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


March 25Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, David Billinge, John & Jenny Williamson, Ian Collard and others


RFA ORANGELEAF returned to Manx waters this week for a Memorial service to for the two members of crew who were lost in Douglas Harbour on June 04, 2005. Photo: Jenny Williamson.


The Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA) announced on March 21 that 11 foreign ships were under detention in UK ports during February 2006 after failing Port State Control safety inspection.

Latest monthly figures show that there were 8 new detentions of foreign flagged ships in UK ports during February 2006, along with 3 other ships still under detention from previous months. The number of new detentions compared to last month has decreased by 11% while the overall rate of detentions compared with inspections carried out over the last 12 months is 5.16%, which is a 0.03% decrease on Decembers 12 month rate.

During the month of February 152 Port State Control Inspections were carried out in the UK, which brings the total so far this year to 1676 inspections. For those ships inspected during January a total of 104 vessels had deficiencies raised against them. 66 had between 1 to 5 deficiencies, 25 had between 6 to 10 deficiencies, 7 had between 11 to 20 deficiencies and 6 had more than 20 deficiencies.

1 of the vessels detained in February was registered with a flag state listed on the Paris MOU white list, while the remaining 7 were registered with flag states listed on the Paris MOU black list

3 bulk carriers, 1 refrigerated cargo vessel and 4 general cargo vessels were detained in the UK during January.

Vessels detained in January included the following:

• a 5,983 GT Panamanian flagged general cargo vessel detained in Falmouth for 28 days for inoperative lifeboats and fire dampers, insufficient engine room cleanliness, cargo hatch covers not watertight, uncorrected navigation charts and a complete breakdown of the ships safety management systems. A total of 20 deficiencies were recorded;

• a 498 GT Panamanian flagged general cargo ship detained in Immingham for 3 days with badly corroded poop deck ventilators which could not be made watertight and an inoperative oily water separator. Altogether 17 deficiencies were recorded;

• a 22,530 GT bulk Egyptian flagged carrier detained in Tilbury for 12 days for having no working fire pumps, advanced corrosion between ballast tank bulkheads and a number of inoperative fuel oil quick closing valves, with a total of 49 deficiencies recorded.

Full February Detention List MCGA Web Site.


JEANIE JOHNSTON - the company is expected to announce an operator for the replica emigrant ship at the end of March. The following is a list of events that the ship is provisionally due to attend:

  • Ostend Anchor Belgium May 25th 28th

  • Docklands Maritime Festival Dublin June 3rd -5th

  • Bangor Maritime Festival Bangor June 23rd - 25th

  • Belfast Maritime Festival Belfast July 1st-3rd

  • Glasgow River Festival Glasgow July 15th - 16th

  • Tall Ships Race (2nd Leg) La Coruna/Antwerp Aug 7


DUNBRODY - the replica emigrant ship has been at Cork Dockyard, Rushbrooke for maintenance. A sailing programme is being considered for 2006 and the trust web site indicates that she will be making a trip to Milford Haven.


Sea Containers Ltd announced this week that the company is to delay filing its 10-K annual report with the SEC and has also  announced its intention to withdraw from the ferry business completely. This announcement being made just days after the company's founder and president, James B. Sherwood, announced his retirement.

Sea Containers will take charges for the fourth quarter of 2005 that will reduce its net worth by$475 million. It will thus be out of compliance with various bank borrowing requirements, which must now be renegotiated.

Back in November, 2005, Sea Containers announced it was restructuring its ferry division, and had put Silja Line up for offers. It also announced its intention to sell or charter out several additional ferry vessels and to entertain offers for its SeaStreak ferry operation in New York.

As a result of this restructuring, the company announced an impairment charge of $99 million, of which $19 million was recorded in the 2005 third quarter results. It says these amounts were preliminary and subject to adjustment, based on changes in the restructuring plan. "At the time of the November announcement," says Sea Containers, "it was uncertain whether Silja would be sold and, if so, what price could be obtained for the business. Subsequent to the announcement, the sale process was begun.

Indications of interest and independent valuations of the Silja business were received, and preliminary bids for Silja's core business were received in January."

Sea Containers also announced in November that it had identified specific containers to be sold, obsolete spare parts and manufacturing machinery no longer required and stated that, as a result, it would take an asset impairment charge of $30 million.

As a result of the proposed Silja sale, the management of the company began to consider the possibility of withdrawing completely from the ferry business and "engaged in the process of evaluating the recoverability of all of its long-lived ferry assets." It also "began a process to evaluate the recoverability of all of its container assets."

At a board meeting on March 20, 2006, management proposals were approved as result of which the company will recognize a non-cash pre-tax charge of approximately $500 million in the fourth quarter 2005, which includes the previously estimated fourth quarter 2005 impairment charge of $112 million. Of the $500 million, approximately $415 million relates to the ferry business, and $85 million to the container business.

Sea Containers says it has obtained an indication of the range of sales prices likely to be achieved for the Silja business, which will now be classified as "held for sale" at December 31, 2005; the related assets will be written down to fair value, less cost to sell. The operations of the Silja business, including related impairments, will be presented as discontinued operations in the company's 2005 financial statements.

Because of the possibility of withdrawing completely from the ferry business, it was more likely than not at December 31, 2005 that there would be disposals of the company's other six vessels in the ferry division prior to the end of their previously estimated useful lives. For this reason, an impairment review of these vessels was undertaken and impairment charges will be recorded on these vessels at December 31, 2005.

The total impairment of ferry assets to be recorded in the fourth quarter 2005 is estimated to be approximately $415 million on a pre-tax basis. The write-down is non-cash in nature. Subsequent to its November announcement, the company has identified additional containers being held for sale at December 31, 2005, which has increased the previously estimated charge to approximately $40 million. The expected loss on these sales initiated an impairment review on the Company's entire container fleet.

This review was done at a container-class level and determined that the carrying amount of one class of containers, refrigerated containers, was not fully recoverable. It has been estimated that an impairment charge will be recognized on these containers of approximately $40 million. In addition, $5 million of goodwill relating to container operations will be written off.

The total impairment of container assets to be recorded in the fourth quarter 2005 is thus estimated to be approximately $85 million on a pre-tax basis. The write-down is non-cash in nature.

The asset impairment charges will reduce the company's net worth by approximately $475 million a, with the result that it will not be able to comply with certain net worth covenants in certain of its bank borrowing agreements. Sea Containers says it is currently in discussions with the bank lenders regarding appropriate covenant waivers or amendments. and that professional advisors have been appointed to assist it.

On March 20, 2006, the Sea Containers concluded that it would restate its condensed consolidated financial statements for the three months ended March 31, 2005, the six months ended June 30, 2005 and the nine months ended September 30, 2005 to correct the accounting related to the sale in March 2005 of shares in its Orient-Express Hotels investment, which was accounted for in the company's financial statements in accordance with the equity method of accounting. The correction reduces the gain on the sale of Orient-Express Hotels shares by $10.3 million for the three months ended March 31, 2005, the six months ended June 30, 2005 and the nine months ended September 30, 2005 from the previously reported $41.1 million to $30.8 million. The company says the correction is "the result of an error in the accounting for the release of accumulated foreign currency exchange reserves related to this equity method investment. The change increases net losses in these periods, but has no impact on previously reported shareholders' equity and is a non-cash charge."

As a result of the correction, says Sea Containers, "the condensed consolidated financial statements for the interim periods ended March 31, 2005, June 30, 2005 and September 30, 2005, previously filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, should no longer be relied upon."

Sea Containers says it expects to reflect the effects of these restatements in the comparative unaudited quarterly financial statements presented in its consolidated financial statements for the year ended December 31, 2005 and in the comparative financial information for March 31, 2005, June 30, 2005 and September 30, 2005 which will be included in the company's quarterly reports on Form 10-Q during 2006.

Robert MacKenzie, President and Chief Executive of Sea Containers, said, "The additional write-downs announced today reflect decisions made by the Sea Containers Board following a rigorous management-driven process of analyzing the company's businesses, in the light of changing market conditions, recent trading performance and with a focus on future sustainable cash flows. Our objective is to reduce the central cost structure and direct management attention on the core independent businesses of marine container leasing, including GE SeaCo, and our GNER rail franchise. The Board will continue to review opportunities for the disposal of its non-core activities. "We are in dialogue with the company's banks in order to amend or waive compliance with covenants. Management has been encouraged by the initial response from these institutions to work with us to resolve these matters. "At a commercial level there is progress. Silja's core business has attracted a range of highly qualified bidders with the second round of bids due shortly. Indications are that a sale of the core business can be completed in the second quarter, with the sale of most or all of the remaining ferry assets contemplated during the course of the year.

"The filing of the Company's 2005 Form 10-K annual report with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission will be delayed into April in order to allow adequate time to resolve the various bank covenant issues and finalize outstanding accounting matters. The report will be filed as soon as practicable," he concluded.

March 22Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Ian Collard and "others"


The BEN-MY-CHREE has been observed to have sustained a significant amount of damage to her port side bridge wing after she arrived at NSL Bidston for her refit.

It is not yet clear what caused the damage, though your web master concludes that there are really only two possible structures in the Birkenhead Dock area which would be in such close proximity at that height and which the ship would have had to pass very close to! [Photo: Ian Collard]


HSS STENA EXPLORER - Stena Line has announced plans to introduce a revised timetable for its High Speed Service (HSS) operating between Dun Laoghaire and Holyhead.

Commenting Vic Goodwin, Stena Line’s Route Director for the Dun Laoghaire – Holyhead and Dublin – Holyhead Route said:

"Our Central Corridor services have developed well over the last few years but we have some significant challenges in front of us which we must address sooner rather than later. These include a decline in tourist volumes as a consequence of the competition from low cost airlines and other ferry operators and, more importantly, very high fuel costs, which have doubled in the last 18 months. The HSS is an expensive craft to operate and we must ensure that we have the optimum timetable for the future."

Whilst freight growth has been very good, the number of tourists using Stena Line’s services has fallen by around 8% over the last year. Stena Line currently operates two round trips a day of the Superferry, the

STENA ADVENTURER, which was introduced in 2003 to meet the demands of a growing Freight market between Dublin and Holyhead and does not plan to make any changes to this schedule.

The HSS STENA EXPLORER operates between Dun Laoghaire and Holyhead and currently does three round trips per day all year round.

The Company plan to work towards a two round trip operation of the STENA EXPLORER all year round from September 25, 2006. It will be phasing in a reduction in voyages from the May 2 2006 by running a two-round trip timetable on Monday – Thursday inclusive and a three round trips on Friday, Saturday and Sundays.

Vic Goodwin commented: "We will still have a unique combination with the STENA ADVENTURER and HSS STENA EXPLORER doing two round trips per day, as both vessels can carry tourist and freight traffic. We will also retain the flexibility to increase trips of the HSS STENA EXPLORER when this is needed. Our revised timetable also gives customers the flexibility to use the STENA ADVENTURER for one leg and the HSS STENA EXPLORER for the other. With this in mind, we have invested €750,000 to build a new Stena Plus Lounge on the Stena Adventurer and make improvements to our Food City area so that we can provide our guests with excellent facilities and service standards on both of our vessels. The new facilities on board the STENA ADVENTURER will be ready by the end of March 2006. We are also introducing new facilities ashore for our Tourist Guests at our Dublin Terminal".

The revised HSS STENA EXPLORER timetable can be found on the Stena Line web site.


The RMT Union expressed deep concern at the threat to jobs posed by the decision by Stena to cut sailings between Holyhead and Dublin from three to two per day, and warned that compulsory redundancies would be resisted.

"Stena have assured us that they have no intention of attacking the terms and conditions of our members and that they hope to avoid redundancies by redeploying staff," RMT general secretary Bob Crow said today.

"Those assurances are of course welcome and we hope we can secure our members' jobs through constructive dialogue.

"However, we should also make it clear that any suggestion of compulsory redundancies will be resisted, with industrial action if necessary," Bob Crow said.


Calf prices look set to increase as live export capacity on the Celtic Link ferry is to be increased by six loads per week from March 21.

Following negotiations with the Department of Agriculture, the Celtic Link service which operates the former P&O ship DIPLOMAT [ex EUROPEAN DIPLOMAT] has increased its live export capacity by an extra two livestock loads per sailing.

The new arrangement will see 20 loads of cattle on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday sailings, up from 18 loads per sailing.

The increased capacity would probably not be fully utilised in the first weeks, because extra lorries are scarce, said a spokesperson for Celtic Link.

However, as the demand for export increases in April and May, the company will cater for as many loads as possible, he said.

A successful trial run of the higher stocked ferry was carried out on the 21:00 sailing on Thursday, accompanied by Department of Agriculture veterinary officers.

Castleisland mart manager Richard Hartnett said the increase in capacity was very welcome and would ensure that the calf trade would be at peak volume for the next month. The extra capacity also would mean that the booking system for the ferry would be fairer for everyone, he said. "It seemed to be the case for a long time that the booking depended more on who you were than anything else," he said.

Demand is quite strong for calves at present, despite several ferry sailings being cancelled due to the weather conditions in recent weeks. Small Friesian calves and the plainer Holstein-types are going to Holland while the Spanish market is taking stronger, older type calves.

Friesian bull calves on offer at Blessington mart on Thursday sold for between ˆ75 and ˆ190/hd while Continental bulls sold for ˆ220-350.

The Irish farmer customers were buying good quality British Friesian bull calves and Continental calves but they must be at least one-month-old before the Irish customer will buy them, said Mr Hartnett.

The extra capacity should at least stabilise the calf trade and could see prices firming up during April and May. However, with the ban on calf exports due to be reviewed in April, Dutch buyers may look to England as a source of extra calves. [Irish Independent].


The Port of Larne has joined forces with the Larne Community Policing Team, the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service and the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service to bring a life-saving initiative to the local area.

"Message in The Bottle" is a very simple but effective scheme which gives emergency services immediate access to vital medical and personal information, thus saving valuable time when dealing with an emergency situation.

The Port of Larne has provided funding to purchase 10,000 specially designed bottles, containing a "Message in The Bottle" form and stickers which are recognised by the emergency services. Sick and elderly people are encouraged to complete the form which includes details of medical conditions, emergency contact details, doctor's details etc., place it in their fridge and put the Message in The Bottle sticker on the door. The emergency services, who will look for the sticker, will then have immediate access to this information.

Mr Keith Millar, Managing Director, Port of Larne, explains the company's involvement in the scheme: "The Port of Larne is committed to supporting initiatives which have a direct benefit to the local community. Precious time can be lost if the emergency services do not have immediate access to vital information. By bringing the Message in The Bottle Scheme to Larne, the Port of Larne is helping to address this. If we can save just one life through the Message in The Bottle scheme, then this initiative will be a success."

The "Message in The Bottle" scheme is initially aimed at the elderly, people living on their own, people with specific medical conditions or allergies / vulnerable persons. Anyone who falls within these categories is encouraged to get involved with the scheme which is completely free of charge.

PSNI Inspector Noel Rogan comments: "Often when the emergency services are responding to a situation, a few minutes can make the difference between life and death. By having immediate access to key information, I believe that lives can and will be saved. I would appeal to those eligible for this scheme to get involved."

The Message in The Bottle scheme originated in Canada but is now widely used throughout England and Wales. Lady Sylvia Hermon MP, Ulster Unionist Home Affairs Spokesperson, has called on the government to make this scheme available throughout Northern Ireland: "The simplicity of this scheme is what makes it so effective and I have no doubt that lives are being saved in the areas where it is available. I would like to wholeheartedly commend the Port of Larne for bringing this scheme to the Larne Borough and would appeal to the Northern Ireland Office to follow its lead to make Message in The Bottle available right across Northern Ireland."

Bottles will be available from a variety of local outlets including PSNI, Larne Borough Community Safety Partnership, Doctors' Surgeries, Post-Offices, Church Groups, the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service, Home First Community Trust, the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue, Housing Executive and the Larne Home Safety Committee.


One of the major characters of the shipping world is stepping down from the company he created 41 years ago.

Sea Containers announced on March 21 that its founder and Chairman, Mr James B Sherwood, has retired from the company's board and all subsidiaries and affiliates of the company with effect from March 20, 2006.

Mr Sherwood, 72, founded Sea Containers in 1965 and served as the company's President and Chief Executive Officer until October, 2005 when he was hospitalized. He assumed the chair upon his return to work in December, 2005 and played an active role in recruiting a new President and Chief Executive Officer, Mr Robert MacKenzie, who joined at the beginning of January 2006.

During the months of January, February and March, 2006 Mr Sherwood sought to arrange a smooth transition of duties to Mr MacKenzie, a process which is now complete.

In announcing his retirement Mr Sherwood said "It is, of course, difficult for me to sever links with the company I founded and managed for so many years. I also serve as Chairman in an executive capacity of Orient-Express Hotels Ltd., a company which formerly was a subsidiary of Sea Containers. In November, 2005 Sea Containers successfully sold its remaining 25% shareholding in Orient-Express Hotels which has necessitated a complete separation of the two companies. The demands on my time from Orient-Express Hotels have been increasing as that company rapidly expands, and it became clear that I could not continue to serve both it and Sea Containers effectively, especially in light of my age and health.

"Sea Containers faces a number of challenges at present and I have found the demands on the chairmanship to be heavy, reinforcing my decision to step down. Mr Robert M Riggs, 72, a director of Sea Containers for 30 years, has agreed to assume the chair in my place. He has served on the board of managers of GE SeaCo, the company's joint venture with GE Capital, for a number of years. Mr Riggs has had a long career as partner in the respected Wall Street legal firm of Carter, Ledyard & Milburn".

Mr Sherwood said that another reason for his decision to step down was that the new management team was bound to have different views on the conduct of the company's affairs and he wanted to ensure they had free rein to solve problems and grow the business.

He thanked all the officers and staff who had shown dedication to him and the company over so many years.



The two ships originally built for Merchant Ferries proposed Liverpool to Belfast service, but which instead went on to serve the new Norfolk Line cross channel service are off to join their older sisters on the Mediterranean.

Trasmed is to charter the NORTHERN MERCHANT and MIDNIGHT MERCHANT for the Barcelona - Palma route.

The ex DAWN MERCHANT now operates that route as PAU CASALS for Balearia and the ex BRAVE MERCHANT now operates on the same service as the BLANCA DEL MAR for Iscomar.

March 18Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Michael Bracken, Michael Pryce and "others"



BEN-MY-CHREE will sail to NSL Bidston after completing her 14:15 sailing from Heysham on Sunday. Freight cover will be provided by CFF SEINE (ex-DART 1) whilst SUPERSEACAT TWO will provide passenger services on the Heysham route.

Work on the BEN-MY-CHREE is expected to take two weeks to complete. The engine overhaul and general

interior refurbishment will be undertaken by Northwestern Shiprepairers at Bidston Dock, Birkenhead.

In addition to her engine overhaul the on board work will include a refurbishment of the main passenger lounge, upgrading of the catering outlets and an extension and refurbishment of the popular Blue Riband lounge. The twenty passenger cabins will be refurbished and enhanced with a DVD entertainment facility whilst the very popular `quiet lounge' will be complemented with a self service catering outlet.

The following appeared in the Carlisle News and Star this week:

A bid to record the fastest ferry crossing between Whitehaven and the Isle of Man has been postponed after the vessel was needed elsewhere.

The SuperSeaCat II (sic) was due to come into the port later this month for the fastest ferry crossing attempt but is now being sent to cover for a ferry which is out of action.

Whitehaven Harbour Master Neil Foskett hopes the attempt - which organisers say would take one-and-a-half hours - can be rescheduled.

Ferry crossings have always been popular between the town and Douglas in the Isle of Man and the SuperSeaCat II usually takes two hours. Mr Foskett said: "Logistically we were hoping the crossing was going to be at the end of the month.

"The SuperSeaCat II is so big - about 110 metres long - that she was going to have to go on the north pier. But because another of the Isle of Man Steam Packet ferries have now had to undergo some engineering maintenance work, the Sea Cat is having to be used elsewhere."

A spokesman from the Isle of Man Steam packet company said they hoped to reschedule the trip.

Whitehaven's Maritime Festival has been rebranded to reflect its international status after attracting a record 265,000 people from around the world last year. To emphasise its international status the festival committee has now  officially branded it as the Whitehaven International Maritime Festival.


The Western Morning News reported on March 18 that a cargo vessel with a long history of safety breaches has broken down for a second time in a week trying to sail from a West Country port. The 6,000-tonne Panama-registered Saruna has been held in Falmouth for a month after a catalogue of defects were found on board by an inspector from the Maritime and Coastguard Agency.

One coastguard officer who inspected the 400ft Romanian-owned carrier described it as the worst ship he had seen in 28 years.

Campaigners dubbed it a "ship of shame" after it emerged it was the eighth time in seven years the vessel had been detained for serious deficiencies.


The sympathetic restoration of a redundant naval supplies yard beside the River Tamar in Plymouth has been praised by English Heritage. The Royal William Yard is featured in a new English Heritage book, Shared Interest, as one of the 30 best heritage-led schemes in the country.

The yard, in the Stonehouse area of the city, was built during the 1820s and 1830s as a "food factory" where naval boats would be loaded with supplies before setting out to sea. It is one of only two such complexes in the world, with a grandeur which reflects the confidence of the nation during the 19th Century.

It has been a Grade I listed building since 1966, and finally closed as a naval supplies yard in 1999.

Over the past few years, innovative developer Urban Splash has converted the Clarence and Brewhouse buildings on the site into flats and shops, cafes and businesses.

The architects, Acanthus Ferguson Mann, have made a virtue of the buildings' small windows, thick walls and heavy use of cast iron to create stylish living spaces, overlooking Plymouth Sound and the Tamar. Ninety of the 130 flats in the Clarence Building sold on the first day they were available.

Robert Bewley, English Heritage regional director for the South West, said: "Royal William Yard is an exemplary scheme that shows what can be gained from seeing the historic environment as a positive asset.

"Adapting some of the finest old architecture for new, modern uses secures the future of our most valuable buildings and, when done with high-quality design and appropriate materials, also improves the local environment for the people who live and work nearby."

Jason Collard, managing director of Urban Splash South West, said: "This project is a triumph of co-operation. Our combined efforts have produced a result of which we can all be justifiably proud


The historic warships at Birkenhead have received another set back this week which has seen the vessels HMS BRONINGTON, HMS ONYX, HMS PLYMOUTH  and LCT 7074 abandoned. Submarine U534 remains in private ownership.

Receivers Parkin S. Booth appointed to wind up the affairs of the Warships Trust have disclaimed the ships. As with abandoned assets ownership passes to the Crown. The final fate of the vessels may now be decided by the local authority.

The former Liverpool Bar lightship PLANET which was berthed with the collection was moved this week to the former McTay fitting out Quay in the East Float.



LAGAN VIKING and MERSEY VIKING have swapped routes with DUBLIN VIKING and LIVERPOOL VIKING - the new ships now operating to Dublin. The change is expected to be long term and is believed to be due to technical problems when using the original Vikings - DUBLIN VIKING and LIVERPOOL VIKING at the Dublin terminal.


The saga of the Fleetwood to Knott End ferry continues - the following appearing on the Blackpool Today web site:

Traders in Knott End claimed there was never any intention of starting the new ferry service to Fleetwood ahead of the summer tourist season.

Villagers believe Wyre Council always intended to resume services across the River Wyre at Easter rather than last autumn as originally suggested. The £500,000 service has been beset by a long line of delays due to the construction of the new craft and modifications to the landing stages.

Bob Stevens, landlord at the Bourne Arms Hotel in Bourne May Road, the closest pub to the ferry slipway, said: "We will see it up and running in April. "I don't think there has been any intention of running it before that date. "We keep looking out for work being done, but nothing seems to be happening."

Steve Taylor, owner of the Knott End Cafe, next to the ferry dock, agrees. He said: "It has been a long time now since people on this side of the river believed what the council say about the ferry. "I'm not suggesting that it will never run, but I think it will be Easter before we see any service. Mr Taylor believes when it is up and running the new ferry will provide a major boost for Knott End. He said: "I think what has put people off is the fact it was never a reliable service. "Hopefully the new service will end that uncertainty and bring a boost to our trade."

Lancashire County Council spent £500,000 on a new ferry boat and improvements to landings at Knott End and Fleetwood. The Wyre Council denied it was purposefully delaying the launch of the service, blaming a series of problems for the delay. A spokesman said: "It was always our hope to see the ferry running right through the winter period so the demand for a winter service could be tested. "We regret this has not been possible because a number of factors have delayed the readiness of the new ferry vessel. "Work is currently being completed to make the Fleetwood ferry dock more user friendly. The work to enhance the dock is scheduled to finish later this month by which time the boat itself should be ready to run."


Karen Buck, Minister for Local Transport, announced this week a £2.01 million in funding for a major renovation of six quays on the Isles of Scilly.

The quays are on the islands of St Martin's, St Agnes, Bryher and Tresco. They are used by the small ferries that connect these islands with the main island of St Mary's. The work will involve major repairs to the Victorian quays as well as widening and lengthening of the quays to improve safety.

It will also provide new seawalls, separate freight handling and passenger embarkation areas, shelters for waiting passengers and facilities for the disabled.

Karen Buck said:

"This is good news for the Isles of Scilly. Ferries are the buses and trucks of the islands, and this scheme will provide both operators and passengers with better facilities.

"Local people will see other benefits as the works will enable an improved ferry service to be provided, not only for tourism and agriculture, but also for all the everyday services that islanders rely upon".

The Department for Transport contributed to this scheme along with the Duchy of Cornwall and the Tresco Estate.


James Fisher has accompanied impressive growth in underlying annual profits with a ‘clearing the decks’ exercise which effectively caps the UK marine services group’s exposure to its unwanted cable ship business.

Fisher’s after tax profit from continuing operations jumped 32% to £10.7m ($18.6m) from £8.1m in 2004 and the group is confident about the outlook in the current year.

The stock market reacted positively to the trading results, which were ahead of expectations, lifting the shares 11.75p to 448.5p.

Looking ahead, chairman Tim Harris said markets remained strong and Fisher was well placed to generate “significant” organic growth in 2006 and beyond.

The group also had “the financial strength” to continue its acquisition strategy when the right opportunities arose.

“Overall, we have confidence in our core business to grow profits strongly for our shareholders,” Mr Harris said.

This year, Fisher’s marine oil services division (formerly tank ships) would experience an 8% increase in capacity thanks to its new building programme and earnings “should improve at least proportionately”.

Moreover, Fisher will have a full year’s contribution from FenderCare, acquired last March, and a first time input from the purchase of marine equipment supplier Monyana, which was completed last December.

The group’s optimism is underlined by a 15% increase in the final dividend to 5.69p per share, lifting the total from 8.79p from 7.72p.

Fisher is drawing a line under its non-core cableships division, which is now being treated as a discontinued business, by writing down the value of the remaining vessel Oceanic Princess by £10.9m.

Oceanic Princess is now in the accounts at about $14m and Mr Harris said the group expected to rake in at least that amount when the vessel was sold, probably by the end of the year.

Fisher sold its other cable layer, Oceanic Pearl, for $20m in October, incurring a book loss of £9.9m.

After taking into account a trading profit of £4.5m and discounted 2006 charter payments of £3.4m, Fisher absorbed a one-off charge of £12.9m on the cableships. As a result, Fisher suffered a net loss including discontinued operations of £2.19m against a profit of £11.98m in 2004.

Earnings per share from continuing operations advanced 41% to 21.84p from 15.47p.

When cableships are included, there is a loss per share of 4.5p against earnings of 24.82p.

Last year was a watershed for Fisher, and not only because of the cable ship issue being laid to rest. It was the first time marine support services accounted for more than half 57% of group operating profit from continuing operations, after growing 34% to £8.76m from £6.52m.

Mr Harris described 2005 as the year when “the transformation of James Fisher from a traditional shipping company into a marine services company came to fruition”.

Marine oil services suffered a marginal fall in profits to £6.7m from £6.9m due to a 7% drop in capacity as older tankers were sold.

Fisher’s operating cash flow increased to £20.57m from £17.71m.

And while net gearing rose to 54% from 44%, this was after the cable ships write down and a pensions deficit of £13.5m. [Lloyds List]

March 15Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Ian Collard, Alex McCormac, Michael Pryce, Pugwash and "others".


SUPERSEACAT TWO departed from NSL Birkenhead on Monday March 13 following an extensive refit at NSL Birkenhead.

However, for some strange reason the company announced in its press release that the work was undertaken at NSL Bidston. One would expect them to know which ship yard was used!

SSC2 is due to enter service on March 17, 2006. The press release claims a major refurbishment of the passenger areas which include a superb café/bar at the aft end of the craft. (Sounds like a reversion to the ship's original layout in 1998 when all catering was at the stern.)

Regular passengers will welcome the news that there has been a complete refurbishment of toilet facilities which during the 2004 / 2005 season  had been the source of unpleasant odours which had permeated parts of the vessel!

Additionally improved access for wheelchairs is being provided. First class has been separated from the Blue Riband lounge providing an increase in capacity in both areas.

The twice daily summer service to and from Liverpool will commence on April 07.

SEA EXPRESS I returned to Birkenhead for lay-up on Wednesday March 15 entering the wet basin at NSL Birkenhead.

BEN-MY-CHREE is expected to dry dock for refit at NSL on Monday March 20.

CFF SEINE is reported to have departed Southampton bound for Heysham, presumably to provide cover for the BEN.



Passenger figures compiled by the Harbours Division for February 2006 at 21,754 show a 4.4% increase on the figure for the same period in 2005 which was 20,830.

The year to date figure at 39,399 passengers shows a 4.5% increase over the same period in 2005 which was 37,698.

During February car and motorcycle traffic through Douglas Harbour increased by 4.1% from 6,787 vehicles to 7,068 vehicles.

The year to date figure at 13,148 vehicles shows a 4.6% increase over the same period in 2005 which was 12,566.

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


Minus 1%






Plus 19%





Director of Harbours, Captain Michael Brew comments:

“The positive trend seen in January continues into February with growth in both passenger and vehicle numbers. The all year round use of the Fast craft on the Liverpool route seems to have been well received.”


COSTA MAGICA: The Taoiseach has ordered an Irish Government investigation into the death of teenager Lynsey O'Brien, who fell overboard to her death from a cruise ship.

Bertie Ahern requested that the Department of Foreign Affairs undertake a full inquiry after he was contacted last week by Lynsey's father, Paul O'Brien.

Mr O'Brien sent a file to the Taoiseach outlining his concerns about passenger safety and legal protection on board cruise ships.

He says the ships are "floating countries without any laws to guide them" and wants the "antiquated" marine laws updated to prevent any other children dying in the same kind of circumstances as 15-year-old Lynsey.

A spokesperson for the Taoiseach's office said: "Mr Ahern only just received the file this week.

"On its receipt, he ordered the Department of Foreign Affairs to carry out a full investigation into the situation."

The Dept of Foreign Affairs told the Sunday Independent yesterday that it was doing everything it can to help the O'Brien family from Terenure, Dublin, in their quest for justice.

Spokesman Brendan O Caollai said: "One of our young nationals died on board a cruise ship. We are taking this case very seriously."

However, Lynsey's distraught father feels that the family has been let down by Irish politicians.

He said last night: "Nobody has done anything for us. The US authorities have been helpful, but our own have been useless.

"I sent a file to Bertie Ahern and he did not even have the courtesy to reply."

He said the only leading political figure who sent him a letter of condolence was President Mary McAleese.

The exact circumstances surrounding Lynsey's death on January 5 last have been subject to wild speculation.

What is known is that she had downed a cocktail of drinks in the bar of the cruise ship Costa Magica.

Her parents Paul and Sandra discovered her in a drunken state and put her to bed, saying they would deal with her drinking in the morning.

But they had no sooner entered their bedroom next door when they heard Lynsey's little sister screaming for help.

They maintain that Lynsey had been getting sick over the bedroom balcony when she fell overboard. The ship was travelling off the Mexican coast at the time.

However, the circumstances of her death have been subject to wild and hurtful speculation.

Discussion boards on websites have messages posted from those who were on board the ship and they claim they heard Lynsey's sister say that her sister had jumped overboard.

Her family are said to be very annoyed and distressed at such stories which claimed she had been swinging from the balcony.

A total of 15 people worldwide have gone missing from cruise ships over the past two years. The missing include newlywed George Smith, 26, who disappeared last July while on a Mediterranean honeymoon cruise with his wife.

And married couple Hae Pham and Hue Tran vanished while their ship travelled between Barbados and Aruba. Merrion Carver disappeared while onboard a cruise two years ago.


Caledonian  MacBrayne  has announced an extension to the summer  timetable  service  on  its Ballycastle-Rathlin Island route. The summer  service will be introduced on 31 March 2006, a month earlier than in previous years.

The move follows discussions with interested parties, including the local communities on Rathlin Island and in Ballycastle and the Northern Ireland Department for Regional Development, and aims to boost tourism traffic to Rathlin  Island  between  April  and  June.  As  Rathlin  is historically significant as well as being a renowned wildlife destination, it is hoped that a new key market for the Spring period will be school parties within Northern Ireland.

CalMac’s  Managing  Director,  Lawrie  Sinclair  said “We’re committed to developing Rathlin Island’s potential as a tourism destination as well as maintaining  the  lifeline  service we provide for the Rathlin islanders. The  extension  of  the  timetable  will  enhance the lifeline service we provide   and  hopefully  make  Rathlin  more  accessible  for  visitors, particularly for new target markets”.

Caledonian  MacBrayne  has  operated the Ballycastle-Rathlin Island route since  1995  and  the  Company  was  recently awarded an extension to its contract to operate the service until the beginning of April 2007.


The saga continues .....

On Monday March 13, Scottish Executive Transport Minister Tavish Scott outlined the efforts underway to try and identify a possible operator for a ferry service between Campbeltown and Ballycastle.

Though none of the four original bidders submitted tenders for the route, the Minister said in an answer to a Parliamentary question that work would continue to see if a suitable operator could be identified under this competition.

Mr Scott also said that any potential operator would have to meet the qualification criteria and their proposals would have to comply fully with the terms set out in the Invitation to Tender.

He said: "A ferry service linking Campbeltown and Ballycastle would create new opportunities for business and tourism between Argyll and Moyle.

"This devolved government is committed to working with our colleagues in the Northern Ireland administration, as well as both local communities, to try and identify potential ferry operators who could restore this important link between Scotland and Northern Ireland.

"Any company considering taking over the route will have to meet the qualification criteria set for the competition and comply fully with the terms set out in the Invitation to Tender."

The full text of the PQ which the Minister answered today is:


To ask the Scottish Executive to set out the steps it is taking in co-operation with the Northern Ireland administration to attract an operator to run a ferry service between Campbeltown and Ballycastle.


The Scottish Executive in co-operation with the Northern Ireland administration initiated a tendering exercise in 2005 for a subsidised public service contract to operate a passenger and vehicle ferry service between Campbeltown in Argyll and Ballycastle in Antrim, Northern Ireland.

Following a pre-qualification exercise, an Invitation to Tender was issued to four companies on 20 September requesting submission of tenders by January 10, 2006. The Executive was disappointed that no tenders were submitted.

The Scottish Executive has reviewed the reasons for this outcome and has also investigated whether there are any options available which would allow reinstatement of the service within the terms of the 2005-06 tender. The main terms of the tender were a five year contract offering a service for 11 months of the year with a maximum annual grant of one million pounds per year for a passenger and vehicle ferry service between the two ports.

The Executive is aware of the strong support for the reinstatement of the service voiced in both Kintyre and Antrim and of the local disappointment at the outcome of the tendering process. The Executive has therefore agreed with the Northern Ireland administration that a final effort should be made to identify any potential ferry operator interested in submitting a tender to provide the service under a negotiated procedure. The procurement rules permit this provided that the operator meets the original qualification criteria for the competition and that the tender complies fully with the original terms of the Invitation to Tender issued for this exercise.

These investigations will require time to pursue and it is not possible to place a precise timescale on them in advance, but every effort will be made to establish the position as soon as practicable.


A Belgian-managed general cargo ship was towed to safety on Sunday after developing engine trouble off the coast of Northern Ireland. The Russian crewed SESAM (1,768 dwt, 1981) contacted the Maritime and Coastguard Agency at around 13:00.

Tugs were sought locally, but none was capable of handling a vessel of this size in force seven winds. The vessel was eventually towed into Belfast Lough by the Commissioners of Irish Lights Tender GRANUAILE with all crew reported safe.

An MCA official commented: "We are very grateful to the Commissioners of the Irish Lights in releasing this very capable vessel to assist us in this incident."

Lifeboats from Donaghdee and Larne were tasked to assist but were not required.


HSS STENA EXPLORER has resumed service on the Holyhead - Dún Laoghaire service which has been suspended for one month following damage sustained to the vessel on striking a submerged object when entering Holyhead Harbour during mid February.


Following the recent sinking of George's Landing Stage, Irish Sea Shipping understands that there is a possibility that Mersey Ferries services may transfer from the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company's Prince's Stage to a temporary "landing stage" in a few weeks time. The use of this temporary stage may be restricted to use in fair weather conditions only.

March 11Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Ian Collard, Tommy Dover, Brain Chambers, River Spy and "others".



SUPERSEACAT TWO is scheduled to resume sailings on the 08:00 sailing on Friday March 17, 2006.


The Isle of Man Department of Transport figures for traffic through Douglas harbour for the months of December and January were published on March 10.

Passenger figures compiled by the Harbours Division for December 2005 at 26,659 show a 0.2% increase on the figure for the same period in 2004 which was 26,607.

The total figure for 2005 at 596,397 passengers shows a 6.1% decrease over the total for 2004 which was 635,083.

During December car traffic through Douglas Harbour increased by 2.1% from 8,495 vehicles to 8,673 vehicles.

The total figure for 2005 at 172,126 vehicles shows a 0.4% decrease over the total for 2004 which was 172,827.

Scheduled Routes show the following changes in passenger numbers for December






Minus 37%




Plus 2%




Minus 1%



For 2005 scheduled routes show the following changes in passenger numbers:-






Minus 39%




Minus 36%




Plus 73%








Minus 7%




Plus 57%




Minus 44%




All plus




All plus




All plus



Director of Harbours, Captain Michael Brew comments:

“A disappointing first half to the year has been offset to an extent by growth in the second half. Total passenger traffic is lower than the highs of 2003, possibly due to the increased competition .”

Passenger figures compiled by the Harbours Division for January 2006 at 17,645 show a 4.6% increase on the figure for the same period in 2005 which was 16,868.

During January car traffic through Douglas Harbour increased by 5.2% from 5,779 vehicles to 6,080 vehicles.

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






Plus 9%




Minus 4%



Director of Harbours, Captain Michael Brew comments:

“A positive start to 2006 with growth in both passenger and vehicle numbers.”


EXPRESS - the 2006 season begins on March 15 offering the fastest crossings between Ireland and Scotland on the Larne - Cairnryan at only one hour and also two hour crossings on the Troon route.


Services recommenced on Thursday March 09 with ferries using the northern most section of the Prince's Stage.


Departing NSL Birkenhead #4 Dry Dock on Saturday March 11 was tug Canada. Arriving at #4 on Monday morning will be GRAMPIAN SUPPORTER and GRAMPIAN PIONEER



A cargo vessel with a catalogue of defects has been detained in the West Country for the third time in less than a month.

The Saruna was detained yet again on March 08 after an inspection revealed engine faults.

The 6,000 tonne, 400ft vessel had been leaving Falmouth on Saturday afternoon at around 15:00 on a one-way journey to Romania where repairs were to be carried out but the beleaguered vessel ran aground as she made her way into the English Channel when she developed engine trouble.

The Panamanian-registered ship was refloated before being towed back into Falmouth harbour.

On Tuesday, a team of divers inspected the vessel's hull confirming  the ship had not suffered any damage.

Following an engine room inspection by a team from the Maritime Coastguard Agency the engines were found to be "inoperable and unreliable".

Fred Caygill, spokesman for the Agency said the ship had been redetained.

He said: "It is up to the ship's owners to carry out repairs to the engines to the satisfaction of the Maritime Coastguard Agency.

"Only then will the ship be allowed to leave for a one-way journey to the Romanian shipyard where further repairs can be carried out."


At 05:00 on March 08, Falmouth Coastguard were contacted by the tug GOLIATH reporting that their had tow had parted.

The tug GOLIATH subsequently managed to secure an emergency tow line onto the vessel which also parted.

Falmouth Coastguard dispatched the Coastguard tug ANGLIAN PRINCESS to go and assist the Goliath in her efforts to re-secure the barge.

Penlee RNLI lifeboat was also requested to launch to standby the vessels as personnel were transferred to the barge.

The weather conditions on scene was reported as westerly F7 to gale force 8 with a rough sea and a heavy swell.

Neil Oliver, Falmouth Coastguard said:

"The Coastguard tug managed to secure a line aboard the barge, after transferring a crew member from the tug Goliath to secure the tow in very difficult sea conditions.

The barge has now been safely towed to shelter in Mounts Bay where the Goliath will be able to effect repairs."


Up to 90 jobs - half the workforce - could go at the DML Appledore shipyard which is fighting for a Government contract that would give it a vital boost. The consultation period has begun on the 90 jobs at Appledore Shipyard, where about 180 people currently work.

The shipyard is managed by DML, the owner of Devonport Royal Dockyard at Plymouth, which announced yesterday that it had begun the formal redundancy process.

The company said that the 90 job losses would probably come in from early April onwards because of a gap in orders following the completion of a large super yacht hull later this month. The firm has tendered for a patrol vessel for the Scottish Fisheries Protection Agency, which would provide continuity of work for all staff for the next two years. But there are fears that political horse trading between the Government and the Scottish executive could see the order being placed with a Scottish yard.

Stuart Fagan, of the GMB union, said: "We are still waiting very much on the decision of the Scottish executive in relation to the fisheries vessel. We know there is not a lot of work planned after the current boat floats out in a couple of weeks. We believe that this is a case of the firm starting the procedure rolling, but hopefully we shall not see Appledore Shipyard in the situation of making 90 people redundant."



Traffic in the bay included the containership COASTAL BREEZE northbound for Dublin from Cardiff, DEFENDER (2)southbound, CLYDE FISHER northbound for Dublin from Milford Haven, WERDER BREMEN, ARKLOW RIVER, VINGATANK, VICTRESS, CLONMORE, CLYDE FISHER, COASTAL WAVE and HMS MANCHESTER out of Dublin.

Tenby's new Tamar class lifeboat HAYDN MILLER called to the port for a quick visit on Thursday afternoon .


The Tamer class lifeboat HAYDN MILLER made a night stopover in the port on Thursday night , she departed next morning for the four and a half hour trip back to Tenby.


The ferryman who runs a boat service to Piel Island will continue to run services to the tourist magnet, despite the impending closure of the island's only pub.

John Cleasby, who runs the service from Barrow to Piel, insists said it is business as usual even though landlord and resident island caretaker Rod Scarr is leaving The Ship Inn next month.

Fears have been expressed by Mr and Mrs Scarr about the future of the island when they leave.

They are worried the picturesque oasis could resemble a rubbish tip if nobody looks after the island.

To book a jaunt to the island call Piel Ferries on 07799761306


NORMANDY - on March 11 its was reported that the ship had technical problem in Cherbourg which had resulted in a round trip to Rosslare being missed. Her Saturday sailing to Rosslare is reported as running.

ISLE OF INISHMORE is also reported to have technical problems which have forced the ship to berth stern first at Rosslare

March 08Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Philip Parker, Jürgen Fock and "others".


HSS STENA EXPLORER which was damaged mid February is now off service until the 08:55 sailing on March 13, 2006.



The Belfast Telegraph reported that a young family on board the Belfast to Liverpool ferry suffered a harrowing ordeal at the weekend when a Co Antrim passenger drenched their cabin with a fire extinguisher.

Passengers on the ship, who were wakened by the screams of children, thought a fire had broken out. One Larne man has been charged with causing £600 worth of criminal damage to the ship after he was arrested when it docked in Birkenhead on Saturday morning.

Witnesses have described a scene of pandemonium onboard. "I was asleep in the cabin when this awful screaming of children broke out," one passenger said.

"I thought they were choking to death. "It was horrendous. At first we thought there was a fire and there was a lot of action outside before I went out to investigate."

Merseyside police confirmed that a man was arrested when the ferry arrived in Birkenhead. It had been delayed for two hours in leaving Belfast.

A spokesman said: "One man, Adrian Hislop from the Linn Road in Larne, has been arrested and charged with causing £600 worth of criminal damage to the boat."

Mr Hislop was due to appear before Wirral Magistrates Court on Monday.


The parent company to Irish Ferries published its Preliminary Statement of Results for the year ending December 31, 2005 on  Monday March 06. FULL DETAILS CLICK HERE


Cross River services will resume on Thursday March 9, 2006 one week after the George's Landing Stage sank. The first sailing will be as scheduled at 07:35.

The Liverpool departure point will be the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company's Prince's Landing Stage.

Initially tickets will be issued from Mersey Ferries booking office at Pier Head but arrangements are being made to relocate the booking office to the Steam Packet stage.

Neil Scales, Chief Executive and Director General of Merseytravel, which owns and operates the Mersey Ferries, said:

Mersey Ferries commented: “We are extremely grateful to the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company for their assistance.

“Obviously this is a temporary measure until the Mersey Docks and Harbour Company has replaced our pontoon but it was imperative that we resume services as quickly as possible for commuters and for what is going to be an extremely busy weekend at Spaceport.

“We have a team of internationally renowned experts on space and astronomy who will be giving public talks at Spaceport’s first ever ‘Astronomy Day’ on Saturday.

“The Steam Packet Company have pulled out all the stops to ensure visitors will be able to get to Seacombe by ferry for this event”.

The timetable appears on the company's web site at:

However, no allowance appears to have been made in the Mersey Ferries schedule for Steam Packet arrivals and departures. It is also not clear what will happen on Saturdays before the summer service Steam Packet service commences. Currently SEA EXPRESS I lies along side the stage.

March 05Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Ian Collard, Helen Blackburn, Dan Cross and "others".


On Wednesday March 01, southern most section of the George's Landing Stage used by Mersey Ferries grounded at spring tide low water and was presumably holed. The section did not float on the incoming tide and consequently sank. The northern section of the stage did retain its buoyancy for a while but it self sank on the following tide Thursday March 02. By the evening it was clear that the landing stage is to all intents and purposes destroyed and replacement rather than repair will be necessary.

Ferry services were suspended on Thursday morning. A shuttle bus linking Seacombe Ferry Terminal with Birkenhead Hamilton Square Station has been provided for passengers during the weekday commuter hours.

The river cruise service will operate from Seacombe at 10:10 through to 15:10 daily, Woodside departures 10 minutes later When your web master visited Seacombe on the morning of March 04, the 10:10 had failed to run due to no passengers presenting themselves for travel at Seacombe or Woodside terminals.

The 11:10 sailing did depart as, though there was less than a handful of passengers at Seacombe there were a few more at Woodside waiting to be picked up. Usually on a Saturday by mid-morning even out of season quite a few passengers are carried to and from Liverpool, people from the Wirral parking up and taking the sail across the river.

It is obvious that the damage to the landing stage has had a serious effect on passenger numbers. Mersey Ferries are in discussions with the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company as to the feasibility of the using the Prince's Landing Stage between Steam Packet sailings. However, certain difficulties including security arrangements will need to be resolved as will competition for berth space. This isn't too much of a problem at present, but once the Steam Packet summer service commences in a few weeks time there will be times when the ferries cannot access the stage.

The loss of the stage will also pose problems for the visit of Waverley Steam Navigation Company's BALMORAL scheduled calls during July.  In recent years WSN has used the ferry terminal, though presumably the BALMORAL departures could be switched to Seacombe.

Mersey Ferries hope to have some sort of service running using the Isle of Man Steam Packet stage by the middle of next week.

It is anyone's guess just how long it will take to replace the Ferries stage. The scale of the damage suggests that no quick fix will be possible and one would expect the stage to be out of service for a year or more.

In the meantime, if you value the ferry operation get down to Seacombe or Woodside and start travelling even on the truncated service, just in case lack of support leads to its withdrawal!


MERCHANT BRAVERY departed from NSL Birkenhead on the afternoon tide of Sunday March 05, 2006. She has had her Norse Merchant fleet names and logos removed whilst she was in the yard for repairs following her encounter with the Heysham Harbour north round head last month.


The full Waverley Excursions Timetables for 2006 are now on line at the company's web site.


HEBRIDES - arrived for refit at NSL Birkenhead on the afternoon tide of Sunday March 05, 2006.


DIPLOMAT - P&O Ferries will cease to be responsible for ship management of the DIPLOMAT [ex EUROPEAN DIPLOMAT] from 31/5/06. Staff who are directly employed by P&O will be redeployed within the P&O Irish Sea fleet by June 1 at the latest whilst agency staff will be redeployed by their crewing agency.

The company is also believed to be looking for a ship to sail out of Dublin - possibly reopening the Dublin - Mostyn Link.


The Sydney Morning Herald reported on March 03 that Adsteam, the Australian Company which operates towage services on the River Mersey could be the subject of a takeover.

The value of the company's shares increased as speculation mounted that a large operator from Europe or Asia might be set to pounce on the tugboat company.

Rumours circulated that potential bidders could include AP Moller, owner of the towage company SvitzerWijsmuller, and even Hutchison Whampoa and Swire, which part-own Ad-steam's domestic tug boat rival, Australian Maritime Services.

Among the rumours was that ABN Amro was trying to buy all available Adsteam shares. The other scenario centred on speculation Toll might be keen on Adsteam given its frustration over its bid for Patrick Corp.

On the flipside, sources speculated that Patrick itself could try to take out Adsteam to defend itself from Toll's bid. The stevedore has been cited as a potential bidder for several years.

JP Morgan analyst Alex Mees said a predator would be most interested in Adsteam because of its dominant market position in the tugboat industry in Australia.

"They are a much better business than they were a few years ago," he said

March 01Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Tommy Dover, John Lewis, Jenny Williamson and "others".



Many readers of these pages will be disappointed that the company has decided to end the popular "Sail and Save" scheme which has been in operation for around 10 years. This scheme allowed passengers to collect five tickets and allow the average value to be placed against value of a new ticket.

The company announced that the "Sail and Save" scheme would end from March 01, 2006. However, those people who have already collected some tickets they may continue to collect tickets providing one ticket in each collection submitted for redemption is dated February 28, 2006 or earlier.

Obviously if you have a few tickets dated February 28 or earlier you may well be able to obtain more than one discounted or free ticket.

The company's press release states that it is conducting a feasibility study into a broader web based loyalty scheme which could be launched in 2007/8.

SUPERSEACAT TWO - it appears that the day excursion to and from Whitehaven scheduled for Tuesday March 28 has been cancelled due to a lack of vessel availability. She is likely to have to provide cover for the BEN-MY-CHREE's refit. 

BEN-MY-CHREE - the ship's dry docking has been put back and probably won't happen until around March 20. However, the upper deck vehicle ramp is understood to have been repaired. It appears that a Bazias type ro/ro will provide freight cover.


Steel chains weighing the same as a humpback whale arrived at Pendennis Shipyard as work on the new King Harry Ferry continues.

The chains, weighing 64,000 kg each and measuring 277 metres in length, will be used on the new ferry when it comes into service in a couple of months.

Project manager of the King Harry Ferry at the shipyard, Mike Clay, said: "The chains do weigh an absolute tonne - literally. Many people think it is the chains which drive the ferry, but they are stationary at all times. It is the chain wheel which moves the ferry across the 250 metre crossing."

Managing director of the ferry, Tim Light, said one of the more important aspects of the new ferry will be the ability to hear the "clanking" sound of the chains which is why they have installed a glass inspection panel to enable passengers to see them.

The new £2.9 million vessel will be the seventh King Harry Ferry since 1888, replacing the current one which was built in 1974 and designed to take up to 28 cars, whereas the new ferry will take 32 cars.


A final attempt to save the Historic Warships Collection based at Birkenhead Docks on Monday February 27, 2006 failed and the Warships Preservation Trust has gone into liquidation.

Wirral Borough Council and the North West Development Agency offered £162,000 of funding last week, however, the amount proved insufficient to keep the popular attraction in business.


STENA LEADER entered NSL 'wet basin' on March 01, 2006 for emergency repairs to the Stern Door which was damaged at Larne after the vessel was blown off the berth when the forward mooring ropes [140t break strain] parted in high winds. Work is being carried out by Scott Lithgow Shiprepairers a subsidiary of Northwestern Shiprepairers.


It is understood that a 15 year lease has been granted to NSL on the Cammell Laird north yard by Reddington Developments.

Bibby Line's BIBBY SAPPHIRE will be going into NSL Birkenhead #5 dry dock at the start of a four month conversion which will see the ship fitted with new sponsons and a deep sea diving equipment installed.


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