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NEWS BULLETIN - DECEMBER 2006

December 31Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Ian Liston and Patrick Taylor.
WEATHER DISRUPTION

Gales led to widespread disruption of shipping services on the Irish Sea on December 31.

IRISH FERRIES

NORMANDY sailings on the Rosslare - Pembroke route at 12:30 and 23:30 have been cancelled. Next sailing will be 06:15 to Pembroke and return sailing at 13:00 on January 01, 2007.

ISLE OF INISHMORE and JONATHAN SWIFT sailings have also been cancelled, though the 20:55 on New Year's Eve is currently subject to confirmation at the time of writing.

ISLE OF MAN STEAM PACKET COMPANY

BEN-MY-CHREE the 08:15 / 14:15 round trip to Heysham was cancelled on December 31.

No evening sailing was scheduled for December 31 / January 01.

SEA EXPRESS I was not due to sail on December 31.

STENA LINE

All Irish Sea sailings were cancelled on December 31 due to adverse weather conditions.

P&O

Sailing scheduled for operation on December 31 were reported to operating normally.

RTÉ SEASCAPES

RTÉ's Radio 1's excellent maritime magazine programme Seascapes is moving to a new time slot at 20:30 on Fridays commencing January 12, 2007. In the UK it is broadcast on 252AM and of course over the internet.

December 30Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Mark Ervine, Matt Davies, Andrew Cudbertson and "others"

HARLAND & WOLFF

Significant new contracts are due to be announced in the New Year by Belfast's Harland and Wolff shipyard, it was revealed. The news came as the ULYSSES arrived in the yard's main building dock for essential repairs and maintenance work.

The "health check" on the ULYSSES is the first of four being carried out on vessels in the Irish Ferries fleet over the next few weeks by Harland and Wolff. The ULYSSES, the Irish Ferries flagship, has impressive dimensions which dwarf most other passenger vessels.

At more than 200 metres in length and with a gross registered tonnage of 50,938, it can carry up to 1,850 passengers and 1,342 cars at speeds of 22 knots (about 26mph).

David McVeigh, of Harland and Wolff, said the yard was always happy to see its old customers back again.

He said: "2006 has been a wonderfully busy year for us, with almost 60 dockings for ship repair and conversion work, and we are delighted to kick off 2007 with the Irish Ferries contract."

Mr McVeigh said the diversification strategy at the yard meant that while it was very much alive in the shipbuilding industry, it was also expanding design engineering and civil engineering work.

He added: "We look forward to making some significant new contract announcements shortly after the completion of the Irish Ferries work." [MARITIME CLIPPINGS - December 28, 2006].

IRISH FERRIES

Bad atmosphere drove staff out, claims union

Irish cabin crew now account for just over 1pc of the workforce on board Irish Ferries' ships, more than a year after the protests which rocked the company.

Although 48 of the 500-strong workforce elected to continue working on board the ISLE OF INISHMORE,  ULYSSES and the JONATHAN SWIFT last year, only seven now remain.

SIPTU, which led the protests against the company's plan to replace the staff with cheap labour from eastern Europe, said the remaining Irish workers felt there was no future for them in the company.

According to SIPTU, some of the Irish took jobs with rival Stena Line. "The reason they left is that they couldn't endure the atmosphere any longer and the company would have made it clear to them they were surplus to requirements," said its branch secretary Paul Smyth.

But the majority went into unskilled work in the catering and restaurant trade. The Irish Ferries dispute led to unions threatening to pull out of the national pay talks and protest marches by hundreds of thousands of workers last year.

It was resolved when Irish Ferries agreed to pay redundancy to its Irish staff; guarantee rates of pay equivalent to at least the minimum wage to new staff; and allow them to join a union.

However, Mr Smyth said that not a single member of the predominantly Latvian, Lithuanian and Polish staff had joined the union.

This was because the union was not able to gain access to the ships to recruit workers and the workers themselves were not coming ashore.

"The problem is that the company has worked stringently to ensure those people do not become members," Mr Smyth said.

Irish Ferries' ships currently sail under the Cypriot flag and are not legally bound by Irish employment legislation.

Mr Smyth warned that once the unions' agreement with Irish Ferries expired in June 2008, the company would be free to pay what they wanted to the Eastern European workers.

"That's certainly going to be way below the minimum wage."

Irish Ferries said it did not wish to respond to the comments individually. But a spokesman said the company was operating in an extremely competitive industry, which was being affected by low-cost flights and other low cost ferry operators.

"As a company, we would be in a much more serious position today if we hadn't taken the steps we had. Our costs were too high."

He added: "We are extremely happy with the quality of service which our new crew are now providing to our passengers." [IRISH INDEPENDENT]

ISLE OF MAN STEAM PACKET COMPANY

ELLAN VANNIN will be the subject of an ITV documentary programme at the end of this January 2007.

The ELLAN VANNIN disaster will be on of a number of ships featured in a new series on ship wrecks "Lost at Sea. Broadcast date for the episode will be on January 30.

The ship became the only Steam Packet vessel to be lost at sea in public service when she foundered after being hit by massive waves whilst en-route from Ramsey to Liverpool on 3rd of December 1909.

The 21 crew and 15 passengers all lost their lives.

The programme will feature contributions from the Manx heritage Foundation's Charles Guard, and Manx Radio's very own Alex Brindley.

The series also examines other famous shipping disasters such as the Lusitania and the Eyemouth  fishing disaster.

SEA EXPRESS I sailing to and from Liverpool was cancelled on Friday December 29 due to adverse conditions, passengers were diverted via the BEN-MY-CHREE.

JAMES FISHER EVERARDS

The acquisition of F.T. Everard & Sons was approved at a shareholders AGM on December 28, 2006.

ARDUITY  made her last voyage for the company on Friday December 29, 2006.

She sailed from Stanlow on the Manchester Ship Canal bound for Derry where she was due to arrive on Saturday December 30. ARDUITY was then due to set sail for Malta and new owners.

Prior to Christmas the Barrow based company announced that it had been awarded a contract to deliver a new Submarine Rescue Vehicle to the Republic of Korea Navy ('ROKN') following an open competitive tender.

The contract win, worth £10m over a period of 3 years, is the first since James Fisher Defence acquired the UK submarine rescue service assets in November 2006 from the Government's Defence Sales Agency in order to provide submarine rescue services to other countries.

ROKN selected JFD to supply and commission the new vehicle based on the quality of the design and tender submission together with JFD's successful track record in supporting the ROKN's existing rescue submersible, the LR5K, which has included the provision of a new all-steel dry-mating skirt in September this year. This enabled the ROKN to achieve a dry transfer from a submarine for the first time for over three years.

The new submarine rescue vehicle, DSAR-5, will benefit from JFD's 15 years' experience in the operation of the United Kingdom Submarine Rescue System, including the LR5 rescue submersible which was designed and built by JFD. The DSAR-5 is capable of locking onto the escape hatch of a stranded submarine and transferring up to 16 submariners, recovering them to the surface where the rescue vehicle may interface the decompression facility onboard the 'Chung-Hae-Jin', the ROKN's submarine rescue mothership.

Commenting on the contract, Simon Harris, JFD Managing Director, and a director of James Fisher, said:

'Our success in winning the contract to supply the new submarine rescue vehicle to the Republic of Korea Navy is testament to the design and build capability of James Fisher Defence and the unrivalled reputation of our operations team. We look forward to working closely with ROKN and delivering a world-leading rescue
submersible.'

PENZANCE HARBOUR

Ambitious proposals for a much bigger harbour at Penzance have been put forward as funding arrangements for an improved link to Scilly start to emerge. Officers from the Penzance Harbour Users' Association say that the harbour has remained fundamentally unchanged for 125 years and that radical changes are necessary if the harbour is to satisfy the great upsurge in recreational boating and exploit the commercial possibilities.

Terry Marks, Roger Lowry and Rory Goodall say they've been working on a scheme for some time and state: "It is widely recognised that the harbour has great unrealised potential, does not meet the needs of the wide spectrum of users and as a result is severely restricting its present and future contribution to the economic, commercial and tourist activity of Penwith."

And they maintain that the only cost-effective way to meet the needs of all users is to construct a new breakwater to the east of the present harbour.

This would enclose a greatly expanded area of protected water and at the same time reclaim an area of foreshore for use by ancillary activities, boat storage, small business units and car parking.

They argue that if this area had a direct road link over the railway at Chyandour Cliff it would relieve the town's traffic congestion and allow transformation of the present harbourside into an attractive public open space.

And they say that the scheme could be constructed with local quarry waste and the existing rock armouring, which protects the railway station and SWW pump house, recycled, thus making it cost effective.

The officers add: "Nowadays the harbour accommodates SCUBA divers, canoeists, wet-bikers, sailors, anglers, wildlife watchers and those who just like to potter about in boats.

"It fails adequately to cope with these demands at present and Penzance will miss out on significant future employment prospects unless the harbour is upgraded.

"Without this kind of 'blue sky' thinking and ambitions we believe that Penzance will be destined to remain an economic backwater still rooted in the 19th rather than the 21st century.

"The time for action by our councillors is now.

"They should urgently identify potential funding sources in order to ensure the economic viability of our harbour and town into the next century." [CORNISHMAN].

UNITED STATES NAVY

USS MINNEAPOLIS - ST PAUL Two crewmen were swept to their deaths from the deck of a nuclear submarine off the Westcountry coast on Friday December 29, 2006.

The men were among four crew of the United States nuclear submarine USS MINNEAPOLIS-ST PAUL who were washed into the sea in storm-force conditions. All were rescued but two later died from their injuries.

Police, the Ministry of Defence and the United States Navy were last night trying to find out how the tragedy could have happened on one of the most sophisticated vessels in the world.

One West Country submarine expert said it was clear something had gone "disastrously wrong" with the submarine's safety procedures.

The four men were on the submarine's outer casing as it left Plymouth yesterday following a week-long goodwill visit. As the Los Angeles-class attack submarine passed a breakwater that protects Plymouth Sound, it suddenly encountered Force 8 winds from the South West, and waves up to 20ft high.

Lt Cdr Charles Hattersley, a marine lawyer at Ashfords in Plymouth, who previously worked as a naval officer on various submarines for 12 years, said: "A submarine like this might have spent its time 1,500 metres under water chasing Russian subs but the most dangerous part of submarine life is when it's on the surface."

Mr Hattersley thought that the men might have been making sure that the casing - the outer shell of the submarine - was clear of any obstacles prior to taking to the open sea. "Normally, this process is very carefully controlled, especially in such bad weather," he said.

"It went disastrously wrong but it's very surprising that the correct safety procedures weren't in place."


The four crewmen are thought to have been attached to safety lines when the incident happened yesterday at about 13:00.
 
It is believed that after they went into the water, they were injured when the swell battered them against the side of the sub.
 
Mike Critchley, editor of Warship World, said: "My guess is that these four men would have been responsible for getting the pilot off the sub and securing the vessel to go out into open sea. When the weather is so bad extra security precautions have to be taken. You would expect the crew to be wearing full protective gear."
 
MoD police got the servicemen out of the water and immediately made attempts to resuscitate the unconscious sailors. All four were rushed to Derriford Hospital, Plymouth, but two were pronounced dead on arrival.
 
Brixham Coastguard said that at the time of the accident there was a Gale Force Eight wind and a swell of five-and-a-half to seven metres. Devon and Cornwall police confirmed that the USS MINNEAPOLIS - ST PAUL would now continue on its journey. Its next destination is unknown.
 
Petty Officer James Adams from the New London submarine base in the US said: "The comings and goings of submarines are classified information - we hold that very close to our chest.
 
The officer added: "Personally I'm quite torn up about what has happened."
 
Police said that they had launched a joint investigation with the MoD. The coroner has been informed.
 
The other two rescued servicemen have been discharged from hospital and were last night recovering in the sick bay at Plymouth naval base HMS Drake. [Western Morning News]

December 25 

DANIEL ADAMSON PRESERVATION SOCIETY

The Daniel Adamson Preservation Society web site has been restored with hosting transferred to 1&1 Internet, the same company that hosts Irish Sea Shipping. This should ensure much greater reliability and avoid the occasional periods of down time experienced during the past year.

Please note that the URL is now www.danieladamson.co.uk - however, after the holidays attempts will be made will be to retrieve the usual domain URL www.danieladamson.com.

SOLWAY HARVESTER

SOLWAY HARVESTER owner Richard Gidney has not responded to a request to appear before an inquest into the deaths of the scallop dredger's crew.

The vessel sank off the Isle of Man on 11 January 2000, claiming the lives of skipper Andrew Craig Mills, 29, David Mills, 18, Robin Mills, 33, Martin Hugh Milligan, 26, John Doyle Murphy, 22, Wesley John Jolly and David Joseph Lyons, both 17.

The tragedy devastated the close-knit fishing community in the Isle of Whithorn.

The inquest opened after the Manx Government paid £1million to recover the bodies and the vessel from the seabed, but was adjourned for legal proceedings.

Last year, the trial of Mr Gidney, who was charged with the manslaughter of the seven crew, collapsed and the court ruled he had no case to answer.

Coroner of Inquests Michael Moyle formally called to resume the inquest into the tragedy last month.

Mr Gidney had been due to give evidence at the hearing, but just weeks before the inquiry was due to take place it transpired Mr Gidney wouldn't be attending.  Mr Moyle gave Mr Gidney 14 days to reconsider his position with the option of giving evidence on commission.  But two weeks after that deadline Mr Moyle still hadn't heard from the vessel owner.

Because Mr Gidney lives in Scotland, legally he can't be summoned to appear at the inquest.  It is not yet known when the inquiry will be resumed. [IoM Online].

ZEBU

The Liverpool based sailing ship and Stanley Dock will appear in the BBC2 Drama "Ruby in the Smoke" on December 27 between 20:30 to 22:05.

The filming of "Ruby In The Smoke" took place during the summer of 2006 and comprises part of the BBC's four-episode series of the Sally Lockhart Mysteries being shot across the country.

Stanley Dock was turned into an East London docklands scene for two nights only with a backdrop straight from the 1870s.

Stars signed up for the drama include current Doctor Who heroine Billie Piper, who plays Sally Lockhart.

She will pit her wits against Julie Walters in the series adapted from Philip Pullman's books, which will first be shown at Christmas.

The swing bridge leading to the dock was raised for the first time in more than a decade to let the Zebu sail through.

Some of the scenes filmed in Stanley Dock included handling cargo and hauling a corpse out of the murky waters.

The rip-roaring tales are packed full of cut-throat villains and dastardly deeds. 

Speaking earlier in the year Susan Hanley Place, chief executive of Mersey Heritage Trust, said: "The BBC are getting pretty excited about filming the Zebu.

"The quay has been dressed up and looks exactly how it would have looked around 150 years ago.

"It's a magnificent setting. "They went all over Britain and they couldn't find anything better suited than Stanley Dock.

"The combination of the Zebu and Liverpool waterfront was telling and our pulling power was obvious."

 

December 23Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Ian Collard and "others"

DANIEL ADAMSON PRESERVATION SOCIETY

Visitors to this site who also visit the Daniel Adamson site may be aware that the site has ceased functioning. As far as can be ascertained this is due to the fact that the hosting company appears to have ceased trading. Their own web site has gone off line and it appears that their own domain name has elapsed! Work is underway to transfer the site to the same host as Irish Sea Shipping. An announcement will be made as soon as this has been completed. However, there may be a slight delay due to the holidays.

ISLE OF MAN STEAM PACKET COMPANY

SEA EXPRESS 1 operated an additional Douglas to Heysham round trip on Friday December 22. Her morning round trip sailing to Liverpool operated approximately one hour earlier to allow her to operate the afternoon return trip to Heysham.

KRIEGSMARINE

Divers have uncovered the wrecks of three Second World War German U-boats off the Cornish coast, which have shed light on a British operation that has remained secret for more than 60 years.

Historians were amazed at the discovery of the catastrophically damaged U-boats which are lying in close proximity to each other seven miles off Newquay, because no U-boats had ever been recorded being lost there previously.

After extensive research it was revealed they had been the victims of a secret minefield laid especially to trap such vessels after the
British intercepted a radio message from a U-boat commander. His boat had sunk a British destroyer after discovering a gap in the minefield between Cornwall and Ireland to allow supply ships in to Cardiff and Bristol.

He radioed the news back to
Germany, but the message was deciphered by British intelligence at Bletchley Heath. As a result the British laid deep mines designed to allow surface ships through but trap U-boats.

Historians were unaware of the secret U-boat death trap until the Government de-classified wartime documents recently. And now the discovery of the three wrecked U-boats off Cornwall
has shown just how successful it was.

Naval historian Eric Grove said the fate of the U-325, U-400, and U-1021, which disappeared in late 1944 and early 1945 was revealing.

"This shows the deep trap minefield was far more successful in killing U-boats than first thought," he said. "It was only recently the Government revealed the existence of this deep water minefield and the presence of these wrecked U-boats shows how effective it was. The U-boat crews were under orders to patrol coastal waters hunting Allied shipping at the end of the war because the Atlantic campaign was over. Admiralty records show two of the three U-boats in question were thought to have been sunk by depth charge in the
Bristol Channel. This new research shows that was wrong and they actually struck mines off Cornwall."

Diver Innes McCartney was the main submarine investigator who, with German expert Axel Niestle, identified these submarines and the reasons why they sank. He said the crew of the U-boats would have had no chance of survival when their submarine hit the mine.

"Minefields were fatal to a submarine," he said. "A surface ship could survive a mine but U-boats had no chance of recovery if a mine exploded. The crew were doomed. When we dived on these U-boats we saw the whole bow had been blown off which is where the crew would have been quartered. The inner pressure hulls of the U-boats were still relatively intact, though the outer hulls were decaying. We could still see the sea boots of crew members sticking out, which was rather eerie."

Mr McCartney, an experienced submarine wreck diver, said the significance of the find really came home when he traced the 82-year-old widow of one of the U-boat commanders in
Germany.

"She went through the whole gamut of emotions," he said. "They had been childhood sweethearts, married and had children - and then he just disappeared. It was very difficult for her because his fate was a mystery. So to finally discover his whereabouts was very emotional." [ WESTERN MORNING NEWS]

MAERSK GROUP

NORFOLK LINE

MERCHANT BRAVERY the chartered ship was reported detained by UK authorities on December 21, 2006. [Paris MOU].

MERSEY FERRIES

The new ferry terminal at Liverpool's world-famous Pier Head is being delayed as planning managers seek more details.

Wayne Colquhoun, chairman of Liverpool Preservation Trust, said the hitch should pave the way for a complete rethink of the £15m project to save the view of the majestic Three Graces.

Merseytravel have submitted plans for a three-storey building to replace the Mersey Ferry terminal built almost 30 years ago.

The scheme involves demolition of the terminal with its tented roof, as well as the adjoining Shanghai Palace Chinese restaurant.

The replacement building has already attracted comments from a city design panel, which quizzed why the building needed to be so high, and why a roof terrace faced away from the river.

Merseytravel submitted the scheme to Liverpool's planning department last month with the hope it would be put before the planning committee early in the New Year for a decision.

But the plan has now been invalidated at the request of the city planning manager Nigel Lee. He has called for supporting information about access to the proposed building as well as design issues.

When the project is restored to the planning process, a new consultation exercise will be launched.

Last night a city council spokesman said the invalidation process was being used to enable more information to be sought on conservation area matters.

The project had not been scheduled on to a planning committee agenda, with the council insisting it did not believe the scheme should be delayed.

But Mr Colquhoun said: "If they are to restart the consultation exercise once the extra information is supplied it is bound to be delayed. I am hoping this will enable us to convince heritage bodies and Unesco such a scheme in the middle of a World Heritage Site is completely unacceptable.

"We think the current building is a leftover from an era of madness when we had a bus station at the Pier Head, but what is the point in coming up with a worse design?

"Why do we need anything there other than a small entrance to the ferries that does not impinge on the historic architecture of the Three Graces and, rather than build an extra storey above, it should be lower than what is there at present. Why not a single storey?

"This would be easily accommodated by going subterranean thus leaving our gently ageing Edwardian beauties their full majesty.

"Considering the different heights of the sea level and the Pier Head it seems a bit of common sense is needed here."

A spokesman for Merseytravel said: "We are working closely with Liverpool City Council's planning department and we will supply any additional information that is needed." [Liverpool Daily Post]

[Comment: One wonders if Mr Colquhoun's suggestion is really sensible. Anyone who has been near the river at high spring tides will be aware of just how close to the top of the river wall the water level can reach. Going for his subterranean option might just be asking for trouble!]

SEATRUCK

MOONDANCE arrived on Merseyside and entered the Cammell Laird wet basin for Christmas lay-up.

RIVERDANCE berthed at the Mostyn linkspan - right.

December 20Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Sean Anthony, Edwin Wilmshurst, "River Spy" and "others"

CAMMELL LAIRD

Peel Holdings have apparently purchased the Cammell Laird shipyard at Birkenhead from developers Reddington Finance. A public announcement is expected soon. Peel Holdings hold a 50% stake in Northwestern Ship Repairers. Such a move is likely to secure the future of the yard which was leased by NSL from Reddington.

The Companies House database records the formation of a new company on December 14, 2006:

Name & Registered Office: CAMMELL LAIRD (SHIPREPAIRERS & SHIPBUILDERS) LIMITED, MARITIME CENTRE, PORT OF LIVERPOOL, LIVERPOOL L21 1LA Company No. 06029349

 

CELTIC LINK

 

The company has secured the MEDITERRANEAN TRAILER (CARMEN B) (20,169 grt) of Hellenic Seaways on a three year charter. A new straight stern ramp will replace the existing quarter stern ramp, ramps will also be fitted to her weather deck.

 

CELTIC STAR - apparently one of the trailers which overturned on board the ship on December 01 was carrying butter. Rather than it being destroyed a large quantity of this was secured by the Seafarers Mission which has distributed it amongst seafarers and old people who live close to the mission.

 

MAERSK GROUP

NORFOLK LINE

MERCHANT BRILLIANT - the owners of the ship which is chartered by Norfolk Line have agreed to pay the crew members over €120,000 in pay arrears.

The Russian vessel was detained at Dublin Port on Friday under a High Court order.

The International Transport Federation claimed that the twenty Russian and Latvian workers on board were owed months of back-pay.

Owners have now agreed to reimburse the staff, and a motion will be brought to the High Court this afternoon to get the ship released.

Earlier this month, the ITF secured ?127,000 in back-wages for the crew of another vessel, the MERCHANT BRAVERY, which has the same owners as the MERCHANT BRILLIANT.

A further development reported by RTÉ on December 19 reported that there was further trouble on board MERCHANT BRILLIANT:

Another row has broken out between ADG, the owners of the Merchant Brilliant and the ship's crew. Earlier, the company agreed to pay wages owed to the crew, and shortly afterward a High Court order preventing the vessel from leaving Dublin Port was lifted.

The International Transport Workers' Federation says that the owners initially refused to stamp the crew's seafarers books to allow them to go ashore unless they returned the money.

Eight of crew decided to leave the ship. The three Latvians and five Russians are to stay at Dublin Airport overnight before flying home on December 20.

SEATRUCK FERRIES

Seatruck services cease for an extended Christmas break on December 22, 2006 and will remain suspended until around January 06/07, 2007 to permit the completion of work on the Warrenpoint ro/ro ramp.

Work on the Heysham ramp is expected to be completed around January 14/15. From the resumption of services until completion of the Heysham ramp sailings will operate from Ramps 2 and 3 shared with Norfolk Line and Isle of Man Steam Packet Company.

MOONDANCE will lay up on Merseyside for the holiday. RIVERDANCE will be undertaking berthing trails at Mostyn. RR CHALLENGE may operate under charter to Norfolk Line for a while during this period.

December 16Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Adrian Sweeney, John Thomas, Andrew King, Ian Liston and "others"

CUMBRIA COUNTY COUNCIL

Windermere's Car Ferry lost almost £90,000 in takings, following a mechanical glitch. An annual report, due to be delivered to the Windermere Ferry Advisory Committee on Monday, puts expected revenue at the end of the 2006/7 financial year almost £55,000 below what was previously anticipated.

A new type of underwater cable was used to run the ferry service last year, but it proved to be incompatible. During December last year and into 2006, frayed and then snapped cables led to the ferry being out of action for a total of 33 days.

Just over 90 hours were lost through weather stoppages. Highways network manager, John Robinson, who helped compile the financial report, said: "We thought we had a bargain with some cables at considerably less than we would normally pay for them. We put them on and the boat started to move sideways. The cable was more abrasive than the one we normally use and it had damaged the drive wheels."

New cables were ordered from Malaysia and fitted, which saw the ferry back on the water, although much needed revenue had been lost. The report said: "The final results were much worse than anticipated.

Because of mechanical failure during the latter part of the year, 33 days were lost. The loss of income combined with the cost of repair resulted in a surplus of only £85,327." The expected total was £175,420.

Although the problem surrounding the cable is now solved, measures need to be taken to bring the financial health of the operation back into line. One option would be to increase fares, but the annual report says that with one 25 per cent price hike already this year, any increase of fares would be likely to result in "a significant drop in usage of the ferry, with users taking the alternative option of driving around the lake".

An alternative would be for the county council to receive a reduced contribution from the ferry, enabling the service to build up its financial reserves.

The final option would be to reduce the operating hours of the ferry during off-peak periods which would save on staff time along with wear and tear on the machinery.

Mr Robinson, said: "The way forward now is not to get into that sort of trouble again. We lost a lot of money through loss of income and repairs and that is why we are in the pickle that we are. I think the situation is recoverable. We have got to keep it going reliably."

IRISH CONTINENTAL GROUP

TRADING UPDATE

Irish Continental Group plc issued the following update on trading prior on December 14:

Trading in the period since we issued our interim statement in September has been ahead of expectations. At the time of our interim statement, car volumes year to date were down 12% and our expectation for the full year was a decline of approximately 7%. Based on the experience in October and November we now expect a smaller full year decline of approximately 5%.

In the Roll on Roll Off freight market our volumes were up 3% year to date in September and our expectation was for a full year increase of between 9%.and 10%. Based on volumes achieved in October and November we expect an increase of around 11% for the full year.

In the light of the above we would, in the absence of unforeseen circumstances, expect the underlying full year profit before tax, before separately disclosable and non- recurring items, to be ahead of current market expectations.

EXPANSION OF PORT FACILITIES IN DUBLIN

Separately ICG is pleased to announce an extension of its port terminal facility in Dublin Port

Agreement has been reached with Dublin Port Company on a development that will significantly increase the capacity of our Dublin based container terminal (DFT). The terminal, which is currently the largest in the country, will see its capacity increase by almost 50% (from180,000 lifts to 270,000 lifts annually) as a result of this development. Additional container handling machinery, including a new ship to shore gantry crane will be introduced. The development also involves the extension of the terminal by more than 7 acres (3 hectares) and the quay wall will be lengthened by 60metres

In its new form, DFT will be capable of handling the next generation of vessels that will call to Dublin Port and through its investment in state of the art ship to shore and secondary handling machinery, the terminal will be capable of achieving and maintaining excellent service levels. The development is expected to be completed by early 2008. The provision of additional capacity in Dublin Port comes at a time when volume throughput continues to grow strongly and when the need for additional unitised capacity has been recognised by all industry stakeholders.

IRISH NAVAL SERVICE

Children from the Our Lady’s Hospital for Sick Children in Crumlin will visited the Naval Vessel L.E. EITHNE during its visit to Dublin between 11am and 1pm on Wednesday the 13th of December.

The Ship has strong links with Crumlin with the hospital being EITHNE’s adopted charity The ship  took time out from its busy schedule as it docks on Sir John Rogerson’s Quay on Dublin’s Southside to host the Christmas party. Santa Claus visited and arrived in one of the ship’s boats at about 12:00.

For those children unable to attend on the day, crew members paid a visit to the Hospital itself on Thursday December 14.

MAERSK GROUP

NORFOLK LINE

Norfolkline Irish Sea Ferry Services installing passport scanning technology similar to machines used in airports. Norfolkline are the first ferry operator in Northern Ireland to have such technology, which will increase the speed of check-in for those passengers using their passports as a form of identification.

Diane Poole, General Manager - Passenger said, "Norfolkline Irish Sea Ferry Services are committed to ensuring all our passengers have a relaxing journey from the moment they embark the ferry. Beginning with a quick and easy check-in service, this new technology allows us to check-in passengers with increased efficiency and we would encourage all our passengers to check in with valid passports to avail of this service."

MERCHANT BRAVERY & MERCHANT BRILLIANT PROBLEMS

MERCHANT BRAVERY had been in Laxey Bay from around 02:00 on Thursday December 14. Her AIS had been showing a Heysham ETA of 22:00 on Wednesday.  She was reported as being at anchor with "technical problems" believed to be in the electrical department. However, the technical problems just appear to have coincided with the detention of her sister MERCHANT BRILLIANT by the Irish authorities! - See below. She eventually departed around 22:20 on Saturday December 16.

The photograph by Jenny Williamson shows her in Laxey Bay with the Isle of Man Government patrol vessel BARRULE passing in the back ground.

MERCHANT BRILLIANT The High Court in Dublin  granted a ship's arrest against the cargo ship over claims that $204,000, or €153,788, is owed to the 20 man crew of Latvians and Russians.

International Transport Federation inspector Ken Fleming succeeded in his application for a ship's arrest against the MERCHANT BRILLIANT on Thursday afternoon, in a similar case to one involving its sister ship, MERCHANT BRAVERY, last week.

The order was granted by Judge Liam McKechnie in the Admiralty Division of the High Court.

Mr Fleming, who is on secondment to the ITF from Siptu said the case was almost a "carbon copy" of the situation on MERCHANT BRAVERY.

"When I arrived on board the MERCHANT BRILLIANT this morning, the crewing agency attempted to evict the crew and when that failed they attempted to leave Dublin port. Fortunately Norfolk Line, who had chartered the ro-ro vessel, withdrew their pilot," he said.

"I understand that the crewing agency is still attempting to find a pilot in the port and I am on my way down there now to ensure the court's order is enforced. These people have a clear choice of obeying the law or continuing their efforts to frustrate it."

"If they want to remove the vessel from Dublin they can do so by honouring their debts to the crew or successfully challenging the 'arrest' of the vessel in the courts. I know from an inspection of the ship's records just how likely a legal challenge is to be successful," Mr. Fleming added.

Following intensive negotiations and a threat to seize the MERCHANT BRAVERY in Dublin Port on December 1st, four Russian seafarers were paid €49,900 in arrears, plus over €3,000 euros in expenses and fares home.

Last week, a further 19 Russian and Latvian crew members were given back pay totalling €122,971. The average payment was just over €5,000.

Siptu and the International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF) became involved after claims emerged last month that Eastern European workers aboard the vessel were earning just €2 per hour.

Crew members on MERCHANT BRAVERY were reportedly hired and told their pay would be lodged in accounts at home. However, Mr Fleming claimed earlier this month that they had later discovered "little or nothing had been paid after they were discharged".

"This sort of behaviour by crewing agencies, or other marine employers, will not be tolerated on the Irish Sea. This is exploitation on a level reminiscent of a Jack London novel from the early 1900s," he said in statement today.

LATE NEWS:

It was reported by RTÉ on the evening of Saturday December 16 that the owners of MERCHANT BRILLIANT have arrived in Dublin for talks.

MILFORD HAVEN

The Swedish-flag 18,119 dwt chemical tanker Prospero is reported to have hit a jetty at the UK port of Milford Haven, Wales, when it was coming alongside early Sunday morning causing damage to the vessel and berth. The terminal operator, SemLogistics, has described the incident, which has not caused any pollution, as a “heavy berthing”.

But the incident has aroused local concern because the jetty is next to an LNG berth in the port. The port’s chief executive, Ted Sangster, has been quoted as saying: “We will be looking at the cause of why it happened and what other steps can be taken to ensure that it doesn't happen again.”

NATIONAL MARITIME MUSEUM CORNWALL

Cornwall's Maritime Museum is launching a new exhibition dedicated to the town in which it is based.  In the past few months there have been many changes at the Falmouth attraction.
 
The first improvements will be revealed on Saturday with the unveiling of the Falmouth Packet Gallery.
Curator Jo Warburton said: "Our new Falmouth Packet Gallery is one of the high spots of the museum."
 
The display will focus on the world-famous Packet ships as well as many other aspects of maritime history that have shaped Falmouth.
 
The museum has added many important objects, such as the waistcoat of Packet ship captain John Bull, with the sword he was presented for bravery.
 
Visitors can also take a look inside a replica ship's cabin. The renovation work began in October and is expected to cost around £300,000.
 
The gallery will open with a display of the paintings of Reuben Chappell, on show until March. Ms Warburton added: "Once the Reuben Chappell exhibition is over we will be opening up the rest of the display and bringing even more of Falmouth into the museum."
 
Another gallery feature, due to go on show in March, is the Old Curiosity Shop. It takes its name from a store in the town that displayed weird and wonderful items brought back by sailors from around the world.

NORTHWESTERN SHIP REPAIRERS

A Royal Fleet Auxiliary repair ship which saw service in the Falklands War is to receive a £16m lief extending refit by the Merseyside based ship repairers

The 10,000 tonne RFA DILIGENCE [A132] will undergo a year long overhaul and sustain 100 jobs, said the Ministry of Defence MoD).

Northwestern Shiprepairers and Shipbuilders Limited (NSSL), based in Birkenhead, were chosen to do the work.

The refit will enable the ship to remain in service for another 10 years.

The RFA DILIGENCE (ex STENA INSPECTOR) , first saw naval service on charter to the MoD as a battle damage repair ship in the1982 conflict in the south Atlantic, is to have her accommodation, galley and propulsion areas renewed and upgraded.

The ship has provided a vital support role according to the MoD. RFA DILIGENCE has served all over the world, including extensive service off the Falkland Islands and in support of operations in the Gulf in 1991 and 2003, and, most recently, duties in support of the Iraqi Navy and off West Africa.

RFA DILIGENCE forms part of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary, a civilian crewed organisation that supports the Royal Navy at sea with the food, fuel, ammunition and spares it needs in order to maintain operations away from its home ports.

NORTHLINK REFITS

NSL have secured the contracts to increase the cabin accommodation on board the Northlink Ships HJATLAND and HROSSEY when they refit in the new year.

PORT OF CORK

The Port of Cork web site has been re-launched with a new look. It now includes live information of ships in port as well as a list of vessels expected. www.portofcork.ie

KRIEGSMARINE S-130

A German warship that took part in an infamous raid at Slapton Sands in which nearly 1,000 Allied soldiers were killed is to be restored - if her British owners can get lottery funding.

S-130 - the only ship of its class left in the world - helped attack the Allied convoy in Lyme Bay, off the Devon coast, in 1944.

A group of patrolling German vessels stumbled upon the rehearsal for the D-Day landings and launched one of the most destructive raids of the Second World War.

The total number of US servicemen killed and missing was ten times the number lost during the landings on Utah beach, which was what the flotilla had been practising for during Operation Tiger.

Allied chiefs initially covered up the loss, keen to avoid making the enemy aware of what it had achieved or getting wind of any planned beach assault.

But after the war, S-130 was taken as a British war prize, and is now lying in a forlorn state in a shipyard near Plymouth - not far from where she wreaked so much havoc.

Her owners are now putting together match funding to apply for a Lottery grant towards her full-scale restoration to working order, costing £4 million.

The Schnellboot was small, fast and deadly - devised as a result of the Versailles restrictions set at the close of the First World War.

With the Germans banned from building large warships, they embarked on an ingenious naval development programme, resulting in the Schnellboots.

They were propelled by three powerful Mercedes diesel engines and could travel at 55 knots - more than 60mph - faster than any other naval vessel.

The boats had a wedge on the stern that prevented the bow from rising as it accelerated so the guns could shoot more accurately. That technology is used on US destroyers today. The S-class were 115ft long, weighed 110 tons and had a crew of between 12 and 20.

S-130 was built at the Schlichting boatyard and was commissioned on
October 21, 1943. After the British took her over following the war, one of her sailors recalled in interview that as his captain surrendered, he was shot dead by an Allied officer.

Britain used the ship during the Cold War to annoy the Soviet navy and land spies behind the Iron Curtain.

Now S-130 lies rotting and could be lost if the money is not found to preserve her.

Marine historians and enthusiasts are keen to have her restored as she is regarded as a "hugely important" vessel. Stephen Walters, of the International Sailing Craft Association, which now operates her, said: "ISCA was set up in the 1960s to preserve sailing craft from around the world. More recently we've been trying to help save collections that are under threat.

"One of the collections in difficulty belonged to the British Military Powerboat Trust and among the ships was S-130. She was lying in mud and we took her to a shipyard in
Plymouth where she now lies.

"But unless we can find the funds to restore her, she could well be lost.

"S-130 is not like many unique ships that have been preserved only because they never saw action - she took part in numerous operations including the Slapton disaster.

"And she was then used by the Royal Navy in the Cold War and after that was used as a test bed to help develop new engines to power our own vessels.

"She is the only one of her type left in the world and we want to return her to how she was when she was built.

"These ships were about the fastest thing on water. It is a classic example of German engineering.

"Restricted to what the scientists could build they adapted the technology to produce horrors like these boats."

Wyn Davies, a naval architect and maritime historian, said the importance of S-130 should not be underestimated.

He said: "She is the last survivor of a hugely important class of warship that gave our coastal forces quite a headache.

"They introduced several new features, the most useful of which was the use of diesel engines to power them. This ended the need for stocking inflammable petrol on board."

December 09Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Adrian Sweeney, Tony Brennan, Ian Collard and "others"

BRITTANY FERRIES

New £81 Million Brittany Ferries passenger cruise-ferry to be named ARMORIQUE

The new ship on order from the Aker shipyard in Helsinki is to be called "Armorique" after the national park of outstanding beauty in western Brittany. This is not the first ferry in the Brittany Ferries fleet to bear this name: the previous ARMORIQUE operated from 1975 to 1992.

The new £81 million vessel will be used solely on the Plymouth-Roscoff route replacing PONT L'ABBE Pont l'Abbé, currently on short-term charter, in the autumn of 2008.

David Longden, Managing Director, comments: "ARMORIQUIE is being designed specifically for the Plymouth-Roscoff route and will provide new levels of comfort for our passengers. It is part of our ongoing plan to become not only the most modern, but the most comfortable fleet on the channel."

CAIRNRYAN PORT PUBLIC INQUIRY

Moving ferries to Cairnryan port would safeguard hundreds of local jobs, a port director has claimed. Speaking at a public inquiry Alan Gordon, director of the new Port of Cairnryan Ltd, said rocketing fuel costs have made the Stranraer to Belfast ferry route uneconomical. And he claimed relocation was essential if the ferry route was to remain viable.

The inquiry into doubling the size of Cairnryan port began last Thursday at the village's community centre, and is expected to finish before Christmas. Said Mr Gordon: "The increase of over 200 per cent in fuel costs over the last five years has led to a rise in Stena's operating costs. "Fuel costs currently inherent in running the HSS vessel from Stranraer makes the route increasingly uneconomical and is threatening its commercial viability.

"The proposed move to Cairnryan will allow the HSS to operate on two small turbines rather than the four turbines currently used for approximately the same crossing time.

"This could result in a fuel savings of up to 30 percent. "P&O and Stena Line have joined to form a new company - the Port of  Cairnryan - that plans to plough £60m into expanding the port to accommodate  Stena's HSS and its conventional ferry, as well as vessels currently using the terminal.

Under proposals the port will double in size, and based on last year's  combined figures for P&O and Stena Line, could handle 1.8 million  passengers, 410,000 cars, and 377,000 lorries each year.

Once the inquiry is completed, Ministers will decide in the New Year whether  to green light the biggest port expansion in Scotland since 1945. Employing 800 people locally - 12 per cent of all jobs in Wigtownshire - the two ferry companies together are one of the biggest private sector employers in South-West Scotland.

It is also estimated that a further 166 local jobs support the ferry companies and 26 depend on tourists "passing through". The new port, said Mr Gordon, would safeguard these jobs, which pay above  the regional average.

He said: "The announcement of the port development has improved job security for the workforce.

"And the expanded port will help provide much needed economic stability in the area and help stem the tide of economic migration." As the most important sea gateway into Scotland, Loch Ryan needs to maximise its potential if it is to remain competitive and drive expansion in the future."

Peter Wood of Tribal Consultancy, who has researched into ferry-related employment in the area for the Port of Cairnryan, has claimed without the  development, big job losses would follow.

He said: "Employment will be placed at risk by a decision which prevents the proposed port development at Cairnryan.

"My overall conclusion is that failure to allow the development will place at risk over 600 local jobs in ferry operations and related businesses." As well as surging fuel costs, Stena Line claimed its future viability was being held back by the current port facilities at Stranraer, which has little potential for future expansion given its town centre location. The port infrastructure lacks a direct passenger walkway to the ships. And in the summer peak months, congestion is evident with cars queuing to get in and out of the terminal entrance.

Shallow water also means bigger vessels cannot use the harbour.

CELTIC LINK

Further to news item on Irish Sea Shipping concerning Celtic Star's mishap on December 1st information has been received which that indicates that that as well as the overturned trailers visible in the photograph 8 other trailers actually went overboard!

DML DEVONPORT

The Government's decision to replace Britain's nuclear deterrent has been hailed as "fundamental" to the future of a Westcountry naval base. A review of naval operations at Devonport in Plymouth - as well as Portsmouth and Faslane near Glasgow - had sparked fears that Westcountry jobs could be lost.

Continuing wrangles between the Government and the neighbouring privately owned dockyard had also risked unsettling the case for Devonport.

But this week's decision to replace Trident is seen as a boost to securing the support of ministers for the historic naval base in Plymouth.

The Trident move, announced by Tony Blair on Monday, will secure work long-term for Devonport Management Limited (DML), which runs the only UK facility licensed and equipped to refit, refuel and de-fuel nuclear submarines.

The Prime Minister outlined plans to replace the Royal Navy's ageing fleet of Vanguard class submarines and cut Britain's stockpile of nuclear warheads by a fifth to fewer than 160. The number of submarines could also be cut from four to three.

A senior defence source said: "Anyone who understands the economics of Devonport and the skill base it needs to support the UK's submarine capability will recognise the announcement on Trident as fundamental to Devonport's future."

Speaking in the Commons on Monday, Mr Blair said to risk losing the skills in Plymouth by deferring a decision on Trident would be the "most irresponsible thing of all".

The naval base's prospects are inextricably linked to that of DML's operations next door because a number of contracts to refit Ministry of Defence vessels are used to fill the downtime between scheduled work on the submarines.

Last month it was warned that moving the fleet of Royal Navy surface ships to Portsmouth would land the taxpayer with an annual £100 million bill to maintain the skills and facilities are DML without the additional revenue from the Navy work.

The new deterrent - if given the green light by MPs as expected, would require the nuclear capability at Devonport to be operational to 2050 and beyond.

The source added: "Devonport is needed for its unique ability to dock and eventually de-fuel the big missile submarines. Its docking capability becomes even more important for maintaining the deterrent if the number of missile submarines is reduced to three from four as the White Paper indicates might happen. More immediately, it is going to need access to surface ship work to help smooth the peaks and troughs in submarine throughput as it adjusts to keep skills and to maintain value for money. This must figure positively to Devonport's favour in the thinking behind the current Naval Base Review". [WESTERN MORNING NEWS]

IRISH FERRIES

Christmas sailing arrangements:

ULYSSES: Last sailing departs Holyhead at 14:10 on 24 December. Then to overhaul at H&W.

ISLE OF INISHMORE: Takes over from ULYSSES, first sailing arrives Holyhead on 27 December at 11:30.

JONATHAN SWIFT: Last sailing ex Holyhead 12:00 on 24 December, arriving back in Holyhead at 10:45 on 27 December with the morning sailing from Dublin. Refit is 4 - 16 Jan.

ISLE OF MAN STEAM PACKET COMPANY

MARY THE QUEEN - the former MONA's QUEEN has been placed on the sales list with an asking prince of just US$1.65m. 

ISLES OF SCILLY STEAMSHIP COMPANY / CORNWALL COUNTY COUNCIL

Plans to spend £41.5 million to upgrade the sea link to the Isles of Scilly are 'shrouded in secrecy', it was claimed this week. Penzance Civic Society has sent a letter of complaint to David Whalley, leader of Cornwall County Council, which is spearheading the scheme.

Society members agreed unanimously that the details of the proposals, as well as the research and reasoning behind them, should be made public. Society chairman Richard Clark, who is also a Penzance town councillor, said: "Members are both annoyed and mystified that the project should be shrouded in secrecy.

"They do not understand how the county council can be contemplating a substantial investment of public funds in the building of a vessel to a specification which is not in the public domain."

The county council has agreed in principle to fund more than £10 million of the near £18 million cost of replacing SCILLONIAN III and the GRY MARITHA with a new vessel.

In addition, improvements to the harbours at Penzance and St Mary's will cost almost £24 million.

Mr Clark added: "Neither the people of Penzance, nor their elected representatives, are in any position to judge the merits of what is proposed and this we find unacceptable."

JAMES FISHER & SONS plc

ACQUISITION OF F.T. EVERARD & SONS LIMITED ('FT Everard')

James Fisher the UK's leading provider of marine services announced this week that it is to acquire FT Everard for a total cash consideration of approximately £23.7 million and the assumption of £28.0 million of debt.

The acquisition to be financed through existing and new bank facilities' Everard currently operates 11 CPP tankers, 9 of which it owns, with four further tankers due to enter service in 2007, and owns and operates Cattedown Wharves - a port facility on the River Plym, Plymouth.

Acquisition expected to bring a number of benefits and opportunities to James Fisher including:

* the acquisition of a predominantly modern double hulled fleet;

* the anticipated cash flow benefits to enable James Fisher to accelerate the expansion of its other divisions;

* the ability to re-finance FT Everard's owned ships to reduce post acquisition financial gearing; and

* the ability to bring FT Everard's fleet into the tonnage tax regime.

* The combined tankship operations will, in future, operate under the name James Fisher Everard

* Acquisition expected to be earnings neutral in the year ending 31 December 2007 and earnings enhancing thereafter*

* Michael Everard and William Everard will join the Board of James Fisher on Completion

Commenting on the Acquisition, Tim Harris, Chairman of James Fisher, said: 'We are buying a business we know with an excellent operational reputation and which provides us with the opportunity to grow and enhance the business significantly.'

He added: 'We intend to repeat the successful tankships formula by using the strong cash flow benefits from an enlarged and integrated tankship fleet to pursue further expansion in the Company's other divisions.

The key focus for growth in the enlarged James Fisher group will remain marine support services, comprising the offshore oil,  specialist technical and defence divisions. This contributed 67% of group profits in H1 2006. I am delighted that Michael and William Everard have agreed to join the James Fisher Board on completion of the Acquisition. The Board view the prospects of the Enlarged Group with confidence.'

Michael Everard, Chairman of FT Everard, said

'My family started FT Everard in the late 1800's and through four generations we have been the owners of the company. In James Fisher we see a like minded and successful company with a refreshing and modern attitude to the operation of tankships and marine services.

We are confident that we have found the right strategic home for our company and our employees. My brother and I are delighted to join the Board of James Fisher following completion of the Acquisition and to remain involved with the business.

MAERSK GROUP

SVITZER ADSTEAM ACQUISITION

Disposal of either the Adsteam or Svitzer-Wijsmuller towage operations in Liverpool appears all that is needed for the takeover deal involving the two companies to go ahead. The preliminary findings of the UK’s Competition Commission found the takeover would “be expected to result in a substantial lessening of competition within the market of harbour and terminal towage services in Liverpool.”

 

However sale of either operation “would in principle address the adverse effects it has identified,” the Commission said. This is despite the fact that if the deal is concluded next year as now seems likely, the combined group would control over two-thirds of all harbour towage in the UK.

 

Liverpool is the only port in the UK where both companies operate. The Commission will invite views on the proposals from interested parties which have to be in by 15 December 2006. In the meantime Svitzer-Wijsmuller CEO Jesper Lok welcomed the Commission’s provisional findings.

 

"We will address the findings both in respect of Liverpool and the possible remedies in relation to the port with the Competition Commission during the review process,” he commented. Svitzer-Wijsmuller intends to extend the offer to take account of this process. The Commission's findings will now go out to consultation, with the full findings issued in February. [MARITIME CLIPPINGS]

NORFOLK LINE

MERCHANT BRAVERY - Some 19 Russian and Latvian crew members of the Merchant Bravery, which operates between Dublin and Heysham, were this week given back pay totalling €122,971. The average payment was just over €5,000.

Siptu and the International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF) became involved after claims emerged last month that Eastern European workers aboard the vessel were earning just €2 per hour.

Norfolk Line, the company which chartered the Latvian-owned Bahamas registered cargo ferry, met with ITF inspector Ken Fleming and last week paid out €50,000 to four workers from Russia.

Mr Fleming, who is on secondment from SIPTU, said today that new management arrangements were being made on the vessel.

"This to ensure there is no repeat of the situation we found when the vessel was boarded two weeks ago, with crew members left unpaid for weeks on end," he said.

Crew members were hired and told their pay would be lodged in accounts at home, but according to Mr Fleming later discovered "that little or nothing had been paid after they were discharged".

He said today's settlement includes a "no-victimisation clause" and the four Russian seamen who discharged last week, were to return to the vessel in January.

"Neither the ITF, nor Norfolk Lines who chartered the vessel, have any faith in the agents that made the crewing arrangements in the past", Mr Fleming said." These are now being changed and the MERCHANT BRAVERY will be like a second home to the ITF for the foreseeable future.

I will also be investigating other vessels. We have to clean up what is happening on the Irish Sea." He thanked Norfolk Lines for assistance in resolving the dispute.

NORWAY / FRANCE

India's Supreme Court on Monday delayed for at least a month a decision on whether an asbestos-laden ship that was once a legendary ocean liner can be broken apart here for salvage.

The NORWAY, disabled by a boiler room explosion in the port of Miami in 2003, has become the latest high-profile vessel targeted by environmentalists. They allege that primitive conditions at ship-breaking yards in India and neighbouring countries expose workers and the environment to asbestos, PCBs and other hazards.

They also charge that the ship, which was christened the SS FRANCE when it began trans-Atlantic service in 1962, never should have left Germany, where it had been towed from Miami after the explosion. European law bans exports of ships with hazardous waste to poor countries, and activists claim that officials of the NORWAY's parent, Star Cruise Lines, lied to German officials about renovation plans before the ship was towed to Malaysia and then to India.

A letter obtained by McClatchy Newspapers indicates that at least one German parliamentarian complained in March 2005 that the NORWAY's owners planned to scrap the ship and he asked whether the asbestos would be removed before the NORWAY left Germany. The ship was towed to Malaysia two months later.

Since mid-August, the NORWAY, one of the largest passenger ships ever built, has remained aground about 4,000 feet offshore from the ship-breaking yards at Alang in the west Indian state of Gujarat, awaiting the outcome of a legal challenge to its demolition. A two-judge panel of the Supreme Court ordered the Gujarat Pollution Control Board to review a demolition plan submitted by a scrap yard, Priya Blue Industries, to see whether the plan meets the shipbreaking requirements spelled out by a court-appointed technical committee.

The justices gave the board four weeks to complete the review, though they didn't schedule another hearing until March. Priya Blue could request an earlier hearing, but that would be at the judges' discretion.

Environmentalists, who'd been hoping that the court would declare the effort to scrap the ship in India illegal, nonetheless welcomed the decision to study the issue more closely.

"I think it's a good order, because now at least they will hear us out," said Gopal Krishna, a New Delhi-based environmentalist who's involved in the case. "The outcome is neutral," said Mahesh Agarwal, an attorney for Priya Blue. Sanjay Mehta, the chairman of Priya Blue, described the order as "OK," noting that he now can expect a conclusion in four weeks.

The NORWAY was the flagship of Miami-based Norwegian Cruise Line until the boiler room accident, which killed eight crew members. Environmentalists have campaigned for several years to stop old ships from being sent to developing countries such as India for breaking. Working conditions and the handling of hazardous waste have improved at Indian ship-breaking yards, but environmentalists say the changes are insufficient.

"It is fundamentally clear that the Alang yards currently and for the foreseeable future cannot operate in an environmentally sound manner," said Ingvild Jenssen, a Europe-based activist.

Norwegian Cruise Line says that its parent company, Malaysia-based Star Cruises, didn't intend to scrap the ship when it left Germany for Malaysia, even though the company had decided in late 2004 that scrapping was the most likely option and correspondingly had reduced the value of the Norway on its books, according to a letter sent by its attorneys to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Norwegian, in a written statement in response to e-mailed questions, said the write-down of the ship's value was for accounting reasons and didn't reflect a decision to scrap the Norway. Still, at least one German parliamentarian, a member of the Green Party, was suspicious. Rainder Steenblock wrote a letter to port officials in Bremerhaven in March 2005 asking that the asbestos be removed before the ship was allowed to leave.

Officials say they can do nothing if an owner maintains that a ship isn't going to be scrapped. The NORWAY case is a "textbook example of the urgent need for more stringent regulations," said Holger Bruns, a spokesman for the construction and environment minister in Bremen, Germany, which oversees Bremerhaven port.

"As long as a ship does not appear beyond repair and the owner has not unambiguously declared an intent to scrap it, authorities cannot rule against the stated will of the owner," he said. "If the owner takes a decision after a ship leaves territorial waters, the authorities are powerless." [Maritime Clippings]

LAST ATTEMPT TO SAVE SS FRANCE ?

A French consortium is desperately seeking funds to rescue the former trans-Atlantic liner FRANCE. The association, called Club Le France Prestige (CLFP), is hoping to raise euro100M (£133M) to recover the ship from the Indian breakers. It launched its appeal in October, and is desperately looking for new small investors to rescue what it calls "a monument". Vincent Betrenieux of CLFP said that the ship would be returned to Honfleur and used as a "hotel, restaurant, casino and special seamen's school". He admitted that the organisation is running out of time to achieve its goals. Of the euro100M, Betrenieux estimates euro25M will be needed to buy the ship, euro3M to tow the vessel back to Europe, euro12M to remove asbestos and euro8M for new paint. The rest will go on rewiring and refitting. [MARITIME CLIPPINGS]

PASSAGE EAST CAR FERRY

The depth of feeling surrounding the disruption caused by the ongoing protests in Passage East was revealed at a public meeting in Ballyhack on Thursday night last.

Residents from Passage East were unable to attend as the car ferry could not operate in the stormy weather, but many of the ferry's regular users from the Wexford side were in attendance.

Derek Donnelly and Conor Gilligan of the Passage East Car Ferry said they could also not attend as the service wasn't running.

Cllr. Sean Connick, chairing the meeting, said that there was no doubt that the residents of Passage East were facing an 'intolerable situation', but pointed out that the car ferry now constituted a vital link for the region.

'I have no difficulty with people's right to protest, but there is a difficulty when people decided to blockade,' he said.

Cllr. Connick said that a site for the new slipway had been identified and the Department of the Environment had sent a letter to Waterford County Council raising a number of points in relation to the proposed project, but had received no word back leaving the project 'in limbo'.

Cathy Dowling said that on the previous Friday she had become 'extremely frustrated' when held up by the blockade. 'I can't survive without that ferry,' she said.

'We need to discuss whether we're going to support the people of Passage East and do everything we can to help them if they stop the protests as an act of goodwill,' she said, adding that 'funding is the issue'.

Cllr. Connick said there was strategic infrastructrural funding put in place for the first time last year, which was used to fund the new road from Waterford City to Waterford Airport, and that kind of funding could be targeted for the new access road and slipway required to move the car ferry out of the village.

Sam Cleere from Bannow said a lot of the problems in Passage East were caused by motorists 'unnecessarily cutting through the square and jumping the queue and suggested that someone from the car ferry company could be employed to ensure people stayed in the 'official queue'.

However, it was pointed out that people coming from Dunmore or the airport would have to go halfway to Waterford to get to the back of the 'official queue' so it couldn't be enforced, while only the Gardai could legally direct traffic in the village.

Cllr. Jimmy Curtis said he was a regular ferry user and he had been talking to Passage East resident Cllr. John Carey and the County Managers in Wexford and Waterford about the issue.

'I think we need to support the people of Passage East to get the problem solved. If I lived there I would probably be protesting too and we need to look at it that way,' he said.

Cllr. Curtis said 'we don't need conflict, we need to support the people of Passage East and try to get the funding put in place to solve this problem'.

Dermot Keating expressed his annoyance that the ferry company's management weren't in attendance. 'Can they not come over the roads they know how important this is,' he said.

He said that there was a lot of 'aggro' in Passage East at the moment and he recently saw an issue 'that could have ended up a lot more serious than it was'.

Mr. Keating suggested that people on the Wexford side not use the ferry two mornings a week and instead travel through New Ross to show their support for the Passage East residents.

'I don't mind getting up earlier in the morning, but the evening is different people are tired and hungry after a long day's work and want to get home to their children,' he said.

Margaret Molloy said the car ferry couldn't cope with the busy times and asked if there was an onus on them to deal with that, while she also asked what kind of money was needed for the new slipway project.

Cllr. Connick put the figure at between €8m and €10m, but it was then pointed out that the car ferry company doesn't own the land where it's proposed the slipway would go so it was not simply an issue of funding.

'We're paying them enough to take out an injunction to stop these protests, they should look after their customers,' said one regular user of the service. 'If they were blocking the bridge in New Ross or Ferrybank you'd see how quickly they'd be moved on,' she added.

Cllr. Connick then suggested setting up a small working group to meet with the Passage East residents.

He said that together they could target local and national government and 'up the ante' to try get the issue resolved as the protesters were currently 'targeting the wrong people'.

Principal of Ramsgrange Community School, Liam Fardy said the Passage East Car Ferry Company had been very good to his students who use the service and 'more than generous' in some cases.

'If I was living in Passage and that many cars were coming by my door I'd have a serious axe to grind,' said Mr. Fardy.

He questioned the impact of the current protests and said that 'if the Passage East residents are serious about this let them go block the bridge in New Ross or Waterford and we'll go with them'.

'If you want something you hit people where it hurts,' said Mr. Fardy, adding that Waterford and Wexford County Councils and FBD, who own 85 per cent of the car ferry company, were the crucial players.

Talk of blocking the bridge in New Ross gave Cllr. Connick palpitations and he described it as 'the nuclear option'.

He said that representatives of the ferry company, TDs, County Councillors and County Managers should all come together on it and make representations to the appropriate Government Ministers.

'If that fails then we could do the things you're talking about,' said Cllr. Connick.

Mr. Fardy then question the wisdom of people going on radio shows and inflaming the situation and urged them to go through 'the proper procedures' with their grievances.

'The people of Passage and Ballyhack are pawns in a game, the politicians are there to do a job, let them sort it out,' said the Ramsgrange Principal.

Fine Gael's Larry O'Brien said 'half the people' in cars waiting for the ferry to come across to Passage East did not switch off their engines and that a lot of local residents couldn't even get out of their homes.

'They're so frustrated about it at this stage they can't do anything about it, but protest,' he said, urging people to support their efforts to secure a new slipway. [NEW ROSS STANDARD]

STENA LINE

Christmas sailing arrangements - Holyhead services:

STENA ADVENTURER 24 December: Last sailing ex Holyhead 14:30, due back at the Holyhead lightship at 23:30. Resumes service with 02:30 departure on December 27. No layover at New Year.

STENA EXPLORER  24 December:  Last sailing arrives Holyhead at 13:00, layover until 08:55 departure on December 27.

31 Dec - Last sailing arrives Holyhead at 19:50, layover until 15:30 on 1 January.

STENA SEATRADER arrives Holyhead December 22 at 19:15, discharges and proceeds to dry-dock. Resumes service on January 08 with 22:15 sailing from Holyhead.

December 02Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Nick Widdows, David Farclough, Michael Bracken, "River Spy" and "others".

ADVERSE WEATHER

Adverse weather caused problems for operators on Thursday November 30 and look set to cause problems on Sunday December 02 as well. Here is a round-up for Thursday:

STENA LINE

Belfast - Stranraer and Holyhead - Dun Laoghaire HSS sailings cancelled. The STENA CALEDONIA cancelled - she did operate her early morning roundtrip ex Belfast but on return mid-morning the decision was taken not to operate any further sailings.

IRISH FERRIES

JONATHAN SWIFT Holyhead - Dublin high speed service was cancelled.

NORMANDY's 16:00 ex Rosslare Wednesday arrived in France around 2.5 hours late. The ISLE OF INISHMORE also appeared to be running very late and to catch up the 08:45 / 14:30 sailings on Friday were cancelled

P&O Irish Sea

Larne - Cairnryan sailings delayed.

Celtic Link

This appears on their website - it appears the 22:00 ex Cherbourg on Wednesday night was cancelled and an amended schedule introduced for the rest of the week: Ex Cherbourg Thursday @ 12:00hrs arriving in Rosslare Friday @ 10:00hrs Ex Rosslare Friday @ 16:00hrs arriving in Cherbourg Saturday @ 12:00hrs Ex Cherbourg Saturday @ 20:00hrs arriving in Rosslare Sunday @ 15:00hrs Ex Rosslare Sunday @ 19:00hrs arriving in Cherbourg Monday @ 13:00hrs Ex Cherbourg Monday @ 17:00hrs arriving in Rosslare Tuesday @ 12:00hrs Normal Schedule Resumes Tuesday 5 December 2006

BUGALED BREIZH

Families of five French fishermen who died when their trawler sank off Cornwall have attacked a report that says a submarine was not to blame. The 184-page report by the French Marine Accident Investigation Board (Bureau Enqu??te Accident Mer) blamed the tragedy on the BUGALED BREIZH's trawl snagging on sand on the seabed in rough seas and dragging herself underwater as her engines continued to function.

The report blames dead crewmen for having left doors open on the boat that should have remained closed - which allowed water to flood inside the vessel - and for failing to respect official distress call procedure.

At a meeting in France, families of the crew members and the owner of the BUGALED BREIZH heard that accident investigators based their conclusions on video footage of the sunken trawler on the seabed recorded by a remote controlled submarine. The pictures, taken before the trawler and her fishing gear were recovered and returned to France for detailed examination, appeared to show part of the vessel's trawl embedded in sand and silt.

But after the meeting Michel Douce, owner of the vessel, insisted "a pile of sand one metre high on the seabed could not have caused the sinking of a 24-metre trawler".

Remy Gloaguen, brother of one of the lost fishermen said: "This is completely lamentable. We are being asked to believe that the trawl snagged in a pile of sand."


Other family members, some in distress as they left the Prefecture building in Quimper, Brittany, said that they remained convinced that the BUGALED BREIZH had fallen victim to a rogue submarine.

"We still hope that the criminal investigation into manslaughter and failing to assist persons in danger will uncover the truth about the real cause of this accident," said a close relative of one of the lost fishermen.

Robert Bougueon, fishermen's association president at the trawler's home port of Loctudy, denounced what he called "state manipulation" and said the authorities were lying to cover up the alleged involvement of a submarine taking part in a NATO exercise off the Lizard on January 15 2004, the day of the tragedy.

"It is shameful. The investigators appear to have completely ignored traces of titanium paint of a kind used only on submarines which were found on the trawl cables," he said.

Despite the findings of the board, judges in Brittany are continuing to probe the causes of the accident.

This summer the French Defence Ministry said the Royal Navy had agreed to release 20 documents inc- luding log books of British vessels that took part in an exercise in the area where the BUGALED BREIZH sank.

The French judges cited a Dutch submarine which was sailing nearest to the point where the BUGALED BREIZH sank as a suspect in a case of manslaughter and failing to assist persons in danger. The Dutch Navy and the captain of the submarine DOLFIJN have repeatedly denied their vessel was involved in the accident.

It emerged in September that a report by an expert on cable resistance revealed that traces of the metal titanium used to treat submarine hulls were found on the BUGALED BREIZH's trawl cables.

In 1991, six crew members died when the Plymouth-based trawler PESCADO was lost off the coast of Cornwall. An official report by the Marine Accident Investigation Branch concluded that the vessel had snagged the seabed and pulled itself down. But co-owner Alan Ayres, who has spent years trying to find out exactly what happened, has always believed the PESCADO was dragged down by a submarine during an exercise off Falmouth.

Last night Mr Ayres, who was initially charged but then cleared over the loss of life on the boat, said: "I feel very sad and I am deeply shocked and concerned for the families of the lost crew, but is this not ghosts of the past?"

Mr Ayres said: "It is my personal view that the sinking of the BUGALED BREIZH could have well been an international incident with very serious implications for the guilty party.

"Therefore I feel it's easier for them to find a convenient culprit to blame and unfortunately those who died in this incident are now not able to speak for themselves."  [WESTERN MORNING NEWS]

CELTIC LINK

CELTIC STAR - Adverse conditions on the Irish Sea which prevailed on Thursday of this week appear to have caused problems for CELTIC STAR operating the Dublin - Liverpool ro/ro service. She was noted on Friday at Brocklebank Dock, Liverpool Looking somewhat the worse for wear. Three drop trailers appeared to have broken loose, two of which had overturned and a third was sandwiched between. One trailer had broken through the port side rails and could be seen to be in a somewhat precarious position over hanging the side of the ship. This trailer had also apparently damaged other deck fittings. By late afternoon  late afternoon of December 01, a crane was at work on the dock side lifting skips on board the vessel which were being filled with the contents of the overturned trailers which were understood to be pizzas!

DEPARTMENT FOR TRANSPORT

Sea Passenger Statistics Quarter 3 2006: Statistical Release

The Department for Transport has published the National Statistics on sea passengers travelling on short-sea routes, for the third quarter of 2006.

During the third quarter there were:

  • 8.7 million international sea passenger journeys to and from the UK, one percent lower than the corresponding quarter last year.
  • 5.0 million international passenger journeys through Dover (58 per cent of all international journeys), four per cent higher than the corresponding quarter last year. There were 0.9 million international journeys through Portsmouth, the next largest port for international sea passengers (20 per cent lower than the same quarter last year).
  • 1.2 million domestic sea passenger journeys between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands, three per cent lower than the corresponding quarter last year.
  • For comparison, during the same period there were 4.5 million passenger journeys through the Channel Tunnel (4 per cent higher).

The report can be downloaded from the DFT [CLICK HERE]

MAERSK GROUP

NORFOLK LINE

MERCHANT BRAVERY -Four Russian crewmen working on a freight ship operating between Dublin and  Lancashire which is at the centre of a pay dispute have received back pay from their Russian employers.

The four are among a group of 22 east Europeans working on the MERCHANT BRAVERY who claim they are owed almost €50,000 in pay and back pay.

The four received €49,900 in arrears of pay plus over €3,000 in expenses and fares home.

The ferry is chartered by Norfolk Line but the company is not responsible for its crewing arrangements. It sails between Dublin Port and Heysham in Lancashire.

The 22 who work on the ship contacted the International Transport Workers' Federation in Dublin, claiming they were paid just €2 an hour and that the other 18 are still waiting to be paid.

Union officials estimated that they are owed about €150,000 in total. However, one of the difficulties in sorting out the matter is that they are employed by a number of different agencies.

Unions say they are also concerned about possible intimidation of workers when they return home to Russia and as a result have asked the Garda Immigration Unit if the four Russian men can stay in Ireland until they can make their own travel arrangements.

Representatives for Norfolk Line say they're arranging accommodation for the men until they can return home.

MARITIME AND COASTGUARD AGENCY

MCGA SIGN CONTRACT RENEWAL FOR UK EMERGENCY TOWING VESSELS

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) announced on November 30 the successful renewal of the contract to supply four emergency towing vessels (ETVs) for the UK to be managed by the MCA. These are powerful and well equipped ships which are on stand-by 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to respond to shipping incidents in their area.

The successful contractor, Klyne Tugs Ltd of Lowestoft, provides four ETVs for the MCA based at four locations, but patrolling a wider area. Two are based in the English Channel, at Falmouth and Dover to cover the South West approaches and the Dover Straits respectively. The ANGLIAN MONARCH at Dover is jointly funded and operated with the French Government. Two are based at Stornoway and Shetland Islands. The fleet includes newly built vessels with a typical cost of approximately 20 million pounds.

Making the announcement, John Astbury, Chief Executive, MCA said:


Letting of this renewed contract fulfils the Governments commitment to the provision of all-year round ETV cover and demonstrates the importance we place on preventing the loss of life and protecting the marine environment.
In areas of high risk these vessels will provide the first line of response to maritime accidents and the prevention of pollution.

Toby Stone, Head of Counter Pollution at the MCA said: Removing the threat of marine pollution is the primary role for the ETVs. Each vessel has been engaged in many operations during the existing contract where a ship has been towed to a place of refuge.

These vessels are well suited to the job and the extremes of weather often seen in the sea areas in which they will work. Clearly prevention is better than cure with the aim of using these excellent vessels to prevent actual marine pollution.

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency look forward to working closely with Klyne Tugs Lowestoft and with the masters and crew of the four emergency towing vessels (ETV) for the duration of the extended contract.
The renewed contract starts from 1 October 2009 and is to run for two years.
Notes to Editors:

ROYAL NAVY

HMS INVINCIBLE - It has survived fierce enemy attacks, braved stormy seas around the globe, and was once one of the Royal Navy's leading ships - but now HMS Invincible could become little more than a breakwater for a West Country port.

The mighty aircraft carrier, which played a central role in the Falklands war, could face the ignominious end after calls from a local MP.

Anthony Steen, who represents Totnes, has outlined the ambitious proposal for HMS Invincible to provide an instant breakwater for Brixham.

He says the plans could treble the size of the Devon port and has called on ministers to look into his plans.

Under his scheme, the 682ft vessel would be handed over to Torbay Council to be used as the "northern arm" of the harbour when it leaves Navy service in 2010.

Mr Steen said it would transform the area and create a yachting and fishing "paradise" and put Brixham on the map as a "boom town".

Armed Forces Minister Adam Ingram has not ruled out the bold move, telling Mr Steen in a written Parliamentary answer that "all disposal options will be considered".

Together with her sister ships HMS ILLUSTRIOUS and HMS ARK ROYAL, INVINCIBLE is the second largest vessel built for the Royal Navy - second only to HMS OCEAN - and has a displacement in water of 20,000 tonnes.

The vessel can carry up to 24 aircraft, including Sea Harriers, and when in service would have a crew of 1,200 sailors.

It survived unscathed from the Falklands war, and was on active service for 25 years. HMS INVINCIBLE is currently decommissioned, however, but remains on standby to be reactivated should the Royal Navy need it until 2010.

Conservative MP Mr Steen said the idea to extend the harbour by creating a breakwater had been discussed for more than 25 years.

The aircraft carrier would provide an immediate barrier.

He said: "It's better putting it to good use.

"It would make it the largest safe, secure boating area in the whole of south England. It would make the harbour treble the size.

"There wouldn't be anything as big or safe. There's a bit of steam on this one."

It could also fit in with the suggestion that Brixham could be used as a training facility by international sailing teams in the run-up to the 2012 Olympics.

Mr Steen had asked the Defence Secretary if he would "assess the merits of disposing of HMS INVINCIBLE when it is decommissioned in 2010 to the Torbay unitary authority to create the northern arm of Brixham Harbour".

Responding, Mr Ingram stated: "When HMS INVINCIBLE is declared surplus to Royal Navy requirements, all disposal options will be considered."

Earlier this year, the last piece in the funding jigsaw for the ambitious regeneration of Brixham's waterfront fell into place with £2 million provided by the Government.

It paved the way for the £16.6 million scheme to revitalise the harbourside.  [Western Morning News]

 

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