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NEWS BULLETIN - MAY 2006

May 25Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, C.J. Lawrenson, Ian Collard and "others"

ISLE OF MAN STEAM PACKET COMPANY

DIAMANT arrived on Merseyside on May 24 from her lay-up at Tilbury calling at Falmouth en-route for bunkers. She has been chartered to provide additional capacity during the Isle of Man TT Festival.

MERSEY FERRIES

Ferry services returned to normal on Tuesday May 23 following the opening of the temporary stage situated off Prince's Parade and utilising the Ravestein SKYLINE BARGE 15. Since the sinking of the George's Stage following its grounding, passenger carryings have been reported to have been down by 16% as sailings have had to work around Isle of Man Steam Packet sailings. 

STENA LINE

HSS STENA EXPLORER - following her bow thruster failure on the morning crossing from Holyhead to Dún Laoghaire, HSS STENA EXPLORER is reported to be out of service until Saturday May 27.

IRISH NAVAL SERVICE

LE EITHNE- the flag officer commanding the Naval Service Commodore Frank Lynch and the Argentinian Ambassador to Ireland, Marcelo Heurgo, attended a ceremony on board the L.E Eithne, to mark the arrival in Ireland of a statue of Admiral William Brown, founder of the Argentinian Navy, at 11:30 on Thursday May 25 at Sir John Rogerson’s Quay, Dublin.

 

The ceremony, which coincides with the Argentine National Day, will officially bring to an end the Flagship’s historic voyage to Argentina and South America.

 

The LE EITHNE departed the Naval Base, Haulbowline, on the February 6, 2006  and returned to Ireland on the  April 7, 2006. The deployment was 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 also visited Montevideo in Uruguay, Rio de Janeiro and Fortaleza in Brazil. 6000 people crossed the ship’s gangway, including 600 sick or disadvantaged children.

 

The high point of the voyage for the crew was the technical and humanitarian assistance provided to NGOs and the Irish Catholic Missionary Network, which included assisting homeless families to set up house. Their work was supported by the Dublin Diocese and diverse groups such as the Crumlin and Cork University Hospitals, the Naval Association and the Royal St George Yacht Club.

 

During the ceremony Able Mechanic Amy Healy, from Cork City, who has been named as the Irish Naval Service Sailor of the Year, will be presented with the Ford Ireland Trophy.

BRITTANY FERRIES

PONT-AVEN had an unfortunate encounter with a freak wave off Oussant around 23:50 on Sunday evening, May 21 whilst on her Sunday sailing from Plymouth to Santander.

The height of the wave, estimated to be around 18 to 20 metres forced in a number of the windows on the ship's promenade deck 6. Seawater entered the ship via passageways making its way into cabins at the forward end of deck 6 before cascading down stair wells to some areas of deck 5. Reports suggest that the ingress of sea water also damaged the ship's sewage system and resulted in effluent mixing with the sea water.

Passengers were evacuated from the effected area and moved to higher decks. Two passengers were treated by a shipboard doctor for shock and two passengers and a member of crew for minor injuries. There were 1,148 passengers on board at the time of the incident.

After the incident the ship abandoned its voyage and headed for Roscoff. Passengers were offered a refund and a return sailing to Plymouth on the PONT L'ABBE or could continue the journey to Spain via their own means.

The ship departed Roscoff bound for Brest where she is to be repaired by Sobrena.

It is not clear when she will return to service though the company hoped to have her ready in time for the Friday evening sailing to Cork on May 26.

The following letter appeared in the Plymouth Evening Herald on May 25 from a passenger praising the crew of the PONT-AVEN for their professionalism following the mishap and dispelling some of the accounts which were published in the aftermath:

Could I respectfully suggest that some of the details in the article appearing on the thisisplymouth website today appear to differ somewhat from my own experience on the Pont-Aven last Sunday evening and through into  Monday?

Contrary to some comments, passengers were informed of events. The crew and staff members worked hard to ensure everyone was safe and well looked after.

Given that some 150 cabins were out of bounds due to water damage, it is no surprise that it took time to organise alternative accommodation for those who needed it.

Yes, it was a long trip with an unexpected, potentially dangerous incident, but the staff of Brittany Ferries could not have been more professional and helpful. We were informed that we would go to Roscoff because of the damage to the ship, and before we disembarked we were given a free breakfast. Then, in Roscoff, we were given the option, if on a longer trip, to continue our journey by coach, or to drive on in our own vehicles.

Minicruise passengers and anyone else who wished to return to Plymouth were given free transport on the next ferry from Roscoff to Plymouth. All passengers taking this option received a £12 food voucher. Those who had booked longer holidays were also informed how to apply for compensation.

Plymouth has a proud tradition of being part of the Brittany Ferries network. I and my wife will continue to drive down the M5 to Plymouth to travel with Brittany Ferries safe in the knowledge that they are a very professional organisation willing to go the extra mile to ensure that their passengers are safe and well cared for.

PONT-AVEN TO BE REPLACED ON SANTANDER ROUTE?

Strong rumours from several sources suggest Brittany Ferries are looking to build a larger, sturdier vessel to replace the PONT-AVEN on the Plymouth - Santander route. The PONT-AVEN then replacing the BRETAGNE.

ISLE OF MAN DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORT

DOUGLAS HARBOUR TRAFFIC FIGURES - MARCH 2006

Passenger figures compiled by the Harbours Division for March 2006 at 24,633 show a 34.8% decrease on the figure for the same period in 2005 which was 37,763.

The year to date figure of 64,032 passengers shows a 15.1% decrease over the same period in 2005, which was 75,461.

During March car traffic through Douglas Harbour decreased by 25.8% from 10,240 vehicles to 7,601 vehicles.

The year to date figure at 20,749 vehicles shows a 9% decrease over the same period in 2005 which was 22,806.

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

Heysham

Minus 20%   

from

16,473

to

13,255

Liverpool

Minus 40%

from

17,418

to

10,501

Dublin

All minus

from

780

to

nil

Belfast

All minus

from

1,153

to

nil

 

Director of Harbours, Captain Michael Brew comments:

“The fall in passenger numbers is primarily a result of a later Easter this year.  The figures are also influenced to an extent as a result of the Ben-my-Chree being overhauled with a reduction in choice and capacity on routes, during the overhaul.”

DOUGLAS HARBOUR TRAFFIC FIGURES - APRIL 2006

Passenger figures compiled by the Harbours Division for April 2006 at 56,177 show a 32.6% increase on the figure for the same period in 2005 which was 42,351.

The year to date figure at 120,209 passengers shows a 2.0% increase over the same period in 2005 which was 117,812

During April car traffic through Douglas Harbour has increased by 31.2% from 10,447 vehicles to 13,706.

The year to date figure at 34,455 vehicles shows a 3.6% increase over the same period in 2005 which was 33,253.

Belfast

Plus 195%

from

1,005

to

2,971

Dublin

Minus 3%

from

1,157

to

1,122

Heysham

Plus 27%

from

16,093

to

20,499

Liverpool

Plus 32%

from

23,165

to

30,636

Director of Harbours, Captain Michael Brew comments:

“April 2006 figures reflect the later Easter.  It is very pleasing to note that the year to date figures for passengers

and vehicles shows that steady growth has returned.”

JFK TRUST - DUNBRODY

 

A summer sailing programme has been announced for the New Ross based replica emigrant ship DUNBRODY.

She will sail from New Ross to Dublin between May 30 and June 2 arriving at Dublin in time for the Docklands Festival where she will be joined by ASGARD II and JEANIE JOHNSTON. Between June 6 and 9 she sails back to New Ross.

 

There is a voyage from New Ross to Milford Haven - June 20 to 23rd returning July 1 to 4.

 

There will be day excursion sailings in the Waterford Estuary June 9 to 11 inclusive and day excursion sailings as part of the Milford Haven Sea Fair between June 28 to 30.

 

Between May 27 and May 29 she will be away from New Ross for crew training and sea trials . The Dunbrody Visitor Centre will be open for visitors whilst the ship is away. For more details visit www.dunbrody.com

 

 

May 21Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Ian Collard, Chris Jones, Matthew Easton, Alex Mc. Cormac and "others"

ISLE OF MAN STEAM PACKET COMPANY

SEA EXPRESS I is being offered for sale of bare boat charter by Frank Ship Brokers. However, for some reason she is being advertised as a "twin screw" vessel! www.frankshipbrokers.com/fast.html

DIAMANT is expected to depart from the Port of London on May 23, bound for Falmouth for bunkers before proceeding to the Irish Sea to take up her TT charter to the Steam Packet.

SUPERSEACAT TWO sailings were disrupted towards the end of the week due to unsettled weather. On Thursday the morning round trip to Liverpool was cancelled with passengers diverted to the BEN-MY-CHREE via Heysham.

The Thursday afternoon sailing to Belfast was rescheduled to Friday morning which of course meant the Friday morning sailing to Liverpool was once again cancelled.

With the TT festival build up starting this week one wonders if the failure to replace the LADY OF MANN with a suitable all weather ship may lead to chaos given the over reliance on fast craft this year?  That of course in the hands of Neptune!

STEAM PACKET - TO FEATURE ON TV SERIES - THE SEA

IOM Online reported this week that the history of the Island's maritime lifeline will be part of a major BBC television series. The Steam Packet will feature in an episode of the broadcaster's The Sea season this summer.

It will tell the story of the Packet, the world's oldest passenger ferry firm, as well as the people who work for the company.

The series will feature stories from BBC regions around the British Isles and for the north west independent production company Northstar TV has been commissioned to put together a 30-minute film.

'The brief from the BBC was to cover people who work at sea,' producer Ged Clarke explained.

'I obviously had to think about the stories in the north west which could fit the brief and settled on the Steam Packet, partly because I know people who used to work for it.

'Basically the BBC wants to show a story which is about a community which relies on the sea for its livelihood and the Isle of Man fits perfectly – it is an island nation and has to be connected.'

Filming is due to start this week and Ged admitted it is too early to say exactly what will feature in the finished programme, due for transmission in July.

He said it will not only tell the Steam Packet's 175-year story, but will explain the vital link the ferry company provides for the Island and its unique place in Island life. However, it won't just be a history of the firm.

'It is at the very early stages, but it is going to be contemporary,' he said. 'We will sail on the BEN-MY-CHREE and SUPERSEACAT and film everyone at work, everyone from the captain down.

'We will show who does what, the importance to Island life. Although it is the early stage, I suspect it will evolve as it goes on.'

Former newspaper reporter Ged made his first visit to the Island recently to carry out research.

'I've already discovered some very interesting things, for instance there is a woman chief officer, who may be the only one working in the Irish Sea,' he added. 'There are also very many eastern Europeans working as cabin crew on the ferries.'

Ged said the programme may include reference to other milestones in the Steam Packet's history, including the establishment of the users agreement which guaranteed the firm sole control of passenger traffic from Douglas, and the two takeovers since Sea Containers relinquished control in 2003.

'It has got to be put into its exact context, but by and large the chief focus is the lifeline it provides,' he said.

NEW LOOK

The Isle of Man Steam Packet Company has revamped its web site this week and given it a completely new look. - www.steam-packet.com

PARADE STREET SITE

Isle of Man Treasury Minister Allan Bell has accused Steam Packet proprietors Macquarie of asset stripping as the Isle of Man Government approved the proposals for the Department of Transport to acquire the Parade Street site which includes the company's HQ - Imperial Buildings for £8 million. The company will rent back the facilities for £150,000 per year. Though there were some exceptions, the majority of MHKs backed the acquisition of the land.

STENA LINE

HSS STENA EXPLORER - appears to have spent a large part of May 21, 2006 stuck off Dún Laoghaire with failed bow thrusters. She is reported to be out of service now until May 26.

JEANIE JOHNSTON

The provisional sailing programme for the replica trans-Atlantic emigrant ship has been published on the web site

May 18th - 24th Dublin to Ostend, May 29th Ostend to Dublin, June 3rd - 5th Docklands Maritime Festival, June 6th - 9th Dublin to Liverpool, June 12th - 15th Liverpool to Dublin, June 19th - 23rd Dublin to Bangor, June 26th - 29th Bangor to Belfast, July 10th - 14th Belfast to Glasgow, July 17th - 21st Glasgow to Dublin, July 24th - 28th Dublin to Bristol, July 31st - August 4th Bristol to Cobh, August 15th - 18th Cork to Fenit, Co. Kerry, August 21st - 24th Fenit to Cork, August 25th - 28th Cork to Brest, France, August 29th - 2nd September Brest to Dublin

For those in the UK and European mainland there will be a number of chances to catch up with attractive ship with calls at Ostend, London, Liverpool, Bristol and Brest scheduled. www.jeaniejohnston.ie

CELTIC LINK

Ro/Ro freight ferry KLAIPEDA has been acquired by Jay Ship Management of Greece owners of the CELTIC STAR. It is be believed that in due course the KLAIPEDA will also join Celtic Link ferries to operate on their new Liverpool - Dublin route.

WHITE STAR LINE

NOMADIC - the last White Star Ship will be conveyed to Belfast on a submersible barge when she returns to Belfast from Le Havre this July. The transportation will be undertaken by Anchor Marine Services and Hammer Marine Services.

WICKLOW & EAST COAST NOTES from Tommy Dover

WICKLOW PORT

Coaster callers included SCOT VENTURE, DERK, UNION MARS, MEKHANIK MAKARIN, HYDRA, SCOT CARRIER, BALTIC MERCHANT and EMSLAND.

Aviation traffic included the Coastguard helicopter 'Mike Echo' northbound along the coast.

Traffic in the bay included GRANUAILE and HOHEBANK southbound .

Wicklow lifeboat launched on a crew excercise on the 14th .

The Manx coaster BEN VARREY sheltered in the bay on the 18th, she departed the next morning as the weather improved .

DUBLIN PORT

Coasters noted at the port this week included CORAL SEA ,LASS NEPTUN and the tanker BREAKSEA in drydock

YOUGHAL

Recent visitors included RED DUCHESS and HOHEBANK.

ISLES OF SCILLY STEAMSHIP COMPANY / CORNWALL COUNTY COUNCIL

Cornwall County Council is to take control of a £39.1 scheme to improve transport links between the mainland and the Isles of Scilly.

Plans involve the provision of a new combined vessel to replace the existing passenger ferry SCILLONIAN III and freight vessel GRY MARITHA, as well as undertaking safety improvements to the harbours at both St Mary’s and Penzance.

Cornwall's council executive is reviewing a recommendation for the authority to lead the development on behalf of the Isles of Scilly Route Partnership.

The Route Partnership was established to maintain a sustainable link between the mainland and the Isles of Scilly. Members of the group – which include the Islands' Council, Duchy of Cornwall, Isles of Scilly Steamship Company and British International Helicopters - are making a combined contribution of £6.1m to the scheme.

A decision on a bid for £26.5m from the Department for Transport (DfT) funding is due in May, whilst the remaining £6.5m would come from European Objective One or Convergence funding.

A study has found that the loss of the sea link would have a wide-ranging impact on employment, commerce and tourism in both Scilly and Cornwall.

A council report noted that the project probably would not move forwards if the Cornwall decided not to take on overall responsibility.
 

CORNWALL FERRIES GROUP

The company which operates the King Harry Ferry, St. Mawes Ferry and the Falmouth Park and Float service is expanding into fast ferry operations this season with the launch of Falmouth Bay Express on May 27.

The new high speed service will link St.Mawes to Custom House Quay, Falmouth and on to the Helford River.

Leaving from either Falmouth or St Mawes the operators say the new service will "take you on a magical journey across Falmouth Bay to explore the beautiful Helford River".

The vessel chosen for the job is a fully enclosed fast trimaran that is powered by a 250hp diesel engine and jet drive unit. The boat will cruise at 20 knots and carry all the latest safety equipment. Once onboard each of the twelve passengers can sit in comfort on their own individual padded seat looking out windows that run for the length of the vessel.

During the evening the vessel moves to provide an aqua cab evening service that runs between St Mawes, Falmouth, Flushing and Mylor Yacht Harbour in an alternating clock wise and anti-clock wise circuit.

Toby Budd who will be operating the service added: "We are really excited. The boat is in refit at Ponsharden at the moment. We are hoping to start running on May 27 at the same time as the park and float and the St Mawes summer service." For more information and a photograph of the vessel visit www.falbayexpress.co.uk

 

May 14Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Philip Parker, Tony Brennan, "River Spy" and "others"

ISLE OF MAN STEAM PACKET COMPANY

The company issued a press release this week confirming the line-up of extra vessels chartered for the TT Festival:

The 'Diamant', an 81 metre fast craft catamaran carrying up to 650 passengers, 450 motorcycles and vehicles will be scheduled to operate on mainly the Heysham/IOM but some Liverpool/IOM services from 30th May up until 12th June.

Arriving from Tilbury on 24th May ahead of the TT schedules to accommodate staff training, 'Diamant' was last in service on the English Channel with Hoverspeed.

Additionally, Steam Packet will charter another fast craft, 'P&O Express' which as during the 2005 TT festival will operate sailings to and from Larne, whilst the freighter 'Moondance' will complement the Company vessel 'Ben My Chree' as it concentrates on passenger and vehicle traffic.

Hamish Ross, Steam Packet Managing Director said, 'The three chartered vessels will enable our Company to maintain a 'round the clock' service as we transport TT fans from all over the world to the Island to share in this unique and exciting event. We are committed to the festival in which we will again be sponsors of the Supersport Junior TT Race'.

Forward bookings for TT 2006 are currently up on 2005 and TT 2007 bookings are also strong.

The Steam Packet will also sponsor a race meeting on the Billown Circuit on Saturday 10th June. This will be the 15th year of 'The Steam Packet National Road Race' which has become one of the most popular and important days of the Tourist Trophy Meeting for the top riders and fans.

The TT Timetable is now available for download from www.steam-packet.com

DIAMANT is expect on Merseyside on May 24 or 25.

SEA EXPRESS I has been removed from the company's website fleet list which suggests that she is unlikely to sail for the company again. She is now out of class.

DOUGLAS SITE SALE

A report by Manx Radio suggests that if Tynwald does not authorise the purchase of the Parade Street site for £8m this week it may be sold by Macquarie to a private developer.

MERSEY FERRIES

The Ravestein SKYLINE BARGE 15 was placed in position off Prince's Parade on Thursday May 11, 2006.

On Saturday May 13 MERSEY MAMMOTH delivered the "Bailey Bridge" structure which will provide for passenger access. This temporary bridge whilst functional looks to be very exposed and passengers using it in wet weather will have a very damp experience!

NORTHWESTERN  / SCOTT LITHGOW SHIPREPAIRERS

VICTORY [Carmet tug] and PUSH TANK [old emulsion barge] dry-docking next week at No 4 Drydock, Birkenhead
 
SNOWDROP  is docking a Bidston for tail shaft repair. She had a rope around her tail shaft which damaged a stern seal

HIGHLAND SPRITE due to depart this weekend

IRISH SEA EXPRESS

It appears that some of the backers behind the short lived Liverpool - Dublin high speed service are looking into starting a conventional ro/ro service using the Canada #3 Dock (former Merchant Ferries Terminal) as the Liverpool base and berth 49 in Dublin. Irish Sea Shipping has been informed that representatives have been to Italy to inspect potential vessels.

IRISH FERRIES

Passengers aboard the ISLE OF INISHMORE sailing between Pembroke and Rosslare on Thursday May 4 had a little more excitement than they bargained for,  when the ship became the venue for a joint rescue practice exercise.

The exercise - held by the Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service, the Maritime Coastguard Agency, Irish Ferries and RAF Chivenor - was carried out while the ferry was on her afternoon sailing from Pembroke Dock to Rosslare, some 6 miles West of St Anne's Head.

Following a call from the ferry, Milford Haven Coastguard requested specialist assistance from Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service - who deployed nine members of the Service Offshore Incident Team, led by Assistant Divisional Officer Frank Amis, to the vessel. Members of the team were winched down from the helicopter, along with their equipment onto the upper deck of the ferry while she was underway.

Once onboard the vessel, they were faced with a fire scenario on the car deck, with two people allegedly within the deck. After carrying out an initial assessment and liaising with the ship's crew, fire-fighters wearing breathing apparatus were committed to carry out a search of the affected area and commence fire-fighting.

"This exercise allowed the team members to deal with a realistic scenario onboard the ferry under controlled, but realistic conditions," said exercise director, Divisional Officer Richie Webborn.

"It is important for the team to carry out such training due to the volume of shipping found off the coast of Mid and West Wales." There are three ferries operating out of Swansea, Pembroke Dock and Fishguard. Between them they carry over 1 million people to and from Ireland. In addition to passenger ferries, there are many commercial vessels using ports within the Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service area."

The Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service is a member of the Maritime Incident Response Group (MIRG), along with 14 other Fire and Rescue

Services - strategically located around the UK - providing a national defence for fires and other emergencies onboard vessel at sea. The MIRG is part of the Sea of Change project, which is championed by the Maritime Coastguard Agency in partnership with the Chief Fire Officers Association. The Maritime Coastguard Agency funds the specialist training for the teams and also provides equipment.

" The Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service has had a long tradition of maritime training," added Chief Fire Officer.

"This exercise fully prepares the service and crews to any potential maritime fires. I am pleased that we are actively involved with the national Maritime Incident Response Group."

SHIP MOVIE NEWS - POSEIDON

The remake of the  1970's classic ship disaster movie the Poseidon Adventure will be released in the UK on June 01, 2006. The story apparently been altered a little from the original film which featured the QUEEN MARY as the SS POSEIDON.

This time the computer generated MV POSEIDON will capsize in the Atlantic following an encounter with a freak wave. The original film had the ship capsizing in the Mediterranean after encountering a tidal wave generated by seismological event.

To find out more visit www2.warnerbros.com/poseidon

Those who enjoyed the original film might like to visit http://www.theposeidonadventure.com

From the web site the computer graphics generated ship does look quite convincing, unlike some recent attempts to create cgi generated ships.

The film has a good maritime pedigree with Wolfgang Petersen - DAS BOOT and PERFECT STORM directing.

KING HARRY FERRY

KING HARRY VII - the one day delay in introducing the new vessel was reported as being due to a problem with the chains along which the ferry propels itself. She commenced service on May 9, 2006.

CELTIC LINK FERRIES

CELTIC STAR - the Greek owned ro/ro charter vessel which once sailed out of Liverpool for P&O as CELTIC STAR / NORTHERN STAR has commenced service between Dublin and Liverpool.

The service commenced on Monday May 08 with a 21:30 ex Dublin which will be repeated each Sunday night with a lie over in Liverpool till Monday night 21:30.

On Tuesday to Saturday sailings will be ex Dublin is 09:30 with a departure at 21:30 ex Liverpool.

It is understood that company may be looking for a second ship for this route.

The company's Liverpool Terminal is at the former Norse Irish Belfast berth at Brocklebank Dock. The Dublin terminal is adjacent to the Liffey Dockyard near the P&O terminal.

PENINSULAR & ORIENTAL STEAM NAVIGATION COMPANY

EXPRESS - has been experiencing technical difficulties this week which has resulted in sailing cancellations. She was noted back in service, though running late on Sunday May 14.

RMT

Stena has been warned by the seafarers' union RMT that it must stick to its pay agreement on its Holyhead operations or face the prospect of a strike ballot.

The union's shipping and docks conference in Hull this week heard that Stena intended to break its national agreement by paying Polish crew aboard the STENA SEATRADER at rates below those paid to UK ratings when the vessel begins operating between Holyhead and Dublin in July.

Delegates unanimously called on the RMT executive to begin an emergency campaign "at all levels" to defend the port agreement, including urgent approaches for assistance to sister unions through the International Transport Workers' Federation.

"We have an agreement with Stena that sets out the rates that must be paid to ratings working out of Holyhead, and we expect them to stick to it," RMT national secretary Steve Todd said.

"The Irish Sea has become the latest battleground in the struggle to stop ship-owners replacing organised crews with low-cost labour, and Stena are now breaking their pledge that they will not join the 'race to the bottom' in seafarers' pay.

"The introduction of low-cost crew to Holyhead is the thin end of a massive wedge which threatens to undermine the jobs, pay and conditions of ratings at Holyhead and beyond.

"The nationality of the seafarers aboard the vessel is irrelevant, but they must be paid the rate for the job agreed between the company and the union.

"There is massive anger among the crews of the STENA EXPLORER and STENA ADVENTURER, the two Stena vessels already operating out of the port, and we have already had calls to start balloting for strike action.

"Stena should understand that we will take the necessary steps to defend our national agreement, and that RMT will back industrial action by our members if it becomes necessary," Steve Todd said.

SEA CONTAINERS

It appears that the troubled former Irish Sea operator may be about to sell its Silja Line operation to a Silja Management buy-out backed by foreign investors. The reports suggest company aims to dispose of Silja by the end of June.

May 07Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Ian Collard, Alun Llewellyn, Paul Knapton and "others".

ISLE OF MAN STEAM PACKET COMPANY

Extra capacity over the TT period will be provided by the former Hoverspeed DIAMANT and Seatruck's MOONDANCE.

ISLE OF MAN DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORT

The Isle of Man Department of Transport will ask Tynwald to buy land at Parade Street Douglas, including the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company's Imperial Buildings HQ.

The 7,000 square metres of land is currently owned by MIOM Ltd part of Macquarie Bank, owners of the Steam Packet. After buying the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company last year for £225 million, Macquarie sold the land and property to its own subsidiary

Director of harbours Captain Michael Brew said acquiring the land, including Imperial Buildings, the staff and public car parks and the area that used to be occupied by Steam Packet goods sheds, would enable long-term planning for increased harbour traffic.

Traffic growth in the past two decades has already seen part of the harbour filled in and buildings demolished and Captain Brew said acquiring land for potential expansion made 'strategic sense'.

He admitted the DoT may not need all the land and other uses for some parts may be identified. The Steam Packet will lease back its headquarters.

Captain Brew added the £8 million price was agreed by the government's valuer as a fair market cost.

MERSEY FERRIES

On the evening of May 06, the Ravestein SKYLINE BARGE #15 was noted passing Formby Lightfoat under tow of the 1965 vintage tug PRINCETON (ex Kapitan Engler - Germany)  of Evelegh's Griffen Towage, Dorking, Surrey.

The spudjack barge departed Rotterdam on April 28 bound for the Mersey. It is to be initially located north of the Prince's Landing Stage until the remains of the George's Landing Stage are removed. When it will be relocated to the south opposite the Mersey Ferries Terminal. The relocation is unlikely to happen before September.

On arrival off Langton the PRINCETON and her tow were met by Svitzer's Thorngarth and entered the Liverpool Dock system.

CALYPSO

MV CALYPSO which has a number of Irish /  Celtic Seas calls this season was damaged in a fire on Saturday May 06, 2006 in the English Channel. She is likely to be out of service for six to eight weeks, therefore some of the calls shown in the Irish and Celtic Seas cruise call listings on Irish Sea Shipping may be cancelled.

SEA CONTAINERS

In attempts to further reduce costs the struggling company has asked the entire staff at the company's HQ in London to volunteer for redundancy.

Sea Containers, has invited all 235 staff at its London head office to apply for voluntary redundancy as part of an urgent drive to cut costs.

Sea Containers, sent an email to all employees at Sea Containers House,  asking them to step forward for redundancy, though it is believed they will only receive statutory severance terms.

The company claims that the current redundancies are a consequence of various disposal of assets, including the remaining Orient-Express Hotels stake.

Sea Containers, which has $1.3bn (£700m) of debts, of which $115m must be repaid in October, received $301m last year after exiting the hotels business.

It is currently trying to sell its Silja Line, which could raise €500m (£340m).

The London HQ is the main administrative centre for the group's 8,384 staff worldwide.

KING HARRY FERRY

KING HARRY VII - there appears to be a slight delay introducing the new vessel which had been due to commence operations on Monday May 08, 2006. The service having been suspended since Monday May 01. It is now intended for the service to start with the new vessel on May 09. The company apologises on its web site for the suspension in services saying "sorry for the delay in getting the ferry back in operation - we only do this every 35 years or so!"

STENA LINE FREIGHT

STENA LINE FREIGHT WINS PRESTIGIOUS CUSTOMER AWARD

 Stena Line Freight has won a prestigious Customer Service Star Performer Award for the second year in succession at the Lloyd's Loading List Shipping Line of the Year Awards.

The company picked up the Short Sea Ferry Operator of the Year award as a result of independent nominations from its customers, which was particularly pleasing for Stena Line Freight Commercial Manager Frank Nieuwenhuys.

"This is the second year running that we have won this prestigious accolade and it is particularly gratifying as this award is the result of the customers' vote, which is totally independent and therefore comes directly from the heart," said Frank.

"I am delighted for the company, our staff and above all our customers who are at the receiving end of our performance and our efforts to meet and exceed their expectations every day.

"This award is a true reflection of how we all perform throughout the year and how customers see Stena Line Freight in their day-to-day dealings with us", he added.

Stena Line's Lars Olsen collected the award on behalf of Stena Line Freight from author and broadcaster Gyles Brandreth at a glittering award ceremony.

BP CREWING SERVICE / BP SHIPPING

BP Shipping have announced that they have have registered their 50th Ship - BRITISH ENSIGN under the Isle of Man flag.

The registration of the British Ensign made the total number of BP ships on the register total 50. BP Shipping are the largest owner on the register and there are still more to come. She is an oil/chemical tanker built in Korea by Hyundai, 177.48 metres in length with a gross registered tonnage of 23,270. The total GRT for the merchant fleet under the Isle of Man flag is currently 8.6 million tonnes with BP Shipping accounting for approximately 36% of that.

The Isle of Man Minister for Trade and Industry, the Hon Alex Downie MLC said:-

“We are delighted that such a highly respected multi-national organisation has chosen to flag their ships with us and this contributes greatly to our quality status and world-wide reputation. BP Shipping have undertaken a vast new building programme which has reduced our age-profile significantly - so much so that the average age of our fleet now stands at 8 years .

"The Isle of Man register prides itself on the maintenance of high standards in its ships and on the high quality of service provided to owners, it is this combination which has made the Isle of Man register successful and currently positioned number 2 on the Paris MOU white list of Port State Control.

"The Administration works closely with all those involved in the smooth running of a vessel, both on shore and at sea, and this has proved to be an excellent formula for success. Every Isle of Man registered ship is an ambassador for the Island. BP Shipping certainly plays a most important part and we are proud to be associated with them.”

May 03Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Kevin Bennett, Chris Brindle, Dave Billinger, Philippe Delaunoy and "others"

ISLE OF MAN STEAM PACKET COMPANY

SUPERSEACAT TWO - missed her afternoon round trip to Liverpool on Tuesday May 02, due to high winds passengers were diverted via the 19:45 / 02:15 Heysham sailings.

SWANSEA CORK FERRIES

Reports that the SUPERFERRY is to be used to evade a British and Irish ban on controversial stem-cell injections were angrily denied by the Cork-based carrier yesterday.

The "astonished" ferry company said it had instructed the captain and crew - and the Cork GP who offered the €17,000-a-shot treatment until the Government said last month it must be licensed - that under no circumstances were any medical procedures to be carried out on their ships. British newspaper The Guardian reported that patients of Swiss-based firm

Advanced Cell Therapeutics (ACT) and Carrigaline-based GP, John Dunphy, had been invited to receive their postponed, pre-booked treatments on board the overnight ferry.

The ferry company was quick to disassociate itself from the service. "We are astonished and outraged that a group that would want to circumvent existing regulations should advertise a service to be carried out on our vessels without any reference to us whatsoever," said company spokesman Pat Casey. "Carrying out this treatment is absolutely prohibited. "The captain and the staff of the ship have been told - instructed - to stop it if there is any attempt to proceed with it.

"We have told Dr Dunphy that the service is absolutely prohibited on the ship. We are quite outraged that he should promote this treatment on board our ships when there has been no contact with us and we have absolutely nothing to do with it."

HISTORIC WARSHIPS

On May 03, it was reported that Wirral Council were in talks with a potential new ower for the Historic Warships Collection and council managers said there was still a chance the ships could stay in Birkenhead. Meanwhile the same day U534 was moved to a new location on Mortar Mill Quay away from the former grain warehouses which are currently in the process of being converted to flats.

KING HARRY FERRY

KING HARRY VI was towed away this morning by tugs. The web cam revealed that removal operations commenced at around 10:00 but there appeared a lot of pushing and pulling before the ferry appeared to be free of the down river chain. She was finally towed upstream at around 11:00

During the afternoon King Harry passage looked somewhat strange without a ferry visible.

By 18:00 the new KING HARRY VII was in place presenting something of a contrast to the grey paint work of the old vessel her paint work is a very light blue - "heavenly blue" according the company's web site!

The new ferry enters service on May 08, 2006.

MANXMAN STEAMSHIP COMPANY

From the Sunderland Echo:

Thieves took to the water to pillage equipment from a culture ship – and have sunk a multimillion pound bid to restore it.

The gang, who rowed up the Wear with a generator and cutting equipment, almost capsized the Manxman after climbing in and dismantling its engine room.

The traditional steamer has been plagued by vandals since being moored at Pallion five years ago. Now bosses at the shipyard want to see it scrapped.

Shipping enthusiasts have been trying to raise £3million to restore the ship and make it the centrepiece of a television restoration show.

The thieves ripped out pipe work, flooding the engine room in the dead of night last Thursday.

There were plans for the Manxman, the last traditional Isle of Man steamer, to star in the Channel 4 Big Boat documentary and become a floating ambassador for Liverpool.

The ship, which used to sail from Merseyside to Douglas in the Isle of Man, would have been a focal point of celebrations of Liverpool's 800th anniversary next year, and being European Capital of Culture in 2008.

But Pallion Engineering said it was sick of waiting for fund-raisers to buy the ship and take it back to the North West.

Pallion shipyard boss Alan Dickinson said: "There were three burglars on board – people with shipping knowledge – who have removed a lot of copper. "They even took a portable generator on board to cut the copper which left the ship in danger of capsizing.

"We think they sailed up the river and they knew what they were after. They went into the engine room, where there's still a lot of good instruments."

Channel 4 chose Manxman, built by Cammell Laird in Birkenhead, in 1955, and want to show the ship being restored to full working order – but lottery money and council funding in Liverpool to pay for the ship's revamp has not been found.

Anyone with information is asked to contact police at Sunderland on 454 7555, ext 66126."

NOMADIC PRESERVATION SOCIETY

SS NOMADIC 95th ANNIVERSARY 

Built alongside Titanic in Belfast during 1910/1911 at ‘Harland & Wolff’, she was designed with one purpose in mind; to carry 1st & 2nd class passengers out to the ‘OLYMPIC’ class liners; R.M.S.Olympic, Titanic & Britannic. These huge vessels were too large to moor alongside the dock in Cherbourg, so laid anchor out in the harbour and were tended by Nomadic and her ‘sister’ Traffic.  Nomadic is often called ‘Titanic’s Little Mother’

S/s Nomadic was launched on 25th April 1911.  She served R.M.S. Titanic nearly 12 months after her launch.  95 years later, she is still ready for service!

After a four years campaign by Belfast Industrial Heritage Ltd., ably assisted over the past 6 months by White Star Memories, the Nomadic is, at last coming home. 

Purchased by the Northern Ireland Department of Social Development for Eur. 250,000.01 on 26th January, it is hoped she will be back in Belfast in July.  In anticipation of its homecoming, Belfast Industrial Heritage Ltd. and their project team have formalized their fundraising campaign by setting up the Nomadic Preservation Society (NPS).  NPS’ purpose is to keep history alive, and preserve the memory of a bygone age for future generations to study and enjoy.

At the time, the Nomadic Preservation Society already has more than 200 members.

We are very proud to inform you that we have already acquired original artifacts of the ship – including 2 x 3 meters original paneling, which was carved by the same men who carved the paneling on the Titanic.   We are also on the track of other artifacts and we have launched an Appeal to collectors.  All items will be re-placed or displayed on board.

Once in Belfast, the Nomadic can be listed on the British Historic Ship Register as a part of the core collection.  It could then open right to subsidies used for her full restoration.

May 01This is an additional news update. The final April update was posted on April 30 [ CLICK HERE ]

MANXMAN STEAMSHIP COMPANY

It looks as though the fight to save the last surviving Isle of Man Steam Packet turbine steamer could be coming to an end. The following item by Peter Elson appeared in the Liverpool Daily Post newspaper on Monday May 01, 2006.

The last traditional Isle of Man steamer looks set to be scrapped, in spite of plans for it to star in a £10m prime-time documentary and become a floating ambassador for Liverpool.

The SS Manxman, formerly owned by the Isle of Man Steam Packet for its Liverpool to Douglas service, started leaking badly after it was attacked by thieves last Friday.

Last night it appeared the damage could mean the death of the ship, which was meant to be the star of Channel 4's Big Boat series.

Due to be broadcast during Liverpool's 800th anniversary in 2007 and European Capital of Culture year 2008, the show would have given national publicity to the city.

But the ship now lies in tatters after a gang, which police say had expertise in engineering, illegally boarded Manxman currently berthed at Pallion shipyard, on the River Wear, at Sunderland.

They ripped out important valves and pipe work, allowing water to flood her engine room. '

Last night Pallion Engineering, agents for Manxman's owners Wavepower Navigation Corp, said the company was unwilling to wait any longer for fund-raisers to buy the ship.

A Pallion Engineering spokesman said it has been forced to recognise the ship presents an "increasing hazard" to safety and has reluctantly taken steps for her to be scrapped.

Channel 4 chose Manxman, built by Cammell Laird in Birkenhead, in 1955, after discarding 20 other vessels in a nationwide search for a suitable key ship.

The documentary, commissioned by Channel 4 from leading independent producers IWC, had already formally proposed to show Manxman being restored to full working order. Wirral Borough Council had pledged use of Laird's former No 4 dry-dock, but the documentary's progress stalled when Liverpool City Council and Liverpool Chamber of Commerce pointedly ignored pleas from the Manxman Steamship Company charitable Trust to help find funds to pump-prime the project.

Liverpool Culture Company, in charge of European Capital of Culture events, gave its support but says it is unable to help financially.

Without this crucial local cash commitment to the project, Channel 4 and IWC are unable to access Heritage Lottery Funding and other grant revenues for the project.

This is all despite the World Heritage Site assessor criticising the city, whose Unesco status is based on its maritime past, for having no major ship exhibit.

After restoration, Manxman Steamship Co intended to run the ship as a conference, education and training centre, also available for events such as weddings.

"During summer it was hoped to steam her for excursion work from

Liverpool, acting as a floating ambassadress for the city in 2007-8 and afterward," says Bill Ogle, Manxman Steamship chairman.

Manxman is the last surviving large passenger ship built at Cammell Laird and also one of the last major merchant ships whose service made Liverpool

second city of the British Empire. - '

Built to a 1930s design, the ship's wood-panelled interiors and brass fittings epitomise the pre-plastic, car ferry era of cross channel travel.

Mr Ogle last night blamed local authorities for the failure of the project.

He said: * "It has proved increasingly difficult to continue because of a lack of financial funding from key regional authorities. "This ship is a genuine international maritime asset and tourism magnet which belongs on Merseyside."

The following item was posted to the Irish Sea Ships Group by Bill Ogle in response to the breaking news:

The simple facts of the current situation regarding Manxman are that on Thursday last I received a telephone call from the Director of Pallion Engineering to state that the previous night Manxman had suffered another attack by thieves. The ship had taken a list and the engine room was found to be flooded.

Emergency pumps were used to remove the water and pipe work and valves were found to have been stolen.

The situation is now stabilised. However this latest event has forced Pallion to the decision that they can no longer wait for funds to be sourced by the Trust and, regretfully, have offered Manxman for sale on the scrap market.

You will have read in other postings how, with support from Channel 4 and IWC Media, we had moved so close to success. The technical issues surrounding restoration had been signed off by consultant naval architects from Heritage Lottery Fund, and other concerns from HLF relating to projected earnings and visitor numbers could be addressed (partly as a result of the input and enthusiastic support from secondary school advisors from Wirral, Liverpool and the Isle of Man Education Departments).

The sole item we could not deal with was the lack of partnership funding from local authorities which is a requirement for a grant of this magnitude. Wirral Authority has been extremely supportive has offered a wide range of realistic and significant forms of help "in kind".

Liverpool Council and the Capital of Culture Company have also been very interested in the project, but have no funds available. NWDA does not see any link between Manxman and its own objectives, in spite of the forecast creation of 80 permanent jobs.

We have sought to publicise the situation as a last ditch attempt to obtain financial support; but suspect we have only days or weeks to respond.

We remain amazed at the varying levels of support and response to this project; but perhaps the most encouraging aspect has always been the enthusiasm and real interest from people we have met when we have exhibited at events such as the Mersey River Festival, the Ellesmere Port Boat Museum, events on the IOM and more recently the annual gathering of the Titanic Society. Those people know that without Manxman then the opportunity to experience a classic sea going steamer will be lost.

SEA CONTAINERS LTD

As the last rites are played out for the last Isle of Man Steam Packet turbine steamer, it appears that Sea Containers, former proprietors of the Steam Packet may also be about to reach the end of the road.

The following press release was issued by the company on May 01:

SEA CONTAINERS DELAYS FILING OF 2005 FORM 10-K ANNUAL REPORT

Sea Containers have announced that, consistent with statements in its news release of March 24, 2006, it has continued to (i) progress the proposed sale of the Silja ferry business and other ferry assets, (ii) discuss appropriate amendments and waivers of covenants with its bank groups, and (iii) work on completing its 2005 annual report on Form 10-K. 

However, the Company is not yet in a position to file its annual report because it has not completed the 2005 Form 10-K and its internal processes with respect to applicable certifications. The Company anticipates, upon completion of these processes, it will receive an unqualified audit report on the 2005 consolidated financial statements from its independent auditors, which the Company expects will include an explanatory paragraph raising substantial doubt about Sea Containers’ ability to continue as a going concern related to the uncertainties described in this news release.

In addition, Sea Containers received on April 28 the decision in the arbitration regarding its dispute with GE Capital relating to GE SeaCo and is evaluating the consequences of the decision for the Company, which will make a further announcement shortly.

Sea Containers has incurred operating losses in the years ended December 31, 2005 and 2004 and anticipates operating losses through at least 2006.  The 2005 losses included significant impairment charges taken in the fourth quarter.  These impairment charges impacted the Company’s net worth.  At December 31, 2005, Sea Containers was not in compliance with certain financial covenants and other requirements in various credit facilities.

The Company’s failure to comply with these financial covenants and other requirements constitutes an event of default under some of its credit facilities.  Sea Containers is currently in discussions with affected lenders regarding waivers or amendments of the events of default, as well as prospective waivers or amendments in respect of certain credit facilities.  No lender has taken any action to exercise remedies in respect of any events of default.

The Company’s liquidity going forward will depend upon, among other things, (i) its ability to eliminate operating losses and generate sustainable positive cash flow, (ii) the results of its efforts to sell the ferry business and assets, and (iii) the uses of remaining net cash proceeds from asset sales in light of its obligations under the public note indentures.  Sea Containers management is preparing a business plan that will be used to develop its view of the appropriate level of debt capacity and the appropriate range of values of the Company.

In turn, the foregoing will inform the Company’s approach with respect to the stakeholders in any restructuring.  At this time, no assurance can be given as to the results of any restructuring including the impact upon creditors and equity holders.  Sea Containers is considering a range of strategic and financial alternatives.  The Company is working, and will continue to work, to maximize the value of the Company for the benefit of its stakeholders and intends to engage the public note holders and other stakeholders.

SWANSEA CORK FERRIES

An investigation by the Guardian news paper suggests that SUPERFERRY could be used to facilitate medical tourism. The following appeared in the May 01, edition:

A company offering controversial "stem cell" injections to hundreds of people from the UK with multiple sclerosis and other neurological diseases is planning to get around a ban on treatment in Ireland by carrying it out in international waters on an overnight ferry.

Advanced Cell Therapeutics (ACT), which has an address in Geneva and a London telephone number, has been supplying stem cells from umbilical cord blood to 12 clinics around the world, of which two are in the Netherlands and one in Spain. Demand from the UK - where the treatment is illegal - has been huge, following tabloid newspaper stories about apparent remarkable recoveries and an interview with a clinic doctor on television's Richard and Judy programme.

Scientists, however, dismiss ACT's claims, saying that nobody has yet been able to trick stem cells into repairing the spinal nerve damage that causes MS.

The Guardian recently revealed that ACT has taken over the business of a US company called Biomark International, which closed in 2003 during an investigation by the drugs regulatory agency. Biomark's founders now face a 51-count indictment for allegedly obtaining thousands of dollars by making fraudulent claims about the effectiveness of their treatments.

The Irish Medicines Board has now acted to stop the treatments, costing up to £12,000, that have recently begun at the Cork Road Medical Centre in Carrigaline, which had 400 patients from the UK booked for the coming weeks. In a statement the board confirmed "that it is aware of the stem cell therapy being conducted in the Cork region ... [It is] conducting an investigation into this practice."

But the Guardian has learned that ACT plans to continue treating patients from the UK this week by booking them on to the Cork to Swansea ferry which will take them into international waters, outside Irish jurisdiction. "ACT is offering a convenient alternative, which involves an examination and preliminary consultation at the Cork clinic on the scheduled day of your treatment," it wrote to booked patients. "Administration of stem cell therapy will take place in international waters aboard the ferry. The cost of the return ferry and one night's accommodation will be covered by ACT."

It goes on to say that the ferry "is fully handicap accessible and has an array of entertainment on board". It also offers the alternative of treatment in the Rotterdam clinic where most patients from the UK have to date gone for their injections.

The doctor who runs the Cork clinic, John Dunphy, is being investigated by the Irish Medical Council - the doctors' disciplinary body which is the equivalent of the General Medical Council in the UK. Speaking to the Guardian, he said this was routine.

"When there is any controversy like this, you usually will be called before them," he said. He denied that he would be treating patients on the ferry, but added: "You will have to speak to ACT. I'm merely facilitating ACT. We are looking for any legal way to treat them." ACT declined to answer the Guardian's questions.

 

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