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Finished With Engines: Irish Sea Shipping is now closed to new updates - J.H. Luxton Photography - Transport, Industrial History, Regional Photographs UK & beyond

NEWS BULLETIN - September 2008

September 28Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Tony Brennan, Steve Mee, Dave Waterhouse, Chris Jones and "others"


QUEEN ELIZABETH 2 is expected to arrive at Liverpool Cruise Terminal at 12:00 on Friday October 03 with departure, accompanied by a firework display at 22:30. Viewing cruises are available from Mersey Ferries.

QE2 Viewing cruises are also being operated by Waverley Excursions' BALMORAL from Cóbh, Menai Bridge, Bangor (NI), Portaferry, Donaghdee  to coincide with the ship's final round the British Isles cruise. Details and bookings at .


A new Rosslare to Zeebrugge / Rotterdam service will commence on October 19, 2008 using the ro/ro cargo vessel VICTORINE.


An interesting export cargo at the Royal Seaforth Dock was photographed this week by Dave Waterhouse this week.

The old Sumburgh Coastguard Helicopter with two other Bristow helicopters were awaiting the arrival of the weekend ACL vessel for transportation back to the States.


It appears that yet another ship preservation project has run aground.

A report in the Liverpool Daily Post this week indicates that the Egyptian Government have quadrupled the sale price for the former Battle of the Atlantic veteran HMS WHIMBREL which latterly served the Egyptian Navy as ENS TARIQ

The HMS Whimbrel Battle of the Atlantic Memorial Project had been expected to pay around £250,000 for the ship based on her scrap value. The cost of buying and repatriating the ship had been expected to total around £2m.


ISLE OF INISHMORE will dry dock at Harland and Wolff between November 12 and 19th


Photographs of the conversion work currently underway on INCAT 050 can be found on the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company web site. [CLICK HERE]


Louis Drefus Lines commence their new Rosslare - Le Havre service on November 16, 2008 operated by the ro/pax NORMAN VOYAGER. One round trip per week will be offered by the ship which has accommodation for 800 passengers. 110 Cabins are available.

Sailings Depart Le Havre every Friday at 23:59, arriving in Rosslare at 21:30 on Saturday. The return sailing departs Rosslare at 01:00 Sunday arriving Le Havre at 22:00 on Sunday.


EUROPEAN HIGHLANDER missed sailings on Saturday September 27 - the 16:30 ex Larne and the 20:00 ex Cairnryan were cancelled due to a technical problem. Passengers were transferred to the P&O EXPRESS sailings to and from Troon.


Dusk may be falling over the RIVERDANCE but, with tides making life difficult, workers have to grab any moment they can to get the job done. Artificial lights allow diggers to reach the remnants of the wrecked cargo vessel so that the part of the hull which remains below the sands can be cut away.

Project manager for PGC Demolition, Mark Quinn, said: "We have to pump out water to be able to work. "But when we have worked a shift we return to find the water has returned and we have to pump out again."

Because of tidal difficulties the wreck will be inaccessible for much of this week but there are hopes the operation will start again by the weekend. Mr Quinn added: "We have had bad tides this week so we are not going to be able to dotoo much until Thursday or Friday."

When the tides rolls over the RIVERDANCE all trace of her disappears but for public safety and to avoid any risk of pollution PGC have been contracted to get rid of every last vestige of the ship.

It is estimated that the last pieces of the wreck will be carted away in about two weeks. But after that there will still be a month of sonar scanning and raking of the site to ensure there are no fragments which have gone undetected.

The contractors have been on site for 19 weeks so far and the number of workers has remained constant at around 10. RIVERDANCE has been on the beach since January 31 when she was driven there in a storm in which 23 crew and passengers were airlifted to safety. Two months were spent trying to refloat her before the decision was made to break her up. The metal has gone to scrapyards, the main one being in Liverpool. The two 40-ton engines were salvaged and sent to a company in the North East.


STENA LINE reveals that Stena Line could confirm new Scottish terminal by the end of this coming week on the west coast of Scotland.

Speculation is focussed on a move from Stranraer to a purpose-built passenger and freight terminal capable of handling larger vessels over the next 15 to 2O years.

Stena opened a £37 million new terminal in Belfast in May and is preparing to pour more investment into a similar facility at the Scottish end of the route which handles around 1.2 million passengers a year.

"We have to have room for new ships that we are going to build over a 15 to 2O year period," a source close to the company said.

"It doesn't take a genious to work out that having built a big port on one side, we would need another on the other side."

Stena is taking a long term view on continuing development of ferry travel for both passengers and freight transportation.

Although Irish Sea carryings overall for the year to August showed a six per cent decline in passengers and cars and a three per cent drop in coaches, the company still handled 1.8 million passengers, almost  half a million cars and 11,000 coaches in the period. It believes a worsening airport experience and public antipathy to paying hidden extras when flying to Ireland with no-frills carriers will continue to help boost ferry traffic.


The Irish Government can fund up to 30% of the cost of operating a new Swansea-Cork ferry service EU officials have confirmed. According to Fine Gael MEP Colm Burke, about 30% of the likely costs could be met through central government funding. He claims European Commission legislation would allow the Government to provide significant financial support for re-opening the link to Britain with Ireland's south-west.

Tourist accommodation and services providers in Cork and Kerry said the loss of the ferry over the past two years is running into tens of millions. Mr Burke said he had approached European Commission officials seeking information on whether the Irish Government would be allowed to back a new ferry operation.

"The commission, in their response, outlined that the Government can fund up to 30% of the cost of operating this route for a period of three years.

"The ball is now in the Government's court to supply the strategic funds to restart this route which is of immense importance to the south-west region," Mr Burke said.

The Port of Cork is in discussion with potential operators to reopen the route which closed in 2006. It is estimated the loss of the ferry link has cost the south-west economy a staggering €38 million annually.

The Port of Cork and British Associated Ports — which controls Swansea port — have agreed to offer incentives to any company willing to restart the service.

Michael McCarthy, Port of Cork marketing manager, said any financial support from the Government would be most welcome.

"We are currently working with a number of interested parties on the project. A business case study has shown potential in terms of a ferry carrying passengers and cargo. We have identified this as a profitable service.

"Providing funding to get it off the ground would represent a vital cog in the route's long-term viability," Mr McCarthy said.

Port of Cork officials are actively engaged in developing specific proposals for improving maritime links between Ireland, France and Spain through the Western Europe Sea Transport & Motorways of the Sea (WEST-MOS project).

Mr Burke said these potential routes can be funded as part of the Motorways of the Sea which is a stated priority under the EU's Trans-European Networks Programme.

It would offer enormous potential for reducing costs, CO2 emissions and congestion on land motorways for consumers, hauliers and public authorities alike.

"In 2007 the Port of Cork had a record throughput of 10.7 million tonnes, proving that it is the premier port on the south coast of Ireland," the Ireland South MEP said.

"It's obvious that investment costs for Motorways of the Seas would amount to only a fraction of what new terrestrial motorways would cost.

"It is time that the Irish Government took this issue seriously and supported investment in maritime links between Cork and Swansea and Cork to Spain," Mr Burke said.


Traffic crossing the Torpoint Ferry has been hit this summer - with figures  down by almost six per cent compared to last year.

And traffic using the Tamar Bridge is down by more than three per cent, compared to 2007 figures.

Between the beginning of June and the end of August, just over two million  vehicles used the bridge, 3.7 per cent less than during the same period in  2007, the Tamar Bridge and Torpoint Ferry Joint Committee will be told next week.

David List, general manager of the Torpoint Ferry and Tamar Bridge, said the increased capacity of the toll plaza had significantly cut congestion in the mornings.

Despite the lower traffic, income from the ferry increased and from the bridge fell by just under one per cent.

Mr List said yesterday this was probably because occasional users preferred to pay the higher cash toll rather than get a Tamar tag. In the past many occasional users kept a book of concession vouchers.

The bridge and ferry are expected to be £1.8 million in the red by the end of this financial year - £400,000 more than was predicted at the beginning of the year.

"We have to deal with that," Mr List said. "The budget is ring-fenced and we need to make a surplus over the long term, but management costs are bound to fluctuate."

The cost of introducing the tags and revamping the toll plaza at the bridge had risen from around £1.5 million to more than £5 million because the scope of the project had changed, he said.

The report to the committee next Friday blames the introduction of tags for much of the increase.


September 21Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews and "others"


Brittany Ferries have published their schedule from mid-November to Mid-March which unusually does cover the the whole of 2009. It had been expected and announced, that the 2009 timetable would appear at the end of August.

Gary Andrews writes:  We are no wiser yet of plans for 2009 concerning the previously announced new Spanish route and subsequent tonnage moves, the future of the PONT L'ABBE nor the future of the NORMANDIE EXPRESS - the rumour mill having suggested that there may be further cutbacks or a complete removal of her schedule.

The BRETAGNE has nothing scheduled from early February suggesting a major overhaul - meanwhile, the PONT L'ABBE has nothing planned for her from November...

Below are some things I've noted from the schedule.

Portsmouth - Caen

BARFLEUR will cover for NORMANDIE 5 January - 2 February.

Portsmouth - Cherbourg

No sailings from NORMANDIE EXPRESS finishing at the end of this month apart from NORMANDIE sailings on 24 & 31 December and 5 January ex Portsmouth and 26 December and 2 January ex Cherbourg. There is also a BARFLEUR relocation sailing from Portsmouth - Cherbourg on 3 February.

Portsmouth - St Malo

PONT AVEN again takes over from the BRETAGNE over the Winter from 11 November (15th if you look at the St Malo - Portsmouth schedule).

Poole - Cherbourg

No passenger sailings whilst the BARFLEUR is covering for the NORMANDIE.

Plymouth - Roscoff

PONT L'ABBE and PONT AVEN until 8 November. Then BRETAGNE on her own Tuesday - Friday ex Plymouth (Wed - Saturday ex Roscoff) until 20 November. No sailings over Christmas / New Year, sailings ex Plymouth on 2 and 4 January then no sailings until 10 February when the new ARMORIQUE enters service.

Plymouth - Santander

The BRETAGNE takes over from the PONT AVEN from 9 November, offering sailings ex the UK on Sundays and ex Spain on Mondays until 22 December. There are no further sailings scheduled in the published timetable so presumably the route will return sometime in March.



The Port of Liverpool and Manchester Ship Canal Profile & Directory 2008 -2009 which can be downloaded from records that new generation of ro-pax vessels will be introduced by Norfolk Line on its Irish Sea services out of the Port of Liverpool by 2010, boosting passenger capacity by up to 25 percent and freight capacity by up to 70 percent.

The specifications for the new larger and faster vessels were distributed to eight shipyards in mid-2007 and it is envisaged that the first of the new ships will enter service across the Irish Sea within three years. "The new generation of Norfolk Line vessels will allow us to provide greater capacity to customers at peak times, utilising faster vessels on an improved schedule," said Phillip Shepherd, Director, Irish Sea Ferry Services for Norfolk Line, which is part of the A.P. Møller-Maersk Group.

"The Port of Liverpool has already expressed its support for Norfolk Line's introduction of these larger ships and the future development of the Twelve Quays Terminal to facilitate the new vessels. "In the first instance, I would see us operating on the basis of our popular twice daily services to Belfast and Dublin but, if it proved that the new vessels filled quickly, we might consider increasing frequency to meet customer requirements."

Demand for freight and passenger capacity on Norfolk Line's Liverpool to Dublin and Belfast services has strongly increased year-on-year since 2000. Environmentally aware hauliers and other companies seek out sailings which minimise road miles. Norfolk Line's Irish Sea routes, which serve to reduce the miles travelled by cargo across the UK and Ireland, have proved highly attractive.

If the strong sustained growth continues, further capacity will be needed before 2010 on the Irish Sea routes and Norfolk Line is working on two possibilities. One option is to replace its vessels currently sailing North Sea routes with bigger ro-ro ferries, leaving the large ships currently operating those routes available to sail on the Irish Sea - a switch that could happen as early as this year (2008) but is most likely to occur in 2009. The second option under consideration is the introduction of interim tonnage out of Liverpool to respond to customer demand for peak time capacity.

"Norfolk Line has, traditionally, been primarily a freight carrier but we strongly recognise that passengers are integral to the growth of our business," stressed Mr Shepherd. "Although driver accompanied freight tends to maintain a year-round level, there is a dip in the amount of freight we carry through the summer months which coincides beautifully with the peak passenger demand for our services. The two parts of our business fit together well and Norfolk Line places great importance on developing services to suit both markets."

Norfolk Line acquired Norse Merchant in November 2005 and a successful integration took place the following year. A major advantage of this union was the development of a web booking service for Irish Sea services, which now accounts for around 60 percent of all bookings taken by Norfolk Line for its services out of Liverpool.

A terminal management system is under trial and is planned for installation at Twelve Quays during 2008. "We are developing our business to- business facilities with freight customers in preparation for the coming increase in tonnage," said Mr Shepherd. "Over the next 12 months I see Norfolk Line undertaking significant groundwork to prepare its business on several levels for the new generation vessels and the growth in capacity and raising of service levels which that will bring."

Norfolk Line have announced that they will recommence operations on the North Sea Rosyth to Zeebrugee route  abandoned earlier this month by the Attica Group.


MOONDANCE is due to enter Cammell Laird #4 dry dock on Monday afternoon at 16:00 for repair / refit which is expected to take around 14 days. She will then return to the Heysham - Warrenpoint route. She has spent much of the summer laid up at the company's Liverpool terminal after she was towed in for repairs following a grounding at Warrenpoint.

September 17Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Dave Billinge and "others"


Ship repair workers employed by Northwestern Shiprepairers in Birkenhead have given notice of industrial action following the breakdown of talks at ACAS on the 2008 pay review. 100 GMB members employed rejected a pay offer of 2.8% and voted for industrial action in official dispute ballot earlier this month.

Talks at ACAS failed to make progress and notice of industrial action has been served. Action short of strike will commence on Friday 19th September and discontinuous strike action will commence on 26th September from 14.00.

The action short of a strike which is intended to be continuous:


o        Strict enforcement of health and safety procedures

o        A withdrawal of goodwill – including non use of telephone

Work to Rule:


o        There will be no training of other workers.

o        No lone working

o        Members will cease using their own tools for work

o        No paperwork other than signing in and out of work or for health and safety reasons

o        No call outs and no on call cover provided

There will also be a ban on overtime

The strike action is intended to be discontinuous and the intended date for any of these employees to begin to take part in the action is: From 14.00 hours: Commencing on Friday 26 September 2008 until 8.00 am on Monday 29 September 2008 and every Friday afternoon until the dispute is settled.

Dave Hulse, GMB Regional Officer who represents these members said “Unfortunately talks have broken down over the 2008 Pay Claim. ACAS have been involved and unfortunately conciliation was not arrived at.

GMB consider, in the present climate with increasing costs of fuel and energy ( i.e. electricity, gas) and food, that the current offer of 2.8% is a miserly offer.

Also, the trade unions believe that the claim that was presented to the company was treated with contempt.”


VIKING headed off to Belfast on Monday for attention in dry dock to her trim tab in dry dock at Harland and & Wolff. The trim tab having been damaged last week. There was no disruption to sailings as SNAEFELL had been scheduled to operate on the Liverpool service.


HMS INTREPID arrived in Canada Graving Dock, Liverpool for recycling on September 17, 2008 having been towed from Portsmouth by Svitzer's ORMESBY CROSS. ORMESBY CROSS was assisted by THORNGARTH for the final run up the channel to Langton Lock.

The INTREPID was retired from the Royal Navy replaced by the new Barrow built  Landing Platform Helicopter Dock ships HMS ALBION and HMS BULWARK which have been frequent visitors to the Mersey.

The MoD confirmed that 12,000 tonne  HMS INTREPID was to be recycled in the Port of Liverpool by Leavesley International selected last year as preferred bidder, the company now has the required planning permission and environmental licences in place to enable it to proceed  Minister for Defence Equipment and Support, Baroness Taylor, said:

"This contract reinforces MoD's determination to ensure former Royal Navy vessels are disposed off responsibly, and in full compliance with international environmental legislation."

MOD Defence Equipment and Support Disposal Sales Authority Assistant Director of Operations, Richard Norris, said:

"This is an exciting initiative, which demonstrates the UK's commitment to safe and proper disposal. It will be the first time an MoD vessel has been recycled in the UK for many years and provides an excellent example of the Public and Private sectors working together to achieve environmentally and commercially sound recycling."  

HMS INTREPID was launched in 1964 shortly after her sister ship HMS FEARLESS and both took part in the Falklands War. The Ships had a dock at the stern from which they where able to launch landing craft and flight decks from which they where able to operate helicopters supporting Royal Marines Commandos on amphibious operations by transporting and landing troops and equipment. HMS INTREPID was placed in reserve in 1991. The photograph shows HMS INTREPID and HMS FEARLESS laid up at Portsmouth in April 2007.

In a report in Lloyds List Leavesley International project leader said: “All permits are now in place and the work should take 20 weeks to complete. We are looking to recycle 95% of the vessel.”

For photographs of the arrival of HMS INTREPID [click here]

The following press release was issued by Peel Ports on September 17:

Falklands War veteran HMS INTREPID which arrived in the Mersey from Portsmouth today, is expected to be the first of a string of vessels to be recycled by Leavesley International under strict health, safety and environmental controls.

The company will employ a skilled onsite workforce of 50 on the former Royal Navy assault ship, after being chosen as the MoD's preferred bidder for the task, which will be carried out under the recently published DEFRA Guidance Notes on Ship Recycling and the Green Passport scheme adopted by the International Maritime Organisation.

Having secured both Liverpool City Council planning permission and the Environment Agency's Waste Management Licence, Leavesley and project partners Technical Demolition Services of Birkenhead, are expected to take some five months to complete the task at Liverpool's Canada Graving Dock.

But Stuart Halsey, Project Leader and Head of Business Development for Leavesley International, expressed optimism that HMS INTREPID would be the first of many ships to be recycled by the Liverpool operation an initiative prompted by the growing demand for the establishment of a high quality facility in the UK as an alternative to the disposal of decommissioned warships in the Far East.

"There is no shortage of ships out there waiting to be responsibly dealt with. Their recycling is an inherently sustainable activity where over 95 per cent of the vessel's material can be reprocessed. We see Leavesley International being a permanent fixture in the Port of Liverpool."

The Mersey, he said, was chosen as the right location in which to undertake the work because the Port of Liverpool offered everything. "The dry dock is the right size for such projects. The port has major metal processing operations, it is centrally located and easily accessible by motorway and it has an existing skills base."

Frank Robotham, Marketing Director of Peel Ports Group, which owns and operates the Port of Liverpool, said: "The decision by Leavesley to locate this innovative recycling contract in the Port of Liverpool grafts another centre of excellence onto an already vibrant maritime sector. It not only reflects the capability of the Port to meet the requirements of this industry, but is also indicative of the rich and diverse strengths of the maritime community on Merseyside, backed by a City Council that has been pragmatic, objective and totally professional in its response to this important initiative."

HMS Intrepid was built in 1964, decommissioned in 1991 and earmarked for disposal in 1999.


The former Liverpool Bar Light Vessel PLANET is reported to have been sold by Gary McLarnan to two Merseyside businessmen Alan Roberts and Tom Surtees who hope to retain her in Canning Dock.


RIVERDANCE- Blackpool beach is holding on tenaciously to the last remnants of RIVERDANCE. There are no signs of the wrecked vessel as the tide rolls out, but parts of the port side remain under the sand.

And it could be another seven weeks before contractors can clear it away and declare the job over. PGC Demolition is now using diggers to reach the last pieces of the ship, with workmen working below ground level with cutting torches to get the metal out. After that there will be four weeks of sonar scanning and raking of the site to ensure not a fragment remains.

Project manager Mark Quinn said: "The main structure has gone. All that is left in the sand is part of the port side it was lying on, so from the beach there is very little to see. "It has gone on as long as it has because we've been asked to be meticulous to ensure there were no accidents or pollution.

RIVERDANCE has been beached opposite Anchorsholme Park since it was hit by a freak wave on January 31 during a journey from Warrenpoint in Northern Ireland to Heysham. Twenty three crew and passengers were airlifted to safety during a dramatic air and sea rescue. No-one was injured during the massive operation.

The decision to break up the ship was taken after more than two months of efforts to refloat it failed, largely due to bad weather. Salvage operations have been hampered by the weather with workers having to abandon their efforts due to high winds and rain.

The stricken ferry has attracted thousands of tourists to the area with local businesses experiencing a huge increase in trade over the first few weeks of its appearance.

So far the work has taken 18 weeks and the metal has gone to scrapyards, the main one being in Liverpool. The two 40-ton engines were salvaged and sent to be a company in the North East for parts.

Mr Quinn explained they had to overcome a number of obstacles to remove the Seatrucks vessel. He said: "Touch wood, we've not had one reportable accident, we've not lost any pollutants or oil - it couldn't have gone better. "The tidal implications caught us by surprise, having to work in five or six-hour windows or just an hour at times. Sometimes you can't work at all.

"It isn't the biggest job we have done but it is the biggest maritime job we have ever done and the most high profile job - and we've had some good press out of it!" [BLACKPOOL GAZETTE]

September 14Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Steve Mee, Geoff Hamer and "others"


ASGARD II - Speculation continues as to what caused the well known sailing ship to founder in the Bay of Biscay on Thursday. Several newspaper reports have speculated that the vessel's hull may have been damaged by an errant submerged freight container or a sea valve may have failed. Both of which would have accounted for the sudden ingress of  water.

This ship is reported to be lying in 70m to 90m of water - a depth which may hamper its recovery.

A Times newspaper report indicates that the Insurance policy for Asgard II, will not cover the cost of a replacement it if the ship cannot be salvaged.

The brigantine, was insured for €3.8m, though a replacement cost for an exact replica would be around €10m.

“ASGARD II was a priceless vessel and a one-off,” said an official. “It was constructed by hand and its fixtures and fittings were unique. It would take between five and eight years to build a replica if suitable tradesmen could be found and the expertise and materials were available."

The vessel originally cost €635,000 when she was built for the Irish Government in 1981.

ASGARD II was insured by Allianz, which has launched an investigation into what caused the vessel to sink in the Bay of Biscay last Thursday. The company will decide whether to salvage her or write her off after divers examine the ship

In addition to the investigation being carried out by the ship's insurers the Marine Casualty Investigation Board and the French authorities will also be investigating the sinking.


Gordon Hislip has produced a full colour Calendar featuring Irish Sea Ships - for further details [Click Here]


INCAT 50 - a photograph of the vessel appears on the Waverley Unofficial Web Site [Click Here] to link to the page. The photograph shows that work appears to be getting underway with the rear passenger accommodation bulkhead removed ready for this to be extended aft.


HMS INTREPID - the veteran warship which is bound for Merseyside for recycling departed from Portsmouth towed by Svitzer tug ORMESBY CROSS. She was reported rounding Land's End late on Saturday September 13.

Arrival on Merseyside now looks likely to be Monday or Tuesday. The tug AIS originally displayed Birkenhead as the destination - though the last AIS report at lunch time, Saturday showed this changed to "unknown".

September 11Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Steve Mee, Geoff Hamer and "others"


ASGARD II - the graceful little brigantine which was a regular visitor to ports around the Irish Sea and further a field is no more. Sadly she foundered in the Bay of Biscay on the morning of September 11, 2008. 

Reports indicate that the alarm was raised at 02:20 when UK Coastguard received a distress signal from the vessel which had been sailing from Falmouth, Cornwall to La Rochelle, France.

The five crew and twenty trainees safely abandoned the vessel taking to the life rafts. They were rescued by the French Coastguard and taken to Belle-Île-en-Mer, Brittany. ASGARD II foundered at 08:25 20 miles SW of Belle-Île-en-Mer.

The brigantine was constructed at Arklow in 1981 by Jack Tyrell and took her name from Robert Erskine Childer's historic yacht ASGARD [I].  ASGARD [I] being a significant vessel in Irish history - having landed German weapons at Howth  on July 26, 1914 for the Irish Volunteers which were subsequently used in the 1916 Easter Rising. [Photo: ASGARD II sails past the Liverpool waterfront - 2004 Mersey River Festival].


HMS INTREPID is expected to depart Portsmouth on Friday under tow of ORMESBY CROSS (Svitzer) bound for Liverpool, Canada Graving Dock, for recycling. Departure which had originally been due for Thursday September 11, is subject to weather.


It may come as a surprise to many people that the demolition of the last surviving Liverpool & North Wales Steamship Company ship ST ELIAN only got under way this week after a long dispute between the local authority at Salerno, Italy and he owner. Many will have thought that the final surviving L&NWSSCo ship was the diminutive motor vessel ST TRILLO. 

ST ELIAN was aid-down at Geestemünde during the First World War as a minesweeper for the German Navy, but was eventually completed in 1919 as Hapag's passenger steamer HÖRNUM.

She acted as a tender and served Helgoland. In April 1922, she was sold to the Liverpool and North Wales Steamship Co and renamed ST ELIAN for summer excursions from Liverpool and Llandudno to Menai Bridge, Blackpool, Holyhead, Bardsey Island, etc.

L&NWSSCo sold ST ELIAN to SPAN of Napoli after the 1927 season, becoming the PARTENOPE, then the ISCHIA from 1949, and continued in service in the Golfo di Napoli untill about 1970, still steam powered.

She was then put on the beach at Salerno and opened as a restaurant/bar.


The Swansea-Cork ferry route could be re-established if enough work is put in, the director of the port of Cork has said.

Michael McCarthy has pledged to keep working to see the service resume in 2009.

He said: "I will keep working to see if we can get it up and running. "I could say there was a five out of 10 chance, or six out of 10, or four out of 10, but that's really speculation."

Mr McCarthy added: "My gut feeling is if we all put enough work into re-establishing the route we can do it."

Pressure has been building on both sides of the Irish Sea for a return of the ferry.

Mr McCarthy said: " I have submitted a proposal to two consultants to establish the case - a cost-benefit analysis of the service - and a whole business case around it."

It was hoped that a meeting yesterday would result in an agreed package of incentives to encourage a new operator to reintroduce the vital ferry link, which was axed in January 2007.

It has been estimated that the ferry route was worth around £65 million a year to Wales in 2006.

A spokesman for the bring back the Swansea-Cork ferry campaign said: "We at the campaign hope this meeting will pave the way for the re-introduction of this lifeline between the UK and the South-West of Ireland - and breathe some life back into our flagging tourist industry in time for the 2009 season.

"Tourism in the region has been badly hit since the ferry crossing ceased operating in October 2006 - losses have been estimated at 100,000 Euros per day."

Managers at Associated British Ports have said it was impossible to say when the service will resume.

Some 1,823 people have signed an online petition so far.

September 07Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Michael Bracken, Alan Faulkner, Michael Hamms and "others"


The long awaited report on plans to reintroduce a ferry service from Campbeltown to Ballycastle is now on the desks of the relevant government ministers on both side of the North Channel.

Jim Mather MSP for Argyll and Bute told The Courier that the decision on a future service probably could be expected to be made in the latter part of September.

Alan Reid MP told the Kintyre Initiative Working Group on Friday when the ferry report was on the agenda: 'The concern I have is that this [report] was drawn up while Vestas was still working and before the credit crunch started. There is now less slack in the economy.

'The Scottish Government does need to act quickly if its going to get the ferry up and running next year; Tourist brochures are going out now.'

Mr Reid and Highlands and Islands list MSP Jamie McGrigor both said they would write to the Scottish Government saying that the ferry was now more important than ever before.

'Also, if Ballycastle and Northern Ireland say they have a difficulty then we still look at it in terms of a ferry to somewhere else if necessary,' said Mr McGrigor, 'we have got to keep the pressure on.'

Mr Reid said after the meeting: 'Campbeltown has a lot to offer - a purpose built factory, deep water facilities and above all, a highly skilled and motivated workforce. 'Scottish Government must take ferry links to Northern Ireland and Ayrshire up and running as soon as possible and to upgrade the A83, instead of slashing spending on repairs to it as they did recently.'

At Friday's working group meeting the chairman, Councillor John Semple said that one of the attractions for Vestas to Campbeltown in the first place was the ferry.

Alison Younger, area corporate services manager for Argyll and Bute Council said of starting the new service: 'We have to fulfil European tendering requirements,' and she added, 'People have very, very, much said they don't want the Claymore.'

Councillor John Semple asked about vessel availability.

Ian Macintyre of Tarbert and Skipness Community Council said: 'The government owns a ferry company but CalMac doesn't seem to come into the equation.'

Earlier this year First Minister Alex Salmond and the Northern Ireland First Minister and signed an agreement which it was hoped will lead to the revival of the ferry service.



Cold water has been poured on reports that the Swansea-Cork Ferry could be back in place by the beginning of 2009.

The commercial manager of the Port of Cork, Captain Michael McCarthy, said he was in talks with two Irish operators, which are keen to restart the service.

But managers at Associated British Ports in Swansea said it was impossible to say when the service would resume.

Deputy port manager Clive Thomas said: "There has been a degree of interest ever since the service closed, looking at operators from a number of quarters to continue the link.

"These discussions have been going on, on and off, for 18 months or so. We wouldn't go so far as to suggest it would start next season."

"There are potentially interested parties out there, but it is a question of looking at suitable vessels and getting the package in place to allow it to start running.

"A lot of work has to go into making that happen and we are doing what we can to assist them."

The service was axed in January 2007, following the cancellation of the year's sailing season.

Political pressure has been building on both sides of the Irish Sea for a return of the ferry.

Assembly Members from all political parties had been pushing for the return of the service.

Thirty staff lost their jobs when sailings were halted and the company had hoped to resume its service this year.

Swansea East AM Val Lloyd said: "The continuing lack of a ferry service between Swansea and Cork is frustrating tourists and the business community.

"The loss of this popular service represents a serious blow to the economy on both sides.

"For example, it is estimated that Irish visitors brought £65 million to the Welsh economy in 2006."

The loss of the ferry service is also being keenly felt in Southern Ireland, where a campaign has been launched calling for it to return.

There, the ferry was seen as an economic lifeline that brought 100,000 euros to the region every time it docked.

Adrian Brentnall, one of the campaign organisers, said: "Businesses across the South West of Ireland are holding their breath and hoping for a return of the ferry and we all take hope from the apparent confidence of the port authorities."

The petition urging the ferry's return has been signed by more than 1,700 people.


OSCAR WILDE - The Advertising Standards Authority has upheld a complaint concerning an advertisement of the ship which was deployed on the company's service to France this season.

The advertisement in question stated “Irish Ferries Proudly Presents OSCAR WILDE Our Luxurious New Cruise Ferry Ireland – France” and featured a picture of the OSCAR WILDE Ferry steaming up a red carpet in the sea.

Below it stated “You’ll be lost for words!” and in the text it stated “Irish Ferries is proud to announce the arrival of our luxurious new cruise ferry OSCAR WILDE on our Ireland to France routes.”

The complaint said that the advertisement stated that the Irish Ferries “OSCAR WILDE” cruise ship was “new” however the complainant said that the ship was in fact not new but rather was new to the Irish Ferries Fleet. He estimated that the ship was approximately 20 years old and therefore considered the advertisement to be misleading.

Irish Ferries stated that their advertising did not claim that the vessel was a ‘new’ build as the complainant suggested. They said that they had promoted the OSCAR WILDE vessel as being new to Irish Ferries, new to their fleet and new to their Ireland – France service. They stated that in all cases this was accurate and correct and would have been clearly understood when the context of the message would have been taken into account.

They said that the OSCAR WILDE was purchased in January 2007 and that since then the vessel had undergone a major refurbishment and overhaul which saw the complete redesign and restyling of the internal passenger hotel areas, the introduction of new passenger facilities as well as significant technical modifications.

They provided further details of the refurbishment of the vessel and stated that the OSCAR WILDE brought new standards of comfort and luxury to their long established Ireland – France route and in that context they were pleased to promote the vessel as being ‘new’.

Finally they disputed the complainant’s remark which alluded to the age of the ship and noted them as being extremely misleading.

The Complaints Committee considered the detail of the complaint and the advertisers’ response. The Complaints Committee considered that the advertisement had referred to the OSCAR WILDE as being ‘new’ however the advertisers had confirmed that the vessel was in fact not a ‘new build’ but rather a ‘new addition’ to the Irish Ferries Fleet. The Committee considered that for the purpose of the Code the advertisement was likely to mislead consumers to believe that the vessel was a new build and therefore the advertisement had contravened the Code.

The ASA state that the claim must not reappear in its current form.


The recent spell of bad weather led to a number of fast craft cancellations this week. On Wednesday September 03, 2008 VIKING returned light to Douglas rather than operate the 11:15 sailing from Liverpool. Passengers being sent to Heysham for the 14:15 BEN-MY-CHREE sailing. The afternoon 15:00 / 19:00 sailings being operated by SNAEFELL.

On Thursday afternoon VIKING operated the afternoon sailing to Belfast.  The following day Friday September 05 the afternoon VIKING sailing was cancelled as were the Saturday sailings on September 06 again due to adverse weather.

As the season enters the shoulder period SNAEFELL is scheduled to operate many of the week day sailings, with VIKING appearing


Last it it was reported [CLICK HERE] that the historic west country schooner KATHLEEN & MAY had delivered a cargo of French wine to the Cornish port of Penzance on July 22, 2008. This is the first time that a commercial cargo of wine had been moved under sail for many years. However,  the event appeared to be overlooked by most news sources.  The photograph left was sent by Alan Faulkner.



MARY THE QUEEN - the former Isle of Man Steam Packet Company side loading motorship MONA'S QUEEN is reported to have arrived at Alang for breaking. She was sold by owners earlier this year for scrap.



On Saturday October 25,  2008,  the Ocean Liner Society ( will be holding its annual London International Ship Show at The Royal National Hotel, 38-51 Bedford Way, London.

This year, the ship show will be a special QE2 themed event, which will include an exhibition / sales area with 60-90 exhibitors and trade stands, together with a special talks programme, to mark the passing of this unique ship and her career. The show will be open from 10:00 – 16:00 and is a must for all ocean liner enthusiasts.

The QUEEN ELIZABETH 2 will have arrived in Southampton from New York on her final east bound crossing on October 22. Should any interested passengers or crew, past and present wish to come to London for this special occasion, they would be more than welcome to share in what will be a highly enjoyable and interesting day.

Full details of the days events and a location map are available on the OLS website. Should you wish to receive updates regarding this event and speakers, which are still being finalised, please   email Stephen Macey, who will put you on a special mailing list. Details of the talks programme as it currently stands is given below.  Stephen's address is: Always write QE2 in the subject line.

Talks Programme

We hope to offer three sessions: the overview, the view from the deck and the view from the bridge. There will be no additional charge for the talks, which will be held in a partitioned section of the main exhibition hall.

QE2 The Overview. - Dr. Bruce Peter.

Along with Phillip Dawson and Ian Johnston, Bruce Peter has been working on “QE2 The Last Great Liner”, the definitive story of the commissioning, design, construction and career of the ship. Drawing very largely on primary research Bruce has unearthed the real story of who actually designed her original interiors and has some hard- hitting views on subsequent re-builds. This will be absolutely the authoritative biography of the ship.

QE2 The View From The Deck. - Chris Mason, Bill Mayes and Hugh Elliot.

Three former passengers, each a skilled photographer will present images and reflect on their experience of the QE2 in different phases of the ship's career. Chris Mason's photographs of her in original condition were taken from two visits and a design student's perspective around 1970. Hugh Elliot sailed in her in the mid 1990's before the final, some would say ultimately destructive, major internal refit. Bill Mayes has sailed in her in her post-final refit form and will show her in later life.

QE2 The View From The Bridge.

What was it like to command the world's most famous liner?. We hope to convene a panel of those who know best, some of her former masters. As yet, the line up is to be confirmed.

There will be a charge of £3.00 for OLS members to attend this event and £5.00 for non OLS members. Everyone is welcome and we would love to see you there.

For further information please contact Stephen Macey. /    Telephone 44-01202-701-053.



Reports in the Liverpool Daily Post this weekend have revealed that the ambitious plans by owners Peel Holdings to redevelop the Liverpool Central Docks and Birkenhead Docks would be placed in jeopardy if the Government calls a public enquiry into the scheme.

Peel Holdings’ development director, Lindsey Ashworth, said the planning regime needed to be relaxed to ease the progress of the company’s £10bn Liverpool and Wirral Waters scheme to build dozens of skyscrapers on the banks of the Mersey.

“My view is if it goes to a public inquiry I am finishing, all bets will be off. We will abandon the scheme,” he said. In a rare public address, Peel chairman John Whittaker had earlier called for the North West Development Agency (NWDA) to be handed planning powers over the Manchester Ship Canal corridor where the company is planning £50bn of investment. Last night, the idea was described by the NWDA’s chief executive Steve Broomhead as an “interesting idea that was worthy of debate”.

Mr Ashworth and Mr Whittaker were speaking yesterday at the official launch of the company’s Ocean Gateway plan.


On Friday James Whittaker, son of Peel Holdings owner John Whittaker, commenced the first ever Manchester Ship Canal end to end swim scheduled to take two days. This is the first time anyone has attempted to swim the full length of the Ship Canal. James Whittaker was accompanied by a support craft  and followed by Mersey Ferry ROYAL DAFFODIL as he made his way down the Canal.

Mr. Whittaker's sponsored swim aims to raise money for the New Children's Hospital in Manchester.

The photograph (left) shows Mr. Whittaker returning to the water at Ince, from the Carmet Towing Company's pilot launch VENOM. The photograph was taken from Weaver Valley Cruises RIVER PRINCESS which was operating a charter sailing to Runcorn in conjunction with the Daniel Adamson Preservation Society AGM.


SEVEN SEAS VOYAGER made an unexpected visit to Dartmouth this weekend. The ship on a 10 day voyage from Copenhagen has been scheduled to call at the Avonmouth on Sunday September 07 before heading to Falmouth and then Southampton

The Western Morning News reported that civic leaders in Bristol had prepared a lavish welcoming ceremony for the vessel, complete with singing choirs and a VIP reception on the SS Great Britain.

But at the 11th hour the company decided the "intimate charm and character" of Dartmouth in South Devon would be more suitable for its passengers.

The visit has been hailed as a major coup for the historic port town and one which will provide an economic boost for tourist attractions and shops. The ship is believed to be carrying 700, mostly American, passengers who will spend 12 hours in Dartmouth and the surrounding area.

Malcolm Bell, chief executive of South West Tourism, said: "There is a direct and indirect benefit to these visits. The first is that Americans in particular spend something like £50 a head during their short stays. The second is the impression you make and the word-of-mouth effect that makes people want to tell their friends and come back in the future."

The visit comes after a successful season for Dartmouth attracting large liners. Nearby Torbay is also celebrating clinching a deal for three passenger ships to visit in 2009.

In a statement, Regent Cruises said: "The primary objective for the captain of a Regent ship is the guest experience. This is why Regent Seven Seas Cruises have chosen one alternative port call.

"Although Bristol is a city of culture and famous for the SS Great Britain, on this cruise Regent felt that the picturesque fishing town of Dartmouth has the intimate charm and character guests of the Home Coming Cruise would appreciate."

The SEVEN SEAS VOYAGER will double back to Falmouth on Monday before sailing east again to end its 10-day voyage in Southampton.

Weighing in at 41,000 tonnes, with a length of 200m, the Seven Seas Voyager is the largest passenger vessel ever to visit Dartmouth, eclipsed only by exceptional military ships. It is so large it will have to drop anchor at the mouth of the Dart and ferry passengers ashore using smaller crafts.

Tours for the passengers are being planned, including a trip on the Paignton and Dartmouth Steam Railway and a cruise up the river to Totnes


HMS INTREPID - Final preparations are reported to be underway for the ship, decomissioned in 1999, to be towed to Canada Dock, Liverpool for recycling by Leavesley International.

At present HMS INTREPID is expected to depart Portsmouth under tow around 08:00 to 09:00 on September 10 - arrival on Merseyside is expected to be around September 12.

Exact times and dates will be of course be subject to change and be influenced by the weather.


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