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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 - April 2008

April 27Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, John Pryce Kevin Bennett, Tony Brennan and "others".


The Northern Ireland Regional Development Minister, Conor Murphy announced this week that the new  contract for the Rathlin Ferry will provide improved services. The six year contract has been awarded to Mr Ciarán O'Driscoll, whose companies currently provide ferry services to islands off the coast of County Cork.

The Minister said: "I am pleased to announce that we have been able to secure a faster, more comfortable vessel to supplement the services already provided by the MV CANNA on this route.

"This new contract will offer improved summer and winter timetables using a combination of the current roll-on/roll-off ferry and a new purpose built high speed catamaran capable of carrying 100 seated passengers.

The new vessel will provide a comfortable, accessible, year round, service to the island with a reduced crossing time from 45 minutes to 20 minutes. The enhanced timetable will no doubt assist journeys made by the Islanders but will also help in promoting tourism.

"This is a significant step forward in the development of Rathlin Island. The number of visitors using the ferry service has been steadily increasing and a new fast ferry can only help to stimulate this even further.

"The Department has secured the continuing use of the roll-on/roll-off ferry, the MV CANNA, to provide vehicle and freight services. The CANNA is owned by the Scottish company, Caledonian Maritime Assets Limited and will be leased to the new operator.

The new catamaran, to be commissioned by Mr O'Driscoll, will be available for service in summer 2009. Until then, the enhanced timetable will be provided by the MV CANNA and a smaller mono-hulled vessel, which can carry up to 38 passengers on the 20 minute crossing.

The Rathlin Development Community Association was consulted during the tender specification stage. Their Sustainable Tourism Strategy called for more comfortable passenger services on the route to attract more tourist visitors to Rathlin.

The Department is working towards a date for handover of the contract of 1 June 2008.


SNAEFELL departed from the Birkenhead Dock system on April 23 and ran extensive trials beyond the Liverpool Bar. She returned to Prince's Landing Stage where she remained overnight. SNAEFELL departed for Douglas on April 24, shortly before the arrival of VIKING.


MERCHANT BRILLIANT charter at Heysham to Norfolk Line ends on Monday April 28 with the arrival back from Cammell Laird of SAGA MOON.  A three ship service on the Belfast route is expected to commenced again - the vessel to be used is WEST EXPRESS (ex-MERCHANT BRAVERY)


The new #3 linkspan is expected to arrive at Heysham on May 16.


EQUINE has left the Dublin to Liverpool service after operating her April 25 sailings - she is expected to be replaced by MERCHANT BRILLIANT.


WALES’ newest inshore lifeboat, which has already rescued three people, has been officially named. THE SPIRIT OF FRIENDSHIP at Aberystwyth is the first Atlantic 85 lifeboat to go into service in Wales.

The £135,000 lifeboat was funded with the legacy of Joan Bate from Wolverhampton, a long-time supporter of the RNLI. Aberystwyth RNLI operations manager Richard Griffiths said: “Being the first of the 31 RNLI lifeboat stations in Wales to take delivery of this superb craft was a real privilege for Aberystwyth.”

Miss Bate bequeathed three lifeboats to the RNLI: a D class inshore lifeboat for Conwy, and B class lifeboats for Salcombe and Aberystwyth. Spirit of Friendship was named by a representative from the Lodge of Friendship. Miss Bates’s brother Arthur was a member of this group. Community representatives also attended after they raised thousands of pound to train the crew to handle the new vessel. [Maritime Clippings / Daily Post]


LYGRA (1979 - grt: 7,012 - length 113m) will go on charter to Seatruck from Thursday April 29, 2008 and run with CLIPPER POINT and MOONDANCE until the arrival of CLIPPER PENNANT / PACE at Heysham. She is operated by Wilhelmsen Ship Management AS of Norway.


Stena Line have announced that their new £37m Belfast terminal at Westbank Road, Belfast will open on May 07, 2008. It is located close to the motorway network at Junction 1 of the M2. The opening of the new terminal will see the closure of the existing terminal.

The following facilities will be available:

  • Brand new terminal building
  • Departure lounge with easier access for foot passengers to the Stena HSS
  • Barista coffee house in departure lounge
  • Covered check-in area for car passengers
  • Dedicated express boarding lane for premium customers
  • ATM
  • Large Car Park (payable)

The company admits that there is no public transport to the new terminal but a taxi share scheme is in operation to the city centre offered by black public hire taxis just outside the terminal building.

April 20Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Ian Collard, Dennis Oliver, Dan Cross and "others".


A vital meeting on the future of the Northern Ireland ferry service had to be curtailed on Thursday, to fit in with flight times.

Talks held at the Stonefield Castle Hotel, Tarbert, on Thursday with all parties involved to discuss the ferry’s future started later and finished earlier than all would have wanted because the aircraft carrying the Northern Ireland contingent had to fit in with Campbeltown Airport opening hours.

It meant that Les Oman, of the Dalriada Business Action Group had to gallop through the presentation he gave to help keep the talks running to time. But even in a shortened version one thing was agreed by all: this is the last chance to get a ferry service running between Campbeltown and Northern Ireland.

HITRANS, the Highlands and Islands Transport Partnership coordinated the event on behalf of MVA Consultancy which is preparing the reports that will decide the fate of the ferry service. Their draft report is expected by June this year.

Invited councillors, officials, members of the Northern Ireland Assembly, Scottish and Westminster parliaments attended along with other interested parties from all walks of commerce, culture, tourism, agriculture.

Councillor Duncan MacIntyre, Argyll and Bute’s transport spokesman opened and closed the meeting.

‘We are really one community; the similarities are unbelievable when it comes to things like genealogy, culture, spirituality and heritage and we should be looking at extending what we have got in common,’ he said.

Councillor Madeline Black of Moyle District Council said: ‘I believe there is a future for a service between Ballycastle and Scotland. This is probably our last chance to prove that it will be viable.’

The draft report in June will look at all the options for a ferry service and also consider the possibility of including an additional leg, via Ayrshire.

When the Argyll and Antrim Steam Packet Company, a subsidiary of Sea Containers ran a summer only service across the North Channel for three summers from 1997 it carried an average of 26,000 passengers and 6,000 vehicles each four month period.

The situation has changed dramatically since then; peace in Northern Ireland has seen an opening up of the business and tourism market.

The commercial and agricultural potential is far greater; the price of building materials in Northern Ireland is considerably cheaper than in Scotland and Argyll businesses like M&K MacLeod already uses this market via Stranraer.

The vast majority of farm implements come from Northern Ireland. Irish and Kintyre fishing boats often work out of opposite sides of the channel and crews would be able to commute home by ferry; tradesmen and women from both locations would have new markets and a ferry would increase the size of the local labour pool in both communities.

All aspects of tourism would benefit, from day trippers and coach parties to specialist niche markets like golfing, natural history, heritage, culture and the whisky trail. Bushmills Whiskey Distillery in Northern Ireland could link into the Scottish Whisky Trail and vice versa.


French judges investigating the sinking of a French trawler off the Cornish coast have officially declared it was most likely caused by a submarine - perhaps a British one.

Five Breton trawler men drowned when the BUGALED BREIZH from Brittany went down off Cornwall in January 2004.

After four years of investigations, the theory that the boat was dragged down by a submarine was "the most serious", the two judges found, after ruling out the results of an earlier probe by France's Sea Accident Investigation Office which suggested that the trawler had hit a sandbank.

They also crossed off claims it had hit another trawler or was unstable. The judges informed their British counterparts of their findings in a report handed out in February at a meeting of Eurojust, the European Union's judicial cooperation unit, in the Hague.

Last year, one of the judges, Richard Foltzer, appeared to dismiss the idea that the boat was sunk by one of three British submarines or a Dutch vessel during a joint NATO and British Navy exercise, but suggested an unknown spy submarine could have been involved.

Documents submitted by the British authorities say that HMS TURBULENT was tied up in Devonport while HMS TORBAY was 100 miles away. The Dutch authorities said their vessel, DOLFIJN, was nine miles away. However, the judges now believe the trawler could have been hit by any of the British submarines, and that the third, HMS TRIUMPH, was definitely in the vicinity at the time - although its precise location is unknown.

Doubts also remain over the position of the DOLFIJN and the German submarine U22.

The judges' suspicions tally with the eyewitness account of two British servicemen quoted by local paper "Le Telegramme" last week as having spotted a submarine in the vicinity of the accident from their rescue helicopter.

"We've been fighting for four years to hear the word 'submarine' to explain this inexplicable shipwreck", said Rémy Gloaguen, 41, brother of one of the drowned fishermen. "The next step will be to find out which submarine is involved. We are approaching our goal", he told "Le Parisien". However, the local prosecutor in Quimper said that there was "also very solid material" suggesting it could have been a simple fishing accident.



Retired Royal Marines from all over the country marched on Seacombe on Sunday April 20 to commemorate one of the most heroic actions of the First World War in which the Mersey Ferries played their part.

The annual Zeebrugge Remembrance service, organised by the Merseyside branch of the Royal Marines Association, is held at Seacombe Ferry Terminal and aboard one of the ferries.

Neil Scales, Chief Executive and Director General of Merseytrave, which owns and operates the ferries, said: "This is one of the most moving events of the year for myself and many other people.

"We should never forget those who lost their lives at Zeebrugge nor the bravery of the crews of our own ferries who took part."

It was an action that saw vicious hand to hand fighting, incredible heroism and the award of 200 medals for gallantry, including eight Victoria Crosses, the highest military honour for bravery.

The original DAFFODIL and IRIS acted as both landing craft for marines and tugboats to HMS VINDICTIVE. They came under heavy fire but both ferries returned battered and intact.

As a result of their action King George V awarded them the title of "Royal" ferries, a unique distinction that remains to this day.

Neil Scales added: "The Mersey Ferries and the Royal Marines forged an historic link at Zeebrugge that should never be forgotten."

The memorial service, which marks the 90th anniversary of the Zeebrugge landing which took place on April 23rd, 1918, commenced with a march by the ex-marines from Wallasey Town Hall at 09:45 to board the ROYAL DAFFODIL at Seacombe 10.15am.

The service included the casting of memorial wreathes into the River Mersey followed by a wreath laying ceremony at the Zeebrugge Memorial at Seacombe and a VIP inspection of the veterans.


Photographs of the  John Brown Built steam yacht NAHLIN which spent some time on Merseyside undergoing initial restoration work a few years ago have appeared on the web site .

The vessel was sold to German interests in 2005. Restoration work continues [CLICK HERE] for photographs taken during March 2008 posted on the Yacht Spotter web site.


The world's biggest cruise liner is to have a New York-style "Central Park" on the ship, its owners have revealed. Royal Caribbean is building the 220,000-tonne liner with the working name PROJECT GENESIS and the announcement is the latest salvo in the intensely competitive global cruise market. The company said the park would be "a revolutionary design in which the centre of the ship opens to the sky and features lush, tropical grounds spanning the length of a football field".

The 1,180ft long luxury liner is under construction in Finland at a cost of £700 million and dwarfs the current biggest ships - also owned by Royal Caribbean - which are 160,000 tonnes. The builders said the space will be like a town square for al fresco dining and entertainment.

The park will be located on Deck 8 of the 16 deck ship and open to the sky, with dimensions of 19m wide and 100m long. Trees in the park will tower more than two-and-a-half decks tall and the area is to have micro-climate control techniques to make sure the plants thrive.

Richard Fain, chairman and chief executive of Royal Caribbean, said: "This ship is a quantum leap in architecture and design and will deliver an unparalleled vacation experience to all who sail with us."

Figures from the Passenger Shipping Association predict 1.55 million Britons are expected to take a cruise holiday in 2008 - up from 1.35 million last year. Royal Caribbean will base one of its current biggest liners, INDEPENDENCE OF THE SEAS, in Southampton from next month for its inaugural season.

P&O Cruises has responded with a new ship - the VENTURA, which was named in Southampton recently by Dame

Helen Mirren, and Cunard recently launched the QUEEN VICTORIA - also based in Southampton.

The recent credit crunch does not seem to be affecting the industry as Royal Caribbean alone is pumping £1.4 billion into two Genesis class liners over the next few years. When finished, PROJECT GENESIS will be able to carry 5,400 passengers and stood on its stern it would dwarf Britain's tallest building - the 800ft One Canada Square in Canary Wharf.

It will be longer than four football pitches and 40 per cent bigger than the existing biggest liners. It is scheduled to enter service in autumn 2009 and its home port will be Fort Lauderdale in Florida.

[Maritime Clippings / Daily Mail]


RIVERDANCE - Calls have been made to ensure the operation to dismantle the stricken RIVERDANCE ferry causes minimal disruption to residents.

Work will carry on throughout the night to take the boat apart between tides. Heysham-based Hancock's Contractors has been chosen to dismantle and remove the vessel which ran aground off the Fylde coast in storms on January 31. The work is expected to take until the end of June to complete.

Anchorsholme ward councillor Tony Williams said: "I'm delighted something is going to be done although I would have preferred it to be refloated. "However I am concerned about the disruption cutting up the ferry will cause for residents in the area because there will be heavy plant movements and I think they are optimistic about the timescale.

"I want to ensure disruption is kept to a minimum and there will be a briefing between our officers and the demolition operators. I have asked for reassurances about the hours of work, because it's tide dependant, access for heavy plant, noise and pollution.

"I will also want the whole area reinstating if there is any damage to the beach or the road." Jim Hancock, who will be in charge of the dismantling process, said noise would be kept to a minimum. He said: "We don't want to upset anyone but at the same time we have a job to do. We will be working during the night because we will be working in tidal shifts but the noise will be kept down.

"The Promenade and the beach will be reinstated afterwards." The contractors expect to be on site on Monday or Tuesday."


The much talked about Bristol Channel fast ferry link between South Wales and the West Country has taken a big leap forward.

Two 130ft fast catamarans, each capable of carrying 360 passengers, could soon be speeding their way to Ilfracombe to help establish the new service as early as next year.

Ferry expert Chris Marrow, of the fledgling Severn Sea Ferries company, and operations director Graham Beesley have been to view the vessels on the Isle of Wight, with a view to buying them.

If a financial package can be agreed with investors, and all necessary licensing requirements met, it is hoped the former Wightlink ferries could soon be regular fixtures in the Bristol Channel.

In a meeting in Swansea last year, council officials on both sides of the channel agreed in principle to establish the link.

It aims to create fast ferry links, with journey times of between 40 and 45 minutes, between Ilfracombe and Swansea plus Minehead and Penarth.

The vessels, the FASTCAT SHANKLIN and FASTCAT RYDE, would be particularly suitable for ports at Swansea and Ilfracombe meaning little work would need to be done to prospective terminals.

The two "cats" currently under consideration for the new Bristol Channel service can reach speeds of 34 knots.

Mr Marrow said: "We've been to look at them; Wightlink are willing sellers and we are willing buyers. "The final business plan is complete. We are in the middle of attempting to get finances to go ahead with the purchase.

"Meetings are going on all the time with interested parties and hopefully within the next few months there will be more news."

Steve Penny, president of the West Wales Chamber of Commerce, has said of the South Wales North Devon ferry link: "This is an exiting and innovative idea which would have great benefits for the West Country and Wales."

Swansea Council leader Chris Holley has also given his full backing to the idea and believes it will fill the gap left by the ending in 2006 of the Swansea Cork ferry link.

Devon county councillor for Ilfracombe Geoff Fowler said he saw the ferries as a catalyst for the regeneration of the town, not only for the number of extra visitors - a recent study estimated up to 100,000 per year - but also for the recognition the town would get from private investors.

And he said the same would be true for communities on the Welsh side of the channel.

[Trade Winds]


Cork County Council was "hoodwinked" into believing there was no EU funding for a tourist ferry to Britain, it has been claimed.

Former county mayor John O'Shea proposed the setting-up of a public forum to re-establish the Cork Swansea ferry link.

A new ferry had been promised last year, he said, and everybody took the commitment in the good faith it was given.

"The ferry was due to be up and running this year," said the Fine Gael councillor. "But we were too trustworthy and, this year, there is no ferry and there are severe pressure points in the tourist industry in West Cork."

Mr O'Shea suggested to the monthly meeting of the council that public meetings in support of a ferry should be held in every village and town from Allihies in Beara to Youghal as a first step in setting up The Cork Swansea Ferry Forum.

An eight-month tourist season had become a four-month season and a number of tourism-related facilities had been forced to close.

Mr O'Shea said an unpublished survey showed 74% of Britons who had used the ferry had previously visited the southwest, with 38% booking accommodation solely in Cork.

He said the council had been hoodwinked by "people in authority" that there was no state funding available for ferries. An EU document which he presented showed funding was available for passenger ferries.

Mr O'Shea said Britain received €60 million for the channel rail tunnel while other substantial EU aid was allocated to other developments in Europe. He said: "Not one minister stood up to support the ferry which was the lifeblood of tourism in southwest Cork.

"To see a car with an English or European registration in the area is a rarity, they are as scarce as hens' teeth. I am sick of hoodwink and hogwash."

However, acting county manager Theresa White warned the creation of a new forum could create another talking shop. The council itself was the main forum in the county, so she suggested the council make its views on the issue known to the Government rather than setting up a forum.

The council, she said, should enlist the support of local authorities in Swansea, Cork city and Kerry County Council. She added that senior council officials were aware of the strong commercial interest in re-establishing the ferry link and, also, the importance of the ferry to the region. The council, said Ms White, had already committed funding to market the ferry. [Irish Examiner]


During the month of March, Waterways Ireland removed and disposed of 12 sunken and damaged vessels from the Grand Canal Basin in Dublin. The vessels had been abandoned and were both unsightly and a hazard to navigation.

The operation took over two weeks and involved a salvage team along with divers, who worked from pontoons to seal, sling and re-float sunken vessels where they were then lifted from the Basin by crane prior to final disposal.

All vessels had been sunk for a minimum of four to five years and many had been damaged or were rotten and had to be recovered piece by piece. All were successfully recovered and disposed of by a licensed contractor.

The removal and disposal of the vessels was carried out after all efforts had been made to contact the owners and included notices in the National Press advising owners to come forward and claim their vessels before the removal operation commenced.

The Grand Canal Basin was officially opened in April 1796 and was built as docks for seagoing vessels which entered the Grand Canal via the River Liffey to transport goods and people across the country to the Shannon or to many of the towns on the branches of the Grand Canal. [Maritime Clippings]


The yellow wind farm maintenance vessels owned by Fylde based Windcat Work Boats have become a familiar sight at Irish Sea ports.

The company has recently taken delivery of its latest vessel WINDCAT 9 which was discharged at the Seaforth Container terminal from the ACL ATLANTIC CONVEYOR having crossed the Atlantic from Halifax NS.

April 13Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Ian Collard, Tony Brennan, Edwin Wilmshurst and "others".



QUEEN MARY 2 - On July 11, 2007 it was reported on the Irish Sea Shipping 'Lamb Banana Rumour Page' that Carnival Corporation had been making enquiries with a view to bringing the company flag-ship to Liverpool.

This week the company published the itinerary for a round the British Isles cruise to celebrate the ship's 5th year in service and the 170th Anniversary of the founding of the Cunard Line during 2009 and once again the Lamb Banana Rumour Page has proved to be correct!

QUEEN MARY 2 will call at Liverpool on October 20, 2009 as part of an itinerary which begins at Southampton on October 15 and sees calls at South Queensferry (for Edinburgh), Greenock, Liverpool, Cóbh and Cherbourg.

QUEEN ELIZABETH 2 - Apparently due to operational problems at Dublin Port the itinerary of the QE2's farewell round the British Isles cruise has been changed. Cherbourg has been substituted for Dublin which has resulted in a change of dates for some calls. The Irish Sea calls and times will now be as follows: Cóbh October 02, 09:00 to 18:00; Liverpool October 03, 12:00 to 22:00, Belfast October 04, 12:30 to 23:00 and Greenock October 05, 12:00 to 22:00 from where she proceeds to Rosyth.


BLACK PRINCE had been due to be the first cruise ship to make use of the new Douglas Harbour cruise tender pontoon as part of a short Irish Sea Cruise. However, adverse conditions resulted in the ship aborting the Douglas call and BLACK PRINCE proceeded to Belfast where the passengers had an afternoon ashore.


The annual Friends of the Ferries Liverpool Docks and River Mersey Cruise will take place on Saturday June 21st, 2008. Fares £14.00 Adults £7.00 children. Departs Seacombe 12:15, Woodside 12:25 and Liverpool 12:40. Returns approximately 17:45. Tickets are available from the Seacombe Ferry Terminal or from the Friends of the Ferries Membership Secretary, 7 Foxcovers Road, Bebington, Wirral, Merseyside, CH 63 3EQ - cheques made payable to "Friends of the Ferries".


NORMANDY - it appears that the former Irish Ferries ship is not going to be converted into an accommodation vessel just yet. The ship which was sold to Equinox Offshore Accommodation recently is going on charter to Ferrimaroc this summer for operation between Almeria and Nador.


BEN-MY-CHREE is due to re-enter service on Monday April 14 with the 14:15 sailing from Heysham. She had been scheduled to return to operate the 08:45 from Douglas - however, her departure from Cammell Laird has been delayed until Monday morning.

VIKING will be operating a delayed (08:30) sailing to Liverpool on Monday April 14 to carry the BEN-MY-CHREE passengers. As a consequence her 11:15 Liverpool to Douglas sailing is retimed to 12:00.

TRIUMPH - the Seatruck ship completed her charter to the company and was headed off for Barcelona on Saturday April 12 to resume her charter to Baleria.

MERCHANT BRILLIANT provided freight cover on Sunday April 13, 2008.


Mersey Ferries switched their Liverpool departure point again on April 07, 2008 to the Liverpool Cruise Terminal. This is to enable the Ravestein SKYLINE BARGE 15 to be relocated opposite the front of the new ferry terminal buildings which are currently under construction. Unlike when  SKYLINE BARGE 15 was located on the site of the cruise terminal no arrangements have been made for Mersey Ferries to issue tickets inside the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company's terminal.

Instead passengers have to buy their tickets at the temporary Mersey Ferries booking office located outside the Cunard Building and then, if time is short, sprint several hundred yards round the Pier Head construction works to the foot bridge which gives access to Prince's Landing Stage and the Cruise Terminal Stage. Ferry owners Mersey Travel suggest passengers allow 10 minute to walk round to the cruise terminal. This arrangement is expected to last for around four weeks.


RIVERDANCE - it was announced last week that the ill fated RIVERDANCE which has been stranded on the beach at Cleveleys since January 31 will be broken up on site. The announcement was made in a press release from the Maritime and Coastguard Agency on Friday April 11, 2008.

"After a lengthy evaluation process, the owner of the Riverdance ferry, now lying on Blackpool beach, has produced plans to dismantle the ship in situ on the grounds that this represents the best option available in the interests of safety and protecting the environment.

Hugh Shaw, the Secretary of States Representative for Maritime Salvage and Intervention (SOSREP), has been involved throughout and has informed the owner that he has no objection to the plans.

Weather permitting, it is estimated that the project will take approximately 12-14 weeks.

Options examined ranged from righting the vessel (known as par-buckling), cutting up in situ or a combination of both. The preferred method will involve cargo, trailer and machinery removal, including any debris and any pollutants, whilst maintaining the integrity of the hull. The vessel will be stripped down internally until only the shell remains. The hull will then be cut into manageable pieces and transported for recycling.

The Environment Group have been advised as well as Defra, the Environment Agency, the Marine and Fisheries Agency and Natural England. All parties (including Defra, the Environment Agency, the Environment Group, the Marine and Fisheries Agency and Natural England) recognise that, due to the uncertainty and technical difficulties of righting the vessel, cutting up in situ is now the best option.

Until the new contract for demolition is awarded, SMIT Salvage remain on contract to carry out caretaking duties only.

Hugh Shaw said I look forward to being able to brief officers and elected members of the local authorities to explain how and why the forthcoming works will be carried out. I also look forward to working closely with all interested organisations such as the police and local transport services to ensure that minimum disruption is caused to residents and local people.

The original plan to reduce the list using tidal and internal buoyancy was abandoned due to the additional structural damage sustained during storms on 12 March. The vessel remains lying on the beach with a list of 100 +  degrees. In addition the vessel continues to sink deeper into the sand. It is estimated that at least 4 metres of the bridge / wheelhouse is now under the sand.

It was subsequently announced that Heysham-based Hancock's Contractors will undertake the dismantling of the ship with the scrap being taken to Liverpool for recycling.

A sad end to a fine little ship.

April 06Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, John Pryce and "others".


Irish Continental boss Eamonn Rothwell has upped his stake in the ferry line by buying more shares.

A statement to the stock exchange yesterday revealed that he had bought 736,000 shares on Tuesday, bringing his stake to just above 16pc. The chief executive may be limbering up for a replay later this year of the titanic takeover battle that he and his management colleagues fought last year with top businessman Philip Lynch.

The two sides fought each other to a standstill, until a market ruling barred either for a year from making new takeover moves.

The year runs out this summer, after which new efforts to resolve the impasse are now expected .

[Business World]


BEN-MY-CHREE repainting of the ship into traditional company livery is well underway in Cammell Laird #5 dry dock. [CLICK HERE]

VIKING - discharge of passengers and vehicles at Liverpool on Saturday April 05 was apparently delayed somewhat due to adverse conditions on the Mersey. Though she arrived on time around 09:55 inbound passengers were still reported to be on board at 11:45 due to the vessel ranging excessively at the stage and making discharge unsafe. As a consequence her 11:15 sailing did not get away from the stage until around 13:00.



A woman and her granddaughter, who were out on New Brighton beach walking their two dogs, had to be rescued from the rising tide on April 02.

Liverpool Coastguard received a flurry of 999 calls at 18:00 reporting that the woman and girl, along with the two dogs, were stuck on a mud flat half a mile out from shore.

Liverpool Coastguard requested the New Brighton RNLI inshore lifeboat and the New Brighton RNLI hovercraft to launch.

The New Brighton Coastguard rescue team were also requested to attend and keep the grandmother and granddaughter under observation. The inshore lifeboat took the two on board along with their dogs and brought them to shore, wet but unharmed.


The Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA) announced on April 04, 2008 that 6 foreign ships were under detention in UK ports during February 2008 after failing Port State Control (PSC) inspection.

Latest monthly figures show that there were six detentions of foreign flagged ships in UK ports during February 2008 and six vessels under detention from previous months. The overall rate of detentions compared with inspections carried out over the last twelve months was 5.2% a slight decrease on January twelve month rate.

During the month of February 159 Port State Control inspections were carried out in the UK. A total of 41 vessels had no deficiencies raised against them, 70 had between one and five deficiencies, 36 had between six and ten deficiencies 11 had between eleven and twenty deficiencies and there was 1 vessel inspected which had more than twenty deficiencies.

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

Vessels detained in February included:

A 499gt St Vincent & Grenadines flagged General Cargo Vessel which was detained in Hull following the arrest of the master who had been arrested by the local police as it was suspected he had been drinking. In addition, there was no evidence to prove that officers on board held CECs from the Flag State as it appeared that these certificates were locked up in the safe and only the master knew the combination. The vessels magnetic compass had a large bubble and there had been no entries into the compass deviation/correction log since October 2007. The vessel had also suffered a black - out on departure of Antwerp before arriving at Humber that needed to be investigated and any problem resolved as required.

a 20,248 Panama flagged Other Cargo Vessel detained in Bristol because the port lifeboat suspension falls blocks - forward & aft were holed and wasted. The fire drill and abandonment drill was substandard and the crew showed a lack of emergency preparedness during these drills. The propeller shaft in the starboard lifeboat was found to have an excessive misalignment and required rectification. The number and nature of the defects identified on board indicated a major breakdown of the vessels Safety Management System (SMS).


CLIPPER POINT - it appears that the new vessel sustained some damage after her arrival at Heysham on March 25. After discharge on number 1 linkspan she moved to lay over further up Heysham south quay. 

During early afternoon the metal belting round the hull was in danger of becoming stuck under the quayside with the incoming tide so it seems the Harbour Authorities wanted the ship to go out to anchor to be safe. 

Whilst performing this manoeuvre with quite a strong wind blowing it seems a malfunction occurred when switching over from bridge wing controls to main bridge controls.  The port quarter made contact with a new wood pile and a concrete pile that was behind were all damaged.  Whilst moving up contact was made with the bow to a quayside crane which was derailed and presently still is. 

Moving further up the quay a wooden section and stone section was also damaged.  Going ahead towards the entrance to the harbour the bulbous bow made contact with the stone quay wall, damaging both.  The bulbous bow and part of the port bow were holed but later welded up to make it seaworthy and much paintwork was damaged on the ship. 

MOONDANCE - arrived at West Float Birkenhead on April 05, 2008 presumably for what is understood to be stern door repairs

April 02Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, John Williams, Trevor Kidd, Jenny Williamson and "others".


PONT-AVEN - The Saturday departure of from Cork Ringaskiddy on July 12 will sail to Brest rather than Roscoff. This is due to the company's flag ship is to playing host to a meeting of European Affairs Ministers and will also be attended by the French President Nicolas Sarkozy


BEN-MY-CHREE dry docking at Cammell Laird was delayed to enable the ship to operate the 08:45 / 14:15 sailings on Tuesday April 01.

VIKING had been scheduled to provide refit passenger cover on the Heysham route sailing at 08:45 to Heysham and returning at 12:00. However, adverse conditions led to the BEN-MY-CHREE dry docking being delayed to allow her to operate an additional sailing.

The BEN-MY-CHREE arrived at Cammell Laird on the morning of April 02.


Multi-million-pound plans to revitalise the link between Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly have moved a step forward with the awarding of a contract to work up proposals to redevelop two harbours.

Cornwall County Council has hired Birse Coastal to draw up designs for the harbours at Penzance and on St Mary's, seek planning consents and determine the cost estimates that will satisfy the Department for Transport, which has conditionally awarded £23.34 million for the schemes.

The harbour works are part of a package of proposals aimed at securing the long-term sustainability and continuance of a sea link between the Isles of Scilly and the mainland, preventing adverse effects on the economies of Penwith and Scilly.

Cornwall County Council bid for £23.84 million in government funds and a further £6.5 million from European Objective One funding to overhaul both harbours and replace the current passenger and freight boats.

Under the plans both would be replaced by a £17.5 million vessel which would combine freight and passenger services.

It would be purchased by the county council and leased back to the Isles of Scilly Steamship Company, which operates the service. Both Penzance and St Mary's harbour will be updated to improve safety and security measures, as well as to cope with more passengers.

Liberal Democrat Matt McTaggart, Cornwall County Council's executive member for strategic planning and transport, said: "The upgrading of facilities at both ports is necessary as a result of increasing health and safety and security requirements introduced last year. Without further investment the continuation of the existing service could not be maintained.

"A secured good transport link is also essential to providing very important social and economic gains for the communities of the Islands."

Fellow Lib-Dem Andrew Mitchell, the county council's executive member for the economy, said: "By ensuring reliable and efficient transport, the links between the Isles of Scilly and the mainland can be maintained.

"The major improvements to the St Mary and Penzance harbours will also ensure the long- term economic prosperity of the Isles of Scilly and West Cornwall."

The design work will be paid for by the Duchy of Cornwall, Penwith District Council and Cornwall County Council. Once completed half the cost will be reimbursed by the Department for Transport.

Meanwhile, work on introducing the combined passenger and freight ferry service is continuing. The islands enjoy significant visitor numbers and rely on limited ferry and air transport links. The aim is to introduce a faster, more comfortable combined vessel, using modern cargo-handling technology.

Bevan Brittan was appointed last May to advise Cornwall County Council and has been working in collaboration with Plymouth-based specialist shipping solicitors Davies Johnson & Co on the council's formal agreement with the project partners. [WESTERN MORNING NEWS]


Has announced the introduction of a second ship on the company's Portsmouth to Le Havre route. The vessel will begin operations in November 2008, and will double the number of crossings on the channel as well as inaugurate a new France - Ireland service.

The new ship will also be used to create a new route between Le Havre and Rosslare. The vessel will carry up to 800 passengers in 110 cabins as well as providing sleeper and reclining seats.

Onboard the second ferry there will be a bar, restaurant and various lounges. The new vessel will have a freight capacity of 2250 lane metres, which will allow the transportation of up to 120 trucks. All freight drivers will be given a berth in a cabin and will have access to the dedicated freight-only restaurant.

Every weekend the ship will make a round trip between the ports of Le Havre (Friday) and Rosslare (Saturday). With a service speed of 24 knots, the new ferry will undertake the crossing between France and Ireland in only 20 hours.

The new Irish link will serve a growing passenger market as well as meet the requirements of an expanding freight market.


Mersey Ferries Liverpool departure point will move to the Cruise Terminal from mid morning on April 07 for a period of time.

Access will be via the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company's footbridge. - However, tickets will still need to be obtained from the temporary Mersey Ferries booking office outside of the Cunard building which will necessitate a lengthy walk once again for those originating their journeys at Liverpool and having to obtain a ticket.


The MAIB accident report into an accident caused by the parting of a mooring line on board DUBLIN VIKING whilst alongside at Berth 52 in the Port of Dublin that resulted in one fatality on 7 August 2007 has been published. The MAIB synopsis follows:

On 7 August 2007, the ro-ro passenger ferry Dublin Viking was preparing to leave her usual berth for a scheduled sailing from Dublin. Wind and tidal conditions were benign, but in the process of letting go the stern line, the operator of the stern line winch heaved in the line instead of paying out slack. The stern line parted with a loud crack and snapped back, striking the second officer’s legs. Both his legs were broken and the left leg was almost severed. The recoil of the line also dislocated a shore worker’s shoulder and elbow.

The vessel’s first-aid team and off duty master quickly arrived to treat the second officer. His injuries were severe and it was difficult to control the bleeding. The second officer was evacuated to hospital, where his left leg had to be amputated. He remained in a critical condition and died 6 days later.

The second officer, in charge of the after mooring deck, was obliged to stand in ‘snap-back’ zones near the fairleads, so that he could relay orders to line handlers ashore and deck crew. Analysis of the mooring line after the accident showed that it had deteriorated, its breaking load having reduced from 60 to 35 tonnes, largely due to exposure to Ultraviolet (UV) radiation from sunlight. Although the vessel’s mooring ropes were required to be inspected, the onboard procedures were informal and no records were kept.

The winch operator was attempting to control two winches at the same time, one heaving up the stern ramp and the other veering the stern line. The operator had controlled the winches before, and knew that the controls of the mooring winch operated in the opposite sense; however he was distracted and pushed the stern winch control away from him when intending to veer the rope. This caused the winch to heave in. Tests showed that the electric mooring winch was capable of pulling a far greater load than its stated output for a very short period when it first started to turn. This was sufficient to part the mooring line.

Following the accident, the vessel’s management company has implemented a number of measures designed to prevent a re-occurrence, and the winch manufacturer has undertaken to mark all new mooring winches with their maximum, as well as nominal, rated loads and also to provide more detailed technical information in its manuals.

Recommendations have been made regarding: the technical information supplied with winches; the need to consider the implications of any shore supplied moorings on the mooring structure as a whole; and the dissemination of a "flyer" that the MAIB has published, drawing attention to the lessons learned from this accident. The full report can be downloaded from the MAIB web site [CLICK HERE]



CLIPPER POINT, the first of Seatruck Ferries’ eight new buildings, has entered service. A further three vessels in this 120 unit class of freight ro-ros will be delivered during the course of this year by the Spanish builder Astilleros de Huelva.


CLIPPER POINT will be joined by another new building, the Clipper PACE on the Warrenpoint-Heysham service across the Irish Sea. Two more new-buildings, CLIPPER PENNANT and CLIPPER PANORAMA, will be deployed on the Dublin-Liverpool route. Seatruck acquired this route last September from the former operator, Celtic Link.


The commissioning and entry into service of CLIPPER POINT follows Seatruck’s announcement in early March of an order for a further four new freight ferries. This order was placed with the German shipbuilder FSG (Flensburger Schiffbau Gesellschaft). These 21 kt. ships will have four decks offering 151 trailer spaces in a length (o/a) of just 142 m. These newbuildings will join the rapidly expanding Seatruck fleet in the November 2011-June 2012 period.

Over recent months freight-only specialists Seatruck Ferries have also acquired four second hand vessels – the121 m, 65 unit capacity sisterships Arrow, Triumph, Shield and Challenge.

Kevin Hobbs, CEO of Seatruck, says: “We are making good progress in developing a young, flexible fleet offering new standards of service and greater capacity on the busy Irish Sea routes. Demand on both routes is strong and we are well-placed to meet our clients’ requirements for fast, efficient service.” [Photo: SeaTruck]


RIVERDANCE the Fleetwood Weekly News reports that ten companies are bidding for the contract to remove the Riverdance. But the decision over who secures the tender won't be made until next week.

Attempts to refloat the vessel using a variety of methods have failed and now contractors are putting forward their bids to move the ferry in whichever means they choose.

Mark Clark, spokesman from the Marine Coastguard Agency, said: "All the bids have to be carefully looked at before a decision is made.

"There's a lot of documentation which will need to be assessed first but we are hoping to come to a decision by April 8th or 9th."

It was hoped the stricken ferry, beached off Cleveleys, could be righted. But all attempts to do that failed.

Flotation devices have now been removed after the idea to refloat the ferry was scrapped.

Meanwhile people living close to the where the Riverdance ferry has beached claim additional traffic from sightseers is making their lives a misery.

They have been concerned over drivers parking on grass verges and private property, churning up the ground and leaving it in a bad state.

The huge amount of litter being left is also a litter and an eyesore problem.


A familiar visitor to the Irish and Celtic Seas is the small cruise ship VAN GOCH. It has been reported by the BBC that the ship has been detained in Madiera on April 01 whilst its way back to Falmouth.

Efforts are under way to secure the release of a UK cruise ship that has been detained by police in Madeira.

The VAN GOCH, which has about 460 passengers on board, was held on Tuesday shortly after it came into Funchal port in the Portuguese isles.

It is understood the ship has been held in connection with an alleged debt relating to the previous operator which went into administration.

 Van Gogh Cruise Line Ltd said its lawyers were liaising with authorities.

The ship is on the final stage of a round-the-world cruise and had been due back in Falmouth on Saturday.

It set off on 4 January from Falmouth, after operator Travelscope went into administration.

A spokesman for Van Gogh Cruise Line Ltd, which is based in Cheltenham and a subsidiary of the Dutch-owned Club Cruise, said they were working with their lawyers to get the ship released as quickly as possible.

Passengers have been told there will be another announcement on Thursday on the ship to inform them of the latest situation. In a statement, the cruise operator said: "Currently Club Cruise's lawyers are liaising with the authorities in an effort to prevent further delay by allowing this matter to be handled on return to Falmouth, to minimise further distress to our passengers.

"However, the administrators have so far refused to allow this. "The passengers have been kept informed on board. They are currently preparing a petition to be sent to ABTA to urgently request they arrange immediate repatriation back to Falmouth on the VAN GOCH."

Gladys Hobson, 64, is on board the ship with her husband, Wallace.  She said the cruise director used a public address system to inform passengers that the ship was being held. Passengers are free to leave the ship.

"We were all shocked. Our first reaction was that it was an April Fools' joke. Then we realised it was serious," she said. Mrs Hobson, from Tyneside, said many of the passengers were elderly and many relied on supplies of medication and were concerned they could run out if the dispute continued for days.

"The passengers of this ship should not be made to suffer due to a dispute. They shouldn't be involving passengers," said Mrs Hobson.

However, she added: "We're in a beautiful place. You couldn't be in a better place to be held ransom."

This positive outlook was shared by another passenger, who did not want to be identified, who described the atmosphere on the ship as being akin to the "Dunkirk spirit".

The passenger added: "Everybody's very happy with the situation and they're relying upon the ship to resolve the problem. One or two passengers would like to leave as soon as possible.

Meanwhile, a spokeswoman for the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) said they were aware of the situation with the cruise ship and were monitoring it.

However, she added that Van Gigh Cruise Lines Ltd were not bonded to ABTA.

The Madeira Islands are an autonomous region of Portugal.  [BBC]


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