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NEWS BULLETIN - March 2007

March 31Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Michael Pryce, Alex Mc. Cormac and "others"
 CALEDONIAN MACBRAYNE

Ferry operator Caledonian MacBrayne, which has operated the Ballycastle-Rathlin ferry service since 1996, confirmed on March 29 that an agreement had been reached in principle to extend its contract to operate the Ballycastle Rathlin Ferry Service on behalf of the Department for Regional Development until March 2008.

However, operation of the ferry service will be by a new company, Rathlin Ferries Ltd, following the recent restructuring of the Caledonian MacBrayne Group of companies, to enable CalMac Ferries Ltd to bid for the provision of Lifeline ferry services in Scotland. Rathlin Ferries Ltd has been established as a wholly owned subsidiary of David MacBrayne Limited, to run the Ballycastle to Rathlin service, and continues to trade under the CalMac brand.

CalMac Chairman Peter Timms said: "We were delighted to have our contract as the operator of this service extended again and we look forward to developing our ongoing relationship with the communities of Rathlin and the mainland of Northern Ireland. Since we started operating the service we have seen a spell of considerable tourist growth on the route. The growth is very welcome and reflects our marketing effort to promote Rathlin as a "must do" day trip for visitors to the North Coast. We now look forward to continuing to work with the people on Rathlin Island itself, the local community and authorities in Ballycastle and our colleagues in the Department for Regional Development."

The Ballycastle-Rathlin route continues to benefit from the general marketing activities undertaken by CalMac and benefits specifically from a local marketing plan. Approximately 12,000 passengers per month are carried in July and August, the two peak summer months.

The extension of the ferry contract continues the long association between Scotland and Rathlin as the Rathlin Island community is this year celebrating the 700th anniversary of the famous story of Robert the Bruce, watching a spider whilst hiding in a cave on the island. Legend has it has the spider's perseverance gave him inspiration to return to Scotland and eventually defeat the English at the Battle of Bannockburn.

An exciting programme of events has been arranged over the summer, including a "Robert the Bruce" Festival from 22nd -24th June, with one of the King Robert's descendants arriving on 23rd June on a boat from Arran, Scotland.

On Friday of this week, (March 30) the timetable of services to Rathlin increases for the summer period, to four return crossings per day. Return tickets to the Island are £10, Family Ticket £26.50, and Smartpass holders travel free.

HISTORIC SHIPS & TRANSPORT HERITAGE PETITION

Alex Naughton has launched a petition regarding Britain's historic ships and transport heritage on the Prime Minister's website. Two hundred votes are required to make sure that the Government will respond on this issue.

If you are interested in, care for or support Britain's transport heritage and historic ships / railways / aeroplanes etc and believe that it deserves greater recognition and support then I urge you to support the aim of the petition and please sign up. The petition reads:

"We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to give proper recognition to Britain's transport heritage by giving it adequate funding, resources, protection and recognition. We request that the Government build on the success of the National Register of Historic Buildings and Sites by creating a similar statutory national register protecting Britain's mobile transport heritage e.g. historic ships, aeroplanes, railway locomotives and carriages, and motor cars etc."

The petition can be accessed at: http://petitions.pm.gov.uk/historicships/

IRISH NAVAL SERVICE

There are a wide range of overseas visits planned for Irish Naval service vessels to European and Canada this year. These are some of the ports of call listed at www.seawaves.com. There is no detail as yet on the Irish Military web site.

LE ORLA [P41]

  • Rotterdam May 25,

LE NIAMH

  • Oslo, June 07
  • Copenhagen, June 10
  • Klaipeda, June 14
  • Kiel, June 18

LE AISLING

  • Oslo, June 07
  • Gdansk, June 14
  • Aalborg, June 10
  • Kiel, June 18

LE EITHNE

  • Toronto, June 20
  • Montreal, June 26
  • Bordeaux, September 14

LE EMER

  • Zeebrugge, July 06

LE CIARA

  • Zeebrugge, July 20

LE AOIFE

  • Malaga, July 26
  • Varna, August 03
  • Constanta, August 06
  • Valletta , August 12

ISLE OF MAN STEAM PACKET COMPANY

Hamish Ross, managing director of the company is to retire this summer. He has been managing director since succeeding David Dixon following the Sea Containers take over in 1996. Mr Ross will be succeeded by Mark Woodward, the current Operations Director of the company now owned by Macquarie.

EMERAUDE FRANCE departed from Tilbury where she has been laid up at 08:25 on Wednesday March 28, 2007 and arrived at Douglas around 13:40 on March 29. Prior to departing Tilbury the vessel had been inspected on March  23 which revealed a number of deficiencies.

EMERAUDE FRANCE

Inspection details :

Date of first boarding : 23/03/2007

Date of final boarding : 23/03/2007

Port of inspection : Tilbury, United kingdom.

Type of inspection : Initial inspection

Ship's particulars at the time of inspection :

IMO number : 8903703

Name : EMERAUDE FRANCE

Flag : Barbados

Callsign : 8POW

Ship type : Roro passenger ship

Gross tonnage : 3012

Keel date : 1990

Classification society :

- Class certificate issued by Det Norske Veritas (DNVC),

classification society responsible for issuance of class certificate as at

date of first boarding

Statutory certificates :

- International Air Pollution Prevention Cert is issued by Det Norske

Veritas (DNVC)

- Passenger ship safety (inc. exemp.) is issued by Det Norske Veritas

(DNVC)

- Load lines certificates is issued by Det Norske Veritas (DNVC)

- Oil pollution prevention (iopp) is issued by Det Norske Veritas

(DNVC)

- Other (certificate) is issued by Det Norske Veritas (DNVC)

Ship manager

- ISLE OF MAN STEAM PACKET CO., Imperial Buildings, Douglas, Man Isle

of

Areas inspected :

- Accommodation and galley

- Engine and steering room

- Navigation bridge

- Outside decks and forecastle

Operational controls carried out

- Communication equipment

- Emergency fire pump

- Emergency generator

- Emergency steering

- Other

- 15 ppm OWS tested

Deficiencies :

- Cargoes, Cargo securing manual

- Cargoes, Loading and unloading equipment

- Fire safety measures, Fire prevention structure

- Fire safety measures, Ventilation

- Life saving appliances , Lifeboats

- Life saving appliances , Other (life saving)

- MARPOL annex I, SOPEP

- Radio communications, VHF radio installation

- Safety of navigation, Nautical publications

- Safety of navigation, Nautical publications

- Structural safety, Closing devices/watertight doors

- Structural safety, Emergency lighting, batteries and switches

- Working spaces and accident prevention, Lighting

JAMES FISHER & SONS PLC

Barrow-in-Furness based James Fisher has announced a 42% increase in profits. This news is accompanied by the news that the company is close to finalising the sale and charter back of three new tankers acquired as part of the takeover of FT Everard a few months ago.

Pre-tax profit from continuing operations jumped 42% to £15.9m from £11.2m in 2005, with adjusted earnings per share growing 30% to 28.3p from 21.84p ahead of market expectations.

The company expects that the recent acquisition of F.T. Everard to be earnings neutral in 2007, as costs will be offset by savings, but the company reckons that the potential for further profit improvement in the medium to longer term was significant.

The Everard fleet has been moved into the UK tonnage tax, and three new 4,430 dwt tankers are being refinanced through sale and bareboat charter arrangements.

Tim Harris, company chairman,  said Fisher had a shortlist of financiers and was “well advanced in the process,” which should raise £23m.

A fourth sister ship was due to be delivered in the third quarter of this year and Mr Harris said it was possible another bareboat refinancing would be undertaken.

Refinancing the first three vessels – SPECIALITY , SENIORITY and SUPERIORITY – would bring Fisher’s net gearing back down to about “60% or less” from 94% following the Everard acquisition.

Mr Harris said Fisher retained the financial flexibility to make further acquisitions in marine support services.
And the cash-flow benefits of a larger tanker fleet would help “fund an even stronger and faster development” of marine support services.

In December, Everard sold its three oldest vessels – ALLURITY, ACTIVITY, and ARDUITY – and more than 50 seafarers were made redundant.

Fisher has also written down the value of the 24-year-old Severn Fisher (11,227 dwt) by £2.9m to £2.1m as a result of the loss of the vessel’s Falklands contract with the MoD.

Mr Harris said overall trading for 2007 to date had been in line with management expectations. He added: “We are well placed in strong markets with a proven strategy and track record to continue to produce good growth and value for our shareholders.”

Shareholders will be rewarded with a 15% increase in the dividend for 2006

KNOTT END FERRY

The Fleetwood - Knott End Ferry finally resumed on March 26, 2007.

In 2006 Lancashire County Council spent £350,000 buying a new boat, only for it to break down after a few weeks.

Wyre Marine Services says they are confident they can offer an efficient, virtually all-weather service.

Ian Drury, from Wyre Marine Services, said stopping the service, which was established in 1894, caused problems for passengers and local businesses.

Businesses saw trade drop when the service was suspended, he added.

Mr Drury said this would be a thing of the past as the mechanical problems which kept the boat out of the water have now been fixed.

The trip saves residents in Knott End and the Over Wyre area a 25-mile round trip to travel to Fleetwood.

MERSEY FERRIES

Work on removing the remains of the sunken George's Stage appears to be proceeding rather slowly as the submerged structure continues to be pounded by a massive chisel. Broken sections of the stage are being lifted over and placed in skips carried by the Carmet Towing Company's barge VEGA. The broken chunks of reinforced concrete appear to be filling up the skips quite quickly as the reinforcement rods take up a lot of space.

How long it will take to clear the debris and install the Ravestein SKYLINE BARGE 15 as the temporary stage remains to be seen.

With Mersey Ferries still having to share the PRINCE'S LANDING STAGE with the Isle of Man Steam Packet company further disruption can be expected as the season gets underway. Details are as follows:

Mersey Ferries Service Alterations week commencing 2 April 2007

Mersey Ferries services next week and over Easter will change as follows. Mersey Ferries apologises for any inconvenience this may cause passengers. For the latest information please check www.merseyferries.co.uk or ring Traveline 0870 608 2 608 before travelling.

Monday 2nd April up to and including Wednesday 4th April

10:00 and 11:00 River Explorer cruises from Liverpool cancelled

Last Liverpool Service 17:15 from Liverpool calls Seacombe 17:25 Terminates Woodside 17:35.

(New cruise timetable in force calls Seacombe 30 minutes past the hour and Woodside 20 minutes to the hour)
 

Thursday 5th April

Last Liverpool Service 17:15 from Liverpool calls Seacombe 17:25 Terminates Woodside 17:35.
 

Good Friday 6th April (Bank Holiday Weekend Timetable)
10:00 and 11:00 River Explorer cruises from Liverpool cancelled

 

Easter Saturday 7th April

10:00 and 11:00 River Explorer cruises from Liverpool cancelled

 

Easter Sunday 8th April
Last Cruise 16:00 from
Liverpool (terminates Liverpool 16:50)

 

Bank Holiday Monday 9th April
Last Cruise 16:00 from Liverpool (terminates Liverpool 16:50)

SEA PASSENGER STATISTICS

Sea Passenger Statistics 2006: These statistics are published in an annual bulletin which shows the latest figures for 2006 and trends for the last ten years.

During 2006 there were:

  • 23.5 million International sea passenger journeys to and from the UK, one per cent lower than in 2005. Dover, the largest UK ferry port, handled 13.8 million journeys (3 per cent higher than in 2005). There were a total of 2.2 million passengers at Portsmouth (18 per cent lower) and 2.1 million passengers at Holyhead (5 per cent lower). For comparison there were also 15.5 million passenger journeys through the Channel Tunnel (broadly unchanged).
  • There were 3.5 million domestic passenger journeys (passengers travelling between mainland Great Britain, Northern Ireland, Isle of Man, Channel Islands and Orkney & Shetland), three per cent lower than in 2005.

Over the period 1996-2006:

  • International sea passenger journeys to and from the UK fell by 11.1 million (32 per cent) and journeys through Dover by 5.0 million (26 per cent). Channel Tunnel passengers increased by 2.7 million (21 per cent).
  • Domestic sea passengers increased by 0.1 million (2 per cent).   
March 24Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Michael Pryce, Edwin Wilmshurst, Alex Mc. Cormac, Ian Collard and "others"

 

BRISTOL CHANNEL FERRY PROPOSALS

The North Devon Gazette reports that a link between North Devon and Wales could be up and running by next year, say supporters, following a special meeting in Barnstaple to look into the possibilities.

Following last week's summit, chaired by the North Devon Chambers of Commerce and Industry, local business leaders are now looking to plan a major meeting in Swansea with council bosses, business leaders and Welsh Assembly politicians.

The aim is for regular fast craft ferry links across the Bristol Channel from Ilfracombe to Swansea and Minehead to Penarth, which could be up and running by summer 2008.

Backers say these services and linking in the city of Bristol are strategically vital and commercially viable.

The NDCCI brought together key strategic players to discuss how to move the project forward.

Main objectives to come from the meeting include co-ordinating a South West and South Wales business plan by setting up a new ferry company; making applications for finance at the earliest possible dates; bringing together business leaders from the South West and South Wales to lead the commercial venture.

Kevin Kelway, spokesman for the NDCCI, said there was now support on both sides of the Bristol Channel for the project.

"Business leaders are driving this project forward and keen to support this major transport initiative."

Tim Jones, chairman of Devon and Cornwall Business Council, said: "The Devon economy's under-performing and we need to play to our strengths with big ideas and visions.

Later in the week the North Devon Journal reported:

Plans are under way to run a regular fast ferry service between South Wales and the south-west of England.

A summit of council officials and business leaders in Devon is looking at daily "Fast Cat" car-passenger services from Ilfracombe to Swansea and Minehead to Penarth.

A passenger ferry from Ilfracombe to Swansea could be up and running by summer 2008.Supporters of the scheme made the claim at a meeting of business leaders, chaired by the North Devon Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NDCCI), in Barnstaple.

Backers of the scheme said services from Ilfracombe to Swansea and Minehead to Penarth are strategically vital - and viable, with global warming being high on the political agenda.

Chris Marrow from Mariners Marine Consultants said: "For environmental reasons alone it is important to cut down on vehicle usage.

"When you consider the time it takes to get from North Devon to Swansea by car, which is about three and a half hours, and then compare it with 45 to 55 minutes by ferry, it would take a lot of cars off the road."

The long-term plan is to operate a car ferry, but the infrastructure needed to support such a project in and around Ilfracombe - including a dock and access roads - is a long way from being built.

The initial figure to build an outer breakwater and a marina at Ilfracombe harbour stands at about £40 million.

But with the existing infrastructure, Mr Marrow was confident a passenger ferry could be up and running soon.

He said: "Whether we charter or buy a vessel, the proposal can be achieved for less than £5 million.

"With the local authorities on board and so much interest in the ferry, now is the perfect time to take action. The bigger picture will follow." The Devon and Cornwall Business Council's Tim Jones said: "From the strategic point of view we have to look at where the future of North Devon lies, much of which is in tourism and short breaks.

"It is safe territory for investors to come and look at. We need to capitalise on the area's strengths and look to broadening them to include conferencing, trade fairs and two-way trade with Wales.

"What we mustn't do now is rely too heavily on the public purse. Something too many big projects do is wait for the public cheque book to come out. The business case is fundamental."

NDCCI spokesman Kevin Kelway said: "The next stage is to take the ferry road show to Wales and bring in Welsh business leaders with North Devon to have a thriving Bristol Channel.

"People came out of the meeting excited about how this plan could become a reality."

BRITTANY FERRIES

CONTENTIN - Brittany Ferries will be increasing freight capacity to Santander from this autumn. The new 120 pax ship will operate a weekend return sailing to Santander from Portsmouth at weekends. This is in addition to the two round trips per week offered by PONT-AVEN.

SUMMARY OF 2006 RESULTS

  • Passengers up 4% to 2,774,153.
  • Tourist vehicles remained stable at 808,000
  • Freight up 14% in two years and 4% in the past year to 233,000 units.
  • Turnover up 4% to 379.4 million € and a net result of 17.4 million €.
  • Market down 6% (over past two years)
  • 2,512 employees (1,700 sea-going).
  • 77% income from tourist traffic, 22% by freight.
  • 8% reduction in fuel costs by reducing speed of PONT-AVEN on the Spanish route.
  • Described as satisfactory result though low cost operators remain a concern.
  • Low cost airlines remain a particular concern on their passenger trade facilitating a 14.3% decline on Plymouth - Roscoff, 4% decline on Portsmouth - St Malo and 4.1% decline on Cork - Roscoff.
  • Meanwhile Portsmouth - Caen saw a 10% increase in passenger numbers (more than 1 million).
  • Brittany Ferries are going to spend 8 million € promoting France to British holidaymakers.

COMMISSIONERS OF IRISH LIGHTS

COMMISSIONERS OF THE IRISH LIGHTS have withdrawn the Coningbeg Lightship which was stationed off the Saltee Islands. At one stage there were 11 lightships around the coast, but with modern technology improving Aids to Navigation and shipboard systems developing, the lightships have been replaced by buoys, at less cost. A new CONINGBEG BUOYAGE SYSTEM, with one of the three buoys being used a new type of large-bodied HIGH FOCAL PLANE BUOY fitted with a 9-mile light and a Racon and all three with Automatic Identification System Transponders, the first time these have been used in Ireland. [RTÉ Seascapes]

HJ LINES

HJ Lines commenced operations between Cork Ringaskiddy and Swansea on March 21 using the chartered ro/ro cargo ship VICTORIA. The following is from the South Wales Evening Post:

The man behind the new freight service linking Swansea and Cork says he is confident business will build up as it becomes established. Roll-on roll-off freight ferry MV VICTORIA sailed from Swansea on Tuesday night on its maiden voyage on the route.

Hugh Johnson, founder of HJ Lines and Managing Director for Air Cargo Wales is confident the market is potentially a lucrative one.

The Ammanford-born 61-year -old said the first voyage saw a mixture of horse boxes, cars, lorries, and steel make the journey over the Irish Sea.

"The next sailing has got some brand new combine harvesters going to Ireland," he said.

"We will be taking anything that's freight."

The HJ Lines service will sail three times a week, re-establishing a direct link between the two ports following the suspension of the ferry service in late 2006.

But there are hopes if business picks up, another sailing could be added.

Mr Johnson said: "We are doing three voyages a week. If this works well and fills up we will be increasing it to four voyages a week."

Deputy Port manager, Associated British Ports South Wales, Clive Thomas, said: "This is extremely good news for the Port of Swansea re-establishing a vital link with southern Ireland."

The service is also being touted as one which is environmentally friendly.

Mr Thomas said: "We will be working closely with HJ Lines to develop freight business to Swansea which is Wales's most easterly ferry port offering advantages to hauliers delivering them closer to their markets and reducing environmental impact."

HJ Lines has offered the service because it believes there is growing demand for increased freight capacity on the southern Ireland and UK freight market route.

Alarm bells rang for business leaders when the Swansea-Cork passenger ferry was withdrawn.

Mr Thomas added efforts were still being made to bring the ferry crossing back.

He said: "Talks between ABP and HJ Lines are part of ABP's ongoing strategy to attract greater ferry and cruise related business to Swansea and we continue to work to re-establish passenger traffic to Ireland."

HMS PLYMOUTH

A campaign to save HMS Plymouth from the scrap yard has attracted more than 800 signatures on the government's Downing Street website.

It had been hoped the Falklands warship could be brought back to its home port, but the offer of a berth at Millbay Docks was withdrawn.

The HMS Plymouth Association wants the ship brought to Plymouth for the 25th anniversary of the Falklands conflict.

The ship is currently moored at Birkenhead on Merseyside where it once formed part of the Historic Warships Collection. The Type-12, Rothesay class anti-submarine frigate played a major part in the Falklands conflict and survived several direct hits from Argentine aircraft.

HMS Plymouth was built at Devonport Dockyard and launched in July 1959. It was decommissioned in 1988 after almost 30 years in service.

When it was put on display in at Plymouth's Millbay Docks in 1989, it attracted 88,000 visitors.

IRISH FERRIES

Irish Ferries claim that with the opening of the new Dublin Port tunnel and the extension of the M1 motorway north of Dundalk, more and more Northern Ireland motorists are now taking ferry services from Dublin as the faster way to reach the Midlands and south of England, according to information released by Irish Ferries.

In recent months there has been a noticeable increase in the number of Northern Ireland vehicles passing through Dublin en route to Holyhead, according to Irish Ferries Head of Sales Declan Mescall.

Stretching from the M1 just north of Dublin city, the new tolled tunnel takes motorists to within the port and only a half-mile from the ferry terminal in less than 10 minutes, cutting out over 20 sets of traffic lights and delays that faced motorists previously, he said.

ISLE OF MAN STEAM PACKET COMPANY

SUPERSEACAT TWO returned to service on Friday March 23 on the Liverpool service. She had operated a north about "Round The Island" shakedown sailing on Thursday March 22.  There was believed to be a crew and staff compliment of over 60 on board. The "Round the Island" voyage taking around 2 hours 20 minutes.

After the sailing made a number of entries and exits from Douglas Harbour in conjunction with filming TV adverts mainly aimed at the Irish market.

SEA EXPRESS I appeared to be on a much more even trim on Saturday March 24 - apparently she is going to be dry docked soon, presumably the rate of pumping has been increased?

SPIRIT OF ONTARIO - there is speculation that one of the bidders in the frame for the Austal 86 craft, following the failure of the Euroferries deal may be the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company. Rumours are also circulating concerning the possibility of the company acquiring INCAT 50 ex JOINT VENTURE. From Subject Received Size
John H. Luxton [isscug] SE1 This morning Sat 24/03/2007 10:55 5 KB

MARITIME & COAST GUARD AGENCY

SEVEN FOREIGN SHIPS UNDER DETENTION IN THE UK DURING FEBRUARY 2007

The Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA) announced on March 22 that seven foreign ships were under detention in UK ports during February 2007 after failing Port State Control (PSC) safety inspection.

Latest monthly figures show that there were six new detentions of foreign flagged ships in UK ports during February 2007, compared with three new detentions during January 2007. One vessel remained in detention from the previous month. The overall rate of detentions compared with inspections carried out over the last twelve months is just below 4.5%, a slight decrease compared with Januarys twelve month rate.

During the month of February 130 Port State Control inspections were carried out in the UK. For those ships inspected during February a total of 31 vessels had no deficiencies raised against them, 66 had between one and five deficiencies, 19 had between six and ten deficiencies, 12 had between eleven and twenty deficiencies and 2 vessels had more than twenty deficiencies.

Five general cargo vessels and one bulk carrier were detained in February. One vessel was registered with a flag state listed on the Paris MOU black list, four were registered with states on the white list and one was registered with a state on the grey list.

Vessels detained in February included:

•a 1,707 GT general cargo vessel with inoperative main and defective emergency steering gear;
•a 2,323 GT general cargo vessel whose port lifeboat davit collapsed during abandon ship drill;
•a 36,433 GT bulk carrier detained in very poor condition, indicating a lack of maintenance of the ship and equipment under the International Safety Management (ISM) system.

Two of the ships were detained at ports on the Irish Sea:

Date & Place of detention: 22/02/2007 – Liverpool
Vessel Name: GOLDEN GLORY (Bulk Carrier)
GT: 36,433
IMO No:8800107
Flag: Bahamas
Company: Dockendale Shipping Co.
Classification Society: Lloyds Register of Shipping (LR)
Summary: 31 deficiencies in total, detained with 2 instances of an ISM major non-conformity: maintenance of ship and equipment incomplete. The vessel was still under detention at the end of February pending ISM and Class audit.

Date & Place of detention: 28/02/2007 – Belfast
Vessel Name: JEROME H (General Cargo Vessel)
GT:1,297
IMO No:8505927
Flag: Antigua & Barbuda
Company: Helms
Classification Society: Germanischer Lloyd (GL)
Summary:9 deficiencies in total, detained for 3 days with 2 ISM major non-conformities (shipboard operations and masters responsibility not according to SMS), missing navigation records, inadequate use of appropriate scaled charts and failure to maintain an accurate record of the vessels position on chart. The vessel was released on 03/03/2007.

MERSEY FERRIES

The summer season commences on April 04, 2007 with the introduction of the down stream "River Explorer Cruise" timetable. It also appears that the fare increases from £4.95 to £5.10.

The Manchester Ship Canal sailings and some of the special cruises are this season operating from Seacombe and Woodside, rather than Liverpool, - due to reconstruction of the Liverpool Terminal facilities. This arrangement has to be welcomed as Seacombe and Woodside both have good car-parks. The Seacombe facility being of course free.

A second attempt at removing the remains of the Mersey Ferries George's Landing Stage commenced this week with a Smit "spud jack"  barge positioned off the old stage. On to this is loaded a demolition crane which is dropping a substantial "chisel" onto the sunken stage remains. Photographs and links to a film clip [click here].

PEEL PORTS

GO-AHEAD FOR POST-PANAMAX CONTAINER TERMINAL AT LIVERPOOL

Peel Ports have announced that plans for the first post-Panamax container terminal on the UK's West Coast have been given the go-ahead by the Department of Transport.

The £90 million development on the River Mersey would almost double container capacity at the Port of Liverpool – Britain's third ranking deep sea container port and the No 1 gateway for container trade with North America.

The decision follows Peel Ports Group's application to create the first facility capable of accommodating the new generation of larger container ships on the UK West Coast and in the north of the country.

The Port of Liverpool last year handled 630,000 teus (20ft Container Units) and attracted three new North Atlantic container services in the first half of 2006. It now serves more than 100 non-European locations across the globe from the Americas, to the Indian sub-continent, the Far East and China. Its established in-dock Royal Seaforth Container Terminal, which over the last five years has undergone more than £30 million worth of investment, can handle up to 800,000 teus a year.

Tom Allison, Chief Executive of Peel Ports – Britain's second largest ports group – welcomed the decision by the Government for what he described as "the most significant development for the Port of Liverpool since the construction of Royal Seaforth Dock in the late 1960s and early 1970s. "This project is a response to the growing recognition of the Port of Liverpool's strategic position as the gateway to the richest cargo generating region of the United Kingdom outside London," he said.

"It is also a project which we are convinced will have major long term economic and strategic benefits for the region, generating significant additional work and wealth."

The new terminal will be created by building a river wall from the corner of Royal Seaforth Dock to Gladstone Lock, close to the mouth of the Mersey. The triangle will then be filled in to create a 17 hectare (42 acre) terminal with annual capacity for more than 500,000 teus and capable of simultaneously accommodating two post-Panamax ships.

Peel Ports Marketing Director Frank Robotham, added: "The new terminal will be a further significant boost to industry in the North of England and beyond. To date, post Panamax vessels have only had the option to berth in UK south coast ports. Once the new terminal is opened in Liverpool, then industry throughout the North and Midlands can enjoy the dual benefits of being able to respond to the demands of international logistics through their own local port, utilising these larger vessels which bring their own economies of scale."

With a second container terminal, Liverpool is set to consolidate established trades and expand into new sectors, building on its ranking as the leading UK container port for trade with the United States of America and Canada and enlarging the range of more than 100 global destinations it already serves.

The new facility will also enhance the Port's role as the premier transhipment hub for Ireland, currently handling more than 40% of unitised freight crossing between Britain and Ireland.

Peel Ports Group which owns both the Port of Liverpool and the Manchester Ship Canal, is developing the two as the international gateway and "green" transhipment route to the UK's major region for consumption and production after London, via the Ship Canal. The Group has applied for planning permission to develop Port Salford on the Canal as a multi-modal logistics centre for road, rail and maritime freight.

STENA LINE

BELFAST TERMINAL

Work has begun on a new £35m Stena fast ferry terminal at the Port of Belfast and the facility is due to open for the summer 2008 season.

The 35,000 sq ft development is being built on a 32-acre site of reclaimed land close to Fortwilliam, two miles downstream from the existing terminal at Donegall Quay.

Due to its location the new terminal will reduce the HSS and conventional ferries crossing times to Scotland.

Changes are afoot at Loch Ryan too, where Stena is planning to move out of Stranraer to a new terminal beside the P&O facility at Cairnryan.

Gunnar Blomdahl, Stena's global chief executive officer, who was in Belfast for yesterday's announcement, said the Irish Sea was one of the company's fastest-growing markets.

"Together with the proposed new facility in Cairnryan, the new Belfast terminal will reduce travel time by 20 minutes and allow Stena Line to provide additional sailings," he said.

"Despite competition from low-cost airlines, and a volatile fuel market, we have continued to grow business and nowhere is this more apparent than on the Irish Sea."

Len O'Hagan, chairman of Belfast Harbour Commissioners, said the investment, which did not involve any taxpayers' money, was the biggest undertaken by the port.

He said: "Eight years ago the port began reclaiming part of Belfast Lough with millions of tonnes of stone and sand, creating a site that will allow Stena to relocate its Belfast operation nearer to Scotland.

"By ensuring that local importers and exporters can access the global market more quickly and more often, today's investment will improve the competitiveness of the Northern Ireland economy."

As part of the scheme, the Harbour Commissioners are funding the construction of a new dual carriageway link road from the M2 at Fortwilliam to the Harbour Estate.

The contract for design and build work on the terminal has been won by McLaughlin & Harvey, the Newtownabbey-based construction firm, and project management will be by Mouchel Parkman from Holywood. [BELFAST TELEGRAPH]

CAIRNRYAN DEVELOPMENT

Scottish Executive Transport Minister Tavish Scott is to be asked for an early decision about Stena's planned move to Cairnryan.

There are fears that the outcome of the public inquiry into the extension of the ferry terminal at Cairnryan could be delayed by the May parliamentary elections.

Now the North Channel Partnership have instructed chairman Robert Higgins to write to Mr Scott asking for an early decision.

And he is also to write to Philip Jones, Chief Executive of Dumfries and Galloway Council, to make contact on behalf of the council, seeking a similar response.

Mr Higgins said this week: "There are only a few days left for the decision to be made before the parliamentary session ends early in April.

"If no decision on the inquiry is made before then, the whole thing will be put back for months" [STRANRAER FREE PRESS]

SVITZER WIJSMULLER

Svitzer Wijsmuller have closed the deal on the purchase of Australian tug-company Adsteam.

The board of Adsteam has finally accepted SvitzerWijsmullers offer for the shares at a price of AUD 2.54 (EUR 1.51) and Svitzer Wijsmuller have accepted that it will only be possible to purchase 84.78 per cent of the shares in the company instead of the intended 90 per cent.

In February the last offical hurdles were cleared as the English competition authorities made it clear the SvitzerWijsmuller was to sells its activities in Liverpool in order not to create a nationwide monopoly business.

The purchase will add around 200 tugs to SvitzerWijsmuller fleet of around 300 tugs making the company the worlds largest tug operator.

TRINITY HOUSE

LIZARD LIGHTHOUSE

The beam at a famous West Country lighthouse will soon shine brighter thanks to a much-needed cash injection. The Lizard lighthouse on the southernmost tip of mainland Britain has just been awarded a £400,000 grant for major restoration work from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

The award, announced yesterday, delighted representatives of Trinity House which owns the lighthouse which is nearly 400 years old.

Alan Thomas, Trinity House's asset manager, said: "This HLF grant will allow us to move forward in developing the Heritage Centre at Lizard so that we can improve the visitor experience, tell the Trinity House story, provide an improved education service and enhance tourism on the Lizard peninsular."

The first lighthouse on the Lizard was built in 1619 to guide ships through the treacherous waters around the coastline.

The present building, with its famous twin towers, was built in 1751.

Today the lighthouse marks the turning point into one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world, the
English Channel
.

The lottery money will be used for major restoration and general improvement of visitor attractions. Soon visitors will be able to climb the 70 metres to the top of the tower to enjoy magnificent views.

The money will also go towards projects to tell people of the lighthouse's rich past, as well as the history of the surrounding area.

Nerys Watts, HLF manager for the south west, said: "The lighthouse has played an important role in the history of the area and is the site of many memories.

"As well as improving the visitor centre, the project will encourage the local people to learn about its history."

March 18Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Edwin Wilmshurst, Alex Mc. Cormac, Ian Collard and "others"
ARCALIA SHIPPING / CLASSIC INTERNATIONAL CRUISES / TRAVELSCOPE

ATHENA - its is reported that Travelscope has cancelled the 2007 / 08 charter for the veteran 1948 trans - Atlantic liner and all ATHENA cruises from the UK have been cancelled.

The ATHENA is, of course, better known as the STOCKHOLM, famous for its encounter with the Italian Liner ANDREA DORIA. Despite the major collision which resulted in the sinking of the Italian Liner the ATHENA has had a charmed life when many ships a fraction of her age have long gone to the scrap yard.

She was sold by Swedish America Line in 1960 to the East German Government for use as a trade union cruise ship VOLKERFREUNDSCHAFT and operated until 1985. ATHENA then had a somewhat chequered career which included use as an asylum seeker's refuge in Oslo. Following several ownership changes she was extensively refitted and chartered to Classic International Cruises on for ten years in 2004.

During 2006 she had operated a number of cruises to / from Falmouth and Liverpool and had been scheduled to undertake two cruises from Falmouth this spring before switching to the east coast for the main summer season.

As a consequence of the cancellation of the ATHENA cruises, the VAN GOGH and PRINCESS DANAE, also chartered by Travelscope has been rescheduled - with a number of planned Irish / Celtic Sea calls cancelled.

The Falmouth Packet, a Cornish News Paper suggests that the cancellation has been due to a slump in bookings following the negative publicity in the wake of a lively return trans-Atlantic crossing last autumn in which one passenger received fatal head injuries.

In a statement Travelscope, who charter the ship, said the cruise in March had been cancelled because of low ticket sales.

"We can confirm that the ATHENA has been taken out of the Travelscope programme for the cruise departing March 8th 2007 due to disappointing sales," it said. "The exact movement/positioning of the ship will be handed by the owners although we do understand that they have scheduled a departure from Lisbon during this time which will be sold in the Portuguese market."

"This decision involves some amendments to the programme for 2007. A small number of cruises, those with low numbers booked, will be cancelled. The vast majority of cruisers will be accommodated on VAN GOGH and PRINCESS DANAE with minimal date changes and on the same itineraries as originally booked."

Edwin Wilmshurst, who supplies most of the cruise call items for Irish Sea Shipping writes that around 90% of booked passengers have had their cruise dates and/ or area of visit changed.

However, there has been some suggestion on the Yahoo Liners List the ATHENA cancellation may have been in influenced by other matters - there is an ongoing thread concerning ATHENA on Liners List Yahoo Group. http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LinersList/

Cruise call lists featured on Irish Sea Shipping have been updated to take into account the end of the ATHENA charter and rescheduling of the VAN GOGH and PRINCESS DANAE. [CLICK HERE]

BUGALED BREIZH

A French prosecutor investigating the BUGALED BREIZH tragedy, in which five fishermen died three years ago, has cleared both a British and a Dutch submarine of involvement in the accident.

Anna Kayanakis said documents sent by the Royal Navy to a court in Quimper, Brittany, along with the testimony of the captain of HMS TURBULENT proved the submarine was moored at Devonport, Plymouth, when the BUGALED BREIZH sank off the Lizard.

Documents released by the Dutch Navy, including the log book of the submarine DOLFJIN, show it was ten nautical miles from the place where the Breton trawler sank at 12.23pm French time on January 15 2004.

Mrs Kayanakis revealed that interviews with Navy personnel had answered some questions surrounding the tragedy.

A helicopter which arrived at the scene was a Sea King MK7 which had picked up the trawler's distress call while taking part in exercises.

And a red liferaft found floating in the area was slashed by a diver, said Mrs Kayanakis, to sink it to avoid confusing rescue operations.

Asked whether a judge investigating a case of manslaughter and failing to assist persons in danger, had now ruled out the theory that a submarine snagged the Bugaled's trawl gear and dragged her down, she replied: "I cannot definitely say that, but two submarines suspected of involvement, the TURBULENT and the DOLFIJN, have been ruled out." [WESTERN MORNING NEWS]

CAMMELL LAIRD

HROSSEY departed from #5 dry dock on the morning of Sunday March 18 bound for Lerwick. During her three weeks on Merseyside she was refitted and equipped with new crew accommodation at the stern. This has enabled her old crew area to be converted to passenger accomodation.

Apparently due to conditions the Mersey Pilot was dropped at Douglas before the ship went to shelter on the east coast of the Isle of Man from the gales. 

As there is now a dock free the next occupant of #5 may be SEA EXPRESS I to facilitate hull repairs.

CELTIC LINK

CELTIC MIST - A Co Wexford-based vessel has been taken out of operation in Southampton after being declared unsafe by British authorities.

CELTIC MIST, chartered by Wexford based Ro-Ro operator Celtic Link, was inspected by the Classification Society in Southampton after it was reported to the British Maritime Coastguard Authority by the International Transport Federation (ITF).

The vessel can no longer operate in Irish or British waters until major repairs are carried out. According to the ITF, the vessel was chartered from Jay Management of Greece for Celtic Link's daily freight service between Portsmouth and Cherbourg.

The ITF said it had reported the state of the vessel after crew members and contractors working on board contacted them about conditions on it.

ITF Inspector Tommy Molloy said: "The engine room is a nightmare. There is heavy fuel oil sludge almost a foot deep in the bilges. The continuous vibrations mean huge bolts undo themselves as others are being tightened.

"The boiler room is so dangerous that the engineers have now refused to work in it. They say they risk C02 poisoning. One man has already been declared unfit for work as a direct result of C02 poisoning received in the boiler room.

"He was taken to hospital in Portsmouth and was told he could not work for at least two weeks. Two days ago he was told he was being paid off and was taken in a taxi to the airport from where, he claims, he had to pay for his own ticket back to Lithuania," Mr Molloy said.

"Crew accommodation is probably the worst I have seen. I don't think any prison cell in the UK would offer worse accommodation than afforded to this crew. They have had enough. They want the wages they were promised and they want to go home."

The vessel has been moved from Portsmouth to Southampton for extensive repair work.  [IRELAND.COM]

CELTIC SUN - will leave the Dublin to Liverpool service this weekend. She is believed to have been chartered to Acciona.

IRISH FERRIES

ULYSSES - the afternoon Holyhead to Dublin sailing on Monday March 12 was delayed due to a death on board. The ship eventually departed at 17:24.

Press reports indicate that an investigation has subsequently been launched as the man had been in police custody shortly before his death.

An Irish Ferries spokesman said the man collapsed while the ship was docked. Crew members tried to revive the elderly man who had boarded the ship.

North Wales Police confirmed he had been in their custody, and the force has routinely referred the matter to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC).

An IPCC spokesman said: "I can confirm that the IPCC has had a referral from North Wales police after a man was found dead shortly after he had been in police custody.

"The IPCC will now look at that referral before deciding what to do next."

The Irish Ferries spokesperson added: "An elderly gentleman collapsed on board the 1410 sailing on Monday.

"The crew administered CPR and an ambulance was called because the ship was still in dock. The man was taken to hospital.

"There was some police involvement, but we have no details on that." A North Wales Police spokeswoman confirmed a man had died at Holyhead and that the case had been referred to the IPCC.  [BBC]

MANAGEMENT BUYOUT

On Friday the High Court has paved the way to start the first steps towards the multi-million euro management buyout of Irish Continental Group.

Ms Justice Mary Laffoy in yesterday issued orders directing the summoning of a meeting of the shareholders in Dublin next month to approve the scheme of arrangement for the buyout.

Earlier this month the Irish Continental Group (ICG) agreed to back a €471m management buyout offer led by chief executive Eamonn Rothwell.

The buyout offer is for the acquisition for cash of the ICG ferry group by Aella PLC, a newly formed company owned by the senior management. Management may offer shareholders in ICG €18.50 per unit, made up of one ordinary share and three redeemable preference shares.

In the High Court Ms Justice Mary Laffoy granted an order for a meeting of the scheme shareholders to take place in the Berkeley Court Hotel at 3.15pm on April 12 next.

She further granted an application by Counsel for ICG that a meeting of Aella Class shareholders take place 15 minutes later on the same date and at the same venue.

On how to conduct the meetings Ms Justice Laffoy granted a number of directions including if the question of whether to approve the scheme of arrangement is put to the meetings a poll shall be taken.

The matter will be mentioned in court again on April 16. The €471m valuation of the company includes options and shares to be issued.

Already, Mr Eamonn Rothwell owns over 10pc of ICG. Combined, he and the other members of his team - Gearoid O'Dea, Tony Kelly, John Reilly and Tom Corcoran - own over 14pc of the company in total.

The other main shareholders in ICG include institutions like AIB, Schroder Investment Managers and Zurich Financial Services.

Mr Rothwell owns just over 82pc of takeover vehicle Aella. The deal will be funded through debt from AIB.

This includes €499m as well as €90m in loan notes. Management are also rolling over their shares and options with a value of about €50m. [IRISH INDEPENDENT]

However, the success of the management buyout has been called into question as ONE51 has invested over €25m buying up a 5.2% stake in Irish Continental Group.

The Irish Examiner reports that the move raises serious question marks about the fate of the management buyout of ?450 million, tabled less than two weeks ago.

Shares in the group, which owns Irish Ferries, rose by 23c to ?19.50 in late trading on Friday.

The MBO led by chief executive Eamonn Rothwell valued the company at ?18.50 per share.

Carl Bourke, equity analyst with Dolmen Stockbrokers, said the move was interesting.

"Mr Lynch clearly has an interest in sea transport given the 50/50 joint venture with Dublin Port and who knows where this move will lead," he said.

Mr Lynch is the former boss of IAWS Plc, the lifestyle food group.

He became managing director of One51 after it moved from being a co-op to a private company more than a year ago.

One51 still boasts most of the dairy co-ops among its stakeholders and has major plans to become a waste and wind management group.

It also has a 10% share of OpenHydro which earlier this week announced a multi-million contract to produce wave energy for the Channel Islands.

His most noted investment to date has been the €140m investment in NTR, the original toll road company on the M50.

That investment has been a major success and gave the group a 25% stake, worth €380m today.

The One51 move on Friday took ICG's management by surprise. A spokesman said the group was on course to bring out its offer document next Tuesday and has been getting positive reaction to its €18.50 bid.

Mr Bourke said the move was open to several interpretations. It might simply mean that One51 saw a bigger counter offer coming down the line, he said. [IRISH EXAMINER]

ISLE OF MAN STEAM PACKET COMPANY

EMERAUDE FRANCE - the company has confirmed the charter of the 74m Incat EMERAUDE FRANCE (ex ATLANTIC II / SEACAT FRANCE) for the main summer season to replace the collision damaged SEA EXPRESS I.  She will be used to operate the Irish services between June and September.

The vessel, currently berthed at Tilbury, has a capacity for 450 passenger and 74 cars. She will sail to Merseyside to be prepared for service. 

BEN-MY-CHREE was delayed on Thursday morning March 15. She has come to the assistance of a small cabin cruiser THE KERRY LEE.

At 04:30 the cruiser with three persons on board - a male skipper (60), a female (41) and a young male (14 ) contacted Liverpool Coastguard reporting that she had lost steerage and that the female and young male were experiencing severe sea sickness.

The BEN-MY-CHREE was asked by the Liverpool coastguard to attend the scene which it is obliged to do this under the SOLAS convention (Safety of Life at Sea). The passengers on board the Kerry Lee were airlifted off by the RAF Anglesey coastguard rescue helicopter 122 at 06:35.

The BEN-MY-CHREE remained at the scene till 06:45 when she was released by the Coastguard and arrived in Douglas at 08.30. THE KERRY LEE was towed into Fleetwood by the RNLI.

SEA EXPRESS I - it is understood that she may enter Cammell Laird #5 dry dock to patch up her hull. The dock was vacated by HROSSEY on Sunday March 18.

MERSEY FERRIES

Plans for the new Merseyside Ferries terminal building at the Pier Head, Liverpool has provoked some lively opposition as reported by the Daily Post this week:

The proposed ferry terminal at Liverpool Pier Head is bizarre, woefully inadequate, and resembles a doll's house, the chairman of Merseyside Civic Society has warned.

Plans for the multi-million pound Mersey Ferries facility are due to be debated at a meeting of Liverpool City Council's planning committee tomorrow.

Planning officers are recommending the go-ahead should be given for the three- storey structure

Dr Peter Brown, chairman of the civic society, has now formally written to the council to register an objection to the plan.

The terminal structure to be replaced is on the water's edge, immediately in front of the Three Graces that serve as a focal point within the World Heritage Site.

Dr Brown, based at the University of Liverpool's Department of Civic Design, told the council: "It should be self-evident that any building that is to be placed on this uniquely sensitive site needs to possess at least a minimal degree of architectural merit and should ideally display qualities that stand up to scrutiny in terms of their aesthetics, materials, etc, and the relationship between the proposed structure and its surroundings.

"The proposed new ferry terminal building fails to meet any of the above criteria, and is simply not good enough to be placed in such a vitally important location.

"The structure, overall shape and the bizarre geometry of the windows bring to mind either a doll's house or the outcome of an architectural student's failed first attempt, with brutal lines reminiscent of a concrete Channel Island gun emplacement."

Dr Brown said historic restrictions on permitted building height to the west of the Royal Liver Building prompt questions as to whether three storeys can be allowed, let alone justified on this site.

He added: "But if they can, then surely a much more popular feature would be the retention of a significantly larger roof or deck from which visitors can observe activity on the river or the magnificent Pier Head backdrop, including the imminent prospect of adding canal traffic to this scene.

"Overall, the scheme as proposed represents a woefully inadequate missed opportunity to construct a building of quality that will complement its world- class surroundings, and should be roundly rejected until the developer can come up with a proposal that better merits a place in this, the city's most cherished waterfront location."

City planning manager Nigel Lee says the scheme blends with the Museum of Liverpool planned for Mann Island. He also said the design did not conflict with the waterfront's status as a Unesco World Heritage Site. [DP March 12]

Despite the opposition the proposals were given the go ahead as was reported on Tuesday March 13:

Plans for a new £10m ferry terminal at Liverpool's Pier Head have been given the green light by planning chiefs.

Ferry operator Merseytravel put forward proposals to Liverpool City Council for a state-of-the-art building last year. They have been drawn up in consultation with Liverpool City Council, English Heritage and World Heritage officers. If ratified by the full council, work on demolishing the terminal building would begin in June ahead of an expected spring 2008 completion.

Councillor Mark Dowd, chair of Merseytravel, hailed the planning committee's backing as "great news". "Our plans will leave a lasting legacy from 2008, Liverpool's Capital of Culture year. "The new building will offer much better facilities for ferry passengers, commuters and the hundreds of thousands of visitors using the ferries every year." The new three-storey building and terminal will have improved cafe and shopping facilities, easy access to the landing stage and a river viewing area. A low-rise environmentally-friendly design has been developed to retain the view of the "Three Graces" from the river as well as the views of the river from Water Street and Brunswick Street. Materials would also complement the surrounding buildings.

Following the approval of the plans Councillor Lady Doreen Jones claimed she felt blackmailed into approving the plans [DP March 14]:

Liverpool planning chairwoman Cllr Lady Doreen Jones last night said she felt “blackmailed” into approving a controversial new Mersey ferry terminal – describing it as looking like “an architectural student’s failed first attempt.”

Liverpool council’s planning committee unanimously approved plans for the £9.5m Mersey Ferries facility directly in front of the Three Graces at Pier Head within the city’s World Heritage Site, despite the lack of enthusiasm from its leading member.

Cllr Jones said the new terminal was “hardly the design of the year” but Merseytravel said the plans would leave a lasting legacy for Capital of Culture.

Objectors to the three-storey building, which will include a first-floor tourist attraction and second-floor restaurant, said the plans were a “woefully inadequate missed opportunity to construct a building of quality that will complement its world-class surroundings.

Subject to the decision being ratified by the full council, work on demolishing the old terminal building – an outdated tent structure – will start in June, with the new terminal opening for business in June 2008.

Cllr Jones said she made her recommendations for approval reluctantly.

While she agreed the proposals were an improvement on the old ferry terminal – originally a 1960s bus station – she added: “but nothing could be worse.”

She said: “There has been unfair pressure put on this committee that if we don’t take these plans, we will lose the money set aside for this development.

“I have said it before and I will say it again that I object very strongly to blackmail.

“We had looked to see something a bit more in keeping with the surrounding area.”

Dark glass in original designs has now been replaced by clear glass and Portland Limestone for the new terminal building has been chosen to match the Cunard and Port of Liverpool buildings.

Architects added that the low-rise design had also been developed to retain the view of the Three Graces from the river and the views of the river from Water Street and Brunswick Street.

But objector and campaigner Wayne Colquhoun, from Liverpool Preservation Trust, told planners that they were playing a dangerous game with the city’s waterfront.

He said: “If you had told me that it was possible to come up with a worse design than the Shanghai Palace I would have said it couldn’t be done. But I was wrong.

“The new terminal is monstrously high and does not respect the aesthetic principles of what is already there.

“The committee has just given permission for a huge Dormer window to be built on the most important and iconic part of Liverpool’s waterfront.

 “How can Lady Doreen say that she hates it and then approve it?”

But Cllr Mark Dowd, chairman of Merseytravel, which owns and operates the Mersey Ferries said: “This is great news. Our plans will leave a lasting legacy from 2008, Liverpool’s European Capital of Culture year.”

[CLICK HERE] TO VIEW COMMENT ON THE CURRENT SORRY STATE OF THE PIER HEAD FROM IRISH SEA SHIPPING - THE ONLINE SHIPPING MAGAZINE

As Mersey Ferries are still sharing Prince's Landing Stage with the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company, the return to service of SUPERSEACAT TWO next Friday means that Ferry services will be disrupted whenever SUPERSEACAT TWO lies along side the stage due to the vessels greater length compared to SEA EXPRESS I.

As a result Mersey Ferries have amended next weekend's timetable:

Friday 23 March

10:00 and 11:00 River Explorer cruises from Liverpool cancelled

First River Explorer Cruise commences from Liverpool at noon (subject to short delay)

Saturday 24 March

10:00 River Explorer Cruise terminates at Liverpool at 10:50 which is the last service to Liverpool.

11:00 River Explorer Cruise from Liverpool calls Seacombe at 11:10 and Woodside at 11:20 but does not return to Liverpool.

River Explorer service just runs between Seacombe and Woodside only for the rest of the day (10 past the hour at Seacombe and 20 past the hour at Woodside).

Last full cruise leaves Seacombe at 17.10 and Woodside at 17.20, calls at Seacombe at 18.10 and terminates at Woodside at 18.20.

Sunday 25 March

Last River Explorer Cruise 4pm from Liverpool.

Last Direct Service 5pm from Liverpool calls at Woodside at 17.10, and terminates at Seacombe 17.20.

Until the Ravestein SKYLINE BARGE 15 can be repositioned on the site of the former George's Landing Stage the Mersey Ferries service faces increasing disruption as the Steam Packet service increases in frequency as the 2007 season gets underway.

Irish Sea Shipping understand that it remains the intention to break up the sunken George's Stages using explosives. This follows on from the previous attempt by Mammoet to salvage the stage sections last autumn.

Mersey Ferries claim that they hope to be operating from their own temporary stage by April - there isn't that much time left!

MINEHEAD - PENARTH

There has been much talk about reinstating regular ferry services across the Bristol Channel lining the south west of England to south Wales. Since the winding down and withdrawal of the seasonal P&A Campbell services direct cross channel sailings have only been provided on an irregular basis by the Waverley Steam Navigation Company operating the BALMORAL and WAVERLEY.

Now local business leaders have been reported to be planning the introduction of a high speed catamaran service operating between Minehead and Penarth in 2008.

Local press reports claim that a 138 passenger fast craft could cross from Penarth to Minehead in around 35 minutes connecting with a bus to Cardiff at Penarth.

The Minehead-Penarth run is planned to operate in conjunction with an Ilfracombe-Swansea service.

Supporters of the ferry service, which could be running by summer 2008, have agreed to make urgent applications for finance, and bring together business leaders from the South West South Wales to lead the commercial venture.

SEA CONTAINERS

SEA CONTAINERS are being blamed for delays in the redevelopment of Stranraer Harbour this week in a BBC report:

A marina development, waterfront regeneration and a casino licence are all part of the ambitious plans.

One of the first significant steps towards the new vision for the town is the construction of a breakwater next to the town's west pier.

It is part of a wider £1.3m project to develop a marina in the harbour.

That, in turn, is seen as vital to the overall improvement of the waterfront area.

However, work in the area cannot start until permission is granted from ferry company Sea Containers.

It switched its operations from Stranraer to Troon in Ayrshire seven years ago but still holds a seabed lease.

The council - along with Scottish Enterprise - is funding the project but says despite repeated assurances from the company, there has been no progress.

The delay is being blamed for already pushing up the project costs by £130,000.

Councillors have agreed to raise the budget for the marina project by that figure but the delay has led to concern from Dumfries and Galloway MP Russell Brown.

"This is an issue that came past me at least 12 months ago," he said. "I believed at that time I had a fairly positive response from Sea Containers and it looked as if it was all moving forwards.

"It would appear that this has lain around for a period of time and time is money with these things."

He said he was not interested in who was to blame for the delay but simply in seeing things move forward.

"It needs to be finalised once and for all and not left lying on somebody's desk once again to potentially cost more money at a later stage," he said.

"I'm down here in Westminster five minutes away from Sea Containers' office along the river.

"If I need to go and knock on somebody's door down there and try to move things on then I am quite prepared to do that."

The situation has been complicated by the fact that Sea Containers Services Ltd - the legal tenant - filed for Chapter 11 protection under US bankruptcy law last year.

The company said that meant it had not been allowed by the US courts to make arrears payments required under the terms of its lease.

It also said that it was legally unable to pay towards works to remove concrete piles from the harbour as requested by the Crown Estates.

"We are well aware of the issues relating to the regeneration of Stranraer's waterfront and are enthusiastic about the opportunities it would bring to the area and the local community," said a Sea Containers spokesperson.

She added that the company had written to Mr Brown to say it was keen "in any way possible" to reach a "satisfactory conclusion for the people of Stranraer".

WESTERN LADY FERRIES

Owners of a small ferry service operating in South Devon fear for the future of their business if a major company introduces a new service. Last month, Stagecoach unveiled plans to introduce a half-hourly sea shuttle service between Torquay and Brixham using high-speed catamarans.

Brian Souter, Stagecoach founder and chief executive, visited Torbay to meet resort bosses and discuss the project.

He has pledged to spend £4 million on the initiative, but a further £1 million would be needed for infrastructure for the all-year-round service and there have been suggestions Torbay Council may subsidise it.

Sandie Armstrong, operations manager of the Western Lady Ferry Service which has been running between the two towns for 60 years, is concerned the firm has never received any financial support from the council, yet Stagecoach could receive a subsidy.

She said: "We have plied the route on a seasonal basis for the past 60 years, providing a safe and reliable crossing in 25 minutes from May to October with our world-renowned Fairmile vessels, which originally served with coastal forces of the Second World War and are placed on the Register of National Historic Ships as the last of their kind to survive in UK waters."

Mrs Armstrong said that two years ago, a landing stage at Princess Pier was taken out of commission due to storm damage, which led to the firm buying newer and smaller boats.

She said that the area's integrated transport policy has put forward the idea of a year-round ferry service but, unlike buses, boat operators do not get subsidies.

 "Having just invested heavily in newer craft for the ferry service and in renewing engines, running gear and other equipment to meet the high demand for safety of passenger vessels, we were dismayed to read that Stagecoach were proposing a new service on the same route that they we have covered for the past 60 years," she said.

Mrs Armstrong raised concerns about the viability and safety of high-speed catamarans, particularly the impact it could have on the local industry which supports about 40 summer jobs and 20 in the winter.

She said: "The local boat operators plough their earnings, such as they are in some summers, back into their boats and the local economy."

Torbay Council's deputy mayor Coun Kevin Carroll said: "Stagecoach has put forward some very exciting ideas for a proposed fast ferry service between Torquay and Brixham.

"Their proposals do make reference to the possibility of a cash injection from Torbay Council.

"However, discussions are still at a very early stage and no decision will be taken without extensive consultation with residents and local businesses."

March 10Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Edwin Wilmshurst and "others"
 

 

ATLANTIC DAWN

The world's largest trawler ATLANTIC DAWN was built for the late Kevin McHugh of Killybegs, Ireland has been sold to interests Netherlands interests.

ATLANTIC DAWN has been bought by The Katwijkse Shipping Company. The ship, which is 144 metres long and 24 metres wide,  will fish in European waters under the Dutch flag when it has completed its current programme of fishing for blue whiting off Ireland under the Irish quota.

BIBBY LINE

Bibby Line - Britain's oldest shipping company celebrates it's bi-centenary in 2007. The family owned, Liverpool based company has a separate web site outlining plans for bi-centenary year at www.bibby2007.com .

As part of the company's Bicentenary Celebrations Bibby Line Group have announced that they have teamed up with the youth charity Fairbridge to support them through the sponsorship of their tall ship THE SPIRIT OF FAIRBRIDGE.

Fairbridge are a national charity that support young people between the ages of 13-25 who have been excluded from mainstream society through family, drug, alcohol, homelessness and personal problems. 

They operate in fifteen of the most urban disadvantaged areas of the UK, and operate a combination of personal development programmes and challenging events to help to integrate young people back into society. 

Many of these programmes are operated on board THE SPIRIT OF FAIRBRIDGE a replica 92ft schooner rigged pilot vessel as she sails around the coast of the UK.  Thrown together for 24 hours a day with people they have never met, participants discover the advantages of working together as a team as they raise 2,500 square feet of sails, plot the course and steer the boat.

During the next five years Bibby Line will donate a total of £1million to Fairbridge. 

This sponsorship will allow long term funding of ‘Spirit’ and the programmes that are operated on board.  The SPIRIT OF FAIRBRIDGE arrived in Liverpool this week.

CUMBRIA COUNTY COUNCIL

MALLARD - The Windermere Car Ferry will be out of service on March 14 between 09:00 and 17:00 due to the annual cable change.

IRISH CONTINENTAL GROUP

The board of Irish Continental Group, the company which owns Irish Ferries, has agreed to back a takeover offer for the company from a group of senior managers led by its chief executive.

The independent members of the board said agreement had been reached with the group on an €18.50 per share offer which values the company at €471m.

In a statement to the stock exchange this morning, Irish Continental Group said the directors not involved in the plan would be prepared to recommend the offer, but warned that it was subject to a number of conditions.

The directors involved in the buy-out plan include Chief Executive Eamonn Rothwell and Directors Gearoid O'Dea and Tony Kelly.

Irish Continental operates passenger car ferries to the UK and France and freight services between Ireland and the UK.

Recently the company has been meeting a decline in passenger numbers by restructuring its cost base, which has included outsourcing crew.

Meanwhile, ICG has reported pre-tax profits of €32.3m for last year, after a loss of €15.8m in 2005 when the company was hit by industrial action at Irish Ferries over its controversial cost-cutting plan.

Earlier this year it emerged that the Irish taxpayer was to pay Irish Ferries €4.3m towards redundancy costs for over 500 Irish seafarers. They were made redundant last year and replaced by lower paid workers from Eastern Europe.

ICG attributed the profits improvement to lower costs and an increase in freight revenue, but fuel costs jumped by more than 12% to €32.8m.

In the ferries division, which includes Irish Ferries, underlying profits more than doubled to €28.6m. This was despite a 6.4% fall in passenger numbers and a 3.3% drop in car numbers as it continued to suffer from competition from airlines. [RTÉ]

ISLE OF MAN STEAM PACKET COMPANY

EMERAUDE FRANCE - unconfirmed reports suggest that the former ATLANTIC II / SEACAT FRANCE may move round to the Irish Sea next week for her to be refitted and prepared for a charter to the Isle of Man Steam Packet company to provide a replacement for the collision damaged SEA EXPRESS I. EMERAUDE FRANCE was recently acquired from former owners Sea Containers by Maritime Charter Sales of Douglas, Isle of Man.

SEA CONTAINERS

SEACAT SCOTLAND which opened the first Sea Containers fast craft service on the Irish Sea, operating between Belfast and Stranraer has been sold. Her new owners are Fortune Maritime of Greece who will operate her as the SHIKRA in the Eastern Mediterranean.

EMERAUDE FRANCE (SEACAT FRANCE / ATLANTIC II) which spent some time laid up at A&P Birkenhead was recently sold to Maritime Charter Sales of Douglas, Isle of Man.

STENA LINE

STENA EUROPE _The crew of the Rosslare Harbour-based Stena Europe ferry are to be balloted on industrial action, following the dismissal of eight seafarers while the ship was in dry dock in January.

Steve Todd, the National Secretary of the Rail Maritime and Transport (RMT) union, on Tuesday described the situation as 'a bit of a stalemate'.

'The company says the eight people have been dismissed from the ship for failing to turn up on time without a reasonable excuse and for deliberately delaying breathalyser tests, both allegations our members refute and deny,' said Mr. Todd.

He said that when the seafarers -- who between them have 250 years of service -- returned to the Stena Europe on January 16 while it was in dry dock in Birkenhead they were stopped by a security guard, who alleged they had been drinking.

He said that the crew members asked for a union representative to be called before they were breathalysed, but the master of the vessel was then told by a shore-based manager to dismiss them from the ship, which he did.

'They have been dismissed from the ship, but not from the company,' said Mr. Todd, urging StenaLine to re-employ the seafarers.

'The company is re-opening the investigation and we would appeal to the company to let them get back to work and let common sense prevail,' he said.

Mr. Todd said the RMT was planning to service notice about the ship-board ballot to Stena Line within the next 48 hours, with the company then given a week's notice of any pending industrial action.

'We would prefer to avoid a conflict situation,' he said.

A tribunal has been set up to look into the case and Stena Line said it would be premature to make any comment until those hearings were completed. [WEXFORD PEOPLE]

March 07Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Ian Collard, Tony Brennan and "others"
 

 

CELTIC LINK FERRIES

CELTIC MIST a vessel which is chartered by Wexford based Celtic Link, has been 'put out of certification' as unsafe by UK authorities.

This follows an inspection by the Classification Society in Southampton. It means the vessel can no longer operate in Irish or British waters until major repairs are carried out.

The vessel was reported to the British Maritime Coastguard Authority by the International Transport Federation earlier this week.

The ITF had been contacted by crew members and contractors working on board about "the appalling conditions".

Following a visit ITF Inspector Tommy Molloy said the ship was "fit for not much more than scrap".

Celtic Link, which is based in New Ross and Rosslare, is chartering the vessel from Jay Management of Greece for a daily ferry service between Portsmouth and Cherbourg.

Norrie McVicar, the ITF Coordinator for Britain and Ireland said today that, "We are becoming increasingly aware of Celtic Link's operations, and for all the wrong reasons. It is building its business on the backs of seafarers obliged to work on substandard vessels in substandard conditions."

Mr Molloy said from on board the vessel today that it was "supposed to enter service on January 15th, 2007. January 2008 would seem more realistic. Anyone with freight to move to Cherbourg should think seriously about the type of vessel they want to put their drivers and commodities on.

Fairplay states that Paul Tyrrell of Celtic Link has confirmed that they have not yet taken the ship on charter and will only do so when it has all the appropriate certification.

IRISH FERRIES

KRONPRINS HARALD - the company is running a competition to determine the name of the new vessel to operate on the French service from Rosslare.

RTÉ 1 Prime Time programme featured Irish Ferries on Tuesday evening and reported on concerns following the outsourcing of crewing. A video stream recording of this programme can be watched on line at: www.rte.ie/news/primetime/

MERSEY FERRIES

The ferry vessels have now been fitted with AIS and their operation can now be tracked on the Liverpool AIS web site www.aisliverpool.org.uk

It appears that a further attempt is to be made to remove the sunken George's Landing Stage, its booms and bridge in the coming weeks. During the autumn Mammoet spent some time with the salvage vessel JACOMINA attempting to recover the sunken stage.

Apparently a new contractor has been appointed who will remove the metal work using a jack up platform. It is then proposed to break up the concrete stage itself using controlled explosions. However, the close proximity of the Queensway Road Tunnel and the Mersey Railway Tunnel may make this a difficult task.

Once the stage has been removed the temporary stage using SKYLINE BARGE 15 will be installed opposite the ferry building.

PEEL HOLDINGS

Peel Holdings announced their development plans for Liverpool Central Docks on Tuesday March 06, 2007. The development will be known as Liverpool Waters - their Wirral proposals being marketed as Wirral Waters.

Viewers are taken on a virtual ferry ride along the Mersey which calls at a new landing stage which will provide additional cruise ship berthing.

There are skyscraper's galore which appear to overwhelm the surrounding retained heritage buildings such as Victoria Tower, Stanley Warehouses etc. The plans make much of retaining the maritime heritage structures - but one can't help but question the size and scale of some of the new buildings.

After the river trip there is a sail along the canal link. A new "Dockers Umbrella" makes an appearance in the form of a monorail.A passenger vessel can be seen alongside the Waterloo warehouses, and the Clarence Graving Docks remain.

Is this another Merseyside pie in the sky plan of which there have been many? - Perhaps. However, Peel Holdings do have a good track record of seeing redevelopment through to a conclusion

Don't hold your breath for the completion date though - its expected to be around 30 to 50 years hence and any significant building work is not expected to commence for 5 years.

Further details are expected to be posted to a new web site www.liverpoolwaters.com which is not yet on line. But its Wirral counterpart www.wirralwaters.com can be accessed now with a similar boat ride animation animation.

COMMENT: Overall it looks to be an exciting project and will give access to large sections of the river front which are currently off-limits. However, one really must ask if such large skyscrapers are really necessary? They will totally dominate the skyline. A lower rise development would probably serve just as well in rejuvenating this area, as it stands the Pier Head area buildings a little further up stream will be totally overwhelmed.

STENA LINE

Adverse conditions which led to the cancellation of the afternoon HSS STENA EXPLORER  sailings on Monday. This combined with the unavailability of STENA ADVENTURER, out of service suffering from engine problems, left only STENA SEATRADER in service. Passenger traffic was switched to Irish Ferries' ULYSSES.

It appears that an industrial dispute at between Stena and the RMT Union is brewing. Services between Rosslare and Fishguard may be disrupted next month in a dispute over the potential sacking of eight employees.

A ballot was submitted to the Rail Marine Transport Union for industrial action if the eight employees from Wexford - who work on the Fishguard to Rosslare route - are fired.

The executives of RMTdecided to support a strike ballot this week. A spokesman for RMT said: "We have decided that we are going ahead with the ballot. We don't want to, but we have been left with little alternative at the moment.

"Their dismissal is on the cards and I would say it's not far off - some were sacked last week."

The spokesman added it would take up to four weeks for strike action to begin because of formal procedures which have to be followed. However, a Stena Line spokesman has stated that the eight employees have not been sacked. He said: "There is a disciplinary process taking place at the moment and we  are halfway through it. There is union representation and until any decision has been made I cannot comment, because it hasn't finished. No-one has been dismissed."

He added that the disciplinary process started several weeks ago and it was too early to say how industrial action would affect the ferry service.

It is alleged that the eight staff were found to have been drinking alcohol when travelling back from a shift while off-duty a few weeks ago. Stena Line staff are not allowed to drink any alcohol while on the ferry even if they are off duty.

March 04Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Ian Collard, Sara Cass, Damien Cassidy, Martin Edmondson and "others"

 

CAMMELL LAIRD

Movements:

Friday March 02 - #7 Dry Dock: SUPERSEACAT TWO and BRAMLEY MOORE

Sunday March 04 am tide: arrive at #7 WHITDAWN and SNOWDROP

Monday March 05 pm tide: Clansman departs #4 / NORTON CROSS arrives same tide.

CUNARD

Survivors and relatives of victims of the UK's largest maritime disaster are calling for the wreck of the LANCASTRIA to be given full legal protection.

The victims' families, marched to 10 Downing Street to make a direct plea to Tony Blair over the wreck.

The Clyde-built Cunard liner LANCASTRIA was carrying 9,000 troops when it was sunk in 1940 by German bombers off the French coast.

More than 4,000 people died in the World War II disaster.

The LANCASTRIA Association of Scotland organised a petition which was handed over at Downing Street on Saturday March 03.

The LANCASTRIA is in French waters and is protected by French legislation, but not fully protected by UK legislation.

If it was it would enable British courts to pursue divers who remove anything from the wreck, which at the moment can be difficult.

Ms Symon said: "There is a very real sense of anger amongst relatives that the lives of those who died and, indeed, the survivors who had to live with horrific memories, seem to be of less value than others who are remembered with honour.

"Those thousands of men who died, one of them my father, also gave their lives for their country.

"Triumphs in war are remembered and celebrated. Disasters are not. Yet the sheer magnitude of the loss of life when the LANCASTRIA was sunk on the 17th of June 1940 cries out for acknowledgement by our government. " LANCASTRIA survivor Reg Brown, from Bedworth near Coventry, will also be making his way to Downing Street for the handover.

Mr Brown said before handing in the petition: "I was only 20 when the ship went down all those years ago. I don't think the prime minister will be able to meet with us, but if he is I will say, 'Prime minister, we fought a terrible war for the freedom of everyone in this country and I hope we are appreciated, but are we?'

"I want him to cherish all those people who lost their lives on the LANCASTRIA by getting the Ministry of Defence to declare the wreck an official war grave."

Jonathan Fenby, author of The Sinking of the LANCASTRIA, believes the time has come for the victims and survivors to be afforded the recognition they deserve.

"The victims of June 17, 1940, deserve no less, and the survivors should be accorded honour as well, while proper attention should be paid to the event at last after all these years," he said.

[BBC]

GREENORE PORT

Dublin Port has announced it is to invest €23m in a new container and ro-ro terminal at Greenore, halfway between Dublin and Belfast.

While most of Ireland's attention has been focused on Bremore, a greenfield site that the port of Drogheda wishes to turn into a deepwater container terminal, Dublin's port management has quietly finalised plans for  transforming an existing bulk facility into a modern port specialising in unitised loads.

Two ro-ro and two container berths are expected to be finished by the end of 2008.

The port of Greenore is jointly owned by Dublin Port Company and property developer One51.

ISLE OF MAN STEAM PACKET COMPANY

SUPERSEACAT TWO - after departing from dry dock at Cammell Laird on the evening of March 02, the ship moved to West Langton.

BEN-MY-CHREE  - the company flagship made history on Saturday March 03, 2007 when she operated the first commercial sailing to and from Birkenhead Twelve Quays. It is believed that this was the company's first sailing to and from Birkenhead. The event is well covered in Irish Sea Shipping [click here] for a large selection of photographs. More material Twelve Quays material will appear later this week. Things appear to have gone quite smoothly and though foot passengers have to be bussed on and off at Twelve Quays the operation appeared to be well organised. The BEN-MY-CHREE will operate sailings to and from Twelve Quays on March 10/11 and March 17/11 prior to the reintroduction of SUPERSEACAT TWO on the Liverpool route.

SEA EXPRESS I - no news yet with regard to a replacement for the collision damaged SEI - but gossip on the waterfront suggests a possible charter of EMERAUDE FRANCE (ex SEACAT FRANCE / ATLANTIC II) for this season.

JAMES FISHER / PNTL

PACIFIC SANDPIPER the based ship attracted the attention of Panamanian environmentalists gathered recently at the entrance of the Panama Canal to protest against the expected passage of a ship carrying radioactive material.

The activists carried flags and distributed flyers to warn the Panamanians of the risks caused by the British ship which is heading for Japan with vitrified residues aboard.

Alberto de Jesus Mercado with the Friends of the Sea Movement said the vessel was endangering maritime security of Panama and the Caribbean nations through which it passes. The Panama Canal Authority says that until now there have been no accidents in the Canal caused by the ship, which first travelled through in September last year. It is scheduled to arrive in Japan in late March.

NORTHLINK

HROSSEY became the first of the two 125m sister ships introduced on the Aberdeen – Kirkwall – Lerwick routes which in 2002 to appear on Merseyside for refit and an increase in cabin capacity. She arrived at the Cammell Laird ship yard on Sunday February 25, 2007. Neither ship has visited Merseyside before.

The ships currently have 95 passenger cabins offering 280 berths. This number will be increased by a further 22 cabins during refit by another 22 cabins which will provide an additional 76 berths.

The new passenger accommodation will be provided by means of constructing a new crew accommodation module on the upper deck of each vessel. The existing crew accommodation on the main passenger cabin deck will then be refurbished to accommodate passengers.

The plan is for the conversion work to be carried out as part of the vessels' routine annual dry-dock period with HROSSEY going to dock in the three weeks prior to Easter and HJALTLAND dry docking in the three weeks after Easter.

KNOTT END FERRY

The troubled Fleetwood to Knott End ferry's relaunch date has been set for March 26. In February the relaunch date had been set for March 05, 2007!

After 18 months of breakdowns and hold-ups, this has been set as the day the £350,000 vessel will at last be able to provide a reliable service. Since it first sailed up the River Wyre 18 months ago, it has seen only six weeks of service.

One of the major problems has been debris from the river bed being sucked into the propulsion system. [Lancashire Today].

MANXMAN STEAMSHIP COMPANY

The Manxman Steamship Company  ( www.ssmanxman.co.uk ) have announced that consultants have now presented their interim findings to the Steering Group and the vital key statement is that, as a static maritime heritage centre, MANXMAN can earn sufficient revenue so as to be self sustaining into the future.

MARITIME & COASTGUARD AGENCY

The sail training vessel SPIRIT OF FAIRBRIDGE - a familiar sight around the Scottish and Irish Sea coasts reported grounding on the evening March 03 in Loch Sween with 15 persons on board

Clyde Coastguard received an emergency call at 9:45pm on channel 16 from the sail training vessel Spirit of Fairbridge requesting assistance; the vessel had run aground in an isolated rocky area in Loch Sween.

Coastguard Rescue teams from Crinan and Tarbert have been sent to the area as well as requesting the assistance of the Islay RNLI all weather lifeboat. The sail-training vessel is a replica schooner 21metres in length.

Dave Eakin, Watch Officer, Clyde Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre said:

We understand there have been no injuries sustained on board the vessel, and the vessel has not been breached. We are hoping that at low water (approximately 23.30 hours) with the assistance of the assets sent to the scene the vessel may float free.

SEATRUCK FERRIES

Seatruck have unveiled a new look website which contains a lot of information about the company www.seatruckferries.com .

 

STENA LINE

Rumours of the future of the Holyhead to Dún Laoghaire service have been circulating for almost a year now. Back in 2006 it was claimed in a message posted to www.caergybi.com - The Holyhead web site and forum that the Dún Laoghaire Harbour Company wanted to be rid of the historic route to Holyhead. It was claimed that this was due to the harbour company wishing to develop marina, leisure and residential use of the harbour.

Reports in the press now indicate that Stena Line has itself cast doubt on the future of the Holyhead - Dún Laoghaire route. The company has stated that the level of harbour dues being charged by Dún Laoghaire Port were a threat to the long term viability of the route.

The company warned the route may be discontinued when the current contract with Dún Laoghaire Harbour Company expires in 2011.

It warned that if the issue cannot be resolved the company would consider an expansion of its services into Dublin where port charges are considerably less than those at Dún Laoghaire. Stena Line is the only commercial operator using Dún Laoghaire Port.

Reports suggest that Stena are paying €6.3 million in berthing charges during 2007.

SUNDAY INDEPENDENT REPORT:

Stena Line, which is threatening to pull out of Dún Laoghaire over fees being charged to use the port, has an exclusive right under its contract to operate from there.

As it set down a marker that it could move to Dublin Port because it wants to reduce its yearly €6.3m fee for using the port, the ferry company also appears to be tied into its contract until 2011.

The fee is understood to be four times higher than that levied for similar services at Dublin Port.

Negotiations are under way in the row which is threatening the operation of the world's largest fast ferry - it carries almost 800,000 passengers and is worth €250m to the national economy. But an exclusivity clause inserted in the contract originally negotiated between the two sides means that no other ferry company can operate from Dún Laoghaire Harbour for at least the next five years.

Some 70pc of the Harbour Company's revenue comes from Stena, its only commercial customer.

However, Stena insisted they wanted to stay in Dún Laoghaire, which they described as the best tourism gateway for their company.

A spokesman, however, said the difference with Dublin Port was huge and the contract with Dún Laoghaire Harbour Company was negotiated when they were carrying 1.7m passengers a year and the cost of oil was low. Passenger numbers have since dropped to 700,000. Dublin Port is one-quarter the price.

He said they had met Marine Minister Noel Dempsey before Christmas and had written to Dún Laoghaire Harbour Company chief executive Michael Hanahoe about the costs issue 10 days ago.

The spokesman hoped that negotiations could resolve the situation.

The longest-serving public representative in Dún Laoghaire, Labour councillor Jane Dillon Byrne, said: "It would be a disaster if there was no ferry service in Dún Laoghaire. Stena is the current provider and I want them to stay," she said.

Other business and tourist interests in the area have also expressed concern about the possible move by Stena.

Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown Chamber vice-president Brian Crawford said Stena pulling out of Dún Laoghaire "would not only have significant financial consequences for the Harbour Company, it would also damage the tourist trade in the immediate area and in Dublin and beyond".

Harbour Company member, former councillor Victor Boyhan said a change of port would be a disappointment.

Siptu called on the company to ensure the terms and conditions of its workers were protected if the company moved its HSS ferry to Dublin.

The harbour company said it had a mandate to operateas a commercial state company and stressed it had considerable investment commitments.

Tens of millions of euro have been spent on the port in recent years.

 

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