pugwash 1307" and "others".


Apologies for the lack of an update on Sunday, May 04. I have been trying to do too much this holiday weekend and basically ran out of time. The additional postings on Saturday evening should be some compensation. The next update will be on Wednesday, May 07.


The final Commemoration of the Battle of the Atlantic was held on Merseyside this weekend. Although it was on a much reduced scale than the 1993 Review and Commemoration it appears to have captured the public imagination and has been very well attended. 

Whilst it is appreciated that the number of veterans continues to fall as the years pass, it is unfortunate that this is the last time such an event will be held on Merseyside.  Consequently it is possibly the last occasion that a number of significant naval vessel from a number of nations will gather here at one time for public inspection.

One wonders why the event cannot be maintained on a ten yearly basis?  Some may consider it a glorification of war, but really it serves to act as a point of remembrance for all those who died in a key event in world history, irrespective of whose flag they served be they at the time friend or foe. 

BA60 has served as a point of reconciliation too. Nobody in the dark days of the 1940s would have imagined that a German warship would come to Merseyside to take part in the 1993 and 2003 Battle of the Atlantic commemorations. Those of us who are too young to remember WWII but who recall the years of the political Cold War between East and West would probably also have found it unbelievable twenty years ago to think that in 2003 we would welcome with friendship significant warships from the Russian and Polish Navies to our port or even Britain. 

In this day and age when  many young people look on war as nothing more than a computer game, and fail to realise the consequence on real people.  An occasion such BA60 can be used to generate interest, inquisitiveness and instil some respect for those who fought in such conflicts often in appalling conditions, many paying the ultimate price.  

Though the number of survivors of the conflict continue to fall we should continue to remember them and perhaps there should be another commemoration in 2013?

 for Irish Sea Shipping's coverage of the Battle of the Atlantic 60 Commemoration.


The Ocean Liner Society - Ship Show, sponsored by Ships Monthly Magazine,  will be held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel on Saturday May 11. The hotel is conveniently located next to the Sea Containers Terminal at the Pier Head. 


The SHIPS OF MANN site has been updated with some interesting pictures of the LADY OF MANN in dry dock.

SEA CONTAINERS \ Isle of Man Steam Packet Company

SUPERSEACAT THREE departed West Langton at 08:18 on Friday May 2, arriving Prince's Landing Stage at 09:12. She departed 09:30 with 18 persons on board reported to Mersey Radio. ETA Tallinn - Estonia 21:00 on Sunday May 4 going via west coast of Scotland. She reported passing C22 at 09:48. She had run engine trials the previous day after departing from A&P. An observer notes that that she only appeared to be running at 16 knots during engine trials, as only 2 engines were running.


There appears to be significant additional booked traffic which will have the following effects on Steam Packet schedules over the weekend 9 - 11 May writes Jenny Williamson.

9 May - SEACAT ISLE OF MAN is scheduled for an additional 14:00 Douglas to Heysham . Presumably block-booked and not available to the public she will return around 16:45 Heysham to Douglas.

11 May - SEACAT ISLE OF MAN is scheduled as an additional 23:00 Heysham to Douglas 
Presumably block-booked and not available to the public she will sail at around 20.15 Douglas to Heysham.

Coincidentally, and possibly in connection with the same traffic, on 11 May SSC2 is re-scheduled to leave Liverpool at 20:30 and Douglas at 23:59.

There is an additional round trip to Heysham on Thursday 8 May - 14.00 Douglas to Heysham in the booking computer, and presumably a block-booked 16.45 Heysham to Douglas with Rally traffic.

We have researched the knock on effect to Irish sailings as a result of these extra UK slots.

There are no sailings in the Booking computer Douglas to Ireland on either 8 or 9 May, but there are Belfast - Douglas sailings operated by SEACAT ISLE OF MAN at 23:00 on both dates.

The interesting one is the explanation for SUPERSEACAT TWO's delayed departure from Liverpool on 11 May. She is now in the computer for 13.15 Dublin - Douglas, and will then presumably take rally traffic Douglas - Liverpool before picking up her 20.30 Liverpool -Douglas.


Mersey Ferries have published a new guide book entitled "Cross the Mersey". Case bound with 112 pages it represents exceptional value for money at only £4.95. Profusely illustrated with new and interesting photographs which have an artistic tendency, mainly in colour. The text is informative, and unlike some books which are aimed at the mass market, the enthusiast should find something of interest in this book.

Online booking facilities are available for Manchester Ship Canal and other Special Cruises..


In the last few weeks Irish Ferries parent company Irish Continental Group plc have been associated with several rumoured bids. First there was an offer to buy the Cenargo ships from Administrators, which was apparently rejected. 

Last week the rumour mill suggested that Irish Ferries might make a bid for the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company.

This week the ICG rumour is that the company may make a bid to enter the airline industry with a bid for Aer Lingus!

WICKLOW & ARKLOW NEWS from Tommy Dover

Coasters calling this week at Wicklow included FIONA MAY and HEMO. KILQUADE is still operating on the West Coast with the Air Corps. Wicklow sailing club yachts were lifted into the water on Saturday following the winter lay-up.

The Wicklow RNLI "D" Class Inshore Lifeboat has gone off station for an overhaul, being replaced by relief boat D-425 STRICKSON.

At Arklow a Danish coaster called to discharge clay from Teignmouth, Devon during the week.



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