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Finished With Engines: Irish Sea Shipping is now closed to new updates - J.H. Luxton Photography - Transport, Industrial History, Regional Photographs UK & beyond


June 29Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Ian Collard and "others"

ENVOY - it appears that the former Irish Sea stalwart ENVOY [ex P&O's EUROPEAN ENVOY] may return to the Irish Sea for a brief stint during the summer under charter for services out of Liverpool.


Reports in the Liverpool Daily Post earlier this week suggested that Mersey Ferries may introduce a night service between Liverpool and Birkenhead Woodside should redevelopment proposals for the area around Woodside come into fruition.


P&O will withdraw from the container shipping at the end of June when it finalises the sale of its 25% stake in P&O Nedlloyd. The company announced that it had agreed to sell its holding to two financial institutions acting on behalf of AP

It is understood once  AP Møller-Maersk have acquired the business the P&O name will be dropped. P&O say that receipts from the sale will be used initially to reduce debt before being invested in the company's port business. Some of the funds will be used to reduce the deficit in the company's UK pension scheme.


News which many had expected for some time was announced today when the A.P. Møller - Maersk subsidiary announced that it was seeking to acquire Norse Merchant Ferries:

SCHEVENINGEN, The Netherlands - 29 June 2005: Norfolkline, one of the leading multimodal short sea carriers in North Europe, today announced its intention to acquire Norse Merchant Ferries, a leading Ro-Ro/Ferry operator on the Irish Sea. Norfolkline and Wayzata Investment Partners, on behalf of the shareholders of Norse Merchant Group Limited, have signed a Letter of Intent and the parties expect to reach a definitive agreement on the purchase in due course subject to, inter alia, due diligence and necessary third party and governmental consents including antitrust approvals.

Should the deal be completed successfully, the proposed acquisition of Norse Merchant Ferries will clearly strengthen Norfolklines brand name and create a unique opportunity for further development in the European Ro-Ro Market. Both companies have ongoing new building programs and if the parties enter into a final agreement, the combined company will serve its customers with the youngest, fastest and most reliable fleet in the market.

Announcing the news, Managing Director of Norfolkline, Thomas Woldbye, stated that:

"Norse Merchant represent a strategic opportunity for Norfolkline to expand our core business in a complementary manner within a market we know well and where our trailer and logistics business is already very active. It will give us flexibility and add further value to our customers. We are looking very much forward to combining the forces of two strong companies.

The employees are important to both Norfolkline and Norse Merchant and the aim of this proposed acquisition is to build up towards future growth. Norfolkline is committed to be first class to its customers and employees as well as to its shareholders."

The parties have agreed not to disclose transaction details including price.


A brand new web site was launched by Justin Merrigan and Tony Jones on June 27. - Sealink - Holyhead will provide a definitive guide to the officers, crews, ships and ports that have maintained a "sealink" between Holyhead on Anglesey and Dublin Bay Ireland, over the years. You can access the site at:

June 27 


It appears the information provided yesterday concerning the P&O summer refits on the Liverpool - Dublin route was not completely accurate. Pending clarification the news item has been withdrawn.


LAGAN VIKING - the new 970 passenger ship is expected to enter service on the Belfast - Liverpool service on July 11 / 12.


The start of the new passenger ferry service between Blackpool and Southport to be operated by a hovercraft owned by Walton's Coaches has been delayed as reported by Blackpool Today:

BLACKPOOL'S hovercraft needs your support. That's the message from Peter Walton, whose planned service to Southport has been temporarily grounded.

The return journeys from Starr Gate to Southport were meant to start at the end of May but English Nature raised concerns about disturbing nesting sea ducks on the Ribble Estuary.

Since then the Freckleton-based coach operator has been unable to make any progress and he is now hoping the public on both sides of the water will offer him their support. He said: "From what I can gather most people are in favour of the hovercraft and I have had a positive response from Fylde MP Michael Jack, the Southport MP and from the tourism department over there. It would be a great help if the people of Blackpool could get behind me and we could join the support from both sides of the estuary to help strengthen our case."

Blackpool councillors voted unanimously in favour of setting up a permanent base on land next to the Blackpool Light Craft Club at Starr Gate and the project was due to get off the ground by Spring Bank Holiday at the end of last month. The hovercraft uses sophisticated satellite navigation and Mr Walton is confident he can keep to a precise route across the water.

But English Nature still raised their concerns about the disruption to sea birds nesting in the estuary. He now has to commission an ecologist, who will carry out an in-depth study of the area to find out exactly where any of the birds, if any, are nesting. "The survey is going to take some time and even when it is completed there is no guarantee English Nature will accept the findings so it could be some time before the maiden flight will take place. "I am still hoping there will be a way round this. The Isle of Wight has a hovercraft service and the bird population has actually increased in that area," he said.

Mr Walton says he will now contact Blackpool South MP Gordon Marsden to see if there is anything that can be done to speed up the launch. Blackpool tourism boss Jane Seddon said she was happy to support the venture.  "A service to Southport not only brings visitors to the resort from across the water but it also offers Blackpool's visitors the chance to take a day trip to a resort which is completely different."


The former ISLE OF INNISFREE [CHALLENGER] is currently at Wallhamn 30 miles north of Goteborg loading a cargo of cars and trucks bound for Chile. She is due to depart on June 28.

When she departs Sweden she will bunker in the Azores, then Panama, discharge in Chile, bunker again in Peru, again in Papeete (Tahiti) and arrive in Auckland about 7th Aug. Expected to commence service Wellington / Picton on 22nd Aug.

The photographs show her in her new Interislander livery prior to leaving Remontowa.

June 26Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Adrian Mc.Bride, Ian Collard, Michael Bracken, Tommy Dover and "others".



The update schedule for July to September will be published next week, with the next update scheduled to appear on Sunday July 03.


SUPERSEACAT TWO - has been suffering from electrical problems. Her 21:00 sailing from Douglas to Dublin, did not get away until around 00:30 on Saturday morning. The ship was back in Douglas shortly after 06:00 and was away to Liverpool around twenty minutes late at 07:20. By the time she had returned to Douglas at 13:00 on Saturday she was back on time..


The presence of a large number of basking sharks around the coast of the Isle of Man combined with a swell on the west coast of the Island have led to the cancellation of the "Round The Island" race due to be held on Sunday June 26. Alternative racing will be provided in Douglas Bay on Sunday afternoon. Photographs of Saturday's racing in the bay.


Due to delays in completing the harbour water retention flap gate at Peel, the Isle of Man Traditional Boat Festival, due to be held in Peel between the 21 and 24 July has been cancelled. The event was held each year up to 2002, however, it was not held in 2003 and 2004 due to harbour works. Many historical vessels, including the sailing ship ZEBU had been due to attend.

June 22Acknowledgements: Mike Deegan, Kevin Bennett, Michael Bracken, Tommy Dover and "others".


Following all the happenings during the past few weeks a period of "slack water" has been reached. Which one can't complain too much about from a web master's point of view!

During the past three weeks or so there have been 85 pages created or updated on the web site! Hopefully things will remain quieter for a period of time to enable other projects to be worked on - including the preparation of the ISS 2004 photo compilation disk which should be available some time in August.


HEBRIDEAN PRINCESS - will make a call at the Pier Head, Liverpool on the evening of Tuesday July12, 2005. This call is in addition to those in her published itinerary for the Manchester Ship Canal Cruise.

The ship will transit the Manchester Ship Canal the following day. She will be alongside at Salford Quays until Saturday July 16 when she again transits the canal outbound.

She will be transiting the Menai Straits from Beaumaris to Caernarfon between 1800 and 1930 on the Sunday evening before berthing alongside at Caernarfon overnight that night.

This information kindly supplied by Mike Deegan of Hebridean Islands Cruises should ensure that quite a few enthusiasts are able to record the event.


Light vessel SKUA which has been laid up for some time at Dún Laoghaire pending sale arrived at Arklow on Monday June 13 towed by tug SEA TROGAN. Details of future plans for the vessel are as yet unknown.

Photograph - Tommy Dover.




NORBAY -A correspondent reports that on the afternoon of June 22 the was prevented from going through the Hornby Dock swing bridge enroute to its berth at Gladstone Dock.

Apparently high temperatures led to expansion caused the bridge to jam in mid position due to the heat. NORBAY had to return to Langton Lock, lock out and then go in via Gladstone.  The correspondent reports that hoses were played on the bridge to cool it down.


TRAFALGAR - the tug is understood to be heading down south for the International Fleet Review to be held on Tuesday June 28, 2005.


Did you have ancestors who fought in the Battle of Trafalgar on board British warships? Follow this link  to the national archives site to search their on-line database.

June 19Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Ian Collard, Kevin Bennett, Adrian Mc.Bride, Dan Cross, C.J. Lawreson  and "others".

After over two and a half weeks it looks as though I have almost caught up with the backlog on the web site. May / June is traditionally a busy period, but this year it appears to have been even busier than usual!

One of the problems I have with the web site, is that I am faced with something of a dilemma. I always try to include as much contributors' photographic material as possible.

However, I now face the problem that certain happenings can be covered by more than one person! Therefore, I am having to adopt a policy of first received, first posted, otherwise I am in danger of being overwhelmed!

Once again I would like to thank all contributors over the past few weeks.

The back log hasn't just concerned submissions to the web site - if you have been awaiting an email response from me over the past few days I will be checking back for outstanding replies which need to be made.

- John H. Luxton Webmaster

June 19, 2005


SUPERSEACAT TWO - Following repair work to damaged caused when departing Liverpool on Thursday morning the vessel returned to service on Friday evening with a delayed 18:00 sailing from Liverpool - Douglas.


Luxury cruise ship HEBRIDEAN PRINCESS is setting sail from the picturesque Scottish town of Oban for the industrial waterways of Salford for the first time next month.

Passengers on the Hebridean Princess ship will pay nearly £3,000 to sail on the seven-night cruise.
The voyage starts from the west coast of Scotland on 7 July, passing the Isle of Man before reaching the Manchester Ship Canal and Salford Quays.


GRANUAILE departed from dry dock at A&P Birkenhead early on Saturday June 18, 2005. She had arrived the previous Sunday.


Irish Ferries will stop operating its route to France unless it is allowed  to manage its affairs efficiently, chief executive Eamonn Rothwell warns.

An open letter to that effect has been sent to all staff at the troubled  firm. That situation "is closer than a lot of people might imagine". There  was no guarantee, he claimed, that the outsourcing firm employing mostly  Eastern European staff on the MV NORMANDY would adopt a voluntary approach over any redundancies, as Irish Ferries had done. There was no future for  the Rosslare-France service without outsourcing NORMANDY crew after last  year's voluntary redundancy package, costing ?8.5m.

He said the industry was struggling as passengers swapped to low cost  airlines. Irish Ferries had so far avoided compulsory redundancies  experienced elsewhere in the sector, he said. With union cooperation he would try to ensure this situation continued. "However, throwing rocks at  our passengers and holding them to ransom for eight hours off the port of  Cherbourg is not acceptable," he said, referring to protests which the firm believes have been orchestrated by Siptu.

Mr Rothwell said while accepting Labour Court recommendations on outsourcing of staff, Siptu was disrupting the NORMANDY and encouraging Brittany Ferries staff to do so also.

"This year, we, to date, we have reduced fares by 15 per cent and our car volumes are still down four per cent on last year," he added.

Shutdown of the French route would mean compulsory redundancies elsewhere in  the firm and probably mean another ferry firm taking up the route, threatening Irish Ferries. [Irish Independent].

The following news report appeared on June 17:

A six week truce has been agreed in the bitter Irish Ferries dispute which disrupted ferry services between Rosslare and France in recent weeks.

Trade union SIPTU last night agreed to back away from its role in disrupting Irish Ferries' services to France in exchange for the company accepting a review of its new policy of outsourcing crews.

In a statement, both Siptu and the company, part of the Irish Continental Group, noted they had agreed to appoint Greg Sparks of FGS accountants and former Siptu union official Martin King as "assessors to conduct a comprehensive review of operations encompassing the Irish Sea and Continental corridors".

Mr Sparks, a former senior Labour Party aide, has conducted work for Siptu and other unions at Aer Lingus and the Irish Times during job cuts crises.

The ferry company and trade union have "requested the assessors to develop a set of recommendations, designed to meet the requirements of the business for their consideration within a six-week timescale". In return, Siptu chiefs have pledged to stop its co-ordination of protests at the port of Cherbourg and have ordered a media 'blackout' for six weeks.

The deal also reflects a climb-down by Irish Ferries chief executive, Eamon Rothwell, who this week warned he would abandon the firm's service to France if the option of using cheap Eastern European contract crews was unavailable.


Irish Ferries, who have taken upon themselves the mantle of Ireland's low fares ferry company, have hit out at air carriers with a series of new low Sail/Rail fares to Britain beginning from €30.

Unique to Irish Ferries, fares cover travel from Dublin on cruise or fast ferries services to Holyhead and onwards by mainline train services to over 2,400 rail stations in Britain.

Promising city centre to city centre connections, free of airport hassles and baggage restrictions, fares begin from only €30 per person one way including all taxes and charges. Children travel at half price.

One call books all reservations can be made by telephoning Irish Ferries at 0818 300 400.


A trainee seaman killed a ship's captain in a frenzied knife attack before apparently jumping off the stern of the massive tanker - possibly falling into the propeller blades - an inquest heard yesterday.

Filipino captain Walfredo Banta, 34, was found lying face down in a pool of blood in his cabin on board the Josefa Camejo in Torbay.

A post-mortem examination found that he died from multiple blunt and stabbing injuries to the head, neck and upper torso. His body was riddled with 45 wounds.

In the investigations that followed, police found notes written by Filipino trainee seaman Bruce Arcamo, 20, which described what he wanted done with his own body after he died and how to split his possessions.

There was also one that spoke of his hatred of Capt Banta, who was described by other crew members as a strict disciplinarian, the inquest at Torquay Magistrates' Court heard.

Roommate Brian Ventura said in a statement: "Bruce always seemed much happier when the captain was not on board the ship. On the day the incident happened, I found Bruce, he appeared to have been crying and he was obviously upset, but he would not speak."

The victim was the youngest and only Filipino captain in Overseas Shipholding Group Inc.

The killing happened on February 3 as the boat was entering the English Channel, two miles south-east of Brixham.

Earlier in the day, Capt Banta had punished the trainee for sleeping on duty. The captain refused to sign his training log book and ordered Mr Arcamo to do press-ups and star jumps. Members of the 25-strong crew said they believed the captain was too strict.

Mr Arcamo had served eight months of a 12-month training programme. He was described as hardworking, "always continuing his tasks until they were finished".

In January, he went ashore at Nederlands, Texas, USA, and bought a tool made up of various blades. The same tool was found beside Capt Banta's body.

The ship arrived off Brixham and the captain said he was going to get changed into his official uniform before the deep water pilot, which would guide the ship through the English Channel arrived, but he did not return. The chief officer eventually found his body lying face down in a pool of blood.

Police investigations have failed to find the body of Mr Arcamo, although the trail of blood he left led to the ship's stern where they believe he fell into the water and into the wash of the propeller blades.

Forensic scientist Michael Appleby said: "A violent and sustained assault took place on Walfredo Banta. He was hit with a steam iron and a metal frame stool. The item used to stab him was probably a multi-tool. The attack was so ferocious that the blade snapped."

Coroner Ian Arrow recorded a verdict of unlawful killing.

[Western Morning News - June 16]

June 16Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Ian Collard, Kevin Bennett, Iain McPherson and "others".

Once again a backlog has been building up. I am aware of quite a few items in the Inbox, but due to constraints of time and other commitments I have not yet been able to include them in an update. I have the most news related items for this evening's update. I will endeavour to catch up with other submissions at the weekend.


BEN-MY-CHREE - Tickets for the Ben's first Round The Island Cruise on Saturday July 23 are now on sale at the Douglas Sea Terminal or by telephoning 01624661661. The fare is £17.50 and includes a buffet.

LADY OF MANN - a correspondent reports that the Lady let go at Alexandra Dock, Liverpool  around 00:10 and proceeded to Langton Lock. She departed Langton at 01:00 and sailed to Prince's Landing Stage to load stores and a number of Bentley cars, believed to be heading to the Azores from a rally.

Departure from Prince's Stage was at 02;30 with 46 crew on board. ETA at Ponta Del Garda bing 02:00 on June 19.

Contrary to rumours circulating on the waterfront she has not yet been sold and did sale in Steam Packet livery. The photograph taken by Ian Collard shows Lifeboat drill in progress on June 15, 2005. The LADY OF MANN's final day of sailings on the Heysham route were on Sunday June 12. Her Monday sailings were cancelled to enable engine repairs to be undertaken. These took longer than anticipated and delayed departure to the Azores.

SUPERSEACAT TWO - With hours of the Steam Packet being reduced to a two ship fleet, SUPERSEACAT TWO managed to become damaged when departing from Liverpool on the 10:30 sailing to Douglas on Thursday June 16. The sailing was aborted and she spent the rest of the day at Prince's Stages, before crossing to the wet basin at Birkenhead around 18:00. Her sailings until 14:00 on Friday were reported cancelled.


Week commencing June 13 it was announced that Irish Sea Express will only now operate two round trips per day on Friday, Saturday and Sunday during the peak season. The reduction in frequency was attributed to the high costs of fuel, weak market and lower returns than initially forecast.


The family of a man who drowned after falling overboard from the KONINGIN BEATRIX have won more than £252,000 in compensation. Michael Davis, of Melrose Avenue, Yate, Bristol, died in October 2000  during a crossing from Rosslare to Fishguard.

Mr Justice Forbes, sitting at the High Court in March, ruled ferry firm Stena Line Ltd was responsible.

And on Monday, Mr Davis's wife and two young children - who were with him on the ferry when he fell - were awarded £252,939.36 in damages.

The court heard the captain of the KONINGIN BEATRIX, David Rhys Parry  Williams, had attempted an "ad hoc, ill-prepared and not well thought out"  rescue plan.

Rather than contact a nearby ship, the CELTIC KING, for help, Mr  Williams decided to open a door in the ferry's hull and throw out a
life-line to the 35-year-old.

The sea was too rough to launch the ferry's own rescue boat, and the judge said Captain Williams made a "calculated decision" to press ahead with his own rescue plan without requesting assistance from the CELTIC KING.

Mr Justice Forbes said that, had Mr Williams' bosses at Stena Line Ltd learned from other disasters at sea, Mr Davis would probably have survived.

June 12Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Ian Collard, John Lewis, C.J. Lawrenson, Kevin Bennett, Iain McPherson, Roy Paul, Adrian McBride, Alex McCormac and "others"


This hectic time of year continued this week with the somewhat disappointing 25th Annual Mersey River Festival. You can read your webmaster's views  . It isn't the first time that Irish Sea Shipping - The Online Shipping Magazine has had criticisms to make of this event, but considering we are supposed to be celebrating Sea Britain 2005 as well as the Twenty Fifth Anniversary of the start of the annual river festival the 2005 event was poor.

Once again I would like to thank all contributors to the web site for their submissions. Due to lack of time I have been unable to include all material submitted in the past few days, however, I will try to post it as soon as possible. There are likely to be additional updates posted during the week.

So hectic are things at the moment responses to emails have become somewhat erratic, I will get back to anyone to whom I have not yet replied as soon as possible.

John H. Luxton - Webmaster


STENA ADVENTURER departed from the Mersey on the afternoon tide of June 11 on completion of her refit at Birkenhead.


LADY OF MANN apparently suffered some engine trouble on Friday morning. Her Monday sailings have been cancelled, presumably to allow her problems to be sorted out prior to departing for the Azores.


NORMANDY was reported to have had problems docking at the Breton port of Roscoff due to several hundred French trade unionists, joined by representatives from Ireland and Britain, who gathered at the port on June 10 to continue their protest against  Irish Ferries employment conditions.


The very useful AIS facility hosted on the New Brighton Gas-Cam site at with improved maps etc.

The Liverpool Bay area now extends westwards to the vicinity to Penmaenmawr and northwards beyond Heysham.

It is now possible to see ships on approach to Heysham. Photographers planning visits to the Mersey will find this most useful in judging the patterns of traffic a couple of hours before ships actually arrive on the river.


The Mersey Docks and Harbour Company with port operations in Liverpool, Sheerness, Chatham, Heysham and Dublin, has confirmed it has accepted a cash offer of £9.82p per share.

Peel Ports, owner of Clydeport, which operates ports on the west coast of Scotland, and the Manchester Ship Canal, said it expected the acquisition to consolidate its position in the UK ports sector.

The group, majority owned by UK property magnate John Whittaker, “believes that there are significant commercial benefits to both organisations in the proposed combination”.

“We hope to combine Peel’s expertise in managing waterside and brownfield property assets with those of the Mersey management and employees to create new opportunities for the enlarged group,” Mr Whittaker said.


International Ship Brokers have advertised SEA EXPRESS 1 for sale

The ship is currently chartered to Irish Sea Express by owners the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company. However, Irish Sea Express have recently looked at the two 74m Sea Containers Incat vessels SEACAT SCOTLAND and SEACAT FRANCE laid up at the Pallion Yard on Wearside.

Information recently received also suggests that the proposed Irish Sea Express service to Belfast may actually operate from Troon and not Liverpool as first rumours indicated.


SIR BEDIVERE apparently damaged herself when passing through the Birkenhead dock system after departing North Western Ship Repairers Bidston Dry Dock on Tuesday June 07, 2005. She had to return to the yard for repairs.


On Monday June 06, 2005 Rosslare Port was blockaded by fishermen protesting about Department of the Marine Restrictions being imposed on the expanding Irish scallop fishing fleet. As a result shipping services were delayed or cancelled.


BALMORAL was unable to berth at Llandudno on Sunday June 12 to board passengers for her Parade of Sail cruise to the Mersey. Passengers for the trip had to be bussed around.

This delayed the departure of Balmoral for the Parade of Sail cruise whilst the arrival of the coaches was awaited. A correspondent reports that in a good piece of customer relations passengers were all offered a half price voucher for another Waverley Excursions trip and a free cup of coffee with sandwiches bought in the Dining Saloon!


GRANUAILE - the 2000 built CIL tender arrived on Merseyside and entered the former A&P Birkenhead Yard which has recently been taken over by North Western Ship Builders and Repairers. She entered #7 dry dock on the afternoon of June 12, 2005. This is beloved to be the GRANUAILE's first visit to Merseyside.

June 06Acknowledgements: Tommy Dover, Philip Parker and Dan Cross.


Your web master is still playing catch up!

There will be a further update on June 08, 2005.

John H. Luxton


It has been confirmed that the historic steam tug – tender DANIEL ADAMSON has been placed on the National Register of Historic Vessels [NRHV] Designated List maintained by the National Historic Ships Committee [NHSC].

The Main Committee of the NHSC unanimously voted the DANIEL ADAMSON on to the NHRV Designated Vessels List at a meeting held last week.

The placing of the DANIEL ADAMSON on the NRHV Designated List is a significant step forward for the “Daniel Adamson Preservation Society” currently working to restore to operating condition Britain’s last surviving steam tug-tender built on Merseyside in 1903.

Designated vessel status is granted to vessels considered by the National Historic Ships Committee to be of a high regional or local significance and which merit priority for long term preservation and support.

John Paton, NHSC Secretary commented, “The committee were particularly impressed with the vessel and the preservation project. There should be no doubt now that in heritage terms she [“The Daniel Adamson”] has considerable value. The NHSC pays tribute to the vision and perseverance in rescuing this remarkable vessel”. 

Visit the Daniel Adamson Preservation Society Web Site


Monday 23th - Sunday 29th May 2005



Visitor's to the port included the beam trawler BRIDGET CARMEL, Dutch built she is registered at Wexford .

Wicklow lifeboat RNLB ANNIE BLAKER launched at lunchtime on Friday, after a  man onboard a motor cruiser off the coast sustained head injuries , the Coastguard helicopter Rescue 116 was also scrambled and airlifted the man to hospital, while crew from the lifeboat brought the cruiser into Wicklow harbour. On Saturday evening the inshore lifeboat was launched to give assistance to two men on a jet ski , drifting near Brides head .

Traffic in the bay included the Paddle Steamer WAVERLEY southbound.

Hunter Marines Wicklow based work vessel KILQUADE was observed working with the Dutch submarine ZEELEEU in Dublin bay early in the week.


The Wind farm operated by GE Electric was officially opened this week , the ceremony was attended by the Taoiseach Bertie Aherne . This is the first offshore wind farm in Ireland and the first 7 giant turbines are capable of producing 25 megawatts of electricity , enough to supply 16,000 homes annually . GE Electric have plan's to increase capacity with more turbines to eventually produce 520 megawatts of electricity . Each turbine is about 125 metres high and are 10 kilometres off the Arklow Coast . 


Manx Radio reports that coastguards have now scaled down the search for two crewmen missing from a Royal Auxiliary RFA ORANGELEAF vessel anchored in Douglas Bay at the weekend.

Chief Coastguard Colin Finney says the entire area has been covered thoroughly, but as yet there has been no conclusion.

A major search was conducted in the early hours of Saturday involving an RAF helicopter.

Mr Finney says they are awaiting further leads, but says it hasn't been confirmed they were definitely seen in the water:

June 04

Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Alex McCormac, Andrew Blundell, Kevin Bennett, Adrian McBride, Iain Mc Pherson, D.J. Gillespie, Trevor Kidd, John Lewis, Michael Bracken, Ian Collard, Steve Clement, "Nick" and "others"


May and June represent a very busy time for anyone observing the nautical scene on the Irish Sea. It is the time of year when events such as the Isle of Man TT Races generate extra sailings on Isle of Man Steam Packet routes. Invariably BALMORAL makes an appearance, whilst the LADY OF MANN undertakes her seasonal excursion programme. All this combined with the build up to the Mersey River Festival as well as the more routine happenings makes for a very busy time.

This evening I have just completed what must be the largest ever update of the Irish Sea Shipping web site which was commenced on Thursday and has only now just about been completed this Saturday evening, though some material is still being held over for inclusion next week.  Though the next update is not scheduled until June 12, please check back during the course of the week as additional updates may be posted.

Whilst is has not been possible to capture all the news and happenings on the Irish and Celtic Seas in either words, pictures or both, I hope the site has provided a good record of what has been happening over the past week or so.

I would like to thank a number of new contributors to the web site whose material has been received and posted during the past three days. As I have said may times before, if it wasn't for the contributors Irish Sea Shipping would be very much the poorer. Once again thanks to all.

John H. Luxton - web master


LADY OF MANN completed her programme of special excursions on Sunday May 29 operating the Manxman Steamship Company Round the Island charter sailing which was loaded to capacity. The weather was superb and passengers had a good time with an excellent buffet included in the fare.

Off Jurby as sunset approached the ship reduced speed and dipped her ensign to half mast as Captain Corrin and the Lieutenant Governor of the Isle of Man Air Marshal Ian MacFadyen cast a wreath into the sea to mark the loss of the MONA'S QUEEN and KING ORRY during the Dunkirk evacuation. The anniversary of the event falling on the 65th Anniversary of the sinking of the two ships. Photographs of the event can be found on Irish Sea Shipping  and on the Manxman Steamship Company web site

Whilst good weather favoured the Manxman Steamship Company charter of the LADY OF MANN, wind, combined with lively sea conditions led to the last minute cancellation of the "Help The Aged" Round The Island sailing scheduled for May 28.

Heavy TT Loadings led to schedules going adrift from the middle of the past week, with the BEN-MY-CHREE running up to an hour or so behind. SUPERSEACAT TWO sailings were badly disrupted on Saturday June 04, following an incident in which two crew from RFA ORANGELEAF were lost in Douglas Bay - see below. A "non voyage" report has been posted from someone who had planned to travel on the morning sailing between Liverpool and Douglas on June 04.


RIVER LUNE has been chartered by the Isle of Man Steam Packet company to provide extra freight capacity during the busy TT Festival period. Her first sailing to Douglas from Heysham was in the early hours of June 02. Steam Packet masters are acting as Douglas pilots.


SEA EXPRESS 1 [ex SEACAT ISLE OF MAN] has returned to her old Liverpool - Douglas route to provide some extra sailings on charter to the Isle of Man Steam Packet company during the TT Festival.


ORANGELEAF the fleet tanker arrived at Douglas on Friday June 03 and was due to stay until Sunday June 05. She was due to be joined by FORT AUSTIN on Saturday June 04. The visit is part of the Centenary celebrations for the Royal Fleet Auxiliary which will see ships visiting ports around the British Isles during 2005. The ships are on their way to Scotland to take part in naval exercises.

However, the incident was marred by an unfortunate incident in the early hours of June 04,which resulted in two crew members from RFA ORANGELEAF were reported missing in Douglas Bay. Despite an extensive search by the Isle of Man Coastguard, Lifeboats and a helicopter, the bodies of the men, believed to be in their 40s and 20s had not been recovered by Saturday evening


STENA ADVENTURER arrived at Birkenhead #5 dry dock on June 01 for refit, berthing at the former Cammell Laird yard which has just been acquired by North Western Shiprepairers [see below]

STENA EUROPE has taken up refit cover duties on the Holyhead - Dublin service, though observers report she has been running somewhat off schedule.

STENA SEAFARER  around 23:15 on 30 May 05, the STENA SEAFARER was heard calling Belfast  Coast Guard on ch16 reporting the failure of one engine and bow thrusters  along with all computer systems crashing.

She limped back to Belfast on one engine and assisted by Svitzer tug NORTON CROSS and was on berth shortly after 03:00 on the 31 May 05. Subsequently all her sailings were cancelled for the 31 May.


COLLINGWOOD which has been on a four month secondment to Hull is due back on the Mersey on June 05 or June 06 depending on weather.


On Friday May 27 it was announced that North Western Ship Repairers and Ship Builders have acquired the business of A&P Birkenhead for an undisclosed sum. This places the yard in the hands of the former Cammell Laird management who had set up North Western following the collapse of Cammell Laird Holdings plc in 2001. Cammell Laird was placed in the hands of receivers in April 2001, following the last minute cancellation by Carnival Corporation of the project to refit and lengthen the Costa Crociere division's COSTA CLASSICA.

As part of the deal with North Western, A&P Group has taken a minority stake in the business. The actual Cammell Laird site is now owned by Reddington Finance following its sale by A&P Group some months ago with A&P leasing the site. Commenting to the local press John Syvret of North Western said: "I look forward to developing the business at Birkenhead with the continued help and support of Reddington, Wirral Borough Council and the A&P Birkenhead Team.


EUROPEAN MARINER will be making  runs to Campbeltown for 12 weekends from the weekend of 18 June to load wind turbines. Some of the shipments will go to Larne.

P&O EXPRESS operated its first sailing for the TT Festival between Larne and Douglas late on Thursday. A Larne observer reports that she went out with a full car deck carrying many bikes, 70 cars and around 20 camper vans, there were also around 100 foot passengers.


Ferry operator Caledonian MacBrayne moved to its new offices/terminal facilities at Ballycastle, the Northern Ireland mainland port for the Rathlin island service on June 01, 2005.

CalMac, which has operated the Ballycastle-Rathlin ferry service since 1996, last year extended its contract to provide the service from 31 March, 2004 until 31 March, 2006.

Speaking at the ceremony in Ballycastle, CalMac Chairman Dr Harold Mills
said: "We were delighted in 2004 to have our contract as the operator of this service extended for a further two years and we look forward to developing our relationship with the communities of Rathlin and the mainland of Northern Ireland. I am pleased also that we have come to this leasing arrangement for the new facilities with Moyle District Council with whom we work very closely. The improvement in traffic on the route, which has seen our traffic on the route grow enormously from 37239 in the year ended March 2001, to 46128 in the financial year just ended.

Car traffic has similarly grown from 2557 to 2723 in the year ended March 2003, with a slight drop this latest year to 2625, reflecting the relatively poor summer weather-wise. The growth is very welcome and reflects the additional resources devoted to marketing the route. This move to the new office and terminal at the head of the slipway offers customers a much better level of service on shore and we look forward to developing the service with our colleagues in Northern Ireland."

The Ballycastle-Rathlin route continues to benefit from the general marketing activities undertaken by CalMac and benefits specifically from a local marketing plan.

As part of the Company's enhanced customer care services, customers using the Rathlin island service will now be issued with lightweight ponchos free of charge to enable them to sit outside and travel more comfortably whilst enjoying the panoramic views between the mainland and the island.


Irish Ferries issued the following press release concerning the on-going threat of further disruption to services at French ports:

On June 02 Irish Ferries vessel NORMANDY docked at Cherbourg without any of the disruption threatened by the SIPTU trade union, and its affiliates, in their public statements to the media in Ireland last Saturday and Sunday.

Working closely with port and local authorities, legal protections had been put in place to ensure that the company could continue its legitimate business. This includes court orders, obtained in France, with punitive damages of over ?50,000 per day which would apply to unions and / or individuals who would seek to disrupt the company in an illegal fashion, as occurred last week at Cherbourg.

Irish Ferries called on SIPTU to desist from industrial relations intimidation of innocent holidaymakers through French seamen's union activity. Citing action taken last week which delayed the docking of its vessel in Cherbourg for almost eight hours, thereby preventing the disembarkation of some 740 holidaymakers, Irish Ferries said that it is unacceptable that passengers should be held to ransom in this way. It is also damaging to Irish tourism and trade, and contrary to acceptable standards of behaviour.

In the case of last week's sailing, parents of young children and pilgrims en route to Lourdes, including a number of ill and infirm persons, were amongst those held hostage by the action.

The cause of the dispute is complex and is being dealt with through the implementation of a Labour Court Recommendation which both the company and SIPTU have accepted. The recommendation accepted the need for change in the crewing arrangements of the vessel if Irish Ferries' Ireland / France loss making routes were to avoid closure. The intensely competitive environment, within which the company operates, continues to become more challenging with the lower cost bases of its competitors and the relentless increase in air capacity to and from all regions of Ireland .

By first implementing a voluntary redundancy / redeployment programme ( at the request of the unions ), which was subscribed by over 90%, and then outsourcing the crewing arrangements of the NORMANDY to an international ship management agency, Irish Ferries has maintained the service this year - as per the commitment given to the Irish Government. The crew employed by the management agency are EU nationals, mainly from the Baltic States.

There has not been one single compulsory job loss in Irish Ferries as a result of actions taken by the company. All NORMANDY staff who chose to leave last December did so entirely of their own accord.


Travelscope cruises which currently operate sailings of Liverpool several times each year using the chartered ships VAN GOGH and FUNCHAL are believed to be switching to Mostyn, North Wales for the 2006 season using the ATHENA and VAN GOGH.

FUNCHAL will be continue to operate out of Liverpool, though under charter to Classic International Cruises


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