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NEWS BULLETIN: February 2005

February 27Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Ian Collard, Kevin Bennett, Tommy Dover, Brian McGrath, Edwin Wilmshurst and "others"

NOTES & NEWS

This weekend's update has turned out to be much larger than anticipated and hence it was necessary to split it over two days apologies for the inconvenience. Part of the problem was that it was a good ship photography weekend, with quite a few vessels on the move and worth photographing.

This weekend was a reminder of something that has been lost - the last weekend in February was traditionally the first weekend of the seasonal Liverpool - Dublin SeaCat service. On Saturday February 28,  last year a rather pleasant trip to Dublin heralded in the start of a new sailing season. This weekend the only day trip possible was a quick spin on the SNOWDROP - not really in the same league.

It is to be hoped that the absence of a Liverpool - Dublin high speed service will be short lived and the plans to create a new operation - Irish Sea Express come to fruition.  Though it will be necessary for such a service to gain the all important support from the travelling public who need convincing that there is a better way  to cross the Irish Sea than spending 45 minutes in densely packed seating an aluminium tube operated by a company which offers little in the way of customer care!

John H. Luxton - February 27, 2005

ISLE OF MAN STEAM PACKET COMPANY

The company's revamped web site is online, though the full booking system is not expected to be up and running until February 28. Interestingly SEACAT ISLE OF MAN has been reinstated as a member of the fleet after being deleted at the end of last season. What the future holds for SCIOM appears to some extent dependent on the outcome of the plans for Irish Sea Express.

BEN-MY-CHREE missed her 19:45 sailing on Saturday February 26 and 02:15 sailing on Sunday February 27 for maintenance work to be undertaken. The newspapers which she delivers to the Isle of Man were due to be flown in.

SUPERSEACAT TWO departed NSL Bidston and moved to a berth in the West Float on Friday February 27.

IRISH SEA EXPRESS

Some more information has come to light concerning this operation using SEACAT ISLE OF MAN on a Liverpool - Dublin service. It is believed that a start date will be around the end of April with two round trips each day being operated. It is also understood that recruitment of crew may commence this week with adverts in the Liverpool Echo.

STENA LINE

LINDAROSA - Stena RoRo recently purchased the 1996-built ro-ro Linda Rosa , which will remain on charter to NorseMerchant Ferries.

The 2,200 lane-metre ship was acquired from Italian shipbuilder Visentini. Gothenburg-based Stena RoRo says the aim of the buy is to "strengthen our presence in the medium size ro-ro segment". The spokesman declines to reveal how much the ship cost.

At 13,500 dwt, Lindarosa is now the largest vessel in Stena RoRo's ro-ro/freight fleet, which ranges from 4,400 dwt to the 12,700-dwt sisters Stena Forerunner, Stena Forecaster (both built 2003) and Stena Foreteller (built 2002). The three sisters are on charter to Finnish forestry-products carrier Transfennica in the Baltic.

NorseMerchant runs over 30 sailings a week linking Belfast, Dublin and Birkenhead (Port of Liverpool). The Lindarosa trades on the Dublin-Liverpool route. It is understood that its charter has at least another six months to run.

STENA SEAFARER is currently refitting in dry dock at A&P Birkenhead.


PENINSULAR & ORIENTAL STEAM NAVIGATION COMPANY

P&O CELEBRATE MOST SUCCESSFUL YEAR EVER

P&O Irish Sea has entered 2005 with a wind in their sails following a tremendous performance by the freight division in 2004.

The year ended with the ferry company celebrating their most successful year ever, carrying almost 230,000 units on their Larne-Cairnryan route, an increase of 7% on 2003.

Volumes reached an all-time high in December due to the increased activity in the retail trade. All the major high street retailers chose P&O Irish Sea sending weekly volumes to a record 5,800 units.

While a number of factors can be cited, P&O Irish Sea is keen to point out that the quality and reliability of the vessels combined with a superb shore-based team is at the forefront of the success.

Mr Graham McCullough, General Manager, Scottish Routes, explains, "Hauliers want to be confident that their goods are going to reach their destination on time and as such reliability is a key issue within this industry. While we cannot control the weather, we do provide ships which respond positively to all weather conditions. We also carefully monitor every aspect of our service including the booking process, loading and discharge of the ships, turnaround times, frequent and timely sailings to ensure that the standards already set are maintained. We have a superb shore-based team and ships' crews who are fully committed to ensuring that the overall service is fast and efficient."

P&O Irish Sea has invested heavily in the Larne-Cairnryan route in recent years with the purchase of two purpose-built ships, European Causeway which entered service in 2000, and her sister ship, European Highlander, at a cost of £72m. Mr McCullough adds: "The arrival of our two new ships on our Larne-Cairnryan service has proven very successful and we are certainly seeing the return on our investment. We have recorded an increase of 34% in volume carried on this route since 2000. Hauliers know and appreciate the efficiency and reliability of this route and are making it their number one choice."

In addition to the Larne-Cairnryan service, P&O Irish Sea's other freight services also recorded excellent performances. The Larne-Troon service operated by European Mariner saw an increase of 21% in the volume carried while the twice-daily service from Dublin to Liverpool ended the year with a 10% increase on 2004. Mr Charlie Greene, General Manager, Southern Service, reiterated the sentiments of Graham McCullough: "The Dublin-Liverpool route is serviced by two excellent sister ships, mv Norbank and mv Norbay, which have developed a superb reputation for quality and reliability. This combined with a first-class shore-based team give hauliers confidence in our service which is evident in our performance this year."

2005 has also started extremely well and P&O Irish Sea is aiming  to match if not exceed the 2004 performance.

CHERBOURG EXPRESS - entered dry dock at A&P Birkenhead on February 23 for refit in preparation to her deployment on the Larne - Troon service this season.

MARITIME AUXILIARY SERVICE

RMA NEWTON arrived on the Mersey and entered the Liverpool Dock system at Langton Lock on February 27. She is due to be refitted by North Western Ship Repairers.


IRISH FERRIES

NORMANDY NIGHTS CABARET RETURNS ON IRELAND/FRANCE SERVICE

Irish Ferries will raise the curtain on a new Normandy Nights cabaret season after services on their Ireland/France routes resume.

From May 20th through to September 10th, the popular family show which is free to all passengers will be performed nightly on their services between Rosslare - Cherbourg and Roscoff.

Arguably the most successful show ever performed for Irish audiences,  enjoyed by an estimated 1 million plus passengers since it was  introduced in the 1990s, the programme consists of an early-evening show for young people followed into the night by a variety show consisting of music, song, dance, comedy and entertainment for grown-ups of all ages.

Other forms of on board enjoyment planned for this season include a  hair dressing and beauty treatment salon opening at Easter, a casino  and video games room plus a cinema showing latest Hollywood  blockbuster movies.

WICKLOW & EAST COAST NEWS from Tommy Dover

WICKLOW PORT

Coaster callers included GELRE, UNION MARS, RIKA, AJOS G and SCOT RANGER. Traffic included TRITON LOGA, MAERSK WESTLAND,  ARKLOW FORTUNE now BIMI and GRANUAILE.
 
DUBLIN PORT

Arklow shipping has sold 2 of the f class coasters, ARKLOW FORTUNE is now BIMI, and ARKLOW FREEDOM is ANMI, they changed names over the last week at the port. Aircraft Carrier HMS ILLUSTRIOUS is currently on a 4 day visit to the port.

WEST COUNTRY CHAIN FERRIES

New safety measures could be introduced on the West Country's three chain ferry services after a major rescue operation was launched when one broke free and drifted down river.

In future, passengers may have to be counted on to the ferries - a requirement which operators are currently under no obligation to meet.

At the moment, the Dartmouth, Torpoint and King Harry ferries are not classed as ships but as "floating pontoon bridges" because they are unable to navigate.

This has meant they have been governed by more relaxed safety regulations than other vessels.

The ferries are attached to chains which they use to pull themselves over the rivers Dart, Tamar and Fal.

Nearly two weeks ago, the Dartmouth Higher Ferry pulled free from its guide wires during a spring tide and 70mph northerly winds, and collided with several yachts before it could be stopped. The 32 passengers on board were all unhurt.

However, the incident has raised serious questions about the safety of chain ferries.

A Maritime and Coastguard Agency spokesman said yesterday: "One of the lessons that may be learned from this incident is that passenger counting is not included in the code of practice - the operators know the number of vehicles but not the number of passengers on board. This will be a subject for further discussion between the ferry operators and the MCA."

South East Cornwall Lib-Dem MP, Colin Breed, whose constituency covers the Torpoint Ferry, said it was a loophole that had to be closed.

"I think we have to recognise that chain ferries are subject to the same potential dangers as other vessels," he said. "With the size of the new Torpoint Ferry there could be scores, if not hundreds, of people on board. I think we need to have a clear idea of exactly how many there are."

Under the "Chain Ferry Code" operators are required to conduct a risk assessment of cables and chains to provide additional security - another area to be revisited by MCA surveyors.

As part of the code, ferry operators are also required to ensure that there is effective contingency planning in place, including damage to chains or wires, and communicating with the emergency services and harbour authorities. The crew are also expected to be competent in handling emergency situations.

The Dartmouth Higher Ferry, which the MCA said had a "very good safety record", resumed operations three days after the incident following a safety inspection. An investigation into the incident is being carried out by the Marine Accident Investigation Branch.

The Torpoint ferries carry thousands of passengers every day. The new vessel can carry more than 70 vehicles in addition to foot passengers.

Councillor Dafydd Williams, joint chairman of the Tamar Bridge and Torpoint Ferry Committee, said the issue would have to be discussed.

He added: "If it becomes a requirement then we will have to comply, we have no choice. I can see why there might be practical difficulties but they are not insurmountable ones."

Tony Tucker, director of Dart Marina Ltd which runs the Dartmouth ferry, said his company would happily sit down with the MCA to discuss passenger counting.

"Of course we will do anything that is seen to be progressing the cause of safety," he said. "It may mean delaying people for a four-minute trip across the river but I don't know the practicalities of it at the moment."

Tim Light, managing director the King Harry Ferry, said it could be one: "We would probably have to employ someone specifically to use a clicker to count people on. It couldn't be done practically without largely inconveniencing our customers."

[Western Morning News]
 

TAMAR CRUISING - CREMYLL FERRY

A river link in South East Cornwall could be in line for an upgrade. Improvements to the Cornish side of the River Tamar's Cremyll Ferry, which links Plymouth to the eastern end of Mount Edgcumbe Country Park, were considered by members of the Mount Edgcumbe Committee. T

he committee has representatives from Plymouth and Cornwall, and is jointly chaired by Cornwall County and Caradon District councillor Sheryll Murray, who represents Rame. She said: "The Cremyll terminus has required upgrading for a number of years.

"The ferry is used by commuters and visitors and upgrading the facilities would benefit passengers and the area as a whole. "The committee will look at the detail when they undertake the annual inspection later this year."

NORWEGIAN CRUISE LINES

SS NORWAY [ex SS FRANCE] looks set to be heading for the breakers. She last visited the Irish Sea in September 2001 on the conclusion of a trans-Atlantic voyage, making a splendid sight anchored off Dún Laoghaire.

Unless she is sold for further use by February 28, she will be sold for $20 million to Indian breakers. The proposed conversion to a floating hotel berthed in France was abandoned due to the heavy costs involved in removing asbestos. Many of her fittings are reported being removed in Bremerhaven and placed in store.

February 20 

NOTES & NEWS

UPDATES

Apologies for the delay in updating the web site. This weekend's update delay was due to my decision to remain in the West Country for an additional day. Whilst away I have collected much new material for the web site some of which appears in this update and some which will be held over as basically I have run out of time!

The Torpoint Ferry service which links Cornwall with Devon is heavily featured including photographs and notes on  the new state of the art PLYM II which has just entered service on this busy commuter and holiday service. Further material will appear from my wanderings to Devon and Cornwall will appear on Wednesday and next Saturday.

ISLE OF MAN STEAM PACKET COMPANY

INCAT 046 appears to be back in the frame as a likely replacement for SUPERSEACAT TWO at some stage this season. Though press reports claim that a deal has not yet been done.

The new reservation system is due to be on-line by February 28. The company will not be taking reservations on February 26 - 27 whilst the change over occurs.

LADY OF MANN - Ferry Publications will be producing a limited edition [200] of the Lady to be released in June 2005. Price £39.50 including postage and packing. Though not featured on Ferry Publications web site, the model has been listed in a flyer included with the latest edition of European Ferry Scene. You can contact Ferry Publications at ferrypubs@aol.com

IRISH SEA EXPRESS: LIVERPOOL - DUBLIN

News has reached Irish Sea Shipping that a new operator is likely to take up the abandoned Liverpool - Dublin high speed service, operated by the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company until the end of the 2004 season.

The new company will charter SEACAT ISLE OF MAN from the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company for the 2005 season. The company will recruit its own staff and crew, though the Isle of Man Steam Packet appear as though they will manage the ship which will be named IRISH SEA EXPRESS.

The new service is expected to start some time in April, thus missing the Easter Holiday period. Two former Cammell Laird Holdings plc directors are believed to be behind the plans. It is understood that SEACAT ISLE OF MAN will be taken to Cammell Laird Gibraltar for hull major hull repairs as she is now out of class.

It is suggested that the company may operate the service all year and may look to commencing a Liverpool - Belfast fast ferry service next year.

MANXMAN WEB SITE

Shipinfo (www.shipinfo.org.uk) and Ships of Mann Magazine (www.shipsofmann.org.uk) have launched a brand new
website to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the launch and entry  into service of the ss Manxman.

The ship was launched on 8th February 1955 and entered service on  21st May 1955 on the Douglas – Liverpool route and enjoyed 27 years  in service before conversion to static use.

The new website charts the history of the ship in service and in  static use and includes a number of pictures of the ship in dry dock  in Sunderland.

The new site is located at www.manxman-som.fsnet.co.uk

MERSEY DOCKS & HARBOUR COMPANY

Gladstone lock reopened on Friday evening following last Saturday's detachment and subsequent sinking of one of the outer gates.

The lock reopened at high water with the outer gates being operated manually.

 

PHILIP & SONS

Passengers who were rescued from the High Ferry last Sunday were finally reunited with their cars on Monday February 14. the DEPV HIGHER FERRY - the last remaining diesel electric paddle vessel in the UK - broke from its guide wires and was swept down the River Dart in gale force winds.

Car owners were taken to the Dart Marina Hotel, where they spent the night. The hotel and ferry is owned by the Philip Group, once famous for its now defunct shipyard which is subject to redevelopment plans.

It was discovered that the ferry guide cables had not broken, but had slipped out of the shackels that secure them to land based counterweights.

The ferry returned to service, after marine accident investigators from the Maritime Coastguard Agency have carried out safety checks.

Ferry operator director Tony Tucker said: "It looks like this was a fluke occurrence, but we'll make absolutely sure it can't happen again.".

Meanwhile insurance assessors have been looking at more than a dozen yachts which were damaged as the drifting ferry with car and passengers on board, crashed through moorings before it could be halted some 400 yards downstream.
 

TRINITY HOUSE

A not unexpected announcement was made this weekend by the Trinity House Lighthouse Authority concerning its Penzance Museum. A few years ago the authority announced its intention to close the Penzance maintenance base which occupied part of the site and it was thought that the future of the museum which occupies part of the historic buoy store and workshop would be placed in jeopardy. This is how the local Cornishman newspaper reported the story:

"Trinity House has pulled the plug on its National Lighthouse Centre in Penzance.

This week came the news that the centre's historic collection of lighthouse artefacts is to be relocated follows three years of consultation over its future in the town.

The loss of the collection - which is recognised as being of national significance - has come as a great blow to campaigners who have fought a long and hard battle to retain the centre as a tourist attraction on Wharf Road, Penzance.

Trinity House has said that it had not yet decided on an alternative location, but local people believe Plymouth is a "front runner".

The centre has occupied the former Trinity House buoy store, which is a listed building dating from 1898, on a site acquired in the 1860s specifically to prepare granite blocks to build the Wolf Rock lighthouse, for 15 years.

A joint statement issued by Trinity House and Penwith Council confirmed the move after an agreement had been reached "that the collection needs to be displayed at a large centre with greater public accessibility alongside other artefacts that are currently in storage."

The museum's curator Alan Renton and volunteers, supported by Penwith and Penzance councils, have worked on ways of attracting more visitors in a bid to try and save the centre - which has attracted as few as 7,000 visitors a year.

Two years ago the museum, with funding from Penwith Council, appointed an education officer.

Children from local schools have visited the centre for tours during the winter months when it has been closed.

The collection includes a number of historical lighthouse artefacts from lighthouses to light vessels up and down the country. These range from large first order optics to lighthouse keepers' uniforms and photographs.

Local councillor Hudson Smith, chairman of the social, economic and environment committee at Penwith said: "We are very disappointed that Trinity House has decided to relocate their collections from Penzance.

"This is particularly difficult for the staff and volunteers of the museum who have looked after the collection for so many years and who only last year achieved registration for the centre.

"Every effort was made to convince Trinity House of the value of the centre to the town and its role within the harbour regeneration, but we were not able to meet the aspirations of Trinity House in terms of projected visitor numbers - and the likelihood of achieving funding for the proposed major development scheme."

Jeremy de Halpert, executive chairman of Trinity House, said: "We would very much like to thank curator Alan Renton and his team of volunteers who have been dedicated to running the Lighthouse Centre since the early 1990s.

"Additionally we would like to thank the community of Penzance for the co-operation and the value provided over the years in collecting and preserving the artefacts.

"We have worked closely with all parties to assess alternative options, but we now need additional facilities to display a growing collection of artefacts."

The Board of the Lighthouse Centre has said that every effort would be made to ensure the continuation of the important role of the centre, hopefully with the assistance of other local organisations.

COMMISSIONERS OF IRISH LIGHTS

GRANUAILE - The authority's tender was reported to be due to make a visit to the Port of Mostyn, Wales on Saturday February 19.

BUGALED BREIZH

The hull of a Dutch submarine seen by crews of two trawlers near the spot off The Lizard where five French fishermen were victims of an alleged "high seas hit-and-run" 13 months ago showed dents and scratch marks consistent with a collision, it has been claimed in France.

A French newspaper said details of damage to the Dolfijn was given in a Dutch naval report now in the hands of judges investigating a case of manslaughter and failing to assist people in danger.

The paper claimed the report said the survey of the damage was carried out on April 21 last year, three months after the tragedy. It said it referred to a series of deep scratchmarks and dents, consistent with the submarine having collided with trawl gear and the hull of a smaller vessel.

The Dutch Navy put the damage down to the submarine having struck a series of cables linking floats to lobster pots. French Navy spokesmen and the Dutch Government have already denied that the Dolfijn - which was taking part in an international Nato exercise on the day the Bugaled Breizh was sunk and was seen in the area after the French trawler radioed for help - was involved in the accident.

Details of the report were revealed by the paper Le Telegramme de Brest. Its journalist Pascal Bodr said that "a very reliable person working closely with investigators" had revealed details of the damage to the submarine. He claimed yesterday that he was "one hundred per cent sure of his facts" and that his source was "totally reliable".

His article also referred to testimony allegedly given by Michael Barker, described in the newspaper as a police officer responsible for security in the sea area of the NATO exercise, which involved numerous warships and submarines from several countries.

According to the newspaper, Mr Barker confirmed that the Dolfijn was the only submarine present within a 25-mile radius of the spot where the Bugaled Breizh sank.

According to Le Telegramme, Mr Barker said that at 12.53pm on the day of the tragedy, January 15 last year, 30 minutes before the French trawler sent out a distress call, the Dolfijn was 12 miles from the collision point.

M. Bodr's article alleged that shortly after the collision, as they were heading towards the trawler's last known position, Frederic Stephan, mate of the French trawler Eridan, and Ken Thomas, skipper of the British trawler Silver Dawn, both saw a submarine surface "appearing from nowhere".

The paper claimed that when the Eridan attempted to approach, the submarine in question "seemed to be intent on leaving the scene", according to Frederic Stephan.

The captain of the Dolfijn has always maintained that he was on the surface during the period of time when the collision occurred. Le Telegramme said that when the Dutch submarine was asked to produce its log book and "any other information relative to the day of the tragedy", the captain claimed no records of its movements had been kept.

In Brittany, angry fishermen and grieving relatives of the five dead crew members of the Bugaled Breizh will meet at the trawler's home port of Le Guilvinec this morning to discuss the latest revelations. [Western Morning News - February 19]


CELTIC LINK

DIPLOMAT undertook berthing trials at Pembroke on February 15, 2005. This trip had been postponed from Monday due to the ship experiencing technical difficulties off Land's End last weekend.

ASSOCIATED BRITISH PORTS

It was a successful year for Associated British Ports' (ABP) North-West ports, with growth in important trades such as timber, coal and dry bulks.

John Fitzgerald, ABP Port Director, Short-Sea Ports, said:

"This has been a good year for our North-West ports. Trades in certain core cargoes, central to our longstanding success in the region, noticeably increased during the year. Furthermore, ABP has some exciting projects to bolster growth over 2005, including new facilities and customer agreements in Garston and a new roll-on/roll-off (ro-ro) contract in Fleetwood."

Ayr & Troon

In 2004, Ayr & Troon, Scotland's premier log-handling ports, saw significant growth in forest products and agribulks, as well as the reintroduction of coal-handling at Ayr.

The ports handled nearly 257,000 tonnes of timber during the year, making a new record. The timber is delivered by sea to Ayr from the Western Highlands for Ayrshire-based paper and wood mills and is exported from Galloway to Scandinavian paper manufacturers.

In 2004, exports of coal recommenced at Ayr. As a consequence, 30,000 tonnes of the mineral, from Ayrshire's open-cast mines, was exported to Ireland's industrial and domestic markets.

Notable cruise calls at Ayr included a call from ResidenSea's luxurious cruise liner, The World, in June. The summer months also saw Troon host visits by luxury cruise vessels Clipper Adventurer and Hebridean Princess.

In November, ABP announced that the Port of Troon's dry docks were to be reactivated, following an agreement between ABP and ship-repairers Garvel Clyde. The dry docks provide an enhanced service for both Garvel Clyde and the port's present and future customers, allowing additional vessels to access services such as hull surveying and repairs, engine/auxiliary machinery surveying and repair, damage and voyage repairs, major refits and conversions.

Garston & Fleetwood

During 2004, the Port of Garston continued to develop its business base with an increase in traffic through the port. Garston was successful in achieving important new business deals with both Hanson Aggregates ('Hanson'), a supplier of heavy-building materials, and Maxit Building Products Ltd ('Maxit'), a supplier to the UK construction industry, committing to the long-term use of the port through investment-led commercial agreements.

ABP will invest£750,000 in a new handling and distribution facility for Maxit, which is planning to expand its operations by investing £800,000 in high-tech plant and packaging equipment. In addition, Hanson will invest over £1 million in a state-of-the-art concrete batching plant, which will be supplied with sea-dredged and hard stone raw materials imported through the port.

The Port of Fleetwood provides a vital roll-on roll-off (ro-ro) link between North-West England and Northern Ireland. This was demonstrated recently when ABP agreed a new three-year contract with route operator Stena Line (Irish
Sea) Ltd, which runs three daily sailings from Fleetwood's ro-ro terminal to Larne in Northern Ireland.


Barrow & Silloth

In 2004, the Ports of Barrow & Silloth continued to play a significant role in supporting the import and export requirements of the Cumbrian economy. It was a good year for the Port of Silloth in particular, with strong increases in agricultural imports and encouraging gains in forest products.

During the year, Barrow continued to develop its potential as a cruise gateway to the English Lake District. In September, this potential was illustrated by a cruise call from Swan Hellenic's new vessel, Minerva II. Named after the Roman goddess of wisdom, the 180-m long, 30,277-tonne vessel was the largest cruise ship ever to call at the port.

ABP is working closely with Barrow Borough Council to play a major role in the regeneration of Barrow; it is also working in partnership with West Lakes Renaissance, Northwest Development Agency and Furness Enterprise towards the regeneration of under-utilised areas of the port in order to benefit the local economy. As such, plans are in place to develop a new marina, business park and cruise-ship terminal. Approximately 100,000 people visited the port in June, as the port hosted Barrow's second maritime festival: "International Power & Glory 2004," featuring Tall Ships and racing in the National and International Powerboating Championships.

February 12Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews. Brian McGrath, Tony Brennan, Alex Mc.Cormac and "others"

NOTES & NEWS

UPDATES

Apologies for the delay in posting Saturday's update. BT's Broadband service went down mid afternoon on Saturday and was not restored until sometime early Sunday.

NEWS UPDATES FROM THE FIELD

I am currently undertaking tests to see if it is feasible to undertake news updates to the Irish Sea Ships Yahoo Group from the field using a smart phone. Initial experiments on a private group indicate that such updates work well. Therefore, from time to time you may see messages posted to the Irish Sea Ships Yahoo Group containing the signature jhlmobile or issmobile at the end of the text. These will have been posted to the group "live" from the field.

MERSEY DOCKS & HARBOUR COMPANY - LATE NEWS

During Saturday afternoon - February 12 - the outer gate of Gladstone Lock became partly detatched and stuck across the entrance, all shipping movements were cancelled. This included ACL's ATLANTIC COMPASS which had to return to her berth. She was entering Gladstone Lock outbound from Seaforth when the problem was discovered. Her bow tug had to detatch and return via Langton.

Worse followed during the night when the complete gate became detached in the stormy conditions and is reported to have sunk to the bottom of the river entrance. Divers  are currently assessing the situation regarding removal and making good. The daily P & O sailing berthed at North Brocklebank on Sunday morning probably due to the strong winds prevailing after entering through Langton lock.

ISLE OF MAN STEAM PACKET COMPANY

SUPERSEACAT TWO entered NSL Bidston Yard on the morning of February 12. The vessel was fully inside the dock around 10:30. The manoeuvre appearing to be particularly slow no doubt due to the strong winds.

NORSE MERCHANT FERRIES

Details of the impressive new ships due to be deployed on the Liverpool - Belfast service are now available on the company's web site including vessel deck plans visit www.norsemerchant.com .

PRESS RELEASE

As part of preparations to upgrade its passenger services later this year, the Irish Sea ferry operator NorseMerchant Ferries has completed a major refurbishment of the accommodation and public spaces on board its ferry Lagan Viking. Following dry docking, she has now returned to service on the Liverpool - Belfast route as Liverpool Viking.

Whilst clearly aimed at strengthening the well known 'Viking' brand, the renaming serves two purposes. Firstly, in the summer of 2005, NorseMerchant Ferries will introduce the first of two brand new passenger/freight ferries onto the Liverpool - Belfast service, enabling Liverpool Viking to be switched to the company's Liverpool - Dublin route. Secondly, it frees up the name Lagan Viking to be used for one of the new vessels, currently under construction at the Visentini shipyard in Italy.

Major refurbishment work on Liverpool Viking has focused on the bar, restaurant and children's play area. In keeping with the vessel's change of name, the Lagan Bar is now the Liverpool Bar, and is themed to reflect its Liverpool roots.

With the transfer of Liverpool Viking to the Dublin route this summer, NorseMerchant will once again be offering a twice-daily passenger service between the UK and the Irish Republic. She will sail alongside Brave Merchant, which currently operates on this route, until her sister ship, the renamed Dublin Viking, joins her at the year end, following the delivery of the second new vessel.

These two new ships being built in Italy will offer extremely high levels of driver and passenger comfort. With up to 480 passenger berths in ensuite cabins plus overnight Pullman seating, they will have a passenger capacity of almost double that of the existing ships. They will also have more spacious public areas including passenger decks and superb on-board facilities.

The company's Managing Director, Phillip Shepherd, believes the company has been very fortunate to secure these vessels:

"With their size and speed, they are ideally suited for our Belfast service. In this respect they are unique; we are not aware of any ships on the market at present that would have matched our needs so well.

Placing orders for newbuildings in 2004 would only have secured deliveries as late as 2007 or 2008. However by securing the two Visentini sister ships currently under construction, we are now in a position to develop both the Dublin and Belfast passenger and freight routes later this year.

With a service speed of 23 knots, they will greatly improve scheduling and reliability of the Liverpool - Belfast route, something which is important not only for passengers but also for our overnight and time sensitive freight cargo."

NorseMerchant believes Liverpool Viking and the renamed Dublin Viking will meet the needs of the Dublin Ro-Pax route perfectly. They will add passenger capacity on both morning and evening sailings and will provide a full driver accompanied service on this popular route.
 

MERSEY FERRIES

Details of special cruises for 2005 are now posted on the Mersey Ferries web site. The special cruise programme is, this year, somewhat disappointing for nautical enthusiasts being the Clipper Race departure cruise on Sunday September 18. If the departure is anything like the arrival home in 2003 , it should make for a good trip. There are a few Wildlife Cruises into Liverpool Bay during the season but that is the extent of the vessels wanderings out of the Mersey. There are no regular Liverpool Bay cruises scheduled one would have thought the effort would have been made considering this year celebrates Sea Britain. For information visit: www.merseyferries.co.uk

IRISH FERRIES

NORMANDY is reported to have departed from the dry dock and has returned to Harland and Wolff's fitting out quay.

TAMAR BRIDGE & TORPOINT FERRY JOINT COMMITTEE

PLYM II - the new Ferguson built car ferry appears to be causing commuters some concern with a number of recent problems. After delays on February 08 (see below) caused by mechanical breakdown damage sustained after its first crossing at 06:00 on February 10.

Long delays built up following damage being sustained to a gate when the vehicle ramp was lifted. Welders were called in to effect repairs though these were still underway at the end of the morning rush hour.

By 07:30 delays of over half an hour had built up on the Cornish side of the Tamar at Torpoint.

Commuters are becoming increasingly frustrated with the performance of the new ferry, which was introduced just before Christmas as the first of three new replacement vessels. PLYM II would not start on Tuesday when a compressed air system used to start generators failed.

Ferry manager David List has already publicly apologised to drivers for the delays but said that the ferry had made 90 per cent of its scheduled crossings.

Operations manager Tony Whetton added that the new vessel was a prototype and teething problems were expected. Modifications were being built into the new ferries before they come into service in the next few weeks and in August.

TAMAR CRUISING - CREMYLL FERRY

Plans to improve a passenger ferry terminal on the Cornish side of  River Tamar were due to be considered by councillors on Friday.

Funding has already been secured to make some changes, but now there  are proposals to bid for lottery money.

The Cremyll ferry links Plymouth to the Eastern end of the Mount  Edgcumbe Country Park.

It is thought to have originated in Saxon times and the crossing was  first documented in 1204.

Grants of £170,000 have already been secured to revamp the terminal  area.

But in order to improve the site's historic buildings financial  support from the Heritage Lottery fund also needs to be sought.

It is hoped to secure up to £50,000, some of which will then need to  be match funded by the Mount Edgcumbe Joint Committee.

The committee will also be asked to recommend that officers complete  work on the design of the ferry terminal area which it is hoped will  improve the visitor experience when arriving at the estate.

CELTIC LINK FERRIES

DIPLOMAT is reported to be making a trip to Pembroke on Monday February 14 for berthing trials.

NORTH WESTERN SHIP REPAIRERS

The company has been awarded the contract to refit MOD research vessel RMAS NEWTON which is due to arrive on Merseyside around March 01.

WICKLOW & EAST COAST NEWS from Tommy Dover

WICKLOW PORT

Coaster callers included UNION SATURN, SARDIJN (ex VLIEREE), SCOT MARINER, SCOT VENTURE, MARC ANDRE, HOHEBANK, HAV ACTURUS,  and SIMONE.

Traffic in the bay included RHEIN PARTNER, AMRUM TRADER, BREAKSEA, MARTHA HAMMAN and ANKE. GRANUAILE anchored in the bay overnight, she was working on buoy's along the coast.

ARKLOW

ASGARD 11 is still on the slip in the port , being repainted. The work vessel POLARBJORN is carrying out repairs to cables at the wind farm off the port.

 
February 09Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews. Brian McGrath, Tony Brennan, Black Dwarf Publications and "others"

NOTES & NEWS

WEBMASTER AWAY

Your web master will be away for a few days next week visiting Devon and Cornwall. Hopefully it will be possible to take a trip on the new Torpoint Car Ferry or at least photograph it depending on whether further problems develop with this new vessel. [see news below].

SEA CONTAINERS

The announcement on Sunday evening that the Troon to Belfast Service would not be resumed for the 2005 Season marked the end of an era which lasted just under 21 years and the final withdrawal from the Irish Sea of Sea Containers.

It was on the July 24, 1984 that British Railways Sealink operation was sold by the UK Government to Sea Containers Ltd. That sale included a range of Irish Sea services. Though much of the Sealink operation was subsequently disposed of - primarily to Stena - Sea Containers went on to build up a holding in the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company and effecting a full take over of that company in March 1996.  

Four years previously in June 1992 Sea Containers opened the first high-speed ferry between Britain and Ireland when SEACAT SCOTLAND inaugurated a Stranraer to Belfast. the short sea route to Stranraer was eventually abandoned in favour of a longer sea crossing to Troon as the company attempted to increase its market share in the face of competition from Stena and P&O.

In recent years speculation concerning the future of the Belfast - Troon service has mounted amongst observers of the maritime scene, this speculation intensified when the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company was sold to a management buy-out backed by Montagu in 2003. However, the Belfast - Troon link was excluded from the deal.

Sunday's announcement was therefore not entirely unexpected. With the Steam Packet Company having already abandoned the Liverpool - Dublin route at the the conclusion of the 2004 season, it was not surprising that the Belfast - Troon service which had been managed by the Steam Packet on behalf of Sea Containers also fell victim .

Here are several press reports which mark the demise of the once pioneering service to Belfast there are of course one or two "howlers" in the reports for maritime observers to spot!

Associated Press - Northern Ireland Ferry Shuts Down
 

Competition from budget airlines claimed another car-ferry casualty Monday as SeaCat announced it would not resume its services between Northern Ireland and the Scottish port of Troon.

Several ferry companies serving Ireland-Britain, Britain-France and Ireland-France routes have trimmed destinations and services in the past year, citing cutthroat competition from no-frills airlines, chiefly easyJet PLC and Ryanair Holdings PLC, as well as surging fuel costs.

SeaCat, a subsidiary of Bermuda-registered Sea Containers Ltd., pioneered high speed ferry services from Belfast to Scotland in 1992, when Northern Ireland's air links to Britain were much more expensive.

The company had hoped to resume its seasonal service in March, but said Monday that not enough people were using the Belfast-Troon service. SeaCat said it wasn't certain how many of the 45 people previously employed on the March-October service would lose their jobs.

The route, with a 2 1/2-hour crossing time, carried 302,656 passengers and 72,876 vehicles last year. It didn't carry trucks or buses and had been marketed as the most convenient way for car-borne tourists from Northern Ireland to reach Scotland's two major cities, Glasgow and Edinburgh.

Other ferry services from Northern Ireland to Scotland use the ports of Cairnryan and Stranraer, which involve a much shorter sailing time - and much more driving, often stuck behind lines of trucks, at the end.

Since entering the Northern Ireland market in 2001, easyJet has hammered all of the regional ferry companies by emphasizing low-cost travel to Scotland. Today the airline offers frequent services from Belfast to Edinburgh, Glasgow and Inverness.


UTV: SEACAT ROUTE TO END


The SeaCat ferry service between Belfast and Troon ended today. Spiralling fuel costs and competition from budget airlines were blamed for big trading losses.

The service which operated between March and October employed 45 people, 41 of them in Belfast. Last year the service carried 302,656 passengers and 72,876 vehicles.

A statement from the company said that, following consultations with staff representatives and Unions regarding the future of the route, "it was unfortunately not possible to find a way to address the unacceptable loss of trading. Therefore regretfully the decision has been taken not to re-start the route in 2005."

Seacat said that despite the growth of tourism to Northern Ireland and the strong economy, ferry routes across the North Channel have experienced flat volumes of passengers and cars.

"Traffic has moved to the increased budget route airlines, a shift and impact prompted by the Air Route Development Fund. This shortage of revenue combined with the impact of higher fuel costs leaves the company no option but to close the operation."

Diane Poole, General Manager of SeaCat said: "It is a sad day for SeaCat, who pioneered fast ferry travel on the Irish Sea in 1992. Since that time the travel industry has undergone immense change. As a dynamic company, we are proud of the huge contribution we have made to tourism and the Northern Ireland economy".

She continued: "I would take this opportunity to thank and praise the staff who have shown so much commitment and loyalty over the years they have worked for the company. We have received many phone calls, letters and emails over the past weeks from people sharing our disappointment and I would like to thank the public and our many passengers who have supported and used the SeaCat service".


BBC: Fast ferry service is being axed


The SeaCat ferry service between Belfast and Troon is to end, the company has said. Spiralling fuel costs and competition from budget airlines have been blamed for trading losses. SeaCat said about 45 jobs will go but it is hoped many of the staff will be redeployed within the company. SeaCat general manager Diane Pool said: "It is a sad day for SeaCat, who pioneered fast ferry travel on the Irish Sea in 1992." The Belfast to Troon service has operated between March and October, and employs 45 people, 41 in Belfast and four in Troon. However, the future of the crossing had been under threat for some time, despite the growth of tourism to Northern Ireland. Ms Poole said trading losses had become unacceptable and the company had no option but to close the operation. She said the travel industry had undergone immense change since SeaCat began its operations. "As a dynamic company, we are proud of the huge contribution we have made to tourism and the Northern Ireland economy," she said. Last year, the service carried 302,656 passengers and 72,876 vehicles.
 

MANXMAN STEAMSHIP COMPANY

Tuesday February 08 marked the 50th Anniversary of the launch of the last surviving Isle of Man Steam Packet Company Turbine Steamer - MANXMAN. To commemorate the anniversary of her launch from the Cammell Laird ship yard at Birkenhead the Manxman Steamship Company arranged for a number of events to take place to raise public awareness of the ship.

There was a feature article in the Liverpool Daily Post and interviews on BBC Radio Merseyside and Manx Radio. The 11:00 Mersey Ferries sailing from the Pier Head flew the Manxman's own name pennant and the house flag of the Manxman Steamship Company. Between 11:45 and 12:05 the Liverpool Anglican Cathedral Bells were rung to mark the occasion.


TAMAR BRIDGE & TORPOINT FERRY JOINT COMMITTEE

PLYM II Commuters on the Torpoint ferries faced major delays on February 08 when the new ferry PLYM II failed to start at 06:00. Operations manager Tony Whetton said it appeared a compressed air system used to start generators had leaked overnight and crew found no pressure when they arrived at work.

Following this, a second unrelated problem was discovered with the chains, again putting the ferry out of action. Mr Whetton said: "We expected to get some problems with a brand new, one-off vessel which is effectively a prototype, but we are monitoring its performance weekly, and last week it achieved 96 per cent." Mr Whetton said every problem was raised with the Fergusons of Port Glasgow - the Scottish shipyard where it was built.


NORSE MERCHANT FERRIES

Publicity material on show in Dublin recently suggests that the new vessels due to delivery later this year may have red hulls. Red had been used as a hull colour by Norse Irish Ferries until that company's take over by Merchant Ferries.

Interestingly the vessel depicted also carries "Dublin - Birkenhead" route branding. However, the company announced that the new ships would be deployed on Liverpool - Belfast to enable the LIVERPOOL VIKING and MERSEY VIKING to be deployed to the Dublin route.

RAMSEY STEAMSHIP COMPANY

A report on the Humber Ships Yahoo Group on February 09 indicates that FORTH DRUMMER is ready to tow BEN NEVIS 541/77 (ex Ramsey Steamship's BEN VANE) from the Clyde to New Holland for scrap.

ABP FLEETWOOD

MAJOR CUSTOMER SIGNS NEW DEAL AT ABP FLEETWOOD

Associated British Ports (ABP) has signed an extended agreement with the Swedish ferry service company, Stena Line Ltd ('Stena'), for Stena to continue its roll-on/roll-off (ro-ro) service between ABP's Port of Fleetwood and Larne in Northern Ireland.

Stena runs three services a day from Fleetwood - an operation it purchased from P&O European Ferries (Irish Sea) Ltd in April 2004. The route itself was originally established in 1975 and has since demonstrated year-on-year traffic growth. In 2004, vessels on the route carried in excess of 150,000 freight units and trade cars.As part of the agreement, ABP will invest £650,000 in ramp improvement works.

Nick Ridehalgh, ABP Port Manager, North-West Ports, said:

"Fleetwood is a strategically important gateway for North-West England/Ireland corridor and the service to Larne has grown considerably since it was established .It is a vital catalyst for the local and regional economies, and we very much look forward to continuing our working relationship with Stena."

Alan Gordon, Route Director, Stena Line Ltd, said:

"We are delighted to sign this agreement with ABP. Fleetwood is perfectly situated to handle our ro-ro service between North-West England and Northern Ireland, and ABP offers us an excellent service."
 

February 06 

SEA CONTAINERS

BELFAST - TROON CLOSES

The following announcement appeared on the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company web site this evening:

Belfast<>Troon service announcement 07.02.05.

SeaCat regret to announce that the Belfast<>Troon service will not restart in 2005.

If you are holding a reservation, please contact our booking office on 08705 523 523 (UK) or 1 800 80 50 55 (ROI).

With this announcement Sea Containers presence on the Irish Sea has come to an end. Rather sad really considering the company was the first to provide a regular high speed crossing between Britain and Ireland.

February 05Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Philip Parker, Trevor Kidd, Edwin Wilmshurst, Alex McCormac and "others"

ISLE OF MAN STEAM PACKET COMPANY

BEN-MY-CHREE - was off service for scheduled maintenance, the fitting of additional life saving equipment and her annual survey on February 05. The work was undertaken at Douglas.

SUPERSEACAT TWO - is expected to dry dock at NSL Bidston on or around February 11.

IRISH FERRIES

IRISH FERRIES COST CUTS BRING DISCOUNTS ON IRELAND/FRANCE  ROUTES

Following their decision to cut crewing costs on their Ireland - France service, Irish Ferries are now pursuing a low fares policy that is offering double digit discounts on fares when compared to last year, even in  high season.

Typical of these is 29 percent cut in the cost of travel in July for a car plus two adults return. Sailing before June 8th and after August 31st,
the same group of a car plus two adults can travel return to France for just EUR294, down 16 percent on last year.

A similar situation applies to holidaymakers travelling from the Continent to Ireland where discounts well above 30 percent apply in some cases.

NORMANDY is now reported in dry dock at H&W Belfast.
 

MARINE ACCIDENT INVESTIGATION BRANCH

Report on Waverley Grounding

Shortly before 1615 UTC+1 on 20 June 2004, the paddle steamer Waverley touched the rocky bottom on the edge of Boiler Reef, to the south-west of Sanda Island. The vessel was damaged on the underside of her hull, but her watertight integrity was not breached and her manoeuvrability was not affected. There were no injuries.

The accident occurred during a sightseeing excursion with 345 passengers and 25 crew on board. The vessel was steaming at 14 knots, and the master had instructed the chief officer, who was on watch, to remain at least 3 cables from the island. Radar was used to monitor the distance from the island. Immediately after the chief officer became aware that the vessel had closed to within this range, the vessel suddenly lurched to starboard and a bump was felt. The master initially assessed that there was a problem with the paddle-wheel propulsion.

However, it was quickly determined that this was not the case, and Waverley proceeded to Campbeltown, escorted by the Campbeltown lifeboat, which the coastguard had activated as a precaution. The damage to her hull was found during subsequent survey.

The investigation highlighted several contributory factors, including: . The vessel's passage had not been properly planned; . The vessel's proximity to the hidden dangers was not appreciated; . The use of a radar VRM did not give the chief officer sufficient warning of the vessel's encroachment within the prescribed limit of 3 cables from Sanda Island in time for successful corrective action to be taken; . The vessel's position was not accurately cross-checked by other methods, or by the master; . Personnel conducting company internal audits of navigation procedures had no deck experience; . The senior master employed by the vessel manager had no terms of reference; . A comprehensive risk assessment of the vessel's operation had not been undertaken.

As a result of another subsequent accident, an urgent safety recommendation has been sent to WEL to conduct a comprehensive risk assessment and carry out corrective action before further passengers are carried. Additional recommendations have been made in this report to WEL, which seek to improve the safe navigation of its vessels.

The full report including photographs of the damage can be downloaded from:

www.maib.gov.uk/sites/maib/cms_resources/Waverley.pdf [Size 1.1 MB]

BRITISH WATERWAYS

ALBERT DOCK

In the light of  a drowning which occurred in the early hours of Sunday January 30 the present arrangement of guard chains around the docks may have to be reviewed.

Apparently a man, showing off, jumped in the dock but failed to resurface. His body was retrieved by the emergency services.

Though Albert Dock and adjacent water areas have safety rails /  chains of the recommended size, which are also set well back from  the dockside, higher fences may well be needed.

This would undoubtedly spoil the dock environment and would have implications for other waterside areas around the country.

Why is it the majority have to suffer as a result of the actions of some idiots?

MERSEY DOCKS & HARBOUR COMPANY

On 17 January 2005 the Board of Mersey Docks announced that it was in discussions with a private equity house which may or may not lead to an offer of 925p per ordinary share. On 24 January 2005, Peel disclosed that it had purchased approximately 10.4m shares, resulting in its total shareholding in Mersey Docks increasing to 25.66%. The Board of Mersey Docks today announces that the Company has received an approach from Peel, which may or may not lead to an offer for the whole Company at £10.00 in cash per Mersey Docks ordinary share. Peel's proposal is subject, inter alia, to due diligence, which it is about to commence. This statement is being made with the agreement of Peel. There is no certainty that an offer will be made nor as to the terms on which any offer might be made. However, following the purchase by Peel of shares on 21 January 2005, the provisions of Rule 11 of the Takeover Code require that, except with the consent of the Panel and for the time period set out in Rule 11, any offer must be in cash (or be accompanied by a cash alternative) at not less than £10.00 per ordinary share. A further announcement will be made in due course.

MARITIME & COASTGUARD AGENCY

HOLYHEAD COASTGUARD ASSIST WHALE IN TROUBLE

Holyhead Coastguard co-ordinated the rescue of a whale on February 03 The incident took place one mile out to sea off Llandudno.

The alarm was raised by a member of the public at 14:16
informing the Coastguard that a Fin or Minky whale was caught in ropes or netting.

The Llandudno Coastguard rescue team were sent to assist and the RNLI inshore lifeboat was requested to launch, onboard the lifeboat was an RSPCA inspector.

John McClymont, Holyhead Coastguard Watch Manager, says:

“A mooring rope and buoy were cut from the whale’s tail. The whale was last seen swimming out to sea. This is quite an unusual incident for us at Holyhead.”


STENA LINE

STENA SEAFARER is expected at A&P Birkenhead for refit on the morning tide of February 06, 2005. She was reported departing Larne at 17:00 on Saturday 05.

JAMES ENJOYS STENA ADVENTURE ON IRISH SEA

STENA ADVENTURER, which plies the Irish Sea between Holyhead and Dublin Port, is set to star alongside Northern Ireland born actor James Nesbitt in a new comedy called Big Dippers on ITV1 next week.

Written by ex-Eastenders actor Chris McHallem, the 90-minute film centres on a couple of small-time criminals who are forever on the lookout for a quick money-making scam.

After lifting a briefcase at the ferry port, Nesbitt's character Ray and accomplice Perry, played by Pearce Quigley, discover that it contains £2 Million in cash for a ransom which its owner was crossing the Irish Sea to hand over to his son's kidnappers.

To film the scenes onboard the STENA ADVENTURER, James, his fellow cast members and the rest of the crew spent six days crossing the Irish Sea last summer - a total of ten crossings.

Nesbitt said that the Stena Adventurer was a far cry from the ferries he travelled on when he
was a youngster growing up in Northern Ireland.

"I travelled a lot on ferries from Larne to Scotland when I was younger, but ferries have come a long way since then," explained James.

"Now they are much more luxurious and our crossings were very smooth. I wouldn't say that I have great sea legs, but we didn't encounter any problems.

"It was just odd to be crossing back and forward from Dublin to Holyhead for four days and not getting off at Holyhead," he concluded.

Big Dippers will be televised on ITV1 next Tuesday (February 8, 2005) between 21.00 and 22:30.

LADY HESEN / SEEBRISE

Last weekend the Department of the Marine detained the ship the LADY HESEN, sailing under the North Korean flag, after it entered Cork Port, the ship having taken water at sea and the Coast Guard having been alerted.

This vessel was formerly the SEEBRISE which went aground in a storm on October 28 in Kinsale Harbour. Photographs of the vessel aground were featured on Irish Sea Shipping shortly after her grounding.  SEEBRISE was refloated and taken to Cork Dockyard for repairs.  After repairs, the coaster was renamed, reflagged and ship managers changed.

The LADY HESEN is now berthed at the Cork City Quays. The International Transport Federation's Inspector in Ireland, has written to the ship's management company, TMB Shipping of Tripoli, expressing concern about the condition of the vessel and claiming that the previous Master and one of the Engineering Officers were relieved of duty and replaced after refusing to carry out sailing orders. There is a crew of Lebanese and Syrian nationals aboard.

PORT OF CORK

CHAIRMAN'S STATEMENT ON 2004 PERFORMANCE         

Another successful year at the Port of Cork in 2004 was highlighted by a spectacular increase in container traffic. Total container throughput increased by 13% to 155,000 teu’s (20 foot equivalent units) with imports increasing by 11% to 73,000 teu’s and exports advancing by 15% to 82,000 teu’s.  The impact of the overall increase can be assessed in the context of the increase of 5.5% in Irish GDP last year. Since the early nineties the Port of Cork’s container traffic has been growing steadily and nowadays most of the major container lines servicing Ireland call to the port on a regular scheduled basis. These companies include Eucon/Eurofeeders, BG Freightline and Seawheel who trade with continental Europe’s principal container ports such as Rotterdam and Antwerp which, not alone service the vast mainland European market but also provide transshipment facilities to various deep-sea destinations. During 2004 the Port of Cork succeeded in attracting two important new lines i.e. French owned CMA-CGM who service Le Havre and Zeebrugge and Norwegian owned Lys-Line who service Esbjerg, Lysekil and Oslo. In addition, Grimaldi Line offer container services on their highly successful Euro-Med services which links Cork with Scandivania/North Western Europe and the Mediterranean. The entire lift-on lift-off container traffic is handled at the Tivoli Container Terminal where facilities and levels of service are provided and maintained to the highest industry standards. Lift-on Lift-off traffic is but one of all five shipping modes which the Port of Cork is equipped to handle. The other modes are liquid bulk, dry bulk, roll-on roll-off and break bulk.

Roll-on Roll-off/Bulk Liquids

Roll-on roll-off freight on Swansea Cork Ferries’ and Brittany Ferries’ services showed a healthy increase of 25% while imports of trade cars increased by 13% to 55,000 vehicles, with General Motors, Ford and Motor Distributors (Mercedes, Volkswagen, Audi) accounting for most of the growth. Some elements within the bulk liquids mode enjoyed substantial growth e.g. imports of molasses increased by 64,000 tonnes or 94% to 133,000 tonnes and imports of chemicals increased by 53,000 tonnes or 26% to 254,000 tonnes, but oil traffic registered a decline of 300,000 tonnes due to a planned maintenance/upgrade shutdown at Whitegate Oil Refinery. This was the primary factor in a reduction of 150,000 tonnes or 1.6% in the port’s overall cargo throughput to 9.3 million tonnes. The consequent increase of 150,000 tonnes or 3.75% in non-oil traffic was very satisfactory, aided by the continuing robustness of the Irish construction industry but compromised somewhat by the challenges facing the agricultural sector, traditionally one of the key contributors to the Port of Cork’s considerable cargo throughput. A 62,000 tonne or 46% increase in timber imports to 197,000 tonnes confirmed the wellbeing of the building sector which drew supplies from many parts of the globe including Scandinavia/Eastern Europe, West Africa and South America. Conversely, evidence of some of the problems in the agri sector can be seen in the reduction of 70,000 tonnes or 37% in imports of cereals, 20,000 tonnes or 4% in imports of animal feedstuffs and 43,000 tonnes or 12% in imports of fertilizers.

Passenger Traffic

Despite intense competition from an ever-increasing number of low cost airlines, the Port of Cork’s passenger traffic performed admirably in 2004. Total passenger throughput increased by 5% to 187,000 passengers, aided by the introduction of Brittany Ferries’ magnificent new car ferry Pont Aven on the Cork-Roscoff route. While facing the brunt of the airline competition, Swansea Cork Ferries had a reasonable season despite a 2% decrease in passenger throughput. Meanwhile the port’s cruise traffic reached record levels with passenger numbers increasing by 43% to 34,000 passengers and cruise ship calls advancing by 16% to 36 calls.

Chairman’s Comments

Commenting on the end of year figures, Port of Cork Chairman, Dermot O’Mahoney, said that the overall outturn was satisfactory in view of the particular difficulties facing a number of industries. He lauded the outstanding performances of the port’s lift-on lift-off and roll-on roll-off sectors and he acknowledged the impressive growth in passenger throughput. He was particularly pleased that the pharmaceutical and construction industries had performed so well and he was confident that the substantial investment by ConocoPhillips in Whitegate Oil Refinery would lead to increased throughput from 2005 onwards. However, Mr. O’Mahoney said that the port could not ignore the difficulties confronting Irish manufacturing and agriculture and he emphasized the need for rigorous cost control and management if the Irish economy is to maintain its current rate of expansion. He said that the Port of Cork was proud of the high level of facilities and services it provided but it was not immune to intensifying competition in all facets of the business. For that reason, the port continued to work in conjunction with stevedores and trade unions towards streamlining port services and in ensuring that these services would be available to port users at competitive rates.

 

IRISH NAVAL SERVICE

 

NAVAL SERVICE REPORT 2004


The Irish Naval Service boarded 1,885 fishing boats during its patrols last year when 1,568 patrol days were carried out, of which 1,488 were dedicated to fishery protection. These inspections resulted in 31 vessels being detained and escorted into port to undergo legal proceedings. Written warnings were issued to a further 124 fishing vessels. Over 100 salmon fishing boats were inspected during the summer months as part of the Naval Service task of protecting salmon stocks. Boarding figures were -

Irish boats - 883 boarded, 74 warnings issued, 10 detentions. This figure included 30 Spanish-crewed vessels registered in Ireland, of which 4 were given warnings and one was detained.

UK boats - 166 boarded, 17 warnings issued, 8 detentions. These figures included Spanish vessels registered in Britain, which accounted for 90 boardings, 5 warnings and 6 detentions.

Spanish boats - 356 boarded, 5 warnings issued, 6 detained.

French - 349 boarded, 24 warnings, 6 detained. Belgian - 37 detained, 2 warned, no detentions.

Faeroes - 8 boarded, 1 warned, no detentions.

Twenty-three Russian boats, two Iceland, one Portugese, eight boats from the Netherlands, eight from Germany and 32 from Norway were boarded, against which there were neither warnings nor detentions.

Eleven other unregistered boats were boarded and one was detained, giving a total of 1,885 boarded, 124 warnings and 31 detentions. The lucrative nature of fishing in waters off Ireland is underlined by 12 other nations as well as the Irish fishing in the area. [RTE SEASCAPES]
 

 

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