A new sign has been erected at the main gate to the Cammell Laird yard at Birkenhead. Once again the sign carries the proud name of Cammell Laird and the company's house flag camel logo.
RFA WAVE KNIGHT arrived on Monday April 02 and is expected to remain at the yard until June. She is in #5 dry dock.
The historic vessel HMS PLYMOUTH could be given a permanent home in the West Country after all - attracting a possible 90,000 visitors a year.
It is likely that the Royal Navy frigate, a veteran of the Falklands conflict, would be based in Sutton Harbour, Plymouth, between the city's picturesque Barbican and Hoe districts.
The site has been put forward by Warship Management, which was set up to purchase and move the vessel from its current position in Birkenhead.
The signs are that Plymouth City Council, which owns the land, will give the scheme the go-ahead.
Yesterday's announcement came just days after some of the most senior-ranking officers from the Falklands conflict wrote a letter to the council highlighting the importance of bringing the ship, and the heritage she represents, back to her home town.
It is hoped that within weeks the council will come to a decision on whether to go ahead with the new plan to berth the ship as a tourist attraction in the bustling Sutton Harbour area, adjacent to the Barbican.
Supporting the proposals, Councillor David Salter said the focus of the project would be "tourism and heritage".
"We have a responsibility for the heritage of Plymouth as a maritime city and the influence this has had on the city," he said.
"There is a future element as well - we want the commercial side of things to be the way forward for the city."
Councillor Salter said he envisaged an extra 90,000 visitors a year would visit the Barbican area if the warship were berthed there.
The neighbouring National Maritime Aquarium would also benefit. It has seen a sharp fall in visitor numbers this year.
Councillor Salter added: "All together it's a very exciting prospect."
The new berth site is on council-owned land at the entrance to Sutton Harbour and the Barbican - close to Plymouth's preserved Citadel.
Previously a berth at Millbay had been approved, but new developments in that area did not cater for the ship.
HMS PLYMOUTH's current berth on the Mersey has also been made unavailable and it is only a matter of time before the current owners, Peel Holdings, sell the ship to get rid of her.
While Warship Management Ltd has raised the capital to purchase and bring HMS PLYMOUTH back to her home town, the key was to find a suitable berth - the Millbay district had originally been suggested, but that fell through.
Twenty-five years ago, HMS PLYMOUTH played a pivotal role in the Falklands conflict, and Argentina's surrender was signed in her wardroom.
Mike Critchley, chairman of the firm, said the site at Sutton Harbour was the "gold standard choice" for HMS PLYMOUTH.
"The berth at Millbay was the silver option, Devonport wouldn't even be considered as an option, but Sutton Harbour is the gold standard choice to berth HMS PLYMOUTH. If that berth can be made available we are on a winner."
He added: "The disadvantage is that this option requires a lot of work, whereas Millbay didn't. There are infrastructure, cost and time restraints."
The team is now drawing up a business proposal to present to the council at the next full meeting, after the May elections. Mr Salter reassured Mr Critchley that support for this berth was very strong among council members.
If the plans are given the green light, the next step will be raising the funds for the development and attracting other interested parties.
Tim Jones, chairman of the Devon and Cornwall Business Council said: "We will be amazed at how much something like this could benefit the economy. I would expect an additional £10 million to be pumped into the Plymouth economy.
"It's another fabulous story that can only be a benefit to Plymouth."
[WESTERN MORNING NEWS]
Maritime Communications Partner (MCP) has signed a contract with Irish Ferries to deliver GSM coverage onboard the ISLE OF INISHMORE and the ULYSSES. This follows the successful installation of MCP's CellAtSea service onboard Irish Ferries' NORMANDY on the Ireland-France route at the beginning of 2006.
For the passengers, the mobile services are transparent, readily available on their own personal mobile phone, operating seamlessly through MCP's network in the same way as when travelling abroad. MCP tariffs all calls, and handles the revenue flow generated by the networks, through industry standard billing and accounting systems. The customers are charged by their home operator through normal invoicing routines.
ULYSSES - Aker Finnyards are understood to have surveyed the vessel recently with a view to providing a 30m mid ship extension. Alteration to the berth at Dublin will also be required should the lengthening of the ship go ahead.
Two companies which have been buying shares in ferries group Irish Continental Group recently have announced that they are in talks about a possible takeover offer.
Doyle and One51 say they see their potential offer at a level of 'not less than €20' per share. They say they will ask the independent directors to open ICG's books to them. Doyle has around 3% of ICG, while One51, the former IAWS Co-op has snapped up almost 6%.
ISLE OF MAN STEAM PACKET COMPANY
EMERAUDE FRANCE arrived on Merseyside on Tuesday April 03. She berthed first at Prince's Landing Stage, before crossing the river to Birkenhead. She entered Birkenhead Docks and berthed in the West Float. She will remain on Merseyside whilst she is prepared for service.
SUPERSEACAT TWO appears to have been suffering from engine problems this week which have resulted in reduced speed operation and delays.
SPIRIT OF ONTARIO - the Austal fast craft has been sold to the German operated FRS for operation on the Spain - Morocco service. The Steam Packet are understood to have viewed the craft which has been up for sale for over a year.
THE bitter row over whether Liverpool can keep the historic Mersey Bar lightship Planet lurched into further confusion this week.
A statement from the Albert Dock authorities said that Planet cannot stay in either Albert Dock or Canning Dock and will be removed to Salford.
However, the ship’s supporters from across the world are fighting back, supported by Judith Feather, Liverpool Culture Company’s maritime supremo.
Planet’s owner Gary McClarnan claims that Ms Feather, head of marine events, told him that it is not necessary for Planet to go to Salford because of inadequate infrastructure here.
Instead, she suggests that the electricity and water supplies that the ship would need in Canning Dock could be installed at a reasonable cost.
This contradicts a statement released by Albert Dock Company, its public spaces management company Gower Street Estates and British Waterways, blaming “lack of infrastructure” for ejecting Planet.
The statement says: “All (Albert Dock) partners would like to see the lightship remain in the South Docks area but, unfortunately, a suitable location cannot be found which meets health and safety requirements, the needs of the owner and the partners.
“Unfortunately Canning Dock cannot be used permanently because it is a tidal dock used during the operation of ships sailing through Canning river lock.”
This also appears to be at odds with long-term plans for the permanent berth in Canning Dock of HMS WHIMBREL, the Battle of the Atlantic Memorial Ship, which is far bigger than Planet.
The Albert Dock statement adds: “Although all partners recognised the historic significance of the Mersey Bar lightship, some concerns were raised from occupiers of the Albert Dock estate about the vessel being moored there.
“On 18 January 2007, during extreme weather, the mooring lines securing the vessel to the dock wall broke away and the vessel was moved to Canning Half Tide Dock for health and safety reasons.”
Mr McClarnan, a Manchester-based music and property entrepreneur, denied he was consulted about the statement and disputed much of its content.
He says: “Planet could be moored securely in Albert Dock with ropes around the warehouse columns as shown in old photos, and a practice used by Merseyside Maritime Museum’s vessels.
“I wasn’t asked to move Planet from there for health and safety reasons, but threatened with trespass by Gower Street Estates if I moored the ship to the columns. That’s why the ship broke free in the storm.”
Pam Brown, Mersey Bar Lightvessel Preservation Society president, says: “I hope that some kind of sense will still prevail to keep this iconic vessel here.
“There is plenty of quay space in Canning Dock for Planet’s permanent berth. It’s simply a case of the relevant authorities sitting around a table if they are committed to make it happen.”
Planet, the former Mersey Bar lightship and Britain’s last manned lightship, was likely to be sold abroad when Mr McClarnan bought it for £100,000 and spent a further £100,000 on restoration. [DAILY POST]
The Crosby Herald reported that a £6M landing stage could be built in Seaforth as part of plans to launch ferry services to the Iron Men.
The tourist attraction is included in designs for the £20m redevelopment of Seaforth radar tower.
Talks are now underway with Merseytravel and Mersey Waterfront about the possibility of ferries visiting the Gormley statues.
Louise Goodman, director of Mersey Waterfront, said: "The idea of a ferry linking Liverpool's Pier Head with Crosby beach, two of our key waterfront attractions, is one we are keen to develop.
"However, this proposal is at a very early stage and there would be a number of detailed operational and financial issues to explore along with Merseytravel and other key partners before it could be formally integrated into the Mersey Waterfront programme.
"We are already looking at the radar tower as a tourist attraction, with a project known as The Observatory.
"We are sure that being able to sail from Liverpool or Wirral to view the Gormley statues would be a major attraction."
A Merseytravel spokesman said: "We are happy to explore this further and would look seriously at any genuine opportunity to expand other ports of call for the Mersey Ferries. We will certainly discuss the plans for Crosby Marina further and would consider operating ferries to the location if there
is a good enough business case."
It is hoped a new tower can be built at Crosby Marina, complete with a viewing platform, with room for 200 people, as well as a visitor centre.
An investigation by the Mersey Basin Campaign has ruled out renovating the existing structure.
Iain Taylor, research and development director of The Observatory, said: "A landing stage at the tower is a brilliant idea.
"One of the things to come out of our research into The Observatory is that access needs to be improved from South Road and Crosby Marine Lake, part of this would include a ferry stop or landing stage.
"It would make a fantastic loop service and we are hoping to work closely with Merseytravel and get local residents involved in the project."
The landing stage is not part of the £91m regeneration programme announced last week by Mersey Waterfront.
ROYAL FLEET AUXILIARY
RFA WAVE KNIGHT arrived at Cammell Laird #5 dry dock on April 02, 2007
RFA FORT ROSALIE called at Douglas on April 06 - Laxey Towing Company's KARINA provided tender facilities.
Photo: Jenny Williamson)
SC CHAMBERS & Co
Liverpool's oldest ship broker, SC Chambers & Co, has been acquired by Sanderson Maritime, backed by Merseyside Special Investment Fund (MSIF).
Established in 1887, SC Chambers & Co specialises in the sale, purchase and valuations of ships, including bulk carrier and general cargo vessels, small and medium-sized tankers as well as specialist tonnage vessels) for the last 50 years.
The Sanderson Maritime Group operates globally from the Port of Liverpool Building. It was set up in 2003 and specialises in maritime services including floating accommodation – used, for example, to accommodate per- sonnel where areas might lack the necessary infrastructure and international barge transportation.Managing director Julian Sanderson said: “The funding from MSIF and Lloyds TSB allowed us to fund the acquisition which enhances our commercial broking and consultancy activities.” [DAILY POST]
A lot of new material has been posted to the excellent Sealink Holyhead web site at: www.sealink-holyhead.com/
STANLEY DOCK REDEVELOPMENT
Ambitious plans have been unveiled for a multi-million pound redevelopment of Stanley Dock in Liverpool.
The scheme includes digging out the centre of the Tobacco Warehouse to create a garden-filled courtyard surrounded by apartments.
More than 930 apartments will be built in the three warehouses on the site, with 650 duplexes in the 13-storey Tobacco Warehouse itself.
Reflective sails will be installed on the side of the dock to shine extra light on to the side of the giant warehouse, whose lower floors will become car parking for hundreds
The development, due to start in late 2008 or early 2009, will take seven years to complete.
But the regeneration scheme will mean the end of the heritage market on the Stanley Dock site.
Plans were submitted to Liverpool city council last Friday and revealed at yesterday’s Liverpool ECHO Stop the Rot campaign meeting.
Architect Howard Carter, from London-based Thinking Space Architects, said: “It’s a comprehensive redevelopment of the complex.
“The north and south warehouse proposals are similar. We’ll remove some of the later additions at roof level, and return the buildings to their original form.
“The area of the south warehouse closest to the Tobacco Warehouse will be offices and the other end will be accommodation.
“The Tobacco Warehouse itself is a challenging building. Just the sheer size of it is an enormous logistical issue.
“It’s 160ft from window to window and the ceiling height is only 7ft, it’s very deep and very shallow.
“We’re going to take the core out of the building and create at central courtyard with gardens.”
Some apartments will be a duplex with a two-storey high living area. The windows will also be enlarged.
One-bedroom flats will surround the courtyard, while the building will also have 372 two-bedroom apartments and 53 three-bedroom flats.
Offices, shops and restaurants are also included in the plans.
Peter de Figueiredo, of English Heritage, said: “We’ve been quite closely involved in discussions with the architects and agents.
“The north and south warehouse schemes are very sympathetic. The Tobacco Warehouse requires a lot more intervention and change to make it usable.”
Stop the Rot forum chairman, the Bishop of Liverpool, the Rt Rev James Jones, said: “I welcome this development and it’s good to see them bringing in both work units and residential.” [IC LIVERPOOL]
Following the take over of Adsteam operations on the Mersey by the Smit group it appears that the tugs CANADA, COLLINGWOOD and GLADSTONE are to be sold and replaced by three new vessels. GLADSTONE and COLLINGWOOD have served Merseyside for around 26 years and GLADSTONE around 16 years.
Stena Line staff are voting on whether to take strike action after the suspension of eight colleagues. The eight members of staff, thought to be from Wexford, are facing disciplinary action after refusing to take a breath test without having their union representative present.
Stena Line staff are not allowed to drink on board ferries at any time. Union members are now planning to hold a ballot until April 12th, to decide if they will take strike action over the row.
A spokesman for the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers told members: "We believe this whole issue has been poorly dealt with by management, and your colleagues are not being given a fair hearing.
"I call on all members to vote strongly in favour of strike action in defence of your colleagues. "Eamonn Hewitt, Irish Sea communications and PR manager for Stena said: "The disciplinary process is ongoing and we won't be commenting until that process is completed." [Western Telegraph]
WORK IS expected to begin at the end of this month on the breakwater for Stranraer harbour.
The contract which is costing £1,300,000 will be carried out by R. J. MacLeod and is expected to take seven months to complete.
As part of the Stranraer and Lochryan Waterfront development, the breakwater will protect the western side of the harbour, allowing for the development of pontoons, which will then see the up to 50 berths created to meet the current demand.
The project follows a series of preparatory projects which have taken place over the last 20 months including the dredging of the harbour, and the removal of the redundant Sea Container berthing piles.
Cost is being shared between Dumfries and Galloway Council and Scottish Enterprise Dumfries and Galloway, each putting in £350,000 and £600,000 from the European Regional Development Fund.
Mairi Henderson of the enterprise company said: "This is great news for the Stranraer area, and lets the people of Stranraer and the community see something visible and that the project is really happening.
A lot of work has gone on behind the scenes to get this far and RRAG have worked with the Stranraer Harbour Improvement Project through the Rhins Renewal Harbour Team to ensure their expertise has contributed to the development of the project and to ensure that all the developments in the harbour address the needs of the existing users as well as looking at new demands by future users.
"So far without any publicity Dumfries and Galloway Council have already received 18 enquiries from people looking for berths at Stranraer, so we are hopeful that the development will meet expectations". Donald MacKinnon from South of Scotland European Partnership commented: "I am delighted that European Regional development finance has been able to invest in this particular project, now taking shape. A key factor in
supporting the overall waterfront project has been the key positioning of Stranraer as a hub on the A75 Euro-route and also the strategic significance of the project to the economy of Dumfries and Galloway".
Scottish Enterprise Dumfries and Galloway have also began initiating discussions with the private sector on how to expand the marina from an initial 50-berth marina to a potential 250 to 400 berth marina with the
support of private sector marina operators.
Galloway MP Russell Brown is critical of the way the delay in the project - over a lease at Stranraer's West Pier - had been handled.
And he pointed the finger at both Sea Containers, who held the lease from the Crown Estates and Dumfries and Galloway Council. The company were granted the lease in connection with their SeaCat operation
But delays in surrendering the lease so the council could proceed with the breakwater, a vital component in the marina project as part of the waterfront regeneration added £130,000 to the cost and threatened to add even more to the final bill.
Mr Brown stepped in to press the parties involved - the council, Scottish Enterprise Dumfries and Galloway, Crown Estates and Sea Containers - to ensure that the lease issue was resolved so that the project could progress quickly, and without costs spiralling any further.
The appropriate paperwork has now been finalised to allow the next phase of the project to progress without the need for a further re-tendering process. The MP said he was obviously pleased the issue had been resolved. However he added: "But I remain concerned that the situation was allowed to
reach this crisis point.
"The parties involved knew about the lease issue over a year ago and yet it was left until now to resolve it, costing the council £130,000 in the process and threatening to cost more still. "And all along all that was needed was for a relatively simple piece of paperwork to change hands - which thankfully has now happened as a result of pressure being put on the parties to get this sorted.
"The Waterfront regeneration project is crucial to the economic development of Stranraer and the surrounding areas, and for it to be jeopardised by the inactivity of the partners involved in the project is unacceptable. "This situation should be reflected upon to ensure that if any further issues arise they are dealt with immediately". [STRANRAER FREE PRESS]
ULLSWATER TRANSIT & NAVIGATION COMPANY
The Ullswater Transit and Navigation Company have announced that HRH Princess Alexandra will attend the renaming ceremony of the LADY WAKEFIELD (ex TOTNES CASTLE) at Glenridding Pier, Ullswater, Cumbria on Tuesday April 17, 2007.
There are more details and a photo of her at www.ullswater-steamers.co.uk/news.htm
The company appears to have done a tremendous job. When I last travelled on this vessel on the Plymouth - Saltash ferry a few years ago when she was owned by Plymouth Boat Cruises she was looking a little tatty.