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


February 26Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Ian Collard, Jon Godsell, Dan Cross and "others"


SEA EXPRESS I was noted arriving very late at Liverpool on Saturday morning. The 08:00 departure from Douglas which is believed to have sailed on time did not reach Liverpool until around 12:20.

TT timetables in Microsoft Excel are now on the company's web site and include overnight sailings from and to Larne operated by P&O Express. Timings are still noted as being subject to vessel availability.



NORTHERN MERCHANT will be dry docked next week following the end of her service on the English Channel. This ship along with her sister MIDNIGHT MERCHANT had been built for Merchant Ferries to open a Liverpool - Belfast service in competition with Norse Irish Ferries. However, before delivery Merchant Ferries and Norse Irish Ferries merged to form Norse Merchant and the two vessels went on charter to Norfolk Line on their English Channel service.

LAGAN VIKING emerged from NSL Birkenhead on February 21 following her short dry docking complete with a Maersk Funnel and "" hull branding replacing the ""


ISS has received further information regarding the altercation with the Heysham north roundhead.

Apparently the vessel struck when entering Heysham harbour, damage to the recently-repaired Heysham roundhead was at the lower level, and not serious.

MERCHANT BRAVERY came off worst, it is understood that her port screw, prop shaft, rudder and hull were damaged probably when she  moved past the roundhead and contacted the bottom in the dredger quay area. She may have initially touched with her bow, then sheared-off to cause the stern to contact.


HSS STENA DISCOVERY is reported to have missed a few sailings on Thursday and Friday due to maintenance requirements.

HSS STENA EXPLORER is confirmed as being out of service until March 10 following damage to her hull which covers an area of 12ft x 4ft.



The one big time player in the Irish Sea passenger market saw its credit rating reduced by Standard and Poor earlier this month issuing the following statement:

Standard & Poor's Ratings Services lowered its ratings on Sea Containers Ltd. including lowering the corporate credit rating to 'B+' from 'BB-'. All ratings remain on CreditWatch with negative implications, where they were placed Aug. 25, 2005.

"The downgrade is based on Sea Containers' weakened financial profile after losses incurred at its ferry operations, a business it is in the process of divesting, and lower margins expected on its GNER rail franchise," said Standard & Poor's credit analyst Betsy Snyder. "The continuing CreditWatch status reflects uncertainties about the timing and ultimate disposition of  the ferry operations, and resolution of a series of disputes at GE SeaCo, a joint venture in which Sea Containers holds a 50% stake," the analyst continued.

The ratings on Bermuda-based Sea Containers reflect a relatively weak financial profile, even after the planned divestiture of its unprofitable ferry operations, expected to occur in 2006. However, the company does benefit from fairly strong competitive positions in its two major remaining businesses, GNER (Great North Eastern Railway, a passenger rail line between London and Scotland) and marine cargo container leasing. Sale of the Silja assets, which account for approximately 75% of the ferry assets, will likely occur first, with bids already submitted. The timing and proceeds from sale of the other ferry assets are more uncertain. The remaining businesses generate more stable cash flow than the very competitive ferry businesses, which experienced significant losses in 2004-2005 due to excess capacity, fare discounting, and high fuel prices.

Sea Containers is restructuring the ferry operations through the sale of certain operations and/or individual vessels, redeployment or chartering out vessels, and staff reductions. In November 2005, the company sold the remainder of its Orient-Express Hotels Ltd. (OEH) shares, realizing proceeds of approximately $262 million before expenses. In 2006, debt will be reduced using proceeds from the sale of OEH shares as well as expected proceeds from sale of the ferry operations.

A further uncertainty, with potential ratings implications, is a series of disputes between Sea Containers and General Electric Capital Corp. regarding operations at GE SeaCo. The disputes are currently in arbitration, with a decision expected in early 2006. The outcome is not determinable at this time and no loss contingency had been recorded at Sept. 30, 2005. Therefore, the potential financial effects on Sea Containers and even possible future ownership of GE SeaCo remain uncertain.

Standard & Poor's will monitor the progress of the sale of the ferry operations, as well as resolution of the GE SeaCo arbitration. If either were to result in additional significant charges that would further weaken Sea Containers' financial profile, ratings would likely be lowered.


Benson, Senior Vice-President, Ferries division, is leaving the company on 28 February. This follows Sea Containers' announcement on 3 November  2005 that the Company was undertaking a major restructuring of its ferries division.

Mr Benson has been employed at Sea Containers since 1983, where he has undertaken a number of roles. These include positions as Chief Executive of Venice-Simplon Orient-Express and Senior Vice-President of Passenger Transport Division for Sea Containers, where he was the driving force behind some of the most innovative passenger and vehicle ferry services in  the world.

Businesses included in this portfolio have included Isle of Man Steam Packet Company, Hoverspeed, Silja, Sealink and SeaStreak and Great NorthEastern Railway, the operator of high-speed passenger trains services from London to Scotland.

Under Mr Benson's leadership Sea Containers' Passenger Transport division played a leading role in pioneering the fast ferry concept and operated one of the world's largest fleets of fast-ferries from dedicated ports, following on from its cross-Channel hovercraft. It had input at ship design level with Incat in the build of the 74m and 81m SeaCat, and also won the prestigious Hales Trophy for the Blue Riband of the North Atlantic on the delivery voyage of its first SeaCat from Australia.

Bob MacKenzie, President and CEO of Sea Containers Ltd, said: "We are grateful to David for all his loyalty, efforts and commitment to the Company since 1983, especially in the last few years where trading conditions in the ferries business have been extremely challenging."

Paul Clark, Sea Containers' Commercial Director of Ferries, will assume Mr Benson's remaining duties.


The owner of Appledore Shipbuilders is bidding for a major contract that would throw a lifeline to staff at the North Devon yard. Plymouth-based Devonport Management Limited (DML) is bidding for the contract to build a new vessel for the Scottish Fisheries Protection Agency.

If DML wins the contract, the ship would be built at Appledore. The order could be worth £20 million and would secure work for the yard for up to two years.

The 180-strong workforce will find out next week whether Scottish Executive Minister Ross Finnie will place the order with them.

There is stiff competition for the contract from other yards, including a company in Germany and Scottish-based Ferguson's, which was awarded the contract for the Torpoint Ferry in 2003.

Jobs could be at risk if DML fails to win the contract, according to Stuart Fagan, South West organiser of the GMB: "There is the threat that there will be redundancies if they don't get the contract."

In 2003, Appledore went into receivership with the loss of around 1,000 skilled jobs. It was then bought by DML.
[WMN 250206]


Penzance's "little tall ship" Ruth will be sailing to the Isles of Scilly on April 8 to take part in the World Gig Championships 2006 - as a spectator ship.

With her new sails and comfortable cabins Ruth will provide gig supporters with a great platform for watching the action and excitement of the races over the bank holiday weekend.

This is the 17th year of the Gig Championships which take place in St Mary's.

The history of the gig goes back to the 18th century. The name "pilot gig" came from the times when the boats used to carry pilots to vessels wanting to negotiate the difficult waters around Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.

Pilot gigs from the Islands raced each other to vessels requiring assistance. The first one there secured a contract with the pilot and continued to help the vessel. Every launch was extremely competitive with speed and efficiency being key to getting the contract.

Ruth will be offering places to gig supporters to watch the races. Anyone interested in sailing on Ruth during the bank holiday weekend should visit 


The Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA) announced on Friday February 24 that 12 foreign ships were under detention in UK ports during January 2006 after failing Port State Control safety inspection.

Latest monthly figures show that there were 9 new detentions of foreign flagged ships in UK ports during January 2006, along with 3 other ships still under detention from previous months. The number of new detentions compared to last month has increased by 50% while the overall rate of detentions compared with inspections carried out over the last 12 months is 5.19%, which is a 0.02% increase on December’s 12 month rate.

During the month of January 134 Port State Control Inspections were carried out in the UK, which brings the total so far this year to 1524 inspections. For those ships inspected during January a total of 101 vessels had deficiencies raised against them. 67 had between 1 to 5 deficiencies, 20 had between 6 to 10 deficiencies, 10 had between 11 to 20 deficiencies and 4 had more than 20 deficiencies.

One of the vessels detained in December was registered with a flag state listed on the Paris MOU white list, 4 were registered with flag states listed on the Paris MOU grey list, and 6 were registered with flag states listed on the Paris MOU black list.  An additional detained vessel was registered with a flag state not included on the Paris MOU lists

3 bulk carriers, 1 tug, 1 ro-ro cargo vessel, 1 refrigerated cargo vessel and 6 general cargo vessels were detained in the UK during January.

Vessels detained in January included the following:

·         a 10,669 GT ro-ro cargo vessel detained for hull integrity concerns following a pollution incident.  A total of 35 deficiencies were recorded; [SEA RUNNER which was involved in an incident at Fleetwood.]

·         a 1,900 GT general cargo ship detained for 2 days with a holed the hull in way of the starboard quarter at steering flat deck level.  No other recorded deficiencies were recorded, but the same vessel had been detained as recently as October at another UK port for lack of up to date charts and defective radio communications;

·         a 22,511 GT bulk carrier detained for being unable to stop the main engine fuel pumps or engine room fans from outside the engine room  A total of 23 deficiencies were recorded.


February 18Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Ian Collard, Michael Pryce, Sara Cass and others.


BEN-MY-CHREE - the hydraulic ram which operates the ramp between the vehicle decks failed on Friday February 17, 2006. Vehicles on the upper vehicle deck which had travelled on the 14:15 sailing from Heysham were stranded on board unable to disembark. Vehicles then had to make two return journeys to Heysham. It is understood that some smaller vehicles were eventually craned off on Saturday evening.

SUPERSEACAT TWO will operate a special day excursion to / from Whitehaven on Tuesday March 28:

Departures from Douglas at 08:30 and 20:30

Departures from Whitehaven 11:00 and 23:00

Fares: £23 Adult return, £14 Child Return (incl fuel surcharges £4/person)

Crossing time is 90 minutes.

Webmaster's Comment: It does appear rather early in the season to be offering such an excursion and one wonders, on a weekday, just how many passengers will avail themselves of the opportunity.


Ferry publications has launched a new look web site giving details of their magazine European Ferry Scene, Publications, Excursions and news. The web address remains the same:


A revised image of the new freight ro/ro can be found on the Aker Finnyards web site at:


LYNHER II- the third of the new Torpoint ferries entered service on Friday February 10, 2006 ending months of delays for commuters. She was launched at a low-key ceremony on Saturday February 11, though she had entered service at Friday evening rush hour.

Torpoint residents and commuters have endured a two-ferry service for more than a year as the old vessels were replaced and the slipways renewed. Poor weather and mechanical problems have meant the service has often been reduced to a single ferry, causing long delays for travellers, but the £5million LYNHER II, alongside her sisters the TAMAR II and the PLYM II, should radically reduce queues.

The new ferries are able to carry up to 73 cars each, half as many again as the 1960s ferries they replaced. Motorists returning home on Friday night benefited from much shorter tailbacks.

The ferry was officially launched by Cornwall county councillor Joyce Mepsted and ferry manager David List, who cut a ribbon across the gates on the Torpoint side. The fee for drivers was waived for the journey immediately afterwards.

Cllr Mepsted, co-chair of the joint committee which oversees the ferry, said she was particularly attached to the LYNHER II, which she originally launched at a Glasgow shipyard." Hopefully we'll see an improved service and the ferries will be able to fulfil their promise," she said.

Passengers expressed relief at the new arrival. Dave Sims, a delivery driver from Torpoint, said: "It's about time too. It's been difficult over the last year; you never knew what sort of service you'd get until you turned up." Martha Kerry, from Devonport, said: "It's great to see three ferries on the river after so long."

The ferry's arrival was delayed for more than a month but she arrived in Plymouth nearly two weeks ago and has passed trials supervised by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency.

A three-ferry service will run at rush-hour during the week and throughout the day on Saturdays. A larger launch ceremony, perhaps with a VIP guest, is being planned.


EXPRESS departed from Belfast at 10:45 and moved to Larne. She is due to sail from Larne to Falmouth around 02:00 Sunday morning, stopping for bunkers at Rosslare at around 08:00. Departing Rosslare around 10:30 she is due Falmouth 17:00 Sunday evening, entering dock on Wednesday or Thursday.


BOA VISTA - last weekend the passenger ro/ro cargo ship owned by Kittlesen Shipping of Norway, collided with a navigational marker in Milford Haven.

The ship was transporting military equipment and personnel to Pembroke Dock when she collided with the beacon in good weather.

No-one was injured during the collision and the ship suffered only minor damage. The navigational beacon, although still working, sustained more serious damaged.


LOCH NEVIS arrived on Merseyside on the morning of Thursday February 16, 2006. She entered NSL #6 dry dock. She is believed to be suffering from propulsion problems.

The company which has operated the Ballycastle-Rathlin ferry service since 1996,   confirmed this week that it is extending its contract for the provision of ferry services to Rathlin Island, for another year, until the beginning of April 2007.

Speaking in Ballycastle, Cal Mac Chairman Dr Harold Mills said: "We were delighted to have our contract as the operator of this service extended for a further year and we look forward to developing our ongoing relationship with the communities of Rathlin and the mainland of Northern Ireland. The Company was very pleased that we came to a leasing arrangement for the new facilities at Ballycastle with Moyle District Council last year and everyone has benefited from that. Since we started operating the service we have seen a spell of considerable growth on the route. The growth is very welcome and reflects the additional resources we have devoted to marketing the route as a Company. We now look forward to continuing to work with the people on Rathlin Island itself, the local community and authorities in Ballycastle and our colleagues in the Department for Regional Development."

On behalf of the Department for Regional Development, Brian White, the Director of Ports and Public Transport, welcomed the extension of the contract for a further year and the continuation of this important lifeline for the people of Rathlin Island.

The Ballycastle-Rathlin route continues to benefit from the general marketing activities undertaken by Cal-Mac and benefits specifically from a local marketing plan. Approximately 12,000 passengers per month are carried in July and August, the two peak summer months.

Dr Mills added: "Caledonian MacBrayne will continue to work with all the appropriate agencies to offer the best service possible to the island community while the future requirements of the route are being assessed. Cal-Mac looks forward to receiving the draft specification for the ongoing requirements of the service and will take a view on the possibilities for operation of the route in due course, when the issues and levels of provision are clarified."


HSS STENA EXPLORER was damaged when arriving at Holyhead on Wednesday February 15, 2005. She is understood to have put a 5 metre gash in one of her hulls after coming into contact with an underwater object. A statement from Stena Line suggests she will be out of service until March 03. However, there are rumours that she could be out of service for considerably longer.




Traffic in the bay included the CIL Tender GRANUAILE and the containership RHEIN CARRIER.

Wicklow lifeboat launched for a winch exercise in the bay with the Coastguard helicopter .

Coastguard helicopters from Dublin and Waterford were winch training in the bay with KILQUADE on Thursday afternoon .

The filming of DRAGNET is now complete at Wicklow harbour and production will move to Germany for a fortnight , the film is expected to be released in August .


It was announced this week that the extension to Prince's Landing Stage to cruise ships will be officially opened in the autumn of 2007 by the arrival of Carnival Corporation's QUEEN ELIZABETH 2.

Construction of the stage extension by Balfour Beatty will commence in April 2006.  The stage itself will be constructed at the Cammell Laird site.



MERCHANT BRAVERY arrived at Birkenhead, West Float for inspection by divers on Saturday afternoon.

LAGAN VIKING was noted running rather later on Saturday February 18. She came off service on after discharge and moved to the Sloyne to await the tide - she is due to enter NSL Birkenhead #5 Dry Dock on the early morning tide on February 19.

DUBLIN VIKING appears to be operating Saturday evening Belfast sailing with RR SHIELD covering the Dublin service.

February 11Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews and "others"


JONATHAN SWIFT - revised timings will operate from February 15 are as follows:

Dublin Depart: 07.30 and 12:30

Holyhead Arrive: 09:20 and 14:20

Holyhead Depart: 09:50 and 15:15

Dublin Arrive: 11:40 and 17:05

The company has also reserved the following option should it prove necessary to reintroduce an evening sailing:

Depart Dublin 18.40 arrive Holyhead 20.30.

Depart Holyhead 21.00, arrive Dublin 22.50


ISLE OF INISHMORE departed from NSL Birkenhead #5 dry dock on the evening of Friday February 10 at the completion of her refit. Now managed by Dobson Fleet Management, the ship is now registered in Limassol, Cyprus.



A leading councillor has branded the Fleetwood to Knott End ferry an "embarrassment" after the long-awaited service suffered yet another delay.

The £250,000 vessel should have been up and running in November, but there have been continual setbacks and it could now be April before it is carrying passengers.

Councillors Peter Hawley engineered a £500,000 deal with Lancashire County Council to fund the revamped service. "I was very pleased with what we had achieved and Was tremendously proud when the ferry arrived but, since then, it has become a very serious concern and embarrassment with delays and problems that keep on coming up.

"It's frustrating because a lot of this is completely out of our hands." Councillor Hawley said there had been delays on agreeing a service contract for the engines between the county and Volvo while the Maritime Coastguard Agency had demanded additional safety rails on the vessel.

Work was also continuing on the Fleetwood ferry dock to make sure it could be used at the lowest tides and that facilities were suitable for the disabled. He added: "We were talking about an official launch last November, then we put it off.

"Now it's February and the thing still isn't right. We keep pushing the county council and they are aware of our frustrations.

"I suspect there are some red faces at County Hall. You don't pay out £250,000 to see it sitting forlornly at the side of the dock." Councillor Hawley could not put a date on a launch and said: "I feel it's going to mislead the public.

"I would rather say we are looking to get it going as quickly as possible. In the meantime we have a bus running to fulfil a promise to Knott End people that we would continue to provide a link to Fleetwood and we have extra expense there."

A County Hall spokesman said: "The maintenance contract with Volvo has now been sorted and we're currently waiting for Wyre Borough Council to complete the jetty works." [BLACKPOOL TODAY]


EXPRESS will refit at A&P Falmouth. The vessel which has been laid up over the winter at the former Sea Containers Terminal at Belfast is expected to call at Larne on February 13 before setting off for the Cornish ship yard.


Singapore based PSA International has withdrawn from the battle to secure P&O. The company is now almost certain to be acquired by Dubai Ports World which has made a revised bid of 520p per share.


SEA RUNNER the chartered vessel briefly used for refit cover on the Fleetwood - Larne service departed NSL wet basin on Thursday evening bound for Rotterdam.

Owned by Cambridge Shipping the ro/ro ship, formerly a car carrier was involved in a pollution incident at Fleetwood on Thursday January 26, 2006.

She was detained after the Maltese flagged vessel  was involved in a pollution incident when approximately 2 cu metres of fuel oil was pumped into the River Wyre. It was subsequently been found by the attending Port State Control officer that fuel oil had been pumped overboard from a ballast tank. The ballast tank is adjacent to the fuel oil bunker tank. As such it is believed that the division between the tanks has been breached.

Due to the breach between tanks the safety of the ship was compromised. The bilge/ballast system has being contaminated with oil.

The vessel arrived for repairs at NSL Birkenhead wet basin on Saturday January 28, 2006.


The Clipper Ventures round the world yacht race which began from Liverpool in September has encountered technical problems.

On February 09, 2006 the company announced that it would cover the costs of the crews taking part in the Clipper 05-06 Yacht Race to be flown home whilst keel problems are assessed.

The news comes as  marine events company's fleet of yachts is currently berthed in Subic Bay in the Philippines after being diverted during Race 6 from Singapore to Qingdao due to keel problems.

In a statement issued to crews at Subic Bay Yacht Club on Thursday morning, Clipper Race Chairman Sir Robin Knox-Johnston explained that the work on the ocean racing yachts is likely to take around a month and arrangements will be made for crews to travel home whilst repairs are carried out.

Sir Robin said: 'Crews will be only too aware of the problem that has affected the yachts. We believe that by the time the problem has been properly assessed and a solution decided upon, plus the remedial work carried out, the Clipper race will be delayed by as much as a month, although this is by necessity an approximate date.'

Clipper Ventures said that it will arrange for crew to be either flown home for the duration of the delay, or receive the cost of such flights in lieu. Crew members that were due to leave the race in China will be flown to from Manila to Qingdao by Clipper to catch pre-booked flights.

'We have taken this action swiftly to minimise disruption to crews,' Sir Robin said. 'The Clipper crews are at the heart of the Clipper 05-06 Round the World Race, and we hope that this move to cover travel expenses demonstrates that they remain our priority as we endeavour to get them racing again as soon as possible.'

Sir Robin said that once the remedial work has been completed, it is intended to continue the race as originally planned. 'This will mean delays to the original schedule, and the new schedules will be published once we have a firm date for the completion of the remedial work,' Sir Robin said.

A team of experts are flying out from the UK to assess the damage and present a proposed timeframe for the repairs to be completed, and Clipper Ventures expects to have a clearer idea of when the fleet will depart the Philippines to continue the race by the latter part of next week.


Whilst there was to be no Mersey River Festival held in 2006 due to ongoing work on the Mersey river front at Liverpool  a Maritime Event had been planned for early July to coincide with the end of the race. With the Clipper Race now delayed by up to a month it is yet to be seen what effect this will have on plans for this event.


Details of this years special cruises are now on the company's web site. Yet again, the much rumoured (since 1999) Llandudno service has failed to materialise despite berthing trials having been undertaken at Llandudno a few years ago.

The only sailings of interest to ship enthusiasts being the already advertised Manchester Ship Canal sailings and three trips into Liverpool Bay for bird watching in conjunction with the RSPB - these will take place in August and September. Details can be found at

February 08Acknowledgements: David Billinge and "others"


Reductions in passenger and car check-in times announced by The Isle of Man Steam Packet Company will present sea travellers with an even faster travel option.

The deadline check-in time for a foot passenger will now be just 25 minutes before the scheduled sailing time and for vehicles 45 minutes.

Rupert Trevelyan, Steam Packet Director of Marketing said, ‘We see this further improvement to our services as a boon for our customers. We all know how valuable our own time is and especially when travelling. In addition to offering the best possible fares we are now able to offer the fastest check-in times possible for travellers to and from the Island. Whilst still complying with security regulations, the enhanced facility’s provided by our latest computerised systems allows us to pass on such benefits to our customers’.

Check-in times for travel taken during the peak TT Race Festival period in May/June remain as advised by the Company. Bookings for this world famous festival are ahead of those taken at the same time last year with a huge amount of interest being shown for the TT Centenary to be held in 2007.


PDF copies of the 2006 timetable brochures are now available on the company's web site.

Services between Douglas and Dublin have been further reduced this year. In 2005 the Irish Bank Holiday sailings in October  were cancelled after appearing in the timetables. Though the December sailings were operated with SUPERSEACAT TWO, the original advertised time ashore day excursion which was originally to have been operated by the LADY OF MANN was amended to a return trip with no "time ashore" - thus loosing day excursion potential.

Your webmaster travelled on the post-Christmas round trip and noted that loadings were rather light. Therefore, it comes as no surprise to see that there will be no sailings between Dublin and Douglas in December 2006.

There will also be no sailings between Douglas and Dublin during May - except during the TT period. The timetable advises passengers to see Belfast sailings for "other sailing options".


Given that most people travelling to the Isle of Man from the UK on day excursions choose Liverpool as their port of departure thanks to the more civilised departure times, it will come as something of a disappointment to note that in 2006 day excursions will only be available on Saturdays and on that day time ashore will be reduced by half an hour as outward departure from Liverpool will now be rescheduled to 11:00, though the return sailing will still depart at 17:30.

Given the poor loadings on the 2005 Wednesday long day excursion option, this cut back is not surprising, but surely the timetable could have been written to allow opportunity for day excursions on  more than one day per week with a return from Douglas at 18:30?

The existing Saturday return time of 17:30 is too early.

If the Saturday sailing operated an hour later it would provide trippers with the opportunity to undertake a round trip on the Steam Railway. As it stands now this is not possible. If it were, perhaps the Isle of Man might prove a popular day trip destination with railway enthusiasts?

Even more disappointing is that in 2006 day excursions from Liverpool now end on September 30, this year a week earlier than last season as well as commencing later probably due to the late Easter.

One wonders if the company is working to extinguish the day excursion market from the UK?


LE EITHNE departed on her deployment to Argentina on Monday February 06, 2006.

The ship departed from Haulbowline Naval Base, Cóbh at 11:35 following a short ceremony held in the presence of the Minister of Defence, His Excellency the Argentinean Ambassador to Ireland and JJ O'Hara of the Admiral Brown Society.

The first section of the voyage will take the naval flagship to Tenerife.


Liverpool is to be the UK port of call for a new trans-Atlantic container service to be launched by China Shipping Container Lines and CMA CGM, two of the world's top container shipping operators.

The decision to make Liverpool the weekly service's last call outbound from Northern Europe consolidates the port's position as Britain's major gateway for container trade with North America and forges an important new commercial link between the twinned cities of Liverpool and Shanghai.

The new service calling at ports down the Eastern Seaboard of the United States as far south as Charleston, is the second to be secured by the Port of Liverpool since the start of 2006. Mediterranean Shipping Company has announced a new weekly service to Canada to be launched on 27th February in co-operation with Maersk Line.

The China Shipping/CMA CGM service will start in mid-March utilising four 2,500/2,700 teu vessels to maintain a port rotation of Le Havre, Antwerp, Rotterdam, Bremerhaven, Liverpool, New York, Baltimore, Norfolk, Charleston, Le Havre. The two lines will each provide two of the ships.

Frank Robotham, Director of Marketing for the Mersey Docks and Harbour Company – part of Peel Ports Group – said the service represented three key areas of significance to Liverpool.

"It builds upon Liverpool's position as the UK's major gateway for container trade with North America," he explained. "It strengthens ties between the twinned cities by forging an important relationship with one of the world's leading container shipping lines which has its head office in Shanghai, and it is the first deep-sea mainline service to be offered out of Liverpool by CMA CGM – ranked third among the world's container shipping lines – which already operates a string of short sea and feeder services from the port."

Liverpool handles more container trade with the United States and Canada than any other UK port and is the major British port for freight crossing the Irish Sea.

Mr Robotham said the new trans-Atlantic service would provide shippers in both the UK and Ireland with a new link into the South Eastern Seaboard of the United States, a market previously only served by shipping lines operating out of UK south coast ports.

"By nominating Liverpool as the last port out of Europe, the new service is providing a very fast and regular transit for trade moving in significant volumes between the UK and Ireland into the Charleston region of the US," he added. "We are delighted that China Shipping and CMA CGM have recognised the commercial advantages Liverpool offers to trade with North America."

The new service will be the fifth operated out of the Seaforth Container Terminal by the CMA CGM group, which has its UK head office in Liverpool. The group's other container services out of the port are the weekly deep-sea feeder link with its North European hub at Le Havre and three weekly services to the Iberian Peninsula under the MACANDREWS flag.

The Mersey Docks and Harbour Company has applied for a Harbour Revision Order to enable the development of an £80 million container terminal on the River Mersey. The scheme is being undertaken in anticipation of the introduction of post Panamax container ships on the North Atlantic and further expansion of Liverpool's total container trade which is now at record levels of more than 600,000 teus a year.

February 04Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Tony Brennan, Ian Collard, John Williams Tommy Dove rand "others"


DANIEL ADAMSON - The historic steam tug-tender was moved from its berth at Salisbury Dock, Liverpool to the wharf adjacent to NSL Bidston yard on Friday February 03, 2006. She will be undergoing asbestos removal and survey as part of  Heritage Lottery Fund project planning stage. For more information and photographs visit


The following public talks will be held at the Merseyside Maritime Museum:

Saturday 11 February 14:00  - Liverpool & the Great Migration 1851-1923 - Nick Evans University of Aberdeen

Thursday 23 February  19:15 - History of Wallasey Ferries - T B Maund

Saturday 11 March 14:00 - Smuggling Can Be A Funny Business (in Customs Museum, ground floor)

Thursday 30 March  19:15 - Liverpool - when cotton was king - Nigel Hall, University of Oxford

Saturday 08 April  14:00 - Collapse of British shipbuilding - Dr Lewis Johnman - University of Westminster.

Full details of all museum events are on their website.


LYNHER II - the third and final ferry to be constructed by Ferguson of Port Glasgow for the operator was delivered to Plymouth on February 01, 2006.

Though completed in mid 2005 her delivery was held until work to upgrade the Devonport and Torpoint terminal slipways had been completed.

It is expected that she will be joining her two fleet mates on Sunday when she will be attached to her chains. Following trials it is anticipated that the ferry will commence public operation on the weekend of February 11 / 12, 2006.

The reintroduction of a three ferry service at peak hours will reduce congestion caused at peak hours by the two ferry service which has been operating since autumn 2004.

The first new ferry went into service in December 2004. The new ferries, able to carry up to 73 cars each, are 50 per cent bigger than the 1960s ferries. The new vessels and slipway upgrade cost about £18million.



The Irish Minister for Defence Mr Willie O'Dea T.D., the Argentine Ambassador His Excellency Mr Marcelo Heurgo, the Chief of Staff of Defence Forces Lieutenant General Jim Sreenan and the Flag Officer Commanding Naval Service, Commodore Frank Lynch will attend a ceremony at Haulbowline on next Monday 6th February, to mark the departure of Ireland's Flagship L.E. EITHNE to South America. 

The L.E. EITHNE will depart the Naval Base at 11:30 hrs and is expected to return on 8th April 2006. The deployment is a result of the Government's acceptance of an invitation from the Argentine Government to send a Naval Ship to Argentina to join in celebrations commemorating the founder of the Argentinian Navy, irishman Admiral William Brown. In addition to Buenos Aries and Mar del Plata in Argentina, the ship will also visit Montevideo in Uruguay, Rio de Janeiro and Fortalessa in Brazil. 

Besides the diplomatic and ceremonial considerations associated with the visit, Naval Service men and women will support the work of Irish health services by facilitating information exchange on employment opportunities. They will also host tours by sick children from paediatric hospitals in all of the ports they visit as well as offering technical and humanitarian assistance to NGO groups and Missionaries along the South Atlantic American rim. The departure ceremony will be attended by representatives and patients from Crumlin Children's Hospital, the Admiral Brown Society, the HSE and families of the ships crew.


The Dublin Docklands Development Authority is currently inviting tenders for the charter and operation of the Jeanie Johnston tall ship for the key summer sailing season, May to August 2006.

It is envisaged that those submitting tenders will consider a number of possible uses, or combination of uses, for the Jeanie Johnston in keeping with the objectives of the Docklands Authority for the project. Such uses include sail training; passenger sailings; the operation of the on-board Famine Ship Museum; and the use of the ship for corporate hospitality events. The successful operator will be responsible for the efficient, economic and safe use of the ship during the four month period.

The Docklands Authority took ownership of the Jeanie Johnston tall ship in September 2005 and the ship is currently moored at Dublin City Moorings in Dublin’s Docklands where it is undergoing its winter maintenance programme. The Jeanie will be open to the public for visits at North Wall Quay during the St. Patrick’s Festival, 15 – 19 March from 11am to 5pm daily. Advertisements announcing the tender were placed in national newspapers today, Thursday 2 February 2006. Full details will be available from Monday, 6th February and or from Jeanie Johnston, c/o Dublin Docklands Development Authority, Custom House Quay, Docklands, Dublin 1. The closing date for receipt of submissions is March 10th, 2006.


STENA LEADER arrived at NSL Birkenhead on Friday February 03, 2006.


This week  Stena Line revealed an 8% increase in its freight volumes for 2005 compared to the previous year.

With passenger and car volumes falling in line with the total market by 8% and 7% respectively during the same period, Stena Line's dual strategy, which incorporates a good balance between its freight and leisure travel operations, has proven itself to be a wise one.

The company's five Irish Sea routes enjoyed the biggest growth with freight volumes rising by 16%, compared to falling passenger and car volumes of 5% and 4%, while its Scandinavian and North Sea markets experienced similar trends.

On the Irish Sea, the first full year of the Fleetwood to Larne service, acquired by Stena Line in April 2004, helped boost volumes on the northern corridor by 16% - with a total of 259,200 freight units travelling on the Fleetwood to Larne and Stranraer to Belfast routes during 2005.

The company's southern corridor route from Fishguard to Rosslare also enjoyed growth of 16% to 51,500 units, while freight volumes on the central corridor routes from Holyhead to Dublin and Holyhead to Dun Laoghaire increased by 14.7% to 173,300 units.

Stena Line CEO Gunnar Blomdahl is optimistic about the company's latest figures.

"Even if private travel volumes showed a negative trend in 2005 the financial development was positive," he said. "The final figures for 2005 have yet to be completed, but it looks as though we have exceeded our targets.

"The most important reason why 2005 was a strong year for Stena Line is the fact that the significant growth in freight, which represents around 40% of sales, has compensated for the negative trend seen in travel. While volume growth in private travel is naturally important for us, we are also aware that the volumes for private travel vary year on year, even if growth in 2005 was weaker than expected.

"There are other reasons why 2005 has been a strong year. In recent years we have changed our work methods. For example, we have introduced flexible manning which means that we can adapt our costs to revenues and the number of passengers travelling. We have also been very good at cutting costs generally, while at the same time expanding," added Gunnar.

Stena Line's Irish Sea Area Director Fredrik Lantz believes that the ongoing development of the company's route network and infrastructure, as well as investment in new ships such as the Stena Adventurer, to meet customer needs has paid dividends.

"We are pleased with our performance in 2005, particularly on the Irish Sea," said Fredrik. "Our Republic of Ireland routes have performed well while our services into Northern Ireland have also demonstrated robust development in a tough market area, assisted by our first full year's operation on the Fleetwood to Larne route which from day one has proven a very successful acquisition for us

"In recent years we have invested around £60 million in our vessels in order to improve the quality onboard and create attractive onboard environments," he added.

"For example, last year we invested £3.5 million in the Fleetwood to Larne service, bringing the route's three ferries into line with the rest of the Stena Line fleet, and plans are now at an advanced stage to invest a further £60 million in the proposed relocation from Stranraer to Cairnryan which will be of great benefit to freight customers.

"We also plan to invest almost £1 million in upgrading services onboard the Stena Adventurer and facilities at the Dublin ferry terminal next year."

Fredrik admitted that the rising price of oil is a major concern for Stena Line.

"High oil prices are having an impact on our business," continued Fredrik. "The price of oil is a top priority issue that has forced us to implement measures such as a major energy-saving scheme throughout the entire Group including a review of the trip page and timetables of our fast craft. We are following the price of oil very carefully because fuel is one of our biggest costs."

Stena Line's Freight Director Michael McGrath is pleased with the ongoing development of the company's freight business.

"Development within freight has been continuous," said Michael. "We have noticed a general growth in the industry and we are increasing freight capacity on our important routes.

"For example, on the North Sea where volumes rose last year by 4% to 354,500 units, large scale investment is planned with the introduction in June and December 2006 of two new Ropax ferries on the Hook of Holland-Killingholme route.

"The new vessels will give the route about 80% more loading capacity with faster operating speeds allowing for the introduction of new timetables with later departures in both directions," he added.

"The additional capacity will enhance the Hook of Holland's role as the central hub for sea transports between the continent and the UK with the North Sea providing a viable economic alternative to the channel options, where high-mileage and heavy road congestion are a feature of daily life.

"We have also invested heavily in our Scandinavian route network, which consists of a further 10 routes from Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Poland and Germany and experienced growth last year of 6% - which is considerable when you consider that more than 900,000 freight units now use these combined services," concluded Michael.


The following item appeared in the Daily Post newspaper this week:

A drop in passenger numbers and cars carried by Stena Line on its Irish Sea routes from the Port of Holyhead last year was counterbalanced by a huge increase in freight.

Competition from low cost airlines - which introduced flights from UK airports to new destinations in Europe during 2005 - was a major factor in the drift downwards of passenger numbers on Stena's routes from Holyhead to Dublin and Dun Laoghaire.

The company carried 1.1m passengers on the routes last year - down 100,000 or 8% on 2004 - and 243,000 cars compared with 254,000 cars the previous year.

But freight jumped a massive 14.5% from 151,500 freight units in 2004 to 173,500 units in 2005.

Stena said it may alter the timetable of its HSS fast ferry and even cancel less profitable sailings to save money.

The company admitted it won extra business last year after its direct rival Irish Ferries, which also sails from Holyhead, was hit by industrial action.

Stena's central corridor route director Vic Goodwin said: "Despite strong commercial pressures, we are pleased with our performance in 2005.

"Whilst we have seen a decline in our tourist volumes, we are delighted with the growth of our freight business and the signs are this growth will continue. We remain profitable and have hit our targets this year." He added: "The major impact on our business in 2006 and beyond will be high fuel prices. Oil prices have more than doubled recently and this is a major threat to our trading performance in the longer term.

"The company is looking at many ways to reduce its energy consumption and becoming more efficient. A group-wide energy saving programme is currently underway. We will also be having a further look at our timetables and trippage for the future to ensure these are linked to customer demand."

A £1m jump in business rates paid by Stena on the Port of Holyhead and future investment costs associated with the proposed new port entrance road and repairs to the breakwater have forced the company to investigate potential additional income streams from projects such as developments within the port.

Europe-wide, Stena Line revealed an overall 8% increase in its freight volumes for 2005 compared to the previous year and said its freight performance compensated for an 8% decline in passenger numbers and 7% in car volumes.

The company's five Irish Sea routes - which include those from Holyhead - enjoyed the biggest growth with freight volumes rising by 16%, compared to falling passenger and car volumes of 5% and 4%, while its

Scandinavian and North Sea markets experienced similar trends.


The VILLE DE BORDEAUX which conveys A380 aircraft wing sections from Mostyn to Bordeaux looks set to be joined by two fleet mates. Singapore Technologies Marine has been selected to build two more ships for the service.



The Port of Liverpool's position as the UK's major gateway for container trade with North America will receive a further boost with the launch of a new weekly service to Canada.

The world's second largest container shipping line, Mediterranean Shipping Company, will introduce a Monday sailing from the Seaforth Container Terminal to the Racine Terminal in Montreal in co-operation with global container leader, Maersk Line.

Three ships of 1,500 teu operating capacity will maintain a port rotation of Liverpool, Montreal, Antwerp, Liverpool from the first sailing on 27th February.

The launch of the service dubbed the "Montreal Express Service One" by MSC and the TA5 Service by Maersk, will consolidate Liverpool's leading position in UK container trades with both Canada and the USA.

Frank Robotham, Director of Marketing for the Mersey Docks and Harbour Company – part of Peel Ports Group – said: "We anticipate that a substantial volume of the new trade attracted to the MSC-Maersk service will be directed into the US Mid-West by these two prestigious shipping lines."

For MSC, the new Canadian service will be the second shipping link launched out of Liverpool in the last five years. "MSC already operate the highly successful deep-sea feeder service linking Liverpool into its global network through its Le Havre and Antwerp hub ports," said Mr Robotham.

Mersey Docks is currently seeking a Harbour Revision Order to enable the development of an £80 million river container terminal on the Mersey. The scheme is being undertaken in anticipation of the introduction of post Panamax container ships on the North Atlantic and further expansion of Liverpool's total container trade which has grown year on year and is now at record levels of more than 600,000 teus a year.


Notice of a public inquiry for the proposed Mersey Docks and Harbour Company (Seaforth River Terminal) Harbour revision order has been posted in the Merseyside press.

The public meeting will take place on April 25 at 10:00 at The Maritime Centre, Seaforth Docks, Port of Liverpool.

There will also be a pre-inquiry meeting at the same address at 10:00 on February 14.

The independent inspector appointed to the inquiry by the Secretary of State for Transport is Mr. Neil Taylor, who will hear representations from the person who has objected to the Order and any other persons who wish to appear and make representations on the issues raised by the objector.

The Programme Officer to who questions about the public inquiry can be put is Mr. Graham Groom at Persona Associates, West Point, Springfield Road, Horsham, West Sussex RH12 2PD.

The objects of the proposed Order are:

  1. To authorise works in the borough of Sefton, including: -

  1. a quay wall including berths for vessels extending into the River Mersey (Outer Estuary) commencing on the river wall at Royal Seaforth Dock and terminating on the north river wall at Gladstone River Entrance;

  2. a sewer, being an extension of the existing Bootle Northern Outfall sewer commencing at  the existing outfall on the north river wall at Gladstone Dock and terminating at an outfall to be constructed in the proposed quay wall.

  3. for the purposes of the above-mentioned works, the demolition and removal of any structures lying within the limits of deviation and the enclosure and reclamation of so much of the bed of the River Mersey (Outer Estuary) and of the foreshore as lies within the limits of deviation for the works.

  1. To authorise the Company to carry out dredging in the River Mersey (Outer Estuary) for the purposes of constructing and maintaining the works and of affording access thereto by vessels.

  2. To authorise the extinguishment of public rights to parade or walk for recreation and to provide for the creation of a new public footpath.

  3. To repeal and revoke certain enactments which created the public rights referred to in paragraph 3 above.

Copies of the draft Order, and plans and the environmental statement which accompanies the application may be seen at all reasonable hours at the Department for Transport, Ports Division, Great Minster House, 76 Marsham Street,. London SW1P 4DR; and at the offices of the Mersey Docks Group, The Maritime Centre, Seaforth Docks, Port of Liverpool L21 1LA.

In Saturday's Daily Post it has been revealed that English Nature has objected to the development because of concerns about the impact on wading birds on the neighbouring coastlines which are a Site of Special Scientific Interest.

Paragraphs 3 and 4 will be of particular interest to those such as anglers, ship enthusiasts and ramblers who have campaigned for restoration of public access following a tightening of security in 2004.

However, one of the bargaining points that has been offered to Sefton Council is to allow public access to a viewing gallery in the Radar Tower which would offer fine views of the estuary. A structure would also be provided for seabird watching.



Coaster callers this week included  HYDRA, MEKHANIK TYULENEV, SCOT MARINER, UNION MERCURY, SANDETTIE, SCOT TRADER and EMSLAND .Traffic in the bay included the Research vessel CELTIC VOYAGER, CIL tender GRANUAILE, and the container ship WEST MED II.

February 01Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Aideen Corr, Gareth Wight, John Williams, Edwin Wilmshurst and "others"


SUPERSEACAT TWO transferred from NSL Birkenhead #6 Dry Dock to the wet basin on Wednesday February 01, 2006


The long-awaited £16 million cruise berth and terminal buildings at Liverpool's Pier Head has at last been sanctioned with an agreement between the city council & the port's new owners (Peel Holdings).

Construction will start in April with completion scheduled for summer 2007. The floating stage pontoons will be built locally by contractors Balfour Beatty at the Canada Graving Dock, Liverpool.

The extension to Princes Landing Stage will enable ships up to 350m to berth .



Ireland's leading ferry company Stena Line has picked up the Best Ferry Company Award at the prestigious Irish Travel Trade Awards in Dublin.

Tom Mulcahy, Stena Line's Business Development Manager, was presented with the award on Stena Line's behalf by Martin Cullen TD, Minister for Transport, at a glittering ceremony which took place at the Burlington Hotel in Dublin and was attended by more than 600 guests and VIPs from the travel industry in Ireland.

It's not just at home that Stena Line has been justifying its 'World's Leading Ferry Company' tag.

The Irish award was hot on the heels of yet more global success at the World Travel Awards in London when the company was named World's Leading Ferry Company for the twelfth year in succession.

And north of the border, Stena Line also scooped the Best Ferry Operator Award for the 13th time in 14 years at the Northern Ireland Travel Trade Awards last October.

Fredrik Lantz, Irish Sea Area Director, is delighted with the company's recent accolades.

"We are very proud to win these awards which are testimony to the hard work and efforts of the entire Stena Line staff," said Fredrik.

"Stena Line is committed to providing customers with the best craft and the best service and we continue to invest in all aspects of our business to ensure that we offer a first class service to all our customers.

"We had a number of challenges last year and we have worked to improve our booking systems and offer even more quality to all our customers and I would like to thank the travel trade for bearing with us and supporting us not only in these awards but throughout the year," he added.

Stena Line is the market leading ferry company on the Irish Sea, offering the biggest fleet (nine vessels) and choice of routes between Ireland and Britain, where it operates a total of five routes including Dublin Port / Dun Laoghaire to Holyhead, Rosslare to Fishguard, Belfast to Stranraer and Larne to Fleetwood. The company carries approximately three million passengers between Ireland and Britain each year, more than its rival ferry operators combined.



Airlines target of plan by Irish Ferries to market themselves as Ireland's low fares ferry company

With their recent difficulties now resolved, Irish Ferries have signalled their intention to pursue a low fares policy on all of their routes to Britain and France.

Having argued for the need to become more competitive, the company intends to pass on to customers the benefits of recent changes in the form of lower ferry fares.

Adopting the style ", the low fares ferry company", Irish Ferries has set its sights on reversing the decline in surface travel experienced in recent years and on winning back business which ferries have lost to air carriers.

Irish Ferries has launched a hard-hitting marketing campaign directly targeting airlines the aim of which is to contrast the savings to be had when travelling by sea with the added convenience of bringing your own car.

A central plank of the campaign will be to highlight the "what you see is what you get" nature of ferry fares in which all taxes are included as distinct from what Irish Ferries terms the "dishonest composition of most air fares which can double in cost when extra taxes and charges are added".

Headline fares currently being promoted by Irish Ferries include a one-way fare to France for car and driver from only EUR99. Motorists who take a return car trip on their direct service to France between 1st June and 31st August next are being offered a FREE return trip to Britain for a car and two adults. Another is a mid week web fare for car plus driver from only EUR59 one way inclusive of taxes, valid for travel up to April 7th on Dublin/Holyhead and Rosslare/Pembroke cruise ferry services.

According to their sales manager Declan Mescall, "The development of new low cost ferry fares will be a feature of Irish Ferries sales approach in the future. Now that we are putting the structures in place, our intention is to offer back the benefits to customers through low fares on all routes. To get the best fare, book early and book on-line" he said.


ISLE OF LEWIS arrived on the Mersey on Sunday evening. She entered the Birkenhead dock system and proceeded to NSL Dry Dock at Bidston.

For those interested in Cal-Mac operations and history you should visit


The RNLI has redesigned its web site at  The site has a  fresh, new look and improved navigation.


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