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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


May 22 


Shipyard group Northwest Shiprepairers and Shipbuilders (NSL) has started recruiting foreign workers to plug a skills gap.

The Birkenhead yard, which will shortly return to trading under the Cammell Laird name, has traditionally been able to rely on a supply

of skilled shipyard workers from the local community, but that appears to be changing.

Many of the town's shipyard workers are near retirement age and this, coupled with a boom in orders, is posing a serious challenge. Many skilled workers left the area when the former Cammell Laird closed in 2001.

NSL, owned by former Cammell Laird managing director John Syvret, has already moved to establish a new apprenticeship programme and has been recruiting from Poland to meet demand.

News of the skills shortage came as the company unveiled a record turnover of more than £41m for last year.

In NSL's latest accounts, Mr Syvret stated: "There is a local and national shortage for skilled tradesmen and management. While the company has been able to manage growth, that is becoming increasingly more difficult.

"In addition, a large percentage of the white and blue collar workforce are at or near retirement age and it is becoming increas-ingly difficult to replace them with people of similar experience. That is why the company has been recruiting from overseas and recruiting apprentices."

However, he emphasised that there was no question that contracts would not be fulfilled. He said: "There is no question mark over delivering our contractual obligations. In times of peak demand we have used agencies to recruit foreign workers but this is a short- term solution. We are committed to training local people and in partnership with the Maritime and Engineering College are launching an apprentices programme."

He said 17 young people would be taken on in June with more in the future.

Earlier this year, Mr Syvret said his shipyard would like to be involved in Ministry of Defence contracts for new aircraft carriers. He added: "If the MoD rang and asked if we could build an aircraft carrier, we would find it a challenge, so would anyone.

"All I will say is we would never take on a contract we could not fulfil."

In January, NSL revealed a £28m MoD contract expected to secure up to 350 jobs.



The Ministry of Defence announced on May 20 today it would gave industry the green light that it was ready to go-ahead with contract signature for the two new super aircraft carriers.  Industry is now expected to press ahead with forming the joint venture company that will help build the carriers.

The carriers, to be named HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH and HMS PRINCE OF WALES, will be the biggest and most powerful surface warships ever constructed in the UK. Once they enter service in 2014 and 2016 respectively they are expected to remain in the fleet for up to fifty years.

Secretary of State for Defence, Des Browne said:
“The two aircraft carriers will provide our front line forces with the modern, world-class capabilities they will need over the coming decades. They will support peace-keeping and conflict prevention as well as our strategic operational priorities.

“This is an important day for the project and I am delighted that we are moving closer to signing the contracts for the manufacture of the carriers.”

Minister for Defence Equipment and Support, Baroness Taylor, said:
“Today’s confirmation that we are proceeding with the two aircraft carriers underlines our commitment to both the Royal Navy and to the UK shipbuilding industry. We are investing about £14bn in the Navy and in the maritime industry over the next ten to fifteen years.  The future carriers will provide an important military capability and will sustain many jobs - around 10,000 at the peak of production.”

First Sea Lord and Chief of the Naval Staff, Admiral Sir Jonathon Band said:
“I am of course delighted with today’s news which, when the Joint Venture is formed, will enable the Ministry of Defence and industry to sign the contract for the two new aircraft carriers.  These ships with their aircraft will transform the UK’s defence capabilities when they enter service, delivering air power in support of the full range of future operations at sea, in the air and on land.” 


Seatruck have announced an increase in capacity on their Irish Sea services


From June 05/06 TRIUMPH, sister ship to the CHALLENGE will be deployed on the Liverpool - Dublin route along with her sister prior to the arrival of the new build late summer

Unlike the CELTIC STAR the TRIUMPH and CHALLENGE have no free height restrictions so a much wider range of high tautliners, fridges and double decks can be accommodated.

The CELTIC STAR will leave the Seatruck Dublin route on Friday May 23.

For a two week period the 65 unit WEST EXPRESS will act as a replacement vessel prior to the arrival of the TRIUMPH. There will be some schedule alterations during this short cover period with the WEST EXPRESS.


On the Warrenpoint service additional capacity will be added from June 05/06  as the  WEST EXPRESS will replace the smaller LYGRA from this date. The WEST EXPRESS will provide 35 extra spaces per day in each direction.

May 21Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Ian Collard, Justin Merrigan - Incat, Harry Cragall, and "others".


ULYSSES missed its 02:40 ex Holyhead and 08:05 ex Dublin sailings on Tuesday May 20 due technical difficulties which are believed to have been a propellor being fouled by a a mooring rope at Holyhead.

With ULYSSES stuck in Holyhead, the crew for the JONATHAN SWIFT, who live on board ULYSSES were not available for the 08:45 sailing from Dublin. The JONATHAN SWIFT crossed light to HOLYHEAD to pick them up and take the 12:00 sailing to Dublin.

ULYSSES crossed to Dublin in the early afternoon and resumed her sailings with the 20:55 from Dublin.


The company have confirmed that following the visit of its representatives to Tasmania, which was reported recently, they have purchased INCAT 50.

The following press release was issue on May 19, 2008:

The ship, currently known as Incat 050, will replace our existing fast craft Viking and serve primarily the seasonal Liverpool – Douglas route. The 96 metre wave piercing catamaran will be the largest vessel of its type in the Irish Sea and will significantly enhance the service the Company can offer due to its faster cruising speed, greater vehicle and passenger capacity, freight backup capacity and increased levels of passenger comfort.

Chief Executive, Mark Woodward said: “The purchase is a real step forward for the Company and represents a significant investment, with a total project cost approaching £20 million. Over the past few years, we have looked at a number of possible vessels and we believe we have found the craft that most ideally meets our requirements for a versatile, high capacity vessel which is capable of serving our passengers expectations for increased comfort and reliability.”

A higher operational wave limit will provide improved sea-keeping capability and its capacity to carry larger vehicles such as lorries and coaches will give the vessel far greater flexibility to meet the needs of the Isle of Man as well as providing additional cover for our Ropax vessel Ben-my-Chree.

Mark said: “The new ship will increase our capacity substantially. As well as comfortably exceeding the Company’s investment obligations under the User Agreement with the Isle of Man Government, it also reinforces the Company’s commitment to provide the highest quality service to the Manx community.”

In line with the company’s strategy of improving customer service, the new vessel will have more space dedicated to passengers, and a wider range of facilities. The Company plans an extensive refit of the vessel and will extend the passenger accommodation before re-branding and giving it a new Manx name. It will be incorporated into the Company’s existing fleet for the beginning of the summer 2009 season.

Incat 050 was built in Tasmania in 1998 and after a short period of commercial service in Australia & New Zealand, was chartered to the US Military for evaluation purposes in 2001. Because of its most recent use, it has significantly less hours of service than a vessel of comparable age, and is ideally suited for the substantial refit proposed to provide passengers with the best quality and up to date facilities which will equal or better anything found on similar vessels operating around the British Isles.

Incat 050 vs Viking


Incat 050


Passenger Capacity



Vehicle Capacity



Freight Capacity

225+ lane metres


Wave Height Restriction



Service Speed

35 knots

32 knots

Below is a preview of the vessel in full Isle of Man Steam Packet Company livery and showing how she will appear the after the fitting of the additional passenger accommodation and dummy funnels. INCAT 50 is without doubt of striking appearance and her debut next season will be awaited with great anticipation as will be the announcement of her name.

MERCHANT BRILLIANT - has been chartered for TT Practice Week from Tuesday May 27 until Saturday May 31. She has also been chartered on Monday June 09, to assist with returning fairground traffice

Chief Executive Mark Woodward explained: “Although the additional freighter will be surplus to requirements in terms of capacity, it will provide additional resilience and improved service for our freight customers during this busy time. She will also free up additional vehicle deck space on Ben-my-Chree for any late bookings passengers that want to travel.”

Merchant Brilliant was built in 1979 and has capacity for 1,200 lane metres of freight. She is chartered from Norfolk Line, but has recently been operating with P&O and is expected to recommence the Belfast/Heysham service after the TT.

May 18Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Pugwash, Ian Collard, and "others".


ROYAL PRINCESS - became the largest cruise ship to visit Dartmouth, Devon on May 12.


The Windermere Car Ferry service was temporarily suspended on Wednesday May 14 for several hours for annual cable change to take place.

The morning services stopped after 9:00 with the vessel MALLARD, back in service before 17:00.


Peel Holdings has received planning permission for the initial phase of its £4.5bn blueprint to regenerate the Birkenhead docklands.

The company is to turn the town's landmark Central Hydraulic Tower into a £12m hotel and restaurant complex, with the addition of a huge glazed frontage.

Wirral Council has given backing for the scheme which would change the face of Birkenhead over the next 30 years.

Peel says it is pleased with the planning approval. Spokesman Richard Mawdsley said: "This is a great opportunity to transform a derelict but historic property and provide new amenities in the local area. We look forward to continuing to work with Wirral Council and other partners to deliver additional exciting developments that we have planned within the Wirral Waters masterplan".

The hydraulic tower will be partly demolished, refurbished and extended, to be converted into a four- storey, 10,000 sq ft hotel and restaurant with glazed outlook.

Built in 1868 by Albert Dock designer Jesse Hartley, the tower formerly provided hydraulic power for the lock gates and swing bridges.

During the Second World War it was bombed and has since fallen into a state of disrepair, although remaining a familiar landmark.

Peel has worked closely with conservation officers, planners at Wirral Council and heritage partners to bring the Tower back to its former glory. The £12m scheme is the first project in the transformation of the area by Peel's Wirral Waters £4.5bn waterfront regeneration scheme.



WEST EXPRESS (ex MERCHANT BRAVERY) went on charter to Seatruck from Friday morning to provide cover for CLIPPER POINT which arrived on Merseyside on Saturday for repairs to her bulbous bow and stern door. The work could take up to two weeks.

Newbuilds CLIPPER PENNANT and CLIPPER PACE are to enter drydock in Cadiz for hull painting for up to 4 weeks, therefore, a July delivery for  the next of the new builds looks unlikely.

RIVERDANCE - Salvage workers had to be evacuated from the stricken vessel early on Saturday morning when fire broke out on the vehicle deck. Two tractor units on board the vessel were believed to have caught fire as cutting equipment was in operation.

All the workers were evacuated to the promenade at around 04:20, followed shortly after by the fire brigade due to the rising tide.

There were no reports of any injuries.



Car and passenger numbers experienced "healthy growth" on Stena Line’s routes between the UK, Holland and Ireland in the first quarter of 2008, the company says. Passenger numbers rose by 13%t on the Irish Sea and 18% on the North Sea with vehicle numbers rising by 14% on the Irish Sea and five per cent on the North Sea respectively. "We’re delighted with such a strong start to the year, although these figures include Easter this year.

I think that the major investments in vessels, terminal facilities and onboard environments that we have made recently can be viewed as a contributing factor in this success but another reason for this increase is that many people prioritise comfort and flexibility ahead of the long queues associated with air travel," says Stena Line’s CEO Gunnar Blomdahl.

The Swedish privately owned Stena Line offers over 30 crossings between the UK and Ireland per day and two crossings daily between the UK and Holland, making it a top player in the UK ferry scene. Looking ahead, he continues:

"The Irish Sea is looking ahead to a good summer with its redesigned Hotel Breaks to Ireland programme and a brand new state-of-the-art terminal in Belfast which launched this month." Source :

[Maritime Global Net]


The new Taoiseach and his freshly-installed cabinet will get a crash course in the plight suffered by West Cork business people and English tourists alike since the controversial removal of the Swansea - Cork ferry service.

The founders of a new campaign and online petition vow to bring Ireland’s Prime Minister Brian Cowen — sworn in just last week — and two of his Cork-based cabinet ministers the facts about the negative effects the closure is having on tourism to the region.

Co-founder of John Hosford told The Irish Post this week: "At the moment the estimated yearly loss to the West Cork region is €37million.

"We have lost out massively through the closure of what was a vital link to this part of the country for both business and social tourism.

"Access is the key thing and people do not have it here — so we will be writing to the new Taoiseach and the two cabinet ministers based in the county — Batt O’Keeffe and Micheál Martin — who we would hope would recognise how badly needed a return of this service is."

The website was the brainchild of Adrian Brentnall of Inspired Glass — which creates stained glass and fused glass to sell at open-air markets and craft fairs much of which relies on the western Cork tourist market — and Mr Hosford of the Hosfords Garden Centre which offers a monthly farmer/craft market in the same area.

They are determined to press ministers, authorities and the people at Swansea Cork Ferries to reinstate the ‘vital transport link’ which was due to return in January but has yet to materialise.

Some 205 people are already signed up to their petition to restore the ferry service including a Dorset-based woman who states: "Travelling from Dorset to visit West Cork, which we do every year, is now problematic — we drive more miles and need to stay somewhere overnight.

"It was far more enjoyable and relaxed on the SwanseaCork ferry but driving across Southern Ireland is no fun and not good for their environment — please bring it back!"

Such stories have seen a drastic drop in the numbers the once-thriving tourist area used to attract since the service was suspended in autumn 2006.

Consequently local traders and business-people now find it hard to make ends meet as Roisin McCarthy a trader at the Schull County Market in West Cork, explains: "Local businesses who have spent years steadily building up their restaurants, B&Bs and hotels are now faced with a dire situation.

"West Cork is still very much ‘open for business’ but we can only survive so long without the necessary visitors."

Mr Hosford added: "We will keep fighting to bring about a speedy return of this service and welcome the support of everyone on both sides of the water to support us."

For more information about or to sign up to the online petition visit .

[Irish Post]

May 12Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, John Thomas, Bernard Corbett,  Ian Collard, and "others".


The company has issued the following statement concerning the revised timetables reported in yesterdays News Bulletin:

Following a successful Bank Holiday weekend sailing in the Western Isles of Scotland, Paddle Steamer Waverley has entered a Clyde shipyard to undergo annual maintenance. It has been discovered that detailed work will be required on the shaft which drives the Ship's famous paddles.

The ship was originally expected to be two weeks in the yard but this has now been slightly extended.

Operations Director Ian McMillan said 'Waverley is in a shipyard at Greenock with a great Scottish tradition and everyone will be working hard to get her ready for her summer sailings.

Waverley - the last seagoing Paddle Steamer in the World, was rebuilt in 2003 with a Heritage Lottery Grant and restored to her original glory.

Waverley's summer season will start on the Clyde on June 13 sailing to the Lochs and Islands of the West Coast of Scotland before she moves to the South Coast and Thames, returning to the Clyde in October.

The spring sailings will go ahead in the Bristol Channel as planned though some midweek sailings will be postponed. Waverley's consort Balmoral will carry out the popular sailings.

Balmoral will also sail from Barrow, Whitehaven and Garlieston to the Isle of Man from May 29 until June 1, then visit the South Coast, Thames, North Wales & Liverpool, and the Bristol Channel before following the QE2 on her farewell tour of Britain.

Kathleen O'Neill, Commercial Director said 'We look forward to welcoming our passengers on board Balmoral for the sailings in the Bristol Channel. We would like to invite those passengers whose cruise is no longer running as scheduled to choose another sailing from our programme of cruises and travel at no extra cost - even if it is a more expensive cruise.'

May 11Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Adrian Sweeney, Peter Langley, Ian Collard, Harry Cragall, Jenny Williamson and "others".


It appears that the future of the former P&O service between Rosslare and Cherbourg which is operated by Celtic Link Ferries may be in doubt due to rising fuel prices.

The "Farmers' Journal" reports that an 18% increase in the cost of the ferry between Rosslare and Cherbourg

blamed on rising oil prices is putting the future of live exports at serious risk. That is according to two of the leading weanling exporters in the country, C&P Collins and Viastar Livestock.

Both exporters have expressed serious concern over the recent move by Celtic Link to increase the price of a return crossing on their Diplomat ferry by 18%, or €500. The price increase which applies from next week will see live exporters having to pay €3,180 per return crossing for an articulated lorry and €3,500 for a lorry and trailer.

In a letter sent out to livestock hauliers Celtic link cited rising fuel costs are the main reason behind the price increase, which will come into effect from May 13.

The shipping company also warned that the DIPLOMAT, which is the only ferry licensed to carry livestock between Ireland and France may be re-deployed to an alternative route or even into the charter market where rates are now more attractive.

Should this action be taken it would effectively shut down the Irish live export market, as the only route out of the country would be via Dover. This would involve having to transit to Larne and then from Stranraer down through Scotland and England.

Exporting an average of nine loads of weanlings per week, Paul Collins of C&P Collins has warned that the hike in the cost of the ferry crossing will put further pressure on margins at a time when trading conditions are already extremely difficult.

According to Collins, when marts' fees, transport, levies and ferry costs are all included, it will now cost from €170 to €180 per head to export a weanling from Ireland to Italy.

At these prices Collins argues that he will simply no longer be in a position to compete with French exporters who can move weanlings from France into Italy for less than €50 per head.

James Mallon from Viastar livestock also warned that rising transport costs were putting extreme pressure on the live export trade. Mallon said that with the cost of the ferry increasing to €3,300-€3,500,  Irish weanlings were immediately at a €50-60 per head disadvantage compared to French weanlings.

The Kells-based exporter said "while it costs €3,000 to transport a container load of beef from Ireland to Italy, it now costs in excess of €8,000 to transport a load of weanlings the same distance - we simply cannot afford to carry any more costs''.

According to the managing director of Celtic Link, Paul Tyrell, the increase in the price of the ferry crossing is due to rising fuel costs. [FARMERS' JOURNAL]




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



Year to Date





















IoMSPCo passenger route performance:






Plus 23%




Plus 67%




All plus




All plus



Director of Harbours, Captain Michael Brew comments:

“The early Easter has contributed to excellent passenger figures for March 2008.  The challenge will be to maintain this growth in a very competitive market.”


SNAEFELL departed from her Alexandra Dock berth on Sunday May 11 and proceed to Prince's Landing Stage before departing to the Isle of Man mid afternoon.


She is due to enter service on the 07:30 Douglas to Liverpool sailing on May 12


With her new livery and new name, SNAEFELL, formerly [SEACAT ISLE OF MAN / SEA EXPRESS I]  completes the Company’s major re-branding exercise that has seen all three vessels refurbished over the winter and spring.


Chief Executive Mark Woodward said: “We launched the revamped design earlier this year, but this is the first time since then that we’ll have had all three vessels in service together. To look down from Douglas Head and see the three of them lined up together, preparing to sail in their new livery, is a fantastic sight.


“We feel the new logo design and livery is a return to the Company’s Manx roots and this was a major factor in the final decision. It is vital that the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company, as the Island’s number one tourist carrier, projects a positive image for the Island.”


The 74m Incat SNAEFELL is the sixth ship to bear the name in the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company’s 178-year history. The previous SNAEFELL (V), which entered service in 1948, was built by Cammell Laird and remained in service until withdrawal in 1977.


VIKING - prompt action by the crew on Friday evening saved a man who was seen struggling in the Mersey close to the landing stage. A 48 year old male was seen hanging from a set of chains. He was rescued from one of the emergency boats carried on board the ship. The man, who was taken to hospital, is believed to be known to the police.



The Isle of Man Steam Packet Company announced this week that certain BEN-MY-CHREE sailings may be affected by restricted water depths at the entrance to Heysham Port and prevailing tidal conditions. The Port of Heysham is becoming increasingly subject to tidal restrictions, and the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company is working closely with Mersey Docks and Harbour Company (owners of the Port of Heysham) in an effort to improve the situation.

Sailings that may be affected by low water are as follows:

Sunday 11 May

12:15 arrival at Heysham - anticipated arrival at 12:45.

Monday 12 May

12:15 arrival at Heysham - anticipated arrival at 14:00. As a consequence the 14:15 and the 19:45 sailings could be delayed by approximately 60 minutes.

Tuesday 13 May

The 08:45 departure will depart at 08:15 arriving Heysham at 12:00. Foot passengers are requested to check in by 08:00 and vehicle passengers are requested to check in by 07:45.

The 14:15 sailing from Heysham may be delayed until approximately 15:00.

Wednesday 14 May

The 14:15 sailing may be delayed until approximately 16:00 with an arrival at Douglas at 19:30. As a consequence, the 19:45 may depart at approximately 20:30 arriving at Heysham at midnight.

All sailing times given are approximate as tidal conditions may be affected by local weather conditions and barometric conditions on the day. Unless otherwise specified, passengers are requested to check in as normal, as every effort will be made to sail as near to schedule as possible.


The International Transport Federation has described as 'appalling'  conditions aboard the LADY CHIARA which arrived at the Ringaskiddy terminal at Cork harbour on Saturday morning.

The ITF inspector in Ireland, Ken Fleming, went aboard with SIPTU officials from Cork and said that there was such insufficient food that the union had to take members of the crew off to feed them in a local restaurant.

Port workers have agreed to discharge the cargo of molasses aboard provided that the ship is properly provisioned for the crew and that wage and payment problems aboard are resolved.

The ITF inspector has called on the Department of the Marine port control authorities to inspect the ship.

Ken Fleming said the Filipino seafarers had not been provided with adequate food for a fortnight but the officers seemed to be looking after themselves.

The ship is registered in Liberia. The owners have so far not been identified.


The Fleetwood to Knott End ferry has been dealt another blow. Council bosses halted the service at the weekend as essential safety work was needed on the jetty at the Fleetwood side of the river.

It is the latest problem to beset the ferry service operated by the WYRE ROSE – following a series of breakdowns soon after its arrival on the river in 2006.

The prospect of a bumper May Bank Holiday was wiped out when possible problems were spotted with one of the piles which supports the jetty.

And Wyre Council officers are unsure when the service will be back. In the meantime a replacement bus service is in operation.

Principal engineer Carl Green, said: "The council was alerted to a potential problem with the jetty and took the immediate decision to close the ferry dock as a safety precaution.

"The problem is linked to a small length of supporting pile on the jetty and as a result a contractor is currently undertaking repair work at the site.

"It is our hope the required work will be completed as soon as possible and the ferry service will be operational again at the earliest opportunity."

Ian Drury of Wyre Marine, which operates the WYRE ROSE for the council, said: "We were getting ready for a good Bank Holiday and Wyre Council requested we stop the service."

The £350,000 vessel was tied-up for most of 2006 with mechanical problems and delays in crew training.

But it bounced back last year. It had an excellent summer season with around 60,000 people using the service.

It proved so popular an hourly winter service was launched. The ferry cuts the 40-minute round-trip bus journey to just a few minutes.  [BLACKPOOL GAZETTE]


A new police boat able to take underwater scans of other vessels and equipped with a remote controlled vehicle to help divers was unveiled in Liverpool’s Albert Dock. The Consortium will be used by Merseyside, Cheshire, Cumbria, Greater Manchester, Lancashire and North Wales police forces. It is a converted Swift Trawler 42, and is the first one of its kind in the UK to be used by police.

The Rev John Williams, chaplain of the Naval Reserve at HMS Eaglet, said prayers over the boat, which was then officially named Consortium and christened with Champagne by Judith Greensmith, the High Sheriff of Merseyside. It will be used by the specialist Underwater Search & Marine Unit and has been designed for high-visibility patrols as part of the National Mari-time Security Strategy.

Bernard Hogan-Howe, Chief Constable of Merseyside Police and ACPO lead on National Maritime Security Strategy, said: “The consortium of forces are very proud to take possession of this boat. “It is the first of this kind in the UK to be used specifically for policing the maritime environment. It will contribute to the government's strategy to secure maritime interests, making them less attractive to criminality and terrorism. “We want it to become part of the river community.”  [Maritime Clippings]

 A short film of the vessel and the naming ceremony can be found on the Merseyside Police web site.


RIVERDANCE - Heysham-based Hancock's Contractors Ltd say the first phase of work is underway with cargo being takenfrom inside the ship on the beach at Anchorsholme, near Cleveleys.

Workers say removal of unnecessary parts will help to remove weight and stabilise the ship and create room to work on dismantling the vessel from the inside out. That process is expected to continue for around four or five weeks until the ship has been gutted inside.

Workers will then be able to begin cutting away the outside from the top down. A worker on site said: "All we're doing now is taking out the funnel and removing a lot of unnecessary weight.

"We've cut handrails off the top of the ship which were causing a danger. "Inside we have just been making safe access, taking trailers off and unloading cargo. "We'll be doing that for around four or five weeks." [MARITIME CLIPPINGS]


STENA VOYAGER services moved to Belfast's Victoria Terminal 4 as planned on May 07, however, the STENA CALEDONIA continues to operate from their old terminal for now. MERSEY MAMMOTH assisted in removing the old linkspan which has been put into storage along with the remaining span from Harwich - Hoek service.

STENA LYNX III - Thirteen doctors on a golf trip to Ireland dramatically saved a man suffering from a heart attack on a ferry crossing.

The man was travelling across the Irish Sea from Fishguard in Wales to Rosslare in Wexford on the STENA LYNX III on Wednesday when he fell ill.

The boat's captain made an emergency request on the vessel's tannoy system calling for a doctor to come to the man's aid.

Thirteen doctors responded to the call – they were travelling together to the Ireland on a golf holiday.

One passenger on the ship said that they were amazed when the 13 doctors arrived on the scene, rushing to the aid of the man with a heart attack.

They tended to the heart attack man until the ferry docked in Wexford. The man was then transferred to Wexford General Hospital. [Irish Independent]

HSS STENA DISCOVERY - There are rumours doing the rounds that at least two Mediterannean buyers have shown an interest in buying the laid up former Harwich - Hoek vessel which has been laid up at Belfast since her withdrawal from service in 2007.

STENA ADVENTURER with the ship conveying foot passengers on day time sailings between Dublin and Holyhead from July speculation is growing as to the future of the HSS STENA EXPLORER with various rumours suggesting that the Holyhead - Dún Laoghaire service may go seasonal or be switched to operation by STENA LYNX III. With fuel prices continuing to rise the future of the remaining HSS services can hardly be certain.


It would appear that there are significant schedule changes which will effect advertised sailings of BALMORAL and WAVERLEY during the early part of the season

The changes apparent from the revised timetables on the Waverley Excursions web site  indicate that WAVERLEY is out of service until mid to late June, however, at the time of compiling this news bulletin [Sunday May 11] no official announcement has been made by the company. WAVERLEY had been due to dry dock this week following her May Bank Holiday programme.

The effected areas are mainly the Bristol Channel and Irish Sea, with Waverley's busy early season on the Bristol Channel reduced to sailings on May 24 to 27 and June 04 to 08, June 14 and 15.

With the BALMORAL on the Bristol Channel Irish Sea sailings are also reduced - she will sail on her Isle of Man Excursions on May 29  June 01. The Liverpool and North Wales Salings for June are now cancelled. Though Liverpool and North Wales "Tall Ships" sailings July 16 to July 21 will operate.

To download timetables visit .

It is clear that such changes will disappoint many - but anyone who appreciates these ships should ensure that they support what sailings are available this season.

May 05Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Alex Mc Cormac, Patrick Burden and "others".



Van Gogh Cruise Line, the operator set up by the former financial director of Travelscope Mark Horwood was reported to have gone out of business last week making all its 20 staff redundant.

The company blamed fuel prices, the increasing value of the Euro for the decision to cancel all plans to operate its only ship the VAN GOGH from the UK.

The company has been dogged by problems, including having the ship impounded in Funchal earlier this year after the administrators of Gloucestershire-based Travelscope won a court order.

At the time Van Gogh Cruise Line revealed it had had an application to join ABTA refused and that planned to appeal. That appeal was turned down last Wednesday, an ABTA spokesperson confirmed.

Amid rumours of the operator’s demise last week TTG contacted the Passenger Shipping Association and was told it was not a member, despite its logo appearing on its site.

Travelscope went out of business in December and ABTA and the ship’s owner, Dutch-based Cruise Club worked together to save a round the world cruise. In a statement Van Gogh Cruise Line said:

“After careful consideration and in light of the changes in the market conditions - with the massive increase in fuel prices; the devaluation of the pound to the Euro, it is with much regret that Club Cruise Entertainment & Travelling Services Europe N.V have decided that the VAN GOGH will not now be sailing from the UK in the foreseeable future and therefore, disappointedly, Van Gogh Cruise Line Limited will no longer be in operation.

“The subsidiary company’s operations are therefore being wound down and the staff have, regrettably, been made redundant.” [TTG / MARITIME CLIPPINGS]


FINNJET - the pioneering former gas turbine cruise ferry which was sold by Sea Containers to Club Cruise and renamed DA VINCI is reported to have been sold for breaking. Club Cruise had bought her with a view to conversion to a cruise ship.


A public consultation process has been launched to decide on the future registration of ships in Ireland. The Minister for Transport and Marine, Noel Dempsey, has called on vessel owners and the public to become involved in the process. It is intended to create a new ship register in Ireland that will enforce legislation on safety and living conditions aboard and help improve maritime safety. New arrangements are being considered by the Department under which vessels not previously required to be registered will have to do so in the future.

The public consultation process will be used to prepare the legislation, which will result in a centralised electronic register to be used to enforce legislation on safety, security, living, working and environmental conditions.

There are 41 ships on the Irish register at present. Its numbers were reduced when Irish Ferries flagged out to other countries. Arklow Shipping is now the biggest shipping company in the country. [RTE / MARITIME CLIPPINGS]


OSCAR WILDE - due to technical problems the 17:00 Rosslare - Cherbourg sailing on May 04, 2008 was delayed until 23:00 due to technical problems.


INCAT 50 - The company have sent representatives to view the 1998 built high speed vessel which was chartered from Incat by the US Military as HSV-X1 JOINT VENTURE.  [CLICK HERE - INCAT WEB SITE PHOTOS]

Whitehaven Tourist Office is currently publcising three day trips to the Isle of Man - being operated on Tuesdays July 1st and August 12th between Whitehaven and Douglas and on Tuesday July 15 between Barrow and Douglas.

SNAEFELL returned to Merseyside on May 01, 2008 and berthed at Alexandra Dock. She is believed to be carrying out MES deployments and filming a new safety video.

STOP PRESS! - MAY 05 - 21:10

A single "SuperSeaCat" has appeared on the US Shipbrokers web site. It is not clear which of the four vessels is being offered for sale - but as SUPERSEACAT THREE and SUPERSEACAT FOUR operate as a pair these can be probably ruled out. That leaves ALMUDAINA DOS (ex SUPERSEACAT ONE) now operating for Acciona Trasmediterranea and VIKING operating for the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company. Several of the images on the linked .pdf document clearly show SUPERSEACAT TWO (now VIKING) and the file name is "superseacat2.pdf" .

EMERAUDE FRANCE which was chartered to the IoMSPCo last year has also been advertised for sale by the same brokers.



The 150ft tall gooseneck cranes at Cavendish Quay, Birkenhead Docks, were brought down early on Sunday morning 27th April.

Each weighing 320 tonnes, the cranes were erected in 1964 and had spent most of their working lives discharging dry bulk cargoes from ships.

Main contractor Technical Demolition Services (TDS) of Birkenhead and explosives experts Controlled Group of Wakefield, ensured that the two redundant cranes, located close to modern warehousing, safely "bit the dust".

The demolition was undertaken for port operator, the Mersey Docks and Harbour Company – part of Peel Ports Group – to allow better use of the quayside the cranes occupied. Engineering Services Manager Ben Stafford said: "It was a text book operation. Everything went according to plan."


The Scherzer Rolling Lift Bridge on Regent Road ("The Dock Road") which gives access to Stanley Dock is due to be closed, according to published notices from May 02, 2008 for a period of up to twelve months. This will enable the condition of the structure to be evaluated and repairs undertaken.

Traffic diversions will be set up. Reports in the local press have highlighted concerns by local businesses that the lengthy closure of Regent Road may have.

However, anyone who regularly drives along Regent Road will be aware that the bridge, the last remaining Scherzer Bridge on the Liverpool side of the Mersey has long been in need of attention.


The dismantling of RIVERDANCE is expected to have a minimal impact on Blackpool. Deputy Council leader, Councillor Ian Fowler, who is helping to oversee the demolition of the stricken ferry for the Council, says that the cost of dealing with the ship to Blackpool taxpayers was: "minimal." He also said he did not foresee problems with commuter traffic. "So far the only major cost we've had is the removal on 20 tonnes of chocolate biscuits," he said. "Any costs during the process of cutting the ship up will be put in against the salvors."

Councillor Fowler said there was no need to worry about increased traffic because of the operation. He said:"We are concerned about the impact on people in the area. "We want to let them know we will keep it to a minimum. "The movements of the cut up pieces will be done between 8am and 8pm and we hope there will be little impact on commuter traffic as it will not be possible to remove large sections of the ship in one go."

Wyre Council leader, Councillor Russell Forsyth, did not share Councillor Fowler's confidence. He believes there could be some disruption along Amounderness Way. Demolition crews from Heysham-based Hancock's Contractors Ltd have now boarded the stricken vessel.

They will cut the ship from the inside out into pieces weighing around 20 tonnes and then transport it to be recycled. A 350 metre exclusion zone remains in place around RIVERDANCE and members of the public have been warned to stay away or risk prosecution. RIVERDANCE has been beached near Anchorsholme Park since it was hit by a "freak wave" on January 31 during a journey from Warrenpoint in Northern Ireland to Heysham. [Maritime Clippings]

It was reported that the end of last week that Contractors have started working on the inside of the ship.

After everything is cleared from the hull, the ship will be cut up into sections and driven away on lorries.

Outlining details of the operation on Friday, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) said it was expected to take between 12 and 14 weeks.

Hancock's Contractors in Heysham, Lancashire, are carrying out work to dismantle the RIVERDANCE, which has now sunk about 4m (4.4yd) into the sand.

The MCA warned it would be a few weeks before people saw a noticeable  difference in the appearance of the ship, which has proved a popular tourist attraction.

Spokesman Donald McDonald said: "Inside the hull you've still got trailers in there and there's cargo and timber still loose.

"Areas will have to be cut down and dropped so there is still a high element of danger for the people working on it."

Two huge holes will be cut in the 2,600-tonne vessel to leave its shell intact while it is stripped down.

Once cut into pieces, the sections will be transported away on lorries for recycling.

Works traffic will be limited to the hours of 0800 BST to 2000 BST, but for some residents it is the crowds attracted by the ship that are causing the most problems.

Roy Andrew, whose property overlooks a grassy area in front of the beach, said he was looking forward to the project's completion.

"You can have 100 people all walking around out there with bikes, playing football and having picnics out there - and they leave all their rubbish," said Mr Andrew. [BBC]


TAMAR II has been withdrawn from service for refit for a period of four weeks. The work is being undertaken at A&P Falmouth. This reduces the Torpoint - Devonport service to two vessels.


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