The Irish Sea Shipping Archive

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

NEWS BULLETIN: December 200

December 31

Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Alex Mc.Cormac, Alan Blackburn, Tommy Dover, Edwin Wilmshurst, Tony Atkinson and "others"


BEN-MY-CHREE - the high railings around the promenade deck, which made passengers feel somewhat like monkeys in a cage have been removed, apparently within the last three weeks. As no other Irish Sea vessel has been fitted with such high railings completely enclosing the open deck areas it was always hard to see why they were justified on the BEN-MY-CHREE especially since the outside deck space was considerably enlarged in 2004. Certainly makes photography of passing vessels much easier!

The company has issued edition 2 of its recently published January to March timetable brochure. The brochure makes it clear that the SEA EXPRESS 1 is being deployed on the Douglas - Liverpool service  due to delays in repairing the missing section of the landing stage in Liverpool. With the linkspan in its current position it is has been clear to maritime community that the BEN-MY-CHREE would not fit alongside Prince's Stage.  


Stena Line is reported to be carrying out a review of its fleet and services in light of falling passenger numbers and the high fuel prices. The spotlight appears to be on the HSS fleet - in particular the HSS STENA DISCOVERY.  Included in the review are the three ships operating on the Fleetwood-Larne service. There is a suggestion that these may be replaced by two larger, faster vessels as well as speculation that the company may reopen the Dublin - Fleetwood link.

HSS STENA EXPLORER - it appears that she will operate on Belfast - Stranraer service between January 08 and 15.


Aker Yards and Brittany Ferries have signed a Letter of Intent for the building of a RoRo-passenger ferry worth approximately 105-110 million Euro for delivery in October 2008 at the latest.

The ferry is designed to carry passengers, private cars and road cargo vehicles between France and the United Kingdom at a speed of 23 knots. The 167 m long and 26.8 m wide vessel would have space for 1,500 passengers and 1.1 kilometres of vehicle deck space. The new type of ferry has been developed in a close co-operation between the Owner and the yard.



Due to a Merchant Ferries ship been delayed in No. 5 dry-dock in Birkenhead. Irish Ferries planned docking due to commence on the January 04, 2006 has been postponed to the January 09, 2006.

ULYSSES - finishes Holyhead Route 9th Jan on arrival in Dublin (am). Around midday sail to Birkenhead for dry docking by Northwestern. Resumes Holyhead service Ex Dublin 09.05 on January 23, 2006.

ISLE OF INISHMORE - finishes Pembroke Route January 08, 2006 on arrival in Rosslare (pm). Then sails to Dublin to take up 09.05 Dublin-Holyhead service on January 09, 2006. INISHMORE finishes Holyhead route January 23 (am) after discharge in Dublin. Then around 14:00 sails to Birkenhead for dry docking by Northwestern. She resumes on February 06, 2006 on the 21:00 sailing from Rosslare.

JONATHAN SWIFT finishes Holyhead Route on January 17 (pm) arrival 22.05. On January 18 (pm) sails to Belfast for Harland & Wolff. She resumes on the Holyhead service with the 12:15 departure from Dublin on January 30, 2006.

NORMANDY - January 08, (pm) relives on Pembroke route on a revised schedule.

February 06, 2006 finishes Pembroke service on arrival in Rosslare around 17.30.

On February 06 / 07, 2006 sails to dry-dock. Yard to be confirmed by Dobson Fleet Management.

3rd March resumes continental service Ex Rosslare 16.00


SS NORWAY it is just over four years since the former SS France visited the Irish Sea in September 2001 at the conclusion of a trans-Atlantic cruise.

A boiler explosion after arrival at Miami on May 25, 2004 appeared to seal the ship's fate. Seven crew died as a result of the explosion, though passengers were unharmed.

The NORWAY was towed back to Europe and laid up at Bremerhaven pending a review of her future before being moved to the far east.

A few days ago, it was been announced that the last surviving operational trans-Atlantic liner will not resume its latter day career as a cruise ship and will be dispatched for breaking in Bangladesh soon. 


FBD  TINTERN - the company's new car ferry entered service on Wednesday December 21, replacing the existing ferry EDMUND D which has operated on the Ballyhack - Passage East service for the past 8 years.

During the change over of vessels it was reported that the service was temporarily suspended for a few hours whilst Department of the Marine officials inspected the replacement vessel and crew transferred equipment.

The first crossing from Passage East to Ballyhack was made at 15:00.


Wicklow Port


A trawler named PROVIDENCE registered at Peterhead has arrived in Wicklow, it's to be used in a film that begins shooting in January around Wicklow Bay, l have heard it will star Robert Carlyle, a special effects company are currently setting up water spray and wind machines on the East pier to simulate rough sea's etc.

Irish Sea Earth tremor off Wicklow Coast

An earth tremor measuring 2.8 on the Richter Scale, which occurred in the Irish Sea off Bray Head, was felt in parts of Wicklow and Wexford early on the morning of 14 December 2005.

The seismic event was recorded by the School of Cosmic Physics, which is part of the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies. According to a spokesperson at the Experimental Officer at the School,  the tremor took place 30km off shore at a depth of 9km. No structural damage would normally be expected at a level of 2.8, the tremor happened in the exact same location where other tremors were recorded in 1951 and 1984.

Significant structural damage was recorded in the 1984 tremor, which measured 5.4 on the Richter Scale, and the School of Cosmic Physics says there is now a need for a National Seismic Network to monitor tremors off the Irish coast. There now appears to be a seismic event of some significance here every 50 years, and the Government should be taking action and providing resources before something more serious happens.


December 24

Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Ian Collard and "others"


I would like to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and offer thanks to all those who have supplied information and photographs during the past year. 

John H. Luxton - Web Master


SUPERSEACAT TWO will dry dock at Birkenhead on January 09, 2006.

In addition to general engine maintenance the work to be carried out in the passenger areas will greatly enhance passenger facilities.

The company plans to reorder the passenger accommodation which include the creation of a café/bar at the after end of the vessel and in response to demand, they will extend the Blue Riband Lounge and create a new 1st Class lounge.

An in-depth upgrading of the toilet area’s will feature prominently in planning and particular attention will be given to the needs of wheelchair bound passengers.

SEA EXPRESS 1 will take up the Douglas - Liverpool sailings during the refit of SUPERSEACAT TWO. The BEN-MY-CHREE will not, as originally advertised, operate on the Douglas - Liverpool route.


The long-running saga of the Fleetwood to Knott End ferry is unlikely to end  before February - after the  maiden voyage of the as yet unnamed vessel was delayed yet again.

The £500,000 vessel sailed up the River Wyre at the beginning of September but has been besieged with problems ever since.

Council officials have now announced that work to the ferry dock at Fleetwood will not now be completed until January - leaving the boat sitting idle for longer than expected.

An express bus service - operating only as far as Preesall - will be provided from next month to plug the gap left by the non-running river service.

County Councillor Tony Martin, cabinet member for sustainable development, said: "A number of delays have taken place, but in some cases these are to ensure that the service is as accessible as possible and suitable for many years to come.

"While it's disappointing that these delays have taken place, it means we will meet all the health and safety requirements and that all passengers will be able to embark and disembark at all stages of the tide in complete safety and comfort."

 "Most of the issues have now been resolved and we are looking forward to seeing what is certain to be an excellent, four-star service running in the new year."

Councillor Peter Hawley, physical environmental portfolio Holder at Wyre, said: "It is unfortunate that delays have prevented the new boat from getting under way.

"However, the bus service will be a useful temporary transport service for our customers and we all look forward to seeing the new ferry link up and running in 2006."

The work on the Fleetwood ferry dock will be done in January at a cost of £60,000 and paid for by Lancashire County Council.

A Wyre council spokeswoman said: "The work will be completed by the end of January and this will mean that the ferry should be running early in February."

The spokeswoman added that the work on the Fleetwood dock will improve passenger facilities, particularly for the disabled. It will also mean that the ferry dock is accessible at all states of the tide.



On August 31 when landlord's Reddington ejected NSL from the former Cammell Laird north yard, the prospect of seeing the yard full with seasonal refits looked somewhat remote.

However, with NSL back in the yard, at least on a temporary basis, this Christmas the dry docks are all occupied as follows:


#4 Dry Dock - MOONDANCE


#6 Dry Dock - RIVERDANCE


In the last few days the sign which read "A&P Birkenhead - Premier Ship Repair" has been modified to read "Birkenhead Ship Repair".


NORMANDY - the Department of the Marine lifted its detention order on the vessel on December 23, 2005. The vessel had been prevented from making her last pre-Christmas crossing to France on December 21.

The vessel will resume scheduled sailings following the Christmas break departing Rosslare to Cherbourg on Tuesday, December 27th.



BRAVE MERCHANT has retired to Brocklebank Dock for the Christmas holiday period. Meanwhile LAGAN VIKING is spending the Christmas holiday at the Liverpool Bar anchorage.

December 22

Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Kevin Bennett, Edwin Wilmshurst and "others"



SEA EXPRESS 1 has now had black bands applied to her "funnel" in preparation for her return to Isle of Man Steam Packet service.

BEN-MY-CHREE the evening sailing from Douglas on December 21 was delayed by fog with the ship having to anchor in the Lune Deep for several hours. Her late arrival at Heysham meant that her return sailing to Douglas did not arrive until around 09:00 on December 22. Her 08:45 sailing not departing Douglas until around 10:50 with knock on delays affecting the rest of the day's sailings.


The Steam Packet timetables to March 26, 2006 have been revised. The BEN-MY-CHREE will not be sailing to Liverpool as originally shown. The service will be operated by a "fast craft" as will the Heysham service during the BEN's refit March 07 to March 20.

No ship names are shown, but it is obvious that SEA EXPRESS 1 will operate when SUPERSEACAT TWO refits. Also interesting to note that the long advertised 2h 30m crossing time to Liverpool has been stretched to 2h 40min [Click Here to view Steam Packet Timetable]


The Isle of Man Steam Packet Company will buy a fast craft capable of operating all year round. The company's new owners, Australian investment bank Macquarie, has committed to the investment and the search was now on for the right ship, although no timescale had been put in place.



Passenger figures compiled by the Harbours Division for November 2005 at 21,108 show a 3.1% increase on the figure for the same period in 2004 which was 20,473.

The year to date figure at 569,738 passengers shows a 6.4% decrease over the same period in 2004 which was 608,476.

During November, car and motorcycle traffic through Douglas Harbour increased by 5.8% from 6,932 vehicles to 7,331 vehicles.

The year to date figure at 163,453 vehicles shows a 0.5% decrease over the same period in 2004 which was 164,332.

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






Plus 3%




Minus 4%



Director of Harbours, Captain Michael Brew comments:

“The November passenger figures are good and I am very satisfied with the overall growth of 5.8% in vehicle traffic as this sector has increased for the fifth consecutive month and is showing the benefit of the extra vehicle capacity available on SuperSeacat 2."


A woman fell to her death from a ferry after spending the evening drinking, an inquest has heard. Emma Blackwell, 31, from Plymouth, fell overboard from the VAL DE LOIRE in the early hours of 9 May 2003.

She plunged 90ft into the sea about 80 miles off the coast of Brittany and her body only washed up on the French coast in January 2004.

Plymouth Coroner Nigel Meadows recorded an open verdict. The inquest heard that Miss Blackwell, of Winchester Gardens, had a troubled upbringing and was regularly given alcohol by her father while a young child.

She began using illegal drugs aged 12, and went on to abuse cannabis, cocaine, LSD, amphetamines and heroin as well as drinking up to two litres of vodka a day.

Just before going on holiday to Spain, with her boyfriend Matthew Ford, she told her drugs worker she had completely detoxed and was no longer taking any illicit substances.

Witness Peter Carey said in a statement he got chatting to Miss Blackwell in the bar and later, outside, he saw her falling from the side of the ship into the sea.

Coroner Nigel Meadows said: "It is now well-recognised that people who consume drugs can suffer from drug-induced psychosis. They can become very excited or agitated and have what is known as a manic episode. Whilst we do not have any direct evidence that she consumed drugs, the evidence I have received from Mr Ford indicates to me it is very likely she did." [BBC SW]


HSS STENA DISCOVERY -  Stena Line which operates from Harwich to Hook of Holland is considering the future of the HSS Stena Discovery !! Falling Passengers numbers High Fuel prices and the growth of budget air travel have combined to put pressure on the ferry services. Stena Line confirmed its current commitment to the route, but warned its High Speed HSS service could be withdrawn if business did not pick up in 2006.


NORMANDY - Officials from the Department of the Marine have detained the Irish Ferries vessel MV Normandy due to safety concerns uncovered during an inspection at Rosslare yesterday. A spokesman said the ship was detained after surveyors found three safety deficiencies during a routine inspection. T

he deficiencies relate to fire-fighting arrangements, safety management and safety training for the MV Normandy's crew. The Rosslare-Cherbourg ferry had been preparing to embark on its last return journey before Christmas when the inspection was carried out.

Around 700 passengers who were due to depart for Cherbourg on December 21 were accommodated on alternative services via Britain. Similar arrangements were expected to be put in place for the 130 passengers booked onto the return sailing to Ireland on the evening of December 22. She is expected to be inspected again on December 23. However, this cancelled round trip was the last scheduled sailing before Christmas.



DUBLIN VIKING - ran aground when outbound from Liverpool on the evening of December 18. She had 110 persons on board, 66 of which were passengers. Tugs TRAFALGAR and WATERLOO along with a pilot launch were sent to her aid. However, she refloated under her own power.  Following an internal inspection by the vessel's crew and an external visual inspection by a Liverpool pilot launch, Dublin Viking returned to Langton Dock Liverpool, for inspection, escorted by Trafalgar and Waterloo.


DIPLOMAT is refitting in the Belfast Dry Dock at Harland and Wolff.

December 17Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Ian McKay and "others"


SEA EXPRESS 1 - The former SEACAT ISLE OF MAN which has been laid up at the fitting out wharf at Northwestern Ship Repairers since the closure of Irish Sea Express moved for the first time since early October on December 17, 2005.

Steam Packet red has been applied to the dummy funnel and Irish Sea Express logos on the starboard site have been painted out.

On Saturday morning, December 17 she powered up around 11:30. Shortly after mid-day she moved off the berth, turned and returned berthing port side to.

Given the activity it appears that she will be returning to service with the Steam Packet sooner, rather than later.



MERSEY VIKING - it appears that the hull painting just above the port side name of the new delivery has not been completed correctly. When photographing the ship at Twelve Quays this morning the area around the name appears unfinished. On closer inspection of photographs taken by Philip Parker when she arrived on the Mersey and posted to the web site also reveal this paint deficiency.


HMS MERSEY The Fisheries Patrol Vessel was involved in a rescue operation in adverse weather conditions in the Irish Sea on Monday December 12, 2005.

The ship received a Mayday call at 11.00  from the fishing vessel GIZMONDE which was foundering 50 miles west of Milford Haven. HMS MERSEY responded immediately and after sailing 12 miles north at top speed arrived on the scene 25 minutes later.

The GIZMONDE's pumps and a generator had failed and the boat was taking on water fast. After assessing the situation and in co-operation with the Irish Coastguard the Commanding Officer of HMS MERSEY, Lieutenant Commander Ian Lynn from Blackawton in Devon, sent over a three man team by sea boat to the stricken vessel. The rescue team was led by the ship's engineering officer Chief Petty Officer Bernie Bolt, supported by Marine Engineering Mechanic Billy Beaumont and Chef Mark Winnel. When they arrived on board they were confronted with three feet of water in the engine room. It took them three hours to get the situation under control and prevent the fishing vessel from sinking. Assisting in the operation was a search and rescue helicopter from the Southern Irish Coast Guard. With pumps supplied by the Coast Guard and HMS MERSEY the fishing vessel was able to get underway on her own steam to make for her home port of Dunmore East in Ireland.

As the rescue came to a successful end the Commanding Officer of HMS MERSEY said: "I am very proud of my crew. If we hadn't stabilised the flood and pumped out the sea water it is fair to say that they would have probably sunk. This rescue is an example of international co-operation to resolve a life-threatening situation which reflects the Royal Navy's power for good and flexibility. The conditions at sea were potentially dangerous today with very heavy winds. The winds were gusting so strong that the winch man from the helicopter who had been landed on board the fishing vessel could not be recovered to the helicopter because the winds were too strong to get him off the trawler. He was brought over to HMS MERSEY and winched up from our deck as we were more stable than the GIZMONDE."

The GIZMONDE is a 15 metre trawler with a crew of three and had been at sea for 12 hours before disaster struck.

HMS MERSEY is a River class Offshore Patrol Vessel with a ship's company of 28. Her home port is Portsmouth Naval Base. She is currently working with the Marine Fisheries Agency on fishery protection patrol in UK waters ensuring the sustainability of the UK fish stocks. She spends up to 300 days at sea during the year and this is the sixth search and rescue operation the ship has been involved in this year.

Philip Elliott, District Inspector, Operations for the Marine Fisheries Agency in London said: "The Royal Navy plays a vital role in our work to conserve fish stocks. Its vessels are always prepared to help those in distress at sea. We are really proud that HMS MERSEY was able to help these fishermen in this very dangerous situation."


Defence Secretary John Reid announced on December 14 a series of major developments in MoD’s multi-billion pound programme to build a new class of aircraft carrier for the Armed Forces.

  • The current carrier Alliance team of MoD, BAE Systems, Thales and KBR, is to be joined by VT Group and Babcock.
  • Plans for the construction and assembly of the ships at Alliance members’ yards have been agreed.
  • MoD is to spend some £300M to develop the design of the ships to the point at which manufacturing can begin.
  • Commitment to some long-lead items for the ships will be made, where necessary, to maintain the programme.
  • It is also planned to explore, with the same companies, encompassing in-service support for the new carriers and the existing carriers through to their out of service dates.

Mr Reid said:

"These are major steps forward for the future carrier project. Work will now commence on finalising the delta design, which will ultimately provide the UK Armed Forces with the largest and most powerful warships ever constructed in the UK, and an expeditionary capability unparalleled outside of the US."

As part of today’s announcement, I am allocating some 60% of the ships’ construction to named UK yards: BAE Systems at Govan and Barrow; VT in Portsmouth and Babcock in Rosyth. I can also confirm final assembly of both carriers will be at Rosyth.

At the same time there is a substantial opportunity for the involvement of other UK shipyards in the remaining parts of the build programme that will be open to competition. This could go well beyond traditional shipbuilders since the project will use modern modular production techniques.

"We will now work with industry to finalise the programme budget; to set a construction timetable and establish in-service dates; to ratify how the ships will be supported through a service life of up to 50 years; and to ensure that our detailed requirements are met. Together with the parallel design work, this means that when we come to commit to the manufacture of the project we can do so with the highest degree of confidence and certainty in our plans."

"Alongside this, I am announcing our intention of asking the alliance to put forward one integrated plan: not only to maintain the new carriers but to look after the existing carriers until they go out of service. By getting the same people to commit to maintain the existing carriers until the new ones are ready to go we will ensure there is a continuity of capability for the Royal Navy.

"This project is a key to the Defence Industrial Strategy and marks the end to the ‘boom and bust’ industrial cycle. The introduction of a managed and steady work stream will allow industry to plan efficiently and to retain the highly skilled workforce that has contributed to the fine tradition of shipbuilding in this country. In addition, this project will sustain and create some 10,000 UK jobs around the country."



The Maritime & Coastguard Agency announced on December 16, 2005 that 10 foreign ships were under detention in UK ports during November 2005 after failing Port State Control safety inspection.

Latest monthly figures show that there were 6 new detentions of foreign flagged ships in UK ports during November 2005, along with 4 other ships still under detention from previous months. The number of new detentions compared to last month has fallen by 1, while the overall rate of detentions compared with inspections carried out over the last 12 months is 4.98%, which is a 0.17% decrease on October’s 12 month rate.

During the month of November 153 Port State Control Inspections were carried out in the UK, which brings the total so far this year to 1236 inspections. For those ships inspected during November a total of 115 vessels had deficiencies raised against them. 66 had between 1 to 5 deficiencies, 34 had between 6 to 10 deficiencies, 14 had between 11 to 20 deficiencies and 3 had more than 20 deficiencies.

4 of the vessels detained in November 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, 4 were registered with flag states listed on the Paris MOU black list, and 1 was registered with a flag state not currently appearing on any of the three lists.

2 bulk carriers, 1 tug, 1 refrigerated cargo, 5 general and 1 other cargo vessels were detained in the UK during November.

Vessels detained in November included the following:

• A 257 GT Georgian registered general cargo vessel was detained on 03/11/05 in Falmouth. There were 7 recorded deficiencies. The vessel was detained for having auxiliary engines and associated systems in unsafe, defective and unreliable condition, along with other machinery and electrical devices and systems; having health, hygiene and sanitary conditions that posed a risk to crew; and other accident hazards on board. The vessel remained detained at the end of November

• A 14331 GT Panamanian flag bulk carrier detained on 10/11/05 in Newport for 5 days. There were 32 recorded deficiencies, of which 6 were detainable: these were substandard lifeboat launching appliances, deficient lifejackets, substandard fire drill and three major ISM non-conformities.

• A 671 GT Russian flag general cargo vessel detained on 17/11/05 in Grimsby for having an inoperative satellite EPIRB.



A small angling boat capsized on the afternoon of Saturday December 17, 2005 in the River Lune with six people aboard.

The alarm was raised by several members of the public at 12.44 p.m. informing Liverpool Coastguard that they could see at least four people clinging to the hull of a capsized boat.

Liverpool Coastguard sent the Morecambe Coastguard rescue team to the scene and requested the launch of the Morecambe RNLI inshore lifeboat and their hovercraft. Also in attendance were the Lancashire Ambulance Service and Air Ambulance and the Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service.

Paul Parkes Watch Manager, Liverpool Coastguard says:

“The boat was a 16 foot angling boat launched from Sunderland Point. We believe that one of the crew that went overboard managed to raise the alarm to some workers nearby who immediately went to the assistance of the casualties.

One of the casualties has now been airlifted to the Royal Lancaster Infirmary, and the remaining five casualties and one of the workers who came to their assistance have been taken to hospital to receive medical attention.

The success of this incident in no doubt highlighted by the swiftness and cooperation of all agencies working together. It could have been a very different outcome; we urge the public to be very careful when out on the water and to always seek guidance from the Coastguard if at all uncertain on sea worthiness of vessels and apparatus.”

The weather conditions on scene were northerly force 4 winds, slight sea, and good visibility. The air temperature was barely above freezing due to the brisk northerly wind.


The former Port of Cork liner tender CILL ÁIRNE has been relaunched at the Cork Dockyard, Rushbrooke. The vessel which has spent its latter years used as a training vessel for the Maritime College was sold in the autumn of 2004 after spending many years at the Customs House Quay in Cork City.

The CILL ÁIRNE, the last surviving serviceable product of the Liffey Dockyard Company of Dublin was bought by the Dublin based Irish Ship and Barge Fabrication Company.

When the €2.5m rebuilt is complete, the company intends to take the ship to Spencer Dock, Dublin where she will be operated as a restaurant, bar, art gallery and maritime heritage centre. She will also be available for charter for operation in Dublin Bay and between North Wall and Dún Laoghaire.


Reassurances are being sought over the future of DML's Appledore Shipyard in North Devon as the Government warns it no longer sees the need for all warship hulls to be built in the UK.

While the industry is fully-loaded with future aircraft carriers and Type-45 destroyers for the next ten years, Defence Minister Lord Drayson says demand will drop once they are delivered and excess capacity in the Royal Navy surface shipbuilding sector will not be sustainable.
To avoid a "boom and bust" cycle, he said that while a "healthy programme of complex ships" will continue to be built in the UK, the blanket requirement for all hulls to be built onshore will cease as the focus shifts away from trying to sustain surplus capacity.
He said: "The time to act is now - to put our policy on a sustainable footing; and to get industry to invest to improve performance and availability."
While DML itself cannot be counted as a major player in the sector, its North Devon facility - rescued from collapse by DML in early 2004 - has been building smaller military vessels. A spokesman for DML said: "Appledore is involved in smaller vessels, such as offshore patrol vessels and small ships, and so this policy is unlikely to have a major effect on Appledore's future."
However, Gary Smith, regional spokesman for the GMB union, said: "DML was interested in building sections for the carrier. With this rationalisation of the industry, we need to be clear about what DML sees for the future role of Appledore." [Western Morning News - December 16, 2005]


JONATHAN SWIFT - dry dock schedule 2006. The ship will operate up to and including the 20:15 on the 17 January. She will head to dry dock on January 18 after MES drills. Service resumes on January 30 with 12:15 sailing. She will sail at a reduced PC of 400 until February 10, 2005.

ULYSSES is expected to dry dock at NSL Birkenhead early in the new year.



A multi-million Euro contract to help slake the thirst of Britain's Guinness drinkers with 360 million pints of the famous black stuff has been awarded to TankTrans Ltd, the Dublin based specialist bulk logistics provider.

Under the three year agreement – one of the biggest tank movement contracts granted in Ireland – the Mersey Docks and Harbour Company subsidiary is now moving 7,000 of the distinctive silver barrel Guinness tanks across the Irish Sea from the St James' Gate Brewery in Dublin.

The brew flows into Britain on NorseMerchant Ferries' twice daily sailings from Dublin Port to the Port of Liverpool's Twelve Quays Terminal, for onward movement to the Guinness packaging plant at Runcorn, Cheshire.

There, the 300 hectolitres in each of the tanks is transferred to cans, bottles and kegs for distribution throughout the UK.

The TankTrans contract was prompted by the decision by Guinness owners Diageo to close the Park Royal Brewery in London last July and to supply the British market from Ireland.

A team of four has been positioned by TankTrans at the St James' Gate Brewery to service the contract. Seven drivers are based at Twelve Quays Terminal in the Port of Liverpool and another four in the Port of Dublin, to maintain the flow for Guinness around the clock, 363 days a year.

Said TankTrans Managing Director Duncan Beaumont: "To secure such a major contract from the world's biggest drinks provider says much for the quality of service TankTrans offers. We are delighted to play our part in ensuring that Britain gets its pint of Guinness."

TankTrans is a long established prime bulk movement logistics provider based at Tolka Quay in Dublin Port. The Guinness contract with TankTrans was signed by Guinness Customer Service Director Paul Armstrong and Mersey Docks Chief Executive Peter Jones.


Consequent on the acquisition of MDHC by Peel Ports, the current Finance Director of MDHC, Alastair Findlay, will be leaving the Company with effect from 31st December, 2005.

David Green, Finance Director of Peel Ports, will assume the role of MDHC Finance Director in addition to his other responsibilities.

December 14 


On the December 10, the fourth anniversary of the installation of Irish Sea Shipping's current front page hit counter was reached. Due to an oversight the figure showing at the start of that day went unrecorded. However, at the time of writing this news bulletin 19:25 on Wednesday December 14, 2005 the figure stood at 382,836 hits. This equates to 260 visitors per day over the past 4 years.

On December 10, 2004 the hit total passed the 250,000 mark. Three years to reach a quarter of a million - not bad! However in the twelve months and four days that have elapsed the hit counter has increased to 382,836. That is over 132,000 hits in just the last year alone.

However, the hit counter only records those people who actually reach the front page, others I know come in via the "What's New Page, or find the site via a search engine and go unrecorded by the counter.

Given the current rate of growth the half million hits will probably be reached sometime in autumn 2006.


The dispute which has seen Irish Ferries services suspended since November 24, has been resolved with SIPTU being able to claim a success in protecting crew who wish to retain their positions, as well as securing better working conditions for vulnerable migrant workers. As part of the deal the company has secured the right to flag out. The following statements were issued on December 14, 2005.


Irish Ferries Services To Resume After Settlement of SIPTU Ships Officers Dispute

Irish Ferries is pleased to announce that normal services will be resuming as soon as possible on the company’s three routes between Ireland, Britain and France.

The following confirms the planned resumption of sailing schedules :

Dublin / Holyhead

Swift Service : Ex Dublin, 12.15 hrs, Wednesday, 14th December

Ulysses : Ex Holyhead, 15.00 hrs, Wednesday, 14th December

Rosslare / Pembroke

Isle of Inishmore : Ex Pembroke, Departure time to be advised

Rosslare / Cherbourg

Normandy : Ex Cherbourg, 18.00 hrs, Thursday, 15th December

The resumption of services follows the conclusion of negotiations at the Labour Relations Commission in Dublin in the early hours of this morning. These negotiations provided the basis for agreement with SIPTU and the Seamen’s Union of Ireland regarding future crewing arrangements on Irish Ferries vessels.

In welcoming the agreement that has been reached, Irish Ferries thanked the Chief Executive and officials of the Labour Relations Commission for their very strenuous efforts throughout the last week in helping to bring about this successful outcome. The company also expressed its appreciation of the role played by the National Implementation Body in helping to facilitate this outcome.

Whilst recognising the high level of interest amongst members of the public which this dispute has generated, Irish Ferries believes that the outcome reached is one which will enable the company to compete into the future. Acknowledging the level of distress and inconvenience which the dispute has caused to its customers, for which the company extends its deepest apologies, Irish Ferries Chief Executive, Eamonn Rothwell said, “ We are now committed to restoring full services as quickly as possible and to winning back the confidence of our passengers and freight clients”.


Threshold of decency defended in Irish Ferries dispute

Agreed settlement terms in the dispute between SIPTU and Irish Ferries have been negotiated, according to SIPTU Vice President, Brendan Hayes.

"The Union has been successful in ensuring that the threshold of decency has been defended and that vulnerable migrant maritime workers have the protection of Irish law," said Mr. Hayes.

"The settlement terms will provide a framework for the protection of workers in the company and for the viable operation of the ferries business into the future.

"One of our key objectives was the payment of the Irish minimum wage and this has now been achieved," he said. "SIPTU has secured substantial increases in the rates of pay originally proposed by management, which will bring wages up to and above the Irish national minimum wage.

"The protection of the terms and conditions of employment of Irish Ferries staff who wish to remain working for Irish Ferries has been secured.

"The redundancy offer will be reopened to those staff who did not respond to the original deadline unilaterally set by management in September of this year.

"Crewing ratios will now be substantially higher that those originally proposed and will guarantee reasonable periods of rest.

"The terms and conditions for both officers and ratings will far exceed those originally proposed.

"A framework agreement which will legally protect all employees - irrespective of the flag under which the company registers its vessels - has been agreed.

"SIPTU will meet the contract company Dobson to agree the details of a collective bargaining agreement covering new employees.

"The full terms of the agreement will now be put to the members and we anticipate that this dispute will be settled.

"The negotiating team would like to thank the general public for the massive support they have shown throughout this dispute and we particularly want to thank the general members of SIPTU and the international trade unions - through the International Transport Workers Federation - for their solidarity over the past several months.

"We are now calling on the Government to enforce and enhance our labour legislation to ensure that a situation such as that which occurred in Irish Ferries never happens again," he concluded.

A general meeting of SIPTU members will take place in Liberty Hall at 2.00pm today (Wednesday, December 14). Ballots of members on the Ulysses, Isle of Inishmore and the Jonathan Swift will take place throughout the day and it is expected that a full schedule of sailings will be resumed.

Brendan Hayes
- 14 December 2005


Four companies have been invited to tender to restore sailings between Campbeltown and Ballycastle next year as the Scottish Executive tries again to revive the Kintyre - Antrim crossing.

A one million pound annual subsidy is available for each of five years and Harrison Clyde, Serco Denholm, Isle of Man Steam Packet Company and Western Ferries have until the end of December to submit bids.

Sailings for 11 months of the year are required for a route last served by Sea Containers off-shoot Argyll and Antrim Steam Packet Company in the summers from 1997 to 1999 using former Caledonian MacBrayne vessel Claymore (1978/1,871gt).


Brittany Ferries plan to build a new state-of-the-art ship, currently code-named BRETAGNE II, specifically designed for the Roscoff-Plymouth route, and which the company intends to launch in spring 2008.


The planned Italian charter for the BRAVE MERCHANT and DAWN MERCHANT (EUROPAX APPIA) has fallen through. The DAWN MERCHANT is currently in dry-dock in Siros whilst the BRAVE MERCHANT is due to depart the Mersey on 28 December.

EUROPAX APPIA is now shown on the Equasis register as being owned by Daybreak Shipping of Liverpool.


TOTNES CASTLE - it now appears that the company's latest acquisition which will be renamed LADY WAKEFIELD now appears to have an in service date of July 2006 following an extensive rebuild..

December 10Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Dan Cross and "others".


The inclusive holiday operation which has traded as "Magic Holidays" will change its name to "Steam Packet Holidays" from January 01, 2006. .

The name change has been made to further bond the tour operator with its parent company.

Steam Packet Director of Marketing, Rupert Trevelyan said, ‘Our sole purpose in changing the name is to strengthen the association between it and our core business passenger shipping operations.

The year-long 175th anniversary celebrations of The Isle of Man Steam Packet Company came to a sparkling musical climax on 4th December with a superb and unforgettable brass band concert.

It was none other than the UK Champion’s,  Foden’s Richardson Brass Band who provided the musical blockbuster held in the Royal Hall of the Island’s superb concert hall, Villa Marina.

The climax of the concert was the world premiere of ‘Steam Packet 175’, a march specially commissioned by the Company from international brass band conductor, composer and arranger, Derek Broadbent.

Along with commemorative coins, postage stamps, DVD and book produced during the Company’s unique year, the music will provide a fantastic legacy of a very special year marking The Isle of Man Steam Packet Company celebrations of being the oldest continuously operating passenger shipping company in the world.

The march ‘Steam Packet 175’ bursting with nautical flavours, will soon be available to brass bands world wide and is already being eagerly sought after by Island bands as a valuable and unique addition to their repertoire.



DUBLIN VIKING - following delivery of the new MERSEY VIKING earlier in the week, DUBLIN VIKING left service and entered Brocklebank Dock. During Thursday and Friday she was partially reliveried. Here NMF log was removed from the funnel which was repainted Maersk Blue / Black though the "star" logo has not been applied.

The hull lettering was removed from both sides of the hull and a new NORFOLK LINE fleet name applied on her starboard side which was against the quay. At present se retains her smaller Norse Merchant logos on the forward superstructure.

She departed Brocklebank and returned to Twelve Quays just after noon on December 10 with the relivery work incomplete.


PONT-AVEN: Reports in the Western Morning News this week indicate that the Brittany Ferries flagship is has been disturbing Plymothians who live near Millbay Docks.

The locals are complaining of a perpetual drumming noise every time the ship docks at Millbay. The noise is not apparent with Brittany Ferries other ships.

Stonehouse resident Stephen Barrett has said the constant noise is due to the generator, which Pont-Aven continually has to run. He said: "It's absolutely ridiculous. Every time she docks the whole Stonehouse peninsula suffers greatly with continuous noise pollution.

"The varied and eclectic mix of people who reside in Stonehouse are bearing the brunt of the noise pollution which includes sleep deprivation and constant vibration. Many businesses are situated in the Stonehouse Peninsula and are suffering accordingly."

Mr Barrett said a recent survey found the noise pollution had been also felt in West Hoe, Stoke and Mount Edgcumbe.

He said Plymouth City Council's environmental office was aware of the problem, as well as Devon and Cornwall Police, local councillors, MPs, church groups, and local schools and colleges who had all at some stage expressed discomfort and displeasure at the problem.

A Brittany Ferries spokesman said it was aware of the problem and that some residents near Millbay had complained.

He said: "We responded by rescheduling so that PONT-AVEN does not arrive before 07:00. It may be that her out of hours arrival due to bad weather last week has prompted this recent complaint. Unfortunately, there will always be the odd occasion when PONT-AVEN operates out of schedule due to reasons beyond our control. This is the reality in a commercial port.

"We will continue to communicate with the council on the wider issue and are confident a reasonable and appropriate way forward will be found."

Nigel West, assistant head of environmental protection with Plymouth City Council, said: "We are in close contact with the management at Brittany Ferries following complaints we have received from the public about the noise from the ferry.

"It would be premature to state the outcome of negotiations, but we are confident there is potential to address the situation."


ISLE OF MULL departed from Cammell Laird wet basin around 18:00 on December 10 following completion of her refit by NSL.


The Royal Navy helped make the coastal waters off Plymouth Sound safer this week after disposing of two sixty-year-old sea mines found 1.5 miles south of Plymouth Sound Breakwater. It is believed they were dropped by a bomber in the Second World War. 

The first mine was discovered about a mile off the coast off Penlee Point near Plymouth on Monday night during routine surveying work by the Royal Navy Mine Hunter HMS BLYTH. The second mine was discovered during the operation to detonate the first today. 

The delicate operation involved surveying by HMS BLYTH with her state-of-the-art mine hunting sonar, which uses the same type of ultrasound as pregnancy scans to search for objects on the sea-bed. When the first mine was discovered all shipping was contacted to keep clear. 

Underwater photographs of the situation were obtained from a camera mounted on the ships special remotely controlled underwater vehicle, enabling the operators in the ship above to see what was on the seabed and decide the best way of disposing of the explosives. The mine was too dangerous to lift and dispose of elsewhere, so HMS BLYTH sent one of her own divers down with an explosive charge to attach to the first mine. 

After the diver returned to the surface the charge was then fired, blowing up the mine successfully. The operation turned out not to be that simple when a second mine was discovered. A second charge was then carried down by a Remote control Vehicle, placed next to the mine, and also exploded. The detonation sent dramatic 30-metre plumes of water into the air. 

The First Lieutenant of HMS BLYTH, Lieutenant Paul Smith said: ‘’From time to time, items of World War 2 ordnance are discovered by Royal Navy vessels carrying out  routine survey operations. It is then the duty of the Royal Navy to dispose of them in a safe and controlled manner to safeguard the sea for everyone to use.’’ 

The mines were both dropped by the German Luftwaffe to land in busy sea lanes and sink unsuspecting Allied shipping. However, they did not explode and remained a potential threat for decades because they are in an unstable state, having been lying on the seabed for 60 years. It is thought the mines (containing about 300 kg of explosives each) had been uncovered by weather and currents. 

 Before being disposed of the mines were both cordoned off and monitored by the Ministry of Defence Police Marine Unit based in the Naval Base. Vessels were kept clear in a 1,000-metre radius zone for their safety. The mines were in 36 metres of water depth and so presented no risk to the public. The Maritime Coastguard Agency and Devon and Cornwall Police were kept informed. 

Other vessels involved in the operation were HMS QUORN, HMS HURWORTH, HMS GRIMSBY and the Devonport-based survey vessel HMS ECHO.



The Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA) announced this week that they had detained the oil tanker CITIUS at Portbury Dock, Bristol on the 1st December 2005.

Marshall Islands flagged 1985 oil tanker ‘Citius is 43,733 GT.

The attending Inspector found the following detainable items:

Hull cracked in way of no. 3 starboard water ballast tank.
o Deck cracked in way of no. 3 port water ballast tank.
o Lack of training with regard to fire and boat drills.
o Radio MFDSC not operational.
o Failure of shipboard safety management system

This vessel was last inspected in the Paris MOU Region on
8th July 2004. The vessel was eligible for a mandatory expanded inspection as required by EU legislation brought into force in July 2003 as a consequence of the Erika and Prestige incidents

In response to one of the recommendations of Lord Donaldson's inquiry into the prevention of pollution from merchant shipping and in compliance with the EU Directive on Port State Control (95/21/EC as amended), the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) publishes full details of the foreign flagged vessels detained in UK ports each month.

Inspections of foreign flagged ships in
UK ports are undertaken by surveyors from the MCA. Where a ship is found to be deficient or lacks the required documentation, MCA surveyors can take a range of actions leading to detention in serious cases. The UK is part of a regional agreement on Port State Control known as the Paris Memorandum of Understanding on Port State Control (Paris MOU) and information on all ships that are inspected is held centrally in an electronic database known as SIReNaC. This allows the ships of flags with poor detention records to be targeted for future inspection.

Detained ships have to satisfy MCA surveyors that remedial work has been carried out before they are allowed to leave port

Pat Dolby, Head of the MCA’s Inspection Branch, said:

“This case brings to light the importance of Port State Control allowing the UK to monitor and inspect foreign vessels in territorial waters.”


All services remain suspended as the dispute over re-flagging and the out sourcing of crews has entered its third week.

No agreement has been reached between the unions or management, though talks may resume on Monday. On December 9, 2005 there was a massive show of support for Irish Ferries employees with over 100,000 demonstrating in support.

The national day of protest called by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions saw rallies at Cork, Dublin, Limerick, Waterford, Galway, Sligo, Rosslare and Athlone. There was widespread disruption of rail and bus services through out Ireland on Friday as workers attended rallies.

With such a high level of support around Ireland it should be clear to the company's management what the general public think of their proposals to replace local people with exploited foreign workers.

The following is the text of the speech by SIPTU General Secretary Jack O'Connor:

Congratulations on a splendid display of solidarity on the part of the working men and women throughout this country with our beleaguered fellow workers in Irish Ferries. Less than two years ago we told the Government and the employers that there was an issue about exploitation and employment standards in Ireland. And they wouldn’t listen. Maybe they’ll listen now!

We’re here in solidarity with the valiant struggle being engaged in by the workers in Irish Ferries to defend their jobs. Jobs which have rights and conditions brought about by nearly fifty years of work and trade union effort. We want to salute their stance and the fact that they have insisted throughout in integrating into their approach to that struggle the demand that no one who comes to work in that company in future regardless of what part of the world they are from, should be expected to work under conditions which are below the threshold of decency.

We’re here to say to the Government and the employers that what is happening to them – ordinary men and women going about their work – paying their taxes - people you don’t see on television every night walking in and out of tribunals on this offence and that - must never happen to any worker again in this very wealthy country.

We’re here also to make this declaration that in this wealthy country - we don’t need our infrastructure built – we don’t need our goods transported or our services provided by vulnerable migrant workers who are paid slave wages.

We are living in a period which will be characterised by the most sustained assault on the gains made by working people over the last 50 years. And this assault is driven by people who are afflicted with an addiction to the creation of profit for its own sake. And some would say that some profit is ok but when it comes to the point that in order to feed that addiction they abandon every vestige of humanity its gone too far. And it very quickly becomes a cancer in society.

Their agents in established political parties and in the media and academia never tire telling us to wake up – that we live in a global economy and there is absolutely nothing we can do about it. That’s just an excuse for a lazy form of capitalism that exercises exploitation over innovation and we have to say quite clearly because they have organised themselves very well, that we are going to organise as well and that we know that there is a multiplicity of things that ca be done. We can improve our employment protection legislation radically to protect workers in situation such as those in Irish Ferries and we know we can enforce that legislation properly instead of looking the other way while exploitation grows into a culture that is endemic in our society.

We know too that we can combat these malaise by investing heavily in the education and training of workers for those who have not had the opportunity early in their lives to enjoy those benefit.

And to stop playing the game of social partnership - using the rhetoric of social partnership at home while on the European stage they obstruct the passage of measures like the Ferries Directive which would have prevented all what’s happening today and the proposed Temporary Agency Workers directive which would protect the great majority of temporary – the most vulnerable workers in Europe.

Our politicians – our spokespersons for social partnership - should adopt the social partnership language of Europe and they should declare themselves in favour of measures in Europe that would protect workers at home. And we call on them to do that now and we declare that we wont let them get away with double-speak any more.

And we know that they could desist from perpetrating the felony of the proposed Services Directive. The effect of which – if its passed in its present form - will reduce the conditions of thousands of service workers to the levels which prevailed in the stone age.

We live in a small country which is extremely prosperous by reason of the sweat of the brow of twenty years of hard work of working men and women.

And we’re here to declare that we are not going to allow those who are afflicted with the addiction of a preoccupation of profit to destroy what has been achieved and to declare that we expect those who have been elected to public office and who have been entrusted with custody of our economy and our society and our country to manage it and to look after the interests of the ordinary men and women who pay their taxes and make it work.

We have been watching for years now while the interests of a tiny minority have taken precedence over the great mass of men and women and children of this country.

And we say – wake up – live in the real world! Wake up - enough is enough.
December 07Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Ian Collard, Alex Mc. Cormac, Edwin Wilmshurst, Philip Parker and "others".


BEN MY CHREE departed Birkenhead after a brief dry docking late on Sunday evening and was back in Douglas in time to take the 08:45 sailing to Heysham. Therefore, SSC2 did not operate the 08:45 and return 14:15 sailings as originally planned.

As noted on Saturday's update some questions were to be raised in the House of Keys on Tuesday.

Alex McCormac has provided a brief overview. " The Steam Packet are hoping to have the Traditional Éire sailings back on for October next year.

They company says extra capacity is needed to enhance Eire sailings, and that also new tonnage should be on its way soon, Macquarie are "eager"  to invest, and that Montagu where prepared to invest as well.

The (DoT) have not directly said that the SSC2 is unsuitable, but that new tonnage is necessary.

However, with regard to the SeaCat round the year services, a good defence was put up, SSC2's reliability was 86% during the winter, although they find the winter cancellations unacceptable, and wanted to find a more suitable vessel, although current economic conditions make it not worthwhile for now.

The company want to replace SSC2, and they are talking about it. SSC2 is not restricted in regard to cancellations in the user  agreement, only restricted in the minimum number of summer sailings provided, and will run as long is its economically viable. Phil Braidwood made a point that the SSC2 operated until early November anyway previously, so there is not much difference, with the Ben in the new year anyway.

End of it all, they want a new vessel, but its not going to just happen now.



PANAGIA SOUMELA - conversion of the former Isle of Man Steam Packet Company's LADY OF MANN to ro/ro is well underway. There is a photograph on the Fakta om Fartyg web site. [CLICK HERE]



MERSEY VIKING arrived at Twelve Quays for the first time late on Tuesday December 06, 2005.

MAERSK VOYAGER will not now be paying a visit to the Irish Sea. SAGA MOON will continue provide the extra freight capacity during the Irish Ferries dispute.

Norse Merchant have started advertising Birkenhead - Dublin foot passengers fares in the Liverpool Echo  this week.

Single fares from £25. Three Day Returns £55


Stena Line Freight has won the prestigious Best Short Sea Shipping Award at the 2005 Irish Exporters Association Awards.

Stena Line picked up the award in recognition of the company's 'outstanding achievement in the delivery of services to and from Ireland' while highlighting 'the strategically significant role it plays to the Island's economy'.

The winner of the award is also deemed to have made the 'most valuable contribution to the efficacy of maritime transport in Ireland'.

Stena Line Freight Commercial Manager Frank Nieuwenhuys collected the award from Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Micheál Martin TD at a gala dinner held in University College Dublin.

"I am extremely proud to receive this award on behalf of Stena Line," said Frank, "particularly as it comes from the business community that we ultimately service - our customers' customers.

"It really says something about the vital role we play in ensuring timely delivery of world-class finished products for the Irish exporting community as well as the raw materials and components we carry that themselves are incorporated into goods made and assembled in Ireland.

"We are very proud of the critical part we play in the supply chain and we are happy to serve the transport and logistics industry so that they too can fulfil the expectations of the Irish and the ever more demanding wider European markets.

"I would like to take this opportunity to thank all staff who contribute at all locations, on board and ashore, every day and night, all of whom have helped us gain this tremendous accolade," he added.

This latest award comes just one week after Stena Line picked up the Achievement Wales Large Business Award - becoming the first company in the history of the prestigious awards ceremony to win the same award twice.

The Achievement Wales Business Awards are the premier business awards in Wales, celebrating the excellence of companies in northern and central regions of the country. Judges paid tribute to Stena Line's business excellence, innovation and continuous progression, as well as the company's strong commitment to the economic development of Wales and the North West.


London broker Galbraith's has been awarded the exclusive right to sell the Sea Containers vessels now surplus to requirement.

The ships involved are the 1,400-passenger capacity cruise ship SILJA OPERA, which was built as a ferry in 1980, converted to cruise in 1992 and rebuilt three years later - the ship is currently running between Helsinki and Stockholm; the 555-passenger cruise ship WALRUS, which was built in Spain in 1990 and is available for inspection in the Strait of Johore, near Singapore; the 1,780-passenger capacity ferry FINNJET, built at Wärtsilä, Finland, in 1977, and able to operate at 30kt using gas turbines or 17kt on diesel engines – the 50-trailer/395-car ferry is now on a six-month charter to the New Orleans relief programme; and three fast ferries: Fincantieri-built aluminium monohull SUPERSEACAT 1 (now trading ex-Tallinn) and Incat Tasmania-built SEACAT FRANCE and SEACAT SCOTLAND (laid up in Sunderland, UK).

At the end of last week Sea Containers named chief financial officer Ian Durant as interim chief executive following the hospitalisation of president and CEO Jim Sherwood. A statement said Sherwood remains chairman of the board, and hopes to welcome a new CEO early in the new year.


Talks have been going on since Monday in a bid to resolve the two week dispute which has led to the cancellation of all Irish Ferries sailings.

A SIPTU negotiator said the union was hopeful but not optimistic of reaching agreement by today's deadline.

However, he said the union would be offering significant savings to the company and could see no reason why agreement could not be reached.

Paul Smyth of SIPTU's marine branch said, however, that the company's proposals to re-flag its Irish vessels remained a major sticking point in the talks.

He added that SIPTU was receiving international support for its campaign against the re-flagging and outsourcing of labour.

The discussions at the LRC are being brokered by the National Implementation Body, which had set a deadline for today to reach agreement.

Meanwhile, teachers' trade unions have said they are disappointed at the decision by the Minister for Education, Mary Hanafin, to dock the pay of teachers who attend Friday's day of protest in support of the workers at Irish Ferries.

Schools are expected to remain open, but public transport services in cities are expected to be disrupted during Friday afternoon. [RTÉ]

December 04NEWS EXTRA



MAERSK VOYAGER will enter service tomorrow with Norse Merchant to provide extra capacity during the Irish Ferries dispute. Norse Merchant is taking over use of the Irish Ferries freight marshalling yard at Dublin Port. Gwynedd Shipping has been using the area for drop trailers since Thursday.

MERSEY VIKING is expected to arrived on Merseyside on Tuesday afternoon - December 06.


Irish Sea freight ferry operator Seatruck Ferries has seen a significant 45 per cent year on year increase in volume on its Heysham – Warrenpoint service since the introduction of a third vessel in July 2005. The CHALLENGE joined the Seatruck fleet on a two-year charter in July, allowing an additional 25,000 units per year to take advantage of the specialist freight route.

The CHALLENGE joined the MOONDANCE and RIVERDANCE to increase schedule frequency from 2 to 3 sailings per day in each direction. On an annualised basis Seatruck now expects volumes to reach 85,000 units per year. The extra sailings accommodate demand while Seatruck is awaiting its two new purpose-built larger ro-ros, due to enter service in 2007.

Seatruck General Manager Alistair Eagles says, “The third vessel has been a great success for our customers. The rapid build up in traffic once again underlines our belief that far too much Irish Sea freight moves on an accompanied basis with driver and unit attached. Unaccompanied shipments offer significant benefits in a door to door market that continues to be under increasing rate pressure and subject to more operation restrictions such as working hours.” 

Seatruck Ferries is currently undertaking a building program that will see two purpose-built vessels entering service in 2007. Seatruck is confident that the substantial growth in the unaccompanied trailer freight market will underpin its new investments and increased capacity. The new 22-knot, 120-unit vessels now building in Spain will boost Seatruck Ferries’ capacity to 130,000 units per year.

The new vessels will be named the CLIPPER POINT and the CLIPPER PACE, and delivery from the Astilleros de Huelva yard is set for January and June 2007 respectively.

“These are the first purpose built unaccompanied vessels to be introduced on the Irish Sea for many years. They will transform the Seatruck service providing a new level of capacity, speed and schedule reliability to the growing unaccompanied market. We can’t wait to get them, and the fast-growing traffic we see now shows that our clients, the hauliers, feel the same,” says Eagles.

l Seatruck Ferries was established in 1996 to meet the Irish Sea transportation needs of the haulage industry. The company operates with a dedicated team from its head office in Warrenpoint. Operating between Warrenpoint, Northern Ireland, and Heysham, Lancashire, Seatruck offers operators real choice in a market place dominated by a small number of large players. Seatruck provides an alternative to other operators who are obliged to compromise by catering for the needs of both passengers and freight.

Seatruck Ferries is part of Bahamas-based Clipper Group Ltd, a major shipping consortium owning, operating and managing a fleet of some 250 vessels, mainly within bulk transportation, MPP/Project transportation and product/chemical carriage. Clipper Group has global offices servicing its clients worldwide. The Clipper Group as a whole has a total of 44 newbuildings under order.

December 03Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews,  Michael Pryce, Edwin Wilmshurst, Kevin Bennett and "others"



BEN-MY-CHREE is due to take a scheduled maintenance break on Sunday December 04 returning to service on the 19:45 sailing on Monday December 05. She entered Cammell Laird #7 Dry Dock late on the evening of Saturday December 03, 2005.

SUPERSEACAT TWO will operate passenger sailings during the period and the revise sailing schedule will be operated:

Sunday December 04, 2005.

SUPERSEACAT TWO – Douglas to Heysham @ 08.45

SUPERSEACAT TWO – Heysham to  Douglas @ 14.15

SUPERSEACAT TWO – Douglas to Liverpool @ 17.30(rescheduled 15:30 sailing) *

SUPERSEACAT TWO - Liverpool to Douglas @ 21.00 (rescheduled 19:00 sailing) *

*Ben My Chree – IOM -Heysham @ 19.45 Cancelled with passenger transfer to Douglas - Liverpool 17.30 sailing with foot passenger transfer to Heysham.

 Monday December 05, 2005

Ben My Chree – Heysham to Douglas @ 02.15 Cancelled with passenger transfer to Heysham - Douglas 14.15 sailing on Sunday or Monday.

SUPERSEACAT TWO – Douglas - Heysham @ 08.45

SUPERSEACAT TWO – Heysham - Douglas @ 14.15

Seatruck's MOONDANCE will provide freight cover during the BEN-MY-CHREE's absence.


The order paper for the meeting of the Isle of Man Government scheduled for December 06, 2005 includes the following questions for Oral Answer concerning the cancellation of Steam Packet sailings to and from Dublin during the Irish Autumn Bank Holiday weekend.

The Hon Member for Onchan (Mr Karran) to ask the Minister for Tourism and Leisure -

(1) Was there a significant reduction in the takings of the Villa Marina and hotels during the October Irish weekend; and

(2) if so, was this due to the lack of sailings to and from Ireland?

The Hon Member for Onchan (Mr Karran) to ask the Minister for Transport -

(1) How many cancellations of the fast craft service are allowed by the Steam Packet Company before it can be deemed that the Company is in fact in breech of the User Agreement appertaining to the operation of the said fast craft;

(2) do you consider that the fast craft vessel is the most suitable choice of craft for operating the Winter service in view of the poor weather conditions that often occur in the Irish Sea from Autumn to Easter, given that fast craft are limited by statute to only sailing in certain sea conditions; and

(3) have you been in contact with the Company to discuss this issue?

One looks forward to the answers ......


VAL DE LOIRE - has been sold to DFDS. Once a regular seasonal caller at the Port of Cork Ringaskiddy terminal until the arrival of the PONT-AVEN in 2004 the ship was sold during the past week. In replacement Brittany Ferries has acquired the DUKE OF SCANDINAVIA which enter service on the Portsmouth - Cherbourg route in March 2006 as the PONT L'ABBE. Brittany Ferries also claim that they will have a new ship in service on the Plymouth - Roscoff route by 2008.

BARFLEUR has been chartered to operate sailings between Cork and Cherbourg. She was due to depart Cherbourg bound for Cork at 23:30 on Friday, December 02 and arrive at Ringaskiddy on Saturday afternoon. She has been chartered by an Irish road haulier due to lack of capacity on Irish Sea routes caused by the ongoing dispute with Irish Ferries.


KING HARRY VII  - The following item appeared in the "Falmouth Packet" this week concerning the new car ferry, currently being completed at the Pendennis Shipyard in Falmouth for the King Harry Steam Ferry Company.

Four miles of wiring on King Harry Ferry

FALMOUTH-born Barry Murfin will be putting his seven years of electrical experience to the test as he supervises the laying of over four miles of wiring on the new King Harry Ferry.

Barry, aged 25, joined Pendennis Shipyard in Falmouth as an apprentice in 1988 being the first intake of the company. He later completed a four-year course at Cornwall College which involved general training in engineering, fabrication, electrical and woodworking, followed by three years of study for a National Vocational Qualification 3 in electro-technical installations.

He has subsequently undertaken additional training with the support of the shipyard and has gained an ONC in Electrical and Electronic Engineering.

Barry said he feels proud to be working on the new ferry. "It makes me proud to think that my first major project as an electrical supervisor will be based so close to my home town and will have such a long lifespan," he said. "I hope the new KHF, like its predecessor, will join the list of great Cornish landmarks - its innovative design and high quality construction sets it apart from any other chain ferry in the world. "The experience Pendennis has gained over the years in the super-yacht market will show through when the ferry is launched in the Spring next year."


Following a recent bout of ill-health James Sherwood has relinquished his role as the company's Chief Executive. The company has announced that  Ian C. Durant, Chief Financial Officer, will act as Interim Chief Executive. James B. Sherwood will remain Chairman. The previously announced search for a new Chief Executive is now well advanced and it is hoped that an appointment will be made early in the new year.


It is reported that the former Caledonian MacBrayne and Sea Containers vessel has been sold this to an as yet unknown party. Following sale by Sea Containers she had been operating for Pentland Ferries. There is some speculation that she may have been bought by one of the prospective bidders for the Ballycastle - Campbeltown route.



SVITZER BOOTLE departed the Mersey on Wednesday bound for the Tees. Her place has been taken by AYTON CROSS which has already arrived on the Mersey.

THORNGARTH The Marine Accident Investigation Branch published its report into the collision between the tug and a tanker on the River Mersey this week.

The report indicates that the collision occurred because its captain was unfamiliar with the vessel and lacked training.

The THORNGARTH suffered significant damage in the collision in April, and one of its engineers broke an arm.

Damage to the chemical tanker STOLT ASPERATION was minimal and there was no pollution or other injuries.

Accident investigators said there had been a number of similar accidents and have since issued fresh advice to tugs.

The Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) report said the THORNGARTH was one of two tugs assisting the tanker into Birkenhead Docks in the early hours of 13 April.

The tug was struck on its starboard side as the tug master attempted to correct the vessel's position in front of the tanker.

The accident report said the accident was one of a number of similar incidents involving tugs in a four-month period - all attributable to a lack of training.

The full report can be downloaded from MAIB <click here>


Sailings on all routes have remained suspended all week.

The NORMANDY diverted to Dublin Port last Sunday when Iarnrod Éireann employees at Rosslare refused to handle the ship. She arrived late around 23:00, discharged and set sail for Cherbourg light ship. There are reports that some windows were broken by protestors on shore.

ULYSSES and ISLE OF INISHMORE remain at Holyhead and Pembroke respectively, with JONATHAN SWIFT at Dublin Port.

On Tuesday November 29 it was reported that the security guards whose appearance on the ISLE OF INISHMORE had initially led to the current action were withdrawn by the company in who claimed that the move had been made in anticipation of reciprocal goodwill from the SIPTU officers.

The company has been reported this week to be considering switching some vessels to the Cypriot flag.

The Wales TUC and International Transport Workers Federation organised a demonstration on Saturday December 03 in support.

The ITWF said Irish Ferries' offer to staff of voluntary redundancy or to accept a pay cut "tore up" a three-year agreement made between the company and unions last year.

The organisation said the protest was "not about stopping" migrant workers coming to the UK or Ireland, but was to help them join the labour market on fair terms and conditions.

The head of the maritime union RMT in Wales, Brian Curtis, has called on the public to support the Irish Ferries workers.

"This is a matter of serious public concern and it could determine what sort of society we are creating for our children, both in the UK and in Ireland," he said.

During the protest on Saturday the four crewmen on board the ISLE OF INISHMORE emerged and unveiled a banner bearing the letters SOS. The crewmen waved from the deck and were cheered by the Welsh trade union members.

Officials from the International Transport Workers Federation also handed a letter of protest to the dock authorities in Pembroke.

The local Labour MP for the area, Nick Ainger, appealed to Irish Ferries  to begin meaningful talks to resolve the dispute immediately.

Mr. Ainger said the dispute and the closure of the port was having a serious financial impact on the south Wales economy.


On Wednesday November 30, 2005 a special debate was held in the Daíl on the Irish Ferries dispute.

RTÉ reported that Fine Gael's Phil Hogan said the Government had been slow to come up with a single solution to resolve the problem. Government ministers should consult EU colleagues to outlaw the practice of re-flagging, he said.

Labour's Brendan Howlin claimed that the stability of social partnership had been threatened by the actions of what he described as one maverick company.

He rejected the view that the government was impotent to act against reflagging, and also disputed the view expressed by Micheál Martin that the practice would not apply to any other employment.

Mr Howlin referred to the views expressed on RTÉ's Primetime last night by economist Dan McLaughlin. He said there was a view emerging that workers were tools, to be discarded at will - but he said that view would not wash with the public.

And he told the employer body IBEC that there would either be social partnership, or an era of conflict in which people were regarded as cogs.

Irish Ferries announced earlier it had removed the extra security personnel from its ships.

In a statement issued this afternoon the company said it was taking the unilateral action in expectation of reciprocal goodwill from the ships' officers.

The eastern European workers brought onto the ships last week are remaining on board.

All four ships have been out of service since the dispute at the company escalated last week.

The Irish Congress of Trade Unions has sanctioned a national day of protest on Friday 9 December over the row which centres on Irish Ferries' plans to replace Irish workers with cheaper agency staff from overseas.

Protestors will gather at Parnell Square in Dublin's city centre at 1.30pm before marching to Leinster House on Kildare Street.

Commenting on the protest, IBEC Director of Industrial Relations Brendan McGinty said it would do nothing to help resolve this 'difficult dispute' and would only undermine 'our international reputation'.


On November 30 the International Transport Federation called on the UK Department of Transport to mount an inquiry into the way private security guards were smuggled onto an Irish ferry docked in a British port.

The Federation says it is seriously concerned at the ease with which hired guards boarded the ISLE OF INISHMORE, in Pembroke, and the ULYSSES, in Holyhead, disguised as passengers. They reportedly then changed into uniforms in the ISLE OF INISHMORE's toilets before entering the ships' bridges in force to assist in the replacement of the peacefully working crews with cheaper Eastern European personnel.

Brian Orrell, Chair of the ITF's Seafarers' Section, commented: "Reports that an unidentified force of guards secretly boarded these Irish flagged ships are very disturbing. Their sudden and unexplained appearance must have left both passengers and crew wondering if they were under attack. The company appears to have, in effect, carried out a raid on its own ships.

This raises profound questions: was this a lapse in security? If it was, how could it be allowed to happen under international ship and port regulations concerning safety and security on board vessels.'"

The ITF joins its British and Irish affiliated trade unions in urging UK Government intervention, including an inquiry into the events surrounding what it called this "outrageous conduct by Irish Ferries against its own employees".

The ITF is also concerned that trade union representatives have been denied access to the port areas and ships in question, despite requests from crew members for a visit. It describes this as a fundamental breach of international conventions, to which Ireland and the UK are party, and which allow the right of seafarers to have access to their representatives.

As custodians of the seafarers' rights the two governments must be seen to act in their defence. "Frankly," Orrell concluded, "to allow private security personnel onboard for unannounced purposes, yet deny access to trade union representatives to visit members in their place of work is wholly unacceptable and a sorry reflection of Irish Ferries and the port authorities".


The Irish Congress of Trade Unions has sanctioned a national day of protest on Friday December 09, 2005 over the Irish Ferries dispute.

Protesters will gather at Parnell Square in Dublin's city centre at 13.30pm before marching to Leinster House.


A report in the Daily Post this week suggests that Liverpool City Council will operate the new Liverpool Cruise Terminal.

Peel Holdings  has been in talks with Liverpool City Council and regeneration agency English Partnerships which have won concessions about property ownership and planning issues that had been a source of concern to the port operator.

As a result of the talks, English Partnerships have agreed to sell land it owns in the middle of the Central Docks area giving Peel complete ownership of the site.

In return for the concessions, Peel is set to grant Liverpool City Council rights to use its land and to apply for the harbour revision order needed to allow the terminal to be built.

The paper reported that talks are at an advanced stage and a deal is likely to be struck by the end of the year.

The cruise line terminal is to cost £17m and will be paid for by grants from Merseyside's Objective 1 programme and the North West Development Agency. Liverpool City Council will run the terminal and the local authority is talking to construction giant Balfour Beatty about letting the contract to build it.

The need for a resolution to the dispute between the port operator and the local authority before the end of the calendar year is all the more urgent because Balfour Beatty has agreed to hold its quotation for the construction price steady until the end of the year. The costs have risen once already this year.

Delays in developing the cruise line terminal close to the Pier Head have meant the project is many months behind schedule and won't be ready to handle vessels in time for the city's 800th birthday celebrations in 2007.


PANAGIA SOUMELA - conversion of the former LADY OF MANN from side loading to ro/ro is reported to be well underway with parts of her stern already cut away.


HSS STENA EXPLORER has returned to service following technical difficulties with the bow thrusters which arose last Saturday and which put the vessel out of service for several days this week.


Stena Line has picked up the Achievement Wales Large Business Award for the second time - becoming the first company in the history of the prestigious awards ceremony to win the same award twice.

Stena Line first won the award in 2003, while Central Corridor Route Director Vic Goodwin was named the Achievement Wales Person of the Year in 2004. Now the company is smiling again with news of its latest award.

The Achievement Wales Business Awards, which took place in Bangor, North Wales, on Friday November 25, are the premier business awards in Wales, celebrating the excellence of companies in northern and central regions of the country.

The judging panel, made up of HSBC area director Chris Burgoyne, WDA innovation and technology counsellor Dr Ann Sudder, Daily Post senior assistant editor Mark Brittain and independent panellist David Williams, paid tribute to Stena Line's business excellence, innovation and continuous progression, as well as the company's strong commitment to the economic development of Wales and the North West.

Stena Line Route Director Vic Goodwin was delighted to pick up the award on Stena Line's behalf.

"This award is very important to Stena Line and in particular to all our staff who work so hard to provide passengers with a service that is second to none, all year round," said Vic."As a business, we have gone from strength to strength in recent years, and our Central Corridor routes from Holyhead to Dun Laoghaire and Dublin have played a major part. The company has successfully managed to move into profit in recent years, aided by continuous investment and advances in customer service on all our Irish Sea routes.

"It is pleasing to win this award in the same month that we celebrate 10 years on the Holyhead to Dublin route which has enjoyed particular success since the introduction of the Stena Adventurer Superferry at a cost of some £68M two years ago - coinciding with an investment of more than £10M in a new twin tier berth at the Port of Holyhead built specifically for the new ship.

"However, we do not like to rest on our laurels and plan to invest a further £1M in the route next year. Whilst the last ten years have seen significant changes for Stena Line, the next ten years should be equally exciting. Looking forward, we are confident that, in spite of the CHALLENGEs we face within the industry, our Irish Sea routes will continue to prosper."

Stena Line was also nominated for this year's Achievement Wales Community Award.



Dramatic near-final proposals that are set to transform Hayle's historic harbour and town centre go on show today. With an estimated price tag of £160 to £170 million, the ambitious scheme constitutes the single largest private investment project in Cornwall.

And other figures and aspirations detailed this week by Developer ING Real Estate Development UK are equally impressive.

Aiming to revitalise the town's economy and regenerate one of the most important Victorian ports in the country, the company says it is confident of creating 1,700 jobs.

More will also be generated during the 10-year-plus build of 870 homes, a marina and sailing club, 125,000 sq ft of commercial space, a 65,000 sq ft combined business, college and health centre, 160,000 sq ft of business and industrial units, two hotels and community facilities.

Michael Franklin, the project's architect, told The Cornishman yesterday that the public had greatly influenced the plan.

"Two major changes were made to our original plans from a year ago that came out of the public consultation - that there wasn't enough leisure facilities for youngsters and people didn't want the focus of the development away from the town centre."

Having worked these in, Mr Franklin said he had encountered no major problems in coming up with plans that "would build on Hayle's historic past".

"We have encountered some problems, of course, but we have found answers to them, and the solution is being presented at this exhibition."

Another major component of the development not present last year is the facilities for the planned off-shore electricity generating Wave Hub - which Mr Franklin says will see Hayle home to cutting edge technology.

With the planning application expected to be submitted next May, construction could start in either 2007/8. The first phase will concentrate on the massive infrastructure and engineering works.

Associate director Alan Travers of engineering company Buro Happold said a great deal of time has been spent looking at the harbour walls, traffic routing, access points, water supply, sewerage, and flood defence - which will protect the town against any tidal or climatic changes to the sea level.

This week's exhibition follows a similar presentation of outline plans a year ago. This second display aims to reveal how they have been developed.

Siep Hoeksma, the joint managing director of ING Real Estate said: "This is a great opportunity to kick start the regeneration of Hayle and to ensure significant job creation while also ensuring the historic harbour is restored and protected."

The company has already completed emergency remedial repair to sections of the listed harbour walls and it has undertaken detailed ground investigation works.

The public exhibition of the plans at John Harvey House, 24 Foundry Square, will run until Saturday, December 3. Representatives from ING Real Estate will be on hand to answer questions between 10.30am and 6pm.

[The Cornishman]


The company recommended the £3.3 billion bid by Dubai Ports World to its shareholders this week. Shareholders will receive £4.43 per share.

However, by the end of the week P&O shares had soared well beyond the offer price to £4.94 in response to the acqusition of £100 million worth of shares by the Singapore Government backed Tamasek Holdings.


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

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

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