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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


December 2004

December 26

Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Edwin Wilmshurst, Alex Mc.Cormac, Tommy Dover, Michael Pryce and "others".


LINDAROSA was noted by a correspondent off Onchan Head in Douglas Bay on Christmas Day.


NORMANDY - is to be moved to a flag of convenience. The move to reregister NORMANDY is reported to be in progress and has been condemned by the International Transport Workers Federation. The ship will be reregistered in the Bahamas.


PLYM II - The first of three new vehicle ferries, constructed for the Tamar Bridge and Torpoint Ferry Joint Committee by Ferguson of Port Glasgow,  entered public service on December 23, 2004 following the completion of certification by the Maritime & Coastguard Agency.

The ferry offers six vehicle lanes as opposed to the previous four. The centre lanes being wide enough to accommodate trucks of up to 44 tonnes. Unlike the previous ferries passenger accommodation is provided on one side only.

Local press reports indicate that the new ferry is much quieter than its predecessors. She is also faster reducing crossing times from 7 minutes to 5.5 minutes.


Further details have emerged of the £500,000 ferry being constructed for the Fleetwood - Knott End Ferry Service.

The vessel will be operated under contract to Lancashire County Council, by present operators Wyre Waste Management.

The new vessel will be equipped with water jets and a bow thruster. The design will provide for greater manoeuvrability and reliability which will enable the vessel to operate less favourable weather conditions. The vessel will also boast a steel hull, the present ferry has wooden hull and single screw.

To enhance reliability a stand-by bus is being considered for use in adverse tidal or weather conditions. As yet the new ferry has not been officially named. The local council is considering a competition to choose a name before the she enters service late spring / early summer.


Coaster caller's recently included  EMSLAND, SCOT RANGER, ANKE ANGELA and  STROOMBANK.

Traffic sighting's in the bay included a P41 Type Naval vessel northbound, the container feeder ship NORDSEE southbound, tanker BLACKROCK, EMSLAND, RMS BEECK, AUTOPRESTIGEBREAKSEA and the car carrier PACIFIC HIGHWAY southbound after delivering 2005 registered cars to Dublin .

A aerial survey was conducted along the coast from Kiloughter to Wicklow harbour by a A AS 355F-1 Twin Squirrel helicopter , also seen over the bay northbound was a Air Corp Dauphin helicopter.


SKUA - the 1960 built light vessel is being offered for sale. The vessel has been stationed at the Conningbeg and South Rock for the past number of years. She currently lies at Dún Laoghaire. CIL state that as "a consequence of advancements in technology the Commissioners of Irish Lights have no further requirement for their stand-by automatic lightfloat (former light vessel) Skua."

During her career SKUA has been on the "South Rock, Arklow, Blackwater, Barrels and Conningbeg stations. She has had one careful owner and now seeks a good second career or permanent resting place."

December 24



I would just like to take this opportunity of wishing all friends, correspondents and visitors to the Irish Sea Shipping Website a very Merry Christmas.

The next scheduled update will be posted on Boxing / St. Stephen's Day.

Please note your webmaster will be away for a few days next week from Monday morning to Thursday evening. Though hopefully I will not be off line as for part of that time I should be in range of a wireless internet network. If you need to get in touch urgently please use text or mobile. Please do not leave messages to be forwarded on the landline.


LADY OF MANN returned to Liverpool lightship on December 24 and proceeded to Alexandra Dock, Liverpool.


LINDAROSA departed from the Mersey after discharging at Twelve Quays and put to sea. It is understood she may have gone to an offshore anchorage, possibly off the Isle of Man.

LAGAN VIKING moved from Twelve Quays to Canada #3, berthing astern of BIBBY AQUAMARINE


December 22
Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Tony Brennan, John Lewis, Alex McCormac and "others"


Whilst this is the last scheduled update to be published before Christmas Day it is likely that a further update will still appear before the holidays. Please check back Christmas Eve around 19:00 for a further updates.


LADY OF MANN operated the first of her two seasonal sailings between Douglas and Dublin on December 21. For the first time the sailings were being offered as a day excursion with time ashore being allowed in Dublin. It is understood that her outward sailing was well loaded particularly with vehicles. However, after departing, she briefly had to put back to Douglas when a discrepancy in the passenger count had been noted. Two passengers who had checked in having failed to board. She eventually got away with the two missing passengers at around 08:30. Her next trip, which is also operating to day excursion timings will be on December 29, departing from Douglas at 08:00 and Dublin at 18:15.

SEACAT ISLE OF MAN a 74m 1991 built catamaran has appeared on the "Ship Sales" web site with an asking price of £4.5m. It is believed that this could be SCIOM.


EUROPEAN DIPLOMAT completed her final sailing for P&O on the Rosslare - Cherbourg route on December 19. The route being a victim of rationalisation of the P&O services around the British Isles. She arrived in dry dock at A&P Birkenhead on the morning of December 22, 2004. She has been reported sold to Celtic Link.


It appears that a new company Celtic Link has been established to take over the Ireland - Cherbourg service formerly operated by P&O. The company which is a consortium of Irish based businesses is reportedly headed by a prominent fishing vessel owner from Kilmore Quay. Celtic Link are believed to be commencing services on February 15, 2005. From the limited amount of press material that has appeared it looks as though Celtic Link will be targeting the livestock and agricultural produce export markets. It is not yet known if a passenger and private vehicle service will be offered. EUROPEAN DIPLOMAT has been reported sold to Celtic Link. However, it is not clear if this service will operate from Rosslare. Cork [Ringaskiddy] being another possibility.


LAGAN VIKING is expected to enter Canada Graving Dock on December 31st to renew her passenger certificate. There is a rumour circulating that she may be renamed LIVERPOOL VIKING in preparation for transfer to the Dublin route in 2005. Her sister ship is rumoured to be changing her name to Dublin Viking.


On December 21 the stopping up order for various rights of way in the St.Nicholas Place area of the Pier Head was confirmed.

This will allow for the provision of a second vehicle bridge to the landing stage and construction of a marshalling area for 102 vehicles on top of the floating roadway cut. The bridge will be capable of carrying coaches down onto the landing stage for conveying cruise passengers from the cruise berth which is due to be constructed next year.


NORMANDY resumes service on the France service from March 03 following her refit at Harland and Wolff, Belfast.

On-Board improvements will include new disabled cabins & facilities, new beauty-salon with massage suite

The company says the €1million refit, will give the ship a new look.

It is one of the most comprehensive programmes of improvements to passenger areas carried out on board the vessel. Throughout, public areas have been redecorated and refurbished. New windows have been fitted and restaurant areas upgraded.

Features include new provision for wheelchair access and dedicated cabins for disabled passengers. Another innovation sees the opening of a new beauty salon and massage suite.

New seating has been installed including additional cinema seats so more people can enjoy the movies on their sailing to and from France. In addition, much of the existing seating has been reupholstered in bright summer colours.

Below deck, a host of improvements have been introduced in the form of new catering equipment and other technical upgrades all carried out in preparation for the summer season.

ISLE OF INISHMORE was involved in the rescue of the crew of a Brixham trawler in the early hours of December 21. [see below].



Milford Haven Coastguard coordinated the rescue of three fishermen from a burning fishing vessel in the early hours of December 21.

The fishing vessel YVES MARIE AMIL from Brixham broadcast a mayday message at 4.00 am this morning requesting urgent assistance. There had been an explosion below decks and the 19 metre vessel which had three crew on board was now drifting eight miles south of St David’s Head.

Milford Haven Coastguard launched the St David’s lifeboat and scrambled a rescue helicopter from RAF Valley. A mayday relay message was also broadcast to all shipping. Two vessels responded, the second of which, the ISLE OF INISHMORE was close enough to be able to alter her course and assist. Once the ferry was on scene, she was able to use powerful lights to help the search. The ferry found the fishing vessel a short time later and then stood in the lee of the lifeboat, protecting it from northerly force 6 winds. The lifeboat took the three crew off their still burning vessel. There were no injuries.

Keith John, Milford Haven Watch Manager said:
“The three crew are now back at St David’s lifeboat Boathouse. The vessel, which is still ablaze and drifting in a southerly direction, will be dealt with this morning. This incident was challenging due to the very rough sea state at the time. We would like to thank the crew of the ISLE OF INISHMORE for their invaluable assistance with this incident.”


The Receiver of Wreck, together with the Mary Rose Trust, issued a warning today to those tempted to purchase objects on the internet auction house eBay, or elsewhere, that are listed as having come from the wreck of the Mary Rose.

The Trust states that such items are highly unlikely to have come from the Mary Rose, and if they are, they will have been acquired illegally. Anyone who sees such an item is advised to contact the Trust to ascertain provenance.

The warning has come as a result of a recent attempt by an individual to sell a cannon ball on eBay for over £5,000 claiming that it had come from the Mary Rose. The Mary Rose Trust were alerted to the sale by one of the divers who had worked on the excavation and knew that the Trust has a policy that all artefacts from the excavation are kept in the Mary Rose collection with many of them on display at the museum in Portsmouth. The Mary Rose is one of 55 sites in the
UK that are designated under the Protection of Wrecks Act 1973.

The Mary Rose Trust believed that the items must either be from another source, or have been acquired illegally, and passed the matter on to the Receiver of Wreck who has powers to seize illegally held wreck material and to investigate such matters under the Merchant Shipping Act 1995.

The Receiver of Wreck worked in conjunction with eBay, and with Hampshire Police Marine Unit, who confiscated 14 cannonballs from the premises of the vendor. These were later inspected by Curator of Ordnance at the Mary Rose Trust, Alexzandra Hildred, who confirmed that they had none of the features found on shot from the Mary Rose. Enquiries into the origins of the shot are still being conducted by the Police Marine Unit and it is believed they are 18th or 19th century in date and were recovered on the shores of the River Hamble.

The Receiver of Wreck, Sophia Exelby said:

“This joint operation shows that the Maritime and Coastguard Agency is willing and able to act on credible information received in relation to offences regarding illegally held wreck material. Although these cannonballs did not ultimately come from the Mary Rose, the principles of investigation and enforcement are the same and will be applied to any other such cases which arise.”

John Lippiett, Chief Executive of the Mary Rose Trust said:

“We are delighted that the Receiver of Wreck took swift action to investigate the claim that this iron shot was from the Mary Rose. There should not be any artefacts from the Mary Rose in private hands apart from a few curios made from Mary Rose timber recovered in the 1830s and we would always like to be alerted to any fraudulent or illegal sales


The Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA) announced this week that 10 foreign ships were under detention in UK ports during November 2004 after failing Port State Control safety inspection.

Latest monthly figures show that there were 6 new detentions of foreign flagged ships in UK ports during November 2004, along with 4 other ships still under detention from previous months. This represents a decrease of 3 new detentions in comparison to October. The overall rate of detentions compared with inspections carried out over the last 12 months is 5.9% which is a decrease of 0.3% compared to October’s 12 month rate.

Vessels detained in November include the following:

• a Union of Comoros, 1096 GT, general cargo ship on 08/11/04 for 3 days in Sheerness, Kent with 25 recorded deficiencies. The ship was detained because there was only one qualified rating available for night bridge watches and the watch rota system was such that the master and mate’s hours of rest were insufficient. The main engine had been down rated to below 375kW, however there was still no protection from fuel leakage as per SOLAS II-2 Part A Reg15 (2.12). An area of the engineroom deckhead had been “doubled” in the past, however the doubling was not complete and the fire boundary was not intact.
An additional qualified rating was sent to the ship, the master/mate’s rota was altered and repairs carried out and the ship allowed to sail.

• a Cambodian, 1430 GT, general cargo ship on 09/11/04 for 8 days in Hull with 23 recorded deficiencies. The ship was subject to a mandatory inspection as the target factor was over 50 and it was over one month since the ship was last inspected in the Paris MOU region. The Safe Manning Document was not valid for unlimited voyages. The ship had no UMS certification for the engineroom but only carried one engineer. The ISM procedures were defective regarding safe navigation and passage planning. The main engine high pressure fuel pipes were not double skinned and no leakage alarm was fitted. In general the deficiencies indicated a major breakdown of the Safety Management System. The ship was allowed a one off voyage to Riga where a re-audit was to take place and outstanding deficiencies rectified. The ship will be subject to mandatory inspections every month within the Paris MOU region whilst the target factor is over 50.

• a Belize, 3407 GT, general cargo ship on 04/11/04 for 9 days in Newhaven with 35 recorded deficiencies. The target factor was 118 and thus was subject to a mandatory inspection. Detainable deficiencies included operating a manned engineroom with unqualified rating, unable to make a test call on MF/HF DSC radio installation, no leak alarm fitted to generator HP fuel pipes, emergency air compressor inoperative, no record of hours of work/rest being maintained, charts expired and number of deficiencies indicate failure of SMS. Following rectification of deficiencies the ship was released from detention. It will be subject to mandatory inspections every month within the Paris MOU region until its target factor falls below 50.



Some interesting new photographs have come to light on the internet depicting the DUKE OF LANCASTER which has lain at Mostyn since autumn 1979. These photographs are interesting as they have been taken close to and in some cases on the open decks. Something which some photographers have found difficult due to heavy handed security.

Some "urban explorers" penetrated the security around DUKE OF LANCASTER at Mostyn and took some amazing close up photos, revealing details not seen on recently published photos. However, Please note that when visiting the first of the two links  these explorers use some strong language in their account which may offend some as a result of their encounter with "Security".

Use the link below and then use the side menu to find the Duke.

More recent Duke photographs including some deck views can be found at


As we are in the holiday period I thought I would draw attention to a group of interesting web sites and an associated forum.

Those who are interested in Industrial / Military / Transport history / archaeology will probably find themselves fascinated by the contents. There are also some bits with a nautical flavour.

These web sites cover abandoned buildings / facilities etc systematically documented by so "called urban explorers" even though some sites are very rural. Allow plenty of time as I have spent the best part of two days exploring links etc and viewing many excellent, atmospheric and in some cases eerie photos.

Here are some of them:

Simon Cornwell

Dark Places Forum & Albums

Abandoned Britain

December 18
Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Ian Collard, John Lewis, Tony Brennan, Martin Edmonson, Dick Clague and "others".



The next update is scheduled for Wednesday December 22. However, it is anticipated that there may be other updates on the run up to the Christmas Holiday. Visitors to the site should check "What's New" for details.


New signs have appeared at Liverpool Sea Terminal. The signs on the building and above the entrance to the Landing Stage passenger bridge are now white bearing the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company logo. All traces of SeaCat branding appear to have been removed. Surprisingly though the Irish Tricolour still flies almost a month after the withdrawal of the seasonal Liverpool - Dublin service was announced.


As mentioned in Wednesday's update, the Douglas Harbour Linkspan User Agreement between the Isle of Man Government and the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company was renewed at a sitting of Tynwald on December 14. The agreement runs until September 19, 2020 with an option to extend until 2026. The following summary of the debate which was broadcast on Manx Radio was provided by Dick Clague.


The tone of the debate was that the User Agreement has been a good thing - which has brought great benefit and commitment both ways -  so the willingness of the Company to extend its commitment was generally welcomed. It was also stated Dept of Transport had looked at the arrangements for West of Scotland and the Channel Islands and felt that the IOM model was better. Northlink got a mention of how not to do it.


  • The minimum frequency to NW UK ports is being increased from 764 to 936 round trips per year

  • A minimum daily Liverpool service is required from 1 April to mid Oct each year.

  • The company name/logo has to be maintained (even if the company changes hands)

  • The Company should include use of a fast craft in its fleet

  • The number of Special Fares on offer must be not be less than 50% of the number of passengers travelling the previous year. 

  • The Company is to work towards providing a website which must clearly show lowest available fares and some seat pre-selection must be provided.

  • freight provision must be increased from min 7000 lane metres/week to 7,800.

  • Investment requirement is £26 million by 31/12/15 (of which min £18m by 2012) - but company have indicated "much sooner" - clear indication that this will be a high quality/high capacity fast craft to replace both SCIOM & Lady.

  • All vessels to have full disabled facilities, open deck space, 1st class lounge, retail and quality catering. If not already on a new vessel then must be introduced at first refit

  • The company must continue to retain a management/administration presence on the Island  - 50% of the Board must be IOM resident and Board meetings must be held on the Island

  • A minimum spend on off-Island advertising is required (£300k) but it is inflation adjusted each year.

  • Special excursions must be operated to promote the IOM and a regular overnight passenger service must be maintained - but in both cases with the caveat that if the company can demonstrate it is not viable they would be allowed to drop them. 

  • Variable fee for Linkspan will be replaced by a fixed fee of £60k - reviewable every 3 years. Other fixed charges for use of Span to remain as is - but again subject to 3 year review.

  • Cruise ships which carry cars may use the linkspan on an occasional basis. 

To enable all these things to happen:

  • the User Agreement will be extended to 19 Sept 2020

  • there will be on option exercisable by either party for it to then be extended to 2026.

  • in the event of the TT being cancelled, the user agreement would be extended by a year for every cancellation - up to a maximum of three years.

The debate highlighted considerable satisfaction with the performance of the Company but an area of concern for protection of employment for crews (although some members said this should be dealt with elsewhere) and the hope that ways could be found for them to be paid through IOM instead of a Channel Islands subsidiary. Another member  that there was a concern over freight rates, although he did also say  "not one of us can complain about the passenger services".  A further member said that there appeared to be no requirement not to flag out vessels - but the hope was expressed that it would be in the company's interests to keep to the Manx flag - someone suggesting that it was only freight vessels which had foreign crews!.

The Tynwald members voted overwhelming for the Agreement extension by 31 votes to 1.

The IOM press reported:

The Tynwald debate on the renewal of the User Agreement highlighted an area of concern for protection of employment for crews and the hope that ways could be found for them to be paid through the Isle of Man rather than through a Channel Islands subsidiary.

It was also pointed out that the company's profits were not known to members - and that there was a concern over freight rates. There also appeared to be no requirement not to flag out vessels - but the hope was expressed that it would be in the company's interests to keep to the Manx flag.

During the debate the members praised the Steam Packet and its staff for the quality of service provided.  Eddie Lowey, MLC, reminded members the company, which is 175 years old in 2005, is the oldest shipping company in the world.

Mr. Lowey said the extended agreement is a 'win, win situation for them, for us and the people of the Isle of Man and in particular the Isle of Man economy'.

However, some members, including Peter Karran (Onchan) expressed concern over the protection of British seafarers' jobs and their exclusion from the Manx National Insurance scheme.

Trade and Industry Minister Alex Downie said the agreement protects local jobs, which is backed up by an arrangement between the company and mariners' unions giving security to both sides.

Mr Shimmin said one of the greatest reassurances Steam Packet crews could be given was through support of the agreement.  He assured Mr Karran that Manx resident sea staff are entitled to the Manx pension and full supplement.

Mr Karran was the only member to vote against the extension of the agreement which was carried.


Rumours that a new vessel may appear in Isle of Man Steam Packet service in 2005 have been reignited by the suggestion that the new investment is likely to happen sooner rather than later.  Given that the renewal of the User Agreement can now facilitate a long term view - what a better way to celebrate the company's 175th Anniversary than to announce the arrival of a new vessel?

The rumour doing the rounds some months ago, that the LADY OF MANN would be sold to Norwegian interests has surfaced again. Furthermore, though the much rumoured INCAT 057 has been chartered to Brittany Ferries [see below], a number of other second hand fast craft remain available plus of course there is an almost complete new build at the Incat Yard. Next year may yet bring some surprises!


MANX VIKING - the former Manx Line vessel - now NINDAWAYMA is currently being offered for sale on a web site. There are internal and external photographs at


INCAT 057 the vessel once tipped as a likely replacement for SEACAT ISLE OF MAN will sail under charter to Brittany Ferries operating between Portsmouth and Cherbourg / Caen. She will be named NORMANDIE EXPRESS.


DAWN MERCHANT - currently on charter to Norfolk Line struck the harbour wall whilst departing Dover bound for Dunquerque. She was carrying around 50 passengers nine cars and 19 freight vehicles. Passengers and vehicles were transferred to other sailings. No injuries or damage to vehicles was reported the MCGA are carrying out an investigation.


Stena line are chartering Irish Continental Group's former ISLE OF INNISFREE which sailed for P&O Ferries as PRIDE OF CHERBOURG. However, following the P&O restructuring and withdrawal from the Portsmouth - Cherbourg service she will move to STENA LINE and sail as STENA CHALLENGER in service on the Baltic to cover for the STENA BALTICA's rebuild.


Some may recall the American paddle steamer P.S. WILLOW which spent some time at Birkenhead during the late 1990s being prepared for a new life as an entertainment vessel in Spain.

A report in the latest edition of the Paddle Steamer Preservation Society's "Paddle Wheels" magazine reports that she is laid up for sale at Benalmedena, Costa Del Sol after the failure of various casino ventures.


MABEL ALICE - the former Penlee Lifeboat paid a visit to her former home port of Newlyn last week in a different role. Now painted in Police livery she operates marine patrols on the Clyde for Strathclyde Police.



Holyhead Coastguard assisted an Irish cargo vessel which was on route to the quarry at Llanddulas when it suffered an electrical failure.

Holyhead Coastguard received a call from the ARKLOW FREEDOM at 19:00 on the evening of December 16
, a general cargo vessel which was in ballast. The vessel was 3 ½ miles from Rhyl with six people onboard.

The Rhyl and Llandudno lifeboats were launched and stood by whilst the crew worked to resolve the problem.

December 15
Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Ian Collard, Niall Magner, Kevin Bennett and "others"



A back log of material for inclusion in the web site, compounded with other commitments means that material is currently outstripping the time available to prepare and upload it. Consequently there will be another website update posted tomorrow, December 16 at around 22:00. Please note an update was posted on Monday, December 13. Please check "What's New" for details.


The Manx parliament, Tynwald, voted to extend the company's Link Span user agreement at Douglas until December 2020 at a sitting on December 14. The agreement which is subject to a number of conditions, has an option to extend until 2026.


Passenger figures compiled by the Harbours Division for November 2004 at 20,473 show a 24.3% decrease on the figure for the same period in 2003 which was 27,031.

The year to date figure at 608,476 passengers shows a 3.6% decrease over the same period in 2003 which was 631,154.

During November, car and motorcycle traffic through Douglas Harbour decreased by 16.5% from 8,305 vehicles to 6,932 vehicles.

The year to date figure at 164,332 vehicles shows a 1.8% decrease over the same period in 2003 which was 167,344.

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


Minus 5%






Minus 44%





Director of Harbours, Captain Michael Brew comments:

“November 2004 passenger figures are disappointing. The Liverpool route shows a significant fall primarily due to the Steam Packet only operating a weekend service this year compared to a daily service last year.”


The case Mersey Docks and Harbour Company vs Anglers was adjourned at South Sefton Magistrates Court on Thursday last week until 09:45 on February 1st.


Irish Ferries announced today that following an intervention by the National Implementation Body of Ireland all industrial action on Irish Ferries vessels has been halted. Full service will resume over the next few days well in time for Christmas. Specific information relating to sailings will be posted the company's website -

It is understood that ULYSSES may leave Holyhead later tonight with a limited freight sailing to Dublin.

ISLE OF INISHMORE will probably depart Pembroke tomorrow afternoon bound for Rossalare.

JONATHAN SWIFT will probably return to service tomorrow morning.

RTÉ reported that the two sides in the Irish Ferries dispute agreed to resume negotiations on the basis of proposals presented today by the National Implementation Body.  

The National Implementation Body outlined five steps to resolve the dispute over  staffing and protect services to Wales and France.  The dispute centres on the company's plans to replace 150 staff on the Rosslare- Cherbourg route with cheaper agency staff.

The NIB's formula provides for management and unions to enter talks under the  auspices of the Labour Relations Commission. Under the formula, if no agreement  is reached at the talks, the dispute will be referred to the Labour Court.

It says all options to achieve the viable operation of the Ireland-France ferry  route should be explored without preconditions by either side.

All industrial action, whether by 'strike' or by 'lockout', should cease with immediate effect, the proposal says.

The NIB also proposes that no further precipitative action should be taken by  either party pending completion of the process, and warns against victimisation  by either side as a result of the dispute.


EUROPEAN DIPLOMAT operated a Rosslare - Dublin - Liverpool sailing. The ship departing Rosslare around 16:00 on Monday, she was noted by a correspondent passing C21 at 08:31 inbound for Gladstone Lock, Liverpool on Tuesday morning. She sailed from Gladstone at 14:00 on Tuesday. The sailings were operated to convey freight displaced from Irish Ferries by the on-going industrial action which has led to the suspension of all Irish Sea Services.


About £3m is to be spent improving and enlarging a ferry in Cornwall named to sail among the 10 most beautiful crossings in the world.
The King Harry Ferry at Feock takes 23 cars and their passengers across the River Fal.

The owners of the King Harry say the present ferry is 30 years old and nearing the end of its useful life.

The new King Harry Ferry will begin working in 2006 when its capacity will have increased by a third.

The owners of the King Harry said it was designed to carry 28 cars on every crossing, but modern cars were longer and wider so 23 is now the maximum.

The new ferry will take 34 cars on every journey and the company says it will be more environmentally-friendly as it will be quieter and use less fuel.

Carleen Keleman from the Objective One fund said about £1m of European Union cash will be donated towards the project, with the ferry company finding the rest.

Ms Keleman said the investment in a new ferry would bring improvements for both tourism and business as queues should be cut in the summer.

The first steam ferry service across the Fal from Feock to Philleigh on the Roseland peninsula started in 1888.

The current ferry has been in service from 1974. It carried 300,000 cars and a million people last year.

In a report compiled by independent travel writer Ryan Levitt, the ferry was described as amongst the most picturesque in the world because of its view of the river, rivalling Lake Titicaca in Bolivia and the Grand Canal in Venice. [BBC Cornwall]


Travellers crossing the River Tamar are getting an early Christmas present this year with the arrival of a brand new ferry to brighten their journey.

A new £5 million ferry, Plym II - the first of three due in the next year - arrived last week in Millbay Docks after being towed by a tug from Ferguson Shipbuilders on the Clyde at Port Glasgow. Over the weekend the finishing touches were put on the ferry and she has now been put on her chains to begin sea trials.

Trials will take roughly 15 days and, all being well, the ferry will soon be shuttling passengers back and forth across the water.

Ferry operations manager Tony Whetton said: "This is the only private shipbuilder left on the Clyde, and you can sense the pride of the workers.

"They have never built a chain ferry before, but it's well-built and we have got what we wanted. I'll just be a lot happier after the trials."

The Plym II is the same length as the existing ferries and just two metres wider, but will have six lanes instead of four and carry 73 cars compared with the current ferries' 56. If it had been any bigger, loading and unloading would have taken so long that a ten-minute service would have been impossible.

Two extra-wide centre lanes will be able to take lorries up to 44 tonnes, although these will not be allowed to use the A374 to Trerulefoot as a rat-run.

The blue-and-white ferry looks very much like its predecessors but, with football stadium-style seating for foot passengers that "floats" on a sound-insulated deck and a chain mechanism designed to be as quiet as possible, it should be more comfortable for passengers and crew. The crew of four have their own cabin and toilet, and from an impressively high-tech central control cab the controller has two sets of controls to avoid having to move from one end of the ferry to the other on each trip she makes.

The ferry is also bristling with safety features, including a huge searchlight controlled from inside the cab in case anyone falls over the side at night and has to be rescued.

The engine room is divided into two halves, either of which can be shut down in the event of a fire and the hull has so many buoyancy chambers that even if two were punctured, the ferry would not sink. The redesigned ramps at either end have three folding sections which should enable the ferry to get vehicles on and off smoothly in almost any tide or weather conditions, especially as £3 million is being spent improving the slipways and shore facilities at Devonport and Torpoint. Western Morning News - December 14, 2004


The future of the Fleetwood to Knott End ferry looked set to be secure for the next decade. Lancashire County Council had originally agreed to help Wyre Borough with the costs of the much-loved service for only three years. But in a statement today, the authority was poised to agree a 10-year safeguard after talks between Councillor Peter Hawley of Wyre and County Councillor Jean Yates of Lancashire. The county has already earmarked £500,000 for a new ferry boat with disabled facilities. The latest support should be agreed at County Hall on Friday. Councillor Hawley, physical environment portfolio holder, said: "This is a big commitment for both councils. "It is a mutual agreement and the talks have been amicable." In the New Year Lancashire will pay for improvements to the ferry dock at Fleetwood and the slipway at Knott End. The new all-weather ferry boat will be operated by the current operator, Wyre Waste of Fleetwood. 15 [Blackpool Today - December 2004]


MARGARITA L - The former Cammell Laird built Windsor Castle has been sold to Indian breakers ending the Trust's attempt to save the ship.

December 11
Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Michael Bracken, Tommy Dover, John Lewis, Dave Crolley and "others"



This weekend sees a significant landmark in the history of Irish Sea Shipping - The Online Shipping Magazine. On December 10, 2001 a new, reliable page counter, was fitted to the front page.

This weekend, three years on, that counter will have passed the 250,000 mark. This counter only records those entering the site via the front page. It doesn't record those that enter via other pages such as "What's New". Unlike the page counters, this counter does not reset in certain editing conditions.

Over the past three years this means an average of 1,602 persons have visited the web site each week.


As regular visitors will notice changes have been taking place on the web site during the past week. Unfortunately these improvements coincided with some technical problems which meant that for the first few days of the past week the navigation structure in some areas of the site had become somewhat deranged. This has now been corrected and all links appear to be working again. However, if any errors or peculiarities are noted, please advise as in a web site of this size it is not always possible to spot all the errors, especially those lurking in the darker corners.

Over the next few weeks further changes in presentation and layout are planned, this work being facilitated by the upgrading of the authoring software from Front Page 2000 to Front Page 2003. Visitors returning this week will notice that many hyperlinks are loosing their traditional underlining, something which has been vanishing from many web sites for some time.

It is anticipated that the changes will be completed by early 2005.

Next year, 2005, marks the tenth anniversary of Irish Sea Shipping. The Irish Sea Shipping site had its origins as an occasional newsletter posting known as "Mersey Shipping News" which was uploaded to the UK Forums of CompuServe in Autumn 1994.

Regular postings to the forums were underway by 1995. As CompuServe interfaced with the embryonic internet and some very crude HTML software became available, the first web site was available in 1996. The exact date of the transfer MSN to the web is not recorded as early postings have unfortunately become lost. However, it is believed to have been around early spring 1996.

Over the years Mersey Shipping News evolved into Mersey & Irish Sea Shipping and then Irish Sea Shipping. However, the original Mersey Shipping web URL  is maintained in addition to the better known


A significant amount of time has been spent adjusting the web site following the installation of Front Page 2003. Consequently things are a little behind schedule this weekend and this update is being posted in to parts.

There will be a further update on Sunday evening, December 12 at around 19:00.



The Isle of Man Steam Packet Company will enter the history books in 2005 when they sail into their 175th anniversary year as the oldest continuously operating passenger shipping company - in the world!

A limited edition book charting the Company's first 175 years has been commissioned and is due for public launch in May. Bringing the history of the Company right up to date it will also include many photographs and detail never published before and a history of Steam Packet captains compiled by retired Master Captain Jack Ronan.

Another Company commission from Duke Video is a DVD/video of the story of The Steam Packet with many unique contents, interviews and archive footage to satisfy Steam Packet and ship enthusiasts the world over.

The very first Steam Packet sailing was in August 1830 and in August 2005 the Company will celebrate with a huge banquet and ball to be held in the superb Royal Hall of the Villa Marina. This was once the home of the great benefactor Henry Bloom Noble, a former member of The Steam Packet board of directors.

The Island's government will celebrate with the Company by the issue of commemorative postage stamps from IOM Post and specially minted coins from The Treasury.

Throughout the year a host of celebratory events are planned and the Company is eager that as many people as possible will be able to share in them. We hope that through such celebrations and enhanced world profile, 2005 will be an extra special year for The Steam Packet and for the Isle of Man.


Hopes are rising that a ferry service for the live cattle export trade on the Rosslare to Cherbourg route will be provided following the decision by P&O to withdraw from the route this month.

Meetings involving Agriculture Minister Mary Coughlan and all the relevant interests including the Irish Farmers Association, a French company believed to be CMA CGM and live exporters have taken place in recent weeks.



Coaster callers this week included ANKE and UNION MARS. CIL Tender GRANUAILE anchored overnight in the bay midweek. Traffic included COASTAL ISLE and CAMIRA .


At present the strike which as paralysed the company's Irish Sea services since the afternoon of Sunday December 05 continues.

Though the official strike had been not been due to start on Monday December 06, unofficial action by 59 members of SIPTU commenced earlier than expected leaving the ULYSSES at Holyhead and ISLE OF INISHMORE at Pembroke Dock. However, JONATHAN SWIFT, returned to Holyhead on the Sunday afternoon, after laying of Holyhead for around two hours.

On December 07 the company issued the following statement

"Irish Ferries apologises to its customers for the cancellation of its services as a result of a strike by Ships’ Officers. While it is of little comfort to the people and businesses disrupted by this action we believe our customers should know the facts behind the dispute.

1. Irish Ferries service between Ireland and France has been losing money over the last few years. The situation deteriorated even further this year with the arrival of a new ship from a state subsidised competitor. We lodged a formal complaint with the European Commission and the Irish Government but nothing changed.

2. In this environment, Irish Ferries was left with the option of either closing the service or significantly reducing our cost base to allow us to compete by offering lower fares. Following discussions with our workforce and their unions, it became clear the preference was for a voluntary redundancy package rather than a change in working conditions.

3. On the 15th November, unions representing ships’ staff requested that we proceed with a voluntary redundancy package. This package was subsequently offered and accepted by over 80% of the staff affected. The remaining staff chose to transfer to our Ireland-Britain routes without loss of pay. Irish Ferries has already paid out over 8 million to staff who chose to leave.

4. Irish Ferries has given the contract of operating the ship to a third party agency employing EU nationals. This will achieve significant cost savings, primarily by bringing the length of time working on-board to international norms.

5. Following the decision to outsource crewing on the Ireland-France route, Ships’ Officers on the Ireland-Britain routes, represented by SIPTU, issued the company with indefinite strike notice even though the decision to outsource does not affect them in any way. 59 out of 135 Ships’ Officers or 44% voted in favour of this all-out strike.

6. Ships’ Officers working for Irish Ferries enjoy the best terms and conditions of any shipping company with whom we compete. They work an average of just 21 weeks a year, conditions that are among the best in the World. Their conditions are in no way affected by the changes occurring on our Ireland-France route.

7. The timing of this strike action by Ships’ Officers was carefully calculated to coincide with the run-up to Christmas. It will have enormous consequences for the staff of Irish Ferries and for Ireland as a whole. The company has already been forced to begin laying-off staff and ultimately up to 1,200 people will be affected. Importers and exporters are struggling to fulfil orders ahead of Christmas.

8. SIPTU is on record as to the real agenda behind this strike action: “We would prefer to have the French service closed than have a union agreement saying outsourcing was acceptable” - SIPTU, quoted in the Wexford People on the 1st December 2004. 59 Ships’ Officers represented by SIPTU are jeopardizing the livelihoods of thousands of people despite the fact that their own working terms and conditions are unaffected in any way. We would urge these Ships’ Officers to call off their strike and avail of the dispute resolution mechanisms available.


On December 09, the Labour Relations Commission commenced talks with both Irish Ferries management and SIPTU. However, by December 10 the talks were reported to have broken down.


The sale of the A&P Birkenhead ship yard to a Merseyside property developer was completed this week.

Developer Reddington Finance now has complete ownership of the former Cammell Laird ship yard having acquired the north yard from A&P for £30 million.

The site will be leased back to A&P Group for as long as the company require the site. However, observers of the local shipping scene are questioning just how long A&P's commitment to the former Cammell Laird yard will be.

Reddington's site director Mike Ryder speaking to the local press claims, "Any plans to re-develop the area of the current A&P site would focus on ship building and maritime history. We want to have an educational centre there where people can learn about the shipping industry."

Meanwhile John Syvret, managing director of North Western Ship Repairers said: "The plans are to turn that area into a leisure and retail park which does not fit in with ship repairs." As far as my business is concerned there is plenty of ship repair work coming into the area that could take place on that site. The industry is not dead."


PLYM II - the first of the three new £5m ferries for the Torpoint - Devonport link across the Tamar linking Cornwall and Devon arrived in Plymouth earlier this week following a tow from the Ferguson Shipyard at Port Glasgow.

The company advise that the original PLYM ceased service at 10:00 on Thursday December 09. PLYM II is expected to commence trials at around 12:00 on Saturday December 11 at 12:00.

Trials and crew training are expected to last for a period of 10 to 15 days before the vessel commences public service. During this period a 2 ferry 15 minute service will operate using the two remaining original ferries.

The exact date that the new ferry will enter service will be notified as soon as the trials period is complete.

The Joint Committee apologise for any inconvenience that this disruption to the service will cause.


The well known and long established ship's chandelles and supply company Joseph P Lamb Ltd established in 1784 is vacating its waterfront headquarters which is soon to be demolished

The historic Maritime Building, on Liverpool's waterfront close to the Baltic Fleet public house is to be demolished to make way for a new apartment block.

Local press reports indicate that the proprietor, Sir Trevor Jones, will continue some ship supply work elsewhere in the city, whilst the sail making business will continue at a new location in Stanhope Street. Mr Jones' son will continue the company's flag making business at a new location in the Ropewalks.

Sir Trevor has donated many items found during the clearance of the building to the nearby Merseyside Maritime Museum.

December 04
Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Michael Pryce, Aubrey Dale, Tommy Dover, Trevor Kidd, Philip Parker, Geoff Hamer and "others"



Members entering the site via the home page will have noticed that a new look has been adopted after some extensive trials involving some regular contributors. 

The new home page makes access to different areas of the site much quicker with a range of hyperlinks provided and a prominent link to the "What's New" page. The previous front page link to" What's New" proving to be a little ambiguous especially for new visitors.

The new home page has been optimised to full 1024 x 768 screen resolution and users are recommended to ensure that their monitors are set to 1028x768 to ensure the best viewing experience. 

The change has come about due to the fact that previous home page was still based on the 800 x 600 screen format and had become somewhat dated having evolved over the past four to five years. Something tidier was obviously required.

Over the next few weeks further presentation changes will take place on a progressive basis to optimise other menus and pages to take full advantage of the 1024 x 768 screen resolution. Users will have noted that the top of the page menu has been redesigned to take full advantage of the 1024x768 format.

If anyone has any comments / suggestions - please email


The company is reported to be seeing an extension to the Douglas Harbour User Agreement. The matter is due to be discussed in Tynwald shortly.


Passenger figures compiled by the Harbours Division for October 2004 at 42,884 show a 0.5% increase on the figure for the same period in 2003 which was 42,688.

The year to date figure at 588,003 passengers shows a 2.7% decrease over the same period in 2003 which was 604,123.

During October, car and motorcycle traffic through Douglas Harbour increased by 1.9% from 11,154 vehicles to 11,366 vehicles.

The year to date figure at 157,400 vehicles shows a 1.0% decrease over the same period in 2003 which was 159,039.

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


Minus 2%






Plus 8%






Minus 7%





Director of Harbours, Captain Michael Brew comments:

“October 2004 passenger figures are the second best October figures ever and only just below October 2002 which is the record October. Whilst passenger numbers are not quite a record, this October is a record October for car and motorcycle traffic.”



A 24 hour strike by members of SIPTU resulted in all services being cancelled between 06:00 on December 02, and 06:00 on December 03. 


An all out strike by SIPTU members is planned to commence on December 06 and will lead to the cancellation of all services. 


The dispute centres around the replacement of the crew on NORMANDY by foreign agency staff.



Irish Ferries issued the following statement on December 02: 


Irish Ferries confirms that it has received notice from the trade union SIPTU representing ships' officers advising them of their intention to engage in all-out strike action involving the company's passenger/freight ferry services on Dublin - Holyhead and Rosslare - Pembroke services effective from Monday next, December 6th. It is understood that this action by SIPTU was voted for by 59 ships officers out of a total workforce of 1,200 persons employed by Irish Ferries. The company is now making preparations ahead of this action by informing customers and in assisting to them in whatever way possible.

The decision by Irish Ferries to contract out employment of crew on its Ireland - France service from March next is one taken in the interests of safeguarding the long-term operation of the service in the face of competition from low cost air carriers and a state-subsidised foreign-owned ferry operator and of reversing the decline in passenger carryings experienced on the service over recent years. Crew contracted in under new crewing arrangement for the Ireland - France service, due to recommence in March 2005, will be drawn from Ireland, UK and other EU states.

In responding to the announcement by SIPTU, Irish Ferries reminds its customers and the public that ships officers employed by the company enjoy the finest working conditions existing within the shipping industry world-wide including pay, pensions, time on/off and working conditions on board. None of these conditions will be affected by any of the measures being implemented.

In the implementation of this new arrangement, Irish Ferries has remained committed to the provision of a voluntary severance arrangement for which EUR7 million has been allocated and which has been accepted by over 80 percent of the crew members concerned. There have been no forced job losses. The crew concerned were offered the option of a generous voluntary severance arrangement. Those who chose to continue working in the company have been offered positions on Irish Sea services.

Only by placing its Ireland - France service on a competitive footing through the proposed new crewing arrangement can Irish Ferries be hopeful of protecting its future operation in the wider interests of Irish tourism and import/export trade and of the economic well-being of the South East region in particular.

Passenger enquiries to : Ireland Tel: 0818 300400

Irish Ferries Chief Executive Eamonn Rothwell has advised Irish Ferries staff that in the event of a prolonged strike by SIPTU members commencing on December 06, the company will be "...  be forced to lay off all staff that are not absolutely required for the duration of this strike as of this date." 

The company appears concerned that should the French service not be restructured with the use of agency staff, the alternative will be either its closure or down-grade to a short seasonal operation.

This, Irish Ferries claim, could allow a new competitor into Rosslare. Once in Rosslare the company suggests it " ... would be likely to migrate its operations to the Irish Sea." There competitor is of course Brittany Ferries which is subsidised by the French Government.



Inspector for the International Transport Federation in Ireland has challenged Irish Ferries management over suggestions that it endorsed the company's out-sourcing of jobs.

The ITF, the world trade union body which represents seafarers, has said this is not correct.

Inspector Tony Ayton has written to the Human Resources Manager of Irish Ferries, Alf McGrath, in relation to comments he made on RTÉ Television News on Thursday evening.

The ITF says his comments implied that foreign nationals being recruited for the company's ship, the NORMANDY , on the Rosslare-Cherbourg route, had ITF pay rates.

Mr Ayton, ITF Inspector for both the Republic and Northern Ireland , said he was unaware of any such arrangement and was 'greatly surprised' when Irish Ferries used the name of the ITF as a public endorsement for its recruitment policy.

He has called on Irish Ferries to contact the ITF and explain the basis of this statement.



Ireland - UK Services

Services Cancelled as a Result of Unofficial Industrial Action by SIPTU Ship's Officers

Irish Ferries confirms that services on its Dublin / Holyhead and Rosslare / Pembroke routes are now cancelled as a direct result of unofficial industrial action taken by SIPTU Ships' Officers which commenced at 14.30 hrs today ( Sunday, December 5th ), nearly sixteen hours ahead of their planned strike action which was due to commence at 06.00 hrs, tomorrow, Monday December 6th. Irish Ferries deeply regrets this action.

In the lead up to the planned strike action, Irish Ferries expressed the fear that its vessels would become bound up in the dispute in a manner unacceptable to the company, port authorities and other port users. This fear has been justified by the unofficial action that has now been taken.

Irish Ferries condemns the strike action being taken by the SIPTU ships' officers which, it is understood, was voted for by only 59 of their members. By engaging in such action, especially in the lead-up to Christmas, SIPTU ships' officers are putting at risk the livelihood of their fellow seafarers and their 1,200 colleagues who work in Irish Ferries whilst undermining customer confidence and forcing the transfer of passengers and freight to rival services.

The realities of the market place in which Irish Ferries operates is one in which customers now demand lower and better value fares that are truly competitive when matched against state subsidised and low fare air and sea carriers with whom the company is forced to compete. This is especially true on the company's Ireland / France service where the decision to contract in the crew required to operate the service when it resumes in March 2005 was one forced on the company by the economic requirement to restore competitiveness if the service is to continue.

Only by placing its Ireland / France service on a competitive footing through the proposed new crewing arrangement can Irish Ferries be hopeful of protecting its future operation in the wider interests of Irish tourism, the import/export trade, and the economic well-being of the South East region in particular. Failure to implement such measures could well lead to the closure of the route with all of the implications which this would have. Irish Ferries confirms that it has now paid out, with effect from 30th November, in excess of €8 million to the high proportion of its Ireland/France crew members who opted to accept the exceedingly generous voluntary severance package offered. Those crew members have now left the company. Those who chose to remain in the company, approximately 25 persons, have been offered positions on Irish Sea services, some of whom have already transferred.

Ships officers employed by Irish Ferries on the Irish Sea enjoy the finest working conditions existing within the shipping industry world-wide including pay, pensions, time on/off and working conditions on board. None of these conditions were to be affected by any of the measures being implemented. There have been no forced job losses in the implementation of the new crewing arrangements coming into force on the Ireland/France route.

Irish Ferries calls on SIPTU and the ships' officers responsible for this strike action to reflect upon the impact it will have and the long-term consequences it may have for the well-being of the company and all employed in it.


Dublin’s new tour service on the River Liffey, the Liffey Voyage will be launched next Summer by the Dublin Docklands Development Authority. Designed by Danish naval architects, ‘THE STRUMPET’, a 52 seat low profile vessel is currently being built in Sweden.

Designed by renowned Danish boat designers, Ole Steen Knudsen A/S, the Strumpet will carry 52 people, including its driver, and is wheelchair accessible. The boat has been custom designed to navigate the River Liffey while at the same time providing users with comfort and great views of the city. The boat will travel between the Docklands and the Four Courts (it can also travel as far as Heuston Station but not at all tide levels).

Landing stations for the Liffey Voyage will be at the IFSC and off the boardwalk the Ha’Penny Bridge and O’Connell Bridge. An additional landing station is being constructed at the Point Depot to facilitate a concert night taxi service. The tour service will sail on average six to eight times a day, initially during daylight hours only. Tidal conditions on the River Liffey will determine the route of the trip. Journeys will take around 55 minutes including embarking and disembarking times.

The Strumpet tour will explore, but is not limited to, the historical associations of sights and structures around the River Liffey. A tour guide will deliver entertaining information on Dublin life specific to the Liffey and the Docklands that will be filled with hearsay, gossip and humour in true Dublin-style “craic”.

THE STRUMPET will be 16.8 metres long, 5.6 metres wide, and 1.15 metres deep. It is capable of travelling at 7.5 knots. The Strumpet is being built by Westersmekaniska in Udewalla in Sweden and delivery is scheduled for late March 2005. It will be trialled for several months before the service is formally launched. The Docklands Authority also has an option to purchase a second vessel.

The Liffey Voyage is part of the Docklands Authority’s River Regeneration Strategy, which aims to bring back life to the River Liffey. Developments undertaken to date under the Regeneration Strategy include the refurbishment of campshires (quaysides), the provision of city centre moorings (under construction), and the hosting of tourism-related events along the River Liffey such as Skyfest and the visit of the Tall Ships.


CAMMELL LAIRD is a new book from Merseyside maritime author Ian Collard Published by Tempus Publishing just in time for Christmas. Price £12.99. A full review will appear next week. 

The book charts the history of the yard from is early days to its demise in the wake of the cancelling of the COSTA CLASSICA contract and the yards subsequent sale to the A&P Group.

Histories of key vessels constructed at Cammell Laird comprise the second part of the book. 

128pp - illustrated throughout.



Coaster callers included  WINGER, SIMONE, KOVERA and PIPER ( which was also the ex SIMONE ) Traffic included in the bay included BREAKSEA , JANE, BOWCLIFFE, EUCON PROGRESS and the liner VAN GOGH bound for Dublin. 


arklow_coastalspider.JPG (27519 bytes)The cable laying vessel COASTAL SPIDER left Arklow on Thursday  morning under tow (photo). 

The coaster BOUNDER was observed loading stone at Arklow Roadstone jetty the same day



P&O have announced  the appointment of Sir John Parker to succeed Lord Sterling as Chairman

Sir John is Chairman of National Grid Transco plc. He is also currently Chairman of RMC Group, although he will be standing down from this position in January 2005 following  the agreed acquisition of RMC by the Mexican company Cemex. He is also Senior Non-executive Director designate of the Court of the Bank of England and a Non-executive Director of Carnival plc. Sir John has had a distinguished career in engineering, shipbuilding and other capital intensive industries. His previous appointments have included Managing Director of Austin & Pickersgill, Deputy Chief Executive of the British Shipbuilders Corporation, Chairman and Chief Executive of Harland & Wolff and Chairman and Chief Executive of Babcock International. Sir John was Chairman of the Lattice Group on its demerger from BG Group in 2000 and remained Chairman when it merged with National Grid in 2002.

Commenting on the announcement, Lord Sterling said: "I am delighted that the Board has chosen Sir John as my successor. His achievements and breadth of experience, particularly in the maritime industries, will be invaluable in taking P&O forward into a new and exciting chapter in its long history."

Sir John commented: "P&O is one of the world's great global brands. I am honoured to succeed Lord Sterling, given his long and distinguished leadership of the company as Executive Chairman over the past 21 years. I look forward to leading the Board in continuing its transformation strategy. P&O has at its core a world class international container terminals business which has considerable growth potential."

EUROPEAN SEAWAY - has spent around a year or so in lay up. First at A&P Falmouth where she was utilised as an accommodation ship and since June at A&P Birkenhead. It is understood that before she returns to English Channel duty as part of the P&P restructuring plans she will receive a short dry docking.


PLYM II - the first of the three new ferries constructed for the committee's Torpoint Ferry departed from Ferguson Shipbuilders, Port Glasgow at 14:00 on December 2, 2004.

PLYM II is being towed by tug with the journey being expected to take around four to five days, dependent on weather conditions

On arrival in Plymouth, the PLYM II will be taken to Millbay Docks for some minor work and tests. The ferry will then be moved to Torpoint for full operational trials and crew training. The two other ferries TAMAR II and LYNHER II will be introduced over the coming months.


ISLE OF MULL is expected to depart A&P Birkenhead next weekend - probably Sunday December 12. 

LORD OF THE ISLES is likely to be the next arrival for refit at A&P.




James Fisher, the Barrow based marine services provider, announced this week the acquisition of three privately-owned companies, in the UK and Norway, Remote Marine Systems Limited ('RMS'), Nuclear Decommissioning Limited ('NDL') and Reanco Team AS ('Reanco'), for a total consideration of £7.3 million in cash. 


The acquisitions are being funded out of existing resources. These purchases further strengthen James Fisher's growing Marine Support Services Division which, in the first half of 2004, contributed 46% of the Company's operating profit against 14% two years ago and represented 24% of assets employed. Tim Harris, Chairman of James Fisher, said: 'These acquisitions represent the latest step in our strategy of expanding our marine services activities and in particular increasing our presence in the growing nuclear decommissioning market in Cumbria. 


Reanco adds to the range of services offered to the clients of our Scan Tech business'. Remote Marine Systems Limited ('RMS') and Nuclear Decommissioning Limited ('NDL ') The acquisition of the entire issued share capital of both RMS and NDL, which were under common ownership, is for a cash consideration of £4.9 million. In the year ended May 2004, RMS had a turnover of £3.47 million and a pre-tax profit of £0.62 million. Net assets at that date amounted to £3.67 million. RMS was a privately-owned company based in Malton, North Yorkshire, with 64 employees, concentrating on the supply of specialist services and remote handling equipment to the nuclear industry. 


This involves design and assembly of equipment, predominantly used in decommissioning of nuclear facilities. These technical services are used on a number of client sites, the largest being British Nuclear Fuel plc's ('BNFL') Sellafield base in Cumbria. In addition, RMS has a successful 'Oilfield' division using their electrical design skills to provide electrical equipment used for artificial lift systems and for operation in hazardous zones in the demanding offshore and nuclear environments, complementing James Fisher's existing presence in these markets. NDL provides consultancy services to the nuclear industry. 


RMS and NDL will be combined with James Fisher's existing nuclear decommissioning business and operate within a new company, James Fisher Nuclear Limited. Gordon Robertson, the current Managing Director of RMS, will become Managing Director of the group's nuclear decommissioning division. Reanco Team AS ('Reanco') Reanco is a privately-owned company situated in Haugesund and Stavanger on the Norwegian West Coast. 


The entire issued share capital has been purchased for NOK 25 million (£2.12 million), with a further deferred payment of up to NOK 3 million (£0.25 million) based on achieving certain profit targets for the current year. In the year to December 2003 Reanco had a turnover of NOK 20.8 million (£1.8 million) and pre-tax profit of NOK 3.2 million (£0.27 million). Reanco provides a specialist service to customers in the Norwegian sector of the North Sea, upgrading accommodation and other facilities on fixed and floating offshore installations. This includes creating false floors, building noise screens, refurbishing cabins and other services to ensure the facilities meet new stringent Norwegian sector legislation relating to living space for offshore personnel, including the recent demise of multi-occupancy cabins. 


The customers are predominantly the same as those to whom Scan Tech already provides a variety of services. Reanco will be added to James Fisher's existing Scan Tech operations under its Managing Director, Bjorn Erik Bjornsen, who is based in Stavanger. The local management will remain in place. The company has 16 employees. 


EC Hambro Rabben and Partners Ltd acted as corporate finance advisors for the three acquisitions.



A widow suing the Stena Line ferry company over her husband's death when he went overboard faces an anxious wait for the outcome of her compensation claim after a judge yesterday reserved his decision in her case.

The High Court has heard, during a trial spread over three weeks, that former engineer Michael Davis, 35, went overboard whilst travelling on KONINGIN BEATRIX on a Rosslare - Fishguard crossing in October 2000.

His widow, Marion Davis, of Bristol, is suing the company for about £250,000, claiming it was to blame for her husband's death after launching an abortive rescue attempt to "extract" the drowning man from the water.

The court has heard how Mr Davis went overboard from the ferry and was spotted by a crew member on a nearby container ship. When the weather was adjudged too bad to launch lifeboats from the ferry, the giant Stena Line vessel was manoeuvred close to him in a bid to get him out of the water.

The rescue attempt was unsuccessful, and Mr Davis later appeared on the other side of the boat, "face down in the water, obviously dead".

In his closing submissions to the court, Simon Kverndal QC, for Mrs Davis, said Stena Line had shown "antipathy" towards risk assessment and failed to "think through the risks and problems" they would face in a man overboard situation in rough seas. He said it was likely the attempt to retrieve Mr Davis from the water had itself caused his death, claiming he would otherwise have survived until a rescue boat or helicopter arrived to save him.

Mr Kverndal went on to reject the suggestion made by those representing the ferry company that Mr Davis may have gone into the water in a bid to commit suicide.

But Michael Tillett QC, for Stena Line, argued the ferry company was in no way to blame for Mr Davis's death. The master and crew took all reasonable steps to rescue him. he said.

Mr Justice Forbes has now reserved his decision on Mrs Davis's damages claim until a later, unspecified, date.

December 01
Acknowledgements: John Lewis, C.J. Lawrenson, Edwin Wilmshurst and "others"



An additional update including a news bulletin was posted on Monday November 29, 2004.The November bulletin is stored on the November news file. Please check "What's New" for details.


A new front page to the web site is currently being designed. This should be online by the weekend update. There are also expected to be other changes to the design and presentation of the web site in the next few weeks.


STOLT TERN [3206 grt] ran aground whilst on approach to Holyhead at 09:46 on December 01. The tanker was carrying a cargo of gas oil when she grounded near the breakwater. The tanker sustained slight bow damage and took on a small amount of water.

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency's counter pollution response team was placed on standby during the incident. They said no-one involved sustained any injuries. A tug was used to re-float the tanker shortly after it ran aground and it continued to Holyhead.


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