The Irish Sea Shipping Archive

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


January 2004

January 31

Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Ian Collard, Adrian Sweeney, John Williams and "others"


Additional updates were posted during the course of the week. Please check "What's New" for details.


BEN-MY-CHREE work continues in Bidston Dry Dock. The stern ramp has been refitted, though apparently at this stage not the flap. 

What looks like the tops of two stairwell covers can now be seen on the promenade deck. 

No painting of the accommodation extension had taken place by Saturday morning. The ship is due back into service of late next week.



Revised plans for a larger multi-storey car park at Liverpool's Princes Dock have been approved by the City Council as more and more city centre parking spaces disappear beneath a wave of new development.

A taller building with four additional half levels providing an extra 168 car parking slots will now be built at the City's premier waterfront location, keeping pace with accelerating interest in the 11.7 hectare site and easing pressure on Liverpool 's diminishing parking capacity as sites are redeveloped.

Construction of the Princes car park, a multi-million pound project, is due to start by March and should take about 10 months to complete. The development will now have 18 parking levels and 752 spaces, plus a ground level day nursery and retail outlets.

Said Ian Pollitt, Chief Executive of Princes Dock Development Company, the Mersey Docks subsidiary responsible for the river front renaissance: "We are delighted that the City Council has welcomed the construction of an enlarged multi-storey car park. The development comes in response to the growing demand at Princes Dock and it will help ease the pressure on space in the city."

Princes Dock Development Company is in discussion with potential building contractors for the car park project.

The multi-storey building is the latest of a number of projects now rapidly falling into place in the programme of transformation for Princes Dock as a sophisticated place to live, work and relax. Earlier this month, the Development Company announced the first retail outlet for the site, a Coffee Union coffee shop on the ground floor of Twelve Princes Dock, Liverpool's largest speculative new office building.

The enlarged car park will look substantially the same as the development which won earlier planning approval. The identity of the company to operate the crèche, which will have 592 sq metres of inside space and an additional outside play area, is expected to be announced shortly.

Discussions are also under way with possible operators for the 652 sq metres of retail space, including a household High Street brand name. The retail facilities will front a public piazza to be created between the car park and a new pedestrian entrance to Princes Dock from Liverpool 's Regent Road .

Three office blocks with 223,000 sq ft of space and a hotel are already in use at Princes Dock. Eventually the site will provide more than a million square feet of office accommodation, two more hotels, luxury residential apartments and leisure and retail premises from 500 sq ft to 25,000 sq ft.

[JHL's COMMENT: One hopes that this car park will be open for the retrieval of vehicles when vessels arrive at the Landing Stage!]  


The Dún Laoghaire Harbour Company is hosting an exhibition to showcase the proposed developments for the Carlisle Pier at the terminal this weekend.

Artists impressions of the designs and further details can be found by visiting their web site.

Unfortunately the four designs shown appear to come from the same school of architecture that came up with the designs for the Fourth Grace at Liverpool. In other words they look totally out of keeping with the surrounding area. It appears as though another pleasant waterfront is going to be spoiled.


Plymouth-based DML, operators of the Devonport Dockyard, confirmed earlier this week that subject to board and legal agreement it was poised to take on a lease of the Appledore shipyard.

Hundreds of redundant workers from Appledore Shipbuilders returned to the yard on January 29 to find out Devonport Management Ltd's plans for its future.

Emerging from the meeting, which lasted about 30 minutes, the workers said they had not found out any more than had been announced on Tuesday.

Pete Brown, of Northam, who had worked at the yard for the last eight years as a storeman driver, said: "They told us what was happening. DML seems quite positive and hopefully some work will be found sooner rather than later."

Another worker, who did not want to give his name, said: "All we can do is hope. There's not any other work in this area."

Shop steward Ken Davis said: "DML told us they will be going after orders for naval vessels and superyachts, but they won't be able to take people back for a while."

Peter Whitehouse, of DML, said there was nothing more that the firm could say other than they had revealed in their statement on Tuesday


JONATHAN SWIFT has been out of service since Tuesday evening. The vessel sustained damage when departing from Holyhead on the 20:15 sailing. Sailings are not expected to resume until Tuesday February 3, in the meantime passengers are being switched to the ULYSSES.


The Herald Express reported this week that the council have refused to back down over plans to hike up cheap ferry fares on the River Dart. And now they are looking at increasing the cost of a motorcycle trip across the river on Dartmouth's Lower Ferry.

Despite a protest petition of more than 500 signatures councillors agreed to press ahead with moves to increase the cost of foot passenger concessionary tickets from £9 to £12 for 40.

However they agreed a lesser increase for car concessionary tickets - putting the price up by just £1 to £17 for 20 tickets rather than the £20 they had been looking at.


The Falmouth Packet reports that two non-paying passengers on the St Mawes ferry are enjoying the high life after melting the hearts of the skipper and his crew.

But this pair of freeloaders are not of the human variety but seasonal visitors from colder climes known as turnstones.

The two birds have been christened Fred and Freda by St Mawes Ferry skipper John Brown (Topper) and are a regular feature aboard the ferry that runs between Falmouth's Prince of Wales Pier and St Mawes.

Fred and Freda normally board the ferry for a breakfast of crumbs, as it berths alongside the pier in Falmouth at 08.30am.

Often, after this, the pair take the ferry across to St Mawes, where they spend the day before catching the last ferry back at 4.15pm.

How they know the time the last ferry back to Falmouth is still somewhat of a mystery, but their names can regularly be found on the passenger log that is submitted to the ferry office each day.

Toby Budd, operations director for the ferry company, said: "The turnstones are relatively popular in the UK at this time of year. We expect them to return to the Antarctic around May. There they will breed before returning to Cornwall in September.

"They have done this now for the last three years and we are hoping that they will return again in the autumn.

"Turnstones are known for being tame creatures, many people say this is because they are born in the sub Antarctic where there is very little human activity, but there is no doubting the bond that they have formed with the crew of the St Mawes Ferry."

Also known as ArenariaIinterpres, turnstones have a mottled appearance and spend most of their time creeping and fluttering over rocks, picking out food from under stones. They can also swim under the water.

Toby added: "I think it's a lovely story and one that is very popular with our passengers. Although the two birds often spend the day in St Mawes they have been known to be more adventurous. To give you an example, this week the couple took the first boat across to St Mawes in the morning, they then returned to Falmouth on the ferry for lunch before returning to St Mawes in the early afternoon. During the afternoon they took a round trip on the ferry before returning again to St Mawes and catching the last ferry back to Falmouth.


A correspondent has drawn attention to a very interesting web site. Reflections is a site dedicated to images of Merseyside and elsewhere from the early and mid 20th Century.

There is strong nautical feel with features on the Docks and Cammell Laird, as well as many general and nostalgic images. Browsing the site is an interesting experience and what is more if a print takes your fancy you can order a copy. Click on the link below to visit:


January 28

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

BEN-MY-CHREE has gained the traditional IOMSPCO funnel black bands. Work continues on the passenger accommodation extension as can be seen from the latest photographs taken by Ian Collard. As can be seen from the photographs the "Isle of Man Steam Packet Company" lettering was in the process of being burned off on Tuesday January 27. 

SUPERSEACAT TWO transferred from A&P wet basin to #5 Dry Dock on Monday January 26.

PONTUS was moved to A&P on Wednesday January 28, it had been due to move on Monday but delayed due to problems with a tug. On Monday MERSEY MAMMOTH visited A&P Birkenhead with the original Pontus gangways as deck cargo.


HovCraft.jpg (27205 bytes)An RNLI Hovercraft is to undergo trials at New Brighton, with a view to it being permanently stationed there as an additional life saving aid, to compliment the Lifeboat.

The trial area will cover the whole of the River Mersey, up to Runcorn, up the coast to  Southport and across the Liverpool Bay into the River Dee.

The Hovercraft will arrive for its trials on Monday 9th February 2004 and will be at New Brighton until approximately 12th March. Although it won't be out every day.

 It is the intention of the R.N.L.I. to hold meeting with all interested parties e.g. environmentalists, to assure them of the R.N.L.I. commitment to the preservation of both the peace and security of the local bird sanctuaries and breeding grounds and allay any fears relating to the Hovercraft operating over local terrain, beaches, marshes, mudflats etc.

 Areas of sensitivity will be identified and any Hovercraft action in these areas will be limited to ' threat to life incidents ' only. Experience in the operation of the other R.N.L.I. Hovercraft has shown that disturbance to marine life both in the water and on the terrain is minimal.

Everyone at New Brighton Lifeboat Station are sure that the trials will be a success and are excited at the prospect of being able to operate such a valuable life saving aid, which can only be a very great asset to this area.



At 17.32 on January 25 Falmouth Coastguard heard on medium frequency an emergency call in French by the five crew of the French Trawler DUGUESCLIN.

The five crew sounded tetchy and nervous and obviously in some difficulty. The Coastguard immediately requested their position and along with the French Coastguard were able to establish the position of the vessel as 34 nautical miles off St. Anthony's Lighthouse in Falmouth.

Shortly after the Coastguard received an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) hon 406 MHz which was registered to the same vessel.

The position given was equidistant between Falmouth, Fowey and the Lizard and the Falmouth and Fowey lifeboats were requested to launch. A rescue helicopter from the Royal Naval Air Station at Culdrose was also scrambled to the scene.

The Coastguard began broadcasting a mayday relay into the area and several merchant vessels responded including the EUROPEAN AMBASSADOR which began steaming towards the datum point. The crew of the vessel then reported seeing a target on their radar and the Coastguard redirected the helicopter to that point.

A life raft containing all five men was located in the water and all five were winched to safety and flown to Treliske hospital for attention. No serious injuries have been reported.

No reason for the sinking of the trawler has been given and the Marine Accident Investigation Branch have been informed. At the time of the incident the weather was moderate seas with winds of 30 knots gusting up to force 8.


The Royal Navy's two remaining Island class fishery protection vessels will be handed over to the Bangladesh Navy this week, ending an eventful era spanning four decades.

HMS Guernsey and
Lindisfarne are handed over on Thursday (January 29) in a colourful ceremony at Portsmouth Naval Base.

The event marks the end of a fascinating chapter in the history of the Royal Navy. Seven
Island class vessels (all named after British islands) were launched in the mid to late 1970s as a result of the 'Cod Wars' with Iceland . It was found that the use of frigates in a confrontational fishery protection role was less than ideal, so purpose-built vessels designed on ocean-going trawlers were ordered.

First off the slipway was HMS Jersey in 1976, followed by
Guernsey , Orkney, Shetland, Lindisfarne , Alderney and Anglesey . For the next three decades they policed the UK 's 200-mile fishery limits and protected offshore energy assets.

Four of the five vessels already decommissioned are in service with the Bangladesh Navy, while HMS Orkney transferred to the
Trinidad and Tobago Coast Guard.

Paying tribute to the
Island class, Cdr Tim Johnston, Commander of the Fishery Protection Squadron, said: "Since their introduction into service, the Island class vessels have been the back-bone of the Fishery Protection Squadron and have widely put the RN into the public eye, both at home and abroad. They have been at the front-line of patrolling the UK 's 200-mile limit and have offered a reassuring presence to both fellow sea-farers and the offshore installations around the UK 's coast."

Thursday's hour-long ceremony will involve ship's companies of the two vessels and the incoming Bangladesh Navy crews. Mr A H Mofazzal Karim, High Commissioner for
Bangladesh to the UK , will inspect a guard of officers and ratings from Guernsey and Lindisfarne , followed by a service of thanksgiving and decommissioning.

The Reverend Iain McFadzean, the Navy’s Chaplain for Mine Warfare and Fisheries Protection, will conduct the service and the hoisting of Bangladesh Navy flags on the ships will round off the ceremony. Once officially handed over, HMS Guernsey will be known as BNS Turag, and HMS Lindisfarne as BNS Sangu.

About 200 guests are expected to attend and the Royal Marines Band,
Portsmouth , will provide music. Replacing the 'Islanders' are three larger River class vessels - HMS Severn, Tyne and Mersey - which have entered service over the past 12 months.


Caledonian MacBrayne's MV Caledonian Isles, the ferry serving the island of Arran, has returned to station having completed her annual overhaul which included a major refurbishment of customer facilities.

The ship, one of the biggest in the CalMac fleet, built in 1993, took up her normal service on Sunday, having completed her overhaul at the Garvel in Greenock. The new facilities, which cost £150,000 represent a major improvement in facilities for local residents and tourist alike on the route, which carried nearly 702,000 customers in 2003, an increase of 6.3% on the previous year .

The forward lounge of MV Caledonian Isles, previously known as "The Blue Room" to regular travellers for obvious reasons unconnected with football, has been completely revamped with new seating arrangement and colour scheme.

The bar area in the ship has also been revamped. Robbie Brown, Cal Mac's Route Manager in charge of the Ardrossan to Brodick route said: "For some time we have been hoping that we could address some of the issues which we had in terms of offering customers a more comfortable passage and a set of facilities which enables them to have a wider choice of snacks and light refreshments, over and above the more substantial fare still on offer in the
main cafeteria. The additional facilities, which have been developed along with catering Manager Drew Collier and his team, will reduce queuing in the cafeteria and I know that the customers who have used the service early in the week have been very pleasantly surprised to find such a dramatic change of ambience.  The forward lounge is more or less unrecognisable to those who knew it with a new serving area and completely new set of seats. The changes have been well received so far and will hopefully attract even more people to the island."

Children in Arran have now been invited to play their own part in the changes through a competition to name the newly refurbished area on MV Caledonian Isles. Robbie added: "We are asking children in all of the island 's schools to come up with a name for the redecorated area. The idea is that we can attach a name which is representative of the whole island and the community, without being linked to a specific village or part of the island. The wining entry will receive CalMac tokens to the value of £50 (fifty) for
use on our services and we are asking schools to make their submissions to the Brodick office by Saturday, February 7.

January 24

Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews,  Ian Collard, John Williams, Tommy Dover and "others".

Those visiting the site for the first time since last weekend should check out What's New as there have been a number of mid week updates.


BEN-MY-CHREE moved into the Bidston Dry Dock following the departure of P&O's EUROPEAN DIPLOMAT. On Saturday January 24, it was noted that large windows have now been cut in the new port side accommodation module, which appear to offer passengers excellent views. On top of the module, rails are being fixed in place to provide a much enhanced promenade deck. - One wonders though, whether on completion, the upper promenade deck, which was only usually open during daylight hours will be retained or closed. 

The large dent which has been in the port quarter for some time has been cut out and appears to be in the process of replating. Painters were noted applying a new coat of paint to the funnel which is now bereft of Legs of Man logo. 



Passenger figures compiled by the Harbours Division for December 2003 at 28,038 show a 0.7% increase on the figure for the same period in 2002 which was 27,849.

The total figure for 2003 at 659,212 passengers shows a 0.4% increase over the total for 2002 which was 656,567.

During December car traffic through Douglas Harbour increased by 4.2% from 8,297 vehicles to 8,642 vehicles.

The total figure for 2003 at 175,986 vehicles shows a 2% increase over the total for 2002 which was 172,597.

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


Minus 18%






Minus 3%






Plus 8%





For 2003 scheduled routes show the following changes in passenger numbers:-


Plus 8%






Minus 15%






Plus 4%






Plus 1%






Plus 1%






Minus 23%






Minus 35%





Director of Harbours, Captain Michael Brew comments:

"Another all round good year for harbour traffic. The 2003 passenger figure is the highest since 1984. 2003 saw all time record passenger figures for five of the months."

The comparative Ronaldsway Airport figures for 2003 showed 748,103 passengers being handled. This was an increase of 2.6% on the 2002 figures.


ISLE OF INISHMORE arrived at A&P Birkenhead on January 22 for her refit entering #5 dry dock which had been vacated earlier in the week by ULYSSES.


The NORMANDY will have a royal appointment with the Carnival-Cunard liner QUEEN MARY 2 when the world's largest liner visits Cherbourg on April 4th.

Current indications are that QUEEN MARY 2 will be berthed astern of the Irish Ferries vessel on its arrival in Cherbourg. 

Recognising the appeal which this may have for shipping enthusiasts, Irish Ferries are currently designing a special round-trip Mini Cruise fare for enthusiasts and clubs keen to have a close-up view of the new cruise liner.



Coaster callers during the past week included UNION EMERALD , ROGER , KORALLE , SCOT PIONEER , ANKE and ANKE ANGELA

Traffic in the bay included the coaster CLAUDIA C and the sailing ship JEANNIE JOHNSON southbound for a well deserved overhaul in Cork .

Wicklow sailing club has announced the date for the 2004 Round Ireland yacht race. It will start at 1400hrs on Saturday 26th June.

Wicklow RNLI stations ' Tyne ' class lifeboat ANNIE BLAKER has gone to Appledore to have a onboard system updated, relief lifeboat LORD SALTOUN will provide cover while she is away.


NOMADIC - the last surviving member of the Oceanic Steam Navigation Company fleet could be heading to Belfast.

The Harland and Wolff built passenger tender has served as a floating restaurant on the Seine in Paris since the 1970s. 

However, this week it was rumoured on the Liners List Yahoo Group that the vessel is being readied for loading onto a barge at Le Havre for conveyance to Belfast for preservation by Belfast Industrial Heritage Ltd.

References to the preservation project can be found on the following sites

Some of this web site material appears to be several months old. If anyone has any further information on the status of the project please email


Plans Underway in Plymouth for Navy Days 2004

The Navy Days event is being staged this year at Devonport Naval Base in Plymouth, Devon, over the August Bank Holiday weekend of Saturday 28, Sunday 29 and Monday 30 August.

There is a team currently putting together the programme of ships and events and although they are in the early planning stages of putting the show together we can tell you that this year the theme will be the UK Amphibious Force. There will be action displays which will include Royal Marine Commandos assaulting targets supported by a range of fast raiding craft, amphibious ships and a fleet of helicopters and combat aircraft.

As well as the exciting ship and aircraft displays there will also be all the usual favourites of massed bands, exhibits from a wide range of organisations, stalls and refreshments. There will be the opportunity to visit the developing Devonport Heritage Site with its many attractions including a Field Gun exhibition housed in the Tarred Yarn Store in the historic South Yard which details the history of the competition. On display are the winning trophies from the last competition held at Earl's Court in 1999 won by the Devonport team The museum holds many treasures from past times and another popular attraction will be open - the Napoleonic era working Hangman’s Cell - it is believed to be the only working gallows of its kind in the Country. Coach tours around the Naval Base will also be operating and it is planned to run water taxis from the Barbican area in Plymouth directly into the Base.

The Navy Days officer, Colonel Steve Cox explains: "We want to put on a really good show this year. It is the general public's chance to meet the men and women who provide a world class fighting force and to see ships, submarines and aircraft close-up. We also look forward to welcoming old comrades and enthusiasts alike. There will be something of interest for everyone."

Among the hardware on display will be nuclear-powered submarines, frigates and destroyers, amphibious ships and aircraft from the Fleet Air Arm. Navy Days also traditionally attracts other nations who bring their ships to Plymouth specifically for the event and a number of options are being discussed for 2004.

Navy Days 2004 will also commemorate the 60th Anniversary of D-Day and many veterans’ organisations have been invited to take part in a special event.

Further details will soon be appearing on the Royal Navy website with information about the event and how to book advance tickets. A telephone information line has been set up on 01752 553941 which will be updated regularly as new information becomes available.

January 21

Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Ian Collard, Philip Parker, Mike O'Brien, Tony Brennan, Sara Cass and "others".


MERSEY VIKING left Canada Graving Dock early on Monday January 19. With MERSEY VIKING coming back into service after a prolonged dry docking SAGA MOON stood down. SAGA MOON proceeded to NSL Bidston where she arrived at 22:00 on January 18 for repairs to port side hull damage sustained at Heysham around New Year.


EUROPEAN DIPLOMAT departed from NSL Bidston Dry Dock and proceeded to Vittoria Dock where she remained on January 20. Departure from Birkenhead was on Wednesday January 21.

EUROPEAN SEAFARER which had been covering for EUROPEAN DIPLOMAT on the Rosslare - Cherbourg service was reported back at Larne on January 19.


ULYSSES departed from A&P on the morning of Tuesday January 20 bound for Dublin where she arrived at 17:30 She  recommenced service with the evening sailing from Dublin to Holyhead.

ISLE OF INISHMORE spent January 21 at Dublin, her departure for A&P Birkenhead being delayed slightly until Wednesday evening to allow time for the blocks at A&P #5 Dry Dock to be rearranged. 

NORMANDY is currently operating on the Rosslare - Pembroke service. Mike O'Brien's Fishguard web site contains some video files of NORMANDY departing Pembroke on January 19.

To view the video files you first need to save it to your hard drive, then use
Windows Media Player (or similar) to watch it.


The saga of the Knott End Ferry which operated across the estuary of the River Wyre at Fleetwood continues as reported by Blackpool Today on January 20:

Cleveleys councillor has called for the leader of Wyre Council to resign following the decision to axe the Knott End ferry.

Coun John Traynor, who represents the Cleveleys Park Ward, accused Coun Alan Vincent of running Wyre into a financial mess and claims the council boss is asset stripping the borough.

He said: "Coun Vincent is gaining a reputation for ignoring the public and breaking promises.
"He is leading Wyre Borough deeper into the financial black whole which he himself created.       "He did the sums and he got them wrong. "When Coun Vincent took over as leader, Wyre Council was in the black. "Now the council is more than £1m in debt and getting deeper into trouble all the time."

Coun Traynor says sites in Fleetwood and Cleveleys, as well as such key services as the Knott End ferry, are being systematically targeted to be sold off to ease the council's debt problem.

He said: "Coun Vincent has said to me in the past, in front of the council, there is nothing in the borough he would not be willing to sell." Democracy     

The Labour councillor is furious at a gagging order imposed on him by the council in relation to the debate on the Knott End Ferry, due to take place later this week.

He said: "I understand protocol means I would be expected not to participate in the debate. "However, to prevent Fleetwood and Cleveleys councillors representing their constituents who have a major concern about the scrapping of the ferry is a negation of democracy. 

"As Coun Vincent is aware he and those who must obey him prevented debate taking place on a very spurious technicality. "This meant that the views and concerns of the residents of Fleetwood
and Cleveleys could not be articulated." 

Coun Traynor is upset the ferry debate will take place behind closed doors and that Fleetwood and Cleveleys councillors were not invited to attend a meeting between interested parties and Wyre MP Hilton Dawson.

He added: "A lot of people, particularly elderly, like to visit relatives who live in Over Wyre. The ferry takes two or three minutes, whereas to travel by public transport on the roads is a trauma.

"In a week when we are talking about putting men on Mars, it is incredible we cannot even cross a few hundred yards of water. "This impacts so many different areas of Wyre life. The ferry is an
easy way for cyclists to enjoy the rural roads of Over Wyre "This has been a part of Fleetwood's culture for nearly 200 years. Yet Coun Vincent has scuppered it with the stroke of a pen and no consultation."      

Coun Vincent said: "We have a capital investment programme planned for Cleveleys and Wyre.
"We have to finance the many services we provide and have to look at all the options we have in place to fund improvements over the next few years. The money either has to come from central government, which is unlikely, by raising council tax or by selling some properties. "Far from resigning I will be staying in place to ensure Wyre Council pushes through the capital plan and to make sure money goes to where we think it is most important.

"As far as asset-stripping goes, I just cannot see what Coun Traynor means."


It is understood that the UNIQUE which was detained by the authorities in Dublin has been renamed by her new owners.  She has now been renamed OLGA and is expected to depart Dublin on Friday.

January 17

Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Alex McCormac, Tony Brennan, Tommy Dover and "others"


As you may have noticed some experimental changes have been made to the page top menus and the web site home page. 

As far as the Home Page is concerned it was felt appropriate to change the buttons leading to the "Contents" and "What's New" pages due partly to the fact that the BEN-MY-CHREE which appears on one of them now looks rather different from an aft three quarters view!

The page top menu has also been of some concern recently as it has grown bigger. This is partly due to the inclusion of links considered to be of importance to the coverage area of Irish Sea Shipping. 

For a week or two some consideration had been given as how to include another "local link", without increasing the menu size.

As an experiment it has been decided to withdraw all non ISS Web Links from the page top menu and store them on a separate page. To give them prominence they deserve a prominent ISS Hot Links item has been installed. Clicking on this leads to a dedicated listing of these important local links.

By the Spring it is envisaged that the editing software for the site will be upgraded to MS Front Page 2003 which will undoubtedly lead to further presentation changes.

Feedback from visitors on presentation is always welcome.


Though a list of scheduled updates is posted on Irish Sea Shipping, the amount of material submitted is dictating a more flexible approach to updates, and an examination of the "What's New" page will reveal that a number of new updates have been posted during the past week, including a News Bulletin.


LADY OF MANN - details of this year's special sailings are now available. As in previous years she will operate sailings to/from Fleetwood on June 15, Llandudno on June 16 and 18 and Whitehaven on June 17. Full details

BEN-MY-CHREE work on the ship has continued rapidly this week. The module superstructure is now in place with the starboard module being lifted on the afternoon of January 16 by MERSEY MAMMOTH. Several galleries of photographs documenting the addition of the new accommodation module can be found in the Isle of Man Steam Packet Photographs Section.


ISLE OF INISHMORE is due at A&P Birkenhead #5 dry dock on January 22. The dock is currently occupied by ULYSSES which is nearing the end of its refit.


FEEDERCADET - the ro/ro freighter was involved in a mishap when attempting to leave the port on January 14. Photographs and details.


SIR TRISTRAM is shown in this week's listing to be due on Merseyside on January 19 bound for Canada Graving Dock for refit. At present MERSEY VIKING remains in Canada undergoing a prolonged dry docking.



Coaster callers this week included RIKA and UNION EMERALD. Traffic in the bay included ARKLOW CASTLE , MARGARETA and CLAUDIA C . Irish lights tender GRANUAILE was working in the area, she anchored overnight in the bay.


Vessels noted in the port on the 14th were the cable layers COASTAL SPIDER and FJORDKABEL, and the tug AFON CEFNI. ASGARD 11 is on the slip having her annual overhaul. The relief Trent class lifeboat DORA FRASER MCDOUGAL, Arklow's Trent is off station for a overhaul. The MISNEACH is laid up in the port, the ex Castletownbere ferry is now going to operators in Scotland.


Two bodies were recovered from heavy seas after a French trawler sank off the Cornish coast on January 15.

Two coastguard helicopters, two RNLI lifeboats and various other vessels joined the search for the BUGALDE BREIZH, which went down 14 miles south west of Lizard Point.

A total of five crew members were aboard the 24-metre vessel. The other three crew members are still missing.

Rescue services were alerted when Falmouth Coastguard picked up a distress beacon at 12:38 GMT from a French trawler.

It was quickly followed by a warning call from a second French fishing vessel, which reported seeing the unnamed French craft go down.

A rescue helicopter from the RNAS Culdrose, near Helston, was on the scene
by 1320 GMT.

Martin Collins, from the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, said: "I can
confirm that an RNAS Culdrose aircraft airlifted two bodies from the water."

The bodies were flown to the Royal Cornwall Hospital in Truro by the aircraft, which refuelled and resumed the search for the other crew members.

The spokesman said that two empty life rafts had been spotted at the scene and helicopter crews had also reported being able to see the hull of the boat in the water.

An RAF rescue helicopter from Chivenor was also sent to the scene, as well as the Lizard and Penlee lifeboats, and the coastguard emergency towing vessel ANGLIAN PRINCESS.

A number of fishing vessels joined the search, along with a Dutch submarine, numerous commercial ships and a car carrier.

The Royal Navy Fishery Protection Vessel HMS TYNE, which was on fishery protection patrol in the Falmouth Bay area, was also on the scene, acting as the co-ordinating vessel from Falmouth Coastguards.

Swells of up to 25 feet high were reported in the area and winds gusting to 48 knots.


The likelihood of the Fleetwood - Knott End ferry service resuming looks very unlikely as the "The Citizen" reported on January 16, 2004.

Hopes are sinking fast for the survival of the historic Fleetwood to Knott End ferry service after council officials said its future was "very, very doubtful".

The announcement came after Wyre councillors met with members of Preesall Town Council, local residents and Wyre MP, Hilton Dawson, for talks on Friday, January 9.

It was hoped that the meeting -- called by Mr Dawson -- would discuss alternative ways of funding the existing project, including introducing further attempts to find a larger ferry operator.

But speaking after the meeting, Wyre leader, Cllr Alan Vincent said: "Previous experience tells me that it is very, very doubtful we can find an operator and do a deal that stacks up financially for the council tax payers of Wyre."

As reported in The Citizen (December 18) the 100-year-old service was withdrawn after councillors decided there was a lack of interest and high running costs were proving "too great".

Plans to create a new-look ferry slip and £100,000 purpose-build vessel were also shelved despite Lancashire County Council already commissioning a naval architect to start work on the project.

Mr Dawson said: "The Fleetwood to Knott End ferry is one of only two river ferry services in the entire North West region. It should be preserved and modernised as a sustainable form of transport and as an important part of the regeneration of both Fleetwood and rural Wyre.

"The ferry has also been proven to have had a beneficial effect on tourism in the borough with around 15,000 passengers using it over the last two years.

"I'm sure that, subject to further council approval, the scheme can attract further funding from bodies such as the North West Development Agency and provide the eventual service operator with a very lucrative business."

The future of the scheme will now be debated at the next meeting of Wyre's Physical Environment Committee on Thursday, January 22.


The former EDINBURGH CASTLE of Lowline which traded under the Direct Cruises banner out of Liverpool in 1998 looks as though it could be heading for the breakers.

The ship subsequently passed to Cammell Laird plc on the collapse of Lowline and was chartered out to the now defunct Premier Cruises. 

Following the demise of Premier and the Cammell Laird group the ship has been laid up. A report appearing on Liners List on January 17 suggests that a deal to sell the ship on January 12 failed. If the vessel, which is offered for sale at US$6 to 7 million, is not sold soon it will be sold for scrap.


HMS ECHO, one of the Royal Navy’s two new multi-role Survey Vessels, will sail on Friday 16 January on her first deployment to the Gulf.

The ship will initially operate off the South Coast of England for final preparations before heading to the Gulf where she will gather hydrographic data as part of the
United Kingdom ’s continued support to the region. This area has not been surveyed to modern standards for many years and HMS ECHO will continue the work that HMS ROEBUCK began during her deployment last year to update admiralty charts to ensure the safe navigation of the waters for both civil and military users.

HMS ECHO has a ship’s company of 72 and operates a crew rotation system whereby 48 members of the crew are onboard at any one time while the remainder are on leave or undergoing training back in the UK . This allows the ship to be available for operations for 334 days per year, averaged over 25 years. The ship is not scheduled to return to Devonport until next year.

Commander Martin Jones, Commanding Officer of
HMS ECHO, said: “Following the building process, trials and training, it is tremendous to be deploying to prove our worth and conduct some vital military data gathering.“

HMS ECHO is equipped with an all-electric propulsion system and is fitted with the latest integrated survey systems along with advanced navigation and communications equipment. The ship carries a 9.5 metre survey motor boat named Pathfinder which is fitted with its own multi-beam echo sounder and side scan sonar, allowing it to act fully independently of the ship to gather its own survey data.

As well as undertaking specialist surveying tasks, the ship is designed to work in world-wide front-line operational roles, including support for mine warfare and amphibious operations, representing a major enhancement of the capabilities of the Royal Navy Survey Squadron.

HMS ECHO arrived in her home-port of Devonport in December 2002. She was formally commissioned into the Fleet in March 2003 and accepted into service in October 2003.

January 14

Acknowledgements: M.J. Richardson, Stephen Marsden, Mike Pryce, Michael O'Connell, Alex McCormac and "others"


Late on January 13, news broke that A&P Group had been named the preferred bidder for the former Cammell Laird south yard construction hall by owners Reddington Finance.

Having only in early November, spectacularly blown up the cranes on the construction slipway outside the hall, Reddington had indicated that the construction hall could become a "Snowdome". This would be just part of a number of leisure attractions planned for the Cammell Laird south yard site. 

A&P Press Release follows:

UK ship repair specialist, A&P Group, has reached agreement with Cammell
Lairds Waterfront Park to promote and use the old Cammell Laird yard at Birkenhead.

The new building hall, which was built during the seventies by Cammell Laird, then part of British Shipbuilders, was, at the time of construction, one of the most modern covered new building slipways in Europe. 

In the hall Cammell Laird built a number of vessels for the Royal Navy as well as commercial vessels such as the STAFF tankers. At that time it was destined to make Cammell Laird one of the most sophisticated new building companies throughout the world. However, the new building industry in the UK collapsed - with the majority of the world's ship owners looking to the Far East (Japan and South Korea) for new ships at half the price.

Following the collapse of British Shipbuilders, BAe took over the ownership
of the facility and used it as a module builder for its main yard at Barrow-in-Furness. Although unused for ship building since those days, the facility was maintained and utilised on many occasions for fabrication of modules and sections for other UK shipbuilders and repairers still active in the new building and conversions industries.

Although the name Cammell Laird was resurrected as a ship repairer during the
nineties, it was unable to sustain a long term future and thus closed, with A&P taking over the repair facilities during early

2000. Since that date, A&P has developed that part of the shipyard, which originally comprised three graving docks, into one of the most efficient ship repair centres in the UK,
if not Europe. The yard specialises in ferry repairs (fast and conventional) and is now an integral part of what A&P offers the market as one of Europe's leading ship repair companies.

The covered facility, since the closure of Cammell Laird, was to be part of the local ''waterfront' development, which includes a snowdome facility. However, meanwhile, an agreement has now been reached between The Cammell Lairds Waterfront Park and A & P Birkenhead whereby A&P Birkenhead will be the 'preferred' user of the facilities to explore the market for ship building. 

Reddington, the owners of the Cammell Lairds Waterfront Park, said this marketing research by A & P will run in parallel with the master planning exercise for the regeneration of the area.

Today's Lloyd's List  indicated that A&P Group is known to be involved in two newbuild projects co- ordinated by the Shipbuilders and Shiprepairers Association. 

One of these projects is a  double hull "green tanker", up to 120 m long from McDuff Ship Design, targeting single hull phase-out opportunities.

Another partner is James Fisher, which has six small single hulls reaching 25 years' of age within three years. Fisher is under no obligation to build in the UK, and indeed has two 12,800 dwt ships on order from South Korea's Samho. However, it has recently postponed
a two plus two order for 4,000 dwt tankers.

JHL's COMMENT: It was interesting to note that this evening the Liverpool Echo was claiming an exclusive with the A&P story. However, members of the Irish Sea Shipping's associated Yahoo Group "Irish Sea Ships", were made aware of this news just before midnight on January 13. This was thanks to an ISS correspondent who drew to attention to a story in Lloyd's List. This  in turn led to the A&P Press Release page. Proof that amateur nautical news hounds can beat the mainstream press !


Due to essential maintenance on the shore ramp in Holyhead Irish Ferries have amended there sailing of the Isle of Inishmore on the Dublin - Holyhead route from Wednesday 14th January to Tuesday 20th inclusive. 

The ISLE OF INISHMORE will be using the Stena ramp in Holyhead. Departures from Dublin will be at 11:30 and 23:30 returning from Holyhead at 05:00 and 17:00. 
The first amended departure will be Dublin - Holyhead  on Wednesday January 12th at 23:30hrs normal service is expected to resume Dublin to Holyhead on Tuesday January 20th at 21:05.

January 10

Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Melanie Richardson, Stephen Marsden, Ian Collard, Tony Brennan, Kevin Bennett and "others"

There has been a rolling programme of updates during the past week, you should check "What's New" to ensure you have not missed anything.


BEN-MY-CHREE the heavy work got underway on the morning of January 10 when MERSEY MAMMOTH started to move the steel work for the accommodation extension as well as removing the stern ramp. By the evening the port and starboard superstructure had been extended back along the weather deck up to the funnel. On this will obviously rest the accommodation module. 


JONATHAN SWIFT arrived on Merseyside on January 8 and berthed at West Langton before transferring across to A&P Birkenhead #7 dry dock on Friday morning.


Work has now commenced on the Peel Harbour Water Retention Scheme in the Inner Harbour at Peel.

The work will consist of building piled jetties out from the East and West Quays with a 12 metre wide Flap Gate opening in the centre and a fish pass going under the jetty on the West side. On completion, a pedestrian swing bridge will be installed over the Flap Gate entrance.

The initial work will consist of pilings extending out from the East Quay to incorporate the building of the jetty and Flap Gate structures. During this phase of the works the navigable channel into and out of the Inner Harbour will be reduced to 10 metres width and will be controlled by vessel traffic lights placed on the corner of the West Quay displaying Red or Green Lights on a timed system for Stop and Go as appropriate. At particularly busy times the lights may be operated manually from the quayside. At certain times all vessel traffic movements may have to cease for Health & Safety reasons to protect workers on the construction site. In this case as much notice as possible will be given to Harbour users.

Navigation Lights Fl Red 3 sec. Will be placed on protective piles set North and South of the outer ends of the working area on the East side and Fl Green 3 sec. on the West Quay side during construction of the first phase of the works.

A line of buoys will be placed either side of the working area on the East side and vessels should not enter the area between these buoys and the structure. Floodlights will light the working area during the hours of darkness.

A fixed Red Lt is to be placed on a piled dolphin to be erected to the North of the East Quay jetty extension. This pile will effectively provide protection to the swing bridge when it is installed towards the end of the works programme.

The scheme is scheduled to be completed in February 2005 and is expected to cost approximately £3 million.


MOONDANCE.jpg (46157 bytes)MOONDANCE departed from Alfred Lock late on January 07 following refit at Bidston Dry Dock. 

However, she was in dry dock in Dublin on January 10 for attention to a propeller problem which was causing vibration.  The dry docking at Dublin was expected to last 24 hours. <photo Gwil Jones>


EUROPEAN DIPLOMAT is now in North Western Ship Repairers Bidston Dry Dock. 

EUROPEAN AMBASSADOR has now re-entered service and was reported at Rosslare on January 10.


North Western Ship Repairers have been awarded the refit contract for RFA SIR TRISTRAM with the vessel due mid to late January.


The Mongolian registered cargo ship UNIQUE recently detained by the authorities in Dublin has been sold

The cargo ship, which had been detained in Dublin Port, was sold for € 58,000 to a Greek buyer at an Admiralty auction in Dublin on January 09, 2004..

The ship was sold by order of the Admiralty Court after the International Transport Federation, which represents seafarers worldwide, had sought an order for sale.

It claimed that the crew of three Pakistanis and three Russians aboard were owed more than $20,000 in wages. They will be paid out of the sale money.

The ship had been searched for illegal immigrants by Customs officials when it originally arrived in Dublin Bay.

It was later allowed to dock in Dublin Port where it was eventually placed under arrest.


Work has started at the Port of Liverpool on a major new warehouse for cocoa and other commodities on the back of the first regular link with West Africa for more than 20 years.

B&P Commodities, the UK logistics provider for a range of importers of cocoa and other foods, is investing £1.5 million in the development of the dedicated storage facility at Seaforth Dock.

Work on the 7,200 sq m (75,000 sq ft) complex offering six independent storage units, is under way by Merseyside based Mazdon Construction, after B&P signed a 50 year lease with the Mersey Docks and Harbour Company.

Said Erik Brink, Managing Director of B&P Commodities: "This development at Liverpool is a logical step for ourselves, our customers and the trade in general. It makes economic, logistical sense and we are delighted that the various elements have been pulled together for the benefit of all."

Frank Robotham, Director of Marketing for Mersey Docks, described the development of the new commodities terminal and the re-establishment of a regular West African shipping service as a "major coup" for Liverpool.

"It's a great day for the Port," he said. "This substantial investment and commitment by B&P Commodities in the development of their dedicated facility has played a key role in the return of one of Liverpool's former traditional trading links and cargoes."

He said the Port was pleased that through B&P Commodities, it had the opportunity to work with Cadbury Schweppes and other major players in this particular sector of the food industry. "The new terminal re-affirms Liverpool's pre-eminence in handling the widest range of cargoes for UK food manufacturers."

The warehousing complex of two buildings each with three storage units, plus office accommodation alongside, is to be located adjacent to the main entrance to the Seaforth Container Terminal on a two acre site offering room for further expansion.

It is expected to be operational by April 2004, after Baco-Liner sailed into Liverpool with the first shipment of cocoa — the largest single flow of exports out of West Africa — to establish a scheduled monthly West African service into Liverpool with their specialist ships carrying containers on deck and barges of cocoa and other commodities within the hull.

Said Frank Robotham: "Baco-Liner has featured large among a number of major companies who have supported this important initiative. The outcome is the development of a significant service, trade and now, commodities facility.

"Already other cargoes from other sources for other users of soft commodities are using the temporary facilities operated at Liverpool by B&P while waiting for the new complex to come on stream," added Mr Robotham. "Cocoa and other food products are also now arriving in the Port in containers carried by lines such as Maersk Sealand and Mediterranean Shipping Company."

The transfer of cocoa traffic to Liverpool from south coast ports will also reduce congestion on Britain's trunk roads by eliminating more than 500,000 miles a year of trucking from the south to manufacturers in the North.


Work on the extension of the Prince's Landing Stage is expected to commence within the next three months on the first phase of the £10.5 cruise terminal project which should be fully completed in 2007.

Work on the Landing Stage itself should be completed by spring 2005. Liverpool City Council hopes that the provision of the facilities should result in around 40 to 50 cruise ship calls.


On January 8, 2004 a memorial service was held in Bantry Co. Cork to remember the 51 persons who died when the French tanker BETELGEUSE exploded and sank the Whiddy Island Terminal on January 8, 1979.


QUEEN MARY 2 - the ship was officially named by the Queen on January 08, 2004. An interesting coincidence not really picked up by the media was the fact that the date was just one day short of the thirty second anniversary of the loss of the redundant QUEEN ELIZABETH by then C.Y. Tung's SEAWISE UNIVERSITY in Hong Kong on January 09, 1972.

Interesting weather conditions are forecast for January 12 when the vessel is due to commence her maiden voyage with severe gales forecast.


PONT-AVEN From Spring 2004 the company's new cruise ferry, PONT-AVEN, enters service on the Plymouth to Santander route. 

The new ship will combine cruise comfort and design with an improved crossing time of just 18 hours - virtually half that of any other direct ferry service from the UK to Spain. The £100 million, 34,000 tonne vessel will carry 2,400 passengers and 650 cars with civilized schedules that allow passengers to enjoy dinner on board as they sail from British
shores and wake up to a leisurely breakfast as they glide effortlessly into Spain.

The ship will also operate on the Plymouth to Roscoff route, giving an improved journey time of just 4 and 3/4 hours for super speedy entry to the gateway of Brittany.

This stylish new vessel is the first northern European car ferry with facilities which were, until now, only found on cruise ships. For instance the open deck swimming pool with retractable glass roof and surrounding leisure facilities will offer a gorgeous rain or shine chill out zone to help passengers begin their holidays as soon as they board. 

Other on board features will include a range of scrumptious dining opportunities in elegant à la carte restaurants, bistros and tea rooms, a central atrium with panoramic lifts, an extensive shopping mall, cocktail and cabaret bars, two cinemas and a special leisure area for younger clientele.

As with everything else on board, cabin accommodation will also be of the very highest level. All 650 cabins match any good hotel and will be air-conditioned with full en suite facilities. Four classes of cabin will be available: Standard . Club Class . De Luxe . Commodore.

All, apart from standard cabins will be provided with a flat screen TV and comfortable seating. The luxurious Commodore cabins will feature wide patio doors that offer panoramic views and lead directly onto a private balcony.

The PONT-AVEN décor will reflect the artistic influences made famous by the distinguished French school of painters bearing the same name.


SYLVANIA / ALBATROS there appears to be some confusion over the fate of ALBATROS the former Cunard SYLVANIA. The veteran steamship which had been operated by Phoenix Reisen had been reported sold and heading to Alang for breaking around Christmas.

Earlier this week it appeared the ship which has been renamed GENOA had been sold and was heading to an undisclosed port in Asia for use as a floating hotel.

However, unconfirmed reports now indicate that this ship, once a familiar site at Liverpool has been beached for breaking at Alang on January 10.

January 07

Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Tommy Dover, Ian Collard, Michael Bracken, NSL, Jenny Williamson, Kevin Bennett and "others"

Bidston1.JPG (43811 bytes)BEN-MY-CHREE arrived at North Western Ship Repairers Repair Quay, at Bidston on Tuesday January 06 for her four week refit. Work includes the fitting of a new passenger accommodation module. The module itself was delivered to the ship yard by MERSEY MAMMOTH on Saturday January 03.

HOBURGEN [ex DART 5] of the Gotland Steamship Company has taken up service on the Douglas to Heysham whilst the BEN-MY-CHREE is refitting.


MERSEY VIKING - repair work on the ship which has been in Canada Graving Dock over the holiday period is taking longer than expected due to the discovery of damage to the ship's double bottom.

SAGA MOON is covering the Birkenhead - Dublin service to cover for BRAVE MERCHANT which in turn is providing cover for MERSEY VIKING.

VARBOLA is currently operating the Dublin - Heysham service and MERCHANT BRILLIANT - the Belfast - Heysham service.


ULYSSES arrived at A&P Birkenhead for refit on Monday at 21:25.

JONATHAN SWIFT which had been due at Canada Graving Dock will now go to A&P Birkenhead #7 and share the dry dock with the Mersey Ferry WOODCHURCH which is being extensively refitted over the winter.


ROYAL DAFFODIL is expected to enter either A&P Birkenhead Dry Dock after MERCHANT BRILLIANT departs or NSL's #4 [Monks Ferry] dry dock.


QUEEN MARY 2 anchored in Falmouth Bay on January 03 during a crew training voyage to practice emergency drills.

QUEEN ELIZABETH 2 a two night cruise from Southampton to Liverpool [departing August 28] will be offered in conjunction with the Liverpool Daily Post and Echo. Fare inclusive of coach to Southampton - from £221. 

Also in conjunction with the Daily Post Newspaper is a return sailing to Southampton [August 30] calling at Dunmore East, Cherbourg and St. Peter Port. Fares including return coach to Liverpool from £659.

Further details from Daily Post Travel Service, PO BOX 48, Old Hall Street, Liverpool L69 3EB.



SCOT VENTURE was the first coaster caller at Wicklow in the new year.

The tug ADA DOROTHY left the port, after spending Christmas tied alongside KILQUADE at the North Quay.

Wicklow lifeboat launched on New Year's Day for the annual wreath laying ceremony in Wicklow Bay, in memory of past members of the crew and sailors lost at sea from the town.


The coaster CONFORMITY loaded a cargo at the Arklow Roadstone jetty during last week.



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

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

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