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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 - November 2008

November 29Acknowledgements:  Gary Andrews, Jenny Williamson, David Fairclough, Roger Pescodd and "others"


The dredger which sank at Heysham harbour early this month was successfully refloated by contractors Svitzer Salvage BV assisted by the MERSEY MAMMOTH on November 25, 2008.


Club Cruise a company whose ships are well known visitors to the ports of the Irish and Celtic Seas are reported by Lloyds List to be in financial trouble.

Apparently the Norwegian loan trustee Norsk Tillitsmann has been given permission to commence forced sales of the Netherlands-based Club Cruise's ships after meetings in Oslo. Bond holders met this week to decide whether to call in bonds following a default by Club Cruise Entertainment & Travelling Services, operator of the cruiseship Van Gogh.

Norsk Tillitsmann obtained authority from bond holders to default three Club Cruise loans and start recovery proceedings.

Club Cruise operates a number of vessels including VAN GOGH, ASTORIA, ALEXANDER VON HUMBOLDT and ALBATROS.

Bremen-based operator Transocean Tours has cancelled a world cruise for the 18,591 gt ASTORIA following engine problems.

ALEXANDER VON HUMBOLDT was arrested this week in Ijmuiden but released following payments by the ship's charterer Phoenix Reisen.

Club Cruise subsidiary Van Gogh Cruises hit the headlines in April this year when VAN GOGH was arrested in Madeira. Third quarter results revealed that Club Cruise posting a loss of €12.4m ($16m) compared with profits of €4.1m for the same period last year.

The company also posted a loss in the second quarter after the sale of the DA VINCI at significantly below book value.

The Club Cruise difficulties come in the wake of the Travelscope collapse in December 2007. Club Cruise later set up the Van Gogh Cruise Line. However, Van Gogh Cruise Line ceased trading in April.


It has been reported that there is a plan to raise ASGARD II from it's watery grave

A plan to raise ASGARD II, which is lying at the bottom of the sea off the French coast, will be presented to the Irish cabinet before Christmas.

Willie O’Dea, the defence minister, hopes to commission a salvage company to raise the government’s training vessel so that it can be restored.

Officials are in negotiations with a specialist firm which submitted a “favourable” tender to raise the ship, which was designed in the 1980s by Jack Tyrrell from Wicklow.

If a deal is agreed, the company could raise the vessel from the seabed as early as next spring, weather and tidal conditions permitting. The operation could be paid for using money from the ship’s insurance policy.

ASGARD II was covered by Allianz, an international firm, for €3.8m. The Department of Defence is confident a full insurance payout would cover the entire cost of the salvage operation and a refit of the vessel if it is successfully refloated.

A survey of the sunken ship by a Remotely Operated Vehicle in September showed that ASGARD II is largely intact and could be saved, although it lies under 80 metres of water 31 km off the French coast in the Bay of Biscay.

O’Dea told the Dail that the underwater survey found damage to one of the ship’s hull planks, but it was not possible to determine whether this had resulted from impact with the seabed, or had caused the sinking.

The spot on the seabed where it ended up, with a sandy bottom and no rock formations, is thought to have helped to keep the vessel’s hull intact.

"It is hoped that a deal can be reached some time next week to begin the process of raising ASGARD II," said a government source. "The minister believes the vessel is a national treasure and it’s his intention to present an action plan to the cabinet which would see the ship being raised and restored.

"He has made no secret of the fact that he wants to save ASGARD II if possible."

The cost of commissioning a new sail ship would far exceed the insurance payout, and would reach €10m if an exact replica was created. That is unlikely, given the state of the public finances. The vessel was bought by the state for €635,000 in 1981.

O’Dea’s plan is supported by the board of Coiste an Asgard, the committee which maintained and operated the state owned vessel before it sank en route to La Rochelle to participate in a maritime festival last September.

It was due to undergo routine maintenance work in France but, according to the Department of Defence, was in excellent seafaring condition. Some marine experts believe the sinking may have been caused by a collision with a freight container which fell off a merchant ship.

Another possibility is that a sea cock, a valve that controls the flow of water between the vessel’s exterior and interior, ruptured and flooded the vessel, forcing its captain to abandon ship and order his crew into life rafts.

O’Dea is expected to receive a full report on the cause of the accident in the coming months from the Marine Casualty Investigation Board, a government agency. The French authorities are also expected to file a report on the accident.

Suzanne Coogan, a defence spokeswoman, said a decision on the tendering process was likely to be made shortly


It was reported in the November 09 news update that Fred. Olsen had no current plans replace the BLACK PRINCE on the Liverpool station once she is withdrawn at the end of her career in early autumn 2009.

It was mentioned at the time that there appeared to be a reluctance to use the West Langton Cruise Terminal for a second vessel.

The story appears to have gained a wider circulation following an article which appeared in the Daily Post on Friday November 28, 2008.

The newspaper quotes Marketing Director Nigel Lingard:

"We made it clear to everyone that long-term success would require improved passenger and ship operating facilities.

"Our success in building up a local market is not something we wish to sacrifice lightly, but it's not satisfactory to start anyone's dream holiday with a scrap-yard for scenery and abysmal passenger facilities.

"We find it virtually impossible to explain to potential customers why Liverpool has a much- heralded new cruise berth while we are berthed in a dismal industrial area."

The report suggests that the replacement of BLACK PRINCE would be BOUDICCA, though earlier rumours which surfaced on a shipping news group had suggested BLACK WATCH as a replacement.

Mr Lingard added: BOUDICCA has double the capacity (of BLACK PRINCE), but we are reluctant to commit her to Liverpool if our only option is Langton Dock."

Obviously Fred. Olsen Lines is jumping on the "Langton Dock" bandwagon first used by TUI-Thomson during late October.

However, the Daily Post report reveals that Fred. Olsen are yet to make a formal decision as to whether to abandon Liverpool or not if they have to continue to use the Langton Cruise Terminal.

Given the good local customer base it may be a decision they are reluctant to make - and given that a few months remain before they will have to finalise plans for the 2010 main season perhaps they may be reluctant to axe Liverpool as an originating port? Only time will tell.


ISLE OF INISHMORE - as the ship approached Pembroke Dock18- year-old Liam Robert Murphy was seen to climb over the upper deck rail and fall 20 feet onto the deck below.

Seconds earlier other passengers had seen him shouting and arguing with his mother, Pembrokeshire Coroner Michael Howells was told at an inquest at Milford Haven on Thursday.

Coroner's Officer Jeremy Davies said that Mr Murphy of Ballyndungan, Tagoat, Rosslare, had travelled with his parents from Ireland and was said to be very drunk when the incident occurred on Sunday May 4th. Another passenger saw him walk out of the door onto the deck, still shouting at his mother, and put one leg over the rail.

He said he thought he was joking and asked his mother if he was serious, and then saw him put his other leg over the rail and fall.

He died in Morriston Hospital five days later and a post mortem revealed a blood alcohol content of 222mgms, nearly three times the legal driving limit, and several fractures of the base of the skull. Recording a verdict that he died from traumatic head injuries sustained in a fall on the ship, having climbed over rail after consuming a considerable amount of alcohol, the Coroner said: "He made what I think was a stupid gesture." The Coroner added: "I am satisfied that proper and timely medical care was  given once the ship arrived at the port, but I can't say anything about the medical care available to him on the Ferry."



BEN-MY-CHREE - thick fog on the Mersey and approaches which led to the suspension of movements caused the BEN-MY-CHREE to abort it's Saturday sailing to Birkenhead and retreat back up the Lancashire coast to Heysham.


Reports in the local press on Saturday November 29 suggest that the £11.6m viewing tower proposed for the site close to the present port radar tower may become a victim of the credit crunch.

The Daily Post reports that plans to build an observation tower overlooking Crosby marina may have fallen victim to the credit crunch, according to some of those involved in the scheme.

Although there is still great support for the project, two of the people involved claim the current economic climate is hindering progress and warn “loans are not forthcoming at the moment”. But Walter Menzies, chairman of the steering group and chief executive of Mersey Basin Campaign, says the delay is simply due to finalising planning applications and a raft of other organisational details.

The 30m-high Mersey Observatory would provide expansive views of Antony Gormley’s iron men, the working docks, Liverpool waterfront, the Mersey estuary and across to Wirral and North Wales.

A futuristic “vase and bowl” design” was unveiled in March, after a competition saw London architects Duggan Morris beat off competition from almost 100 other entrants.

But since then little progress has been made.

And demolition of the old radar tower has been delayed around six months to some time this winter.

Ian Hamilton-Fazey, who is on the steering group for the project and chairman of Waterloo Residents Association, said: “It’s a shame the work hasn’t got under way yet.

“The project has been given priority status by all those involved with it, but is being held up by the financial crisis.

“The Mersey Waterfront board has endorsed the observatory in terms of taking it to the next stage. It is a top priority and is safe in terms of pecking order.

“There are some practical problems – until banks start lending money again, nothing can go forward. We need to be able to borrow on the strength of promised funding, but loans are not forthcoming at the moment.”

The main tower would feature a series of rotating ellipses towering 30 metres to the viewing deck. When viewed from the ground, it will glow like a table lamp at night.

A viewing platform would accommodate up to 200 people and a visitor centre would house an open-air amphitheatre, exhibition space and cafe.

Matthew Sutcliffe, spokesman for Mersey Basin Campaign – which is spearheading the project – said: “We are very hopeful and the steering group is still in place. It is critical at this point to act. We have got some funding in.

“It’s a shame we are unable to move at present but we are in the same situation as many other projects in the current economic climate.” However, Mr Menzies, denies the hold-up is due to financial constraints.

He says work on a planning application is in the early stages and discussions with potential public and private funders are progressing well.

He added that work on major projects for Capital of Culture year have taken precedence over progressing the scheme and says the disused radar tower standing on the land, which is owned by Peel Ports, is expected to be demolished this winter.

He hopes to be able to open up the site to the public next spring. He said: “We are hoping it will be possible to temporarily open up the site to give members of the public a sneak preview. Nobody’s been there for years and the views are truly spectacular.

“We haven’t been able to knock the existing tower down over summer as there was too much going on with the major canal extension that was taking place at the port.”

Planners are hoping to be able to erect information points during the public visits to stimulate further interest in the project.

The Mersey Observatory project is supported by Sefton Council, the Mersey Basin Campaign, Mersey Waterfront, Peel Ports, the North West Development Agency and Liverpool Biennial.

It will sit alongside the Sefton Water Centre, which is currently under construction.




The Museum will be playing host to a major new exhibition from 6 March to 21 June, 2009 telling the story of history’s most famous ship and her tragic sinking

Titanic Honour and Glory is an evocative show which depicts the tragedy of the giant vessel that sank on April 15, 1912.

The exhibition features many rare artefacts from Titanic’s passengers and crew including a silver pocket watch that stopped working at 02.28am -  the exact time the Titanic slipped beneath the icy waters of the Atlantic.  Other artefacts include a Stieff teddy bear, a good luck charm, belonging to William Moyes - the highly recognised senior engineer who struggled with many others to keep the ship afloat as long as they could.

An 18 karat Hunter pocket watch, a silver sugar dish, floor tiles, a baggage label and a solid silver cup belonging to the Titanic’s Captain, Edward John Smith, in recognition of his 25 years faithful service to the White Star Line, are just a few of the rich artefacts on display.

The exhibition also brings a bit of Hollywood to Falmouth with a number of props and costumes from the James Cameron blockbuster ‘Titanic’.  Kate Winslet’s dress and Leonardo DiCaprio’s costume are also on display and visitors to the exhibition can win the opportunity to wear the beautiful Heart of the Ocean necklace worn by Kate Winslet in the movie.

Jenny Wittamore, Assistant Curator at the Museum says: “It’s incredibly exciting to be able to bring this major new exhibition to the Museum and really important to us that we extend the existing display to include local connections to this epic moment in history.

Jenny asks: “If anyone has a connection with the Titanic, we would welcome hearing from you and sharing your story as part of the new exhibition.  Cornwall has a number of families who have some link to this great ship and it would be wonderful to be their voice and tell their story.”

The Titanic Honour and Glory exhibition is dedicated to preserving the legacy of the White Star Line and their fleet of ships which included the Olympic, Titanic and Britannic and many objects from all three ships are on display.

Please contact Jenny Wittamore on 01326 214538 or to discuss any history you may have with the Titanic.


MERSEY VIKING - has been transferred from the Italian to the UK flag, as was her sister LAGAN VIKING during the summer, as she comes to the end of the charter with owner Levantina Transport. 

DUBLIN VIKING: A jury this week recommended that the Dublin Port Authority should have full jurisdiction over ships leaving port and endorsed a number of recommendations made by the Marine Casualty Investigation Unit following the death of a Polish national.

Patrycjucz Zawadowicz (31) of Kosmanavtow, Poznan, was working as second officer aboard the Norfolk Line Dublin Viking on the night of August 7th, 2007, when the stern line snapped as the vessel was about to leave Dublin Port, fatally injuring him, an inquest at Dublin City Coroner's Court heard yesterday.

Minutes earlier Mr Zawadowicz gave an instruction for the stern line on the roll-on, roll-off ferry to be slackened.

However, crew member Rafal Zyskowski, who was simultaneously operating two winches at the time of the incident (one to raise and lower the ramp of the ferry and the other to loosen the rope) pushed the lever in the wrong direction, causing the line to tighten and snap.

Mr Zawadowicz was found by his colleagues lying on the deck in a massive pool of blood.

The ferry, which was bound for Liverpool, was under the management of Meridian Marine Management Ltd at the time.

Following its investigation into the incident, the Marine Casualty Investigation Unit detected 18 safety issues.

These included the deterioration of the stern mooring line which had resulted in its minimum braking load being reduced to approximately 50 per cent of its original strength.

One factor which directly contributed to the incident was the absence of an indication, either on the winch marking or in the manufacturer's manual, that the starting load could be much greater than the stated nominal load, the investigation found.



The "green" barge shuttling containers up the Manchester Ship Canal from the Port of Liverpool to the heart of the North West of England is now making a regular "bus stop" call at Ellesmere Port en route to Irlam Container Terminal.

The push tug DAISY DOARADO and barge discharged an initial 50 containers of organic molasses shipped into Liverpool's Royal Seaforth Container Terminal by Mediterranean Shipping Company from Paraguay, before sailing on up the Canal with boxes of Tesco wines bound for Manchester.

The molasses is being shipped into the UK by the Organic Division of Uren Food Group Limited, for distribution as livestock feed to organically certified farms.

Said Director James Uren, who founded the organic division of the family business 13 years ago: "The waterborne onward movement of the containers from the Port of Liverpool to Ellesmere Port fits well with the ethos of our organic activities and provides the most economic and environment friendly method of inland transportation."

The dawn discharge of the containers at Ellesmere Port was undertaken by Quality Freight (UK) Limited using their new £1 million Liebherr 150 mobile harbour crane. An hour later, the barge sailed for its next delivery stop at Irlam Container Terminal on the Ship Canal.

Sebastian Gardiner, Managing Director of Quality Freight (UK) Ltd said: "It was a text book discharge operation which we now expect to repeat on a regular basis for containers carrying not just molasses, but other cargoes bound for the North of England. Quality Freight is working with Peel Ports to grow the volume of freight moved by barge and reduce the road miles and carbon footprint of the logistics industry."

The liquid molasses is moved from Ellesmere Port to the Shropshire processing plant of Prime Molasses Limited for distribution to farms and animal feed manufacturers across the country. [PHOTOS: Peel Ports]


FORT GEORGE departed from Cammell Laird on Friday November 28 being moved across the river to Langton Lock by tugs from where she was taken to Gladstone Dock.


RIVERDANCE - The mammoth task of demolishing the stricken ferry has now been completed and an exclusion zone around the site has been lifted. Delighted Anchorsholme residents will now be able to access the beach again and a section of the Promenade, which had been closed since the ship was grounded at the start of January has been re-opened.

Hugh Shaw, Secretary of State's representative for the demolition operation, said: "The last piece of the ship was removed from the sand around 10 days ago.

"It caused a small problem for the demolition contractors because it was so far into the sand and the tides caused a delay.

"We had an agreement to do a full beach survey to ensure no fragments of metal were left in the sand and that was carried out on Tuesday. As far as we're concerned the beach has now been cleared.

"The exclusion zone was lifted at about 15:00 on November 29. "It brings to an end months of hard graft for PGC Demolition, the contractors tasked with cutting the ship to pieces.

Salvors attempting to save the ship had tried to refloat it but efforts proved unsuccessful.

The Environment Agency were initially concerned that fuel and cargo on board could leak out on to the beach, damaging water quality and fish.

But the cutting-up task was successful and Mr Shaw said the operation will now become a template for any future such operations.

The ferry also created a tourism boost for the North Shore and Cleveleys area with people flocking to the shore to see the wreck. Blackpool Council's deputy leader Councillor Ian Fowler praised the work of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency and contractors. "The whole episode has gone extremely well," he said. "Although some local residents think it has taken a long time that is because of the ecological care that was taken to ensure no oil spilled onto the beach." [BLACKPOOL GAZETTE]


A museum recounting the story of the doomed Titanic will be built in Northern Ireland after ministers gave the green light to a massive funding package Thursday.

The museum will be in Belfast, on the site of the shipyard where the ship -- which sank in 1912 after hitting an iceberg in the Atlantic Ocean, killing some 1,500 passengers and crew -- was built nearly 100 years ago.

The 100 million pound (119 million euro, 154 million dollar) Titanic Signature Project is likely to be a big draw in the city.

Officials expect the five-storey Titanic museum -- which will also cover Belfast's industrial, shipbuilding and maritime history -- to attract 400,000 visitors a year.

Work is due to start next year and it is expected to be open in time for the centenary of the Titanic's sinking in 2012.

The funding came alongside investment for a 150 million pound public transport system which will link the east and west of the city. [MARITIME CLIPPINGS]


Thick fog led to the suspension of shipping movements on the Mersey and approaches on Saturday November 29, 2008. Around 16 ships were showing up in the vicinity of the Bar Racon on AIS on Saturday evening. Among the ships delayed were the P&O and Norfolkline Irish Sea sailings. Vessels The reluctance to allow movements in restricted visibility being a consequence of the SEA EXPRESS / ALKASKA RAINBOW collision in early 2007.

November 22Acknowledgements:  Gary Andrews, John Pryce and "others"


MERSEY MAMMOTH set off from Liverpool bound for Heysham on the morning on Saturday November 22 bound for Heysham. After lying overnight  on the Gas Berth she  is expected on Sunday November 23rd to move to the South Quay to load various items of equipment prior to moving to the West Side of the fish quay, astern of the ABIGAIL H and commence salvage operations on the sunken dredger.


Insufficiently rigorous assessments of the viability of a ferry service between Ballycastle and Campbeltown in Scotland were carried out before a substantial amount of money was spent upgrading the harbour at Ballycastle, according to an Audit Office report.

Although the Scottish authorities were taking the lead, the Department of Environment in Belfast could have done more to satisfy itself the commitments being entered into were appropriate before expenditure was allocated, it said.

About £2 million of the £8 million spent on harbour improvements were specifically for the Campbeltown route, including some £500,000 additional payment to contractors because of the suspension and subsequent reinstatements of elements of the work.

The ferry route operated for three summer seasons between 1997 and 1999 before the operator withdrew because of unsustainable losses.

There were two unsuccessful attempts, in 2002 and 2005 , to reinstate the service with the offer of a £1 million a year subsidy.

The Scottish Government and the Northern Ireland Executive are currently re-examining the case for restoring the service.

Comptroller and Auditor General John Dowdall's report said: "We consider that the original assessment of the viability of such a high risk route lacked sufficient rigour. In particular, it is our view that the department

should have brought a greater degree of scrutiny to bear on the findings of the initial feasibility study in 1994 before committing to the provision of additional facilities in Ballycastle."

As a result of the failure, to date, to establish a viable ferry service to Campbeltown the additional facilities remain under-utilised and the roll-on roll-off linkspan is not in operation, it said.

Mr Dowdall said there were a series of lessons for public bodies in the handling of joint projects. He recommended that, while one party may be taking the lead role in a joint project, the other needed to take sufficient steps to satisfy themselves about viability.

He also recommended that in future joint projects it is essential that best practice guidance is applied appropriately, and that proper agreements are put in place in order to establish clear understandings as to the respective roles, responsibilities and accountability arrangements.

[The Buteman]


The recently published report for 2007 - 2008 by National Historic Ships reveals that there is no future for the "ton" class minesweeper which has been laid up at Vittoria Dock, Birkenhead since the closure of the Historic Warships Collection.

The report states: "National Historic Ships, has since its inception in 2006, sought a permanent home for this "ton" class minesweeper but without success. Therefore, to achieve a positive result National Historic Ships initiated and led a consortium (which included the Royal Naval Museum, Imperial War Museum, Chatham Historic Dockyard and the Mersey Docks and Harbour Company with support from the Museum, Libraries and Archives Council) to map out a deconstruction plan for the vessel. As a result, members of the consortium acquired parts, fixtures and fittings for their public collections and this some of BRONINGTON will be preserved in perpetuity.

At present the ship remains in Vittoria Dock along with HMS PLYMOUTH.


The Steam Packet had a choppy ride in Tynwald earlier this week as MHKs criticised 'very high' profits, larger than necessary freight charges, confusion over discounted fares and lack of scrutiny of the user agreement.

As debate got under way Alex Downie MLC accused the ferry operator of 'filling its boots' and alleged its Australian owner Macquarie had paid 'far, far too much' for the company and was now 'obviously trying to maximise their profits and get as much as they possibly can out of the system'.

Peter Karran (LibVan, Onchan) accused the Steam Packet of 'abusing its position' and freight charges were 'crucifying' Manx businesses.

Tynwald is debating a select committee report into Steam Packet fares and charges, standards of services and adherence to the user agreement with the government.

The report outlines a series of hard-hitting recommendations including a call to renegotiate the fuel surcharge agreement to ensure surcharges better reflect fuel prices.

Committee chairman Speaker Steve Rodan said the wide-ranging investigation had concluded fares in 2007 appeared to be very competitive and offered value for money when compared to other Irish Sea operators.

The fare increase of 3.39 per cent for the year 2006 to 2007 was 'not excessive' and in accordance with the user agreement formula.

But he said there was confusion over discounted fares which were only available by booking online, while the cheapest price may not relate to any of the advertised types of fare.

Mr Rodan said the committee was recommending that the fuel surcharge agreement be renegotiated to 'clarify uncertainty and reflect current market prices'.

And he said the committee's inquiries showed that the level of profit when compared to other European ferry operators was 'very high' and justified further examination.

The report shows that the company's profits quadrupled from £4.1 million in 2000 to £17.5 million in 2006.

The Steam Packet had failed to provide a copy of its 2007 audited accounts as requested, despite reminders and assurances they would do so, MHKs were told.

Mr Rodan said that freight charges could be reduced significantly for the benefit of the Manx economy while still retaining an adequate return for the company.

There was also criticism for the Department of Transport which Mr Rodan accused of being 'somewhat lax in its scrutiny of the user agreement'.

The department had been 'happy' to approve fare increases without questioning the freight rate element in the calculation.

Regular meetings with the Steam Packet over the user agreement appeared to be quite informal, even to the extent that they weren't minuted, the Speaker said.

He said the DoT had a role as regulator of the user agreement. 'What it is not is their passive partner or defender of the company,' he told Tynwald.

He said the committee's recommendations would ensure the travelling public and freight users benefited from agreed standards of service at the most economical cost while allowing the company to function profitably for the benefit of its customers and shareholders.

The committee is recommending a Steam Packet liaison group is set up to monitor compliance with the user agreement and that the DoT checks comparable Irish Sea freight rates when considering planned fares and charges increases. The Office of Fair Trading should also be involved in talks over fare rises.

Timetables and fares should be clearly available to passengers in brochure and electronic form and the DoT should hold talks with the

Steam Packet over investment in new craft, the report also concludes. The fuel surcharge agreement should be renegotiated and a consultative body be set up to deal with complaints from the travelling public, the committee recommends.The debate began on Tuesday morning and continued throughout the afternoon.

In his closing speech, Mr Rodan said while a copy of the firm's 2007 audited accounts hadn't officially existed when asked for, he couldn't see why they couldn't be produced voluntarily by a precept of Tynwald.

More than 20 members spoke during the lengthy debate, which began on Tuesday morning and continued throughout the afternoon. Mr Rodan said he hoped the DoT and Steam Packet both separately and together would go through the report paragraph by paragraph.

The report was received and its recommendations approved. Peter Karran (LibVan, Onchan) was the only member to vote against.

[IOM Today]

The Isle of Man Steam Packet Company responded to the Tynwald debate as reported by IOM Today:

Chief executive Mark Woodward said the company welcomed the Tynwald debate on a select committee report on the Steam Packet.

He added: 'Much reference was made to freight charges and I feel that some clarification is required.

'The user agreement provides a package of obligations for the company to fulfil, many of which are loss-making.

'Our freight service helps us provide a sufficient level of income to enable us to carry out those loss-making services.

'The report acknowledged that freight charges are 20 per cent lower than those in the Channel Islands.

'However, when making comparisons against other routes, it chose to compare our freight charges with other large volume carriers. Some of these comparisons were misleading, in that those companies operate freight sailings that are typically 95 per cent of capacity – our freight carryings are typically only 25 per cent of Ben-my-Chree capacity.'

He said the report acknowledged the Steam Packet had invested more than £80 million in its vessels and port infrastructure in the past decade, plus more on annual refits.

'The profit figures quoted by the committee do not take into account the substantial amount of interest payable on that fleet investment or annual depreciation costs,' explained Mr Woodward.

'In fact, on a like-for-like and inflation-adjusted basis, the net profit today is not dissimilar to the profit levels pre-1995, when the Company was a PLC.'

Mr Woodward continued: 'The fuel surcharge system that has been in place since 2005 is one that allows for a six-monthly review of the fuel surcharge, as regulated by the Department of Transport, and ensures that any fuel surcharge can only be introduced retrospectively on the basis of worldwide fuel costs.

'Looking at the present situation, the result is that we are only now recouping some of the money that we spent on higher fuel charges earlier this year.

'However, the amount that is being recouped is only a quarter of that which we spent – fuel costs rose by £4.4 million in 2008, whereas surcharge income rose by £1.1 million.'

He said it was 'disappointing' that the report's findings that the company was competitive on passenger fares and that it fully complied with and exceeded the requirements of the user agreement were 'barely touched upon during the Tynwald debate'. But he added: 'We will work with the Department of Transport to consider the recommendations and how best they can be implemented.'

[IOM Today]

Travelwatch Isle of Man Responded to the Tynwald Debate with the following statement:


TravelWatch Isle of Man warmly welcomes the report of the Tynwald Select

Committee and are pleased with the thoroughness with which passenger concerns have been investigated. We very much welcome Tynwald’s decision to approve all the recommendations made by the Committee.

TravelWatch chairman Brendan O’Friel comments: "We believe that much important information has very properly now come into the public arena." Brendan has also challenged the Steam Packet Company to take on board the criticisms made in the debate – and act on them within 12 months. Some of these can be addressed without significant cost and could considerably improve the Company’s relations with its customers.

TravelWatch welcomes the decision to establish a Consultative Body for both Air and Sea Transport.

The Consultative Body needs to be proactive in addressing passenger interest issues, some of which were brought out in the Tynwald debate, some in the Select Committee report and others which have been drawn to our attention by the travelling public. Tynwald clearly indicated that the new body should deal with all matters of travel including unresolved complaints relating to both sea and air travel.

Customer satisfaction requires more than compliance with the User Agreement – as was clear from the debate. Issues to be covered include:

Punctuality, reliability and convenience of schedules (for on and off Island connections) are important issues for passengers which require consultation.

Diversions and cancellations often have significant knock on implications for passengers. Consultation about the detail of handling service disruption should bring benefits for all parties.

The Steam Packet Company has indicated a more sympathetic approach to "emergency travel" pricing. How this might work should be the subject of consultation.

We welcome the Company being asked to look again at its pricing policy for small vans for private use.

Access is a substantial concern for the Consultative Body to address. Concerns range from the lack of disabled access on the Snaefell, late boarding of wheelchair users and uncertainty over pedestrian and disabled access arrangements to the new terminal at Liverpool. An early issue for theConsultative Body will be the access arrangements on the MANANNAN (Incat050).

We believe that this Consultative Body should work with the transport operators and the Department of Transport, to achieve improved levels of customer satisfaction.

We welcome the decision to renegotiate the Fuel Surcharge Agreement and to involve the Office of Fair Trading in negotiating any future increases.

Given the Minister of Transport’s desire that any changes should be "in the best interests of the public" we recommend that:

wider consultation is required as to how such surcharges may equitably be applied, and the frequency with which reviews should take place. Whilst the current arrangement may have led to stability and simplicity of administration, the lack of transparency leads to public confusion and the infrequency of review is out of line with industry practice.

surcharges are only acceptable on a short term basis and that the new agreement should only be for a limited period. This is as well as making allowance for the different grades of fuel used by the BEN-MY-CHREE and the fast craft, and taking into account forecast future fuel costs.

We also welcome:

● the decision to put the Department of Transport Liaison Group onto a more formal basis and ask that issues such as the scrutiny of timetables should involve the new Consultative Body, so that customer as well as operational views are considered.

● Tynwald’s backing for our call that complete Fare and Timetable information should be provided in both brochure and electronic form.

● Discussion being opened over further fleet investment during the currency of the present user agreement.

TravelWatch Isle of Man spokesman Dick Clague comments: "I believe that the proposals accepted by Tynwald will provide an opportunity, rather than a guarantee, for many important matters of passenger concern to be progressed.

The challenge to all parties is to make sure that this opportunity is not missed." TravelWatch Isle of Man therefore looks forward to continue building on the existing constructive liaison with various Government Departments, and having the opportunity to work alongside the Steam Packet Company in future.


The tendering process for the building of a new Scilly-Penzance passenger/cargo ship will have to be repeated.

"The Route Partnership is not satisfied with the results of the initial tendering exercise," said its chairman Philip Hygate "and has decided to revisit the market." The need for value for money was the key.

"Setback" was not the right word to use, said Mr Hygate, who, however, called the process "disappointing" and admitted there could be some timing implications.

"However we're still able, we think, to accomplish the original timescales providing we can move swiftly in the tendering."

Initially expressions of interest – not one UK-related – had been indicated by four European yards embracing France, Spain, Italy and Germany. One pulled out and of the remaining three just one responded to the European Journal notice by the deadline.

"Unfortunately only one of those translated into a firm price for construction and it wasn't enough to satisfy the treasury and generally convince that we would get value for money."

The re-tendering process was "not an unusual thing to happen for a scheme of this size".

They would go out again as they had done originally "but actively contact shipyards through Europe and possibly further afield to get more interest this time".

The ship, whoever builds it, will carry 600 passengers (450 inside, 150 out), all freight, operate all year round and is due to take up service in the early summer of 2011.

It will have improved comfort, be 10m longer than SCILLONIAN III and 26m longer than the freighter GRY MARITHA. It will containerise as much as possible and have a single crane. It will, however, be only marginally quicker than the existing ship.

Project Manager Nicola Yeates said they had investigated speeds from 15 knots to 25. "There is a considerable and quite dramatic difference in the fuel which is consumed." It could lead to more fuel being used with the knock-on effect on ticket price.

The scheme's second island consultation – dismissed by one islander as "pretty pictures but not solutions" – showed little height reduction in the controversial timber-clad, metal-roofed freight storage shed on St Mary's quay and montage shots failed to reveal the impact when viewed from the St Mary's Strand.



STENA CALEDONIA - hydraulic problems with the linkspan at the new Belfast VT4 berth resulted in the ship having to use the former terminal on Tuesday November 18.

November 19Acknowledgements:  Gary Andrews, Andrew King, John Pryce and "others"


Svitzer are employed on the salvage of sunken dredger ABIGAIL H as of last Monday. The small tug TIOGA B owned by Bay towage of Barrow is employed by Svitzer for floating base for divers and are working on the wreck at present.  It is understood that the MERSEY MAMMOTH is due at Heysham on Sunday with a view to lifting the wreck. 


North Western Shiprepairers made the much anticipated transition to this week and assumed the name Cammell Laird Shiprepairers & Shipbuilders Ltd with new signage appearing outside the Birkenhead yard. The company's web site is on line at


Irish Continental Group plc (ICG) issued its second Interim Management Statement for 2008 which covered the period from 1 July 2008 on November 17.

It should be noted that ICG’s business is significantly weighted towards the second half of the year (particularly the third quarter) where normally a higher proportion of the Group’s operating profit is generated than in the first six months.

Trading- Year To Date

Group revenue for the nine months to 30th September 2008 was €265.5 million (2007: €269.2 million), while operating profit (before non trading charges) for the nine months was €37.5 million compared with €44.6 million in the same period in 2007. This result was achieved despite Group fuel costs being 60% higher at €40 million (versus €25 million in the same period in 2007).

In the year to date (to 31 October 2008), passengers carried are down 5.5% at 1,318,000, while car numbers are down 6.4% at 335,000. RoRo freight volumes in the same period are down 6.6% on last year’s record performance at 207,000 units. Container freight volumes are 1.8% higher than the previous year at 450,000 teu, while units handled at our port terminals are ahead by a similar percentage.

Fuel prices have eased considerably from the historically high levels seen in mid year. The current price for heavy fuel oil is in the region of €225 - €250 per tonne, compared with an average in the nine months to 30 September 2008 of €384 per tonne (and an average of €243 per tonne in the corresponding period in 2007). This is providing a counterbalance to the weaker demand environment.


Net debt at 30 September 2008, was €55.5 million, down from €70.3 million at 30 June 2008. This is the lowest level of net debt since 1994 and leaves the Group in a very strong financial position.

Material Events

On 22 October 2008, the Board received an approach from Moonduster Limited in which it was stated that Moonduster would seek to engage with the other major shareholders with a view to potentially bringing forward an offer for the Company.

Shareholders are reminded that the approach from Moonduster remains extremely preliminary in nature. In addition, there continues to be no guarantee that any discussions between Moonduster and the other major shareholders of the Company will result in an offer for the Company.  Moreover, no details have been provided to the Board regarding the offer price at which an offer for the Company may be proposed, nor has the Board received any information regarding arrangements for the financing of such an offer or of the conditions to which the financing and making of such an offer may be subject. Consequently, there continues to be no certainty that an offer will ultimately be forthcoming.

In light of the above, the Board announced on 23 October 2008 that it had decided to defer a decision on whether to proceed with a redemption of redeemable shares for a period of six weeks from that date.

Further announcements regarding both the Moonduster approach and any redemption of redeemable shares will be made when appropriate.


The overall economic environment remains challenging. We have adjusted the frequency of our fast ferry service from Dublin to Holyhead from two round trips a day to one round trip during the off season. This will lead to fuel and other operational cost savings to counteract the weaker passenger demand. We have also taken further steps to reduce sales, distribution and other overhead costs.

In our Container and Terminal division we have recognised the need, under current market conditions, to optimise capacity and to exploit the economies of scale offered by larger vessels. All of our vessels are time chartered and charter rates are easing in response to market conditions.

These measures, combined with a lower level of fuel costs, will help to offset the effects of reduced demand in the marketplace. Furthermore, our strong balance sheet and low cost base ensures that we can continue to compete in this demanding environment.


The debate on the recently published Tynwald Select Committee Report was on Tuesday November 18, 2008. Coverage and comment of the November 18 proceedings can be found on IOM Today [Click Here]


PISTIS - on Friday 14th November the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) detained a vessel in Liverpool.

The Panamian flag 41,016 GT bulk carrier PISTIS had berthed in Liverpool to discharge a cargo of grain and was boarded by surveyors from the MCAs Liverpool Marine Office, who arrived to conduct an overriding priority Inspection following information received from the UK Border Agency.

The inspection of the PISTIS revealed that the vessel had several deficiencies indicating a lack of proper maintenance of the ship and equipment, crew quarters were also inspected and also found to be in a very unsatisfactory condition, and it was therefore detained.

Pat Dolby, Head of the MCAs Inspection Branch said:

Ship owners have a duty to ensure that vessels are properly maintained and that living accommodation comes up to the required standard. Both the unacceptable maintenance regime and the inadequate standard of its crew accommodation are cause for concern.

We will not hesitate to detain vessels such as this one which pose a serious threat to the safety of its crew.

PISTIS eventually departed Liverpool on November 22, 2008.


CLIPPER PANORAMA is due at Heysham the second week in December to join CLIPPER POINT on Heysham to Warrenpoint service.  The CLIPPER POINT left Heysham early hours of November 17 for Liverpool where I believe the quayside to ships stern door extensions were tested.  She arrived back at Heysham in the afternoon to take the evening sailing to Warrenpoint up again. 

November 15Acknowledgements:  Gary Andrews, Dan Cross, Jenny Williamson, John Pryce and "others"



Information received this week concerning the dredger ABIGAIL-H which sank at Heysham nearly two weeks ago.

As of 14:30 on Thursday November 13 it seems the possible refloating attempt has been stopped for reasons not known and there are only two possibly three excavators secured to the wreck now instead of nine previously and there are two road vehicles with heavy winches also attached.

It appears that salvage work will involve the floating crane Mersey Mammoth which is expected around 10 days time for salvaging the wreck. The wreck has a slight list to starboard and the stern is laying off the berth.


QUEEN ELIZABETH 2 made her final departure from Southampton on Tuesday November 11 bound for Dubai and conversion into a floating hotel. Jenny Williamson who is a regular contributor to Irish Sea Shipping was on a special SS SHIELDHALL cruise that evening on the Solent. She has uploaded a number of clips to YouTube which should be of interest.

QE2 fireworks display (and whistles)
QE2 final farewell (with whistles)


It has been reported this week in the maritime press that the River Fal in Cornwall, which has been a popular location for cheap lay-ups during previous economic downturns has been experiencing a steady stream of enquiries recently for the lay-up moorings which can provide accommodation for around twelve going vessels.

In recent years few ships have been laid upon the Fal, however, in the past during periods of economic turmoil the moorings have played host to many well known ships awaiting charter, sale or scrapping.


ISLE OF INISHMORE arrived at Harland & Wolff for maintenance on November 13, 2008. Her place on the Pembroke route is being taken by the OSCAR WILDE with her own French railings cancelled until next Wednesday.


Lieutenant Commander Roberta O’Brien made Irish Naval history on Friday November 14, 2008 when she became the first female commander of a Naval Service ship.

Roberta (31) from Aherlow, Co. Tipperary joined the Naval Service as a Cadet in 1995 and has previously served on board L.E. NIAMH, L.E. EMER, L.E. DEIRDRE and L.E. AOIFE and has also been in charge of Naval Cadet training for the 43 Naval Cadet Class.

Roberta holds a Bachelor of Science Degree from NUI Galway, a Post Graduate Diploma in Marketing from UCC and Naval Watchkeepers Certificate from the Naval College. Her family has strong military links with both her grandfather and uncle having served in the Naval Service and her own brother and sister currently serving in the army. Her husband is an army officer, Captain Peadar O’Cathain.


CLIPPER PENNANT - The fourth and final RoRo vessel for Seatruck Ferries,  was launched from Asitlleros de Sevilla on Wednesday 15 October 2008. After the successful launch she was moored alongside the berth where the superstructure was waiting to be lifted onboard.

At the same time the second vessel of the series, CLIPPER PACE, was undergoing final outfitting while the third vessel, CLIPPER PANORAMA, was undergoing seatrials off Cadiz.

Knud E. Hansen A/S has been working closely together with Clipper, Seatruck Ferries and Astilleros de Huelva in developing this design from the concept stage through to basic design, class approval and delivery documentation.



Lorries have brought a truck load of problems for people living on Fleetwood's Dock Street.

But now there is hope of a solution to the lack of sleep and parking nightmares.

After a petition from people living in flats overlooking the Stena cargo terminal, police, Wyre Council, Associated British Ports and the shipping company themselves have got together to tackle the problem. Campaigner Peter Smethurst said: "It's pleasing to know someone is listening and there are movements afoot.

"A weight restriction and no overnight parking would be ideal, and perhaps even residents-only parking. I don't know why the great minds can't think of these things."

A meeting of the concerned bodies agreed a number of actions. They are to encourage drivers to use an overnight parking area on Fleetwood Dock with haulage firms possibly being invoiced the £5 charge. Firms will be contacted by Stena about the problems of the noise of engines and parking and that drivers should get information about litter nuisance.

A 7.5-tonne weight restriction for areas away from Dock Street will be strictly enforced and the possibility of a change in restriction for Dock Street would be looked at.

There will also be a meeting between Wyre Council and residents to identify hot-spots and community concerns.

Councillor Clive Grunshaw, who was petitioned by the residents, said: "I'm delighted the serious problem caused by the HGVs coming to and from the ferry terminal are at last being taken seriously.

"It's also good to see a multi-agency approach to this problem. We may now see some real progress being made."

November 09Acknowledgements:  Gary Andrews, Ian Collard, John Pryce, Tony Brennan and "others"


ABIGAIL-H (ex GOOLE BIGHT) sank in the early hours of Sunday November 02, at Heysham harbour. Previously owned by Humber workboats she is now owned by Fleetwood interests believed to be Wyre Marine.

By November 05 the ship was virtually on it's side and under water, after a few days of the bow being still buoyant. Nine hydraulic excavators are at present lined up ashore of the wreck site all with wires or chains attached to the wreck.  There is also a hydraulic winch assisting. 

Following this  wreck is virtually upright again and back against the quay.  The intentions are probably this Thursday after a large spring tide that at low water the hole would have been patched up and enough of the ship will be showing above the water to pump the ship out and eventually refloat it. 

The floating crane MERSEY MAMMOTH was mentioned as a possible candidate to be used in the salvage but has been eliminated at the present. 

A pollution boom is around the wreck and also one on the opposite side of the Harbour where the Power Station water inlets are located, but by the morning of Sunday 9 November there was a strong smell of diesel and a substantial amount present in the dock. 


The former well known Aker Yards have changed their name to STX Europe reflecting the fact that South Korean-based STX Business Group is the company's principal shareholder, with an ownership stake of 92.46 percent.



Dredging a deep-water channel to Falmouth Harbour to open it up to larger vessels can be done without harming the environment, a major new study has revealed.

The operation would make it possible for some of the world's largest cruise liners to dock at the Cornish harbour town.

Yesterday findings of the £410,000 environmental impact assessment (EIA) were revealed.

The EIA was carried out by environmental consultants Royal Haskoning with Natural England and the Environment Agency. Funding came from the South West Regional Development Agency and the Objective One Partnership.

The overall project is being run by Falmouth Harbour Commissioners and supported by a range of local marine businesses including A&P Falmouth Ltd.

Mark Sansom, Falmouth Harbour Commissioners' chief executive, said: "This project has the potential to make a significant impact on the local economy and so we are delighted that this study shows it could be achieved within the necessary environmental constraints. "We now need to work with our partners to further develop the economic case for the scheme to include the potential for opportunities which have arisen since the dredging scheme was first initiated.

"These include looking at how Falmouth could benefit from the significant future development of the offshore renewable energy sector such as providing deep-water access for the deployment and servicing of wave and wind energy devices."We will be showing the full findings of the EIA as well as answering questions about the proposed project."

The report found that dredging will not have an adverse long-term effect on the integrity of the Fal and Helford estuaries Special Area of Conservation.

Removing dead maerl – a collective term for several species of calcified red seaweed – and relaying it over dredged areas in the new channel will maintain protected maerl habitats. There would be no impact on bathing water quality on Falmouth's beaches.

The project has yet to get Government permission to go ahead. Tom Hardy, marine conservation officer for the Cornwall Wildlife Trust, said: "Our concern is that dredging causes minimal damage to the area. There is no proof that this can be done without damaging this important habitat."



It is understood that Fred Olsen currently have no plans to reallocate another ship to Liverpool based cruises after BLACK PRINCE is withdrawn in September 2009. There appears to be a reluctance to use the West Langton Cruise Terminal. They would have preferred to have been able to change passengers over at the Pier Head Cruise Terminal, but that facility is not being made available to them for turn rounds, and it will only be used for calls by ships in transit which are bringing day visitors to the city.


In line with the falling price of oil in recent weeks, Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines has reviewed its policy regarding fuel supplements.

For cruises commencing after 1st January, 2009, passengers will be refunded their fuel supplement if the price of Brent Crude Oil 1M (as quoted in the Financial Times) converted to Sterling is, on average, less than £40 per barrel in the previous calendar month before their departure.

In these circumstances, the refund will be provided in the form of a credit to their on-board account for their cruise. No cash alternative will be offered.

Fuel supplements will remain in place subject to the refund policy outlined above.



INCAT 050 - the company has announced that the vessel which is currently being rebuilt in Portsmouth will carry the name MANANNAN. The vessel taking it's name from Manannán mac Lir the Celtic God of the Sea.

The choice of name is unusual in that it is not a traditional IoMSPCo name though, it does reflect the company's desire to promote the island's heritage and perhaps could be best described as "new traditional". 

Irish Sea Shipping is aware that not everyone welcomes the new name and there is some gossip "on the waterfront" which suggests that the name could be victim of mispronunciation or lack clarity when it is broadcast by radio, on the media or announced over PA systems.


With the end of the 2008 fast craft season SNAEFELL sailed to lay up at Alexandra Dock, Liverpool on Tuesday November 04, followed by VIKING on Wednesday November 05. The company claim that despite her low wave operating height she has averaged over 97% reliability record in recent years.


The Tynwald Select Committee report on the Isle of Man Steam Packet company has been published.

Following publication of the report the company issued the following statement:

The User Agreement, approved by Tynwald, has proved highly successful for the Isle of Man. The stability which the User Agreement has provided has enabled the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company to invest with confidence, leading to enormous improvements in services since its introduction.

The Select Committee has confirmed that the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company is 100% compliant with the User Agreement.  The Committee’s report also confirms that passenger fares are very competitive, indeed, significantly cheaper than comparable routes, and confirms no differential in fares to or from the Isle of Man.  In addition, the report confirms service quality also comparable to alternative routes, and includes details on huge service improvements seen since 1995 – passenger services to Heysham have doubled and Liverpool services have trebled.

The UK economy has grown strongly over that period, but over the past 13 years most UK ferry operators’ traffic has declined, typically by 30%.  The Isle of Man Steam Packet Company investment in craft, services and competitive fares has, in contrast, helped stimulate growth of around 50%. 

The Isle of Man Steam Packet Company has always acknowledged that its freight charges may be higher than some volume carriers. This is due to a combination of low traffic volume, low vessel utilisation, high port dues and crew costs, and the obligation under the User Agreement to provide many loss-making services. However, Isle of Man rates are less than Channel Islands standard rates, which we believe is a more fair comparison. 

The Isle of Man Steam Packet Company will work with the Department of Transport with regard to any report recommendations.

Robert Quayle, Chairman of the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company, said, “The User Agreement has brought enormous benefits to the Isle of Man and we are encouraged that the Select Committee recognises that we are fully compliant with it and that passenger fares remain very competitive.”


Following reports in the Daily Post concerning Thomson being unable to use the Liverpool Cruise Terminal at the Pier Head (see below) it was reported later in the week by the same newspaper that talks were underway to make the necessary improvements to the present Pier Head facility:

Upgrading Liverpool's Pier Head to become a base for cruise liners to start and finish their journeys moved a major step closer last night.

Steve Broomhead, chief executive of the North West Development Agency, said his group was fully behind upgrading the current £20m Cruise Liner Terminal – which currently only acts as a port of call.

The Daily Post revealed on Monday that cruise giant TUI was not proceeding with initial plans to introduce Liverpool into its Thomson Cruises schedule after two test visits.

As there are no baggage handling facilities, customs, or immigration available to service the Cruise Liner Terminal, voyages starting or ending their journey have to use the rather primitive Langton terminal in Bootle.

It is deep in north Liverpool's freight dock system, rather than the new terminal next to the Pier Head which is in the shadow of the historic Three Graces.

Last night Mr Broomhead said the facilities needed to transform the Liverpool Cruise Liner Terminal into a full turnaround destination would cost about £500,000.

"I am behind making sure we get full turnaround facilities. The cruise term-inal is one of the most successful projects that the agency has been involved in.

"We have re-opened that gateway to the world, but we want people to be able to start and end their voyages in Liverpool.

The terminal was built with money from the EU, the NWDA, and the council.

As there were funding rules which prevent public money being used to give the new Cruise Liner Terminal an unfair advantage over other commercially-owned port facilities in the UK and Europe, council officers fear having to pay the cash back unless the issue is handled properly.

However, Mr Broomhead said he believed this could be overcome. John Kelly, executive director for regeneration at Liverpool Council, said negotiations were under way with Peel Holdings, owners of the Port of Liverpool, Merseytravel, the cruise liner industry, the EU and the NWDA "to develop a commercial venture which will result in a top class facility to start cruises from".

The council is discussing this with Peel as well as options including the company building a new terminal or in the short term improve facilities at Langton.

Deputy Labour opposition leader Paul Brant said: "The city needs tourism regenera-tion now, not tomorrow."

It is estimated that the city could miss out on an annual £4.5m with the decision by TUI not to introduce Liverpool into a 30-cruise programme which would have carried 50,000 passengers with a liner based in the city.

Liverpool council leader Warren Bradley said: "We need to build on the great success which has been enjoyed by the cruise liner terminal since it opened and which has boosted the region's economy by several million pounds


MOONDANCE - the Irish Sea stalwart is to commence operations on the Baltic in early 2009 as revealed in a press release issued by Seatruck this week:

Seatruck Ferries Ltd and Fredericia Shipping A/S announce the commencement of a new dedicated RO/RO trailer cargo service "FREDERICIA-MOSS" between Fredericia in Denmark and Moss in Norway.

The first sailing will be from Fredericia on Monday January 5th 2009.

FREDERICIA-MOSS will offer 3 weekly sailings in each direction by the M/S MOONDANCE which accommodates 50 trailers. M/S MOONDANCE will call Monday, Wednesday and Friday/Saturday in Fredericia and Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday in Moss.

FREDERICIA-MOSS accepts both driver accompanied and unaccompanied trailers and caters to both ADR/IMO, reefer and oversize cargoes as well as containers.

Commercial Director, Alistair Eagles from Seatruck is very enthusiastic about the new service, " We have strived to meet a growing customer demand for a direct RO/RO trailer cargo service from the Oslo Fjord into the central industrial zone in Denmark. The service offers a direct connection to rail services into central Europe through the rail terminal in Taulov/Fredericia as well as direct transhipment to the existing DFDS Baltic Service via the port of Fredericia."

Fredericia Shipping are managing agent for the new Seatruck service and will be responsible for all customer service, booking, freight collection and sales matters. Managing Director, Klaus G Andersen is confident that the new service will be well received by the forwarding community, "Much of the Norway traffic which is today routed via Northern Jutland is originating from or destined to the central industrial region of Denmark and continental Europe. Through the new RO/RO vessel connection via Fredericia we will save about 500 kilometres driving for each round trip trailer which will reduce traffic on the already congested roads, reduce CO2 emissions and save driving hours for the truck drivers".

Alistair Eagles points out that the FREDERICIA-MOSS will be a pure cargo service "All other existing RO/RO services between Denmark and Norway are combined tourist and cargo services. Trailers often find themselves being shut out in peak tourist seasons due to lack of vessel capacity. This will not happen on our service. We only cater to cargo trailer traffic - this also gives us the benefit that we can accept ADR/IMO cargoes which the tourist services cannot".


Some news which has just come to light concerning CLIPPER POINT. When arriving at Heysham on October 20 2008 in the early hours collided with the North Roundhead causing quite substantial damage to the ship and damage to the concrete Roundhead.  The ship was sent to Birkenhead for repairs and didn't arrive back at Heysham after repairs until October 31 2008. The CLIPPER RACER ex TRIUMPH arrived at Heysham on the afternoon of October 21 2008 from Liverpool via Dublin and Warrenpoint to take the CLIPPER POINT's sailings and left Heysham for the final time on 30 October pm bound for Warrenpoint then Dublin then Liverpool. 


A new 35-minute ferry link will be bringing tourists and commuters from South Wales to North Somerset by 2010 if a West entrepeneur's vision becomes a reality.

Chris Marrow, who lives in Wellington in Somerset, believes he is well on the way to launching two new services that could help boost tourism and business on either side of the Bristol Channel.

He already has the backing of all the local councils and port operators for a route between Minehead or Burnham and Cardiff, as well as one further west between Ilfracombe and Swansea which would take 50 minutes.

The new company he set up to operate the services – Severn Seas Ferries – is on the verge of making downpayments to secure the high- speed catamaran vessels that would carry passengers across the channel.

Mr Marrow, who has experience of setting up ferry routes in places as far afield as Scotland and Malawi in Africa, says his latest venture is practically certain to be a success because studies have repeatedly shown a huge demand for such a service.

"There has been a lot of market research done over the years for the Bristol Channel.

"In 1995, the joint local authorities of the Bristol Channel commissioned a joint study, then a commercial organisation did one at the turn of the millennium.

"Our business model uses a very conservative estimate of passenger numbers compared to these studies. We would vary the number of sailings at different times of the year – there will be more crossings in July and August when demand is higher."

As well as the tourist market, the research has revealed the cross-channel ferry would be popular for family visits because many South Wales residents retire to North Somerset and North Devon.

And Burnham councillor, Neville Jones, thinks the new link could also be used to bring in workers from South Wales to help to build the new nuclear power stations at Hinkley Point.

With the boat ride from Minehead or Burnham to Cardiff almost two hours shorter than the equivalent car journey, and an even greater time-saving of almost three hours on the Ilfracombe to Swansea route, it is easy to see the appeal of the new services – especially at a forecast price of around £20 for a return journey.

The Bristol Channel used to be awash with excursion steamers ferrying passengers between Somerset, Devon and South Wales in the late 1900s and first half of the 20th century but their popularity faded with mass car ownership after World War II. At the peak of the paddle steamer era, 11,000 journeys were made from Ilfracombe in a single day in 1911.

But Chris Marrow admits he still has a few hurdles to clear before his plans come to fruition – particularly arranging somewhere to dock at Minehead. "A landing facility at Minehead is one of the big things outstanding so we're working flat out on that at the moment."



A verdict of accidental death was recorded at the inquest into the deaths of the crew of the SOLWAY HARVESTER.

Coroner Michael Moyle delivered his verdict at Douglas Courthouse on Saturday November 08 – almost nine years after the tragedy.

Mr Moyle said the precise reason for the vessel sinking could not be ascertained with certainty but ruled that the seven crew died accidentally.

He said there were over 20 safety issues which had caused concern and as a result urged the fishing industry to follow recommended safety measures more rigorously.

Mr Moyle also criticised vessel owner Richard Gidney for giving 'unsatisfying or inadequate' evidence.

He added: 'It appears to me throughout his first and real concern was his own self-interest, trying to protect himself from what he might perceive as suggestions of failings. Any sympathy for the crew and their families was secondary.'

The scallop dredger sank in rough seas off the coast of the Isle of Man on January 11, 200 claiming the lives of skipper Andrew Craig Mills, 29, David Mills, 18, Robin Mills, 33, Martin Hugh Milligan, 26, John Doyle Murphy, 22, Wesley John Jolly and David Joseph Lyons, both 17.

The tragedy devastated the close-knit fishing community in the Isle of Whithorn.

Of the families of those who died, Mr Moyle said: 'I am sure to most, if not all, of them the tragic incident is still fresh in their minds and the intervening period has done little to reduce their grief and distress. I should like to commend them for their patience, stoicism and their understanding.'

Outside the court Constable Alan White, a family liaison officer from Dumfries and Galloway Constabulary, read a statement on behalf of the families.

It stated that they hoped a degree of closure would now allow them to move on with their lives.

And they hoped the safety recommendations made by the Marine Accident Investigation Branch would be acted upon by the fishing industry and appropriately enforced to reduce the possibility of a similar tragedy ever happening again.

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

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

Mr Gidney refused to return to the Island when the inquest resumed in November 2006.

Mr Moyle petitioned the Court of Session in Edinburgh asking for help to obtain Mr Gidney's evidence. The petition was granted in February this year.

Following a visit and inspection of the vessel by Scottish officials Mr Gidney gave evidence at Kirkcudbright Sheriff Court in June.

The SOLWAY HARVESTER remains in Douglas Harbour. It is understood a decision about its future will be made now that the inquest is complete.




Plans for a new Stena Line ferry terminal in south west Scotland should be lodged by the end of the month. The company wants to move its Irish Sea services out of Stranraer and along the coast to Old House Point at Cairnryan. It is estimated the project could cost up to £70m. It would cut journey times to Belfast and allow ambitious plans for Stranraer waterfront to progress.

Route director Alan Gordon said in the company's "best case" scenario the new terminal could be built by 2010. Stena Line has to meet a number of requirements before the move can progress. The company must submit an environmental impact assessment (EIA ) and seek a harbour empowerment order (HEO) from the ScottishGovernment.

A period of public consultation on its plans would then follow. Mr Gordon said it was hoped that process could get under way soon. "We would hope within the next four weeks to be able to submit the EIA and HEO," he said.

"Then it depends what objections come in whether there is a public inquiry, a hearing or written correspondence. "After that whole process, if all the mitigation measures have been accepted, then the government would issue the permission." He said that in the best case the new facility could be built by 2010 or, in the worst case, a year later.

Plans were ditched last year for a combined ferry terminal development between Stena Line and P&O in the area. An HEO had already been granted for that proposal but it was decided it was "no longer economically viable".

Stena Line now looks set to go it alone with the new proposals. If it vacates its Stranraer site it would clear the way formajor plans to redevelop the waterfront area of the town. [BBC]


Stena Line Freight has announced that sailings from Holyhead-Dublin and Dublin - Holyhead will change on the Central Corridor from March 15, 2009.

From November 11, 2008 the STENA SEATRADER is to be replaced on the central corridor with the STENA NORDICA (ex EUROPEAN AMBASSADOR). From March 2009 two extra departures for the STENA NORDICA will be added to the timetable thus providing five round trips per day.

Sailing times from Holyhead to Dublin are at 02:30, 08:20 13:50 and 21:30 with returns at 02:15 08:20, 16:00 and 21:15.

The HSS will operate one round trip at 10:25 from Holyhead and 13:30 from Dún Laoghaire.


Despite is being made known some weeks ago that Thomson had no desire to return to the Mersey due to the unsuitability of the Langton Terminal the decision was given prominence in an article in the Daily Post Newspaper this week. Furthermore the newspaper made it appear that the decision had been made recently.

This is not correct. It was announced much earlier this year that THOMSON CELEBRATION would not be operating from Liverpool in 2009 around the time that the company announced that the EMERALD charter would not be renewed and the brochures already released for 2009 proved the point.

This is what the Daily Post reported:

Ambitious plans by giant tour operator TUI Travel to turn Liverpool into north- ern Britain's premier cruise centre have been dashed, the Daily Post can reveal.

A local turf war over Liverpool's new Cruise Liner Terminal has led TUI's Thomson Cruises to dump a 30-cruise programme carrying 50,000 passengers with a liner based in Liverpool. The loss to Merseyside's economy is estimated to be around £4.5m a year in port fees and servicing the 1,300-passenger cruise liner Thomson Celebration.

David Selby, TUI Travel's director of cruising, criticised Liverpool Culture Company for failing to deliver on assurances that agreement could be reached over the new terminal's use – although the council last night insisted Thomson not been given any assurances it could use the new cruise liner terminal.

But Mr Selby blamed the inability of "interested parties" to co- operate in allowing use of the terminal by Thomson Cruises for the total abandonment of the programme. It is believed he is referring to Liverpool City Council and Peel Holdings, owners of Mersey Docks, and their failure to agree to install vital baggage handling and customs facilities for the new terminal.

The Daily Post revealed Thomson's plans in July, 2007, but, after two trial cruises last month, Thomson Cruises has cancelled its proposed Liverpool-based programme. This is because Thomson was forced to use the rather primitive Langton Cruise Terminal, deep in north Liverpool's freight dock system, rather than the new terminal next to the Pier Head.

The second cruise ended on a whimper after foul weather caused the cancellation of a fully-booked, three-night mini-cruise to Cobh and Dublin 10 days ago. Instead 1,234 passengers found their Taste of Ireland cruise became a Taste of Bootle, immobilised by Europe's biggest scrapheap, nicknamed "the Sierra Metallica".

The cost of basing THOMSON CELEBRATION in Liverpool would be around £150,000 for each turnaround in port fees, refuelling, and restocking food and beverages.

Instead, business will now go to Newcastle and Southampton. Even with a rapid solution, it will be very difficult to lure back Thomson Cruises, as programmes are planned years in advance. David Selby said the ultimate aim of the trial cruises was to use Liverpool as one of its regular ex-UK ports.

"The trial was held on the basis that interested parties would be able to allow Thomson Cruises to operate out of the new Cruise Liner Terminal," said Mr Selby. "Some assurances were given that an agreement could be reached, particularly from Liverpool's Capital of Culture 2008 team.

"However, in the end these interested parties were ultimately unable to reach an agreement. "Naturally, we were disappointed that so many local people have not had the opportunity to use such a great facility. Customer satisfaction is of paramount importance to us.

"Therefore, Thomson Cruises felt that it would not be able to offer the quality of service its customers have come to expect if obliged to sail out of Langton Dock."This being the case, it was decided not to continue with this itinerary."

Nothing like the frequency and variety of passenger services – including Greenland and the Amazon – planned by Thomson Cruises has been seen since Liverpool's 1950s boom years.

A city council spokesman said: "Thomson Cruises have not been given any assurances they could use the facilities of the new cruise liner terminal. "The cruise liner terminal has been built with public money for ports of call ships only – it does not have customs or immigration facilities.

"These facilities are provided by Peel Ports at Langton Dock and Thomson Cruises should raise any concerns they may have with Peel Ports."

November 01Acknowledgements:  Gary Andrews, Ian Collard Bryan Chambers and "others"


Over 200 staff at the Appledore ship yard went on strike on Friday October 31. This is the first of a six planned days of industrial action in a pay dispute with yard owners Babcock Marine.

The workforce is seeking pay equal to that at other Babcock yards in the UK, including Devonport in Plymouth.


Times Online revealed that Cruise-holiday bargains are not what they seem.

Massive discounts on cruises exposed as con after leading line Fred. Olsen admits to not selling a single cruise at full price for a year.

Massive discounts on cruises were exposed as a con last week after leading line Fred Olsen admitted it had not sold a single cruise at full price for a year. The closest the operator had come was a Christmas voyage sold at a whopping 37.5% off the brochure rate.

Fred Olsen argued that it was forced to offer the bogus discounts because the practice was so widespread. "It's become prevalent across the industry," said the company's managing director, Mike Rodwell. "Back in the mists of time, we did sell at brochure prices, but the market expected more and more early-bird discounts, then late deals, and eventually they met in the middle. The big American operators started it and the rest had to follow."

The company made the admission after the Advertising Standards Authority ruled that an agent had sold Fred Olsen cruises at misleading prices. "The ruling is pretty clear and we will be altering our price structure," Rodwell said. "But the whole industry needs to move on, too. The practice of quoting high prices so you can then offer a huge discount implies that the consumer isn't very sophisticated, which isn't true these days."

As Fred Olsen came clean, other lines clammed up. P&O, which has been offering "up to 47.5% off the full brochure fare" on its website, said, "We can confirm that we have sold cruises at full price" - but was unable to say how many. The American cruise giant NCL declined to comment. Silversea, which has been offering "savings of up to 50% on previously published fares", was unable to find an official to comment - as was Crystal, which has been advertising savings of 35%. Regent Seven Seas was prepared to speak and told us: "We publish two prices in our brochure - a `brochure fare', which is used as a benchmark but never actually charged, and an `offer fare', which is.

This has been our strategy for the past few years."

The company said that when further reductions were advertised in the press, the higher price had been previously charged to customers.

Just one line, Royal Caribbean, categorically denied the practice, saying it did not publish a maximum rate "and therefore customers do not buy our cruises at what appear to be heavily discounted prices".

The Passenger Shipping Association, which represents the cruise industry, was no more forthcoming than most of its members. "This is a commercial matter for individual lines," it said. "We are unable to comment."

Consumer watchdogs were more vocal. "This sort of pricing - what we call `baited advertising' - is a breach of the law," said Bruce Treloar, of the Trading Standards Institute. "Published prices must be accurate, and if nobody actually pays them, they clearly aren't.

Repeat offenders could be fined or even imprisoned. If it really is the industry norm, we're going to stamp it out - because consumers are being misled." [TIMES ONLINE]


NORMAN VOYAGER will arrive in Rosslare Europort on Monday, November 03 for berthing trails,
staying in the Port overnight, and sailing on Tuesday



Norfolk Line is launching a new club class facility on Irish Sea services operating from Birkenhead Twelve Quays. For an additional fee of £25/€30 it will include:

·         At table service in restaurant

·         Carafe of red or white house wine with evening meal

·         Window seat for dinner and breakfast

·         No queuing for seat in restaurant

·         Fruit and Water in cabin

·         20% discount in shop

·         Complimentary passes for onboard facilities


NSL - Cammell Laird issued the following press release this week:

An Anglo-Italian Alliance has been formed to pursue a major UK Naval auxiliary shipbuilding contract.

At the opening day of the Euronaval Exhibition in Paris a major Alliance was announced between Italian shipbuilding giant Fincantieri, and UK Shiprepair, conversion and military support specialist NSL.

Fincantieri is forming a major European Alliance with the British shipyard, Northwestern Shiprepairers and Shipbuilders Ltd (NSL) based in the famous Cammell Laird Shipyard in Birkenhead UK. Cammell Laird has a long and distinguished history dating back to 1820 and has built some of the Royal Navys finest vessels including HMS Ark Royal along with the first guided missile destroyer and a number of nuclear submarines. Today NSL is a prime contractor to the Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) Service.

This alliance will enhance support to Fincantieri in pursuit of the tender to build six fleet replenishment tankers for UK Ministry of Defence (MOD) programme known as the MARS project. When built these vessels will join the existing RFA fleet.

The MARS project is an International competition being managed under European Union guidelines and Fincantieri was recently short-listed along with 3 other prominent international shipbuilders.

If successful in winning the MARS contract this will maintain substantial employment in Italy and the UK. Alberto Maestrini Executive Senior Vice President of Fincantieri Naval vessel business unit commenting on the Alliance said "this is part of a larger strategy of collaboration with NSL and if successful with the MARS tender, the companies will pursue other business opportunities in the naval auxiliary, naval export and offshore markets. The alliance provides Fincantieri with a strong professional ally strategically based in the UK".

Mr Maestrini concluded, "this is a case of combining the talents of Europes largest shipbuilder with NSL who has an enviable track record of serving UK MOD in the support of the RFA fleet".

NSL Managing Director John Syvret said "I am delighted to have the opportunity to reinforce Fincantieris MARS bid with expertise from a

British Shipyard that has a proud history of delivering some of the Royal Navys finest vessels. I genuinely believe the alliance can provide an innovative European solution for MOD and ensure a significant amount of work would be undertaken in the UK, important in a time of economic downturn".

Mr Syvret concluded "the alliance will massively strengthen NSLs business, expanding its services to both the public and private sectors".

Fincantieri is one of the largest shipbuilding groups in the world with 8 shipyards in Italy and a workforce of 9400 with a reputation for high quality, on-time delivery and excellent value for money.

Fincantieri is a world leader in the build of cruise ships and has a business scope that also covers Naval, Naval Auxiliary, Merchant, Super Yachts, Ferries, offshore vessels, shiprepair, major conversions and the design and manufacture of marine systems and key equipment.

NSL was founded in 2001 and operates from the famous Cammell Laird Shipyard. The company employs over 1000 people directly and indirectly from its Birkenhead base on the River Mersey. Originally established as a ship repairer the company over the years has rapidly expanded its marine services business and today is recognised as one of Europes premier ship repair, conversion and military refit specialists. In June 2008 the company was awarded its biggest contract when UK MOD awarded a £180 Million Pound contract to maintain 11 of its 16 strong RFA Fleet. Subject to key performance indicators being met, the five year rolling contract will run for up to 30 years.


RFA FORT VICTORIA which is accompanied by tugs RED DOLPHIN and ENGLISHMAN has been noted in Liverpool Bay on Saturday November 01. She is bound for refit at NSL-Cammell Laird and may enter the Mersey on Sunday November 02.


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