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NEWS BULLETIN - July 2007

July 26Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews,  Michael Pryce  and "others"

 

CAMMELL LAIRD

 

ORANGELEAF departed No 5 dry-dock on Monday July 23 morning for sea trials, on completion of these she returned to the Bidston afloat berth where she will remain before departing for operational duties.

 
STENA SEAFARER entered No 7 dry-dock on July 23, for a 3 week dry-dock period. On Thursday July 26 Radio Merseyside news was reporting that there had been a fire on board.
 
SEA EXPRESS remains  in No 5 dry-dock and has had all the machinery removed from the starboard engine room.
 
MALMO LINK is expected to arrived on Merseyside on July 28 / 29 for conversion work which will see her converted from a train ferry to ro/ro vessel.

GLOBAL FREIGHTER is currently undergoing steel repairs at Bidston afloat until July 31.

IRISH CONTINENTAL GROUP

Rival bidders for Irish Continental remain locked in stalemate and are highly unlikely to submit improved offers for the ferry company by 26 July, as requested by the ICG board.

MBO bid vehicle Aella and the Moonduster consortium are understood to have met last Thursday (19 July) to discuss a potential compromise or to determine whether one side was prepared to either back down or improve their bid. Both sides have offered EUR 22 per share.

It was suggested that the meeting failed to resolve the impasse, and that there have since been no further attempts to re-enter discussions or reach an amicable solution.

It has also been reported that the unidentified stake-bidder in the company is Irish property investor Liam Carroll. Carroll reportedly holds around 10% of ICG via Contracts for Difference. Under Irish takeover rules, holders of CDF's who do not hold other forms of shares are not required to declare their interests.

Carroll could not be reached for comment and it remains unclear whether he supports either bidder or is contemplating making his own bid for the company. Carroll could sway the situation by pledging his irrevocable support for an improved bid for one side or the other. In 2005, Carroll acquired an 8.3% stake in Ireland-based Jurys Doyle Hotel Group which he sold to eventual acquirer JDH for a EUR 5m profit, said reports at the time.

If no progress is reached, the ICG independent board is likely to ask the Irish Takeover Panel to intervene by putting into place a legally enforceable timetable whereby both sides submit final offers for the company in a closed auction process, it was suggested. It was said that the panel would be obliged to step in on the principal that a company's business should not be "interrupted for an unduly long period of time" during a takeover.

It is understood that neither Moonduster nor Aella intended to do anything by the 26 July, an unenforceable deadline imposed by the ICG board. Both sides are refusing to increase their offer, leading to a "total break-down" of discussions from all sides, it was said.

"It is very difficult to see a way out of this at the present time," it was said. [ft.com]

July 25Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews,  Michael Pryce  and "others"
CLASSIC INTERNATIONAL CRUISES / ULTIMATE PELAGICS

ATHENA - given the sudden ending of the Travelscope Charter early this year, the classic 1948 built ship once formerly STOCKHOLM has had a somewhat hastily rearranged summer season with some sailings from Dublin. However at the end of August she will be operating a Pelagic cruise from Falmouth departing August 25 (with the option of early boarding at Lisbon on August 23) cruising the Bay of Biscay and off the south coast of Ireland returning to Falmouth on August 30 - fares from £369 per person. ATHENA is one of the ships recently identified as being a possible victim of Solas 2010 which may see her withdrawal in October 2010. Details: www.ultimatepelagics.com

IRISH CONTINENTAL GROUP

Irish Ferries has announced that its new Ireland/France cruise ferry, purchased to replace its present vessel NORMANDY on routes between Rosslare, Cherbourg and Roscoff, will be given the name OSCAR WILDE before it enters service ahead of the 2008 season.

The vessel will be renamed OSCAR WILDE after it completes its programme on the Baltic Sea route between Oslo and Kiel where it is currently operating under a charter arrangement agreed between Irish Ferries and its previous owners, Norwegian ferry operator Color Line, from whom it was purchased last January at a cost of €45million.

In choosing the name OSCAR WILDE Irish Ferries was influenced by the exceedingly high regard in which the writer and his works are held internationally.

Born in Dublin and renowned for his characteristic wit, Wilde is universally acclaimed as one of the most celebrated Irish writers. One major factor which influenced the choice of name was Wilde’s close association with France, the country from which Irish Ferries carries a significant proportion of its passenger volume. After leaving Reading prison in 1897, Wilde took up residence in Berneval-sur-Mer near Dieppe where he wrote ‘The Ballad of Reading Gaol’. Exiled for many years in Paris, he died and was buried there in November 1900.

Newer and significantly more luxurious than the vessel it replaces, the OSCAR WILDE will be the third vessel in the Irish Ferries fleet whose name has been inspired by a leading figure from the world of Irish literature. Other examples are their Dublin-Holyhead cruise ferry ‘Ulysses’ (still the world’s largest car ferry) whose name is derived from the work of writer James Joyce, and their Dublin-Holyhead fast ferry JONATHAN SWIFT.

The OSCAR WILDE, currently operating under the name KRONPRINS HARALD, was built in Turku, Finland in 1987. At 31,914 gross registered tonnes, it is substantially larger than the 'Normandy'. With sleeker lines and excellent sea going qualities, it will have a faster speed of 21.5 knots delivered by four more powerful engines saving one hour on current crossing times.

With eleven decks, it will carry up to 1,458 passengers and 580 cars - an increase of 160 cars/40%. Its extra vehicle lane metres (1,220 versus 645) will be reflected in significantly greater freight vehicle capacity (62 units versus 43). Other good news for car and freight drivers alike is the fact that cars will have their own deck separate from the freight deck.

Under current plans, it is expected that the vessel will be taken in charge by Irish Ferries in early September after which it will spend an approximately four weeks period in dry dock so that some necessary changes and minor modifications can be carried out. This process will include the restyling of restaurants, bistros, lounge bars, children’s play areas and other passenger facilities in themes that will reflect the link with Oscar Wilde. It will also include some technical improvements and re-branding in Irish Ferries livery.

Passengers will be impressed with the range and quality of cabins on board. All ensuite, they range from standard 2 Berth to luxurious De Luxe with flat screen TV, minibar and sofa, a significant improvement on the current style of cabin on the Normandy.

Commenting, Irish Ferries Marketing Director, Tony Kelly said ‘given the enormous affection and respect which Oscar Wilde commands in Ireland, France and throughout continental Europe, our new vessel, with its new name and modern on-board facilities, will present us with wide-ranging opportunities to re-brand and revitalise our Ireland/France service in a manner that will have very positive benefits in the future’.

‘Bigger, better and faster than the vessel it will replace, with greater car and freight capacity, more berths and a wider choice of stylish cabin accommodation, the ‘Oscar Wilde’ will bring new standards of comfort and luxury to our long established Ireland - France service’, Mr. Kelly said.

IRISH FERRIES FRENCH SERVICE TO BE BLOCKADED?

The Irish Examiner has reported that Irish Ferries sailings into French harbours may be blocked by French trade union officials, affecting the holidays of thousands of Irish passengers.

The International Transport Federation in France wants to take action against a number of shipping companies but Irish Ferries will be the main target.

Unions insist Irish Ferries pay below ITF standards and the company was doing "too little" to follow up on pledges to resolve the problem. In June, the ITF met with Irish Ferries officials to discuss the continuing pay anomaly that exists between the Irish Ferries vessel NORMANDY and other vessels also operating in Irish, British and French waters.

The ITF said an anomaly arose because of the failure of Irish Ferries and the Labour Court to ensure NORMANDY was covered by an ITF-approved agreement as with the other vessels.

As a result of the perceived inequality, French unions had planned to block Irish Ferries vessels from entering Cherbourg.

However, the action did not develop as the company said it wanted to activate a clause in the Irish Sea agreement of 2005, which would have led to people in the French operation receiving the same terms and conditions of the employees on the Irish operation.

According to Paul Smyth of the ITF, the company agreed to appoint an arbitrator to compare the terms and conditions of the workers on the NORMANDY with other shipping companies.

He then asked the unions in France to hold off on the blockade, which they did.

However, Mr Smyth said the company since then has made no effort to engage in the appointment of the arbitrator. He accused it of deliberately delaying, so that any union members onboard the ship might be rooted out. He said he would no longer stop his French counterparts from taking action. Now officials in France are gearing up for disruptive action.

"I am almost embarrassed that I was the one who told the French that the company was going to act when they were initially wanting to blockade. Now the arbitrator has not been appointed and the company is trying to introduce preconditions," said Mr Smyth.

"We do not mind who the arbitrator is but we will not be tied by preconditions. I cannot now tell the French the company is participating fully with the negotiations." Nobody was available to comment on behalf of Irish Ferries. [Irish Examiner]

ISLE OF MAN DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORT

DOUGLAS HARBOUR JUNE 2007 HARBOUR TRAFFIC FIGURES

Traffic Figures: 

 

June

Year to Date

 PassengersVehiclesPassengersVehicles
2007100,73441,402299,240104,572
200687,57232,571259,39782,503
%change+15%+27.1%+15.4%+26.7%

Route Performance:

Route%change20062007
BelfastPlus 18%2,8993,407
DublinPlus 20%2,0362,434
HeyshamPlus 22%39,50048,292
LiverpoolPlus 10%36,03339,594
LarnePlus 49%2,7454,094
TroonAll PlusNil323

Director of Harbours, Captain Michael Brew comments:

“June figures show the impact of this year’s TT and continue the positive growth seen this year.”

PENINSULAR & ORIENTAL STEAM NAVIGATION COMPANY

P&O Irish Sea are believed to be considering the reintroduction of a Liverpool to Larne service. This was last tried several years ago using the chartered CELTIC STAR which was renamed NORTHERN STAR. Apparently the company is believed to have been approaching its freight customers to gauge support for such a service.

PNTL / JAMES FISHER

Pacific Nuclear Transport Limited (PNTL) whose ships are managed by Barrow based marine services company James Fisher have announced the order of two new purpose built ships for transporting radioactive materials.

Japanese shipbuilders Mitsui Engineering and Shipbuilding Co., Ltd, who are currently building the PACIFIC HERON at Tamano shipyard, has clinched the contract to design and build two further INF 3 ships which are scheduled to be in service by late 2010.

John Clarke, Managing Director of International Nuclear Services said: “We are delighted that our long-standing Japanese customers have given us the go-ahead to order an additional two ships, and are very grateful for their continued confidence in us to safely and successfully run the PNTL fleet.

“The PACIFIC HERON, and the two additional vessels, will form part of an ongoing commitment to provide a dedicated specialist nuclear transport operation. The PNTL fleet has an exemplary record with over five million miles travelled without any incident resulting in the release of radioactivity. The new ships will enhance and extend our capability even further.”

The commissioning of the PACIFIC HERON and the additional vessels are part of an ongoing review of options for the PNTL fleet and will ensure that suitable vessels are available to carry out any future transports of nuclear material between Europe and Japan.

Mitsui issued a statement saying: “We are proud that we have been selected to build two new vessels for PNTL, the world’s most experienced shipper of nuclear cargoes who have a thirty-year record of reliability and a special focus on safety.”

The two additional vessels will be a development of the design of the current PNTL ships, that provide a safe and reliable service with the cargo compartments protected by a double hull configuration together with back-up availability of all essential systems.


SEATRUCK

RR CHALLENGE will proceed to scheduled dry dock 28 July 2007. The owners of this chartered vessel have indicated that the vessel will be away for 21 – 28 days. On the return of the RR CHALLANGE the  RIVERDANCE will depart for a two week period. As yet the company have not been able to source a replacement vessel due to an extremely limited supply of suitable tonnage in the current market.

Assuming that a replacement vessel cannot be found then the service will be affected. For August and the first 1-2 weeks of September a two vessel service will be in operation reducing capacity by one third. Extra sailings will be undertaken wherever possible but clearly it will not be possible to move the normal traffic levels with a vessel absent.

Sailing times will revert to 20:00 hrs and 08:00 hrs from both ports for this period.

The introduction of the first of our new buildings the CLIPPER POINT has been delayed in Spain. The vessel is now expected to enter service in late September, increasing capacity from 90,000 to 130,000 units per annum immediately on her arrival.

She will be joined by the CLIPPER PACE in January 2008. New build vessels 3 CLIPPER PENNANT and 4 CLIPPER PANORAMA will available for deployment in March 2008 and May 2008 respectively.

July 22Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews,  Michael Pryce, Ian Collard  and "others"

BALLYCASTLE - CAMPBELTOWN

This week the Scottish First Minister announced that the ferry service between Ballycastle and Campbeltown could be reinstated.

Alex Salmond said the link between Ballycastle, Co Antrim, and Campbeltown in the Mull of Kintyre should be restored, with a possible link to Troon in the south.

The service was terminated, by previous operators Sea Containers, after three seasons of operation in 1999 due to unsustainable losses.

Mr Salmond told a press conference in Belfast: "We are still, I should stress, at an early stage of officials examining this.

"There's a great deal of political enthusiasm for this and we are just putting together the practical steps that can make this a reality."

The Scottish Nationalist Party leader was speaking following a meeting of the British-Irish Council in Belfast and said the shipping route had been on the agenda.

Politicians from the Isle of Man, Channel Islands, Scotland and Wales were present alongside UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Irish Premier Bertie Ahern.

The summer-only ferry service operated between Campbeltown and Ballycastle for three years until 1999. It operated on a commercial basis but would need a Government subsidy to reopen.

The previous administrations agreed the official package for the ferry would not exceed £1 million over five years.

Those arrangements are now under review. Northern Ireland First Minister the Rev Ian Paisley said he welcomed steps to increase links with Scotland and added that today was a valuable development for all parts of the British Isles.

BP SHIPPING

BRITISH EMERALD - the world's largest liquefied natural gas tanker has been delivered flying the Manx ensign.

Built in a Korean shipyard, the BRITISH EMERALD is one of the first of its kind and owner and operator BP Shipping Limited has chosen Douglas as its port of registry.

The BRITISH EMERALD is one of four of the vessels being built in Korea to transport LNG. The ships are unique due to their dual-fuel, diesel-electric propulsion system.

With a capacity of up to 155,000 cubic meters, it is the largest LNG carrier built to date and is expected to operate between gas fields in the Caribbean and the US.

BP Shipping Ltd register
almost all of their ships in the Isle of Man. They operate the largest fleet on the register and have recently established a greater presence on the Island by opening BP Maritime Services (Isle of Man) Ltd, headed by Phil Waring.

Director of the
Isle of Man Ship Registry Dick Welsh said: 'The BRITISH EMERALD is a very prestigious addition to the fleet. A great deal of technological development has been designed and built into this ship and we look forward to registering its three sister vessels over the coming months.'

MHK
Quintin Gill MHK, the political member responsible for shipping, said the continued relationship with BP Shipping is a positive one.

'Shipping companies of this calibre can only serve to enhance the reputation of the Isle of Man's Ship Registry and the Isle of Man as a centre of excellence for shipping,' he said. This latest edition to the fleet is terrific news. [IOM Online]

CELTIC LINK - CLIPPER GROUP

Though it has yet to be officially confirmed it appears that Celtic Link's Dublin to Liverpool route has been bought by Clipper Group (SeaTruck).

HOLYHEAD TOWING COMPANY

AFON CADNANT - the new tug due to enter service this month will be the largest yet to operate for the Holyhead Towing Company. The new vessel constructed by Metaaldraaierij Sepers BV in the Netherlands will be followed by an identical sister ship in 2008 constructed by Hepworth Shipbuilders on Humberside.

AFON CADNANT is a shallow draft, triple screw tug supply vessel built to meet the class requirements of Lloyds + 100 A1 Tug LMC UMS, Fi-Fi 1 and Ice Class 1b. The vessel is 35 m in length overall with a beam of 11.5 m and maximum mean draft of 3.15 m.

In keeping with other vessels in the Holyhead fleet the tug will support marine civil engineering projects, pipeline installation and other offshore/onshore operations.

Three Cummins KTA 50-M2 main engines will produce a total of 5,100 bhp to drive triple propellers of 1.8 m diameter. Fixed Kort nozzles will be fitted along with four quick acting semi-balanced high stall angle rudders.

The vessel's manoeuvrability will be enhanced with the installation of a hydraulically powered bow thruster producing 2.5 tonnes of thrust. A bollard pull of 54 tonnes is anticipated and it has a free running speed of 12 knots.

Deck equipment will include a twin-drum reverse waterfall type towing and anchor handling winch with a line pull of 50 tonnes at 8 m per minute. The towing drum can accommodate 550 m of 52 mm diameter steel wire rope and the anchor drum has 300 m of 48 mm work wire. Manually operated spooling gear will allow independent operation on each drum and enable shackles and large ropes to pass.

Other equipment includes a 9 tonne capacity tugger winch, a stern roller, hydraulically powered rope reel and powerful deck crane. Full air-conditioned accommodation will be provided for up to 18 people in 10 cabins.

IRISH NAVAL SERVICE

A surgery and hospital for use on humanitarian missions like the 2004 tsunami will be able to be carried on a large new 3,500 ton ship for the Naval Service.

The new ship, the biggest ever operated by the Navy and costing €100m, will also have a helicopter landing pad and a range of other facilities.

Called a multi-role vessel, in a military role it will be able to carry around 200 troops and up to 20 armoured vehicles. Ireland was unable to send even one State transport ship or plane to help in the Asian tsunami. But with the new order for three new ships to be brought before the Cabinet by defence minister Willie O'Dea this week, Ireland is to develop a growing capacity to help in disaster zones.

The ship order includes two smaller patrol ships of just over 2,000 tons each. All three new ships can be used on fishery protection and anti-drug patrols armed with a standard Otto Melara 76mm gun as used on some other Navy ships, along with smaller cannon for protection against small boat terrorist attack when operating abroad.

The new vessels will replace the existing patrol ships, LE EMER, LE AOIFE and LE AISLING, which all end their service lives by 2010.

The usefulness of having a secure perimeter and base and secure communications to Ireland was proven by the LE ROISIN which went to Liberia before the start of Ireland's UN mission there.

A reconnaissance team which included Army Rangers was able to go into the lawless country by vehicle and return to the ship each day to prepare a report for Army HQ and the Government on the conditions Irish troops would face there. [SUNDAY INDEPENDENT].

MERCY SHIPS

ANASTASIS - the former Italian Liner VICTORIA (11,701 grt) - which has operated as a floating hospital for Mercy Ships since 1978 has been despatched to the breakers. She called overnight at Cape Town on July 14/15 for bunkers bound for Alang. She visited Birkenhead in late June 2004.

The photograph shows her alongside at West Float on June 30, 2004. ANASTASIS has been replaced by AFRICA MERCY the former DSB ferry DRONNING INGRID.

MSC NAPOLI

On Friday, salvours managed to separate the bow of the stricken container ship MSC NAPOLI, from the stern accommodation block

The floating bow section was towed to a mile offshore, where it is being supported until plans for its disposal are finalised. The stern slumped awkwardly on the spot, to be broken up later.

The
Napoli was first beached in January after she sustained damage in a fierce storm off The Lizard in Cornwall, and became too ruptured to tow. Since then, the operation has cost well over £50 million.

PEEL PORTS

LIVERPOOL SERVES UP STATE-OF-THE-ART PORT HEALTH BORDER INSPECTION POST

A new border inspection post to ensure that the people and animals of Britain eat safely has been officially opened at the Port of Liverpool.

The £600,000 inspection centre has been built by Peel Ports at the Royal Seaforth Container Terminal, for use by the Mersey Port Health Authority in monitoring imports of food and other products of animal origin.

The new unit will be manned by the authority's officers who will check and test samples of food stuffs arriving in chilled containers and trailer units from abroad.

The Border Inspection Post, which has identical but totally segregated sterile units for monitoring the quality of food imported for people and for livestock, was officially opened by the Chairman of the Port Health Authority, Councillor Ron Abbey.

"This state-of-the-art facility equips the Port Health Authority to carry out its responsibilities to maximum effect and efficiency," he said. "The border post, which has been approved by the EU as one of the authorised routes for importing commodities into Europe, will ensure the wellbeing of the people of the UK and of the country’s animal population."

lCouncillor Abbey cut a ribbon stretched across one of the 10 raised bays with dock levellers where chilled haulage units are backed up for inspection and out-turn of their contents. Members of the authority then toured the border post, which provides identical facilities in two adjoining but isolated sections, including temperature controlled unloading areas, freezer rooms with temperatures down to minus 30 degrees centigrade, inspection rooms and ambient detention stores for rejected product.

Pat Foreman, Managing Director of Food Northwest Limited, the lead organisation for the food and drinks sector in the region, said: "The Port of Liverpool is an enormously valuable resource for the food economy of the North West. As the 'local' port for a region which is one of the UK's leading sectors for food production and distribution, employing more than 150,000 people, Liverpool is central to the wellbeing of the industry. This new check-point facility enhances the industry's confidence in the integrity of the international food supply chain through our strategic gateway, the Port of Liverpool."

Frank Robotham, Marketing Director of Peel Ports, said: "We are delighted to be able to provide the Port Health Authority with the best possible facilities to monitor and control the increasing volume and diversity of food products moving through the Port of Liverpool. This excellent Border Inspection Post will also enable the Port to broaden the range of such cargoes it can handle and most importantly, will give our customers assurance that the Port of Liverpool is applying the highest standards in handling their cargoes and safeguarding their business."

ROYAL NAVY

Three heroes who helped stage the daring rescue of 26 sailors from the Napoli in tempestuous seas have been awarded one of the military's highest honours. Petty Officer Aircrewman Jay O'Donnell will receive the Queen's Gallantry Medal and colleagues Lieutenant Guy "Chuck" Norris and Lieutenant Commander Martin "Oz" Rhodes will be awarded the Queen's Commendation for Bravery in the Air.

All three were based with 771 Search and Rescue Squadron at RNAS Culdrose in January when they were called out to help pull survivors from the sea who had abandoned the sinking Napoli
.

Lt Norris, 42, has been with the Royal Navy for 18 years and flown more than 200 search and rescue missions. He said conditions that windy day when he was the aircraft commander were among the worst he had ever had to cope with.

"It was one of the most challenging missions I have been involved with," said the father-of-two, who lives in Falmouth. "The weather on the Napoli job was very, very extreme. The sea state was high and, at times, you would look out the cockpit window and see waves coming towards you at helicopter height.

"There were also a lot of people to be rescued."

PO O'Donnell was the diver winched down to the liferafts. To ensure he was able to get to the rafts, which were being thrown around in the terrible sea conditions, the 33-year-old was dropped on a line then "trawled" through the waves to the inflatable crafts.

"It was the worst conditions I have encountered. The seas were mountainous. When you are there, you are very focused about what has to be done. But looking back at some of the footage which was taken, you think, 'Oh my God, I didn't realise it was that bad'."

The father-of-two young children, Finley and Keelan, PO O'Donnell lives with his partner, Louise, in Camborne.

The award is the highest the proud officers have received.

"It is extremely gratifying to be recognised in this way," said Lt Norris.

Both officers also commended the backroom team, such as engineers, ground crew and coastguards. "There are a lot of people in the background who you don't see but who are just as important as the people who go out," said PO O'Donnell.

WARRENPOINT PORT

Warrenpoint Harbour Authority increased cargo throughput last year by 15 per cent to 2.8 million tonnes, while turnover increased from €4.2m. in 2005 to a record €4.25m. Grain imports increased by 19.5 per cent and the largest single grain shipment through the port was of 6,500 tonnes.  The harbour company is proposing to add deepwater berths to take larger vessels for their container business, in addition to a new two-lane floating pontoon ro/ro ramp already installed to accommodate larger, modern ro/ro ferries.

The overall development plan is put at a cost of nearly stg £20m. "Ultimately Warrenpoint is a Trust Port which belongs to the people of Newry and Mourne and the wider Northern Ireland community, so profits of stg £645,000 are being reinvested for the benefit of port users and the development of the harbour estate," according to the harbour authority's Chief Executive, Peter Conway. "Our central location midway between Belfast and Dublin allows us to attract trade and provide an efficient service for customers across the island of Ireland." Warrenpoint employs 38 full-time staff and has 30 part-time staff. A further 100 people are employed within the harbour area. [RTÉ]
 

July 18Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Guy Pescodd, John Stokoe, Michael Pryce, Jamie Andrews, Stuart Wood, Ian Collard  and "others"

BRITTANY FERRIES

PONT-AVEN - Brittany Ferries has announced a partnership programme with Océanopolis, an Ocean Discovery Centre in Brest, North Western France, for the observation of marine mammals, such as whales and dolphins, in the Celtic Sea and Bay of Biscay.

The observatory will operate on the company's flagship, Pont Aven, which sails between
Plymouth and Roscoff in France and Santander in Spain, as well as between Roscoff and Cork in Ireland.

Scientists from Océanopolis will monitor sea life from the ship and, upon identifying anything interesting, will immediately notify passengers who can then, if they wish, watch for their own
enjoyment.

Additionally, a DVD, produced by Océanopolis, will be shown on board Pont Aven in the cinemas during the crossing so that passengers can gain a better understanding of the creatures that
live in our surrounding seas. Also planned for next year are a series of educational workshops aimed at younger travellers.

This move is evidence of a commitment by Brittany Ferries to protecting the marine environment, having practiced for many years a 'Clean-Sea' policy whereby nothing is discharged into the sea.

Océanopolis is a highly respected scientific organisation working in close collaboration with EUR-OCEANS, an organisation which represents a network of 500 researchers in 11 countries across
Europe studying marine ecosystems and climatic change.

It is also reported that the company has arranged for 200 original works of art on board PONT AVEN, and is offering audio-guides with a commentary to help passengers discover
the background to each piece.

Brittany Ferries has, over the past 25 years, commissioned original works of art from approximately 50 contemporary artists, some well-known, others less so. Today, the company owns some 1,300 original artworks, most of which can be seen on each of their six passenger ships.

Passengers on the PONT-AVEN can now take a cultural journey y hiring on board an MP3 player and listening to the descriptions, in English or French, of each separate painting, sculpture or photograph and an account of each one's significance in the creation of the ship's
personality'. Alternatively, it will be possible to download the audio-guide from onto a
personal MP3 player.

CELTIC LINK

Strong rumours are circulating suggesting that Wexford based Celtic Link have sold its Dublin – Liverpool service to Clipper Group, proprietors of Seatruck Ferries. The reported sale price being €6 million. Seatruck have been looking to expand its Irish Sea operations as it takes delivery of its new vessels. It had been suggested earlier in the year that Seatruck would commence a Dublin – Mostyn service at some stage this year. Celtic Link have been operating the Dublin – Liverpool service since spring 2006 using the chartered CELTIC STAR.

ISLE OF MAN STEAM PACKET COMPANY

BEN-M-CHREE – operated her third annual “Round the Island” cruise in excellent conditions on Saturday July 14. This was her first “north-a-bout” trip.

EMERAUDE FRANCE – will operate excursion sailings between Whitehaven and Douglas on Wednesday August 08, 2007.

 

Douglas to Whitehaven 06:00 (Arrive 07:30)

Whitehaven to Douglas 08.15 (Arrive 09:45)

Douglas to Whitehaven 18:30 (Arrive 20:00)

Whitehaven to Douglas 21.00 (Arrive 22:30)

SEA EXPRESS I – the MAIB investigation into the collision with ALASKA RAINBOW in February has reached the consultation stage. This is when a draft copy of the report is sent to interested parties for comment. Publication is expected later this year.

MERSEY FERRIES

From July 16 Mersey Ferries opened the temporary Liverpool booking office located outside the Cunard Building. This will enable the present terminal building and adjoining restaurant, the last remnants of the 1960s Bus Station to be removed in preparation for the construction of the new ferry terminal.  Removal of the sunken stage was completed during the week beginning July 9th, and the Smit "spudjack"work barge which has been anchored off the stage site since March has been removed.

Due to the high demand for Manchester Ship Canal Cruises this year two further cruises have been announced - October 1st and 2nd.

On 1st October Mersey Ferries sails from Seacombe at 11.00am and Woodside at 11.10am to Salford Quays.

On 2nd October Mersey Ferries sails from Salford at 10.00am and this second trip includes a stop over at Liverpool before bus transport back to Salford.

RAMSEY SHIPYARD - BOOTH W KELLY

At high tide at 13:01 on Monday July 16, the 31-metre WISTING re-entered her natural element after a two and half year metamorphosis transformed her from the Norwegian Naval vessel HM5 into a gleaming “all-electric” expedition yacht.

And for a small shipyard lately known more for more overhauling fishing and work vessels, WISTING is a quantum leap for the Isle of Man shipyard Booth W Kelly (“BWK”) .  Since its 2003 employee buyout, the company which is still owned by those employees, has seen increasing sales and a broadening customer base in its traditional markets.

“But the WISTING project has been a special challenge, raising the bar in all areas,” says BWK’s Managing Director, Chris Baker, “She’s the biggest project for the yard in 40 years – certainly the most sophisticated - we didn’t just provide space on the slipway.” 

Baker, a naval architect and one of the four who bought the yard in 2003, has been responsible for virtually all of the technical design of the new WISTING which retained only her original hull and main deck.

Built in steel to Ice Class Rules 1978 she was decommissioned in 2004, sold to her present owner and delivered to the Isle of Man where she was hauled on BWK’s No. 1 slipway. 

Once her hull was assessed in detail and the ultimate design finalized, her conversion began.

BWK started by removing WISTING’s superstructure along with fifty percent of her deck and her transom stern.  She was then gutted her of all mechanical equipment with the exception of her rudder and steering gear.   One watertight bulkhead was then moved and new double bottom tanks were fabricated.  Her stern was replaced with a canoe stern which had been modeled by BWK and fabricated on site by BWK.

WISTING’s new superstructure was also designed also by BWK, then fabricated in aluminium alloy and welded in place by using Tri-plate joining strip.  

WISTING’s new funnel not only provides an outlet for machinery space ventilation but also houses a wet bar.  It was designed and fabricated by BWK as was the galley and virtually all stainless steel in the vessel.

BWK installed two Caterpillar Diesel engines providing power to the 400 KW electric motor which drives the new 1.5 metre single-screw via a new 100mm shaft.

A unique 360-degree 100KW HRP electric bow-thruster was installed by BWK which reduces space required inside the vessel compared to a tunnel or retractable.

“Because she’s still single-screw, we chose a 360-degree thruster over to provide propulsion redundancy,” Baker comments, “This gives WISTING a ‘get-home’ capability and also enables her to take the ground.”

Auxiliary electric power is generated by a new Northern Lights 100KW Diesel GenSet and Niad zero-speed stabilizers provide stabilisation.  Fresh water is produced by a Seafresh Desalinator reverse osmosis unit.

In the style of many modern cruise ships, WISTING’s main engine generators, main engine, auxiliary generator and bow thruster are connected by a single bus.    

The hull is finished with AwlGrip on International epoxy fairing.

WISTING will be classed by Lloyds and registered in the Isle of Man.

Until now, the yard was most famous for building the oldest still sailing ship, STAR OF INDIA, the centerpiece of the San Diego Maritime Museum.  Commissioned as EUTERPE in 1863 she slid down ways not far from the slipway that bore WISTING - until Monday.

“We’ve shown that BWK has moved a long way past building just rugged working vessels,” says Baker, “Now that WISTING is launched, we’re looking to do another.”

WISTING is owned by Isle of Man resident Mr. Whipp. Captain Stephen Carter of Laxey Towing Company was in charge of the launching operation with two Laxey Towing tugs in attendance.

WHISTING will shortly head for Birkenhead where specialist electronic equipment will be commissioned.

SHIP SIMULATOR

After many months of hard work, the Ship Simulator development team at VSTEP is proud to present the brand new version of their game, Ship Simulator 2008!
 
 Now available in many stores in the UK and Scandinavia as of this week, and on-line from various sites like Amazon UK - [
Amazon Buy Now Link on left]

Web store, the game promises to bring anybody with even the slightest affinity with ships and boats many hours of virtual sailing pleasure. German stores will follow over the next few weeks, and many other countries will get the game in stores in September.
 
Ship Simulator is a revolutionary simulation game that puts players at the helm of some of the most varied and detailed ships found at sea. Players will need to perform a multitude of tasks, all set within a stunning 3D environment, taking control of a wide array of ship types – from massive cargo ships and ferries, to speedboats, yachts, water taxis and even the mighty Titanic. The waters in which players sail are as varied as the ships, with newly added harbours such as
Southampton (including the Solent), Marseille and San Francisco. Ship Simulator 2008 will amaze you with its progress and will rock your simulated world.
 
 After the success of the first release of the game last year, which sold 200,000 copies to date in 20 countries and 7 languages, the development team listened carefully to all the player suggestions for new functionality and implemented most of their requests.
 
 New key features in Ship Simulator 2008 include:

  • Dynamic ocean waves, with realistic ship motions
  • Long distance travels , open ocean voyages between ports
  • Visible damage system
  • Thirty new complex and challenging missions
  • Extensive day, night, and weather systems
  • Three new environments: San Francisco, Southampton/Cowes/Solent, and Marseille
  • Six new ships, each with walkthrough functionality and interactive bridge controls
  • Controllable container crane

Several new features were also added into the game that were unannounced until today:

  • Advanced vector graphic sea chart based on realistic 3D seabed models, with full-screen display option, transparency setting, and level-of-detail on text & depth readings
  • Advanced damage system showing dents and holes in the ships after severe collisions
  • Free-roam mode where players can choose a ship, an environment, set all weather, day & time parameters and get sailing
  • Realistic bow splash water, with support from an advanced physics simulation model
  • Extensive mapping options for keys and joystick buttons
  • Advanced rope system, which allows you to connect and disconnect player ships to other ships or mooring boulders at will (anchoring is now also possible)
  • Addition of icebergs which cause damage when you collide with them

As if that wasn’t enough, the team is still working on even more features, which will be provided as a free upgrade patch around September. Some of these:

  • A system for sinking ships when damaged below the water line
  • Advanced system for scoring and ranking in different ship type classes, linked to your on-line profile on the forum
  • Two extra player ships: jet-ski and hovercraft
  • Additional language versions of the game (French, Italian, Spanish, Dutch, Polish and more)
  • Set waypoints yourself in free-roaming mode
  • Mid-mission save function

Two new features the team is also working on will be made available after September:

  • Multiplayer functionality, so players can sail around in their favourite environment every day with their Ship Simulator friends
  • Mission editor, so people can create their own adventures and share them with their fellow players on the forum

VSTEP’s Technical Director Pjotr van Schothorst stated: “Ship Simulator 2008 is a giant leap forward in the world of naval simulation. There are so many improved elements to the game that make this a realistic and challenging experience – everyone interested in simulator games should really check this out. Some of the new features, like full walkthrough options on all ships and realistic ship motions on waves, will also attract a whole new audience to the game. Like professional sailors who may never have touched a game before in their life. They will now get a chance to experience the good-old feeling of controlling a massive cargo ship again, all from behind their desk in their comfortable home.”

ABOUT VSTEP

VSTEP develops professional simulators for fire-fighters, and nautical training. Since its initiation in 2002, VSTEP has completed 32 training simulators for customers like the Royal Dutch Navy, the Port of Rotterdam, Falck/Nutec, and the Dutch Railways. VSTEP’s experience and core technology from these projects has been adapted to deliver a “true to their roots” simulator for the home PC user. In 2006 VSTEP amazed the simulation community with its revolutionary Ship Simulator game.

July 11Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Jenny Williamson, John Williams, Geoff Hamer, Tony Brennan, Ian Collard  and "others"

 ARKLOW SHIPPING

ARKLOW FAME - Exceptionally heavy rain last week caused problems for the 4,500dwt cargo ship. Transiting the canal on the afternoon of July 05, 2007 she collided with Irlam Railway Viaduct. The collision was caused by an exceptionally strong current  created by the high rainfall. The ship was damaged but was allowed to proceed to discharge its cargo before repairs.  .

BRITTANY FERRIES

PONT-AVEN Brittany Ferries is entering the art world. The company has arranged for 200 original works of art on board to be display on their flagship, Pont Aven, and is offering audio-guides with a commentary to help passengers discover the background to each piece.

Brittany Ferries has, over the past 25 years, commissioned original works of art from approximately 50 contemporary artists, some well-known, others less so. Today, the company owns some 1,300 original artworks, most of which can be seen on each of their six passenger ships.

Passengers on the PONT-AVEN can now take a cultural journey by hiring on board an MP3 player and listening to the descriptions, in English or French, of each separate painting, sculpture or photograph and an account of each one's significance in the creation of the ship's personality'.

COMMISSIONERS OF THE IRISH LIGHTS

GRANUAILE - arrived at Cammell Laird for dry docking on Monday July 09, 2007. She is seen in #4 Dry Dock on Wednesday July 11 undergoing refit. This is the third consecutive year that GRANUAILE has refitted on Merseyside. (Photo: Ian Collard)

 

 

DOUGLAS HARBOUR

Liverpool has its Lamb Banana now it looks like Douglas is going to get a giant fibre glass seagull located near the lift bridge on North Quay. 

The seagull will be 50 feet high and cost £30,000. It will be suspended from a three legged support and will move in the wind. It has been commissioned by the Douglas Development Partnership and will make the start and end of the long distance footpath Raad ny Foillan - The Way of the Gull.

FRED OLSEN LINES

BLACK PRINCE Fred Olsen Lines is offering an interesting "Round The Island" cruise from Liverpool during August 2008.

The itinerary is Liverpool > Hebrides > Kirkwall (Orkney) > Leith (Scotland) > Harwich (England) > St. Peter Port (Guernsey) > St. Mary's (Isles of Scilly) > Waterford (Ireland) and back to Liverpool. Large discounts are available if booked by July 17th, 2007.

Bookings can be made through Capt. Peter Corrin late of the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company. A leaflet giving details can be downloaded - left.

ISLE OF MAN STEAM PACKET COMPANY

It is reported in the Manx press that at bid to widen the investigation into the Steam Packet is set to be made in Tynwald this week.

in June, Tynwald voted to hold an investigation into the fare structure at the company and whether it represented value for money.

This was after the government successfully headed off calls for a wider ranging investigation into the effectiveness of the user agreement, under which the government grants the Steam Packet sole use of the Douglas harbour linkspan in return for a certain standard of service.

It followed bitter criticism of the Steam Packet's performance during the TT, when thousands of passengers had their sailing times altered at the last minute.

Onchan MHK Peter Karran last month failed in his attempt to have Tynwald investigate the user agreement, but now his Liberal Vannin colleague Douglas South MHK Bill Malarkey has tabled a motion seeking to amend the agreed investigation into the Steam Packet's price structure so that it also includes a probe into the 'standard of service offered to both passengers and freight users by the company and the extent to which it is in accordance with the company's agreements with the government'.

LIGHTHOUSES OF LIVERPOOL BAY

A new book covering the history of the Lighthouses of Liverpool Bay has been published by Tempus Publications. This is the first history of the various Mersey lighthouses from Liverpool to Moelfre Bay on Anglesey, and the men and women who manned the stations and kept the lights working. They were operational as manned lighthouses from the mid-eighteenth century to the twentieth century when automatic operation was introduced. A detailed text is supported with archive photographs and every lighthouse is featured, including the Great Orme Head at Llandudno, Bidston, New Brighton, Leasowe and Hoylake. 14 maps. 78 b/w photos. 192 pages. Softback.

Price is £15.99 - however - substantial discount can be had ordering this title through Amazon - see link on left.

PRINCE'S LANDING STAGE - CITY OF LIVERPOOL CRUISE TERMINAL

It is anticipated that the stage sections will now be floated out and positioned in the river between July 23 and 29. The MAASDAM which had originally been the first ship scheduled to call will now have to anchor mid river and use Mersey Ferries as tenders.

RNLI

The RNLI has recently taken delivery of a training vessel the ROBERT S. ELLSMORE. The vessel was named on June 08 at he RNLI HQ at Poole in Dorset and will be used to train volunteers from the RNLI Lifeboat College.

The 13m boat was built by Hardy Marine, and is fitted with multi-function classroom areas and dedicated training consoles with electronic displays and radar. It can accommodate seven people overnight, so that crew members can complete training, including RYA exams, for which they have to spend three to five days at sea.

The vessel was generously funded and named by Robert "Bob" Ellsmore - better known on the Irish Sea as one of the LADY OF MANN's officers.

THOMSON

THOMSON CELEBRATION - The Thomson holiday group has announced that the Carnival-HAL owned ship (formerly NOORDAM) which is chartered to the company will operate three cruises from Liverpool during Autumn 2008 as follows.

10 Oct - 13 days to Iberia & N Africa
23 Oct - a 3 nights to Cobh & Dublin
& finally a 12 night one way trip to Tenerife as she repositions for her winter season.

The THOMSON CELEBRATION was extensively refitted by A&P Falmouth at the start of her Thomson Charter over the winter of 2004-05.

July 08Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Jenny Williamson, "R", John Stokoe, Jamie Andrews, Ian Collard  and "others"

BRITTANY FERRIES

PONT L'ABBE has been offered for sale by owners DFDS at the conclusion of her charter to Brittany Ferries which concludes at the end of the first quarter of 2009.

IRISH CONTINENTAL GROUP

KRONPRINS HARALD - Irish Ferries are finalising plans for the transition between NORMANDY and her replacement the former Color Line ship KRONPRINS HARALD later this year.

To facilitate the necessary technical adjustments, storing, crew training, statutory inspections, etc, it will be necessary to take the NORMANDY out of service for a period before the KRONPRINS HARALD  starts on the route.

To assist in the process, the following 22 sailings from November 04, 2007 to Thursday November 29, 2007 have been cancelled.

Rosslare to Cherbourg:

From Sunday, November 04 to Wednesday, November 28 inclusive  - 11 sailings in total

Cherbourg to Rosslare:

From Tuesday November 06 to Thursday November 29 inclusive  -11 sailings in total

It is planned that the first sailing of KRONPRINS HARALD will be the Rosslare to Cherbourg sailing on Friday November 30, 2007.

IRISH NAVAL SERVICE

On Thursday July 05 the Naval Vessel LE AOIFE assisted in an emergency rescue operation of over 100 children off Dún Laoghaire Harbour shortly before 15:00.  LE AOIFE was at anchor and about to depart on fisheries protection patrol.

The children were involved in a dinghy sailing regatta.  Following strong winds which blew their dinghies away from land and severe gusts that capsized over 90 dinghies, over 100 children were believed to be in the water.  Immediately LE AOIFE launched her two rigid inflatable boats to rescue these children.  They were assisted by lifeboats from Dún Laoghaire and Howth and pleasure boats in the area.

15 children and one adult were admitted to hospital and treated for shock and exposure after the incident.

LE ORLA and naval divers have been assisting in a Gardaí and Customs investigation this week into what is believed to be the largest haul of drugs ever intercepted in Ireland at Dunlough Bay, on the Mizzen Peninsula, County Cork. Several arrests have followed the incident which began when a dinghy got into difficulties on Monday having tried to land cocaine from the Caribbean.

The yacht LUCKY DAY which is believed to have carried the drugs was intercepted by the Spanish authorities and detained at La Corunna. On Saturday a Liverpool man, one of those detained, was charged by Gardaí.

ISLE OF MAN STEAM PACKET COMPANY

The company's new Chief Executive Mark Woodward who replaced Hamish Ross at the start of July has got off to a fresh start - obviously aware of how much debate the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company generates on and off line!

 

On the first day of his new post Mark Woodward introduced ‘A Word with Woodward’ on the Steam Packet website - www.steam-packet.com . Mark Woodward said: ‘I’ll be making regular postings and keeping you in touch with what we’re doing.  I’d also like to hear how we can improve our service, what’s good and what’s not.  Over the next couple of months I hope to get a feel for what’s important to you.

 

An email link has been set up at askmark@steam-packet.com for people to send opinions and comment about vessels, services, ports and people.

 

Mr. Woodward added that if some comments are really topical he’ll ask to use them in his next blog post.

“It’ll be a real challenge to head this company and one that I’m really looking forward to.  I’ve worked here for eighteen years and seen many changes over that time – and there’s many more to come.

 

“I really want our customers to feel they’re getting a good deal and need their constructive feedback to help me do that. Mark concluded: “So please, visit this blog occasionally, and if there are any burning issues let me know”

ROUND THE ISLAND CRUISES

EMERAUDE FRANCE operated her first and possibly only Round the Island Cruise on the Tynwald Day bank holiday - July 05. The cruise was operated "north about". Irish Sea Shipping also understands that next weekend's BEN-MY-CHREE cruise, will weather and circumstances permitting also go north about. This has apparently been in response to recent debate on the direction of these cruises in recent years.

MARITIME & COASTGUARD AGENCY

On Tuesday 3rd July the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) detained a vessel in Cardiff. The Cyprus flag 20,280 GT bulk carrier NIKOLAOS P had berthed in Cardiff to discharge a cargo of steel rods and plywood and was boarded by surveyors from the MCAs Cardiff Marine Office, who arrived to conduct a Mandatory Expanded Inspection of the vessel as part of their regular Port State Control inspection duties.

The inspection of the NIKOLAOS P revealed that the vessel was in very poor condition, and it was therefore detained. In total the inspection revealed in excess of 30 deficiencies, the most serious and detainable being;

• Severe wasting to the starboard lifeboat forward keel bracket lifting link
• Severe wasting of the starboard lifeboat aft keel bracket lifting link plate and bolt
• Severe wasting of the port lifeboat forward keel bracket

In addition to the technical detainable deficiencies, three major non-conformities were raised against the vessels ISM - Safety Management System:

• Maintenance of the Ship due to the large number and serious nature of deficiencies.
• Emergency Preparedness due to a substandard fire drill.
• Resources and Personnel due to the crew not having carried out sufficient drills or refresher training.

The NIKOLAOS P will remain under detention until the deficiencies are rectified.

Pat Dolby, Head of the MCAs Inspection Branch said: Operators have a duty to ensure that vessels are equipped and crews are trained to deal with a variety of emergency situations. Both the unacceptable state of the NIKOLAOS Ps lifeboats and the inadequate response of its crew in a drill are cause for major concern, as a real-life emergency would find the vessel ill prepared for an effective response.  We will not hesitate to detain vessels such as this one which pose a serious threat to the safety of its crew.

MERSEY FERRIES

The new temporary terminal building has been installed on the pavement outside the south end of the Cunard Building at the Pier Head. It is situated away from the opening through the hoardings which leads to the small areas of river front still open to the public and which also provides access to the Ravestein SKYLINE BARGE 15 which acts as the temporary landing stage.

The provision of this temporary terminal building will permit the current building and the adjacent restaurant - the last surviving structures from the early 1960s Pier Head Bus Station to be demolished prior to construction of a new terminal building for the ferries.

PEEL PORTS

The giant car and truck carrier DON QUIJOTE made history on July 03 when she arrived in the Port of Liverpool at the end of a voyage from Japan.

The EUKOR operated vessel was the largest gross tonne ship ever to enter Liverpool's enclosed docks.

Weighing in at 67,141 gt, she was nearly 10,000 gross tonnes heavier than the combination container/ro-ro ships of Atlantic Container Line, which regularly call at Liverpool and at 58,438 gt, were the previous record holders.

The DON QUIJOTE – length overall 227.9m and beam 32.29m – was delivering 415 cars and 25 pieces of heavy mobile plant loaded in Nagoya, Osaka and Yokohama for YA Logistics who import the used vehicles and sell them into the UK at a weekly trade auction.

PRINCE'S LANDING STAGE - CITY OF LIVERPOOL CRUISE TERMINAL

Despite indications that the first section of the cruise terminal would be positioned on the river commencing June 23 with further sections following over the next few days, so far nothing has happened. Rumours reaching Irish Sea shipping indicate that there is a possible problem with the river bed in the vicinity perhaps caused by demolition operations on the George's Stage further up stream.

Whether the stage will be in position and ready to berth the Carnival-Cunard QUEEN ELIZABETH 2 on September 21 the official opening day - remains to be seen. The first ship scheduled to call at the stage is the Carnival-HAL PRINSENDAM on September 02, 2007, it had originally been the Carnival-HAL ship MAASDAM due on July 29 which will now have to tender from mid river.

July 01Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Edwin Wilmshurst, Tony Brennan and "others"

BUGALED BREIZH

A mystery surrounding the deaths of five French fishermen in a trawler accident three years ago deepened this week when a judge said that the boat was probably sunk by an unknown submarine spying on NATO exercises.

Richard Foltzer, a French investigating magistrate, made his ruling after a campaign by relatives of the dead men to break through what they describe as a wall of silence put up by France, Britain and other NATO members.

They have always believed that a submarine caused the sinking of the Breton trawler BUGALDE BREIZH off Cornwall in January 2004, and that officials have covered up the truth.

They claimed to have been vindicated when Judge Foltzer told them that the most plausible theory was that one of the trawler’s cables had been caught by a submarine which then dragged it under water.

 “The legal system first talked about a submarine nautical event, then an exogenous force and now they are pronouncing the word submarine,” said Maître Christian Bergot, the lawyer representing the fishermen’s families. “The judge has made striking progress.”

Judge Foltzer appears to have ruled out claims that the accident was caused by a British or Dutch submarine participating in the joint Nato and Royal Navy exercise. Documents submitted by the British authorities say that HMS TURBULENT – accused in a French television documentary of involvement in the sinking – was tied up in Devonport while HMS TORBAY was 100 miles away. The Dutch vessel, DOLFINJ, was nine miles away.

 After meeting Judge Foltzer, Maître Bergot said: “The submarine expert designated by the judge has put NATO submarines out of the area. “If it’s not one of those, it can only be a spy submarine,” he said the judge told him. He welcomed judicial backing for what relatives claim to be the most likely explanation for the loss, but said that it would be very difficult to trace the submarine allegedly responsible.

Rémi Gloagen, whose brother Patrick died in the sinking, said: “We were happy that the word ‘submarine’ was pronounced but when the spy submarine was mentioned we said to ourselves, ‘We’re at a dead end’.” [MARITIME CLIPPINGS]

PORT OF FALMOUTH

Falmouth moved closer this week to welcoming bigger cruise ships to its docks with the start of an environmental impact assessment on the seabed of the Fal. In order for the new generation of super cruise liners to visit Cornwall, a deeper approach channel would be needed for the ships to be able to moor alongside Queen's Wharf.

The current channel is just over five metres deep, whereas the new one would be between eight and eight and half metres deep, allowing ships like the latest cruise liner Freedom of the Seas to visit Cornwall.

It is thought that the channel would bring 90 cruise ships a year, making a huge contribution to the local economy. But before any work can take place, a full survey is being carried out into the environmental impact that dredging would have on the Fal estuary, which is a Special Area of Conservation.

Samples are now being taken from the seabed to see what habitats could be disturbed by any work in the area.

A machine is being used to penetrate the layers of sediment on the floor of the estuary and it then sucks up a sample which is brought up to a specialist who logs it before sending it off for analysis.

Once the report on the findings is published, the Harbour Commissioners hope that the plan can then be moved forward.

Falmouth Harbour Commissioner Captain Mark Sansom said: "We hope that if the plan goes ahead we would be able to start dredging by 2009.

"We expect to find calcified seaweed in the area but it's not a particularly rare habitat and it could be relocated.

"There will be all sorts of options open to us depending on the results of the analysis.

"This plan has strong public support and the backing of the Regional Development Agency and the Objective One Partnership, which will jointly fund the project.

"It has many major benefits for the whole of Cornwall. Projections show that it would bring 100,000 passengers a year to the county.

"Figures show that each passenger will spend between £75 and £100 here, money which comes straight into the Cornish economy. On top of that there is crew spending, so the financial benefits are very great.

"All the new cruise ships on order are much bigger and in order for Cornwall to get a share of the market we have to be able to accommodate the ships.

"Passengers don't want to come ashore by tender any more so the companies are selecting ports where ships can moor alongside, allowing passengers to disembark on dry land.

"Also, because the new ships are so much bigger, many carrying 3,500 passengers as opposed to 2,000, using tenders to get people ashore becomes unfeasible."

In addition to the new channel into to docks, the plan would include a large reception building where passengers would be met before being bussed off to various attractions around the county. Ships would dock in the early morning and stay on average for about 12 hours before sailing to their next destination.

Cruising is growing in popularity at home and abroad, with the majority of passengers being American.

Although at one time all the mega liners were based in the Caribbean, the new generation will also be based in Europe.

Captain Sansom said: "If we can't accommodate these new ships, we will go back to being a very minor player and be missing out on a big opportunity for Cornwall."

ISLE OF MAN STEAM PACKET COMPANY

SUPERSEACAT TWO had a medical emergency on board on the Thursday evening sailing from Douglas and was given permission to proceed at full speed up the Mersey to Prince's Landing Stage. A Wirral correspondent recorded a passage time of 29 minutes from Q1 to all secure at Prince's Stage.  A possible record?

MANX FILM INCLUDING STEAM PACKET

An interesting collection of 1930s/40s home movie footage of the Isle of Man including the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company has been placed on You Tube by Judith Bridges. [CLICK HERE]

MINISTRY OF DEFENCE

The Ministry of Defence has agreed to the transfer of ownership of Devonport Management Limited (DML), the submarine and warship maintenance yard in Devonport, to Babcock International Group, subject to satisfactory completion of the necessary regulatory approvals.

The yard was put up for sale in 2006 by Halliburton KBR, Weir Group and Balfour Beatty. It currently employs some 4800 staff carrying out refits and overhauls of sophisticated warships such as frigates, destroyers and the Royal Navy's flotilla of nuclear-powered submarines. MoD retains a Special share in the business.

Minister for Defence Equipment and Support, Lord Drayson said:

"This announcement marks a significant step forward in realising our plans to see a vibrant and sustainable UK maritime industry, as laid out in the Defence Industrial Strategy."

Following this announcement, MoD and Babcock will enter negotiations on a formal agreement covering the operation of the yard, which is expected to reach conclusion next year

ROYAL NAVY

A sailor and a visitor have been injured in a fire on survey ship HMS ECHO off the South West coast. The pair, who have not been identified, were airlifted to hospital in Plymouth after the fire off Rame Head on Friday.

The ship lost power after the fire in an electrical switchboard and has been towed to its base at Devonport. The sailor's condition is not life- threatening said the navy. The condition of the other person, thought to be a contractor, is not known. HMS ECHO had been on its way to Falmouth for routine maintenance.  [MARITIME CLIPPINGS]

ROYAL NETHERLANDS NAVY

DUTCH WARSHIP GETS SHIP-SHAPE IN CORNWALL

A Dutch warship, Her Netherlands Majesty's Ship (HNLMS) ROTTERDAM has been undergoing an intense period of

operational sea training by staff from the Flag Officer Sea Training Organisation, (FOST), based in Devonport Naval Base, Plymouth.

 

As part of her training as a landing ship HNLMS ROTTERDAM has been taking part in a training exercise off the South Coast known as 'South West Lion'.

 

The training took place in and around Plymouth Sound and Mevagissey Bay and off the North Coast of Devon. During the training Dutch Marines from 2nd Battalion Royal Netherlands Marine Corps conducted amphibious landings near Whitsand Bay, Porthkerris, Braunton and at RM Chivenor.

 

This training is vital to ensure that the ship is ready to act in support of Dutch and United Nations military tasks around the world. It involved landing craft and helicopters landing Royal Marines for simulated attacks on Pentewan and Dean Point and also Bideford Bay.

 

As the ship approaches her final phase of training, her crew have been rehearsing scenarios such as rescuing

communities from natural disaster, to defending themselves and other ships against enemy attack from aircraft,

warships and submarines.

 

The final phase of the exercise saw FOST staff surprising the ship with a range of unplanned incidents to test whether the ship can carry out her primary role under distractions of fire, flood or enemy action.

 

HNLMS ROTTERDAM's commanding officer, Captain Kees Boelema-Robertus said: "HNLMS ROTTERDAM is now nearing the end of her training and FOST training ensures the ship's company is ready to meet the many situations that we could potentially face. The coast of Devon and Cornwall provide fantastic opportunities to train and we appreciate the support that we get from the local communities." Flag Officer Sea Training is a world-renowned centre of excellence that trains all Royal Navy and Royal Fleet Auxiliary ships. The training lasts for up to eight weeks and includes foreign navies from Germany, Netherlands, Chile, Turkey, Greece, Portugal, Poland, Sweden and Romania who come to Devonport to be trained by the Royal Navy. [MARITIME CLIPPINGS]

 

SOLAS 2010

 

Edwin Wilmshurst has forwarded a details of classic passenger vessels which appeared recently in Lloyd's List whose future is in doubt from October 2010 when the new SOLAS regulations come into force. A number of these vessels are regular visitors to the Celtic and Irish Seas.

 

Aegean II                                   

Dalmacija

Ocean Monarch

Royal Star

The Emerald

Andrea

Funchal

Oceanic

Saga Rose

The Topaz

Arion

Kristina Regina

Princess Danae

Sapphire

 

Athena

Endeavour 

Regal Empress

Serenade

 

Black Prince

Ocean Majesty

Maxim Gorkiy

The Calypso

 

One should therefore be mindful of the possible demise of these ships when planning photography expeditions and sailings during the next three years.

 

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