The Irish Sea Shipping Archive

About ISSContactContentVoyage ReportsISS Amazon Shop
PhotographsFeaturesShip AISShips on FilmNews
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 - October 2008

October 29Acknowledgements:  John & Jenny Williamson, Neil Rush, Mike Pryce, Mike Degan, Ian Collard and "others"


The company's 2009 schedules for UK to Spain have been published which include one round trip per week between Portsmouth and Santander as well as one round trip per week between Plymouth and Santander.

Those who have enjoyed the popular mini-cruise facility between Plymouth and Santander will be disappointed to note that the UK - Spain schedules do not appear to permit this in 2009. For full details of the 2009 Season sailings visit


Philip Lynch’s Moonduster consortium will try to hammer out an agreement  with property developer Liam Carroll in an effort to table a new bid for Irish Continental Group (ICG).

However, it is believed they will have to make a bid of over €24 in order to get the backing of the board.

Moonduster has been given six weeks to engage with other major shareholders in ICG with a view to making a new bid for the Irish Ferries owner.

Market sources said that a deal with Carroll, who owns 29 per cent of the company, was the most likely outcome of the process. [Sunday Business Post]


The September Douglas harbour figures have been published this week:



Year to Date

2007 69,16119,042557,074170,659

Route Performance:

Route%change 20072008
DublinAll minus360Nil
Heysham+ 3%25,16225,829
Liverpool- 16%35,20429,498

Director of Harbours, Captain Michael Brew comments:

Whilst September 2008 passenger figures show a fall overall year to date traffic is still 8.9% higher than in 2006. The 2007 figure is relatively high due to the TT centenary traffic.


INCAT 050 - Photographs of the ship in dry dock at Portsmouth can be found on the IoMSPCo web site. [click here]


The HEAVYLIFT ANCORA lost its cargo, the liftboat KS TITAN 1, in the North Atlantic during Monday night, following main engine stop and excessive rolling in rough weather. The KS TITAN 1 had been due to be delivered to Liverpool. The HEAVYLIFT ANCORA is owned by OHL, Ocean HeavyLift ASA, and the lost lift boat was to be used for mounting wind turbines in the North Sea. After sliding into the sea the rig capsized.

”We are afraid that the rig may have sunk”, says Cato Hellstenius, CEO of Ocean HeavyLift ASA, to Stavanger Aftenblad.

No crew members were injured and after a few hours the HeavyLift Ancora could start the engine again.  The ship was en route from US Gulf to Liverpool but will most likely return to US Gulf for inspections.



Norfolkline have been voted ‘Best Ferry Company’ at this year's Guardian, Observer and Travel Awards.

This was the 22nd year of the awards, with results being determined on the basis of over 17,000 questionnaires being returned by Guardian and Observer readers.

The ‘Best Ferry Company’ award recognises the services of Norfolkline Irish Sea and Cross Channel passenger operations which run from Belfast and Dublin to Liverpool and Dover to Dunkirk. Norfolkline will also start a new service between Rosyth (Edinburgh) and Zeebrugge in spring next year.

Like many ferry companies, Norfolkline have witnessed a change in consumer attitude towards ferry travel with more and more considering it to be a cost effective and straightforward way to travel with ease of check-in, security and unlimited baggage allowance.


The P&O EXPRESS moved on October 28 from the IoMSPCo berth at Donegall Quay Belfast to the old Stena conventional berth at Albert Quay.


RFA FORT VICTORIA has been reported under tow by tug RED DOLPHIN from Portsmouth = believed due on the Mersey for NSL - CAMMELL LAIRD around 08:00 on Saturday morning. May well be worth keeping a watch on for RED DOLPHIN towards the end of this week.


The Joint Sea COntainers / Agean Speedlines joint venture on the Baltic between operated Helsinki-Tallinn by SUPERSEACAT FOUR and the former Irish Sea vessel SUPERSEACAT THREE was declared insolvent by the Helsinki District Court last week.


South Hams District Council in South Devon is looking at increasing River Dart crossing charges  by four per cent in a bid to gain an extra £30,000 revenue over the coming year.

The South Hams Council-owned Lower Ferry is expected to bring in an income of £765,000 by the end of this financial year — more than £50,000 down on the income the council had expected.

This year's summer weather and the economic climate have been put forward as reasons for the falling ferry income which is being felt even though the council ferry is currently undercutting its privately-owned Higher Ferry rivals.

The proposed increases would place an extra 20p on the £3 charge for a single Lower Ferry crossing from Dartmouth to Kingswear.



Stena Line announced on September 21 positive changes to  its Central Corridor Services between Holyhead and Dublin Bay.

The existing dedicated freight vessel, the STENA SEATRADER, will be replaced with a more  modern and faster Ropax vessel, the STENA NORDICA, (ex EUROPEAN AMBASSADOR) which can carry both freight and passengers.

Vic Goodwin, Stena Line's Route Director for the Central and Southern Corridor said: "We are delighted that the STENA NORDICA will be  joining the Central Corridor. The vessel is much faster than the

STENA SEATRADER which means crossing times will be quicker and in addition to providing additional capacity for freight, the STENA NORDICA will also provide an attractive alternative to our tourist guests. The vessel will have a range of facilities for our onboard  guests including Stena Line's executive lounge, Stena Plus. The vessel currently has a passenger capacity of 400 but we are looking at plans to increase the passenger capacity of the vessel".

"Whilst the STENA SEATRADER only performed one round trip per day,

the STENA NORDICA could provide the option of double tripping if  required and will therefore provide greater flexibility for refit  cover on both the Central and Southern Corridor Routes.

The STENA NORDICA will transfer to the Irish Sea on the 4 November 2008 from the Company's Route between Sweden and Poland. Initially  the vessel will provide refit cover on the Fishguard – Rosslare service and will then commence service on the Holyhead – Dublin Route on the 12th November 2008 .

Coinciding with this change Goodwin added: "Everyone is aware of the negative impact of high fuel prices and the economic downturn on the transport industry. Whilst the HSS STENA EXPLORER is extremely popular with all our customers on the Holyhead to Dun Laoghaire route, unfortunately the operating costs of the craft remain very high. Consequently we have decided to reduce the HSS operation to one round trip per day with effect from the 10th November 2008 except for the Christmas and New Year Holiday period when the vessel will double trip."

Following the 2008 Christmas/New Year Holiday period the HSS will undertake its annual refit from January 2009 until the middle of February 2009 and the service will recommence on a revised one round trip timetable, with the Company retaining the flexibility to increase trips of the HSS as and when required.

Commenting, Vic Goodwin said: "Whilst the business continues to face many challenges, we believe the unique combination of the HSS STENA EXPLORER, the STENA ADVENTURER and the STENA NORDICA is the best solution for all our customers. We can provide all our guests with frequency of sailing times, a choice between fast craft and Superferries and high standards of service. The fleet changes also provide the company with the greatest flexibility to meet any future challenges ahead."


Lorry drivers using the Fleetwood - Larne service appear to be upsetting the residents of the Lancashire town as the following article which appeared in a local newspaper reports:

Angry residents are demanding action over noise and mess caused by lorry drivers waiting to board ferries in Fleetwood. Bottles and waste bags, late-night noise from engines and parking chaos are the problems faced on a regular basis.

Now they have raised a petition and Wyre Council is to explore what can be done to ease the situation. Peter Smethurst, who lives at the Pennine View flats, said: "We get units parking close to the flats all along Dock Street and some are even parking on the pavement. "Some are refrigerated units and their machines are going all night. "Some are keeping their drivers warm and they start their engines at all times of night and often they set off early in the morning. "There is urine in bottles and they just throw them anywhere - it's a bad situation.

"It looks bad for visitors coming into the town if you have all these lorries parked up." Iris Downing, also of Pennine View, said: "There's a lorry that parks outside our lounge window every weekend. Last weekend he was there from Friday to Monday. "It makes our flat like a dungeon, it blocks all the light out." There are also problems for Gibsons sportswear shop on the other side of the road. Shop supervisor Carl Tillis said: "They always park on our car park and in front so people can't see the shop. "When they start their engines it sets off the alarm and I have had to come in at 2am. "We have to sweep up the mess they leave behind. It's constant: chip wrappers, bottles cigarette packets - it's terrible."

The residents petitioned Coun Clive Grunshaw who said: "This is clearly a big issue that needs some serious measures to make any difference. "Stena need to look at organising a waiting area, away from residential properties. "The waiting area needs facilities for the drivers. There needs to be waiting restrictions placed on ASDA, Dock Street and Queen's Terrace to prevent the HGVs from just parking up and causing the disturbance, noise and nuisance. "We cannot allow the situation to continue where, mainly elderly, citizens have to put up with more noise and anti-social behaviour."

Rob Posner, director of neighbourhood services for Wyre Council, said: "We are currently looking at the issues raised by local residents. "It is likely we will need to work with other organisations to address these concerns." Stena route manager for Fleetwood, Steve Doherty, said they did not have drivers or vehicles so had no control over them. He added: "We cannot allow parking on our terminal by vehicles that are not being shipped as this is prohibited by the national Ship and Port Facility Security regulations. "We provide shower and washroom facilities for all drivers using the port and have put two litter bins outside the entrance to the port to try to reduce the amount of litter."


HSS STENA VOYAGER was out of service between Thursday October 23 and Wednesday October 29. There are unconfirmed reports which suggest the period out of service was due to some damage received in rough weather on Thursday October 23.


THOMSON CELEBRATION - the former Holland America Line NOORDAM failed to operate the three night Liverpool > Cóbh > Dublin > Liverpool "Taste of Ireland" cruise scheduled to commence on Thursday October 23.

Passengers booked on the cruise spent three nights on board at the Langton Dock Cruise Terminal, Liverpool.  The reason given being "adverse weather conditions".

October 19Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews,  John Williams, Ian Collard, Steve Cheeseman and "others"


The Ringaskiddy to Roscoff service details for 2009 have been published. The service continues to be operated by the PONT-AVEN.


BLACK PRINCE - Fred. Olsen has announced it will retire its vessel BLACK PRINCE in October 2009. The 441 passenger ship, which was built for the company by Flender Werft in Lubeck in 1966, will operate a series of four Farewell Cruises starting on 9th September from Liverpool, and ending on 16th October in Southampton.

When BLACK PRINCE entered service for Fred. Olsen Ltd on 19th October, 1966, it was in the role of a joint passenger/freight ferry operating between the UK and the Canary islands in the winter, and the UK and Norway in the summer. The ship was converted to a full-time cruise ship in 1987 and from February that year became a key player in the cruising market in the UK.

Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines managing director Mike Rodwell said: “This is a very sad announcement for the company to make as BLACK PRINCE is one of the best loved ships that caters to the UK market, and many passengers have cruised on her so often that even they have lost track of the number of holidays they have taken. We know that there will be thousands of passengers who have sailed on her who will be very sad on that final day.”

BLACK PRINCE’s Farewell Season will begin on 9th September 2009 with a ten night Around the UK cruise from Liverpool, then a three night mini cruise from Liverpool to Southampton. The season continues with a 10 night Historic Home Ports cruise from Southampton back to Southampton; followed by her final cruise of 14 nights to the Canary Islands. The ship returns to Southampton on Friday 16th October, 2009.

Whilst the demise of BLACK PRINCE had looked likely as a result of the implementation of SOLAS 2010 in autumn next year - it had been anticipated that the ship would continue to sail for the 2010 season. The company web site was already listing sailings for the ship into 2010. It is not clear yet as to why the decision was taken to withdraw this popular ship prematurely.



The Irish Naval Service is due to appoint the first female commander of a patrol ship in the history of the State. Lieutenant Commander Roberta O'Brien, from the Glen of Aherlow, Co Tipperary, will take command of the LE AISLING at a changeover ceremony in early November.

Lieutenant Commander O'Brien, who is in her early 30s, was commissioned in 1997 as one of the first two female cadets, along with Dubliner Orlaith O'Farrell. Both subsequently graduated from NUI Galway in 2000, having completed a general science degree as part of their training.

Ms O'Brien joined the Naval Service after leaving school and holds a county championship medal in camogie. She cited her interest in sport as one of the main reasons for applying to join the Defence Forces.

She served as navigator on board one of the Naval Service's most ambitious overseas voyages - the three-month 25,000-nautical mile voyage by the LE NIAMH to Asia in spring 2002.

The first female command comes just four years after Britain's Royal Navy appointed its first woman to take charge of a ship. Lieutenant Charlotte Atkinson was approved as commanding officer of the HMS BRECON in 2004.


Earlier this week, Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan announced that a plan to purchase three ships to replace existing vessels was being delayed. The Department of Defence confirmed yesterday that the tender procedure for the vessels had already been initiated, but this was subject to final funding approval next year.

The new vessels are intended to replace the LE AISLING, LE EMER and LE AOIFE, which have a 30-year lifespan. The department said that it was inevitable that this lifespan would have to be extended.



VIKING - adverse weather conditions have led to the cancellation of the 15:00 Douglas to Liverpool and 19:00 return sailing on Sunday October 19. Forecast adverse weather for Monday October 20 has led to the cancellation of the 07:30 Douglas to Liverpool and the return 11:15 sailings.

BEN-MY-CHREE - the 19:45 & 02:15 sailings on October 19 & 20 were cancelled due to adverse conditions.



There is a rumour that the charters of ARROW and SHIELD will not be renewed during the first quarter of 2009. There is a possibility that they may be replaced by one of the Maersk E Class vessel either IMPORTER or EXPORTER with will operate a single round trip each day.


EXPRESS arrived at Donegall Quay, Belfast for winter lay-up around 12:30 on Monday October 13, 2008


HMS PRINCE OF WALES - the Royal Navy has announced that the second home port for new carrier due for completion in 2016 will be Liverpool.

HMS ASTUTE emergef from the giant Devonshire Dock Hall following a year of work on October 15. The 7,400-tonne hunter killer class sub, which has had its nuclear fuel loaded, was today being lowered into Devonshire Dock and is due to be afloat today.

BAE spokesman Chris Nelson said: “The natural environment for a submarine is the water and a lot of people including ex-submariners will be delighted to see the submarine out of the Devonshire Dock Hall and back in the wet dock.”

The sub and its 98 crew is due to be visited by its Lady Sponsor, Camilla the Duchess of Cornwall, on Tuesday.

The Duchess, who launched Astute on June 8 last year, will meet submariners and their families and tour the boat.

The submarine went back into the DDH after initial wet dock trials via the giant shiplift at the end of October last year after completing a series of successful tests including making its first dive. It was due to return to the DDH in any case, but damage to its turbo generators during a steam test of propulsion equipment added heavily to the workload.

A specialist company had to be brought in to remove scoring on shafts caused when they ran dry against bearings when both an oil pump and its back up power source failed.

Other problems, which included trouble with valves and electrical systems, also added to the time in dock, leading to the programme being delayed by several months. The first-of-class sub won’t now be delivered to the Royal Navy until next year which will also see the launch in the town of the second of class HMS AMBUSH.

BAE has still to announce when next year HMS ASTUTE will leave Barrow for sea trials followed by docking at the Faslane naval base in Scotland for any faults to be fixed. Around 150 BAE employs worked on the massive operation to move Astute on rail bogies sideways and then forwards out to the shiplift.


The unravelling of the former Sea Containers empire continued this week with the news that SuperSeaCat Ltd which operated SUPERSEACAT FOUR and the former Irish Sea based SUPERSEACAT THREE had ceased operations with the loss of around 150 Finnish and Estonian jobs. Operations ceasing on Tuesday October 14.

The Baltic operation which was jointly owned by Sea Containers and Aegean Speed Lines cited financing difficulties and strong competition in the ferry business as reasons for its current predicament.


HSS STENA EXPLORER sailings are being reduced to one round trip per day from November 10. The company's online booking system will reveals that only the 08:55 from Holyhead and the 11:30 from Dún Laoghaire will operate.

STENA NORDICA [ex EUROPEAN AMBASSADOR] is due to replace STENA SEA TRADER from mid November on the Holyhead - Dublin route. Her presence being confirmed until the end of the year.

October 13Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Tony Brennan, John Williams and "others"


A ferry link could be set up between Porthcawl and Devon as part of the town’s regeneration plans.

Porthcawl Town Council has set up an action group to investigate the possibilities after hearing Swansea Council has backed plans for two high-speed catamarans to carry 360 passengers from Swansea and Penarth to  Ilfracombe and Minehead.

Councillor Sean Aspey has been liaising with Ilfracombe and said Porthcawl could adopt a similar idea, starting with a passenger link and perhaps even progressing to a full ferry service.

He said: "I used to live in Ilfracombe when I was younger, and both towns are virtually identical in the way they attract tourism.

"I would like to see Porthcawl as part of the ferry link. "In a letter to the council, he said: "I have been reading with great interest over recent months at the plans by Ilfracombe Town Council to establish a ferry link between itself and the Welsh coast.

"Both towns are seaside resorts which have a fair number of retired residents, and both have suffered in recent decades from under-investment.

"I would like to propose to the council that we establish a dialogue with Ilfracombe Town Council to express Porthcawl’s desire to feature in Ilfracombe’s regeneration proposals and vice versa.

"We would be constricted by tidal influences at first until our regeneration plans are complete, but even a limited service to and from Porthcawl would be highly desirable."

He said the high speed catamarans, which are being bought from in the Isle of Wight, would result in crossing times of little more than 35-40 minutes.

Councillor Alana Davies suggested setting up a working group to discuss the matter in more depth. This was agreed.

Councillor Gerald Davies said: "I think it’s a great idea.

A spokesperson for Ilfracombe Town Council said: "The boat is currently waiting for funding. I’m not sure how long that will take in the current climate.

"We see the ferry as a very useful link, and the more places and opportunities it can be used the better."



PONT-AVEN will be operating a Cork Harbour Cruise to coincide with the Cork Jazz Festival.

The cruise will be taking place on Saturday 25th October and will depart Ringaskiddy at 12:00 noon (check in will commence from 10:30) and then sail out to Roche's Point and return by 15:00.

There will be a variety of entertainment for all the family, including: Music: Jazz, Rock n' Roll and Easy; Listening; French and International Cuisine; Magicians for kids etc.

Fares: €18 Adults €13 Children or €55 Family (2 adults + up to 4 children)

Passengers must travel in cars which will be parked on board. Passenger numbers are limited to 1000.

In the event of bad weather the ship will remain on the berth - though the full range of entertainment and on board facilities will be available.

To book call 021 427 7801


QUEEN ELIZABETH 2 - Details are emerging of what will happen to the world-famous passenger liner QE2 when it retires next month to become a floating hotel in Dubai.

The plans are unlikely to appeal to QE2's traditional fans. Even the iconic silhouette of the world's best-known ship will change.

According to the liner's crew, the new owners in Dubai plan to slice off the giant red funnel, placing it on the waterfront as an entrance to the ship.

In its place will be a four-deck smoked glass penthouse, in the shape of the funnel but with a swimming pool. The idea is to make it the most exclusive hotel room in Dubai.

The lifeboats will all go. And extra rooms will be built on the deck towards the stern. Inside, every cabin will be ripped out and replaced with new, larger bedrooms that meet the latest standards.

And the ship's engines will be taken out, and the space used to create a new entertainment venue. "What's happening to the ship is very good," insists Captain Ian McNaught, QE2's master for the last five years.

"Because the alternatives are so awful. It could go to scrap and disappear. Or it could get run into the ground as an ignominious ferry in some backwater somewhere."

But surely many passengers would see the removal of the famous funnel as being in poor taste? "Yes, but wait until you see what's replacing the funnel," said Captain McNaught. "It's good."

The new owners of QE2 have been travelling on board for weeks, working out their plans. "They seem to change every day," said one engineering officer. "I don't like the sound of it - this won't be the QE2 we all know."

But the ship is 41 years old and well past its prime. QE2 may still be the fastest cruise ship afloat, but it does not meet the expectations of today's passengers, accustomed to the comforts of newer cruise ships. To bring the vessel up to modern safety standards would cost a fortune. Environmentally, the liner is a basket case with fuel economy: 49ft (15m) to the gallon.

QE2's great predecessor, QUEEN MARY, has been a floating hotel at Long Beach in California since 1967. It has now been a tourist attraction longer than it was at sea.

On board, it retains its magnificent art deco public rooms. But financially, keeping it open has often been a struggle. QE2 was sold for 50m. The buyer, real estate developers Nakheel, will spend far more than that before re-opening the liner to guests in 2010. It wants the ship as a centrepiece of Palm Jumeirah, the palm-shaped fronds of reclaimed land and beach on the Dubai waterfront.

Nakheel also announced plans this week for the world's tallest building: a skyscraper more than 1km (0.62 miles) high. The company has signed a "gagging" contract with Cunard that prevents it from talking about its plans until after the last passengers and crew have left the ship.

On Friday evening, QE2 sailed from Southampton on its 805th and last transatlantic round crossing to New York. It will leave its home port for the final time for Dubai at 1915 GMT on Tuesday 11 November. An enormous farewell is planned. [MARITIME CLIPPINGS/ BBC]


A survey of the wreck of the sail training ship ASGARD II has been carried out

The vessel lies on the seabed, in some eighty metres of water, close to where she sank, off the coast of France, on September 11, 2008. An initial underwater inspection has been carried out using an ROV (remotely operated vehicle). This indicates that the vessel is upright and largely intact. Damage to one of the hull planks has been observed but it is not possible, at this stage, to determine whether this has resulted from impact with the seabed or was the original cause of the sinking.

Further investigations are to be carried out before it can be decided if the ship can be raised.


BALMORAL made her first call at the Liverpool cruise terminal on Sunday October 12, 2008. However, local travel trade visits were cancelled at short notice due to the ship being closed to visitors following a reported outbreak of novovirus.


The number of passengers boarding Mersey Ferries’ Manchester Ship Canal tours has cruised past the 20,000 barrier for the very first time.

Merseytravel boosted the number of sailings operating along the route during 2008, as part of its commitment to Liverpool’s year as European Capital of Culture.

Demand for the cruises, one of the jewels in the Mersey Ferries crown, is up by almost ten per cent compared to last year.

The figure is almost double the 10,500 passengers in 2004.

Councillor Mark Dowd, Chair of Merseytravel which owns and operates the Mersey Ferries said: “The fact that these cruises are proving to be more popular, year on year, justifies our decision to continue to invest in the ferries. We are delighted that people, locally and from across the world, have supported the ferries like this.”

Neil Scales, Chief Executive and Director General of Merseytravel added: “The ferries business is incredibly important to us and we’re delighted with the success of the cruises. We promised extra Ship Canal services during 2008 and the passengers have followed that up with their support.

“We’ve invested more than £50million in the ferries’ business over the last ten years. In that time we have made improvements to all three ferries and terminals, including new and exciting attractions.”

The final Ship Canal Cruises of 2008 season will take place on Thursday 16th and Saturday 18th October from Seacombe, Wirral to Salford Quays and on Friday 17th and Sunday 19th October from Salford Quays to Liverpool.


PONTOONS could be a permanent feature of Penzance Harbour within the next six months.

Councillors on Penwith District Council's Overview and Scrutiny committee voted unanimously to complete the project before Penwith is replaced by the unitary council, in April 2009.

Following the meeting at St John's Hall, Penzance, committee chair, Conservative councillor, Derek Thomas, said it was important to spend the £78,000, allocated in 2005, while Penwith Council had control.

Cllr Thomas said the committee was going back to the drawing board to draw up new specifications for the pontoons.

He said the movable pontoons would be fitted with a lift feature for people with mobility problems.

Councillors are requesting that the Route Partnership managing the Penzance and St Mary's harbour redevelopment proposals provide disabled facilities in the wet harbour. [WESTERN MORNING NEWS]


The Royal National Lifeboat Institution is to invest £60m in its Welsh stations and vessels over the next five years. The unprecedented cash injection was hailed by the institution’s chief executive Andrew Freemantle as “an unparalleled sum in the history of the institution to be spent in one RNLI division”.

It will see the charity buying six £2.5m all-weather boats to be based around Wales’ 750-mile coastline in a move which will mean crews reaching those in need quicker. RNLI head of coast operations, George Rawlinson, said: “We believe the operational requirement and the sorts of calls we are getting demand a faster boat than we have already.

“Beach and sea users will feel safer knowing we have bigger and faster boats.” Mr Rawlinson said the institution will replace the existing Tyne Class boats it has at St Davids, Mumbles, Angle, Moelfre and Porthdinllaen with faster Tamar Class vessels. It has already upgraded its boat at Tenby. Speaking to AMs in Cardiff Bay, Mr Rawlinson said £43.5m would be spent on rebuilding or replacing stations to house the bigger boats, which travel at 25 knots compared with the Tyne’s 17 knots.

He added: “The speed differential over a long distance in bad weather makes a really big difference to our response times. It means we can get to people in distress much quicker. “Our aim is to provide a modern, efficient and safe fleet. “To do that we need to continually invest in our boathouses as well.” If planning permissions are granted to upgrade stations for Tamar Class vessels, the roll-out scheme could be complete by 2013. The boats also carry inflatable “daughter” vessels to rescue swimmers and surfers close to the shore where all-weather boats cannot sail.

Supporters say the daughter boats will save valuable time in reaching people in distress, rather than waiting for an inshore lifeboat to arrive. Mr Freemantle told AMs: “We provide a ring of safety of 100 nautical miles around our coast using a combination of all-weather and inshore lifeboats which, together, provide a lifeboat service regarded worldwide as being second to none.

“We are in a unique situation as charity. We provide a maritime search and rescue service at no cost to the taxpayer manned overwhelmingly by volunteers and, if for some reason the RNLI wasn’t able to continue, then we are probably one of the only charities the Government would have to seek to replace because the Government has an obligation to provide a sea rescue service.” The running cost of the RNLI in Wales, where it has 31 stations dotted around the coast, was £16m last year, or £44,000 a day.

The first lifeboat station in Wales was at Fishguard and opened in 1822, two years before the RNLI was established. The institution’s first Welsh base was at Barmouth and opened in 1828. In the last 10 years lifeboat volunteers have saved 954 lives and rescued 8,639 people.

Mr Freemantle said: “The 750-mile Welsh coastline is so rich and varied that it demands the highest proportion of slipway launched lifeboats in the UK. “In this respect, we urgently need to replace our ageing Tyne Class lifeboats.”

The charity also hopes to redevelop its stations at Llandudno and Barry Dock. Plans to revamp the Llandudno base were first revealed almost 10 years ago, but were rejected by councillors and later by an independent planning inspector.

RNLI head of estates management Howard Richings admitted the ongoing saga was “very frustrating” and would need to be resolved before the town could benefit from a bigger, faster lifeboat.

Institution chiefs, keen to avoid similar difficulties elsewhere, have asked AMs, including Assembly Minister Edwina Hart and Presiding Officer Lord Elis- Thomas, for “understanding, assistance and support”, should the RNLI lodge planning applications in their constituencies.

Outlining future building plans, Mr Richings: “We can only complete these if we have co-operation and sensible consultation, so we need people to understand why are doing this.”


October 08Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Dan Cross, Brian Chambers and "others"


VICTORINE is due in Rosslare Europort (with freight) on the October 1  9, sailing back to Rotterdam  at 17.30hrs, vessel will be carrying out berthing trails. [BRIAN CHAMBERS]


It appears from the lastest update to appear on the HMS WHIMBREL web site that the project has been "put into abeyance"  but reading between the lines this appears to be the end of the project:

The HMS WHIMBREL Project to be put in abeyance

It is with great regret that I have to report that we are putting in abeyance the HMS WHIMBREL Project. Our intention had been to acquire this Second World War Sloop (now the ENS TARIQ) from the Egyptian Government and to bring her home to her previous operating base in Liverpool.

There she would have been a memorial to those who served in the Battle of the Atlantic, a heritage site, a visitor attraction and an educational focus for the Atlantic campaign.

Despite a great deal of effort on our part, we have been unable to conclude a satisfactory agreement with the Egyptian Government to acquire the vessel. It is now clear that it just will not be possible to meet two conflicting needs: on the one hand the Egyptians have financial and presentational expectations; on the other we sought a price for the vessel that is both achievable and which would meet the wishes of our supporters and the regulatory bodies. The bottom line is that we could not agree a price.

We have therefore concluded that we have no alternative but to discontinue our work on the Project to acquire the vessel and bring her home. Since the vessel still exists, however, we are going to keep the Charity and Company Name going, so that if the Egyptian Government changes its mind the Project could be revitalised.

We would like to take this opportunity to express our thanks to all those who have given us such enormous support in our efforts over the years.

Vice Admiral Michael Gretton, CB, CVO, MA, FNI Chairman


Completed MAIB Preliminary Examination Summary Isle of Inishmore

Category: Merchant vessels

Vessel name: Isle of Inishmore

Manager: Dobson Fleet Management

Ship Owner: Irish Continental Group Plc

Port of Registry: Limassol

Flag: Cyprus

Classification Society: Lloyd's Register

Type: Ro-ro Passenger ferry

Built: 1997

Construction: Steel

Length overall: 182.5m

Gross tonnage: 34,031

Date & Time: 30 July 2008, 0130

Location of incident: Ro-ro berth, Pembroke Dock

Incident Type: Fire

Persons on board: 89 Crew, 227 Passengers

Injuries/fatalities: None

Damage/pollution: Nil/Thermal oil heater disabled


As Isle of Inishmore arrived in port, flames were briefly seen emitting from the starboard uptakes. On investigation, it was suspected that thermal oil was leaking into the thermal oil heater’s furnace from the heater coils. The thermal oil heater was turned off and its fuel supply isolated, and focus then shifted to switching the ship’s machinery fuel supply from heavy fuel oil to diesel.

A fire then broke out in the thermal oil heater and flames flashed out of the burner air intake igniting lagging and other materials in the engine room. This external fire was extinguished quickly, but the fire inside the heater furnace took much longer to completely extinguish as there was no means of closing off the air intake to the burner; there was no injection point into the furnace for an extinguishing medium; and the thermal oil in the coils could not be drained away as the heater was mounted horizontally.

The ship’s passengers were mustered during the emergency, but stayed onboard as the fire was contained and under control very quickly.

Action taken:

Lloyd’s Register has undertaken to review the rules governing thermal oil heater fire fighting arrangements and to highlight to IACS the issues arising from this accident.

The Deputy Chief Inspector has written to the ferry managers highlighting the safety issues that have arisen as a result of this accident. [MAIB]


NORMAN VOYAGER is due at 10:15 in Rosslare Europort on Sunday November 02, 2008 for berthing trials. She will be carrying 400 trade cars for the Irish market. She is due to return to Portsmouth at 13:30. [BRIAN CHAMBERS]


A brief visitor to Merseyside this week is the dredger WELSH PIPER (British Dredging / Cemex UK Marine) which is providing cover for the SAND SWAN which is out of service for a few days undergoing repairs.


RIVERDANCE - The last remains of the stranded RIVERDANCE will be gone in ten days.

That is the view of the man behind the demolition of the vessel, which has been beached between Blackpool and Cleveleys since January 31.

Contractors responsible for the demolition and removal of the boat have not been on site this week due to difficult weather conditions and rising tides, but they are confident they will be able to complete the job soon.

Mark Quinn, project manager for PGC Demolition, said: "We have been struggling with weather conditions recently but things are looking better for next week.

"By Monday October 20 we think the structure of the ship will be gone, then we will be on site for a further month scanning and raking the beach to check for any lose materials and restoring it to its original condition."



Stena Line has decided to take Stena Nordica out of traffic on the route Karlskrona-Gdynia. October 19 will be the last day for the ro-pax-ferry on the route. Low passenger numbers and increasing fuel prices are blamed for the decision.

The long term future of the vessel which was originally built as EUROPEAN AMBASSADOR for P&O is not yet known

At first STENA NORDICA will operate on the Fishguard-Rosslare route for a  while, but after that we don’t know what to do with her, says Joakim Kenndal, Head of Corporate Communications at Stena Line.

October 05Acknowledgements: Gary Andrews, Tony Brennan, Carol Chatten, Ian Collard, Michael Craig, Dan Cross, and "others"


Bibby Line Group announced on October 01 the launch of its new full-service ship management venture, Bibby Ship Management Group Ltd and said a tougher global economy had highlighted the need for more flexible shipmanagement expertise.

Managing director of the new company, Jon Osborne, said: “In an increasingly competitive market place, ship owners are looking for ways to optimise their own performance and consequently seeking partners who can provide the right level of expertise and flexibility. A one stop ship management offering perfectly fits that need.”

The move follows the decision by Bibby Line Group to end its involvement in Liverpool based Meridian Marine Management after receiving an undisclosed sum. The new company will bring together the Bibby International Services business with many of the former Meridian staff.

Bibby Ship Management Group Ltd will wholly operate a flexible, tailor-made ship management service comprising all aspects of specialist crew and technical management, including training, payroll, insurance, vessel inspection and accident investigation to third party clients.

Bibby Ship Management Group Ltd will be the umbrella company for subsidiary trading companies in the UK, the Isle of Man, the Ukraine, India, the Philippines and Singapore. The company will be headquartered in Liverpool.

The Ukraine company, formerly crew manning agency MA Olevent, is the newest addition to Bibby and was acquired in July to expand the company’s Eastern European market, particularly in the supply of crew to the offshore oil and gas industries “The business strategy for Bibby Ship Management is very clear – we are focused on strengthening our position in key markets and are planning to achieve significant growth over the short and medium term.”

Bibby Line is one of the most well known brands in the shipping industry, with more than 200 years’ marine experience. Throughout this history, the Group's philosophy has centered on maintaining its reputation for high quality,integrity and safety of operations.


In the financial year from 1 Oct - 30 September Brittany Ferries carried  2,735,000 passengers - an increase of 3%. 85% of passengers were British. Despite a strong performance on the new Poole - Santander route BF overall recorded a decrease in freight of 0.4% to 120,000


The on the future of the Campbeltown to Ballycastle ferry is now to go before the government ministers on both sides of the North Channel. No details have been forthcoming from last week’s briefing for councillors

from Argyll and Bute in Edinburgh about the Scottish Transport Appraisal Guidance, or ‘STAG’ findings on the best way to run the service.

Councillor Donald Kelly, South Kintyre, said: ‘I feel very disappointed that there’s still no decision been taken but I am hopeful of the positive outcome given that there was a ferry and an operator available at the  beginning of 2008 willing to operate the run for the original £1M subsidy.’ [CAMPBELTOWN COURIER]


QUEEN ELIZABETH 2 arrived a day early at Cóbh having omitted the scheduled call at Cherbourg on October 01 due to adverse weather conditions. She departed Cóbh on October 02 calling briefly in Manx Waters early on October 03. Photographs can be found on the IOM Today web site. [CLICK HERE]

Berthing at Liverpool was slightly delayed due to wind and tide conditions and she was not secure alongside until around 13:00. The final departure of QUEEN ELIZABETH 2 from Liverpool was marked with a firework display. [Photograph © Carol Chatten]


P&O EXPRESS ended her 2008 seasonal sailings prematurely. The Incat fast craft had been due to sail until Monday October 06, 2008. However, sailings on Saturday October 04, Sunday October 05 and Monday October 06 were announced as being cancelled with Troon traffic being routed by the conventional vessels on the Cairnryan route. However, it appears that a normal service had not operated fully since September 29 due to adverse weather conditions and technical problems. However, she did make one round trip to Cairnryan on Friday October 03, 2008.


STENA LYNX III completed her 2008 season last Sunday. This winter she is to lay-up at Dublin rather, than has been the custom in recent years, Birkenhead. She proceeded to Dublin on Thursday October 02.

During 2009 it appears she will operate a shorter season. The 2008 season ran from May 01 to September 28. However, it appears that it is only possible to book on like for the period May 14 to September 12 in 2009.

Given that STENA LYNX III is laying over in Dublin and the new schedules for Holyhead to Dún Laoghaire and Dublin have yet to be revealed speculation is growing that the STENA LYNX III may provide some shoulder period sailings instead of the HSS STENA EXPLORER.


Stena Line Freight has won the Shipping Line of the Year award at the prestigious Export & Freight Transport & Logistics Awards 2008. The awards ceremony is recognised as the premier event in the Irish transport calendar with the aim of identifying the best in the industry.

An independent panel of expert judges said that Stena Line Freight ‘ticked all the right boxes’ by its continual investment in ships, services and staff.

As the largest ferry operator in Europe, Stena Line Freight carries almost two million units a year and operates 44 sailings on the Irish Sea and North Sea.

Stena Line Freight commercial service manager Andy Kane collected the award from television personality Nuala McKeever at a glittering awards ceremony in the Ramada Hotel in Belfast.

"We are delighted to be named as the Shipping Line of the Year and believe this award is a true reflection of how we have performed to date."

Stena Line Freight commercial manager Frank Nieuwenhuys added: "We take pride in ensuring we provide a first-class service for our customers and this prestigious accolade is a true reflection of how Stena Line strives to stay ahead of the competition.

"We have continued to invest in our services and a prime example of this was the launch of our new £37 million terminal in the Port of Belfast in May. This investment came on the back of a £2 million refit of the Stena HSS on the Belfast to Stranraer route and a £5 million refit of the Stena Seatrader on the Dublin to Holyhead route. To this end, I would like to thank everyone who has contributed to our success," concluded Frank.

Stena Line Freight offers customers a choice of eight routes on the Irish and North Sea. These include Holyhead to Dublin Port, Fishguard to Rosslare, Stranraer to Belfast, Fleetwood to Larne, Killingholme to Hoek van Holland, Harwich to Hoek van Holland and Harwich to Rotterdam. The company also operates 30 sailings across six routes in Scandinavia, as well as other associated ferry routes.


BALMORAL - the ambitious plans to escort QUEEN ELIZABETH 2 at Cóbh (October 02); Liverpool (October 03); and Belfast (October 04) were all cancelled this week weather was blamed for the cancellation, however, gossip on other shipping discussion groups that low advanced bookings at Cóbh and the danger of having her marooned in Liverpool or Belfast played a part in those cancellations. Apparently advanced bookings for the three Clyde QE2 trips are heavy and the company did not want to jeopardise this income.

All in all a very disappointing outcome for those in the Cork, Mersey and Belfast areas - one must ask was such a programme to ambitious given the propensity for bad weather at this time of year?

October 01 


QUEEN ELIZABETH 2 will call into Manx waters on Friday October 03, 2008 en-route to Liverpool from Cóbh on her farewell Round Britain Cruise. She is expected to be in Douglas Bay from 06:45 to 07:30 having passed the Calf of Mann and Castletown.

To mark the occasion on the Isle of Man Regent Street Office in Douglas will open early at 06:45 for the sale of 2,000 limited edition QE2 commemorative envelopes (priced £8.50) produced to mark this grand occasion of the QE2 being the biggest vessel to ever visit the Isle of Man. Regent Street Post Office will adopt a rather nautical theme and will be filled with the sounds of maritime music. Isle of Man Post Office is encouraging everyone to come and be part of the celebration and pop in for a warm drink while down on Douglas Promenade seeing the world’s most famous ocean liner.

For those unable to visit the Regent Street Post Office, the special envelopes can be purchased online at .


The Plymouth skyline has been permanently changed with the removal of a giant fixed crane from Devonport Naval Base.

The mammoth structure, believed to be the largest submarine refuelling crane in Western Europe, had been an industrial fixture of the naval base since the 1970s.

The 1,450-tonne crane – the equivalent weight of around 1,200 cars – is the second enormous, familiar shape to be erased from Plymouth's waterfront skyline this year. The towering 1960s grain silo was demolished at Millbay Dock in April ahead of plans to create an additional freight storage area for the Brittany Ferries terminal.

Base Commander Commodore Ian Jess said: "A major part of the area's skyline has now been removed which is of great interest to many residents and thousands of people who work in Devonport and beyond."

The removal of the giant crane was a major engineering project and extensive planning was involved.

The work was carried out as a joint partnership between the Ministry of Defence and Babcock Marine's Devonport operation as part of a Future Nuclear Facilities programme.

The structure, with a lifting capacity of 80 tonnes, was located in the Submarine Refit Complex serving two adjacent nuclear-powered submarine docking facilities to support the refitting of Swiftsure and Trafalgar class submarines, and workshops, training and storage areas.

Roger Hardy, Babcock Marine's submarine managing director, said yesterday: "The removal of the refuel crane is a major milestone in the upgrade of the nuclear submarine facilities here at Devonport.

"It represents a significant step towards the completion of new defuelling facilities which will be constructed to the highest nuclear standards in the world."

Built in the 1970s, the Stothert and Pitt hammerhead cantilever crane had reached the end of its design life.

Its removal makes way for a new world-class, low-level defuelling facility (reactor access house and rail system), currently under development as part of the MoD £200 million Future Nuclear Facilities investment programme at Devonport. The work has been contracted to Babcock Marine and is due for completion in four to five years.

Babcock Marine recruited the services of Dutch heavy lifting specialist Mammoet (meaning mammoth in Dutch) to handle the project.

The firm was involved in raising the Russian nuclear submarine K-141 Kursk from the Barents Sea in 2001. The two main gantry beams used in this project were the original Kursk lift beams, extended for this application.

The process involved the hydraulic inch-by-inch transfer of the main high-level jib horizontally across temporary beams during good weather to a position directly over a dock while supported on shorter lowering beams. It was then lowered on to a floating barge.

Malcolm Smith, Babcock Marine's special projects director, said: "No nuclear submarines were in the vicinity during the lowering, and about 600 staff in the refit complex were moved during the work.

"This was a huge logistics exercise, in addition to the major engineering feat this project represents."

The crane will now be disassembled at the dockyard, and the metal towers dismantled. Disassembly will continue into January next year.


The decline of the china clay industry has forced Fowey harbour officials to rethink its operations and invest in a new tug.

The powerful and more efficient vessel was welcomed into port last week to replace the two previous tugs, PENDENNICK and POLMEAR.

The new tug renamed MORGAWR (Sea Giant) at a ceremony last week was previously Svitzer Towing's HOLMGARTH - which had been based at Cardiff.


Irish Ferries have announced a reduction in JONATHAN SWIFT sailings over the 2008 / 09 Winter Period. The company has been actively reviewing the schedule of its fast craft service for the less busy  winter season as a result of the continued high level of fuel costs.

With effect from 3rd November 2008, the JONATHAN SWIFT sailings between Dublin and Holyhead will reduce from two round trips per day to one round trip daily. The revised fast craft schedule will  be kept under ongoing review and will depend on prevailing  conditions, including fuel costs.

The withdrawn sailings, other than for the Christmas period between 19th December and 5th January, will be :08.45 hrs, Dublin to Holyhead - cancelled ( apart from any specified dates) 12 noon, Holyhead to Dublin - cancelled ( apart from any specified dates)

The revised total schedule for Irish Ferries Dublin / Holyhead route will be as follows:

3rd November '08 to 2nd April '09 inclusive:

Ex Dublin ( Daily)




8.05 hrs

11.30 hrs

Cruise Ferry

8.45 hrs

10.45 hrs

Fast Craft - 19 Dec to 5 Jan incl. only

14.30 hrs

16.30 hrs

Fast Craft

20.55 hrs

00.20 hrs

Cruise Ferry

Ex Holyhead ( Daily)




02.40 hrs

05.55 hrs

Cruise Ferry

12.00 hrs

13.49 hrs

Fast Craft - 19 Dec to 5 Jan incl. only

14.10 hrs

17.25 hrs

Cruise Ferry

17.1 5 hrs

19.15 hrs

Fast Craft

All existing bookings on the withdrawn sailings will be transferred to alternative sailings and customers will be notified accordingly.


Fastcraft sailings from Douglas to Liverpool were cancelled on September 30 and October 01, 2008 due to adverse weather conditions. Passengers being diverted to the BEN-MY-CHREE sailings to and from Heysham.


Plans to invest millions of pounds in Irish Sea shipping services from Birkenhead have been scuppered by the economic downturn and rising costs.

Norfolkline has been hit by a recession in Ireland, rising fuel costs, and a backdated business rates bill which is likely to soar into millions.

The roll-on/roll-off ferry operator was planning massive investment in new vessels with a view to increasing freight capacity by 70% and passenger traffic by 25%. But a slump in trade affecting Norfolkline's four vessels serving Belfast and Dublin from Birkenhead's Twelve Quays has changed all that.

Paul Woodall, route manager for Norfolkline since May, said: "There were big plans, but in the current economic climate things are looking pretty grim. The impact has been direct and volumes are down.

"A number of factors have all come together. Recession has affected the market in Ireland, fuel costs continue to fluctuate and we, along with many businesses, face huge backdated rates bills.

"The revaluation of rates could literally cost us millions and this will have to be passed on, there is no other way. And if transporting goods costs more this will be reflected in the shops and supermarkets."

He said there would be no choice but to rethink their business model to deal with circumstances but declined to say whether any of the vessels now in use would need to be withdrawn. [DAILY POST]



Coastal Container Line, part of Peel Ports Liverpool operation, is axing its Cardiff to Dublin service with the loss of 34 jobs. Its container business between Liverpool and Ireland is unaffected.


During October three metre deep trial pits and four bore holes are to be excavated on the Quay at Penzance by Birse Coastal as part of a ground and structure survey of the quay.

Results of the work will be used by Halcrow Group Ltd as part of proposed £23.84m harbour development works being proposed to improve passenger and freight facilities


Visit for Transport, Industrial Heritage & Regional Digital Photographs and Growing Online 35mm Archive

Irish Sea Shipping - What's New July 2008Irish Sea Shipping - What's New August 2009Back Home Up Next 

Irish Sea Shipping © John H. Luxton 1995-2018. Content © John H. Luxton and Contributors