NEWS BULLETIN - November 2007
|November 26||Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Ian Collard and "others".|
BALLYCASTLE - CAMPBELTOWN
THE Campbeltown to Ballycastle ferry service could be operating again by 2009 - following a a budget commitment from the new Scottish Government.Transport minister Stewart Stevenson last week revealed a £37 million increase in the ferry service's budget over the years from 2008-11.
Significantly, a Scottish Government spokesman confirmed this week: 'The increase reflects the impact of service enhancements, cost pressures and provisions for a new service between Campbeltown and Ballycastle.
'Scottish Government and Northern Ireland Executive officials and ministers are continuing discussions on joint working arrangements.
'An announcement on the next steps will be made as soon as possible.'Argyll and Bute MSP Jim Mather told The Courier this week that he was determined the ferry link would be re-established and that he would be keeping the pressure on the transport minister.
He added: 'Stewart Stevenson fully accepts the economic, social and moral argument for this link, and the Alex Salmond backs it to the hilt as well.'We have top level commitment all the way up to the first minister, and I am now looking for the transport minister to engage seriously with the two ferry companies interested in operating this route.
'In any other peninsula in Europe this artery would have been filled and developed hundreds of years ago, and it would be infinitely bigger and better.
'Kintyre is a hidden gem, and it has been neglected for too long.'Mr Mather also believes, following a meeting with Nigel Dodds, Northern Ireland's environment and tourism minister, that there is also sufficient political will in Ireland to make the ferry service happen.
Local SNP councillor John Semple: 'I'm optimistic that things are going in the right direction now after a period of three or four years where we seemed unable to make real progress.
'The ferry is still a long way off from sailing into Campbeltown Loch, and the challenge now is for politicians of all shades in Kintyre to ensure that these budget proposals are not jeopardised by their leaders' desire to make political gestures.'
Councillor Semple said a ferry link increased the opportunities available that would benefit Kintyre, but people must be prepared to take advantage of these opportunities.
Argyll and Bute MP Alan Reid said: 'We have been frustrated by the lack of movement on the reintroduction of the ferry service, and it's looking as if that logjam might be broken at last.
'Many tourists who are not going to a fixed destination do not like to return the same way they came. This would allow them to do a circuit around Ireland and Britain. We also benefited from Irish visitors when the service was running in 1997-99.'We want to build up business links as well.'
Les Oman, chairman of the Dalriada Business Action Group, said the group was in no doubt about the benefits from the route. 'We ran our own studies and concluded that there was a compelling case for the ferry. One example is that building materials are 20 per cent cheaper in Northern Ireland.
Scottish builders would take advantage of that. 'I feel that the re-introduction of the ferry service is back on the table again after disappointing political manoeuvres last year.
'We have a real chance now if you take politicians at face value; there now appears to be the political will.'
Mr Oman feels that if the proposed subsidy goes ahead, it would be best not to rush to have the service running next year. 'Better we wait until the following year and make sure it is properly marketed,' he said.
Councillor Donald Kelly, chairman of the Kintyre Initiative Working Group, said: 'The funding for a potential operator is not the issue. I'm concerned that there is a massive problem with civil servants on both sides of the water dragging their feet over this.
'We have an operator in the shape of Pentland Ferries that has said it has a suitable boat available, but that boat will not always be there if we don't act quickly on this.'I have written numerous times to Stewart Stevenson stressing the need to maintain the relationship with the two companies who were successful in the pre-tender qualification round for this route. This has not been happening.'
Dalriada Business Action Group, said the group was in no doubt about the benefits from the route. 'We ran our own studies and concluded that there was a compelling case for the ferry. One example is that building materials are 20 per cent cheaper in Northern Ireland. Scottish builders would take advantage of that.'I feel that the re-introduction of the ferry service is back on the table again after disappointing political manoeuvres last year.'We have a real chance now if you take politicians at face value; there now appears to be the political will.' [CAMPBELTOWN COURIER]
In a major breakthrough for labour relations in France, ferry operator Brittany Ferries and local unions have signed an agreement over the prevention of strikes. The agreement establishes a new procedure whereby Brittany Ferries workers will need a majority vote to organise strike action. Management will be obliged to meet unions within three days of any complaints from workers over labour issues, the agreement says. "There is no equivalent to this agreement in private French companies," said Raphaël Doutrebente, director of human resources at Brittany Ferries in a statement. "This is more run of the mill in Northern European companies," he added. Unions have welcomed the deal with Brittany Ferries, which is the largest employer of French seafarers. The deal is already in force.
OSCAR WILDE - the ship arrived at Rosslare Harbour on Wednesday November 21 at 10:45. She is reported to have reached a speed of 26 knots on route from Pembroke. As well as Pembroke, OSCAR WILDE has also undertaken berthing trials at Roscoff. She is due to visit Dublin on January 29, 2008.
ISLE OF MAN DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORT
DOUGLAS HARBOUR OCTOBER 2007 HARBOUR TRAFFIC
Total harbour traffic (including Steam Packet passengers and vehicles, cruise vessels, etc):
Year to Date
Steam Packet passenger route performance:
Director of Harbours, Captain Michael Brew comments: “Another excellent month for sea passenger traffic with the Liverpool route proving very popular. This is the tenth consecutive month that numbers have increased.”
ISLE OF MAN STEAM PACKET COMPANY
SEA EXPRESS I transferred to Cammell Laird #5 dry dock on Thursday November which she is sharing with RFA WAVE RULER. (photo: Ian Collard).
BEN-MY-CHREE - rumblings of discontent on the Isle of Man continue over the revised winter service to Twelve Quays. However a recent poll conducted on the Irish Sea Ships Yahoo Group revealed that of those who voted the new winter service won an 88% approval rating - so not everyone is grumbling!
The company which is launching a legal challenge to the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company User Agreement with the Department of Transport is part of the Barony Group, owned by Isle of Man resident Peter Whipp. At a hearing last week Deemster Kerruish further adjourned the petition of doleance against the Department of Transport until April 4, 2008.
Plans have been unveiled for a £4m commuter ferry in Devon operated by Stagecoach the bus and rail operator. The two-catamaran service would run every half-hour, 365 days a year, between Brixham and Torquay and be operated by the Stagecoach Group.
It could be up and running from the summer of 2009. The plans were revealed to stakeholders at Torquay Museum.
Chris Hilditch, managing director of Stagecoach Devon, said: "Here's a way of offering more options of getting around."
He said: "When you put it together with the bus network and the other things we can do then it looks like it can be a real winner." [BBC]
|November 19||Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Tony Brennan, Ian Collard and "others".|
IRISH NAVAL SERVICE
LÉ EITHNE proceeded to the Irish fishing vessel DARNETTE positioned approximately 47 miles South-West of Tuskar Rock. The six crew of FV DARNETTE were rescued by another trawler that was in the area, FV 'SUZANNA-G' at approx 22:30 hours on November 13, and they were brought to Dunmore East, Co. Waterford.
The FV DARNETTE (from Skerries, Co. Dublin) issued a MAYDAY call at approximately 21:20, reporting that it was taking on water. LE EITHNE arrived on scene at approx 22:40.
ISLE OF MAN STEAM PACKET COMPANY
The Steam Packet Company has announced a new offer for passengers wanting to travel over the festive period.
A new seasonal rate will allow passengers to travel from the Isle of Man to Liverpool Birkenhead over the weekend until the end of February 2008.
The "Christmas shopping special" allows travel with a car and four passengers for £99 and foot passengers able to travel for £25.
The service offers travel from the Isle of Man at 08:00 on Saturday returning on Sunday at 02:15 from Heysham, with a free courtesy bus from Liverpool, or on the 14:00 Sunday sailing from Twelve Quays, Birkenhead.
Mark Woodward, the firm's chief executive, said: "We have reviewed opportunities for extra day trips as we are very keen to assist our passengers. "We hope these reduced rates and what amounts to an extended stay in England with free coach transfers to Heysham will be of interest and benefit to our passengers."
The move has been in response to some criticism on the island concerning the lack of Douglas - Liverpool day trips on autumn and winter Saturdays. However, the new 14:00 departure from Twelve Quays is more attractive to those from the UK wishing to travel to Douglas.
BEN-MY-CHREE - correspondent reports that tug COLLINGWOOD assisted the berthing and departure at Twelve Quays on Sunday November 18 - it is understood that the BEN-MY-CHREE had bow thruster problems.
ROYAL DAFFODIL - on November 13 a male passenger fell from the vessel in the vacinity of Twelve Quays as the vessel crossed the river on her 11:00 sailing. The man was quickly recovered from the water following by the Merseyside Fire Brigade Marine Rescue Unit and taken by ambulance to Arrowe Park Hospital in Birkenhead.
MEDITERRANEAN SHIPPING COMPANY
MSC NAPOLI - salvage work on the stern section which remains grounded off Branscombe was due to restart on Monday November 19 after high winds battered the wreck at the weekend.
Debris, including small amounts of metal and diesel, washed up onto the beach at Branscombe, East Devon, as Force Seven winds sent waves crashing against the shingle shore.
Barges working alongside the vessel were moved to safety leaving the remaining section of the ship isolated against the elements in Lyme Bay.
The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) said the wreck had moved and was listing at about 30 degrees.
It said there was no shelter for the ship in the bay with winds coming from a southerly direction.
The tugs servicing the vessel were moved to a safer location while the winds continued to blow.
Initially there was no sign of debris floating ashore but later there were reports of car parts and fuel in the water.
Salvagers were today hoping the wind would veer to the west so the Napoli could be more protected.
An MCA spokesman said: "The barges were taken away because of the bad weather.
"We've got south-south westerlies battering the vessel and it is listing about 30 degrees to starboard. But there's no one on board and there's nothing anyone can do at the moment. We're victims of the weather."
"I would hesitate to second guess what the weather will do but it looks as if the wreck is stable for the time being.
"It is no surprise me that there are very small bits of debris coming ashore. These are likely to have been stirred up by the rough seas and were probably lying on the seafloor."
John Harvey, of the salvage contractors DRS, said his team expected to get onto the beach when the tide was lower. "It appears there may be some metal and plastic car parts being washed up but the seas," he said. Work to dismantle the wrecked cargo ship had been progressing well.
The ship was deliberately grounded in Lyme Bay in January after it was damaged in a storm.
Twenty-six crew members were rescued from the Napoli when it was hit by gale-force winds on January 18 off the Lizard when it was en route from Antwerp to South Africa. The vessel was being towed to Portland, Dorset, when it was decided to ground her off Branscombe amid fears she could sink.
The final section of the four-tonne accommodation block was cut and removed on Friday.
The bow section was floated to Northern Ireland in August. The stern section remains in the water as does the engine. It is hoped the MSC Napoli will be removed from Lyme Bay by the end of April. [WESTERN MORNING NEWS]
STENA PIONEER grounded on a sand bank on the approach to Fleetwood when inbound from Larne on Sunday November 11 at around 15:25. The ship refloated around 21:00 on the incoming tide.
STENA SEATRADER - on November 12 Stena Line announced that it is to invest more than £5 MILLION in the ship which currently sails on the Holyhead to Dublin route.
The work will be undertaken during the vessel's annual refit, which is planned for the end of the year, and will include improvements to the ship's vehicle decks and the installation of two new bow thrusters to significantly enhance the vessels manoeuvrability in port.
In addition, the refit will also include a complete refurbishment of the cabin accommodation area on board the STENA SEATRADER.
Since its introduction 12 months ago, the STENA SEATRADER has exceeded Stena Line's expectations on the route and the company is confident that this positive development will continue.
"In recent years, we have seen Holyhead Port grow in importance to freight customers who now see it as the main gateway for transport to and from Ireland," said Vic Goodwin, Stena Line's Route Director for the Central Corridor Services from Dublin and Dun Laoghaire to Holyhead.
"The STENA SEATRADER, which joined the central corridor in October 2006, has provided us with greater frequency of sailing times and much greater capacity for our freight customers, in addition to the alternative services we offer on our high speed service, the HSS STENA EXPLORER and the STENA ADVENTURER Superferry.
"This new sailing schedule has proved to be very attractive for our customers who want to arrive in Dublin and get underway before the morning rush hour and return early thereby improving vehicle turnaround time. Due to the popularity of the STENA SEATRADER, we have decided to make further investments to our facilities on board and improve the vessels technical performance and subsequent turn around times in both ports.
"During the first 12 months of operation the STENA SEATRADER has met our expectations and while there is some way to go towards meeting our business plan, we have been encouraged with progress and we therefore feel that the investment is justified," concluded Vic
FERRY COMPANY OF THE YEAR
Stena Line has clinched the title of Ferry Company of the Year at the Northern Ireland Travel News Awards for a record fifteenth time.
Angela Rippon presented the award to Stena's Paul Grant at the prestigious event held at the newly-refurbished Slieve Donard Hotel in Newcastle.
WHITE STAR LINE
One of the last surviving passengers from the Titanic has died in Truro at the age of 96.Barbara Dainton's parents, Edwy and Ada West, both from Truro, embarked as second-class passengers with their two daughters at Southampton on April 10, 1912.
Barbara was 10 months old, her sister four years and Ada was four months pregnant.
They were emigrating to Florida in the US as Edwy suffered from a chronic respiratory problem and had been advised to move to a warmer climate.
When the order came to abandon ship, after it struck an iceberg during the night of April 14, Ada and the children found places in a lifeboat.
Anecdote has it that Edwy, desperate to hand a Thermos of milk to Ada for the children, was ordered away from the lifeboat at gunpoint, the crewmen under the misapprehension that he was trying to force his way aboard.
Edwy died that night at the age of 36 and is commemorated on a memorial in Truro Cathedral, where he had once been a chorister. His wife's name was added on her death in 1953 at the age of 74. Eventually, Ada and the girls returned to her family, the Worths, who had a printing business in Truro.
In 1936, Barbara taught at Guildford High School in Surrey where she married Stanley Winder, who died after 13 years.
Returning to Cornwall in the early 1950s, Barbara took up a teaching position at Truro High School for Girls. It was during this period that she met her second husband, William Ernest Dainton.
They married in 1952 and moved to Plymouth. Barbara was appointed deputy head of physical education at Plymstock School, where she taught for 20 years.
Her husband died in 1990.
She moved back to Feock, near Truro, took part in charity work and was a guide in the cathedral.
For all her life Barbara kept silent about the Titanic disaster, which claimed 1,500 lives.
Talking to her at a lunch in 1996, which she was attending as one of Truro High's oldest old girls, she said: "I was a babe-in-arms and remember nothing of the sinking.
"It caused so much pain and hurt to so many people, including my own family, that I don't think it's right to add to the story."
However, until recent ill health prevented her, she would go into Truro Cathedral each Friday and stand in thought before the plaque erected to the memory of her late father.
She was so anxious to avoid publicity that she ordered that news of her death should be withheld for a month. During that time the very last British survivor, Millvina Dean, died in Hampshire at the age of 95. [WESTERN MORNING NEWS]
|November 11||Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Tony Brennan, Ian Collard and "others".|
ISLE OF MAN STEAM PACKET COMPANY
SUPERSEACAT TWO - departed arrived on Merseyside on Tuesday November 06 berthing at Alexandra Dock, using the berth beside the former Alexandra Dock passenger terminal which used to be used as the LADY OF MANN lay-up berth. However, it is understood that she is being maintained in readiness to maintain the passenger should the BEN-MY-CHREE become unserviceable.
BEN-MY-CHREE - made a welcome return to the Mersey at the start of her autumn / winter weekend service to Birkenhead Twelve Quays on Saturday November 10. She was observed arriving on time at noon and departing slightly early around 13:53.
Despite the company placing the BEN-MY-CHREE on the Merseyside run on Saturdays and Sundays to provide a reliable service, there appears to be some disquiet on the Isle of Man that time ashore day excursions to Liverpool are not possible and an online petition has been started on one of the Manx chat forums.
Obviously some people have short memories as in 2006 fast craft day trips failed to operate on any Saturday in November! The company have tried their best with the available resources and still people complain! It is clear that two conventional ships are really required and that the LADY OF MANN should not have been so hastily disposed of in 2005. However, the revised schedules do provide the best solution at the present time.
The petition which has been given some prominence in the Manx media led the company to issue the following statement on November 07, 2007.
The Steam Packet Company would like to respond to the online petition about our winter schedule and other service comments.
Most of these issues are already being examined by the recently established Tynwald Select Committee.
Mark Woodward, chief executive saId: “The OFT are rightly interested about the way in which we have dealt with those customers who booked to travel on a fast craft to Liverpool, and are now travelling on a conventional vessel to Birkenhead. We have made every effort to minimise any inconvenience to these passengers.
‘We have to act in the interests of the majority and despite the many comments, day-trippers account for only 2% of our passengers over this period. Changes were made to the winter schedule in order to provide a more reliable winter service overall. These benefits have been recognised by the DoTL, DoT and Travelwatch.
‘I fully accept that they don’t benefit everybody. However, they have been made as a result of the poor weather reliability last winter which was widely complained of to Government and which in turn has led to their support of the timetable changes.’
He concluded: ‘We have also made it clear that we do want to listen to our customers in order to provide the best service we can. It should not be ignored that in 2007 as a result of customer comments, the company scheduled over 100 extra sailings, invested in the use of a second fast craft to improve Irish services and increased the number of offers available.
‘We will explore the possibility of providing some day trips to Liverpool in the period leading up to Christmas.’
ISLE OF MAN DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORT
DOUGLAS HARBOUR - SEPTEMBER 2007 TRAFFIC FIGURES
Year to Date
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.”
KNOTT END FERRY
The Fleetwood to Knott End is providing a winter service for the first time in a decade this year.. The WYRE ROSE will make hourly crossings every day through the winter months, maintaining the vital transport link across the River Wyre until next Easter. The boat has already carried more than 58,000 passengers this year. Pleased Representatives from Lancashire County Council and Wyre Council celebrated the start of the winter service with a ceremony at the Fleetwood ferry dock. Coun Peter Hawley, the Wyre Council portfolio holder for the ferry service, said: "I am very pleased to see the start of the winter service because that was part of the original plans that we had for the WYRE ROSE. "We have had an excellent summer and now we will see if the demand is there for winter working." County Coun Tony Martin, cabinet member for sustainable development, said: "Successful public transport schemes aren't just about buses and trains as the Knott End ferry clearly shows. "After all the hard work done by the county and borough councils, it's great to see that the ferry is going from strength to strength.
"The success of the summer service has been beyond our wildest dreams, and we all hope the winter service will be just as successful." Local fishermen provided a ferry service even before work started on the Victorian new town of Fleetwood in 1835. In the days when few people owned transport of their own, the ferry was a vital link between rural Over Wyre and urban areas like Fleetwood and was used by 1.4 million passengers at the height of its popularity in 1947. The ferry, operated by Wyre Marine and jointly financed by Lancashire County Council and Wyre Council, will cross the river once every hour between 8am and 5pm during the winter instead of every half hour.
There will be a gap in February when the vessel will have to leave the water for a complete overhaul and service but a ferry bus service will operate during that period. [Blackpool Gazette]
PENINSULAR & ORIENTAL STEAM NAVIGATION COMPANY
EUROPEAN ENDEAVOUR entered service between Liverpool and Dublin with the 22:00 Liverpool - Dublin sailing on November 06, 2007 taking over the NORBANK sailings.
CELTIC STAR is off service at NSL Bidston. Her sailings on the Liverpool - Dublin route are currently being operated by RR CHALLENGE.
Changes are to come about as a result of shipping company Stena Line streamlining its operation.
Quayside staff who marshal trucks going on and off container vessels at the port currently work for local company FTS.
But the 17 men involved will be working for Stena in future, the switch being done on a phased basis, which will be complete by January 7.
A Stena spokesman said the move was coming after an in-depth review of its shore operation.
He said: "The company will carry out a restructuring of its operation that will fully integrate this newest part of the business into the Stena Line Irish Sea organisation.
"There will be several structural changes to the Fleetwood Port workforce, with the net result being that the headcount will increase from the current total of 35 positions to a revised total of 52 positions, reporting to the route director Alan Gordon.
"All staff at Fleetwood have today been advised of the new situation and the consultation process has commenced with presentations to all staff representatives and all available employees."
Consultations are expected to take a month after which planning for the changes will begin. This will include revised work rosters and responsibilities. [Blackpool Gazette]
Adverse weather conditions led to the cancellation of the 14:40 and 19:50 round trip sailings from Stranraer to Belfast on November 08, 2007.
|November 04||Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Jim Kewley, Michael Pryce and "others".|
MV PEARL Over 25 fire fighters fought a blaze which broke out on board the vessel on Tuesday afternoon.
It is thought that the fire broke out after sparks from cutting equipment ignited residual diesel fumes in the engine room of the MV PEARL.
DÚN LAOGHAIRE HARBOUR COMPANY
EAST PIER FORT
It is reported in the Sunday Independent that the Dún Laoghaire Harbour Company is looking for funding from National Lottery and other sources to restore the fort which stands at the end of the East Pier. The East Pier is particularly popular with walkers and the fort, once restored, will be open to the public. The local TD, Seán Barratt, has been campaigning for the restoration of the fort.
IRISH CONTINENTAL GROUP
OSCAR WILDE Further details about the facilities available on the ship have been posted to the Irish Ferries web site [click here].
NORMANDY makes her last sailings this week between Rosslare and Cherbourg - out on Friday November 02, returning on Saturday November 03.
TAKE OVER BATTLE
The Moonduster consortium offer by One51 and Doyle Group lapsed at the end of October.
The Dublin-based company wasn’t able to present investors with an offer that would have achieved the required 75% approval, chairman John McGuckian said on November 01 in a Regulatory News Service statement on behalf of its independent directors.
The Irish Takeover Panel had set an October 31 deadline for One51 and Doyle to extend their €561m offer.
The offer by Aella - the ICG management buyout team - has also lapsed. Both groups are now precluded from making another bid for 12 months though the Takeover Panel can waive these bans if a compelling deal is pitched by either one of the two rivals that had battled for eight months to take ICG private.
An Irish shipping company has spent €38m. to buy a British operator. Ocean Mainport of Cork has bought Havila Rescue. The deal includes eight multi-role offshore supply vessels. Ocean Mainport is a subsidiary of the Mainport Group and is a joint venture with Sartor, a leading shipping company in Norway. It predicts a turnover of €50m. from this deal. [RTÉ Seascapes]
PENINSULAR & ORIENTAL STEAM NAVIGATION COMPANY
EUROPEAN ENDEAVOUR - P&O issued the following press release concerning the recent delivery of EUROPEAN ENDEAVOUR.
P&O Ferries has taken delivery of the European Endeavour, which will take up service on the Liverpool - Dublin route from 1 November.
The 22,152 grt ro-ro freight ferry has been purchased from the Spanish shipping line Trasmediterranea and has a carrying capacity of 125 freight units.
The ship has been British flagged and becomes the 28th in the fleet of P&O Ferries. It will be used around the company's route network, initially on the Irish Sea and then to offer additional peak time and refit season capacity on North Sea and Dover - Calais services.
SEASIDE SHIPPING LTD
A company known as Seaside Shipping has been challenging the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company's User Agreement in the Manx Courts. The user agreement restricts the number of calls by none steam packet ro/ro vessels to the Douglas harbour linkspans. This effectively guarantees the Steam Packet a monopoly on vehicle traffic
Seaside Shipping Ltd lodged a Petition of Doleance against the Isle of Man Department of Transport in September.
The case was brought up on October 22 and was subject to a further adjournment and will be called for directions on November 22, 2007.
Nothing is known about Seaside Shipping which is believed to have a registered office in Athol Street, Douglas. It claims to be an international shipping group and may well be a "front" company for another operator with ambitions to secure a slice of the Isle of Man traffic.
Seatruck have confirmed the acqusisition of the RR ARROW and RR TRIUMPH recently reported on Irish Sea Shipping in the following press release issued on October 30.
Seatruck Ferries, the freight-only specialists on the Irish Sea, have progressed their fleet expansion plans with the purchase of two ro-ro ferries from Elmira Shipping of Greece. The 1997-built RR TRIUMPH and the 1998-built RR ARROW are sisterships. They have a length (O/A) of 121 m, capacity for 65 trailers and a speed of 16.5 kts.
Seatruck CEO Kevin Hobbs says: "This is an important strategic move for Seatruck. There is a significant lack of this type of tonnage in the marketplace. In purchasing the two ferries, we will be better placed to continue to expand our operations in coming years. The sisterships are well proven and reliable. We look forward to welcoming them into our fleet."
By mid-2008, Seatruck Ferries will control a fleet of eight vessels: four newbuilds from Spain, the ferries Riverdance and Moondance and the two new purchases, RR ARROW and RR TRIUMPH. Initially, the latter will continue on their current charters. RR ARROW is on charter to Norfolk Line, operating from Heysham on the Irish Sea routes. The RR TRIUMPH is on charter to Balearia.
The addition of ARROW and TRIUMPH is another milestone in Seatruck's rapid development. It follows the September takeover of Celtic Link's Dublin-Liverpool route. Later this year will see the entry into service of the newbuilding CLIPPER POINTon the Warrenpoint-Heysham route. In the future, at the conclusion of their current commitments, RR ARROW and RR TRIUMPH may be deployed as additional vessels on Irish Sea routes.
Stena Line has reassured local politicians and the business community it is committed to staying in Lochryan and to the waterfront development plans. But the Free Press understands there is discord in Scottish Enterprise and the council over Stena's lack of clarity of what it intends to do next.
And in the climate of uncertainty the waterfront project could now face lengthy delays.
The waterfront project was hinged on Stena moving from Stranraer and freeing-up 26 acres of land and clearing the southern end of Lochryan to allow a marina to function.
The ferry company says it will be looking at as many options as possible to stay in Lochryan, which include a new port at Old House Point north of Cairnryan.
Last week the ferry company announced the deal with P&O to create asuper ferry port project at Cairnryan had collapsed, sending the shock waves through the area.
Stena and P&O said they scrapped the multi-million pound project because of escalating costs.
On Tuesday local politicians, council officials and Scottish Enterprise met with Stena at Burns House in Stranraer to discuss the way forward for the waterfront development plan.
Route Director Alan Gordon said after the meeting that the overall tone of the meeting was positive with a clear dialogue.
He said: "I think the meeting was important to give everyone the opportunity to look at the proposal from a fresh perspective following last week's
announcement and I'm happy to say there was a clear commitment from the main parties to continue to work together."
Peter Bulmer, Corporate Director for regeneration at Dumfries and Galloway Council said: "It was important to have this meeting as part of a process of ensuring that the regeneration plans that have been outlined for Stranraer over the years ahead stay firmly on track.
"I was heartened by the positive discussions which took place today and the collective commitment to the future development of Stranraer. "Yet when contacted Scottish Enterprise Dumfries and Galloway declined to comment on what it felt came out of the meeting. It is understood the decision not to move and the uncertainty over what Stena intends to do next has stalled the waterfront project.
The waterfront vision had hinged on turning the harbour into a large marina, which would require no ferries in southern Lochryan.
The council and Scottish Enterprise are now believed to be looking at a number of options. If Stena stay a much more reduced size development would follow. A casino could still be built, although it would have to be built on council land.
But until the council and the enterprise company know Stena's intentions little can be planned.
The lack of information of what Stena plans to do next has also cast a shadow on more than 500 ferry jobs.
Stena has repeatedly said in the past that it wanted to move out of Stranrear because the route had become "increasingly uneconomic." However Mr Gordon has said Stena Line was committed to Loch Ryan.
He told Dumfries and Galloway MP Russell Brown in emergency talks that Stena intends to continue its ferry operations from Loch Ryan.Mr Brown said: "The meeting was very constructive. I went in very clear that
I wanted a reassurance that there would be no threat to local jobs as a result of the announcement this week." Alan was able to give me this reassurance, as well as an assurance that Stena intends to stay on Lochryan and seek an alternative harbour site on the loch.
"Stena has invested heavily in this route in recent years, and they're adamant that there will be more to come. But I will be holding them to these commitments
"Of course, questions still hang over the regeneration project for the Waterfront, and I'll be seeking further assurances from Scottish Enterprise and other regeneration partners that funds which have been committed to the project won't be jeopardised.
"But for the time being I'm relieved that this massive local employer sees its future in our area."
SWANSEA - CORK
It was reported this week that high-level talks are being held over plans to revive ferry crossings from Swansea to the Irish Republic. Captain Michael McCarthy, commercial manager of the Port of Cork, said there will be talks today with a potential operator to reinstate the crossing to the southern Irish city.
Swansea-Cork Ferries pulled the plug on its service last year, selling off its SUPERFERRY, which is now operating in the Aegean.
In three years, the ferry took 285,250 people and 108,000 cars between Swansea and Cork.
Since that stopped, Cork has suffered a 30 per cent drop in tourism trade.
But Captain McCarthy said talks were being held with an unnamed company to operate the service and could have news on its future by next week.
"The talks are ongoing and we are anxious to get the service operating," he said.
"We've been working very hard on this and there has been huge backing over here. We've had a lot of letters of support from people in the local tourism industry.
"We are trying to encourage the potential operator but it would be an expensive ship and expensive to run because of the rise in fuel costs.
"But we are hopeful we will have something positive to say next week."
Tourism leaders in Swansea were recently urged to join their Irish counterparts in helping to revive the service. They were asked to write letters supporting its reintroduction to help persuade money men to back the scheme. Swansea Council leader Chris Holley also welcomed news that the ferry could sail again.
"I was given an inkling some months ago that discussions were taking place," he said in September. "But I was not aware of the timescales. I sincerely hope that it happens soon."We have missed the ferry. And it's not just us, Cork has too."The tourist industry both sides of the St George's Channel needs it."
A spokesman for Associated British Ports also said it hopes the link will be re-established.
"We would very much like to see it reinstated as soon as possible. It's a great route," he said. [This is South Wales]
The Turkish ship owners and ship building company has established an Irish based subsidiary to manage a fleet of chemical tankers operating out of the Republic of Ireland.
The company, trading as Chemstar, will take delivery of six vessels.
Speaking in Dublin, Chemstar joint managing director Mark Avery said the attractions of Ireland included lower tax rates and financial expertise.