The Irish Sea Shipping Archive

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


March 23Acknowledgements: Michael O'Connell, Ian Collard, Chris Jones, Trevor Kidd, Michael Bracken and "others"


A short update this evening prior to my departure for Devon and Cornwall and a sail to Spain to sample the delights of the PONT-AVEN.

Please note that there will be no response to emails until I return on the evening of Wednesday March 30. The next update is scheduled for April 03, however there is a possibility that one may be posted on April 1 as I am sure I will have collected much new material for the web site!

If you need to contact me urgently please do so via mobile call or text. Please do not call the landline number as relayed messages often loose their meaning.


The new service is being promoted on the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company booking and information line recommending intending passengers visit However, at the time of writing this news bulletin the web address is still not functioning.

However, reservations for Liverpool - Dublin can now be made on the Steam Packet on-line system.


Though no longer a player on the Irish Sea it is of interest to record that the company has secured the East Coast Mainline GNER franchise for 10 years. Further details on


HEBRIDES - moved from NSL #4 Dry Dock at Monk's Ferry to the wharf outside the company's yard in West Float, Birkenhead on Monday Morning - March 21. She departed from the Birkenhead Dock system bound for sea on the evening of March 22.


THOMSON CELEBRATION [ex Carnival - Holland America NOORDAM] is due to leave dry dock at A&P Falmouth early on Saturday morning. She will be visiting Dublin on May 24 for her first visit to the Irish Sea.


EXPRESS - suffered engine problems on March 22 which resulted in late running.


The Mersey "Gas Cam" web site which provides for automated views of the River Mersey and Liverpool Bay has installed an AIS ship reporting facility covering Liverpool Bay and River Mersey / Docks on two separate maps. This is bound to become a very useful tool for all those interested in shipping movements on Merseyside.

Whilst on the subject of AIS a reminder of the announcement on Sunday that the AIS Live site now covers the Port of Falmouth and approaches. Useful for checking what is in A&P Falmouth!

March 20Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Alex McCormac, Trevor Kidd, Brian McGrath, Ian Collard, Alistair Eagles - Sea Truck Ferries, Tommy Dover, Michael Pryce, Edwin Wilmshurst and "others".


Updates - please check "What's New" for details of a number of updates posted since last weekend. The next update is scheduled for March 23.


SUPERSEACAT TWO took up her sailings one day behind schedule on Friday March 18. She arrived in Douglas on March 17. The LADY OF MANN remained in service for an additional day operating the Liverpool route on Thursday March 17, 2005. The LADY returned to Liverpool lightship on the morning of March 17 and berthed at Alexandra Dock.


SEACAT ISLE OF MAN moved from A&P Birkenhead wet basin on Thursday March 17 to Canada #1 Dock, Liverpool. On Saturday she moved into Canada Graving Dock which had been vacated earlier in the week by RMAS NEWTON.

Earlier information had suggested that SEACAT ISLE OF MAN would proceed to Cammell Laird Gibraltar for refit. However, she is to be refitted on Merseyside. Irish Sea Express is understood to be adopting a blue and white livery [not green as previously suggested]. The dummy funnel will be painted blue and she will carry a blue company logo. Extensive hull repairs will be undertaken and the interior revamped.


The New Zealand based company has confirmed its intention to discontinue operation of INCAT 046 THE LYNX at the end of the New Zealand summer season. Further details are expected to be announced by the end of March. 

This vessel has been tipped to be the favoured choice for the replacement of SUPERSEACAT TWO operated on the Irish Sea by the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company. SUPERSEACAT TWO is currently being advertised as available for charter by brokers from mid summer. Photo © Incat



Stena Line is well and truly flushed with success having picked up the National Loo of the Year Award for Sea Transport.

The awards, organised by the British Toilet Association (BTA), identify the best toilets in Britain and are recognised as standard setters for all those who provide 'away from home' toilet facilities for staff, customers and visitors alike.

Following a detailed inspection by the BTA, judges were bowled over by the toilets on board the Stena Adventurer superferry and the HSS Stena Explorer fastcraft which operate on the Central Corridor from Dublin and Dun Laoghaire to Holyhead.

Vic Goodwin, Route Director for Stena Line's Central Corridor, is delighted that the company officially has the best loos on the Irish Sea.

"Stena Line is committed to providing the highest standards of service to all our guests," said Vic.

"I am delighted that both the Stena Adventurer and the Stena Explorer have been acknowledged for providing the best 'away from home' toilets in the UK, especially when you consider that we carried over one million passengers on the Central Corridor during 2004," added Vic.

James Howey, Head of Onboard Services on the Central Corridor, added: "With over 900 entries - this is a fantastic achievement for our housekeepers both on board the Stena Adventurer and Stena Explorer - for what is sometimes one of the most challenging jobs onboard."

Stena Line is the market leading ferry company on the Irish Sea with the biggest fleet and choice of route between Britain and Ireland. The company carries more than three million passengers between Ireland and Britain each year on its five routes from Dublin Port and Dun Laoghaire to Holyhead, Rosslare to Fishguard, Belfast to Stranraer and Larne to Fleetwood.


Irish Sea freight ferry operator Seatruck Ferries has ordered two new ro-ro freight ferries from Spain’s Astilleros de Huelva. When they enter service in 2007 they will be able to move 130,000 freight trailers per annum on Seatruck’s Warrenpoint - Heysham route, more than doubling present capacity.


Seatruck’s general manager Alistair Eagles says, “This is fantastic news for all of our freight customers. We have been running at full capacity for some time now and cannot satisfy demand for our efficient, no-frills freight service. With the support of our parent group, Clipper Group Ltd, we can make this major investment which will move more trailers faster and more reliably on this key route.”

The two new vessels will replace the current ferries Riverdance and Moondance, which currently provide a twice daily service carrying 55 units each per sailing and around 58,000 units annually. The new ferries will be purpose built to be the maximum size for Heysham and Warrenpoint, and at 142 m loa will each carry in excess of 120 standard trailers. The vessels will have a service speed of 22 knots, reducing the current crossing time from 9 hours to just 6.5 hours. This will permit a much later evening sailing time,  with an earlier start for morning deliveries and provide a greater reserve in case of bad weather.

Both Warrenpoint Harbour Authority and Heysham Port are committed to investment in new terminal facilities purpose built to permit efficient loading and discharge. “Our investment in new vessels and by the ports in new facilities will bring significant economic benefits to the local communities on both sides of the Irish Sea,” says Eagles.

Seatruck is widely recognised within the haulage community as providing unparalleled levels of service to its freight clients, who value the customer-focused approach of the close-knit Seatruck team. Seatruck was named the Irish Sea Shipping Line of the year last year, and is confident that substantial growth in the unaccompanied trailer freight market will underpin its new investments and increased capacity. “We are talking to more and more operators who are moving towards unaccompanied shipments on the Irish Sea. There will be further increases in this market,” says Eagles. “There continues to be significant volume of new traffic flows from our natural Warrenpoint hinterland. These new vessels will maximize the benefits of unaccompanied shipments for our users.”

Seatruck Ferries was established in 1996 to meet the Irish Sea transportation needs of the haulage industry. The company operates with a tight team from its head office in Warrenpoint.

Operating between Warrenpoint, Northern Ireland & Heysham, Lancashire, Seatruck offers operators real choice in a market place dominated by a small number of large players. Seatruck provides an alternative to other operators who are obliged to compromise by catering for the needs of both passengers and freight.

Seatruck Ferries is part of Bahamas based Clipper Group Ltd., a major shipping consortium owning, operating and managing a fleet of some 235 vessels mainly within bulk transportation (handysize, handymax and panamax), MPP/Project transportation and product/chemical carriage. Clipper Group has global offices servicing their clients worldwide.


EXPRESS - departed A&P Birkenhead as expected on March 13. She proceeded to Douglas and undertook berthing trials despite some late suggestions that she might miss the call. At Douglas she berthed first on the Edward Pier before crossing the harbour and berthing at Victoria Pier. The event was recorded in details by Alex McCormac. After departing from Douglas she proceeded to Larne where she berthed at 20:30 after arriving off shore around 19:45.

EXPRESS entered service two days later than originally planned on Friday March 18, two days later than originally planned. This was due to her late arrival from refit at A&P Birkenhead.


ISLE OF INNISFREE which is currently sailing under charter to Stena Line as STENA CHALLENGER and operated for P&O as PRIDE OF CHERBOURG may head for New Zealand and service with Toll Shipping on Cook Strait.  The vessel offers space for 1600 passengers which is significantly more than the combined capacity of ARAHURA and ARATERE which currently operate on this route.


MERCHANT BRILLIANT is to be sub chartered to Cobelfret Ferries for use on the Purfleet / Zeebrugge service, Her replacement will be ESCO's LEMBITU, which will operate on NorseMerchant's Heysham - Dublin route. This will mean her operating with her sister, the VARBOLA. Whilst the LEILI operates on NMF's Birkenhead - Dublin route.


TAMAR II - the second of the three Ferguson built ferries has arrived. She made the short journey from Millbay Docks to Devonport adorned with flags, to replace the Thornycroft car ferry TAMAR, early on the afternoon of March 12. Of the original ferries only LYNHER remains in service - she is due to be replaced during the summer by LYNHER II. After a period of trails TAMAR II entered service on March 18.

PLYM II - will be taken out of service outside of peak hours between March 29 and April 1 to enable modifications to be undertaken.

A national strike by local authority employees protesting about revised pension changes is expected to lead to the suspension of the Torpoint Ferry on Wednesday March 23.

Following negotiations with union representatives, an 'emergency-only' service will be provided in 'blue light situations' between 06:00 and 22:00 on Wednesday.

Ferry users are being advised to make alternative arrangements on the day.


LE ROSIN is on a courtesy visit to the USA. She arrived at New York on March 14 for the SAINT PATRICK's Day celebrations and was due to remain there until March 19 when she moved on to Boston.



Coaster callers included MARC ANDRE and UNION SATURN. Traffic in the bay included LE AISLING and MAERSK WESTLAND.

The converted trawler EXPLORER 1 called to the Wicklow harbour for a brief visit on Sunday afternoon 13/03/05, before resuming her passage south to Arklow . At teatime the Arklow lifeboat launched to take the 3 crew off the vessel as it was reported on fire near Mizzen Head.  The Coastguard helicopter was scrambled and arrived after the crew were taken off, Wicklow lifeboat launched after 20:30hrs to standby the burning vessel as she drifted into Wicklow bay.  Naval vessel LE EMER was also summoned, she arrived in the bay shortly after the EXPLORER 1 sank approximately 2 miles North East of Wicklow harbour in 6 metres of water.

During the week the CIL tender GRANUAILE was working over the sunken vessel. EXPLORER 1 was built as a fishing trawler and was converted to a cruiser over the last 15 year's. The crew of Wicklow lifeboat were joined by special guest 'Stormy Stan' in the St Patrick's day Parade at Wicklow on Thursday, there was a strong maritime theme with floats from Wicklow Sailing Club and Wicklow Rowing Club who are due to host the All Ireland Rowing Championship's at Wicklow on the August 21/22, 2005.



Congratulations to the Coxswain and crew of Arklow lifeboat on the rescue of 3 crew members from the burning EXPLORER 1. The work vessel CABLE ONE is current working on cables at the windfarm off Arklow.


James Fisher, the UK marine services and tanker group, has bought Fender Care Marine Solutions and Fender Care Marine Services Group for £12m ($23M). The two FenderCare companies provide lightering and ship-to-ship transfer services as well as sell floating fenders, mooring systems and navigational buoys.

The move is part of James Fisher's plan to strengthen its marine services  division, which now accounts for 46% of the company's operating profit, up  from 15% two years ago. There is some synergy between the two groups - the  global defence sector is a major customer of both. FenderCare has offices in the UK, Singapore, Middle East and Nigeria.

(Fender Care evolved from Shell's tanker lightening operations formerly  based in Lyme Bay from 1968 using the Shell tankers DRUPA (70,383 dwt.),  DARINA (70,383 dwt.), HALIA (18,370 dwt.) and later NATICINA (115,722 dwt.) and NISO (119,378 dwt.)


On March 15, MD&HC reported preliminary financial results for Year ending December 31, 2004.


  • Group turnover rose 9.7% to £326.2m (2003: £297.4m)
  • Profit before tax up 5.3% at £55.5m (2003: £52.7m)
  • Underlying pre-tax profit increased to £55.6m (2003: £54.2m)
  • Earnings per share rose 20.7% to 53.0 pence (2003: 43.9 pence)
  • Underlying earnings per share 53.1 pence (2003: 45.7 pence), up 16.2%

Commenting on the results, Chairman Gordon Waddell said:

"The trading performance of the Group in 2004 was much as we had anticipated and the Group's traditional strengths of stability and cash generation continued.

"The trading outlook for the Group is positive and the Board expects the investments made in recent years to continue to benefit the Group.".


The following cruise ships will anchor mid river:


PRINSENDAM - August 28

Canada #3 will be used by SEABORN PRIDE on June 6

All others will use West Langton Terminal


The last of the three Southern Railway Isle of Wight Ferries built by Denny Bros departed Southampton earlier this week bound for breakers at Esbjerg, Various preservation schemes had been launched to save the ship which last operated in the Sea Containers fleet.

March 12Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Chris Allman, Tommy Dover, Tony Brennan, Ian Collard and "others".



A reminder that an update was posted on Wednesday March 09, 2005. The news update appears below this update. A small photograph update was posted on Friday March 11. Please check "What's New" for details.


SUPERSEACAT TWO departed from North Western Ship Repairers, Bidston on Friday March 11 around 09:00, she was due to return to Douglas prior to taking up her seasonal sailings on Isle of Man routes on Thursday March 24.

Unfortunately when the vessel was passing through "A Bridge" at Tower Road, Birkenhead  prior to entering Alfred Basin, she came into contact with the quay wall and sustained hull damage. There was a strong wind blowing at the time. SUPERSEACAT TWO aborted her departure and returned stern first through East Float to North Western Ship Repairers where she made fast after 11:00.

It looks as though SSC2's return to service could be delayed, which could mean the LADY OF MANN may remain in service beyond next Wednesday. The LADY had been due to end her winter season on Wednesday March 23.


EXPRESS - after some delay this week the ship finally flooded up at A&P #5 dry dock on Saturday March 12, here departure for Larne is expected to be on March 13.

EUROPEAN HIGHLANDER -The MAIB investigation into the EUROPEAN HIGHLANDER grounding on 8 January has been closed at the end of the preliminary investigation ( Having considered all the evidence in each case, the Chief Inspector has decided that there are no other safety issues to be learnt from the accident which require further investigation and publication of a report.)

European Highlander Date of accident: 8/1/05

This Ro-Ro ferry grounded while trying to berth at Cairnryan in very high winds. The vessel was successfully refloated the following day and no injuries or pollution resulted from the accident.

Action taken

The Chief Inspector wrote to P&O Ferries supporting the actions they have taken as a result of their internal inquiry and further commenting that, in future:

a.. Passage planning should include details of abort positions, and,
b.. The radar recorded by the vessel's VDR should be properly adjusted and set at an appropriate range scale.


A new branch of the WORLD SHIP SOCIETY has been formed at Cσbh, County Cork. The society's next meeting will be on Monday April 04 at 20:00. The venue is the Water's Edge Hotel. Information from Oliver Hawes on 0877994804




Wicklow RNLI inshore lifeboat INBHEAR DEAS has gone off station for a overhaul, the relief D' class GLOBAL MARINE will provide relief cover.

CABLE ONE was out working on the cables at the Arklow windfarm.  Holyhead Towing's AFON LAS was in the port for a few hours on Thursday morning , she departed for Arklow before noon . CIL tender GRANUAILE was working at the Codling buoy during the week .

Aviation traffic included the Coastguard s61n helicopter and a Air Corp 172 aircraft . On Friday afternoon 2 ' Royal Navy MERLIN helicopter's went north along the Wicklow Coast possibly for the Air Corp base at Baldonnell.


2004 Preliminary Results

Strong Profit Growth, Strong Balance Sheet and Cashflows; Well Placed

James Fisher, the Barrow based marine services provider, announced its Preliminary Results for the year ended 31 December 2004, representing another year of encouraging growth in profitability supported by strong underlying cashflows.

Marine Support Services, the largest of the Company's three divisions, now accounts for 46% of group profits. Operating profits for are up by over 300% over the last two years and the return on capital remains most attractive.

Financial Highlights

* Turnover up 2% to £78.8m (2003: £77.2m).

* Pre-tax profit up 29% to £13.1m (2003: £10.1m*).

* After adding back adjustment to Nexus impairment provision of £4.8m.

* Basic earnings per share up 22% to 23.20p (2003: 19.01p*)

* After adjustment for Nexus impairment.

* Proposed final dividend up 15% to 4.95p (2003: 4.30p), payable 6 May 2005.

* Good organic growth.

* Acquisitions integrated well.

* Debt reduced to £36.6m (2003: £55.85m)

* Gearing reduced to 40% (2003: 68%).

* £7.5m of cash used to fund acquisitions during the year.

Operating Highlights

* Marine Support Services - Operating profits up 25% to £9.1m (2003: £7.3m); Organic growth and acquisitions contributed; Increased on turnover of £26.01m (2003: £19.91m); increased sales, services and products; continued expansion in defence, North-Sea non-defence areas, including nuclear industry; sales now global.

* Marine Oil Services - Tankships: Operating profit up 13% to £6.9m (2003: £6.1m) on turnover of £45.15m (2003: £46.57m) due to improvement achieved in second half; trading from 4 less vessels than in 2003 at 17 tankships, for oil majors in UK coastal market; not overly influenced by global cycles.

* Cable Ships - Operating profit 10% down at £3.9m (2003: £4.3m); on turnover of £7.60m (2003: £10.74m) due to impact of weaker dollar on charter revenue from General Dynamics. Nexus sold in first half 2004; other two vessels benefiting from charters expiring May 2006 and December 2006.

* Nick Henry became Group Chief Executive in December 2004.

* Two Senior Management Appointments.

Commenting on the Outlook, Chairman, Tim Harris, CBE, said: 'During 2004 we have continued to make excellent progress with our strategic plan to expand our Marine Services operation. The creation of James Fisher Defence and James Fisher Nuclear gives further clarity and focus to these areas; the Scan Tech group of companies enjoys a strong market position. Tankships continues to provide a
strong platform of cashflow. The cable ship market remains at a cyclical low. Our financial strength enables us to determine when it most advantageous to realise their potential.'

He added: 'James Fisher has a clear view of what it is seeking to do and is developing a track record of achievement. It also has a strong balance sheet and excellent cash flow. Overall, it is well placed to continue to grow aggressively both organically and by acquisition, providing increasing value for our shareholders.'

Chairman's Statement


2004 was a good year for James Fisher with an encouraging growth in profitability supported by strong underlying cash flows. Most importantly, the strongest growth in profitability came from the marine support services division, which now accounts for 46% of group profits, as the largest profits contributor. Financial gearing was reduced to 40% at the year-end despite the
use of £7.5 million cash to fund the acquisitions made during the year. This confirms the financial strength of the Company and its ability to expand its profitable marine service activities further in 2005.

                                                   2004                  2003
Turnover                       +2%        £78.8 million         £77.2 million
Pre tax profit                +29%        £13.1 million        *£10.1 million
Basic earnings per share*     +22%                23.20p              *19.01p
Proposed final dividend       +15%                 4.95p                4.30p

* 2003 adjusted by adding back Nexus impairment provision of £4.8 million (9.97p)


The Board is recommending a final dividend of 4.95 p per share, giving a total for the year of 7.72p (2003 - 6.77p) - an increase of 14%. The dividend is payable on 6 May 2005 to shareholders on the register on 15 April 2005.

Marine Support Services

Operating profits grew by 25% to £9.1 million (2003 - £7.3 million) with both internal organic growth and the WM Defence (renamed James Fisher MIMIC Limited) and Air Supply acquisitions contributing well. The operating profits from this division have grown by more than 300% over the last two years and the return on capital remains most attractive.

Defence Services

We have established a new company, James Fisher Defence Limited, with effect from 1 January 2005 with Simon Harris as Managing Director, to be the focus of our defence activities which we are seeking to expand. Our key expertise, a legacy from our James Fisher and Rumic pasts, relates to commercial ship operation and submarine rescue and we are building a new team based on our existing resources, together with some recruits with particular skills. Despite the well publicised defence cuts, our view is that this sector will continue to offer good opportunities because limited resources will put greater emphasis on value for money, something we are well placed to provide with our commercial expertise.

During 2004, we experienced mixed fortunes. In September 2004 the Ministry of Defence exercised its purchase option for RFA Oakleaf, after a successful nineteen year charter, giving us a capital profit of £0.6m, although this has also resulted in the loss of £1 million per year in contribution. However, we received our first dividend of £1 million from AWSR Shipping Limited, now renamed Foreland Shipping Limited, in August and the charters of the two commercial ships have been recently extended until December 2007. James Fisher MIMIC Limited, which provides the Conditioned Based Maintenance System installed on the majority of Royal Navy warships, has now been fully integrated and is making a good contribution.

Our submarine rescue expertise is widely recognised both in the UK and internationally and during 2004 we have been very busy. In October 2004, as part of the Royal Navy exercise named 'Flying Dutchman 2004', we successfully provided a complete package of a mother ship and commercial diving team for the operation of the United Kingdom Submarine Rescue Service, which we manage, in a subsurface exercise with the Norwegian Navy. More than forty Royal Navy personnel were present for this 'combined operation' together with representatives of foreign Navies.

Offshore Oil Services - Scan Tech

The Scan Tech companies had a good year in 2004 and with an expanding product range we are well placed to take advantage of the increased level of activity in the North Sea and elsewhere, encouraged by the recent high level of oil prices. The acquisition of the Air Supply companies in late 2003 helped expand our range of compressors that are particularly in demand for well testing. We are now
following our North Sea customers into new markets in the former Soviet republics and elsewhere. In December 2004 we purchased Reanco Team AS, based in Norway, for the equivalent of £2.12 million with a further £0.25 million of deferred consideration which is dependent upon results. This company, which provides maintenance services in the Norwegian sector of the North Sea, is being integrated into Scan Tech with whom it shares common customers. Our HydroDigger operation picked up in the second half with work in Egypt and Australia as well as the North Sea. We are now marketing it globally.

Specialist technical services

The results of our nuclear decommissioning business were encouraging in 2004. We are making good progress with 'Operation Cumbria', our programme of expanding James Fisher Rumic Limited's (Rumic) profitable nuclear decommissioning business. We have now completed three acquisitions of similar and complementary companies which also provide specialist decommissioning support to BNFL at Sellafield, a local Cumbrian site for James Fisher. In December 2004 we purchased Remote Marine Systems Limited (RMS) and Nuclear Decommissioning Limited (NDL) for a total of £4.9 million in cash and, in January 2005, Harsh Environment Systems Limited (Harsh) for £1.6 million in cash. We are currently in the process of merging Rumic's nuclear activity, RMS, NDL and Harsh into one specialist decommissioning company to be called James Fisher Nuclear Limited with, as Managing Director, Gordon Robertson who formerly held that position with RMS. Harsh has excellent facilities close to Sellafield itself and in future we shall use them as James Fisher Nuclear's shop window. BNFL, our customer, has been most supportive of these developments as it is seeking to rationalise its own supplier chain and sees a stronger, local and specialist supplier as being an advantage.

Marine Oil Services - Tankships

The operating profit of £6.9 million was 13% better than in 2003 (£6.1 million). This improvement, which was entirely achieved in the second half, was commendable as the number of vessels we have been trading was four less than the twenty-one we had in 2003. Improvement in contract rates, in part the result of the withdrawal of tonnage from chartered-out to own-operation together with a stronger spot market, were responsible.

Our fleet renewal programme continues apace. In December 2004 we took delivery of Cumbrian Fisher and in February 2005 her sister Clyde Fisher (both 12,800 dwt) from the Samho Ship Yard in Korea. The vessels will begin trading in our contract programme on their arrival in Europe. One vessel will replace the time charter of the Linnea (11,500 dwt) which we are not renewing because of her age, the other will add to the tonnage at our disposal. Shannon Fisher and her sister

Solway Fisher (both 5,000 dwt) are scheduled for delivery from the Damen Galati yard in Romania in late 2005 and mid 2006 respectively. All four new vessels are being financed by ten-year bareboat charters with First Ship Lease Limited. During 2004 we sold Eastgate (3,400 dwt) and Westgate (3,400 dwt) both of which were built in 1979 for close to their book values.

Tankships provides a marine service to the oil majors in the UK coastal market which is not closely related to global shipping markets. Its operating profit record has shown some consistency, not being overly influenced by global shipping cycles. In recent years this record has been enhanced by the employment of chartered as well as owned tonnage which has enabled the return on capital employed to be improved significantly (2004 - 12%) We shall continue to seek an improvement in the return on capital by managing the size of our fleet to suit market conditions, including, when the need and opportunity arises, the sale of existing vessels.

Cable Ships

The operating profit of £3.9 million was 10% lower than last year (£4.3 million) principally as a result of the effect of a weaker dollar on charter revenue received from General Dynamics. Nexus, which was written down to scrap value at 31 December 2003, was sold in the first half of 2004.

Oceanic Princess and Oceanic Pearl continue to benefit from the General Dynamics charters which expire in May 2006 and December 2006 respectively. Both ships remained in lay-up throughout 2004 reflecting the bleak state of the cable laying market. At least this encouraged some rationalisation and eight vessels from the world cable fleet of around fifty vessels were either scrapped or converted for other use in 2004. On the demand side, there was some modest increase in cable laying activity but this was offset by a reduction in the requirement for maintenance ships. In recent months there has been a slightly higher level of enquiries and we have just agreed terms with Canyon Offshore for work for Oceanic Princess off Indonesia. Although this contract has been priced marginally and will not make a major profit contribution in 2005, it will enable the ship to be mobilised again.

Directors and Employees

Nick Henry, who joined James Fisher as Managing Director of Tankships in early 2003, took over from Angus Buchanan as Chief Executive on Angus's resignation in December 2004. On behalf of the Company, I would like to welcome Nick to the Board and thank Angus for his contribution to James Fisher's success. Otherwise there have been no changes to the Board since the last AGM.

During the year we have welcomed a number of new colleagues to the Company, one of whom, Gordon Robertson, has been appointed as Managing Director of James Fisher Nuclear Limited. It is pleasing that we have been able to keep the management of the companies we have acquired and in this context I would particularly like to recognise the constructive roles played by Roger Chapman of Rumic and Bjorn Erik Bjornsen in Scan Tech.

The success of 2004 has inevitably created a high workload in many areas of the business and I would like to thank our employees for all their hard work and good humour during the last year and I look forward to their continuing support in the year ahead of us.


Over the last three years the Company has had a clear strategic plan to expand its marine service operations both in terms of scale and skills and during 2004 we have continued to make excellent progress towards this aim. This has been
achieved both by organic growth as well as strategic acquisitions, at the same time we have invested in the people to take the business forward in 2005 and beyond.

The creation of James Fisher Defence Limited and James Fisher Nuclear Limited gives further clarity and focus to what we are doing in these areas and the Scan Tech group of companies already enjoys a strong position in the particular markets in which it operates. Our acquisitions have been, and will continue to be, close to where we have existing skills and customers, maintaining the consistency and coherence of our marine service expansion.

Tankships continues to provide a strong platform of cash flow and skills which will be important in our future development.

The cable ship market remains at a cyclical low. There has been some progress on ship attrition during 2004 but the market remains weak. The new employment for Oceanic Princess is a positive sign although it is still too early to predict when there will be a significant change in the overall market. The Company's financial strength is such as to enable us to determine how and when it is most advantageous to realise the potential from the cable ships.

James Fisher has a clear view of what it is seeking to do and is developing a track record of achievement. It also has a strong balance sheet and excellent cash flow. Overall it is well placed to continue to grow aggressively both organically and by acquisition, providing increasing value for our shareholders.


The tall ships ARTEMIS and THALASSA will be visiting a number of Irish Sea Ports in England, Ireland and the Isle of Man between late May and late June.

A number of reasonably priced trips are on offer, including short day trips and also longer sailings.

Visit for details of sailings and how to make reservations.

If searching for trips the "overseas" option should be checked as "overseas" means voyages such as Fleetwood to Barrow as well as the more obvious longer haul sailings!

March 09Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Brain Mc Grath, James Edgar, Tommy Dover and "others"


Correspondence with visitors to the web site over the past few years has revealed - the most requested feature has been the provision of a search facility.

On several occasions since the site switched to Front Page in 1998 I had endeavoured to facilitate site searches. Unfortunately various technical problems arose.

However, with the web site continuing to increase in size the need for a search facility has become not only desirable but essential! It has now proved possible to provide such a facility on a trial basis.

At present whilst the search facility is being evaluated searches can be accessed from the Home Page, What's New and the main index page.


SUPERSEACAT TWO - whilst the vessel is scheduled to commence its 2005 season on routes out of Douglas next week, speculation is mounting as to whether she will see the season out. The following notice has appeared on a ship brokers web site which suggests that the ship will be replaced just after TT:

BLT 1997 by FINCANTIERI R. TRIGOSO in ITL RI 340 DWT 4,662 GRT 1,398
NRT 100.00 LOA/88.00 LBP X 17.10 BRD X 2.680 DFT ENGINES 4 X RUSTON,
RUSTON (20RK270) 37,388/BHP 35K AT 90 PCT MCR ON 5 CBM/HR
175 CARS
GENS 3/1,032 kW
IN DEC 2004:
PIME 22,913
SIME 22,359
SOME 23,345

NO 2 DG 29,761
NO 3 DG 27,652



Management at Liverpool's Albert Dock complex have revealed ambitious plans to improve the famous heritage attraction which includes re-letting three quarters of the vacant shop units.

The water area of the Albert Dock will be promoted as a mooring point for luxury yachts and historic ships.

A floating stage will be built in the adjacent Salthouse Dock which will be used as a platform for major concerts and events.

The front facade of the dock will be illuminated at night

Meanwhile National Museums Liverpool are reported to be in negotiations with Granada TV to secure the former Dock Traffic Office which has been used at TV Studios. If the museums are successful a glass walkway will be constructed providing a link to the Maritime Museum.

The Dock Traffic Office would be used as a museum of trans-Atlantic slavery.


EXPRESS - It appears that the vessel will now leave A&P Birkenhead on the Saturday afternoon tide. She is then expected to proceed to Douglas for berthing trials.


Key Points

Pre-exceptional profit before tax up 65% to £170.2 million (£103.2 million); . Ports trading profit up 24% (34% in constant currency) and container throughput up 22% to a record 13.8 million teus; . Trading conditions for Ferries challenging but good progress in implementing conclusions of fundamental business review; . Exceptional items of £380.2 million, principally for Ferries as previously announced; . Net property disposals of £371 million against a target of £250 million; . Strong cash inflow with net debt reduced to £1,029.6 million (£1,502.7 million); and . Recommended final dividend of 6.0p (full year 9.0p), in line with previous announcement.

. Good start to the year for Ports;
. New Ferries product well received;
. P&O Nedlloyd continuing to trade well;
. Further significant property sales already achieved; and
. Group operating profit, excluding rapidly reducing property business, anticipated to improve further in 2005.

Comment by P&O Chief Executive, Robert Woods
"The Group results reflect a substantial improvement in trading performance. We also made considerable strategic progress during the year. Excluding our rapidly reducing property business, where we have announced net sales of over £500 million since the beginning of last year, operating profit is anticipated to improve further in 2005."


Results and dividend

The Group results reflect a substantial improvement in trading performance.

Operating profit from continuing operations before exceptional items increased to £268.3 million (£202.7 million) despite adverse currency movements of approximately £20 million. Strong profit growth was achieved in our major business, Ports, while the cyclical upturn continued to benefit Container Shipping. Ferries experienced difficult trading conditions which led to a fundamental business review, the results of which are now being successfully implemented.

Pre-exceptional profit before tax increased 65% to £170.2 million (£103.2 million).

There were significant exceptional items (primarily impairment and reorganisation charges and profits and losses on sale of businesses) totalling £380.2 million (£23.2 million) before tax of which £267.1 million related to the restructuring of Ferries announced in September and £65.4 million to the restructuring of the Group's interest in P&O Nedlloyd. After exceptional items, interest and tax, the Group recorded a loss of £235.4 million (profit £59.2 million).

Before exceptional items and goodwill amortisation, the earnings per £1 nominal of deferred stock were 19.4p (12.4p). The basic and diluted loss per £1 nominal of deferred stock was 34.7p (earnings 6.5p). In line with the announcement of future dividend policy on 2 February 2004, the Board recommends a final dividend of 6.0p per £1 nominal of deferred stock which, together with the interim dividend of 3.0p, would give a total dividend of 9.0p for 2004. The dividend will be paid on 1 June 2005 to deferred stockholders on the register at the close of business on 29 March 2005.

Cash Flow and Financial Position

Net cash inflow from operating activities and dividends from joint ventures and associates increased significantly to £439.1 million (£310.7 million), principally due to property sales. Net capital expenditure was an inflow of £220.8 million (£411.1 million outflow) with property and business disposals more than offsetting capital expenditure in Ports and other divisions. Consequently, after interest, tax and dividend payments, there was a net cash inflow of £448.1 million (£304.0 million outflow).

The cash inflow led to a reduction in net borrowings to £1,029.6 million (£1,502.7 million). Stockholders' funds reduced to £976.3 million (£1,310.1 million) mainly due to the exceptional items. The debt to capital ratio was 50.2% (52.8%).

The detailed position regarding pensions and the estimated effect of International Financial Reporting Standards are provided in notes 13 and 16 respectively to this statement.


2004 was an important year in P&O's strategic development.
A major objective was achieved with the restructuring of the Group's interest in container shipping. P&O now holds a 25% interest in the listed Royal P&O Nedlloyd N.V. Whilst we would not rule out a sale of some or all of our shares at a price that recognised the full potential of the company, we are comfortable with our shareholding. The industry remains cyclical but we believe that the prospects for the company are highly positive. The relationship with Ports continues to develop and this will be a key factor in any future decisions.

£140 million was invested in expanding the Ports portfolio, notably at Qingdao in China, Mundra and Chennai in India, Antwerp and Southampton in Europe and in Australia. International trade is continuing to grow strongly and P&O is benefiting from having many of its container terminals in fast developing locations where demand is outstripping supply. Ports will remain the focus of our capital investment.

In September we announced proposals to change fundamentally the way we run our Ferries business in response to difficult industry conditions. Those proposals are being implemented quickly following agreement with trade unions and the benefits are starting to be seen.

We achieved net property sales of £371 million, considerably ahead of our target of £250 million. As a result, significant capital has been realised and Property net operating assets were reduced from £808.0 million to £465.9 million.



Ferries reported a trading loss of £15.4 million (£0.2 million). The result includes the Ferrymasters business which reported a loss of £1.9 million (£0.1 million). After reorganisation and impairment charges of £266.0 million (£39.8 million), the operating loss was £281.4 million (£40.0 million).

On a like for like basis, net revenue (turnover less direct variable costs) declined by £34.0 million compared to 2003. Freight volumes grew by 5%, despite reduced capacity on the Short Sea, but average net freight rates declined by 8%. Tourist vehicle volumes were down 5% year on year, mainly attributable to the Short Sea, but average net tourist vehicle rates were up 3% despite significant price competition over the summer period. Passenger numbers decreased 3% and the net on-board spend per passenger fell sharply because of the impact of the rise in cigarette prices following the increases in French tobacco duty. As a result, net revenue generated from on-board sales was down by 23%. The decline in total net revenue was only partially offset by cost reductions, hence the trading result was £15.2 million lower than 2003.

These adverse trading conditions led to a fundamental business review, the conclusions of which were announced on 28 September. We are now focusing increasingly on freight, which is growing strongly, and we have a simplified tourist product targeting lower volumes of premium traffic. We are operating on fewer routes with fewer ships and a cost base that is becoming substantially lower and more flexible. Total profit improvements of £55 million a year are on schedule and we are confident that they will be fully delivered as planned by 2006.

Following the decision by Brittany Ferries not to take on our Portsmouth-Le Havre route, total implementation costs are estimated at £83.9 million. The review included a reassessment of the carrying value of Ferries' assets, which resulted in an impairment charge of £182.1 million and a £1.1 million write down of investments.


2005 has seen a good start for our Ports business. World containerised trade is growing strongly and many of our ports benefit from a favourable local competitive environment. We expect to invest approximately £1 billion of capital to the portfolio over the next five years. At the end of 2004, our total capacity was over 15 million teu, with expansion rights which could increase this to 31 million teu. By the end of 2005, we expect total capacity to be approximately 17 million teu. If we succeed with our proposal for London Gateway port then this would eventually add a further 3.5 million teu. Over and above this we are examining a range of opportunities around the world that could, over time, add up to a further 6 million teu.

The market for Ferries remains challenging, particularly for the tourist business. Current operational difficulties at Calais will have a negative impact on the results in the short term. However, freight continues to grow strongly and the enhanced freight service that we are offering following the fundamental business review has been well received. With a new management team now in place, we are on target to achieve the forecast cost savings from the review.

Royal P&O Nedlloyd is continuing to benefit from strong volumes and freight rates. Assuming that current industry and market conditions continue, they expect a significant improvement in operating profit this year. We intend to make further net property sales of £250 million in 2005. We are announcing today the £47 million sale of a significant part of our King's Cross development which already brings the total for this year to £157 million. By the end of the year we expect Property to account for less than 10% of our net operating assets. The reduced size of the portfolio, together with our having sold the resorts and other assets which were significant contributors to earnings, means that Property is likely to make a much smaller profit contribution in 2005.

For the Group as a whole, excluding Property, operating profit is anticipated to improve further in 2005.



Coaster callers included GELRE, ANKE ANGELA, UNION GEM and EMSLAND. The Danish Survey vessel CABLE ONE arrived at port during the week, she is working on cables at the windfarm off Arklow . CIL tender GRANUAILE anchored in the bay during the week, she was working at the Codling Bank. Traffic in the bay included LE EMER and SCOT RANGER southbound with a deck cargo of round timber.


TAMAR II - the second of the Ferguson new builds for local authority controlled ferry service is due to arrive in Plymouth on Saturday March 12.

The original TAMAR is due to be withdraw from service on March 10 to allow preparation work to be carried out prior to the arrival of the new vessel.

Following the connection to its chains the TAMAR II will undergo a period of eight to ten days of trials and modifications prior to entering service.

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

Following the entry into service of TAMAR II the PLYM II ferry will be removed from service for about four days to complete essential modifications.

A two-ferry 15 minute service will therefore operate during both of the above periods.


HEBRIDES arrived on Merseyside on Monday March 07, entering the former Cammell Laird #4 dry dock at Monk's Ferry for refit by NSL.


NORMANDY - following inspection by the Department of the Marine the ship commenced its 2005 season following last weekend's cancellation on Monday March 07 departing Rosslare at 17:30.


On March 07, Irish Ferries published their preliminary statement of results for year ending December 31, 2004:





€293.3 million

€304.3 million


€51.5 million

€53.4 million


€26.5 million

€28.9 million

Exceptional Charges

€11.9 million

€4.8 million

Adjusted EPS* 



* pre exceptional charges


In comment, Chairman, John B. McGuckian stated,

"ICG has had a resilient performance in 2004 in the face of extremely difficult competitive conditions. We have taken resolute action to reduce our costs in this increasingly competitive market place. We are committed to addressing our cost base going forward. This has cost us both in terms of exceptional charges and income lost through industrial action. Nevertheless we see this as a start in reducing our future cost base to give us the ability to compete effectively in 2005 and beyond ".


Irish Continental Group (plc) ("ICG" or the "Group") today reports its results for the year to 31 December 2004. The results are significantly influenced by the costs incurred in our restructuring programme and the loss of revenue arising from the industrial dispute in December 2004.

Turnover for the year amounted to €293.3 million (2003: €304.3 million) while operating profit before tax and before exceptional charges amounted to €26.5 million (2003: €28.9 million). Adjusted EPS (i.e. before exceptional items and goodwill amortisation) amounted to 84.7cent (2003: 91.4 cent).

The interest charge fell from €6.4 million to €5.4 million arising from our strong cash flow.

There were exceptional restructuring charges of €11.9 million (2003: €4.8 million) comprising the redundancy cost in respect of the crew of the Ireland-France vessel, "Normandy" of €8.2 million and other restructuring costs of €3.7 million in shore side activities. The Normandy is now crewed by a third party manning agency at significantly lower cost.

Basic EPS, after taking account of such exceptional charges, was 34.0 cent (2003: 71.6 cent).


The Board has decided to redeem one Redeemable Share per ICG unit for a cash consideration of 17.25 cent per Redeemable Share. In November 2004 one redeemable share per ICG unit was redeemed for a consideration of 8.625 cent per share. This amounts to a total payment to shareholders of 25.875 cent per Redeemable Share compared with 22.5 cent in the preceding 12 months.


The Ferries division comprises Irish Ferries, the leading ferry operator to the Republic of Ireland, the Group's ship chartering activities, and travel and holiday services.

Turnover in the division was €164.3 million (2003: €170.2 million) while operating profit, before exceptional charges, was €24.0 million (2003: €25.3 million). Exceptional charges relating to the restructuring of Irish Ferries amounted to €9.9m.

Passenger Revenue

Overall passenger numbers were affected by difficult market conditions and by the effects of industrial disputes in February and December, the latter dispute being more significant. Market conditions reflected significant additional airline competition, including low cost carriers.

Total passenger numbers fell 7.4% to 1.59 million while car numbers fell by 5.7% to 383,000. The total number of sailings operated fell by 7% to 4,662 which partially offset the revenue loss.

Freight Revenue

In the Roll on Roll off freight market we achieved a record volume of traffic, up 1.5% to 204,000 trucks carried (with 3% fewer sailings of our conventional Irish Sea vessels).

During the year we benefited from the closure of P&O's Dublin Mostyn service in April although this was offset by the full year effect of additional competing capacity on Dublin Holyhead.


In the light of the prevailing competitive conditions we focussed our attentions during the year on cost reductions.

In the first half of the year we successfully concluded our "Benchmarking" programme on the Irish Sea routes. This was achieved within the budgeted cost of €4.8 million (which had been provided for in financial year 2003). This is generating tangible savings in excess of €2 million per annum.

On the overnight route to France, where staff costs are proportionally much higher due to the nature of the route we were unable to continue the route with the existing crew structure. Consequently we have employed a third party crewing agency to crew the ship and we offered the existing crew relocation to the Irish Sea or a voluntary severance package. 90% of the staff have left the group under voluntary severance, which has cost approximately €8.2 million, with the balance transferring to the Irish Sea. In December 2004 we lost 10 days sailings due to industrial action on the Irish Sea which was initiated subsequent to the successful implementation of the severance programme.


Both the Pride of Bilbao and Pride of Cherbourg remained on charter to P&O during the period. P&O sub-chartered the Pride of Cherbourg to Stena Line subsequent to the year end and the vessel is now named "Stena Challenger" and currently trading in the Baltic. Both charters to P&O are firm until 2007, with charterer's options to extend.


The division includes our intermodal freight services Eucon, Feederlink and Eurofeeders as well as our strategically located container port in Dublin.

Turnover in the division was €129.8 million compared with €134.8 million in 2003 while operating profit was €2.5 million (2003: €3.6 million).

Overall container volumes shipped rose by 3.3% to 501,000 teu while units handled at our terminal in Dublin, DFT, rose 10.9% to 145,300 lifts.

Overall however the results were disappointing due to intensely competitive pricing combined with rising costs for chartered vessels, rising fuel costs, and the late completion of the development of our new berth by Dublin Port.

There were exceptional charges in the Division of €1.6m relating to the restructuring of work practices to comply with the Working Time Directive and a reorganisation in maintenance services.

The expansion programme at DFT was completed in June and this has provided us with additional capacity with which to grow the terminal business in 2005.


EBITDA before restructuring charges for the year was €51.5 million (2003: €53.4 million). Our interest payments were €6.3 million and tax payments amounted to €0.5 million. Capital expenditure was €13.5 million while restructuring payments (including those provided for in 2003) totalled €12.2 million.

We returned €5.5 million to shareholders via redemption of redeemable shares (2003: €5.0 million including dividends) whilst we also bought back €7.9 million of equity (2003: €9.1 million the previous year).

As a result of our strong cash flow, net debt at year end was down to €117.9 million. (2003: €125 million).


As required by the EU we will be reporting from 1 January 2005 in accordance with International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) rather than GAAP. The principal area of divergence between IFRS and GAAP are in the accounting for retirement benefits and pensions. Under IFRS the charge for pension benefits for current service would have been Euro 2.2 million higher in 2004 than under SSAP24.


There were a number of changes to the Board during the year. In March, Bernard Somers was co-opted to the Board and he was elected at the following AGM. In April I succeeded Tom Toner as Chairman upon his retirement. The Board thanks him for his committed chairmanship since flotation in 1988.

In May the untimely death took place of Alex Mullin, non-executive director, who had retired from the Group in 2001. Alex was instrumental in the development of the Group in the 1980's and 1990's particularly by way of his involvement in the acquisition of B&I Line in 1992. He will be missed.


The markets in which we operate, passenger and freight transport, remain extremely competitive. Our task is to ensure both our cost base and our capital base are appropriate to the markets in which we compete. We are adjusting our pricing in the passenger market more closely to the airline model, with simplified "per person" fares and no restrictions on length of stay.

In the freight markets, both RoRo and LoLo, increased prices are necessary to reflect the increasing external costs such as fuel, ship chartering and port costs.

While trading in the seasonally weaker early months of the year is not significant in the context of performance of the year as a whole, trading in the first 2 months of the financial year has been in line with last year.

John B. McGuckian,


March 7th 2005


Ships officers at Irish Ferries have reportedly begun a ballot for strike action as part of a long-running row over the 'outsourcing' of jobs on the company's Rosslare-Cherbourg service.

Reports this morning said the strike ballot was prompted by Irish Ferries' failure to confirm that it would implement a Labour Court recommendation in relation to the matter.

The court ruled that the company should be allowed to replace most Irish crew on its MV Normandy ferry with cheaper agency workers, but should continue to directly employ ships officers.

SIPTU, which had opposed the 'outsourcing' plan, has accepted the recommendation.


A £3 million replacement vessel for a renowned Cornish ferry service is to be built in the county, it has been confirmed.

Pendennis Shipyard at Falmouth has signed a letter of intent to build a 400-tonne King Harry ferry which is due to be launched in spring 2006.

It will be the seventh ferry to have carried vehicles and foot passengers across the River Fal between Feock and Philleigh on the Roseland peninsula.

Pendennis Shipyard, a specialist in super yachts, has been in talks with neighbour A &P Falmouth over A&P building the ferry's steel structure.

David Hodgson, chairman of King Harry Ferry, said: "We are delighted that the contract will go to a local firm.

"We invited seven companies throughout Europe to tender. [Western Morning News]



At 14:30 on March 07, Swansea Coastguard were alerted by Severn vessel traffic services (VTS) to a collision between two ships in the Severn estuary.

The collision occurred at twenty minutes to two this afternoon between the 17,065 tonne bulk carrier ISLAND GEM which was on passage from Bilbao in Spain to Newport with a cargo of steel products with a crew of nineteen, and the 13,410 tonne BRO TRAVELLER who was on passage from Pembroke to Cardiff with a cargo of fuel products.

Both vessels have sustained some damage, but there are no injuries to crew members on either ship. So far established by the crew of the ISLAND GEM is a crack in the accommodation area, four to five metres above the water line. There is no ingress of water reported to either vessel. The BRO TRAVELLER has sustained damage to the foc’sle, and has damaged frames. An initial inspection was undertaken by the crew throughout the vessel.

The ISLAND GEM continued to Newport and the BRO TRAVELLER to Cardiff where they were met by Maritime and Coastguard Agency surveyors.  The weather at the time of the incident was North nor’ east winds of 6 knots, with good visibility and cloudy.


Cornwall County Council has asked the national lighthouse authority, Trinity House, not to switch off Godrevy Lighthouse, near Hayle, as an economy measure. Councillors have warned that the decision could jeopardise the safety of fishermen and small craft users in St Ives Bay, the ports of Hayle and St Ives. [ Western Morning News ]

March 06Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Ian Collard, Brain Mc Grath, Tommy Dover, Alex McCormac  and "others"


Apologies for the delay in posting this week's update. However, if you browse the gallery updates posted today you will know why the delay occurred!


EXPRESS - is expected to undertake berthing trails at Douglas on either Monday or Tuesday March 07 / 08 in preparation for her TT sailings from Larne in June - see March 02, update below.


Crew recruitment advertisements appeared in the Liverpool Echo on Thursday March 03 and Saturday March 05. All grades are required.

It is understood SEACAT ISLE OF MAN will be renamed SEA EXPRESS 1 for operation by the new company which is registered at Gibraltar House, [ Kelvin House ] Kelvin Road, Wallasey.

The company has registered the following web domains, and . At the time of compiling this news bulletin nothing has been uploaded to these domains.


NORMANDY - SIPTU ships' officers have agreed to accept cheap-labour crews on Irish Ferries services as long as the company continues to employ its officers at agreed union rates.

The union has indicated that it would accept a Labour Court recommendation that Irish Ferries should be allowed to employ lower-cost Eastern and Central European crews on its MV Normandy service between France and Rosslare.

The outcome appears to be a victory for Irish Ferries' management.

The company had indicated that, while it wanted to use Eastern European crews, it had hoped to retain higher skilled ships' officers.

When NORMANDY returned to Rosslare to commence her 2005 season the ship experienced a technical problem which resulted in the cancellation of the March 04, 05 and 06 sailings.


NORWAY / FRANCE - it is reported that the classic liner currently laid up at Bremerhaven has been sold to Indian breakers for €15m. Her last visit to the Irish Sea was in September 2001.

March 02Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Brian Chambers, Edwin Wilmshurst  and "others"


The company's revamped web site and new on-line booking facility is online. The booking system is much improved over the previous system as passengers no longer have to look for codes prior to using the system.

It appears that the company will charter the [CHERBOURG] EXPRESS for a number of journeys between Larne and Douglas during the TT Festival. The scheduled SUPERSEACAT TWO sailings between Douglas and Belfast will continue to use the former Sea Containers terminal at Donegall Quay at Belfast.

LADY OF MANN - The special excursion programme this spring is as follows

  • Douglas to Troon - Friday May 20.
  • Troon to Douglas - Saturday May 21
  • Douglas - Fleetwood - Douglas - Fleetwood - Douglas - Sunday May 22 & Tuesday May 24
  • Douglas - Whitehaven - Douglas - Whitehaven - Douglas - Monday May 23
  • Douglas - Barrow - Douglas - Barrow - Douglas - Barrow - Wednesday May 25
  • Douglas - Llandudno - Douglas - Llandudno - Douglas - Thursday - May 26
  • Round The Island - Sunday May 29

Timings and final details subject to confirmation.


The company have decided to extend the season of their EXPRESS [ex CHERBOURG EXPRESS] fast ferry service from ending on 18 September, to ending on 3 October - no doubt due to Seacat axing their Belfast - Troon route.

The original sailing plan also seems to have been amended.

Whilst 17 March to 23 June and 30 August to 3 October it will remain:

Depart. Larne 07:15, arrive Troon 09:05.
Depart Troon 10:05, arrive Larne 11:55.
Depart Larne 13:00. arrive Cairnryan 14:00.
Depart Cairnryan 15:15, arrive Larne 16:15.
Depart Larne 17:30, arrive Troon 19:20.
Depart Troon 20:20, arrive Larne 22:10.

From 24 June to 29 August it will now include an extra Cairnryan roundtrip as follows:

Depart. Larne 07:15, arrive Troon 09:05.
Depart Troon 09:50, arrive Larne 11:40.
Depart Larne 12:20. arrive Cairnryan 13:20.
Depart Cairnryan 14:00, arrive Larne 15:00.
Depart Larne 15:40. arrive Cairnryan 16:40.
Depart Cairnryan 17:20, arrive Larne 18:20.
Depart Larne 18:55, arrive Troon 20:45.
Depart Troon 21:30, arrive Larne 23:20.


This is broadly in line with last year's SUPERSTAR EXPRESS schedule.

Meanwhile 10 July - 7 August the EUROPEAN HIGHLANDER and EUROPEAN CAUSEWAY will be dry-docked with 4 conventional sailings each way per day instead of the usual 7 (though I imagine there may be some kind of freight back-up brought in).

P&O are heavily marketing their fast ferry service this year - clearly hoping to cash in on customers who formerly used the Belfast - Troon route.


A new £1 million fleet of buses ordered by Firstbus to link Plymouth and Cornwall has been grounded - because they can't get on or off the Torpoint ferries. Embarrassed First bosses together with engineers from the manufacturers are trying to fix the problem, which emerged the first time the new buses tried to use the vessels.

Despite being specially designed to cope with the steep slipways and loading prows, the new buses grounded on both the old and new ferries.


SIPTU has welcomed a Labour Court ruling that workers on Irish Ferries services between Rosslare and Cherbourg should be employed directly by the company.

The trade union had been in dispute with the ferry firm over its plans to "outsource" employment on the MV Normandy in an effort to cut costs.

The dispute led to the temporary lay-off of hundreds of crew members and the disruption of sailings before Christmas.

SIPTU has welcomed the Labour Court's ruling in the matter and said it hoped the company would implement it.

Spokesman Paul Smyth said strike action would be on the cards if it failed to do so.

"If the company refuse to implement it, I think it will be a difficult industrial relations period ahead," he said.

NORMANDY - will be back in Rosslare Europort Thursday March 03. Her 2005 Summer Service to Cherbourg on Friday, March 04.


DIPLOMAT will commence a New Freight Service to Pembroke on Monday, 7th March. The Vessel will sail out on Monday at 16:00 to Pembroke, and return Tuesday morning at 05:00. This will give Freight Drivers a two hours head start to Dublin and other parts of the Country in the morning.


A reminder of two exhibitions currently in progress at the Museum located at the Albert Dock complex:

LIVERPOOL TO NEW YORK: the only way to cross

Merseyside Maritime Museum until 14 August 2005

Visitors can relive the golden age of travel in the Merseyside Maritime Museum's major exhibition Liverpool to New York: the only way to cross, which runs from 28 January until 14 August 2005. Until the 1960s the only way to cross the Atlantic for many people was by ship, and one of the main UK departure ports was Liverpool.

Two of the greatest Atlantic shipping lines, Cunard and White Star, were based in the city. At the height of their popularity the lives of thousands of people on Merseyside were linked with the Atlantic liners, as passengers, crew, employees and suppliers. A liner at sea was a self-contained world.

The exhibition Liverpool to New York aims to bring this world to life by recreating a voyage day by day, letting visitors experience each stage of the journey as the passengers and crew themselves would have done. Each of the six days of the voyage is themed as follows: The exhibition will include original artefacts and equipment from some of the most luxurious ocean liners, such as the Queen Mary and the Mauretania, as well as digital interactives and hands-on displays, to give visitors a taste of life on board.

On selected dates there will also be the opportunity to meet characters from the voyages in the form of the museum roleplayers, who will bring to life a gossipy first class passenger and a wireless operator. Dr Alan Scarth, curator at the Merseyside Maritime Museums says; "The sheer scale and audacity of the ocean liners is stunning to the airline generation. If you never had the chance to experience the voyage yourself then this exhibition is the next best thing."

The Sea Liverpool 2005 celebrations were launched at the exhibition in a gala evening event on Thursday 27 January 2005. Sea Liverpool 2005 is a city-wide celebration as part of the build up to Liverpool's Capital of Culture year in 2008. Liverpool to New York: the only way to cross is sponsored by Carnival Corporation's Cunard Division.

Cruel Sea

Merseyside Maritime Museum until 1 May 2005

The Merchant Navy played a crucial part in the nation's survival during the Second World War, crossing dangerous seas to bring food and raw materials into Britain. 'Cruel Sea' is an exhibition bringing together the extraordinary, moving recollections of the brave men and women who undertook this perilous work. During the Second World War, 3194 merchant ships were sunk with the loss of 30,000 merchant seafarers from across the Commonwealth and Empire. In the past, veterans have understated their achievements and individual acts of heroism.

This display concentrates entirely on the personal memories of veterans and their experiences of the war at sea. It aims to bring recognition to the Merchant Navy during the Year of the Sea for the important contribution it made to the war effort. 'Cruel Sea' is a touring exhibition, facilitated by Age Exchange, a reminiscence arts charity committed to raising the profile of older people in society. The project has been funded by Arts Council England.


A new £2 million super breed of lifeboat, named after a Westcountry river, has been put through her paces off the Cornish coast. The Tamar class vessel, an all-weather replacement for the 25-year-old Tyne class, will be bigger, faster, safer and better equipped to power through rough seas and carry out rescue missions.

The first batch of these new vessels are to be built by Hampshire boatyard Green Marine, fitted out by DML of Devonport and deployed to chosen stations later this year.

As she has been designed as a slipway-launched lifeboat, it is likely that Cornwall's Sennen Cove and Padstow will be among those in line to receive a Tamar.

Yesterday a pre-production model, having visited Sennen Cove on Saturday and Padstow on Sunday, sailed up the north coast of Cornwall and Devon en route to Wales.

She is to undergo more trials at Tenby, where the newly-built lifeboat station can accommodate a Tamar class boat whose hull shape is different to previous designs.

Tamsin Thomas, spokesman for the RNLI, said: "This represents another stage of the continuous improvement of our fleet.

"The Tyne class is coming towards the end of its useful life. The Tamar is bigger, faster, provides more safety features, has improved ergonomics for the crew as she crashes through waves, and is better equipped."

At 16 metres the Tamar is two metres longer than the Tyne. She has a top speed of 25 knots, compared to the Tyne's 17 knots.

Mrs Thomas said: "It provides more safety features to prevent accidents to crew." 
[Western Morning News]


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

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

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