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NEWS BULLETIN - May 2007

May 30Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Ian Collard, John & Jenny Williamson, Tony Brennan, Allan Blackmore, C.J. Lawrenson and "others"

NATIONAL MARITIME MUSEUM CORNWALL

A model of Falmouth docks made more than 50 years ago has gone on display. Visitors are able to view the piece at the town's National Maritime Museum.

The museum acquired the model, made by George Bolitho, from dock company A &P Falmouth. At the time the model was created, more than 3,000 men were employed at the docks.

Peter Child, managing director at A &P Falmouth, said: "We're delighted to donate the Falmouth docks model to the National Maritime Museum Cornwall. The company is keen to see the model on display for all to enjoy and it is a fitting tribute to George Bolitho, the model maker."

Museum curator Jo Warburton said: "It's a wonderful opportunity to save an important record of Falmouth's history and we're looking forward to adding it to our Falmouth displays.

"The model is captivating and a 'must see' for anyone with an interest in the history of the town and docks."

ISLE OF MAN STEAM PACKET COMPANY

SUPERSEACAT TWO - the transmission problem was repaired overnight Saturday / Sunday and the vessel has resumed normal speed.

STENA CALEDONIA - her first Heysham to Douglas TT sailing will be the 10:15 on Saturday June 2.

PHOCINE - Cobelfret's ro/ro ship [ex DART 3] arrived off Douglas on Sunday evening to partner Gotland Steamship Company's HOBURGEN which arrived on Monday in provide freight capacity during the TT period.

ODYSSEY MARINE

The salvage company which recovered treasure with an estimated value of £253 million from a shipwreck off Scilly has been accused of whisking its haul back to the United States to stop the UK staking a claim.

The Daily Mail newspaper said the US firm Odyssey Marine Exploration worked on the wreck of the English ship in a highly secret operation then carefully avoided landing their treasure on British soil.

The vessel is thought to be the 17th century Merchant Royal, which sank off the Islands in 1641 with the loss of 18 lives.

Landing the treasure in the UK would have meant having to inform the Government's Receiver of Wreck.

This would likely have lead to it being impounded and caused a legal wrangle over ownership rights.

Instead, some 500,000 gold and silver coins were secretly moved to the tax haven of Gibraltar before being flown to Florida, where they are being examined by experts.

A spokesman for the Receiver of Wreck confirmed they were not told of any large treasure hoard being landed in the UK.

Under salvage law, Odyssey could get up to 90% of the loot’s value, depending on whether other claimants come forward.

With the treasure now in the US, it is unlikely that Britain will seek a share.

But as the cargo originally belonged to Spain, experts believe its government may have a case.

Descendants of ship’s captain John Limbrey are already reportedly making inquiries about his personal fortune, thought to have been lost when the ship sank.

Shipwreck expert Richard Larn, who lives on St Mary’s, said he spoke to Odyssey co-founder Greg Stemm about the Merchant Royal in two years ago.

"He admitted that he was looking for the ship but wouldn't say where he thought she was,” he told the Daily Mail.

"Basically, his ships have been mowing up and down the ocean around the Isles of Scilly for two years.”

Although Odyssey said the haul was discovered in international water 40 miles off Land's End, some experts believe it could have been more like 25 miles. [ www.scillynews.co.uk ]

PEEL PORTS

HEYSHAM - the Navire #3 linkspan which was originally built for the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company and later moved to Heysham by Sea Containers suffered a major failure on Monday afternoon. It appears from news released that it may take some time to repair.

With one span out of action during the busy TT period there is the likelihood of significant delays to traffic passing through the port.

PORT OF FOWEY

The port of Fowey faces the threat of redundancies as a result of a massive downturn in trade when Imerys puts its restructuring plans into action later this year.

Imerys' restructuring is expected to result in the loss of more than 600 jobs at the company, which is based in Par, and many more in the local businesses which supply the company.

In addition, with the planned closure of the port of Par and a severe reduction in the china clay cargoes handled through Fowey, Fowey Harbour Commissioners anticipate further redundancies among its staff.

Chief executive and harbour master Capt Mike Sutherland explained that last year 339 ships used the port of Fowey, compared with 383 in 2005.
 
The figure represents a 12% year-on-year fall and continues a trend which has seen a steady drop in the number of ships handled every year since 2000, when 526 ships used the port.
 

In addition the number of pilotage acts fell by 15% to 772 between 2005 and 2006, which continues a downward trend from 1,367 pilotage acts handled in 2000.
 
Capt Sutherland said: "Though some reduction in pilotage acts is due to an increase in the size of ships handled, the figures tell a sad story.
 
"So far we have managed the downturns of recent years without major upheaval, but this next cutback will be too severe.
 
"We will continue to fight against it, but we've already reduced the number of our staff, 11 of whom have been made redundant in recent years, and more may follow."
 
Capt Sutherland believes that Fowey will in future handle 800,000 tonnes of china clay a year compared with the 2.85 million tonnes handled by both Fowey and Par 20 years ago.
 
He said: "We are having major discussions with the Restormel Borough Council,
Cornwall County Council and the Regional Development Agency, as well as with aggregates companies.
 
"There are good possibilities for the future, but we are not there yet.
 
"The leisure side of our business is important and growing, and now represents 28% of our work. And we want to grow the sector, for example, by offering more moorings and services.
 
"We would also like to increase the number of cruise liners coming into port."
 
However, Capt Sutherland said that despite the fact that, unlike in other ports, in Fowey, leisure and commerce sat happily side by side, leisure would never replace the port's commercial revenue and it was this revenue that was at risk.
 
Capt Sutherland said: "We have to take a long term view and Fowey has survived similar problems in its history, but it's clear that very difficult times lie ahead."

[WESTERN MORNING NEWS]

SWANSEA CORK FERRIES

Rumours suggest that Swansea Cork Ferries will announce details of their new ship within the next month or so. The company's services have been suspended since the sale of SUPERFERRY in autumn 2006.

May 25Acknowledgements: Kevin Bennett, River Spy and "others"

BODO INSTALLER

The Liverpool Echo reports that Union leaders are fighting to win three months’ back pay for four Malaysian seafarers stranded in Liverpool.

The men speak no English and do not even have the price of a cup of coffee, according to International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) inspector Tommy Molly.

The seamen serve on German-owned barge the Bodo Installer which has been working in the Mersey on the Burbo Bank windfarm.

But the firm went bust and the men have not been paid for three months.

Wallasey-based Mr Molloy said: “These guys have been abandoned and their families are in dire straits.

“One has a three-month-old baby he has never seen. Another has a baby who is ill with a fever.”

The ship came into Liverpool for fresh water and was held in Huskisson Dock by Mersey Docks company who are owed port dues.

Mr Molloy said that when wages were withheld the German divers, French crew and the Dutch skipper went on strike and since docking have “cut their losses and gone home.”

But the Malaysians are stranded.

Mr Molloy said they are employed by a Singapore company who have refused to pay their wages after the German ship owner went bust.

The ITF is a global union which looks after the interests of transport workers and Mr Molloy is now trying to win back pay for the stranded crew.

“We are also trying to see if any of the companies involved in the windfarm can get this vessel out working again.

“If they can we need these four jobs retained and talks are going on to see if we can come to some kind of deal.”

A Mersey Docks spokesman said: “The ship is being held in port for outstanding port dues.”

Bjarne Haxgarg, from windfarm developer Sea Scape, added: "They are happy with what we have done for the crew. We’re trying to find a solution.”

ISLE OF MAN STEAM PACKET COMPANY

The company have finally confirmed the line up of charter ships for the TT Festival.

P&O EXPRESS, HOBURGEN, RIVERDANCE and / or MOONDANCE, unconfirmed reports also indicate that the PHOCINE (ex DART 3) will operate some services, perhaps covering for HOBURGEN which is undergoing repairs at H&W in Belfast.

Next week's charter sailings:

STENA CALEDONIA 10:15  Heysham to Douglas - Saturday June 02, returning light.

P&O EXPRESS 23:59  Larne to Heysham May 29 to June 01. Douglas to Larne 03:00 May 30 to Saturday 02

On May 30 and 31 the P&O EXPRESS departs Troon at 20:20 travelling via Larne to Douglas. On Saturday June 02 P&O Departs Larne at 17:30 via Troon 21:00 to Douglas.

HOBURGEN (or PHOCINE?) - May 27 sailings to be confirmed May 28 to June 02 departs Heysham at 00:30 and Douglas at 16:00.

RIVERDANCE will operate a 00:01 sailing from Heysham to Douglas on Sunday May 27.

Much grumbling in the media and in the TT and Motor Cycle racing web forums was probably responsible for the following apology:

Operations director Mark Woodward said: ‘We apologise to those passengers affected by the TT timetable changes.  This year due to the demand for travel we have scheduled to operate more than 360 sailings over the Centenary TT period.

‘We don’t have unlimited resources, and we strive to maintain fares as low as possible through year round special offers. Our core fleet is geared to meet normal demand levels while providing spare capacity for growth.  Centenary TT demand means we must charter additional vessels and use additional port slots.  The reality is that the company has been actively and exhaustively seeking charter vessels for the Centenary TT for the last two years.

The company has been successful in forging longer term relationships with other shipping companies to provide some guaranteed additional TT capacity. However, the TT period comes at a time when other companies too are also looking to increase their capacity to meet summer demand.  As such they are reluctant to release vessels to third parties such as the Steam Packet’.

Mark continued: ‘Physical limits on our port facilities, the suitability of vessels in the international marketplace and differing national safety regulations mean that ships cannot easily be transplanted from one area of operation to another. 

‘Where vessels are available, operators typically prefer to secure longer term charters.  As such they will not commit to the shorter TT period charter, often until just before the event. Without these firm guarantees we can only offer provisional vessels and timings for the following year’s TT to some of our customers.  This is made absolutely clear to customers when we take provisional bookings and deposits.  It is explained once again when final payment is due. For precisely these reasons, we have had to alter some of those provisionally booked sailings this year’.

Mark concluded: ‘We are aware that the situation is not ideal and would of course prefer to offer a higher degree of certainty to our customers.  We will continue to investigate all viable options that would allow us to improve the situation in the future. In the meantime, our staff are committed to making the Centenary TT a huge success and I would appeal for support from the Island community in ensuring that the event is a success for us all’.

JAMES FISHER & SONS PLC

James Fisher and Sons plc announced this week the acquisition of the privately owned UK based Buchan
Technical Services Limited (Buchan) for £4,900,000 cash.  Buchan has guaranteed a minimum of £1 million of cash in the company on completion.  The acquisitionis being funded from existing resources.

Buchan is a market leader in the design and supply of centrifugal pumps, hydraulic power packs and umbilical cords and reels, to the oil & gas majors, pipeline commissioning and testing companies and the well servicing, well testing and environmental companies, including the provision of operational manpower.

The acquisition will enable James Fisher Offshore Limited, in Aberdeen, and Scan Tech AS, in Stavanger, to supply a wider range of sale and rental equipment to the offshore industry. Buchan will form part of James Fisher Offshore and will move its activities to James Fisher's site at Oldmeldrum, outside Aberdeen, once additional extended premises have been completed in 2008.

Buchan's unaudited pre tax profits for the year ended 31 October 2006 were £653,000 (post tax £474,000) and its gross assets at that date were £2,022,000 (net assets £1,594,000 including £684,000 cash).  Its founder Andy Buchan will remain with the Group and take up the position of Director for James Fisher Offshore.

Tim Harris, Chairman of James Fisher, said:

'Buchan represents the latest step in the expansion of marine support services which, in 2006, contributed 67% of group profits. It complements our existing products and services and enjoys a strong position in specialist niche markets.'

Andy Buchan, Managing Director of Buchan said:

'Fisher Offshore is a local company and provides an excellent fit with Buchan enjoying a similar approach and customers in the offshore market. I will be staying with and look forward to developing the business within James Fisher Offshore.'

Buchan's head office is in Inverurie near Aberdeen. It employs 8 people. 

May 23Acknowledgements: Kevin Bennett, River Spy and "others"

ALL ABOARD MARITIME HERITAGE EVENT

Vessels so far reported as visiting for this year's Mersey Maritime Heritage Event at Liverpool on June 16 / 17:

  • Dar Mlodziezy - Poland
  • Ruth - Sweden
  • Jeanie Johnson - Ireland
  • Asgard II - Ireland
  • Tenacious - UK
  • Next Wave - UK
  • Stavros S. Niarchos - UK
  • Kaskelot - UK
  • HMS Albion - UK

Open 11:00 to 17:00

HMS ALBION will be berthed at Canada Dock, whilst the other vessels will be in Wellington Dock.

CAMMELL LAIRD

Cargo ship MV IMI was dry docked at Birkenhead last week for stern seal replacement
 
Dredger WD SEVERN entered # 7 dry dock on Tuesday afternoon tide with bow thruster problems
 
Dredger MERSEY VENTURE is due to enter #7 dry dock on June 04.

ISLE OF MAN STEAM PACKET COMPANY

SUPERSEACAT TWO - she appears to have a transmission problem again.

With the TT100 Festival starting it is not surprising that some sailings of the "SuperSicklyCat" have been switched to Heysham with EMERAUDE FRANCE operating the Liverpool sailings.

The changes have resulted in in at least 5000 passengers receiving revised travel itineraries as explained in the following press release:

In response to some queries from our passengers regarding timetable changes we would like to apologise in advance for any inconvenience caused.  We are endeavouring to accommodate all our passengers at this exceptionally busy time for the company and the Island as a whole.

Out of 41,000 passengers booked on our ferries 5,000 are affected.  We are informing passengers travelling this week by telephone and everyone affected by letter in the next 24 hours to advise them of their new port details and travel time.  Many of these passengers are now being accommodated on our fast craft ferry whereas previously they were booked on our conventional ferry.  This will reduce their travel time considerably.

We would ask all passengers to arrive at the times indicated on their ticket to avoid any problems.  The sea traffic in and out of Douglas and UK and Irish ports will be unprecedented over the TT period and all ships will be operating to very tight port slots and turn around times.’

With approximately 18,000 bikes compared to 9,600 bikes booked on our ferries last year and approximately 5,000 cars and vans booked we anticipate an exceptionally busy period.  We would like to illustrate our appreciation of our customers support and patience at this time.

The necessary changes have been made to optimise passenger bookings and make this year’s Centenary event a successful one for everyone concerned.  Passengers wishing to discuss revised bookings should call our reservations line on 0871 222 1333 or alternatively +441624661661. 

No where does the press release mention the technical problems. Passengers are being told they are being switched to a "fast craft ferry" , what this appears to mean, at least as far as this Saturday is concerned, those booked on the 14:45 sailing from Heysham which should have been travelling on a chartered vessel will now be sailing at 12:30 on SUPERSEACAT TWO.

However, given that Heysham to Douglas is a much shorter voyage than Liverpool to Douglas there is no explanation as to why the 12:30 SUPERSEACAT TWO departure will arrive Douglas at 15:15 allowing 2h 45m.

Needless to say the bikers are not happy with the situation the official web site www.iomtt.com has forums for bikers to sound off and there is an active thread which visitors to this site may find of interest at: www.iomtt.com/Home/Forum/ShowPost.aspx?PostID=77356

The fact that there is no published timetable - other than what can be gleaned from the on-line booking computer - is nothing short of a disgrace.

TT COMPETITORS STRANDED

On the evening of May 23 Manx Radio web site had the following report:

It's reported around 50 competitors have been left stranded at Heysham after being turned away from this afternoon's ferry they were supposedly booked on.

Team boss Martin Bullock says his riders Ian Pattinson and Craig Atkinson are stuck at the port.

Martin says Craig was sent a letter earlier this week informing him of a change of sailing:-

MANXMAN STEAMSHIP COMPANY

Funding awarded earlier this year by the North West Regional Development Agency permitted consultancy work which lead to some key independent statements.

1) Once restored, a static Manxman based at Birkenhead would be a viable and sustainable business.

2) The core restoration costs are commercially sound.

3) A recent hull survey has provided updated costs which allow for recent damage and deterioration.

The Trust is now in a position to properly address all of the questions raised by the Steering Group, and the above reports have been issued to members (and other possible funders) for their urgent consideration and action.

Additionally the Trust has been in direct contact with the owners, in Athens, and a short term arrangement is in place.

In support of this the Trust has set up a Public Meeting which will be Chaired by Professor Peter Toyne, former Vice Chancellor of Liverpool John Moores University; this will take place in Room 126 at India Buildings, Water Street, Liverpool on Wednesday 6th June, 2007, commencing at 17:15 for 17.30.

May 20Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Tony Brennan, Kevin Bennett, Ian Collard, Stan Basnett, Steve Lawrenson and "others"
ARMADA ARGENTINA

ARA LIBERTAD the Argentine Navy's tall ship has had to omit its planned call at Cork from the itinerary for its Irish visit this summer. The high level power lines which cross the River Lee are responsible for the cancellation. However she will visit Galway - arriving on June 16 and Dublin arriving June 21

DUKE OF LANCASTER

There has been much speculation over the fate of the former British Railways turbine steamer DUKE OF LANCASTER during the past year. However, a report which has appeared in a Welsh newspaper, states that owner her owner - the Liverpool based retailer Solitaire is not going to sell the ship for scrap, but neither do they have plans to restore it and a spokesman for the company say that the owners "love the ship". They confirm that they have ceased using it as a warehouse, but don't know what they are going to do with it now.

H J LINES

There is some confusion as to what has happened to the new freight only ro/ro service between Cork Ringaskiddy and Swansea which commenced earlier this year using the chartered VICTORIA.

Apparently charter work for the ship is being sought by brokers.

ISLE OF MAN STEAM PACKET COMPANY

SUPERSEACAT TWO has once again developed technical problems this week which suggest that she is running only three engines as speed does not appear to exceed 28 knots.

On Friday May 18, the second scheduled round trip of the day from Douglas to Liverpool was cancelled due to high winds, [photo left Steve Lawrenson] with passengers being diverted to the 19:45 / 02:15 BEN-MY-CHREE sailings. With high winds forecast to continue well into Saturday the morning Douglas to Liverpool sailing was retimed.

SSC2 departed Douglas at 08:50, however, by the time she arrived at the Bar she was down to two engines! A correspondent monitoring communications with Mersey Radio indicated that she was not allowed to make her approach until three engines were available. SSC2 eventually arrived at Liverpool at 13:37 with a crossing time of 4 hours and 47 minutes! Her second round trip to Liverpool suffered further delays with the 21:15 sailing from Liverpool to Douglas not getting away until 23:22 - her scheduled departure time being 21:15.

With the TT 100 Festival due to commence in a few days one hopes the vet can cure the ailing cat otherwise chaos will ensue!

EMERAUDE FRANCE which has been in Cammell Laird since April 19, had been expected to depart from Birkenhead mid week and head for Douglas. However, she did not get away from Cammell Laird until Saturday morning. She left still wearing the livery of Emeraude Lines her defunct previous charterer.

SEA EXPRESS I - a Wirral based correspondent reported activity on board towards the end of the week, which suggests that a move to dry dock at Cammell Laird may follow the departure of EMERAUDE FRANCE.

ISLE OF MAN DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORT

A consultation group has been formed to develop a scheme that could improve harbour facilities in Ramsey with the development of an impounded water scheme and marina.

The inaugural meeting of the Group, hosted by the Department of Transport, took place on Tuesday 8th May 2007, in the Town Hall, Ramsey.

The Group includes a wide spectrum of harbour users and community representatives, and will act as a steering group to assist the Department in assessing what opportunities exist. The first phase of work will be to consider the options for the siting of the impounding structure and marina.

Group members will meet at approximately two-monthly intervals to ensure that they remain well briefed and have their views sought regularly. The Group will also ensure that the wider community is aware of the development of the scheme.

In the current financial year the Department has £265,000 available through Government’s Capital Programme for this scheme. This money will be used to acquire the necessary environmental, geotechnical and design information that will inform consideration of the various options by the Department and Consultation Group. The current target is to complete consideration of the options and decide on a preferred option by 31st March 2008.

Before moving on to develop a detailed design for the preferred option, the Department is committed to wide public consultation. At appropriate stages through the development process the public will be given the opportunity to view the various options, the information collected and offer their comments.

ISLES OF SCILLY STEAMSHIP COMPANY

A multi-million pound plan to improve transport links to the Isles of Scilly has been give conditional approval by the Department for Transport. It follows a bid for £23.84m in government funds to upgrade St Mary's and Penzance harbours and buy a freight and passenger ship.

Another £6.5m would come from European Objective One or Convergence funding. Current ships serving the freight and passenger needs of the Isles of Scilly are at the end of their working lives.

The scheme would see the passenger ferry SCILLONIAN III and the freight ship GRY MARITHA replaced with a £17.5m combined passenger and cargo vessel which would then be leased back to the ferry operator, the Isles of Scilly Steamship Company.

Cornwall County Council will now make a firm decision whether to proceed with the project following the announcement of the Department for Transport's funding.

The scheme is managed by the Isles of Scilly Route Partnership which represents local authorities, mainland link transport operators and key landowners.

KING HARRY STEAM FERRY COMPANY

KING HARRY FERRY VII has completed its first year in service this week crossing the River Fal between Philleigh and Feock in Cornwall.

The new, larger vessel, which operates on one of the world's ten most beautiful ferry routes has been responsible for boosting carryings with the company claiming an increase in traffic of 10% per week.

This has been brought about by the increased capacity of the vessel which now seldom leaves vehicles having to wait for another crossing.

MSC NAPOLI

The last container was removed from the grounded container ship MSC NAPOLI on Wednesday by the Smit salvage team. The ship was run aground on January 20 off Branscombe in Devon following structural damage sustained in the severe weather which lashed the British Isles on January 18.

NATIONAL MUSEUMS MERSEYSIDE

National Museums Merseyside has been criticised in the Liverpool this week. It appears that after undertaking extensive archaeological work on the site of the former Manchester Dock which was situated between Canning River Entrance and the Pier Head the museum has been responsible for damaging the remains:

Musuem bosses have been accused of mistreating a priceless piece of city history.

Remnants of the 220-year-old Manchester Dock were uncovered beneath the riverside construction site of the new museum.

And senior archaeologists today criticised bosses for demolishing a chunk of wall and failing to come up with a plan to display the historic dock gates in their current position.

National Museums Liverpool bosses today denied the gates had been damaged. They admitted the original dock would not be made a feature of the new site, but said the gates would be removed and turned into a display.

Earlier this month parts of the dock wall were knocked down and its historic gates clawed out with a digger in advance of work starting on the £65m Mann Island site.

One archaeologist, who asked to remain anonymous, said: "I accept what they say about the gates, but I’m still upset because I know what could have been done with the site.

"A whole chunk of wall has also been demolished, about 35ft.

"They should have stopped and had another think about how they could have incorporated some of the Manchester Dock so people could have seen it when they went to the new museum.

"They’re simply going to concrete it over."

Another expert said the position of concrete foundation beams, which run through the dock entrance, should have been moved and a glass floor considered to show off the old gates.

He said: "I think people would have been fascinated by it."

A spokeswoman said: "The frames, made from Greenheart – a tropical hardwood – are in the care of NML and it’s hoped they’ll be displayed in the new museum. "

But the way the gates were removed has been criticised by experts. Meanwhile, protesters fighting to stop the building and preserve the 18th Century dock have stepped up their campaign.

David Swift, who has asked English Heritage to have the dock listed , has now written to Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell and Unesco appealing for help to stop the work.

A spokeswoman for English Heritage said the listing application was still being processed.

SEA CONTAINERS

Most of Sea Containers fleet has now been sold. The recent sale of SILJA OPERA to Louis Cruise lines means that nine vessels have now been sold.

FINNJET is reported to be an immediate sale candidate according to the broker disposing of the distressed company's fleet

The remaining vessels are mostly being offered for sale as part of an operating subsidiary. These include SUPERSEACAT THREE and SUPERSEACAT FOUR operating on the Baltic between Talinnin and Helsinki, the smaller passenger only Seastreak New York Harbour Ferries. Apparently the New York business was nearly sold recently but a deal failed to materialise. There is also speculation that a sale of the Baltic operation may be completed in the near future.

SUPERSEACAT TWO remains on charter to the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company.

STENA LINE

Stena Line is hoping the new Scottish administration will speed up the company's move from Stranraer Harbour to Cairnryan.

Route Director for Stranraer to Belfast, Alan Gordon told the Galloway Gazette this week that he hoped things would get moving now that the new Scottish cabinet had taken up their positions.

Stewart Stevenson has been appointed as the new Minister for Transport,  Infrastructure and Climate Change in the SNP government. Speaking from a meeting in Belfast, Mr Gordon said: "We are still waiting for the Scottish Executive to check off documentation, the new transport minister has got to sign the thing off.

"We are still talking about the end of 2008 but we have been waiting for a while for the signature. This obviously has delayed the whole process. "We need to get the Harbour Enforcement Order signed, but we don't know how long that will take. We are trying to put as much pressure on as we can, but things are really out of our hands. He added: "We are quite confident we are getting it."

Once Stena ferries begin to sail from Cairnryan journey times will be cut significantly. Work is already ongoing at Belfast docks to bring the HSS berth three miles further up Belfast Lough.

This, combined with the shorter crossing from Cairnryan is expected to cut  the current journey time of one hour 50 minutes by around 40 minutes, opening up the possibility of extra daily sailings.

TRANSOCEAN TOURS

ASTOR - The first cruise ship of the season due to call at Douglas had to cancel its call scheduled for May 18. The ship entered Douglas Bay, but due to sea conditions it was not possible for passengers to be tendered ashore to the Sea Terminal. ASTOR aborted her call and headed for Belfast Lough. She was scheduled to call at Belfast on May 19.

May 13Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Tony Brennan, John Thomas and "others"

DML

Engineering group Babcock International is to buy Plymouth's Devonport naval dockyard in a £350m deal.

Devonport maintains, upgrades and fuels the Royal Navy's submarines, and the deal is set to make Babcock the UK's leading naval maintenance firm.

Babcock is buying Devonport Management Limited (DML) from a consortium which includes Kellogg Brown & Root, Balfour Beatty and Weir Group.

Babcock said it would carry out a £90m share placing to help fund the deal.

Looking ahead, it added the "combined strength of Babcock and DML will yield significant strategic and financial benefits to the Ministry of Defence... whilst creating significant value for Babcock's shareholders".

Babcock already maintains the Rosyth and Faslane submarine bases in Scotland.

DML supports nuclear submarines and surface vessels for the Royal Navy and has controlled the Plymouth dockyard since 1997.

Babcock is understood to have beaten a rival bid from US private equity firm Carlyle to buy DML, after earlier interest from defence rivals Rolls-Royce and BAE Systems. [BBC].

FORTUNA 1

Early this week the Irish and Latvian maritime authorities had been accused of abandoning the crew of a freighter who have been stuck onboard their vessel anchored off the Co Louth coast for nearly six weeks.

Last March, when the FORTUNA 1 arrived in the Co Louth port of Greenore, the crew began industrial action to get arrears of pay and succeeded but have got nothing since.

After the crew unloaded the cargo of steel bars, the ship was ordered to leave its berth and anchored at the entrance to Carlingford Lough where she remained until a few days ago.

However, the Harbour Master of Dundalk agreed that the FORTUNA 1 and its 11 man crew to berth at the port for an unspecified period.

ITF inspector Ken Fleming said the move marked progress. "The ITF will facilitate a number of interested parties wehave been in contact with, in the shipping industry, to come together and make the necessary arrangements to put the FORTUNA I back into service." There were reports that he owners of the ship appeared to have no funds left.

ISLE OF MAN DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORT

SEA TERMINAL CRUISE TENDER BERTH

The Department of Transport is seeking Tynwald approval for a £505,905 scheme to design and build a cruise ship tender pontoon berth in Douglas Harbour.

Following feedback from representatives of Cruise Ship companies, the Department, in association with the Department of Tourism & Leisure, reviewed the possible options for the provision of improved facilities in Douglas Harbour which would provide more appropriate landing facilities for cruise ship passengers.

The Department recognises that a first step to improve facilities for cruise ships is the provision of an improved berth that could be used by tenders from ships anchored in Douglas Bay.

The Minster for Transport Hon David Anderson MHK said:

‘In November 2006, it was decided that the Department of Tourism and Leisure and the Department of Transport would cooperate in the development of a pontoon, bridge and walkway to be used by cruise passengers visiting the Island. The Island provides the perfect stopping off point for cruise ships visiting Ireland, England and Wales and this gives an excellent opportunity to increase visitor numbers to this Isle of Man.’

It is planned that the scheme will create a large pontoon at which tenders can berth at any stage of tide, between the Victoria and Edward Piers. From the pontoon there will be a covered bridge and walkway to the Sea Terminal Building, providing a safe and comfortable transfer for all passengers, including those in wheelchairs. The pontoon will also be available as an emergency landing point, which will benefit fishing boats, leisure craft and also the RNLI Lifeboat to land ill and injured people.

The Minister added:

‘The Department believes that the higher standard of passenger-handling facilities and the enhanced berthing arrangements will encourage more cruise ships to visit the Isle of Man which will in turn benefit the Island’s economy.’

PASSENGER FIGURES PLUMMET

The number of visitors to the Island last year was the lowest in a decade, barring the tourism slump of 2001 caused by the foot-and-mouth scare.
 

There was a 4.5 per cent drop in the number of visitors in 2006 – and their level of spending was also down.

The results of the latest passenger survey, published by the Treasury's economic affairs division, make dismal reading for tourism chiefs.

They show a total of 306,590 visitors came by scheduled flight or ferry in 2006, compared with 320,991 in 2005, which in turn was 20,000 down on 2004.

It is estimated that the total number of visitors, including those who did not travel on scheduled services and were therefore not sampled, was 322,887.

Of the 306,590 visitors, 224,314 were here for leisure purposes, of which 49 per cent (109,753, down from 115,107 in 2005) stayed in paid accommodation, 49 per cent with friends and relatives (109,347, down from 110,619 in 2005) and the remaining 2 per cent (5,214, down from 6,614 in 2005) were here on a day visit.

A further 82,276 visitors came to the Island for business purposes, down from 88,651 in 2005.


ISLES OF SCILLY STEAMSHIP COMPANY

The voyage back to the mainland was spoiled for SCILLONIAN III passengers last Saturday when fighting broke out between two separate groups who were 'in drink'. Penzance police were called at around 17:40 on Saturday May 5, by the vessel's captain, Peter Crawford, to say that there had been problems on board.

A spokesman for the Isles of Scilly Steamship Co said that staff and off duty police officers, who were travelling as passengers, managed to contain the group to avoid any further disturbance.

One man was arrested by an off-duty policeman in connection with a charge of actual bodily harm and another man was injured, suffering a cut over his eye.

Sgt Pete Simms, from Penzance police, said that he understood that veiled threats had been made that the dispute would be continued in Penzance.

"Several officers and police dogs with handlers met SCILLONIAN IIIwhen it docked in Penzance at around 19:00 but the groups of people dispersed quietly." [WMN]
 

JAMES FISHER & SONS PLC

The Barrow based marine group James Fisher & Sons plc has started 2007 well and is positioned to produce good growth during the year according to chairman Tim Harris which was speaking at the company's AGM.

The integration of the F.T. Everard business was reported to have progressed as planned, the integration of Everard and Fisher sea staff is expected to be completed by the first half of the year.

Three of Everard's four newbuildings are now in service with final vessel, Supremity , expected to join them in late summer.

"Our plans for refinancing the first three Everard newbuilds as bareboat charters are well advanced," Mr Harris said.

Fisher's three marine support services divisions - offshore oil, specialist technical and defence - were trading in line with management expectations.

"These businesses are the key focus of James Fisher's growth which should now be enhanced further by the cash flow from the acquisition of Everard," Mr Harris said.

"Overall, the group is well positioned to continue to produce good growth and value for our shareholders."

KNOTT END FERRY

The troubled Fleetwood to Knott End ferry is finally sailing to success after a stormy start the Blackpool Gazette reported this week.

Mechanical problems kept the £350,000 vessel out of action for months on end. But since its successful relaunch in March visitors and locals alike have been flocking to take a trip across the River Wyre.

During April 11,479 passengers made a trip aboard Wyre Rose - with 157 dogs and 328 bicycles on board as well.The ferry ran for 16 days at the end of March when it carried 1,216 passengers - adding up to 12,695 in just 37 days.

Coun Keith Tebbs, living economy portfolio holder at Wyre Borough Council, said: "These are amazing statistics - especially when you realise that in the former days of the service it was transporting around 11,000 passengers for the whole of the summer."

Wyre Borough is responsible for the day-to-day running of the service through contractors Wyre Marine. The running costs are shared with Lancashire County Council, which provided the boat and improved shore facilities.

Ian Drury, director of Wyre Marine, said: "It is really good to see things

going well. I am sure the weather has helped but it shows the potential is there."

The company has been lending a hand to local charities. Charity cyclists at a ride organised at the Elizabeth

North Euston Hotel in Fleetwood got a free ride.

And Wyre Marine will give a day's takings to a fund established at the Jolly Sailor pub in Fleetwood in memory of Denise Stockell of Heathfield Road, Fleetwood.

Mother of three children, 40-year-old Mrs Stockell died in Thailand recently from a stroke.

Mr Drury said: "Being a successful local company we get a lot of requests to help good causes and we can't help them all but we do what we can." Last Wednesday, WYRE ROSE was allowed to dry out on the sand near the ferry terminal so a routine inspection could be carried out below the waterline. Mr Drury said: "This was a case of prudent management. Everything is absolutely fine."

Last year, the ferry got off to a good start and carried nearly 7,000 people in six weeks. But it was grounded by mechanical problems linked to the propulsion and steering systems which have now been corrected. Last Updated: 07 May 2007.

ROYAL NAVY

HMS ALBION - The Ministry of Defence plans to mothball one of its two amphibious assault ships less than four years after it entered service at a cost of £359m, according to naval sources.

Placing HMS ALBION at "extended readiness" is designed to save fuel and crew costs as the Royal Navy struggles to stay within an ever-tighter budget for an undermanned and shrinking fleet.

The move, to be announced as part of wider naval base and operational review just before the parliamentary summer recess, will allow ALBION's 325-strong ship's company to be redeployed to other surface warships.

"The carrier INVINCIBLE is already effectively out of the picture at low readiness', although she remains on strength. It would take a minimum 18 months to make her seaworthy. Five other ships are at extended readiness'. It would take more than 180 days to make them operational.

"Mothballing HMS ALBION would increase the number of warships at reduced or extended readiness to 14." HMS ALBION is a 21,000-tonne landing platform dock - the naval jargon for a command and control vessel which can deliver a battalion's-worth of Marines, a battery of light artillery and a handful of armoured vehicles to a hostile shore.

Two ships - ALBION and BULWARK - were built by BAe Systems at the former VSEL yard at Barrow-in-Furness. ALBION was commissioned in 2003.

The Navy also faces the mothballing of two Type 42 destroyers and four Type 22 frigates to help save a £250m overrun in fuel, maintenance and other costs.

The cutback, which includes HMS CORNWALL, the warship whose crew members were taken hostage by Iran's Revolutionary Guard forces last month, could also mean scrapping one or even two major global naval commitments.

Insiders say the tasks under threat are the Falklands guard ship, whose removal would leave the islands vulnerable for the first time since the 1982 conflict with Argentina, and possibly the Indian Ocean antidrugs patrol.

Admiral Sir Jonathon Band, the First Sea Lord, called in January for an extra £1bn to pay for fuel, accommodation and a wage boost for his sailors. He warned that cuts threatened "to turn the Royal Navy into the Belgian Navy".

A review is also under way to slash costs at the UK's three naval bases. It cost £183m to operate the Clyde submarine base at Faslane last year, £185m for Devonport and £151m for Portsmouth, which is seen as the most vulnerable.

An MoD spokeswoman said: "No decisions have been taken to withdraw any of the Navy's warships, although we regularly monitor and adjust readiness levels to meet requirements. [MARITIME CLIPPINGS]

HMS ASTUTE - The Royal Navy showed off its largest and most powerful attack submarine on Tuesday this week, a month before the over-budget, overdue vessel is to be launched.

Military officials say the HMS ASTUTE will be able to circumnavigate the planet without surfacing, and its nuclear reactor is designed to last for the vessel's 25-year operational life, meaning it will never need to be refueled.

The ASTUTE is due to be launched from the BAE Systems Inc. shipyard in Barrow-in-Furness, on June 8 and to enter service in January 2009.

The submarine is to be followed by two more Astute-class submarines, AMBUSH and ARTFUL. Together the navy estimates they will cost about $7.2 billion, more than $2 billion over the original estimate.

The project is also years behind schedule. HMS ASTUTE was originally due to enter service in June 2005, but in 2002 the government announced the date had been pushed back to 2006. In 2005, the Ministry of Defense confirmed it would enter service by 2009.

Nearly 40,000 acoustic tiles, designed to mask the submarine's sonar signature, have still to be attached to the ship's 318-foot hull, which is 30 percent longer than that of the submarines now in use. [MARITIME CLIPPINGS]

May 07Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Kevin Bennett, Sara Cass and "others"

BALLYCASTLE - CAMPBELTOWN

Moves to resurrect the Campbeltown to Ballycastle ferry service between Scotland and Northern Ireland are due to be resumed this week.

When devolved government returns to Northern Ireland on Tuesday, among the first representations ministers will receive will be from Kintyre seeking a partnership to fight for the restoration of the ferry service next year.

Conor Murphy, the new Sinn Fein minister for regional development and First Minister Ian Paisley, who has Ballycastle in his North Antrim constituency, will be approached directly to make common cause over the ferry, which last operated in 1999.

At least two firms were reported to be interested in tendering for the right to operate an 11-month service when Peter Hain, the Northern Ireland Secretary, announced last October that he was withdrawing the £300,000 that Northern Ireland had been due to contribute to the £1m-a-year subsidy for five years.

His decision was unveiled on the eve of multi-party talks in St Andrews convened by the British and Irish governments to find a way back to power-sharing in the province.

It was widely seen as a stick to beat the recalcitrant players in Sinn Fein and the Democratic Unionist Party, as the ferry had cross-party support.

Alan Reid, the Liberal Democrat MP for Argyll and Bute, had been lobbying Mr Hain and the Northern Ireland Office, but now thinks there is new hope.

He said: "The new Northern Ireland Executive takes over on Tuesday and we hope that the ministers can be persuaded to restore their £300,000 to the project.

"So we will be writing to Mr Murphy and to Dr Paisley, who had always backed it. I would be amazed if they didn't respond positively allowing us to get the tendering process started with a view to the service resuming next spring."

He did not anticipate problems at the Scottish end.

Les Oman, chairman of the Kintyre-based Dalriada Business Action Group which has campaigned for years for the restoration of the ferry, said: "We have never given up and there is still enormous support for the ferry both here and in Northern Ireland."

He said there was a £50m marketing programme over the next 10 years for "the Giant's Causeway and the Causeway Coast".

"One of the priorities of that programme is the restoration of the ferry. There were two companies interested but if we have now lost them because of political intransigence it will be an absolute disgrace."

But The Herald has established that at least one company is still keen. Andrew Banks runs Pentland Ferries which operates a service between Gills Bay in Caithness and St Margaret's Hope in Orkney with the former CalMac ferry Claymore which was the same vessel which Sea Containers used on the Campbeltown to Ballycastle route for three summers from 1997 to 1999.

He is involved in another company, Dalriada Shipping, which was set up along with people in Kintyre with experience in the ferry industry.

Mr Banks said: "We are having a new ferry built for the Orkney route so the Claymore would be available from next spring. We would have to have a careful look at it, but we are definitely still interested and think an 11-month service would be commercially viable with a subsidy of £1m a year.

DUBLIN PORT

The Sunday Business Post reports that Fianna Fail has moved one step closer towards backing the idea of moving Dublin Port to a new location.

The party's manifesto - published last week - said if re-elected, it would examine the role of the port, taking into account its location and other factors.

The idea of moving Dublin Port to somewhere outside the city, such as north Co Dublin, was first mooted by the Progressive Democrats.

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern has not knocked the idea when asked about it in recent months, but the party has never committed to such a radical move.

However, the manifesto says Fianna Fail will ''undertake a comprehensive study of the role of Dublin Port taking account of location, overall ports policy, transport policy, urban development and the National Spatial Strategy''.

The reference to a study comes at a time when Irish Continental Group, owner of Irish Ferries, is the subject of a takeover battle on the Irish Stock Exchange.

Investment group, One51, which, together with Dublin Port, owns Greenore Port in Louth, has teamed up with the Cork-based shipping firm the Doyle Group to make an offer for ICG. This is in response to a takeover offer led by ICG's chief executive Eamonn Rothwell.

ICG has a lease on 30 acres of land at Dublin Port, while the Doyle Group also owns around 30 acres beside it.

Dublin Port tried to join the One51/Doyle consortium in recent weeks but did not get a positive response from the Department of Transport.

Industry sources say the ICG property at the port is of little value unless Dublin Port were to move to a new location.

The PDs plan was to develop the port area into a Canary Wharf-style location with offices and luxury apartments.

PORT OF LOOE

A power struggle over who should supply fuel to Looe's fishermen looks set to continue in the wake of a High Court ruling.The bitter fight has centred on who should supply fuel to the 47 fishing vessels which operate out of Looe Harbour - Looe Fuels Ltd or the Harbour Commission.

The row ended up in London's High Court last week to be decided by Mr Justice Stanley Burnton who found in favour of Looe Fuels Ltd on the basis of legislation set down in the 19th century when the Harbour Commission was first established.

Looe Fuels Ltd, which was originally set up as a co-operative run by the fishermen, has supplied fuel for the fishing fleet since 1988.

Committed to keeping fuel costs as low as possible, the co-operative had rented land from Looe Harbour Commissioners and dispensed oil from its own tank.

Latterly, Looe Fuels Ltd became a private limited company, whose profits are paid to its officers.

But in May last year, the commissioners obtained funding for a new 600,000-litre diesel storage tank and told Looe Fuels Ltd the Harbour Commission would be trebling the ground rent to cover the cost of the new tank.

The Harbour Commission then resolved to take over the supply of fuel to the fishermen, saying that as a registered charity it could provide the fuel on a non-profit basis.

The Harbour Commission's action was backed by the majority of fishermen who presented a petition in support.

However, Looe Fuels Ltd has bitterly contested the move saying that the commissioners had no right to supply fuel and had "acted unfairly".

Philip Coppel, for Looe Fuels Ltd, told the judge his client suspected "improper motives" on the part of the commissioners, who had asked Looe Fuels if it wanted to sell the business following the decision to increase the rent.

Mr Coppel said that according to legislation in 1848 when the Harbour Commission was established by statute, the commissioners had no right to lawfully take over the provision of fuel.

Oliver Hyams, for the commissioners, disputed that argument saying: "It is true that there is no express power to sell or dispense fuel in the 1848 legislation, but that is probably not surprising, given that fishing vessels were universally wind driven at that time."

But although Mr Justice Burnton found in favour of Looe Fuels Ltd, ruling that the commissioners had indeed been acting unlawfully and outside their powers, and ordered them to pay costs, the battle is far from over.

Both sides are gearing up for a further court case in June when a court will be asked to decide if Looe Fuels Ltd has the right to a lease of the new fuel facility on the harbour.

Bill Hocking, chairman of the Looe Fishermen's Protection Association, was disappointed at the outcome of last week's High Court hearing.

He claimed: "Of all the fishermen in Looe, about 99% were behind the Harbour Commissioners.

"There are boats belonging to members of the Harbour Commission which Looe Fuels won't supply with fuel.

"They have to go to Polperro to get their fuel. The bitter feuding over this is far from over and the fishermen of Looe are certainly not celebrating this ruling."

A spokesman for Looe Harbour commissioners said: "Looe Harbour Commissioners, with the support of Looe Fishermen's Protection Association, who represent the majority of the fishermen operating from the port, have always looked to achieve an uninterrupted and low cost fuel supply to the fishermen of Looe.

"This judicial review has merely directed that the Harbour should not sell fuel directly.

"The commissioners, as a charity, remain keen to protect the supply of fuel to the fishermen of Looe."

[THIS IS CORNWALL]

STENA LINE

STENA LYNX III - Wexford business people were treated to a mini cruise on board the Stena fastcraft which  resumes its seasonal sailing between Rosslare and Fishguard last Wednesday.

The vessel travelled as far as Arklow before returning top Rosslare on its Business After Hours cruise, under the auspices of Wexford Chamber, with guests treated to a sushi supper before disembarking.

Vic Goodwin, route director for the Rosslare to Fishguard route, believes that the return of the STENA LYNX III will be good news for customers.

'We have seen an increasing number of people taking short-breaks and even day-trips to Britain each year. These fast crossing times mean that travel to Britain from Ireland is both easier and faster for Irish holidaymakers,' said Vic.

Under the new timetable the STENA LYNX III will sail from Rosslare at 08:00 and 15:00 and will return from Fishguard at 11:30 and 18.30 The crossing takes less than two hours.

SHIPPING IN IRELAND

The shipping industry has had its best year yet, according to the Government's Maritime Development Office.

In its annual economic survey, it said that the shipping services sector is now worth €1.7bn and is vital to national economic growth.

8,300 people are employed in the industry.

IMDO Director Glenn Murphy also records optimism amongst car ferry operators that increasing frustration and problems at airports will lead to a return to sea transport.

Mr Murphy said that the message is that this island economy can not survive without ships and ports.

The importance of ports and ships to the economy is shown with the biggest ever number of containers - 1.2 million - passing through Irish ports, an increase of 12%.

With an increase of 8% in the amount of trucks on freight ferries and bulk cargoes, ships and the ports carried over 90% of all Irish industrial exports and imports. [RTE]

May 02Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Kevin Bennett, Sara Cass and "others"

ARKLOW SHIPPING

Arklow Shipping, a big shipbuilding customer of the Netherlands, is said to have turned instead to South Korea for its latest newbuildings.

 

The Arklow, Ireland and Rotterdam-based company has reportedly ordered four 14,000-dwt general cargoships at Mokpo Shipyard due for for delivery in 2009.  The ships are understood to include options for two more.

 

No one at Arklow was available for comment. It remains unclear whether the contract has actually been signed.Arklow, established 41 years ago, only last month took delivery of the ARKLOW ROGUE , the penultimate vessel in a series of 12 newbuildings of 4,530 dwt from Barkmeijer Stroobos in the Netherlands. The last one is for delivery this year.

 

Arklow's website says the company now operates a fleet of 37 ships of between 3,000 dwt and 13,000 dwt. The latest Arklow order is significant for Mokpo, one of South Korea's smaller yards whose orderbook is listed by brokers as comprising just nine 6,500-dwt newbuildings divided between general cargoships and chemical/products tankers.  [ MARITIME CLIPPINGS]

 

INSURANCE CONCERNS

The European Commission is proposing that inland ferries pay the same passenger liability insurance as deep sea vessels.

When does a passenger ferry become an ocean liner? A question the European Parliament has been considering this week.

If you are lucky enough to be taking a trip on the Danube this summer it may disturb you to know there is a good chance if there was an accident the boat might well not be insured.

It is a scary prospect the European Commission is trying to address by requiring inland river ferries to take out the same passenger liability insurance as ocean-going vessels.

But South West MEPs are concerned that the proposed legislation could have a big impact on ferry prices in the South West - leaving passengers to pick up the tab.

It is not clear, at this stage, which ferries would be affected - but  operators in Torpoint and Dartmouth are among those who will be following developments closely.

South West MEP Neil Parish says the European Commission needs to think again: "It is estimated inland ferry operators could have to pay up to four times their current insurance premium if this directive is passed.

Liz Branson, Passenger: "For people in St Mawes the King Harry Ferry is like a bus... It is ridiculous to compare it to an ocean liner"

Some small ferry companies in the South West say the increased insurance burden would force them to cease operating.

Medium sized operations, like the Falmouth - St Mawes ferry, warn that passengers would have to cope with a reduced service.

Tim Light, Managing Director, St Mawes Ferry Company: "We would probably only be able to run the summer services, and probably look at fare increases."

A spokesperson from the European Commission said: "The Commission has been concerned by the impact that the future regulation would have on insurance premiums and eventually on passenger's tickets.

"A number of studies have shown that the impact would be moderate. We recognise that a certain effort is need by the industry and the insurance market to adapt to the new rules.

"But this has indeed to be read in connection with the greater protection to be granted to passengers."

On Wednesday 25 April 2007, The European Parliament voted to exclude inland waterways from the new maritime safety package.

The proposals will now be considered by the Council of Ministers on June 6 2007.

It is likely to be the start of a long process of negotiation between the Council and the Parliament before any new law is passed. [BBC South West]

MERSEY FERRIES

Mersey Ferries services and ticket office moved back to the Pier Head from Monday April 30, 2007.

Peel Ports have now moved the SKYLINE BARGE 15 into position at the Pier Head. The move enables the ferries to operate without the need to fit around the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company's sailing schedule.

The move of the ticket office back to the Pier Head Ferry Terminal will be temporary, as plans are underway to demolish the existing building and replace it with a brand new £10million terminal building.

A temporary ticket office will operate from Canada Boulevard from June when the demolition and construction works begin.

Neil Scales, Chief Executive and Director General of Merseytravel, said: “We have to say a big thank you to everyone who has continued to use the ferries, despite the problems we’ve had to deal with over recent months.

“Passenger numbers have been down quite substantially but we hope that many more people will come back, use the services and support the ferries now we’re back at the Pier Head Ferry Terminal building.

“We’re pleased that the majority of works to clear the damaged landing stage have been completed and a temporary stage is in place for us to begin operations from the Pier Head once again.”

ROYAL DAFFODIL had the honour of restoring services from the Pier Head [PHOTOS].

NATIONAL MUSEUMS LIVERPOOL

Sudley House, home of the magnificent art collection of ship owner George Holt, reopens on 26 May 2007 following a two-year £1 million refurbishment including many new attractions.

 

The listed sandstone mansion set in its own grounds at Mossley Hill, south Liverpool, has undergone major conservation and renovation work including improved access and a lift. It houses the only art collection of a Victorian merchant still in its original domestic setting.

 

The new attractions include:

·    Introductory display: the Holt family – George and Elizabeth Holt and daughter Emma from1884 to1944. Set in the ground floor library, the display includes an introductory film, family portraits and a model of the Lamport & Holt steamer Verdi.

 

·    Two childhood rooms: how Victorian children learned and played. Exhibits include a huge Victorian dolls’ house, educational toys, fashion dolls and pots used at mealtimes by rich and poor children.

 

·    Costume room: clothes worn by three daughters of Walter Holland, George Holt’s neighbour and business partner who lived at nearby Carnatic Hall. The clothes date from the 1880s to the 1920s and were bought in Bold Street, Liverpool, and Paris.

 

·    Temporary exhibition gallery: Merchant Palaces – a fascinating photographic display, running until early 2008, looks at luxurious merchants’ mansions that graced the fashionable suburbs of Liverpool and Wirral during the Victorian and Edwardian eras.

 

In addition, there has been a re-hang of the paintings including works by Gainsborough, Turner, Reynolds, Romney, Landseer, Millais and Holman Hunt. Holt had a special liking for the work of John Strudwick and ordered pictures from him which can be seen in the garden hall, the original entrance to the house.

 

Robin Emmerson, National Museums Liverpool’s head of decorative arts, says: “Sudley is a unique attraction, displaying the domestic artistic tastes of a Victorian merchant. This extended from his art collection to the design of his home and how the rooms were ordered and fitted out.”  

 

Sudley was built in 1821 by corn merchant Nicholas Robinson. George Holt, a founder of the Lamport & Holt shipping line, bought the house in 1884. He extended it and redecorated the ground floor much as we see it today.

 

George Holt probably gave as much to charity as he spent on paintings. Emma did not buy pictures but continued her father’s level of giving to charity.

 

Emma left the house and its contents to the people of Liverpool when she died in 1944.

 

Sadly, all the furniture was sold because at that time there was no interest in Victorian interiors. Upstairs, walls were removed and the Victorian rooms do not survive. These areas – housing the childhood rooms, costume room and temporary exhibition gallery – have been redecorated and modernised.

 

The ground floor has been re-furnished just enough to give it a Victorian feel. Originally the house was very cluttered with ornate furniture. If this was put back, visitors could not walk freely around the rooms to look at the pictures. Each room has a video featuring actors portraying family members and domestic staff.

 

Other ground floor rooms include:

·    Drawing room: the Holts’ best sitting room. A photo of 1886 shows the same fireplace and paintings but everything else has changed. One corner has been filled with the clutter of Victorian furnishings which was hard for the maid to clean.

 

·    Dining room: the Holts probably planned many of Liverpool’s improvements – from health to education – over dinner here with their friends. The sideboard was sold in the sale after Emma’s death and has been borrowed from the buyer’s nephew.

 

·     Morning room: Emma used this for her study, organising her charity work including the Liverpool Personal Service Society and the Liverpool Queen Victoria District Nursing Association. She was a member of the Council of Liverpool University, unusual for a woman at that time.

 

A new steel and glass lift has been installed giving visitors access to the first floor. Two other new facilities are the Sudley café, open seven days a week, and access for coaches.

PEEL HOLDINGS

Designs for a flotilla of floating homes to be built on the River Mersey have been revealed.

The 26 properties will sit in the Princes Dock basin and will look like a row of "super yachts", said developers Peel Holdings.

It is thought to be the first development of its kind in the country and will complement the other waterfront redevelopment projects.

The plans have been submitted to Liverpool City Council.  Each home will have three decks with the top one featuring a large area for entertaining.

Prices are expected to be in line with top of the range penthouse apartments.

More than £200m has already been invested in Princes Dock. The area has attracted a number of blue chip companies who have set up office bases at the World Heritage Site. [BBC]

STENA LINE

Eight seafarers have been reinstated by Stena Line, the company's decision thus defusing a simmering dispute on board the Rosslare Harbour- based STENA EUROPE.

Stena said last Friday that the eight had been reinstated and that the issue 'had been resolved through the disciplinary process'.

A company spokesman gave no details of how the impasse had been broken and said Stena would not be commenting any further.

The Rail Maritime and Transport (RMT) union had urged its members on board the ship to vote in favour of industrial action to support the eight seafarers who were dismissed while the ship was in dry dock in Birkenhead in January.

Steve Todd, the RMT's National Secretary, said at the time that the company said the eight had been dismissed from the ship for failing to turn up on time without a reasonable excuse and for deliberately delaying breathalyser tests.

He said his members refuted and denied that.

In a letter sent to the his members on board the ship earlier this week, Mr. Todd said that following appeal hearings in Fishguard 'it became apparent that they (the eight men) had not been given the correct advice.'

'It was agreed between management and RMT that if we are to accept that this is the case and similar circumstances arose, we would in fact advise our members differently,' he said.

Mr. Todd said the men were being reinstated with a master's warning, making it unnecessary to continue with the ballot. [NEW ROSS STANDARD]

 

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