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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 - December 2008

December 29Acknowledgements:  Gary Andrews, John Pryce and "others"


The wreck of the ABIGAIL H which was raised from Heysham harbour earlier this month departed from Heysham on December 29 under tow by KAMSAR and TIOGA B of Bay Towage of Barrow. She was bound for Fleetwood for demolition


The status of some well known ships which are being dismantled at Alang was reported recently:

SS BLUE LADY (ex FRANCE, NORWAY) has been cut down to the keel and will likely be finished within weeks.


stripped with all fittings now sold and is in the process of actual scrapping with her bow recently cut off.

MV SERENA (ex JEAN MERMOZ, MERMOZ, SERENADE) is half gone and cut back to her funnel.



MV KINGDOM (ex FINNJET, DAVINCI) is cut back to her midships superstructure after last-ditch preservation efforts failed.

Stripping of CROWN (ex BLACK WATCH/VENUS, CROWN M, BYBLOS) has begun.

No details have thus far become available on the status of TEXAS TREASURE (ex ST. GEORGE, SCANDINAVIAN DAWN, DISCOVERY DAWN, ISLAND DAWN, etc.).



ARMORIQUE - the Western Morning News reported that the new £90m vessel due to enter service between Plymouth and Roscoff will be slightly delayed. She had been expected to enter service in February, however, this has now been put back to March.

The ship, which is named after the national park in Brittany, carries 1,500 passengers and more than 500 cars, or around 60 freight units. There are 248 cabins.


ULYSSES - arrived at Liverpool Bar on the evening of December 29, bound for Cammell Laird for refit where she is due to arrive around 23:00.

ISLE OF INISHMORE has moved to Dublin - Holyhead to provide cover, whilst OSCAR WILDE is covering for ISLE OF INISHMORE on the Rosslare - Pembroke service.

JONATHAN SWIFT was reported as having sustained damage to her port bow whilst berthing at Holyhead on Saturday December 27 and is to undergo repairs at A&P Falmouth.


The landmark Sea Terminal building should be flattened as workers are being put at risk of asbestos contamination.

That's the call from a union boss after health and safety officials ordered refurbishment works to stop on the first floor of the building's north wing following an asbestos alert.

But the Department of Transport insists that tests for airborne asbestos contamination have proved negative and workers have not been put at risk – and its chief executive Ian Thompson has accused the union of unnecessarily 'escalating' the issue.

Mick Hewer, regional industrial officer for the Unite union, believes up to 60 workers may have been exposed, however.

And he had condemned Department of Transport management for 'catastrophic failure' to protect the safety of its staff.

He said: 'The Sea Terminal is not fit for purpose. It is riddled with all forms of asbestos.

'They should level it and start again or they'll have to continually throw money at it.'

In January 2006, tourism staff had to evacuate their old offices in the 1960s-built Sea Terminal when traces of asbestos residue were found by specialist contractors carrying out asbestos removal work in another part of the building.

In the latest incident, a contractor involved in refurbishment works earlier this month found further traces of the potentially-hazardous material after drilling into a beam in an area previously thought clear.

Mr Hewer said he was alarmed to discover that staff members were sent home after apparently being exposed to the dust, still wearing their contaminated clothing.

He said the utility company workers and well as DoT building works employees could have been exposed.

And he has called for health screening to be made available to them all, at whatever the cost.

Condemning DoT management over the issue, Mr Hewer said: 'They don't seem to have put in very robust safety at work procedures – if they have, staff would not have been exposed.

'This is a huge issue. There has been a catastrophic failing on behalf of management. No action was taken to meet with the employees affected until the day after – you would think they would want to do that as a matter of urgency. Nobody has been screened. This needs to be done urgently and it doesn't matter how much it costs.'

But DoT chief executive Mr Thompson said results of tests showed there was no evidence of airborne asbestos contamination.

He said that asbestos, which had been sprayed on as ceiling insulation in the 1960s, had been removed in the late 1980s to the best standards available at the time and further material was removed in 2006 when any residue was encapsulated in PEA, rendering it safe.

Further drill tests were carried out by a specialist contractor wearing monitoring equipment on his protective clothing.

He said: 'The key issue as far as we are concerned is the safety of the staff, that is paramount. We've taken our responsibilities seriously. I don't think it's enough to condemn the Sea Terminal.

'I really have a concern at the way the union has escalated this.'

He added: 'Letters are being sent to assure all those involved and we will meet with them again. We went from Monday to Thursday before we were able to talk to staff when we were in possession of the full facts. Ideally it could have been done sooner.'

No work can continue in the area on which the enforcement notice has been served until a certificate of reoccupation is issued following further samples and testing. [IOM Online]


MGC 66 the latest wave piercing catamaran to be completed by INCAT was named last week. She takes her name from owners the Irish based leasing company MGC Chartering Ltd. The vessel has a capacity of 1400 passengers, over 400 cars with final delivery to her owners expected in March.


Mersey Docks operator Peel Ports is bracing itself for a downturn following an alarming slump in international trade. The company says it will be ready to reckon up the impact of the global shipping crisis on port operations in the first quarter of 2009.

Container shipments have shrunk after three decades of solid growth while demand for raw materials has plunged 94% in si months. However, the Port of Liverpool operator is hoping that its diversity of services will help it through the industry's toughest period for many years. Marketing manager Frank Robotham said: “We are not immune from the effects of a slowdown by any means, but the diversity of the port may mitigate the impact.

“If we were just a container port it may be another matter but we offer a number of services such as ro-ro and various types of import and exports. “It is difficult to say just what the impact will be at the moment. Our financial year doesn’t end till next March, so the position will be clearer by then.” Many container lines, including Maersk, which has a base in Liverpool, are now laying up vessels with freight rates dropping through the floor.

Chief commercial officer Hanne Sorensen said eight ships had so far been parked: “The financial crisis and economic slowdown has an impact on all of us.

“Today we are faced with a market situation characterised by uncertainty. “Container shipping is an integral part of world trade and therefore is impacted by the downward trend. As the industry leader, Maersk Line is fully aware of the tough times to come.” The impact has already seen the laying off of 34 out of 45 workers at Seaforth’s recently completed fresh produce terminal.

In addition, port businesses face backdated tax bills that have already led to the winding- up of stevedoring firm Thomas Nichols Brown. It faced a rates bill of £1.3m. Lobby group Mersey Maritime believes many more companies are under threat from the tax timebomb. Dave Pendleton, business development director, said the backdating had to sit as a liability on company accounts, whether they have 10 days or 100 years to pay: “There will be more casualties, we don’t know where or when.”


December 20Acknowledgements:  Gary Andrews, John Pryce and "others"


The Ferries of the Irish Sea Calendar 2009 published by Gordon Hislip has been shortlisted in the Independent newspaper's Calendar of the Year Competition.


From the flying lovelies of Ryanair, to the pick of Her Majesty's nicks, and the nation's swankiest sheds, there's one for everyone, says Michael Bywater

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

As a schoolboy temporary postman each Christmas, it was the calendars that did for me. My walk was through a poor district of town, where it was the thought that counted. Each morning my sack was filled with such thoughts, in the form of calendars. Thousands of them.

Aunties to nephews, Nan to grandkids, Sis to Bro. There they were in their stiff brown envelopes printed "CALENDARS DO NOT BEND". Oh yes they bloody do. And they had to, because the calendar-receiving sort lived in little houses with narrow, ground-level letterboxes. Fold, stoop, push, up. Fold, stoop, push, up. Fold, stoop, bark, bite, ow, up. And all so that the recipient, who probably didn't know what day it was, could find out what day it was once the year turned. Lovable cats, rural scenes (thatch, spire, pub), wide-eyed babies, improbable flowers. How we posties hated them.

But times move on. Calendars - once the treasured product of clerics and sages hunched in their scriptoria, calculating the ephemerides of tides and eclipses, floods and transits - have diversified into a parade of sheer joyful lunacy. The information is irrelevant, and available in a thousand other forms. The granularity of our lives is no longer in the month or the day or even the hour. Nowadays, the main benefit of the calendar is not that it tells you the date, but that it lasts all year. Car people cottoned on to this ages ago, with their naked lady calendars advertising tools and tyres and other car stuff. They hung on walls until the following New Year's Day, though sometimes they got stuck or fast-forwarded to a particularly appealing lady, gradually obscured by oily thumb-prints.

And, like all good ideas, it's gone simultaneously global and specialist. There are almost certainly closed, secretive networks of imerologiophiles or ephemerasts or whatever they call themselves, having tremendous fun with swaps and meetings and secret handshakes.

But what of the non-enthusiast, non-ironic calendar-buyers? What is the state of mind of someone who buys the Luxury Shed Calendar, or the Ferries of the Irish Sea 2009? They can't all be Clerkenwell loft-dwelling ironists, which suggests that there is a significant number of people hunched by the boiler (the calendar always hangs over the boiler) waiting for the end of the month so that they can see, and gasp over, next month's Luxury Shed ("I think you'll find that's Cuprinol, not creosote, actually") or flip, gasping, to the next Irish Sea ferry ("That's the Stena Lynx III; recognise it anywhere"), as photographed by the "well-known Irish Sea ship photographer Gordon Hislip whose work appears in European Ferry Scene".

Are there men hunched in the muddy shires taking bets on April's entry in the Tractors 2009 Wall Calendar ("It'll be a Massey Ferguson MF-35 in blue, you mark my words, young Ezra")? Are numismatists eagerly awaiting New Year's Eve to pin up their Royal Mint Deluxe Wall Calendar? Yes, and yes: you bet.

But even more worrying is the assumptions of people who give these things as a gift. You may feel a fool if you have to be nice about the Original Pink Flamingo 2009 calendar, but you should really be wondering why the hell Uncle Marjorie gave you the thing in the first place. And what does it say about you if someone gives you the West Yorkshire Catholic Church Calendar in which 12 priests swap cassocks for everyday clobber that depicts their hobbies (please, please let there be one in a sou'wester and a whalebone leg) in an effort to attract more men to joining the Church. (As opposed to the one I got in Rome, showing priests in the, my dear, most lovely Gamarelli soutane, and so chiselled, which also would attract men to the priesthood, no question about that, darling.) What does it mean if your friends think you're the sort of person who'd like looking at a fresh picture of guinea-pigs playing games each month, or the kind of wacky sod who really would tear off his Paper Airplane Fold-a-Day 2009 and actually fold an actual aeroplane?

It's a mystery. As is the Ryanair Cabin Crew Charity Calendar showing a gaggle of in-flight popsies in swimwear posing on an aeroplane, yet looking every bit as cross as they do in their official uniforms.

But I can unreservedly recommend two of this year's crop to the intelligent realist. If you want to be reminded each recessionary month of Britain's last surviving growth industry, then Her Majesty's Prisons of England 2009 calendar is just the thing. And if even that doesn't match your mood, go to and grab yourself a 2009 Demotivator Calendar of Despair. Happy New Year; but don't count on it.


BEN-MY-CHREE dry docking between January 06 and Friday 09 is to correct damage sustained earlier this year when her propellers became entangled in fishing gear the company had announced.   The incident was raised with the Department of Transport at the time, and was found to be due to visiting fishing boats indiscriminately placing their equipment in the approaches to Douglas Harbour.  Action taken by the Department will ensure that this problem should be minimised in future.


During the dry-dock period, the Viking will re-enter service to cover scheduled daytime passenger services to Heysham. There will be no overnight passenger sailings, however, a freighter is being chartered to ensure continuity of service for freight customers.


The Company is contacting passengers on all the affected sailings to advise them of the situation and rearrange bookings as required. Passengers for whom alternative arrangements offered are unsuitable will be offered the option of a full refund.


Mark Woodward, Chief Executive of the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company, said: “We would not be taking this action unless we felt it was necessary. It is especially frustrating as the damage to the stern tube seal was caused by visiting fishing boats placing their equipment in the approaches to Douglas Harbour. It is vital that we repair the problem now in order to prevent more major and lengthy repairs in the future. The first week following New Year is a traditionally quiet period for us, and allows us to undertake the necessary work with the minimum disruption to services. We apologise for any inconvenience this may have caused.”


The 2009 Timetable Brochures are now available for download on the company's web site. [CLICK HERE] It appears that from the introduction of the MANANNAN in May will see the Liverpool turn-around time increased by 15 minutes. With departures moving to 11:30. One wonders if this allowance has been done in recognition of the likely greater congestion at the new on-stage terminal and the more restricted marshalling facilities?


LIVERPOOL VIKING - dry docked at Cammell Laird early on the morning of December 20. She had been running on one engine with prolonged crossings for some time. Cover is being provided by SHIELD.


Devonport Dockyard looks set to benefit from a decision to extend the active careers of Royal Navy frigates.

But the senior service remains at risk from more defence cuts, according to a Westcountry maritime expert.

Plymouth-based Steve Bush, editor of Warship World magazine, believes last month's MoD announcement over revised decommissioning dates for the fleet's 17 Type 22 and Type 23 frigates will provide a boost for Plymouth and its sister dockyard at Portsmouth.

All the ships are having their life at sea increased – some by as much as eight years. To keep them running longer, further refits will have to be carried out, which means more work than originally planned for dockyards.

"This should be good news for the dockyards as these ships are likely to require some form of service life extension programme," he said.

He warned there are uncertain times ahead for the Royal Navy because of the need to tighten national spending.

"With large high-cost programmes in the early stages of production or planning, the potential for cancellation is never far away and the RN remains vulnerable to further cuts," he said.

In his annual survey into the state of the Royal Navy, Mr Bush welcomed the fact the MoD had finally put pen to paper this summer and signed the production contract for two new aircraft carriers – HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales. Even though completion is being delayed by at least a year, work on the £4 billion project is due to start next spring – more than a decade after the Government placed the long-awaited warships at the heart of its 1998 Strategic Defence Review (SDR).

With the global war on terror constantly draining manpower, material and resources, the MoD said procurement and funding had to be prioritised.

Mr Bush said: "As if this was not going to put enough of a squeeze on an already dwindling pot of cash for the Royal Navy, 2008 also witnessed a worldwide financial crash."

He believes the two aircraft carriers will still become a reality. "Being built in the Prime Minister's backyard [Rosyth] and with thousands of shipbuilding jobs at stake it seems fairly certain that while this government is in power, the carriers will be completed," he said.

SDR, said Mr Bush, also gave a firm commitment to maintaining a destroyer/ frigate force of 32 ships. But today the force stands at just 25 and he feels it could be reduced further to between 20 and 22, despite the planned building of six new Type 45 destroyers. Originally there were due to be 12.

The submarine service, was also "faring badly", he said. Following delays to the new Astute class and a lack of follow-on orders, the SSN (Ship Submersible Nuclear) force is due to drop to just eight submarines and may well settle at seven. SDR had planned for 10.

With the MoD struggling to bring its new programmes and ships into service, the Royal Navy, said Mr Bush, is facing a problem with its public profile.

"Public perception is that the war in the sandpits of Afghanistan and Iraq is an Army and RAF operation," he said. "How wrong they are.

"In 2008 RN personnel in Afghanistan comprised the majority of deployed forces with Royal Marine Commandos, Royal Navy support personnel driving vehicles and providing medical facilities, RN pilots flying Harriers and much of the rotary helicopter lift being provided by RN helicopters."

With Navy Days now only taking place every two years, the chances of the public getting to meet the Royal Navy are getting more and more remote.

Mr Bush said: "Without exposing the youngsters of the day to the RN experience, you have to wonder how the service is going to entice people into joining up. The bottom line is without manpower, you can't man the ships and if you can't man the ships, there is little point in having them."

Mr Bush's analysis features in the latest edition of the fleet guide British Warships and Auxiliaries 2009/10, which is published by Liskeard-based Maritime Books. It costs £8.99.



STENA LEADER - arrived at Cammell Laird for dry docking late in the afternoon of December 20.



The Funchal 500 Tall Ships regatta in Falmouth during September, generated £6 million.

The figure comes from Carrick district council which commissioned a research and evaluation programme during the regatta to determine the economic impact of the event on the town of Falmouth and the wider surrounding area. The study involved consultation with visitors to the event between the September 10 and 13 and businesses in the Falmouth area and across Cornwall to evaluate the reach of the impact, specifically: the number of visitors, the expenditure of visitors, profiles of visitors, satisfaction levels and to ascertain the impact of the Regatta on turnover and operation of retail, tourism and other commercial businesses in Falmouth.

Events are seen as economic drivers for the local economy and a recognised component of ‘Destination Marketing’ as they encourage considerable economic, cultural and social benefits for visitors and local people. The short, medium and long term benefits of Falmouth hosting the Regatta included tourism spend, image, reinforcement of maritime heritage and enhancement of Falmouth’s reputation as an international sailing venue, as an international maritime centre and as a visitor destination. The research identified a series of key findings including: over 66,000 visitors came to the Regatta; £12 million was generated for the local economy; around £6 million identified as additional expenditure ie wholly attributed to the event; high levels of satisfaction were recorded amongst visitors; half of all visitors would not have otherwise visited Falmouth during the Regatta week; one in ten businesses saw a 50% increase and almost one fifth reported a 20% increase on their normal takings and over half felt the event had a very positive impact; demand exceeded availability for many accommodation providers and the impact of the event, although mainly felt in Carrick, extended as far as Looe and Bude in the East.

Fred Greenslade, council leader said: “This is another success story for Carrick. We took on the overall responsibility and liability for the event and it is extremely pleasing to have confirmed results of how successful the event was not just for the district of Carrick, but for Cornwall.”

He praised all those involved including Samantha Groom who lead the Carrick team and said: “I hope that the new unitary authority will recognise the impact events can have on the economy and the well being of Cornwall and that there will be adequate support for the organisation of significant events.”

John Hick, chairman Funchal 500 Tall Ships Regatta organising committee in Falmouth said: “It’s very important for events like Tall Ships which rely on the support of the community and local businesses that we demonstrate the economic benefit and the report demonstrates that extremely well and I’m delighted with the result which follows on from the success we achieved in 1998. These events are extremely important for the promotions of the town and County and hopefully with the new infrastructure in the Docks, we can look forward to repeating this success in the future.”

Miss Groom said: “Due to great partnership working, local business support and a team of volunteers, these positive results were achieved with no over-spend on a limited budget. The results will become a useful tool in helping to secure support for future events to take place in Cornwall.”



It has been reported on the forum that the first VLCC due to call at Tranmere in the new year will be the BW BAUHINIA 158569 (grt) 332m x 58m. Expected to arrive on January 15 this will be one of the largest ships to enter the Mersey, The largest being the The Portugese Sopotana owned NEIVA she was 323102dwt and 163155 (grt).  346.21m x 57.6 metres.  Other VLCCs expected include the AUSTRALIS and PATRIS.


Two poignant letters from a Cornish seaman who was one of only three people to survive both the sinking of the TITANIC and her sister ship BRITTANIC four years later fetched £17,500 at Sotheby's in London.

Bude-born Archie Jewell was a lookout on the TITANIC the night she hit an iceberg and went down with the loss of 1,523 lives in 1912 – and was serving on BRITTANIC, being used as a hospital ship, when it was hit by a mine with the loss of 30 lives in 1916.

Writing to his sister 11 days after the TITANIC disaster Mr Jewell, then 23, said: "We was in the boat for six hours before the steam boat came to us...when it came daylight there was iceburghs (sic) all around us and about 20 miles stretch of small ice.

"I shall never forget the sight of the lovely big ship goin (sic) down and the alfull crys (sic) of the people in the water and you could hear them dying out one by one, it was enough to make anyone jump over board and be out of the way."

Mr Jewell was one of the look-outs on duty in the late evening of Sunday, April 14 and had been warned "to keep a sharp lookout for ice, particularly small ice and growlers". When he went off duty he passed on the warning to the new look-out just 90 minutes before the disaster.

Four years later he was serving on BRITTANIC, which had been requisitioned as a hospital ship. It hit a mine in the Kea Channel on November 21, 1916, and 1,036 of the 1,066 on board were saved. Mr Jewell died at sea in 1917.    [WESTERN MORNING NEWS]                      

December 17Acknowledgements:  Gary Andrews, and "others"


The cruise operator whose vessels were a familiar sight on the Irish Sea is reported in the maritime press to have left a trail of debt amounting to millions of euros in the wake of its collapse and possible ship auctions are pending.

 A meeting of Astoria’s creditors has been called for later this month, and sources said it is likely that ALEXANDER VON HUMBOLDT II, VAN GOGH and FLAMENCO will go to auction.

Bondholders at a November 26 meeting in Oslo approved measures including ship sales after Club Cruise defaulted on interest payments.

Creditors of Astoria Investments Ltd. have received notice of a December 29 meeting in Limassol. Some months ago Saga was in the process of acquiring ASTORIA, to be renamed SAGA PEARL II, to replace SAGA ROSE. A multimillion-pound refurbishment was planned in the summer, with the ship to enter service for Saga next October.

 Currently ASTORIA has been bareboat chartered to Transocean Tours, which cancelled its world cruise in late November, citing unforeseen technical problems uncovered during routine repairs in Barcelona. It is understood to be laid up at Bremerhaven’s BREDO Shipyard, pending possible auction.

 According to THB, the German shipping newspaper, the yard claims it is owed €300,000.

VAN GOGH, previously chartered by Club Cruise to a Russian tour operator, has been held in Piraeus for some time. Sources said local authorities and the ship’s former agent are overseeing daily upkeep. FLAMENCO reportedly has been anchored at Singapore since July.



HEBRIDEAN SPIRIT - CW Kellock & Co Ltd part of the Eggar Forrester Group is advertising the small luxury cruise ship owned and operated by the Skipton based Hebridean International Cruises for sale. The ship is currently refitting at Cape Town. 

HEBRIDEAN SPIRIT carries a maximum of 96 passengers was originally built as RENAISSANCE VI  for Renaissance Cruises. She was refitted in country house style in 2001 when she entered service with Hebridean Island Cruises.


BEN-MY-CHREE - it appears that she will be dry docked early in January. Passenger sailing cover will be provided by VIKING which will be reactivated, she is currently laid up in Alexandra Dock.

The booking system computer was showing VIKING operating the 08:45 sailing to Heysham and the 14:15 sailing to Douglas from Tuesday January 06 to Friday January 09, 2009.


LIVERPOOL VIKING - dry docking has been delayed - it is now expected to take place over the coming weekend from Friday to Monday with SHIELD providing refit cover.


Work has been undertaken this week at the Tranmere Oil Terminal berth by MERSEY MAMMOTH to facilitate the berthing of VLCC tankers early from early 2009.


FORT GEORGE departed from the Mersey after her lengthy refit by Cammell Laird on the afternoon of Tuesday December 16, 2008 and was noted between the UK and Isle of Man on December 17 presumably running trials.


SMIT TRAFALGAR - is expected to be redeployed to Taipei in April without replacement.


The following optimistic report appeared in the Llanelli Star:

Thousands of day trippers could be setting sail for Swansea by 2010 pumping million of pounds into the local economy.

Chris Marrow, of Mariners Marine Consultants, ― the man behind ambitious plans to set up a ferry link between the city and North Devon ― said an announcement on the
7 million project would be made early in the new year .

He confirmed that the 40-metre long fast-cat vessels carrying 350 passengers from Ilfracombe were likely to dock at the SA1 development.

It will see the usual five-hour journey time between Swansea and the North Devon coast reduced to just 50 minutes.

At first, the ferries will be passenger-only and test voyages could be charting course for Welsh waters as early as next year.

The two fast-cat ferries which are hoped to be used on the route are currently in service between Portsmouth on the English south coast and Ryde, on the Isle of Wight.

"The project is still on track and moving ahead very well," said Mr Marrow.

"We are expecting to make an announcement in the new year."

The project also involves setting up links between Minehead and Penarth and Burnham on Sea and Barry creating up to 500 jobs.

Last week, Mr Marrow met with representatives of the seven local authorities involved to update them on progress and pin point what was needed to finally deliver the service.

"The process is a constant one of evolution," said Mr Marrow.

"One of the big problems we have to overcome is lack of infrastructure. It's a bit like a haulage company being told to go away and build their own roads.

"Swansea's got a big development through SA1 and it's most likely that the ferry could come into SA1. Swansea has a lot to offer.

"One million tourists visit Devon every year. Where can you go for shopping in North Devon?

"The answer is Swansea. It is by far the best option and feasible especially if we bring it within touching distance and just a 50-minute trip away."

Mr Marrow remained enthusiastic about the venture despite the current economic climate. I think people are a bit fed up of the doom and gloom," he said.

"This is a long-term infrastructure project. People are looking to these kind of projects as a way of investing towards the future ― to get us out of the current downturn.

"Hopefully, by the time we get up and running we will be out of the current financial climate.

"If people are choosing to spend holidays in the UK rather than abroad it will also help."

December 13Acknowledgements:  Gary Andrews, Ian Collard and "others"


It appears that the Ministry of Defence may no longer go ahead with plans to built new Roayl Fleet Auxiliary tankers as part of the MARS - Military Afloat & Research Programme according to a report in the Daily Post.

Last month this was reported that Cammell Laird was jointly bidding with Fincantieri for some of this construction work.

The Defence Secretary John Hutton said “there is scope for considering alternative approaches” to provide a new fleet of naval support vessels.

The tanker announcement follows a review of military spending that has also resulted in a two-year delay to the launch of two planned 65,000-tonne aircraft carriers.

However, Cammell Laird managing director John Syvret remained positive about the opportunities for the resurgent shipbuilder. The yard is in line to build parts of the carriers after it was approved as a second-tier supplier to the £3.9bn contract.

“The company completely understands the current financial difficulties of the country, and the need to continuously review defence spending,” he said.


The Isle of Man Department of Transport have released the November traffic figures for November 2008. These show a decline in vehicle and passenger numbers on the UK routes when compared to 2007.

Traffic Figures: 




Year to Date





















Route Performance:









Liverpool/ Birkenhead




Director of Harbours, Captain Michael Brew comments: November passenger figures are slightly disappointing and may just be reflecting general market conditions. It will be interesting to see if this trend continues over the next few months.



French travel retailer Aelia has won the contract to operate retail outlets onboard the fleet of Irish Ferries from April 2009. The stores cover 1,000sq m (10,764sq ft) and will offer a full range of products including liquor, tobacco, fragrances and cosmetics, confectionery, souvenirs, clothing and electronics.

The Irish Ferries fleet comprises four vessels serving key routes between Ireland, the UK and France─The Jonathan Swift and Ulysses linking Dublin and Holyhead, The Isle of Inishmore making two daily crossings between Rosslare and Pembroke, and the Oscar Wilde linking Rosslare with the French port of Cherbourg and serving Roscoff in Brittany during peak season. The larger ships feature retail outlets of about 300sq m (3,229sq ft), while the Swift’s retail offer covers 120sq m (1,291sq ft).

Aelia chairman and CEO Jean-Baptiste Morin said: "This is a significant contract gain for Aelia and we are absolutely delighted that Irish Ferries has placed its trust in us. We believe the business has considerable potential and we will seek to make the most of our experience in the UK and in our cross-Channel businesses to deliver the best results to Irish Ferries and its customers. With the help of our suppliers and the expertise of the UK team, headed by Bruno Bouchacourt and Phil Manning, we have every confidence in the future success of the concession."

Irish Ferries operations director John Reilly added: "We were very impressed by Aelia’s professionalism and their ideas for the business and we’re looking forward to getting started with them. The onboard retail business is vital for us, not just with regard to revenue but also in terms of the experience we offer our customers. We are confident that by building a new and improved retail offer, Aelia will help us enhance that experience."


LIVERPOOL VIKING is suffering from engine problems and is only operating on one engine until repairs are carried out. She is due to dry-dock on December 16, but is currently operating 11 hour crossings. SHIELD will provide cover during the dry docking.


The Irish Examiner reported this week that a bank has agreed to fund 60% of the start up costs for a new Swansea - Cork service. It is also claimed that a number of other investors are involved. A potential operator has been found and four ships currently on the market have been identified as suitable for the service.

Port of Cork commercial manager Captain Michael McCarthy said the reinstatement of the ferry link "had never been closer" since it ceased operating in 2006.

Capt McCarthy said the port authorities were doing everything in their power to ensure the service gets up and running.

"Over the last six weeks we have visited seven countries and identified four suitable vessels. We’re satisfied that we have a robust business plan and the operation is commercially viable," Capt McCarthy said.

He said "the last pieces of the jigsaw were beginning to come together" and a relatively small amount of further investment is needed to get the ferry operational for March 2009.

"The reinstatement of the ferry service would be a significant boost for tourism and freight business," Capt McCarthy said.

A large number of hauliers have backed the move due to fuel savings and the reduction in the number of hours drivers are at the wheel.

Both the port authorities in Swansea and Cork will offer the incentives to aid start-up operations for the ferry.

The Mayor of County Cork, Cllr Noel Harrington, said he was very hopeful that the remaining investment could be found.

"I am appealing to people living in Cork and Kerry to look at investing in this. I’m fully confident it is a viable proposition and it is essential for the region that it’s reinstated," Mr Harrington said.Local authorities in the region have pledged, along with Fáilte Ireland, to put significant money aside to market a new ferry service.

December 06Acknowledgements:  Gary Andrews and "others"


The insurer of sail training ship ASGARD II has given the go-ahead for its salvage but the final decision has yet to be made by the Minister for Defence and Coiste an Asgard.

"Coiste an Asgard is examining the tenders raised by Allianz and a decision will be made in the next week or so," a Department of Defence spokeswoman said. The vessel, which sank on September 11th off France, is insured by Allianz for €3.8 million, according to the department.

Minister for Defence Willie O'Dea yesterday denied delaying a decision on raising the ship from the seabed. Fine Gael defence spokesman Jimmy Deenihan TD warned that the delay in raising the ship was putting the chances of its salvage in danger. This was partly due to "weather windows" closing as the year goes on and partly due to potential silt damage, he said.

"If the Minister has already decided to leave the ASGARD II at the bottom of the ocean, he should say so. It would be politically dishonest to wait until it is too late for the ASGARD II to be raised and then say that your hands are tied."

Mr O'Dea accused the Fine Gael TD of "attempting to score points by suggesting there is some political indecision". "There is no question of decisions being delayed or avoided and to suggest otherwise, which Deputy Deenihan is doing, is absolutely scurrilous," Mr O'Dea said. There were many risks associated with "a hasty and ill-prepared attempt to salvage the ship". [MARITIME CLIPPINGS]


The Rothsay class frigate which once formed the centrepiece of the Historic Warships collection at Birkenhead is now looking very uncertain. The ship which has been laid up in Vittoria Dock, Birkenhead for some time could find herself being sold for scrap according to the Western Morning News this week:

The last warship to be built in the West Country could now be scrapped after a three-year campaign to bring her home was foiled.

It had been hoped that frigate HMS Plymouth – a veteran of the Falklands War – could return to the city as a living exhibit and tourist attraction. But those hopes appeared to have been dashed yesterday after two proposals to bring the Rothesay-class frigate home failed.

Former Royal Navy officer Mike Critchley, chairman of Warship Management Ltd (WML), had been spearheading the project to bring the ship from its current berth in Birkenhead.

He said its future now looked bleak after options to secure either a commercial or Royal Navy berth had been scuppered.

"I am aware of two organisations overseas and one in the UK which have expressed an interest in hosting her in the past, but in recent times more enquiries have come to Merseyside to release her for scrap," Mr Critchley said.

"The owners have always resisted this option in favour of seeing the ship return to her natural home – Plymouth. I see the possibility of a breaker's yard looming – a fate from which she was saved in 1988.

"Surely this should not be the way that her story will end?" The ship was launched from Devonport in 1959. It played a key role in the Falklands conflict before being decommissioned in 1988.

It features a unique chapel which was built into the ship as a memorial to all the UK seafarers lost in the South Atlantic in 1982. She is currently owned by the Mersey Docks and Harbour Company.

Plymouth City councillor Dr David Salter had backed the project and discussed its potential with owners of possible berths.

He said: "I believe this outcome is a local and national disgrace after enormous efforts by WML, the men of the HMS Plymouth Association and by well-wishers all over the country.

"It is outrageous that in her namesake city with a huge waterfront and international maritime reputation, no place at all can be found for this historic warship with a proven ability to attract tourists and educate youngsters."

Commercial berths in Plymouth have been blocked by development and increasing costs. That resulted in an emergency meeting last week between former Plymouth MP Lord David Owen and Commodore Ian Jess, the current Commander of Devonport Naval Base.

"Commodore Jess, however, told Lord Owen that there was no room for the vessel," Mr Critchley said.

"He also informed Lord Owen that the listed dry dock which the project might have hoped to use, Number 2 Dock, had its gates removed in the last three months and was now tidal, making it impracticable to berth HMS Plymouth without reinstating the gates at a cost of more than a million pounds.

"This has led to WML despairing of finding a berth for HMS Plymouth in the city, and the ship having to leave Merseyside soon. She may well be sent to the scrapyard."

The news came as a blow to the HMS Plymouth Association, which has raised more than £30,000 towards her purchase.

Secretary Martin Slater, who served on the ship from 1971-73, said: "The association has been closely involved in a great many aspects of the negotiations in trying to obtain a suitable berth for the Falklands veteran. "We appreciate the frustration which WML has endured when dealing with a city, who for the most part, appears to be totally indifferent to not only saving this iconic warship, but where some elements appear to be actively attempting to thwart those efforts."

Dave Briody, group credit manager at owners Mersey Docks and Harbour Company, said they were "concerned" at the state of the vessel which had been "without proper tender loving care for three years".

"Deadlines keep being changed which is a major concern," Mr Briody said. "This is probably the third option in Plymouth that has caved in. Our main concern now is that the ship is in need of tender loving care and we really don't want to spend any more money on it.

"We are not rushing to any scrapyard, but we have to consider the state of the ship and what is going to happen to it over what is probably going to be a difficult winter.

"We are very disappointed, but we have got to face reality now that Plymouth is not pulling out all the stops. We can't believe that there's nowhere for it – even if it is a short-term lay-up.

"A move to Plymouth was and is our preferred option and we are still hopeful that a solution can be found. In the meantime, we are going to reconvene to discuss the matter with WML and make a decision from there. Hopefully something can come out of this. We would still like to see the ship sail out of Liverpool on her way to Plymouth."

A spokesman for the Royal Navy said no final decision on whether the base could host HMS Plymouth had been made. He stressed the ship was "no longer a Ministry of Defence asset" and that it had "no practical role" in finding a location.


It was announced this week that Moonduster Ltd are again engaged in discussions with a view to potentially bringing forward an offer for the entire issued and to be issued share capital of ICG.



The Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA) announced on December 04 that 15 foreign flagged ships were under detention in UK ports during October 2008 after failing Port State Control (PSC) inspection.

Latest monthly figures show that there were 11 new detentions of foreign flagged ships in UK ports during October 2008 and 4 vessels under detention from previous months. The overall rate of detentions compared with inspections carried out over the last twelve months was 4.27% this is slightly up from Septembers twelve month rate.

During the month of October 175 Port State Control inspections were carried out in the UK. A total of 44 vessels had no deficiencies raised against them, 94 had between one and five deficiencies, 22 had between six and ten deficiencies 14 had between eleven and twenty deficiencies and there was 1 vessel inspected that had more than twenty deficiencies.

Out of the detained vessels, 11 were registered with a flag states listed on the Paris MOU white list, none were registered with flag states on the grey list, 1 was registered with a flag state on the black list and 3 were registered with unlisted flag states.

Vessels detained in October included:

A 16,166 GT Bulk Carrier was detained in Immingham because the engine room was very oily which posed a major fire risk and the GMDSS equipment was not working off the GMDSS Batteries.. In addition the boat and fire drills were below standard with poor communication and familiarisation.

The number and nature of the defects identified on board indicated a major failure of the vessels Safety Management System (SMS).

A 15,834 GT Refrigerated Cargo vessel was detained in Dover because the engine room door was corroded and holed and the engine room bulkhead had been penetrated by a power supply cable for the provision crane and the insulation to the cable damaged, creating a fire risk. There were damaged and broken tiles in the ships sanitary facilities i.e. in the toilets, sculleries and some crew shower facilities. Because of the number and nature of deficiencies a major non conformity was identified in respect of the Ship Management System (SMS)


A Capital of Culture Finale Cruise is being offered by Mersey Ferries on Friday January 10. The 90 minute cruise coinciding with a grand fire work display to mark the end of Capital of Culture Year. The fare is £10.00. Tickets can be booked on line at . Departs Liverpool Cruise Terminal 17:30, Seacombe Landing Stage at 17:40 and Woodside Landing Stage at 17:50.


HMS WESTMINSTER - the type 23 Frigate which was due to visit Liverpool and berth at the cruise terminal over the weekend of December 06/07, 2008 has been cancelled. This is the second naval cancellation in the last few weeks. HMS LIVERPOOL which had been due to call in mid November also cancelled.

However, it appears that HMS ARK ROYAL may visit over the weekend of January 16 /19.


CLIPPER PANORAMA is expected to be handed over to Seatruck this weekend and is expected to depart Huelva on December 12 bound for Liverpool.


Stena has reported a 65.5% drop in third-quarter profits thanks to falling stock markets, but a company official says operations are stronger than in last year's performance.

In a US securities filing, the Swedish owner reported SEK 411m ($59m) in quarterly net income, down from SEK1.19bn a year earlier. Business administration head Staffan Hultgren tied the fall in net profits to turbulence in financial markets, which led to SEK 855m in securities losses. He said most of the losses are unrealised, and the company has limited its exposure.

He said on Monday that earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (Ebidta) has increased so far this year. "If you look at our operation, the operational performance has been very good throughout 2008," he said.

The ongoing fourth quarter, Hultgren said, has been in line with company expectations, with "continued steady Ebitda".

The Stena official also says the company has "quite good liquidity" and was able to secure $850m in financing for its fourth newbuilding DrillMax drillship despite the tight credit environment.

In the third quarter, revenue increased by 25.4% to SEK 7.78bn, but operating expenses grew more sharply, jumping by 29.1% to SEK 5.97bn. Gothenburg-based Stena is the parent company of Stena Line, Stena Bulk, Stena Roro and Stena Drilling, among other companies.

Stena's ferry business saw revenues increase by 0.9% to SEK 3.33bn as freight and travel earnings grew, despite lower onboard sales. Expenses grew by 7.6% to SEK 2.14bn,

Drilling revenues soared by 40.2% to SEL 1.55bn thanks to new contracts for two DrillMax drillships. Drilling expenses, however, jumped by 51.5% to SEK 618m thanks to the new drillship operating costs and higher personnel costs.

The company's shipping revenues shot up by 39.8% to SEK 1.21bn, as tanker revenues jumped but ro-ro turnover sank. Tanker costs helped push shipping expenses by 24.2% to SEK 747m.

Stena ended the third quarter with SEK 1.05bn in cash and cash equivalents out of SEK 90.6bn in assets, as well as SEK 28.9bn in long-term debt. For the first nine months of the year, Stena's profits slipped by 16.3% to SEK 2.87bn.



Stena Line are seeking redundancies among their staff working on the Rosslare to Fishguard service. The company confirmed this week that it sent a letter to the Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers' Union (RMT) on Monday informing them that they were seeking a reduction in 'on-board staff '.

There are currently 61 onboard staff operating on the STENA EUROPE service between Rosslare and Fishguard, working in areas like the ferry's bar and restaurants.

This does not include deck officers and ship management.Stena Line said that it's seeking a 'small reduction' in those numbers.

Their communications manager Eamonn Hewitt said they were hoping to avoid compulsory redundancies and instead get the figure down through voluntary redundancies, redeployment and 'natural wastage'.

However, compulsory redundancies are not being ruled out. Mr. Hewitt said the action was a response to a downturn in their business.

A staff member, speaking to the Wexford People, said that the on-board staff had already been reduced to the 'bare bones' following cuts in recent years. He felt that many Co. Wexford residents working on the ferry were now in danger of losing their jobs.


December 03Acknowledgements:  Gary Andrews,, John Pryce, Andrew Moore and "others"


ABIGAIL H was lifted around 16:30 on November 25 by MERSEY MAMMOTH and was pumped out and lifted more over the night and early morning of the next day and later in the day was towed to the North East corner of Heysham Harbourwhere she now is berthed.

There is a suggestion that they might break her up in the North East corner which is where the linkspan extension was cut up. 


The Belfast Terminal at Donegall Quay will not be used for the 2009 season. The company have announced that operations will move to Albert Quay, the former Stena Line Terminal, for the 2009 season.


A new panamax ship-to-shore gantry crane has been delivered for  the Royal Seaforth Container Terminal. The Liebherr crane, constructed in Ireland was delivered in component form and represents a key part of investments to increase deepwater berthing capacity at the terminal by one-third.


The new crane, with an outreach of 38 m and able to work in wind speeds of up to 50 miles an hour, is due to be operational early in the new year. The Royal Seaforth terminal, which handled a record 701,000 teu last year, has received investment of £50m ($75m) since the start of the decade.


Peel Ports is currently carrying out engineering studies into  plans for a 600,000 teu post-panamax river container terminal at Liverpool.


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