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NEWS BULLETIN - February 2008

February 24Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Tony Brennan, Ian Collard, Barry Rodgers, John Pryce, Peter Langley, Dave Alter, Michael Pryce and "others".

COMMISSIONERS OF THE IRISH LIGHTS

PATRICIA (Trinity House) and PHAROS (Northern Lighthouse Board) lighthouse tenders joined GRANUAILE at Dún Laoghaire on Thursday and Friday (February 21/22) to celebrate the opening of the new Commissioners of Irish Lights headquarters at Dún Laoghaire harbour.

The new headquarters were opened by President Mary McAleese at 12:30 on Friday February 22.

IRISH FERRIES

NORMANDY - her new owners Equinox Accommodation Pte Offshore Ltd are converting the former ro-pax ship into an accommodation and rig service vessel at a cost believed to be around $40m.

With a large hold aft, crane and big gangway for linking to offshore platforms, allowing workers access and return to mother ship.

MERSEY FERRIES

The first sections of steelwork for the new Mersey Ferries terminal building have been put into place at the Pier Head, Liverpool.

BBC RADIO MERSEYSIDE CHARITABLE TRUST - Special Sailing

There will be a special Mersey Ferries river cruise on Tuesday, May 6th with the proceeds going to the BBC

Radio Merseyside Charitable Trust. The cruise departs Pier Head at 10.30, with pick ups at Woodside and Seacombe.

Duration will be three hours and we hope to make it to the Bar. Cost is £15. On board there will be a commentary from Mersey River Pilot Stuart Wood, there may also be a "Naturewatcher" on board to give a commentary on any birdlife

Tickets for this cruise are available through the Trust office on 01517940995.

PEEL PORTS

It is expected that the Heysham #3 Link Span which was originally built for use by the Isle of Man Steam Packet Co at Douglas and later moved to Heysham by Sea Containers is to be removed from it's position at Heysham on by the local tug SEA TROJAN. The span will initially be berthed alongside north quay before being towed to the Mersey at a later date for possible overhaul reuse or sale. The span will be replaced by a new one similar to that installed on the #1 berth last year.

ROYAL FLEET AUXILIARY

A  ship  which  has  been at the  heart  of  every  major conflict over the past 25 years is visiting Cornwall this weekend.

The  landing support ship, SIR BEDIVERE, named after  one of  the  Knights of the Round Table, will be  paying  her last  visit to the resort - and her twin town - of  Fowey before being replaced.

She is the last of Britain's "Knights of the Round Table" Royal  Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) ships which helped  liberate the Falklands to be still in service.

RFA SIR BEDIVERE was one of a class of six landing ship logistics laid down in the 1960s. She has continued to fulfil a key role right to the very end of her life. All ships and submarines of the Royal Navy and Royal Fleet Auxiliary are affiliated to different towns, cities and regions. RFA SIR BEDIVERE  has been affiliated with Fowey since 2005, enjoying close ties with the local community.

She has a busy programme during her four-day stay, including hosting a number of dignitaries at both an evening reception and Captain's lunch. Members of the ship's company will attend a reception given by the town council at Galleon Inn, also attended by transatlantic rowers Nick Histon and John Csehi. Weather permitting, the ship will be open to the general public on the afternoon of February 23.

This is a chance for visitors to learn more about life on the ocean waves and what it is like to live and work onboard a Royal Fleet Auxiliary vessel. Admission is free.

Captain David Buck, RFA SIR BEDIVERE 's final commanding officer, said: "SIR BEDIVERE  has served the RFA and her country with distinction in a number of hot spots over the years and is now completing her commission in a blaze of glory.

"I feel hugely privileged to bring the last ship of her class home after such a high-profile final deployment, and even more privileged that her last port of call should be her adopted hometown of Fowey."

The last 12 months of SIR BEDIVERE 's service has been spent in the Northern Arabian Gulf, where her presence has been fundamental to training Iraq's burgeoning Navy and Marines.

The Iraqis used the ship as a floating base, under the guidance of the Royal Navy. The ship was also home to American fast boats patrolling Iraq's oil platforms. Four of SIR BEDIVERE 's sister ships have been paid off; a fifth, RFA Sir Galahad, was sunk as a war grave off the Falklands.

SIR BEDIVERE  was damaged in an air raid at San Carlos during the initial Falkland landings. Bombs damaged the crane, mast and forecastle but she was repaired and continued fighting. After the cessation of hostilities, she brought home the bodies of the British fallen. During 2003, she played an essential role in the amphibious assault on the Al Faw Peninsula for Operation Telic, Iraq.

ROYAL NAVY

The popular biennial "Navy Days" event held at the Devonport Naval base has been postponed until 2009. The event last held in 2006 was expected to take place once again this August Bank Holiday weekend.

"Navy Days" is being re launched this year as "Meet Your Navy" and will be held at the Portsmouth Naval base and Historic Dockyard this year between Friday and Sunday July 25 to 27.

In future the "Meet Your Navy" event will alternate between Portsmouth and Devonport.

SEATRUCK FERRIES

RIVERDANCE things don't get any better for the Irish Sea veteran - she has now rolled completely on to her starboard side, the passenger accommodation block appears twisted.

On Friday the Maritime & Coastguard Agency issued the following update at that time the ship had not completely rolled on to her side:

Recent severe weather conditions of Gale Force 8 combined with the highest tides of the month have further reduced the stability of the grounded Ro Ro Ferry RIVERDANCE on the North Shore at Blackpool.

The vessel is currently listing 85 degrees which has caused cargo lashings to come off allowing trailers to shift within the vessel. The appointed salvors are currently reevaluating the condition of the vessel and continue to work to improve the stability of the vessel.

Due to the poor weather conditions this weekend and the recent deterioration of the vessels stability, there are no immediate plans for refloating the RIVERDANCE.

The salvage control unit, chaired by Hugh Shaw, the Secretary of States Representative in Maritime Salvage and Intervention (SOSREP) continues to work with the salvors throughout this operation.

Further cargo material has washed out of the vessel during the poor weather and contractors continue to clean up the surrounding beach.

Additional security staff remain in place to cover the low water periods supported by HM Coastguard personnel and vehicles when the vessel presents dangers to onlookers who stray too close to the site.
 

STENA LINE

Stena have announced changes to timings on the Dublin - Holyhead service effective from March 03, 2008.

The STENA ADVENTURER will now depart from Holyhead in the afternoon at a new time of 13.50 arriving at 17:05. – the first pm conventional sailing to arrive in Dublin.

 

This retains the possibility for same-evening freight delivery in the Dublin area, whilst allowing extra time for the trip to Holyhead; of particular value to those on tight schedules or making ‘Landbridge’ connections via our North Sea services.  

 

Departures from Dublin will remain the same.  The following timetable will therefore apply from 3rd March 2008.

 

Holyhead-Dublin                             Dublin-Holyhead

Departure  Arrival                           Departure  Arrival

02.30          05.45                              08.20            11.35

13.50          17.05                              15.00*          19.05*

22.15*         02:30*                             21.15            00.40

 

** These Monday to Saturday services of the STENA SEATRADER will re-commence during March following refit.

 

All times for the Holyhead-Dún Laoghaire High Speed Service remain as before.

 

Holyhead- DunLaoghaire                           DunLaoghaire- Holyhead

Departure  Arrival                           Departure  Arrival

08.55              10.34                            11.10           12.49

15.15              17.04                            18.00           19.39

 

STENA WINS PASSENGERS BACK FROM THE AIRLINES

It is has been revealed that Stena Line is stemming the flow of people using low-cost airlines and attracting them back to its ferry services on the Irish Sea, according to Michael McGrath, Stena’s Irish Sea director.

He was making comments during a visit to the new £37M ($73M) Victoria IV terminal being built at Belfast. Stena will move into this in May so allowing for reduced journey times to Stranraer.

McGrath commented that Stena carried 1.2M people and 140,000 freight units on the Belfast-Stranraer service last year.

This he indicated represented a 1% rise on the previous year and compared with an average 5% loss per year over the past two years.

Stena has seen an even better increase from its routes from the Irish Republic to the UK where the rise was 4.5% last year. P&O has similarly experienced larger numbers of passengers. [Fairplay]

WEB SITE NEWS

www.cruiselinehistory.com is a new web site set up by Michael Grace who has sent some recent updates to the Irish Sea Shipping directory of ships in Movies and on TV.

Well worth a visit for those whose preference is for the classic cruise ships and liners.

February 21Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Tony Brennan, Ian Collard, Gillian Haddon, John Pryce and "others".

ISLE OF MAN STEAM PACKET COMPANY

The company have announced that the VIKING sailings scheduled between Douglas and Liverpool on March 01 / 02 have been cancelled.

These sailings will be replaced by a continuation of the BEN-MY-CHREE winter weekend sailing schedule to Birkenhead Twelve Quays.

The change is due to delays in readying the Liverpool Landing Stage berth which is undergoing maintenance work by contractors employed by Peel Ports subsidiary Mersey Docks & Harbour Company.

MANXMAN STEAMSHIP COMPANY

The dream of returning the MANXMAN to her Merseyside birthplace for preservation appears to be over.

The Manxman Steamship Company has issued the following press statement:

NO MERSEYSIDE WELCOME FOR MANXMAN

In view of recent decisions the Manxman Trust has concluded, obviously with great regret, that the envisaged project cannot be progressed.

 

1.      In early 2007 Manxman’s owners agreed to a temporary delay in their planned scrapping of the ship at the Sunderland yard and an independent report indicated the viability of the restored Manxman to become a profitable operation based at Birkenhead.

 

2.      A very well attended public meeting in Liverpool was held in May 2007 and more recently the success of the ‘Adopt a Rivet Campaign’ have each demonstrated the level of support at the individual level.

 

3.      However, in the background has been the unknown impact of the Mersey Docks and Harbour Company having been taken over by Peel Holdings, who have spent some time exploring their options and developing plans for major capital investment within both Liverpool and Birkenhead dock systems, these have now been published.

 

4.      However the Trust was amazed to be advised by Peel Holdings who, having taken over the Mersey Docks Company are developing plans for both Birkenhead and Liverpool dock estates, that “their project will undoubtedly involve some form of major visitor attraction…….but certainly we would have to say that the Manxman would not be appropriate”. The local authorities have made it clear that they are unable to intervene on our behalf.

 

5.      Clearly without any prospect of securing a Mersey- based berth as a permanent home, the project loses its raison d'être and funding could never be secured in these circumstances.

 

6.      The Trust acknowledges the enormous help and encouragement which individuals and organisations have given to this major project, without which the wide range of major successes would not have been achieved.

More details on our web site at    www.ssmanxman.co.uk

SMIT HARBOUR TOWAGE

The CANADA built for Alexandra Towing Co. Ltd in 1980 by McTay Marine, Bromborough, has now changed name and is called WELLINGTON.

She has been purchased by TP Towing of Gibraltar and will supplement their existing fleet, all of which are ex Alexandra Towing Company vessels. This operation began in March 1998 when they took over the operation in Gibraltar from the Howard Smith Group.

As the CANADA with Alexandra Towing she has had a diverse history having visited a number of ports around the UK. She was actively involved in the tow out of the ‘Sovereign Explorer’ that was built at Cammell Laird and her subsequent salvage whilst in the port of Holyhead. She was also used in the positioning of the jackets for the Morecambe Bay gas field.

[MARITIME CLIPPINGS]

February 17Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Tony Brennan, Ian Collard, Gillian Haddon, John Pryce and "others".
BRITTANY FERRIES

The Santander newspaper 'El Diario Montañes' of 6 February has a report on Brittany Ferries' Santander route. Last year's passenger total was 160,945 on 83 calls (74 by the PONT AVEN and nine by the BRETAGNE); one sailing, on 10 December, was cancelled by the weather.

It was the third best year in the route's history, after 1994 (168,496 passengers) and 1996 (162,551).

Average per call was 1939 passengers (1932 in 2006), 459 cars (451) and 699 tons of freight (632). The busiest arrival was on 30 July (1789 passengers), the busiest departure was on 27 August (1718), the busiest day was 13 August (3020 passengers), and the busiest minicruise was on 28 May (420).

CAMMELL LAIRD

The Hoylake and West Kirby News reported that three workmen working on Caledonian MacBrayne's CLANSMAN which recently underwent her annual overhaul at at Cammell Laird had to undergo decontamination following an incident on Sunday February 10, 2008.

Fears were raised that they had been in contact with a noxious chemical during the incident on Sunday. Decontamination tents were set up outside casualty at Arrowe Park Hospital to isolate and treat the men.

A spokesman for the ship's owners, Caledonian MacBrayne, said "It's still not established what caused thier symptoms but we do know they are alright now. They were given precautionary decontamination treatment as we had no idea what the cause could have been and that's as it should be. They have had several tests. Until we get the results, we won't know what caused the problem. However, no-one else on board has suffered and it was quite simply an isolated incident - it's very odd but these things can happen"

Police and firefighters were called to the initial incident but were only needed to offer advice. The three were carrying a routine diesel transfer when the accident took place. NV Clansman will remain in dock for the last two weeks of a three week stint in which it is undergoing a fuel conversion.

DUBLIN PORT COMPANY

Dublin Port Company has reported a recovery in the number of people travelling by ferry through the port last year.

It says more than 1.3 million people travelled by ferry through Dublin Port, an increase of 11.5% on 2006 and a reversal of the recent years' decline.

The number of tourist cars rose by 6% to 271,320. Five five ferry companies sail from Dublin Port: Irish Ferries, Stena Line, Norfolkline, P&O Irish Sea and the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company.  [RTÉ]

ISLE OF MAN DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORT

DOUGLAS HARBOUR - DECEMBER 2007 TRAFFIC FIGURES

Total harbour traffic (including Steam Packet passengers and vehicles, cruise vessels, etc):

 

December

Year to Date

 

Passengers

Vehicles

Passengers

Vehicles

2007

26,575

8,952

654,520

200,976

2006

25,834

8,456

588.530

170,016

%Change

++2.9%

+5.9%

+11.2%

+18.2%

Route Performance:

Route

%Change

2006

2007

Dublin

Plus 4%

442

461

Heysham

Minus 3%

19,809

19,244

Liverpool/Birkenhead

Plus 27%

4,873

6,209

Steam Packet passenger route performance For 2007

Route

%Change

2006

2007

Belfast

Plus 16%

19,171

22,266

Dublin

Plus 16%

11,640

13,527

Heysham

Plus 11%

269,989

299,517

Liverpool/Birkenhead

Plus 9%

264,958

290,035

Whitehaven

All Plus

nil

1,199

Troon

All Plus

Nil

386

Larne

All Plus

3,528

5,638

Director of Harbours, Captain Michael Brew comments:

“2007 has seen passenger numbers increase every month. The overall total at 654,520 has brought passenger traffic back to the levels seen in 2003 and has halted the decline seen since then. It is pleasing to note that the Steam Packet’s revised winter schedule has produced a positive response. Operating to Liverpool/Birkenhead instead of Heysham on Saturdays and Sundays has resulted in a net gain of 771 passengers.”

CRUISE TENDER BERTH

On Tuesday February 12, Laxey Towing Company tug LONAN positioned the foot bridge to link the recently installed cruise tender pontoon to the Douglas Sea Terminal from where it was lifted ashore by a Laxey Towing Company crane.

The new facility will obviate the need for cruise ship tender passengers to climb the steps of the Victoria Pier and provide a more accessible route into the Sea Terminal building.

ISLE OF MAN STEAM PACKET COMPANY

BEN-MY-CHREE - due to the lack of a suitable replacement charter vessel the company has postponed the ship's refit until a later date.

RATHLIN ISLAND FERRY

Individuals, groups or firms wanting to run the Rathlin Island ferry service will now have the option of leasing the current ferry on the route, the MV CANNA. It is the latest development in the tendering process regarding the service.

Andrew Adams from the Department of Regional Development told Moyle Council they had recently advertised a tender for the Rathlin to Ballycastle route but no contract was awarded and it is being re-tendered.

He said: "The technical specification is now complete and will be placed on our Procurement Directorate's website. The website address is procon.cpdni.gov.uk

"There is a significant change to the tender specification in that we are able to offer bidders the option of leasing the MV CANNA which currently provides ro-ro services on the route.

"We are hoping to have a new contract in place to secure an improved service for the route from April 1 2008. It is our aim to award a contract in March 2008," said Mr Adams. [Ballymoney Times]

RNLI

A €3m lifeboat, which had been stuck fast on rocks off the Co Antrim coast for over a fortnight, has finally been pulled free. on February 15 a tug managed to drag the 40 ton Portrush lifeboat off the rocks near Rathlin Island.

Despite damage to its hull, the lifeboat managed to stay afloat and it was taken to a barge moored offshore. It was loaded onto the barge and will be taken to Plymouth where the extent of the damage will be assessed.

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution says it hopes the lifeboat, the KATIE HANNAN, can be salvaged.

Two weeks ago the Coastguard helicopter from Sligo was called in to rescue crew members from the Portrush lifeboat who had been trying to refloat the vessel after it was grounded on rocks in severe weather while responding to a call. Since then there have been several failed attempts to rescue the lifeboat. [RTÉ]

SEA CONTAINERS

The former proprietor of the Isle of Man Steam Packet company and operator of a number of Irish Sea services has announced that it has reached  vital agreement with the Trustees of the main UK pension schemes

Sea Containers welcomes the announcement that it has reached agreement in principle with the Trustees of the two main Sea Containers Pension Schemes to agree the amount of their claims against the Sea Containers estate.

This is a critical and positive milestone in its efforts to emerge from Chapter 11. Since the Chapter 11 negotiations first began in October 2006, the board of directors and the officers of Sea Containers have been focused on achieving a plan of reorganization that provides full and fair settlement for all creditors.

The major creditors involved are the 1983 and the 1990 pension funds which have almost 1500 members between them and the holders - thought to be a number of US hedge funds - of the four outstanding bond issues.

The agreement with the Trustees for the pension funds, which are estimated to be in deficit by approximately $200 million under the s75 'buy out' basis prescribed by UK law, will allow the Company and The trustees to avoid costly and protracted litigation in multiple and potentially competing jurisdictions. The agreement also creates an additional reserve of $69 million for certain potential pension scheme liabilities in respect of age-related equalization changes.

In connection with this important agreement, Sea Containers has withdrawn its appeal against the Financial Support Direction (FSD). The FSD, which sought to oblige Sea Containers Limited (the ultimate parent company) to put in place additional financial support for the pension funds,  was handed down by the Determinations Panel of the UK Pensions Regulator on 3 July 2007. Sea Containers considers that the settlement will adequately address any FSD and that the current legal proceedings would be of no further benefit. Sea Containers is therefore pleased to have reached a timely and consensual settlement with the Trustees.

Sea Containers, alongside the Trustees, will be seeking approval from the Regulator for the proposed settlement. Both sides are confident an approval will be granted in the near future.

The proposed settlement is also subject to the Delaware Bankruptcy Court approval and may be objected to by other creditors of the estate.

SEATRUCK FERRIES

The charter vessel PHOCINE has arrived to replace RIVERDANCE which remains on the beach at Cleveleys. Information received from several sources appears to indicate that RIVERDANCE is likely to be total loss and may even have to be broken up where she lies if she cannot be refloated. A sad end to a popular Irish Sea ship. PHOCINE is expected to be replaced by CLIPPER POINT when she is delivered.

February 08Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Tony Brennan, Ian Collard, Peter Langley, John Pryce and "others".
BRITTANY FERRIES

A former director general of Brittany Ferries has died, it has been announced.

Christian Michielini, who was director general between 1975 and 1997, died last week. Mr Michielini, who was 73, was married with five children.

He met Alexis Gourvennec, founder of Brittany Ferries, in May 1974.

Together they embarked on a partnership which was to develop Brittany Ferries into the successful European company it is today. [This is Plymouth]

INCAT

Revolutionary Incat 112m Catamaran Ordered by Irish Leasing Company

MGC Chartering Limited and Australian aluminium high speed catamaran specialists Incat Tasmania Pty Ltd are pleased to announce an order for Incat's third state-of-the-art 112 metre Wave Piercing Catamaran due for delivery in February 2009.

Incat Hull 066, the latest vessel in the successful 112 metre range from Incat, is specifically designed with the European ferry market in mind. The new craft will operate at speeds of approximately 40 knots while offering capacity for up to 417 cars or 567 lane metres of trucks and 195 cars. The stylish accommodation has been arranged to cater for 1200 persons in high levels of luxurious comfort.

The buyer, MGC Chartering, is an Irish based leasing company that can provide a wide range of financial solutions to ferry operators including longer term bareboat charters of both new and second hand vessels. MGC Chartering Director Darryl Tishler said "We have over 25 years of experience in aviation leasing and in founding MGC Chartering we have adapted that very successful aviation model to the needs of the ferry market. Our intention is to acquire quality assets like the Incat 112 metre wave piercing catamaran and then market a range of charter options to potential global operators, be they commercial or military."

Mr Tishler added "in choosing the Incat 112 metre we have drawn other lessons from the aviation model, for example, the ever increasing importance of minimising fuel burn and environmental impact. The Incat 112 metre is built to be as light as possible, it consumes clean diesel fuel, for maximum efficiency it offers dual speed operation (23 or 40 knots), NOx emissions are <10g/kWh and importantly, it burns less fuel per cargo tonne per nautical mile than any other high speed ferry built to date. The economic and environmental credentials of the Incat 112 metre wave piercing catamaran are outstanding."

The Incat 112 metre is the largest catamaran ever built in Australia and it provides unparalled seakeeping and passenger comfort even on rough open sea routes. Power is supplied by four MAN 20V 28/33D diesel engines, each rated 9000 kW at 1000 rpm and consuming <190g/kWh.

  • Hull 066 Principal particulars
  • Length overall: 112.60m
  • Beam (moulded): 30.50m
  • Draught: approximately 3.93m
  • Speed: approximately 40 knots
  • Fuel consumption: 116 litres per nautical mile @23 knots and 950 tonnes deadweight
  • 143 litres per nautical mile @23 knots and 1450 tonnes deadweight
  • 185 litres per nautical mile @38 knots and 900 tonnes deadweight
  • Deadweight: Up to 1450 tonnes
  • Total persons: 1200 persons
  • Vehicle Deck: 567 truck-lane metres plus 195 cars or a total of 417 cars.

ISLE OF MAN STEAM PACKET COMPANY

The rebranding of the company has now extended to the web site www.steam-packet.com with suitably "paintshopped" views of BEN-MY-CHREE and VIKING.

There is a suggestion that given the unfortunate demise of Seatruck's RIVERDANCE the company may experience some  difficulty obtaining a replacement freight charter vessel.

SEATRUCK FERRIES

Seatruck Ferries have chartered the Cobelfret ferry PHOCINE to run in place of RIVERDANCE which remains stranded on the beach at Cleveleys.

She is believed to have suffered two damaged propellors, a damaged engine and has lost the starboard rudder. Her starboard bulwarks have been destroyed by falling deck cargo and the starboard lifeboat is also destroyed.

Salvage workers are attempting to pump ballast into the port tanks and hope to  remove bunkers.  The main vehicle deck is understood to be partly flooded due to water penetration via the internal ramp.

A correspondent suggests that even if she is refloated she is likely to be a total loss. MULTRATUG 7 is believed to be in Barrow and the tanker KEEWHIT was noted anchored off Blackpool for a day before she returned to Eastham - it is presumed that she was present whilst the prospect of removing bunkers is evaluated.

February 02Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Tony Brennan, Ian Collard, Peter Langley, John Pryce and "others".
IRISH FERRIES

NORMANDY is reported sold to Equinox Offshore of Singapore.

INTERNATIONAL TRANSPORT WORKERS FEDERATION

A meeting with the Irish marine ministry focusing on flag of convenience shipping has paved the way for a closer working relationship between the ITF, its Irish affiliates and the Irish government.

The meeting took place at the ministry's head office in Dublin on 17 January. It was attended by representatives from the Irish ITF-affiliated Services, Industrial, Professional and Technical Union (Siptu), ITF inspector Ken Fleming and the Minister for the Marine Noel Dempsey. The head of the department and head of the Irish Coast Guard were also present.

During the discussions, ITF and Siptu representatives outlined International Labour Organization conventions relating to states' responsibility to respond to seafarers' requests for assistance. They explained how crucial this was in light of the number of seafarers who disappear without a trace - some 1,500 annually. Requests for assistance were frequently followed by the detention of a vessel, they said.

The debate also focused on ITF inspections and how in some cases the ITF was preventing from boarding vessels, in particular ships operated by Norfolk Line. Other issues discussed included the role of the health and safety authority and the port state control.

Fleming stated: "The meeting was very positive. The Minister quickly realised the grave consequences that could arise should we not be in a position to respond to a call for assistance from a seafarer in distress. He also stated that his department would investigate ways of assisting the ITF to gain entry to Norfolk Line's facilities so that access to ships is not obstructed.

"We are hopeful that these discussions will lead to greater collaboration with the Irish government to tackle substandard shipping."

ISLE OF MAN STEAM PACKET COMPANY

BEN-MY-CHREE missed two sailings due to adverse weather conditions this week with the 19:45 02:15 sailing being cancelled on January 31 and the 02:15, 08:45 and 14:15 sailings cancelled on February 01.

The Liverpool linkspan pontoon was removed from Prince's Landing Stage last weekend and towed to Cammell Laird for maintenance. It is some time since the span has been away from the stage. It is believed that when it is returned it will be repositioned at the opposite end of the stage facing upstream.

It was announced in the press recently that construction work on Prince's Dock Plot 8 currently occupied by the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company terminal building will commence in autumn 2008. The IoMSPCo facility is believed to be relocating to the landing stage.

PENINSULAR & ORIENTAL STEAM NAVIGATION COMPANY

EXPRESS sailed from Donegall Quay, Belfast to dry-dock at Harland and Wolff, Belfast, at 08:50 on January 29. She is expected to remain there for around 16 days. EXPRESS re-enters service at Larne - Troon/Cairnryan on 13 March.

SEATRUCK FERRIES

Seatruck ships reliably sail back and forth across the Irish Sea on a regular basis and apart from news of dry dockings, new vessel acquisitions and  the new buildings little appears to happen.

However, this week the company was at the centre of media attention when one of the two original vessel RIVERDANCE was struck by an abnormal wave whilst crossing from Warrenpoint to Heysham about 8 miles from the Lancashire coast.

It is believed that this caused some of the cargo carried on the trailers to shift and resulted in the ship listing by up to 60 degrees in stormy seas, power was lost and the vessel began drifting towards land.

With Fleetwood and Lytham lifeboats summoned and helicopters from the Royal Navy, Royal Air Force and Irish Coastguard in attendance the four passengers and 19 crew were plucked to safety in a daring rescue operation.

Some of the crew remained on board in an attempt to restart the engines - however this was not possible and she beached at Cleveleys between Blackpool and Fleetwood.

Lloyds List reported that the company has signed a Lloyd’s Open Form salvage contract with Dutch salvors Smit who have sent a team to the site to assess the situation and prepare a plan to refloat the ship.

The ship is not carrying any hazardous cargo.

The "dancers" are tough little ships and one hopes that RIVERDANCE will be refloated and returned to service.

SOUTH HAMS DISTRICT COUNCIL

Ferry bosses are still pushing ferry fares down for visitors and shoving them up for locals - although not as much as they originally planned.

The council chiefs have finally unveiled how much they aim to charge passengers using the South Hams Council owned Lower Ferry operation across the River Dart at Dartmouth. They want to actually cut the £3.30 crossing charge by 30p after seeing a major fall in the numbers of visitors using the ferry last year.

But they will be increasing the cost of concessionary tickets, bought in books mainly by local people, from £1 a crossing to £1.20.

That is a lot less than the £1.50 increase which was originally planned, which provoked a storm of protests from Dartmouth's councillors.

Dartmouth town councillor Francis Hawke said he thought the new proposal, which will have to be finally approved by the district council next month, was a fair compromise for Dartmouth.

"I think that it is acceptable. I am happy with what they are proposing. What had been suggested was too much. It was far too big a jump," he added.

Mr Hawke wants the council to go one step further and set up a locals' ferry pass so that anyone in the South Hams can get a discount on using the ferry by producing their pass.

He explained it would save the council having to produce and sell the concessionary tickets, stop visitors from buying the concessionary tickets to get cheaper crossings and give everyone in the South Hams the chance to get a ferry crossing discount.

He wants to see it included in the free parking proposals the council has pledged it will investigate later this year.

That scheme involves giving residents of the South Hams a pass which will allow them to park free in council-owned car parks across the district before 10.30am each morning and after 4pm in the afternoon.

Mr Hawke said the move to increase concessionary ferry fares by 50 per cent would have been a 'bad deal' for the people of Dartmouth.

Back in October when the original ferry fare changes were put forward, district councillors were told that the £1-a-crossing concessionary ticket meant that Dartmouth residents were getting the biggest cut-rate ferry deal in the country.

They were also told that even if it went up to £1.50, it would still not cover the cost of the actual ferry crossing.

Meanwhile the numbers of people using Dartmouth's Lower ferry has been falling and the operation is not expected to meet its income targets.

Kingswear and Dartmouth councillors and residents were angry at the proposed increase in the cheap tickets and when it was discussed a second time earlier this month, the district councillors decided to hold the debate behind closed doors with the public and press excluded.

The new figures they came up with were agreed without comment at this week's executive meeting before the council finally announced what they would be.

[The Is South Devon]

STENA LINE

STENA EUROPE is currently refitting at Cammell Laird #5 dry dock.

SWANSEA - CORK

Reports in the past few days suggest that the route may not reopen for the 2008 season. It had been reported that Colour Line's CHRISTIAN IV would be chartered for operation on the route.

The following report has appeared in the Irish Examiner:

Hopes of reactivating a Cork-Swansea ferry link received a significant setback last night, which makes it highly unlikely a service will be in place for the summer tourist season.

A consortium, lead by a Kerryman, has seen its plans of leasing a €16 million ferry from a Scandinavian company dashed.

The consortium had sought to buy the Color Line-owned CHRISTIAN IV — which operates between Norway and Denmark.

However, Color Line has not been able to acquire a replacement vessel (caused by delays at Aker Yards) as quickly as it had hoped and will have to keep the CHRISTIAN IV in service longer than anticipated.

Port of Cork marketing manager, Captain Michael McCarthy, admitted it was a severe setback.

"There’s no doubt this is a setback. We are still endeavouring to find another suitable vessel, but due to the late timescale it is highly unlikely we will have a service up and running for the summer," he said.

However, he said he was still hopeful the route will be reopened for 2009. "I still think this is a commercially viable route," he said.

The latest news will have a negative impact on the Cork and Kerry tourist industry. A study carried out last year showed the demise of the ferry link cost the region an estimated €38m last year.

Another summer without the ferry is expected to particularly hit small hotels, bed and breakfasts and bars in the west Cork area. Most tourists using the ferry were British-based families who typically holidayed for two or three weeks in the area and were known to be good spenders. Swansea-Cork Ferry company announced in late 2006 it was ceasing its operations on the route.

An attempt was made last October by its former managing director, Thomas Hunter-McGowan, to form a new company.

But his attempt failed after the Port of Cork refused to invest €3m in the project.

The port authorities said they couldn’t invest in one company when there was a rival consortium also seeking to reactivate the service.

 

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