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NEWS BULLETIN - February 2007

February 24Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Jim Edgar, Steven Salter, Ian Collard, Dan Cross and "others"


Smit Internationale NV has agreed to purchase the Liverpool operation of Adsteam. The agreement to purchase is as a result of the Competition Commission's requirement that following the acquisition of Adsteam Marine by SvitzerWijsmuller, the Liverpool operation is sold on to another operator.  The agreement between SMIT and Adsteam is subject to approval of the Competition Commission and to the finalization of the acquisition of Adsteam by SvitzerWijsmuller. This will be Smit's first involvement in the UK harbour towage market.


MERCHANT BRILLIANT - The International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF) reported that the recent dispute has been settled and as of 10.30 on Friday February 23, 2007 the ship's crew were on their way home.

Most were put on a flight to Russia via Heathrow at 07:00 on Friday with another on a 14:00 flight.

Ken Fleming, one of the two ITF (International Transport Workers' Federation) inspectors who accompanied the crew during the arduous four day stand off with the ship owners, explained: "This case is over, the crew are safe and homeward bound. Now we get ready for the next one."

The owners of the ship have flown in a new Russian crew and it remains to be seen what future routes it will be taking. The charterer, Norfolkline, has disassociated itself from the owners, who just two months ago were forced by the Irish High Court to pay the crew of the MERCHANT BRILLIANT's sister MERCHANT BRAVERY, US$159,862 in owed wages. In that case the ITF also assisted the crew. The ITF will continue to keep both ships under observation.


A NEW ferry service between Cork and Swansea will be dedicated to freight and will be able to accommodate up to 65 trailers.

The news has been welcomed by the Irish Road Haulage Association, which said that since the demise of the Swansea-Cork passenger ferry last month, lorry drivers had been forced to divert to other ports.

HJ Lines, operated by Hugh Johnson, who has 30 years’ experience managing Air Cargo Wales Ltd, is to start its sailings out of Cork on March 21.

Mr Johnson said his company had chartered the 6,000 tonne roll-on/roll-off ferry MV Victoria and it would depart from Cork on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays at 8pm. He said that while the ship would initially make three journeys weekly each way, it had capacity for four.

“The route between Swansea and Cork has been well established, particularly for passenger traffic. There will be growing demand, however, for increased freight capacity on this important trading route. I have received significant interest from a number of suppliers and haulage associations in both Ireland and the UK,” Mr Johnson said.

Brendan Keating, chief executive of the Port of Cork, welcomed HJ Lines’s move and added that the announcement that Swansea -Cork Ferries had not secured a vessel for the 2007 season and had thus axed its service was a significant blow to the port.

“We still see potential for a passenger service operating between Cork and Swansea. We have received a number of inquiries, but nothing concrete yet.

“We are in contact with Swansea-Cork Ferries’ managing director Thomas Hunter McGowan, who is still looking for a suitable ship,” he said.

Pat O’Donovan, deputy vice president of the Irish Road Haulage Association, said the freight service would be welcomed by trucking companies. “Having to go through other ports was very inconvenient, to say the least,” he said.


Container handling capacity at the Port of Belfast has been increased by 40% by the opening of a new container terminal at Herdman Channel earlier this month which will be operated by Irish Continental Group subsidiary Belfast Container Terminal.

Up to 50,000 containers a year will pass through the new facility which is located on an 11.5-acre site on the County Antrim side of the Port

It will be serviced by three direct weekly sailings to and from Rotterdam and Antwerp.



Passenger figures compiled by the Harbours Division for January 2007 at 18,161 show a 2.9% increase on the figure for the same period in 2006 which was 17,645.

During January car traffic through Douglas Harbour decreased by 1.3% from 6,080 vehicles to 5,998 vehicles.

Scheduled Routesshow the following changes in passenger numbers for January:-






Plus 17.1%




Minus 6.7%



Director of Harbours, Captain Michael Brew comments:

“A steady start to 2007 with an increase in passenger numbers.”


The company have announced that the BEN-MY-CHREE will operate sailings from Douglas to Birkenhead on Saturdays and Sundays commencing Saturday March 03, 2007.

The BEN-MY-CHREE will be berthing at the Twelve Quays terminal in Birkenhead. The sailings will depart from Douglas at 08:00 arriving at 12:15. The return journey will depart Liverpool at 14:00 Hrs and arrive back in Douglas at 18:15.

These services replace the 0845 Hrs and 1415 Hrs departures from Douglas and Heysham on the corresponding date. The company is contacting all passengers affected, who will be transferred onto the Liverpool route sailings or offered an alternative Heysham route sailing within 24 hours of their booking. Free coach transfers will be offered between Pier Head and Twelve Quays for foot passengers.

The service will operate until SUPERSEACAT TWO returns to service, she is currently refitting at the Cammell Laird yard.

ISS COMMENT: The restoration of the Liverpool service, following the withdrawal of SEA EXPRESS I with collision damage, is to be welcomed. However, a better service could have been provided if the Saturday evening BEN-MY-CHREE sailing also operated to Twelve Quays rather than Heysham. Perhaps now that the ice has been broken over at Birkenhead the next winter season may see the BEN-MY-CHREE a regular visitor to Twelve Quays and the fast craft tucked away in dock away from the winter gales!  Commonsense suggests a reliable conventional service is much t be preferred to an unreliable fast craft service.



The Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA) announced this week that three foreign ships were under detention in UK ports during January 2007 after failing Port State Control (PSC) safety inspection.

Latest monthly figures show that there were three new detentions of foreign flagged ships in UK ports during January 2007, compared with seven new detentions during December 2006. No 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 over 4.5%, a slight decrease compared with December's twelve month rate.

During the month of January 172 Port State Control inspections were carried out in the UK. For those ships inspected during January a total of 42 vessels had no deficiencies raised against them, 79 had between one and five deficiencies, 34 had between six and ten deficiencies, 14 had between eleven and twenty deficiencies and 3 vessels had more than twenty deficiencies.

One general cargo vessel, one ro-ro cargo vessel and one container ship were detained in January. One vessel was registered with a flag state listed on the Paris MOU black list, one was registered with a state on the white list and one was registered with a state on the grey list.

Of the three vessels detained in January, two were detained with inoperative quick-closing fuel and lubricating oil valves in the engine room, and all three were detained with at least one ISM major non-conformity.

Non of the three ships were detained at Irish or Celtic Seas Ports.


Items believed to be from the stricken MSC Napoli have been found washed up on the Isle of Wight.

And at Bournemouth, Highcliffe and Christchurch beaches in Dorset, a selection of cosmetics, shampoo and dried milk were found.

None of the items reported yesterday is thought to be hazardous and no containers washed ashore at the locations.

Work removing the containers from the
Napoli was suspended on Thursday after a spell of bad weather and high seas.

But the massive barge Bigfoot, carrying the two cranes used for lifting the containers, was back at the site in
Lyme Bay, moored alongside the vast cargo ship, yesterday afternoon.

Maritime and Coastguards Agency spokesman Fred Caygill said he was confident the remaining containers on the deck would be removed next week.

He said: "We have had quite bad weather and were unable to remove any containers on Thursday. However, the weather has improved and while it is not great, it is certainly favourable."

At the start of yesterday, there were just 203 containers left on the top deck.

There are a further 1,600 in the hull of the ship, but Mr Caygill said it was not yet known whether these would be removed from the ship in
Lyme Bay before the next stage of the salvage operation began.

He explained: "There are a number of agencies involved in trying to figure out what we do next. It hasn't yet been decided whether that will involve taking all the containers off at the site before moving the ship."

If the containers are removed in the ship's current location, then the operation is expected to slow down as most are submerged and will have to be emptied of water before being hoisted on to the barge.

Naval architects (boat experts) have examined the grounded container ship ahead of a decision on her future.

But whatever is decided, the operation is likely to be problematic as the 62,000-tonne ship suffered hull damage before she was grounded a mile off the World Heritage Site.

Among options being considered are towing the vessel away or cutting her up in situ and removing the pieces by barge.

Napoli claimed her first casualty after a Dutch crewman helping to unload containers was struck by a 50kg crane block, knocking him into the water.

The man, who was not named, suffered injuries to his head and back in the incident as he worked to remove the containers at
Portland Port in Dorset on Wednesday.

He was taken to hospital, although his injuries were not serious.

Meanwhile, the decision on what action to take over people who failed to register items taken from Branscombe Beach in East Devon when the ship lost cargo in January remains undecided.

Bounty hunters had until Tuesday to register their finds with the Receiver of Wreck.

There are still some items apparently unaccounted for.



EXPRESS which departed from A&P Falmouth following refit earlier this week has had a slight livery change which incorporates the web address

Photo: EXPRESS at A&P Falmouth, February 20, 2007 - Steven Salter.




Irish lifeboats rescued nearly 1,000 people in 2006 responding to over 900 emergencies at sea.

The annual report of the RNLI says the most common call-out was to power boats.

Senior lifeboat inspector in Ireland, Colin Williams said the voluntary crews deserved the greatest praise for saving so many lives and that new technology developed for lifeboats enables a faster response to emergencies.

An average of 19 people a week were rescued by lifeboats last year.

The annual lifeboat statistics show that Bangor in Co Down and Dún Laoghaire in Dublin were the busiest coastal stations.

The two RNLI inland stations at Lough Derg in Co Tipperary and Enniskillen in Co Fermanagh were also busy, with a total of 57 launches between them and 102 people rescued.

There were 237 emergency calls from powered pleasure craft, 125 from yachts, but only 16 from commercial shipping.

Fishing vessels also kept the lifeboats busy with 173 calls for help.

New boat for Wicklow station

Wicklow RNLI lifeboat station has taken delivery of a brand new D-Class inshore lifeboat.

The SHERINGHAM SHANTYMEN is named after a group of Norfolk folk musicians who helped fund the new boat.



A boom in sailing and power crafting has been blamed for a record year of lifeboat rescues.

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution is releasing statistics this week showing its Welsh craft rescued 1,299 people last year - a 25% increase on 2005 and the highest number on record.

The charity has blamed an increase in the number of pleasure craft around Welsh coasts.

Figures showed Rhyl to be the most troublesome area followed by Tenby, although the highest increase in the number of people saved was from Mumbles, Swansea, where rescues doubled.

The greatest number of launches was to help stricken power pleasure craft, which represented nearly 300 of all the coastal emergencies.

Mechanical failure was the biggest reason for people getting into difficulty at sea, followed by vessels getting into trouble in adverse weather conditions, the institution said.

The RNLI, which is manned by volunteers, has now pleaded with amateur mariners and summer beach goers to give them a break.

It says people's disregard of basic safety guidelines is putting huge pressure on its staff.

Andy Clift, the RNLI's divisional inspector for the West, said, "The latest statistics once again show that coastal emergencies are on in the increase, which puts more pressure than ever on our volunteer crews who are prepared to drop everything and respond to a variety of situations at a moment's notice... It is interesting to note that the greatest cause of call-outs has been to pleasure craft, which shows more people than ever are using the sea for leisure purposes." [IC WALES]


Almost 50 people were rescued by Royal National Lifeboat Institution members in the Isle of Man during 2006, it has been revealed.

The life-saving charity has released figures for the number of launches and rescues in 2006, which shows the west division – which includes the Isle of Man – rescued 1,299, up 25 per cent on the 2005 figures.

Here, RNLI lifeboats at Port St Mary, Peel, Ramsey, Port Erin and Douglas launched 46 times, rescuing 49 people over the year.

Port St Mary was the busiest all-weather lifeboat and Port Erin was the busiest inshore lifeboat.


Lifeboat crews in the West Country rescued more than 1,500 people in 2006 according to figures published this week.

Last year, the RNLI's south-west fleet of 54 lifeboats launched  1,559 times, rescuing 1,552 people - an average of 30 people every week.

Most RNLI crew members are volunteers and there are 737 of them working at the 34 RNLI lifeboat stations in the South West.

In total, area volunteers spent nearly 2,000 hours at sea on emergency calls during 2006.

Howard Ramm, RNLI divisional inspector for the South, said it was important to acknowledge the commitment and dedication shown by RNLI volunteers around the Westcountry.

"The recent incident involving the MSC Napoli highlights the unseen dedication of our volunteer crews," he said. "The Lizard and Falmouth lifeboat crews were at sea for five hours that day, in horrendous conditions with seas up to 12 metres.

"As well as the crews, there were also volunteer shore helpers involved in launching and recovering the lifeboats. "Examples like this not only highlight the commitment of our volunteers, but of their families and their employers who support their RNLI roles.

"I would like to take this opportunity to thank them all because without this goodwill, the RNLI would not be the successful life- saving charity that it is today."

Today's figures published by the RNLI highlight the continuing commitment of the charity's volunteer crews in the South West.

The busiest RNLI lifeboat station in the South was Poole in Dorset, which launched 138 times and rescued 139 people.

The busiest station in Cornwall was Falmouth, where the inshore and all-weather lifeboats launched 81 times to rescue 78 people. Falmouth's coxswain Mark Pollard, who has been saving lives with the RNLI for 15 years, since he was 17, said his crew were "second to none". "They are an extended part of my family," he said. "We tease each other all the time and we have the occasional fall-out like any family, but I wouldn't have it any other way. I'm sure all coxswains say the same, but I think I have got the best crew in the country."

Somerset's busiest lifeboat station in 2006 was Weston-Super-Mare, rescuing 35 people. Some of the quieter stations also spent many hours at sea on rescues. The inshore and all-weather volunteer crews in Plymouth were at sea for 124 hours answering emergency calls  and Cornwall's Penlee lifeboats 70 hours. [ WESTERN MORNING NEWS]


STENA ADVENTURER is out of service with engine trouble and is not expected to return to service before March 06, 2007

HSS STENA EXPLORER re entered service on with the 08:55 sailing from Holyhead on Saturday February 24. The sailing was slightly delayed due to a problem with the linkspan at the Holyhead berth.



Some improvements have been made to the Irish Sea Shipping associated Yahoo Groups:

The groups now have a corporate appearance which clearly identifies them as Irish Sea Shipping Groups.

Last weekend the rules files of Irish Sea Ships and Maritime Questions were updated to bring them up to date. These can be downloaded from the respective groups.

Finally Yahoo have also been making some changes both file and photographic storage space has been expanded to 100 megabytes each. This gives much greater opportunity for online storage.


Les Reynard has started a new Yahoo Group to discuss happenings at the Steam Packet and elsewhere on the Irish Sea at


Whilst many visitors will be aware, and also members, of  Gary Andrew's excellent Ferry Yahoo Groups whilst this is a good opportunity to draw attention to them especially for those who are new to the web.


For those interested in the Scottish Shipping scene there is the ScotShips Yahoo Group run by Colin Smith which can be found at:

February 21Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Tony Brennan, Ian Collard and "others"




MERCHANT BRILLIANT - Crew members of a ship previously detained in Dublin Port for non-payment of wages have barricaded themselves in the ship and claimed they are owed arrears.

The Russian and Latvian crew of the Latvian-owned, Jamaican-registered vessel, now outside Heysham, England, have barricaded themselves into a section of the ship along with two ITF inspectors, Ken Fleming and Bill Anderson, because, Mr Fleming said, they "are in fear of our lives".

The International Transport Federation (ITF) is to make an application to the Admiralty Marshall in England to have the MERCHANT BRILLIANT arrested.

If that were to happen, the ship would be immobilised in its current position and a skeleton crew left on board until the issue of the arrears is resolved.

Last December, the beneficial owner of the company, ADG Shipping, agreed to pay crew members arrears of €153,000 after the High Court had arrested the ship when the ITF had discovered the arrears.

Following the dispute, the MERCHANT BRILLIANT , was switched from the Dublin-Heysham route to Belfast-Heysham.

New discrepancies were uncovered by Mr Fleming in Belfast on Sunday. Crew members say they are owed $200,000(€150,000) in arrears, and they only agreed to sail on condition that Mr Fleming accompanied them.

The crew agreed to leave Belfast and sail the vessel to Heysham, under protest, at the request of Norfolk Line, which had chartered the vessel for its freight service.

However on arrival in Heysham yesterday, Norfolk Line took the ship off charter, and the harbour master insisted it leave port to make way for other vessels. It left the port at 20:00 and has been at anchor in Morecambe Bay since.

Last November, ADG was forced to pay $167,000 (€127,000) in back wages to crew on another vessel, the MERCHANT BRAVERY , to settle a claim of underpayment supported by the ITF. The MERCHANT BRAVERY no longer operates in Irish waters. [Maritime Clippings]


The farmer who went on to found Brittany Ferries and act as the company's managing director until forced to stand down due to ill health last autumn passed away earlier this week. The Times published the following obituary to the farmer who became a shipping magnate.


To help fill the void left be the absence of a Swansea-Cork ferry this year, a number of Welsh freight forwarders are understood to have clubbed together and arranged a charter a ro-ro freight vessel. The forwarders involved have not been named, but vessel is reported to be a small, 5,000-tonner with capacity of 800 lane metres or about 60 trailers and a service speed of 16kt.

It is suggested that it may operate three sailings a week, but no date for a start of service is available. Separately, there is also growing market speculation that with the decline of passenger traffic and greater emphasis on freight traffic,

Irish Ferries is considering introducing a freight-only vessel on its Dublin-Holyhead service. This would complement the limited freight capacity of the ULYSSES, which, at 50,938gt is the world’s largest car ferry, and able to carry over 1,300 cars. A spokesman for Irish Ferries told Fairplay today: “While we do not comment on market speculation, the question of capacity is kept under constant review and the freight situation of the Dublin-Holyhead route would fall into that category.” If Irish Ferries makes this step it will follow that of Stena Line, which boosted its freight capacity last year with the introduction of the 2,100 lane-m Stena Seatrader. [Fairplay]



A proposed £5.5m redevelopment of the harbour and quayside area at  Douglas Sea Terminal is planned.

The scheme would accommodate larger vessels, reduce wave turbulence, increase the quay area and relocate the lifeboat. The plan would involve creating a 250m diameter turning circle.


Existing moorings in that area would be relocated to the inner harbour and the lifeboat station would be moved.


Director of harbours Michael Brew said the plans were hatched in 2003 when the Island's economy was booming and it was thought a bigger boat than the Ben My Chree would be required.


Though the Island's economy has slowed down since, he said there was still a strong argument in favour of doing the work.


Should planning permission be granted, the work is planned to be completed in five stages, starting in 2009 and ending in 2012.


Mr Brew said consultation was ongoing and a planning application would be submitted in either June or July.


A consultation group has been formed to develop a scheme that would improve harbour facilities at Port St Mary Harbour.

The inaugural meeting of the group, hosted by the Department of Transport, took place on Wednesday, 14th February 2007 in Port St Mary Commissioners’ Office.

The group involves a wide spectrum of harbour users and community representatives, and is tasked with acting as a steering group to determine what opportunities there are for the Harbour and how it might be developed. The group will also liaise with the soon-to-be-appointed Project Manager.

Director of Harbours Mike Brew said:

‘We need to look after our infrastructure and extending the life of the Alfred Pier for the next 50 to 100 years is foremost in our minds. However, there is the potential for further development of the harbour to incorporate a marina, which should be looked at seriously by the steering group.

‘The size and shape of the proposed improvement scheme is still very much up for debate and would be subject to economic and environmental studies such as wave and coastal processes and flooding impact.’

Minister for Transport, Hon. David Anderson added:

‘I can assure the residents of Port St Mary that this is a fresh start in the relationship between the people of Port St Mary and the Department. We undertake not to pursue any planning application without the political support from southern MHKs.’


SEA EXPRESS I - the Marine Accident Investigation Branch, having completed its preliminary investigation into the collision between ALASKA RAINBOW and SEA EXPRESS I have announced that the incident will be the subject of a full investigation. SEA EXPRESS I remains in Cammell Laird wet basin. [PHOTOS]

EXPRESS - the company has announced that the P&O fast craft will operate a single sailing from Troon to Douglas to bring TT Fans to the Centenary Races on June 02, 2007. She will depart Troon at 21:00. Crossing time is expected to be around 4 hours. Troon is one of the ports that P & O use for their own regular sailings and is only 35 minutes drive from Glasgow.


Salvage experts in charge of the recovery of the MSC NAPOLI, grounded off Lyme Bay in Devon, are planning to remove the ship from the coast. The 62,000-tonne cargo ship was grounded off Branscombe Beach on January 20 after starting to break up in stormy weather on January 18, 2007.

Naval architects are now working out the best way to move the vessel, which was grounded in January. Meanwhile, people who recovered items washed ashore after it was beached have until 20 February to report the finds.

Thousands of items recovered by members of the public from washed-up containers from the vessel have been reported to the Receiver of Wreck.

Failure to do so is a criminal offence under the Merchant Shipping Act. BBC News correspondent Alex Bushill said the authorities were pleased with items reported so far.

"The Maritime and Coastguard Agency have been saying that they are pleasantly surprised with the response, most notably with the reporting of many of the BMW motorbikes which were taken from the beach," he said.

However, he added that the authorities were "pretty realistic about their chances of being able to trace every single item removed". Mr Middleton, the secretary of state's representative in maritime salvage and intervention, said that there would be no repeat of the scenes when thousands of people were scavenging the contents of washed-up containers.

He said containers were still coming off the ship in bad weather, but that that they hoped to stop this from happening soon. Mr Middleton said: "There's a team of naval architects crunching figures to try and work out what state we have to get it into before we can refloat it.

"It will be a case of trying to work out the best methodology, whether we cut her in two or whether we refloat her as she is. But she will be removed."

The Napoli was grounded after it was feared she would go down while being towed to Portland, Dorset, having suffered damage in a storm during which her 26 crew were rescued.

The vessel, which was carrying 2,300 containers, was then deliberately grounded near Lyme Bay - a World Heritage Site - on 20 January to prevent it from breaking up. [Maritime Clippings].


EXPRESS departed from A&P Falmouth on March 21, calling at Rosslare for bunkers, departing Rosslare around 17:15.

February 17Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, John Williams and "others"




The jobs of the 200 workers at Appledore Shipyard, North Devon, have been safeguarded by a new, multi-million-pound order for a "super-yacht". Workers at the yard faced redundancies, but that threat has been lifted as the new order secures work for two years.

Earlier this week, staff at the 150-year-old yard were delighted their jobs had been saved. "It's really good news for everyone here," said one worker as he left the yard.

Torridge and West Devon Conservative MP Geoffrey Cox agreed the super-yacht order was "fantastic news". "I am absolutely delighted for the people of Appledore. It shows the high regard the yard is held in and the quality of the design team. It has been a long time coming," said Mr Cox.

"It think this demonstrates that Appledore Shipbuilders is the Rolls Royce of yards for this kind of work. "It is a very substantial order indeed and we will know more details in due course.

"I believe with the qualities we have at Appledore and the great design team we can build on this order. Appledore can compete at the highest level if people want quality ships."

Last summer, the shipyard was at the centre of a political row as it emerged it was poised to win a £10 million contract for a Scottish Fisheries Protection vessel - until the Scottish Executive stepped in and blocked the contract.

Although the Scottish Fisheries Protection Agency said Appledore had submitted the most "economically advantageous" bid, the Scottish Executive said it had to stop the contract being awarded because of an alleged breach of EU rules.

The shipyard has had a turbulent past. In 2003, the entire workforce of 550 people was made redundant when orders dried up.

Following that, the business was bought by its present owners, Devonport Management Ltd (DML).

Since then the number of people employed at the yard has never grown to pre-DML levels, and the yard has focused on building hulls for super-yachts.
[Western Morning News]


ISLE OF INISHMORE is due at Harland and Wolff, Belfast again 25 - 28 February because when she was in dry-dock they found a potential problem with one of the bow-thrusters, but the part couldn't be got at the time, so she's getting it fitted then. The NORMANDY will take her place on the Pembroke run.

To provide cover NORMANDY will take up the Rosslare - Pembroke route on the 25th February at 20.00h.

Rosslare - Pembroke Sunday February 25 dep 20:00 arr00:30 [Mon]

Pembroke - Rosslare Monday February 26 dep 02:45 arr 07:15

Rosslare - Pembroke Monday February 26 dep 20:00 arr 00:30 [Tues]

Pembroke - Rosslare Tuesday February 27 dep 02:45 arr 07:15

Rosslare - Pembroke Tuesday February 27 20:00 arr 00:30 [Wed]

Pembroke - Rosslare Wednesday Feburary 28 02:45 arr 07:15

As a consequence the Rosslare - Cherbourg sailing on Sunday February 25 and the return sailing on Tuesday February 27 have been cancelled.

There is a problem with ULYSSES berth at Holyhead. On Friday some "fingers" on the linkspan were damaged when a line broke. Whilst repairs are being carried out ULYSSES is using the STENA ADVENTURER berth. This has resulted in the following revised schedule being operated by ULYSSES for February 16 to 18.

Ex Dublin - The scheduled 20.55 hrs sailing will now depart at 23.15hrs

SATURDAY 17th February

Ex HOLYHEAD - The scheduled 02.40hrs will now depart at 04.30hrs EX. DUBLIN - The scheduled 08.05hrs will now depart at 11.15hrs EX. HOLYHEAD - The scheduled 14.10hrs will now depart at 16.45hrs EX. DUBLIN- The scheduled 20.55hrs will now depart at 23.15hrs

SUNDAY 18th February

Ex HOLYHEAD - The scheduled 02.40hrs will now depart at 04.30hrs EX. DUBLIN - The scheduled 08.05hrs will now depart at 11.15hrs EX. HOLYHEAD - The scheduled 14.10hrs will now depart at 16.00hrs EX. DUBLIN- The scheduled 20.55hrs to be confirmed.


A direct fastcraft service from Troon to Douglas is the latest initiative announced by the Steam Packet to bring fans to enjoy the Centenary TT in June.

A special charter of P & O's EXPRESS, on Saturday 2 June at 21:00  will bring passengers and vehicles direct from Troon in Ayrshire to the Isle of Man in approximately 4 hours.

Troon is one of the ports that P & O use for their own regular sailings and is only 35 minutes drive from Glasgow.

`Rupert Trevelyan – Steam Packet Director of Marketing said `this is just one of the many extra sailings that we are operating for the Centenary TT and I expect that it will be very popular with fans from north of the border'


Wyre Council have confirmed that the Fleetwood to Knott End ferry's re-launch has been scheduled for March 5.

Last week Lancashire County Council told the Weekly News that they had set this date for the ferry to begin operating again.

A Weekly News reader contacted the paper to query the date, believing it to be optimistic.

John Cox, of Kelsons Avenue, Cleveleys, thought there had been some mistake. But bosses at Wyre Council and Lancashire County Council both confirm they are trying to fix the March date to re-establish the troubled service, which has been hit by a string of breakdowns.

A Wyre spokesman said: "We are working towards that date. Our legal team are looking at a copy of the maintenance agreement between Lancashire and ferry operators Wyre Marine and it seems now that the jigsaw is almost complete. "There will be an internal meeting at Wyre about the ferry situation on February 21 and another with Lancashire County Council and Wyre Marine on February 27.

"We hope that this will signal the resumption of the service in March ahead of the traditional summer start date in April."

Mr Cox, who has relatives in Knott End, said: "I am very pleased that it will return next month, but I was surprised it was so soon." The vessel has needed repairs after debris was sucked from the muddy river was sucked into the propulsion system.

Consultants have also warned that the boat will not be able to operate correctly if the water is too shallow so the council is devising a special timetable to account for low tides on a couple of occasions each month when the service will have to be cancelled.


Bad weather was on the evening of February 15 reported to be causing fresh problems for the stricken cargo ship MSC NAPOLI. As high winds from a southerly direction battered the beached ship off the South Devon coast, more of its containers fell into the sea and were washed ashore.

A new oil slick appeared to have developed from the cracked hull of the ship - although coastguards said pollution was no worse than before.

One witness who took a new picture of the ship from the cliff tops said a distinct smell of diesel fuel was in the air which had not been evident in recent days.

It is thought a change in wind direction and wind strength of at least force 7 mean the sheen of oil is washing towards the shores for the first time since the MSC NAPOLI was beached.

But the coastguard said there was no evidence of severe pollution, as the diesel sheen was light and highly-diluted. "There has been a sheen on the water since the vessel was first beached in January. We are taking regular tests on a daily basis and they have not indicated any change in pollution levels."

Last night, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) revealed that seven more containers had fallen off the ship. An MCA spokesman said: "There were no dangerous goods among the cargo lost. The containers held a variety of goods including electrical appliances, King Edward potatoes, engine parts and used office supplies.

"The seven containers have come ashore in the highly inaccessible and rocky area between Branscombe and Sidmouth. Coastguard rescue teams and contractors are on site with security officers and police ensuring that the area is completely closed off to the public."

A number of workers and officers last night patrolled the cordon on Branscombe Beach. They have the power to demand salvage is handed in on the spot. Anyone who does not comply could face arrest. The main road route to the beach also remained closed.
[Western Morning News]


PRIDE OF CALAIS an unusual visitor to the Irish Sea arrived at Harland and Wolff on Friday February 16 around 12:00 for dry docking and attention to one of her bow thrusters.


This is a name associated with bus and rail operations, however, it looks as though Stagecoach could be about to move into passenger shipping. Though the operation falls just outside the ISS coverage area it is worth reporting the following item which appeared in the Cornishman this week:

An influential transport tycoon has visited a West Country resort to discuss plans for a new fast ferry service.

Brian Souter, the founder and chief executive of international company Stagecoach, has visited Torbay to discuss a fast sea route between Brixham and Torquay.

The businessman travelled from his home in Scotland to attend Torquay Town Hall and lay out his vision.

He presented his plan to the Mayor's Liaison Board, run by Nick Bye, the directly elected Mayor of Torbay, who holds ultimate decision-making powers in the resort. He pledged the plans would be subject to public consultation.

Mr Bye said: "We were delighted to welcome Brian to Torbay.

"He is a very successful businessman with a great work ethic and his personal presence and willingness to invest in the area demonstrate his confidence in the Bay's future.

"The geography of Torbay lends itself to an improved ferry service, particularly in Brixham which accommodates a large volume of traffic in the summer months.

"Brian put forward some very exciting ideas but it should be stressed that we are still in the early stages and any progression of the plans would be subject to extensive consultation."

Brixham councillor Chris Lomas said the proposal had been raised in the past. "A ferry that would be reliable all year round would be great, because you could get across the Bay in no time," he said. "But the problem has always been what to do when there's a north-easterly gale blowing. If it's big enough and stable enough it would be brilliant, but I'm not holding my breath.

"I would use it - I might even risk the winds."  [

February 14Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Ian Collard, John Williams and "others"


Epic Shipping (UK) will expand its RoPax fleet with the purchase of three new build vessels to be delivered mid to end of 2008 and 2009.

The three vessels are to be constructed by Cantiere Navale Visentini in Italy, and will be 186.5 min length, with a 25.6 m beam and have a deadweight of 7,000 tons. They will have an operational speed of up to 24 knots. Each vessel will have a cargo capacity of 2,300 lane metres for freight plus space for 195 cars. There will be 107 cabins onboard each vessel and passenger capacity, including crew for each vessel, will total 880 on short voyages and 400 if employed on longer international voyages.

One of the vessels will be built to Ice Class 1A standard and the other two will be Ice Class 1C. Derek Sloan, a consultant for Epic Shipping and former CEO of Norfolk Line says that Epic intends to time charter the vessels and that the company is in discussions with several parties to this end.

Meridian Marine Management Limited in Liverpool, UK (an EPIC joint venture ship management company) has been contracted to technically manage the vessels. A spokesman for Epic Shipping said, 'This is an exciting move for us. We believe that there is a strong market for these vessels with high quality operators. We have worked in conjunction with the vessel's architects and with Visentini to ensure that we will take delivery of really first class tonnage. EPIC is also very confident that with Meridian Marine as technical managers, the ships will be operated to the very highest standards, building on Meridian's strong reputation in this sector. ' The addition of these three vessels will bring Epic's ro-pax fleet to a total of five.

Epic Shipping currently operates two 2000 lane metre ro-pax ferries, at present on charter to European ro-pax service operators, trading between Spain and the Balearic Islands. Epic has the strong support of its financial backer, the Belgian investment bank, Petercam S.A, and expects to further increase their ownership of ro-pax vessels as new opportunities arise. This reflects the expectation that the European ro-pax sector will expand strongly. Epic's focus on safety, quality of service and environmentally responsible marine operations is well suited to the development of this trade.


SEA EXPRESS I - the vessel remains in the Cammell Laird wet basin. With news this week of the sale of sister vessel EMERAUDE FRANCE (see below) for just $2million one must wonder if she will be economically viable to repair.

The company have announced that the despatch of final TT invoices has been delayed whilst route and crossing details are finalised. It is likely that there will be some changes to the previously published provisional schedule, however any changes will be kept to a minimum.


DOUGLAS HARBOUR - December 2006

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

Route ChangeFromTo
DublinMinus 10%492442
HeyshamPlus 16%17,09419,809
LiverpoolMinus 41%8,2884,873

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

Route ChangeFromTo
BelfastPlus 9%17,64219,171
DublinMinus 22%14,88811,640
FleetwoodAll minus3,259Nil
HeyshamPlus 6%255,716269,989
LiverpoolMinus 5%279,196264,958
LlandudnoAll minus1,523Nil
WhitehavenAll minus880Nil
TroonAll minus191Nil
BarrowAll minus1,260Nil
LarnePlus 54% 2,2963,528

“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.” [Obviously written before the SEI mishap!]


KING HARRY VI - the former ferry which has been laid up at Falmouth Dockyard since replacement in 2006 managed to break free of her moorings last weekend and take a trip across to St. Mawes!

The incident happened during a period of severe weather on the morning of Sunday, February 11 when she broke free.

It is not known exactly what time the ferry first started drifting, but staff at Pendennis World-class Super yachts, which is responsible for the ferry, were first alerted to the situation at around 08:15.

Mike Carr, commercial director at the company, said: "I think it was just unlucky that the wind swung around and was blowing in the particular direction that it was. It's just one of those things unfortunately."

He estimated that the ferry would not have left the dock much earlier, due to the tidal conditions and how far she had got. Staff at Pendennis worked closely with A&P, the company that runs Falmouth Dockyard, to organise a tug to retrieve the ferry, which by this point had reached the edge of St Mawes.

The rescue began at 10.00 and within a couple of hours the ferry had been towed back across the Carrick Roads and was moored back on the wharf.

"The response from everybody involved was fantastic and couldn't have been better. We successfully recovered the boat and she was just nudging up on the edge. We're just very pleased to have recovered her and that there's no damage," said Mr Carr.

He added that her moorings were being checked but that the weather and tide were being put down as the cause of her escapism Carr said that his company were currently involved in a "couple of potential business opportunities" involving the ferry and confirmed that they were "quite close" to agreeing a deal, but he did not wish to give any more details at the present time.


A new ferry for Looe Island has arrived in the harbour. It will make  it easier for disabled people to access the landmark and will also deliver goods to the couple who live there. The ferry, christened Islander, has been purchased by the Cornwall Wildlife Trust, which was gifted Looe Island by its previous owner, the late Babs Atkins.

The boat used to ferry passengers between Rock and Padstow in north Cornwall, and has a low loading facility which will benefit disabled summer visitors and the island's sole all-year-round inhabitants, Gus and Sheila Ravene.

The trust's Callum Daveney said the new ferry was a vast improvement on the old vessel.

"The old one was smaller and was really coming to the end of its working days. The new ferry is much more versatile and has a drop drawbridge which will make access to the island easier for passengers.

"We get a lot of visitors during the summer, who come to see the wildlife and learn about its history, but of course the ferry is also used to bring supplies to Gus and Sheila and to take off their bags of rubbish, for example,'' said the trust's reserve manager.

Records show that Looe, or St George's, Island was inhabited as far back as the 12th century. A Benedictine chapel was built in 1139 on its highest point, and a few stones still remain today.

A small number of people lived there through the centuries, farming its 22 acres, and at times supplementing their income with a spot of smuggling. In fact the main house on the island was built by Customs officers to keep watch on illegal activity. [CORNISH GUARDIAN]


MSC NAPOLI - Many items of wreck, recovered from the Napoli incident, have now been reported to the Receiver of Wreck, including both commercially shipped material and some personal possessions. The Receiver of Wreck is now making contact with cargo owners, in order to establish what their wishes are.

Finders of wreck material are given 28 days from recovery in which to report wreck to the Receiver of Wreck. Anyone who has not yet done so, should download a report form from now or can request one from the Receiver of Wreck office by telephoning 02380 329 474.

Anyone who recovered wreck material from containers from the MSC NAPOLI has 7 days left in which to report such items to the Receiver of Wreck. Failure to report cargo recovered from the MSC NAPOLI to the Receiver of Wreck is a criminal offence in accordance with section 236 of the Merchant Shipping Act 1995.

As a comprehensive set of salvage contracts have been let in relation to this wreck, members of the public are no longer authorized to undertake voluntary salvage on any further wreck material which may be lost from this wreck.

Sophia Exelby, the Receiver of Wreck said:

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency will be working together with the owners of the lost material, the Police, the DVLA and other enforcement bodies to ensure that all evidence regarding misappropriation of wreck is followed up.


A small army of busy volunteers have been stripping away flaky paint, tearing out old wiring and burrowing through metres of fibreglass insulation in a bid to have SS Nomadic open to the public by Easter. And today the chairman of the Nomadic Preservation Trust flung open the doors of Titanic's little sister to show off the results of their hard work.

Denis Rooney described how the workers, who include volunteers from the World Ship Society and teams from the Probation Service of Northern Ireland, have uncovered the original third class section, demolishing more recent walls and tearing out metres of insulating material.

"You can see the original plates and rivets," he said. "We've also uncovered some more original panelling, original window frames and original ceiling roses, which is very exciting, and we're stripping out the original oak staircase."

The aim is to have the ship - which once carried millionaires onto Titanic as she set off on her doomed maiden voyage - ready for an influx of visitors at Easter.

Over the Easter weekend hundreds of inquisitive visitors are expected to cross the gangway as they come to town for the first joint Nomadic Titanic Convention.

"Most of the work has been done by volunteers - it's been hard, hard work and the progress has been terrific," Mr Rooney said, "We hope to be able to get enough of her open to give a very stimulating experience for visitors from Easter onwards."

Mr Rooney said the Trust is in talks with Belfast Harbour Commissioners to establish whether Nomadic can be moved to a mooring more easily accessed by the public.

"Another exciting thing is that we've purchased one of the original lifeboats from Chanterayne Museum in Cherbourg and it will be coming over next week," added Mr Rooney.

"It's great to have that. It's one of the two original lifeboats from the vessel."




The new #1 link span - the BEN-MY-CHREE performed berthing trials on Sunday February 11 and the new span was in use by Monday February 12. It is of a similar floating design to that installed a few years ago at Mostyn.


RR TRIUMPH which was operating under charter to P&O Irish Sea on the Liverpool - Dublin service departed Liverpool bound for Barcelona on Sunday February 11. She is replaced by GLOBAL FREIGHTER [ex STENA FREIGHTER].


The Port of Larne has enjoyed another successful year's business, according to figures released by the port on its 2006 performance.

Ro-ro freight traffic through Larne has grown to almost 425,000 units, representing nearly 10,000 more HGV drivers than 2005.

Welcoming the news, Port of Larne's Managing Director, Keith Millar, commented, "Once again the haulage industry has recognised the choice of routes and quality of service available at Larne. The full range of options are here - conventional ro-ro and passenger superferry, fast ferry and freight-focused ships. This, coupled with three possible destination ports and a round-the-clock operation, allows businesses to tailor their shipping requirements accordingly."

"It is particularly encouraging that we have played our part in accommodating a record year for P&O Irish Sea on its Larne-Cairnryan service. 2006 saw this route carrying over a quarter of a million freight units for the first time."

Graham McCullough, P&O Irish Sea's General Manager, Scottish Services, is delighted with the performance of the Larne-Cairnryan route. "On top of what was a really good year in 2005, to achieve another record-breaking performance on our Cairnryan service is particularly pleasing. We have always enjoyed an excellent service from Port of Larne. The co-operation we get from the port at all levels makes a valuable contribution to the success of all our services from Larne."

Stena Line's Larne-Fleetwood service has also seen significant growth, with freight traffic showing an increase of 3.5% on 2005, contributing to Stena's overall Irish Sea freight growth. Commenting, Alan Gordon, Route Director, Stena Line, says "We are delighted with the performance of our Larne-Fleetwood service. This is a really popular route with drivers, and the good working relationship we have with the Port of Larne helps make it successful."

Total passenger numbers through the port showed a slight downturn in 2006, reflecting the overall trend in ferry passenger journeys. "It would be great to report a further increase in our passenger numbers," says Mr Millar, "but it is well-documented that low cost airlines are having an effect on people's travelling habits. The environmental effect of this is obviously high on government's agenda, and it will be interesting to see where that goes in the future."

Several cruise ships visited the port in 2006, with others already booked for 2007. Mr Millar says "Larne is an ideal port for cruise ships. We are located in an area of outstanding natural beauty. The port is fully equipped to meet the requirements of these ships and is able to provide a full check-in and baggage handling service. Passengers are transferred to and from the ship in airport style buses".

2006 also saw continued development at the Port of Larne Business Park. Construction of a new hotel right beside the port is due for completion later this year, as is a new 83-bed Nursing Home. McMurtry's, a new builder's merchants and timber importers unit, opens later this month and Barline, an existing haulage and logistics operation, has just moved into new, improved premises. Construction of AM Transport's new Larne facility is scheduled to start soon.

"The interest in our Business Park has been phenomenal," says Mr Millar. "Agreements, subject to contract, are in place for much of the land, with the remaining sites rapidly becoming very sought after."

Mr Sergio McKenzie, Managing Director of McKenzies(NI)Ltd, who is developing a large area of the Business Park, has also been encouraged by the interest. "I have been approached by a wide range of businesses wanting to have sites developed for them in the Business Park. Particularly exciting at the moment is a food retail and leisure project which we hope to take to Planning Service in the very near future. Early signs are encouraging, with several of the big names in the food retail business showing real interest in setting up on this site in Larne."

The continued success of the Port of Larne has been acknowledged by its Chairman, Helen Deeble, who commented that "Any successful ferry business depends on a first class service from its ports. The high calibre of the whole of the Port of Larne's operation, and its highly committed staff, is acknowledged throughout the industry".


RFA CARDIGAN BAY - the new Bay Class Landing Ship Dock built at BAe Govan, arrived at the Cammell Laird yard Birkenhead for dry docking at dawn on February 14. She is due to be commissioned soon.


EMERAUDE FRANCE [ex- SEACAT FRANCE / ATLANTIC II] has been sold to Greek interests for just US$2million. She spent some time laid up on the Mersey at the then A&P Birkenhead between 2003 and 2004. She was then towed to Cherbourg passing close to the Isle of Man and her sister SEACAT ISLE OF MAN [SEA EXPRESS I] on May 03, 2004 which was on a "Round the Island Cruise" . Given the low sale price, one wonders if the repair of SEA EXPRESS I - currently laid up with collision damage at Birkenhead, is viable.

February 10 


A spruced-up QUEEN OF FALMOUTH has taken to the water after the St Mawes Ferry Company started the year with a new sponsor and a new look.

A sponsorship deal between the ferry company and the West Briton newspaper has resulted in a refit of the 57ft ferry, which runs on a daily basis between Falmouth and St Mawes.

"She not only looks so much better, but will also seem faster, smoother and not so noisy to our passengers," said Garrick Royles, the ferry company's operations manager.

The QUEEN OF FALMOUTH, which averages eight knots on the picturesque crossing, has had a new toilet, new shaft system and propellers fitted, costing a total of £10,000.

Lisa Nicholls, assistant marketing manager at the West Briton, said: "We are always trying to raise awareness of the newspaper to local people and visitors alike and to make sure that we are always at the heart of all things local.

"To sponsor the QUEEN OF FALMOUTH, which provides a great commuter service for people living on the Roseland and working in Falmouth, is maintaining our local connections and spending money on a worthwhile Cornish service.

"On top of that, we thought to sponsor a ferry rather than a bus or train was quite unusual."

The QUEEN OF FALMOUTH is a remarkable survivor. She was built in 1937 to run excursions from Rothesay as the MAID OF BUTE. She has since run from Fort William, then on the Firth of Forth as the MAID OF THE FORTH, and then from Southend and Plymouth.


NORMANDY: A 36-year-old Lithuanian crewmember of the Normandy ferry was airlifted to hospital on February 08.

The rescue operation took place off St. Anns Head after the man reported feeling severe abdominal pains while en route from Rosslare Harbour to Cherbourg.

An RAF rescue helicopter winched him up from the Irish Ferries vessel at around 05:00, in high seas.

The crewman was reported to be to be in a stable condition in hospital in Pembrokeshire.

The rescue disrupted the timetable and led to the vessel arriving in Cherbourg at 03:00 on February 09. Departing again at 04:00 she was due back in Rosslare at 22:00 on Friday February 09 in time to operate the 23:00 Rosslare to Cherbourg sailing.

However, forecast extreme weather conditions and a 9m high swell off Land's End led to the cancellation of the 23:00 sailing on February 09 and the return 21:00 sailing to Rosslare on Saturday February 10.

The next sailing scheduled on the route is the 17.00 hrs departure from Rosslare to Cherbourg on Sunday 11th February,2007. The next sailing scheduled from Cherbourg to Rosslare is at 21.00 hrs on Tuesday 13th February.


SEA EXPRESS I - remains in Cammell Laird wet basin Birkenhead. There are various rumours doing the rounds which suggest that she may or may not be repaired - depending on which rumour one believes! Reading through various reports which have appeared in the press and on line it is clear that despite perhaps one or two claims to the contrary the crew performed well in a difficult situation. The fact that everyone disembarked virtually unscathed being a tribute to their professionalism.

EXPRESS - There are rumours that P&O's Express may operate some services until SUPERSEACAT TWO is ready for service. EXPRESS is currently refitting at A&P Falmouth.


GOING NOWHERE ... AGAIN: The Fleetwood to Knott End ferry at its berth. The boat has only seen six weeks' service since it arrived 17 months ago

The much-troubled Fleetwood to Knott End ferry has been hit with yet another problem - it does not like shallow water.

This is the latest damning setback for the ill-starred boat which cost £350,000, but has only seen six weeks service since it arrived 17 months ago.

Consultants who have done the latest series of repairs to the boat have said it should operate in at least eight feet of water to avoid more problems with silt clogging the propulsion system

Now Wyre Council has had to prepare a special timetable to cope with the restriction. They say due to water levels the service will be affected on a couple of occasions each month. But Over Wyre county councillor Bob Mutch fears many more postponements. He said: "With that stipulation, with that amount of water, it isn't even going to be a half service.

"I used to travel to work on the old ferry and it had to be sand almost all the way across before they would stop.

"It will be a non-starter with that engine. They're only going to have the same problem. I'm disappointed with the whole thing.

"The county council didn't consult with any local people and it has fallen back on them and will continue to do so.

"I can't think it will run a reasonable service."

Coun Keith Tebbs, Wyre Council portfolio holder for living economy, said he would be investigating what this would mean for the service. Questions He said: "It will be going in my report to full council next Thursday. I'm sure I'm going to be asked questions about it, especially by the Fleetwood members."

A spokesman for Wyre said a report from consultants Taylor Marine of Liverpool had indicated the boat needed an absolute minimum of 1.2 metres (3.9ft) of water to float.

He added: "We were aware of that, but they recommend that for the steering system to work efficiently and ensure proper boat handling, the ferry should not operate where the water is less than 2.4 metres (7.8ft) deep. "When the vessel is operated in future that recommendation will be the bench mark. It means the boat will not be able to operate when tides are particularly low.

"These times can be predicted and mean that a couple of times every four weeks the boat will not be able to work around 8.30 to 9am and 5.30 to 6.30pm.

"This information has been built into a timetable which has been prepared by Wyre and is set to receive approval from Lancashire County Council." The ferry has suffered because its jet-propulsion system has not been able to cope with the muddy conditions in the River Wyre. Grit has been sucked into the system, bringing a series of expensive repairs. Including subsidies it has cost £500,000 to put the boat in service in a deal which sees Lancashire County Council and Wyre guaranteeing the service for the next 10 years. [

Evening Gazette February 08, 2007]



The Competition Commission (CC) will require SvitzerWijsmuller A/S to sell off one of the harbour towage operations in Liverpool, if it goes ahead with the anticipated acquisition of Adsteam Marine Ltd.

In its final report published this week at, the CC has decided that the acquisition may be expected to result in a substantial lessening of competition for towage services in Liverpool, although it has not identified similar problems anywhere else in the UK.

This confirms the provisional findings which were published in December last year. Svitzer Marine Ltd (Svitzer), the UK subsidiary of SvitzerWijsmuller A/S, operates 41 tugs and provides services in seven port areas and at six terminals in the UK. Adsteam UK Ltd (Adsteam), the UK subsidiary of Adsteam  Marine Ltd, provides harbour and terminal towage services in six of the UK's major deep-water port areas and their adjacent waterways.

Liverpool is the only port where Svitzer and Adsteam currently provide competing towage services.




The human cost of three terrible sea disasters involving Liverpool-registered ships is explored in a new permanent exhibition at Merseyside Maritime Museum which opened on Saturday february 10, 2007.

Titanic, Lusitania and the Forgotten Empress looks at the trio of maritime catastrophes that  shook the world between 1912 and 1915 – including one which is now almost forgotten. There was appalling loss of life in all three sinkings.

TITANIC became probably the most famous shipwreck in seafaring history when she was sunk by an iceberg on her maiden voyage in April 1912. More than 1,500 people died.

LUSITANIA came close behind her in terms of notoriety as the luxury liner was torpedoed by a German U-boat in May 1915 off Ireland – an event many believe eventually brought the United States into the First World War. A total of 1,201 people died.

In between, the sinking of the EMPRESS OF IRELAND following a collision in fog in May 1914 grabbed headlines but then slipped from the collective memory. More than 1,000 died in the disaster in the St Lawrence River, off Quebec, Canada. .

Fascinating exhibits, displays and films draw the visitor into each tragedy, revealing details of personal suffering as well as individuals surviving the wrecks.

Dr Alan Scarth, exhibition curator, says: “The TITANIC and LUSITANIA displays have always been among the most popular in the museum. When we relocated the exhibits we decided to include the EMPRESS OF IRELAND which, in terms of loss of life, almost equalled the two better-known disasters.”

The original builders’ model of the TITANIC has been moved into a new free-standing case which enables visitors to walk around the 20 ft-long model for the first time in many years. This model was originally used to promote the White Star liner at trade exhibitions and other public events.

Exhibits linked to the disaster include what is believed to be the only surviving item of clothing worn on the night of the disaster.                                      

The white cotton apron belonged to Laura Mabel Francatelli, who was among survivors in Emergency Lifeboat 1.  

There are personal items linked to some of the 90 TITANIC crew members who came from Liverpool. William McMurray was a steward who lived in Kensington, Liverpool. His young daughter May wrote him a poignant letter the day before the tragedy, saying how much she missed him.


Thirty-year-old Fred Clarke, of Tunstall Street, Liverpool, was the bass violist in the legendary orchestra which played Nearer My God To Thee as the great ship went down. None of the musicians survived.


Other personalities involved in the TITANIC disaster were Captain Edward Smith, who lived in Crosby, and chief officer Henry Wilde, also from the city.


Leslie Morton, aged 18, originally from Birkenhead, was the lookout on the LUSITANIA who first saw the torpedo heading for the liner. Both he and his 19-year-old brother Clifford survived the sinking.


Captain William Turner stayed on the stricken ship until the end but survived and lived on in Crosby. LUSITANIA exhibits include a cushion from the 1st class smoking room, a deckchair and personal possessions.


Captain Henry Kendall of the EMPRESS OF IRELAND, who lived in Blundellsands, had been in the news before. In 1910, as captain of the MONTROSE, he spotted fugitive murderer Dr Crippen trying to flee with his mistress Ethel le Neve. The story goes that Crippen put a curse on Kendall for his role in the killer’s arrest and the Empress disaster was the result.


Exhibits include a blanket in which junior second engineer Robert Brennan was wrapped after being saved from the wreck. There are souvenirs of the liner and a written report of the sinking.


Fittingly, the display includes a 19ft model of the BERENGARIA, flagship of the Cunard fleet. She was originally the German liner Imperator and was handed over to Britain as part of war reparations – compensation for losses such as LUSITANIA.



JETLINER - the former Irish Sea fast craft is now in service with the Sri Lankan Navy.


More than 11,500 jobs would be at risk in the West Country if the Ministry of Defence made cuts at Devonport Naval Base, campaigners warned last night.Details of the jobs body blow, which would hit Plymouth badly and ripple throughout the Westcountry, emerged as the campaign to save the Royal Navy base and neighbouring dockyard stepped up a gear, by targeting other government departments and not just the MoD.

The Ministry is weighing up cuts or even a closure at one of its three bases in an effort to reduce the running costs of its post-Cold War surface fleet.

Yesterday, politicians and economic leaders released a hard-hitting document that said it made "no sense whatsoever" for
Plymouth to suffer the most from the fallout.

If the fleet of Devonport-based battleships were to be reduced, the region would require a substantial amount of recovery money from many government departments, undermining Whitehall's aim of cutting costs.

Jane Henderson, chief executive of the South West Regional Development Agency, said: "The Naval Base Review has the potential to impact not just on Plymouth but on the wider region.

"Plymouth contributes some four to five per cent to the region's economy (in the wider South West) and is planned to be a key contributor to regional economic growth."

The Case for Devonport states that within the number of 11,500 jobs in jeopardy, 5,000 would be service personnel, 1,950 would go at the naval base, 2,700 would be lost at dockyard operator DML and 1,750 from companies that rely on the military operations. Some commentators suggest this is a soft estimate as a full closure would be have an even greater impact.

It added that the region would be £225 million less well off every year until replacement, well-paid jobs could be found.

The announcement by Defence Secretary Des Browne in September of the in-depth review effectively triggered a beauty parade between Devonport, Portsmouth and Faslane, near Glasgow. As the recognised home of nuclear-powered submarines, the Scottish dockyard is likely to escape the cull unscathed.

The Case for Devonport claims that the Westcountry remains one of most impoverished regional economies in the UK, symbolised by Cornwall continuing to receive massive handouts from the European Union. Parts of Plymouth and Devon have also been lavished with aid.

As such, it argues that any cutbacks at Plymouth would fly in the face of government departments committing hundreds of millions of pounds on reviving the region.

It says reductions at Portsmouth would be cushioned by the buoyant South East economy, the second most prosperous region in the country after London.

Westcountry MPs, SWRDA and bosses of DML, the region's biggest private sector employer, whose fortunes are inextricably linked to the future of the naval base, will hammer home the message to all government departments over the coming weeks.

Leading the rallying cry at the launch of the document, Tudor Evans, leader of Plymouth City Council, said: "Before, our message was aimed at the MoD, today it's aimed at every other minister in government, particularly at the time of a comprehensive spending review.

"If they get behind Plymouth, there's more money for them to spend as otherwise they'll have to spend it on propping up Plymouth. What better time to tell the Housing Minister? What better time to tell the Education Minister of the extra money they will have to spend on raising the skill levels in Plymouth as a result of this decision?"

While a decision on whether any of the three dockyards will be closed or cut back significantly is not expected until the summer, it is thought the next six weeks will be crucial in making the case to ministers.

The Case for Devonport, which is supported by Cornwall and Devon county councils, has so far stuck to the cold facts, resisting the emotional argument favoured by Portsmouth which has played to its supposed "home of the Navy" credentials.

Portsmouth has recently paid for a full-page advertisement in the MPs' in-house magazine, underlining its naval heritage.

Though Plymouth can boast the largest naval base in Western Europe and its own maritime heroes, regional leaders are keen to make the point that scaling back operations in the Hampshire city as opposed to Plymouth would save the taxpayer £75 million.

The report suggests it could take the region more than a decade to recover from a reduction of the Devonport fleet. [WESTERN MORNING NEWS - FEBRUARY 10




The world’s leading ferry company Stena Line has published its volumes for 2006, revealing a two per cent increase in freight traffic compared to the previous year.


Although passenger volumes dipped by one per cent and non-freight vehicles by two per cent, Stena Line CEO Gunnar Blomdahl is happy with the company’s performance.


“We are pleased with our business in 2006, during which our performance turned around in the latter part of the year following a poor start,” said Gunnar.  “In fact, passenger and vehicle volumes were up one per cent in the last quarter of the year which is encouraging.


“We had more, longer, dock maintenance periods in 2006 and we changed the timetables on certain routes, which explains the slight dip in private travel over the full year,” he continued. 


Stena Line’s freight business has expanded in recent years and progress was again seen in 2006. The greatest increases were on the Karlskrona to Gdynia (+19 %), Dublin to Holyhead (+12 %), Rosslare to Fishguard (+12 %) and Göteborg-Travemünde (+8 %) routes.


“Stena Line’s strength is in its combination of passenger and freight business,” explained Gunnar Blomdahl.  “This combination is one of the reasons why our financial results for 2006 exceeded expectations.


“When we invest in new vessels we focus on developing solutions that suit both passengers and freight business.  One example is our investment of almost £300 MILLION in new Superferries from Aker, with fully developed concepts for both freight and passengers,” he said.


Stena line is constantly investing to stimulate travel and improve quality.  Such investments include the renovation and modernisation of ferries in which the company has, in recent years, invested almost £60 MILLION in restaurants, bars and cabins.


In addition to modernisation onboard, the company continues to develop its various services and products onboard and ashore.  Two recent examples include the opportunity for customers to connect to the internet via WiFi on most ferries and the new EFP (Economy, Flexi and Premium) pricing system that’s been developed to make it easier for customers to book their ferry travel.


“We’ve come a long way with our development work in several areas and in many ways we are a new Stena Line,” said Gunnar Blomdahl, “but we will continue to invest in the business and develop products and services onboard and ashore.


“Constantly renewing and thinking outside the box is crucial to exceed customers’ expectations and to continue being an attractive company with attractive products,” he concluded.



Volumes, Stena Line January - December 2006

(figures in brackets represent the difference in per cent compared to the same period in 2005)





Freight units





Stena Line Scandinavia

12 014 300 (-1%)

2 181 600 (-2%)

936 000 (+3%)

Stena Line Irish Sea

3 040 100 (-1%)

655 600 (0%)

496 100 (+2%)

Stena Line North Sea

805 300 (0%)

153 200 (-4%)

356 200 (0%)





Stena Line Total

15 859 800 (-1%)

2 990 400 (-2%)

1 788 300 (+2%)


STENA SEAFARER departed from Camell Laird on Saturday February 10. 2007.


The Airbus wing carrier recently reported on charter to LD Lines is now reported on charter to the car carriers UECC.

February 07

Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Ian Collard and "others"


ALASKA RAINBOW - which collided with the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company's SEA EXPRESS I on Saturday February 03, 2007, berth at East Float late on Monday February 05 after spending two days at the Bar anchorage following the collision. A few scrapes and traces of what appeared to be SEI paint were apparent on her hull.


TYNWALD - the former Sealink ANTRIM PRINCESS has been scrapped in India under the name STELLA.

SEA EXPRESS I remains in the Cammell Laird wet basin following her removal to the basin on Monday February 05. The company issued the following press release on February 06:

Following the incident involving the Steam Packet Company vessel Sea Express 1 at 11.40am on Saturday 03/02/07 all 53 vehicles have now been removed from the ship. The Company will make every effort possible to return vehicles to owners as quickly as possible.

The Steam Packet Company is actively seeking to charter a replacement vessel which can be used on the Douglas to Liverpool route until Superseacat 2 returns before Easter. At present all passengers currently booked on the Douglas to Liverpool route have been transferred on to the twice daily return crossings from Douglas to Heysham on the MV Ben-my-Chree. All passengers affected will be contacted directly by the company and coach transfers between Liverpool and Heysham will be arranged for foot passengers.                                                                                                                                                                             

The company is fully cooperating with the Marine Accident Investigation Board (MAIB) which is investigating the incident. No further comments about the specific details of the incident can be made until the MAIB report has been completed.


The last of the fuel oil from the stricken cargo ship MSC NAPOLI was pumped off this week..

Officials said more than 3,500 tonnes of fuel oil had been pumped from the stranded ship's four main fuel tanks, leaving them empty.

The final 400 tonnes are to pumped from the reserve tanks this week.

Tony Redding, spokesman for the Napoli's managing owners Zodiac, said the operation to remove the fuel oil from the 62,000-tonne ship had progressed significantly over last weekend.
"The vessel had been carrying 3,550 tonnes of fuel oil when it was beached two weeks ago and by 8am Sunday, that had all been removed from the ship's four main tanks.
"The two reserve tanks contain around 200 tonnes of fuel oil each and will be pumped off on Monday morning, although it shouldn't take too long to complete that task."
 Mr Redding said operations to remove containers from the stricken ship were also progressing.
The Napoli was carrying more than 2,300 containers when it was deliberately beached to protect it from ferocious storms. More than 100 of them went overboard, with many washing up on Branscombe beach, attracting thousands of bounty hunters to the area.
Last week, containers began to be unloaded from the stern of the Napoli by crane barge before being transferred to a shuttle barge and taken to Portland.
Mr Redding said: "Around 190 containers have now been craned off the Napoli and transported up the east of the coastline to Portland."
Authorities have already speculated that the operation to remove all the containers and deal with the listing vessel itself - whether to refloat her or cut her up in situ - could take a year.

Meanwhile, the RSPCA has said some of the birds contaminated by oil from the vessel could be released back into the wild by the end of the month. The charity collected 988 birds in the wake of a spill from the vessel.


Late on February 06 the salvors of the MSC NAPOLI in agreement with the MCA moved the `Bigfoot barge back to Portland Port and away from the vessel whilst there remains the prospect of poorer weather and bigger sea swells in the immediate area of the wreck for at least the next 72 hours.

The condition of the ship remains the same. Pumping equipment is in place within the engine room and is now removing the remaining oils from tanks within the ships engine spaces.

314 containers have been removed so far. Of the 69 safely removed yesterday, 13 contained dangerous goods which remain a priority for removal.

Robin Middleton, Secretary of States Representative in Maritime Salvage and Intervention said

No further containers will be removed from the ship during the bad weather. It is likely that more containers will be lost from the ship during this bad weather. The oil removal operation will continue as long as safety is not compromised.

Contingency plans remain in place right around the coastline and working in close co-operation with all the local authorities and the Police and Coastguard, any containers that may be washed ashore will be marked and secured as soon as they arrive on the beach. Aerial surveillance flights continue and these reconnaissance missions will also help us pinpoint any missing containers.

Security officers are on standby in the various locations to identify and secure any containers that may come ashore on behalf of the Receiver of Wreck. It is vital that members of the public do not approach any container or touch any contents but inform the appropriate authorities immediately.

The normal arrangements in terms of recovery of wreck material through voluntary salvage DO NOT APPLY in the case of the MSC NAPOLI. The reason for this is that comprehensive salvage contracts have already been placed by the owners of the ship (and the consignors) to recover all items from the vessel, including those lost overboard and washed ashore.

If more containers wash up off the East Devon coast MCGA will ensure with Devon and Cornwall Police that strategic points are manned to only allow access for local residents and businesses.



The new #1 linkspan has been installed by the MERSEY MAMMOTH and should be in use by Monday, February 12.


A web site giving a detailed over view of the proposed redevelopment of the East Float and Vittoria Dock at Birkenhead can be found at Broadband users can even take a virtual reality boat ride through the complex. There will be a public meeting with regard to the Wirral Waters development at the Lauries Centre, Claugton Road, Birkenhead at 19:30 on Friday February 09, 2007.

February 05

Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Ian Collard and "others"


NORMANDY departed Belfast shortly after 14:00 on Monday February 05 following her overhaul at Harland and Wolff. Her overhaul had ran a few days longer than planned and as a result she will now not resume Cherbourg sailings until Wednesday (She had originally been due to return on Sunday. This was later revised to Monday - but now the first sailing will be Wednesday)


SEA EXPRESS I was moved from Prince's Landing Stage on Monday February 05, 2005.

The 74m Incat was taken across the river by tugs SVITZER BIDSTON, lead tug, accompanied by OAKGARTH and THORNGARTH. The move commenced at around 10:30 and was completed by around noon. She is now in the Cammell Laird wet basin at Birkenhead.

The company has announced that the Douglas - Liverpool service is now suspended with all traffic being diverted via Heysham. A coach will be available for foot passenger transfers.

Following the incident involving the Steam Packet Company vessel Sea Express 1 at 11.40am on Saturday 03/02/ 07 the ship has now been transferred to the Birkenhead wet basin by Svitzer-Wijsmuller Salvage BV, a Dutch salvage company appointed to handle the salvage operation.

The vessel will remain in the wet basin before being transferred to a suitable dry-dock for repair.

All 274 passengers and 20 crew were successfully evacuated on Saturday, however 53 vehicles remain on the vessel and it is expected that they will be removed from the vessel later today. Every effort is being made to contact vehicle owners today to update them on the situation.

The weekend passenger ferry service between Douglas and Liverpool has been temporarily suspended until a suitable replacement vessel for the Sea Express 1 can be arranged. The twice daily return Douglas to Heysham service remains in operation as normal, and can easily accommodate all normal passenger demand.

Customers booked on the Douglas to Liverpool route have been transferred onto the nearest alternative Douglas to Heysham sailing or return. All passengers affected will be contacted directly by the company. Coach transfers between Liverpool and Heysham will be arranged for foot passengers.

February 04

Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, David Fairclough, "RiverSpy" and "others"



North Atlantic Trade and Transport Study launched in Belfast 31st January 2007

Lack of Direct Sailings from Ireland to North America Leads to Loss of Competitive Advantage for Irish Exporters North and South, according to a new All Ireland study.

· The study points to the need for major ports investment.

· No Irish port able to handle Trans-Atlantic ships.

· Irish Exporters Association, call for the new NDP to be revisited, to allocate the necessary funding for port expansion to handle larger ships.

Goods from Ireland, the closest European land to North America, must first go east to either British or Continental ports, because of the lack of direct sailings from Ireland. This is putting exporters from the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland at a competitive disadvantage according to Mr Joe Lynch, President of the Irish Exporters Association.

Mr Lynch was speaking in Belfast on January 31, 2007 at the launch of the North Atlantic Trade and Transport Study which was commissioned by the Institute of International Trade of Ireland.

According to Mr Lynch, "the study concludes that a minimum 'guaranteed' cargo, necessary to secure a direct call to Ireland by ship, already exists. This fact, however, is not sufficient to secure a direct call because none of the Irish ports have the necessary draught and quay facilities to accommodate trans-Atlantic ships,"

The North American market is of critical importance for manufacturing exporters in Northern Ireland and in the Republic. Mr Lynch said that North America accounts for 19% of the total value of merchandise exports and 13% of imports in the Republic. For Northern Ireland the percentages are remarkable similar with North America accounting for 20% by value of merchandise exports and 14% of imports. That makes North America the largest market outside the European Union for Ireland as a whole, with trade last year of 35 Billion euros and one with a high growth potential.

The current system utilising feeder shipping lines primarily via Continental ports does not meet the needs of Irish exporters and importers. Trans-shipment time via Rotterdam is now taking 17 days on average , double that of 5 years ago.

"The longer transit time and additional costs associated, place Irish manufacturing firms at a competitive disadvantage vis-à-vis their competitors in Europe and the UK, who can avail of direct shipping services," said Mr Lynch.

"The situation is expected to rapidly deteriorate , as ship sizes generally are increasing past the capacity of Irish ports.'', he stated.

"Under these circumstances it is quite unbelievable that the new National Development Plan, the most extensive national plan in the history of the state, failed to allocate any Exchequer funds for Port development".

The 480 million nominally shown in the Plan , is stated to come from:

Ø raising port dues levied on exporters and importers

Ø selling off port assets

Ø joint - venturing with the private sector

For an island nation depending on it's seaports for 90% of its trade, this is a remarkable omission. It is and even more remarkable omission in the context of a Plan which sets out to support economic growth and sustainable development over the decades ahead, and which it states can only be implemented if the economy generates the necessary resources.

Mr Lynch further stated;

'This is not spending for spendings sake. It is expenditure which the ports generally have not the wherewithal to make from their own resources, but is vital if we are to secure the gains made by exporters and equip our ports to face the challenges ahead and in particular underpin the future competitiveness of our manufacturing export sector.'

Sir George Quigley, Chairman of Bombardier launching the "North Atlantic Trade & Transport Study" said

 "Successful exporters and their host locations do not win their spurs easily. Competitiveness- in all its multifaceted dimensions- is key. And one of those dimensions is the efficiency with which exporters can connect with their customers. Exporters on this island ought to be highly competitive on this score so far as their North American customers are concerned. Being on Europe's outer periphery and closer to North America, we should have the edge over the rest of Europe. But we are not able to capitalise on our geographical advantage because there are no direct Lift on Lift off or Roll on or Roll off shipping services from the Island to North America. Everything has to be transhipped through a port in Great Britain or on the continent."

"I am delighted that the report published today identifies how that position might be rectified as far as Roll on Roll off freight is concerned. That would be particularly useful for Northern Ireland, where much of the island's Roll on Roll of freight id generated.

 "The Solution for Lift on Lift off fright may be more difficult but, here again, the Report provides very helpful pointers towards ways in which some of the difficulties associated with current transhipment arrangements can be mitigated"

"Even if it had done nothing else, this study would have performed a key service by drawing attention to the crucial significance of port development. There is little point in fine tuning out internal infrastructure on the island and neglecting the gateways which are simply indispensable for what must become our increasingly deeper integration into the global economy"

Mr Lynch concluded by saying that this study represents cross-border cooperation at its best.

"A look at the sponsors of the study confirms that no matter what part of this island you call home that international trade is important," he said. The sponsors and steering committee of the study were Bombardier Aerospace, Dublin Port Company, Forfás, Inter-Trade Ireland, Invest Northern Ireland, Port of Belfast, Port of Waterford, Waterford Crystal, PepisCo and Diageo.


NORMANDY - the 17:00 sailing to Cherbourg on Sunday February 04, 2007 has been rescheduled to 17:00 on Monday February 05. The rescheduling is due to the NORMANDY being delayed in dry dock. All bookings on Sunday's departure have been transferred to Monday's sailing.


SEA EXPRESS I [February 04 photographs]  had regained a somewhat better trim, though still significantly down by the starboard stern quarter on Sunday morning. The ship having been in collision with the Greek bulk carrier ALASKA RAINBOW the previous day.

The tug SVITZER BIDSTON had returned to the stage to join fleet mate OAKGARTH. SEA EXPRESS I did not look to be in quite such a precarious position as she had done on Saturday evening. A salvage contract with Svitzer-Weismuller is understood to have been agreed.

On Saturday it was understood that there was to be an attempt to move her on Sunday morning, however, this did not materialise and it could be up to mid week before a move is attempted. At present all the dry docks at Cammell Laird are occupied.

During Sunday afternoon Yokohama fenders were inserted between the ship and the stage to provide more space for divers who were due to carry out an inspection during the early evening at low water.

The starboard engine and jet room are flooded and according to information received the vessel was lucky to have remained afloat. On Sunday afternoon damage which is just 25mm above the waterline was being welded.

SEA EXPRESS I can only be moved in still waters and it is deemed too dangerous to go in 'locks' due to possible contact damage which could cause engine room bulkhead failure.

Apparently thanks to prompt action of the tugs yesterday a much greater mishap was avoided as there existed a danger that she might have been carried upstream into the Twelve Quays river terminal after all power was lost.

Irish Sea Shipping correspondent David Fairclough spoke to two passengers on who had travelled on board Sea Express I on Saturday February 04, 2007.

David writes:

"Chatting to two passengers on Sunday morning who had been onboard conveyed again the panic onboard for a minute. The guy said to me that the first hit was the bridge wing which knocked him off his feet in the bar area, there were the sounds of scrapping metal and then a second bump - presumably the hull gash. The life raft support on the roof, at the rear of the bridge is bent over consistent with this.

He said people screamed, instinctively a lot of people moved to the port side as she listed over to starboard, they thought it would right her. A lady with a megaphone was crying as she screamed "Don't panic", people helped themselves to lifejackets before they were instructed to wear them as a precaution. He described it as difficult to move to the port side due to the steep angle of the list."

STOP PRESS: Information received suggests its quite a large hole perhaps in the region of 6m x 2m.


VILLE DE BORDEAUX which carries Airbus A380 wings from Mostyn has been chartered until February 25 to operate between Rosslare and Le Havre. The ship is jointly owned and operated by Louis Dreyus and Leif Høegh.


Whilst the damaged SEA EXPRESS I remains alongside Prince's Landing Stage, Mersey Ferries services are suspended.


STENA ADVENTURER is dry docking over this weekend at Cammell Laird (Northwestern), Birkenhead.

February 03

Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Ian Collard, David Fairclough and "others"


ARA LIBERTAD - The Argentine Navy sail training ship is scheduled to visit Cork this June. SeaWaves Naval web site shows her arrival on June 17, 2007.


The Port of Belfast has published trade figures revealing that 2006 was the Port’s busiest year ever, with almost 17.5m tonnes of goods handled. The record performance was driven primarily by a 9% jump in containerized traffic, accounting for an additional 200,000 tonnes of cargo.

There were also significant increases in several bulk cargo sectors such as steel (up 35%) and cement (up 30%) reflecting the island’s buoyant construction sector. Paper products were also up by 21% and animal feed / grain rose by 8%, increasingly servicing customers in the Republic of Ireland.

In terms of quantity, the Port’s most important trade remained Roll-Ro / Roll-Off freight traffic which increased in 2006 to almost 4.6m tonnes.

Commenting on the figures, Joe O’Neill, the Port’s Commercial Director said:

“In the past few years the Port of Belfast has made very significant investments in dedicated facilities to handle products such as steel, paper and animal feeds, attracting substantial new trade and business to the Port.

“Containerised traffic, however, is likely to be the strongest growing sector of the Port’s business over the long term, reflecting the expansion of the global economy – particularly the emergence of China as a major economic force and the continuing strength of the Celtic Tiger.

“Last year Belfast handled an additional 12,000 containers - a significant proportion of which were generated by businesses in the Republic of Ireland. Given that southern ports are beginning to experience capacity constraints in this sector, the Port of Belfast is well positioned to take up the slack.”

Not all aspects of the Port’s business, however, grew in 2006. Although the numbers of freight vehicles and passenger vehicles using ferry services operating from the Port increased to over 650,000, there was a 2.5% decrease in ferry passengers to just over 1.2m.

The amount of liquid bulk handled by the Port also fell by 7%, largely due to other ports opening new bitumen and refined oil facilities.

Mr O’Neill commented:

“Although overall passenger numbers have decreased slightly Belfast is still Ireland’s busiest ferry port. The number of vehicles carried by ferries grew and on some routes there was actually an increase in passenger numbers. Indeed, concerns over the environmental impact of aviation travel may help operators build upon that trend.

“Plus, last year was the Port’s most successful ever cruise season, with 28 ships calling with over 30,000 passengers and crew.

“2006 was a great year for the Port, but this is and remains a highly competitive sector. The Port has identified a number of major infrastructure investments as part of a £140m programme over the next five years which we believe will maintain Belfast’s position as the most efficient and modern port on the island.”

The Port of Belfast is the only port north of Dublin with the capability to accommodate all types of traffic – Roll-On / Roll-Off, Containers, Dry and Liquid Bulk, Break Bulk and passengers .


BIBBY SAPPHIRE is presently under going deep water Dive Trials out in the Atlantic.
She has pulled into Falmouth for stores and crew change and Cammell Laird [Northwestern] are doing some minor modifications to the Diving Bell deployment system to assist in rough weather retrieval.
She is expected to depart early next week for more deep water trials in the Atlantic


The strike by maintenance workers at Dublin Port has ended after management and unions agreed to refer the dispute to the Labour Court.

A training programme to deploy shore-based staff on tug boats, which is at the centre of the dispute, has been suspended pending the court hearing.

All staff will return to work, including nine who were suspended during the row.

The move comes three weeks after the dispute began and has averted an all-out picket which had been sanctioned by the Congress of Trade Unions for next Tuesday.

Dublin Port Company has welcomed the settlement agreement.


SEA EXPRESS I was in collision with the Greek registered bulker ALASKA RAINBOW around on the morning of Saturday February 03, 2007 whilst on approach to Prince's Landing Stage in dense fog.

The 74m Incat vessel was severely damaged and was brought to the stage by tugs in a sinking condition. As well as hull damage her starboard bridge wing shows significant impact damage.

Fortunately non of the 218 passengers or 20 crew were injured in the collision. Passengers were quickly disembarked at the section of Prince's Landing Stage currently being used by Mersey Ferries. SEI was then turned around - but discharge of vehicles has proved impossible due to her vehicle deck being below the level of the link span as she is significantly down by the stern.

There was a full emergency response with several fire tenders present, counter pollution and salvage experts in attendance.

By Saturday evening the situation had been stabilised with SVITZER BOOTLE and ADSTEAM WATERLOO being released.  The tug OAKGARTH remained on stanby. [Click Here] for photographs and further information.


The following appeared on the company web site:

At approx 11:20hrs today 03/02/07 Isle of Man Steam Packet fast craft Sea Express 1 reported a collision with a Liverpool tug (?) (There appears to be some confusion here! A later statement published on the Manx Radio web site confirms it as as ALASKAN RAINBOW ) in close proximity to the Landing Stage.

Damage has been sustained to Sea Express 1 starboard side but there are no injuries sustained by passengers all whom have been disembarked safely at Liverpool where the craft berthed with the assistance of tugs.

There were 218 passengers and 20 crew on board all of whom are safe.

The Liverpool Coastguard, MCA and Marine Administration have all been informed.

Weather conditions were calm sea but thick freezing fog.


The hull of the massive cargo ship beached off the Westcountry coast has fractured completely, experts believe, increasing the threat of pollution.

The 62,000-tonne MSC NAPOLI was deliberately grounded in Lyme Bay, off the South Devon coast, two weeks ago after cracks appeared on both sides of her hull during a severe storm when she was passing off the Cornish coast..

Now Robin Middleton, the Government's representative in charge of the effort to save the ship and its cargo, has revealed that the damage is worse than initially thought.

"The fracture goes right the way from one side, right the way round the hull to the other," Mr Middleton, the Secretary of State's Representative (SOSREP), said. "We can't assess it at the moment because it is on the bottom but we think it has gone."

He said two ducts running the length of the British-registered Napoli, which are crucial to its integrity, were likely to have been broken. All that is stopping the Napoli from breaking in half and spilling its cargo into the sea are metal, box-section supports which run along the line of the deck.

Mr Middleton said: "As you can imagine, we are looking at that very closely and the moment that starts to go we have got a big problem. It is obvious that the stern is lower (than the bow) and any sign that those box sections might be buckling is the time to get the hell off it and start dragging it in. But there is still a lot of strength left in the hull. She might live to fight another day."

Jim Portus, chief executive of the South Western Fish Producers' Organisation, said the break-up of the vessel would be devastating.

"It would be the horror of all horrors," he added. "It could wipe millions of pounds from the local fishing economy. We have just got to hope it doesn't happen."

A spokesman for the Environment Agency said the salvage effort had been "pretty lucky" with the weather so far but that "adverse conditions" were likely.

"We are all prepared to act if the situation deteriorates and that is why every effort is being made to get as much of the oil and as many of the containers off the vessel as quickly as possible to minimise any potential environmental impact," he added.

"Given the condition of the ship and the unpredictable nature of the weather, contingency plans had to be put into place in case the situation does get worse. We hope that we won't ever have to use them."


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