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

NEWS BULLETIN - January 2007

January 31Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, "River Spy", Philp Parker, Dan Cross and "others"

NORMANDIE EXPRESS has been purchased by the company which is reported to be paying $38m  for teh vessel which has operated under charter from High Speed Catamarans of New Zealand.


SUPERSEACAT TWO was moved from the wet basin into #7 dry dock on the morning tide of January 31. SSC3 being joined by the Adsteam Tug - BRAMLEY MOORE. The wet basin is now empty of ships being dry docked or laid up for first time since 2002.


Speculation is mounting that two major companies are poised to win control of Devonport Dockyard after another contender appeared to draw back from making an offer.

KBR, the US defence firm controlling Devonport, admitted publicly for the first time on Friday that it had received inquiries about its 51 per cent stake in Devonport Management Ltd (DML).

As reported in the WMN earlier this month, BAE Systems is teaming up with US private-equity firm Carlyle to launch a £200 million bid for the Plymouth dockyard, which maintains, upgrades and fuels the Royal Navy's submarines.

According to the Independent on Sunday, Balfour Beatty and Weir Group, which own the rest of DML, are "willing sellers" according to an executive close to the talks.

The firms could net up to £50 million each for their holdings.

The newspaper claimed that rival company Babcock International, which owns the Rosyth dockyard on the Firth of Forth and runs the Royal Navy's submarine base at Faslane, was thought to have balked at the prospect of entering a bidding war against BAE, the UK's biggest defence contractor.

It is also thought that the Ministry of Defence (MoD) favours consolidating submarine manufacture, currently done by BAE at Barrow-in-Furness, with the refitting and refuelling carried out at Devonport.

KBR has been cornered into considering bids for DML after falling out with the MoD in November. The ministry had been concerned that KBR's spin-off from American services giant Halliburton might undermine its finances, and asked KBR to halt the US flotation while it sought guarantees. KBR went ahead and floated anyway - a decision that an MoD official described as "just not cricket".

In a conference call with Wall Street analysts on Friday, KBR chief executive Bill Utt insisted that no final decision had been made.

"We have received inquiries related to purchasing KBR's interest in DML. We plan to evaluate these inquiries," he said. "In the meantime, we have given them (the MoD) the financial information they have requested with respect to KBR as a standalone entity."

DML's potential sale comes at a time of upheaval in the UK's naval yards, with Defence Procurement Minister Lord Drayson demanding consolidation.

BAE is negotiating to merge its shipbuilding interests with those of VT Group, and the future shape of the industry is not expected to become clear before the summer.

Babcock, which owns the shipbuilding and refitting yard at Rosyth and runs the Faslane submarine base on the Clyde, says it wants to play a part in the consolidation and has argued that placing too much responsibility in the hands of BAE could be damaging to British interests. [Western Morning News]


The Irish Congress of Trade Unions has sanctioned an all-out picket at Dublin Port.

The ICTU convened a meeting this afternoon to consider the application for an all-out picket from the Technical Engineering and Electrical Union over its dispute at Dublin Port.

It followed the result of a ballot by all the unions in the Dublin Port company, who voted in favour of supportive action with the TEEU.

The picket is scheduled for February 06, allowing unions seven days notice before the all-out picket takes place.

TEEU members began picketing the port after talks at the Labour Relations Commission broke down on Monday January 29. .

It was the second time in the two-week-old dispute that talks at the LRC failed to avert today's action.

The dispute centres on the suspension of nine shore-based maintenance workers, following the introduction of new work procedures on tugboats.

Dublin Port Company says the workers were requested to train on the tugs in accordance with an agreement for change reached last year.

Efforts to resolve the dispute have stalled over whether or not staff should work under protest while negotiations continue. [RTÉ]


Philip Parker writes concerning the passing of Captain John Temple, a former Liverpool Pilot. John who was one of the appropriated Pilots to ACL for close to thirty years, also had the distinction of Piloting the QEII on her first visit to Liverpool, since retirement a few years ago he has dedicated a lot of his time to the Wincham Preservation Society and his "beloved" tug Brocklebank. His presence and huge personality will be much missed on the River Mersey. The Funeral Service took place to a packed Landican North Chapel on Tuesday January 30th and was Conducted by Canon Bob Evans.
Anyone wishing to make a donation in John's memory to the Wincham Preservation Society can do so c/o Quinns Funeral Service, 217 Greasby Road, Wirral CH49 2PF



A rescue helicopter from Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose airlifted seven people to safety on Monday January 29 after an Irish fishing vessel sank off the Isles of Scilly.

Five of the seven strong crew of the Irish registered trawler Discovery from Castletownbere, County Cork, were able to scramble into a liferaft. But they could only watch helplessly as waves pushed them away from two men still in the sea, including the vessel's skipper Captain Noel O'Sullivan.

Although half filled with water and only partially inflated, Mr O'Sullivan and another crewman were forced to take refuge a second liferaft, for two hours.

With no time to don a survival suit for protection and knowing they were 150 miles west of the Scillies, he said that he soon began to despair.

However, the lives of the seven fishermen were saved in an international rescue operation 150 miles west of the Scilly Isles. The Coastguard and RAF Kinloss co-ordinated the rescue and scrambled two Royal Navy Sea King Helicopters from 771 Squadron who are based at Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose in Cornwall.

The seven saved in yesterdays mission brings the total number of lives saved or assisted by 771 Squadron to 40 people in 2007. A total of 180 lives were saved in 2006 with 6 of these on missions in January – so it’s been a very busy month for the squadron.

Most of the crew managed to find safety in their life rafts as their boat sank. However, the skipper and first mate spent two hours in the sea before being rescued. A large tanker the FRONT DEFENDER found the life rafts and managed to get the seven fishermen onboard. The first Navy helicopter on scene sent down a crewman to check out the fishermen medically. Once assessed, the team then winched the fishermen up into the helicopter and flew them back to Culdrose, near Helston.

Lieutenant Commander Martin ‘Oz’ Rhodes of 771 Squadron said: "This has been a very busy few weeks for the Royal Naval helicopters of

771 Squadron. When compared with the last 2 years, January 2007 has seen more than double the lives saved. This has predominantly been due to the extended period of bad weather, the growth in people visiting the area and the increase in appeal that Cornwall has for the more adventurous sports enthusiasts.

This combined with the large area that 771 NAS has responsibility for, ensures that the Squadron is kept busy and maintains the experience levels needed for the more demanding rescues, such as the MVC Napoli, that we sometimes encounter."


HSS STENA DISCOVERY is laid up at Harland and Wolff, Belfast. Given that some appropriate fenders etc have been installed it appears to be her fairly long-term lay-up location.

HSS STENA EXPLORER took up service on the Belfast - Stranraer service on Tuesday January 30 releasing HSS STENA VOYAGER for dry docking at Harland and Wolff. STENA VOYAGER is due back in service on the Belfast - Stranraer route on February 20.

STENA ADVENTURER - last sailing before dry docking 08:30 from Dublin on Friday February 02. She resumes service with 21:15 Dublin to Holyhead sailing on February 05, 2007.


Three Rare Opportunities to Sail Aboard TSS THE TOPAZ (ex EMPRESS OF BRITAIN)

PeaceBoat has made available to WSS members three segments of the ship’s upcoming World Cruise:

  • Venice, Italy to Bridgetown, Barbados via Casablanca, Morocco and Las Palmas, Canary Islands:  April 11, 2007 to April 27, 2007; double cabin rates from $2,300 p.p; single cabins from $2,800.
  • Barbados to Acapulco, Mexico via La Guaira, Venezuela; Cristobal, Panama; Panama Canal transit; Acajutla, El Salvador: April 27th to May 10th; double cabin rates from $1,800 p.p; single cabins from $2,200.
  • Acapulco to Vancouver, Canada direct: May 10th to May 18th; double cabin rates from $1,300 p.p; single cabins from $1,600.

Note:  All rates are cruise only and include port taxes and gratuities; airfare is additional; four-berth cabins for shared occupancy are available at reduced rates.

THE TOPAZ is one of the last classic steamships in passenger service.  She has had a storied career that includes service as a transatlantic liner, part-time cruise ship, full-time cruise ship, and missionary ship.  She entered transatlantic service in 1956 as Canadian Pacific’s EMPRESS OF BRITAIN and later sailed as Greek Line’s QUEEN ANNA MARIA, Carnival’s CARNIVALE and FIESTA MARINA, and Epirotiki’s OLYMPIC.  While much of her has been redecorated over the years, her layout is quite original and traces of her Canadian Pacific paneled, brass, and etched glass interiors abound. 

As THE TOPAZ, she now sails for the Japan-based PeaceBoat, an organization committed to peace, human rights, sustainable development and the environment.   The majority of her passengers hail from Japan and cuisine is generally oriented towards Japanese tastes.  Although life onboard is conducted primarily in Japanese, many staff are multi-lingual and knowledge of Japanese is not necessary.

While WSS is not officially sponsoring the sailings as group events, we’ll be happy to send you more information by email, fax, or surface mail upon request.  Just contact Brad Hatry at  or 718-852-0728.  Reservations are made directly through PeaceBoat.

January 28Acknowledgements: Maritime Clippings

The ongoing salvage of the MSC NAPOLI has received significant coverage in the general media. It currently lies aground some miles outside of the ISS coverage area which ends at Dartmouth / Torbay. However, given that she did get into difficulties off Cornwall there is some relevance.  From time to time interesting news will be posted here which imparts more than the usual mainstream information. The following is from Piet Sinke's Maritime News Clippings:

Preparations are under way to lift off more than 2,000 containers from the cargo ship MSC NAPOLI as she lists heavily a mile off Sidmouth, Devon. Specialist crane barges are expected alongside the vessel and will lift off the containers in an operation which could take several months.

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency has warned scavengers they face arrest if they take goods that wash up ashore.

The RSPCA said many oil-covered birds it had found could die. Meanwhile, salvage teams are continuing to pump out 3,500 tonnes of oil from the ship's fuel tanks. So far more than 1,700 tonnes of fuel oil has been pumped into awaiting tanker.

The containers, which are holding many goods from BMW motorcycles to nappies, as well as fuel oil, will be lifted off in priority order.

Mark Clark, Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) spokesman, said of the task of removing the containers: "It's a bit like a game of jenga because you have to remove all the items very, very carefully without everything else falling."

Two barge cranes which have sailed from Rotterdam will be positioned alongside MSC NAPOLI. The RSPCA has said the 760 birds in its care covered with oil spilled from the MSC NAPOLI have "only a slim chance of survival".

Rupert Griffiths, manager of RSPCA West Hatch, said: "Being covered in oil like this is a life-threatening event for them. It stops them being able to fly or dive for food.

"It also reduces their buoyancy. By the time they are washed up on the beach they may be less than two-thirds their original weight and suffering from extreme exhaustion after paddling a long way."

The birds, which are mainly guillemots, have now been taken to the RSPCA's West Hatch Wildlife Centre near Taunton, Somerset. The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds warned on Thursday that up to 10,000 seabirds could be caught in the oil slick from the wrecked ship.

About 1,000 affected birds have been collected, but the charity said the final total could be much more. RSPB volunteers will comb a 100-mile stretch of beach looking for more affected birds this weekend. The 200 tonnes of oil which had leaked into the sea has now been treated.

But officials said on Friday it could take another week for all the fuel to be pumped to a second vessel from two of the ship's fuel tanks, which still remain under water.

The 62,000-tonne MSC NAPOLI, which was holed in storms on 18 January, was deliberately run aground following "serious structural failure". Hundreds of scavengers descended on the beach at Branscombe after 50 of the ship's containers washed ashore.

A depot is being set up locally for anyone wanting to return items already taken from the beach. The ship had been meant to unload almost half of the containers at South African ports.

The NAPOLI'S containers will be unloaded from the stern first by crane barge BIG FOOT, A second crane on BIG FOOT will then transfer containers to shuttle barge BOA BARGE 21

Shuttle barge will then transfer containers to Portland Harbour, where they will be offloaded, James Fisher's tanker FORTH FISHER is positioned on the other side of the ship pumping off its remaining fuel oil

A decision will be made over whether to re-float the ship after all the oil and containers have been removed.

January 27Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Ian Collard, John Williams, Andrew King and "others"


It would appear that the difficulties over the "ransom strip" have been resolved. A&P having handed the "ransom strip" to Reddington, who are in the process of selling the yard to Peel Ports.

This means that there will be unrestricted access to dry docks #5, #6 and #7 along with the #4 dry dock.

The Wet Basin will be used by Peel for port activities as redevelopment of the Cammell Laird south yard site gets underway this means that it will cease to be available for ship repair and conversion work. However, Bidston will be used for afloat repairs as the company concentrates on the main yard for future dry-dock business and will explore the possibilities of making No6 / 7 impoundable [to be used as a Wet Dock].

NSL will assume the name Cammell Laird - Northwestern Shiprepairers and Shipbuilders Ltd over the next few months.

It is welcome news that the Cammell Laird name will once again be proudly displayed at the Birkenhead Yard.

There is an extensive programme of work orders:

No 4 Dry-dock
Monday 29th January Caledonian Macbrayne Vessel MV Isle of Lewis [Annual dry-docking]
No 5 Dry-dock
First weekend in February STENA ADVENTURER [Under water inspection]
9th February  STENA SEAFARER  [PC renewal]
14th February  RFA CARDIGAN BAY
25th February North Link vessel HIROSSEY [New accommodation block]
No 6 Dry-dock
RFA DILIGENCE - major refit - currently in progress
No 7 Dry-dock
27th January BEN-MY-CHREE
19th February Caledonian Macbrayne vessel CLANSMAN
Other work

ORANGELEAF departed from the wet basin and crossed to Liverpool on Friday January 26, 2007 to start an 'assisted maintenance period' [AMP].

FORT GEORGE + FORT VICTORIA are currently under going AMP in Scotland.


A planned strike by maintenance workers at Dublin Port is expected to go ahead after talks at the Labour Relations Commission broke down without agreement.

The strike is planned for next Tuesday, January 30. Nine shore-based workers have been suspended for refusing to work on tug boats.

Their union, the TEEU, claimed they were ordered to work on the tugs without proper training or equipment.

The company denies the claim. It accused the union of failing to honour an agreement for changes to work practices signed last year in return for pay increases.


BEN-MY-CHREE arrived at the Cammell Laird ship yard around 17:00 on January 27 for a short dry-docking. SEA EXPRESS I and HOBURGEN (currently on charter to Norfolkline providing cover.]


A group of maritime and local history enthusiasts are proposing to purchase the Weaver Packet JAMES JACKSON GRUNDY and return her to to a berth alongside the Salt Museum in Northwich, Cheshire to commemorate the heritage of her local builders Yarwoods, her original owners ICI and the town itself and River Weaver. She would not just be a static exhibit but would also sail on the Mersey and the Weaver with exhibitions.

JJG was completed in 1948 as the first of eight motorised packets for ICI to carry its salt and chemical products down the Weaver to ships loading in Liverpool and Birkenhead. When the trade ceased, she was sold in 1980 to Northwich Sea Cadets as their HQ ship & renamed TS WITCH.

In 2001 she was sold her present owners who have restored her to full working order and she in presently berthed in Liverpool.

An Appeal Fund has been launched and a Committee formed. The project already has the support of the Salt Museum and of several organisations associated with the Weaver Valley Partnership. Further details can be found on their website



The Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA) announced today that seven foreign ships were under detention in UK ports during December 2006 after failing Port State Control (PSC) safety inspection.

Latest monthly figures show that there were seven new detentions of foreign flagged ships in UK ports during December 2006, compared with nine new detentions during November. Two vessels remained in detention from the previous month. The overall rate of detentions compared with inspections carried out over the last twelve months is just under 5%, a slight increase compared with Novembers twelve month rate.

During the month of December 73 Port State Control inspections were carried out in the UK, which brings the recorded total from January to December 2006 to 1660 inspections. For those ships inspected during December a total of 17 vessels had no deficiencies raised against them, 32 had between one and five deficiencies, 14 had between six and ten deficiencies, 7 had between eleven and twenty deficiencies and 3 vessels had more than twenty deficiencies.

One ro-ro cargo vessel, five general cargo vessels and one container ship were detained in December. Two vessels were registered with flag states listed on the Paris MOU black list, four were registered with states on the white list and one was registered with a state not appearing on any of the Paris MOU lists.

Vessels detained in December included:

• A 9,368 GT ro-ro cargo vessel detained in Belfast with with 2 ISM major non-conformities, emergency preparedness and maintenance of ship and equipment not according to SMS, broken emergency generator alternator coupling, switchboard rear panel removed, insufficient working generators for electrical services and insufficient engine room cleanliness

• A 2,744 GT general cargo vessel with inoperative forward hold port and starboard fire flaps, inoperative quick closing valves for engine room oil tanks, and 2 ISM major non-conformities, maintenance of ship and equipment (insufficient documentation) and resources and personnel (lack of familiarisation for new crew members).


The West Country could become internationally recognised for marine science research and expertise if plans for a multi-million pound centre get the go-ahead. Ambitous plans are being drawn up to build the £35 million research centre, transforming a derelict pier at Plymouth's Millbay Docks into state-of-the-art research, education and conference facilities.

The centre could provide a shot in the arm for the local economy by staging conferences, helping fledgling businesses and providing highly-paid new posts for scientists.

If the centre gets approval, it is hoped to be completed by 2010. The Marine Sciences Centre is the joint vision of the PSMP Partners - the
University of Plymouth, Plymouth Marine Laboratory, the Marine Biological Association and the Sir Alister Hardy Foundation for Ocean Science.

Professor Mark Clearly, Acting Vice-Chancellor at the University of Plymouth, said it was an "exciting and fantastic" project. He added: "We have a wealth of outstanding talent and expertise in marine science and technology."

The four organisations believe the project would build on the strength of their existing work, while boosting the local and regional economy and encouraging local partners to work together for the future success of the area.

It would contain labs for studying current issues such as climate change and sea level rises. "The new centre will take Plymouth's marine science to a higher capability level," said Peter Burkhill, director of the Sir Alister Hardy Foundation for Ocean Science.

"It will, for the first time, allow scientists from the various institutes to be in closer contact and so allow them to interact far more efficiently than they can at present."

There are also plans to link the centre with a berth for cruise liners, boosting tourism. [Western Morning News]


Discontent over the lack of a service in 2007 rumbles on in the media:

The recent decision by Cork Swansea Ferries to suspend its Cork/Swansea service in 2007 was strongly condemned by county councillors this week, who asked for more answers as to how the company apparently sold their existing ferry before they had found one to replace it.

Numerous councillors speaking at this Monday's council meeting suggested that there is much more to this story than meets the eye and, at their behest, acting county manager Theresa White agreed to ask Cork Swansea Ferries for some answers.

Councillor Jim Daly, who raised the issue, described the ferry as "the direct route to the heart of holiday Ireland", and highlighted numerous incidents of neglect of county Cork by tourism support services.

There is no tourism officer for West Cork at the moment, he pointed out, and West Cork has no representative on a newly formed board dedicated to promoting tourism in the south of Ireland.

Councillor Tom Sheahan termed the ferry service "absolutely vital" for tourism throughout the county and councillor PJ Sheehan said: "The 12 months suspension will put some of the major tourist centres in the Cork/Kerry area under severe financial pressure. Any few ferry tourists that are coming to Ireland will now be forced to come into Rosslare and Dublin."

Responding to the announcement by the company, tourism minister John O'Donoghue has said that the ferry accounted for just 3% of tourist numbers to the area - a figure vehemently disputed this Monday by the councillors who live in the area.

"That is a ludicrous statement to make," Mr Sheehan said. "There are three or four hundred cars coming off of every ferry. Farming and fishing are bedevilled with red tape and bureaucracy and, now, our last natural industry is under threat."

A number of councillors, including Tomas Ryan, recalled the intervention a number of years back by the local authorities in Cork and Swansea when the ferry service was previously under threat. Then, the local authorities got the company on its feet and handed it back.

The agreement at the time was that the council would be kept informed of any difficulties, Mr Ryan pointed out.

"It's a crying shame that this was allowed to happen. "The plight of the Munster fans - who regularly pack the service after all flights are full - travelling to Welsh fixtures was highlighted by councillors John Mulvihill and Liam O'Doherty. Councillors Kevin Murphy described the board's actions as "grossly irresponsible" and councillor Alan Coleman said: "This was a commercially irresponsible decisions; having sold the boat they then created the impression that they had another boat in place. As late as Christmas they told the port of Cork that they had another boat in place."

Councillor Michael McGrath described the actions of the board as "a cock-up of major proportions" and noted: "I do get the sense that we haven't got the full picture." Minister for Health Mary Harney is apparently no longer responsible for issues of health, Councillor Noel Buckley said; Noel Dempsey, the Minister for Communications, hasn't any responsibility for the closure of post offices and, now, the Minister for Transport seems to have washed his hands of this issue.

Ms White promised to contact her counterparts in Cork city and in Swansea and to investigate the matter further. [The Corkman - January 25, 2007].


Swansea Cork Ferries bosses are promising the service will be back next year. They pulled the plug on it earlier this month after failing to find a new vessel for the route.

The move will cost both areas millions in lost income. But the company insists it remains determined to acquire a suitable ship so it can come back strongly in 2008.

"We are actively pursuing a new vessel in time for the 2008 season," said a company spokesman.

However, he ruled out the possibility of any early purchase leading to a resumption this year. "The reality of the situation is that it is too late for 2007," he said.

Any purchase would have to be accompanied by a planned new marketing strategy. He insisted, though, that every avenue would be pursued to make next year a reality.

The company says it has also been encouraged by the involvement of bodies such as Swansea Council and the Assembly in moves to get the venture back up and running again. Both have expressed concern at the service's demise and the loss of 30 jobs.

"The fact they are showing interest is very important to the company," said the spokesman.

A Swansea Council spokesman said: "We are liaising closely with our partners in the Assembly and are making every attempt to convene a meeting with the ferry company to explore how we can support them and ensure that the service returns as soon as possible."

An Assembly spokesman said: "We are in communication with management of Swansea Cork Ferries to discuss how we can help over the job losses."The sudden announcement that the company had been unable to buy a replacement vessel for the mv Superferry, which had come to the end of the line, sent shock waves through local communities.

The service was launched in 1987 and carried more than three million passengers over the years.

The company took the Superferry out of commission, saying it was past its best and had limited freight capacity.

Their plans to replace it in time for the 2007 season - due to start on Friday, March 16 - foundered when negotiations to buy a replacement ship collapsed over Christmas.

Fears over the future of the route were first raised last August when the company announced it was ending the 2006 season early and selling its only ship. [South Wales Evening Post - January 27]


LYNHER II was reported to be out of service on January 24 following the major failure of a chain wheel support. The service will operate with only two vessels every 15 minutes. Normal service is not expected to resume until February 5.

January 25Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Ian Collard, Jenny Williamson, David Fairclough and "others"


Passenger figures compiled by the Harbours Division for December 2006 at 25,834 show a 3.1% Decrease on the figure for the same period in 2005 which was 26,659. The total figure for 2006 at 588,530 passengers shows a 1.3% decrease over the total for 2005 which was 596,397. During December car traffic through Douglas Harbour decreased by 2.5% from 8,673 vehicles to 8,456 vehicles. The total figure for 2006 at 170,016 vehicles shows a 1.2% decrease over the total for 2005 which was 172,126.


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


Minus 10%






Plus 16%






Minus 41%






For 2006 scheduled routes show the following changes in passenger numbers:-


Plus 9%






Minus 22%






All minus






Plus 6%






Minus 5%






All minus






All minus






All minus






All minus






Plus 54%






Director of Harbours, Captain Michael Brew comments:

“Allowing for the day trips that did not operate during 2006, passenger traffic was overall on a par with 2005.  The outlook for 2007 is very good with two fast craft in service and the 100th Anniversary of the TT is likely to lead to increased traffic.”


BEN-MY-CHREE - will be out of service over the weekend of January 27 /28 for maintenance. She will go out of service after the 08:45 sailing from Douglas on Saturday and take up service again with the 02:15 departure from Heysham on Monday.

SEA EXPRESS I will operate a 10:00 sailing from Douglas to Heysham on Sunday January 28 arriving at 12:00 and departing again for Douglas at 12:45. On arrival back in Douglas she will operate her afternoon scheduled sailing to and from Liverpool.

It is believed that the HOBURGEN, currently on charter to Norfolk Line will provide freight cover on Sunday.


FORTH FISHER - the tanker owned by the Barrow based marine services company is being used to remove the fuel oil of the grounded containership MSC NAPOLI which is being salvaged by Smit off Branscombe, Devon.


HSS STENA DISCOVERY - The first HSS vessel to be withdrawn from service departed from Hoek van Holland on January 23 bound for Belfast. She was reported to have arrived by the morning of January 25.

January 22Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Ian Collard, Jenny Williamson, Dave Billinge and "others"


HMS PLYMOUTH by Dave Billinge


It is feared that plans to bring HMS Plymouth to Millbay may have been scuppered at the eleventh hour. The warship which is currently owned by the Mersey Docks and Harbour Board after the vessel was disavowed by the Liquidators of the Warship's Preservation Trust went into liquidation last February following the closure of the Historic Warships Museum in Birkenhead and is languishing in Vitoria Dock Birkenhead, after her berth at Birkenhead was needed for a shore side redevelopment

A new Charity led by Commander Graham Ramsay RN is being established with the aim of bringing the Falklands frigate to Millbay Plymouth and they have told us that “just a few days before a final meeting with the owners (Mersey Docks and Harbour company) onboard at Birkenhead on Monday (22nd January) to finalise details of her purchase that the company - Warship Management Ltd found out from a third party that the berth at Millbay Plymouth is no longer available”. Mike Critchley speaking for Warships Management said that “Even if we had a million pounds in the bank without a berth we are frankly "sunk". The Argentine Air Force couldn't sink her in 1982 but it looks as if the end of the project is now near"

It is understood that from the company that nearly all, of the money needed to survey, insure and tow her to Plymouth has also been raised, but that with out the berth the fundraising that has gone on since February 2006 to raise the £20k by her former ships company sailors, along with contributions from businessmen from Sheffield, Cardiff, Plymouth to move the frigate to Plymouth will be to no avail.

The Frigate which was retired from the Royal Navy in 1989 and was initially saved from being sunk as missile target since when she has been on public display in Plymouth, Glasgow and Birkenhead. There have according to Warships Management been “ thousands of visitors have stepped onboard to view this famous historic veteran of the Falklands campaign form stem to stern, beautifully presented by a strong team of volunteers.”

Why at the last minute has there been a change when last year according to the communiqué released by Warships Management “The Port Manager at Millbay Docks said on radio and TV last year as the project was launched "if a trust can be formed of sufficient standing we see no reason why HMS Plymouth should not come here provided they can tell us that she can be removed at the end of a trial period if needs be.  Otherwise she's been here before and was very successful"

Along with a statement of support from Plymouth City council who also said "We are supportive of HMS Plymouth coming to the city and having a berth at Millbay."

We believe it is consistent with all the plans to regenerate Millbay and to encourage people to enjoy the city’s historic waterfront.

The regeneration of this key area is overseen by the Millbay Management Board, which is made up of the Regional Development Agency, English Cities Fund, English Partnerships and Plymouth City Council.”

Mike Critchley from the company has said that "The whole team who have put hundreds of hours voluntarily into purchasing and relocating HMS PLYMOUTH to the city are frankly stunned” He went on to say that they are meeting with Associated British Ports in Plymouth at 10am Tuesday (23rd)” .  So the future of the frigate hangs in the balance once again will she be located in another port or will she end up in a scrap yard in the Far East or will she be saved in time for the her to be re-opened to the public in time for the rapidly approaching 25th Anniversary of the Falklands War.


Irish Ferries has purchased a newer, more luxurious Passenger/Ro-Ro cruise ferry which will replace their present vessel `Normandy' on the Ireland - France routes. Currently operating under the name m/s `Kronprins Harald', the vessel was bought from Norwegian ferry operator Color Line. The total cost will be €45million, including modifications and delivery.

Under an arrangement reached, the ship will remain in operation with Color Line on charter until the end of Summer 2007. Irish Ferries expects to take delivery of the vessel in October `07 after which some modifications will be made to adapt it for use in the company's area of operation and prior to her entering service out of Rosslare before the end of the year, operating under a new name which is yet to be decided.

Built in Turku, Finland in 1987, it has operated on the Oslo - Kiel route facilitating the overnight cruise market with which it has built a strong reputation.

Built to very high standards and maintained in excellent condition, the vessel represents what Irish Ferries describe as `outstanding value' in terms of the quality and range of on-board facilities.

Marketing Director, Tony Kelly said, "Bigger, better and faster than the vessel it will replace, with greater car and freight capacity, more berths and a wider choice of stylish cabin accommodation, our latest acquisition will bring new standards of comfort and luxury to our long established Ireland – France service"

At 31,914 gross registered tonnes, the `Kronprins Harald' is substantially larger than the `Normandy'. With sleeker lines and excellent sea keeping qualities, it will have a faster speed of 21.5 knots delivered by four more powerful engines.

With eleven decks, it will carry up to 1,458 passengers and 580 cars - an increase of 160 cars / 40%. Its extra vehicle lane metres (1,220 versus 645) will be reflected in significantly greater freight vehicle capacity ( 62 units versus 43 ). Other good news for car and freight drivers alike is the fact that cars will have their own deck separate from the freight deck.

Comfort-wise, the `Kronprins Harald' has a larger number of berths (1,376 versus 1,126) and a vastly greater number of 4-berth family cabins ( 252 versus 83 ). Cabins are significantly more spacious and include deluxe five-star suites and some specially adapted for the disabled.

All cabins are situated on the upper decks high above the water line. Each will come with en suite shower and toilet facilities and most have their own television and bureau – comfort features that Irish Ferries believe will be a major advantage in marketing the service.

Other facilities on the vessel include waiter and self- service restaurants, cafés, lounge bars, top deck open-air bar, night club, children's play areas, conference suites and meeting rooms, cinema and shopping area.

With France still ranked as one of Europe's top holiday destinations - and with the increasing cost, delays and inconvenience being experienced by air travellers - Irish Ferries is anticipating a swing back to motoring holidays which this vessel is geared to accommodate.

Similarly, Irish Ferries believes that this vessel will also deliver an increased tourism dividend for Ireland, particularly from French, German and other Continental visitors. It will help deliver over €70 million of direct and indirect benefit, particularly in regions outside Dublin where own-car tourists are crucial to the local economies. This will be a significant element of the estimated €500 million in tourism-related benefit alone which the Irish Ferries' route network brings to the Irish economy each year.

In their drive to increase carryings, Irish Ferries will compete with an attractive range of travel packages that will utilise the additional capacity, superior accommodation and cruise-style features of the vessel.

Underpinning this expected growth in passenger carryings will be the extra capacity which the vessel will provide for the Irish Roll On / Roll Off freight market to and from Europe.

January 20Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Ian Collard, Jenny Williamson, David Fairclough and "others"


Information has been received by Irish Sea Shipping this week concerning the former Cammell Laird yard at Birkenhead.

Apparently reports of the sale of the former Cammell Laird yard by Reddington Finance to Peel Holdings appears to have overlooked the A&P owned "ransom strip".

When A&P sold the yard to Reddington, they retained ownership of a 4 metre strip of land - the river wall.

Apparently A&P Group have had NSL and its subsidiary companies in the High Court in London this week.  A&P

Group are apparently trying to stop Scott Lithgow Ltd an NSL subsidiary using No 7 Dry dock and the Wet Basin by not letting them cross the 'ransom strip'.


There is no indication as to the motivation for this action and as yet further details are not available.


There has been speculation in the West Country press this week that BAe Systems and US private equity company Carlyle may table a bid for the Plymouth dockyard, which maintains, upgrades and fuels the Royal Navy's submarines.
The yard is thought to be worth around £200 million.
A successful bid would put BAE and Carlyle in a prime position to benefit from a proposed £25 billion programme to build a new fleet of nuclear submarines.
Speculation about the future of the dockyard and the possibility of a sale has been rife for months.
Twelve months ago, it was suggested in national newspapers that American firm Kellogg Brown & Root (KBR), which owns a 51 per cent stake in Devonport Management Ltd (DML), was planning to sell its share.
A number of companies have been linked with buying the dockyard - including the Carlyle Group, which about two years ago was thought to be considering a £450 million bid to buy DML.
DML, which employs about 4,800 staff, is the largest private-sector employer in
Devon and Cornwall.
Two months ago, the Government threatened to seize control of the dockyard after KBR's parent company, Halliburton, pressed ahead with a stock market flotation.
The procedure, which involved the sale of a 17 per cent stake in KBR, raised more than £250 million to help pay off debts.
 It also provided huge windfalls for seven KBR directors who finally walked away with share options totalling £2.9 million.
At the time, the Ministry of Defence made a last-minute demand that the company withdrew the float, amid fears it may not have adequate funds after the flotation, or face being stripped of the dockyard.
Now the Sunday Times reports that the current owners of Devonport - KBR in addition to Balfour Beatty and Weir Group - have appointed UBS to sell the company.
BAE already owns the submarine yard in Barrow, which builds the UK's submarines.
A deal for Devonport would put the building and maintenance of the fleet under one roof.
It is thought that if the bid was successful, BAE would put its submarine business into a joint venture with Carlyle alongside Devonport.
However, it was reported yesterday that the pair may face a rival bid from Babcock International, which owns the Rosyth dockyard on the Firth of Forth and runs the Royal Navy's submarine base at Faslane on the Clyde.
BAE told the Sunday Times: "We are fully supportive of the Government's aims to achieve maritime consolidation.
 "We are talking to a number of parties in the submarine sector.
 "Combining front-end design and build capabilities with through-life support is fully in line with the Government's aspiration."


The ill-fated former SS Norway (SS France), now designated the BLUE LADY and sitting forlornly on the beach at Alang in India awaiting a court decision as to whether breakers can commence her demolition, had been dealt what must surely be the death blow to any who harboured hopes of seeing this old ship saved for another day.

Following an inspection it now appears the giant ship, once the pride of France and one of the grandest transatlantic liners, has severe hull damage, probably caused when she was run onto the beach in defiance of a court order holding off her demolition.

The latest court action preventing actual cutting up became necessary over fears of contamination from large quantities of asbestos cladding remaining on the ship – up to 1,000 tonnes, to which ship breakers would be exposed.

For three months the ship has been sitting on the beach awaiting the Indian judges final ruling but now investigators from the Gujarat Maritime Board have discovered the ship’s hull is severely weakened as a result of the constant rise and fall of the ship on the tide.

Expert opinion is that it would be next to impossible to tow the ship with the help of tugs and only dredging would present a possibility of getting the ship clear of the sand on which it rests, but that would be exorbitantly expensive, India’s Supreme Court has been advised.


Irish Continental Group plc, has announced that P&O European Ferries Ltd ('P&O') has exercised its option to extend the charter of the 1986 built cruise ferry PRIDE OF BILBAO from October 15, 2007 to 15th October 2010. P&O retains one further option to extend the charter from 2010 to 2013. P&O have also extended the charter of the KAITAKI (ISLE OF INNISFREE) until 2010 which is currently subchartered to Toll Shipping (Interisland Line) of New Zealand.

NORMANDY - It is no secret that the company intends to replace the vessel this year. The following report appeared in the Irish Times this week:

For many it brings back memories of 17 hours sharing a grotty cabin en route to a family holiday in France. However, this may not be the case for much longer as Irish Ferries gets ready to replace the 25-year-old MV Normandy, and those unwilling to fly may soon be making the trip across the Celtic Sea on a modern ship with up-to-date facilities.

Earlier this week Irish Continental Group (ICG), owner of Irish Ferries, said rival operator P&O had exercised its option to extend the charter of the second of two ships, the Pride of Bilbao, leased out to the company until 2010. This, combined with another agreement reached late last year, is expected to generate about ?10 million for the company, as well as paving the way for the sale of the Normandy.

Tony Kelly, marketing manager for Irish Ferries, said that now the chartering issue was out of the way, ICG would be looking at how to improve its Ireland to France offering.

According to some, such an action would be best served by replacing the vessel altogether - something that is expected to take place later this year. Known for its outdated and tatty furnishings, crowded communal areas and industrial catering, the Normandy last year carried 200,000 passengers between Rosslare and either Roscoff or Cherbourg.

During any 12-month period the ship covers about 75,000 miles, meaning that in the nine years it has been operating on the route is has covered about 675,000 miles.

At 25 years old it is no longer the youngest of ships and with increased competition from low cost airlines and other ferry operators, analysts believe Irish Ferries needs to do something to improve its offering. The group in September reported a 10 per cent decline in passengers, a trend that has been troubling the company for a while.

However, ICG is unlikely to purchase a new ship to replace the Normandy as shipyards are currently busy and such a commission would take too long.

Instead it is expected to buy a second-hand vessel at a total cost of about €30 million following the sale of the Normandy, which will fetch between €15 and €20 million. Selling it should not be a problem, as demand for such ships is high in the Far East, where they operate until they are about 50-years-old, compared with 30 in Europe.

The Ulysses, which ICG bought in 2001, cost just under €100 million. A night operating ship such as the Normandy would cost significantly more.



Passenger figures compiled by the Harbours Division for November 2006 at 25,990 show a 23.1% increase on the figure for the same period in 2005 which was 21,108.

The year to date figure at 562,696 passengers shows a 1.2% decrease over the same period in 2005 which was 569,738.

During November, car and motorcycle traffic through Douglas Harbour increased by 16.1% from 7,331 vehicles to 8,511 vehicles.

The year to date figure at 161,560 vehicles shows a 1.2% decrease over the same period in 2005 which was 163,453.

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






Plus 37%




Minus 2%




MSC NAPOLI - the container ship abandoned by her crew during Thursday's storm has been beached off in Lyme Bay off Branscombe, Devon. The ship had been abandoned by her crew off Cornwall in appalling conditions when she began to show signs of structural failure. The crew of 26 were rescued by Royal Navy helicopters operating from RNAS Culdrose.

It had been planned for salvage tugs to tow the ship to Portland Harbour. However, deteriorating weather conditions and worsening cracks in the ship's hull which has started to settle at the stern has led to the decision to beach the vessel and ballast it down off Branscombe, east of Sidmouth.


EXPRESS - charter of the Incat fast craft from Los Cipreses SA has been extended to 2010. Her scheduled service for 2007 commenced on March 15, however, she will be operating a number of special sailings in connection with the Scotland v Ireland Six Nation Rugby Game.  Sailings are ex Larne March 09 at 11:00 and March 11 at 08:00 and 16:30 and  ex Troon at 09:00 on March 09 and 12:00 and 17:30 on March 11.

EUROPEAN HIGHLANDER & EUROPEAN CAUSEWAY - P&O Irish Sea have cleaned up in this year's 'Loo of the Year' Awards, collecting three top accolades for their restroom facilities and cleaning services on their Cairnryan to Larne service.

They receiving a five star accolade for standards of cleanliness and hygiene on board both the European Highlander and European Causeway superferries and won a second award in the National category for Land Sea and Air. To round things off they received the prestigious National award for Northern Ireland Attendant of the Year (Internal cleaning team)

The annual Loo of the Year Awards competition, established in 1987, is designed to encourage the provision of higher standards of 'away from home' toilets in all non- domestic locations.

To ensure a constantly high standard of service an unannounced inspector visited the facilities in question to gain a true impression and ensure fair judgement. They were judged on a range of criteria, including signage and decor, fixtures and fittings and overall standard of cleanliness and management.

David Blair of P&O Irish Sea stated, "I am thrilled to receive our awards on behalf of all my colleges at P&O Irish Sea as recognition of our hard work and commitment to ensuring our customer's needs are fulfilled. "We take great pride in providing a high standard of service for customers travelling on board our superferries and are pleased our dedication has paid off. But we are not resting on our laurels and will continue to ensure that we provide that 'at home' service to all our guests".



The Port of Cork returned another impressive performance in 2006 with traffic reaching  10.3 million tonnes for only the third time in its history. This is the first time ever that the Port has recorded traffic in excess of 10 million tonnes for 2 years in a row. The star performer was the port’s container traffic which grew by 10.6 % increasing from 167,000 TEU’s to a record 185,000 TEU’s. Commenting on this magnificent performance, Dermot O’Mahoney, Chairman, Port of Cork Company said that he was very pleased that the Port had again handled over 10 million tonnes of cargo in 2006 confirming Cork’s position as the premier Port on the south coast of Ireland.

The Port of Cork’s Tivoli Container Terminal is the second busiest in Ireland in terms of the number of containers handled. Last year 107,000 boxes were shipped through the terminal with most of the traffic passing through the mainland European ports of Rotterdam, Antwerp and Zeebrugee on services operated by BG Freightline, Eucon Shipping & Transport, Eurofeeder, Samskip, APL, Lys-line and X-press container line. Additionally, the Grimaldi-Euromed service offers weekly connections linking Cork with Scandinavia, North West Europe and the Mediterranean. The port continues to invest in facilities at our Tivoli Container Terminal to ensure a high level of service for customers at the terminal. 

Of the total throughput at the Port of Cork, oil traffic accounts for 57.3 % of cargos handled and in 2006 accounted for 5.9 million tonnes, the bulk of which is for Conoco Philips’ Whitegate Oil Refinery.

Non-oil traffic performed very well in 2006, showing an increase of 224,000 tonnes or 5.4 % when compared with the same period in 2005. Increases were recorded in commodities such as salt, cement, iron and steel scrap and ore concentrates. Imports of agri-products grew strongly during 2006, with cereals increasing by 20,000 tonnes to reach 158,000 tonnes and imports of animal feeds increasing from 522,000 tonnes to 652,000 tonnes.

The Port’s facilities for the importation of trade cars are used by Ford, Opel, Fiat, Audi, Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz, Peugeot, Citroen, Chrysler and Skoda. The number of vehicles handled in 2006 reached 72,000 units, an increase of 16.4 % over the same period in 2005. Trade cars are handled at both Tivoli and Ringaskiddy.

The Port of Cork hosted a record number of cruise vessels in 2006 with 38 cruise ships visiting Cork Harbour. The visiting liners brought 33,000 passengers to the region to experience the many and varied tourist attractions on offer. The port completed an investment of €3.6 million in upgrading the Cobh Cruise Terminal in April 2006. This investment enabled passengers on the larger vessels to disembark in the picturesque town of Cobh. This project will make it possible for Royal Caribbean’s Navigator of the Seas – the biggest cruise liner to visit any Irish port, to call to Cobh on 3 separate occasions in 2007.

The port’s ferry traffic performed satisfactorily during the year despite continuing intensive competition from low cost airlines. Overall passenger traffic declined by 11.4% to 158,000 passengers while tourist cars reduced by 12.6 % to 47,000 vehicles. Dermot O’Mahoney expressed his disappointment that Swansea Cork Ferries had been unable to locate a replacement vessel for SUPERFERRY which was sold last October and he hopes that the ferry company will find an alternative vessel to enable sailings to resume on the Cork to Swansea route. Brittany Ferries’ will resume sailings on their Cork to Roscoff route on 31 March 2007.

Looking ahead to 2007, Mr. O’Mahoney said that the Port of Cork will continue to meet future challenges by maintaining the Port’s high level of facilities and services. Mr. O’Mahoney also stated that the Port would continue to offer competitive services by working in conjunction with stevedores and trade unions to ensure the availability of these services to Port users at very competitive rates. Finally, Mr. O’Mahoney stated that he would like to thank all the employees of the Port of Cork Company for their loyalty and commitment over the past 12 months.


The Swedish ferry company Stena Line is expecting to post a profit of SEK 525m ($77.3m) for 2006. The positive figure is mostly a result of increased passenger numbers in the fourth quarter, it said. It did not give a comparative figure for 2005.

In November it announced a modest 2% growth in freight volumes for the first nine months of 2006. Stena said its Irish Sea routes experienced the biggest growth of its European services with a 5% increase in freighttraffic. In total, its ferries carried 369,800 freight units over the Irish Sea in the January to September 2006 period.

HSS STENA DISCOVERY her departure from Hoek van Holland was delayed due to this week's storms. She is now expected to depart on January 21 around 20:00 and arrive at Belfast the following evening.


The repercussions of the decision of Swansea-Cork Ferries not to operate in 2007 continue. Council leaders in Swansea are being urged to work with the Assembly  to make sure there is a ferry to Cork this year. The Swansea-Cork Ferry Company last week announced it would not be running the service to Ireland in 2007.

Assembly members have been working with their political counterparts in Ireland to try to persuade the firm to reinstate the service. Plaid Cymru group leader Darren Price says he hopes a deal can still be done.

He added: "The news is a huge blow not only to those who have lost their jobs, but also to the Swansea tourism sector and economy. "I do hope the council, in conjunction with the Welsh Assembly Government, will enter talks with the company and the Irish Government in trying to ensure the service is reinstated as soon as possible. "Swansea cannot afford to lose yet another service." [COMMENT: As the withdrawal of the service has been due to the unavailability of a vessel - it is difficult to understand how the politicians can resolve the situation unless they know where a suitable ship is lying!]

The Cork Independent reported:

A number of parties have made representations to the Port of Cork, expressing their interest in reviving the Swansea Cork ferries route. According to a spokesperson for the Port of Cork, a number of third party individuals have already approached the offices on behalf of a number of unknown parties.

Provided these individuals have the provisions to operate the service and think it is viable, a new company could take over tile route in the near future. Despite speculation that Celtic Link Ferries are to revive the route, the company strongly denies that they have an interest in operating the service. The company already operates crossing from Rosslare to Cherbourg and Dublin to Liverpool and is soon to start operating a route from Cherbourg to Portsmouth.

A spokesperson for the company outlined yesterday (Wednesday, Janurary 17th) considering this already heavy load, that in the short term, Celtic Link Ferries will definitely not be adding a crossing from Ringaskiddy to Swansea to their schedule. Continuing he outlined the difficulty in obtaining a ferry which would be suitable for the crossing, considering the unique characteristics of Swansea port. "Maybe in a year or two we would consider taking on the route, but we'll need a ship first," he said adding, "right now, there are just no ships available."

The Kingdom Reported:

The Mayor of Killarney has slated the stance adopted by Tourism Minister, John O'Donoghue, following the shock loss of the Swansea-Cork ferry service which will have a devastating impact on Kerry tourism.

Cllr Sheila Casey, who works in the tourism industry, has called on the government to assist the company in either purchasing or leasing a ship for the 2007 season.

And she criticised what she termed "the dismissive attitude" of Minister O'Donoghue who said the service represented no more than three per cent of overall tourism business in the area.

Mayor Casey described his comments as being well off the mark. "What he said was an insult to the staff on the Swansea-Cork Ferries and also to the people of Kerry and Cork," she blasted.

"This is not a question of a company looking for state aid - that is not the issue. This will have a huge impact in the Kerry and Cork region as the service was one of the key means of access to Kerry and West Cork," the mayor stated.

"This will now mean that British visitors will now use the Rosslare service and the east coast would be the beneficiary while Kerry and Cork would lose out," she said.

Mayor Casey said the ferry service is estimated to be worth between 35 million and 60 million a year to the local economy in Kerry and other parts of the south west.

"If this service is lost for 2007, it will be very difficult to restore in 2008," she stressed. "The government must act now if confidence in the route is to be maintained and before damage to the reputation of the operating company becomes irreparable," Cllr Casey added.


USS MINNEAPOLIS-ST PAUL  The commanding officer of a US submarine has been formally reprimanded after two sailors were killed in an incident off the Devon coast.
Edwin Ruff, commander of the USS MINNEAPOLIS-ST PAUL, has received a punitive letter of reprimand from the US Navy after the fatal accident on December 29.
Senior Chief Petty Officer Thomas Higgins, aged 45, and Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael Holtz, aged 30, died as the submarine set sail from Plymouth.
They were washed off the deck of the 362ft submarine by heavy seas. Two other sailors were also swept into water but survived.
Lieutenant Chris Servello, a spokesman for the Navy's Sixth Fleet, said Rear Admiral Jeff Fowler had ruled that the punishments were necessary.
The submarine's executive officer Lieutenant Commander Peter Young. has also been reprimanded. Charges were considered but dismissed against three other sailors - two officers and a chief petty officer.
 "The facts of the investigation led the admiral to determine non-judicial punishment was warranted," Lt Servello said.
A US Navy captain with submarine experience has been appointed to lead a preliminary investigation. Findings from a second, safety investigation designed to avoid future risks have not been released.
The US Navy has also not disclosed what specific actions or lack of actions led to the reprimands.
Lt Servello said: "The team reviewed the incidents of the day, looked at the weather, interviewed crew members and witnesses in Plymouth harbour, then reported their findings to the admiral".
A punitive letter of reprimand is a fault-finding document. Non-punitive letters of reprimand note a deficiency, but are not considered punishment.
Earlier this month a file was submitted to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).
However, the CPS has decided that all investigations into the deaths of the sailors will be carried out by the US authorities and the US military.
The accident happened while a British pilot - who manoeuvred the vessel through Plymouth Sound - was being transferred from the submarine to a smaller ship.
All four men, who were on safety lines, were plucked from the rough seas by British personnel from escort vessels and by US sailors aboard the submarine. They were taken to Derriford Hospital, where Higgins and Holtz were declared dead. [Western Morning News].

BBC Devon News reported on January 20 that the Commander has also been relived of his command and given a job ashore. The decision was taken "due to a loss of confidence in Ruff's ability to command", according to the US Navy.

January 13Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Ian Collard, Jenny Williamson, Rob Philips and "others"


The company has announced that the second vessel due for the Dublin - Liverpool service is expected to arrive in Dublin on Thursday January 18, 2007. The new ship CELTIC SUN (ex MEDITERRANEAN TRAILER, CARMEN B) has a capacity of 110 trailers and 12 drivers.

The first sailing of the new Cherbourg to Portsmouth service operated by CELTIC MIST is expected to take place early in February. It had been intended to commence operations on January 15, however, the launch has been delayed due to the need for it to be inspected by the British and French authorities.

CELTIC MIST has been extensively refitted by Jay Management in Piraeus. The 1987-built, 23,160 gt ro-pax vessel was formerly the DFDS-owned KLAIPEDA. She has been fitted with new cabins and other hotel  facilities to allow it to carry up to 190 passengers compared with 12 previously.

The vessel, which will have capacity for 120 freight units, will make one round trip daily, leaving Cherbourg at 23:30 hrs to arrive in Portsmouth at 05:30 hrs and returning from Portsmouth at 14:30 hrs from Sunday to Friday and 09:30 hrs on Saturdays.

Celtic Link, is owned by the O'Flaherty brothers, best known for their Saltees Fish business at Kilmore Quay in Co Wexford.


PRIDE OF BILBAO - P&O is expected to be made its intentions clear within the next few weeks on whether it will retain the vessel. The charter from Irish Ferries ends in October and the company has to be given notice if P&O decides not to retain it.


It appears that the Irish taxpayer is to contribute €4.3 million towards the cost of Irish Ferries making over 500 Irish seafarers redundant last year and replacing them with lower-paid workers from Eastern Europe.

The payment is due to the company under the statutory redundancy rebate scheme, which allows employers to reclaim a portion of their redundancy payments to workers.

In its most recent accounts, Irish Ferries stated that the redundancy package cost the group €29.1 million net of the Exchequer rebate, which it estimated at €4.1 million.

However, the decision to pay the company's claim was delayed for almost a year as the matter was referred to the Attorney General's Office to decide whether the redundancies were genuine within the terms of the relevant legislation.

The Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment said the decision to pay the rebate was made on the basis of fact and law after consideration by the Attorney General's office. A spokesperson added that there was no scope for Ministerial discretion.

The President of SIPTU, Jack O'Connor, said that he was disgusted but not surprised by the decision. 

He said that when push came to shove in a dispute between employers and workers, he would never be in any doubt about which side the present Minister, Micheál Martin, would come down on.

If the redundancies had been found not to be genuine, former employees could have faced a massive tax bill, because their redundancy payments would have been treated as ordinary income.


A Better Deal for Manx Passengers

Establishing a Watchdog for Island passengers is the idea being put forward by Positive Action Group in a talk on Monday 15th January 2007 at 19:30 at the Empress Hotel Douglas.

Roger Tomlinson of P A G said ‘ Passengers should have a say in the way transport services are provided. There is no organisation representing us and we are unable to influence these services. Users need a forum to express concerns and communicate needs about all forms of Island transport whether on land sea or air’.

Our speaker Brendan O’Friel, as Chair of Travel Watch North West, is passionate about the concept of public involvement in transport service provision. As an Island resident he strongly believes that passengers ought to influence transport matters. He has been campaigning for, and representing passengers, over many years’

Admission is free and all are welcome to attend.

For more information visit the P A G website:-


BEN-MY-CHREE - the MAIB has completed a preliminary examination into the grounding of the ship outside Heysham Harbour on November 03, 2006. The report recommends that BEN-MY-CHREE is rescheduled to avoid entering/leaving Heysham when particularly low tides are predicted..

Adverse weather conditions led to the cancellation of two round trips by the BEN-MY-CHREE the 19:45 sailing on January 10 and the 02:15, 08:45 and 14:15 sailings on January 11 all being missed.

SEA EXPRESS I - the vessel's poor winter service record has continued with the cancellation of the Liverpool round trip sailings on January 12 and 13 due to adverse weather conditions. 


P&O Irish Sea, 'Irish Sea Shipping Line of the Year 2006', is increasing capacity on the company's Dublin Liverpool service from late February 2007.

Charlie Greene, General Manager Republic of Ireland, making the announcement comments: "Since we introduced MV Triumph on the route in July 2006, the increase of business has been significant and we have already reached capacity on the current vessel. To ensure that we continue to satisfy customer demand we are introducing the larger MV GLOBAL FREIGHTER in February, enabling us to almost double current capacity on mid afternoon sailings from Dublin"

P&O Irish Sea enjoyed an 8% growth in traffic between Dublin and Liverpool in 2006 and expect that 2007 will continue to see growth on a route that has a good reputation for service and reliability.

Charlie Greene adds: "We are keenly aware that all our existing and new customers value quality and frequency of service, and more than ever require the ability to fully utilise their equipment. We believe that the introduction of the GLOBAL FREIGHTER to run alongside our popular RoPax vessels NORBAY and NORBANK will represent an effective service offering, which will satisfy our customer demands on the Dublin - Liverpool route."


HSS STENA DISCOVERY - the vessel was withdrawn from service after operation on the North Sea between Hoek and Harwich on Monday January 8. She is expected to remain at Hoek until January 17 when she is expected to depart for lay-up - destination Belfast.

HSS STENA VOYAGER - missed her 22:10 sailing from Belfast on Monday January 08, 2007 following the loss of one of its vehicle deck doors as it was leaving Belfast.

The incident happened as the HSS was leaving Belfast on the 22:10 sailing for Stranraer, and involved a portside collision with the berth, causing the door to fall off into the water.

Stena then called upon marine salvage experts and divers to retrieve the door from the bottom of the harbour.

In the meantime, the vessel was fitted with a spare door, and Stena said repair work was expected to take two days.

A spokesman for Stena Line said: "An investigation into how this occurred is now underway.

"At no time was there any risk to the safety of passengers who disembarked and were accommodated on an alternative ferry sailing. "Remedial work is now in progress to enable the Stena Voyager to resume service as quickly as possible."


It was announced this week that the company will not operate a service during 2007. The service is said to be worth €35 million annually to the economy of south west Ireland. The company said the move was the result of a failure to procure a suitable ship to replace the SUPERFERRY which was sold to middle eastern interests in October when the service was suspended.

The company sold the 35-year-old vessel last October, primarily because of advanced age, and has not found any replacement. Swansea Cork Ferries was established in 1987, following the withdrawal of the B and I sailing service from Cork. Since then, it has carried more than three million passengers.

Fine Gael Deputy Jim O'Keeffe, said the news was unexpected and would deal a crushing blow to tourism generally, but especially to the West Cork region. "I wonder did Tourism Minister John O'Donoghue know about the difficulties facing the company? I am now calling on the minister to make a full statement on the matter and I would especially like to know what steps the minister intends to take to solve this crisis," Mr O'Keeffe said.

Mr Conor Healy, chief executive Cork Chamber of Commerce, said the service had contributed greatly over many years to the success of tourism in the Cork region.

"This will cause a major upset to our tourism economy especially at a time when there are renewed efforts to promote tourism in the Cork region," he said.

Every effort should be made by those in authority to ensure there was a resumption of the service as quickly as possible, he said. The freight capacity limitations were also quoted by the company as a major inhibition on the growth of the business.

Swansea Cork Ferries said it started seeking a replacement vessel last October and had identified two vessels whose configuration suited conditions on the Wales- South West of Ireland route.

In November last, the company successfully bid for the purchase of a modern ferry for a consideration in excess of €30 million. The seller was unable to fulfil all of the sale conditions and the deal collapsed during Christmas week, the company stated yesterday.

Since then, Swansea Cork Ferries has made an unsuccessful bid for an alternative ship and has sought temporary charter arrangements, but to no avail.

"The service cannot proceed for the 2007 season and as a very regrettable consequence, 30 staff members will be made redundant. All company creditors have been discharged and any outstanding accounts will be paid in full," the company stated.

The company spokesman said the decision to suspend the service was taken with great regret.


Two fishing vessels and seven crew were lost in adverse conditions off the Waterford and Cork coasts this week.

Unfortunately bad weather has frustrated Coastguard, Naval and Lifeboat searches and by the end of the week all hope of finding the missing fishermen alive have now gone.

The first, PERE CHARLES, foundered off Hook Head, County Wexford on Wednesday evening it's crew had been fishing off Dunmore Reef.

A few hours later HONEYDEW II based at Kinsale foundered to the west at Mine Head. Of her four man crew two were successfully rescued from a liferaft and

Within hours of that tragedy, the Honeydew from Kinsale sank about 32km away at Mine Head. Two members of the HONEYDEW II's crew were rescued and two remain missing. Investigations have begun into the circumstances surrounding the sinking of the two trawlers.

January 06 


The sailing vessel BLACK PEARL which was built for and starred in the 1962 MGM motion picture "Mutiny On The Bounty" and which has also featured in the recent "Pirates of the Caribbean"  is expected to cross the Atlantic from New York via Nova Scotia this year.

She is due to visit Maryport, Whitehaven, Liverpool, Bristol and Portsmouth. From Portsmouth she will recreate the voyage of HMAV BOUNTY to Tahiti. First stop – as it was for Bligh, Christian and the crew – will be Santa Cruz before continuing on to the South Seas via Cape Town and New Zealand.



Going anywhere on a cold winter's day can be an effort. Perhaps that  is why a pair of Turnstones have decided to hitch a lift on a ferry each day rather than fly across an estuary.

The birds, named Fred and Freda, seem unwilling to fly the three miles from their roost in Falmouth, Cornwall, to their feeding ground at St Mawes, even though they migrate long distances.

The non-paying passengers regularly join the first ferry from the Prince of Wales Pier, Falmouth, at 8.15am and reappear at St Mawes Harbour in time for the last return crossing at 3.45pm.

John Brown, skipper of the Queen of Falmouth ferry, said. "If the winds are light they travel on the bow and if the weather is bad they come in and shelter on the top deck."

He added that he was "100 per cent certain" that the birds were the same ones. Turnstones (Arenari interpres) are mottled wading birds and breed in the Arctic.

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds said birds would do as little as they needed to do to obtain food. A spokesman said: "They are probably using the ferry as a high-tide roost and popping off to feed when it is near to the rocky shoreline."


NORMANDY - It would appear that the likely replacement for the NORMANDY on the French routes will be a Color Line ship. With the new COLOR MAGIC due to enter service in autumn this year perhaps this may make the KRONPRINS HARALD available for charter or sale?


The useful online free to use shipping register was relaunched with a new look on January 05, 2007. You can visit Equasis at


HOBURGEN is expected to replace the MERCHANT BRAVERY which has gone off charter and returned to the Baltic


P&O are chartering the GLOBAL FREIGHTER to replace the RR TRIUMPH on their Liverpool - Dublin route offering a significant increase in capacity. This is a Stena Searunner class of vessel.



The acquisition of the Cammell Laird ship yard by Peel Ports, first reported on Irish Sea Shipping prior to Christmas has finally made it to the press. The Liverpool Daily Post and Echo indicated that the deal, which should be completed by early February, will have seen Peel paying developers Reddington Finance around £100m.

The press reports on Friday also confirm that the whole shipyard area will be used for "port activities", with the north yard - home to North Western Shiprepairers - continuing. Reddington had proposed turning over most of the site to non shipping related commercial and residential activities.

Irish Sea Shipping has become aware of rumours circulating which suggest that part of the south yard site could be used for a ro/ro terminal to replace that currently operating at Twelve Quays. This would of course free up much more land for the Birkenhead Dock redevelopment.

No announcement has been made concerning Cammell Laird (Shiprepairers & Shipbuilders) Limited which was formed on December 14, 2006 and registered to the Maritime Centre, Port of Liverpool.


The #1 linkspan was removed by the MERSEY MAMMOTH on January 05. This work has taken place as part of the work to upgrade harbour facilities in preparation for the introduction of the new Seatruck vessels later this year.

The following appeared in the Lancaster Guardian:

A new link span for loading and unloading onto bigger roll on-roll off ferries is being installed.

Hard standing for another 150 trailers is on the way. Car parking and setting down and pick-up points are also getting an upgrade. "A lot of money is being spent," said port general manager Graham Maclean. "Almost from day one our new owners saw the potential for development at Heysham."

The port is now part of the Peel Group, operating within its Mersey Docks and Harbour subsidiary.

The link span - at 94 metres long with a 10 metre wide carriageway - will be the biggest in Europe. It replaces an existing 37-year-old facility. Meanwhile freight ferry firm Seatruck, which operates from Heysham to Warrenpoint in Northern Ireland, is considering a further boost for the port. The company is already committed to bringing in two purpose built ships -

'Heyshammax' ships specially designed to make maximum use of the facilities at Heysham. The two vessels - the CLIPPER POINT and CLIPPER PACE - are costing about £50 million together.

Trade is currently booming however with Seatruck temporarily running three vessels on the route. Now the firm is considering bringing a third 'Heyshammax' into permanent service.

"Irish Sea trade is growing rapidly," said Seatruck general manager Alistair Eagles.

Three new 'Heyshammaxes' would see company trade doubling to about 200,000 trailers a year. "If this goes ahead, it will be a major development and investment for us," Mr Eagles added.


Panagia Soumela - there is a downloadable photographic feature on the Ferry Publications web site in Adobe .pdf format.


A fairly new web site which your web master only became aware of on January 06 is Ships of The Mersey and Manchester Ship Canal run by Alan Faulkner.


HSS STENA DISCOVERY - the withdrawal of the first of the three HSS 1500 vessels takes place on January 08 when she operates the 10:40 departure from Harwich to Hoek. She is then expected to head to Belfast for dry docking before laying up. One wonders which of the two remaining vessels which operate on the Irish Sea will be next?


Electronic toll collection on a bridge and ferry on the Devon and Cornwall border will not go public until at least the middle of January.

Teething problems with new electronic tags on Tamar Bridge and Torpoint ferries mean trials of the system are continuing longer than expected.

Managers had hoped to have the system ready for public use before Christmas. The £4m TamarTag scheme is replacing the 15-year-old system of discount vouchers for frequent users.

The system, which involves having tags on windscreens, will mean regular drivers using the routes are charged automatically as they cross.

Roadside equipment will detect the tags and debit a pre-paid account. About 400 tags are involved in the trial, with the roadside equipment just being operated on one bridge lane and one ferry.

Bridge manager David List said: "The whole point of the trial is to make sure the system is reliable enough to put it out to the general public.

"We have had a few issues at both the bridge and ferry locations which we want to refine. It's mostly software that has to be tweaked a bit to reduce the error level we have at the moment."

Mr List said the ferry tag reading operation saw the crossing operators pioneering the use of hand-held equipment for that type of technology.

He said the tags would not be sent out to members of the public who had applied for them until at least 15 January.

January 03Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Patrick Taylor, Adrian Sweeney and "others"


JONATHAN SWIFT is dry docking early and will enter dry dock in Belfast with the ISLE OF INISHMORE. She will sail a sign single trip to Holyhead @12.30 on Thursday January 04 with a limited load of passenger and cars and Dry dock equipment.

JONATHAN SWIFT will depart for lay by in Belfast directly from Holyhead.

ULYSSES is due to arrive in back at Dublin berth 49 around 17.30 - 18.00 and take up the Dublin - Holyhead route on Thursday January 04 @ 20.55.

ISLE OF INISHMORE will berth on 51a around 17.20 on Thursday 4th  January discharge a main deck stowage and sail to Belfast.


A ticket desk has been opened in the Liverpool Sea Terminal adjacent to the entrance to Prince's Landing Stage. Though the original ferry booking office remains open the new facility will save passengers a long walk around the work being undertaken in connection with the lengthening of Prince's Stage. Mersey Ferries is currently sharing Prince's Stage with the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company.

The Mersey Ferries ticket desk in the Sea Terminal will be open as follows:

Mon - Fri 07-30 to 19-30
Sat, Sun & Bank Holidays 08-30 to 19-30

The Mersey Ferries ticket office will now open restricted hours between 09:30 and 15:30 seven days per week.



MERCHANT BRAVERY - details of the chartered vessel's recent detention at Belfast have been posted to the Port State Control web site. The ship is currently making its way to the Baltic - destination Riga.


Inspection details :
Date of first boarding :17/12/2006
Date of final boarding :17/12/2006
Port of inspection :Belfast, United kingdom.
Type of inspection :More detailed inspection
Nb of deficiency(ies) :19
Nb of deficiency(ies) ground(s) for detention :6
Duration of detention :1 day
Ship's particulars at the time of inspection :
IMO number :7724253
Flag :Jamaica
Callsign :6YRC7
Ship type :Ro-ro cargo ship
Gross tonnage :9368
Keel date :1978
Classification society :
- Class certificate issued by Det Norske Veritas (DNVC), classification society responsable for issuance of class certificate as at date of first boarding
Statutory certificates :
- Document of compliance (DoC) is issued by Russian Maritime Register of Shipping (RMRS)
- Safety management certificat (SMC) is issued by Russian Maritime Register of Shipping (RMRS)
- International ship security certificate is issued by Russian Maritime Register of Shipping (RMRS)
- Cargo ship safety equipment  is issued by Det Norske Veritas (DNVC) last survey in United Kingdom on 12/08/2006 by Det Norske Veritas (DNVC)
- Oil pollution prevention (iopp)  is issued by Det Norske Veritas (DNVC) last survey in United Kingdom on 12/08/2006 by Det Norske Veritas (DNVC)
- Load lines certificates  is issued by Det Norske Veritas (DNVC) last survey in United Kingdom on 12/08/2006 by Det Norske Veritas (DNVC)
- Cargo ship safety construction  is issued by Det Norske Veritas (DNVC) last survey in United Kingdom on 12/08/2006 by Det Norske Veritas (DNVC)
- Cargo ship safety radio  is issued by Det Norske Veritas (DNVC) last survey in United Kingdom on 12/08/2006 by Det Norske Veritas (DNVC)
Ship manager
- ADG SHIPMANAGEMENT, Elizabetes 51, RIGA LV-1010, Latvia
Areas inspected :
- Accommodation and galley
- Car deck
- Engine and steering room
- Navigation bridge
- Outside decks and forecastle
Operational controls carried out
- Abandon ship drill
- Emergency fire pump
- Emergency generator
- Emergency steering
- Fire drill
Deficiencies :
- Fire safety measures, Fire fighting equipment and appliances
- Fire safety measures, Fire-dampers
- Fire safety measures, Fixed fire extinguishing installation
- Fire safety measures, Fixed fire extinguishing installation
- Fire safety measures, Means of control (opening,pumps) Machinery spaces
- Fire safety measures, Personal equipment
- Fire safety measures, Ready availability of fire fighting equipment
- ISM related deficiencies, Emergency preparedness, Not according SMS, ground for detention
- ISM related deficiencies, Maintenance of the ship and equipment, Not according SMS, ground for detention
- Life saving appliances , On board training and instructions
- Load lines , Doors
- Load lines , Ventilators, air pipes, casings
- Propulsion & aux., Auxiliary engine
- Propulsion & aux., Cleanliness of engine room, Insufficient, ground for detention
- Structural safety, Electric equipment in general, Not as required, ground for detention
- Structural safety, Emergency lighting,batteries and switches, Damaged, ground for detention
- Structural safety, Gangway, accommodation-ladder
- Structural safety, Means of escape
- Structural safety, Other safety in general, Other, ground for detention


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