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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

NEWS BULLETIN: August 2005

August 28Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Michael Pryce, Tommy Dover, Andrew Blundell, Adrian Sweeney, Ian Collard and "others"


This weekend's update has been staggered across Saturday and Sunday evenings - however, with the posting of the news file it is now complete.

Users may have noticed that the site has started to carry advertising from Amazon and Google. Unfortunately, it is a sign of the times that the web site is becoming increasingly expensive to run.

Over the years the substantial running costs have been carried by your webmaster, off set by the occasional sale of Photographic CDs. However, it is necessary to put the web site on a sounder footing to ensure its continuation and development. The carrying of advertisements is one of the strategies being adopted to achieve this.

A comprehensive range of items of interest to shipping enthusiasts is now listed in the ISS AMAZON SHOP from books to cameras, memory cards to blank CDs. Please visit the shop to check out what is on offer. Amazon offers a good service, with excellent discounts and free carriage on orders over £19. Buying via links in the ISS AMAZON SHOP will earn the web site commission.

The Google Adverts and Search Window work in a different manner. Each time a link is followed or a search made via the Google search window credits are earned. 

John H. Luxton

August 28, 2005.


Due to the rising price of oil the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company have imposed a fuel surcharge with effect from Friday August 26.

Steam Packet operations director Mark Woodward said: 'The Steam Packet now finds it necessary to apply a fuel surcharge to all areas of its business.

'After consultation with government, a surcharge of £2 per single passenger journey will be levied by the company. Freight carryings will also be affected with a surcharge of £1 per lane metre and £5 per trade car, unaccompanied car or small van.

'Marine fuel prices have been increasing for several years now and the company has been prepared to absorb these additional costs.

'However, the cost of fuel is now at such a level that we can no longer continue to do this,' Mr Woodward said.

'We will continue to review with government on a regular basis, the level of fuel surcharge.


The replica Irish emigrant ship JEANIE JOHNSTON arrived at Whitehaven on August 22 for a stay over the Bank Holiday Weekend at the Whitehaven Festival. On September 03, she will sail for Douglas,  Isle of Man and then return to Whitehaven. Between September 6 and 8 she will sail from Whitehaven to Dublin. She will then undertake a 10 day cruise to France. The inclusive fare is €1,000.  For more information visit:


BALMORAL - struck a submerged object at Swansea on Wednesday August 24. That day's sailings had been cancelled due to adverse weather conditions, therefore only crew were on board the vessel. The crew were initially evacuated as the vessel took on a considerable amount of water with 2 foot being reported in the engine room. The Mumbles Coastguard team attended the scene along with the Mumbles Inshore Lifeboat. With the assistance of fire brigade pumps the flooding was controlled and the ship dispatched to dry dock at Sharpness for repairs.

She missed sailings between Thursday August 25 and Saturday August 27. She was back in service on the Bristol Channel on August 28.


Services on the Torpoint Ferry suffered long delays on the evening of August 23 and morning of August 24 as the service was reduced to just one vessel. Until LYNHER II is delivered towards the end of the year, only two vessels are currently in operation. However, a combination of high tides and strong winds forced the operator to withdraw one of the two ferries in service. A spokesman for the Torpoint Ferries said: "Because of the work they are doing on both beaches, girders have been put in place. The high winds and tides were blowing the ferry too close to the girders so we had to reduce the service to one ferry."


Stena Line announced on August 24 that with immediate effect, they will not be allowing Rangers fans to travel on their ships. This will only effect the Belfast - Stranraer route, HSS STENA VOYAGER and STENA CALEDONIA and foot passengers.

The decision was made because of the behaviour and disrespect to fellow passengers. Trouble was sparked on the return crossing from Stranraer - Belfast after Rangers had won the match. Persons were singing songs of a sectarian nature. Passengers, who were on board at the time complained to a steward. The steward approached the rowdy fans and asked them to stop shouting and to stop singing offending songs. They continued, which was why Stena Line have been forced to take action.

Only foot passengers are banned. Fans travelling in coaches and cars may be allowed on. This comes as a disappointment to many as they are due to travel with Stena Line for the next match in a few weeks.


Teething troubles with the engine of the new Knott End to Fleetwood ferryboat could delay the vessel's arrival on the Wyre estuary. The problem developed at the builder's yard in Pembroke, South Wales, when the craft was put through its paces for the Marine Coastguard Agency which will issue a safety certificate showing that the boat is fit for use.

A council spokesman said: "Apparently the engine did not perform correctly and so the trials had to be postponed. "That is very disappointing because it could delay the start of the service. It is not unusual to experience teething troubles with a project like this  and we must be sure that everything is A1 before the ferry can start to operate." The factory where the engine was made is closed for the annual holidays so
the fault cannot be put right at the moment. The £350,000 boat has been paid for by Lancashire County Council. [Fleetwood Today]


The Mersey Docks and Harbour Company has lodged an application for a Harbour Revision Order to allow construction of a new post-panamax container terminal at the Port of Liverpool – the UK's third largest container port and the country's major gateway for container trade with North America.

The £80 million river terminal would be capable of simultaneously accommodating two of the new generation of larger container ships and would increase the Port of Liverpool's container capacity to nearly 1.5 million teus.

The application has been submitted to the Secretary of State for Transport along with environmental impact and technical studies. The development would involve construction of an 800 metre long quay and the in-filling of a stretch of water to create a 17 hectare (42 acre) triangle of land between the river wall at Seaforth Dock and the river wall at the Gladstone River Entrance.

The new terminal would be capable of handling 600,000 teus a year and would free up additional capacity at the established Seaforth Container Terminal within Liverpool's enclosed docks, which last year handled a record 616,000 teus.

Said Mersey Docks Director of Marketing Frank Robotham: "From both a practical and defensive position, Liverpool has to go post Panamax.

"Five years ago, Liverpool was ranked fourth among UK container ports serving the busy North Atlantic route. Today it handles more container trade with the United States of America and Canada than any other port in the land. Though lines on the North Atlantic have not yet gone post-Panamax, Liverpool along with US and Canadian ports, has to be ready.

"At the same time, both the new age of large deep sea feeder operations which has opened up the global networks of major container lines to shippers using the Port, and the growing recognition of Liverpool as the gateway to the UK's second largest cargo generating region, add to our optimism for future growth."

The Port of Liverpool's container trade has grown year on year in response to a terminal operation which puts it in pole position for performance among UK container ports. Its ranking among Britain's top three container gateways has also been secured by recent investment of £30 million in the Seaforth Terminal, including new ship-to-shore gantry cranes, container interchange area for road transport, logistics building, multi-lane terminal gate, box handling plant and computer systems.


James Fisher, basking in glory after the rescue of Russian submariners in the Pacific, has booked a reduced first-half profit shadowed by a £1.4m ($2.5m) loss on the sale of ageing tankers.

The UK shipping group revealed that the loss on the three 25-year-old UK coastal tankers had reduced pre-tax profit to £6.25m from £7.2m posted over the same period last year.

James Fisher sold the 3,100 dwt TEES FISHER and WEAR FISHER earlier this month, along with the 8,400dwt LOUGH FISHER in June, to comply with European Union legislation on phasing-out older tonnage. However, the UK tanker and marine services group enjoyed a 7% increase in underlying profitability, before the disposal of the 1980-built trio, to £8.3m on a 25% increase in turnover to £48.9m.

James Fisher chairman Tim Harris said that the group, which since 2002 has been on a ?41.6m takeover spree, was still looking to expand through acquisition into the UK's leading marine service company. The tanker division Marine Oil Services' contribution to operating profit was down slightly to ?3.4m from ?3.8m, with on average two ships less in its fleet over the period than a year ago. The 14-vessel smaller tanker fleet will take delivery of a further two 5,000 dwt vessels next year from Damen Galati in Romania, with the 12,800 dwt duo CUMBRIAN FISHER  and CLYDE FISHER delivered earlier this year.

However, the group's marine support services division, which includes the Rumic business responsible for assisting the Priz AS-28 off Russia, booked a 23% increase in first-half operating profit to £3.5m. Increased offshore activity on high oil prices boosted business for the Norwegian Scan Tech compressor assembly business, which is now following customers to areas such as the southern former Soviet republics. Leading ship-to-ship transfer and pneumatic fender supplier FenderCare acquired in March for £12m, with £2.1m of cash netted out, was traded in line with expectations.

James Fisher chairman Tim Harris added that the group was at last able to look at "timing the end-game" for its exit from the troubled cable-laying sector. Mr Harris confirmed that the group was now waiting for General Dynamics' charter on its two cable layers to expire in May and December next year. The 1997-built, 4,050 dwt cable layer OCEANIC PEARL remains in cold lay-up in Barrow.

However, first-half operating profit generated by the cable ships was up 24% to ?2.4m, with the 1984-built, 6,174 dwt OCEAN PRINCESS enjoying work for the first time in more than two years with Canyon Offshore carrying out seismic work off Indonesia." The Canyon charter suggests that the booming oil exploration market might have a beneficial effect on vessels which have dynamic positioning capability", added Mr Harris. [Lloyds List].



Coaster callers this week included PROVIDER and the JUPITER 1 Wicklow Rowing Club hosted the 2005 All Ireland Coastal Rowing Championships on August 20 - 21, over 40 clubs from around the country took part .

Photo: All Ireland Coastal Rowing Championships at Wicklow harbour 20th Aug 2005




An air show was held at Bray seafront on Sunday 21 , huge crowds turned up to displays by the Air Corp , Dutch Air Force and  various other types of aircraft.

Photo: The Coastguard Helicopter and Dún Laoghaire Lifeboat perform at the Bray Airshow on August 21.


August 20Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Dave Crolley, Michael Pryce, Ian Collard and "others"


The transfer of the web site from RamJam Multimedia to 1 and 1 Internet has been completed satisfactorily. The principal URL addresses and now lead to the new site. In addition and can be used to access the website.


The Merseyside Branch of the World Ship Society will be meeting at a new venue for the 2005 - 06 meeting season. For a number of years the society, along with some other nautical groups has met at Sam's Bar in Tithebarn Street. However, as a result of the recent closure of Sam's Bar the society has been forced to find a new meeting venue.

For the 2005 - 06 Season the society will be meeting in the function room at "The Fly In The Loaf" public house on Hardman Street, Liverpool, just a few yards from the Philharmonic Hall. Prospective new members are very welcome to attend.

The first meeting will be on Tuesday September 13, 2005.


The world's oldest continuously operating shipping company celebrated its 175th Anniversary on August 16, 2005. Though some observers thought that August 17 was the accurate date that marked the first scheduled crossing of the MONA'S ISLE between Douglas and Liverpool. On August 19, 2005 a celebratory 175 Anniversary Ball was held at the Villa Marina Douglas to commemorate the event. Present in Douglas harbour on the same evening were lighthouse Tenders GRANUAILE - Commissioners of Irish Lights, PHAROS - Northern Lighthouse Board and PATRICIA - Trinity House. representative of the three Lighthouse authorities through which Isle of Man Steam Packet Company sail on their voyages.

SUPERSEACAT TWO - didn't quite enter into the spirit of things for the 175th Anniversary week, suffering a bow thruster problem - she has required tug assistance to berth at bother Liverpool and Douglas.



The Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA) announced on August 08 that 14 foreign ships were under detention in UK ports during June 2005 after failing Port State Control safety inspection.

Latest monthly figures show that there were 11 new detentions of foreign flagged ships in UK ports during June 2005, along with 3 other ships still under detention from previous months. Of the 11 new detentions 8 vessels were general cargo ships, 2 were oil tankers and 1 was a survey vessel. Compared to the previous month the number of new detentions has increased by 6, while the overall rate of detentions compared with inspections carried out over the last 12 months is 5.1%, this is identical to May’s 12 month rate.

Vessels detained in June include the following:

• A Liberian flagged, 17233 GT oil tanker was detained in Cardiff on 27/06/05 with 29 deficiencies. A total of 6 detainable deficiencies were raised:

• The starboard lifeboat aft davit arm was wasted through.
• The port lifeboat aft davit arm was wasted through.
• The port lifeboat falls block cheek plates had excessive wastage due to corrosion.
• The port lifeboat engine would not start
• The crew were unable to conduct a satisfactory fire drill
• The abandon ship drill was stopped because the crew were lowering the lifeboat with the air lifting motor running as the Chief Officer did not trust the winch brakes to hold if required to.

The vessel remained detained at the end of the month.

• A Hong Kong flagged, 12037 GT general cargo vessel was detained in Liverpool on 14/06/05 with a total of 14 deficiencies. A total of 4 detainable deficiencies were identified:

• The lifeboat internal condition was found to be very poor and required a total refurbishment
• The port lifeboat stern gland was cracked
• Both davits had corroded blocks and the sheaves were seized.
• The engine room bilge was full of oil and the bilge tank was almost full.

The general condition of the vessel was found to be very poor. The vessel remained detained at the end of the month.
• During the month of June 168 port State control inspections were carried out in the UK
. From these inspections a total of 125 vessels had deficiencies raised against them. 87 had between 1 to 5 deficiencies, 28 had between 6 to 10 deficiencies, 9 had between 11 to 20 deficiencies and 1 had more than 20 deficiencies. [MCGA SITE June Detention List]


NorseMerchant Ferries announced this week that it has sold BRAVE MERCHANT and DAWN MERCHANT.

With two new ro-pax ferries entering service this year on its Irish  Sea routes, NorseMerchant Ferries has announced that it has sold two of its four Spanish-built ro-pax vessels, BRAVE MERCHANT (built 1999) and DAWN MERCHANT (built 1998), to a company nominated by New Paragon Investment Ltd, a Hong Kong based company advised by Epic Shipping Ltd.

The company's CEO, Derek Sloan, has expressed satisfaction at the  price achieved:

"Both ships were built to a high specification and have proved  themselves to be extremely reliable in service. Nevertheless we were still surprised at the level of interest we received when the two ships were placed on the market and more than satisfied with the final price we achieved."

BRAVE MERCHANT is currently operating on the Birkenhead - Dublin route but is due to be replaced by the ro-pax MERSEY VIKING (to be renamed DUBLIN VIKING) in November this year. DAWN MERCHANT is currently on charter to Norfolkline until September 2005. Both vessels will be delivered to the new owner when these commitments come to an end.

Two further ships of this type, MIDNIGHT MERCHANT and NORTHERN MERCHANT, remain on charter to Norfolkline.

Last month (July), NorseMerchant Ferries took delivery of a brand new ro-pax vessel, LAGAN VIKING, and she is now operating on the Birkenhead - Belfast route. The first of two 26,500 gross tonne ships being built in Italy for charter to NorseMerchant, she will be joined on the Belfast route in November by her sister vessel MERSEY VIKING. This will release the current MERSEY VIKING for transfer to the Birkenhead - Dublin route as DUBLIN VIKING.

Mr Sloan stated that initial response to the new LAGAN VIKING has been excellent:

"She has been extremely well received by both our commercial freight customers and by passengers. She is setting new standards on the Belfast route and we can hardly wait to have her sister ship running alongside her." The transfer of LIVERPOOL VIKING to our Dublin route has also gone smoothly, allowing us to introduce after a three-year break, twice-daily sailings that cater for both accompanied commercial vehicles and passengers as well as unaccompanied trailers and trade vehicles."

Continuing, Mr Sloan explained that the sale of BRAVE MERCHANT and DAWN MERCHANT is part of a fleet upgrade programme that commenced some months ago with the sale of older freight-only ro-ro vessels that maintain its services out of Heysham to Belfast and Dublin:

"These ships have been chartered back for the time being but we will now press ahead with our plan to secure modern replacement tonnage. Our Heysham services, which cater for unaccompanied trailers and trade vehicles, are a very important part of our business, complementing as they do the ro-pax services out of Birkenhead."



STENA Line Freight has announced a 28% increase in its Irish Sea business during the first six months of 2005 compared with the same period last year - part of an overall 14% increase across the company's entire freight route network.

The main bulk of the Irish Sea increases have come from the Northern Corridor on which volumes have risen by 36% - mainly due to the acquisition of the Fleetwood to Larne route in April last year.

Freight traffic on the Central Corridor, which includes the Holyhead to Dublin Port and Holyhead to Dun Laoghaire routes, enjoyed a 16% increase while the Southern Corridor's Fishguard to Rosslare route experienced growth of 20%.

Stena Line Freight's North Sea business from the UK to Holland jumped by 7% while the company's Scandinavian routes also enjoyed an increase of 9%.

According to Stena Line Freight Commercial Manager Frank Nieuwenhuys, the increased business is a result of the company's extensive fleet and route network and timetables that have been tailored to customer needs.

"Once again, we are very pleased at how well our business is developing across all our freight markets," said Frank.

"We believe that our success is down to having the right combination of ships and timetables that are very much suited to the freight and logistics markets. Our extensive route network and an excellent combination of fast craft and Superferries gives customers a lot of choice and flexibility - sometimes travelling out on one route and returning on another depending on their collection and delivery points," he added.

"This has been a very successful strategy on both the Irish Sea and the North Sea where we operate a criss cross of sea corridors that allows customers to achieve maximum utilisation of their equipment and meet the needs and demands of their own customers. As a supplier, we offer a combination of convenience and efficiency which leads to better productivity for our customers," concluded Frank.


Stena has placed and order for up to four new ro-pax vessels. They will be built by the Baltiysky
Zavod yard in St Petersburg, Russia.

The Russian yard is already building the hulls for two similar ro- pax vessels in the "Seabridger" class. They will be equipped and finished by Fosen Mek. Verksteder in Norway. The two-ship contract was valued at EUR 60 million a piece. But it is understood that the four latest will be delivered "turn-key" from St Petersburg.

There is as yet no decision where the vessels now ordered will be employed, but Stena RoRo is a vessel investment- and chartering arm of Stena AB. The company's vessels are currently employed with several ferry companies, including Stena Line. One of the most recent deals was a 5-year charter of the STENA CHALLENGER to New Zealand.

The new vesses are approxiamtely the same size as the "Seabridger" class, but with more space for passengers (300).

Delivery will take place 2008 and onwards.

Commenting on the order, Carl-Otto Dahlberg, Managing Director of Stena RoRo, said: "These vessels will offer a very effective alternative for our clients based upon proven and reliable technology, together with the highest safety and environmental standard with high fuel efficiency."


News from Taiwan has the 1956-built CHINA SEA DISCOVERY (ex CARINTHIA, FAIRLAND, FAIRSEA, FAIR PRINCESS), sold at her third auction for US$4.2m to Indian scrap merchants. The last surviving member of Cunard's SAXONIA quartet built for Liverpool to Canada service is currently listing and under arrest at Kaohsiung. Her last operators, China Sea Cruises, bought her in 2000. She sailed briefly on overnight cruises from Hong Kong and Kaohsiung but was soon laid up and abandoned.


Futher details concerning the former Yugoslav ferry PRINCE ALBERT (1954) which spent a long period laid up in Liverpool and was recently returned to the water at ABP Ipswich. The ship will be used by owners Pedley Furniture International, the UK’s largest manufacturer of contract furniture as a show case for their products.


The Port of Belfast has revealed plans for a £106m investment in facilities over the next five years.

The capital expenditure programme at the Northern Ireland hub includes a new terminal, in conjunction with Stena, at the seaward end of the port that will mean significant time savings on Scottish crossings.

There will also be a new 200,000 sq ft animal feed store, a 40-acre logistics park and increased container capacity.

In addition, Belfast has completed its first dedicated steel handling facility and new timber storage facilities, now extending to 155,000 sq ft.

The details were given in Belfast's 2004 annual accounts, which disclosed that turnover at the port was up by 6% over the year to £28.6m while net profits before tax rose 7% to a record £14.7m.


On August 12,  2005 the Office of Fair Trading ('OFT') announced its decision not to refer Peel's proposed acquisition of Mersey to the Competition Commission. The Acquisition remains subject to the sanction of the Scheme and confirmation of the Capital Reduction by the Court.

The Board of Mersey announced on 12 August 2005 that Mersey would apply for new dates for the Court hearings required before the Scheme can become effective.

These Court dates have now been booked and Mersey can therefore announce a revised timetable. The timetable below updates the relevant parts of the timetable set out in Mersey's circular to shareholders dated 13 June 2005.

Revised Expected Timetable of Principal Events
EventTime and/or date
First Court Hearing (to sanction the Scheme)19 September 2005
Last day of dealings in, and for registration of transfers of, Mersey Shares19 September 2005
Dealings in Mersey Shares suspended7:30 a.m. on 20 September 2005
Second Court Hearing (to confirm the Capital Reduction)21 September 2005
Scheme Record Time6:00 p.m. on 21 September 2005
Effective Date of the Scheme22 September 2005
Cancellation of listing of Mersey Shares8:00 a.m. on 22 September 2005
Latest date for despatch of cheques and/or certificates for Loan Notes and settlement through CRESTwithin 14 days after the Effective Date

The times and dates set out in the timetable above are indicative only and will depend, among other things, on the dates on which the Conditions are satisfied or waived, the Court sanctions the Scheme and confirms the Capital Reduction and the dates on which the Court Orders sanctioning the Scheme and confirming the Capital Reduction are delivered to the Registrar of Companies and, in respect of the Capital Reduction, the Court Order is registered by the Registrar of Companies.

The directors of Mersey accept responsibility for the information contained in this announcement. To the best of the knowledge and belief of the Mersey directors (who have taken all reasonable care to ensure that such is the case), the information contained in this announcement is in accordance with the facts and does not omit anything likely to affect the import of such information.

Terms used in this announcement have the same meanings as set out in Mersey's circular to shareholders dated 13 June 2005.

August 17Acknowledgements: Adrian Sweeney, John Lewis, Michael Bracken and "others"


This is the update that nearly didn't happen. Just 48 hours ago after returning from a day trip to Dún Laoghaire, I found a message awaiting from RamJam Multimedia stating that they would not be renewing the hosting contract for Irish Sea Shipping when it fell due next month.

This then resulted in some frantic activity to transfer the site to a new home. One has been secured now at 1 & 1 Internet Ltd and the site now successfully resides on their server. For more details about the transfer and important information about the site web address please

As well as transferring the site I have also been able to produce the scheduled update! However, until things have settled down, could I please request that no material other than news items and supporting photographs are forwarded until after August 25. There will be an update posted on Saturday evening, before I head off to Devon and Cornwall for a few days.

John H. Luxton

WEBMASTER - August 17, 2005


NORBANK entered Canada Dry Dock for her refit, rather than cross the river to Birkenhead to #5 like her sister.


The proposals by Reddington Finance to redevelop the Cammell Laird ship yard received a set back earlier this week after the Liverpool Daily Post revealed that the Liverpool Harbour Master was against the plans.

The proposed £1.4bn development, which would take 15 years to build, would see 4,000 waterfont homes built, along with office and leisure facilities all powered by their own power station.

Also listed in the outline planning application, submitted by Reddington Finance, which owns the site are plans to reclaim land from the River Mersey for a cultural centre.

But Captain Steve Gallimore, the Harbour Master for the Port of Liverpool and the River Mersey, has voiced concerns that the development would have a catastrophic effect on shipping using the river.

Captain Gallimore said he did not believe Reddington had researched the possible impact of their proposals, adding: "The prospect of any organisation obtaining consent to build into the river purely for property development is extremely remote."

Captain Gallimore said even small changes to the river flow would have dramatic effects on where sand is deposited, a key factor for the busy shipping route.

He added: "These are enormous, far-reaching issues. Consequently, any proposed development within the River Mersey estuary is subject to a rigorous planning system to ensure that an internationally significant port such as Liverpool, surrounded by internationally designated and protected environmental sites, are fully considered.

"As Harbour Master, I also have a statutory duty to ensure safe navigation for all river users. It is highly likely that development into the river, especially at the river's narrowest point, would significantly increase the risk to vessels using the river."

His comments follow similar concerns voiced by Robert Swift, a Liverpool pilot, who guides tankers and other large vessels up and down the river. He said the area where Reddington plans to build appears to encroach on a key anchorage position for supertankers, the last point in the south of the river where they can stop in deep water if there is an emergency. He said the reclamation of land from the river could create a "protruding tidal obstruction" which could take the force out of the tides and cause sand to be dropped.

Mr Swift added: "If this is built, it could cause siltation in-shore and scour off-shore. Such siltation could seriously reduce supertanker traffic into the Mersey, with consequent knock-on effect to trade, infrastructure and employment in the area."

Last night, Mike Ryder, site director for Reddington Finance, said: "We are currently working on feasibility studies in relation to the proposals and we will be discussing the results with all the relevant agencies.

"We will be looking at the impact the development would have on the river and safety on the river is also of paramount importance to us."

A spokesperson for Wirral Council added: "We have received an outline planning application. However, we are still waiting on further details from the applicants. These details are necessary for an application of this size and scale. When all this information is received, details will be made public in keeping with usual planning procedures."



Belfast Telegraph reported concerns over the safety of publicly owned ferries this week after a hose blew a hole in the Strangford ferry during a routine clean up.

The hull of the older passenger vessel - the MV STRANGFORD - was so badly deteriorated that the water pressure from a power hose caused a hole to appear in February of this year.

Questions are now being raised with the Maritime Coastguard Agency - that issued the vessel with a valid operating license - and Roads Service as to how the weakness of the hull had not been detected at an earlier stage.

The ferry was taken out of service to be checked out and any necessary repairs completed as part of an annual refit when the incident occurred a few months ago.

According to Roads Service, pitting (a form of corrosion) was discovered in the steel plating below the engine room and some was so severe that the hull was breached during cleaning.

Temporary repairs were carried out and the vessel was then taken to Belfast for further work.

Residents and politicians have said they are alarmed that a publicly owned passenger vessel, which ferries thousands of people and tourists on a popular route every year, had deteriorated to such a weak state.

Ulster Unionist MLA Roy Beggs said: "As the vessel had been operating under a valid operating license issued by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, I cannot understand why the weakness of the hull was not detected during the course of previous inspections.

"A potential catastrophe on Strangford Lough has only been narrowly avoided."

Ulster Unionist MLA for Strangford, David McNarry, said it was important that immediate steps were taken to reassure ferry users that they are in safe hands.

He added: "The narrow strait between Strangford and Portaferry is a popular route, though renowned for whirlpools and treacherous tidal current. Given the fact that the hull gave way under cleaning, this serious safety oversight could have spelt disaster."

In a letter to Mr Beggs, Roads Service chief executive Dr DM McKibben, said that all Roads Service officials involved in the management of the ferry service have been chosen for their expertise and competence.

He said: "The Maritime and Coastguard Agency carries out independent inspections of vehicles and is responsible for the issue of passenger certificates.

"Without such certificates, we could not operate the ferry service."


The Lievrpool Daily Post has revealed that lans for a cruise liner terminal close to Liverpool's Pier Head face uncertainty after it emerged yesterday that Mersey Docks & Harbour Company has yet to agree to a deal that would allow the scheme to go-ahead.

Construction work on the new terminal was meant to have started in July, but has been delayed as a result of continued haggling between Mersey Docks and Liverpool City Council, which wants to operate the terminal.

Sources at Mersey Docks say negotiations could drag on for some time, or even be cancelled altogether. Any delay would jeopardise hopes of staging a landmark cruise ship-naming ceremony at the terminal, while cancellation of the project would be politically disastrous for the council, which has already seen a number of major regeneration schemes fall through.

The source said: "It would be surprising if this started in the autumn and even then it would be questionable whether the project starts at all. There is no certainty about that.

"There are a number of aspects that remain to be agreed between the city council and Mersey Docks in order for the project to proceed.

"The city is aware that this agreement can not be finalised until various related issues are resolved. Without agreement, the project will not proceed." Charlie Parker, the council's executive director for regeneration, denied there was any disagreement with Mersey Docks, but he acknowledged there has been a delay in the start of construction work. Mr Parker attributed the delay to the takeover of Mersey Docks by Peel Holdings, the owner of Liverpool John Lennon Airport and Manchester Ship Canal.

Mr Parker said: "It is purely due to the merger talks. They have had their bid referred to the Office of Fair Trading."  [As reported in the previous ISS News update the OFT have approved the proposals].

Mr Parker said he expected the takeover issues to be resolved sometime in the next month. He also said he had received correspondence from Mersey Docks agreeing to the cruise terminal scheme.

The council hopes the new terminal could attract ocean-going cruise ships that bring with them tourists who will spend money in the city.

It is hoped Carnival Corporation's new vessel, Queen Victoria which will sail for the Cunard division and currently under construction in Italy, will be named at the new terminal in 2007.  Further delay could scupper that plan.

Mersey Docks' concerns are thought to include the need for assurances about the impact of the terminal on its nearby Princes Dock office and residential property development.

The source at Mersey Docks insisted Mr Parker's assertion that the terminal project was delayed due to the takeover process was wrong.

August 14Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Ian Collard, Michael Pryce, Michael Bracken, Dan Cross and "others"


NORBANK departed from dry dock at Birkenhead on the early tide of Sunday August 14. She will be followed in to dry dock by NORBAY.


Most people on Merseyside will remember the former Yugoslav ferry PRINCE ALBERT which spent some time laid up on Merseyside. First in Canning Dock, where her owner, a Ukrainian businessman and former skipper had planned to open her as a restaurant and bar. Unfortunately plans fell through amidst problems with gaining the necessary licences and certificates combined with a problem about Ukrainian staff being on board who did not have the necessary work permits.

She was eventually moved to West Langton where she laid up. She did abortively try sailing to West Africa with a load of used tyres stacked in her passenger accommodation. The voyage only progressed a few miles and had to be rescued in Crosby Channel in January 2002.

She was eventually sold by receivers. Following a brief dry docking she found her way around to the East Coast. Rumour had it that she was to be fitted out by the designer of ship's cabins to display their wares and taken to America.

However, at the end of July appeared from the George Prior Yard at Ipswich renamed HARMONY II, reconstructed as a luxury yacht, though still retaining much of her original appearance. Some photographs were available on the internet on the River Sea website but now appear to have been removed.


The former ISLE OF INNISFREE (ex PRIDE OF CHERBOURG, ex - STENA CHALLENGER) arrived at Wellington, New Zealand on August 13.

She will operate on the Cook Strait and is expected to enter service on August 22.


The Cornishman reports that the Newlyn Fish Festival, a fundraising event for the Royal National Mission to Deep Sea Fishermen, is 14 years old this year - and looks set to be the biggest yet.

Major new attractions, to coincide with SeaBritain 2005, are planned - including a lifeboat gig race. The festival, which first came to life in 1991, will be held on the August Bank Holiday Monday, from 9am to 5pm.

It has now become a major event attracting over 21,000 visitors each year.

This year the Newlyn Fish Festival will feature a great number of attractions as it links up with the SeaBritain 2005 festival.

There will be the usual fish auction, knot makers and net menders, with ships and trawlers open to the public.

On show inside the market and along the quays will be arts and craft stalls, food outlets, exhibitions and displays relating to Newlyn's fishing heritage.

The festival will also host the Lifeboat Gig Race, a first in the history of the festival, which will feature a number of gigs competing for the Trafalgar trophy.

The celebrations will be inaugurated by the Lord Mayor of the City of London, Alderman Michael Savory, who is currently running a personal appeal to raise much needed funds to support the work of the Fishermen's Mission.

The Newlyn Fish Festival is a great opportunity to shop and try out new things with the fish market entirely devoted to fish and its industry.

There will be a large variety of fish and shellfish for sale, cooking demonstrations and food sampling.

Its centrepiece will be a large display of locally caught seafood which will be auctioned off to the public at 4pm.

The festival gives the fishermen of Newlyn the opportunity to show the industry to the wider public. It also acts as a showcase for fishing-related companies and allied trades to display what is currently available for the professional fisherman.

Outside the Fish Market a large number of stalls will be selling arts and craft related products and other articles of interest.

The festival also supports 26 different charities which will display their own merchandise and items for sale along the pier.

In the harbour the public will have access to the 27 metre fisheries patrol vessel St Piran, the Mine Countermeasure Vessel HMS Hurworth, and a large trawler that is operating from the port of Newlyn.

There will also be a coastguard chartered tug, the Anglian Princess, lifeboat and helicopter rescue and a further demonstration of the work of the local Coast Guard rescue team.

A special gig race will take place during the festival to mark 'Trafalgar 200.'

The course, which is three miles long, will start and finish at Newlyn with the race lasting about 30 minutes and ending through the entrance of the harbour.

There will be a model boat demonstration at low water and Mount's Bay Lugger Association will provide a sailing and static display within the harbour area with the lugger Happy Return.

The reconstruction of the lugger Ripple continues to make progress and will be open to the public to allow them to share in the amazing craftsmanship of the shipwright and witness first hand the rebirth of an important piece of Cornwall's maritime history.

The festival will feature some of the best of contemporary Cornish music.

Among the artists on the main stage throughout the day will be the Newlyn Male Voice Choir, Janet Eathorne, Dalla, St Keverne Band, Samba Kernow, Abatutta and Bob & Bob Jobbins.

The festival will also feature a children's performance and a Cornish dance showdown organised by the Time and Tide project, which works with the Newlyn Youth Club.


German Navy Brass Band

The Port of Cork Company, in celebration of Cork 2005, is delighted to welcome the German Navy Brass Band “Marinemusikkorps Ostee” to Cork from 8 to 12 September 2005.  Established in 1956, the Baltic Band has been playing in the service of the German Navy for almost half a century.  The band’s repertoire, ranging from classical music through traditional marches to pop music, is designed to please a wide range of tastes.  Its performance at Cork will be the first on Irish soil, and all the musicians feel very honoured to have been invited to contribute to celebrating Cork as European Capital of Culture, as a further expression of the long-standing good relations between the people of Germany and Ireland. The 46 piece band from Kiel will entertain Cork audiences with free concerts at the following venues.

Friday 9 September at 13:00 - Patrick Street

Saturday 10 September at 15:00 - Mahon Point Shopping Centre

Sunday 11 September at 15:00 - Cóbh Bandstand


The Office of Fair Trading has cleared the proposed acquisition of the Mersey Docks and Harbour Company by Peel Holdings and will not refer it to the Competition Commission.

August 11Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Ian Collard, Alex Mc. Cormac, Michael Bracken, and "others"


An extra update to keep on top of things! There may well be another update before the scheduled Sunday evening update.


Irish Continental Group have along with Caledonian Mac Bryane and V Ships have been revealed as being in the final running for the tendered Orkney and Shetland Islands NorthLink service which is due to commence in April 2006. Ten companies had originally shown an interest in tendering for the service.


SUPERSTAR EXPRESS - Buquebús España have confirmed that the Austal built ship, which had been laid up on Merseyside since last September on completeion of her P&O Charter will enter service on the Algeciras-Ceuta route. The vessel departed Merseyside on August 04, 2005. She will be renamed.


This week the Liverpool Echo revealed that a six month breathing space has been agreed to secure the future of ship repair work at the former Cammell Laird yard.

Site owner Reddington Finance has awarded a licence for six months for Liverpool-based Mersey Heritage Shiprepair boss Eddie Dybell to carry on trading.

He said: "This gives us six months' breathing space to make sure the future of the yard can be confirmed."

Reddington gave tenants Northwestern Shiprepairers, who bought out fellow tenant A&P Birkenhead in May, notice to quit the yard at the end of August.

Joint Reddington bosses Gerry White and David Day pledged the yard will remain available for ship repair and conversion.

But the issue was clouded bya four-metre wide strip of land, dubbed a "ransom strip," fronting the riverside and controlling access to the docks, which is still owned by the sitting tenants.

Mr Dybell added: "This gives time for all parties to sit down and sort out the long-term future of the yard."

He said Reddington had agreed that A&P Birkenhead and Northwestern could remain on site for the six months while talks took place.

Mr Dybell explained: "I am, in effect, the new landlord for six months and am working on sub-leases for anyone who is on site and wants to stay there.

"I hope this makes clients happier and gives them confidence in the future of the yard."

He said he is working on a deal to buy the yard from Reddington, but revealed that the owners would be prepared to listen to offers from Northwestern boss John Syvret as well.

The licence covers the period from September 3 to March 3 next year.

Reddington chief Gerry White said: "I am delighted. We are guaranteeing that ship repair and conversion will continue on the docks at Cammell Laird.

"All we want is for people to realise that ship repair will go on for ever and a day there. If we could have 1,000 people working on the yard, we would do. We are not in the business of shutting this down."


The proposed ferry from Greencastle to Greenore looks set to be anything but  smooth sailing.

Residents from the idyllic small town of Greencastle have vowed to fight the  ferry every step of the way.

The ferry has been hailed in some quarters as the salvation of the local  tourism industry, but that's not what the local residents are saying.

They say that the ferry will cause untold damage to the local environment,  the traffic infrastructure and is nothing more than a "white elephant."

The residents are so incensed by the prospect of the ferry being made a  reality that they have vowed to fight it every step of the way.

The Democrat spoke to Eoin Lawless of Greencastle Area Residents Group who explained why the ferry would have "catastrophic consequences for the area."

He said that similar proposals crop up every couple of years; the last time was in 1999 when it was "repelled by the residents."

He lashed out at Newry Dundalk Joint Chamber Forum, the driving force behind  the project, who in a report had said the resident's group only represents a  small minority.

"This simply isn't true, we held a survey a few weeks ago and it was found that over 90 per cent of the local residents are firmly behind the no campaign. "This is not a small minority, this is a staunch and strong majority." The group is not alone in their opposition to the ferry. Both Catriona Ruane and Martin Connolly of Sinn Féin have expressed their  opposition to the ferry as has the DUP's Jim Wells. "We also know that the people of Greenore feel the same."

The Group are also displeased with the consultation process. "We've had the Mourne Heritage Trust come out and say
that the consultation process is being rushed through." A public meeting was held in the Carrickdale Hotel on June 28, which saw those opposed to the ferry making their voices heard. "We were told at that meeting that we had three days to let our opinions be known.

"This was totally unacceptable but they did agree to extend that to a month." Mr Lawless said that one of the main problems is that the traffic infrastructure just isn't in place to cope with the ferry. "It's a very narrow road, it's impassable as it is when you have a lorry and a car on either side."

He predicted that the ferry would result in utter chaos on the local roads, and would change the way of life for the people of Greencastle. He said the extra volume of traffic would play havoc with the rural tranquillity of the area. Another bone of contention was the construction work that would be required.

"They will need to build a slip-way to the water, a servicing area and a car park for at least 40 cars maybe more in peak season. "This would be catastrophic for such a lovely, picturesque area." He said there is a real  danger that the project will flop and that the people of Greencastle will be left with a "white elephant sitting on their doorstep."

The stance of the residents is a stark contrast to those who feel the project will give a much-needed shot in the arm to the cross-border economy. Councillor Jackie Patterson, a former Chairman of the East Border Region Committee, said his only concern was that the mooted ferry service wouldn't usurp plans for a bridge from Narrow Water to Omeath. He added that if the  ferry service did go ahead there was no reason why it couldn't boost the local economy in Greencastle. You just have to look at what happened in County Clare with the ferry there.

"The residents didn't want it, but once it was up and running they couldn't do without it. "It boosted the tourism industry and they profited with the likes of bed and breakfasts. "The same thing could be applied here." He did specify though that if it came down to a choice between a bridge or a ferry service he would opt for the bridge option.

"The Omeath Road is not fit for heavy vehicles, you just have to look at the damage that has been caused to the infrastructure of the canal banks. "It's essential for the future of the area that trade between the North and South
is able to flow freely."

A source close to the project said that everything is ready to proceed and the only stumbling block is the resident's group.

"On economic and infrastructural grounds everything is sound.

"The Shannon Ferry Group, who provide the service in Clare, is prepared to offer the service."


Ambitious plans for a £100m Titanic tourist project in Belfast's  docklands area have been unveiled.

The project includes a full-scale replica of the liner, exhibition  galleries and a hotel and conference centre.

It is hoped the attraction will be open by 2012, the 100th anniversary  of the ship's launch.

The proposal, which has been unveiled by Belfast City Council and the Northern Ireland Tourist Board, is expected to attract tens of thousands.

The Titanic Signature Project envisages a centrepiece building, three times the size of Belfast City Hall, based on the slipway where Titanic and her sister ships were built.

The adjacent Harland and Wolff drawing offices, the Hamilton and Alexander Dry Docks also are included.

The Thompson Dry Dock would be brought back to life with the creation of  a Ghost Ship - a unique light-sculpture of the ship that would be visible across the Belfast harbour skyline.

A large-scale industrial sculpture park would sit alongside a hotel, conference and convention centre.

The proposal and an economic feasibility study, were presented to  Belfast City Council's Tourism sub-committee on Wednesday and will come  before the full council on 1 September.

Sub-committee chairman Councillor Diane Dodds said that in the past year  the council and Tourist Board had taken on the challenge of bringing a  Titanic attraction to life.

"The council's goal of marking Titanic's birthplace in the ship's home city is now one step closer," she said.

"Finally and rightfully the city that gave birth to the ship has begun  to acknowledge its part in the tale.

"This concept would celebrate the achievement that was Titanic, while  also commemorating the tragedy and educating the world about our city's  role in the Titanic story."

Alan Clarke, chief executive of the Northern Ireland Tourist Board, said Belfast was closer to establishing a world class attraction.

"Over the past nine months, a widespread consultation process has garnered support from all quarters and has shown that an attraction based on the theme of Titanic holds great economic, cultural and regeneration opportunities for all of Northern Ireland," he said.

"The concept captures the imagination of people throughout Northern Ireland and interest within the international marketplace."

Funding for the project will come from both the private and public sectors and the government is anticipated to get on board later this year.

It is estimated that if the project becomes reality, then it should attract at least 400,000 visitors annually. [BBC NI]

August 07Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Ian Collard, Tony Brennan, Mark Irvine, and "others"


Visitors arriving via the home page will have noticed that the home page display has been changed. As opposed to a static photograph a slide show will be displayed. For those accessing the site via broadband the display should being immediately. Those accessing via dial-up may experience some delay whilst the slide show pictures are downloaded to the cache.

As part of the on-going maintenance further changes to the site are planned over during August.

Please note that for an optimum viewing experience you should access Irish Sea Shipping using Microsoft Internet Explorer using a screen resolution of 1024 x 768.


Only two years after being sold by Sea Containers the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company is, according to a report in the Sunday Times on August 07, up for sale once again and could change hands for up to £200m.

It appears that Montagu Private Equity, which acquired the ferry operator two years ago in a £162m management buyout, has received several approaches for the business which could result in a formal auction. One of the parties believed to be interested is the Australian based bank Macquarie which recently acquired the Wightlink operation. This like the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company, was once a Sea Containers group company.

LADY OF MANN - unconfirmed reports suggest that the Lady has been sold.


BALMORAL - the Marine Accident Investigation Branch into the grounding of the BALMORAL on the Dagger Reef off the Gower Peninsular on October 18, 2004 has now been published. The copy, which makes for interesting reading, can be downloaded from MAIB .



At 05.20 on Tuesday August 02, Falmouth Coastguard made contact with two merchant vessels after a collision 45 miles South East of Lizard Point.

The vessels involved in the collision were the small cargo DOGGER [1092 grt] (Norwegian / Bahamas registered) loaded with fish meal the container ship SIERRA EXPRESS [27970 grt] (Greek owned and registered) sailing for Hapag-Lloyd.

The Emergency towing vessel ANGLIAN PRINCESS and the Lizard Lifeboat were despatched to the scene. Both vessels limped into Falmouth later on Tuesday. No injuries to crew were reported.


There has been some development in the saga over the Birkenhead, UK, repair site once run by Cammell Laird according to a report which appeared in Fairplay this week.

A possible new operator has come forward - Mersey Heritage Shiprepair Co. Owner Eddie Dybell is reported to have arranged a £6M ($10.6M) deal with the owner of the site, Reddington Finance, to take on the yard.

This agreement is being blocked by a 4m-wide 'ransom strip' put in place by A&P Group, the previous operator, to limit access to the dry docks and hinder competition. [It is believed that the "ransom strip" comprises the gates and river wall of which A&P retain ownership of.]

Dybell’s bank will not forward funding until this strip has been removed. Reddington originally did a deal with A&P Group, which in turn did a deal with North Western Shiprepairers, a company half- owned by Mersey Docks & Harbour Co, to take over the yard but Reddington has now given them notice to quit.

However Reddington co-owner Gerry White says he wants to establish a 999-year covenant to allow shiprepair to continue on the site. The yard is important because it includes the largest drydocks on the UK’s west coast.


The Cumbrian based ship owner and marine services provider, James Fisher & Sons, played a key role in rescuing seven Russian submariners trapped on board the Russian deep-sea rescue submarine PRIZ. The company's SCORPIO 45 robot submarine successfully sliced through debris which had trapped the PRIZ deep on the ocean floor for three days. Further details [BBC News]


August 05Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Ian Collard, Tommy Dover and "others"

Your web master has returned from his wanderings in Cornwall and Scilly and you will find a lot of new material uploaded to the site, with some more still to come in the Sunday update. Check "What's New" for details of all updates on August 04 and 05. Please note that your web master is still working to catch up with all correspondence, therefore, there may be a delay to email responses sent during the past week.


A number of improvements are currently underway at Irish Sea Shipping with redesign of menus to make them less fussy and clearer. The "What's New" page has been given a complete revamp. You may therefore find other changes occurring in the next couple of weeks as further improvements are made.

However, it is important to note that all pages are now being optimised to support 1024 x 768 screen resolution. You should therefore ensure that this is the minimum resolution set on your monitor, otherwise, you may have to scroll side to side to view the whole screen.

This switch is being made as most computers, monitors and graphics cards have been able to support a resolution 1024 x 768 for some years. The higher resolution allows more information / photographs to be presented to the user in less space.

The change over commenced in during the final week in July. As no problems have been reported by any users the change to 1024 x 768 on remaining pages will continue.


Trinity House, the General Lighthouse Authority for England, Wales and the Channel Islands, on August 02 announced  the findings from its consultation on the future of Godrevy Lighthouse. The consultation concluded that discontinuing Godrevy Lighthouse would not be in the best interests of protecting the safety of mariners, Trinity House’s statutory duty.

The proposal to discontinue Godrevy Lighthouse was one of a number made in the Aids to Navigation Review 2005. This five-yearly review was undertaken jointly by the General Lighthouse Authorities (GLAs) for the United Kingdom and Ireland – Trinity House, the Northern Lighthouse Board and Commissioners of Irish Lights - covering the 8623 miles of coastline under their jurisdiction.

The importance of the lighthouse marking St Ives Bay as a place of shelter, the only one on the north Cornish coast, in storms from the prevailing southwesterly direction, is fully appreciated. This together with the significant numbers of fishing vessels and other craft with minimal onboard navigation aids navigating in the area clearly shows the high level of local reliance on this light. It is not therefore intended to proceed with the proposals contained in the Review in respect of Godrevy lighthouse or the Stones buoy.

The aim of the review has been to ensure that the marine Aids to Navigation, lighthouses, buoys and light vessels, provided by the GLAs are best placed to aid navigation. After the original proposal for Godrevy was made, the GLAs continued to seek further information and input from users. This feedback was then supplemented by a meeting held in Hayle between Trinity House’s Executive Chairman, Jeremy de Halpert and the Director of Navigational Requirements, Duncan Glass, with local Harbour Masters and Committee members.

Jeremy de Halpert, Executive Chairman of Trinity House, commented: “Trinity House has been entrusted with safeguarding the welfare of mariners around our coasts, but to do so in a measured, cost-effective and informed manner. This vital review has given us the opportunity to evaluate the effectiveness of all our Aids to Navigation and hold discussions. Clearly Godrevy Lighthouse still fulfils a vital role and once we could conclude that the lighthouse is the most effective means of navigation for the area, we were able to justify its operational future.”

An accepted recommendation for Godrevy Lighthouse was a reduction in the range of the light from 12 miles to 10 miles. This will be carried out as part of the general maintenance and engineering programme.


Whilst Trinity House may have reprieved the Godrevy Lighthouse in Cornwall, the Northern Lighthouse Board are planning to close the Calf of Man Lighthouse which was built in 1968 . The range of Chicken Rock Lighthouse will be increased to compensate. Whilst the Calf Lighthouse may be closed the NLB may retain the lease in case it is needed in the futures. As part of the review of Isle of Man Lighthouses the fog signals ay the Calf, Chicken Rock and Point of Ayre will be switched off.


The Irish Environment Minister Dick Roche appealed last week to those involved in the dispute between rival ferries from Dingle to the Great Blasket Island to "stand back".

Mr Roche made his comments following the recent row between between two ferry operators working out of Dingle harbour.

The majority of landowners on the island have insisted that only visitors on the PEIG SAYERS, their own ferry, were entitled to tour the island.

Rival operator Tom Hand, of the LOCH AN IASCH  ferry owned by his company Dingle Bay Ferries Ltd, has continued his attempted tours of the island. He said it was not fair for one ferry operator to have an exclusive right of access to a heritage site meant for everyone.

Mr Roche said yesterday: "A bit of forbearance is now required by everyone and the best way to resolve issues is to please stand back."

The "island of writers" is an asset for all the people of Ireland, he added.

There was much work to be done in conservation and visitor number restriction, in protecting the island's rare eco system.

Earlier this month the minister announced that agreement had been reached with the landowners to buy the majority of land interests on An Blascaod Mor for ˆ1.7m. The agreement was reached after three years of negotiations and public consultation on the future of the island. It paves the way for a pier and the conservation of writers' former homes, including that of Peig Sayers.  [Irish Independent].


Stena Line Voted Top of Customer Service Class

It was announced on July 27 that Stena Line had been voted tops for customer service by some of the UK's  leading companies.

Members of the Beyond Philosophy group, a consulting organisation which  focuses solely on building great customer experiences, voted Stena Line the  best organisation for Customer Experience learnings on a recent study tour of the company's Stranraer to Belfast route.

Stena Line benchmarked its customer service strategies with organisations of  the calibre of Microsoft, T-Mobile, John Lewis and Mandarin Oriental Hotels  and came out with the highest delegate feedback score.

Over the last five years, Stena Line has implemented a comprehensive  customer service strategy to bring the ferry company to the forefront of its  industry. Now it seems that those service standards are every bit as good  if not better than other business service sectors around the UK.

Alan Gordon, Route Director for Stena Line on the Northern Corridor, said:  "Back in 1999 things weren't altogether rosy. Apart from everything else we were losing money and staff morale was low.

"I have always been of the opinion that in business, if you have happy staff  you can help make happy customers then the financial results will also show a positive return. This is exactly what has happened in the last five years.

"Starting with our staff, we had a root and branch review of the way we  interacted and looked after our customers and I'm delighted to say that now,  five years on, instead of going to seminars about how to look after  customers and staff we are now hosting such events. The turnaround has been  remarkable," he added.

"Although Stena Line management was the catalyst for this change it was the  staff across the organisation who took up the challenge and have helped  Stena Line to offer a best in class service. The scale of change has been  phenomenal.

"A good way of looking at it is if you compare the transformation that  Chelsea football club has undergone in recent years culminating in winning  the Premiership last season. In customer service terms we have achieved a  similar level of success. However, where Chelsea has effectively bought a  new team to achieve this we have been successful with by and large the same  team over the last five years and that is the really satisfying part,"  concluded Alan.

Larry Sparks, Marketing Director of Beyond Philosophy, said: "Stena Line  was the ideal partner for our recent study tour event which enabled  delegates to go behind the scenes at Stena Line and experience the  remarkable turnaround in business on the Stranraer to Belfast route. Stena  Line was voted the top company during the study tour and that is a  tremendous achievement."

Stena Line is the market leader on the Irish Sea, offering the biggest fleet  and the widest choice of routes from Ireland to Britain, including the  Holyhead to Dun Laoghaire and Dublin Port, Fishguard to Rosslare, Stranraer  to Belfast and Fleetwood to Larne routes. The company carries more than  three million passengers on its Irish Sea routes each year, more than its  rival ferry operators combined.


SUPERSTAR EXPRESS finally departed from Birkenhead on the morning tide of Thursday August 4. Reports suggest she was well loaded with fuel and filed a voyage plan to La Corunna, Spain where she was due to refuel. She is believed to be going on a hire/purchase arrangement to Buquebus to operate across the straits of  Gibraltar, presumably Algeciras - Ceuta.


Just three years after it was inaugurated the ferry service linking counties Donegal and Derry has carried its one millionth passenger.

The millionth passenger was one of a family group from Coleraine, who were awarded a piece of Moville Pottery, a ferry multi-ticket a champagne meal and a weekend hotel break.


RFA SIR TRISTRAM arrived on the early morning tide at the former A&P  Birkenhead wet basin on Friday July 29, 2005 for refit by NSL.


Residents in Passage East, County Waterford, are enduring another summer of discontent due to  traffic tailbacks approaching the local car ferry.

The situation has escalated over the past few years as more and more  commuters travelling to and from Wexford use the 10-minute Ballyhack service  to short-cut their journey by up to an hour.

However, the ferry operators, who've just acquired a new, faster 4-lane  vessel, the TINTERN, in Germany - which it's hoped will be operational  within weeks - are confident that a planned new terminal outside the village  will go ahead.

It had been feared that the proposal to move the ferry point downstream had  run aground, with Waterford County Manager Ray O'Dwyer deeming the €1.5m  relocation plans too costly.

Managing director of the company, Derek Donnelly, believes central  government, not the Co. Council, will finance the new facility, given the  ferry's importance to transport in the region.

They've already engaged consultant engineers to carry out site  investigations for a new access along the riverbank. Funding was sought  through the offices of Minister Martin Cullen two years ago, with ?200,000  allocated to the Council in January 2004 specifically for an access road to  the proposed new terminal.

Local resident James Elliot says the problem, exacerbated by drivers who  fail to obey clearways (a headache for the emergency services), is not  seasonal, as some suggest, but all year round, with a traffic garda on duty
there almost every evening.

That said, tourist numbers this summer - which reached record levels during  last month's Tall Ships' festival - have merely made a bad situation  unbearable.

Not only is the congestion a nightmare - with queues of up to an hour on Thursday and Friday evenings - but the noise and fumes from  constantly-running cars is a further nuisance for adjacent householders.  There's also speeding on the back road to Crooke, as ferry customers race to  jump the queue.

Passage councillor John Carey (FG) says local people are at the end of their tether, what with mile-long tailbacks on their way home from work, and  insists a new terminal must be built outside the village, which is being  "destroyed" by car congestion.

He's requested the County Manager to arrange an urgent meeting between the  ferry company, the Gardai and residents' representatives to address the  situation. [Munster Express ].


PLYM II suffered a mechanical problem on July 27 which resulted in the ferry service being reduced to just one vessel. Only two vessels as opposed to the usual three are currently in operation due to upgrade work at the Torpoint and Devonport Terminals.

Operations manager Tony Whetton said a bearing failed around 11.45 on a jockey wheel on which one of the chains runs. Ferry engineers quickly fitted a temporary wheel and the ferry was back in service by 14:30, well before the afternoon rush hour. A replacement wheel is arriving today from the shipyard in Glasgow where the ferry was built.


More than a dozen teenagers with placards demanding a ten-minute ferry service were at the town council's meeting on Thursday. They were supported by a number of other local residents, who filled the hall. David List,

Tamar Bridge and Torpoint Ferry general manager, addressed the council, before facing a barrage of questions from the councillors and public. Mr List explained that once the final ferry was in operation, there would be a three-ferry service during peak times, dropping to two at other periods in the day.

Councillor Ray Skelly said: 'The people of Torpoint and the Rame Peninsula want three ferries all the time.' Mr. List replied: ''The joint committee will review the service after one year. With three per cent growth in traffic each year, over the next ten years, we will still be able to cope with the planned service.'

Councillor Eric Parkin said: 'I have had contact from a local estate agent, stating people are looking to move to other areas of Caradon, rather than Torpoint, because of the two-ferry service. I would like to see a three-ferry service for one year first to see what happens.'

Mr List said: 'The two new ferries are already carrying more vehicles than the old three-ferry service did this time last year.'

Councillor Parkin told the meeting that there is a petition at the library for people to support the three-ferry service. While the slipways are being upgraded, it will be necessary to go to a one-ferry service for 24-48 hours, when the contractors finish one slip and move onto the next. One ferry will have to be moved each time a slipway is completed. This is first likely to happen in about six weeks' time and a few days' notice will be given as to when there will only be one ferry.


Aker Yards and the French company Brittany Ferries have signed a contract for the building of a ropax vessel worth € 80 million for  delivery in autumn 2007. The contract includes an option of a similar vessel.  The vessel will be delivered from the yard in Helsinki, while the blocks will be fabricated mainly in Rauma.

"Having delivered two car ferries for Brittany Ferries in the beginning of the 1990`s, we are now very pleased to renew our
relationship with the company", said Yrjö Julin, President of Aker  Finnyards and responsible for Cruise & Ferries in Aker Yards.

The trailer ropax is designed to carry road cargo vehicles between  France and England at a speed of 23 knots. The 165 m long and 26.8 m wide vessel has 2,2 kilometres of vehicle deck space and 120 cabins.

The contract is subject to final confirmation of buyers financing.


The East Pier Bandstand and Shelter is to be restored by Dún Laoghaire - Rathdown Council. Once restored it will be transferred to the ownership of the Harbour Company.


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