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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


August 20, 2006Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Ian Collard, Edwin Wilmshurst, Trevor Roberts, Kevin Bennett and "others".


SUPERSEACAT TWO - continues to run on three engines operating the emergency schedule which is due to last at least until September 09.

SEA EXPRESS I - work was noted to be in progress on the vessel which has been laid up in the wet basin at Birkenhead. On Thursday her bow visor was noted open, her life rafts removed and people could be seen moving around on board. On Sunday morning she emerged from the wet basin and attempted to enter one of the dry docks at NSL Birkenhead. However, there was a technical problem with one of the gates and she was returned to the basin. It is understood she may attempt to transfer again tomorrow.

Obviously SEA EXPRESS I is being readied for a return to service. It will be interesting to see if she will serve as the winter vessel which might make sense given her ability to operate in seas up to 3.5m, or if her appearance is just to allow for the withdrawal of the sickly SUPERSEACAT TWO until she can resume full power. Summer 2006 will probably be recorded as SSC2's worst season since her amazingly poor debut year of 1998. One thing is clear the Steam Packet need to do something to get out of this sorry mess which has inconvenienced thousands of passengers over the past for weeks or so.

The company has announced that it has teamed up with the new Q-Park Car Park in Liverpool to give Steam Packet customers reduced rates when travelling to or from the Isle of Man. [Click Here].

[Given that the Q-Park is at least a brisk 10 minute walk from the Liverpool Sea Terminal - it is a pity that the company could not have negotiated for passengers to use the Prince's Dock Contract Multi-Storey Car Park. Whilst it is not the Steam Packet's fault, it is nothing short of a disgrace that the Port of Liverpool cannot provide convenient car parking close to the terminal. Given all the land which is being "developed" in the Prince's Dock area one would think a passenger car park could have been provided for in the general scheme of things. From my observations Liverpool appears to be one of the few passenger ports in these isles which does not have a convenient car park!  - JHL]


VAN GOGH the November 1 & 10 calls scheduled for Mostyn have been changed to Liverpool. She will also make additional calls at Dublin  on October 24 & 31. The Swansea call for October 31 has been cancelled. She will now call at Swansea on October 15 and 23.


STENA SEATRADER undertook berthing trials at Holyhead and Dublin on Tuesday August 15, 2006 before proceeding to NSL BIRKENHEAD where she dry docked in preparation for her introduction on the Holyhead - Dublin route in September.


The classic liner NORWAY (ex FRANCE) was beached at the end of last week at Alang to meet her fate. Her last visit to the Irish Sea was in September 2001.


One of Northern Ireland's newest tourist attractions is to shut down after only 18 months. The LAGAN BELLE narrow boat has been taking tours on the Lagan canal but will make its last journey later this month.

William Wallace began the service after Lisburn City Council invited expressions of interest. He said about 4,000 people used the service in the first year, but numbers have since dropped.

"The first year was very successful with about 4,000 customers through the doors of the Lagan Belle. This year has seen a downturn," Mr Wallace said. "My wife and I have taken time out of our regular jobs and we thought we would see if it works.

"Had we been retired, yes it would have been sustainable, unfortunately that's not the case so we have to let her go."

The Wallaces bought the 40-foot Lagan Belle from its original owners on the Grand Union Canal.

It meant a dramatic change for the boat. Instead of the 145-mile London-Birmingham route it has been confined to three miles of navigable water near Lisburn.

William provides a detailed commentary for most of the 90-minute trip which takes about a dozen visitors along part of the route used by the old horse-drawn barge traffic.

Lynda Crymble, Lagan Corridor programme manager for Lisburn City Council, said she believed as development took place along the river and more waterways were opened there would be increased scope to develop river tourism.

"We're maybe just a little bit soon in that we haven't got a big enough destination," she said.

"We see huge potential in it, but it is only the start of something big that's going to happen to the Lagan navigation."

Erskine Holmes is chairman of the Ulster Waterways Group which has been campaigning for years to have more canals reopened. He echoed the view that William Wallace was a pioneer in terms of Lagan tourism who had been "a little ahead of his time".

"A longer destination route would have been so much better for him. Possibly also a boat twice the size would have been an asset to him," Mr Holmes said.

"It's more the Amsterdam waterbus we need on the Lagan at Lisburn." However, he also saw a bright future for Lagan navigation with a number of local councils now pooling resources. "Belfast City Council has committed itself to opening up the first lock at Stranmillis," he said.

"A trust with which I'm associated, Ulster Garden Villages, has made £1m available to Belfast Council on condition they go ahead with a £2.5m scheme there. And they've agreed to do that." All that was needed, he added, was more entrepreneurs like William Wallace to take advantage. [BBC Northern Ireland]


A water taxi service between Carrickfergus and Bangor across Belfast Lough was launched on August 15, 2006

The high-speed service will operate four times per day - conditions permitting

The operators will also be running weekend Sea Safari trips to track down seals and porpoises along the coast of the Irish Sea.

The service which is being operated on a trial basis for 6 months, can carry up to 10 passengers, and crossings have to be pre-booked with the schedule being drawn up  weekly with operations confined to day light hours. Fares are £8 single £13 return with discounts for children and family groups.


CHONG-MING-DAO - the charter of the Chinese owned vessel has been confirmed and she is expected to commence service on the company's new freight service between Liverpool and Dublin from September.



The final preparations are being made to make sure that the air displays for this year's Navy Days will be the best ever.  As well as seeing the Royal Navy's Black Cat helicopter display team at the event between August 26 and 28, visitors will also be able to witness an exciting display by the new Eurofighter Typhoon, the Army's Blue Eagles helicopter display team and the Black Seahawks from the Royal Naval Air Station (RNAS) Culdrose.

Foreign warships, including the Russian RFN Admiral Chabanenko, are also due to take part.

The EuroFighter Typhoon is based at RAF Coningsby and is the airforce's newest state-of-the-art fast jet.

The plane is due to perform an action-packed eight minute aerobatic display showing off the power of its two E3-200 engines.

The Royal Navy's Black Cats, based at RNAS Yeovilton, were formed back in 2001.

The team use Lynx helicopters to perform their display that demonstrates the precision and aerobatic capabilities of the craft.

The helicopters are normally found on the decks of operational warships and Navy Days crowds will see them perform high-speed crosses, close formation work and opposing manoeuvres that have won the skilled team numerous awards.

The Royal Navy Historic Flight, also based at RNAS Yeovilton, will be taking to the skies showing off its Swordfish, Hawker Sea Fury and Sea Hawk fixed wing aircraft.

RNAS Culdrose in Cornwall will also be playing a big role in the displays.

Members of 829 and 824 Squadrons will be flying their Merlin helicopters during the daily air show and will be joined by a black FRADU (Fleet Requirements Air Display Unit) Seahawk and Sea King helicopter which will be taking part in the popular River Display.

The Blue Eagles are the Army's Air Corps display team based at Middle Wallop.

The team will be flying one Lynx and four Gazelles.

The volunteers, who all have full-time jobs in the Army, are looking forward to putting on a breathtaking display at Navy Days.

There will be an additional treat on the Saturday at 5.45pm when the Red Arrows will fly in formation up the River Tamar.

Navy Days is one of the biggest events in Plymouth's leisure calendar.

The theme of Navy Days 2006 is 'Future Navy', and there will be approximately 20 ships and submarines open to the public.

Other attractions include a display by a bomb disposal team from Plymouth and cooking demonstrations.
[Western Morning News]


Local press reports suggest that the successful bidder for the Cammell Laird trade mark could be made known by the end of next week. The trade mark had been put up for sale by receivers KPMG who are responsible for winding up the affairs of Cammell Laird. according to reports it is hoped that the name can be retained on Merseyside. It is reported that North Western Ship Repairers which rose from the ashes of the failed company have expressed an interest in acquiring the name.

August 13, 2006Acknowledgement- Gary Andrews,  John Jeffries, Jim Edgar, Mark Ervine and "others".


Silver Link Publishing have announced the publication of a new book - Irish Sea Shipping by Brian Patton. The book has 192 pages and 300 photographs. Cover price is £18.99. This is what the company have to say about the new title:

Following the huge success of Scottish Coastal Steamers now out of pint for the fourth time! This brand new, and long awaited companion volume will find a ready market amongst both the tourist and general nostalgia market as well as the large enthusiast and shipping industry market.

The social and economic aspects of both cross channel traffic and also local passenger shipping in Ireland, over a period of a century, 1870 - 1970 and beyond. There are studies of ships on both well known services and also of those that operated the lesser runs. It will include some details for boat trains.

Where possible original services will be used. Services to the Isle of Man will feature with particular emphasis to the holiday industry. Another section will feature the cruises provided by Irish Sea ships at various times, usually to Scotland.

Cargo and livestock sailings have a section of their own. As the majority of previous studies have viewed Irish Sea services from the British view this book includes a greater percentage of Irish sourced material.

Born and raised in the West of Scotland Brian Patton's ancestor' on his father's side were of Irish Descent - coming from Newry and Strabane. As a child and during his working life Brian has been a regular traveller across the Irish Sea both for pleasure, visiting relations, and on business.


SUPERSEACAT TWO - it appears that the vessel will continue to operate on reduced power right through to the end of the main summer holiday season with the temporary timetable now extended until September 09. [CLICK HERE].

This means that the ailing craft will have to work through the Manx Grand Prix festival at reduced power. As full details can be downloaded and printed out from the company's web site the sorry state of affairs won't be repeated here.

However, it is of note that P&O EXPRESS will now operate from Larne to Douglas on August 22, 25, 29 and September 05 with passengers being transferred from Belfast by coach. There will also be transfers on some sailings from Dublin Port to Belfast and / or Larne.


A beleaguered ferry service may soon be running through the winter - despite being grounded for most of the summer. The Fleetwood to Knott End ferry broke down 11 weeks ago just months after the new £300,000 vessel was relaunched.

Repairs costing £20,000 are due to be carried out but council bosses are eager to see it fulfils its potential as a year-round service. Wyre Council and Lancashire County Council thrashed out a £500,000 package to back the service for the next 10 years.

But county portfolio holder Councillor Peter Martin confirmed that there wasn't enough subsidy to keep it running through the winter.

He said they were contacting bodies such as the North West Development Agency and the Countryside Agency to see if they could help.

He added: "We are also talking to the operator to try to get them to subsidise winter operations through profits made in the summer. They are looking at it and they realise there is an advantage to run it 12 months of the year.

"If they could break even in the winter the money could be made in the summer." Although the county council owns the ferry, it is operated by Wyre Waste Management of Fleetwood.

Cash flow has been hit by the long lay-off for the boat, but Councillor Martin added: "There is a serious danger of it being a commercial success. There have been a lot of people using it - 6,700 in the six weeks of operation." He said that £20,000 of parts had been ordered for the ferry to get it working properly.

They included new water jets for steering and grilles to protect them. He added: "The idea of the modified grilles is to stop the jets picking up plastic bags, stones and rocks.

"We want the jets to do their job and not pick up things that break the engine." The new boat, built in Pembrokeshire, has been dogged by delays since it sailed up the River Wyre last August.

There were hopes for an early start to the service but there were hold-ups while sufficient staff were trained and adjustments made. [Blackpool Today - August 11]


The STENA SEATRADER will be undertaking berthing trials in Holyhead and Dublin this coming Tuesday. Holyhead 0800 - 1000 and Dublin 1500 - 1700. After that its off to Birkenhead for overhaul until it picks the run up on September 11.


A campaign to save Torbay's historic Western Lady ferries has been set up in an attempt to keep the boats in the bay.

But it has been revealed the boats can no longer be operated commercially in Torbay as part of a clause in their sale.

The two ferries were put up for sale earlier this year and have not operated this season for the first time in 60 years due to increased maintenance, repair and other costs.

However the Western Lady Ferry company continues to run the cross-bay service with more modern vessels.

Fans of the old boats, which are the last working Fairmile B launches left in the country, do not want to see them disappear.

Steve Powell from the West Midlands, who has been holidaying in Torbay for the past 44 years, wants to set up a preservation society to save the boats and wants to hear from others who have the same view.

He said: "I been coming to Torbay on holiday since I was seven and have been on them many times because I love the trip across the Bay on the Western Ladies. It doesn't seem the same with the new boats.

"If they go it will be the loss of our heritage and I fear they will disappear abroad and be turned into gentleman's yachts which will mean we never see them again or not in any form we would recognise."

Operations manager for the ferry company Sandie Armstrong said they very much wanted to see the boats preserved.

She said: "We are still looking for a sympathetic buyer. Unfortunately the cost for maintenance and upkeep would be quite frightening for any group. It is constant work that you have to keep on top of and the cost of mooring a 112ft boat is quite a lot. The company desperately wanted to have a least one preserved because it will be the loss of their kind in the UK. There were 650 of them and now there are only eight left in the world so we hoped a preservation society would step in."

Mrs Armstrong has written to the Duke of Edinburgh, who is the patron of the National Historic Ships Register, but she has had no reply.

"Having preserved them for so long we would not want to see them converted.

"They are world renowned vessels and it is just a shame one can't stay in Torbay but we fully understand there isn't the quay space with the work in Torquay and although there will be a place for heritage boats as part of Brixham's regeneration, it will be a little too late to do anything with the Western Ladies."

One resident added: "It is such a shame that nobody is prepared to invest and buy them. It is not the same without them in the Bay. They added a touch of class and it is pretty miserable now they gone."

Anybody wanting to contact Steve Powell can call cost number 0845 868 8880 or visit  [HERALD EXPRESS August 12, 2006]


Passengers booked to travel with Swansea - Cork Ferries this autumn are not very happy with the news of the ships withdrawal from service to facilitate its sale as the Irish Post reported this week.


Swansea Cork Ferries confirmed it will end its sailing season in October following its decision to sell its 34year-old mv SUPERFERRY. And as this is the company’s only vessel, their entire sailing season has now been cut short.

Managing director Thomas Hunter McGowan said negotiations were well advanced to buy a replacement vessel which will be ready to ply the route by March 16 next year.

But up to 18,000 passengers were expected to travel the route during the winter period.

One passenger who had booked to travel over to the Cork Jazz Festival was livid at the news. She said: “I was really looking forward to going. Myself and a couple of my friends had all booked and were excited about the trip which we got at a pretty good deal.

“We are due to be reimbursed for the cancelled trip but that’s besides the point. The whole thing has still ruined our plans. God knows how much it will cost now to make the trip. I mean we booked it months ago. It’s just not good enough.”

By last week, up to 1,000 places had been booked. But because the buyers need the vessel in October, the company said its sailing season will end on October 7.

“All passengers booked for sailings in the winter period are being informed of this change,” Mr McGowan said.

The passengers who have already booked are being offered full refunds, earlier travel dates, or places on ferry routes out of Rosslare.

The company’s shore staff will not be affected by the sale. The 85 ferry staff, who had contracts until October pending possible extension, are likely to be employed on the new vessel next year.

It is understood the vessel, which industry sources say could have sold for between €4million and €6million, is on its way to the Mediterranean.

The 137-metre ship has 480 beds, 180 cabins and 300 car spaces over two decks.

It has carried almost 3million passengers in its time with Swansea Cork Ferries.

The new vessel will have more cabins and extra freight capacity.


Have you ever wondered what it is like inside the famous Jesse Hartley designed six sided clock tower which stands on the Mersey River Front?

It appears that despite its generally inaccessible nature it has been infiltrated by people who explore old and abandoned buildings. There is a very interesting set of photographs on the Derelict Places web site.


Ram's Island is becoming Ulster's hottest new daytrip destination, as visitors flock to see its bird populations, mature trees and monastic ruins.

Rats have been eradicated from the island in an effort to increase the number of nesting birds, while tree surgery has been carried out to help improve the habitat.

Under a £170,000 redevelopment programme, the island has received funding from Lough Neagh Partnership, supported by the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, to finance a new ferry, The Island Warrior.

Plans for a new jetty, interpretative centre and environmental works are also in the pipeline and this year Ram's Island has already been visited by 2,500 people.

Project manager Michael Savage, from River Bann and Lough Neagh Association, said: "This is the first year the island has become truly accessible to people, and many locals, having seen the island from afar on the shores of

Lough Neagh, are now using the Warrior to visit Ram's Island and discover first hand what it has to offer.

"So far, our new visitors have blended in with the unique biodiversity on the island, and we have seen no negative impacts, but as the island becomes increasingly popular we will keep a close watch in our role as guardians.

"The mix of funding for Ram's Island has helped us carry out a diverse range of actions, from removing predators from the island which has helped local birds to flourish, to increasing accessibility by boat, and when on the island, by foot."

Vince McKevitt of DARD said: "The island is a really beautiful place. With financial support from DARD and the Programme for Building Sustainable Prosperity through the LNP, and the hard work of the RBLNA, I can see the island becoming an important recreational facility for local people and visitors to Lough Neagh.

"The work on Ram's Island is a good example of how rural development funding can contribute to the development of rural areas."


Revellers returning on the late ferry from Rathmullan regatta on Monday evening, August 07, could have been killed as a result of stupid behaviour.

Shocked ferry operator, Mr Jim McClenaghan said the two men who jumped over board as the ferry prepared to dock at Buncrana narrowly escaped with their lives.

Meanwhile, in another area a number of passengers were vandalising the vessel. 'We had trouble from two groups travelling over to Buncrana on Monday night. In one incident, two men decided to jump over the side as we neared Buncrana. They had been standing quietly throughout the journey and their antics terrified crew and passengers.

'I don't think they realise how narrowly they escaped death. Both men jumped in at the propeller point on the boat. The skipper had just closed down the propellers on that side of the boat moments before they jumped. If it had been on they would certainly have been sucked in toward the propeller and killed,' explained Mr McClenaghan.

Crew members called Gardai and rescued the men from the water. However on arrival of the Gardai one man jumped into the water a second time. The ferry was prevented from docking until another rescue effort was launched and the culprit was fished out a second time.

The nightmare crossing began in Rathmullan at 8pm when a group of drunken festival goers rushed on to the ferry and trampled over three young girls in the process. A number of elderly ladies intervened and helped the girls to their feet before they were seriously injured.

Once on board a group of 10 people were boisterous and badly behaved. A separate group of four young people spent their time untying the butterfly clips on all the air vents of the ferry and throwing them and other equipment overboard. The air vents are in place in case of a fire. A caravan belonging to one ferry passenger was badly damaged.

Mr McClenaghan, who is Managing Director of Lough Foyle Ferries Ltd, said it was the first time in his life he witnessed a stampede and the first time in the four year history of the service in Donegal that the crew had any trouble on board. 'One girl tripped as she was getting on board and this group of people just knocked her two friends down on top of her and trampled over all three girls to get on board,' Mr McClenaghan said.

It took only a handful of passengers to make the trip uncomfortable for everyone. 'Many of our passengers were very scared by the behaviour of those few yobs on board. They were like wild sheep ramming onto the ferry and had no consideration for anyone else,' he said.

Mr McClenaghan added that he was very surprised by the number of people on board who were willing to name the culprits who caused havoc and the two who jumped overboard.

'The passengers were appalled at the behaviour of this small crowd and were very willing to give names,' he said.

Mr McClenaghan said new measures would now be put in place and no-one who has had too much too drink taken would be allowed to board the ferry.

The drunken passengers were believed to have been attending the Rathmullan Community festival earlier that day.

This is the first reported incidents of unruliness on the ferry which has been running for three years and has been deemed a great success . All matters are now being investigated by Gardai. [Donegal News]

August 09, 2006 


SUPERSEACAT TWO - the lame feline continues to limp along on three engines as its gearbox has not been returned from Germany for repairs. The company has now revised its timetables to take into account the much longer crossing times These can be downloaded from the company's web site [click here]. This timetable remains valid until August 22.

The new temporary schedule wipes out the only time ashore day trip opportunity to the Isle of Man which is now offered from Liverpool - on a Saturday. With the 11:00 Liverpool departure retimed to 12:45 and the 17:30 ex Douglas retimed to 17:15 it will not be possible to undertake a time ashore day excursion to the Isle of Man from Merseyside.

With day-trip opportunities already heavily curtailed in the past couple of years the Isle of Man Government should be asking pointed questions now why that for at least two weeks day excursions to the Isle of Man will not be possible. The lack of even a basic one day a week facility is hardly a way to encourage first time day visitors who may later decide to come back as staying visitors.

PANAGIA SOUMELA - a photograph of the now completed conversion of the former LADY OF MANN can be found on the Ferry Publications web site. [CLICK HERE]. If only the Steam Packet had kept the LADY and sent the SUPERSEACAT TWO away .......!


Maritime Centenary Exhibition 6-10 September 2006

The Rosslare - Fishguard ferry service represents a vital sea link for trade and tourism between the South East of Ireland and Wales across the challenging sea conditions of St Georges Channel.

An exhibition in celebration of the centenary of this historic ferry service will be held in the Great Southern Hotel, Rosslare Harbour, Co Wexford from Wednesday 6th September until Sunday 10th September 2006.

The exhibition will consist of photographs of the ships, the ports and the people involved in providing this service, and will highlight the many changes that have taken place over the 100 years, culminating in today's conventional and fast ferry service operated by Stena Line. It will also include many items of ships' memorabilia and models of some of the vessels that have served on the route.

For anyone interested in ships and the sea, ferry operations past and present, and the social and economic links facilitated by this historic route, attendance at this exhibition is a must.

The official opening will take place on Wednesday evening (September 6th) at 1930 hrs, and the exhibition will then be open daily from 1100 hrs to 2000 hrs until the Sunday.


NORBANK paid a short visit tot Larne on Sunday August 06 for a scheduled underwater hull inspection.


A  protest by angry locals caused traffic chaos in the small village of Passage East in Co Waterford on the evening of August 04.. Up to 200 locals protested against the use of the village as an access point for the Passage East car ferry that runs a service to Ballyhack in Co Wexford.

During peak summer season, tailbacks and queues lasting up to three hours wind their way through the small village and up the hill overlooking the entrance to Waterford harbour.

Locals say traffic often blocks entrances to their homes, car fumes are polluting their environment and has caused damage to footpaths, roads and even buildings.

Recently local Fine Gael councillor, John Carey, who is from Passage East, said he was selling up and leaving his home of 64 years because of the constant traffic problems.

He called on the ferry operators to provide an alternative slipway outside of the village.

He promised the protests would continue on a weekly basis until the ferry had an alternative access point.

However, tourists who had to queue yesterday for over three hours were frustrated and annoyed.

One woman from Dublin said: "This is advertised in every tourist book. We brought grandkids over today and there was great excitement but when we tried to get on the ferry you were heckled, pushed, shoved. I know they probably have problems with all the traffic but there has to be a better way than what they did this evening. Children crying, no food for babies. It was disgraceful." {Irish Independent]


The Cammell Laird name and trade-mark has been offered for sale by administrators KPMG. The administrators claim in their sale blurb that it is "The opportunity to acquire the trade name and trademark of one of the most famous British shipbuilders would be of particular interest to those operating in the fields of shipbuilding, ship repair and conversion." Former workers at the site have reacted with sadness to the latest development.

Interestingly adjudication of the dispute between Cammell Laird and Carnival Corporation concerning the building of the COSTA CLASSICA mid section has still not been resolved.

The current Carnival Corporation report carries the following information:

Costa instituted arbitration proceedings in Italy in 2000 to confirm the validity of its decision not to deliver its ship, the Costa Classica, to the shipyard of Cammell Laird Holdings PLC ("Cammell Laird") under a 79 million euro denominated contract for the conversion and lengthening of the ship in November 2000.

Costa also gave notice of termination of the contract in January 2001. It is expected that the arbitration tribunal's decision will be made in 2007 at the earliest. In the event that an award is given in favour of Cammell Laird, the amount of damages, which Costa would have to pay, if any, is not currently determinable. The ultimate outcome of this matter cannot be determined at this time.


WAVERLEY touched bottom at Girvan on Monday afternoon with 715 passengers onboard. The very minor happening appeared to get blown out of all proportion when a newspaper reported the ship aground to the MCGA.

As a consequence passengers had to be disembarked and the ship sail light to Ayr. After inspection she was found to be undamaged and was back in service the following day.

August 06, 2006Acknowledgement- Gary Andrews,  Ian Collard and "others".


Volume 2 of Malcolm McRonald's in depth study of shipping services between Liverpool and Ireland will be published in September.

This volume covers services to Cork and Waterford. It can be ordered now from Amazon at a significant discount on the cover price of £19.99. See link opposite.


SUPERSEACAT TWO - continues to operate at reduced power with consequent knock-on effects to the schedule each day. With the Manx Grand Prix festival approaching the potential for increased disruption grows!


The saga of the Knott End ferry continues - this report appeared in the Blackpool Citizen on August 03, 2006:

"Pull your finger out and make a decision!" This is the message from the man in charge of the grounded Fleetwood to Knott End ferry, Ian Drury, as he waits to see if Wyre Borough and Lancashire County Council (LCC) chiefs will repair the broken-down £350,000 vessel and fulfill their promise of a year-round service.

Fleetwood-based Mr Drury, a director of ferry sub-contractor, Wyre Marine Services, claims that, despite notching-up record passenger figures in its first three weeks of operation, the service has suffered "substantial" losses since a new, state-of-the-art boat suffered engine problems in May.

It has spent more than three months waiting for repair while Wyre and LCC officials debate the findings of an expert report.

He said: "The amount of money the service has lost over the last three months of beautiful summer weather is unbelievable. "It is the equivalent of the wages we could have paid to our ferry staff throughout the winter months when there would have been a dip in passenger usage.

"Both Wyre and LCC have indicated that they are keen to repair the boat but a firm decision and some positive action has yet to be taken."

He claims council bosses have back-pedalled over maintaining a year-round service. He added: "As it stands we still don't know whether there even will be a ferry running throughout the winter as, despite having umpteen meetings about this, Wyre and LCC have yet to confirm what they intend to do out of season.

"This came as a huge stab in the back to us because, right from the very early stages of us tendering for the contract, we were always led to believe that the service would be a year-round thing.

"We're very proud to be running such an important tourism and transport link, but we're also a business and we need to know that this venture is financially viable for us in the long run.

"We can't be kept in the dark or be expected to be content with losses or merely breaking even."

A spokesman for Wyre and LCC claimed a decision on repairs will be announced "shortly."

But a spokesman for the county confirmed the future of the ferry as a year-round service depends on funding from a "variety of external sources." Mr Drury added: "The two councils need to pull their socks up and make a decision over exactly what they want from us.

"That way Wyre residents can see that all the hundreds of thousands of pounds that has been spent updating the ferry service has been put to good use."


Five rowers and a coxswain escaped "a nasty accident" when their rowing skiff collided with a ferry. The rowing boat, carrying five female rowers and a male coxswain from Kingswear, near Dartmouth, collided with the HAULEY IV lower ferry shortly before 17.30 on Tuesday, August 01.

The actions of the quick-thinking ferry crew meant the skiff crew escaped with minor cuts and bruises. The accident happened when two ferries were operating between the Kingswear and Dartmouth slipways.

As HAULEY IV approached the Kingswear slipway, pulling to one side to make way for the departing ferry, skipper Eric Caple saw the skiff coming towards them from his port side out of his blind spot.

He said: "It just appeared from the slipway out of nowhere." He said by the time he had spotted the rowing boat it was too close to avoid, but he slammed the ferry into reverse.

The coxswain put his hand out and pushed against the ferry but the rowing boat went straight under the prow.

Tom Crang, 15, from Galmpton, has been working collecting tickets on the ferry for three weeks.

He said he saw what was happening and suddenly realised the rowing boat had gone under the prow. He said: "I didn't see it until it was too late and we were going to collide at that point. "The boat was going under the prow and the only thing I could do was to lift the prow."

He said two people fell out of the boat but got back in again, said they were fine and rowed off.

Les Barnes, ferry manager, said: "With the quick actions of Eric and Tom a nasty accident was averted."

Western Morning News - August 03


A Liverpool Echo SS Manxman special goes on sale tomorrow at newsagents in the Liverpool Echo distribution area - priced £1.50


1st July 2006 saw the Isle of Man receive important recognition through the issue of the annual report of the Paris Memorandum on Port State Control, with its published Black-Grey-White List showing the performance of flag states whose ships have been inspected in European ports. This is an internationally recognised ranking in the shipping industry.

Once again, the Isle of Man is ranked highly on the White List, demonstrating the quality of the ships registered in the Isle of Man. A press release, issued by the Paris MOU, makes special mention of the Isle of Man, where it states:

“The White List represents quality flags with a consistently low detention record. Finland, France, Isle of Man, and the United Kingdom, are placed highest in terms of performance.”

The Marine Administration is justifiably proud of its position in the top four of this year’s White List. The target set by the DTI business plan is to maintain a top third position and this years’ White List contains 33 Flag states. Our position is therefore well within our target and demonstrates that Isle of Man ships are being operated and maintained to the highest standards. It reflects the hard work invested by both the Island’s shipping community and the Marine Administration in ensuring that only ships operated by high-quality owners are registered here and that the standards in Isle of Man ships are continuously maintained and improved.

Minister for Trade and Industry, Mr Alex Downie said:

“I am delighted to see the Isle of Man placed high on the White List again this year. This is the industry’s global benchmark for excellence, and demonstrates our commitment to quality. I would like to thank the Isle of Man shipping sector and the Marine Administration for their hard work in demanding and maintaining the highest standards of Isle of Man ships. The Marine Administration has recently placed a great deal of emphasis on monitoring of the Isle of Man fleet’s Port State Control performance to secure our quality reputation, and this report justifies the hard work which has been carried out. It further cements the Island’s reputation as one of the world’s premier centres for international shipping”


A swan-shaped pedalo drifting in a busy shipping lane 25 miles out to sea off north Wales was returned to land on Friday August 04.

The 6ft (1.8m)-long pedal-powered leisure craft was recovered off Anglesey by a passing yacht.

The swan, nicknamed Issy by its rescuers, was then brought ashore by Holyhead RNLI inshore lifeboat.

A spokesman for Holyhead Coastguard said: "We have absolutely no idea where it came from, but it is certainly an odd thing to find so far out to sea."

He said 'Issy' was found bobbing about in the Liverpool-to-Dublin ferry lane. Coastguards said they were now trying to track down the pedalo's owners.


JONATHAN SWIFT arrived at NSL Birkenhead on August 03 for repairs following the whale strike off Holyhead last Monday. She remained at the yard undergoing T Foil repairs by Scott Lithgow Ltd until departing at 18:50 on Saturday August 05, 2006.


STENA LEADER arrived at NSL Birkenhead for a short dry docking on the evening of Saturday August 06, 2006 at 19:20. She departed on Sunday evening's tide.


EUROPEAN MARINER departed Larne bound Dublin for repairs at 23:00 on Thursday August 03, 2006

August 02, 2006Acknowledgement- Gary Andrews,  Ian Collard, Andrew Hall, Ian Collard, John Stokoe, Damian Casey, Carl Lawrenson  and "others".


The company's operations will feature in a BBC TV Documentary to be shown on at 19:30 BBC1 on Friday August 04, 2006 as part of the BBC's Sea Season.

However, it does not appear that this programme will appear in all regions and may well only be receivable to those tuned to BBC North West.

SUPERSEACAT TWO - following the removal of a defective gearbox and its forwarding to Germany for repair, the ship continues to operate on only three engines. This is typically adding 30 minutes to each sailing which has obviously had a knock on effect to sailings which take place later in each day.


The future of a vital passenger ferry service which runs in South Devon has been secured for a further two years. At a behind closed doors meeting on Thursday July 27, South Hams District Council's executive committee agreed to maintain the Dartmouth-to- Kingswear ferry service for the next two years.

There had been concerns about what might happen with a current deal by Devon County Council and the district council to subsidise the ferry running out in October.

Its future was thrown into doubt last year when Dart Valley Railway Plc, which owns the ferry service and also runs the Paignton to Kingswear railway line and River Dart passenger vessels, announced plans to reduce the service, saying financially it was not worth operating after 19:00 and on winter Sundays.

But, after residents and local politicians raised serious concerns about the loss of the service, the county council stepped in to help provide vital funding to secure the full service until the end of October this year following discussions with the district council. It is understood to be the only ferry operation in the county the council supports using taxpayers' money. The county and South Hams Council agreed to share the £7,000 plus subsidy between themselves. And both authorities have agreed to maintain the service for at least the next two years.

Speaking after the district council's executive committee meeting, the executive member for asset management, councillor John Tucker, said: "The use of the passenger ferry has not increased. However the executive committee agreed to sustain the current level of ferry service for users for the next two years.

"During this time officers will carry out comprehensive research, which will be necessary to make an informed decision on the long-term provision of the service in the future. Specifically it will consider the range of means by which we might be able to meet the needs of the service, taking into account any work that might be necessary on the infrastructure assets, and maintenance of areas such as the north and south embankments.

During the debate concerns were raised by members on the continuing low use of the ferry, especially during off-peak hours.

"As is the case with any service, for us to provide value-for-money to taxpayers across the district, long-term SHDC support can only be justified if the service is sufficiently used."


SUPERFERRY the company's only ship has been sold. "Due to the requirements of the buyers the vessel will be delivered to the new owners in early October 2006," the firm has said.

As a consequence 2006 services will end with the 21:00 sailing from Ringaskiddy to Swansea. However, the Cork based company say services will resume in 2007 with a replacement vessel better suited to the needs of the market.

Photo © John Luxton shows SUPERFERRY inbound for Ringaskiddy on Monday July 31, 2006.



Stena Line has revealed that its new freight service on the Holyhead to Dublin route will commence operations from Monday September 11, 2006.

Earlier this year, Stena Line Freight revealed its plans to increase freight capacity on the Central Corridor by redeploying an existing ferry, the STENA SEATRADER, from its North Sea fleet.

The new service will complete one round trip per day between Holyhead and Dublin, leaving Dublin at 15:15hrs and Holyhead at 22:15hrs. With 2,100 lane metres, it will increase capacity on the central corridor significantly.

"In recent years, we have seen Holyhead Port grow in importance to freight customers who now see Holyhead as the main gateway for transport to and from Ireland," said Vic Goodwin, Stena Line Route Director for the Central Corridor.

"This is due to the opening of the A55 dual carriageway in 2001 which has reduced the journey time to the port and enabled freight traffic to grow by 50% through Holyhead port since the turn of the decade," he added.

Stena Line Freight Commercial Manager Frank Nieuwenhuys believes that the addition of the new ferry will have great practical benefits for customers.

"In addition to providing greater frequency and capacity for our freight customers, we believe the new sailing times will prove attractive for customers who want to arrive in Dublin and get underway before the morning rush hour and return early thereby improving vehicle turnaround time and fleet utilisation," explained Frank.

"This year, we are introducing new tonnage on our North Sea routes from Killingholme to Hoek of Holland with two new ships and this gives us the opportunity to expand our freight services on the Irish Sea by redeploying a vessel from our North Sea fleet to start this service on the 11 September 2006," he concluded.

Stena Line said the vessel would finish on the Killingholme Route at the beginning of August and then proceed to refit for a complete overhaul, which includes an investment of over £300,000 to improve the facilities on board for freight drivers.


Seatruck have now ordered a fifth ro-ro newbuild from Spain's Astilleros de Huelva.

The company recently confirmed that the third ship is now to be Heysham-max (142-m long) like the first two ships in the series which are destined for Warrenpoint - Heysham. However, it is understood the fourth and fifth ships are likely to be longer.

Seatruck have yet to confirm deployment plans for ships 3, 4 and 5.


JONATHAN SWIFT struck what is believed to have been a whale off Holyhead on Monday July 31. She was then taken out of service. An attempt to dry dock her for inspect at Liverpool in the early hours of August 02 had to aborted due to adverse conditions. She is expected to make another attempt on August 03. She is reported at present as being out of service until Saturday. Passengers are being transferred to ULYSSES.


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