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NEWS BULLETIN - June 2007

June 27Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Ian Collard, Gary Hall and "others"

ISLE OF MAN STEAM PACKET COMPANY

EMERAUDE FRANCE - The company has announced that the ship will operate a "Round the Island" cruise on the Tynwald Day Bank Holiday - Thursday July 05, 2007. She departs Douglas at 15:00. Fare is £12.50 Adults and £7.50 for children. As SEA EXPRESS 1 is likely to be dry-docked for repairs in the near future this is perhaps the one and only opportunity to do a RTI on EMERAUDE FRANCE.

BEN-MY-CHREE - following the news about the EMERAUDE FRANCE "RTI" it is timely to remind people that the BEN's annual Round The Island trip takes place on the Evening of Saturday July 14. Fare £19.50 including buffet. Departs Douglas at 19:00.

Tickets for both trips are available direct from the Douglas office or by phoning 01624 661661.

MAERSK GROUP

NORFOLK LINE

CFF SEINE is currently serving the Belfast - Heysham Norfolkline daily freight service, she has taken up the place of the HOBURGEN operating the second morning sailing from Belfast daily & the second p.m. sailing  sailing from Heysham daily.  She is a Bazias class vessel (Same as River Lune, Hoburgen & Various Dart ships).

MERSEY FERRIES

U534 - Mersey Ferries has acquired a new vessel - a submarine! Yes the Merseytravel owned ferry operation has bought the German U-boat U534 which has faced an uncertain future since the closure of the Historic Warships collection early in 2006.

Mersey Travel have issued the following press release:

Merseytravel has rescued a World War II German U Boat which never saw combat and will re-site it at Mersey Ferries’ Woodside Ferry Terminal as a major tourist attraction.

Plans submitted to Wirral Council include the provision of a visitor exhibition centre, which will include artefacts from the submarine along with its history.

The future of U543 has been in doubt since the Historic Warship Museum at Birkenhead, where it was housed, closed last year.

Neil Scales, Chief Executive and Director General of Merseytravel, which owns and operates the Mersey Ferries, said: ”The Mersey Ferries are already the most popular paid-for attraction in our region and this development will reaffirm that position.

“We have Spaceport located at the Seacombe Ferry Terminal which has proved tremendously popular and we also have plans for attracting tourists to the new £10 million ferry terminal at Pier Head.

“We’ll make a trip on the Mersey Ferries an even more memorable experience for the ever increasing number of visitors to Merseyside.

“Our scheme will also complement the wider regeneration of the Woodside development which is the subject of a master plan.

“The Mersey Ferries fleet has undergone a £10.5 million refurbishment programme and we spent £9 million on Spaceport as part of our plans to reposition the Ferries as a tourist attract and secure their long term future.”

The plan is paying dividends. Of the 700,000-plus annual passenger journeys leisure ventures accounts for around 70 per cent of the business.

U534 was never involved in active combat but used for meteorological purposes.

For technical reasons the boat will be cut into three sections for transportation to its new site by water using a floating crane.

At Woodside huge high quality glazed panels installed over the end of each section will allow visitors to see inside the submarine from specially built viewing platforms.

Mr Scales added: “We are still in negotiations with specialists about moving U534 but work can start as soon as we receive planning permission which we anticipate, will be in September.

“The U Boat exhibition will also complement both the Resurgum, the world’s first submarine, a full scale model of which is located on the north side of the ferry terminal, as well the historic connection between the Mersey Ferries and U Boats through the 1918 Zeebrugge raid.”                                            

About U Boat U534

U534 was launched in February 1942 and for the first year and a half of its life never appears in the records of the combat flotillas. It is thought that during this period it was used as a school boat, kept in the Baltic to train new crews and test new systems.

In May 1944, U534 was released for operational duty but it was not sent on offensive patrols. It was assigned the duty of weather reporting and required to avoid contact with the enemy to ensure regular reports.

On May 5th, 1945 U-534 was sailing in the Kattegat, North-West of Helsingor and although Admiral Dönitz had ordered all his U-boats to surrender as from 08:00 May 5th, U534 refused to do so.

She was heading North towards Norway, without flying a flag of surrender, when she was attacked by a Liberator aircraft from RAF 547 Squadron which dropped depth charges.

U534 took heavy damage and began to sink by the stern. Forty-nine of the 52 crew members survived including five who escaped via a torpedo hatch as she lay on the sea bed.

IRISH SEA SHIPPING COMMENT: It is certainly excellent news that this heritage vessel has been saved for posterity and more importantly retained on Merseyside, from where the Battle of The Atlantic operations where conducted.

It is, however, rather more disconcerting that the vessel is to be kept in three sections to allow visitors to view the interior. This surely will detract from its visual appeal. Surely there are other ways of revealing the interior but maintain the vessel as a whole once it has been delivered to Woodside.

NORTHERN LIGHTHOUSE BOARD

CALF OF MAN LIGHTHOUSE was extinguished for the final time on June 21. This follows the announcement on June 13 that the range of light from the nearby CHICKEN ROCK light house had been increased to 21 miles.

The following appears on IOM Online:

The decision to discontinue use of the Calf lighthouse followed a review by the Northern Lighthouse Board, in conjunction with the three general lighthouse authorities, into aids to navigation throughout the British Isles in consultation with the Department of Transport and harbour users.

The power of the automatic light in the Chicken Rock lighthouse has been increased to 21 nautical miles, so the lighthouse on the Calf is not necessary.

A spokesman for the board said: 'To avoid any confusion between two long range lights in close proximity, the lighthouse at the Calf of Man was permanently discontinued.'

There has been a lighthouse on the Calf of Man since 1818. The two lighthouses (with leading lights designed by Robert Stevenson) were placed so when lined up one above the other, the Chicken Rock would be in line between the vessel and the cliff.

The lighthouses were discontinued when the 125 foot Chicken Rock lighthouse was built between 1869 and 1874.


The lighthouse was built using blocks of granite shipped from Scotland that was cut in a mason's yard in Port St Mary.

After a serious fire in the Chicken Rock lighthouse in 1960, its light was converted to automatic operation and a new lighthouse on the Calf was used with a more powerful light.

The Chicken Rock light has been upgraded since September last year and a temporary light has operated. Its more powerful light was switched on on June 13.

A question mark hangs over the future of the lighthouse buildings.
As landowner, ownership of the building reverts automatically to Manx National Heritage.

Northern Lighthouse Board commissioner for the Island Robert Quayle said: 'We (the NLB) are very much hoping they are going to make good use of it.

'It's in superb condition, there are six bedrooms and it is in extremely good living condition.

'We have a policy of using former lighthouse buildings for holiday accommodation, we hope it may be the same.

'If they just close it up and let it deteriorate, the demolition costs would be astronomic, I think one of the great tragedies of the Calf old light houses was the roofs were taken off and they are now graceful ruins.

'I do not want to see that with this 1960s building.'

He added: 'If it came on the market, I would be interested in it.

'The light room has 360-degree views. When it's sunny or wet and windy up there, it would be a lovely place to read a book.

'It's such a beautiful place, people could spend holidays there — bird watchers for example. Unfortunately, it's not NLB's shout on this.'

However, using the building for accommodation was 'not entirely appropriate for a variety of reasons', said MNH Trustee Phil Gawne, 'mainly in relation to the potential disturbance of wildlife'.

He added: 'One of the issues is in relation to sewage that goes in a little path over the cliff.

'The view seems to be not to use it as a place for people to go to stay.

'I'm keen for the lighthouse to be used, not just mothballed so it could not be seen by the nation.'

PENINSULAR & ORIENTAL STEAM NAVIGATION COMPANY

Around one month ago Irish Sea Shipping's "Lamb Banana" page revealed that there were rumours doing the rounds that P&O was about to purchase former the Norse Merchant PAU CASALS (ex DAWN MERCHANT) for use as refit cover on the Irish Sea and English Channel.

It appears that the basis of this rumour was correct and that P&O were to acquire a "race horse" - however, it appears that it is a different one. The company announced on June 27 that they had acquired the former MIDNIGHT MERCHANT now EL GRECO.

The company will take delivery of the El Greco, currently operated by the Spanish shipping line Transmediterranea, during September and will deploy the vessel on its Dover-Calais service to offer additional peak time and refit season capacity in a growing market. The ship will also be used as a refit relief vessel in P&O’s Irish Sea and North Sea operations.

 

Helen Deeble, chief executive, said: “This investment is designed to help freight customers achieve their just in time delivery schedules by boosting the P&O Short Sea fleet from six to seven ships at peak times. It will also enable us to guarantee sufficient capacity and reliability through the refit season in all sectors.

“It represents a significant step forward for our business and is a move I believe will be welcomed by customers and staff alike.”

 

The El Greco was built to international standards under the British flag and Lloyd’s Register classification and was delivered new in 2000 to Norfolk Line as the Midnight Merchant for use on their Dover-Dunkerque route. Trasmediterranea  acquired the ship a year ago.

 

It has a carrying capacity of 125 articulated lorries which is comparable to P&O’s other dedicated Dover-Calais freighter, the European Seaway. It can also carry in excess of 300 passengers and is equipped with passenger cabins for use during refit cover on the Irish Sea and North Sea routes.

 

On joining the P&O Ferries fleet the ship will be re-named the EUROPEAN ENDEAVOUR. It will be British flagged and will carry officers and crew on British terms and conditions of employment. Officers and crew will be recruited from within P&O’s existing ferry operations and via specialist agencies.

SEA CONTAINERS

The Spectator magazine has published on it's web site a tribute to Jim Sherwood who bows out, along with his stepson, from the Orient Express group this month. VSOE was once part of Sea Containers until it was separated from it's parent as financial problems mounted at Sea Containers. [CLICK HERE] To visit the Spectator site.

June 24Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Ian Collard, Michael Bracken and "others"

AUSTAL

Some may recall the dispute between Austal and Stena concerning the design of the JONATHAN SWIFT infringing designs for the Stena HSS1500 vessels.

Well apparently the matter continues to rumble on in the back ground.

This week it was reported that Austal, has lost a key case in the Federal Court which was brought by Stena over one of its hull designs.

In a statement to the Australian Stock Exchange, Austal says it is reviewing the judgement with a view to appealing against the decision.

CARNIVAL CORPORATION

QUEEN ELIZABETH 2 on June 18 the company announced the sale of the 40 year old QE2 to Dubai World (Owners of Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation Company).

The  US$100 million deal will see the liner converted into a first-class tourism destination at The Palm Jumeirah in Dubai.

QE2 will be delivered to Dubai World in November 2008, where she will cease her role as an ocean-going passenger vessel and be refurbished and adapted for her new home. From 2009, the vessel will be berthed at a specially-constructed pier to create a luxury floating hotel, retail and entertainment destination at The Palm Jumeirah, the world's largest man-made island.

The ship, which was launched by Her Majesty The Queen in September 1967, 40 years ago this year, is the longest-serving ship in 168 year history of the Cunard brand, and was their longest-serving flagship. Since she came into service in 1969, she has undertaken 25 world cruises, has crossed the Atlantic more than 800 times and has carried more than 2.5 million passengers.

QE2 has been purchased by Istithmar, the investment arm of Dubai World, a wholly owned company of the Government of Dubai. Nakheel, developer of The Palm Jumeirah, is also a Dubai World company.

Carol Marlow, president and managing director of Cunard, said:" We are delighted that when her legendary career as an ocean liner ends there will continue to be a permanent home for her that will enable future generations to continue to experience fully both the ship and her history."

Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem, chairman of Dubai World, said:"QE2 is without a doubt one of the wonders of the maritime world, and is easily the most famous serving liner in the world today. I am delighted we will be able to create a home for her on the newest wonder of the world, The Palm Jumeirah."

"QE2 at The Palm Jumeirah will become one of the must-see experiences of Dubai and of the Middle East. We are investing in creating a truly global tourism destination."

"Dubai is a maritime nation and we understand the rich heritage of QE2. She is coming to a home where she will be cherished."

Istithmar said its refurbishment programme will aim to recreate QE2's original interior décor and fittings. QE2 at The Palm Jumeirah will also include a museum celebrating the rich history of the ship.

The Irish Sea features in one of her final sailings which will be:

September 30, 2008: Southampton - Cóbh - Dublin - Liverpool - Belfast - Greenock - Rosyth - Newcastle - Southampton arrive October 10.

October 10: Southampton - New York

October 16: New York Southampton

October 22 & 27 Southampton to Mediterranean

 

FINAL SAILING with passengers departs Southampton November 11 for Lisbon- Naples- Alexandria- Dubai.

DUBLIN PORT

Dublin business groups are demanding that the Government make a decision on the future of Dublin Port, which is running out of capacity.

Some interest groups say want the operation moved out of the capital, which would allow the development of port lands.

A Dublin City Council report on the future of Dublin Bay is due to be completed by the end of the month.

Some political parties want at least part of the operation moved north to Bremore outside Balbriggan.

But a spokesman for Dublin Port pointed out that the city centre facility is still the most efficient way of distributing imports around the capital.

Dublin Chamber of Commerce says the most important thing is that the Government makes a decision soon.

IRISH CONTINENTAL GROUP

The management team bidding to buy Irish Continental Group  (ICG) has increased its offer to €22 a share.

In a statement to the stock exchange the management team's investment vehicle, Aella has increased the terms of its offer from €18.50 a share.

The company also announced that ICG's chief executive Eamonn Rothwell has 1.75 million shares - a 7.4 per cent stake in the company for €22 a share.

Today's announcement brings the management buyout team ownership of ICG shares to 21.4 per cent. Aella is being advised by Goodbody Corporate Finance.

The new offer price matches that of the competing consortium which includes One51 Capital and Doyle Group which was made on June 14th. The bids of €22 per share value the company at €560.9 million.

Turnover at ICG increased by 4.6 per cent to €312 million in the year to the end of December 2006. Its trading profit increased to €32 million from €18 million in 2005. [RTÉ]

On Saturday, however, the Irish Independent revealed that a mystery buyer had bought around  8% of Irish Ferries shares. Apparently the newcomer has built up a "high single digit" percentage interest in the Irish Ferries operator since last Tuesday.

The entire position is held through contracts for difference (CFDs), a leveraged financial derivative, which has allowed the buyer to remain anonymous under Irish takeover legislation.

ISLE OF MAN DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORT

DOUGLAS HARBOUR MAY 2007 HARBOUR TRAFFIC FIGURES

Traffic Figures:

 

May

Year to Date

 

Passengers

Vehicles

Passengers

Vehicles

2007

71,339

25,917

198,506

63,170

2006

51,616

15,479

171,825

49,934

%change

+38.2%

+67.4%

+15.5%

+26.5%

Route Performance:

Route

%change

2006

2007

Belfast

Plus 13%

2,193

2,473

Dublin

Plus 196%

309

916

Heysham

Plus 48%

20,729

30,730

Liverpool

Plus 19%

27,049

32,225

Larne

Plus 1018%

138

1,544

Troon

All Plus

Nil

63

Director of Harbours, Captain Michael Brew comments:

“Excellent May passenger figures are helping to build on the growth seen every month so far this year.  The centenary of the TT has obviously had a very positive impact on the figures”

LIVERPOOL CRUISE SHIP CALLS 2008

It appears that Saga will originate cruises from Liverpool using SAGA ROSE and SPIRIT OF ADVENTURE.

At present the list of liner calls stands at, however, given that originating cruises have to use the West Langton Terminal it doesn't represent a terrific line up for the new cruise terminal for visiting ships as yet, though the full picture is yet to emerge.

BLACK PRINCE – January 01 & 14. February 18, March 02, 15, 31, April 10, July 11, 19 & 27, August 09, 18 & 31, September 07 & 28 and October 10.

SAGA ROSE – June 05, July 11 & 29, August 13

SPIRIT OF ADVENTURE – June 07

GRAND PRINCESS – June 10, July 04 & 28 & August 21.

PRINSENDAM - July 11

CRYSTAL SYMPHONY – July 20

MAASDAM – July 26

DELPHIN VOYAGER – August 19

SEABOURN PRIDE – September 23

In addition QUEEN ELIZABETH 2 will call on her British Isles farewell cruise in October.

LIVERPOOL CRUISE TERMINAL

Information received from several sources suggested Saturday June 23 would see the first section of the new Prince's Landing Stage Extension positioned. However, this did not take place for as yet unknown reasons.

MAERSK GROUP

NORFOLK LINE

LAGAN VIKING has been dry-docked at Harland & Wolff's yard this week with LIVERPOOL VIKING transferred from the Dublin route to provide cover. RR SHIELD providing freight cover on the Dublin route.

Despite appearing in blue / white livery in the company's publicity material, on Saturday afternoon her hull had been freshly painted in red. (left).

 

NOMADIC PRESERVATION SOCIETY

SS NOMADIC is to vacate her centre stage place during the Maritime Festival which is to be held around Belfast harbour on 30th June and 1st July 2007.

The event which is organised by Belfast City Council will see the arrival of a number of tall ships and other maritime exhibits, in and around the harbour during the coming week. Whilst SS Nomadic is to be included in the itinerary, her public presence will be somewhat subdued by the temporary berth allocated during the event.

The move, that has been deemed unpopular by some Nomadic enthusiasts, will see the doors closing to the public on Tuesday 26th June. Work will then commence to disconnect water and electricity supplies. On Wednesday, she will be towed by two tugs away from the public arena of Queens Quay to Pollock Dock. Arrangements are currently being finalised for electricity to be hooked up to the ship at the temporary berth and the provision of quayside portable toilets, as there will be no fresh water supply. It is hoped that Nomadic will be re-opened on Saturday 30th at 10.00am.

Belfast City Council had already booked the berths at Queens Quay for the event, prior to NOMADIC's arrival in April. Last year the event attracted over 55,000 visitors to Belfast and it is hoped that similar numbers will gather for the festival this year. Whilst NOMADIC will not be on centre stage, it is hoped that visitor numbers will exceed those that were seen at her opening over Easter.

Whilst the event is being billed as free to the public, admission fees to Nomadic will still apply. It is hoped that visitors will understand the necessity for this and play their part in raising funds towards the restoration, by stepping on-board.

June 17Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Michael Pryce, George Jones, John Thomas, Ian Collard, Dan Cross and "others".

ARMADA ARGENTINA

A series of nationwide military, historic and cultural events will began on Friday June 15 when the Argentine navy arrives in Galway and the tall ship LIBERTAD visits Ireland to honour Admiral William Brown from Foxford, who died 150 years ago.

Military ceremonies will be held in Foxford on June 17th and the major national ceremony will be held in Dublin.

Tall-ship LIBERTAD arrives in Dublin on June 21. She will be open to the public on June 24 at Sir John Rogerson's Quay.

The Minister for Defence, the Argentine Chargé d’Affaires, Federico Guillermo Urrutia, the Chief of Staff of the Defence Forces, Lieutenant General Jim Sreenan and the Flag Officer Commanding the Naval Service, Commodore Frank Lynch will attend a Wreath Laying ceremony at the statue of Admiral William Brown at 11am on Friday June 22 , on Sir John Rogerson's Quay, Dublin.

The Ceremony will commemorate the 150th anniversary of the death of Admiral Brown, the Foxford born founder of the Argentine Navy and will form part of a busy programme of events, including a Wreath Laying and Museum Opening Ceremony in Foxford on Sunday 17th of June.

 

On the visit of the Argentine Vessel, Lieutenant Commander Terry Ward of the Irish Naval Service says, “‘ARA Libertad’ is a 94metre long, 3,000 Tonne, three-mast sail training vessel. The main mast is 54 metres in height, and the ship is a spectacular sight in full sail.”

 

ARA LIBERTAD will dock in Galway from 16th to the 19th of June, in Dublin from the 21st to the 26th of June and will be open to the public for limited periods in both locations. The Commander in Chief of the Argentine Navy, Admiral Godoy, will be hosted by the Chief of Staff in McKee Barracks at 4.15pm on Thursday 21 June, where he will receive a 50 strong Naval Service Guard of Honour.

FYFFES ATLANTIC SHIPPING

Fyffes Atlantic Shipping, (a subsidiary of the Fyffes Banana Group) has launched a new weekly service with a direct call at Dublin. The new service is being operated through a slot charter arrangement with Europe West Indies Lines of which FAS has been the agent in Ireland since 1 May. FAS will use the service to bring bananas and pineapples from Colombia, Honduras and Guatemala using mainly 40ft reefer boxes. The first call at Dublin was made on June 15.

HJ LINES

The South Wales Evening Post reported this week on the demise of the recently introduced Swansea - Cork freight service this week:

The new Swansea to Cork freight ferry service has been suspended just two months after going into service. Hopes had been high that the service would tap into a lucrative market following the withdrawal of the Swansea to Cork passenger ferry.

Ammanford-born 61-year-old Hugh Johnson, founder of HJ Lines and managing director of Air Cargo Wales, had hoped to re-establish the route as a profitable one.

Mr Johnson told the Post: "There wasn't the support there. "I thought the business might have been there, but much of it is tied up in Fishguard and Pembroke.

"Unless you can go head-to-head with the big boys, it wasn't sustainable." The first voyage saw a mixture of horse boxes, cars, lorries and steel make the journey over the Irish Sea. Other sailings were less full.

The HJ Lines Service was launched in March and was to sail three times a week, re-establishing a direct link between Swansea and Cork following the suspension of the passenger ferry service in late 2006.

Deputy port manager of Associated British Ports South Wales Clive Thomas had billed the new service as "extremely good news for the Port of Swansea."

This week he told the Post: "The service is not running at present.

"We are now in the process of talking to potential operators to take the route up. We have a number of people we are talking to and remain optimistic to get someone on the roundabout. Unfortunately, it wasn't to be for HJ Lines."

Asked if there was any likelihood of an announcement being made soon, Mr Thomas replied: "There are people showing interest in the round and hope to be able to put out some good news."

HJ Lines had offered the service because it believed there was a growing demand for increased freight capacity on the Southern Ireland and UK freight market route.

Mr Johnson said the service had lost money.

"We invested in it and started from scratch, but it wasn't going to go anywhere.

"It didn't work. I just walked away and paid everybody up."

IRISH CONTINENTAL GROUP

It was announced on Thursday June 14 that the company has agreed to be bought by the Moonduster consortium for around €560.9 million.

ICG said its shareholders would receive 22 euros per share in cash, a  premium of 41 percent over its closing price on March 7, the last business day prior to the commencement of the offer period.

The Moonduster Consortium comprises One 51 Capital and the Doyle Group.

The battle for control ICG had begun when One 51 Capital and the Doyle Group had put in a counter bid to that offered by a management buy out group.

ISLE OF MAN STEAM PACKET COMPANY

It was reported by IOM Today last week that Minister Tony Brown has refused to answer questions about the Steam Packet in advance of a possible debate in Tynwald.

Peter Karran wants a select committee to investigate the user agreement and the Steam Packet.

We posed these questions to Chief Minister Tony Brown last week but he refused to answer, saying: 'Because Mr Karran's got a motion down for debate it would be inappropriate to add anything more to what has already been said.'

These were the questions we wanted Mr Brown to answer:

1) Have you been satisfied with the Steam Packet's performance over the TT period?

2) Do you accept that the number and nature of the complaints posted by passengers about the Steam Packet's TT service which have appeared on news websites and forums (iomtoday alone has received more than 100 submissions from readers to our stories, only a handful of which have been supportive of the company. This is the most submissions we have ever received on any subject) is not good for the Island's image?

3) Are you concerned that although many of those complaints refer specifically to the problems over TT, many contain historic complaints about the service the company offers to the Island and its visitors?

4) If government believes the Steam Packet has done the best it can in the circumstances, would it not be helpful in the interests of openness to allow an investigation to go ahead to provide detailed answers to the many questions the public has?

5) What problems would you foresee arising if other operators were allowed to operate alongside the Steam Packet?

6) If the Steam Packet knew it was unlikely it would be able to charter another/other vessel/s just for two weeks because of the way the industry works and the company was unable to get definitive answers from charter companies, as has been said -

a) does this mean no ferry company would have been able to provide a better service than that which was seen over Centenary TT fortnight?

b) why were bookings taken (in some cases two years in advance) for timetabled sailings?

This week the company responded to criticism with MD Hamish Ross stating that their commitment to improving services continues highlighting the deployment of a second fast craft and states. He went on to state that funds are available for further fastcraft investment in due course.

Concerning the TT Mr Ross had the following to say:

"The Centenary TT has attracted negative attention regarding late transfers but the company actually provided the capacity required to carry as many vehicles as the whole of the first 20 weeks of 2007, and all the extra freight, an extraordinary achievement.

The company scheduled an additional 242 sailings, used six extra vessels, employed on additional 270 staff and worked 24/7 to successfully carry 94,000 passengers and 46,000 vehicles without a single passenger service cancellation.

All customers were advised schedules could be altered but only 1 per cent of customers were adversely affected by the transfers which are regrettable but a necessity as some chartered vessels would not commit in advance.

If the company had only accepted bookings with guaranteed schedules the Isle of Man would have lost 10,000 visitors and £5m visitor spend, and lost the opportunity to showcase our beautiful Island.

The Steam Packet Company is locally managed and one of the Island's largest Manx employers. The user agreement has provided stability, frequency, capacity, investment, and lower fares, whereas some of the Island's air services have been characterised by route closures and instability.

The user agreement has proved a resounding success for the Isle of Man and to return to service provision offered prior to 1995 would be an extremely backward step.

The company would be pleased as always to invite Mr Karran or any Tynwald members to meet with us to discuss any issues or concerns."

[Irish Sea Shipping Comment: Overall the Steam Packet appears to have done a good job during TT 100. The aging fast craft appear to have held up to the extra work load imposed over the TT 100 Festival reasonably well - though some notable delays were recorded on some sailings.

However, when the next history of the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company is written it looks as though TT 100 will be recorded as being a logistical success rather than the anticipated chaos! It is true that a large number of passengers had their reservations changed - your web master included - but such changes are not unique to the Steam Packet.

Only this week your web master had notification of a departure port change on a  Dublin to Birkenhead reservation for Saturday June 23. Apparently the evening Dublin to Birkenhead Norfolk Line sailing has been cancelled which now necessitates a drive up to Belfast. These things do happen elsewhere!

INTERNATIONAL TRANSPORT WORKERS FEDERATION

The International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF) says it week-long action mainly aimed at enforcing ITF agreements on open register-ships was “an overwhelming success that will leave a lasting impact on the lives of seafarers”.

During the ITF week of action, which ended on 8 June, ITF “inspectors”, dockers and unions investigated both open register-vessels and those flying a national flag to, the ITF says, “help secure decent conditions on board”. The week of action was held in Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Russia, Sweden and the UK.

The ITF claims as “key successes” 12 new agreements on vessels in Germany, a number of which were achieved following actions such as boycotts by dockers against the CMA CGM IGUACU in Hamburg and the MSC BREMEN.

Actions also took place in Cherbourg, France, where a blockade of the ferry NORMANDY was lifted after Irish Ferries and Celtic Link agreed to begin talks about a collective bargaining agreement. Meanwhile in Poland, discussions over an ITF agreement were set up between unions and owners of the ELENI K and shipowner Columbia Ship management Ltd pledged to sign an ITF collective agreement for CAPE FULMAR.

ITF Maritime Coordinator Steve Cotton described the event as “outstanding”. He said: “Hundreds of ships have been inspected across the continent and issues such as safety, owed wages and poor working conditions tackled. We’ve seen excellent support from our docker colleagues, from unions and across national boundaries. This event has made difference that will last far beyond this week.” [MARITIME CLIPPINGS]

MARINE ACCIDENT INVESTIGATION BRANCH

The MAIB has published a report on the grounding of the MV THUNDER on August 10, 2006. The ship owned by Reederei Erwin Strahlmann and registered in Antigua and Barbuda grounded on the approaches to the River Dee. [Click Here] to access report.

MANXMAN STEAMSHIP COMPANY

The following report appeared on the IOM Today Web Site:

Leaders of a charity set up to restore former Steam Packet ship SS Manxman to its former glory say their plans are 'gathering pace', but warn any delays may sink the project.

More than 100 people turned up at India Buildings in Liverpool, the vessel's home city, for a public meeting on the future of the steamer.

The meeting was described as a 'great success' by organisers from the Manxman Steamship Company (MSC) after 95 members of the audience said they supported its aims.

The group has suggested further meetings could be held in Birkenhead, the Isle of Man and Preston in the next few weeks to gain funding guarantees quickly, as they fear the vessel could otherwise be scrapped if a buyer is not found.

The ship is owned by a Greece-based company, which agreed to temporarily suspend dealing with the Manxman in March. MSC is anxious to secure a statement of support from a major sponsor in the next few months to convince the owner to sell.

MSC chairman Bill Ogle, a high-stakes businessman, explained the group is trying to form a public-private partnership of wealthy individuals and companies to match-fund the scheme, similar to those behind restoration work on the Glen Lee in Glasgow, Discovery in Dundee and Nomadic in Belfast.

He said: 'I think if it (the project) doesn't come round this summer, the Manxman cannot last another winter. Also, as volunteers we cannot sustain the trust unless someone comes in to work with us.'

The group has received grants from the UK Lottery Heritage Fund and the European Union, while television producer Phil Redmond, music producer Gary McClarnan, Liverpool and Wirrall local authorities, the North West Development Agency and a high street retail firm are interested.

Mr Ogle said buying the steamer 'would be the easy part', predicting the owner could let it go for as little as a pound to avoid paying for asbestos to be removed.

He estimated the cost of towing the Manxman back to Cammell Laird docks in Merseyside, where she was built, and having her stripped of dangerous materials would be about £600,000. Then specialist work could begin to revamp the ship using as many of the original features as possible.

He added: 'My guess is if we can get commitments of between £2 million and £3 million, then we will be ready to negotiate a sale. But we need a statement of support from a recognised authority or group prepared to take joint charge of her.'

MSC wants the restored Manxman to become an 'iconic centre piece of the maritime heritage features being developed in Birkenhead and the surrounding area which will help to drive the regeneration of this key area'.

Members argue the project will 'help to preserve skills in marine engineering and associated trades' and serve as a hands-on experience for schoolchildren. They anticipate it could be free to the public, using income from corporate and social events to cover maintenance costs.

A number of on-board displays are also planned, including a history of holidays in the Isle of Man, the history of ship building told through the Cammell Laird story and a display of vintage motorcycles giving an account of the TT races.

At last week's meeting, Professor Peter Toyne, former vice-chancellor of Liverpool John Moores University, said the project would 'act as a catalyst by drawing in additional support for maritime heritage and enhance the opportunities for Merseyside's other important preserved vessels'.

Mr Ogle gave a presentation outlining the aims of the project and detailing progress on the three main issues of political support, funding and berthing.

After tackling a busy question and answer session, he told the audience an action plan was in place to deal with the issues raised.

Retired shipbuilder Harry Mooney, who worked on the Manxman during his early career at Cammell Laird, told the crowd of his pride at subsequently sailing on her. The 88-year-old has donated an undisclosed four-figure sum to the project.

NORFOLK LINE

CFF SEINE - is reported to be going on charter to the company to operate out of Heysham. She had been on charter to the recently demised Ferryways operation.

NORSE IRISH FERRIES

MOBY RIDER (ex NORSE LAGAN) which operated on the Liverpool - Belfast route was renamed M RIVER after being sold for scrap. She was beached at Alang on June 02. The ship which was extensively modified during her 40 year career was built in Canada as the  FREDERICK CARTER.

RNLI HELVIC HEAD

Helvic Head Lifeboat (County Waterford) rescued three Polish nationals from a yacht this week. The three who Gardaí say are lucky to be alive had been at sea for 45 days. The three had departed from the Virgin Islands and had been drifting for three days before being rescued by the lifeboat. The yacht was taken to Dungarvan.

June 13Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Dave Crolley and "others"
 

LIVERPOOL CRUISE TERMINAL

The extension to the Prince's Landing Stage, currently being constructed by Balfour Beatty, which will comprise the Liverpool Cruise Terminal was floated in Canada Graving Dock on Wednesday June 13.

The structure is expected to be floated out onto the river, one section at a time, between the 23 and 29 June according to a report in the Daily Post. The river operation will be tide and weather dependent.

NORSE IRISH FERRIES

MOBY RIDER (ex NORSE LAGAN) which operated on the Liverpool - Belfast route is understood to have been sold for scrap. She was built in Canada in 1967 as the FREDERICK CARTER. A history can be found on the Simplon Postcard site.

IRISH FERRIES

NORMANDY was stopped from unloading cargo at the French port on the morning of June 06 by dock workers refusing to accept freight from vessels owned by companies they believe are not affording crew members their entitlements.

The workers conducting the protest were members of CGT, a French affiliate of the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF), who were conducting a week of action across northern Europe.

Passengers were allowed to disembark with their vehicles this morning but because the cargo was not unloaded the vessel remained berthed. Passengers booked on the 18.00 were unable to board pending the outcome of talks

The ITF suspended its action later that day and gave Irish Ferries and also Celtic Link until June 15 to respond to proposals for a collective agreement on ships operated between Ireland and France. The NORMANDY was later able to sail.

The Irish Takeover Panel has extended the deadline by which a consortium must decide whether or not to make a formal offer for ferries group Irish Continental.

Cork-based shipping firm Doyle Group and One51 had been given until 5pm today to make an offer, but the takeover panel has now agreed to a request from ICG's independent directors to extend the deadline until Friday at 5pm.

A statement from the ICG directors said the consortium had made 'significant progress' in the last couple of weeks but may not be in a position to meet the existing deadline because of reasons beyond its control. [RTÉ]

MAERSK GROUP

On June 06 the RMT Union welcomed the 'masssive step forward' gained through recognition of the union by Norfolkline, the Maersk Marine subsidiary that operates three ferries between Dover and Dunquerque.

The news came as RMT and sister maritime unions intensified a week of action against rogue shipping employers, Norfolkline conceded recognition to RMT to represent deck, engine-room and catering ratings on the MAERSK DELFT, MAERSK DOVER and MAERSK DUNQUERQUE.

"Maersk itself has generally good relations with RMT and our sister unions, and it makes sense for its Norfolkline subsidiary to come into line and recognise that RMT represents ratings on these vessels," general secretary Bob Crow said.

"We demonstrated conclusively to Norfolkline through Acas that RMT already had substantial membership on the three vessels operating out of Dover, and I hope that we can now look to a future of sensible negotiation on pay and conditions.

"The company has also agreed in principle to extend recognition to UK catering ratings on the Liverpool-Belfast route, and we will conclude an agreement shortly.

PEEL PORTS

It is reported in the local press that work on the long proposed Langton ro/ro terminal at Liverpool along with a large expansion at the Port of Runcorn could commence within two to three years.

ROYAL NAVY

HMS ASTUTE - the Royal Navy's largest and most powerful attack submarine to date was launched on Friday June 08 at BAe Systems, Barrow-in-Furness. The launch was performed by the Duchess of Cornwall who broke a bottle of beer on the vessel. The ceremony was watched by around 10,000 people.

SEAROAD

BALTIC EAGER - it appears that the weekly Liverpool to Lexios (Oporto) ro/ro freight service came to and end in early May, despite optimistic hopes at its launch that the service might be increased to twice weekly. BALTIC EAGER has returned to TransRussiaExpress operating on the Lübeck - Sassnitz - St. Petersburg route.

June 03Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Michael Pryce, Allan Blackburn, Steve Cheeseman, Kevin Bennett and "others"

DÚN LAOGHAIRE LIFEBOAT

Three divers who were missing when a strong flood tide swept them away from their safety boat were rescued by the Dun Laoghaire RNLI lifeboat last night on Dublin Bay. The three, who had been diving at The Muglins close to Dalkey Island signalled for help by firing a red flare which was spotted from the shore. Dublin Coastguard dispatched RNLI lifeboat and Irish Coastguard Rescue helicopter based at Dublin Airport to the scene shortly after 19:30.

The lifeboat located the divers a mile north of The Muglins. None needed medical attention and were returned to theirboat. It is the second consecutive day the coastguard had to rescue someone from Dublin Bay after a speedboat got into difficulties on Monday.

CELTIC LINK FERRIES

Leaders and officials of Britain and Ireland's transport unions exposed the poverty-pay shame of a ferry company operating in UK and Irish waters, at the start of a week of action against rogue shipping employers.

The Liverpool 'offices' of Celtic Link Ferries - in reality a shed in Regent Road - were visited by senior figures from the dozen UK and Irish unions affiliated to the International Transport Workers' Federation.

A graphic demonstration of pay rates as low as £1.90 an hour was be mounted outside Celtic Link's shed at 13:45, as the trade unionists delivered a letter urging the company to co-operate with the ITF to end poverty pay and bring justice and dignity to its operations.

In March this year ITF inspectors were called to Southampton to assist seafarers working on Celtic Link's Cyprus-flagged charter vessel CELTIC MIST, which was detained by Port State Control as a result of its sub-standard condition, and subsequently denied a licence. Seafarers aboard the vessel complained of appallingly low wages and poor health and safety standards.

The ITF has learned that seafareres aboard the Cyprus-flagged CELTIC STAR, which operates between Dublin and Liverpool, are paid as little as £1.90 an hour.

Aboard the Bahamas-flagged MV DIPLOMAT, which operates for Celtic Link between Cherbourg and Rosslare, a seafarer was denied proper treatment to a serious hand injury.

"We want operators like Celtic Link to co-operate with us to end poverty pay and introduce decent employment standards," said ITF co-ordinator Norrie McVicar.

"In the coming week or so we will be targeting other rogue operators that operate in British and Irish waters, and we will be making it quite clear that there is nowhere for them to hide," Norrie McVicar said.

IRISH CONTINENTAL GROUP

On June 01, 2007 the Irish Takeover Panel made the following announcement:

On 4 April 2007 Doyle Group Limited and One Fifty One Capital Limited ("Consortium") announced that they were in discussions regarding a possible offer for ICG. On 25 May the independent directors of ICG announced that they had on that day requested the Panel to impose a deadline for the Consortium toclarify whether or not it intended to make an offer for ICG.

Following correspondence with the advisers to both the Consortium and the independent directors, the Panel has ruled that, except with the consent of the Panel, the Consortium must by 17:00 on 13 June 2007 either announce an offer for ICG under Rule 2.5 of the Takeover Rules or announce that it will not proceed with an offer for ICG.

In the event that the Consortium announces that it will not proceed with an offer for ICG it will, except with the consent of the Panel, be bound by the restrictions contained in Rule 2.8 of the Takeover Rules for 12 months from the date of such announcement.

ISLE OF MAN DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORT

Next Thursday 7 June the Isle of Man will welcome the MV ISLAND SKY cruise ship. Arriving from Dublin, the 90m long, 4,200 ton vessel, carrying up to 160 passengers and crew, is scheduled to berth in Douglas at 07.00, as part of a British Isles cruise visiting fabled lands and wild shores. This is the ship’s inaugural visit.

The ship is carrying mostly American passengers from study groups including The Smithsonian, Harvard Alumni Association, American Museum of Natural History and the Commonwealth Club Travel and they are on a 13 day tour of the British Isles.

Organised guided tours have been arranged and will include a visit to Tynwald Hill, Cregneash village and Castle Rushen. The tour groups are accompanied by two principal study leaders who are experts in their fields, Captain Alfred S McLaren and Cassandra Hannahs. During their visit the ship will be presented with a plaque to mark the occasion of its first call to the Island.

Geoff Corkish MBE MHK and political member of the Department of Tourism and Leisure said:

‘I am so looking forward to welcoming this splendid cruise ship on her first visit. The Island looks forward to welcoming her Captain and crew, and, most importantly, her passengers to view our Island’s heritage. I am sure her passengers will enjoy their tour of the Island. The Isle of Man is steeped in history and I hope they will take away with them an appreciation of our unique culture.’

The MV ISLAND SKY will depart for Portrush in Northern Ireland at 18:00  and is scheduled to return on two occasions during 2008, including a planned call at Peel.

ISLE OF MAN STEAM PACKET COMPANY

STENA CALEDONIA undertook her first ever voyage to the Isle of Man on Saturday June 2 operating a TT charter sailing. She had been scheduled to depart Heysham at 10:15, however, loading took longer than usual. As the STENA CALEDONIA does not have drop down ramps a car ramp from the LADY OF MANN which must have been kept lying around somewhere was pressed into service to allow boarding. She finally got away from HEYSHAM at 11:40. She was noted to be carrying both Stena Line and Isle of Man Steam Packet Company house flags.

EMERAUDE FRANCE On June 01 the vessel appeared to suffer from technical problems and was noted by an observer using the bow door at Liverpool during the afternoon, something really seen with an Incat at Liverpool. By this time she was already reported to be running rather late and her 13:15 sailing to Douglas did not get away until 16:07. However, worse was to follow! She appeared to be unable to take her already delayed 16:45 sailing from Douglas to Liverpool and SUPERSEACAT TWO was despatched to Liverpool at 20:41 on the very delayed 16:45. The problems with EMERAUDE FRANCE must have been overcome shortly after SSC2 departed and EMERAUDE FRANCE followed SSC2 across to Liverpool. By now a large number of bored foot passengers and bikers had been noted sitting around the Liverpool terminal. Fortunately the weather was kind and they were able to sit outside! [Photo: Steve Cheeseman]

P&O EXPRESS correspondents reported the chartered vessel running late on May 30 and 31. On May 31 she did not get away until 05:20 on her 03:00 departure to Larne. "The discharge took quite a while, and the vehicle decks must have been absolutely solid. There was very little to load for the return trip, but she was delayed by a Manx police presence on board." By the time she broke away, and headed south about, at 05.20, Hoburgen had come to a stand just north of the fairway, and SSC2 was heading into the Bay to add to the queue." iI is believed that the police had been called following a disturbance on board. [Photo: John Williamson]

When SSC2 arrived at Liverpool she discharged and headed off to Heysham to operate her 02:55 at 23:32. EMERAUDE FRANCE finally got away from Liverpool on her 20:30 sailing at 00:52 with an ETA in Douglas of 03:30 by now running over 4 hours and 20 minutes late.

The Isle of Man web site IOM Online www.iomonline.com has been running a poll on the Steam Packet's TT performance. The question being asked is: Have the problems with the Steam Packet's TT timetable damaged the Island's reputation? The responses were by Sunday June 03:

91% Yes - the company has had plenty of time to prepare and it doesn't look good.  

9% No - the Steam Packet could not have done more in the face of huge demand and circumstances beyond its control.

However the Isle of Man's chief minister appears to be totally out of touch with public opinion according to the same web site:

Chief Minister Tony Brown has defended the Steam Packet following a barrage of criticism of its TT service.

Mr Brown insisted there has been no lack of commitment by the ferry operator to plan for the race fortnight but the company had been 'let down' by circumstances often beyond its control.

Iomtoday website has been bombarded with complaints from TT visitors angered that their travel arrangements were changed at last minute, in some cases leaving them stranded.

Questioned about their plight, Mr Brown said he understood and sympathised with passengers' concerns but said he hoped the situation had not damaged the reputation of the Island.

He said: 'Yes we are concerned and the Steam Packet we know is conscious that everybody is doing everything they can to minimise disruption. We understand the concerns expressed and sympathise with the passengers concerned.

'Everybody has worked tirelessly to make sure that visitors get to the Island as quickly as possible. There has been no lack of commitment. We know there are pressures on the Steam Packet, some out of their control.

'But you should not under-estimate the scale of the operation - it is unprecedented. It was always accepted there may well be some problems.'

He said he hoped it hadn't damaged the Island's reputation.

Mr Brown added: 'The Steam Packet had no obligation to put on extra ships during TT but it does so because it is of commercial benefit to the company and secondly because it has always done so.'

He insisted the problems would have no implications on the user agreement that effectively gives the Steam Packet sole use of the linkspan at Douglas harbour.

On complaints that passengers were only told about timetable changes at the last minute, some after they'd already set off to catch the ferry, Mr Brown said of the Steam Packet: 'They've tried to respond as quickly as possible to advise passengers of changes they've had to make and tried to minimise disruption.'

JHL COMMENT: - My own personal experience at Heysham on May 26 at the start of the TT Fortnight was a positive one. Everything was well organised and no one could fault either the shore side or ship staff see voyage report , the slight delay caused by loading so many bikes easily understood given the numbers travelling.

However, the cause of many of the delays lies else where. It is no good the company blaming the lack of suitable charter tonnage when they disposed of the LADY OF MANN in 2005 in such haste without adequate replacement. The side loader would not have been inconvenienced by the failure of #3 linkspan at Heysham, it would not have had to wait for slots at Douglas either being able to load off Victoria Pier. So much operational flexibility and mechanical reliability was lost with the sale of the LADY OF MANN.

What is the point of getting to the Island in 2.5 to 3 hours on an Incat which is running 4 hours late due to "technical problems"? The demise of SEA EXPRESS 1 in February was unfortunate but given her age was there any chance that she may have been much more reliable when put under pressure? SUPERSEACAT TWO herself has had a history of unreliability dating back to her first season on the Irish Sea in 1998.

The aging and unreliable cats are clearly not up the intensive use required during the TT and this has been clearly demonstrated by the delays caused by technical problems and the need to switch vessels between routes at short notice and as a consequence change reservations.

The solution to the problem, at least from this passenger's pint of view, is to reduce reliance on fast craft and acquire a suitable smaller but fairly fast new ro-pax - Perhaps along the lines of the Northlink vessels.

MARITIME & COASTGUARD AGENCY

FOUR FOREIGN SHIPS UNDER DETENTION IN APRIL

The Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA) announced on June 01 that four foreign ships were under detention in UK ports during April 2007 after failing Port State Control (PSC) safety inspection.

Latest monthly figures show that there were four new detentions of foreign flagged ships in UK ports during April 2007. The overall rate of detentions compared with inspections carried out over the last twelve months is 4.9% a slight increase on March's twelve month rate.

During the month of April, 96 Port State Control inspections were carried out in the UK. A total of 23 vessels had no deficiencies raised against them, 44 had between one and five deficiencies, 19 had between six and ten deficiencies, 10 had between eleven and twenty deficiencies. There were no vessels inspected that had more than twenty deficiencies.

Out of the detained vessels three were registered with flag states listed on the Paris MOU white list and one was registered with a state on the grey list.

Vessels detained in April included:

• a 4,649GT Panamanian flagged general cargo vessel was detained in Grimbsy. The vessel was detained because it sustained collision damage and failed to report the damage to the vessels flag State or Classification Society. In addition the Master and Chief Engineers Certificates of Equivalent Competency were not as required. The vessel remained detained at the end of the month.

• a 27,535GT Greek flagged bulk carrier was detained in Redcar for 4 days. The vessel was detained with serious corrosion to the forward ventilator and air pipes. A total of 12 deficiencies were found and a major non conformity was raised against the vessels ISM Safety Management system for failure to maintain the records of maintenance correctly.

One ship was detained at Liverpool:

Date & Place of detention 18/04/2007 - Liverpool
Vessel Name: ST PAUL (Bulk Carrier)
GT: 25,197 IMO No: 9044281 Flag: Liberia
Company: Staff Centre Management Ltd.
Classification Society: Russian Maritime Register (RMRS)
Recognised Organisation: Russian Maritime Register (RMRS)
Summary: 6 deficiencies in total, (1 detainable) detained for 3 days with the port lifeboat davit brake being inoperative, the vessel was released on 20/04/2007

 

ROYAL NAVY

HMS INTREPID RECYCLING IN LIVERPOOL?

HMS INTREPID - a report in the Liverpool Echo on Friday June 01 claims that the contractors appointed by the MoD to break-up the Falkland's veteran HMS INTREPID will under take the work at Canada Dry Dock Liverpool later this year.

The dry dock is currently being used to construct the Prince's Landing Stage extension.

The contractors Leavesley International had wanted to undertake the work at Birkenhead but had met a storm of protests. It now plans to undertake the work at Liverpool subject to permission being granted by the council. If granted HMS INTREPID would arrive during August.

Canada Dry Dock adjoins Norton's scrap metal plant and berth at Canada #2 Dock, therefore the location appears to be a logical one for ship recycling.

The company also plan to release a commemorative medal made from reclaimed metal and provide a visitor's viewing area to enable visitors to view the work in progress.

HMS PLYMOUTH PETITION

HMS PLYMOUTH - The government has said every effort is being made to help save a Falklands warship from the scrapyard and bring it back to its home port.

It was responding to an online petition on the Downing Street website signed by 2,203 people who want HMS Plymouth to be returned to her namesake city.

The anti-submarine frigate survived several direct hits in the conflict.

The government said negotiations were continuing to find a suitable berth in the city as a memorial.

It added it would continue to monitor developments, but cautioned it was not government policy to provide direct financial support for the preservation of historic ships.

Since the offer of a berth at Millbay Docks was withdrawn in January, the HMS Plymouth Association has been working to find another berth.

The campaign has been supported by several senior navy officers who say the ship, which was built at Devonport Dockyard and launched in 1959, should be kept in the public eye in recognition of her 30 years of service.

The Type-12 Rothesay class anti-submarine frigate survived several direct hits from Argentine aircraft.

She was decommissioned in 1988 and is currently moored at Birkenhead on Merseyside. [BBC]

WAVERLEY EXCURSIONS

BALMORAL - calls scheduled for Llandudno have been cancelled due to the failure to carry out repairs at the pier's berthing head. This means that sailings have had to be revised and coach connections laid on. The following is an official statement from the Waverley Excursions web site. The lack of facilities at Llandudno appears to put sailing programmes for future years in doubt unless the repairs are undertaken.

The Daily Post newspaper reports that council officials say that they do not have to pay for repairs and maintenance or privately owned commercial property.

Chairman of the Waverley Trust, Ian McMillan urged local people to support next month's special steamer excursions in North Wales, despite the loss of landing facilities at Llandudno Pier.

'This Charity needs the support of Conwy County Borough Council to maintain the landing, but despite promises, the council failed even to discuss the matter at its meeting on Thursday. I tried to contact the leader of the Council throughout Friday afternoon and, despite the efforts and support of officials and councillors, he did not speak to me. Finally officials declared that support was unlikely and we had no option but to call off the planned repair works: we could not carry on alone and as a Charity we could not afford to lose any more money.

I compliment Pier owners 'Six Piers'. They pulled out all the stops for us: They are spending huge sums of money on maintaining the Pier at Llandudno - a massive commitment to providing the major tourist attraction. In nearly thirty years of visits to Llandudno and other Piers around the UK they have never charged us a penny, always supporting us as best they could and providing a service to the community. Once a pier goes, it's hard to bring it back into use - often much more expensive than maintaining it.

Everyone who has booked tickets or wants to sail this year will get a trip as special buses will connect Llandudno with the ship at Menai Bridge. This is an expensive alteration for this Charity and next months sailings could be the last ever chance to sail around Anglesey and through the Menai Strait. We urge all those who value what we do to sail this year. Llandudno is the vital pier in our North Wales operation, being the popular destination from Liverpool - we can not carry on without it.'

There will be extra sailings added to Balmoral's programme from Menai Bridge with the chance to sail round the Isle of Anglesey three times!

Manager of Llandudno Pier, Simon Mason was staggered at the Council's response since he had received a letter from the Chief Executive of County Borough Council assuring him that everything would be done to secure the future of the sailings indefinitely.

The service to Llandudno began in 1822.

It is ironic that the council should turn Balmoral away on the very day that Wales' First Minister and opposition leaders were aboard the ship in Cardiff celebrating the great service and tradition brought by Waverley Excursions every year.

Balmoral will be sailing in the North Wales area from June 5 until June 12. Sailing details can be found at www.waverleyexcursions.co.uk or by calling 0845 130 4647
.

ZEBU

IRISH SEA TOUR 2007

The Liverpool Brigantine ZEBU is attending three Irish Sea Festivals during June this year including return bookings at Whitehaven & Belfast Maritime Festivals, and a new engagement at Sea Bangor N.I.

Previously ZEBU has returned to Liverpool between Festivals, but this year is making a continuous Tour encompassing three successive Festival weekends. ZEBU will be appearing at Whitehaven in Cumbria on 15th -17th June, Bangor N.I. on 22nd – 24th June, and at Belfast on 29th June – 1st July.

Since returning to seagoing commission in 2003 after a comprehensive rebuild and re-rig involving hundreds of N.W. community volunteers from teens to octogenarians, ZEBU has established a reputation as a Ship which Festivals want back again. This is not only because she is a beautiful ship, but because the commitment of the ZEBU crew community rings true with both Festival organisers and visitors. ZEBU is generally first in Port, contributes professionally to live media work to help build Festival attendance, dedicates intensive time and effort to welcoming visitors on board, brings new on-board presentations for each appearance – and throws the best parties in port.

For her 2007 Tour, ZEBU will be sailing in company with other historic vessels on each sea passage. ZEBU, accompanied by vintage RN tender SNOWBIRD of Liverpool, is expected to depart Liverpool Canning Dock, weather being favourable, at 08.30 Tuesday 12th June, meeting with tops’l schooner VILMA of Port Penrhyn off Liverpool Bar to sail in company up the Cumbrian coast, e.t.a. Whitehaven being circa 22.00.

ZEBU will be joined at Whitehaven Maritime Festival by GRAND TURK, (the replica 18th C British man o’war first featured in Hornblower,) MATHEW of Bristol, (the reconstruction of John Cabot’s 15th C caravel), and GLACIERE of Liverpool, which may also be sailing in company with ZEBU from Canning Dock.

ZEBU, VILMA, MATHEW and SNOWBIRD will sail from Whitehaven to Bangor N.I., where Baltic Trader RUTH of Penzance (built in the same Swedish Shipyard as ZEBU) is expected to arrive later in the week to sail in company with ZEBU to Belfast Maritime Festival, berthing up together at Abercorn Basin. Belfast Festival is also attended by GRAND TURK, KASKELOT and other distinguished Tall Ships.

At Whitehaven and Bangor, ZEBU and VILMA will present dramatic Privateer attack and boarding re-enactments in the harbours, working with maritime off-shoots of Sealed Knot and English Civil War Society Regiments. Hamilton’s Privateers of the Sealed Knot recently made their presence heard on Merseyside, firing the St Georges Day cannon salutes from ZEBU in Canning Dock, Liverpool.

At Belfast, ZEBU hosts the Festival’s Captains and Crews Party, featuring the Ship’s Celtic/jazz fusion band The Rivermen, and serving up a special ZEBU BITTER brewed by the award-winning Wapping Brewery based at Liverpool’s Baltic Fleet pub.

During her Tour, ZEBU is filming for BBC’s new “History Hunters” series with Dan Snow, for a Border TV Documentary, and a “Time Team” Special about the early development of the Port of Liverpool.

ZEBU is expected to return to Canning Dock, weather being favourable, on Wednesday 4th July for a 14.30 lock-in.

 

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