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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


June 29Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Kevin Bennett, Tony Brennan and "others".


North Antrim MLA, Ian Paisley Jnr., has said that progress is being made on the Ballycastle to Campbeltown ferry service.

In a statement, he said: "After meeting with government officials at Stormont I am pleased to report that progress continues to be made on the Ballycastle to Service.

"I have seen a copy of the draft report and the full report will be complete this month and before the DETI Minister by mid July. It is essential that the Minister give this urgent priority to enhance the links between Ulster and Scotland.

"This is a real opportunity for the economic development of the region to enhance economic and tourism links. Expectations on both sides of the sea are now high and the Government has a duty to deliver." [BALLYMONEY TIMES]


Further information has emerged from the company as to next season's services.

Brittany Ferries announces new luxury cruise-ferry service from Portsmouth to Spain with a crossing time of only 24 hours

Brittany Ferries has today confirmed its plans to start a new luxury cruise-ferry service from Portsmouth to Santander in northern Spain with effect from next April using its €165 million flagship, PONT-AVEN. With a departure every Monday and a crossing time of just 24 hours, it will be some 8 hours faster than other ferry services from Portsmouth to northern Spain.

This new route expands the Brittany Ferries network at a time when both passenger and freight traffic to Spain is growing. The existing twice-weekly Plymouth-Santander service will continue, as will the weekly freight-only operation between Poole and Santander, thus helping to build a Motorway of the Seas which is in keeping with the Marco Polo EU transport policy of diverting freight from the roads and on to the sea.

David Longden, Managing Director, commented: "Portsmouth is easily accessible via an excellent road network for a huge number of people located in Greater London and the Home Counties. The appeals of Northern Spain are becoming more widely appreciated and, by providing a faster crossing than anyone else is able to, thereby allowing passengers to spend just one night at sea, we believe we can grow the market."

Phil Gadd, Portsmouth Ferry Port Manager is looking forward to the arrival of the new service: "We are pleased about the new Brittany Ferries route from Portsmouth to Santander. The French routes Brittany Ferries operate from our port are very popular and we are sure the Santander crossing will be just as successful. This new destination offers more choice to our loyal passengers who use Portsmouth regularly, and it will also attract new customers who are keen to get to Northern Spain by ferry."

PONT-AVEN is just 4 years old and has more in common with a cruise ship than a ferry. Its stunning features including a superb pool and leisure area, a wrap around promenade for pleasant deck strolls, a dramatic five deck high atrium with panoramic views from the lifts, and no fewer than four different categories of cabin, all with en-suite facilities. There are 2 cinemas, restaurants, bars and sundecks. Details of 2009 timetables and fares will be available from the beginning of August at .


INCAT 50 - One can follow the voyage from Tasmania to Portsmouth where the vessel is to be extensively refitted on the company web site [CLICK HERE].

BEN-MY-CHREE - A reminder that the Ben's annual "Round the Island Cruise takes place on Saturday evening July 12. Tickets are available from the Sea Terminal at Douglas.


Local press reports indicate that NSL - Cammell Laird has secured a £250m MoD contract for the maintenance of Royal Fleet Auxiliary ships. Details are expected to be announced during the coming week.


Rathlin Island's new ferry operator will take over the route on Tuesday as scheduled, Regional Development Minister Conor Murphy said yesterday. The £4 million contract with Cork businessman Ciaran O'Driscoll is the subject of an Audit Office probe, but yesterday it appeared to clear one of the final technical hurdles.

Mr O'Driscoll's wife, Mary, said the Maritime and Coastguard Agency approved their safety management plan and said they would be taking over the route on Tuesday morning.

Mr Murphy speaking on June 25, from the deck of the MV CANNA - which Mr O'Driscoll will take over from current operator Caledonian MacBrayne - the Sinn Féin minister said: "My officials set up the process and Mr O'Driscoll was successful in that process.

"The transfer is scheduled to go ahead on Tuesday and the officials are confident that we will meet that date."

And he rejected criticism of the contract commencing while it is under investigation.

"Jim Allister and John Dallat are the only people to have raised this with me and they make very strange bedfellows," he said.

"The necessary standards and technical issues have to be met and if they are not, the contract is breached. That is the standard contractual process."

On the island, opinion was divided about the new service, but many people welcomed the addition of a second vessel on the route.

But Mrs O'Driscoll said the majority of islanders were keen for them to take over the route and were excited about the future.

She pledged that all the boat's staff would be kept on their current contracts and said her husband's company was serious about investing heavily in the route.

Speaking about concerns over their Cape Clear service in Co Cork, raised at Stormont earlier this week, she said: "So far, everything that's been inquired into has been found to be ok.

"We will be bringing an improved service, carrying more passengers, and from next summer there will be a new catamaran which can carry 100 passengers to the island.

"We are island people ourselves and want to see young people coming back to the island because there are jobs there." [BELFAST NEWSLETTER]


STENA ADVENTURER - It was reported some time ago on Irish Sea Shipping that foot passengers were to be conveyed as from July 01, 2008. - This is how it was reported in the Daily Post this week along with news of the HSS STENA EXPLORER deceleration:

FERRY operator Stena Line is to start carrying foot passengers on its Holyhead to Dublin service for the first time.

From July 1 passengers will be able to walk on to the ship, which until now was a drive-on service only.

This weekend it emerged the company plans to slow down its high speed Explorer service between Holyhead and Dun Laoghaire by 16 minutes to save costs in the face of rising fuel prices.

From July the Explorer’s journey time will increase from the current 99 minutes to 115.

The HSS STENA EXPLORER was designed in the 1990s on the calculation oil would remain at about $20 a barrel.

Last year Stena warned its fast services would be axed if oil reached $100 a barrel, and in recent weeks fuel prices have hit $130 in recent weeks.

This weekend Nick Tilson, UK communications director for the Irish Sea operator, said the slow down would help "trim" the company’s fuel bill.

He said: "It’s a case of battening down the hatches and try to ride it out."

Yesterday Vic Goodwin, Stena Line’s director for Irish Sea routes, confirmed the move to slow the route and introduce foot passengers on the STENA ADVENTURER, but he declined to comment on speculation the HSS STENA EXPLORER fast ferry would be withdrawn.

He said: "We have been looking at the option of a service for foot passengers on the S for a while now as the vessel has grown in popularity with our tourist customers.

"The commencement of a foot passenger service will strengthen the overall Stena Line product in conjunction with our fast craft service, the HSS STENA EXPLORER, which operates between Holyhead and Dun Laoghaire."

Buses will be used to bring passengers to the Adventurer at both ports. When the STENA ADVENTURER was introduced Stena Line said it would not accept foot passengers on the ship because there were no gangways at Holyhead or Dublin to connect with the ship and hence it would compromise safety.

An insider said: "This has taken place for some years already on the Irish Ferries fast ferry, JONATHAN SWIFT. After the

cars have been loaded at Holyhead the bus drives out to the ship and the passengers walk up the stairs to the passenger decks."

The ferry operator has already slashed the frequency of sailings by the HSS STENA EXPLORER on the Irish Sea route.

The HSS STENA EXPLORER, which can carry 1,500 passengers, currently makes the crossing in 99 minutes, about half the time taken for the conventional ferry STENA ADVENTURER on the Holyhead-Dublin route.

Initially it made four crossings in each direction each day but now makes just two return crossings.

The STENA ADVENTURER, which can carry up to 1,500 passengers, began sailing on the route in July 2003.



Cairnryan residents have voiced fears over the impact Stena Line's proposed new port at Old House Point could have on traffic.

During a one-and-a-half hour public meeting last week they heard from representatives of Stena and ERM Consultants about what the latest plans were for north of the village.

Route Director Alan Gordon said the ferry operator had a list of priorities of concern and wanted to hear from the public.



The arrangements for the Parade of Sail on Monday July 21, and details of the berthing plan for the visiting vessels over the weekend of July 18 - 21 can be downloaded in .pdf format from the Port of Liverpool web site download page at:

June 22Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Jenny Williamson, Tony Brennan , Ian Liston, and "others".


A £500,000 project is under way to tidy up an eyesore plot of land in Fleetwood town centre.

For years, local residents have complained about the former site of the railway station on Queen's Terrace.

After the station was the land was the site of the Norwest Hovercraft Terminal which became a nightclub and also provided facilities for the later Isle of Man Steam Packet Company seasonal sailings.

The nightclub was demolished some time ago and the area has been plagued by fly tipping. The area is now being incorporated into the port area and will provide additional marshalling space for Stena Line.

Roger Cowling, ABP director of operations in Fleetwood, said: "This work should allay a lot of the fears of residents of Queen's Terrace."

Long-time campaigner Eric Lister recognised the area would be tidier, but said he would have preferred something else for a prominent site adjacent to the town's holiday area.

He said: "I think it's a ridiculous waste of ground." I would have liked to have seen some grass and benches for people to sit around. They could have done something else with it."

But Stena, which moves around 135,000 tonnes of cargo per year, is the key ABP customer and vital to Fleetwood's future as a port.

[Blackpool Gazette]


The festival will be held over the weekend of June 28 & 29, 2008.



It would appear that Brittany Ferries are to add a seasonal Portsmouth - Santander service to their route net work for 2009 with BRETAGNE and PONT-AVEN  being the ships operating the service.


LE EITHNE will be attending the Belfast Maritime Festival on Saturday and Sunday June 28 & 29.



The Isle of Man Steam Packet Company has announced the appointment of a new Chairman and some important changes to its Board line up.

Robert Quayle, who has been a non-executive director of Steam Packet since 1996, will take on the role of Chairman from 24 June 2008. Robert, a lawyer by profession, has served in a variety of roles in the public, private and voluntary sectors. Robert commented "As a Manxman, I feel deeply honoured to be asked to succeed Juan Kelly to chair a company with such a long and distinguished record of service to the community. I look forward to working with colleagues, Government and all stakeholders to ensure a prosperous future for the company and a high quality of service for the Island."

Current chairman, Juan Kelly CBE, and non-executive directors Hamish Ross, Walter Gilbey and Dursley Stott OBE will all stand down from Steam Packet service later this month.

Juan Kelly became a non-executive director and chairman of the company in September 1992. Hamish Ross latterly served as Managing Director before retirement last year. Dursley Stott has served as a non-executive director since July 1984. Walter Gilbey who began his long association with the company as a non-executive director in July 1975, will continue as Chairman of the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company Staff Pension Fund.

Juan Kelly commented, "It has been a great privilege for me and my retiring colleagues to be involved with the Steam Packet over so many years of major change and development. In this connection we would particularly like to pay tribute to all Company management and staff who, throughout our time in office, have worked so hard and conscientiously to improve the Company’s service and facilities. I now hand over to Robert Quayle with pleasure and confidence in his dedication to the interests of the Steam Packet and the Isle of Man".

Mark Woodward, Steam Packet CEO commented, "The Steam Packet Company will remain indebted to Juan, Hamish, Dursley and Walter, who over the years have shared their wisdom and provided invaluable support to the management team. We wish them a long and happy future."

Kit Pemberton will join the Board as the second Island-based non-executive director. Kit is a former Naval officer with over 25 years’ industry experience at senior management and board level. He has held non-executive director positions for a number of high profile organisations since 2002 and is a qualified Chartered Director.

When these new appointments have been formalised, in addition to the local executive management team, the Company will have four non-executive directors, two based on-Island and two off-Island. Robert Quayle and Kit Pemberton are joined by Simon Edsall and Dyson Bogg, both representing Macquarie Group.


The company issued the following press release concerning the gearbox problems with the vessel.

Repairs and revised arrangements are underway after the Viking suffered a mechanical failure over the weekend on one of its four gearboxes.

It is anticipated that it will take up to three weeks to remove the gearbox, strip it down and rebuild it before refitting it to Viking. During this period Viking will operate at reduced speed, consequently journey time on our Liverpool service is temporarily being timetabled as three hours.

Chief Executive Mark Woodward said: “We are aware of similar issues on other vessels of this type. However, during last winter’s overhaul, this gearbox was thoroughly inspected internally and found to be in a good condition, so this latest failure is disappointing.
“For the time being we are maintaining existing departure times and hope to adhere as closely to the timetable as we can, but this will be watched carefully and if necessary an amended temporary timetable introduced. We are amending our website to show a three-hour passage time for Liverpool sailings, provisionally until 30th June.”
Sailings to Heysham, Dublin and Belfast will be unaffected by these repairs.
Mr Woodward added: “We have cancelled the 07.30 and 11.15 sailings to and from Liverpool on Thursday, 19th June to allow for the gearbox to be removed. This is the first date on which a gearbox specialist is available to assist with its removal. Until it is removed we cannot begin the repair. It is better that we get the repair completed during this relatively quiet period between TT and the start of the school holidays. We will offer alternative arrangements for passengers via Heysham.

“We deeply regret any inconvenience caused to our passengers as a result of the repairs to the gearbox. All available resources are being mobilised to restore normal service as soon as possible.”


The company issued the following press release on June 20, 2008 to mark the commencement of the delivery voyage from Hobart to Portsmouth where the vessel will be rebuilt.

The new recruit to the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company’s fleet set off this morning on her delivery voyage from Hobart to Portsmouth.

The purchase of the Incat 050 catamaran was finalised last month and she will replace Viking, primarily serving the Liverpool-Isle of Man route.

The first leg of her voyage will see her sail 1,794 nautical miles from Hobart, Tasmania, to Fremantle on Australia’s West Coast, where she is expected to dock on Monday afternoon, June 23.

Her journey will then take her from Fremantle to Colombo, Sri Lanka (3,413 miles) and on to Jeddah in Saudi Arabia (2,773 miles), where she is scheduled to arrive on July 5. The next leg will be from Jeddah to Port Said on the Suez Canal (768 miles), and from there to Valetta, Malta (960 miles).

The final stage will see her leave Valetta for Portsmouth (2,160 miles), where she is scheduled to arrive between July 13 and July 15.

In Portsmouth the vessel will go to the FSL Naval Dock Yard for a substantial refit, ahead of entering service in 2009.

A team from Isle of Man Steam Packet Company flew out to Hobart earlier this week to prepare for Incat 050’s 11,868-mile voyage.

Chief Executive Mark Woodward will be joining Incat 050 in Colombo and staying with her until Malta. He explained: “Planning the voyage to Portsmouth has been a major logistical exercise. The team involved has worked tirelessly to ensure as smooth a journey as possible.

“It’s an exciting acquisition for us and everyone at the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company is looking forward to seeing Incat 050 when she finally arrives in Manx waters in our new livery.”

INCAT 050 was built in Tasmania in 1998 and served three years as a passenger and vehicle carrier in Australia and New Zealand, before being chartered to the US Military.

The 96-metre wave-piercing catamaran will be the largest vessel of its type in the Irish Sea, significantly enhancing the service the Company can offer due to its faster cruising speed, greater vehicle and passenger capacity, freight back-up capacity and increased levels of passenger comfort.

The following is a report from concerning the award of the refit contract to Burgess Marine.

A multimillion-pound deal has been secured to transform an ex-US Navy vessel into a model of passenger comfort.

Portsmouth-based Burgess Marine has won a deal to radically refit a 96-metre catamaran, turning it from a gun-grey military transport vessel complete with helicopter landing pad, into the largest passenger boat on the Irish Sea.

The deal will net the firm around £3m, and up to 100 workers are expected to begin work on the ship when it arrives in Portsmouth Naval Dockyard in July.

Work will be carried out in partnership with Fleet Support Limited using facilities and dry docks provided by the naval base.

Nicholas Warren, director of Burgess Marine, said the deal broke new ground and could set a precedent for shipwork in the city.

He said: 'A refit on this scale of an aluminium fast ferry has never been done before in the UK. It's a great achievement for Portsmouth, and shows the skill-set is here.

'This is really quite significant, and proves that Burgess Marine and FSL have the ability and the expertise to carry out refits of this size.

'It sends a very strong message about what we're capable of. It is a major boost and we will be looking at recruiting more workers.

'It stands us in good stead, FSL in good stead, and Portsmouth in very, very good stead for more of this type of work in the future, without a doubt.'

Burgess Marine is also getting ready to open a new workshop and two offices ahead of the ship's arrival next month, and is set to recruit between 10 and 20 additional workers to cope with the order.

The catamaran, now known simply as Incat Hull 050, was purchased by Isle of Man shipping line The Steam Packet Company in mid-May and will ferry passengers along the Liverpool-to-Douglas route.

The ship was built in Tasmania in 1998, where it was put to work as a passenger vessel in New Zealand and Australia. It was chartered to the US Navy in 2001 as a transport vessel.

The vessel is to be christened with a new Manx name, and is expected to be operational by summer 2009.

The Tasmanian Government is taking advantage of the delivery voyage as reported by the Manx Radio:

The Tasmanian Government is taking the opportunity for a bit of free advertising on the other side of the world by displaying images of their country on the Steam Packet's new fast craft.

The Incat vessel has had some minor work carried out in Tasmania where she was built before sailing to the UK for a full re-fit.

Tasmanian Minister for Economic Development and Tourism, Paula Wriedt, says the pictures presented to the master and crew of the vessel will feature as part of the re-fit by the Steam Packet before she comes into service on the Douglas to Liverpool route next year.

She believes placing the pictures on the ship will be a 'wonderful opportunity to promote Tasmania as a tourist destination' as like the Isle of Man it's a beautiful place with a rich history and heritage.

Ms Wriedt hopes the thousands of people who see the pictures on the ship each year will be inspired to go and visit their own Island state.


Norfolkline appoint new Irish Sea Route Director

Poul Woodall is joining Norfolkline’s Irish Sea Ferries operations at an interesting time. The transportation business is notoriously cyclical – and this is one of the cycle’s troughs.

“Fuel is a concern, so is inflation, the credit crunch sparked by the housing market. These are three negative factors affecting international trade and our business,” he said from his office in Belfast.

He’s still getting to know the operations. He’s only been in his new position as Route Director for Irish Sea Services for a few weeks. But he has a clear handle on where he wants the company to go.

“My role is to take Norfolkline to the next level. While I’m here we have to make sure we expand our business at a pace that exceeds economic growth. We have to come up at the right time with new ideas and new products and, when I look back in some years to come to measure my own success, it will be to what extent we were able to expand the business.”

Not an easy time to do it. But with thirty-four years’ experience in the shipping business, he’s come to understand that if there’s anything you have to do, it is to take the opportunities where they arise.

Times have changed since Poul Woodall first joined the A.P. Moller-Maersk Group as a management trainee. It was 1974 and he was just 19 years old, “it was not young in those days,” he laughs.

After two years he was sent to Jakarta “to learn about the real world” – for him a completely different world. “As a young person getting a decent responsibility in a place like that, you learn a lot. That’s part of the reason the group does it.”

His focus at that time was mainly on the commercial side of the business. He had a number of other postings and then, in 1985, A.P. Moller-Maersk bought Norfolkline from Unilever. “For the first two years I worked in the roll-on-roll-off ferry business.” He spent six years in the UK, getting to know the business even better. Then, in 1991 he began to focus on the container side of the business and, in 1995, became responsible for fleet operations of the container ships.

That wealth of experience makes him a wise choice to become Norfolkline’s Route Director for Irish Sea Services. It’s given him the knowledge of the business to be able to plan for the long term, but it’s also given him the wisdom to understand that the key to any business is being strong enough to focus on being flexible enough to respond to opportunities as they arise.

“In the 70s the first oil crisis was a complete shock to the world,” he said. “Although energy prices today are higher in real terms than they were then, we are not stopping traffic on Sundays or taking other measures that we did then. Society has developed a way to cope with these things.”

So, despite the current difficult economic climate, he is eager to bring Norfolkline to the next level.

Currently, Norfolkline Irish Sea Ferries has a fleet of nine vessels – four are ro/pax, five are ro/ro – three are owned and 6 are chartered. They cover four routes between Belfast and Dublin to Heysham, and Belfast and Dublin to Liverpool.

In terms of a breakdown between commercial and passenger traffic, they are carrying 420,000 total units of freight per annum, and 80,000 tourist cars (with 250,000 passengers) each year.

Of Norfolkline’s Irish operations right now, he says, “Business isn’t growing the way we would like to see it. Transportation and shipping has always been cyclical; we’ve had bad patches before. In this one, we have to be on our toes in terms of keeping our costs under control.”

That means, he believes, spending where it’s needed to keep the business moving, and then looking at the numbers to see where they can be smarter about running the business.

While he isn’t yet ready to make any announcements, he will say where he thinks opportunities lie.

“There’ll be a change in pattern of behaviour. We are partly in the holiday market. We have seen that a number of our colleagues in the industry have cut back on their services. Does that open up opportunities? This is what we have to keep an eye on.”

But he also believes that there are structural changes occurring in the industry.

“When things like this happen, patterns change. Trading patterns change for cargo and passengers. We have to be aware of them. As time goes past things change permanently. The shock to the system is when things change rapidly, as with recently in change in oil prices and credit crisis. The industry will adapt over time – it’s that adaptation time that is a shock to the system.

“Even if it hadn’t happened we would still have to change because the world changes. Hopefully every year we get smarter than we were last year, come up with new innovations, become more environmentally friendly, and run our business more efficiently.”

And that’s where his 34 years in the business is going to stand him – and Norfolkline – in good stead.


HMS ARGYLL [F231], and not HMS ARK ROYAL as originally planned, will be the principal Royal Navy ship participating in the Liverpool Tall Ships Gathering over the weekend of July 18 - 21, 2008. HMS ARGYLL will lead the Parade of Sail on Monday 21 at the commencement of the 2008 Tall Ships Race.

HMS SOUTHAMPTON [D90] was a surprise arrival at Liverpool late on Saturday July 21. She was noted entering Langton Lock at 22:00.


Following the installation of the new number 3 linkspan at Heysham Seatruck Ferries have announced changes to schedules from June 16.

A new 02:00 sailing from Heysham to Warrenpoint will operate Tuesdays to Saturdays with a corresponding 14:30 return sailing from Warrenpoint on Tuesdays to Fridays.

The says the 02:00 departure will offer additional peak overnight space with an arrival time of 11:00 in Warrenpoint. Perfect for those loads which were too late for the 22:00 sailing.

From Warrenpoint says the new 14:30 hrs departure will be very popular with both drop trailers and accompanied units.

A correspondent at Heysham writes:

CLIPPER POINT did not have repairs carried out on her bulbous bow when at Liverpool May 17 - 20, it seems she only had her stern door repaired. 

Friday June 13 was another unlucky day for this ship as when she was arriving in the evening she hit and damaged the new steel section of Heysham South Quay


HSS STENA EXPLORER: The recently reported deceleration of the Holyhead to Dún Laoghaire route to conserve fuel has been confirmed in the following press release:

New timetables Holyhead-Dun Laoghaire

Stena Line wishes to advise customers that there will be a new timetable for the HSS Stena Explorer from Tuesday 1st July 2008. These small changes to the Holyhead-Dun Laoghaire timetable will assist in the better regulating of fuel consumption, necessary as a result of the extraordinary increase in world oil prices seen during recent months.

These adjustments will result in improving overall consumption and will therefore assist by lessening the effects of these enormous price increases on Stena Line's operating costs.

Therefore the following timetable will apply from 1st July 2008.

Holyhead -Dun Laoghaire 

Dun Laoghaire-Holyhead













This new timetable will commence with the 08.55 departure from Holyhead on 1st July 2008.

Stena Line is sure that their customers will appreciate the need for these changes to the HSS timetable and trust that they will not cause undue inconvenience to those who use this route.

STENA CALEDONIA - sailings will transfer to Belfast VT4 Terminal on July 08, 2008.


Steady progress is being made to set up a ferry service in the Taw and Torridge Estuary, according to North Devon MP Nick Harvey.

"I understand that, following last year's media interest ,there were many offers of support," he said. "The intention is to run a pilot scheme with a single amphibious vehicle once the money is in place."

Dusan Beim Project Chairman told Mr Harvey: "We currently have funding pledges from two councils, but it is conditional on a third pledging the same amount. The ferry will be called Tarka Country Ferries and operate under the local charity The Tarka Country Trust."

Mr Harvey said: "I hope that the whole of North Devon will get behind this project. Potentially it could completely change how we view and use the Taw, it could also be a major tourist attraction shuttling tourists up and down the river. [North Devon Gazette]


BALMORAL An extra sailing from Liverpool to Menai Bridge has now been added to the Balmoral's programme in July. This will operate on Thursday 17 July departing Liverpool at 09:00 and returning by at 19:30.

There will then be an afternoon cruise from Menai Bridge departing 13:00, returning at 15.15 to view the bridges and Puffin Island.

Full details of the Balmoral's July Liverpool / North Wales / Tall Ships sailings between July 16 and July 21 (The Parade of Sail day) are now available and bookable. [CLICK HERE]


Despite it being "mid-summer" the weather on Sunday proved to bear a greater resemblance to mid winter with the following cancellations recorded:

Irish Ferries:

08:45 Rosslare (ISLE OF INISHMORE stormbound at Rosslare) 1430 Ex Pembroke and 2100 Ex Rosslare cancelled

JONATHAN SWIFT - all sailings cancelled.

Stena Line:

STENA LYNX III - all sailings cancelled Stena Europe: 0900 ex Rosslare delayed 1430 Ex Fishguard delayed (left Fishguard at 1700).

HSS STENA EXPLORER first round trip cancelled - second round trip delayed.

Isle of Man Steam Packet Company:

Douglas to Dublin and Douglas to Liverpool sailings cancelled.


EXPRESS - 17:30 sailing to Troon diverted to Cairnryan. 20:20 sailing from Troon cancelled extra sailing from Cairnryan at 01:30 Monday.

June 15Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Jenny Williamson, Guy Pescodd, Kevin Bennett, Philip Parker and "others".


ATLAMBTIC COMPANION - not not a spelling mistake it isn't meant to read ATLANTIC COMPANION just in case you are wondering! Perhaps one of the most popular pieces of modern sculpture to appear in Liverpool in recent years has been the Super Lamb Banana.

This summer as part of the Liverpool Capital of Culture Festival 100 mini "Super Lamb Bananas" have been placed around the city sponsored by various companies.

ATLAMBTIC COMPANION has been placed out side the Liverpool Office of ACL on Prince's Parade having painted to resemble one of the company's G-3 ro/ro container vessels. [Photograph: Philip Parker]


INCAT 50 - Burgess Marine of Portsmouth have been confirmed as the UK based contractors who will convert the vessel for service with the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company. The contract is reported to be worth around £3m with up to 100 workers employed on the project after the ship arrives in July. The project is being undertaken in partnership with Fleet Support Ltd using the naval base facilities.

VIKING was noted running on reduced power on Friday typically around 26 to 27 knots which has persisted. It appears that there are only three engines operating which unconfirmed reports suggest is due to a gear box problem. On the delayed Saturday morning sailing from Liverpool your web master was shown a fellow passengers GPS which indicated speed had fallen to around 19 knots in Queen's Channel.


On Wednesday June 11, Peel Ports removed the linkspan barge from Prince's Landing Stage for maintenance work.

It was replaced by a work barge which has been used by Mersey Docks & Harbour Company for many years and which will be familiar to those who are aware of the port's various maintenance vessels.  [PHOTOGRAPHS]

This barge has been modified by the fitting of additional steelwork which provides what could best be described as a "jury rigged" linkspan deck at the correct height to accept the starboard side vehicle deck ramp of VIKING. It certainly does not look as if it would be compatible with either bow or stern ramps of SNAEFELL.

On Thursday the Liverpool - Douglas morning sailing of VIKING was diverted to Heysham due to the installation work on the temporary span being incomplete. The evening sailing to Liverpool did operate as scheduled arriving at 20:00, however, a correspondent reports that there was difficulty in discharging and reloading the vessel and she did not get away around 22:20.

On Friday morning the Liverpool - Douglas sailing was once again diverted to enable modifications to take place, though the evening sailing operated as normal and appeared to turn around normally.

Saturday morning saw the morning VIKING departure delayed for over one hour due to a vehicle becoming stuck on board due to damage. Though it is not clear if the span was responsible for this or not a tow truck was summoned to remove the errant car. The other vehicles appeared to discharge and load without problem.

TT 2008

Figures were published this week giving details of traffic travelling to the Isle of Man for the 2008 TT Festival. They are compared against figures for 2006 as the Centenary year in 2007 brought additional visitors.

Isle of Man Steam Packet ships carried 31, 038 passengers in 2008 compared to 30,791 in 2006. The number of vehicles also increased from 4,359 in 2006 to 4,556 in 2008

The visitor numbers are broadly in line with the expectations of tourism chiefs, who always accepted that the figures could never match those of the Centenary TT but predicted they would be equal to those of the previous year.


It appears that the restrictions upon alcohol being served on the company's vessels whilst within Manx territorial waters could soon come to an end after charges against two employees were dropped this week:

The company's chief executive Mark Woodward was the operations director in 2005 when he was charged with being a licence holder who sold liquor to a drunken person and permitting drunkenness on licensed premises.

His colleague Emma Kewley was charged with aiding and abetting another to permit drunkenness in connection with the same alleged incident, which was said to have taken place onboard the SUPERSEACAT TWO in May 2005.

On Tuesday prosecutor Rosemary Burnett appeared before High Bailiff Michael Moyle and asked for the charges to be withdrawn and offered no evidence against Mr Woodward,  and Ms Kewley.

Mr Moyle said the matter had been ongoing for two years involving legal argument.  In October 2005 the Steam Packet surrendered licences for it's ships, citing a lack of people to be named designated officials to meet Manx licensing laws.

Speaking after the case, Mr Woodward said: 'Under the existing legislation, we cannot sell alcohol on any of our ferries while they are in Manx territorial waters, that is, within 12 miles of the Island.

'We intend to work with the Department of Home Affairs to find a way forward that would allow the vessels to be fully licensed when in Manx waters.' [IOM ONLINE]


It has been reported that the owner of the scallop dredger SOLWAY HARVESTER has declined an odder to return to Douglas to view the vessel according to IoMOnline:

SOLWAY HARVESTER owner Richard Gidney has declined an offer to return to the Island to view the vessel.

More than eight years on from the tragedy the inquest into the death of the seven crew is yet to conclude.

It was opened after the Manx Government paid £1 million to recover the bodies and the vessel from the seabed, but was adjourned for legal proceedings.

Mr Gidney stood trial for manslaughter of the crew in 2005 but the case collapsed after the court ruled there was no case to answer.

When the inquest resumed in November 2006 he refused to attend.

A petition from Coroner Michael Moyle submitted to the Court of Session in Edinburgh asking for help to obtain Mr Gidney's evidence was granted on February 15 this year.

Yesterday (Monday June 09) Sheriff Principal Brian Lockhart sat as a commissioner of inquiry at Kirkcudbright Sheriff Court.

Mr Moyle was represented by Andrew Smith QC, Graham Craick and Isle of Man advocate Laurence Keenan.

Mr Gidney appeared in person and indicated he would be representing himself.

Sheriff Lockhart gave various directions ahead of the hearing, which is scheduled to run from June 23 to 27.

On June 16 Sheriff Lockhart will travel to the Isle of Man to inspect the Solway Harvester.

Mr Gidney was invited to attend but indicated that he would not be attending as he had previously visited the recovered vessel.

The Solway Harvester sank in rough seas off the coast of the Isle of Man in January 2000 claiming the lives of skipper Andrew Craig Mills, 29, David Mills, 18, Robin Mills, 33, Martin Hugh Milligan, 26, John Doyle Murphy, 22, Wesley John Jolly and David Joseph Lyons, both 17.


One of Tewkesbury's most popular tourist attractions is set to re-open. Boat operator Phil Evans has promised to get the Tewkesbury to Twyning ferry running again.

The river Avon service had been run for 15 years until he closed Telstar Cruisers last year.

He attributed his decision to the impact of last July's floods and the sudden death of a close colleague.

When the 65-year-old left it raised questions about whether the ferry would run again.

Now Bewdley-based Mr Evans has given the assurance that the attraction will operate again.

He will use BUCCANEER , (ex St.Mary's Boatmens' Association - Isles of Scilly),  which can carry up to 60 passengers. Mr Evans said: "It's at Stourport at the moment.

"We're going through the Maritime and Coastguard Agency requirements.

It's like giving it an MOT. I know the people of Tewkesbury like the ferry.

It's definitely going to happen."

The service will run from Back of Avon, where the town council owns the moorings. Some have to be repaired due to flood damage. Town clerk Pauline Clarke said the council had reached an agreement with Mr Evans for him to take on the lease for the moorings. [This is Gloucestershire]


The company has announced that it is to levy a fuel surcharge on bookings made on or after June 16, 2008. It will not apply to advance bookings made before that date.

The surcharges per single trip will be: Adult foot passenger £2, Child foot passenger £1, motorcycle £2, car £10 and coach £30.

STENA LYNX III - A Polish man died on Monday night after he fell overboard from a ferry as it approached Rosslare, despite a frantic rescue bid by the crew.

The high-speed STENA LYNX III was about ten minutes from reaching Rosslare Port at around 19:50. when the 29-year-old fell from the deck of the ferry, much to the horror of a large number of onlookers.

The ferry's lifeboats, two RIB vessels, were immediately launched. They quickly reached the man in the water and he was brought back on board.

A retired doctor making the trip to Rosslare and the first aid trained crew on board the Stena Lynx vessel attempted to revive the man, however he passed away. On arrival at Rosslare Port, the deceased man was transferred to Wexford General Hospital, where he was later pronounced dead.

The Rosslare lifeboat was launched and was on stand-by but their assistance was not needed.

A spokesman for the Gardai in Wexford said that the Polish national was returning to Ireland from his native country.

The man, who cannot be named until all his relatives are informed, is from the Województwa Podkarpackiego area of Poland. He was travelling on the ferry with his brother and his brother's girlfriend, who have an address in Mallow, Co. Cork.

June 08Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Jenny Williamson, Adrian Sweeney, C.J. Lawrenson, Philip Parker and "others".


A ferry service across the Menai Strait between Caernarfon and Anglesey  should be restored to boost the tourist economy, says the High Sheriff of Gwynedd.

Former North Wales Tory AM Peter Rogers, believes reinstating a service between Caernarfon and Brynsiencyn would be a draw for tourists.

He said: "We ought to be looking at economic development in the current climate and this is an opportunity to provide a boost to Anglesey and Gwynedd."

Making his plea, Mr Rogers recalled how popular the crossing was in Brynsiencyn before it stopped around 40 years ago.

"I came to farm here about 35 years ago and was surprised to find many businesses all did their banking in Caernarfon rather than Llangefni. I thought initially it was something to do with the service, but I found out it had nothing to do with it. It had just been easier to pop across to Caernarfon on the ferry than drive all the way around to Llangefni."

He also believed a new service would be popular with tourists.Mr Rogers added: "On this side of the water we have two big tourist attractions in Foel Farm and the Sea Zoo, and of course the Anglesey coastal path.

"On the other side, Caernarfon has a number of attractions, not least the castle and the cobbled streets."

Mr Rogers said there would be obstacles such as where to site the jetty and who would run the service, but the idea was worth considering.

Logistical difficulties and any ferry operator would have to take into account tide times but it might be a service that existing operators might consider introducing, he added.

Plans have been announced to restore the link in the past few years, but none have come to fruition. The most ambitious ferry service proposal so far was put forward by the Countryside Counil for Wales for a waterbus service from Caenarfon via Tal y Foel, Felinheli, Moel y Don and Plas Newydd and a  similar service from Bangor to the Gazelle, Porthaethwy and Beaumaris.

A feasibility study undertaken by the University of Wales estimated the round trip would take two hours and suggested a 60-seater boat with provision for cycles. But they found a specially designed craft sufficiently sturdy to negotiate the tricky Swillies would cost up to £200,000 and the scheme never went ahead.

The navigating the Swillies would also have meant employing a full-time pilot and building ferry terminals.




The company has posted full details of day trips to and from the Island and "Round the Island Cruises" on their web site [CLICK HERE] for details.

Excursion passengers have a choice of making just the voyage at an attractive fare or having a full package day trip which includes a coach excursion. 


With her paintwork and varnish gleaming in the June sunshine, Pete Goss's Spirit of Mystery yesterday travelled the first few feet on a journey that will take the Cornish fishing lugger 12,000 miles to Melbourne in Australia.

Inch by inch, the 37ft, nine-tonne wooden vessel, made largely from fallen Cornish oak, was eased out of her shed to the water's edge at Millbrook in South East Cornwall.

"It was like the Ancient Egyptians," said the round-the-world yachtsman. "We had rollers and we moved her out a bit at a time. Then a crane picked up the bow and we teased her out."

Spirit of Mystery, which has been built by a small team led by Chris Rees, was designed to replicate the original Mystery, a Newlyn fishing boat which made maritime history in 1854 when a crew of seven sailed her to Australia.

Mr Goss and his three-man crew plan to set sail for Melbourne in late-October. They will also leave from Newlyn and navigate by the stars on the same route travelled by fishermen Richard Nicholls, Job Kelynack, Richard Badcock, William Badcock, Lewis Lewis, Charles Boase and Philip Curnow Mathews 154 years ago.

Sitting aboard the boat yesterday, Pete said: "I feel chuffed to bits. I am so lucky. She's only moved 40ft or so, but it has brought her to life and brought the Spirit of Mystery project to life.

"It may sound soppy, but when she left the shed it felt like a butterfly coming out of its chrysalis because suddenly she has spread her wings.

"The masts are up and you can now walk away and look at her from a distance and see the boat's lines properly. And she is absolutely beautiful."

Apart from "a thousand small jobs" and some interior painting and oiling, Spirit of Mystery is now ready for the water. She will be officially named and launched on Saturday June 21 - and Mr Goss says he hopes as many as possible will gather at Millbrook to witness the event.

A village fete-style celebration - with barbecue, live band, Royal Marines bugler, face-painting and bouncy castle - has been organised, starting at 5pm. For more details, see




In his last official engagement as Northern Ireland First Minister, Rt Hon Dr Ian Paisley MP MLA was joined by Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness MP MLA and Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond MP MSP in officially opening the new £37m Stena Line ferry terminal at the Port of Belfast.

The three ministers were among 250 invited guests attending the launch of the three-storey, 35,000 sq ft facility which has been built by Belfast Harbour Commissioners on reclaimed land on Westbank Road at the edge of the Port.

Speaking at the event, Len O’Hagan, the Port of Belfast Chairman commended the long term vision and investment that allowed the new port to come to fruition:

"In an age where the prevailing philosophy seems not to believe in long-term rewards from long-term investments, I must commend previous Harbour Commissioners and previous management teams who have sought to plan Port developments around the needs of the local economy with a view which extended decades into the future," he said.

"In addition to the terminal itself, I am also pleased to confirm that work on a new four lane road linking the terminal directly to the motorway network will begin at the end of this year with a view to completing it in time for the start of the 2009 summer season.

"Our vision is to create a gateway which reflects Northern Ireland’s new found optimism – optimism which is soaring high upon the potential which a return to stable devolution has unleashed," he added.

Stena Line’s global CEO, Gunnar Blomdahl stressed the importance of the new port to Stena Line’s Irish Sea operations and confirmed that the leading ferry company will continue to invest in the route between Belfast and Scotland with its intention to relocate its current port in Stranraer to a proposed new purpose-built facility at Old House Point.

Gunnar Blomdahl said:

"The Irish Sea is a key part of Stena Line’s international business and also one of its strongest growing markets and as such is an area in which Stena Line is keen to invest. Together with the planned new facility at Old House Point on the Scottish coast, this new terminal provides a striking, modern facility that reflects the future of ferry travel in this country.

"Our customers understand that travelling by ferry is a convenient and comfortable way to cross the Irish Sea and we are seeing some evidence of a shift away from the "no frills" airlines to the more customer-focused service that we at Stena Line can provide. In spite of the volatile fuel market, in the first quarter of 2008 Stena Line’s Irish Sea routes carried a total of 14 per cent more cars and 13 per cent more passengers compared with the same period last year.

"Our strategy of a rolling investment programme which has included £150m in this route alone over the last ten years has been matched by our commitment to customer service. I feel that this exciting development combined with the new port that we are planning to build in Scotland will only serve to further enhance our offering in this market," he concluded.

Stena Line is the market leader on the Irish Sea, offering the biggest fleet and the widest choice of routes from Ireland to Britain, including the Belfast to Stranraer, Larne to Fleetwood, Dun Laoghaire and Dublin Port to Holyhead and Rosslare to Fishguard routes. The company carries over three million passengers on its Irish Sea routes each year, more than its rival ferry operators combined. The VT4 terminal has been in operation since the beginning of May.


Ever increasing fuel prices would appear to be having an effect on the operation of HSS STENA EXPLORER. It is expected that an official announcement will be made confirming the adding of 10 minutes to Dún Laoghaire - Holyhead crossing times this week.

The new schedules from July 01, 2008 will be:

Holyhead depart 08:55  15:00
Dún Laoghaire arrive 10:54 17:00
Dún Laoghaire depart 11:30  17:45
Holyhead arrive13:29 19:45


Details and photographs of the construction work now underway on a new passenger vessel for the St. Mawes by Cockwells Boat Building can be found on the builder's web site.


Many visitors to this web site will be regular users of Ian MacConnell's excellent "Ship AIS / AIS Liverpool web site) . During the past week or so it may have been noted not to be working properly at times. Ian has confirmed that here has been a problem which is web hosting company is working to resolve.

June 04Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Jenny Williamson, Adrian Sweeney, Luke Dolby and "others".


On May 30 An Post issued a 55 cent stamp to commemorate the 90th Anniversary of the sinking of the RMS LEINSTER on October 10, 1918 off Dún Laoghaire.

Later this year on Friday October 10 an ecumenical commemorative service will be held at St. Michael’s Church, Marine Road Dun Laoghaire, County Dublin to remember those who were lost on the “R.M.S. Leinster” and UB-123 in the closing days of WWI. []



The annual BEN-MY-CHREE round the island cruise takes place on Saturday July 12, 2008. Departs from Douglas at 19:00 and returns at 23:00. Fare £19.00


The company has announced a range of special excursions from the Isle of Man for the summer months beginning on June 13:

SNAEFELL will sail from Douglas to Dublin, Belfast, Whitehaven and Fleetwood, allowing a full day to explore each destination.  The schedule is as follows:

Isle of Man to Dublin
Friday 13 June
Depart 10.00
Arrive approx. 13.00

Dublin to Isle of Man
Friday 13 June
Depart 19.15
Arrive approx. 22.15

Isle of Man to Whitehaven
Wednesday 18 June
Depart 10.15
Arrive approx. 11.45

Whitehaven to Isle of Man
Thursday 19 June
Depart 00.15
Arrive 01.45

Isle of Man to Belfast
Thursday 19 June
Depart 10.00
Arrive approx. 13.00

Belfast to Isle of Man
Thursday 19 June
Depart 19.15
Arrive approx. 22.15

Isle of Man to Whitehaven
Tuesday 1 July
Depart 08.30
Arrive approx. 10.00

Whitehaven to Isle of Man
Tuesday 1 July
Depart 23.15
Arrive approx. 00.45 Wednesday 2 July

Isle of Man to Fleetwood
Wednesday 2 July
Depart 07.30
Arrive approx. 09.00

Fleetwood to Isle of Man
Wednesday 2 July
Depart 23.00
Arrive approx. 00.30 Thursday 3 July

Isle of Man to Dublin
Sunday 6 July
Depart 10.00
Arrive approx. 13.00

Dublin to Isle of Man
Sunday 6 July
Depart 19.15
Arrive approx. 22.15

Isle of Man to Fleetwood
Wednesday 30 July
Depart 07.00
Arrive approx. 08.30

Fleetwood to Isle of Man
Wednesday 30 July
Depart 22.00
Arrive approx. 23.30

Isle of Man to Dublin
Sunday 10 August
Depart 10.00
Arrive approx. 13.00

Dublin to Isle of Man
Sunday 10 August
Depart 19.15
Arrive approx. 22.15

Isle of Man to Belfast
Wednesday 13 August
Depart 07.00
Arrive approx. 10.00  

Belfast to Isle of Man
Thursday 14 August
Depart 01.00
Arrive approx. 04.00

Though not listed yet in the press release there will be an excursion from Belfast to PEEL and return on Wednesday August 13. This will be the first time in some years that an Isle of Man Steam Packet Company ship has berthed in Peel.

Ferry tickets start at just £19 for bookings made before 30th June, and  £25 thereafter.

Isle of Man Steam Packet Holidays is offering a combined ferry and coach tour package for each of the above destinations, with prices starting from just £29.

For those wishing to visit the Isle of Man the following excursions are offered:



The Port of Cork has announced the expansion by Samskip Container Line of its impressive range of scheduled lift-on lift-off (LO-LO) services to mainland Europe. Samskip operates frequent short sea services between the European continent and Ireland.

From week commencing May 12, three container vessels have operated services between Dublin, Cork, Belfast, Rotterdam and Zeebrugge. Two large 805 TEU Samskip container vessels will call to the Port of Cork: the SAMSKIP EXPRESS and the SAMSKIP PIONEER. The SAMSKIP EXPRESS will rotate between Cork, Dublin, Rotterdam and Zeebrugge, connecting the Port of Cork with two well-positioned ports at the European Continent.

Samskips Operations Director in Cork Ms Valerie Cotter in welcoming the expansion stated: “Samskip is an International Company offering transport by land, sea and air. Since being founded in Iceland in 1990, Samskip has experienced steady growth – both internal and through strategic acquisitions – and broadened its service portfolio. Samskip is now one of the largest container transport companies in Europe, offering shortsea services and multi-modal logistic solutions throughout Europe.”

Port of Cork’s Commercial Manager, Captain Michael McCarthy said: “This most recent announcement is a firm vote of confidence in the Port of Cork as the principle container port on the south coast of Ireland and it is further evidence of Samskip’s market driven approach to solving the supply chain logistical problems of its many shipping customers in Ireland and mainland Europe. Due to the increasing length of vessels now being positioned on the Irish Sea feeder services.”

Captain McCarthy continued: “It further highlighted the urgent requirement for the development of a new container terminal as Tivoli Terminal is nearing full capacity.” This issue is being addressed by the Port Company with the recently completed oral hearing into the planning application for a new terminal in Ringaskiddy, vital to the continued economic growth of the Cork and Munster region and to fulfil its potential as the leading Gateway outside of Dublin.


Mr Brendan Keating, Port of Cork Chief Executive, commenting on a recently published report on trends for container shipping, said that “in the future, trade growth will be met by larger containerships rather than more frequent sailings of smaller ships, driven by the need for economies of scale."

This increase in larger ships, highlights the need for a larger container terminal at Oysterbank, Ringaskiddy, in order for the Port of Cork to accommodate such ships,” Mr. Keating said

The pressures of bigger ships and urban regeneration are two of the main drivers in the evolution of ports. In a recent report published in Port Strategy the cascade effect was examined in container shipping and the implications for regional and feeder ports. 

The Port of Cork recognises that in order for the Port and the Cork/ Munster region to succeed economically, the Port must be able to accommodate larger vessels, which are more commonly being used in the sea freight industry today.

The sizes of container ships have grown since the early 1960’s and according to trends will continue to grow. Larger vessels are being used around the world and are displacing smaller ships.

In relation to the scale of international terminals, the proposed Oyster Bank container teminal in Cork will not be a large terminal. A typical deep sea container port now handles over 4 to 6 million containers per annum. Even a doubling of Cork’s container throughput over 12 years to 2020 would leave the proposed new container terminal as a small terminal in international terms.

The Port of Cork’s Strategic Development Plan, published in 2002, estimated that Tivoli container terminal would reach capacity of 180,000 TEU between 2008 and 2011. This capacity limit was exceeded in 2006 and 2007 by 11%, further highlighting the need for a larger container terminal in Cork. The proposed OysterBank container handling and storage area will be 19 hectares versus Tivoli’s current 10 hectares and will be able to cater for 400,000 TEU in phase 1.

The decision by An Bord Pleanála on the Port of Cork’s proposed development at Oysterbank is due in early June 2008.


Four intrepid seamen from the Isles of Scilly who hope to set a new world record by rowing across the Atlantic have begun their epic voyage.

In warm sunshine, clear skies and flat calm conditions, they left New York's Liberty Harbour Yacht Club at 1pm yesterday, cheered by well-wishers as they embarked on the Woodvale North Atlantic Challenge.

Chris Jenkins, 43, Tim Garratt, 26, Joby Newton, 19, and Wayne Davey, 30, had spent a week in New York preparing their boat, Scilly Boys, for the 2,835 nautical mile row back home in what is described as one of the world's toughest challenges. Supporters from Scilly, including major sponsors Tresco Estates and EMP, were there to cheer them off as the rowed past the Statue of Liberty and Manhattan Island.

The Scilly Boys hope to become the first team in history to row land to land, unassisted. If successful, they will also be only the sixth crew to cross the North Atlantic from New York.

During their attempt, they will encounter freezing temperatures, ice and fog and the mid-Atlantic trade winds with waves of up to 30ft high.



The manager of Fishguard ferry terminal has expressed his disappointment that plans to improve rail links with Swansea were not mentioned in a 10-year blueprint on the future of train services. Network Rail last week unveiled how it hopes to improve services in Wales over the next decade in its Route Utilisation Strategy.

Plans to increase services on the Valley Lines and improve links between North and South Wales were among 24 recommendations.

But manager of the Stena Line- owned Fishguard port Ian Davies expressed disappointment that there were no proposals to improve services between the terminal and Swansea.

There are currently two return trains a day between the port and Swansea to connect with ferry services.

However, the number of ferry services increases from two to four between May and September with no connecting rail service for boats arriving at 10:00 and 17:00.

A recent study for the South West Wales Integrated Transport Consortium  (SWWITCH) suggested there is a business case for improving this link. But though the Route Utilisation Strategy suggests the infrastructure is in place for improved levels of service it says the link is tied to the ferry and does not recommend more frequent connections.

A SWWITCH spokesperson said their study findings emerged too late to be flagged up to Network Rail. A spokesperson for Network Rail said they are consulting on their plans and it’s not too late for improved Fishguard-Swansea links to be included in their final document. [ICWALES]


The new £37m Stena Line VT4 Terminal at Belfast was officially opened on June 04, 2008. Present at the ceremony was Ian Paisley on his final full day at First Minister, Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness and the Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond. The terminal had opened for HSS Passenger services on May 06.

June 01Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Jenny Williamson, Adrian Sweeney, Luke Dolby and "others".


Incat issued the following press release regarding the sale of INCAT 50 to the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company on May 27.

Incat welcomes news that long time operator of Incat vessels, the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company, has purchased Incat 050 for Irish Sea service.

The ship, which will be renamed, will replace a monohull fast craft and serve primarily the Liverpool – Douglas route. The 96 metre Wave Piercing Catamaran will be the largest diesel-powered high speed craft on the Irish Sea and will significantly enhance the service the Steam Packet can offer due to its faster cruising speed, greater vehicle and passenger capacity, freight backup capacity and increased levels of passenger comfort.

Isle of Man Steam Packet 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 than the vessel she replaces 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 the Company’s core Ro-pax vessel.

Mr Woodward 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 Isle of Man Steam Packet’s strategy of improving customer service, the craft will have more space dedicated to passengers, and a wider range of facilities. An extensive structural refit to increase capacity from approximately 400 persons to more than 800 persons will be carried out by Burgess Marine with the full support of FSL in Portsmouth, UK.

The project has four key phases; a new aft accommodation module, a new sky lounge, a stern loading ramp, and a complete new interior including the overhaul of the existing passenger accommodation.

Nicholas Warren, Director of Burgess Marine comments: “This project is not only great news for the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company, but also great news for Burgess Marine, FSL and Portsmouth. It firmly signifies that here in the UK we have the shipbuilding expertise to support such a major project on an aluminium fast ferry. As our business grows the two key partnerships with FSL and Incat are becoming increasingly critical; without these partnerships refits on this scale would not be possible”.

The new look craft, complete with a new Manx name, will be incorporated into the Steam Packet’s existing fleet for the beginning of the summer 2009 season.

Incat 050 was built in Tasmania in 1998 and after a 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.


OSCAR WILDE - due to adverse weather conditions the Roscoff to Rosslare sailing on Sunday May 25 was forced to divert to Dublin port due to adverse conditions at Rosslare when the ship arrived back on Monday May 26. Her arrival at Dublin around 14:30 marked her first service call at the Irish capital. [photo: Jenny Williamson].

ISLE OF INISHMORE - the adverse conditions at Rosslare also affected the inbound Pembroke sailing which resulted in the ISLE OF INISHMORE following the OSCAR WILDE to Dublin.

The return sailings of both ships operated ex-Dublin with passengers being diverted from Rosslare.


STENA CALEDONIA which has been chartered to provide extra sailings for the 2008 TT managed to get a rope caught in her bow thrusters on Sunday June 01. She required the attention of divers and a dive boat was noted present at around 11:30. She had been schedule to return to Heysham at 10:00 however her sailing  was delayed until early afternoon.


HMS INTREPID - it was reported this week in the Western Morning News that 11th Hour efforts are being made to save the former Landing Ship which along with her sister HMS FEARLESS served in the Falklands War.

HMS INTREPID has been laid up at Portsmouth and it had earlier been announced that he was due to head to Canada Graving Dock, Liverpool for recycling by Leavesley International. However, on browsing the HMS Intrepid web site your web master found the following comment posted a couple of days ago:

"The DSA. (Disposal Service Agency) is part of the British Ministry of Defence and organises all the sales of navy vessels to be scrapped. According to information leaked to Greenpeace the DSA is in negotiations to sell the HMS Intrepid on to a Turkish ship breaker "AGS" in Aliaga."

Her sister ship HMS FEARLESS having already been sold to Belgian breakers for recycling.

The Western Morning News reported that Painter Chris Clark, from Plymouth, has joined the campaign, together with his father, a former sailor who served on HMS INTREPID.

He said: "We have the Victory from Trafalgar. We have the Belfast from the Second World War. Now it's time to honour today's heroes with a permanent floating monument to the thousands that served on Intrepid and Fearless, and for what she also represents to many more."

Mr Clark is one of dozens of people who have signed a petition which calls on the Prime Minister to preserve one of the two ships, before it is too late. The annual cost of maintaining and restoring the warship will be about £10 million.

HMS INTREPID was being decommissioned in 1982 at the outbreak of the Falklands but was brought back into commission.

With elements of Plymouth-based 3 Commando Brigade Royal Marines embarked, she took part in the amphibious landings at San Carlos Water early in the war and was the main participant in the landings at Bluff Cove. She came under heavy attack twice, with some personnel killed.

Mike Critchley, publisher of the naval magazine Warship World, said: "The issue is not finding the money to maintain the ship, but finding a berth for it."

To add your name, visit


A Cork County Councillor has called for the injection of €100m (£78m) of public funds to compensate tourism businesses for the loss of the Swansea-Cork Ferry.

Hotels, B&Bs, post offices, petrol stations and other businesses are reported to be closing in West Cork which has been the region worst hit by the loss of the popular route two years ago.

Yesterday, however, Geoff Haden of Tourism Swansea Bay said businesses on the Welsh side of the Irish Sea were not as dependent on the ferry route. Bantry-based Cork county councillor John O'Shea is calling for a €100m aid package from Europe and the Irish Government to re-invigorate the region and help stop the closure of tourism- dependent businesses. [ICWALES]


RIVERDANCE - The Maritime and Coastguard Agency issued an update on May 30, concerning the removal of the stranded vessel:

All cargo and trailers have now been removed from the RIVERDANCE, and the spring tidal cycle progression over the next 10 days will allow lengthy periods of time to work on the vessel over the low water periods.

Over the next few days the outline of the vessel to the observer ashore will change. The stern section and the bow section along with the port side ballast tanks will start to disappear and reduce the overall outline of the `Riverdance considerably. Work will continue inside the vessel cleaning and clearing the engines.

Donald McDonald, Counter Pollution and Salvage Officer said: "Very good progress has been achieved to date and the overall project remains on schedule, which is a credit to the work done by both Contractors; Hancocks and PGC."


The Isle of Man Celebrated her 22nd season of visits on Thursday May 29, 2008 when Geoff Corkish MBE MHK and political member of the Department of Tourism and Leisure presented Captain Andy O’Brian, Senior Master for Waverley Excursions, with a commemorative plaque to mark the number of years the ship has been visiting the Island. 

Mr Corkish said: The Balmoral has been a part of our summer season and is always a great attraction.  I am pleased to welcome her back to the Island as she brings back a great tradition of pleasure cruising.  We look forward to welcoming her passengers to our Island and I am certain that our Island residents and visitors will take advantage of taking a pleasure cruise on her.’

Dick Clague, the local co-ordinator on the Island, said: ‘We are delighted that the Balmoral’s unique contribution to Manx tourism is now being publicly recognised and would like to thank all those who support the continued operation of this classic coastal excursion vessel.’


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