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Finished With Engines: Irish Sea Shipping is now closed to new updates - J.H. Luxton Photography - Transport, Industrial History, Regional Photographs UK & beyond

NEWS BULLETIN - October 2007

October 28Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Ian Collard, "Mersey River Spy" and "others".


PONT-AVEN - the popular annual Jazz Festival cruise operated from Ringaskiddyhas been cancelled because the

Irish Government has requested the payment of a €10,000 licence fee. Brittany Ferries confirmed on October 26 that it will not be operating its traditional Cork harbour 'jazz cruise' because of the massive licence fee demand which it rejected as "blatant privateering."

The vessel remained berthed at Ringaskiddy terminal though a dockside programme of music, dining and beverages was being offered.

The 'jazz cruise' around Cork Harbour has proved one of the most popular recent innovations to Ireland's biggest music festival. More than 1,200 passengers were expected to enjoy the jazz cruise around Cork harbour.

However, Brittany Ferries warned that having to incorporate the €10,000 licence fee demand into its jazz cruise ticket prices would have made them totally unaffordable for music fans.

The 'jazz cruise' has been operated for the previous three years by Brittany Ferries as part of their commitment to the Cork Jazz Festival.

This year's harbour cruise had been expected to prove even more ambitious to mark the 30th anniversary of the music spectacular which is now the third biggest jazz festival in Europe.

The licence fee demand came after it was deemed that such 'jazz cruises' fell outside the normal coverage of Brittany Ferries existing operating license.

Such 'inshore' cruises were ruled by the Department of the Marine to be covered by a special domestic ferry licence.

Brittany Ferries warned that it could not justify such a licence for a single weekend's harbour cruising.

More than 40,000 music and party fans are expected in Cork over the jazz festival weekend between October 26 and 29th.


RFA WAVE RULER is due at Cammell Laird on November 21, 2007


SUPERSEACAT TWO - the scheduled round trip afternoon sailing to Liverpool on Saturday October 27 was operated to Heysham due to deteriorating weather conditions on the Irish Sea.

SEA EXPRESS I is due to return to dry dock at Cammell Laird on November 19, 2007.


The sections dry docked at Cammell Laird were returned to their positions on Thursday and Friday October 25 & 26.


U535 Wirral Council has approved plans to move the submarine to the Woodside Ferry Termina.

The submarine was formerly an attraction at the Historic Warships site in Birkenhead docks.

Plans include the provision of a visitor exhibition centre at the site.

The boat will be cut into three sections to be transported and viewed. At Woodside huge glass panels installed over the end of each section will allow visitors to see inside the submarine from specially-built viewing platforms.

Neil Scales, chief executive of Merseytravel, said: "It's very good news, not only does it give a home to the U-boat but it also compliments our work along the river with other attractions like Spaceport.

"We'll do a good job with this."

The exhibition in the visitors centre will display some of the four- and-a-half tons of memorabilia that was found on U534.

This includes an Enigma cipher machine, ammunition, uniforms, tools, charts and maps.

Work is expected to cost about £2.5m and will start next month and is to due to finish next year.


Plans to cut up the remains of the MSC NAPOLI have been approved in a move that means that the stern section of the ship will still be off the Devon coast next Spring. Salvors believe the cargo vessel is too heavy to be lifted in tact, so cutting equipment is tobe brought in to break her up further.

A barge will then be used to take her away for recycling and scrap. But local businesses have voiced their anger and fear that more oil pollution could put off visitors.

Simon Bartlett, who runs a boat hire firm, said: "Oil on the beaches can't be good for the tourist industry." The MSC NAPOLI was grounded off the coast at Branscombe, Devon after being damaged in storms in January. The ship wassplit in two in a series of explosions and the bow towed to the Harland and Wolff shipyard, in Belfast, to be demolishedand recycled.

Salvors have said the beached stern was due to be taken away in one piece in November. Robin Middleton, the Secretary of State's representative for Maritime Salvage, said: "Cutting vessels up isn't new, cutting vessels up with adevice this sheer size is novel and new and it's hoped in the industry if this is successful this will become the norm. "All of the crew were rescued from the ship in January after it was damaged in storms while sailing from Antwerp to South Africa.


EUROPEAN ENDEAVOUR (ex MIDNIGHT MERCHANT / EL GRECO] made her debut on the Mersey on Sunday October 27. [Click Here]



Seatruck Ferries have taken delivery of the first in the 'Clipper Point' series of vessels, albeit a little smaller than her sisters.

Measuring over 3200mm long in its glass case, the 1:50 scale model of the 'Clipper Point' is just as impressive in its own way. Over fifteen months in the making, the giant model was manufactured by RCI in the Far East and shipped to Heysham in time for its inaugural outing - a show stopping centre piece for the Seatruck Ferries sponsored Export & Freight awards in Belfast.

The model is accurate in every detail, right down to the wheelhouse consoles. A cut-away section on the starboard side reveals the detail of the main and lower cargo decks and LED lights provide internal illumination.

"A great deal of work went into ensuring that the finished result was as exciting as the concept" said Andy Askham. "The paint colours were matched to those provided for the real ship. Hundreds of drawings and detailed photographs were supplied to the model makers to ensure that the model, built slightly ahead of the actual vessel, was as close a representation of the real thing as could be achieved."

The final finishing touch - and the main reason for choosing to build a model at an unprecedented large scale - was for Seatruck Ferries customers to provide die-cast truck models at the same scale. Each is painted meticulously in their own company liveries and placed onboard to grace the cargo decks and add to the realism.

Transporting such a large model wasn't without its own problems. On its wooden plinth and with a plexiglass cover, the display weighs in at around six hundred kilogrammes, giving Alistair Eagles and Damian McGrath a real challenge to erect the model on their stand in Belfast.

It is hoped that the 'Clipper Point' model will grace Seatruck Ferries Shipholding's new offices and travel out to delight the crowds whereverSeatruck Ferries exhibit.


A Dartmouth district councillor has blasted South Hams Council for its new plans to increase charges for local users of the Lower Ferry. Hilary Bastone said this week that the plans, which would see prices for visitors drop by 30p a trip but charges for those using concession tickets go up by 50p, were very badly thought out.

Cllr Bastone said if the charges were increased he would stop using the Lower Ferry in favour of the privately run Higher Ferry. The plans are a reversal of an increase in April 2006, which was much criticised but seemed to be vindicated by a sharp increase in use after it was implemented. However, passenger figures in 2006/07 were down nearly 20,000 on 2005/06, and the council's prosperity policy group has been looking at the changes. 'It is a stupid plan,' said Cllr Bastone. 'I can't believe that the increase was implemented in 2006, and now they are proposing this u-turn coupled with a 50 per cent increase for locals. 'The council shot itself in the foot when it increased the charges 18 months ago, and now these plans represent another shot. I personally use the concession ticket on the lower ferry, but if these changes go through I'll be using the Higher Ferry from now on. I imagine many Dartmothians will do the same. It is madness.' The Lower Ferry has been dubbed a district council cash cow by locals who see it as helping to subsidise council tax across the district.

Last year it made a £792,000 profit. This increase, according to Cllr Bastone, will do nothing to change that view. However, the report which has gone to the district council reveals that the increase in concession tickets does not cover the real cost of the journey to the district council, which is £1.76. The number of those using concession tickets and those paying full price are roughly equal, but three quarters of the revenue generated by the ferry comes from full fare paying users.



Stena Line and P&O Irish Sea have bandoned plans for a new multi-million pounds shared terminal in south west Scotland to serve Irish Sea routes.

Escalating costs have been blamed for the decision to pull the plug on the new joint facilities at Cairnryan.

Stena had planned to move its base about six miles up Loch Ryan from Stranraer to Cairnryan where rivals P&O already operate.

The move was intended to allow the redevelopment of Stranraer seafront.

Stena and P&O have been planning the shared re-development of Cairnryan Port for more than four years.

The joint venture was given the go-ahead earlier this year by a harbour empowerment order.

Plans were well advanced with work due to start soon and the new terminal scheduled for opening in 2009.

A statement from the two companies said it was "simply no longer economically viable" to proceed with the shared port facilities for Irish Sea services.

The greater impact is on Stena who had sought to move from outdated facilities at Stranraer to cut the journey time of sailings to Belfast and reduce fuel costs.

Route director Alan Gordon said they would now review their options which include staying at Stranraer or going it alone with the development of a new terminal further up Loch Ryan.

P&O spokesman Terry Cairns said it was business as usual for them.The decision has consequences for ambitions plans by Scottish Enterprise Dumfries and Galloway and the local council to re-develop the waterfront area of Stranraer when the ferries had gone.

Galloway and Upper Nithsdale MSP Alex Fergusson said a lot of hard work had "effectively been wasted".

Mr Fergusson said it was vital to ensure that Stena Line remained in Dumfries and Galloway as its presence was "vitally important".

"I will be seeking urgent discussions with the management of Stena to explore the company's future intentions," he said.

He added that he would do everything possible to ensure the firm remained part of the region's transport infrastructure.

"An awful lot of hard work, consultation and compromise has now effectively been wasted," he said.

"The important thing now is to ensure Stena's future in Loch Ryan as part of the Euroroute to Northern Ireland."

South of Scotland SNP MSP Alasdair Morgan voiced concern at the wider impact of the decision.

"Clearly this announcement is very disappointing, not least because of the potential impact that it will have on plans for the regeneration of Stranraer waterfront," he said.

"It is very much to be hoped that those parts of the scheme which are not dependent on the Stena move can still go ahead."

Dumfries and Galloway MP Russell Brown said the project was vital for the area.

"It's absolutely essential that all the partners work together to seek to ensure Stena does retain its ferry port on Loch Ryan and that it relocates up the loch," he said.

"If this does not happen the implications are potentially devastating. "Many local jobs could be jeopardised and the whole regeneration project for Stranraer and the surrounding area could be under threat." [BBC]


The Conygar Investment Company PLC have announced that it has entered into a joint venture with Stena Line Ports Ltd to develop surplus non-operational land currently owned by Stena at Holyhead, Anglesey, Wales.

Conygar has committed £7m to the joint venture company, Conygar Stena Line Ltd, to finance planning application and other associated costs with Stena contributing the land.

It is envisaged that the development will incorporate residential, leisure, tourist and retail facilities, an expanded marina development with associated commercial and marine engineering elements, Conygar said in a statement.

October 20Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Jenny Williamson, "Y Ddraig Goch", "R", Ian Collard, "JP"  and "others".


A project which aims to attract thousands of tourists to the Titanic  Quarter in Belfast has lost out on £25m of lottery money.

The project failed to reach the final funding shortlist for the  National Lottery's Living Landmarks Fund.


The signature project is to sit at the heart of the redevelopment of the Titanic Quarter.


The Titanic signature project - showcasing the city's maritime and industrial heritage - is set to cost an estimated £90m.  This would come from a mix of public and private investment.


Tourism Minister Nigel Dodds said the decision left a large gap and he would now consider other sources for funding.


Titanic Foundation chairman Brian Ambrose said the plan had been well pitched to fund managers and the decision was a setback.


"I think the team did a tremendous job in presenting the project and I'm disappointed we haven't been selected," he said.


"But as far as the project goes we dust ourselves down, we move on and we're still determined to deliver this project on time for the centenary in 2012."

The Living Landmarks Fund is expected to finance up to six projects across the UK. [BBC]


It is reported that work on preliminary work on the dismantling the former French Line flagship has commenced on the beach at Alang. Initial work includes the recovery of fixtures and fittings which will be sold. Demolition will commence once this recovery is completed.




Traffic Figures:



Year to Date





















Route Performance:






Plus 52%




Plus 26%




Minus 2%




Plus 31%




All minus



Director of Harbours, Captain Michael Brew comments:

“The six cruise liners seen in September have contributed to an excellent month’s passenger figures.  Sea passenger traffic has now increased every month this year”.


SUPERSEACAT TWO - Unconfirmed reports suggest that on Tuesday October 16, whilst working the 08:00 Douglas to Liverpool sailing spent around half an hour wallowing off the Isle of Man without power due to the water jets being partially blocked. The problem being rectified without the vessel returning to Douglas.


The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) announced on October 18 that fourteen foreign ships were under detention in UK ports during September 2007 after failing Port State Control (PSC) inspection.

Latest monthly figures show that there were eleven new detentions of foreign flagged ships in UK ports during September 2007 and three vessels under detention from previous months. The overall rate of detentions compared with inspections carried out over the last twelve months is 5.9%, a slight increase on Augusts twelve month rate.

During the month of September 129 Port State Control inspections were carried out in the UK. A total of 21 vessels had no deficiencies raised against them, 67 had between one and five deficiencies, 26 had between six and ten deficiencies 8 had between eleven and twenty deficiencies and there were 7 vessels inspected which had more than twenty deficiencies.

Out of the detained vessels four were registered with flag states listed on the Paris MOU white list, six were registered with states on the grey list, two were registered with flag states on the black list and two were not classified.

Vessels detained in September included:

A 13,521gt Bahamas flagged General Cargo vessel which was detained in Blyth for 8 days because the number and nature of the deficiencies raised indicated a failure of the on-board Safety Management System (ISM). Deficiencies included - no maintenance records for the cargo securing equipment, the steering gear had hydraulic leaks, there were defective fire extinguishers and the fire plan had not been updated.

A 5,877gt Panama flagged Ro-Ro Cargo vessel which was detained in Sheerness for 4 days because of severe cockroach infestation throughout the accommodation. The main frames were wasted and the bilge valves were inoperative. An ISM Major Non Conformity was raised because the number and nature of the deficiencies indicated a failure of the on-board Safety Management System.

For full details [CLICK HERE] to visit the MCGA site. A number of the ships detained were held at Irish and Celtic Sea ports including Liverpool, Falmouth and Belfast.


A gently rising tide on October 12 refloated a Cornish fishing lugger at the place where she last landed fish 74 years ago.

The RIPPLE, a 44ft tarred boat built 111 years ago, has been subject to a four-year restoration project near Newlyn harbour and is now the world's only working Cornish lugger.

In a ceremony aided by the raw brawn of Cornish Pirates rugby team members, she has now been placed back in the water. 

Owner John Lambourn said she was a special kind of boat - in and out of the water.

"The RIPPLE symbolises regeneration in Newlyn," he said. "She is a tangible example of getting the past to work for the future, inspiring the next generation to find ways of benefiting from the richness of Newlyn's fishing heritage and learning how the past can help shape a vision for a sustainable fishing industry."

The RIPPLE SS.19 was built on the Harbour Beach in St Ives in 1896 and is now the oldest fishing boat on the UK Fishing Vessel Register carrying her original name and fishing registry number.

The historic ship, which was restored by the West Cornwall Lugger Industry Trust, was blessed by the Rev Julyan Drew, Methodist minister for Newlyn and Mousehole.


Iarnród Éireann is planning to invest €8m in infrastructure at Rosslare Europort in County Wexford. The railway company, which runs the port, says the investment is to cater for future growth and shipping business needs. The bulk of the investment will replace the Linkspan on Rosslare Europort's Berth 2, at a cost of €6.8m. This work will be complete in late 2008. Iarnród Éireann says Rosslare Europort is the fastest growing roll-on roll-off (RoRo) port in the State, with a 14% increase in freight volumes in 2006, and 10% this year to date.

Consultant engineers are also to conduct a feasibility study into deepening Berth 2 to a depth of nine metres, enabling the port to handle a new class of larger RoRo ships developed in recent years, called 'Humbermax'. Rosslare Europort generated a profit of €3.1m last year from revenue of €11.4m.


Following on from the rumours about a Heysham - Dublin service reported in the last news update - it appears that a new Heysham to Belfast service could be on the cards. This may use the former Stena terminal when Stena relocate to a new berth down stream.

It would appear that the four new builds will be deployed on Warrenpoint - Heysham and Liverpool to Dublin. The newly acquired RR ARROW and RR TRIUMPH being deployed on the new Belfast - Heysham service.


The linkspans from Harwich and Hoek of Holland arrived at Belfast on board a barge towed by the Multraship tug BARRACUDA. They have been delivered to the Harland and Wolff site. [Photo: Paul O'Donnell]



The British supermarket chain is to become the first major retailer in England to start transporting goods by canal.

Tesco will use the Manchester Ship Canal to move crates of wine from South America from the Port of Liverpool and a container terminal at Irlam. The retailer says the move will mean hundreds of lorries can be taken off the roads, reducing congestion and cutting carbon emissions.

It already has plans to use other canal links across Britain. The move has been made possible by the collaboration of Tesco, Peel Holdings who run the canal and the Port of Liverpool and importer Kingsland Wines.

The new cargo service involves three journeys a week, delivering an estimated 600,000 litres of wine on each journey along the 40-mile stretch of the canal.

This is a step forward in helping to address today's important environmental issues Laurie McIlwee, Tesco

The containers of wine from Australia, California, Chile and Argentina are then transported to a bottling site less than half a mile away where they are packed for Tesco supermarkets across the country.

Until now the wine shipments have arrived in the UK at various southern ports by ship before being driven to the Manchester bottling depot.

Tesco distribution director Laurie McIlwee said: "This move will be like taking a step back to the pre-car days of the late Victorian era when a lot of cargo was still transported by canal, and is a step forward in helping to address today's important environmental issues.

"We are already looking at other areas where we can move freight on waterways."

Frank Robotham from Peel Holdings said: "This is something we've been working on for 12 months.

"It has already got a lot of interest from other retailers. We believe it has a definite sustainable future as not only is it environmentally friendly but is also cost effective

October 15Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Jenny Williamson, "Y Ddraig Goch", "R", Ian Collard, "JP"  and "others".


ULYSSES - Due to refurbishment works at the terminal in Holyhead the ULYSSES will operate on a temporary revised sailing schedule for a short period. Details as follows:

Monday 15th October 

From Holyhead

scheduled 02.40hrs sailing will depart at 04.20hrs

scheduled 14.10hrs sailing will depart at 16.20hrs

From Dublin

scheduled 08.05hrs sailing will depart at 11.30hrs

scheduled 20.55hrs sailing will depart at 23.30hrs

Tuesday 16th October

From Holyhead

scheduled 02.40hrs sailing will depart at 04.20hrs

scheduled 14.10hrs sailing will depart at 16.20hrs

From Dublin

scheduled 08.05hrs sailing will depart at 11.30hrs

scheduled 20.55hrs sailing will depart at 22.00hrs

Wednesday 17th October

From Holyhead

scheduled 02.40hrs sailing will depart at 03.40hrs

On further sailings will be on schedule


BEN-MY-CHREE the Steam Packet on-line booking system suggests that the ship will go off service after her 14:15 Heysham to Douglas sailing on Monday February 25. There is no evening sailing on that day, and the following day's sailing to Heysham is scheduled for a 'seacat' (2 hours).

The BEN-MY-CHREE returns to service from the 19.45 Douglas to Heysham sailing on Friday March 07, 2008.

The 'seacat' schedule appears to be as follows, giving only one round trip per day:

Monday to Friday inclusive:  Douglas to Heysham 08.45  Heysham to Douglas 14.15.

Saturday: Douglas to Liverpool 08:00, Liverpool to Douglas 19:00.

Sunday: Douglas to Liverpool 15.00, Liverpool to Douglas 19.00.

It is presumed that the 'seacat' will be SEA EXPRESS I (SEACAT ISLE OF MAN) if her repairs are completed by then as she can operate in sea conditions of up to 3.5m and would be less liable to disruption.

The 'seacat' sailings to Liverpool on Saturday and Sunday continue after the BEN-MY-CHREE returns with a Friday Douglas departure at 07:30 and an 11:15 return sailing commencing on Fridays from March 14.


RR ARROW - the ship is currently at Cammell Laird undergoing maintenance - this means that the Heysham - Belfast service is down to one ship CFF SEINE.

The Heysham - Dublin service being run by SAGA MOON and RR SHIELD.


HEYSHAM PORT - the damaged #3 link span will be replaced by a new span, similar to the new #1 span in February or March 2008.


Strong rumours are circulating from several sources that suggest RR ARROW (currently undergoing bow thrust repairs and maintenance at Cammell Laird) and RR TRIUMPH have been sold to Seatruck Ferries.

It also appears likely that with Seatruck gaining berthing slots in Dublin following the acquisition of the Celtic Link Dublin to Liverpool  service, that the rumoured Dublin - Mostyn service may not happen - a new Dublin to Heysham route may appear instead.

October 10Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Ian Liston and "others"


QUEEN ELIZABETH - Carnival Corporation have announced that it has placed an order for a new ship to replace the QUEEN ELIZABETH 2.

The order has been placed with Fincantieri and the ship is due to enter service towards the end of 2010.

Carnival Corporation signed an agreement with Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri for the construction of the new 2092-passenger ocean liner, which will be built at Fincantieri's Monfalcone yard at an all-in cost of approximately $700 million. The vessel will be the second largest ship the company has every built for the Cunard division.

"Cunard already owns and operates the two most famous ocean liners in the world, QUEEN ELIZABETH 2 and QUEEN MARY 2, and a third -- QUEEN VICTORIA -- is due to be named by HRH The Duchess of Cornwall, in the presence of HRH The Prince of Wales, in December of this year," said Carol Marlow, president of Cunard Line."

The decision to order another ship for Cunard Line has been taken as a result of the strong booking response to the new Queen Victoria, and we are extremely pleased that Cunard will once again become a three-ship fleet so soon after the departure of the much-celebrated QUEEN ELIZABETH 2 in November 2008. Furthermore, we are delighted that Her Majesty The Queen has given her blessing to our calling this new Cunarder 'Queen Elizabeth', after our first vessel of that name."

The new ship follows a long line of famous Cunard liners stretching back to the company's inception as the first operator of a timetabled transatlantic service 167 years ago.

"It is a particularly special moment for Fincantieri to have secured a second order from Cunard at a time when we are nearing the completion of Queen Victoria," said Mr. Giuseppe Bono, Fincantieri's Chief Executive Officer. "Cunard is the most famous name in passenger shipping and we are honoured to have been chosen to build QUEEN ELIZABETH and to continue the tradition and heritage of that great company."

QUEEN ELIZABETH will offer the very best of Cunard's values and traditions, blended with every conceivable modern luxury that today's discerning travellers expect. Through her opulent public rooms and impeccable service, the new ship will reflect the grandeur which has been associated with Cunard ships since the introduction of the MAURETANIA in 1907; and from the outside, her black hull, gleaming white superstructure and distinctive red funnel will echo the classic characteristics of the company's distinctive liner heritage.

QUEEN ELIZABETH will fly the Red Ensign with her home-port Southampton, as is the case with the other ships in the Cunard fleet.

The agreement is subject to approval by the board of directors of Carnival Corporation & plc. Design details and initial itineraries will be announced in due course.


Cumbria County Council has apologised to anyone who witnessed an incident on the Windermere Ferry MALLARD in which two young swans were killed.

The county council operates the ferry that runs between Ferry Nab and Ferry House on Windermere.

Last Wednesday (October 3) morning several people looked on as the craft hit the two birds as it mounted the slipway at Ferry House on the west side of the lake.

A spokesman for the council said: "This was a very unfortunate incident and we are very sorry for what happened and apologise to anyone who saw the swans hit by the ferry.

We are investigating to see what if anything can be done to prevent a repeat of this distressing incident."

(Westmorland Gazette)


Irish Ferries has won two top UK travel awards for their services between Ireland and Britain.

Against competition from companies operating on the North Sea, English Channel and Irish Sea routes, Irish Ferries was voted winner of the Ferry Operator of the Year award sponsored by leading UK travel trade publication, Travel Trade Gazette. The award was decided by a panel of 37 industry experts.

Their second award, Best Ferry Company on the Irish Sea, was presented by the World Travel Awards organisation whose awards were hailed by the Wall Street Journal as the travel industry's equivalent to the Oscars.

A ten-times winner of Ireland's Best Ferry Company award, this is the first occasion on which Irish Ferries have been presented with travel awards in the UK. Previously, an award for its freight services was presented to the company in London.

Commenting, Irish Ferries marketing director Tony Kelly said 'besides being a tribute to our staff and crew, our success in winning these awards provides independent verification of the improved levels of service and passenger care which customers can now expect when travelling on our services".


The online booking engine has been updated and reservations for 2008 can now be made

Mark Woodward, chief executive of the Steam Packet Company said: “Our passenger carryings have increased by over 50,000 this year as we have expanded our service provision. We’re delighted that customers can now book ahead for 2008 – much earlier than in previous years - and we have hundreds of thousands of special offer seats available.

“It gives our customers the opportunity to forward plan and take advantage of the greatest choice of cheaper offers if they book well in advance.”


The company has announced that the BEN-MY-CHREE will operate the Merseyside winter weekend service sailing to and from Birkenhead from mid November.

The BEN-MY-CHREE will continue her normal Monday to Friday daily sailings between Douglas and Heysham.  Due to customer feedback the company is also introducing a new winter service to Twelve Quays, Birkenhead on Saturdays and Sundays.

Mark Woodward commented: “With regard to our winter service in general we’re pleased to be able to offer a weekend service on the BEN-MY-CHREE to Twelve Quays at Birkenhead, that proved so popular earlier this year.  Many of our customers have requested a return of this service so we are happy to be able to oblige this winter.

“This change has been made to ensure a reliable service to Liverpool over the winter period and to minimize weather disruptions. Midweek Heysham services are unaffected. Our fast craft service to Liverpool will recommence before Easter next year.”

The company is contacting any passengers affected to advise the change of vessel and will endeavour to assist everyone to ensure their needs are accommodated.   Coach transfers will be made available free of charge for foot passengers, operating between Heysham and Liverpool Pier Head and Twelve Quays and Liverpool Pier Head.

The BEN-MY-CHREE commences on the Douglas to Birkenhead route on Saturday November 10 departing Douglas at 08:00 and Birkenhead Twelve Quays at 14:00.

[ISS COMMENT: This is an excellent decision for those on Merseyside who wish to see a reliable winter service to the Isle of Man. Enthusiasts are reminded to of the the opportunity to take a Birkenhead > Douglas > Heysham > Douglas > Birkenhead trip. Your web master undertook this trip on the very first Twelve Quays sailing in March 2007. You can read a Voyage Report by CLICKING HERE.]


KING HARRY VII which crosses the River Fal between Feock and Philliegh in Cornwall beached on one of her slipways on Monday October 09 on a falling tide. She was out of service for several hours forcing motorists to take a long detour via Truro.

Tim Light, from the ferry company, said there were systems in place to alert as many people as possible to the delays.

"We have a text system in place where most of our regulars give us their mobile numbers and they are automatically texted to say there's a delay," he said.

"But we also have some good friends over on the Roseland who trundle out of their houses and put signs up saying the ferry's shut.

"It's never an easy thing to deal with."


Par Docks could be developed into a world class sailing venue that could bring hundreds of jobs to Cornwall and attract major international events such as the Americas Cup.

That's the vision that the president of international maritime association the Federation of Regional and Local Channel Ports, Mike Sutherland, has for the development of the 50-acre industrial site, when Imerys stops export operations at Par at the end of this year.

Capt Sutherland, who is also Fowey harbourmaster, speaks with a lifetime's maritime experience.

Though Fowey's Harbour Commissioners have no statutory authority over Par, they provide pilotage for the port and Imerys' decision to close the privately owned docks has already had a substantial effect on Fowey.

Capt Sutherland said: "We have already made significant redundancies because of Imerys' plans.

"But the people who make the decision about the future development of the Par site must recognise that it also offers a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to develop St Austell Bay into a major arena for national and international sailing events for the benefit of Cornwall and the whole of the South West.

"Tim Smit showed with the Eden Project just what can be achieved if you have a vision. It might seem incredible, but why should we not attract the Americas Cup or similar national and international sailing events? You only have to see the economic regeneration of Valencia in Spain, which hosted the Americas Cup this year, to see what can be achieved.

"Rather than developing projects piecemeal, our vision should be just as bold and fit into a much bigger master plan for the whole area that includes attractions such as the Eden Project, the multi-million pound regeneration of St Austell, as well as Newquay's plans for the 2010 World Lifesaving Championships."

Capt Sutherland hopes that international property experts DTZ, who are currently consulting interested parties on the range of options for Par Docks, will take his views on board.

DTZ will report to the partners who will decide the site's future, the Regional Development Agency, Cornwall County Council, and Restormel Borough Council, who for the moment will not comment on the consultants' work.

Not all of Par Docks will become vacant when export operations cease later this year, as Imerys will retain the eastern half of the site for clay-drying operations.

And rumours continue to circulate about what shape the redevelopment will take, not least because Cornwall County Council has already identified Par Docks as a potential waste management site.

But Capt Sutherland is concerned that the decision-makers may fall for less ambitious plans, because they fear local residents and businesses would not support a bolder vision.

Capt Sutherland said: "If this is the case, I believe they underestimate the public.

"This is a wonderful opportunity to turn one of the most beautiful parts of Cornwall, St Austell Bay, into a world-class leisure destination and it should at least be investigated, along with the other possibilities."  [This is Cornwall]


HSS STENA VOYAGER is off service for routine maintenance on Sunday October 14. Her sailings are cancelled with STENA SEAFARER due to operate on the Belfast - Stranraer route in support of the STENA CALEDONIA.

October 07Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews and "others"


The saga of the Ballycastle to Campbeltown Ferry service continues as reported in the Campbeltown Courier. The service introduced by Sea Containers in 1997 last operated during the summer season of 1999.

IT IS looking increasingly likely that there won't be a ferry next year running from Campbeltown. Despite promising signs when the SNP took control at Holyrood and the Northern Ireland Assembly was re-established and meetings between politicians on both sides the process has dragged on until it has reached a point where it would be too late to include the ferry service in the all-important tourism brochures and promotions for 2008.

One of the ferry companies which has expressed an interest in the route even has a ship waiting. Alan Reid MP for Argyll and Bute received a reply from Northern Ireland Minister, Nigel Dodds, about the Campbeltown-Ballycastle ferry service, informing him that 'it is unlikely that the service, if restored, will be in place for next year'.

Mr Dodds also wrote that the Northern Ireland Executive is waiting for the Scottish Government to develop a 'discussion paper'. Mr Reid said: 'This is bad news for Campbeltown. I simply cannot understand why the SNP has failed to produce a discussion paper after four months in office.

'All the work necessary had already been put in place by Liberal Democrat Transport Ministers Nicol Stephen and Tavish Scott. 'They prepared tender documents which found favour with two companies interested in operating the ferry. All that was lacking was the signature of the Northern Ireland Minister, who was then Labour direct rule Minister Peter Hain. He refused to sign the documents.

'Now that there are new local Ministers in Northern Ireland, all that the SNP Transport Minister had to do was update the papers already drawn up by his predecessors and send them to Northern Ireland. I simply cannot understand why he has failed to do this after four months. Clearly

Campbeltown is at the bottom of the SNP's priority list. 'I won't give up on this, but will keep battling away to convince the SNP of the importance of re-starting this service in plenty of time for it to appear in tourist brochures for 2009.'

Jamie McGrigor, Highlands and islands Conservative MSP, has also been lobbying members of the Northern Ireland Assembly on the need for the reinstatement of the ferry service. Jamie has been pressing for urgent

decisions to be taken by the Northern Ireland Executive and Scottish Government, holding talks with Members of the Assembly from across the political spectrum, including the SDLP, the Alliance and the DUP.

Jamie, who has been pushing First Minister Alex Salmond and Transport Minister Stewart Stevenson on the subject since they took office in May, said after the meeting: 'I was very pleased to be able to take the opportunity to highlight to the Members of the Northern Ireland Assembly the need for agreement to be reached to reinstate the ferry service. There is definite support for a new ferry service both in Argyll and in Northern Ireland and I am looking for Ministers to take concrete decisions as soon as possible.'

SNP councillor John Semple has defended the way the ferry plans have been handled. 'If this service will only have five years to prove its self the important issue is not when it will start, but that it will get off to the best possible start with the right vessel and the right operator,' he said.

'We have learned this from bitter experience. I would hope that the service starts as soon as practically possible but pressing for a premature start could well have serious negative consequences. I would be surprised that anyone with experience of the service would suggest otherwise.' [CAMPBELTOWN COURIER]


The seaward sections of the newly installed cruise terminal will be dry-docked at Cammell Laird after the departure of the STENA ADVENTURER. The upriver sections were dry docked before the stage was commissioned. The foot passenger access bridge at the north end was craned off during the past week and placed on Prince's Parade.


The Rosslare to Pembroke  service, has been cancelled due to a serious accident at the Milford Haven port facility which occurred on Saturday October 06. The 21:00 ex Rosslare and 02:45 ex Pembroke sailings being cancelled.


One person is missing after a jack-up barge collapsed beside a liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal currently being built near Milford Haven in west Wales.

Two people were pulled from the water following the collapse which happened at around 15:00 on Saturday October 06, said Milford Haven Port Authority.

Five other people were rescued from the barge by a work boat.

A spokeswoman for the Health and Safety Executive said they would be launching an investigation.

Milford Haven Port Authority closed the port to all traffic movements and declared a port emergency at 1540 BST.

A number of vessels, including three tugs, were sent to the scene of the collapsed barge, which had been working alongside the South Hook LNG terminal.

Later the authority said the barge was listing heavily and could capsize. They have established an exclusion zone around it.

Salvage experts were also coming to the port to assess the situation, it said.

Milford Haven coastguard, which is leading the search and rescue effort, said they had established a command control centre for any salvage operations to be carried out.

The police and ambulance services are also in attendance, and the air ambulance is on standby.

A spokesperson for the authority said: "Clearly the main focus remains the search to recover the missing person, though fears for pollution are growing and the port authority has also mobilised its counter pollution vessels to attend the scene." [BBC Wales]


It was reported later that the body of the missing person, a 44 year old man from the Netherlands, has been located by remote cameras and attempts are being made to recover the body.

A South Hook LNG spokesperson confirmed the death with "deep regret" and said next of kin had been informed.

"Our thoughts and sympathies are with his family," said the spokesperson.


EXPRESS was reported to have arrived at the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company's Belfast Terminal for winter lay-up around 11:15 on Thursday October 04, 2007.


One of the most secretive vessels ever built at Harland & Wolff is to be scrapped, according to the Ministry of Defence.

Former Royal Navy assault ship HMS FEARLESS, which served in the 1982 Falklands conflict and later in Iraq, will be sent to a yard in Belgium where "as muchas possible" of it will be recycled.

The 12,000-tonne ship was the longest serving steam-powered ship to serve in the Royal Navy and also starred in a Bond movie, featuring in the closing sequences of The Spy Who Loved Me.

It has been mothballed in Portsmouth since leaving service in 2002. Defence Minister Lord Drayson said: "The selection of Van Heyghen Recycling as the preferred bidder for the salvage of HMS FEARLESS demonstrates our commitment to reprocessing military equipment in an environmentally friendly way."

HMS FEARLESS and her sister ship, HMS INTREPID, were designed to support Royal Marine commandos on amphibious operations by transporting and landing troops and equipment. Their flight decks supported helicopters and even Harrier jets during the Falklands War.

Strict security surrounded her construction at Harland & Wolff shipyard in the early 1960s. At the time of the ship's launch in December 1963, the Telegraph dubbed her " the hush-hush ship".

The reason for the secrecy was the innovative design of HMS FEARLESS's stern. Although called an assault ship, she was officially classed as a Landing Platform Dock since her rear section acted as a miniature harbour which housed four, 115-ton troop landing craft.

Former Royal Marine Colin Waite (49), who served on HMS FEARLESS during the Falklands War, said the decision was "crazy". "It is very sad because she is a ship with more history than most," he said. [BELFAST TELEGRAPH]


STENA ADVENTURER departed from Cammell Laird #5 dry dock on the morning of Sunday October 07, 2007.

Stena Line has announced that it has seen a forty per cent increase year on year in the number of passengers choosing to travel by sea and rail between Northern Ireland and Scotland.

The company is attributing the increase partly to the fact that more and more people may be finding that the no-frills airlines can actually be very expensive for those who cannot book their tickets well in advance.

With increased air prices at weekends and peak periods, rail and sail is apparently becoming a more popular

option for many travellers.

As Stena Line and First Scotrail offer Apex fares of just £18 single for travel from Belfast to Glasgow and Edinburgh which can be booked up to two days in advance of travel, the ferry company says it is providing a better value service.

"Rail and sail is a great option for those who want to travel between Northern Ireland and Scotland, says Stena Line head of travel market on the Irish Sea, Paul Grant. There is a common misconception that it is always cheaper to fly than it is to travel by ferry but that isn't the case, particularly at weekends and when last minute travel means that customers cannot book well in advance." "While it does take a little longer to travel by ferry, when you take into account the time it takes to travel for example to the International airport from the centre of Belfast, checking in times ahead of a flight, possible delays and then onward travel from the destination airport, it can actually take quite a long time and be exhausting in comparison to the relaxed experience of travelling by ferry and rail, which many of our passengers are discovering for themselves." adds Paul.

"Travelling as a foot passenger with Stena and Scotrail gives passengers the chance to go from the centre of Belfast to the centre of Glasgow or Edinburgh without the hassle of a long check-in, queuing for cramped seats and having to organize their own onward travel. The Stena HSS allows passengers to travel with plenty of space and, with so many onboard facilities and lots to keep both adults and kids occupied, many people tell us that they find it a very relaxing and comfortable way to cross the Irish Sea."

"The railway station is at the port in Stranraer so there is no need to worry about having to persuade friends and relatives to collect you or fork out extra money for hiring a car. A journey by train through the Scottish countryside is a pleasant alternative to searching for a taxi or bus or having to drive a car you are not used to and, in my opinion, we are seeing an increase in passengers using our rail and sail option as people become disenchanted with the experience of the no-frills airlines." he says.

October 03Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Jenny Williams and "others"


MERCHANT BRILLIANT - which has operated on the Irish Sea for Norse Merchant Ferries and latterly Norfolk Line is going to the Baltic under charter to Scandlines entering operation on October 07, 2007. She is seen here off Heysham on Saturday September 22. Photo: Jenny Williamson.




It has been announced that shareholders in Irish Continental Group (ICG)  rejected a €611.8m management buyout (MBO) bid led by chief executive Eamonn Rothwell by a majority of 84pc on Wednesday September 26.

The MBO team, which was not entitled to vote on the resolution, is now technically precluded from making a further offer for 12 months. However, the Takeover Panel has the power to waive this ban if Aella were to come up with a compelling bid in the meantime.

Rival bidder Moonduster, a consortium made up of investment firm One51 and marine services company Doyle Group, used its 24.75pc stake to block the ?24-a-share bid. It is also understood that property developer Liam Carroll did similar with his 23.22pc holding.

Aella's offer had been carried out by a so-called scheme of arrangement, which took the process through the High Court and required the approval of 75pc of shareholders.

"The fact is, the offer was rejected by shareholders," said ICG chairman John McGuckian, adding that the independent directors and their advisers are now keen to discuss if rival bidder Moonduster is prepared to put a new offer to shareholders.

Moonduster has already said it would be unwilling to proceed with a revised scheme unless there was a reasonable prospect of it succeeding. Moonduster has placed a condition that Aella agree not to oppose it.

Meanwhile, the rivalry between both bidders descended into another war of words yesterday. Moonduster claimed that representatives of Aella had confirmed that Rothwell's team "would not be prepared to accept an offer from Moonduster at any price".

However, Aella said: "No meaningful engagement has taken place between Aella and Moonduster for a number of months and, therefore, Moonduster is not in a position to represent the views of Aella in this regard."

The risk now is that Moonduster, too, could face a 12-month ban from bidding if it does not agree soon to put in a formal offer.

Followers of the protracted takeover battle say that this would play into the hands of Carroll, who has signalled his intention of building his holding up to the 29.9pc level -- the point at which a mandatory takeover offer is triggered, under Irish takeover law.

ICG is sitting on a long-term lease on the 33 acres in Dublin Port where it is based. Aella has repeatedly said that the nature of the lease holds no development value for ICG. However, Carroll is believed to think otherwise. [Irish Independent]


Irish Ferries has received a  major accolade from the UK travel trade press by winning the 'Best Ferry

Operator' category at the TTG Awards in London.

Said head of passenger sales, Declan Mescall: We're obviously delighted to be singled out for the award which was voted on by travel agents and a panel of industry experts.

The Award comes in recognition of the unmatched quality of our fleet and the dedication and commitment of our staff ashore and on board our ships to deliver unbeatable customer service.

With self-drive holidays to Ireland by ferry seeing a resurgence in popularity due to well-documented problems with air travel, we're in a great position to enjoy sustained growth and even more awards over the coming years.


SEA EXPRESS I - the Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) report into the collision between the company's 74m Incat and the Greek owned bulker ALASKA RAINBOW was published on September 27.

The full report can be downloaded from MAIB [Click Here]

The following statements were issued in response to the report:


The Steam Packet Company responds to the Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) report relating to the Sea Express 1 and Alaska Rainbow collision on 3 February 2007.

The report concluded that the collision was the result of a number of factors and includes recommendations to The Steam Packet Company, J.G.Goumas (Shipping) Co. S.A., and Mersey Docks and Harbour Company. 

Mark Woodward, Chief Executive of the Steam Packet Company said: “The Steam Packet Company acknowledges the recommendations made by the MAIB. Many of the recommendations for the Steam Packet Company have already been adopted after also being identified in the company’s own internal review.

“The safety of passengers is our utmost priority and we have a strong track record dating back many years.  While we acknowledge the incident has provided us with specific recommendations, the report confirms that our approved safety procedures were properly carried out. Evacuation was not necessary and passengers were disembarked safely in a timely manner.”

Mr Woodward concluded: “I would like to commend our Captain and his team for their professionalism on the day. We have received a number of letters of thanks and commendation from passengers regarding the performance of our crew during the incident.”

The Steam Packet Company has adopted a number of measures as a result of its own internal review. These include the following:

• Captain, trainee captain and first officer to attend a Bridge Team Management course at a UK College, with specific reference to High Speed Craft, restricted visibility and narrow channels.

Bridge Team Management Training, already in place, to be extended to all captains and navigating officers throughout the fleet.

• Customer services personnel involved to complete a refresher course in Crowd Management Training, which included discussion of the lessons learnt.

In addition, the company has:

• Issued a memorandum to all its vessels with a view to amending its Route Operating Manual, requiring masters to clearly stipulate roles and duties of all concerned prior to, and during, type rating instruction and examination.

• Carried out an independent audit of bridge management and navigation equipment on board the company’s other vessels.

• Undertaken a technical evaluation of the possibility of integrating AIS information with radar/ECDIS.

• Introduced Landing Cards to its procedures which will form part of its Emergency Procedures in case of evacuation.


Operational procedures in Douglas are to be reviewed to confirm that they meet the standards recommended for Liverpool by the Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) report into the collision involving the Steam Packet Company’s Sea Express 1 in the River Mersey.

Captain Michael Brew, the Department’s Director of Harbours, welcomed the MAIB report and said there are lessons to be learned by all the parties involved as well as by other shipping companies and ports.

The report carries several recommendations for the Steam Packet Company, Mersey Docks and Harbour Company and J.G. Goumas (Shipping) Company, owner of the Alaska Rainbow which collided with the Sea Express 1 on 3rd February 2007.

‘As expected, it is a very professional and thorough report,’ said Captain Brew. ‘It appears that the Steam Packet Company and its staff have, broadly, come out of the incident satisfactorily, particularly regarding the way in which the crew handled the incident after the collision. The Company has already taken steps to implement many of the MAIB’s recommendations as they coincided with the outcome of its own internal review.

‘The Mersey Docks and Harbour Company’s river traffic control and pilotage management procedures have come in for significant criticism. There are a series of recommendations that the company must take into consideration.

‘As these recommendations deal with establishing good, safe operational practice, the Department of Transport will review the similar procedures that apply to Douglas. The purpose of the review is to confirm that vessels using the Island’s harbours, particularly Douglas, are managed safely and effectively.’



At 20:25 on October 02 Swansea Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centre (MRCC) received a call from a vessel in the Loughor Estuary stating that they could hear cries of help and suspected a casualty was in the water.

Shortly after the call the vessel STARGAZER recovered a male casualty from the water and the Coastguard were able to ascertain that he had been aboard another vessel, SHANE , that had overturned, and that there were two other casualties in the water.

Swansea MRCC scrambled RAF Rescue Helicopter 169, and tasked Tenby RNLI Lifeboat and Burry Port RNLI Inshore lifeboat, Loughor and Ferryside Independent Rescue Boats to the scene, to search for the further casualties. Rhossili, Burry Port and Loughor Coastguard Rescue Teams were also involved in the search.

At approximately ten past ten Burry Port and Tenby Lifeboats recovered two male casualties from the water who were transferred to Glan-Gwili Hospital Carmarthen and pronounced dead on arrival.

Watch Manager Bob Peel said, Clearly this is a tragedy, and we would like to extend our deepest sympathies to the family and friends of all of those involved.


EXPRESS completed her 2007 season on the Larne to Troon and Cairnryan routes on October 01. She will be laying up for the winter at the Isle of Man Steam Packet Terminal at  Donegall Quay, Belfast.


STENA LYNX III - arrived at West Float Birkenhead for winter lay-up on Thursday September 27, 2007.


Exciting plans to restore an historic ferry link across the Taw and Torridge estuary have been revealed.

The North Devon Ferry Project would seek to provide a "water bus" service between Barnstaple, Bideford, Instow, Appledore, Braunton and Fremington, as early as next year.

The regular timetabled service would operate throughout the seasons and tides using a number of DUKW-type "Sea Horses" -amphibious vehicles similar to those used by the Royal Marines.

The project, being led by a small committee of local people and businessmen, would be run by a not-for-profit community interest company.

Committee chairman Dusan Beim said that funding opportunities were now being explored following successful trials across the Torridge using DUKWs from the Marine base at Instow.

"The vision is to unlock the beautiful coastline of the Taw-Torridge Estuary and link it with local tourism activity, such as the Tarka Trail and the South West Coast Path," he said.

"We want to provide the best ferry service in the country in an outstanding area of natural beauty.

"This project has huge potential and will greatly impact on tourism and regeneration in the area."

Mr Beim added that the project had already received the backing of representatives from Torridge and North Devon District Councils, the North Devon Marketing Bureau, North Devon Coast and Countryside Service, North Devon and Exmoor Regeneration Company, and North Devon MP Nick Harvey.

"The idea of running an amphibious bus service along the Taw is very appealing," said Mr Harvey.

"Clearly, the project's environmental impact assessment will need to reassure all the relevant authorities and be in accordance with the Taw Estuary Management Plan.

"However, this is a project that could have wider economic benefits for North Devon, particularly in terms of tourism."

Devon County and North Devon District Cllr Rodney Cann said that the project could restore a tradition in Instow going back more than 300 years.

"This exciting project would provide people with an opportunity to explore part of the estuary that has never been open to the public before," he said.

"Also, the scheme could well provide a boost to Devon County Council's sustainable transport plan. The Tarka Trail already receives more than 160,000 movements a year and a ferry link would act as a fantastic add-on to help encourage more cyclists to use the trail."

A ferry service that had existed between Appledore and Instow for more than two centuries was withdrawn in September last year.

The link, operated by Appledore man Chris Ommanney for 20 years, was terminated for "commercial reasons."

"The ferry had become solely a tourist attraction and there simply weren't enough people using it," Mr Ommanney told the Gazette.


The Merseyside engineering company launched the first of four new tugs for the British Army on September 26. The 48 grt vessel AWB41 is the first significant shipbuilding contract for Liverpool-based Warbreck Engineering. The company bought the former McTay Shipyard at Bromborough in 2006. Three more tugs are due for delivery next year. The tugs will be based at Southampton, but will be capable of deployment overseas being transported by another vessel.


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