NOTES & NEWS
Please note that your Web Master will be away between August 23 and 30 visiting the Isles of Scilly and Plymouth for Navy Days. During this period all communication should be via text or voice messages to mobile: 07973 363 370.
ISLE OF MAN STEAM PACKET COMPANY
BEN-MY-CHREE: HALF A MILLION MILES AND A STEAM PACKET RECORD BREAKER
The Isle of Man Steam Packet flagship BEN-MY-CHREE, (Manx Gaelic for ‘girl of my heart’) has sailed into the record books with a faultless record of reliability in the first six months of 2004. Since her arrival in July 1998 she has sailed over 500,000 nautical miles and continues to add to the Steam Packet’s reputation as being the ‘Island’s Lifeline’.
A 100% record, despite a challenging and gruelling year-round schedule of twice-daily return sailings between the Island and Heysham every day except Christmas Day, puts her in a class of her own.
Hamish Ross, Steam Packet Managing Director said, ‘Without a doubt BEN-MY-CHREE is one of the most reliable vessels ever operated by our Company throughout its very long history. Her reliability record since her arrival in 1998 has been excellent. She is a fine vessel which, with her carrying capacity and undoubted reliability, has played a major part in our Company’s success in recent years.
Built in Rotterdam at a cost of £24m the BEN-MY-CHREE was purpose built for the Isle of Man market which has seen dramatic increases in carryings by sea since 1996. A most versatile vessel, she is able to carry a mix of passengers, cars, coaches and freight of all sizes and types.
A further investment of £1.5m. was made in the vessel this year with the completion of a major project extending her passenger accommodation. This work has created the potential for the vessel to carry an additional 200,000 passengers annually.
In 2005 The Steam Packet will celebrate its 175th anniversary as the oldest continuously operating passengers shipping company in the world.
NORSE MERCHANT FERRIES
LINDAROSA had a short period off service for maintenance this week at Liverpool. Her sailings were covered Tuesday to Friday by VARBOLA which normally operates on the Heysham - Belfast service.
STENA SEAFARER departed Canada Graving Dock on Wednesday August 11 following refit.
This week the company announced that it is to upgrade capacity on its Birkenhead-Belfast service in 2005 by chartering two new 26,500 grt Ro-Pax vessels. The two ships are currently under construction at the Visentini shipyard in Italy and will be delivered to NorseMerchant in July and December 2005.
NorseMerchant Group Chief Executive, Derek Sloan, explained this is just the first step in re-launching NorseMerchant as a significant force on the Irish Sea:
"This signifies the start of our five year growth plan, which involves investment in vessels, terminals and systems. Our strength is our route network, which we plan to develop to its full potential, and the addition of these new vessels to our fleet represents major progress in this regard.
"We are currently talking to a number of shipyards about constructing new purpose-built vessels for our Birkenhead - Belfast service, with expected delivery in 2007. We wanted to upgrade our fleet before then, and these two new Visentini vessels will provide us with a perfect interim solution, coming into service in 2005. We are chartering them for an initial three-year period."
According to Managing Director Phillip Shepherd, the two ships will offer extremely high levels of driver and passenger comfort on the Belfast route:
"In addition to overnight Pullman seating, the new ships will offer berths for approximately 500 passengers in en-suite cabins. This gives them a passenger capacity of almost double that of our existing ships, LAGAN VIKING and MERSEY VIKING. Consequently, they will have more spacious public areas including dedicated passenger decks and superb on-board facilities.
"With a service speed of 23 knots, they will greatly improve scheduling and reliability on the Birkenhead - Belfast route. This is particularly important for overnight and time sensitive freight cargo."
The addition of these new vessels to the NorseMerchant Ferries fleet will also allow the company to increase its passenger capabilities on its Birkenhead-Dublin service. LAGAN VIKING and MERSEY VIKING, which have proved to be exceptionally popular Irish Sea vessels, are to be switched from Belfast to the Dublin route, thus restoring a full twice-daily service for both passengers and accompanied freight vehicles.
Phillip Shepherd welcomes this development too: "We have recently restored the passenger service on our Birkenhead - Dublin route using our Ro-Pax Brave Merchant. We are very pleased with the response we have received to date and our customers can now look forward next year to a full Ro-Pax service, matching the service currently offered on Birkenhead - Belfast.
"LAGAN VIKING and MERSEY VIKING will suit the Birkenhead - Dublin route perfectly and we will be free to redeploy BRAVE MERCHANT elsewhere. From a freight perspective, this switch will increase capacity by up to 20% on the route, and will provide a full driver accompanied service. Consequently the introduction of these new vessels will bring significant benefit not just to our Birkenhead - Belfast route but to our Birkenhead - Dublin route too."
The replica emigrant ship will be operating a number of day trips and three day voyages during the second part of August. The ship will also visit Cóbh and Dún Laoghaire over the next two weekends. For details of fares, times of opening for public inspection visit www.jeaniejohnston.ie.
F.T. EVERARD & SONS
ALACRITY [454grt] work has been undertaken during the past few days to remove remains of the vessel which ran aground at Portheras Cove, Cornwall in 1963.
Inaccessibility precluded salvage, and the ship began to break up. In 1982 a Royal Marines exercise saw the wreck being blown up. Unfortunately that only had the effect of scattering debris.
This year larger sections of the vessel have surfaced following storms which have potential safety implications.
To remove the hazard PORTREE II - the former Caledonian Steam Packet Company car ferry, now operated as an offshore support and heavy lift vessel by MoJo Maritime of Penzance was contracted to bring equipment to the beach to remove more sections of the wreck.
Mac Johns of Mojo Maritime Ltd, which was contracted to clear the beach, said: "We have been dealing with this particular wreck since 1987, but this was by far the biggest piece we have removed.
"As a result of its size the only way we could get it out was to excavate it using a digger."
With no road access to the beach Mr Johns decided the only way to get machinery on to the beach was to land it at low tide, which had the potential to be a very tricky operation.
"I've got the experience of doing this sort of job before, but it doesn't get any easier - it can be a very difficult operation," said Mr Johns.
The team from Mojo also cleared around half-a-ton of wreckage that had accumulated at the top of the beach.
"All in all it was a very successful operation," said Mr Johns.
Some time ago it was revealed on Irish Sea Shipping that following refit the WOODCHURCH would be renamed SNOWDROP the name carried by a former Wallasey Ferries vessel.
Following her extensive rebuild WOODCHURCH appears to carry lightly welded plates bearing the name which could obviously be removed quite quickly to perhaps reveal something else.
However, to add to this intrigue it was noticed when travelling on the vessel on Saturday August 15 that the emergency procedure notices carry the words TSMV WOODCHURCH on yellow tape. Quite clearly discernable on close inspection is the name TSMV ROYAL DAFFODIL beneath!!
Could it be that a swapping of identities could follow? Or could it be that they had too many ROYAL DAFFODIL notices made?
You are welcome to come to your own conclusions!
PENINSULAR & ORIENTAL STEAM NAVIGATION COMPANY
The company's interim results published this week reveal that loses for the ferry operations reported an increased loss in the usually weaker first half of the year. Loses rose from £25.1m from £19.9m.
The result includes the Ferrymasters business which, as in 2003, was approximately break- even. The prior year result included a £4.1 million non-recurring charge following an EC requirement to repay previously approved state aid relating to the Portsmouth–Bilbao route.
The underlying result was therefore £9.3 million lower than the prior year. Excluding the Irish Sea routes that were sold in March 2004 and Ferrymasters, net revenue (turnover less direct variable costs) declined by £16.7 million compared with the first half of 2003. Freight volumes grew by 1% despite the reduction in capacity on the Short Sea but average net freight rates reduced 8% year on year.
The decline in rates started in the second half of 2003 and continued into the early part of 2004 before stabilising during the second quarter. Tourist vehicle volumes were down 5% year on year, mainly attributable to the Short Sea. Average net tourist vehicle rates increased 6% year on year although significant price competition has developed in the summer period. Passenger numbers decreased in line with the reduction in tourist vehicles and the net on-board spend per passenger fell sharply because of the impact of the rise in cigarette prices following the increase in French tobacco duty towards the end of 2003. As a result, net revenue generated from on-board sales was down by 21%.
The £16.7 million decline in net revenue was only partially offset by cost reductions. Vessel operating costs before depreciation were reduced by £8.3 million by operating one less ship on the Short Sea from April 2004, and by switching to a "lite-nights" service on that route. These savings were reduced by higher fuel costs (£1.7 million) and the costs of operating a new fast craft on the Portsmouth-Caen route. Port and overhead costs were down by £4.1 million, reflecting the benefits of the back office integration during 2003. Depreciation increased by £1.3 million. Hence profit reduced by £9.8 million. Including the Irish Sea routes that were sold and Ferrymasters, the underlying result was £9.3 million lower.
The conclusions of the ongoing fundamental business review are expected to be announced on 28 September. The review is focused on achieving a major improvement in the profitability of the business and will include a reassessment of the carrying value of Ferries' assets, which include goodwill of £105.1 million as at 30 June 2004
CORK INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY
CILL AIRNE - the former Port of Cork passenger tender now owned by the Cork Institute of Technology is being offered for sale by auction at noon on Thursday September 09.
The auction takes place at Imperial Hotel, South Mall, Cork. She is being "sold as seen"
Details available from Dominic J Daly, Auctioneer, Pembroke House, Pembroke Street, Cork, Tel (353) 21 4277399.
The vessel was designed by the marine Architects responsible for the River Mersey Ferries and looks very similar in design, though was built in the early 60s by Liffey Dockyard, Dublin.
Her slightly older sister BLARNA who has been based in the USA for many years was also recently advertised for sale by US shipbrokers.
Unfortunately these two vessels were built just as the trans-Atlantic liner trade was collapsing and in many ways were constructed too late.
MANCHESTER SHIP CANAL
Two people were taken to hospital after a chemical escaped from a container in Runcorn docks on Tuesday. The cargo was being unloaded from the tanker CORAL ACROPORA [operated by Veder Rederijzaken of the Netherlands] when the gas was discharged at about 1150 BST.
The gas, vinyl chlorine monomer, was discharged into the air. It dispersed and no-one outside the immediate area was endangered. The two injured people were taken to Countess of Chester Hospital, in Chester as a precaution.
The incident was classified as a "cloudburst", which means it was treated as a major incident by the police, fire and ambulance services.
The problem followed at leak in a cooling valve which caused the auxiliary engine room to flood taking on a reported 1,200 tonnes of sea water.
The withdrawal of the ship has caused major disruption given the fact that she serves several routes during the week.
Latest news suggests that the ship should be back in service from Tuesday.
This is how the story has been reported in Ireland and the UK:
From: Irish Independent 14 August 2004
HUNDREDS of Irish holidaymakers heading home from France will have travel hundreds of extra miles this morning because their planned sailing from the port of Roscoff has been cancelled.
The tourists were scheduled to catch the 10am ferry PONT-AVEN to Cork arriving there this evening. But the Brittany Ferries 41,000 tonne flagship has been forced into dry dock in Brest for major repairs after its auxiliary engine room was flooded with 1,200 tonnes of sea water when a leak occurred in a cooling valve.
Last night the tourists - many with young families and tired after long car journeys - were being diverted to St Malo and Caen where it is hoped to accommodate them on services to the UK.
The holidaymakers will then have to travel across Britain and catch ferries from Swansea, Fishguard and Holyhead adding hundreds of extra miles to their journeys.
Brittany Ferries last night confirmed that it has had to cancel planned sailings into and out of Cork today. The engine room mishap has also forced the ferry company to cancel sailings from Plymouth to Roscoff and to Santander in Northern Spain.
The damaged valve was spotted on Tuesday during routine maintenance work while the ferry was in port in Plymouth.
It is estimated that between 2,000 and 3,000 passengers have had their holiday plans hit by the breakdown.
Britanny Ferries accepted that people would be upset but said: "The reality is that Brittany Ferries is annoyed that this has happened in the middle of the tourist season.
"What we've found though is that people understand that this is an outside problem and that the safety of a vessel cannot be compromised."
Brittany Ferries said it is trying to contact as many affected passengers as possible to make alternative travel arrangements, either with other ferry companies or by re-routing through the UK.
"When we found out on Thursday, we sat down straight away and started contacting passengers. Anyone we have numbers for we are ringing, " said spokesman Roddy Guiney.
However he admitted that Irish people holidaying in France or French people visiting here will extremely difficult to contact.
"The likelihood is that hundreds of these passengers will turn up at the ports today but no boat will be there for them.
"There will be people who won't be reached but we're optimistic that if they are holidaying, they will see the story in the newspapers or hear it on the radio," he added.
Any passengers who do not want to use alternative arrangements are being fully refunded. The company said they will also make ex-gratia payments to customers for incontinence.
"It's very hard to quantify the monetary value of stress caused and time lost for somebody whose holiday has been cut short," said Dermot Jewell, Chief Executive of the Consumers' Association.
"Granted this is an unforeseen problem but I would expect - and so should the passenger - some sort of compensation or free travel in the future."
The PONT-AVEN, which can hold 2,200 people, 650 cars and 20 lorries, was commissioned earlier this year amid much fanfare. It is the first northern European car ferry with facilities normally found only on cruise ships, including an open deck pool with retractable glass roof.
Brittany Ferries said it is optimistic the vessel will return to full service next week but it is believed the passenger and freight backlogs will take over a week to clear after that. Passengers booked on this evening's Cork-to-Roscoff sailing who have not already made alternative travel arrangements should ring the company's office at Ringaskiddy on 021-4277801.
From: BBC Radio Cornwall:
Repairs to a ferry company's £100m flagship which has only been in service for five months are going to take longer than first thought.
Brittany Ferries' ship PONT-AVEN was taken out of service at Millbay Docks on Tuesday after a cracked cooling valve let water into auxiliary engines.
Now in Brest , France , for repairs, she will not be ready for the Plymouth to Spain route on Sunday as hoped.
Management hope to ready for a sailing to Roscoff next Tuesday.
BBC South West Business Correspondent Neil Gallacher said: "To lose their brand new £100m flagship at the height of the season is embarrassing, but a lack of information is making the situation worse.
"There's no information whatsoever about the travel changes on the Brittany ferries website, and passengers are being asked not to ring the company either because this is jamming the call centre."
The firm has said it will call passengers who are affected.
From Western Morning News - August 13
Brittany Ferries is thought to have lost around £5 million from the breakdown of its flagship vessel, the PONT-AVEN, business leaders claimed last night.
The new £100 million luxury ship broke down at Millbay Docks in Plymouth on Tuesday causing a number of crossings to France and Spain to be cancelled.
Yesterday it was finally moved out of the port's only berth, allowing some services to France to resume. At around lunchtime the vessel set off to sail to Brest in France, where it will undergo more repairs on its cooling system
A spokesman for Brittany Ferries said: "The engines are now working and the ship will sail to France for more repairs. We do not have the resources here for commercial ships like the PONT-AVEN."
During a routine check on Tuesday, engineers found a crack had appeared in a cooling valve and the engine room rapidly filled with water.
The water was pumped out overnight with the help of the Ministry of Defence and Devon Fire Brigade, and the damaged valve is being examined.
Two further crossing have been cancelled, as the vessel remains out of commission. The departures from Plymouth to Roscoff, that were to have been operated by PONT-AVEN, at 9am this morning and 11pm tonight have been cancelled.
Tim Jones, chairman of the Devon and Cornwall Business Council said the incident would have cost the company in the region of £5 million in total.
He said: "It's a huge body blow to the company and it could not have come at a worse time. It's a PR calamity. It's their flagship vessel which has been surrounded by publicity.
"Brittany Ferries is a big company in Plymouth and we feel a lot of sympathy for them. It's going to take an awful lot of PR to get back on track but the ship's quality, capacity and speed will help."
Since the PONT-AVEN left the ferry port, all departures for Roscoff on board one of Brittany Ferries' other ships - the Duc de Normandie - will continue as normal.
Brittany Ferries' staff are contacting passengers booked on the cancelled PONT-AVEN services and re-booking those wishing to travel on other crossings. Those not wishing to change their arrangements are being given a full refund.
The spokesman added: "We aim to re-book all affected passengers on our services and we are giving free on-board accommodation, subject to availability, to those booked on an overnight crossing from a port other than the one they were originally booked on."
On Tuesday the 2pm Plymouth to Roscoff sailing - which was booked out to its 2,400 capacity - was cancelled. Wednesday's 1pm crossing from Plymouth to Santander, Spain, was also cancelled causing chaos to the 1,800 passengers booked on the service.
Thousands of holidaymakers have been inconvenienced throughout the last three days, some have been forced to cancel their holidays.
Others have travelled to Portsmouth or Poole to catch other ferries. It is hoped that the PONT-AVEN will resume normal service next week.
However the company said that this cannot be confirmed until investigations have been completed. Any passengers booked on affected sailings in the next few days who wish to cancel are being given the option of a full refund.