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NEWS BULLETIN: September 2005

September 28Acknowledgements; Gary Andrews, Michael Pryce, Ian Collard, Alex Mc Cormac, Jenny Williamson and "others".

ISLE OF MAN STEAM PACKET COMPANY

SUPERSEACAT TWO disgraced herself on Tuesday September 27 when she went technical and her 14:00 departure to Liverpool was delayed until 16:55. This sailing was in the public eye as it was carrying the retiring Lieutenant Governor Air Marshall Ian Macfadyen and his wife off the island. SSC2 being adorned by the Governor's Standard.

In addition to the technical problems SUPERSEACAT TWO is starting to suffer from the stress of the autumnal weather. On Monday September 26, she remained in Douglas. High winds on the afternoon Wednesday September 28 led to the final Dublin sailing of the season being delayed. Scheduled for departure at 14:00 SSC2 did not get away until 17:25. The return sailing at 17:30 from Dublin had an expected departure time of 21:30. The evening sailing from Douglas to Liverpool scheduled for 21:00 was rescheduled to 01:00 on Thursday morning.

JAMES FISHER & SONS plc

SHANNON FISHER - The Barrow based ship owner and marine service provider has launched the new 5,000 dwt tanker at the Damen Shipyard at Galati, Romania. She is the first of an order of two tankers placed by the company.

The ship along with sister ship SOLWAY FISHER are owned by First Ship Lease Ltd and are chartered to James Fisher for ten years on a bare boat basis.

The double-hull state-of-the-art Shannon Fisher will be employed on James Fisher Tankships' coastal and north west European contracts.

This delivery will give James Fisher the most modern double-hulled fleet in its market.

IRISH FERRIES

The Irish Government will be asked to subsidise the Irish Ferries plan to axe 543 jobs this week and replace them with low-paid east European workers.

The management has told employees that it proposes to give them six weeks' redundancy plus a two-week statutory entitlement for each year they worked with the company. As the statutory portion attracts a 60pc Exchequer refund, the company can seek over €6m from the overall costs of replacing its crews.

Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Michael Martin is under increasing pressure to query the bona fides of Irish Ferries' redundancy strategy.

The seafaring jobs are not being eliminated. The existing personnel are being replaced by immigrant labour paid one-third the agreed union rates.

The minister may withhold the Exchequer contribution if there are grounds to believe that the redundancies are not legitimate.

Mr Martin is understood to be seeking advice from the Attorney General's office on the legal status of the redundancies and the State's liability
from the social insurance fund. Last year, the department sanctioned Exchequer payments of over €1m to fund Irish Ferries' transfer of 150 staff
from the NORMANDY, who were replaced by cheaper contracted crews from Poland and the Baltic States.

In addition, there are concerns that the Irish quoted company may transfer more of its ferry fleet to a 'flag of convenience'. Last year the company reregistered the NORMANDY ferry to the Bahamas flag, where European employment conditions do not apply.

Both the Government and the union-employer National Implementation Body have been unable to influence the Irish Ferries 'take it or leave it' approach to ferry crews.

Chief executive Eamonn Rothwell persuaded SIPTU chiefs last June to abandon all agitation which had prevented the NORMANDY berthing at Cherbourg.

Instead, the SIPTU leaders agreed to wait for a set of cost-cutting proposals from two assessors thought favourable to the union's position. When they reported in mid-September, company management had prepared a mass redundancy strategy.

The bitter dispute will place a cloud over next month's initial negotiations on a seventh national 'social partnership' pay deal.

Ibec, the employers' lobby, has strongly defended the Irish Ferries approach to employment relations, describing it as much-needed "radical surgery". It warned SIPTU that "protectionism is a relic of the past that has no place in a modern open economy".

Effectively, this means that the union's existing agreements are not worth the paper they are written on - an approach should enliven social partnership discussions before the end of the year. [Irish Independent September 27, 2005]

Irish Ferries warned its 543 crew and staff on Tuesday September 27 that if they do not apply for its "voluntary" redundancy package by the weekend they will face wage cuts, longer shifts and shorter holidays.

Those who oppose the new working conditions have been warned that they will be sacked with the legal minimum two-week redundancy pay for each year of service with the quoted shipping company.

In a "reminder" letter to each crew member yesterday, Irish Ferries chief executive Eamonn Rothwell told the ship's ratings and officers that "it is prudent and advisable that your response be with the company by Friday".

The company has declined to comment on its human resources policy, designed to eliminate most of its Irish crews and to replace them with lower-paid eastern European workers on €3.60 an hour.

Mr Rothwell told staff that, as they are replaced by agency and contract crews, the remaining Irish workers will be allocated to a single vessel,
where ratings will be paid more than the contract workers on other ships but less than they earn at present.

The management plan to put all the Irish crew together has been described as something like a SIPTU "Marie Celeste".

SIPTU has served strike notice with effect from next Monday and that may have spurred the company to get as many of the 543 targeted staff signed up for redundancy before then. Its action is not being supported by the rival Seamen's Union of Ireland, which represents about 350 of the crew members and has advised them to take the exit cash package.

In addition, Irish Ferries, a leading member of the Ibec employers' lobby, has told staff that it will no longer pay national social partnership wage increases. Instead, pay rates will move in line with those on rival ferry companies, such as Stena Line and P&O Ferries.

Mr Rothwell, who was paid €14,617 a week last year , noted that "we have been through constant Labour Relations Commission and Labour Court hearings in the last decade". And he warned the employees that the "voluntary" redundancy offer "is not open to negotiation or reference to any third party".

Staff opting for the redundancy have also been told that they will not qualify for the retirement lump-sum traditionally given to departing
employees. The company maintains that the mass redundancies are necessary to raise profits by 300pc and to fend off competition from rival shipping lines and low-fare airlines.

Mr Rothwell is regarded as one of the more dynamic chief executives in the country. He owns just over 2m shares in the parent company, Irish
Continental Group, which are currently valued at €19.8m.

If his crew restructuring proves successful, it may be repeated by other executives anxious to use outsourcing and off-shoring to boost "shareholder value".

Commenting on the independent financial assessments prepared at SIPTU's request, Mr Rothwell dismissed their report. "The proposals were fully considered and financially analysed, which was very easy because there was not much to analyse," he said.

The report was prepared by Farrell Grant Sparks partner Greg Sparks and former SIPTU official Martin King over a 15-week period. [Irish Independent - September 28]
 

MARITIME AND COASTGUARD AGENCY

The July detentions list is now on line at the MCGA web site . See previous update (below) for press release concerning the July Detentions list.
 

LIVERPOOL CRUISE TERMINAL UPDATE

It appears that the Prince's Landing Stage extension and cruise terminal will not be ready for 2007 - the City of Liverpool's 700th Birthday.

Work has yet to start on the £19m scheme which was originally scheduled to be finished in time to capture the 2006 cruise programme. That has now been written off as impossible. As companies are already planning their 2008 programmes it appears that the project may not be ready for 2008 - the Liverpool European Capital of Culture Year.

Part of the delays have centred around the acquisition of the Mersey Docks and Harbour Company by Peel Holdings. There is also concern that the new facility will only handle day visitors. It will not be possible to handle cruise ships commencing or ending voyages at Liverpool. These will have to continue to use the rudimentary facilities at West Langton.

There will apparently be a meeting next week to try and move the project forward. Contractors Balfour Beatty have agreed to hold the contract price until the end of this year.
 

September 25Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Ian Collard, Chris Jones, Dick Clague, Kevin Bennett, Neil Marsden and "others"

ISLE OF MAN STEAM PACKET COMPANY

LADY OF MANN - the Lady returned home for the last time in the early hours of Friday, September 23. She entered Gladstone Lock around 01:00 and proceeded to her berth at Alexandra Dock. She apparently had bow thruster problems and was escorted by Adsteam's Canada to her berth where she arrived at 01:55.

SUPERSEACAT TWO - experienced a two hour delay in berthing at Liverpool on Thursday, September 22 due to problems with SEA EXPRESS 1. SSC2 was forced to prowl the Mersey for two hours. (See below) until she was finally able to berth at around 11:30. This significantly delayed her return sailing to the Isle of Man.

On Saturday September 24, SUPERSEACAT TWO was experiencing technical trouble. Despite departing Douglas at 06:55 she did not arrive at Liverpool until around 09:42. She was away from Liverpool around 10:40 but arrived at Douglas over half an hour late. Speed during passage was reported to passengers as being around 28 knots.

IRISH SEA EXPRESS

Timings of Irish Sea Express sailings have been revised for the autumn:

There will be no sailings on Tuesdays and Wednesdays (except around Christmas).

With effect from October 06,

Sunday sailings are retimed to Liverpool depart 10:00 / Dublin 15:30.

Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Monday sailings depart Liverpool 09:15 / Dublin 14:45

SEA EXPRESS 1 suffered technical problems on Thursday and Friday. It is understood that the problem centred around a supercharger defect. On Thursday morning she did not get away from the stage until around 11:25. This caused the inbound SUPERSEACAT TWO sailing from Douglas to be significantly delayed, SSC2 berthing almost two hours late. SSC2's passengers becoming very familiar with the Mersey waterfront during this time.

Whilst SE1 did get away with 137 passengers and 45 vehicles around 11:25. SE1 appeared to make laboured progress out into Liverpool Bay with AIS recording a speed of around 15.7 knots! However, she didn't get far and was forced to return to Liverpool.

On Friday things were little better. Whilst SE1 did get away on time she was forced to return with 134 passengers and 46 vehicles. Repairs were obviously completed by Friday evening as she was noted running engine trials.

KNOTT END FERRY

A ferry will secure the link between Fleetwood and Knott End for the next 10 years. The gleaming new boat for the River Wyre crossing is part of a £500,000 package and has been hailed as an economic boost for the area.

It should sail for the first time on Friday September 30. Originally the boat, which is funded between Lancashire County Council and Wyre Council, was due to be launched in August, but was beset with technical problems in the building yard at Pembroke in South Wales. Councillor Gordon McCann, who represents the Knott End side of the river said: "It must be a reliable service and this boat has been made specially for the  conditions in the river. It should be very good. It is just what we need. One thing that Wyre and Lancashire must do is advertise it in hotels in  Blackpool and get people there to use the ferry. I think it could provide a real economic boost for Knott End and Fleetwood.  It will certainly help shops and businesses in Knott End and it is very  welcome."

Anna Stefani, proprietor of Ferry Cafe on the Fleetwood side of the river,  said: "I think it will help because it going to make it easier for people. "People will go into Fleetwood by bus where they perhaps wouldn't have before. I am sure it will help. "It's a shame it's so late starting. We won't see the benefit until next  year. It's surprising how many people come in here and ask why the ferry isn't running. I am sure there will be interest in it."

The vessel was due to be handed over to operators Wyre Waste Management on September 22 following trials.
Wyre Waste Management boss Ian Drury said: "It's a lovely craft. We are delighted with it. "We will need to familiarise ourselves with the vessel and get use to it on the river. On September 28 the Maritime and Coastguard Agency will come to  provide a certificate to operate."

He said that they hoped to run the boat's first service on September 30. The previous ferry, HARVESTER, wasn't custom built for the route and had  difficulty operating in all conditions. It also suffered occasional damage to her fibreglass hull. But the new steel-hulled craft will be able to provide an all-year service.  It has more powerful engines, bow-thrusters to give greater manoeuvrability and covered accommodation for 35 passengers.

The ferry has still to be named. But children from local primary schools have provided suggestions in a competition run by the county council. The winning name will be announced shortly before an official launch of the boat proposed for the end of October. [Blackpool Today - 22/ 09/05]

MERSEY DOCKS & HARBOUR COMPANY

ISS has been informed of a serious mishap which occurred a few days ago at Alfred Lock, Birkenhead, which could have led to the bursting open of the river gates.  That in turn could have led to a major discharge of water from the Birkenhead Dock complex as it is understood that the Alfred Dock / East Float gates were open.

Apparently the Belize registered cargo ship ROTA collided with the outer gates at Alfred as she was departing. Her bulbous bow is reported to have punctured the gates.

The collision was caused by an engine failure as she ran into the lock. The ROTA is currently in West Float.

IRISH FERRIES

It was reported on Friday that talks between the social partners have reportedly failed to produce any breakthrough in the row over Irish Ferries' plans to replace its existing workers with cheap labour from abroad.

The employers' body IBEC, the Irish Congress of Trade Unions and government officials all discussed the situation on Thursday evening at a meeting of the National Implementation Body, which was set up to ensure compliance with social partnership deals.

However, reports on Friday morning said the meeting ended without any breakthrough and without any arrangements for further talks. Irish Ferries announced earlier this week that it wanted to replace the 543 workers on its Irish Sea routes with cheaper labour from eastern Europe.

WICKLOW & EAST COAST NOTES by Tommy Dover

Wicklow Port

Coaster callers this week included ANNLEN G , RIKA , HOHEBANK ,UNION GEM and JOKER . A RNLI relief fleet Trent class lifeboat CORRINE WHITELEY  (photo) called to the port for a short visit before resuming her passage north.

 The tug HUSKY ex BOSCOS II completed her coastal survey and returned to Arklow. STV ASGARD II called to the port on 2 occasions this week.

MARITIME & COASTGUARD AGENCY

15 FOREIGN SHIPS UNDER DETENTION IN THE UK DURING JULY 2005

The Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA) announced on September 23 that 15 foreign ships were under detention in UK ports during July 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 July 2005, along with 4 other ships still under detention from previous months. The number of new detentions is identical to what it had been in June while the overall rate of detentions compared with inspections carried out over the last 12 months is 5.3%, which is an increase of 0.2% on June’s 12 month rate.

• During the month of July 150 Port State Control Inspections were carried out in the
UK. From these inspections a total of 107 vessels had deficiencies raised against them. 67 had between 1 to 5 deficiencies, 26 had between 6 to 10 deficiencies, 11 had between 11 to 20 deficiencies and 3 had more than 20 deficiencies.

• Of the detained vessels 6 were registered with flag States listed on the Paris MOU white list, 3 were registered with flag States listed on the Paris MOU grey list and 2 were registered with flag States listed on the Paris MOU black list.

• Four Bulk Carriers, two containers ships, two general cargo ships, a refrigerated cargo ship, a dive support vessel and an offshore supply vessel were detained in the UK during the month of July

• Vessels detained July include the following:

A Liberian flagged, 10424 GT refrigerated cargo ship was detained on 15/07/05 for 7 days in Sheerness. There were 36 recorded deficiencies.

The attending Inspector found the following detainable deficiencies:

Engine Room fire dampers inoperable
Oil haze in purifier room
Engine room was found to be dirty & a fire hazard
The accommodation ladder was damaged and wasted
The large number of deficiencies indicated that the on board safety management system had broken down

• A Maltese flagged, 10964 GT bulk carrier was detained 07/07/05 for 24 days in Bristol. There were 30 recorded deficiencies.

The attending Inspector found the following detainable deficiencies:

The Fire drill was unsatisfactory because there was no fire plan or contingency plan and a crew man entered the location of the fire without fire fighting equipment
Mooring winches aft holding down bolts were found to be severely corroded
The pontoon lifting hook was found to be corroded
The lifejackets were in poor condition.

Due to the large number of deficiencies found a major non conformity was raised against the vessels on board safety management system which resulted in an additional ISM audit of the vessel.

STENA LINE

HSS STENA VOYAGER - the ship's schedule was disrupted on Friday September 23, as a result of the ship having to return to Stranraer due to an onboard medical emergency.

A male passenger in his 40s took ill just after the 14:45 sailing departed left Stranraer.

A company spokesman said a doctor travelling on the ferry examined the man, who is from the north of England, and recommended the vessel return to port.

Crew on board the ferry radioed back to Stranraer and an ambulance was waiting at the quayside when the ferry docked. The man was rushed to hospital for treatment. It is understood the passenger complained of severe stomach pains which the doctor diagnosed may have been caused by an ulcer.

Sailings were delayed for about two hours
 

September 21Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Michael Pryce, John Lewis and "others".

ISLE OF MAN STEAM PACKET COMPANY

It has been announced by the Scottish Executive that the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company is one of four companies which has been invited to tender to operate the Ballycastle to Campbeltown service. (see below for more details)

LADY OF MANN following the announcement of the impending sale of the LADY OF MANN to Saos Ferries of Greece the following article appeared on Blackpool Today on September 20.

The Fylde's ferry link with the Isle of Man may cease to operate altogether. The ship Lady of Mann makes bi-annual visits to the port and is packed with around 700 passengers every time she visits. But the fun could be over with the ship due to be sold later this year and  it is uncertain whether she will be replaced.

The situation is further complicated by the fact that the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company may be taken over by an Australian venture capital group. Company marketing manager Geoff Corkish said it could be months before the situation was resolved. He said: "We would like to replace the Lady of Mann. "We had already been looking at vessels which would have to be of a certain  quality to stand the rigours of the route. "But it's no secret the company may be involved in a takeover so that affects the situation.

"It depends what direction the company will go in the future." It was possible that she may be replaced by a SeaCat vessel and although  that could visit Fleetwood they would have to be certain that conditions at the port were suitable. At one time there was a regular timetable linking Fleetwood and the Isle of  Man, but in recent years it has been limited to annual voyages. May this year saw two return trips and the ship was sold out both times. The Lady of Mann is being sold to a Greek company which will run her on a  service in the north Aegean Sea later this year. Built for the company by Ailsa Shipbuilding in Troon, the ship entered  service in 1976. Company managing director Hamish Ross said: "This announcement will come as  no surprise, as the 'Lady' is now coming up to 30 years old. "She has been a very popular vessel and has served the company and the Isle  of Man with great distinction." The Lady of Mann is at present on charter in the Azores. Ferryboat Ben My Chree and Superseacat Two will continue to provide  scheduled services to the island from Heysham and Liverpool in the autumn  and winter.
 

CAMPBELTOWN - BALLYCASTLE

The prospect of a Campbeltown-Ballycastle ferry service moved a stage closer this week with the announcement of the issue of tenders to operate a ferry service to link Argyll, Scotland  and Moyle, Northern Ireland.

The tender is the next stage of a fresh joint Scottish Executive and Northern Ireland Administration initiative to attract an operator to the route.

Four companies - Harrison's (Clyde) Limited, Isle of Man Steam Packet Company, Serco Denholm and Western Ferries - have been invited to tender for the service.

A maximum £1 million annual subsidy over a five year contract period is available. The service specification requires an 11 month per year service for passengers and vehicles. Bidding companies may also add routes around the subsidised service.

Transport Minister Tavish Scott said: "We believe that a ferry operation can become a catalyst for economic benefit for the Kintyre peninsula and provide new opportunities for trade and tourism.

"I am pleased that we can now move to the next stage of the tendering exercise.

"There is an encouraging level of interest in the route. We will continue to work closely with the Northern Ireland administration and the local business communities involved in making every effort to attract an operator."

Northern Ireland Enterprise Minister Angela Smith said:" I am pleased that the new tender process has resulted in an improved level of interest in re-establishing the ferry link between Argyll and Moyle. I hope this will result in a successful operator being found to restore the service."

The Executive and Northern Ireland Office announced a joint decision to pursue a further tendering exercise in March 2005. Both parties agreed to proceed subject to the following conditions:

a.. The tender will be based on the same or very similar terms to the 2002-03 competition
b.. The maximum amount of subsidy to be made available for support of the services will be £1 million per year over the five year contract period The tendering exercise is being led by the Executive. The timescale for the present exercise allows for tenders from the companies to be submitted within 15 weeks. The procurement is following the general principles of the EU Procurement Directives and the requirements of the Maritime Cabotage Regulation and State Aid Guidelines.

IRISH FERRIES

IRISH FERRIES OFFERS IRISH SEA EMPLOYEES VOLUNTARY REDUNDANCY PACKAGES

Irish Ferries has now offered a voluntary severance package to its 543 seafaring employees on its Irish Sea services between Dublin / Holyhead and Rosslare / Pembroke. These offers of voluntary severance for those who wish to leave the company are supported by packages to compensate staff who choose to continue in employment on the ships for any changes in work practices required of them. Both offers are open for acceptance until 2nd October next.

The decision taken by Irish Ferries results from its inability to continue operations at its current high cost base in the face of low cost shipping competition and increased capacity from low fares airlines. In 2002, the company indicated to staff and unions that its costs position was untenable. Since then, the company has been unsuccessfully negotiating with SIPTU and the Seaman's Union of Ireland (SUI) to achieve cost-reductions, both directly and with the help of various third party intermediaries.

Corrective action on costs is now required if Irish Ferries is to avoid becoming unprofitable. The operational context has deteriorated in 2005 with a 9% fall in the Irish Sea Cars market and recent hikes in the cost of fuel (up 50% in 2005 alone).

All existing staff on the Irish Sea have the option of staying on the rates of pay tabled by both unions at the Labour Relations Commission (LRC) in January 2005 ( for the retention of directly employed staff on the MV Normandy and on crew ratios covering time off that are in line with the market ). Compensation for loss of income and time-off will be paid. Alternatively, all staff can avail of a voluntary redundancy package of up to 8 weeks pay per year of service ( including statutory of 2 weeks ) provided there is agreement on the company's right to replace departing staff with crew from an agency employing EU personnel.

Chief Executive, Eamonn Rothwell told staff he regretted having to write the letter to them.

"For many years we have pointed out the major cost differences between us and our competitors and told you about the threat they represent," he said. " If action isn't taken, Irish Ferries will go the way of B&I except, that this time, there'll be no bail-out by the Irish Government.

The Services Industrial Professional and Technical Union (SIPTU) responded to the Irish Ferries offer on September 19 by serving two weeks notice of industrial action:

SIPTU has served two weeks’ notice of industrial action on Irish Ferries following management’s outright rejection of a set of proposals designed to resolve the ongoing dispute over outsourcing, declared SIPTU Branch Secretary, Paul Smyth

At a meeting of Ships Officers this morning, SIPTU members said they were willing to consider the proposals put forward by independent financial consultants Greg Sparks and Martin King who had been asked to “develop a set of recommendations designed to meet the requirements of the business for consideration by both parties”.

“Despite the fact that the report proposed cuts in wages and reduced annual leave, we believe it formed a basis for moving forward and we were amazed that management chose to reject it out of hand within 24 hours of it being issued.

“Having replaced Irish and other European workers with low cost agency crews on the MV Normandy, Irish Ferries now want to do eradicate Irish seafarers on the Irish sea, under the guise of a so-called ‘voluntary redundancy’ package. The package is anything but voluntary – with a ‘take it or leave it’ sting in the tail.

“This is clearly an exercise in greed. Irish Ferries have not lost market share. In fact they made €26million last year. Less than 12 months ago, Irish Ferries, Chief Executive, Eamon Rothwell said that the savings achieved under an earlier agreement were more than enough to bring them into line with their competitors. So what has changed? Proposals from the Irish Maritime Development Organisation recommend enhanced State support to the shipping industry in the years ahead which would further improve their competitiveness.

“Irish Ferries management’s cavalier disregard for its employees, the unions and the institutions of the State is absolutely appalling,” he concluded.

DART VALLEY RAILWAY PLC

Proposed cuts to the Dartmouth to Kingswear passenger ferry could actually be worse than previously thought. A letter to Kingswear Parish Council from Paul Abrey, of South Hams Council, has revealed the result of the extended negotiations between the district council and Dart Valley Railway, which runs the ferry service.

The proposals put forward by DVR are that all sailings of the passenger ferry stop at 7pm all year round, except during Regatta week, and that all Sunday sailings are stopped during the winter months. This is a greater reduction in service than had been rumoured, as reported in last week's Dartmouth Chronicle. Mr Abrey stated in the letter that the proposals will go before South Hams Council's executive committee at the end of October, and that he would be recommending them. 'This is on the basis that if not agreed, the passenger ferry service for non-train passengers will cease altogether on October 31, 2005,' he said.

'Please be aware the DVR has landing rights in perpetuity to use the Kingswear pontoons. 'In my opinion, the licensed company would not be prepared to reopen negotiations.' The new licence, if agreed, would run for five years from November 1, 2005. The last licence ran out at the beginning of July this year, but DVR has been continuing the service agreed in the last arrangement while negotiations continued.

Both parties had agreed this would continue until the end of October. Local people have reacted with dismay to this development. Dartmouth mayor Cllr Peter Norton said: 'We are obviously concerned, because there is an alternative, but it is very poor. It is also worth considering that the alternative is run by South Hams Council itself, which puts it in a very awkward position. 'DVR is running a service, and should not be allowed to cherry-pick when it runs. It makes a large amount of money in the summer and should have to take the rough with the smooth.'

Kingswear Parish Council discussed the matter at its monthly meeting this week, and parish clerk Michael Stevens said: 'Kingswear Parish Council has made enquiries and believes that there are at least two other boat operators who would be prepared to take on the passenger service in its entirety. We do not believe the district council has explored this, and it should have. 'We believe it is quite improper for the council to enter into this type of agreement if it is the main beneficiary of any change. 'We are considering reporting the district council to the District Council Audit, which not only considers finances, but also proper conduct.' Dartmouth Town Council will also be discussing the subject as a matter of urgency this week. District councillor Hilary Bastone said 'I am fully behind Kingswear parish and Dartmouth town councils in opposing this.

If the DVR cannot provide a service, we should go out to tender and I am trying to put pressure on the council to do this. If need be, South Hams Council should put up a temporary shelter on the car ferry until a new ferry operator is found.' Residents have been speaking out against the proposed changes to the passenger ferry service. 'It is a service we cannot afford to lose, especially at that time of night,' said Jan Mountford, a resident of Brixham who works at Dartmouth's Tourist Information centre. 'The car ferry is not a very good option or foot passengers if its pouring with rain. Dartmouth is becoming an all-year-round resort, which is another reason not to reduce the service.'

Vanessa Wilson, manager of the Steam Packet in Kingswear said: 'I have staff who work for me and live in Dartmouth, what are they going to do if I need them to work in the evening? 'We need ferries to run as it will stop a lot of people coming across the river in the evening, which affects our trade.' Mrs Wilson felt that the car ferry should not be the only option for local people. 'What if you don't have a car? We need to save our ferry,' Mrs Wilson said.

Jan Henshall, Kingswear resident and owner of The Gem Shop in Dartmouth said 'It's unfair of Dart Valley Railway to treat its regular, local passengers so shabbily after we have supported them over the years, year-round. 'The car ferry is impractical in bad weather, especially for the elderly as there is nowhere to sit down. The huge sums DVR make during the summer should be used to support the service during the winter months, like any business has to in a seasonal town like Dartmouth,' added Miss Henshall Cllr David Gent said  'Anything that reduces access to the town is a bad thing. Kingswear and Dartmouth are extremely close communities, and I believe it would be detrimental in every sense to weaken the links between them.' Dart Valley Railway was not available for comment.

Paul Abrey, of South Hams Council, said: 'I am formulating a report for the executive committee when it meets in October. I will be detailing a range of options for members to make a decision.' Mr Abrey refused to comment on the likelihood of a second licence being made available for an alternative ferry operator.

STENA LINE

STENA LYNX III - is expected to lay-up for the winter at Birkenhead.

PENINSULAR & ORIENTAL STEAM NAVIGATION COMPANY

EXPRESS - is expected to lay up for the winter at the former Sea Containers Belfast Terminal, which is currently only used by the seasonal Isle of Man Steam Packet Company service to Douglas. Last winter she laid up at the former Cammell Laird wet basin at Birkenhead.

JAMES FISHER & SONS

On September 16 James Fisher, the Barrow based marine services provider, announced that it has agreed to sell the Cable Laying vessel OCEANIC PEARL to KS Ocean Pearl a company in the Shipman Group Norway for US$20.1 million. Delivery of the ship is scheduled to take place in Norway on 3 October 2005.

The vessel, which has been in lay-up since 2002, benefits from the income of a charter to International Telecom, a subsidiary of General Dynamics, payable until December 2006. The vessel is being sold free of the remaining charter income, amounting to US$8.2 million, which is being retained by James Fisher. OCEANIC PEARL had a book value of £20.87 million at the end of August 2005.  The proceeds of the sale will be used towards repaying the mortgage debt of £11.74 million on the ship.

Tim Harris, Chairman of James Fisher, said :

'This is a further and important step in the transformation of James Fisher into a marine services company. It has been our clear and stated strategy to reduce our exposure to the cable laying market at the right time. This year there have been signs of greater interest in the ships for use in the seismic market, as illustrated by this disposal. Whilst it is very difficult to predict whether conditions will continue to improve, I believe that it is right and prudent to take this opportunity to sell the OCEANIC PEARL. The Oceanic Princess, our other cable layer, also benefits from the income of a charter to International Telecom which is payable until May 2006. '

On the same day that the company announced the disposal of the OCEANIC PEARL James Fisher announced that it had signed an agreement, subject to due diligence, for the acquisition of the business and related companies of the privately-owned Aberdeen and Stavanger based partnership Monyana Engineering Services ('Monyana') for a consideration of £10.75 million in cash. The consideration will be funded out of existing resources.


Monyana is the market leader in refurbishing, designing and supplying a large range of hydraulic winches and marine equipment for rental and sale to the oil field services industry.  Its acquisition provides James Fisher with a much increased penetration in a market segment in which its Scan Tech subsidiaries are already active in both the UK and Norwegian sectors of the North Sea.  It represents a major step for the Marine Services Division, as well as a substantial expansion of the company's activities in Aberdeen and Norway, continuing to build on the core expertise of applying operational and engineering skills in the marine sector.

PASSAGE EAST FERRY

A county councillor sick and tired of the traffic congestion in Passage  East says he and local residents will mount traffic blockades in the village  and are even prepared to go to jail in their campaign to get the car ferry  terminal moved up river.

An angry Cllr. John Carey outlined this week the lengths he and other  frustrated residents are prepared to go to if the Government doesn't soon  release the promised funding for the access road for the new terminal. "The  car ferry has outgrown the village," the Fine Gael councillor declared at  the Co. Council's monthly meeting this week.

"You have to see what we have to put up with. Every street is blocked up. We  are not going to put up with it any more. If we have to block roads we will.  If we have to go to jail, we will do it too.

"I have queued on many occasions for 35 minutes to get my dinner in the  evening. I am living there 47 years. I don't believe I should queue to go  home like that. It's not right."

If the Government doesn't heed their appeals, he indicated that local  residents would mount a traffic blockade of the quay area in Passage
impeding traffic coming from the Crooke side. He stressed that they wouldn't  stop traffic coming from other routes accessing the ferry.

At Monday's Co. Council meeting, Cllr. Carey called on the County Manager  Ray O'Dwyer and County Engineer John O'Flynn to meet with him and  representatives of Passage East Car Ferry on the issue. Cllr Carey and the  ferry company want the County Manager to put renewed pressure on the Department of Environment to follow through on its commitment to build a  vital Euro 2.5m access road to the site of the new proposed terminal, located half a mile upriver from Passage East.

They fear that the money the Department has promised for the road will be lost to the project if it's not drawn down by the end of the year.

County Engineer John O'Flynn said he had no problem meeting with Cllr Carey and the car ferry company but pointed out that nothing could be done until they got money from the Government to build the new terminal. Cllr. Carey has highlighted the congestion problems caused by cars queuing for the ferry in Passage East on several occasions over the past few years.

Passage East Car Ferry boss Derek Donnelly has stressed that the company wants to move out of the village in the interests of alleviating the traffic congestion. In January, the Minster for Environment announced funding for the building of the access road to the proposed new terminal site.

A sum of €200,000 was allocated to carry out a site investigation study, which engineering consultants Malone O'Regan are scheduled to complete this month. Mr Donnelly, however, is anxious that the Department of Environment will now waste no time in allocating the rest of the money to build the road, which it is estimated will cost €2.5m.

He fears the money might be lost if it's not drawn down by the end of the year. Mr Donnelly said once the road was built, the slip way for the ferry terminal would follow.

He pointed out that a number of marine-related industries are anxious to locate in and around the access to the Suir Estuary.  (Waterford News)

STEVENSON & SONS

One of Europe's largest privately-owned trawler fleets is in crisis because fuel prices have rocketed.  Stevenson and Sons, based at Newlyn in Cornwall, owns 35 vessels - including 24 beam trawlers.

Six of its beam trawlers have already been laid up, but the firm says numbers could be cut even further as the business fights to keep afloat.

The firm says it is losing money after fuel costs doubled in the past year to about £7,000 a week for a beam trawler. The fishing is good at the moment and if fuel was at the French level, everyone would be happy. Stevensons said it was paying 14.6p a litre last June for diesel fuel which rose to 32p two weeks ago and is about 30p now.

With beam trawlers using 20-30,000 litres of diesel a week, costs of fuel as well as maintenance, replacing gear and harbour fees have
eaten up profits.

Company boss Elizabeth Stevenson, also secretary of the Cornish Fish Producers Association, told BBC News: "There is no profit, just huge losses, so it is a very serious situation at the moment.

"I have been in the business for 31 years and I have never had to face this before. "We are having to look at streamlining to enable us to continue in the future."

She said it was time for the government to help the struggling industry after the French fishing ministry last week announced a cap
on fuel prices for fishermen equivalent to about 20p a litre, about a third less than UK fishermen pay.

She said: "The fishing is good at the moment and if fuel was at the French level, everyone would be happy.

"It's incredible. We are meant to be on a level playing field, but it is not level at all."

Jim Portus, chief executive of the South West Fish Producers Organisation, said there had yet to be a response from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) over last week's proposal from fishery leaders for aid to help with the fuel price rises or cash for decommissioning craft.

He said: "I fear a collapse of the industry which would take not just boats, but entire communities which are dependent on fish, and that is not in anybody's interest." (BBC Cornwall).

September 18Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Chris Jones and "others"

ISLE OF MAN STEAM PACKET COMPANY

LADY OF MANN - the rumours circulating a few weeks ago concerning the sale of the LADY OF MANN to SAOS Ferries, of Greece has been confirmed by a press release issued on Friday. She is expected to return to Liverpool from her charter to Acor Line this week and will depart for Greece once the deal is finalised sometime in October.

SUPERSEACAT TWO will operate the Liverpool to Douglas winter service. However, she will operate to revised timings which are as follows:

Douglas Depart: 08:00 Friday and Saturday - 15:30 Sundays

Liverpool Depart 12:00 Friday and 19:00 Saturday and Sunday

SUPERSEACAT TWO will also operate the December sailings between Douglas and Dublin. On December 21 and 28 she will depart Douglas at 08:00 and return from Dublin at 12:00. Time ashore day-trips as originally advertised for the Lady of Mann's schedule are no longer available

The deployment of SUPERSEACAT TWO in winter is a significant gamble given her ability to operate in seas only up to 3m. It is likely that the elements will prove that the decision to replace the LADY OF MANN with an inferior vessel is nothing short of complete folly.

Whilst it is apparent that the LADY OF MANN would have to be replaced eventually, the decision to replace her should not have been made until a vessel capable of operating in the exposed waters of the north Irish Sea had been obtained.

The Isle of Man Steam Packet Company obviously appears determined to operate the Liverpool route with high speed vessels all year. One hopes that by next year a more suitable vessel can be obtained - the ability to operate with wave heights of 3.5 metres would have made an Incat vessel a more logical choice.  <Viewpoint: A Packet of Trouble?>

FLEETWOOD MUSEUM - ISLE OF MAN STEAM PACKET TALK

On Wednesday September 21, 2005 at 19:30 maritime author and journalist Dick Clague will be presenting a talk on Steam Packet History at Fleetwood Museum, Queens Terrace, Fleetwood. There is a small charge for admission which includes refreshments.

BRISTOL CHANNEL FERRY

Devon County Council is investigating the possibility of a passenger ferry link between Ilfracombe and Wales. For much of the 20th Century a seasonal link was provided across the Bristol Channel by P&A Campbell. Over the past 20 years or so the seasonal link has been operated by the Waverley Steam Navigation Company.

However, Devon County Council are looking for a more regular link which would obviate the need for the lengthy land journey via the Severn Bridges.

This is not the first time that these plans have been mooted. However, the council has now taken the step of including the plans in the County's 20 year draft regional plan.

SEA CONTAINERS

FINNJET - it has been anticipated that on withdrawal from service in September FINNJET which operates for the company's Silja Line subsidiary would proceed to the River Fal, Cornwall, for lay-up. However, these plans have now changed.

The company has now chartered out the gas turbine powered ship to the United States to provide emergency housing for the Louisiana State Medical School in the wake of hurricane Katrina.

Louisiana State University, Health Science Center, is in urgent need the vessel as substitute for premises destroyed by the hurricane. The Finnjet is to be positioned in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, about 100 miles from New Orleans up the Mississippi river. The charter period is six months at a minimum and can, according to the charter agreement, be continued.

As a consequence of the charter, the Finnjet service will be terminated earlier than the planned on September 23. She is expected to arrive at Baton Rouge on October 02.

STENA LINE

STENA ADVENTURER is reported to be having a brief dry docking in Belfast this weekend. She is understood to be departing on Monday
 

September 11Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Tom McDonald, John Williams, Tommy Dover, Ian Collard, Michael Bracken and "others"

ISLE OF MAN STEAM PACKET COMPANY

LADY OF MANN information suggests she will depart from the Azores on September 19 and is likely to be back in Liverpool by September 22. However, though no formal announcement has yet been made, it appears she will not re-enter service.

The Steam Packet have confirmed on Manx Radio earlier this week that the Dublin sailings for the Irish Bank Holiday weekend in October will not operate. It now remains to be seen if the seasonal December sailings will also be cancelled. At present they still appear in the timetable and in the online booking system.

(Photo: - Sign of the times? - a "Fawlty" notice. Imperial Buildings - September 10, 2005)

WORLD SHIP SOCIETY - MERSEYSIDE BRANCH

The first meeting of the 2005 - 2006 Season is this Tuesday evening, September 13 at 19:15.

Please note that following the closure of Sam's Bar, Branch Meetings will now be held at "The Fly In The Loaf" located in Hardman Street, close to the junction with Rodney Street. Bus routes 80, 80a 80b, 75 and 86 pass the premises. Lime Street Station and Central Stations are approximately 10 minutes walk.

The "Fly In The Loaf" is an Okell's Brewery Public House which specialises in real ale and serves Isle of Man beers and a wide range of guest ales. The pub is also apparently fitted with a wireless internet "hot spot" for those with WiFi enabled pocket-PCs, PDAs and Laptops!

Admission to meetings is £1:00. Visitors and prospective members are welcome.

The first meeting is entitled: "For The Safety of All" - A selection of films on the Irish Lighthouse Service.

LIVERPOOL DAILY POST

This week, the Liverpool Daily Post newspaper will be publishing their second Maritime Collection of Archive Pictures. The one produced earlier this year was excellent containing many unpublished photos. A number of pages will be included with each day's edition of the paper which will build into a supplement by the end of the week.

DANIEL ADAMSON PRESERVATION SOCIETY

Persons trying to access the Daniel Adamson Preservation Society web site www.danieladamson.com either directly or via links from Irish Sea Shipping may have experienced problems between Tuesday and Friday evening last week. Apparently the hosting ISP performed a server upgrade which took the site off line. The site has now been restored. The most recent update posted on Monday September 04 featured screen captures from the recent BBC TV Regional News Report.

PENINSULAR & ORIENTAL STEAM NAVIGATION COMPANY

EXPRESS missed some sailings this week. Following the Thursday morning sailing to and from Troon she was withdrawn from service until Saturday September 10 to facilitate engine maintenance.

STENA LINE

STENA LINE APPOINTED PREFERRED SUPPLIER OF FERRY SERVICES TO THE 2006 RYDER CUP

STENA LINE, one of the world’s largest ferry operators, has been appointed Preferred Supplier of Ferry Services to The 2006 Ryder Cup.

Ryder Cup Europe LLP announced the agreement today, undertaking to utilise Stena Line services whenever possible as part of the huge logistical undertaking in transporting equipment to the largest sporting event ever staged in Ireland.

As Preferred Supplier of Ferry Services to The Ryder Cup, which takes place at The K Club in Straffan, Co. Kildare, from September 22-24, 2006, Stena Line will also carry ticket holders between the UK and Ireland via its five Irish Sea routes.

Michael McGrath, Freight Director for Stena Line, said: “We are delighted to be named as the Preferred Supplier of Ferry Services to The Ryder Cup 2006 which promises to be one of the greatest sporting occasions that Ireland has ever witnessed. Out extensive route network and choice of craft between Britain and Ireland has helped us secure this prestigious contract.”

Richard Hills, European Ryder Cup Director, said: “As an internationally recognised transport and travel service company, and one of the world’s largest ferry operators, Stena Line is a valued addition to The Ryder Cup as its Preferred Supplier of Ferry Services.

“Stena will play a key role in ferrying large quantities of equipment to Ireland and, at the same time, providing special rates for ticket holders planning to enjoy the experience of travelling to The Ryder Cup by sea.”

ADSTEAM

Tug WATERLOO has been renamed ADSTEAM WATERLOO. - Photo - Michael Bracken.

IRISH CONTINENTAL GROUP

INTERIM REPORT 2005


RESULTS

The Board of Irish Continental Group plc (ICG) reports that, in the seasonally less significant first half of the year, the Group recorded EPS of 6.4 cent compared with a loss per share of 2.5 cent (restated for IFRS) in the corresponding period in 2004. Revenue for the half year was €139.6 million (2004: €135.8 million). Profit from operations was €4.3 million, compared with €2.3 million in the same period in 2004. Finance costs fell from €2.8 million to €2.6 million resulting in profit before tax of €1.7 million compared with a loss of €0.5 million in the first half of 2004. The tax charge was €0.2 million (2004: €0.1 million).

The Board has now decided to redeem one redeemable share per ICG unit for a cash consideration of 9.91875 cent per redeemable share. This will be paid on 4 November 2005 to shareholders on the register at 14 October 2005. The consideration per redeemable share represents an increase of 15% on the interim redemption premium of 8.625 cent paid last year.

OPERATIONAL REVIEW

Ferries Division

The division comprises Irish Ferries, a leading provider of ferry services between Ireland and both the UK and Continental Europe and the chartering of multipurpose ferries to third parties.

Revenue in the division was €72.5 million (2004: €71.5 million). Profit from operations was €2.3 million (2004: €1.8 million). The results benefited from the absence of industrial action in the period (there had been disruption in February 2004).

Irish Ferries’ core tourist business is car tourism and industry statistics indicate that the overall tourist car market from the UK to all European destinations is estimated to have declined by around 5% in the half year, due principally to additional airline competition. The UK market to Ireland has seen a similar decline. Our total cars carried were 162,000 (2004: 165,000). Total passenger numbers were affected by a decline in the foot passenger market and we recorded a 3% drop in overall passengers to 670,000.

Within this marketplace internet sales continue to develop strongly and this is leading to savings in distribution costs including a reduction in telephone call centre activity.

The overall Roll on Roll off freight market continues to grow and we also continue to grow, with our volumes up 7% to 107,000 units.

We continue to focus on generating cost savings to reflect the competitive environment in which we are operating. This focus is designed to bring our labour costs into line with those of our competitors who have had the benefit of international crewing costs and lower wage inflation rates than Ireland’s over the last number of years. We achieved some benefits from rostering savings on the Irish Sea routes but these are not sufficient to position the Group to prosper in the medium term. The model which we have achieved on the French route (i.e. agency crew at international wage rates) has enabled us to reduce fares on our French route and offers a way forward for the benefit of the Group as a whole. We are now engaged in a review process, in an attempt to progress a sustainable way forward in crewing our Irish Sea vessels. This process is expected to produce proposals in the coming weeks.

Arising from the sustained rise in world oil prices, which on current trends will cost the ferries division an additional €6.3m in 2005 (+48%) compared with 2004, we are in the process of increasing our fuel surcharges.

In ship chartering the Pride of Bilbao remains on charter to P&O, servicing their Spanish destination from Portsmouth while the former Pride of Cherbourg has been sub chartered by P&O, ultimately to Toll Shipping Pty, for service in New Zealand.

Container and Terminal Division

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

Turnover in the division was €67.5 million (2004: €64.7 million). Profit from operations was €2.0 million compared with €0.5 million in 2004. This was a substantial improvement in margin, due mainly to the completion of the extension to our Dublin Container Terminal, but further improvement is necessary. Additional fuel costs of €1.0 million and €1.5 million in higher ship charter costs were incurred in the division.

Total containers shipped on continuing routes were down 5% at 231,000 teu reflecting our concentration on better paying business and a challenging environment with additional competitive capacity on the Irish Sea.

The cost outlook remains demanding, with increases in both fuel and ship charter rates. There is a trend towards consolidation in the industry with three of our competitors acquired during the period.


PRSI REBATE

In 1997 a refund scheme for employer contributions of social costs (PRSI) for seafarers was introduced, bringing Ireland into line with the practice in many other EU countries. (In the UK, seafarers in international waters are effectively exempt from National Insurance). This was introduced for a four year period up to 2000 and subsequently extended up to 31 December 2003. The Irish Government announced an extension of the scheme in November 2004 subject to EU approval which is awaited. A failure to renew this would cost the group in the region of €2.5m per annum.

MERCHANT NAVY OFFICERS PENSION FUND (MNOPF)

In our 2004 Annual Report we disclosed that the deficit attributable to ICG in respect of the MNOPF was in the range of £2.7 million to £6.2 million. The trustees of the MNOPF have now confirmed that the actuarial deficit, as at September 2005, is calculated at £3.27 million (€4.8 million approximately). This will be recovered by way of additional contributions, together with interest, over 9 years. As this is a defined benefit scheme it is intended to account for it as such under IAS19 subject to receipt of the necessary financial information from the MNOPF on a timely and regular basis.


FINANCE

Depreciation and amortisation in the half year was €12.8 million (2004: €12.8 million), while EBITDA for the 6 months amounted to €17.1 million (€15.1 million in 2004). Cash generated from operations was €21.7 million compared to €21.5 million in the corresponding period in 2004. Capital expenditure in the period was €8.7 million (2004: €8.3 million), mainly maintenance capital expenditure on our vessels and investment in information technology, principally new passenger and freight sales systems.

The average interest cost in the period was 4.4% compared with 4.6% in the first half of 2004. Net debt at the end of the period amounted to €115.9 million. This compares with €117.9 million at 31 December 2004.

The accounting policies used in the preparation of these interim results conform to International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) in 2005. Information on the impact of IFRS was previously released on 6th July 2005.

OUTLOOK

The peak tourist season, which is the most important period for us, has followed the pattern of the first half with growth in freight but weaker car volumes on the Irish Sea. With our new cost structure on our French route we have been able to maintain volumes on that route but yields have reduced as we pass on our cost savings in order to compete against subsidised competitors and increased air access. Overall our car volumes are down 4% year to date while our roll on roll off freight volumes are up 7%.

Given the changing patterns of travel behaviour and the higher level of fuel costs we are committed to developing and implementing our proposals to achieve staffing costs consistent with international norms.

IRISH FERRIES SHORT LISTED FOR NORTHLINK

Irish Ferries,  has been shortlisted to provide a North Link ferry service between the northern coast of Scotland and the Shetland and Orkney islands.

Irish Ferries was one of a large number of operators asked to tender for the ferry service, which currently operates three times daily from Scrabster on the northern tip of Scotland to Stromness on Orkney Island. In addition, there is a nightly service from Aberdeen to Lerwick in Shetland and there are four sailings daily to Kirkwall, the capital of Orkney.

Irish Ferries must be seen as a front runner to win the operator's contract for the service from next April, but it is up against tough competition. It is understood to be in competition with V Ships and the existing operator Caledonian MacBrayne which sails to twenty-two islands and four peninsulas on Scotland's West Coast.

From Arran in the south to Lewis in the north, the Caledonian MacBrayne network covers some of the most beautiful and dramatic places in Scotland.

V Ships is the world's largest provider of independent ship management and related marine services to the shipping industry. An international company with 44 offices located in 26 countries and employing 1,100 office staff and 22,500 sea staff, V Ships operates a fleet of over 600 vessels encompassing most major ship types.

In addition to its core ship management activities, V Ships operates a broad range of maritime services including crewing, leisure, financial, consulting, commercial and agency services.

Since the company's formation in Monaco in 1984, V Ships has grown by opening new offices in major maritime centres around the world, and by adding new services to its product range.

In 1998, V Ships acquired Celtic Marine - an Isle of Man- headquartered company specialising in the provision of manning services to ship owners. In January 2001, V Ships acquired Acomarit, a leading ship management company, to create the world's largest ship management and shipping services group.

The Shetlands service will involve a significant amount of import- export trade all year round, supplemented by tourism passenger traffic in season. One of the island destinations has a population of only 20,000 people. Irish Ferries is understood to be consulting with local business, tourism and port authority representatives.

The Shetlands service would come as a welcome extra string to Irish Ferries' bow as falling tourism figures in the first half of this
year and rising oil prices have been reducing the group's margins. High freight volumes are counteracting these negatives, but within a
few years Irish Ferries will hit full freight capacity so there is a limit to the counter-balance freight can provide.

Recent analysts' reports on Irish Ferries have stressed that further rationalisation will have to take place if the group is to maintain its profitability. [Irish Independent].

IRISH FERRIES IKEA OFFER

Irish Ferries Brings IKEA Closer

Ahead of their arrival into Ireland, Irish Ferries have brought the giant IKEA stores at Warrington and Cardiff that bit closer with a new €99 return one day fare for car plus four on their Dublin/Holyhead and Rosslare/Pembroke routes. A van plus four fare of €129 return is also offered.

Other centres to be explored include the picturesque city of Chester, Cheshire Oaks designer outlet village, Europe's largest,
and the Trafford Centre in Manchester, all within a two hours drive from Holyhead. Close to IKEA in Cardiff, and within two hours drive
from Pembroke, is Bridgend designer outlet village in which over 80 famous name designer stores are located.

Aimed at shoppers, home improvement and Christmas gift hunters, fares Can be booked by telephone at 0818300400.
 

IRISH SEA EXPRESS

SEA EXPRESS 1 - missed her first sailing due to technical problems on Wednesday. Observers had noted her running slower than usual prior to this. However, she returned to service on Thursday. She has operated

The company has reported carrying 60,000 passengers on the Liverpool to Dublin route which commenced operation in spring this year replacing facilities withdrawn by the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company.

In a recent report in Lloyds List  ISE acknowledges that the overnight sailings from Dublin did not prove popular (They have since been withdrawn). However, for the 2006 season ISE plan to operate three sailings per day. This presumably would see morning sailings to Liverpool offered from Dublin on alternate days with the SE1 staying overnight in Dublin. One imagines that such a facility could prove quite attractive for Irish customers who could be in Liverpool by early afternoon, the same time that the morning ferries berth at Holyhead.

WICKLOW & EAST COAST NOTES from Tommy Dover

Wicklow Port

Coaster callers included  JUPITER 1, PROVIDER, UNION MERCURY, KORIANGI, SEA WAAL, ANNLEN G, SCOT MARINER, SCOT VENTURE (left), UNION GEM and UNION MARS (right).

Traffic in the bay included RED DUCHESS, JAN WILLEM, MIRA J, CELTIC VOYAGER, BRO GRANITE and COASTAL WAVE.Wicklow Lifeboat RNLB ANNIE BLAKER launched to aid a fishing vessel with mechanical problems.

 

Arklow

A vessel was working at one of the turbines at the Wind farm off Arklow during the week.

BIBBY LINE

The families of 44 people lost at sea when their ship sank are to mark the 25th anniversary of the tragedy. Bulk carrier MV Derbyshire, built on Teesside, sank in the South China Sea on 9 September 1980, caught up in a severe tropical storm.

Victims came from all over the UK, with many from Merseyside, as well as Redcar and Darlington. The victims' families will met in Liverpool on Saturday September 10 for the annual service of commemoration. The 169,000-tonne ore and oil bulk carrier sank in the Pacific Ocean south of Japan when she was hit by Typhoon Orchid in 1980.

An inquiry in 2000 ruled that a hatch cover had failed to withstand the pressure caused by huge waves which buffeted the 160,000-tonne bulk carrier. But further research showed the ship got into trouble because the waves were exactly the same length as the vessel. The findings followed two inquiries which waded through 137,000 photographs and 200 hours of video footage shot around the wreckage

September 04Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Ian Collard, Alex Mc. Cormac, Michael Bracken and "others"

ISLE OF MAN STEAM PACKET COMPANY

LADY OF MANN is believed to be heading home after her charter to Acor Line in the next few weeks. However, it is unclear whether she will operate this winter. There are unconfirmed reports surfacing once again that the Greek operator SAOS Ferries has bought her or at least paid a deposit.

SUPERSEACAT TWO - to add to the current uncertainty over which ship will operate the Douglas to Liverpool service from late October, there is also a suggestion that another operator has viewed SSC2 recently!

What may happen if both vessels are unavailable remains to be seen. However, is clear that some sort of announcement must be made by the company soon concerning this autumn's services. The popular Irish Bank Holiday weekend Dublin - Douglas sailings have been missing from the on-line booking system for months yet, the printed timetable still advertises these sailings. The uncertainty over the winter service is sure to unsettle the travelling public. Something to be avoided given this years Douglas Harbour passenger figures!

NORSE MERCHANT FERRIES

As part of Norse Merchant's commitment to enhancing the safety and security of visitors and residents of UK and Ireland, improvements are continuing to be implemented in the form of the requirement of photographic identification passes for travel. This came into effect from the 1st September 2005.

All passengers aged 16 years or over are now required to have acceptable photographic identification in order to travel onboard all of the company's vessels. Typically, a current photographic identification that was issued by some level of government will be sufficient. For example, driver's licenses, EU national identity cards, armed forces ID cards, citizen cards and valid passports are acceptable, but photo identification issued by a school or private employer are not acceptable.

Unfortunately travel will be refused if one of the above forms of identification is not shown.

LAGAN VIKING will visit Dublin on Monday September 12 for a lunchtime reception for Norse Merchant Ferries, Irish freight customers. Similar

 

ISLE OF MAN DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORT

Unusually both the June and July harbour figures were released together. Could it be that they were holding back on the June figures in the hope the July figures would be better? They don't make particularly good reading especially on the routes to Ireland.

DOUGLAS HARBOUR FIGURES – JUNE 2005

Passenger figures compiled by the Harbours Division for June 2005 at 88,094 show a 16.9% decrease on the figure for the same period in 2004 which was 106,071.

The year to date figure at 264,491 passengers shows a 12.3% decrease over the same period in 2004 which was 301,480.

During June, car and motorcycle traffic through Douglas Harbour decreased by 3% from 35,969 vehicles to 34,898 vehicles.

The year to date figure at 82,724 vehicles shows a 5.6% decrease over the same period in 2004 which was 87,666.

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

Route

Change

From

To

Belfast

Minus 56%

7,971

3,543

Dublin

Minus 35%

3,585

2,338

Heysham

Plus 4%

40,271

42,070

Liverpool

Minus 19%

45,595

36,772

Larne

All plus

nil

2,296

Director of Harbours, Captain Michael Brew comments:

“June passenger figures are disappointing with the main positive element being the ongoing strength of the Heysham route. Allowance however should be made for the fact that June 2004 contain the Lady of Man’s day excursion traffic. The similar sailings for 2005 were operated in May.”

DOUGLAS HARBOUR FIGURES – JULY 2005

Passenger figures compiled by the Harbours Division for July 2005 at 81,421 show a 4.6% decrease on the figure for the same period in 2004 which was 85,367.

The year to date figure at 345,912 passengers shows a 10.6% decrease over the same period in 2004 which was 386,847. During July, car and motorcycle traffic through Douglas Harbour increased by 3.7% from 18,246 vehicles to 18,915 vehicles.

The year to date figure at 101,639 vehicles shows a 4% decrease over the same period in 2004 which was 105,912.

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

Route

Change

From

To

Belfast

Minus 29%

6,222

4,425

Dublin

Minus 20%

4,023

3,238

Heysham

Minus 8%

28,538

26,278

Liverpool

Unchanged

43,325

43,288

Director of Harbours, Captain Michael Brew comments:

“After a number of disappointing months for passenger traffic, July 2005 figures contain a positive sign, with a 3.7% increase in vehicle traffic. This growth indicates that the extra vehicle capacity provided by SuperSeaCat is beginning to show a positive benefit. The recently introduced “under three day break” fare of £99 return for a car and two passengers should also attract more car traffic.”

CARNIVAL CORPORATION

SEABOURN PRIDE - The Department of the Marine ordered the detention of the vessel at Waterford Port on Thursday this week due to concerns about the safety of the vessel. The Bahamas registered vessel was reported by RTÉ to have around 170 passengers on board.

The cruise ship was inspected a few days ago in Britain where inspectors identified a number of safety issues but allowed the ship to sail for Waterford.

It was inspected again by the Department of the Marine when it was discovered that the safety matters, which are believed to centre on the engine room, were not rectified.

A spokesman said marine authorities in the Bahamas had now been informed and the company which owns the ship was being told it would not be allowed to leave Waterford until the safety issues have been dealt with.

The International Transport Federation, which represents seafarers, called for an investigation into why the ship was allowed to sail from Britain after inspectors there had identified defects.

The ITF said it was writing to the Maritime and Coastguard Agency in the UK because it was dissatisfied. It said that the UK inspectors seemed to have left the matter to the Irish to sort out. (RTE - September 01, 2005).

SEABOURN PRIDE was eventually reported to have departed Waterford early on Saturday morning. She had missed her Dublin call on Friday and her scheduled Douglas call on Saturday. She was expected to proceed directly to Derry, her next port of call. However, unexpectedly she turned up at Douglas around 19:00 stopping for around 35 minutes. .

JEANIE JOHNSTON

The replica emigrant ship, which is now owned by the Dublin Docklands Development Authority visited Douglas on Sunday September 04. She has been visiting Whitehaven during the past week.

MERSEY DOCKS & HARBOUR COMPANY

REDEVELOPMENT PLANS FOR PLOT 7 - SEA TERMINAL SITE

Plans for a unique £130 million development for Liverpool's premier riverfront location at the southern gateway to Princes Dock and adjacent to the Pier Head, have been submitted for City Council approval.

New World Square, a cluster of five spectacular buildings representing the great waters of the world, are the brain child of London based developers Lead Asset Strategies and will provide Liverpool's first 5-star hotel, 299 luxury apartments and a range of chic retail and leisure facilities that will create a new venue on the city's famous waterfront.

The buildings, designed by internationally renowned practice Scott Brownrigg, feature undulating curves and shimmering aquatic surfaces creating a powerful image of cascading waves, interspersed by pools of public space featuring pedestrian islands and bridges.

The man behind the project, Lead Asset Strategies' Chairman Raj Basu, described New World Square as "a series of strong but simple forms that don't try to compete with the magnificent architectural landmarks at the Pier Head."

Project architect Xavier Hortal explained: "We rejected the notion of a dramatic and visually intrusive design. These are subtle, organic buildings that celebrate Liverpool's maritime identity and complement existing and proposed features on the waterfront."

The scheme has been backed by the Mersey Docks and Harbour Company which owns the site and Peel Holdings, owners of Manchester's Trafford Centre, whose acquisition of the Mersey Group is due to complete on 22nd September.

Said Mersey Docks' Chief Executive Peter Jones: "The development is an exciting architectural landscape which will enhance the very heart of the city waterfront and complement all the other elements contributing to the regeneration of the Mersey waterfront as a dynamic living environment."

Peel Executive Lindsey Ashworth commented: "We welcome these inspirational proposals for the creation of this exciting landmark development. They present the Peel Group with a timely opportunity to demonstrate its commitment to enhancing and enriching Liverpool's historic river frontage."

Unveiling the New World Square concept, Lead Asset Strategies Raj Basu commended Liverpool as a World Heritage City, committed to achieving the highest possible standards of design. "We have worked intensively over several months with planners, Mersey Docks, English Heritage and Liverpool Vision. It has been a constructive and creative process that has enabled us to evolve a design that is distinctive, but also respectful of the site's unique setting.

"We have been set a challenge to deliver a development consistent with Liverpool's ambitions. I believe that this is what we have now achieved.

"We want New World Square to be a new public destination on the river, an international quality environment and a vibrant and attractive destination on one of the world's great waterfronts. In addition to 299 new apartments, the scheme will include waterfront restaurants and bars, shops, a fitness spa and stunningly designed public space. We are also extremely hopeful of securing the city's first five star hotel operator as well as creating one of the UK's most sought after residential addresses."

To accommodate the development, the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company, which currently occupies the site, will be relocated. A marshalling area for cars travelling on its fast craft and conventional ferry services to Douglas will be developed on the site of the former floating roadway in St Nicholas Place. Passenger terminal facilities will be established alongside the berth on the northern end of the floating landing stage.

The Mersey Docks and Harbour Company already has planning permission for the marshalling area development involving boarding over part of the deep cut which once accommodated the floating roadway, and establishing a new vehicle bridge onto the landing stage. Work on the marshalling area is expected to be started before the end of the year.

PENNY BRIDGE RELOCATION

It is understood that the new swing bridge, erected on Poulton Bridge Road, Wallasey will be moved to a new location on the Liverpool side of the river.

The swing bridge - known locally as the "Penny Bridge" was constructed in the mid 1990s. However, with the infilling of the Bidston Dock a few years ago it has served no useful purpose. One wonders why it was built in the first place, given that the dock was filled in so soon after construction?

The bridge will replace the swing bridge between Alexandra and Langton Docks. Its installation coinciding with a widening of the passage between the two docks. The wider passengers will permit "panamax" bulkers to reach the Alexandra Dock berths from Langton Lock.

NORTHWESTERN SHIPBUILDERS AND SHIPREPAIRERS

THE LEAVING OF LAIRDS

The company vacated the former Cammell Laird ship yard on August 31, PACIFIC PINTAIL being the last vessel to depart. The company withdrew after failing to reach agreement with site owner Reddington Finance.

Northwestern had acquired the business from rivals A&P Group earlier this year. However, A&P had sold the yard to Reddington Finance last year. Recently it was reported that the yard would be leased to Mersey Heritage Ship Repair, who would sub let the yard to NSL for a period of six months.

Closure of the yard has resulted in  32 redundancies. What happens now remains to be seen. Obviously with the winter refit season approaching there may well be a reduction in the number of vessels visiting Merseyside for their refits. This will make for a bleak winter for local shipyard workers and local ship photographers who gather regularly at Monk's Ferry to capture arrivals and departures. 

One can only hope that the problems concerning the former Laird's yard can be resolved and it won't be long before ships are on the site again. The photograph shows the empty yard on September 03, 2005.

HMS WHIMBREL

A report in the Daily Telegraph on August 30 reveals that the plans to repatriate the former HMS WHIMBREL, the last surviving Black Swan class sloop to serve in the Battle of The Atlantic campaign has received a set back with the Heritage Lottery Fund declining an application for funding.  [click here to visit Telegraph web site].

 

 

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