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NEWS BULLETIN - OCTOBER 2006

October 21Acknowledgements:  "River Spy" and "others"

THE BRISTOL PORT COMPANY

The Bristol Port Co plans to spend about £450 million (S$1.3 billion) on a container terminal, a departure for the UK port that has relied on cargo such as cars and coal to expand over the past two decades.

The company's owners, entrepreneurs Terence Mordaunt and David Ord, who bought a 150-year lease for the port for about £36 million in 1991, want to build a terminal that can handle 1.5 million containers a year, the company's website says. (www.bristolport.co.uk)

Containers can carry cargo such as DVDs, clothes and chemicals. The port, which flourished in the Middle Ages, has more than quadrupled its cargo in the past 15 years after attracting importers including International Power plc and Toyota Motor Corp. The operator is now betting it can capture some of the nine million containers imported into the UK annually even as rival ports at Southampton and Harwich expand their capacity.

'They have found themselves a number of niche trades and reinvented the port,' said Neil Davidson, a director of research in London at Drewry Shipping Consultants. The owners 'now want to get in on the growth in containers'.

Container terminals in the UK have boomed in the past decade as retailers including Marks & Spencer and Tesco import more of their products from China. Mr Mordaunt and Mr Ord have spent more than £330 million on the port, which covers an area of 260 hectares and is made up of the Royal Portbury and Avonmouth docks. Cargo handled at Bristol has grown to 12 million metric tons since they took over.

Bristol, about 192 km from London, now handles about 150,000 containers a year. About 700,000 cars and six million metric tons of coal pass through the port a year. The volume of the 20-foot containers coming into the country's ports increased 5.5 per cent a year between 1992 and 2004, according to MDS Transmodal, a transport-research company based in Chester, England.

Located at the mouth of the River Avon on the Severn estuary, Bristol Port Co says road and rail links to Birmingham in central England as well as to the west of London will help it attract business from importers.

‘If you look at where container volumes go in the UK, then a lot of them go to the Midlands,' Simon Bird, managing director of Bristol Port Co, said. 'Bristol is close to these areas.' About 37 million people live within 250 km of Bristol, compared with 33 million for Southampton, owned by Associated British Ports, and 25 million for Hutchison Whampoa's Felixstowe, according to the Bristol Port Co's website. The port has been central to the expansion of Bristol, which in the 17th century included the running of slave ships to Africa.

Bristol Port Co is consulting local people and businesses on the expansion, and will apply to the government for permission next year, Mr Bird said. 'At the height of optimism,' it will be approved by the end of 2007, he said.

Expansion at Bristol would come after the UK government this year approved plans by Hutchison Whampoa for a 300 million terminal at Harwich, on the east coast.

BALLYCASTLE - CAMPBELTOWN

Ministers have rejected a plea to fund the restoration of a ferry service between Northern Ireland and Scotland, which ran at a loss from 1997-1999. Direct rule minister Maria Eagle has told MPs no financial support can be offered to reinstate the ferry between Ballycastle and Campbeltown on the Kintyre peninsula.

She made her comments despite previous all-party support and an agreement between the Northern Ireland Office and the Scottish Executive to share the cost of a £1m a year subsidy Alan Reid, Lib Dem MP for Argyll and Bute, blamed tactics being used by NIO ministers to persuade parties to restore the Stormont executive. [BELFAST TELEGRAPH]

CELTIC LINK FERRIES

The Irish ferry company Celtic Link which recently commenced a ro/ro freight service between Dublin and Liverpool is expanding again.

NEW FERRY OPERATOR ARRIVES AT PORTSMOUTH

Port mangers at Portsmouth Continental Ferry Port confirmed this week the arrival of yet another new service at the port.

Celtic Link Ferries will commence operations between Portsmouth and Cherbourg on 15 January 2007, providing a daily, year- round service to the popular Normandy port.

"This is the third new operator to commence services from Portsmouth in the past two years," says port manager Martin Putman. "Not only does it extend our service to Cherbourg from the port, which has  recently only been available during the high season, but it also is a ringing endorsement for the port, its location on the UK's motorway network and its choice of destination ports. We're delighted to welcome Celtic Ferries to Portsmouth and look forward to future growth and prosperity."

Paul Tyrrell, managing director of Celtic Link Ferries Limited said: "We're very proud and excited about this new route as it provides us with a natural hub from Cherbourg to both the UK and Ireland."

The Vessel, to be named the "CELTIC MIST", has a Gross Tonnage of 23160, an Overall Length of 190,94m, and a Beam of 26,01m. The 2020 lane meters give a capacity for 120 articulated units.

The vessel has accommodation for 190 passengers, with the availability of 50 cabins all with private en suite facilities (7 cabins of 4 beds each plus 43 cabins of 2 beds each – total 114 beds).

Hotel Facilities will include a 160 seat Lounge and Bar, a 90 seat Self Service Restaurant, and a quiet lounge with reclining seats.

The voyage time will be 6 hours. The late evening departure from Cherbourg, coupled with an early morning arrival in Portsmouth will provide the ideal timing for hauliers needing a fast transit, whilst allowing drivers a welcome and comfortable break. The 14:30hrs departure time from Portsmouth will allow hauliers to collect from UK customers and be in Cherbourg the same day.

  • Depart Portsmouth Sunday to Friday 14:30hrs Saturday 09:30hrs
  • Arrive Cherbourg Sunday to Friday 21:30 Saturday 15:30hrs
  • Depart Cherbourg daily at 23:30 Arrive Portsmouth 06:30
  • Daily 23:30hrs 05:30

DEVONPORT DOCKYARD CAMPAIGN

Politicians and business leaders have promised the West country's voice will be heard by the Government as the campaign to save Devonport Dockyard begins in earnest. A task group has come together in response to the Ministry of Defence's announcement last month that a major review of the UK's three naval bases could lead to "radical reductions in overheads and naval base capacity".

The move in effect sparked a battle between Devonport in Plymouth - which has the highest concentration of workers in the West Country - and rival yards in Portsmouth and Faslane in Scotland.

Despite boasting the largest naval base in Western Europe, some fear Plymouth's future could be jeopardised by the Royal Navy's emotional attachment to Portsmouth and the Government's staunch support of Faslane.

But members of the cross-party task group say they will mount a strong campaign, making their case "loudly and clearly" to convince key decision-makers that Plymouth is best-placed to support the Royal Navy.

Chaired by Plymouth Labour MP for Plymouth Sutton Linda Gilroy, it includes West Country MPs Alison Seabeck, Gary Streeter, Colin Breed and Geoffrey Cox, Plymouth City Council chief executive Barry Keel, council leader Tudor Evans and representatives of Devonport Management Limited, the South West Regional Development Agency and trade unions.

The recommendations of the dockyard review are expected to be finalised in spring 2007. [Western Morning News]

GORMLEY'S IRON MEN

The army of Iron Men which were planted on Waterloo Beach last year are to be removed at the end of the month. The presence of these rather pointless figures has been blamed for a number of calls to the emergency services which have had to retrieve people who have wandered out to the more remote statues and have been cut off but the tide of have sunk in the sands.

Furthermore the submerged figures are also considered to pose a threat to small craft in the area. The local press have been trying to bolster support to stop their removal but it looks as understandable safety concerns will rule the day. It is believed they will be moved to a new location away from Merseyside.

Your web master can think of a more suitable Merseyside location for these figures - S.Norton & Co on Regent Road!

IRISH FERRIES

JONATHAN SWIFT - The Paris MOU web site reports that the Irish Ferries fast craft was given a thorough inspection at Dublin recently and failed. This resulted in a 4 day detention earlier this month which was unreported at the time.

JONATHAN SWIFT

Inspection details :

Date of first boarding :

04/10/2006

Date of final boarding :

07/10/2006

Port of inspection :

Dublin, Ireland.

Type of inspection :

More detailed inspection

Nb of deficiency(ies) :

15

Nb of deficiency(ies) ground(s) for detention :

6

Duration of detention :

4 days

Ship's particulars at the time of inspection :

IMO number :

9188881

Name :

JONATHAN SWIFT

Flag :

Cyprus

Callsign :

C4HR2

Ship type :

Roro passenger ship

Gross tonnage :

5989

Keel date :

1998

Statutory certificates :

- Load lines certificates  is issued by Lloyd's Register (LR)

- Oil pollution prevention (iopp)  is issued by Lloyd's Register (LR)

- High speed craft is issued by Lloyd's Register (LR)

- International ship security certificate is issued by Germanischer Lloyd (GL)

Ship manager

- Dobson Fleet Management Ltd, Dobson House PO Box 54809, Limasol 3728, Cyprus

 

Areas inspected :

- Accommodation and galley

- Car deck

- Engine and steering room

- Navigation bridge

- Outside decks and forecastle

- Passenger spaces

Operational controls carried out

- Communication equipment

 

- Emergency fire pump

 

Deficiencies :

- Accident prevention (ILO147), Pipes, wires (insulation)

 

- Fire safety measures, Doors within main vertical zone, Malfunctioning, ground for detention

 

- Fire safety measures, Fire pumps , Insufficient pressure, ground for detention

 

- ISM related deficiencies, Documentation, Expired, ground for detention

 

- ISM related deficiencies, Documentation

 

- ISM related deficiencies, Maintenance of the ship and equipment

 

- Load lines , Scuppers, inlets and discharges

 

- Load lines , Scuppers, inlets and discharges

 

- Load lines , Scuppers, inlets and discharges, Not properly mantained, ground for detention

 

- Load lines , Scuppers, inlets and discharges, Not properly mantained, ground for detention

 

- Propulsion & aux., Auxiliary engine

 

- Propulsion & aux., Bilge pumping arrangements

 

- Propulsion & aux., Propulsion main engine

 

- Ship's certificates and documents , High speed craft safety and permit to operate, Expired, ground for detention

 

- Working spaces and accident prevention, Protection machinery

 

ISLE OF MAN STEAM PACKET COMPANY

BEN-MY-CHREE the ship's Christmas seasonal sailings to Dublin have been reinstated for 2006. Though unlike in previous years they are taking place over night with some very unattractive arrival and departure times in Dublin.

Though not featured in the Steam Packet's Irish Brochure the sailings are available on the on-line booking system.

The BEN-MY-CHREE departs Douglas at 19:45 on December 23 and 30 arriving at Dublin at 23:45. Departures from Dublin are at 01:00 on December 24 and 31.

Timings uploaded to the online booking system confirm recent rumours that there will be two fast craft in operation during the 2007 season. This will provide more attractively timed Irish Sailings - but it appears that day trips from Liverpool are being further squeezed with very few late afternoon sailings from Douglas. Most afternoon departures from Douglas including most Saturdays will be at 15:00.

Thus passengers travelling out from Liverpool on the later running morning sailings (11:15 in 2007) will arrive at Douglas presuming the vessel is running on time at 13:45 - just in time to check in for the return trip.

Whilst that probably won't put ship enthusiasts off going for a sail - still better value in £ per mile than the Mersey Ferries it hardly does the ever struggling Manx tourist industry any good turns in attracting the general public!

It is as though the Steam Packet no longer want to attract day trippers to visit the Isle of Man and fail to recognise that this year's day tripper may be next year's staying visitor.

Given the large number of visitors expected in Liverpool during 2007 for the Liverpool 800 Celebrations and in 2008 for Capital of Culture Year one would think that the company would take the opportunity to entice people over to the Isle of Man.

The use of two fast craft could have provided the flexibility for more imaginative scheduling on the Liverpool route offering opportunities for worthwhile visits to the Isle of Man during the Spring and Summer sadly though this opportunity appears to have been lost.

The question the late Mike Goodwyn posed in his 1980s work on Manx Shipping "Is This Anyway To Run A Shipping Line" applies equally in the post Sea Containers world as it did in the 70s and 80s.

KNOTT END FERRY

Parts from the crippled Fleetwood to Knott End ferry have been flown more than 1,000 miles in a bid to get the boat back in the water. The boat may normally travel only a few hundred yards but damaged components have had to be sent to Finland in a bid to relaunch the stricken vessel.

Early November has been set as a target to have the ferry back on the River Wyre although council bosses admit everything relies on Finnish engineers fixing damaged parts.

Councillor Keith Tebbs, Wyre Council's living economy portfolio holder, will face questions on the service at a meeting of the full council tonight.

He said: "All of the parts required to mend the boat were readily available in the UK except the jet housings, which would take nine weeks to deliver. "The manufacturers believe they can repair the existing units and they have been sent back to Finland for repair.

"Now we are just waiting on that one part. "It is up to the manufacturers in Finland to get the ferry back up and running."

Wyre Council is responsible for the day-to-day running of the service while the boat is provided by Lancashire County Council.

The £300,000 ferry boat ran for just six weeks earlier this year before being pulled from service following a massive failure of both jet thrusters. Since then, it has been established that silt and stones from the river bed were being sucked into the jets - causing damage to the system.

Designers have come up with a special grille that will be fitted over the jets to keep out larger stones and hopefully keep the boat in service. Councillor Tebbs said: "The boat should be back in the water in the first week of November.

"There will be extensive trials before we get it back into service. "That will mean we can closely monitor the impact of the modifications and the procedures used by the crew to prevent a repeat of this breakdown. "The boat suffered a catastrophic failure of both thrusters and the repairs are expected to cost £20,000.

"That will come from County Hall's budget for the service. "The Fleetwood to Knott End ferry was relaunched with a brand new, but as yet unnamed boat, in April this year.

NSL / SCOTT LITHGOW - BIRKENHEAD

ORANGELEAF - dry dock work on the former Cammell Laird built Hudson tanker was completed this week and the ship switched from dry dock to the wet basin late on Friday October 20.
 
WAVE SENTINEL - Global Maritimes Cable Vessel is expected to enter # 5 Drydock on Monday October 23 for a short Dry-docking.
 
RFA FORT GEORGE is expected to enter # 5 drydock for 'afloat repairs' in the first week of November.
 
MV PHILIP is due to depart Bidston Dry Dock around Sunday October 22.
 
RR ARROW  arrived at Birkenhead from Heysham on Saturday morning - October 21 for emergency repairs to her stern ramp hinges over the weekend of October 21 / 22.
 
HMCS SENTINEL - the customs cutter which appears to have been berthed in Huskisson #3 Dock for a couple of weeks is due to enter the wet basin for repairs afloat by Scott Lithgow Ltd on Sunday October 22.
October 18 

HOLYHEAD WATERFRONT

A major new planning and regeneration study for the Holyhead Waterfront has  been commissioned by the Isle of Anglesey County Council, with backing from the Welsh Assembly Government and Stena Ports Ltd.

The study will ensure that future developments and improvement schemes are co-ordinated as part of an overall waterfront masterplan. International consultants, Royal Haskoning, who have been involved in  numerous waterfront schemes throughout the world, will conduct the study. It will look in detail at the Inner Harbour and waterfront areas around Morawelon, as well as the Soldier's Point and Newry Beach areas.

News of the study follows the recent completion of the £5m Trinity Court commercial units and apartments development at Holyhead Marina, where berthing capacity has now been increased to around 200, with plans to increase this number to 500.

Council Leader and Corporate Regeneration portfolio holder, Councillor Gareth Winston Roberts OBE, welcomed the study. He said, "Holyhead's extensive waterfront is a major asset which can make an important contribution to the regeneration of the town and Anglesey as a whole. We are pleased to be working jointly with the Welsh Assembly and Stena to help develop an agreed vision for this important area."

The need for the master plan was agreed as a key priority by the Holyhead Forward board, which oversees the regeneration plans for the town. Independent Board chair Steve Jones stressed, "The waterfront is probably the key to successfully regenerating Holyhead. The board agreed with the need for a co-ordinated and carefully considered approach to the future of this area."

Much of the area to be covered by the masterplan is owned by Stena Ports Ltd, as Holyhead Port Authority.

Ship Operations and Port Manager Captain Wyn Parry, added, "We continue to work closely with the County Council, Welsh Assembly, and local regeneration groups to develop new and exciting initiatives such as a new cruise ship terminal, and it's important that the plans for the port and the town are linked together in order to maximise the benefits for the Port, Town and Region. Holyhead has a wealth of strategic untapped land resource - we should seize the opportunity to look very carefully at the opportunities these underutilised areas could bring to us."

Wales' s maritime sector is now seen as a major economic opportunity by the Welsh Assembly Government. It's Director for North Wales and Enterprise, Vanessa Griffiths, said, "This will be an important study for the area that will ensure targeted investment and employment opportunities."Holyhead Town Council clerk, Cliff Everett, said council members looked forward to making their views known to the newly appointed consultants.He added, "These are very exciting times for Holyhead, with a number significant projects underway or under development. The Town Council hopes that the masterplan's integrated approach will allow it to play a prominent role in bringing local economic and social regeneration projects to fruition." [NEWS WALES]

IRISH CONTINENTAL GROUP

MANAGEMENT BUYOUT AT ICG?

Back in the mists of time another quoted Irish transport company announced its intention to take over Aer Lingus. Then ICG's Eamonn Rothwell changed his mind. It is hard to know who Siptu would dread more, Rothwell or Michael O'Leary.

Rothwell is highly unlikely to launch a counter-bid, but, with his own stock riding high, up close to 10% in the past month, he could probably afford it.

Despite falling passenger numbers, life is going smoothly for the shipping line, which has extended a charter on one of its ferries, to P&O. It earns about €11m on leasing out its excess ships. P&O also charters another ferry, PRIDE OF BILBAO, and its lease is also coming up for renewal in early 2007.

With the charters out of the way, Rothwell might finally mount his long-awaited management buyout. ICG's enormous cash flow generation and Rothwell's  8% stake mark it as an obvious take-out candidate. With some clear water now behind its highly controversial outsourcing deal, the timing could be right. [The Times]

ISLE OF MAN STEAM PACKET COMPANY

NORDNORGE - plans by the company to charter the Norwegian vessel for use as floating hotel accomodation during the 2007 Centenary TT have fallen through.

Hamish Ross, Steam Packet Managing Director said, ‘This news is a real disappointment to our Company especially after the long and arduous search to find a suitable vessel for this purpose. Whilst it was our idea and commercial risk to both acquire and sell the accommodation on a break even basis, we know that this news will be met with equal disappointment by the people who provisionally booked onboard accommodation. We will continue to seek a replacement vessel but it will be very difficult’.
 

LIGHT VESSEL PLANET

Further evidence that the powers that in Liverpool show a strong antipathy towards preserved ships has been highlighted in the Daily Post this week:

Those who have seen the Planet in her new home will probably agree she looks rather nice in the Albert Dock - brings a bit of life to the place which is usually just occupied by small craft.

The Liverpool Daily Post reported this week that the Mersey Bar lightship's owner claims he is being hounded out of Liverpool's Albert Dock and might take this iconic piece of maritime heritage to Manchester.

THE Planet lightship, anchored at the Mersey Bar, was the first and last sight of home for millions of seafarers and passengers for many years. This little red lightship, along with her predecessors, symbolises this world famous port's history. Without doubt, Planet is the most iconic Mersey vessel still afloat.

The story that follows, of Planet's astonishing survival, triumphant return to Liverpool, restoration and now rejection, will cause anybody who cares about the city, its history and its soul, to put their head in their hands and weep.

In spite of Planet being one of the Mersey's most important maritime survivors, the lightship's presence in Albert Dock, moored by Blue Bar, is deemed "inappropriate in scale".

Planet's owner, Manchester-based entrepreneur Gary McClarnan, has been told to "consider his options", a move described as "despicable" by Mersey Lightvessel Preservation Society.

In spite of Liverpool's seemingly vast dock estate, in fact suitable berths for a ship like Planet are limited.

The only feasible Liverpool option McClarnan has is the adjacent Canning Half-tide Dock, but its depth varies and the lightship's 12ft draught means it could be damaged by the dock bottom. There are also security problems with this exposed berth.

So it's no option at all, really, which leaves him with the more tempting alternative to leave Liverpool entirely for Manchester, where authorities at both Salford and Trafford are ready to welcome Planet.

He says: "I feel I'm being harassed and hounded out like some gypsy who has nowhere to go. I've had Planet's water supply cut off for three days and access to the ship was barricaded at one point.

"I've been told that some of the tenants worry Planet may become a bar, which is not the aim and would require planning and licensing permission. "Others apparently don't like the colour and think the ship might break her moorings. Finally I'm told I did not give enough notice of arrival, but in fact everyone knew two months ago and started negotiations with British Waterways a year ago.

"I've not asked for any money from anyone, but I'd like a bit of a welcome for coming here. The Tate Gallery love the ship and Tony Tibbles, keeper of Merseyside Maritime Museum, told me how much he appreciates Planet being here.

"I've seen other Albert Dock retail tenants to introduce myself and ask if they had any concerns about the ship. Everyone I spoke to loves the ship and are happy we are there."

If this is an accurate reflection, then surely this is the real issue that the Albert Dock authorities should be addressing rather than harassing an individual whose presence isn't, in fact, resented, but appreciated? Merseyside almost lost Planet two years ago when her previous owners wanted to sell her. The vessel was rumoured to be going to either Holland or Scandinavia, until McClarnan, 44, a Salfordbased music and property entrepreneur, stepped in.

He bought Planet for "under £100,000" and has since spent a further £100,000 of his own money on continuing restoration.

Persuaded by the Mersey Lightvessel Preservation Society not to relocate Planet to his property at Salford Quays, he is instead converting the ship's interior into studio space for 12 music and media students to become a possible satellite for the LIPA "fame" school.

At the dispute's heart is the situation caused by three main bodies being responsible for Albert Dock. British Waterways owns the water and gave permission for Planet's six-month temporary berthing, with negotiations to take place for a longer period.

Albert Dock Company owns the buildings (including leasing) and Gower Street Estates operates its public spaces and walkways on behalf of tenants. The latter is especially unimpressed by the lightship's historical credentials. Sue Grindrod, chairman of Gower Street Estates, says: "The lightship came in without consultation. We're working with British Waterways reviewing the strategy of Albert and all the south docks.

"The lightship will be moved into Canning Dock after a number of discussions between British Waterways and ourselves.

"The lightship occupies the sunny side of the dock, blocking out light, and has a negative impact on the businesses. Scale is our main concern, which our board deemed inappropriate for the Albert Dock. As the public can't access the lightship, I can't see how it benefits our visitors."

However, she did agree that none of the Albert Dock resident vessels - the tug Brocklebank, coaster Wincham, barquentine Zebu or Indefatigable's launches - were accessible by the public, but she thought the Baltic schooner Glaciere could be viewed "by appointment".

Would Gower Street Estates not feel responsible of the loss of Planet to Salford Quays by this decision to force the vessel out of Albert Dock? Grindrod says: "It's British Waterways' problem to find a solution. We're here to work in partnership in all our interests. Blue Bar expressed operational issues about gaining access to (Planet). There are health and safety concerns here."

Pam Brown, president of Mersey Lightvessel Preservation Society, which fought for years to save Planet, says: "This appears to be an infight between the operators of the Albert Dock complex.

"It is despicable that Bill Broadbent, British Waterways' harbourmaster, who has jurisdiction on bringing vessels into Albert Dock, is now having to rescind his permission.

"I believe Planet's berth was offered a year ago, and this has been all done correctly legally with the right insurance. If she's too big for Albert Dock how come this was not spotted earlier on?

"It would be a great shame if Planet goes to Manchester, yet another important part of our Mersey heritage that seems likely to go off to foreign parts."

Jim Gill, chief executive of regeneration agency Liverpool Vision, says: "The south docks do need animation and bringing back boats is a good thing that adds to their attractiveness.

This whole matter could have been better managed. With a bit more sensitivity between the individuals involved, this problem could have been avoided.

''Clearly all the people involved have to get on with each other and should behave in a manner for the greater good." The wider vision concerns leading Merseyside maritime preservationist Susan Hanley-Place, chairman of Mersey Heritage Trust.

She says that from the start of Albert Dock's regeneration, there were plans

- shown on illustrations - to include a lightship. "Redevelopment plans always envisaged Planet would find her final retirement home in Albert Dock, and here she is, berthed up with Liverpool's square-rigger Zebu," says Hanley-Place.

"Planet deserves a warm Liverpool welcome after all those years heaving at anchor out in the Irish Sea.

"British Waterways is a decent organisation to deal with. This has a great deal to do with Bill Broadbent. Bill had a BW remit to develop the ship presence as he sees fit.

"I have the original promotional brochure for 'Albert Dock Village'. It clearly shows the lightship Planet as part of the original aspirational historic ships collection."

"Basil Bean, Merseyside Development Corporation's first chief executive, recognised the importance of smaller historic vessels and British Waterways is now carrying forward this vision, and must be supported to the hilt." Bill Broadbent, British Waterways harbourmaster, says: "Nobody ever suggested we wouldn't speak to Gower Street Estates. We've agreed to move Planet to another location, although all three options have problems regarding water, power and security."

John Sloan of CB Richard Ellis which manages Albert Dock on behalf of Gower Street Estates, says: "We must ensure all procedures for public health and safety and general activity connected with the vessels does not interfere with the occupiers which permanently reside on, and the public who frequent, the dock area."

Justine McGuinn, a spokeswoman for CB Richard Ellis, also stated Planet was too big and "quite intrusive" for Albert Dock, although the lightship mostly lies lower than the public walkways and its protruding lantern does not obstruct any office windows.

Pam Brown of Mersey Lightvessel Preservation Society reiterates: "We've a great deal to thank Gary McClarnan for. Thanks to him Planet is presently so near to her original home at the mouth of the Mersey, afloat on the river waters that actually flow into Albert Dock." Planet's history

Visit the website at: www.barlightvessel.org.uk

SEA CONTAINERS

As was widely expected last week SEA CONTAINERS on filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Monday 16, 2006. Chapter 11 is a means by which US listed companies can see protection from creditors for a limited time whilst a company restructures. For full details and press release visit www.seacontainers.com

STENA LINE

STENA LYNX III arrived at Birkenhead on October 16 for winter lay up. She is understood to have spent a short period on charter to the MoD after her seasonal service concluded between Fishguard and Rosslare.

October 15Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Maritime Clippings, Tony Brennan, Steve Blundell, Dan Cross and "others"

BAE

BAE and VT in talks to create UK's last big shipbuilder

BAE Systems and VT Group are in talks to merge their shipbuilding operations, effectively creating the UK’s last significant shipbuilder.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) is pushing for the creation of a single British shipbuilder, which is likely to hold assets exceeding £1 billion, and is understood to have demanded progress on a deal by Christmas.

Talks between BAE and a number of companies, including Babcock and Devonport, now called DML, have been continuing since the MoD expressed a desire last year to create a single national champion in shipbuilding. 

However, sources close to the negotiations say that the MoD’s insistence on progress by December has added urgency to the talks and concentrated efforts on agreeing terms with VT.

The sources say that a deal with Babcock is effectively off the agenda since the group turned down a joint offer from BAE and VT earlier in the year. DML at Devonport may be included in the merger of assets, but it is primarily a submarine refitting yard and not a shipbuilder.

The focus, therefore, is on the progress of talks between VT and BAE. Sources close to the negotiations say that the two companies are working on various options including BAE buying out

VT, formerly Vosper Thornycroft. Alternatively the assets could be merged into a new company, possibly leading to an initial public offering.

The assets that are likely to be merged include BAE’s yards at Barrow-in-Furness, Scotstoun and Govan on the Clyde and VT’s dock in Portsmouth. The combined assets should have a valuation in excess of £1 billion. According to industry sources, the MoD has given warning that it will take a dim view of failure to integrate these yards.

It has been pushing for the creation of a single shipbuilding company, dubbed “Shipco”, because the Government believes that merging the few significant shipbuilding assets left in the UK will create a single national champion capable of winning orders against foreign yards.

A BAE spokesman said: “We have made it clear earlier this year that we want to participate in the reorganisation of the maritime sector. We are talking to people on a bilateral basis to see what can be established.”

BAE, VT and Babcock are all involved in the project to build Britain’s future aircraft carriers — a £3 billion contract for two carriers. Sections of the carriers will be built by BAE, VT and other partners, including Thales and KBR, before they are transported to Babcock’s yard at Rosyth for final assembly.

Lord Drayson, the Defence Procurement Minister, said: “I’m really pleased with the carrier alliance and the industry needs to build on this. I am looking to see development on that by Christmas.” [Maritime Clippings]

BALLYCASTLE - CAMPBELTOWN

The plan to restore the Campbeltown to Ballycastle ferry service appears to have fallen victim to government attempts to get politicians in Northern Ireland to work together.

Despite all-party support and agreement between the Northern Ireland Office and the Scottish Executive to share the cost of a £1m a year subsidy, the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment (DETI) in Northern Ireland this week issued a statement abandoning the initiative.

Alan Reid, LibDem MP for Argyll and Bute, said last night: "The government is taking decisions that are very unpopular in Northern Ireland. This seems to be an attempt to arm twist the parties into reaching agreement by making it clear if they don't, the government will carry on taking such decisions."

Les Oman, of the Dalriada Business Group, which has campaigned for the return of the service since it was lost in 1999, said: "The First Minister and his Transport Ministers have declared their support, so they can't walk away from it." [The Herald]

BRITISH WATERWAYS

Liverpool Panning Officials ruled against the infilling of West Waterloo Dock this week.

British Waterways had wanted to dump rubble into West Waterloo dock to create a new area of land which some feared could be used for further redevelopment work.

This plan was part of a last minute change of plan to the route of Liverpool's proposed new £17m waterfront canal which would link the north and south docks

Liverpool city council planning committee refused to give British Waterway planning permission for the revised route. British Waterways is considering a possible appeal.

BRITTANY FERRIES

PONT L'ABBE missed a Roscoff - Plymouth - Roscoff sailing on Monday October 09 due to industrial action.

DML

HMS CUMBERLAND- Devonport Dockyard has been awarded a multi-million-pound contract to refit a Royal Navy frigate - in the first phase of a new government scheme designed to ensure the UK's remaining dockyards have enough work to retain vital skills. The Ministry of Defence (MoD) said Devonport Management Ltd had been appointed to carry out a full refit of the Type 22 frigate HMS Cumberland as part of a wider package that will see work awarded to all three of Britain's naval dockyards.

The refit, beginning next month, will generate work for around 300 people at Devonport over a 12-month period - providing a valuable lifeline for the yard.

The contract is part of a £31 million package involving the refit of five warships over the coming year. Dockyards at Rosyth and Portsmouth will also receive refit work as part of the deal.

The arrangement is the first under a new initiative to preserve vital naval engineering jobs and skills.

In recent years, most naval refit work has gone out to competitive tender as ministers tried to generate better value for taxpayers' money. But industry sources claim the result was to drive costs down to an unsustainable level. With cuts in the fleet also reducing the overall workload, fears have been voiced that one or more of the UK's remaining dockyards could withdraw from naval work altogether - leaving the MoD with no choice of domestic suppliers and the UK with a severely-reduced skills base.

Under the new arrangements, which emerged from the Government's Defence Industrial Strategy, future naval work over at least the next two years will be shared out between the three yards.

FRED OLSEN LINES

BLACK PRINCE MINI CRUISES TO / FROM LIVERPOOL

  • Friday March 30 To Greenock Arrive April 01 via Belfast.

  • Friday July 07 To Liverpool Arrive April 09 via Belfast.

  • Friday September 21 To Greenock Arrive September 23 via Dublin.

Each cruise features a full day ashore at either Belfast or Dublin. Fares from £82 to £172 depending on cabin grade.

IRISH NAVAL SERVICE

LE DIERDRE - the former INS ship which was sold for conversion to a private yacht several years ago has been taken to Brazil for completion of the conversion work according to a report on RTÉ's Seascapes programme this week.

LYGRA - The Norwegian ro/ro ship visited Dublin Port this week to load equipment for the Irish Defence Forces for a tour of duty in Lebanon. She used berth 51a to load ro/ro equipment and loaded containers and other heavy equipment at berth 32/33.

ISLE OF MAN STEAM PACKET COMPANY

SEA EXPRESS I appears to have been struggling to maintain sailing schedules this week with crossing times of up to 3.5 hours being recorded and speeds as low as 23 knots being reported by AIS.

GABRIEL SCOTT - there is a rumour doing the rounds which has emanated from the Coastal Cursing Association that the 1965 built 5678 grt ship could be chartered as an extra vessel for the 2007 TT 100 Festival.

She was built as Thoresen's as the VIKING III during her long life she has had numerous owners and chatterers as well as names - TERJE VIGEN, SCANDINAVIA, FENNO STAR, SANDFJORD, SAGA FJORD and now GABRIEL SCOTT. The ship has a speed of around 18knots can carry up to 1,100 passengers and 145 cars.

MAINPORT GROUP

The Cork based marine services company Mainport Grop has secured a €5.46 million contract to provide to super-barges for the oil company, Agip for that company's projects in the Caspian Sea. The barges will be used to transport drill cargo from existing production platforms in Kazakhstan. Custom-built to cope with the shallow nature of Caspian Sea waters, they will have all-weather capabilities and be ice-strengthened to cope with winter conditions.

MERSEY FERRIES

Early morning weekday sailings between Birkenhead Woodside and Liverpool will be withdrawn at the end of the end of October. From October 30 ,2006 the first sailing from Woodside will be at 09:45 almost two hours later than the present first sailing of 07:45. Passenger numbers have dwindled significantly and some departures from Woodside are reported to only be only boarding a handful of passengers.

Withdrawal of the Woodside service will enable the frequency of commuter sailings on the popular Seacombe route to be increased from every 30 minutes to every 20 minutes. Demand for travel from Seacombe is attributed to the free car parking facility which has recently been extended.

Merseyside ferries have pledged to monitor developments at Woodside to see if the morning commuter service can be restored in the future.

ROYAL NAVY

HMS PENZANCE - the Sandown Class mine hunter will be visiting Penzance as part of the annual Trafalgar celebrations. She is expected to arrive at Penzance Harbour on October 19 and remain in the port until the following Monday.

The ship will be open to the public on Saturday between noon and 15:00.

SEA CONTAINERS

There has been speculation in the business press this week that the former major player in Irish Sea ferry operations and owner of SUPERSEACAT TWO which is currently on charter to the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company may file for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy protection. This will protect the company from creditors for a period of 18 months whilst it works to reorganise its operations. It is unlikely that the company will be unable to repay a £62m bond which falls due on Sunday October 15.

STENA LINE

A man suffered sickening injuries to his legs when he was crushed by a 30-ton articulated lorry. The injured man, in his mid 40s, slipped under a moving cargo vehicle - which contained heavy steel - on a ramp at  Fleetwood on October 04. He was airlifted from the cargo berth opposite Queen's Terrace to Royal Preston Hospital by the Blackpool-based Air Ambulance.

The Spanish crewman was discharging cargo from STENA LEADER at the Docks when he slipped beneath the lorry's wheels at just after 10am yesterday. A spokesman for the North West Air Ambulance said: "He was in considerable pain. "Apparently he was on the slipway when the lorry went over his lower legs. "We gave him pain relief and took him straight to hospital at Preston. "We don't believe he had internal injuries but this was a very serious accident and the man was in severe pain." The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and the Marine Accident Investigation Bureau have begun an investigation.

 In a statement, Stena Line said: "Stena Line takes the safety and welfare of its staff and passengers very seriously and is carrying out its own investigation into this incident."

SWANSEA CORK FERRIES

SUPERFERRY departed from Swansea bound for Egypt at 17:00 on Tuesday October 10, 2006. She departed carrying her SCF name and was delivered by Swansea Cork Ferries. Her Polish crew being replaced by the new owner's Filipino crew.

YELLOW DUCK MARINE

WACKER QUACKER 08 - a third DUKW has been added to the existing fleet of two to provide additional capacity for the popular amphibious tours of Liverpool and the South Docks. The additional DUKW has been brought from Glasgow.

October 08Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Ian Collard and "others"

CLASSIC INTERNATIONAL CRUISES / TRAVELSCOPE

ATHENA Furious passengers whose luxury cruise turned into a nightmare criticised the boss of the travel company for his "contemptuous attitude" as they arrived back in the Westcountry. Passengers on the 24-day luxury holiday to the USA and Canada, which cost thousands of pounds a ticket, were turned away from ports and thrown around their cabins in hurricanes, during which one man died.

But on arrival back in Falmouth in the early hours of Thursday, they received a tongue-lashing from the managing director of the travel company.

Richard Ford, managing director of Travelscope, stepped out of his Jaguar car and strode towards a group of astonished passengers gathered on the dockside.

When Jim Kiddie, a city councillor from Aberdeen who had helped organise a passenger committee, introduced himself, Mr Ford said: "I don't like being blackmailed. Blackmailing is a crime."

Mr Ford was referring to a threatened sit-in by disgruntled passengers who said they had paid thousands of pounds for "a horrendous experience".

John Watchman from Plymouth said: "We were going to do a sit-in protest in Falmouth, but then realised the police might think we were trying to hijack the ship.

"Instead, we all decided to go straight to our solicitors. It was a breach of contract and an awful holiday."

The ATHENA set off from Falmouth on September 10 for a cruise advertised as the New York, New England and Canada's Maple Leaf Trail.

Christine Day from Mabe, near Falmouth, said: "The mattresses kept flying off the bed. The top bunk fell down. If I had been sitting up it would have killed me."

Dr Michael Bedford, a doctor from Sark in the Channel Islands, died during the voyage after falling down a flight of stairs aboard the cruise ship.

Passengers said they accepted that rough weather was always a possibility on a ship but argued that the main problems should have been foreseen.

Pauline Arthurs, of Roche in Mid Cornwall, was left with a large bruise on her side after falling over during a storm and hitting the deck.

She said: "Nothing was secured down properly. We were rolling round all over the place."

Kerry Booth, who served in the Royal Navy for 19 years and was based at RNAS Culdrose near Helston, said: "Our basic beef is that they haven't delivered on what they said on the tin.

"It's like driving in a car with a maximum speed of 68mph and planning on doing 60 all the way from Land's End to John O'Groats. The itinerary of this cruise was never achievable."

Passenger June Partridge said: "They were trying to mend the beds with double-sided sticky tape."

Free excursions offered by Travelscope did little to allay Mrs Partridge's disappointment.

"One was supposed to be to a Native American settlement but it was like a sink estate with concrete blocks of flats and abandoned cars."

Carol Batchelor said: "I really thought I was going to die. We saved for a long time to come on this cruise but it was absolutely horrendous - and now I've used all my annual leave as well."

Having missed their first two ports of call in Canada, they eventually made it to Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Relatives of the man who died had been waiting at the first scheduled stop, St Johns, for the body to be taken off the ship, but then had to catch up with the ATHENA in Halifax.

Delays by the authorities at Bar Harbour, Maine, meant that only half the passengers were able to go onshore and the ship was refused entry to Boston because the captain filled in the wrong forms.

"We were like a group of lepers sailing about," said Mrs Partridge.

Another disgruntled passenger, David Cutts, said: "We could see Boston in the distance but we couldn't go there. It was obvious we were diverting before there was any official announcement."

The ATHENA was front page news in New York where the ship was greeted as The Death Ship.

Under the name of SS Stockholm, 50 years earlier the same vessel had struck and sank an Italian liner resulting in 51 deaths.

After time spent in New York, organisers then cancelled a planned visit to the Azores islands and instead went back via Sydney in Canada and an unscheduled stop in Brest, northern France.

About 20 angry passengers were talking to the media at Falmouth Docks when Mr Ford arrived.

Relations between the travel group head and the irate customers did not improve as Mr Ford appeared reluctant to back down.

Cheryl Booth told him: "You have consistently had a contemptuous attitude towards us. We have been treated appallingly."

Mr Ford said: "I'm a tour operator, not a seaman. The itinerary was planned by the shipping company, not us."

However, a spokesman for the ship owners, Classic International Cruises, said: "The itinerary is devised by the charterers - it is their prerogative and they have the power to make changes as they did on this occasion."

Passenger Bobbie Parsons said: "We paid in good faith for the holiday of a lifetime and we want apologies and compensation."
[WESTERN MORNING NEWS]

CLUB CRUISE / TRAVELSCOPE

VAN GOGH is another ship which appears on a regular basis in the Irish / Celtic Seas on charter to Travelscope. The following is a report from "Maritime Clippings" of an inquest into a passenger who died earlier this year whilst on a cruise to Norway:

Cruise passenger killed by sickness bug days after ship given all-clear A grandmother suffered an agonising death after catching a vomiting virus on a cruise ship days after it was supposedly disinfected following a previous outbreak. Retired school teacher Edith Horn, 78, was so ill her throat ruptured during the luxury cruise with her husband around Norway. She died hours later.

The VAN GOGH had undergone specialist cleaning twice the previous month after more than 200 passengers and crew on two cruises fell victim to the norovirus, which causes acute vomiting and diarrhoea. On the second occasion, port authorities impounded her for four days after learning her crew were preparing to set sail. An insider at the Maritime and Coastguard Agency later revealed staff were forced to act after the captain ignored advice not to depart.

During an inquest yesterday into Mrs Horn's death, it emerged the Ukrainian doctor on board claimed he had not known Mrs Horn had any of the virus's symptoms. He also failed to tell environmental health officers who boarded the ship for a routine check on its return that a passenger had died. Mrs Horn's devastated husband, retired engineer Bernard, 77, criticised the way his wife had been treated on board the 15,420-tonne vessel, which is operated by British firm Travelscope Holidays.

"The doctor was very abrupt and had virtually no bedside manner. He spoke very little English," he said after the hearing in Chelmsford, Essex. "I am very surprised that he said he did not know my wife had been vomitting and had diaorrhea because somebody had definitely asked if we had any samples, but I can't recall who."

The inquest heard the couple boarded the ship on June 3 in Harwich, Essex, and took part in a number of shore excursions in Norway, including one in Bergen, during the six-day cruise. But on the fourth day the couple left a formal dinner and show early when Mrs Horn started feeling unwell. "My wife rested on the bed and and by this time she was not feeling at all well," Mr Horn said.

He tried to buy painkillers at the ship's shop but they had sold out and when he returned his wife was suffering from severe vomiting and diarrhoea and pains in her chest. The ship's doctor, Andre Glumob, was called at about 10pm and administered painkilling injections and later a drip. Over the next few hours Mrs Horn had up to eight visits from the doctor but her condition continued to deteriorate and Dr Glumob told Mr Horn: "Your wife is very ill. I think she is going to die." Mr Horn added: "I just went back into the cabin and tried to comfort my wife but she was still in pain.

 "She said she would love a cup of tea. I went to fetch a cup of tea with a straw and she tried to drink it but she couldn't keep it down. "She sank back on to the bed and she was really cold and I phoned the doctor again and he confirmed she was dead."

Travelscope Holidays was criticised in May when the Maritime and Coastguard Agency was forced to impound the Van Gogh before she set sail after learning 105 passengers and 21 crew fell ill with the virus during a seven-day tour of the Norwegian fjords.

Around 500 passengers were waiting on the dockside on May 29 when they were told their trips had been cancelled for the ship to be disinfected. The ship was allowed to depart on June 3 for the cruise that the Horns joined.

During the inquest it emerged the ship had already been disinfected earlier the same month after 90 passengers and 18 crew were struck down by the virus on a previous cruise. The Van Gogh was built in 1975 and has 250 cabins, a shopping centre, cinema, swimming pool and health spa.

She carries a 250-strong crew comprised mostly of Ukrainian officers. Despite the Mrs Horn's family's concerns about her treatment, coroner Caroline Beasley-Murray recorded a verdict of natural death after hearing Dr Glumob had treated her appropriately.

A report by a forensic pathologist stated her nothing could be done to save her life once her oesophegus had ruptured - a rare side-effect of the bug. Tim Knight, director of passenger services at Travelscope, told the inquest such outbreaks were a part of operating cruises. He refused to comment as he left the inquest.

IRISH FERRIES

ULYSSES - The Martello Lounge has been upgraded to a Club Class facility to balance that available on the JONATHAN SWIFT.

Passengers availing themselves of the upgrade will benefit from priority boarding if travelling with a vehicle, complimentary snacks including tea, coffee, wine and minerals as well as complimentary newspapers. An exclusive Lounge Bar – serving a wide range of delicious food and drink  and 10% Discount – on selected best selling products in our on-board shop. Supplements are only £10/€15 each way.

MARITIME & COASTGUARD AGENCY

TWO FISHING SKIPPERS FINED FOR COLLISION IN THE IRISH SEA

In Newtonards Magistrates Court on October 05, William Orr, owner and skipper of the fishing vessel BOY STUART pleaded guilty to a breach of Collision Regulations in that he that he did not properly determine the risk of collision.

Phillip McMullen, co-owner and skipper of the fishing vessel ASPIRE pleaded guilty to three charges :-

1. A breach of Collision Regulation Rule 5, in that he failed to keep a proper lookout
2. A breach of the merchant shipping and fishing vessel safety training regulations.
3. He failed to secure the safe operation of the ship because the foreign crew could not communicate effectively.

On
the 20th June 2005 both vessels were in a group of about twelve boats fishing for prawns off the North West coast of the Isle of Man. The ASPIRE and BOY STUART were found to be using a GPS system that converted the signal into Decca lane readings.

The BOY STUART was operating to the south of the ASPIRE then altered course to the North North East. This put her on a reciprocal course with the ASPIRE. At about 10.00hrs the skipper of ASPIRE had gone to make a cup of tea. Both vessels collided head on causing severe damage to the BOY STUART.

The ASPIRE had employed two Slovakian and one Lithuanian crew members for between ten and twelve months. In that time they had not attended any of the safety training courses required for fishermen. These courses include survival at sea, fire fighting, first aid and safety awareness.

In sentencing the Magistrate Mr King said:

Both men come from fishing families and they were both fathers who lived and worked in the same community.

It was vital that the standards must be kept to the high levels that have been set.

It was clear that Mr Orr was carrying out his responsibilities and did observe the ASPIRE, but then made an assumption that he would give way. Mr Orr did not know that Mr McMullen was not on the bridge of his ship. He felt that he would take a lenient view and fined Mr Orr £500 with £500 costs.

Mr McMullen has a previous conviction which would be reflected in his sentence. Mr McMullen was fined £1000 on the first charge and £500 for each of the two other charges with £500 costs.

Captain Bill Bennett, Area Manager (Survey and Inspection) of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency said:

It is very unfortunate that we have to prosecute fishermen in order to get them to understand that the consequences of their actions can result in injury and death to their crew.

In this case it is fortunate that there were no injuries to the crew of either vessel.

Paul Fairbrother, Head of Fishing Vessel Safety said;

Some GPS displays are quite capable of outputting positions in Decca format. Apparently, some fishermen are using Decca coordinates as their preferred display option, perhaps because their regular fishing grounds (ones that they, or their forebears, have fished for decades) are most familiar to them as Decca lanes and positions. The practice of following Decca lanes is unacceptable and can easily lead to head on collisions.

Fishing, and any other vessels using Decca coordinates, must understand that this is not an acceptable position reporting system as Decca lattice charts are no longer produced by Hydrographic Offices (Decca having been switched off in year 2000) and the Coastguard no longer holds charts to plot Decca coordinates onto. Also, in the event of an emergency, use of Decca coordinates may significantly and dangerously impede rescue operations. Users of Decca displays could be putting their own, and others, lives at risk by continuing to use Decca coordinates.

PENINSULAR & ORIENTAL STEAM NAVIGATION COMPANY

EXPRESS has moved to the former Steam Packet Terminal at Donegall Quay for winter lay-up following the end of her operating season.

ROYAL FLEET AUXILIARY

RFA ORANGELEAF arrived at NSL Birkenhead this week.

SEATRUCK FERRIES

CLIPPER POINT CHRISTENING by Gary Andrews

The first of Seatruck's new purpose built ro-ro ferries was christened CLIPPER POINT yesterday (7 October) at the Astilleros de Huelva yard. (Huelva, Spain).

Not due for delivery until the first quarter of 2007 there is still quite a lot of fitting out work to complete the ship. However, the ceremony was held on her upper freight deck and one cannot help but be impressed by the increase in capacity she will bring. The Christening itself took the form of a champagne bottle being smashed against the side of her upper vehicle deck by the Lady Sponsor, Mrs Andréa Hobbs, wife of Seatruck CEO Kevin Hobbs.

Work could also be seen taking place on ship number 2 in the series, the CLIPPER PACE. There are three further firm orders for this class of vessel, these ships will be named CLIPPER PANORAMA, CLIPPER PENNANT and CLIPPER PEAK. The first three vessels have a length of 142 m (Heysham max) whilst the final two vessels have been ordered at 158m. The first two vessels will operate Warrenpoint - Heysham whilst options are being explored for the next three.

For those interested in ship design they have been designed by Knud E Hansen.

STENA LINE

STENA SEATRADER departed the NSL Birkenhead Wet Basin on October 07, in preparation for her entry into service on the Dublin - Holyhead route on October 09.

SWANSEA CORK FERRIES

SUPERFERRY made her final crossing between Cork (Ringaskiddy) and Swansea on October 07 with the 21:00 departure from Ringaskiddy closing the route for the season. No announcement has been made concerning a replacement vessel as yet which is promised for next season.

October 04Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Kevin Bennett, Trevor Kidd and "others".

CLASSIC INTERNATIONAL CRUISES / TRAVELSCOPE

ATHENA - Two weeks ago Irish Sea Shipping reported that the veteran 1948 ship (ex-Stockholm) which visited Merseyside on several occasions this season had a somewhat lively trans-Atlantic crossing.

The following report appeared in the Western Morning News this week:

A luxury cruise across the Atlantic turned into a nightmare, and passengers launched a mutiny after being left "angry, exhausted, bitter and frustrated". The 24-day cruise of the ATHENA from Falmouth, costing thousands of pounds a ticket, has hit hurricanes, been turned away from ports and one man has died on board the vessel, which has been dubbed The Death Ship.

Irate passengers, many from the West Country, were threatening direct action last night in protest at the way they have been treated.

It was advertised as a luxury cruise to exotic destinations but made only four of its seven planned ports of call, in the wrong order. Last night, after making an unscheduled call at the French port of Brest, it was sailing back to Falmouth today.

John Watchman from Plymouth served in the Royal Navy for 25 years and worked on the Sovereign submarine that went to the North Pole in the late 1960s.

He said: "I know about being at sea and I know about being in rough weather, but this ship just wasn't ready for the weather. The cabin furniture was falling apart - our wardrobe door came off its hinges. Other passengers had their beds collapsing and TVs thrown across the room.

"You could see people around the ship with bandages and lots of bruises."

Mr Watchman paid £5,000 for tickets, for himself and his wife Dot. He now plans to cancel a trip he had booked to Brazil with Travelscope, the cruise operator.

Graham Arthurs, from St Austell, was all set to enjoy the cruise, which had been a present from his children to celebrate his 30th wedding anniversary.

He said: "I'm so disappointed - it's been absolutely diabolical."

A 70-year-old man, thought to be from Sark in the Channel Islands, died falling down some steps when the ship was caught in a hurricane in the middle of the Atlantic.

Kathryn Anderson from Devon, who was travelling with her brother, Brian Thomson, said: "Everybody was buffeted around - plates were flying, cups, glasses, everything. They had to take the glass tables down and lay them on the floor."

The ATHENA was previously known as the STOCKHOLM and earned its name as "The Death Ship" when it struck and sank an Italian liner 50 years ago resulting in 46 deaths.

The cruise was advertised as the New York, New England and Canada's Maple Leaf Trail by Travelscope.

However, Jim Kiddie from Aberdeen said: "We have felt more like the Mary Celeste travelling round the Atlantic in the wrong direction. We are leaving this ship angry, exhausted, bitter and frustrated.

Mr Kiddie, a city councillor and trades union negotiator, was less than impressed by the way in which Travelscope had handled the situation. He said: "They have behaved autocratically and irresponsibly and have refused to recognise the strength of feeling on this ship."

ATHENA set sail from Falmouth on September 10 for St John's, Newfoundland in Canada. But having slowed down to ease the effects of the hurricane, they missed their first port of call and went straight to Halifax, Nova Scotia, also missing out their second destination, Sydney in Nova Scotia.

They were then delayed by local authorities at Bar Harbour, Maine and refused entry in Boston before getting to New York earlier than planned.

The company decided to then go back to Sydney and head back across the Atlantic to Brest in northern France without an advertised stop at the Azores in the mid Atlantic. "None of the passengers wanted to go to Brest," said Mr Kiddie.

Richard Ford, the managing director of Gloucester-based Travelscope, said that some of the difficulties were out of their hands. "I do sincerely apologise for any problems," he said.

Regarding the death on board the ship, Mr Ford said: "To have that happen is a tragedy. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police and a coroner came on board in Halifax and were happy with the vessel and the safety arrangements.

"They hit a hurricane in the Atlantic and the Master of the vessel slowed down for the comfort of the passengers, which had a knock-on effect.

Mr Ford said the company had offered passengers free excursions and a free bar to make up for changes to the schedule. He admitted a mistake by the captain which resulted in the ship being turned away from Boston but claimed the delay in entry to Bar Harbour should be taken up with the ship owners.

Classic International Cruises, which owns ATHENA, said: "It would be inappropriate for us to comment as Travelscope have chartered this vessel."

A spokesman for ABTA, the Association of British Travel Agents said: "Travelscope followed correct procedures but this was a very unfortunate incident. If people feel they weren't treated properly they should take it up with Travelscope. If they then still don't feel they have been treated properly they can go to ABTA arbitration."

DML APPLEDORE

An MP has called for the American owner of a key North Devon employer to help safeguard its future.

Torridge and West Devon Conservative MP Geoffrey Cox has written to Texas-based Halliburton asking it to do everything it can to help Appledore Shipyard secure a new order. Halliburton owns DML, which bought the Appledore yard two years ago.

Mr Cox said he was moved to make the plea direct to the shipyard's ultimate owners after being told that there was a potential client keen to place an order for an offshore survey vessel with the shipyard.

He said he wanted to help the yard get work following the problems with the order for a Scottish Fisheries Protection Vessel, which the yard had all but won until the Scottish executive stepped in to block the order.

Mr Cox has written to David Lesar, president and CEO of Halliburton, and Bill Utt, the president and CEO of its subsidiary, KBR, both based in Texas, asking them to show their support for the shipyard.

He wanted them to authorise Appledore to agree a contract with the prospective purchaser who, he understood, has already begun to look at a rival yard.

In his letter to Mr Lesar, Mr Cox said: "I would like your assurance that there is a strong commitment from DML's parent company to securing this particular contract for the yard so that it can be developed successfully and contribute full as one of DML's continuing production units - initially by being authorised as a matter of urgency to agree a contract with the prospective purchaser."

Mr Cox told Mr Lesar that Appledore had already built survey vessels for use in the offshore oil and gas industry and was ideally suited to carry out such contracts.

Mr Cox has tabled a Parliamentary question for the Defence Secretary asking him to seek assurances from Halliburton about its continued commitment to its UK facilities. Halliburton was asked to comment on Mr Cox's letter, but did not respond.

ISLE OF MAN DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORT

Passenger figures compiled by the Harbours Division for August 2006 at 98,000 show a 1.0% decrease on the figure for the same period in 2005 which was 98,897.The year to date figure at 439,356 passengers shows a 1.2% decrease over the same period in 2005 which was 444,809.

During August, car and motorcycle traffic through Douglas Harbour increased by 1.1% from 24,024 vehicles to 24,295 vehicles.The year to date figure at 124,681 vehicles shows a 0.8% decrease over the same period in 2005 which was 125,663.

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

Belfast

Minus 10%

from

4,293

to

3,866

Dublin

Minus 11%

from

4,420

to

3,935

Heysham

Plus 13%

from

30,627

to

34,494

Liverpool

Minus 8%

from

56,725

to

52,271

Larne

All plus

From

Nil

To

567

Director of Harbours, Captain Michael Brew comments:

Another generally static month, the Heysham route seems to have gained traffic at the expense of the Liverpool route, possibly due to the speed reduction on SuperSeaCat services. The reintroduction of the Sea Express, formerly SeaCat Isle of Man has now restored normal fastcraft services and re-established the 2½ hours crossing times to Liverpool.”

IRISH CONTINENTAL GROUP

Irish Continental Group PLC said that P&O European Ferries Ltd has exercised its option to extend the charter of the 1995-built combined passenger and freight ferry KAITAKI (ex ISLE OF INNISFREE) from July 1 2007 to July 1 2010. P&O retains one further option to extend the charter from 2010 to 2013.

ISLE OF MAN STEAM PACKET COMPANY

BELFAST

On Sunday it was reported that a correspondent had commented on the removal of all the company's baggage trailers from the company's Donegall Quay Terminal at Belfast. It was speculated that SEA EXPRESS I had made the final Steam Packet company sailing from the City Centre Terminal when she closed the seasonal Northern Ireland route on October 01.

It is understood that the company's lease on the former Sea Containers Terminal complex comes to an end in December and the site is due to be cleared by the Belfast Harbour Commissioners.

It remains to be seen as to what happens next season with regard to services from Douglas to Northern Ireland but there is some suggestion that the Northern Ireland terminal may be moved to Larne and possibly operated by P&O using the EXPRESS.

HEYSHAM

A press release issued by the company on October 03 advises of improvements being carried out at the car marshalling area at Heysham Port.

"Improvements being carried out to the car marshalling area at Heysham port should cause little if any delay or problem to motorists accessing the Ben My Chree sailings to the Isle of Man.

Motorists will be met by staff members and guided to the vessel after a ticket check in from the main building but the car park will remain out of use until the improvements are completed around mid November.

Motorists driving away from the vessel and out of the port will not be affected.

The Steam Packet anticipates little delay but apologise for any inconvenience whilst the improvements are being carried out during this short period.

The Steam Packet have also agreed a programme of improved facilities for Liverpool port."

MAERSK GROUP

NORFOLK LINE

LIVERPOOL VIKING was noted departing the Mersey very late on October 04 passing Formby at 17:30 on what appeared to be her morning sailing!

PENINSULAR & ORIENTAL STEAM NAVIGATION COMPANY

EXPRESS has now completed her 2006 season on the North Channel operating out of Larne. Trevor Kidd has compiled the following statistics:

Summer Season 2006 Reliability

  • Total Return Crossings Timetabled = 606  (Troon 404, Cairnryan 202)
  • Return Crossings that failed to operate = 23 (3.8% of total)
  • Cancelled due to weather = 13 (2.1%) Cancelled due to technical problems = 10 (1.7%)
  • Troon crossings that failed to operate = 10 (2.5% of Troon total 404)
  • Cancelled due to weather = 5 (1.2%) Cancelled due to technical problems = 5 (1.2%)
  • Cairnryan crossings that failed to operate = 13 (6.4% of CR total 202)
  • Cancelled due to weather = 8 (4.0%)
  • Cancelled due to technical problems = 5 (2.5%)
  • Comparison with 2005 606 crossing timetabled 36 failed to operate (5.9%)
  • Isle of Man Steam Packet Charters 100% reliability

It appears technical problems have been common to both routes but the Cairnryan trip was pulled due to weather a bit more often than Troon and there were a number of occurrences of Cairnryan pulled yet Troon trips operating even though there was no real lull in the conditions.  There was also a late Cairnryan trip run because EXPRESS couldn't make it into Troon.

PORT OF CORK

Record Cruise Seasons in 2006 and 2007

By the end of the current cruise season, the Port of Cork will have handled a record 36 cruise ships and an estimated 35,000 cruise passengers compared with 32 cruise ships and 29,000 passengers in 2005.

 

Commenting on this achievement, Port of Cork Chief Executive, Brendan Keating said that the growth was both satisfactory and encouraging and could be attributed to a number of factors, principally the variety of excellent shore attractions in the port’s hinterland, the unique deepwater port facilities in the heart of the picturesque town of Cobh, the commitment and professionalism of all service providers in the region and the peerless Cork welcome which is extended to all visiting cruise passengers.

 

He felt that the decision of the board of the Port of Cork Company two years ago to invest 3.6 million euro in enhanced facilities at Cobh was already bearing fruit as is evidenced by the steady trend towards larger vessels.

 

He said that it was most heartening to find that the port’s appeal was industry wide with almost every operator cruising in Northern European waters calling to the port on a regular basis. Mr. Keating said that the Port of Cork’s cruise traffic conferred a major economic stimulus to the economies of Cork, Kerry and Waterford. He said that an independent economic impact study undertaken by the Centre for Policy Studies, University College Cork found that the regional economic contribution of the Port of Cork’s cruise business in 2004 amounted to €28 million and supported 204 full time equivalent jobs.

 

With the substantial increase in cruise traffic in the interim, Mr. Keating was of the view that the current economic value of the port’s cruise business is approximately 35 million euro.

 

Turning to 2007, Mr. Keating said that there are already 37 confirmed calls with the likelihood that further bookings will be received over the next couple of months. However, the most significant factor was the decision by Royal Caribbean International to commit an unprecedented eleven calls to the Port of Cork – seven under the Royal Caribbean brand and four under the Celebrity brand. This compares with a combined total of six calls this year. Mr. Keating said that from an economic impact standpoint the increased size of ship had particular relevance. The eleven vessels will offer 30,000 passenger capacity or approximately 85% of the port’s overall cruise passenger throughput in 2006. With total cruise passenger throughput estimated to rise  next year, the regional economic contribution is likely to be in the order of 40 million euro.

New Challenge

Mr. Keating stated that the single biggest attraction next year was likely to be Royal Caribbean’s 138,000 ton NAVIGATOR OF THE SEAS. Measuring 1020 feet in overall length and with passenger capacity in excess of 3100 and carrying a crew of 1200, she is the largest vessel ever to cruise in Europe. Described in some quarters as a revolutionary masterpiece, the vessel features a rock climbing wall, a full size basketball court, an ice-skating rink, an in-line skating track, a five-storey theatre, a miniature golf course and a spectacular three-storey dining room.

 

The vessel will make three calls to the Port of Cork, two of which will be overnight calls. Mr. Keating said that while he was proud that the Port of Cork was the only major Irish cruise port capable of accommodating such a vessel, it would present major challenges in terms of handling such huge number of passengers at shore side attractions as well as ensuring adequate coach accommodation in the busy summer period. However, on a positive note, he said that with so many passengers and crew overnighting in Cobh, there was a wonderful opportunity for the town’s business community to benefit substantially.

 

Accordingly, he was encouraging the Cobh and Harbour Chamber of Commerce and the local tourist organisations to draw up an attractive programme of events and entertainment so that both the visitors and local interests would benefit from such an unique opportunity.

 

The Port of Cork’s cruise traffic has experienced tremendous growth since the early nineties and the port board is committed to ensuring that the sector will be given every opportunity for further expansion in the years ahead.

SEA CONTAINERS

Sea Containers announced on October 02 that it has been advised by the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) that its common shares and its Senior Notes were suspended from trading on the NYSE and NYSE Arca prior to the market opening on October 3, 2006. The NYSE is submitting an application to the Securities and Exchange Commission to delist these securities.

The suspension applies to the following NYSE listed securities of Sea Containers Ltd: Class A Common Shares (SCRA), Class B Common Shares (SCRB), 10 3/4% Senior Notes Due 2006 (SCR06), 7 7/8% Senior Notes Due 2008 (SCR 08), 12 1/2% Senior Notes Due 2009 (SCR 09) and 10 1/2% Senior Notes Due 2012 (SCR 12); and, the following NYSE ARCA listed securities, Class A Common Shares (SCRA) and Class B Common Shares (SCRB).

Sea Containers received written notification from the NYSE on September 29, 2006 that the decision was reached because Sea Containers has not filed its 2005 annual report on Form 10-K with the Securities and Exchange Commission within six months following the due date of such filing. The NYSE also noted that Sea Containers has not yet filed its quarterly reports on Form 10-Q during 2006. These conditions subjected Sea Containers' securities to the NYSE's suspension and delisting procedures.

Sea Containers has informed the NYSE that, due to its focus on its proposed restructuring and potential reorganization and the fact that the Company remains uncertain as to when it will be able to file its annual report, the Company is not in a position to contest the involuntary suspension and proposed delisting of its common shares and its Senior Notes. The Company expects these securities to be delisted from the NYSE upon approval by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

SEAROAD SERVICOS DE TRANSPORTE COMBINADO SA

Johnson Stevens Agencies have been appointed as agents for SeaRoad Servicos de Transporte Combinado SA, a new RO RO service operating between Liverpool and Oporto in Portugal.

The service was inaugurated in September with the BALTIC EAGER which offers a voyage duration of just two days. As well as providing a total capacity for 82 drop trailers the service also has some space available for break-bulk cargoes and containers.

Whilst the service currently operates outward from Liverpool on Tuesdays and returns from Oporto (Leixoes) on Saturdays, it is claimed that it is hoped to double departures "within a short period".

SHIPS OF MANN

The latest edition of SHIPS OF MANN magazine is now on sale. Details of this new issue can be found at; www.shipsofmann.org.uk

STENA LINE

Despite the availability of the STENA DISCOVERY it appears from Stena's booking engine that there will be no service offered on Stena's Holyhead - Dun Laoghaire route 7 Jan - 28 Feb (inclusive).

Presumably the STENA DISCOVERY or STENA EXPLORER will cover for any overhaul period of the Belfast - Stranraer STENA VOYAGER.

STENA SEATRADER - introduction of the vessel on the Dublin - Holyhead service which has been undergoing refit at NSL Birkenhead has been further delayed until October 09, 2007.

October 01Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Maritime Clippings, John Thomas and "others"

BIGFERRIES.COM

There have been some rumours doing the rounds on the Mersey waterfront for several months that the backers of the short-lived Irish Sea Express operation may be looking to establishing a Liverpool - Dublin ro/pax service. Things appeared to go quiet for while during the summer but from information received on Friday it looks as though the rumours are doing the rounds again.

Last week Irish Sea Shipping learnt that the name of the new operation was likely to be BIGFERRIES.COM. A little on-line research at the Companies House web site and using the "Who Is?" web domain database reveals that the company and web urls are registered to a Wirral based address.

Currently entering www.bigferries.com / www.bigferries.co.uk reveals a 1&1 internet client place holder. It may be worth monitoring these domain names for further developments. ISS has heard that start up could be around February.

CELTIC LINK FERRIES

KILCOE - which has been dry docked in Dublin was to have been the second ship for Celtic Link ferries. However, she was not suitable. The KILMORE / CHONG MING DAO will deployed on the service.

ISLE OF MAN STEAM PACKET COMPANY

SEA EXPRESS I appears to be back to normal after last week's disruptions caused by both technical and adverse weather conditions. Though one must ask just how normal is normal when the vessel is now taking around 3 hours for a crossing which is scheduled for 2.5 hours? From recent observations whilst travelling on the vessel and from observing the AIS data average speed appears to be in the range of 29 to 31 knots - not the 35 to 36 knots noted when as SEACAT ISLE OF MAN she was in her prime.

Early departures usually manage to keep SEA EXPRESS roughly on time but for example yesterday's 17:30 departure which left Douglas early around 17:17 did not arrive at Liverpool until around 20:10.

Last winter Irish Sea Shipping posted a page recording delays and cancellations to SUPERSEACAT TWO on her winter sailings, despite a fairly kind winter there were quite a few significant delays and cancellations.

[Photo: SUPERSEACAT TWO laid up at Birkenhead pending repairs - September 26, 2006 (John Thomas)]

Given that SEA EXPRESS I is more suited to operating in marginal conditions given her higher wave-height limit she is likely to suffer less disruption, however, her obviously less that sparkling performance in the past week raises questions of reliability as she operates as the winter ship.

Due to popular request from regular visitors to the Irish Sea Shipping web site who valued the reliable autumn / winter service operated by the LADY OF MANN the seasonal disruption record has been commenced for 2006 / 7. As with last year the record runs from the last week in September. It will certainly prove interesting to see how the venerable SEA EXPRESS I performs over the next few months .

HAS BELFAST CLOSED ?

SEA EXPRESS I operated the final Steam Packet sailing to and from Belfast on October 01, 2006. A correspondent noted that she brought back all the Belfast based luggage trailers. Another correspondent in Belfast is fairly certain that last winter the trailers remained in Belfast. It may be that they have been brought back for maintenance. Or could it be that services will operate to Larne next season?

MARITIME & COASTGUARD AGENCY

Brixham Coastguard were alerted at about 10.30 on Sunday October 01,  by the Sail Training Vessel `TENACIOUS run by the Jubilee Sailing Trust with 39 people on board which reported she had a fire in the engine room and was closing down the engines and using their on board CO2 system to douse the fire. Earlier the crew reported that a team with breathing apparatus had entered the engine space and had seen flames from the starboard engine. At the time of the signal, the vessel was 20 nautical miles east of Berry Head.

The Marine Incident Response Group was alerted and the Torbay lifeboat was also requested to launch. There were no plans to evacuate the vessel at the time. The vessel was on passage to Milford Haven at the time of the incident and had taken shelter in Torbay.

Brixham Coastguard broadcast a pan pan signal into the area to alert other vessels to the `TENACIOUS predicament, with a view to offering any on scene assistance. Various vessels offered then their help.

However, by just after 11.00 a.m. this morning the Master of the `TENACIOUS reported to the Coastguard that he considered that the fire was now out, but that he was planning to take the vessel back into Portland under sail to arrive early this evening after briefing his crew.

Working with Portland Coastguard, the Weymouth lifeboat was then requested to launch to keep the `TENACIOUS in sight in case of further difficulties. The Marine Accident Investigation Branch were also informed of the incident.

The shore contact for the `TENACIOUS has now reported to the Coastguard that two tugs and a pilot will meet the vessel off the Portland breakwater where a berth has been arranged at Queens Pier,

Fiona Iris, Brixham Coastguard Watch manager said We alerted the Marine Response Incident Group (MIRG) at the outset of this incident, however the Master reported to us that his on board fire fighting teams were able to douse the fire. The vessel is now making its way into Portland under RNLI lifeboat escort. No injuries have been reported.
 

PEEL PORTS

MANCHESTER SHIP CANAL

MERSEY MAMMOTH - it is understood that the floating crane will be sailing up to Runcorn during November to remove the old lock gates which are currently propped against the canal wall opposite Old Quay and move them down to the old Weston Point Locks. Apparently the lock gates are considered to be an eyesore for the residents of the flats now being completed at Old Quay! Given the many vantage points from both the Runcorn Bridge and the canal side paths this should prove an excellent photographic opportunity. More details will be posted when further information is received.

GEORGE'S LANDING STAGE

The sunken stage used by the Mersey Ferries will be raised by means of floatation bags and towed into the Liverpool Dock System for assessment.

CANADA GRAVING DOCK

As yet unconfirmed reports suggest that the current work by Balfour Beatty constructing the Prince's Landing Stage extension in Canada Graving Dock, could well be the last work undertaken in this historic dry dock which has played host to many well known vessels over the years. It appears that due to problems with the dock it could well be filled in when construction work is completed.

STENA LINE

FISHGUARD - ROSSLARE CENTENARY

RTÉ's weekly maritime radio programme on Monday September 25 was given over to the Centenary Celebrations for the Fishguard - Rosslare service which celebrated its 100 Anniversary this year. You can listen to a recording of this programme as well as past editions of Seascapes at http://www.rte.ie/radio1/seascapes/

WHITE STAR LINE

One of the Titanic's few remaining lifejackets has been sold to a private collector for £43,000 ($80,000).

The auction at Devizes in Wiltshire also featured dozens of letters sent by some of the 1,500 people who died when the ship sank in the Atlantic in 1912.

 

Auctioneer Andrew Aldridge said most items sold for more than expected to collectors from around the world.

One letter, in which passenger Edward Colley wrote of an earlier near-miss with a liner, made £18,000, he said. The Irish aristocrat who died on his 37th birthday, had poked fun at the service on board the ship in the letter.

 

"He mentioned, for instance, that the ordinary grub in first class was quite good - but if you wanted anything better you had to pay for it," said Mr Aldridge, who conducted the sale in south-west England.

 

There was also a telegram from the Southampton-based ship's owner stating she was being towed to safety.

The White Star Line's telegram was sent after an inquiry was received from a US senator whose daughter and son-in­law were on board the ship.

 

 

Fellow auctioneer Alan Aldridge said: "Initially it was said everybody on board had been saved and the ship was being towed. "When it was found out it was a major disaster, everyone from the White Star Line denied sending this telegram." The white lifejacket, discovered in the debris after the passenger liner went down after hitting an iceberg in the Atlantic, has been on display in a US museum.

 

Mr Aldridge said the lot's value comes from its rarity. There are only about six or seven lifejackets left in existence, he said.

 

"The company did not want souvenir hunters, so a lot of things, including clothing, were put in big piles and burned."

 

One letter that never made the burning piles was written on official Titanic paper by a passenger called James Hocking.

 

"Everyone tells me I won't regret taking this trip on the ship," he wrote.

[BBC - September 30]

 

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