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NEWS BULLETIN - August 2008

August 31Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews and "others"


The Board of Irish Continental Group plc (ICG) reported this week that, in the seasonally less profitable first half of the year, the Group recorded revenue of €166.1 million compared with €163.2 million in the same period in 2007. Operating profit before non-trading charge was €17.3 million compared with €16.4 million in 2007.

Operating profit was also €17.3 million, compared with a loss of €0.1 million in the same period in 2007 (the prior year figures having been influenced by a non-trading charge of €16.5 million which is explained below). There was a net finance credit of €0.2 million which includes a net credit of €2.0 million in relation to expected income on defined benefit pension scheme assets less interest on scheme liabilities. 

There was a profit before tax of €17.5 million compared with a loss of €1.0 million in the first half of 2007. The tax charge was €1.0 million (2007: €0.6 million).  Basic EPS was 67.1c compared with a loss of 6.8c in 2007. Adjusted EPS, i.e. before non-trading items and the net pension interest credit, amounted to 58.9c (50.8c in 2007).

This strong result was achieved despite Group wide fuel costs rising 64% from €15.2 million to €24.9 million.

The sale of the NORMANDY resulted in a profit of €3.8 million, as it had become surplus to the Group’s requirements. The ship has been replaced on the route by the €51 million OSCAR WILDE, acquired in 2007.

Full details can be found on the company's web site [CLICK HERE]


The following story from July 23 appears to have not been reported widely despite it appearing in The Times.

A British schooner docked in Penzance yesterday (July 22) carrying 30,000 bottles of wine on a voyage that enthusiasts believe will herald a return to wind power in merchant shipping.

The first commercial cargo of French wine to be transported by sail in the modern era is due in Dublin this week after a six-day journey, which is being touted as a green and ultimately cheap alternative to fuel propulsion.

The 108-year-old, wooden, triple-masted Kathleen & May has been chartered by the Compagnie de Transport Maritime à la Voile (CTMV), a shipping company established in France to specialise in merchant sailing. “This is beyond anybody's dreams,” said Steve Clarke, the owner of the Kathleen & May, which was built in 1900 in Ferguson and Baird's yard at Connah's Quay near Chester.

“When I bought this boat in 1966 it was going to be cut up with chainsaws. Nobody ever imagined it would ever sail again.” He said that amid high fuel costs and concern over carbon emissions, commercial sailing ships could have a future. “I think they might have hit on something.”

Frédéric Albert, a former French radio journalist who founded CTMV this year, agreed. “We are the only firm in Europe doing this and the level of interest in our project has far exceeded our expectations,” he told The Times. “A lot of big companies have contacted us.”

His initial contract is with 80 vineyard owners from the Languedoc-Roussillon region of southern France to carry their bottles to Ireland on the tall ship. CTMV is finalising another deal to bring Irish whiskey and Scotch back to France by sail, Mr Albert said.

The Kathleen & May, which spent most of its working life transporting coal and clay before being taken out of commercial service in 1960, left Brest in Brittany last Friday and spent yesterday in Penzance to be inspected by British customs officers.

It travels at a top speed of eight knots, about half as fast as a modern cargo vessel. Its supporters say that it is pollution-free - unlike almost all the other 50,000 merchant ships in the world, which emit 800 million tonnes of carbon dioxide a year.

“Originally this was intended as an ecological project enabling producers to put a label on their goods saying they had been moved by a clean means of transport,” said Mr Albert.

“But it could become economically interesting as well given the high price of fuel.” He said CTMV had chartered five sailing ships to transport products such as Fairtrade coffee, jam and alcoholic drinks. “We are 5 per cent more expensive than standard merchant shipping companies at the moment. But we are going to build our own ships and when they enter service, we will be cheaper.” His initiative comes with the French Association of Shipowners predicting that wind-powered vessels could capture 0.5 per cent of the commercial shipping market, which transports 90 per cent of the world's traded goods.


A bid to break a 40-year-old record was successful on August 26, as a Scillonian gig crew crossed from Tresco to Penzance in just under 8 hours.

GIG rowers recreating an historic journey in one of the oldest racing vessels in the world – in a bid to raise funds for a Cornish children's charity – yesterday beat a long-standing record by knocking two hours off the 37-mile journey time from Tresco to Penzance.

On August 27 they set a further record by being the first Scillonian crew to row all the way back to the isles again, this time against wind and wave.

And the entire round journey is being rowed in the gig CZAR which first went to sea in 1879.

The previous record of nine hours and 47 minutes had stood for four long decades – no crew from the Isles of Scilly has rowed from Tresco to Penzance since the summer of 1968.

But in moderate conditions on August 26 a mixed male crew from the islands of Tresco and Bryher rowed the same journey in just seven hours and 45 minutes.


Declan O'Loan, SDLP MLA for North Antrim, was pleased to find that the new ferry service between Ballycastle and Rathlin is working very well, and residents on the island are very pleased with it. He was speaking after visiting the island last week and meeting with representatives of the Rathlin Community Association.

Declan O'Loan said: "I talked to the Chair of the Community Association, Richard Green, and the Vice Chair, Noel McCurdy.ADVERTISEMENTThey told me that they are very pleased with how the service is going, and that this is the general feeling.

"I have also spoken to Councillor Madeline Black and she confirms that all is going well. The alternation of a fast boat between the sailings of the larger boat is welcomed as an improvement to the service.

"I understand that there is a prospect of a larger vessel being provided by the new operator next year. Certainly there is a big demand through the summer season, and it is very good to see the demand for Bed and Breakfast accommodation.

"There is great scope for further build-up of tourism on Rathlin without damaging its special ecological environment. Indeed that aspect is a vital part of its tourism appeal and must be closely protected.

"Any concerns about the change of operator should now be put to rest, and all efforts should go into the future of the island.

"As well as the recent announcement on the improvement in health care, there needs to be a coherent development plan for the island. All the elements of transport, tourism, health, education, economic development and sustainable management of the environment have to be considered as a whole. The residents must be at the heart of that process." [BALLYMONEY TIMES]


The Irish Examiner reports that an important meeting is set to take place next month between the Port of Cork and Associated British Ports aimed at getting the Swansea-Cork ferry up and running again.

Representatives from Associated British Ports, which has responsibility for Swansea port, are to visit Cork on September 8.

Captain Michael McCarthy, commercial manager for the Port of Cork, said both authorities would discuss providing a list of incentives for would-be operators on the Swansea-Cork route.

He also revealed that the parties were already in discussion with two Irish operators who have expressed interest in re-establishing the service.

The loss of the ferry is believed to have cost the south-west region an estimated €38 million in tourist revenue last year.

Cork County Council, Cork City Council and Kerry County Council have set up a working group, primarily aimed at galvanising political support for the reinstatement.

Captain McCarthy said work was already going on behind the scenes to source a second-hand vessel which would be capable of plying the route.

"Swansea Port has some limitations in regard to length and draught of a ship. A suitable vessel would also have to have the necessary stability to withstand weather in the Atlantic," he said.

Capt McCarthy said the reopening of the route should have happened last season, but was lost at the last minute.

He and his counterparts in Swansea are determined that this won’t happen for the summer of 2009.

"I’m reasonably confident that we will have the route reopened for next season.

"Re-establishing a Cork- Swansea ferry link is one of the main priorities of the Port of Cork and we have been spending a considerable amount of time on this project," Capt McCarthy said.

Discussions are now entering a critical stage, as any operator would have to start marketing the route shortly.

"Potential customers would have to be informed in November or December, so they could make plans for their summer holidays," Capt McCarthy said.

He believes the time is right for the re-establishment of the route, as airline fares begin to rise.

"Airline travel is going to become more and more expensive. There has been an increase of between 10% and 15% in passengers using ferries on the Irish Sea in the past year. So I’m confident that the Swansea-Cork route is economically viable," the Port of Cork commercial manager said.

He added that the route would also prove very attractive to road hauliers, who are presently having to divert their cargoes through Rosslare and Dublin.

August 22Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Kevin Bennett, Brian Chambers, Trevor Kidd, John Williams and "others"


ARMORIQUE - Brittany Ferries launched its new luxury cruise ferry at the Aker Finnyards shipyardin  Helsinki on August 11. Due for delivery in December, the ship will enter service in March 2009.

The £90 million ship has been specifically designed for use between Plymouth and the pretty Breton port of Roscoff and is named after the national park in Brittany.

This new vessel will be able to carry 1,500 passengers and over 500 cars. It also boasts environmental benefits in terms of fuel efficiency and minimising CO2 emissions.

Managing director David Longden praised the comfort and style of the new ship, saying the design theme "reflects the colours and space of Brittany to give this ship a very modern feel".

"One of the great luxuries when travelling nowadays is space and, whilst this commands a huge premium when travelling by air, it is something that all passengers on Armorique will be able to benefit from," he continued.

The ferry has the same hull as the most recent addition to the fleet, CONTENTIN, which entered service last year on the Poole-Cherbourg and Poole-Santander routes.


The company has announced an increase in fuel surcharges from September 01, 2008 due to the increasing price of fuel. However, passenger bookings made before this date will carry the surcharge at the old rate of £2.50 per single journey.

The company issued the following press release:

After absorbing all the rising costs of fuel for several months, the Isle of Man Steam Packet regrets that it must now pass on a proportion of the additional costs to customers with effect from September 1st.

The freight fuel surcharge will increase by £6.00 per metre, to £8.00 per metre – or £40.00 per trade/unaccompanied car and low van. The passenger surcharge will increase by £2.50 to £5 per single journey.

These fuel surcharges are regulated by the Department of Transport by reference to the weighted average cost of marine fuel oil incurred over the previous six months and are determined by an agreed formula contained in the Fuel Surcharge Agreement between the Department and the Company. The September 1st increase will be reviewed in February 2009.

Chief Executive Mark Woodward explained: “World fuel prices have reached record levels in recent months, and in the marine transport sector the scale of the increase this year has been quite exceptional.
“Over the last decade, marine fuel costs rose from around $100 per metric tonne to around $600/mt by last year. This year has seen that price rise dramatically and it can now exceed $1,200/mt.”

Mr Woodward added: “The Steam Packet Company has absorbed much of the increased cost over the last few years, and since March this year has already absorbed several million pounds in extra costs, which it essentially cannot recover.

“We have made reference several times this year to the fact that surcharge increases would be inevitable, but we have not increased fares this summer even though fuel now costs as much as £15,000 per return trip to Liverpool. Other UK shipping companies increased their fares in the spring - we did not, even though marine fuel costs have almost doubled. Airlines have increased their fares and, regrettably, some have ceased trading.”

Captain Michael Brew, Director of Harbours for the Department of Transport, said a fuel surcharge agreement was signed by the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company and the Department in August 2005.

He said: “This agreement sets surcharges on passengers and freight and tries to be fair and reasonable in their application.   The level of surcharge is linked to the variable costs of fuel actually incurred.  The agreement will ensure that any sustained reduction in fuel costs will lead to reduced surcharges at the next review.
“The Company is not charging its full entitlement under the agreement as the Company is not charging a number of categories of passenger and freight traffic, effectively absorbing the extra costs incurred.

 “Based on the information regarding increased fuel costs supplied by the Isle of Man Steam Packet, information gathered from other sources and the formula contained in the Fuel Surcharge Agreement, the Department concurs with the surcharges for freight and passengers outlined by the Company.”


MERSEY VIKING problems with the toilet vacuum system caused problems on the Birkenhead to Belfast Sailing last Saturday evening August 16. This was reportedly caused when an item of clothing was flushed down a toilet. The problem was resolved at 07:05 after passengers had left the ship though complaints were recorded by the local media.

August 07Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Kevin Bennett, Brian Chambers, Trevor Kidd, John Williams and "others"


VIKING returned to service on Monday August 04 following repairs to hull damaged sustained when the vessel was blow back onto Prince's Landing Stage during a squall on Friday. She is seen here arriving at Belfast on August 04 with the repair patch clearly visible on her port side aft. [Photo © Trevor Kidd]



The MAIB has published its preliminary investigation into WEST EXPRESS making contact with the quay wall at Heysham on July 08, 2008.

Vessel name:West Express
Manager:Express Shipping A/S
Ship Owner:Express Shipping A/S
Port of Registry:Montego Bay
Classification Society:DNV
Length overall:134.75m
Gross tonnage:9,368
Date & Time:08 July 2008, 0503
Location of incident:Heysham, U.K.
Incident Type:Contact
Persons on board:28
Damage/pollution:Material damage to the port quarter above the waterline.


While manoeuvering inside Heysham port, with about 40% pitch set on the controllable pitch propellers (CPP), the vessel lost all electrical power when her three auxiliary engines suddenly stopped. As a result, the electrical hydraulic pumps supplying the vessel’s Controllable Pitch Propellers (CPPs) also stopped. This caused the propellers’ pitch to move to 100% astern. As the main engines were still running, the vessel’s speed astern towards a concrete quay increased. To arrest the vessel’s movement, the main engines were stopped using the emergency stop buttons on the bridge, and the starboard anchor was let go. However, this did not stop the vessel from making contact with the quay.

Action taken

The ship owner has:

* Carried out a technical investigation that concluded the vessel’s auxiliary engines had shut down due to the performance of the differing automatic voltage regulators (AVRs) and speed governing motors fitted.

* Initiated the replacement of the AVRs and speed governors.

* Instructed the vessel’s crew to operate the auxiliary engines above 60 Hz at all times and to positively manage the starting of  heavy duty electrical machinery until the AVR and governor problems have been addressed.

The Deputy Chief Inspector of Marine Accidents has written to the vessel’s owner and strongly advised that it:

* Resolves the problems with the vessel’s auxiliary engines as soon as possible.

* Establishes a robust on board planned maintenance system.

* Ensures its crews are aware of the ‘fail-safe’ positions of critical equipment such as CPP systems.


Macquarie owners of Wightlink and the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company are believed to have paid around £260m - £280m for the channel islands operator Condor.

The Condor operation is being acquired through its European Infrastructure Fund II and is subject to approval from the Jersey Competition Regulatory Authority.

The current owners of Condor RBS bought the company from ABN Amro Capital in 2004 for £240m

Condor, thought to have earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation of £25m-£30m a year.



Northern Ireland football fans travelling on the companies ships on the Belfast to Stranraer route are to be given coloured lanyards to enable identification should trouble break out. The move is taking place following trouble between Rangers and Celtic fans earlier in 2008.

The lanyards will not identify individuals nor will they reveal which supporters' club they are from.


STENA LYNX III was reported having technical problems on Wednesday August 06, 2008 and running late.

STENA EUROPE also experienced technical problems with her stern door which resulted in late departure for the overnight sailing to Fishguard. She arrived back at Rosslare at 07:30 on August 06 turned round and was away again at 10:00.


Isle of Man police  are investigating a break-in on the SOLWAY HARVESTER, which is berthed in Douglas Harbour. The vessel is reported to have been broken into on Sunday evening. Manx Radio later reporting that the ship's compass had been stolen. The fishing boat sank off the Isle of Man in 2000, killing seven Scottish fishermen on board.

August 03Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Adrian Sweeney, Michael Pryce, Dave Worth, Dave Crolley and "others"



ISLE OF INISHMORE suffered a fire on board at approximately 02:30 on Wednesday July 30, 2008.

The was caused by a fault in a thermal boiler used to preheat fuel for use in the ship's engines.

The incident was detected by members of the crew and the unit shut down to minimize any risk. At the time of the incident, the vessel was preparing to sail on the 02:45 sailing from Pembroke Dock to Rosslare.

Some 227 passengers and 89 crew were on board at the time. In accordance with agreed procedures all passengers were immediately alerted and were ready for disembarkation should that have been required. All emergency services were alerted, as is the practice in these situations. All passengers were accounted for and kept fully informed of the situation. All were safe and unharmed and at no point were any passengers in danger.

As a result of the fire the 02:45 Pembroke to Rosslare and the 08:45 Rosslare to Pembroke Dock were cancelled.



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



Year to Date





















Route Performance:






Minus 5%




Minus 30%




Plus 1%




Plus 8%




Minus 15%




All Minus



Director of Harbours, Captain Michael Brew comments:

“May passenger figures are very good allowing for the fact that Centenary TT traffic will have been included in 2007. For example, the 2008 year to date figure for passengers is 12.7% up on 2006 and for vehicles is 21% up on 2006.”


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



Year to Date











2007 (08/07 % change)

100,734 (-19.1%)

41,402 (-35.8%)

299,240 (-8.1%)

104,572 (-16.6%)

2006 (08/06 % change)

87,572 (-7.0%)

32,571 (-18.5%)

259,397 (+6.1%)


Route Performance:


%change (07/08)



%change (06/08)



Plus 2%



Plus 19.8%



Minus 13%



Plus 4.1%



Minus 26%



Minus 9%



Minus 17%



Minus 9.1%



Minus 70%



Minus 57%



All Plus



All Plus



All minus



All minus


Director of Harbours, Captain Michael Brew comments:

“The high level of passenger and vehicle traffic for the centenary TT in 2007 has distorted the reporting of these statistics. I have therefore included the 2006 figures for comparison. They show that the underlying growth remains very satisfying. For instance, there was been a 6% growth in passenger and vehicles over the two years.”


VIKING - suffered and unfortunate mishap as she was departing from Liverpool on the 11:15 sailing to Douglas on August 01 when she was caught by a squall and pushed back onto the linkspan pontoon this resulted in damage to the shell plating on the port side of the vessel. However, with the hull gashed it was necessary to disembark passengers and send them up to Heysham for the 14:15 BEN-MY-CHREE sailing. This also had the knock on effect of delaying the BEN-MY-CHREE. VIKING retreated to Alexandra Dock, Liverpool for repairs.

A revised timetable was implemented on Saturday and Sunday whereby the sailings to Dublin on Saturday and Dublin on Sunday were cancelled and SNAEFELL deployed on the Liverpool service. However, with insufficient space available on the small Incat some overflow passengers had to be diverted via Heysham.

SNAEFELL was delayed on her sailing from Dublin on Friday as she attended to 'Maydays' enroute to Douglas. One was in Dublin Bay and the other off Chicken Rock, however, both incidents were attended to by marine rescue services and her assistance was not required.

[SNAEFELL passing New Brighton - April 02, 2008 © Adrian Sweeney]

SNAEFELL did not appear to be operating anywhere near full power on Saturday. Her delayed evening departure from Liverpool did not get away until around 20:00 and arrival in Douglas was around midnight. AIS revealed that she averaged around 20knots for most of the crossing.


ATLANTIC OSPREY - the ro/ro nuclear fuel carrier is subject to a ban by the French authorities which discovered "non-conformities" concerning thermal regulation over a shipment of plutonium in May 2008.

An appeal has been lodged


The tug WENDY ANN came to the assistance of a small fishing vessel which broke down and drifted onto the concrete 'stabits' on the Douglas Breakwater on Thursday July 31, 2008.

The fishing vessel was hold and started to take water. However, the WENDY ANN was able to get a line aboard the vessel and tow it into Douglas Harbour.

Damage to the fishing vessel resulted in it being craned from the water.


CANADA - the former tug which passed to Smit on acquisition of the Adsteam operation on Merseyside now operates as the WELLINGTON at the Port of Gibraltar.


Liverpool Fresh Produce Terminal

A major initiative that will dramatically reduce road miles travelled by transport supplying the British public with fresh produce, is now underway at the Port of Liverpool.

A major initiative that will dramatically reduce road miles travelled by transport supplying the British public with fresh produce, is now underway at the Port of Liverpool.

A £6 million fresh produce terminal is rising on the quayside at Royal Seaforth Dock and is due for completion in October, enabling the transfer of thousands of tonnes of fruit and vegetables from road to ship.

Go-Associates, the firm behind the development, is initially targeting the Spanish fresh produce season, offering a cost effective all-water alternative to the 300 trucks trundling into Britain from the Continent every day with fruit from Spain.

Operations Director Andy Rickard pointed to the two million tonnes of fresh produce supplied to the UK by Spain every year – half of it destined for the North of the country.

"Most of this major trade is moved by road on trucks carrying just 26 pallets each from the main growing areas of Spain," he said. "The situation cries out for high volume direct delivery by sea. Liverpool Produce Terminal will offer a state-of-the-art fresh produce terminal capable of discharging a 5,000 pallet ship in 24 hours and ideally located to reach any part of this vast market of 30 million people within a truck driver’s tachograph driving day.

"Liverpool Produce Terminal will maintain the cool chain but eliminate up to two truck journeys from the logistics chain – the journey to and from the pack house as we are planning to open a pack house adjacent to the Terminal."

The 90,000 sq ft cool store located alongside the Royal Seaforth Container Terminal and the site of the Port of Liverpool’s planned £100+ million Post Panamax River Container Terminal, will be operated around the clock, employing as many as 100 permanent and supplemental staff.

Go-Associates report an enthusiastic response to the Liverpool facility from fresh produce suppliers and buyers. Said Mr Rickard: "Food shippers are increasingly responsive to growing public concern about greenhouse emissions and the contribution to this problem made by road haulage – as sighted by the recent commitment of some 40 members of the food and drink industry federation to cut the environmental and social impact of domestic food transport by 20% by 2012."

"Ten million tonnes of fresh produce are shipped into the UK each year and half of it comes up to the northern half of the country. It makes economic and environmental sense to bring that volume to the deepsea port that is closest to the population of 30 million people and is served by the best motorway network for rapid distribution direct to supermarkets."

Frank Robotham, Marketing Director for Peel Ports Group, which owns and operates the Port of Liverpool, said: "The development of Liverpool Produce Terminal is another example of how the Port of Liverpool with its central location, continues to make major contributions to the reduction of truck road miles. LPT is set to make a most significant contribution to the food transport industry’s response to economic and environmental pressure to cut food miles and the carbon footprint.

"The terminal will also enable Peel Ports Group to supply fresh produce to the whole of the UK through the new facility at the Port of Liverpool in the North and its established operations at the Port of Sheerness in the South East of England."


Three  local authorities have agreed to work together  to restore the Cork to Swansea ferry link.

The  news emerged after a meeting on July 29 between  the mayors of Cork city, Cork county and Kerry along with the respective  city and county managers and the  South  West Regional Authority's director and chairman.

Mayor  of Cork county Noel Harrington, Cork city's  mayor Brian  Bermingham  and mayor of Kerry  Tom  Fleming  held talks on the issue in Cork County Hall with Cork's county manager,  Martin Riordan, Cork's city manager Joe  Gavin, Kerry  county  manager  Tom Curran  and  the  authority's director, John McAleer and its chairman, Cllr Jim Corr.

Mr  Harrington,  who  has pledged to make  restoring  the ferry  link  one of his main priorities for his  term  as county mayor, described the talks as "frank and open".

He said they plan to make contact with other stakeholders in  the  coming weeks to get their views on how  best  to approach the issue.

"We   are  doing  everything  we  can  to  explore  every possibility to reinstate the ferry," he said.

The  next meeting of the group is due to take place  next month.

Yesterday's  meeting  marks  the  start  of   the   first concerted cross-party political effort at regional  level to  address the issue which has begun to hit the region's tourism business.

The   authority  is  the  statutory  public   body   with responsibility for strategic planning in the region.

Mr McAleer has described as crazy, the fact that a region so  dependent on tourism does not have a ferry link to  a potential  market of 60 million people. The  Swansea-Cork Ferry  company  announced in late  2006  it  was  ceasing operations on the route.

An  attempt was made last October by its former  managing director,  Thomas Hunter-McGowan, to form a new  company. However,  the  attempt  failed after  the  Port  of  Cork refused to invest 3 million in the project.

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

The  region  is now facing its second season without  the vital  ferry  service,  which brought  close  to  100,000 people to the region every year.

A  study  showed the demise of the ferry  link  cost  the region an estimated 38 million in 2007.

Almost  1,300 people have signed the online  petition  at .



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