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NEWS BULLETIN - February 2009

February 28

Acknowledgements:  Gary Andrews, Ian Collard, Maritime Clippings, John Williams and "others".



The Isle of Man Steam Packet Company has announced it will be operating day trips to the Isle of Man from Belfast, Fleetwood and Whitehaven this summer.

Passengers can sail to Peel from Belfast on Saturday 25th July, from Fleetwood to Douglas on Tuesday 18th August and from Whitehaven to Douglas on Wednesday 19th August.

Tickets for ferry only travel start at just £19 for children under 16 and £29 for adults.

In addition  tickets are available which include a tour of the Isle of Man, prices for these start at £25 for children under 16 and £39 for adults.

Chief Executive Mark Woodward said: ‘These day excursions proved extremely popular last year. They are a fantastic opportunity for passengers to visit the Isle of Man and experience all it has to offer. We are delighted we are once again able to offer this service.’


The Isle of Man Steam Packet Company has announced it will be operating day trips from the Isle of Man to a variety of top leisure and golf destinations in England and Ireland between April and August.

Destinations include Woodvale Rally, Grand National, Alton Towers, Trafford Centre, Chester Zoo, Cheshire Oaks, Tatton Park Flower Show, Camelot Theme Park, [It appears to have been overlooked that it was announced on February 03, 2009 that Camelot Theme Park had gone into administration and was unlikely to reopen for the 2009 season.!] Gullivers World, Southport Flower and Air Show and to some of the best golf courses either side of the River Mersey.

The ever popular day excursions to Fleetwood, Dublin, Belfast and Whitehaven are also now available for booking.

Ferry only tickets start at just £19 for children under 16 and £29 for adults.

Inclusive packages have been arranged which in many cases include ferry travel, on board meal vouchers plus coach transfers to/from the destination, prices for these packages start at just £36 for children under 16 and £44 for adults

The golf day trips offer excellent value and start at just £95 per person and include ferry travel, on board meal vouchers, coach transfers, and a round of golf

Chief Executive, Mark Woodward said: ‘I am delighted that we are able to offer passengers the opportunity to spend a day in some fantastic places and at some great events. The variety of trips and dates will hopefully enable us to cater for everyone. We wish our passengers a wonderful time, wherever they decide to visit.’

For more details or to book any of the trips please call 661661 or call into the Ferry Travel Shop in the Sea Terminal.

Copies of the 2009 Day Excursion Get Away Guide can be collected from the Ferry Travel Shop or are available for download at


The company has announced that the fuel surcharge has been reviewed in line with the current arrangement with the Department of Transport and issued the following press release:

With effect from 1st March, the surcharge on freight reduces by 37% from £8 per metre to £5 per metre. The passenger rate remains at £5.

The surcharge on freight has been reduced as freight and passenger rates are subject to different sliding scales for marine fuel prices. The reduction in the price of marine fuel over the last six months has been sufficient to trigger a reduction in the surcharge applied to freight, which increased by more than the passenger rate in the last fuel surcharge review in September 2008.

The fuel surcharge is calculated in strict accordance with the terms of the agreement with the Department of Transport.

Understanding How it Works

The first point to note is that under the current arrangement, the Company does not recover the full extent of the increase in fuel costs as the following table shows:


Fuel Costs

Amount recovered by Fuel Surcharge

Amount absorbed by Steam Packet

Proportion absorbed by Steam Packet
















The Review Process

The fuel surcharge is reviewed twice a year in March and September. To stabilise fares it is applied in arrears on the basis of the marine fuel costs in the previous 6 months. Therefore, there is a time lag before surcharges are raised or reduced.

The calculation also applies a weighting to take into account periods of high or low usage. For example, the fuel surcharge being applied with effect from 1st March is based on fuel prices between August 2008 and January 2009. It therefore includes periods of high consumption such August, September and October 2008, when fast craft were in operation and the price of marine fuel was still at record levels. The following tables show how the price of marine fuel has moved in relation to Manx RPI and typical foot passenger and vehicle fares. 

Marine Fuel

Jan 1995

Aug 2005

Sept 2008

Feb 2009

Average weighted cost of Marine Fuel (per tonne)





£100 inflated by Manx RPI






Foot passenger fare

Jan 1995

Aug 2005

Sept 2008

Feb 2009

Foot passenger fare (excluding fuel surcharge)





Foot passenger fare (including fuel surcharge)





Foot passenger fare if inflated by Manx RPI






Car plus 2 Peak Summer fare

Jan 1995

Aug 2005

Sept 2008

Feb 2009

Car plus 2 fare (excluding fuel surcharge)





Car plus 2 fare (including fuel surcharge)





Car plus 2 fare if inflated by Manx RPI





*Latest RPI data available is to January 2009

It is apparent that marine fuel costs have increased by considerably more than Manx RPI and that, even with the fuel surcharge, fares are considerably lower than they would be if they had grown at Manx RPI over the same period.

An additional factor is that while fuel is priced in the global market in dollars, the Company is buying in sterling, which introduces a currency exchange rate issue. As has been widely reported, sterling has weakened in recent months, offsetting some of the decline in the dollar price of fuel.

It is accepted that the time lag and method of application of the surcharge mean that passengers purchasing tickets now are paying a surcharge in respect of fuel consumed in the past. It also means that some passengers did not pay a surcharge, or as much of a surcharge, when fuel prices were rising. For example, the fuel surcharge was at the lower level of £2.50 at a time when the price of fuel was at record levels.

We could review fuel surcharges on a weekly basis and apply a price increase, or reduction, in line with the real-time movement in the fuel price. However, this would result in fluctuating fares and could mean charging or refunding the surcharge at the time of travel. Passengers would not know the final cost of their fare until the day of travel. If we had chosen to do this, fuel surcharges would have increased steadily throughout last summer. As it is of course, they did not rise until the scheduled surcharge review in September.

The current surcharge agreement is in place until 1st June. The Isle of Man Steam Packet Company is currently discussing with the Department of Transport an alternative fuel surcharge agreement.


MAERSK EXPORTER - the first of the redeployed North Sea ships - was reported by AIS rounding Land's End bound for Heysham late on the afternoon of February 28. ETA at Heysham is shown as 14:00 on Sunday March 01, 2009.


The Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA) announced on February 25, 2009

that 7 foreign flagged ships were under detention in UK ports during January 2009 after failing Port State Control (PSC) inspection.

Latest monthly figures show that there were 6 new detentions of foreign flagged ships in UK ports during January 2009 and 1 vessel under detention from previous months. The overall rate of detentions compared with inspections carried out over the last twelve months was 3.77% this is slightly down from Decembers twelve month rate.

During the month of January 145 Port State Control inspections were carried out in the UK. A total of 44 vessels had no deficiencies raised against them, 64 had between one and five deficiencies 27 had between six and ten deficiencies 7 had between eleven and twenty deficiencies and there were 3 vessels inspected that had more than twenty deficiencies.

Out of the detained vessels, 5 were registered with flags 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 1 was registered with an unlisted flag state.


Date & Place of Detention: 02/01/2009 (Plymouth)
Vessel Name: FAIRDEAL (General Cargo)
GT: 2,292
IMO No: 8919843
Flag: Liberia
Company: Baff Vyborg Ltd
Classification Society: Germanischer Lloyd (GL)
Recognised Organisation: Germanischer Lloyd (GL)
Recognised Organisation for ISM: Germanischer Lloyd (GL
Summary: 3 deficiencies (1) Grounds for detention

This vessel was detained in Plymouth for 8 days because the Certificates of Equivalent Competency (CECs) for the mate, second mate and engineer were not available on board. Other deficiencies identified included, the International Air Pollution Prevention Certificate (IAPP) and the International Sewage Pollution Prevention Certificate (ISPP) had expired.
The vessel was released from detention on 09/01/2009

Date & Place of Detention: 16/01/2009 (Northfleet)
Vessel Name: WINTERSET (Bulk Carrier)
GT: 1,491
IMO No: 7609726
Flag: Marshall Islands
Company: SMT Ship Management
Classification Society: Bureau Veritas (BV)
Recognised Organisation: Bureau Veritas (BV)
Recognised Organisation for ISM: Germanischer Lloyd (GL)
Summary: 17deficiencies (3) Grounds for detention

This vessel was detained in Northfleet for 4 days because the VHF radio was not capable of transmitting via DSC, in addition the port and starboard engine room fire flaps could not be closed. A major non conformity was identified with regard to the emergency preparedness; the fire and boat drills were poor and showed lack of training and control. Other deficiencies identified included: the reflective tape was missing from the keel of the lifeboat: the Ops battery room lifebuoy was not ready for use – the light was inoperative; some deck fire hydrants were leaking and the vent system to the cabins on main deck had no fire flaps. The vessel was released from detention on 19/01/2009

Date & Place of Detention: 16/01/2009 (Hull)
Vessel Name: DEFENDER (General Cargo)
GT: 1,611
IMO No: 6919837
Flag: Cambodia
Company: Forestry Shipping Sia
Classification Society: Inclamar
Recognised Organisation: Inclamar
Recognised Organisation for ISM: Inclamar
Summary: 20 deficiencies (2) Grounds for detention

This vessel was detained in Hull for 12 days because the lifeboat buoyancy chambers were damaged in 2 places in way of gunnel where the davit arms rest. In addition most tank vent heads were either seized or corroded or were not secured to prevent covers coming off in seaway. Other deficiencies identified included; there was no means of testing the fire detection system on board or routine test procedure implemented; the seals were broken on the spare batteries for the hand held GMDSS/VHF sets and the reserve source of energy the cells electrolyte level was low.
The vessel was released from detention on 27/01/2009

Date & Place of Detention: 27/01/2009 (Sunderland)
Vessel Name: SKULPTOR ANIKUSHIN (General Cargo)
GT: 4,966
IMO No: 8728828
Flag: Russian Federation
Company: Volga Neva Ltd
Classification Society: Russian Maritime Register (RMRS)
Recognised Organisation: Russian Maritime Register (RMRS)
Recognised Organisation for ISM: Russian Maritime Register (RMRS)
Summary: 13 deficiencies (3) Grounds for detention

The vessel was detained in Sunderland because hatch access lids were corroded through and repaired with tape, the 15ppm alarm was inoperable as there was no electrical supply to the unit. Other deficiencies included; fuel oil tank self closing gauge glass held open; the starboard main engine fw cooler had 2 rubber patch repairs.
A major non conformity was identified in respect of the maintenance procedures which had failed to comply with load line rules.
The vessel was still detained at 31/01/2009

Date & Place of Detention: 28/01/2009 (Belfast)
Vessel Name: TRANSPORT (Oil/Chemical Tanker)
GT: 22,638
IMO No: 7923574
Flag: Liberia
Company: Delfi SA
Classification Society: Det Norske Veritas (DNV)
Recognised Organisation: Det Norske Veritas (DNV)
Recognised Organisation for ISM: Lloyds Register (LR)
Summary: 43 deficiencies (8) Grounds for detention

The vessel was detained in Belfast because the 3 cm radar had been inoperative since July 2008 and the VHF and MF/HF installations were not working correctly. In addition the air inlet to the emergency generator was holed below the fire damper and the exhaust gas boiler safety valve easing gear had been disconnected. A major non conformity was identified with regard to the maintenance of ship and equipment and the maintenance of records and documentation which was not in compliance with the ISM code.

Other deficiencies identified included The emergency battery and the emergency generator were not as required; a number of fire flaps and hatches throughout the vessel had missing dogs; escape routes from some cabins were blocked by iron bars and some crew cabins had naked lights in the showers . In addition the galley and pantries were unhygienic and in the officers laundry room light covers were missing and wash machines not secured.
The vessel was still detained at 31/01/2009

Date & Place of Detention: 29/01/2009 (Chatham)
Vessel Name: SISU CANOPUS (Other Cargo)
GT: 2,599
IMO No: 9187162
Flag: Antigua & Barbuda
Company: Transnautic Ship Management
Classification Society: Bureau Veritas (BV)
Recognised Organisation: Bureau Veritas (BV)
Recognised Organisation for ISM: Bureau Veritas (BV)
Summary 24 Deficiencies (2) Grounds for detention

The vessel was detained in Chatham because oil was being pumped overboard into the dock via the ballast system, and the engine room bilges were covered in heavy oil. Other deficiencies identified included, the accommodation doors self closers needed adjusting; the ballast system needed cleaning; there was no record of engine room bilge water in the oil record book and safety ropes were missing at the lower level.
The vessel was still detained at 31/01/2009


Date & Place of detention: 20/09/2007
- Lowestoft
Vessel Name: ST PIRAN (Other Cargo)
GT: 306
IMO No: 5085407
Flag: Sierra Leone
Company: Charter Shipping Inc
Classification Society:
Phoenix Register of Shipping (PRS)
Summary: 18 deficiencies in total, (6 detainable).

The vessel was detained with a significant amount of oil leaking from the silencer drain soaking the exhaust manifold lagging of the main engine, causing an imminent fire hazard. There was no effective fire pump available due to the breakdown of the main engine, and the alternative submersible electric pump was not effective. Also the Aldis signalling lamp was out of order, the VHF radio installation had an incorrect
number and the radio battery charger arrangement and power distribution were incorrect. Other deficiencies included: some inoperative navigation lights as well as improperly maintained emergency batteries and portable fire extinguishers. The ship was still detained at 31/01/2009.



The next Devonport Navy Days Event will be held on September 05/06, 2009. The last event at Devonport was in August 2006. This year's event breaks with the recent pattern of it being held over the August Bank Holiday weekend. As a consequence the even is of only two, rather than three days duration.

The theme will be ‘Present & Future Capabilities’. The event will feature Royal Navy Warships open to the public, a river display involving a dramatic hostage rescue and flying and static aircraft displays.

To mark the Fleet Air Arm celebrating 100 years of Naval Aviation, naval and military helicopters and aircraft will be showcased in the air display including the Black Cats helicopter display team and the Royal Navy Black Sea Hawks. 

The show will also include military displays, bands, trade exhibits, careers information, craft and produce exhibitions, picnic areas, military vehicle exhibitions, simulators, and much more. The Future Navy exhibition will showcase the new aircraft carrier and next generation submarines.  There will be opportunities to meet and talk with the sailors and marines and hear about their jobs, adventures and recent experiences.   It promises to be an exciting, action packed and memorable day out for the whole family.

Advance tickets are now on sale. Book early to enjoy large discounts. Call the ticket hotline on 08445 78 78 78.


CLIPPER PACE arrived at the Liverpool Bar anchorage early on the afternoon of February 28. She had been diaplaying a Liverpool ETA of 17:00


Fundraisers in Ireland and Wales have been given a new deadline of March 10 to come up with a shortfall in the 3 million needed to relaunch the Cork-Swansea ferry service.

A Finnish bank, which is prepared to bankroll most of the cash to purchase a new ferry, said yesterday it was prepared to give the fundraising effort further time. West Cork Tourism has now reportedly raised 2.6m and is hoping that more pledges from Cork, Kerry and south Wales will enable it to meet the target within the new deadline.

Conor Buckley, chairman of West Cork Tourism, said he was relieved the bank had extended its deadline.

"This is good news as we are now so close and what we needed was time. The final date is now March 10. The urgency of raising the remainder needed to secure the regions' future cannot be stated enough. The campaign is on its knees at this point for the final pledges. It is do or die at this point," he said. Captain Frank Allen, who plans to operate the service, was in Finland yesterday where he viewed the proposed earmarked ferry, JULIA. The ship is far bigger than the MV SUPERFERRY which plied the route until three years ago when its owners, Swansea-Cork Ferries, ceased operations.

The JULIA is capable of carrying 1,800 passengers, 400 cars and about 40 freight units.

"She is in very good condition and has been very well maintained," Capt Allen said.

"She will have to be dry-docked for 14 days for annual maintenance before going into service again."

Captain Allen said he remained optimistic that a new service will be up an running by next April. It will be called the B+I line. It is estimated that the southwest region has lost about e150m in tourism revenue since the route was closed.

People wishing to make financial pledges to West Cork Tourism are urged to contact co-ordinator Paul O'Brien at 087 7857619 as soon as possible.


February 26

Acknowledgements:  Gary Andrews, Ian Collard, Maritime Clippings and "others".


CW Kellock ( acting on behalf of the Admiralty Marshal are currently advertising the STALINGRAD of Sakahalinmor Trans LLC for sale by auction on March 18. The ship having been detained in Liverpool in December 2008.

Also being offered for sale in March are PIATARI BRIGHT, PIATARI GLORY (09 March 2009), and PIETARI CLIFF (11 March)- these three vessels being laid up on the River Fal


LV GANNET - the very last lightship in the service of the CIL was withdrawn from service at the South Rock station on Wednesday February 25, 2009. LV GANNETT was removed from station by the tender GRANUAILE and replaced by a buoy.  She is now being advertised for sale on the CIL web site. LV GANNET was completed by Philip & Son Ltd of Dartmouth for the CIL in 1954.


HAMNAVOE is expected to depart Stromness at 21:00 on Saturday bound for Cammell Laird for refit. It would appear that she will arrive on Merseyside on the early afternoon tide on Monday March 02, 2009. 


THE RUSSIAN navy has admitted responsibility for an oil spill off the south coast of Ireland earlier this month. The Navy expressed  “extreme regret”, when it informed the Irish Coast Guard that this was the first time such an incident has occurred in another country's waters.

A high-level Russian military delegation which met Irish Coast Guard officials in Dublin said it was undertaking a “root and branch” review. The Irish Coast Guard believes the cost of monitoring the slick amounted to €250,000, which the Russian Federation may contribute towards. This will depend on bilateral discussions between the Russian Federation and the Government.

Due to good weather over the past fortnight the slick is believed to be dispersing, and is unlikely to cause any serious risk to Irish Sea coasts. The Russian military delegation told the Irish Coast Guard that the incident may have occurred when bilges were inadvertently pumped out 80km southeast of Fastnet Rock.

The Russian navy’s flagship, the 46,000 tonne Russian aircraft carrier ADMIRAL KUZNETSOV was refuelling in the area, and was accompanied by a tanker and a tug.

It is believed the slick consisted of about 300 tonnes of oil waste. Laboratory tests have confirmed that it is a light crude oil. The Irish Coast Guard expressed disappointment that notification of the pollution incident had not been made earlier as earlier notification would have facilitated spraying and reduced potential risk.

The Russian delegation is due to address today the inter-departmental environmental response group which was established in response to the spill. Irish Coast Guard director Chris Reynolds said he accepted the delegation’s explanation.



CLIPPER PACE departed her builders at Huelva on February 26, 2009. She is expected at Liverpool at 17:00 on Saturday February 28 at 17:00.

MOONDANCE returned to Liverpool on Wednesday February 25, 2009. Following her very short lived spell sailing between Norway and Denmark on the route between Fredericia and Moss. The service was ended due to the present financial conditions the company issuing the following press release:

Seatruck RO/R0 Service Fredericia - Moss -  Service on stand by

The financial crisis now also affects the traffic between Denmark and Norway. The dramatically reduced volumes have intensified the competitive situation in the market with reduced freight rates as a consequence.

The result for the newly established RO/RO service between Fredericia and Moss has been that the operators which prior to the commencement of the service expressed intentions to support the service have been forced to review their position.

The shipping line has therefore decided to suspend the service between Fredericia and Moss until further notice. The last sailing took place from Moss on 12/02-2009.

The shipping line will review the market development together with the customers and consider possible schedule enhancements to improve the service towards the customer needs.


SMIT TRAFALGAR - the former Mersey based tug was recently craned aboard the SAL Heavy Lift Ship REGINE at the JC Meijers yard at Rotterdam for transport to Taipei (Taiwan) for service at the recently opened container terminal.

February 25

Acknowledgements:  Norfolkline, Philip Parker, Ian Collard, Coiste an Asgard.


ASGARD II - It has been announced that the graceful brigantine will which visited so many Irish Sea ports will not be be raised. Here is the official made statement by the Irish Government's Minister for Defence Mr. Willie O'Dea TD on ASGARD II 23rd February 2009.

At its last meeting the Board of Coiste An Asgard had a full discussion on the possibility of salvaging the ASGARD II. The unanimous view of the Board was that a salvage operation should not be pursued any further. Having carefully considered the Board's report to me, I have accepted its recommendation.

Spending in the region of €2 million on a salvage effort, the outcome of which is uncertain, is something we cannot afford at this time. A real risk exists whereby more than €2 million could be expended on a salvage effort that proves unsuccessful or, following which, the vessel is found to be damaged beyond repair.

The fact is, that until the vessel is salvaged, it would not be possible to assess whether it can be restored and the cost of doing so. Clearly, the greater the damage, the higher the cost of restoration.

The ASGARD II is a well-loved and well-regarded 30-year-old wooden vessel that would have ever-increasing maintenance costs in the years ahead. The Board was of the view that vessels that sink are "never the same" after restoration and are likely to have on-going maintenance problems. In addition, the possibility of increased regulatory requirements by the Department of Transport could add substantially to the cost of restoration.

The Board also took into account the view that parents of potential trainees (particularly those with no sailing experience) may be reluctant to allow their children to sail on a vessel that has sunk.

While the name "Asgard" has been associated with two noble and important vessels, it is also about sail training and introducing young people to the experience of sailing. My priority is to ensure the continuation of the sail-training scheme.

I have accepted the Board's recommendation to initiate planning for the procurement of a new vessel that will be similar in design to ASGARD II but with a steel hull (a steel hulled vessel would be less expensive to build and maintain than a wooden hulled vessel). I would also hope that the future ASGARD III would have facilities to cater for persons with physical disabilities, something the ASGARD II could not.

Pending the acquisition of a new vessel, the following arrangements will be put in place in the interim:

(1). A limited cruise programme (mainly in Irish waters) will be provided on the CREIDNE, which was used by Coiste an Asgard for sail training prior to ASGARD II. It is now under the control of the Naval Service. A programme of extensive refurbishment of the CREIDNE is nearing completion and the vessel is expected to be available by May.

(2). An Coiste will enter into an arrangement whereby it will reserve a number of places for Irish trainees on board the Norwegian sail training vessel, the CHRISTIAN RADICH, during the Tall Ships races.

I know that it was a very difficult conclusion for the Board to reach, but it is one I accept as being right and sensible. The costs and risks involved in attempting to salvage and restore ASGARD II are too great. There is no doubt ASGARD II was an outstanding sail-training vessel and was held in the highest regard both at home and abroad. She was an excellent ambassador for this country for close on 30 years. However, I believe the measures I have outlined in terms of planning for a new vessel and the interim arrangements will ensure sail training in this country continues.

I want to express my appreciation to Allianz Plc., the insurer of ASGARD II, for their valuable assistance and co-operation with Coiste an Asgard since the sinking of the vessel. The insurers have indicated that the vessel remains the property of the Irish government.

I have been impressed by the expressions of support for the ASGARD II and the offers of practical support. While I cannot commit public monies to a salvage operation, I am open, over the coming months, to considering any realistic and funded proposals from private individuals or groups as to the future of the ASGARD II vessel.

ISS COMMENT: It is clear that many ship lovers will view this decision with dismay given the extent to which politicians can bale out defective banks, What is a few million Euros for a fine little ship?


Norfolkline introduce MAERSK EXPORTER to Irish Sea Heysham service

MAERSK EXPORTER - Norfolkline has issued the following press release:

Norfolkline is very pleased to announce the arrival of the MAERSK EXPORTER to the Irish Sea from Monday 2nd March – 2 months ahead of previous schedule.

This development forms part of a major commitment by Norfolkline to its Irish Sea services.

The plan is to transfer three large ro/ro vessels from the North Sea over the coming months to operate through Heysham and the arrival of MAERSK EXPORTER is the first stage of this plan.

The MAERSK EXPORTER will operate on the Heysham-Belfast route and will provide more capacity and better reliability than the vessel it replaces. The MAERSK EXPORTER has a working capacity of 117 trailers and a service speed of 18 knots.

Paul Woodall route director states   ‘It has been our plan to transfer three Exporter type vessels from the North Sea to the Heysham routes for quite some time. It is now very pleasing to see this plan take effect. The size and speed of these vessels makes them ideally suited to our Heysham services. They will provide additional capacity and consistent scheduling on these important and strategic freight routes. The improved economies of scale will allow us to remain as competitive as possible in a difficult market environment.’

February 22

Acknowledgements:  Gary Andrews, Jenny Williamson, Steve Salter and "others"


The port of Belfast has suffered because of the global economic downturn, according to figures released on Wednesday.

The figures revealed that cargo movements in 2008 fell by 5.5% to 16.5 million tonnes.

This followed a six-year period of continued growth. Container and oil traffic were each down by 5%. Construction sectors were worst affected with timber imports falling by 38% and steel by 21%.

However, there were some trading increases.

Scrap metal was up by 8.6% and fertiliser imports rose by 5%. The stone trade, benefiting from road maintenance projects in Great Britain, was up 4%.

Despite the slump, the Harbour Commissioners still want to make Belfast the leading port in Ireland.

"We are very much still committed to our £630m capital investment programme... to cater for a growing economy whenever that returns," said

Commercial Director Joe O'Neill."We can cater for not just our existing customers." We can cater for a much wider customer base and a much wider geographical area within Ireland so we have very clear ambitions on that front."



BEN-MY-CHREE experienced a technical problem on Wednesday February 18 which resulted in her 08:45 sailing being delayed until around 09:33

MANXMAN - the Radio Lancashire  "A Day trip to Douglas" broadcast in 1981has been uploaded to You Tube. The 30 minute programme covers a day trip from Fleetwood to Douglas and interviews Captains, Catering staff, passengers, David Slater from Manxman Steamer Society, Contractors and even the man who used to sell newspapers at the Fleetwood quayside. There are also sounds recorded on the ship and Island.  The recording is in three parts as YouTube only allows postings of files 10 minutes long.

The clips can be heard here:




This week the Tynwald supported a motion this week to have the Steam Packet select committee reformed in order to examine the company's audited accounts for 2007. The committee will report to Tynwald by the end of July. The select committee has now reformed and it has until the July Tynwald to investigate and report.  The select committee's investigation is separate from the Office of Fair Trading investigation into the company's fares and profits.

The Isle of Man Steam Packet Company has announced that it welcomes the re-forming of the Committee in the hope that it will give the Company the opportunity to address publicly the shortcomings of the original report of November 2008. The company states that audited accounts for the years ended 2006 and 2007 have already been given to the Committee and that these accounts will show very clearly that the Committee’s comments that freight charges should be reduced, and the recommendation that notice be given on the current fuel surcharge agreement, are not in the best interests of Island residents or visitors.

The Steam Packet comments that despite assistance to the Committee, and in contradiction to some of the comments made by its chairman in Tynwald on 18th February 2009, the Committee chose not to put Steam Packet Company comments in proper context in its November 2008 report. It also chose to selectively amend the report, despite a full response by the Steam Packet Company. Instead the Committee published the Company’s comments in a separate appendix where they did not benefit from equal prominence.

Mark Woodward, Chief Executive of the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company, said: “As I have indicated previously, I am pleased that the Select Committee is to be re-formed. I can confirm that the Company will engage fully with the Committee as we seek to address, as a matter of public record, misinformed comments in the Committee’s report of November 2008.”


With Isle of Man air traffic figures showing a decline of 9%, the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company announced this week that it is pleased with the harbour traffic figures for January 2009, which show a 2.9% increase for passengers and a 2.2% increase for vehicles when compared with January 2008.

At a time when the Company is having to contend with the impact of global economic conditions along with an Office of Fair Trading investigation, the re-forming of the Tynwald Select Committee and the resultant media interest, it is reassuring to note that passengers are voting with their feet and are choosing to take advantage of the Company’s “very competitive” passenger fares as described by the Select Committee in its report of November 2008.

The Company notes that while these figures are encouraging, 2009 will be a challenging year and it will be closely monitoring booking levels as the year progresses.

Isle of Man Steam Packet Company Chief Executive, Mark Woodward, said: “I am delighted with these figures which provide some reassurance that, despite continued bad news in the wider economy and at a time when the Company is being subjected to increased scrutiny, passengers are continuing to take advantage of our very competitive fares.”


The regional development minister has said his department will not be able to fund the Greencastle-Magilligan ferry when its contract runs out in June.

The Lough Foyle Ferry Company used to receive an annual subsidy but that has now run out.

On Tuesday, assembly members called on Conor Murphy to help fund the service.

However, Mr Murphy said this was not possible because the ferry runs between two jurisdictions and also government budgets were so tight.

The Lough Foyle Ferry operates between Magilligan in County Londonderry and Greencastle in County Donegal.

It offers a one-mile crossing which takes about 15 minutes. "I do recognise the importance of the ferry service in the local area and, despite the limitations of my own department, I think that at the very least there is a need for interested parties to explore more fully whether there are any options available which might help the service," he said.

Mr Murphy said he would be "happy to be involved in that process with my own department".

SDLP MLA John Dallat said the Northern Ireland Assembly and the Dáil  should step in.

Last year, the Lough Foyle Ferry Company lost 56,000 euro, and estimates that it could lose nearly 224,000 euro this year.



MAERSK EXPORTER information received by Irish Sea shipping indicates that the ship is expected to arrive in Heysham on March 01, 2009 to take up service on the Belfast to Heysham service replacing SHIELD which will be returned to her owners.

MAERSK EXPORTER will be crewed by Dutch officers and Polish crew. ME is 142 m long 23m beam which is deemed to be the Heysham max .

Two other vessels MAERSK TRANSPORTER and MAERSK IMPORTER will arrive in May and September respectfully. SAGA MOON will be sold to Russian interests.


THE FRIENDS of Penzance Harbour are urging the residents of the Isles of Scilly to reconsider what is being proposed by the Route Partnership.

In an open letter to the Scilonians the Friends have outlined their concerns and described the alternatives they think should be considered.

The most controversial aspect of the scheme, according to the Friends, is the creation of a passenger terminal, freight depot and lorry parking and turning space on Battery Rocks beach and waterfront location between the Lighthouse Pier and the Jubilee Pool.

As an alternative to this the Friends would like to see the creation of an out-of-town freight handling depot with containerised freight brought to the harbour each day for immediate loading onto the ship and the passenger terminal built on the existing harbour side site.

The Friends also have got doubts about the replacement of the existing two ship operation with a single larger combined freight and passenger vessel.

Member John Maggs said: "A two-ship operation much more effectively separates freight and passengers on the quays, it allows sailing times to suit the different needs of freight and passengers and it avoids the cost of pushing an expensive passenger ship back and forward to the Scillies all winter long with no passengers on it.

"And with one ship the danger of mechanical failure or other incidents leading to the absence of a sea link to the mainland is also greater. It has also been suggested that if the new vessel was a passenger-only one it might be faster with a reduction in journey times boosting day-visitors to the Islands.

"While we review the possibilities for Penzance, perhaps Scilonians might also take the opportunity to spend a little extra time to make sure that what is being planned for Scilly is really in the best interests of the Islands."

The Friends welcome any thoughts on their concerns and alternatives to the Route Partnership scheme and they can be contacted through


One of Belfast’s oldest vessels returned to its place of birth on Thursday after nearly 85 years away from home.

The RANGER, built in Belfast by Harland and Wolff is believed to have been constructed by the same craftsmen who built the Titanic.

She was transported from Cairnryan to Larne by P&O Irish Sea after being donated to Belfast’s Lagan Legacy, by Clyde Marine Services in Scotland.

Built in 1923 and after nearly eight decades of travelling the globe, The RANGER has witnessed events such as the North African Landings at Arzeu during World War II, and has certainly stood the test of time. She has even outlived the P&O passenger ship SS MOOLTAN, to which she was an accompanying partner on her maiden voyage in 1923 to Colombo, Melbourne and Sydney.

The story of The Ranger will live on for another while yet. After being renovated in Belfast she will be used as a maritime heritage tour boat on the river Lagan. So after being shaped up, she’ll be shipped out once again, allowing up to a dozen passengers at a time to tour the birthplace of the Titanic in a little piece of maritime history.


On February 12 Seatruck suspended the new Fredericia - Moss service which the  MOONDANCE had begun at the start of the month.  The ship was laid up at  Fredericia pending discussions as to whether the service can be made viable. Further information suggests that MOONDANCE is heading back to Liverpool and will arrive on February 25.


STENA SEAFARER appears to have had her sailings reduced on the Fleetwood - Larne route. 16:00 ex Larne on Fridays and Sundays and 03:00 ex Fleetwood on Saturdays and Mondays. This means the ship is only sailing 4 days/roundtrips per week. This should  help provide more maintenance time for the other Northern Ireland based Stena ships.

HSS STENA DISCOVERY - it is rumoured that she will likely dry dock at Harland & Wolff during March following the dry docking of the STENA ADVENTURER. This dry docking is believed to be associated with her sale to Venezuelan interests.

HSS STENA VOYAGER - it would appear that the ship only have a few years remaining on the north channel. Apparently an HSS linkspan is not on the proposed layout for the new port facility at Cairnryan.

The report says that the HSS STENA VOYAGER and STENA CALEDONIA will be  replaced with 2 RoPax vessels. The non technical summary report claims  that these vessels but will have the following characteristics.

• Speed – 21 - 24 knots

• Lane metres – 1800-2200

• Passengers - 1200-1500

• Length – 200-214 metres

• Drive through

• Twin Decks

• Passenger facilities similar to an HSS


There was a heady atmosphere at the West Cork Hotel on the evening on Tuesday February 17 as hundreds of people from all over Cork and Kerry turned up to pledge €2 million in financial support for a new ferry service.

Those in attendance were very much aware of the fact that if the pledge drive was successful, the people of West Cork and Kerry would own a majority shareholding in the Cork Swansea service, and would be in a position to determine its operations for years to come.

What was extraordinary about the meeting was that the room was full of people that had nothing but enthusiasm for the proposal – even after the panel of seven legal, shipping and business speakers were quizzed on all aspects of the plan, especially its economic viability.

Even in a recession, there were plenty of business people, tourism operators and private individuals with their chequebooks at the ready, and an estimated 150 of them signed an investor's pledge on the night, with 50 more signalling their intention by phone, e-mail and fax.

In signing the pledge, each person gave an undertaking to lodge their cheque on or before February 26 next, which would give the co-operative just enough time to buy the ship before it goes to auction.

The new ship – JULIA – is expected to cost €10 million, but it will also need a working capital of approximately €1.5 million, which is expected to be raised from a Business Expansion Scheme.

Private investors – mainly people with business interests in the shipping and freight industry – have already committed themselves to €1.5 million, with an additional €6 million coming from a loan issued by a bank in Finland that has a vested interest in the ship.

The loan offered by the bank is contingent on the new co-operative coming up with an additional €3 million, which the co-operative gave themselves just seven days to raise.

Last week, the group – led by the chairman of West Cork Tourism, Mr. Conor Buckley – announced their intention to enlist three hundred co-operative members at €10,000 each, but by midnight on Tuesday, it was clear that people who couldn't stretch to €10,000 were prepared to raise money as a group, or syndicate.


The €2 million pledged on the night was nothing short of astounding. It spoke volumes for the "can do" spirit of the team leading the initiative and the crowds of people who were willing to back them. It also showed tremendous solidarity among the people of West Cork and Kerry who clearly want this service re-instated.

Speaking on behalf of the organisers, Mr. Conor Buckley said: "Judging from the expressions of interest from tourism and business representatives from Kerry at the meeting, we are confident that our target of €3 million can be raised in West Cork and Kerry over the weekend."

As the master of ceremonies on Tuesday night, Mr. Buckley introduced the speakers and asked the audience to robustly question them about the business plan. He said he was aware that times were tough, but he said that without a ferry service it would get a lot worse.

"If we can raise €3 million from the industry," he said, "We will have the potential to unleash a €250 million dividend over the next five years." On a personal note, he said he would be investing in the project because even in his own home place, in Castlehaven, he could see the absence of yellow number plates – a sign that English visitors are not coming anymore.

Mr. Ciaran Desmond, who is a partner with McGuire Desmond, the legal firm representing the new co-op, explained that the proposed ferry co-operative would be a registered co-op, just like the West Cork creameries, and would benefit the local community.

He explained that being a member of a co-operative is not like having a share in a private company. He said co-op structures essentially abided by the 'one man one vote' principal, and held general meetings, so investors would have a direct involvement.

Mr. Desmond said the ferry co-operative – like all co-operatives – would be governed under the terms of the Friendly Societies Act.

At worse case scenario, Mr. Desmond said that a person's risk would be limited to the amount they invest, but at best case scenario the ferry could become as successful as the former co-operative venture that is Brittany Ferries.

The Mayor of Cork County Council, Mr. Noel Harrington, who has been working on this initiative for many months, pointed out that the Cork-Swansea Ferry service was worth in excess of €35 million annually to the region.

He said the loss of the service was having serious repercussions throughout the South West. And, with expressions of interest already at the €1.5 million mark, the Fine Gael councillor called on people to invest in the ferry and invest in the future of their own businesses.

Using a rugby analogy, he said: "We are in the last minute of the game... one push will see us over the line."

Mr. Harrington described the business plan that has put forward as being "impressive" and he welcomed the €500,000 marketing budget that has been pledged by Cork and Kerry County Councils and Bord Failte.

Mr. Harrington summed up his enthusiasm for the proposal saying: "It is a very low risk investment. It is a no-brainer. And if your business depends on tourism, it is almost mandatory.

Mr. Peter Iles, a consultant with Strategic Transport Solutions International – the company that carried out the business plan on behalf of the Port of Cork Company – illustrated how the Cork-Swansea ferry was "a much superior product" for people in the South West.

He said the ten-hour, overnight ferry crossing – which would run six times a week in summer and four times a week in winter – offered direct access to West Cork, as well as providing an excellent and convenient freight service for hauliers.

The consultant described JULIA as being like a four-star hotel with 340 quality cabins and 850 beds, as well as the facility to hold 400 cars.

Mr. Iles said the ship also has an Irish Bar and lounge, restaurants and a cinema, and has the potential to show a 14% return on turnover per annum from year three onwards.

He said a €2 million annual return was based on 60% borrowings, but in reality the figure would be closer to 50% borrowings, which would put the new company in a stronger position.

He also asked people to bear in mind that the business plan took into consideration that even during its worst years – including the 1980s and not just the Celtic Tiger years – the ferry service carried 40,000 cars and 100,000 passengers.

To break even, he said the new service would have to do 60% of that volume of trade, which is 60,000 passengers per annum and 26,000 cars.

Mr. Iles made the point that the Finish bank has also agreed that the members of the co-operative would – by means of a proper legal agreement – have the 'first mortgage', or 'first charge', on the loan, which would greatly minimise their risk.

The re-instatement of the ferry service would, he added, underpin the viability of the tourism industry in the region and bring long-stay visitors to West Cork and Kerry.

Mr. Iles also addressed the issue of timing. He admitted they were running to "a very tight deadline," but he said there was still time to buy the ship, bring it over, modify it, crew it, form the co-operative, and arrange their sales marketing and booking systems.

He said the people at the top table – especially Captain Frank Allen who would be the new company's managing director – had the experience to run the service and there were already twenty-five hauliers ready to use the new business.

Captain Allen outlined his extensive experience in the business and direct involvement in the Cork Swansea route. He explained how the 1999 management buy-out of the ferry service ran the business successfully up to two years ago.

However, in 2006 he said the company sold their vessel because they were offered a good price for it. He said the sale was done in anticipation of buying a new vessel, but the market was very strong at the time and the company found itself as the under-bidder on the vessel they had intended to purchase.

He said the market conditions at the moment were favourable because JULIA was available at a competitive price; the bank in Finland is both profitable and secure and there is funding available from private investors.

Furthermore, he said there were other economic factors in their favour, such as the price of oil. He said the STS International business plan estimated the price of a barrel of oil at around $120 when in actual fact a barrel of oil in today's market costs less than $40.

Captain Allen spoke about the time the ferry service ran as a chartered operation – at a cost of $18,000 a day – and the number of cancelled sailings, which hampered its economic viability. And he made the distinction that "anyone can operate a ferry service, but it can't be controlled unless you own the ship."

As a majority shareholder in the Cork Swansea service, Captain Allen said the people of West Cork and Kerry would be in a position to determine its operations for years to come.

As the possible managing director of the new ferry service, he said it would be his intention to run it for eleven months of the year, instead of as a seasonal service, and to take one month out for maintenance.

When asked during a question and answer session why the group had left it so late to raise the funds they needed to kick-start their business plan, Captain Allen said they had been fundraising in January, but the banks were not lending.

Captain Michael McCarthy, who is the commercial manger at the Port of Cork Company, was asked why other ferry companies weren't chomping at the bit to take over the Cork Swansea ferry service, and he maintained it is because "they don't want to dilute their own product."

Captain McCarthy also said that as well as over-estimating fuel costs, the business plan had under-estimated the market, which has tremendous potential, especially on a year-round basis.

The same point was made by Mr. John Hosford, who together with Mr. Adrian Brentnall is co-ordinating the 'Bring Back the Swansea Ferry' campaign. He said: "The M4 motorway from Swansea to London is the corridor that will feed the ferry.

"We have the ferry, we have the operators," said Mr Hosford, who urged people to take on board the fact that "this is a very democratic venture that has the potential to percolate right out to the peninsulas in Cork and Kerry."

Many people asked what perk or dividend they would be entitled to as shareholders and they were told that as well as a possible discount on travel – similar to the rates offered by other ferry companies – the company would offer favourable freight rates for their regular customers.

They were also told that there is a tourist office on board JULIA, which could be used to extensively promote and market the region during the ten-hour ferry crossing.

Mr. John Young of Courtmacsherry said that in the space of a couple of hours they had rounded-up enough investors to buy three €10,000 shares. He said: "We, the people of West Cork, should support this if we are to survive and thr

Mr. Toby Campbell, chairman of Bantry Town Traders Association, said that there are over fifty people in Bantry willing to buy thirty €10,000 shares. He said: "People have joined together and are doing what they can to buy as many shares as possible because they realise that the service is badly needed."

Bantry town councillor, Mr. Aiden McCarthy paid tribute to West Cork Tourism for the leadership they have shown on this issue and asked them to consider rowing in behind other initiatives to promote West Cork.

Councillor Robert Walsh spoke on behalf of Clonakilty Tourism. He said they were aiming to enlist one hundred of their members to buy ten shares, which – if they availed of the Credit Union loan offer – would cost each member approximately €5 a week for five years.

Mr. Donal Kelly of Castletownbere asked about the relationship between the co-op and the company and Mr. Desmond explained that the co-op would invest in the company and would have a direct stake in the company.

Mr. Jerry O'Grady of the Killarney Tourist Development Company Ltd paid tribute to West Cork Tourism for the excellent job they were doing, but expressed some concern that Kerry was being left outside the pale.

He said there were plenty of businesses in the Kingdom that would row in behind the campaign to re-instate the ferry service. Mr. Power said he had highlighted the issue on Kerry radio and had spoken to some Kerry investors at the meeting in Castletownbere.

Mr. Conor Buckley said they didn't have the time over the last seven days to organise any meetings in Kerry, but they will be running a campaign, this weekend, to enlist the support of the people of Kerry to raise the €1 million shortfall.

Councillor Michael Healy Rae had something to say about the jobs going to Polish workers, but Captain Allen said the former crew members were all "highly-specialised" workers who has been trained to work in vessels all over the world.

Councillor Donal O'Rourke said West Cork needed to re-establish its connectivity with the M4. He said it was imperative that the West Cork region gets in contact with the British and EU highway.

Councillor Joe Carroll asked whether the ship could be sold again and Captain Allen said that if that happens it would be a decision that would rest with the co-operative. "In other words," he said, "It can't be sold unless you decide to sell it.

Mr. Michael Kingston, who is standing for election as a Fianna Fail candidate in the Bantry Electoral Area, said he was, at first, sceptical about the fundraising campaign.

But, after examining the business plan, the lawyer, who has a background in marine law, said he was satisfied that the prospects were quite good. As an investor, he said he and his family regarded it as "a safe investment because the shareholders have the first charge on the loan."

Mr. Noel Murphy of the Castletownbere Business Development Association informed the meeting: "We are the furthest out, but we are also coming to the table."

Although nothing is finalised until everything is finalised, Captain Allen said there still is time to secure a new ferry service, but he said: "It really is make your mind up time."


It has been indicated that should the consortium be successful in their acquisition of the former Color Line ship JULIA that they wish to rename her INNISFALLAN and trade as B&I Line.

February 21

Acknowledgements:  Gary Andrews, Jenny Williamson, Steve Salter and "others"



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



Year to Date





















Steam Packet passenger route performance for December:

















Steam Packet passenger route performance for 2008


























All Plus








All Minus



Director of Harbours, Captain Michael Brew comments:

“Harbour passenger figures for 2008 are reasonable when compared with 2007 traffic which was inflated by the impact of the successful Centenary TT.  This year’s total figures were always expected to be down by comparison.  However, compared with 2006 Passenger Traffic is actually up by 7.9%. Both of the main routes to the UK performed well showing good growth over 2006 but the performance on the Irish routes was mixed. It is difficult to predicate passenger traffic for 2009 however the introduction of the new larger fast craft Manannan is likely to help stimulate increased traffic at peak times.”


Traffic Figures:




Year to Date





















Route Performance:






Plus 4.3%



Liverpool/ Birkenhead

Minus 2.1%




All Plus




Director of Harbours, Captain Michael Brew comments:

“Considering the current economic climate it is pleasing to report some growth in both passenger and vehicle numbers.  2009 will be a challenging year however it is reassuring to start on a positive note. The arrival of the 96 metre fast craft Manannan in May 2009, with the increased capacity this offers should help to generate additional traffic and increase the number of special offer fares available.”


STALINGRAD - The abandoned crew of a Russian cargo ship has thanked the people of Liverpool for their kindness after learning they are going home.

After two months stranded in Huskisson Dock by the collapse of Sakhalin Mor Trans CC, the sailors of the Stalingrad have been told a deal has been struck with creditors Dan Bunkering.

Throughout their enforced stay, the 13 man and one woman crew have been sustained by collections of food from Merseysiders and the kind help of workers at the docks.

Tommy Molloy, investigator for the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), said: “The crew will leave in around a week.

“A hearing with the Admiralty Marshal Court has agreed that Dan Bunkering will provide 50,000 Euros to repatriate them and the crew will receive the remainder. A timescale will be agreed to repay them the rest of their wages.”

The ship was placed under Admiralty arrest and a court hearing was set to agree its sale in a bid to settle the owners’ account with creditors.

The penniless sailors are owed more than 100,000 Euros and were unable to provide for their families at home.

Tug boat operators and local charities, as well as Crosby Fire Station, banded together to provide food and drink for the crew.

Chief mate Arthur Belogor, who had been on the ship for nine months, told the ECHO: “We feel a great respect for the people of Liverpool – it's a bit embarrassing for a proud Russian to receive such help but it has been very much appreciated.

“The crew is elated about able to see their families again.”

[Liverpool Echo]


Two historically famous and previously laid-up superyachts have been quickly and quietly removed from the UK port of

Plymouth, where they had been stored for many years.


Early in the morning of Monday, February 9, two yachts — both reportedly the property of the Aga Khan — were

separately towed down river by dockyard tugs from their berth inside the Royal Dockyard and placed on board a semisubmersible ship that was anchored just inside the Plymouth Sound breakwater off Cawsand Bay.


The yachts — the 67m (220ft) DESTRIERO and the 28m (92ft) KALAMOUN — were loaded onto the 159m (522ft)

Dockwise barge carrier EXPLORER, whose destination was stated as Bremen.


DESTRIERO had a top speed of 62kt and was powered solely by three gas turbine General Electric LM 1600 units that

jointly developed 54,000bhp and powered the yacht using three water jet drives. She was constructed at the

Fincantieri yard in Italy in 1992 with a view to winning the Blue Riband Hales Trophy, then held by HOVERSPEED GREAT BRITAIN


She was chartered by the Costa Esmeralda Yacht Club, whose patron is the Aga Khan, with the intension of capturing the trophy and while she succeeded in breaking the trans-Atlantic crossing record in 1992, the Hales Trophy was denied because she was classed by her classification society as a private yacht and not a commercial passenger ship.


Sparkman & Stephens lays claim to having designed the other motoryacht, KALAMOUN, which was built by Abeking &

Rasmussen for an influential client. Others claim it was Pininfarina who was responsible for the exterior styling and aerodynamics. Thirteen years after she was originally built, she was redesigned and rebuilt again by Lurssen. The yacht is reported to have been installed with two MTU turbo-charged diesels designed for navy vessels, each of 3,000 hp and driving two KaMeWa model 71 water jets.


[Maritime Clippings]

February 15

Acknowledgements:  Gary Andrews, Ian Collard, Harry Cragall and "others"


The River Dart passenger ferry could be at the centre of a new row following claims ferry bosses are trying to 'fleece' vital visitors by raising fares by 50 per cent.

The ferry owners plan to increase the cost of crossing from Dartmouth to Kingswear from £1 to £1.50 for tourists only.

Local councillors, who fear the extra costs will drive money-spinning tourists away, are already planning to write in protest to the  ferry owners.

And parish, district and county councillor Jonathan Hawkins said: "We think this is an excessive increase. We have to ensure when people visit our towns they feel they are enjoying themselves and not being fleeced."

But the ferry firm's group general manager, Andrew Pooley, pointed out the ferry fare had not been increased for seven years despite major increases in operating costs.

He rejected claims his company was trying to 'fleece' customers and added: "I don't know any other business which has succeeded in maintaining its prices for seven years."

The passenger ferry operating between Kingswear and Dartmouth carries hundreds of thousands of passengers every year, many of them pouring into the village of Kingswear along the Paignton and Dartmouth Steam Railway line operated by the ferry's proprietors the Dart Valley Railway plc.

Two years ago the passenger ferry was at the centre of another row amid plans to close the ferry after 19:00 all year around and slash Sunday services during the winter.

The move provoked massive protests from both Kingswear and Dartmouth and the proposals were sidelined after Devon County Council agreed to help finance the evening crossings with a £7,000 a year subsidy, which is still being paid.

Mr Hawkins, chairman of Kingswear Parish Council, questioned the operator's ability to differentiate between visitors and locals, who the firm says will still be able to cross for just £1.

He said: "We are trying to do all we can to get people to visit Dartmouth. Tourists are vital to the economy of our town and to penalise tourists like this with such a large increase is unfair. They are an easy target.

"We are trying to protect our economy and trying to persuade tourists to come to us. An increase of 50 per cent is unfair in the economic climate we have at the moment."

Mr Pooley said with the volume of people using the foot ferry, trying to increase the fare by a smaller sum would have been a 'nightmare' when it came to staff trying to handle change.

He said it was planned to introduce a scheme whereby people who can prove they are local will be issued with a pass to enable them to make the crossing for £1.

And he said the books of concessionary tickets would remain at the same price enabling people to cross for just 50p.

He said accusing the company of 'fleecing' visitor was 'a bit strong' and said a very high percentage of visitors pay their ferry fare in an overall ticket to use the steam train and the ferry and would not even notice the increase.

At the Kingswear Parish Council meeting, Cllr Hawkins said: "I think that's excessive.

"The concessionary book prices are the same, but it's a very, very high price rise for the general public.

"The only good thing is the ferry has entered into a new, seven-year contract with South Hams Council to run the service, at the same times at which it currently operates." [THE HERALD]


The Falkland's veteran which has laid up in Birkenhead's Vittoria Dock, might just be heading for Cornwall at Hayle Harbour according to a report in the Cornishman Newspaper this week. They claim that Peel Ports have backed the plan, hardly surprising as they probably want the ship out of the way!

A public meeting was scheduled to be held on Wednesday February 18 at the Passmore Edwards Institute at 19:30 to put the plans to townsfolk at Hayle Cllr Harry Blakeley, chairman of the residents' association, said: "The ship is in good order and the towing fees to bring her here are in place. "We have to overcome some unqualified resistance and false rumours so we need your honest opinion."


JONATHAN SWIFT is to returned to two daily crossings each day between February 27 and October 4, 2009. Departures from Dublin at 08:45 and 14:30 and Holyhead at 12:00 and 17:15. This is in contrast to the HSS STENA EXPLORER which is due to operate just one round trip per day on the Holyhead - Dún Laoghaire route this year.

OSCAR WILDE made her Mersey debut on Friday February 13 when she arrived at Cammell Laird, Birkenhead.


It probably comes as no surprise to observers of the Merseyside maritime scene that the Liverpool Cruise Terminal does not appear to be attracting the number of cruise calls that perhaps the structure deserves.

This problem was highlighted in the local press this week. The problem appears to be the high charges levied by Peel Ports is proving to be a disincentive for operators as reported by the Daily Post on Friday:

High port tariffs that are putting off cruise liner operators from visiting Liverpool need to be reviewed as soon as possible, an influential council committee ruled last night.

Liverpool’s regeneration select committee also demanded to see progress on turning the city’s £20m Cruise Liner Terminal into a full base for cruise liners to start and finish their journeys within six months.

The committee debated a report by the city’s head of tourism, Keith Blundell, which said high port tariffs being charged by Mersey Docks operator Peel were “prohibiting [the] growth” of Liverpool’s Cruise Liner Terminal.

The emotive issue of why cruise liners have to use Langton Dock, within Bootle’s industrial dock complex, for “turnaround” – to start and finish journeys – instead of the city’s facility at the historic Pier Head, was also debated.

There are no baggage handling facilities, Customs, or immigration available to service the Cruise Liner Terminal, whereas there are at Langton Dock.

The committee was told the state of Langton Dock, owned by Peel, was “quite appalling” and ships should be able to use the council’s facility to start and finish their journey.

Cllr Gary Millar, executive member for enterprise and tourism, said: “Liverpool City Council took a gamble to build the cruise liner terminal and would have liked to have a turnaround facility, but were told that it would be anti-competitive.”

He said it had been written into contracts at the time of construction that it could only be used as a port of call, and not as a full turnaround, because it had been funded with public cash.

“There are conversations going on to try to change that, it might happen but it will not happen overnight.

“I can’t see it happening this year because there are other things to be built.”

Cllr Malcolm Kennedy, who represents Kirkdale, said: “I have heard a lot tonight about what’s stopping us from doing this, but there has not been any concrete evidence of a plan of action.

“I am not convinced at the moment that Liverpool City Council is pursuing the issue as much as it should.”

Regeneration director John Kelly said: “One basic fact is that the private sector did not build a cruise liner terminal, the city council took the brave decision to do what a lot of other councils would not have.”

He said the council ran the risk of having to pay back the £20m of public money that had been spent on the scheme if it unilaterally pressed ahead with making it a full turnaround facility.

“The fact that something excellent is not nirvana is beside the point. I think people need to appreciate Liverpool City Council has done a lot of hard work.” [DAILY POST]

By way of comparison it should be pointed out that the number of cruise calls expected in the ports of Dublin and Cork this year are 71 and 55 respectively both significantly greater that the dozen or so which are due to call at the Liverpool waterfront terminal.


Penzance Town Council will object to The Route Partnership's plans to regenerate Penzance Harbour.

In a stormy debate on Monday night, members of the council questioned the location, design, business case and environmental impact of the scheme.

Following a lengthy debate the council unanimously decided to object to the scheme. A letter outlining the objections will be sent to the partnership.

Former mayor Cllr Simon Reed feels the location and design are unsympathetic to the town. "It's shockingly bad and put together by someone who has no experience of standing there," he said.

The council feels more time is needed to "get the plans right". Deputy mayor Cllr Jan Ruhrmund said: "I do not want to be looking at it and thinking 'if only' so we need extra time."

Some of the councillors have gone as far as calling the district council "fascist" over the way they say the project has been pushed forward.

"Every time I mention this there's a stone wall at Penwith District Council," Cllr Ruth Lewarne said. "It seems like there's a whole agenda going on. We have to use every opportunity to say no. It has been a long time cooking. It's almost fascist."

John Moreland said: "It seems like St Mary's on Scilly has been negotiating their scheme for three years and that's why they are happy with it.

"We have been emotionally blackmailed that if we don't take it we will lose it. But our MP Andrew George has said that if we want to alter it there's no reason why we should not."

It was proposed Penzance Town Council should be given a special role in the light of Penwith District Council ceasing to exist next month. Councillor Phil Rendle said: "I find it difficult to join in the discussion and I am also concerned about the information we get.

"The main point I'd like to make is that the position of the town council is that we are concerned we have been sidelined. We should do something about putting Penzance Town Council on the map. We could have a special role because we'll be the only council continuing in the future."

Tim Wood, Cornwall County Council's project director, told The Cornishman yesterday the Route Partnership was pressing ahead with plans to lodge a planning application for its harbour redevelopment scheme later this month. [CORNISHMAN]


Work has been underway to provide a new - on stage baggage reclaim facility at the bottom of the existing passenger bridge.

This now looks to be substantially complete as the photographs taken on February 11, 2009 show.

However, whilst the new on-stage facilities appear as though they are nearing completion there is a rumour circulating on the waterfront that suggests they the pontoon which bears part of the weight of the new vehicle access bridge has become damaged by grounding at low water. In recent years silt build up has been a problem in the vicinity of the landing stage and grounding at low water had been a contributory cause of the failure Mersey Ferries stage.

Photographs on Wednesday February 11 (left) and Saturday February 14, 2009 (right) show that some work is clearly in progress. Temporary supports are visible and a hose linked to a pump on the stage can be noted along with an access ladder. If the buoyancy of the bridge pontoon is compromised the full weight of the substantial bridge and any vehicles, thereon, would have to be borne by the stage structure itself. It remains to be seen if this problem may effect the Douglas to Liverpool service scheduled to recommence on March 27.


EXPRESS moved from Donegall Quay to Harland and Wolff for her annual overhaul on Thursday February 13, 2009. Her seasonal sailings between Larne, Troon and Cairnryan are due to recommence on March 14.



STALINGRAD -  A Group of volunteers wants help for a crew of Russian sailors stranded in Liverpool.

The sailors are caught in a legal battle between the owners of their boat, the Stalingrad, and a fuel company.

The vessel is being held in Huskisson Dock and cannot leave until the dispute is resolved or the ship sold to pay the debt.

The crew, 13 men and one woman, are receiving food and fuel from the London-based Admiralty Authority but have no money because their wages have not been paid.

Volunteers at the Merseyside Fire Museum, based at Crosby fire station, have organised a food appeal to boost provisions and morale on the boat. The ship's female cook told her union she had sobbed every day since the ship was impounded on December 19.

The group has organised a food collection at Asda stores in Walton, Huyton, Anfield, Bootle, Liscard and Sefton Park.

People can leave food and treats in a designated basket. Volunteer Jimmy Walsh said: "We were very moved when we found out what had happened to these sailors. They are stranded here and have no idea when they will be able to leave and when they will get paid." [Liverpool Echo]


HSS STENA EXPLORER resumed service on the Holyhead - Dún Laoghaire service on Thursday February 12 following refit at Harland & Wolff. There is speculation this year that this might be the vessels final year in service with rumours circulating of a possible sale, along with withdrawn fleetmate HSS STENA DISCOVERY, to Venezuelan interests.

This year STENA EXPLORER will only operate one round trip per day departing Holyhead at 10:25 and returning from Dún Laoghaire at 13:30.

STENA CALEDONIA - departed from Cammell Laird on Saturday February 14, crossing the river to Alexandra Dock. She was reported back in Belfast on


A consortium of business people from the South West region, led by West Cork Tourism, have formed a co-operative in the hopes of raising €3 million in the coming days for the resumption of the Cork-Swansea ferry service.

The newly formed co-operative came together when a suitable ship became available for purchase at a realistic price. They are now calling for 300 people to pledge €10,000 each to ensure the future of the region. If successful, the initiative will translate to hundreds of jobs for the region.

Figures from 2007 show that the ferry is worth €50 million to the region. Mr. Conor Buckley, chairman of West Cork Tourism, said: "It is vital that we secure a ferry service this year."

"If we can raise €3 million from the industry – over the next seven days – we will have the potential to unleash a €250 million dividend over the next five years.

"The Swansea Cork service was a profitable business from 1987 to 2006, and we believe that there will be an excellent return on a €3 million investment which will be seen in increased tourist numbers, bed night and profits in the overall tourism industry in the region."

The new ship is expected to cost in the region €10 million, of which the co-operative will be expected to provide €3 million with an additional €6 million coming from a loan issued by a bank that has a vested interest in the boat.

An additional €1.5 million will be drawn from business interests in the shipping and freight industry. Further working capital will be funded by Cork County Council and Failte Ireland, as well as from investors in the Business Expansion Scheme.

The ship, according to Mr. Buckley, can be operational by April if the funding is in place. "But we need to secure three hundred pledges of €10,000 each within the next seven days."

"€3 million might sound like a staggering amount of money, but it is not only achievable - it is imperative if we are to re-establish West Cork as a tourism stronghold.

"We are fully aware that the timelines are tight, but I believe that doing nothing is not an option – the time for action is now - our industry is staring into the abyss."

In December, the Port of Cork commissioned a business plan – prepared by STS International – which is based on realistic assumptions about traffic volumes, rates and fuel prices and it concludes that this is an attractive opportunity, combining low risk with a real opportunity for a financial return.

The steering group has appointed Mr. Paul O'Brien as co-ordinator of the fundraising drive. He can be contacted at 087-7857619 at the West Cork Tourism offices at The Rectory at Cork Road, Skibbereen.

A series of information meetings will be held throughout West Cork

These meetings will culminate in a final open meeting on Tuesday, February 17 in Skibbereen's West Cork Hotel at 20:00, where interested investors will be urged to pledge their money.


This week Travel Watch Isle of Man issued a statement regarding the fuel surcharges levied by the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company.

TravelWatch Isle of Man considers that the on-going fuel surcharge situation is leading to a widespread lack of passenger confidence in the fuel surcharge mechanism and its impact on the level of fares.

Two separate developments are in progress both of which we welcome and hope will benefit passengers:

The existing fuel surcharge agreement will end on 31st May and a new agreement is being negotiated to apply from 1st June. The current agreement also has a March review date and we hope that surcharges will be reduced then. The Isle of Man Office of Fair Trading will be investigating Steam Packet fares and surcharges. Furthermore there is a motion on the Tynwald Order Paper for 17th February that the Select Committee on the Steam Packet should continue, take further evidence and report back in July.

Passengers seek transparent prices at levels which are perceived as being reasonable. The lowest special offer fares are reasonable (as the Select Committee confirmed), but their availability is often less than transparent. Those unable to obtain such fares may still obtain a higher cost special offer fare, often regarded as less reasonable, but we are particularly concerned for passengers having to pay standard fares - which have on average increased by 5.95% for 2009.

We therefore welcome the ending of the current fuel surcharge agreement and the negotiations for a new agreement to apply from 1st June. The major failing in the current arrangement appears to be that the six-month review period, no doubt included to maintain stability, has led to the maintenance of surcharge levels which are at substantial variance with public perceptions of what is reasonable- because of the dramatic fall in the price of crude oil . This, we believe, is due more to the time lag factor rather than the actual level of surcharge recovered. The combined effect has led a public perception of excessive charges which needs to be resolved. TravelWatch welcomes the steps now being taken to investigate and hopefully resolve these issues.

Any new fuel surcharge agreement should balance the need to restore public confidence that the level of surcharge applied when tickets are purchased is appropriate at that time, as well as meeting the legitimate aspirations of the operator to recover an appropriate proportion of unexpected and significant changes in fuel costs. This still needs to be done in a way which produces a reasonable degree of pricing stability. We therefore believe that a quarterly review mechanism would be appropriate and that, in order to keep the results more in line with market pricing, it should balance historical costs with independent forecasts of bunker prices, as recommended by the recent Tynwald Select Committee. However we believe that, in the interests of public confidence, any new agreement must be both transparent and published, and that any changes in surcharge levels be clearly announced a month ahead of implementation.

There is currently a difference between the way Steam Packet fares are advertised on an all-inclusive basis and displayed in their booking system (the surcharge is added later in the booking process). We believe this significantly contributes to the perception of unfairness and would advocate that at all stages only fuel-surcharge inclusive fares are quoted. Transparency could be achieved by including in any announcement of reviewed fares what fuel cost/surcharge level was incorporated - and the bunker costs/exchange rates on which it was based - but that would no longer be displayed on every booking document.

Surcharge levels for passengers also appear high because the surcharge is currently levied entirely on passengers and there is no surcharge on vehicles. This works against foot passengers. One possibility would therefore be to consider whether there are benefits in spreading the surcharge over both passengers and their vehicles in a way that addresses this imbalance - on a revenue neutral basis for the Company.

We also note that for 2009, standard fares have been increased by a weighted average of 5.95% which is in line with the provisions of the user agreement. This is based on the Manx RPI figure for September 2008 of 6.5% - less 0.5%. Inflation has since been falling and by December the level of Manx RPI was down to 2.8% although the average figure for the year was 5.2%. We hope that the OFT investigation can look at the anomaly which this has produced.

In these difficult times passengers need fares that both encourage and enable travel, and which are on a basis which they can understand. Maximising passenger numbers must also be in the interests of the Steam Packet Company and the Island's tourist industry. TravelWatch looks forward to working on behalf of passengers in this process and has made the Department of Transport aware of our views.

February 11

Acknowledgements:  Gary Andrews and "others"


Steam Packet Holidays will again be operating the very popular TT Day Trips for the 2009 event.

Trips are available from Heysham for all of the main race days 6, 8, 10 , 12 and 13* June with trips also available from Belfast on 6 and 13 June.

Adults £59 Child (under 16) £39

Price includes return ferry crossings, £5 voucher for an on board meal plus coach transfer to/from a spectator vantage point to view the days races.

To Book Call 0871 222 1 333


Two ferry services, providing a crucial link for tourists travelling between Northern Ireland and Donegal's north coast, are under threat. Crisis meetings got underway at the weekend in a bid to secure the funds to  save the Lough Swilly and Lough Foyle ferries amid warnings that if they go, it would sound the death knell for tourism in County Donegal.

The Magilligan to Greencastle ferry across Lough Foyle, launched in 2002,  recorded its one millionth passenger in 2005 and since then has been carrying 250,000 passengers a year.

Two years later, the Lough Swilly Ferry service was launched, connecting the Inishowen peninsula with the Fanad peninsula.

News last week that the Government has firmly ruled out providing the estimated €300,000 subvention necessary to keep the service afloat, has been met with dismay.

The operator of both services has indicated that without the necessary subvention, he has no choice but to cease operating. Jim McClenaghan, managing director of the Lough Foyle Ferry company, said the  contracts for both services are up in June 2009.

"Since the subvention was cut off in 2007, we had to put the fares up to keep operating which caused a fall-off in numbers. Then we were hit with fuel prices and bad weather. We just cannot do it without some financial aid," he said.



The report into the MOONDANCE grounding on June 29, 2008 has been published


At approximately 18:11 on 29 June 2008, the ro-ro cargo ship MOONDANCE was shifting from a lay-by berth to the ferry linkspan in Warrenpoint Harbour, Northern Ireland. At 18:13 she grounded on the south-western bank of Carlingford Lough following an electrical blackout. There were no injuries, but the vessel suffered severe distortion of the port and starboard rudder stocks.

At 18:08, just before MOONDANCE left the quay, the port generator high fresh water temperature alarm sounded. The second engineer was working under pressure and unsupervised during the critical time of preparing to leave the berth. He was unable to determine the cause of the alarm and did not alert the chief engineer or master to the problem. Soon after leaving the quay, with the vessel proceeding astern, the starboard generator also alarmed, and at 18:11 a total blackout occurred. The controllable pitch propellers (CPP) defaulted to the full astern position and MOONDANCE continued her sternway until she grounded.

The chief engineer and his team arrived at the Engine Control Room (ECR), and the main engines were immediately shut down without approval from the bridge and without knowledge of the navigational situation. The situation in the ECR was chaotic. The chief engineer had difficulty establishing his authority because the Polish engineers discussed fault finding options, in Polish, without consulting him. The problems were exacerbated because there was no lighting; the emergency generator had failed to start automatically because it had been left in hand control. This was due to a long-standing defect that the chief engineer was unaware of. It was not until 15 minutes later that the emergency generator was started and the generators were cooled down sufficiently to enable them to be re-started.

Communications between the bridge and engine room were poor, which resulted in the main engines being started without approval from the bridge. However, they were shut down soon afterwards on the orders of the master, which were relayed, in person, by the chief officer. At 19:45 the master ordered the starboard engine to be started and, with tug assistance, MOONDANCE berthed alongside at 20:22.

The investigation concluded that the generator high freshwater temperature was due to the isolating valve for the sea water cooling system, supplying the generators, being left shut or being only partially opened during the system reconfiguration for departure. Many of the routines on board were lax. The move from the lay-by berth to the linkspan was considered by senior staff on board MOONDANCE to be a routine operation. Complacency led to insufficient manning levels on the bridge and in the engine room, which contributed to the accident.

Recommendations have been made to the Flag State and the management company, which include:

Conducting an urgent review of the company’s Safety Management System.

• Providing guidance to suitably trained internal auditors on assessing crew knowledge, departmental management and inter-departmental communications.

• Undertaking a review of risk assessment procedures on board the company’s vessels


HSS STENA DISCOVERY - strong rumours are circulating that the former Harwich - Hoek of Holland HSS is in the process of being sold to Venezualan interests. The ship has been laid up at Belfast since early 2007. There are also suggestions that HSS STENA EXPLORER which operates between Dún Laoghaire and Holyhead may follow her.

STENA TRANSPORTER  is going to provide cover on the Holyhead - Dublin route whilst the STENA ADVENTURER is at Belfast having her major refit between March 02 and 14 inclusive.

The STENA NORDICA will cover the STENA ADVENTURER schedule at 02:30 and 13:50 ex Holyhead and 08:20 and 21:15 ex Dublin.

The timetable for the STENA TRANSPORTER will be 15:00 ex Dublin arriving 19:00 and 22:15 ex Holyhead.arriving 02:15

The STENA TRANSPORTER's last Harwich - Rotterdam sailing is in the early hours of 28 February with her sailing direct from Europoort to Holyhead.

She is expected to arrive early on 2 March and after taking on stores etc will sail to Dublin to take up service.

After completion of duties on 14 March she will sail to Rotterdam for  lay-up.

February 07

Acknowledgements:  Ian Collard and "others"



BOUDICCA - preliminary details have been released for the ships programme of sailings from Liverpool in 2010. Unlike the BLACK PRINCE which featured departures through much of the year the BOUDICCA sailings from Liverpool are confined to spring, with GREENOCK sailings being offered late spring early summer.


Liverpool Sailings

Greenock Sailings

23 March – Canary Islands06 June – Canary Islands
06 April – Eastern Mediterranean 20 June – Italy
29 April – Western Mediterranean 06 July – Norway
13 May – Norway13 July - Spitzbergen
21 May - Baltic 
04 June – Mini Cruise – to Greenock 


Sailings for the remainder of the year operate from Leith, Newcastle and Southampton. It is somewhat disappointing that unlike with the BLACK PRINCE the main summer season sailings will not take place from Liverpool. Full details of itineraries of all teh Fred. Olsen Ships will be available during March 2009.




ISLE OF INISHMORE - A crewman from the Irish Ferries vessel was taken to Withybush Hospital on Monday February 02, 2009 after being taken ill onboard ship.

At 10.41 this morning the ship contacted Milford Haven coastguard HQ,  stating that a member of the crew had been taken ill while the ship was 11  nautical miles west of St David's Head.

Coastguards established a communications link between the ferry and Aberdeen Royal Infirmary. The doctor advised that the patient was kept on board until  the ferry berthed at Pembroke. An ambulance then took the casualty to  Withybush Hospital.


The Isle of Man Ship Registry reached another milestone on the 28th January with the registration of an anchor handling supply vessel bringing the total number of Isle of Man registered vessels for the first time to 1,000.

This is an important milestone for the Ship Registry which is now in its 25th year as an international ship register, having been in operation since September 1984. The register itself has historically been in operation since 1786 serving the needs of local craft and operators, and it is upon this great maritime tradition on the Island that the modern register owes its success.

The ship register now comprises the following types of vessels:- Merchant Vessels - 380; Commercial Yachts - 72; Pleasure Yachts - 364; Fishing Vessels - 73; Small Ships - 111

These vessels have a combined tonnage of 9.79 million gross registered tonnes.

Each vessel carries the identity of the Isle of Man and the register provides economic benefit through the local professional services in administering many of the vessels through local companies.

Minister for Trade and Industry, Hon David Cretney, MHK, said: “The Ship Register continues to enjoy steady growth which is evidenced by the size and quality of the fleet. The Ship Registry team work closely with all those involved in the safe operation of vessels, both on shore and at sea, and this has proved to be a success story for the Isle of Man which enhances our reputation internationally. Each and every Isle of Man registered ship – from supertankers to small ships – is an excellent ambassador for the Island as she is visible in all corners of the world proudly displaying the ports of Douglas, Peel, Castletown or Ramsey and flying the prestigious Manx Ensign.”


The Steam Packet Company has donated £500 to Rebecca House, in lieu of Christmas cards.

Chief Executive Mark Woodward said: ‘Rebecca House provides vital respite and care to the Island’s children and we are pleased to have been able to show our support for such a worthwhile cause.’

Rebecca House is part of Hospice Isle of Man and provides respite, emergency and end-of-life care for children up to 18 years old.

Its staff currently look after 19 children, either for overnight stays or during the day. Rebecca House also provides an outreach service for poorly children at home.

The children who attend Rebecca House may have conditions such as undiagnosed syndromes, brain injuries, muscular dystrophy, degenerative illnesses and, in a few cases, cancer.

Rebecca House receives £80,000 per year from the Department of Health and Social Security but relies on donations to meet the £400,000 annual cost of running the facility.

Mary Doyle, Hospice Care PR and Marketing Manager, said: ‘On behalf of Rebecca House I would like to express our gratitude to the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company for their kind donation. Without the help and support of the local community Rebecca House would not continue to be able to provide all its essential services.’ [MANX RADIO]


It was announced this week that there will be an investigation, by the Office of Fair Trading, into the fuel surcharges levied by the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company This move follows another call by Graham Cregeen (Malew and Santon) for the charges to be scrapped immediately.

Last month Mr Cregeen told the House passengers booking online for sailings as far ahead as September were still having to pay the £10 fuel surcharges - despite the Steam Packet agreeing to review its charges.  In the House this week, Office of Fair Trading chairman Bill Henderson told members he sympathised with the public and felt the fuel surcharge agreement could benefit from 'further transparency'.  He said: 'We have agreed there is sufficient concern to launch a section 19 inquiry into the pricing structures of the Steam Packet - under which fuel charges will come.'

However, Transport Minister David Anderson reassured the court that such issues were being already reviewed by the Department of Transport and the Department of Trade and Industry.  He confirmed the Steam Packet Company added the charges at the time of booking rather than when passengers travelled and was entitled to make such a charge until the current fuel surcharge agreement expires at the end of May.

Following hard-hitting recommendations by a Tynwald select committee in November, the DoT gave the ferry company notice to terminate its present fuel surcharge agreement when it expires.  In the meantime, the company has been reviewing the agreement with the DoT and a new surcharge may be introduced from March 1.

The select committee criticised the company's 'excessive' profits, high freight charges, confusion over discounted fares and lack of scrutiny of the user agreement.  Recommendations included a call to renegotiate the controversial fuel surcharge agreement to ensure it better reflected current fuel prices. [IOM Today]


News that the Irish government has firmly ruled out providing any money  towards ensuring the Lough Foyle cross-border ferry service will operate  this coming season has proved a further setback for the service's supporters.

The car ferry, which plies between Greencastle in Co Donegal and Magilligan in Co Londonderry looks to be facing closure this summer if €300,000 isn't found.

In the Dáil this week, Donegal TD Joe McHugh called unsuccessfully for the government to provide the money. Dail Deputy Ahern made it clear that no government department has responsibility for funding in this area.

A subsidy had been provided by Donegal County Council and now the only hope seems to be for Fine Gael MEP Jim Higgins' bid to source the money from Europe.

This may be a last gasp attempt at survival when the current contract expires.

The service is used by both commuters and tourists and takes 15 minutes to cross the one-mile stretch of water.

However, it lost €56,000 last year and could be facing losses of more than €200,000 this year.

The SDLP has previously called on the Northern Ireland Executive and the Irish government to step in and rescue the service from collapse.

The £3.6 million ferry service was originally launched in the North West to carry passengers and vehicles between Counties Londonderry and Donegal.

It began carrying car and foot passengers between Magilligan and Greencastle at the mouth of Lough Foyle in 2002.



Campaingers intent on altering development plans for Penzance Harbour have filed an official complaint to Cornwall County Council about the "conduct" of the Route Partnership's exhibition.

John Maggs, a shipping and environment policy specialist and co-ordinator of Friends of Penzance Harbour, has written to Tim Wood, county project director, expressing disapproval at specific aspects of the Penzance Gallery event on the week of January 19.

The complaints concern the exhibition's "lack of an alternative proposal for an out-of-town freight handling depot", and its "confusing and biased" questionnaire.

Failure to include freight traffic reduction and integrated transport network on the list of reasons that the harbour needs improvement was also viewed as an "unfortunate omission".

"Since a perception of a lack of alternatives is likely to have been one reason for people supporting the scheme, we believe this omission will have led many people, who would otherwise oppose the RP scheme, to have supported it," he said.

Friend's of Penzance Harbour supports an out-of-town freight storage to save what it perceives to be "destruction" of a historical harbour.

Critics say the town should seize the Route Partnership's plan because funding is secured.

The Department of Transport has not yet confirmed that funding will remain available for a revised scheme.

Tim Wood provided The Cornishman with an immediate response to the complaints. He said an out-of-town freight facility was considered early on in the Penzance harbour investigations but it was inevitable that additional operational costs to transfer freight from the depot to the harbour would lead to increased freight prices.

He said freight and passenger facilities at remote sites would render the operator unable to realise staffing efficiencies that could be achieved with adjacent facilities.

The existing delivery network is not overloaded, he said, but the queuing of commercial vehicles on Wharf Road and vehicles reversing onto the highway are areas for improvement.

He said the proposed scheme allows vehicles to deliver goods that can then be taken on the next sailing which, in turn, avoids a hiatus of activity at particular times of day and reduces congestion and parking problems.

"Commercial vehicles will be able to enter the new freight area, offload and turn before safely rejoining the highway. There will be some additional space for vehicles off the highway to wait," he said.

Mr Wood added that he did not believe the questionnaire was confusing.

"Nor do I agree the questions were biased," he said.

"Only a few people commented on the format of the form."

Mr Maggs responded that if the dismissal of the out-of-town freight service was to do with running costs "then I would want to see the figures and know how they had worked them out".

"If they have considered this option there should be some kind of consultants' report," he said.

● The Route Project's exhibition outlined a £23.84 million Department of Transport funded scheme to build a freight storage building and passenger terminal on South Pier. If the scheme is granted planning permission when submitted to Penwith Council's planning committee in February, the pier will also be lengthened to berth a combined Isles of Scilly freight and passenger ferry.


Des Newton, one of the world's leading ship bottlers who also made ship models for the Royal family, has died after a long illness. He was 67.

Des was one of the best-known personalities at the Merseyside Maritime Museum where he had a ship bottling and model workshop for 20 years. He joined the staff as a craft demonstrator in 1985 and soon became very popular, particularly with visitors attracted by the Tall Ships Races.

Dennis Newton, known as Des, was born in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria, the son of a seafarer. After his apprenticeship, Des became a welder working on submarines in the Vickers shipyard. The welding had to be of the very highest standards for submersibles and Des was always proud of being one of the select few trusted with the work.

Des left Barrow and worked for a railway carriage builder in Leeds where welding had only just replaced riveting and impressed the workforce with his skills. He later became a professional entertainer and musician learning his trade on the nightclub circuit.

This was time well spent because anyone seeing Des demonstrating his ship bottling skills knew they were in the presence of a great entertainer. A favourite routine was to get a child to blow down the end of the bottle at the same time raising the ship's sails by secretly drawing on the strings. Even to adult eyes it seemed to be magic.

Des always jokingly referred to himself as a Glass Receptacle Miniature Artefact Inserter.

He appeared on television several times, most notably on Blue Peter and the What's My Line? panel game.

Des had an intense interest in ship bottling and became a world expert and exponent through his studies and skills. He could quickly and expertly answer any question on the subject - and then demonstrate the solution.

He identified the world's oldest bottle model made by Mathew Buchinger (1674-1740) which is part of a National Trust collection at Snowshill Manor, Gloucestershire.

Des - who lived in Bootle, Liverpool - supported Merseyside Maritime Museum at many exhibitions and events and this led to him demonstrating his skills at maritime festivals around the country. Even after retirement in 2004, Des was still in demand demonstrating his knowledge and skills on cruise ships as well as back at the Maritime Museum where he held his last workshop in September 2008.

Des was passionate about lifeboats and was a former crew member of the Barrow lifeboat and a RNLI life governor. He raised thousands of pounds towards the purchase of a lifeboat through running the annual Southport Model Lifeboat Rally.

The lifeboat, commissioned in 1987, was appropriately called The Modeler I. He then raised the money for a second D-type lifeboat Modeler II launched in 1989 and was duly rewarded by an invitation to the Queen's garden party at Buckingham Palace.

This was not his only royal connection: Des made a model of the Royal Yacht and presented the model to the Queen when she visited Merseyside on board the Britannia in 1993.

It was one of Des's proudest moments when he visited the ship to see his model on the dining room sideboard and then to find that the royal family kept it when the yacht was retired. He also made models of Royal yachts for Princess Margaret and Prince Charles.

Des was known as a genuinely open inspirational person, treating everyone with the same cheerful enthusiasm. Among his works in the Merseyside Maritime Museum collection are his model of the first Royal Yacht, the Mary, and several bottled ships.




Britain is to become a dumping ground for the world’s “toxic ships” after the (EA) granted permission for the break-up of a notorious contaminated vessel. The French aircraft carrier CLEMENCEAU which has been turned away from docks in India, Turkey and Greece, will be tugged to Hartlepool on Teesside this week after the EA approved the scrapping of large numbers of contaminated ships at a purpose-built dock.


The vessel, which is laden with asbestos, mercury and PCBs, will join four second world war-era American warships that have been moored there since 2003 waiting for permission to be broken up and sold for scrap.


The decision by the EA will infuriate environmentalists who have been fighting a legal battle to prevent Able UK, the company awarded the contract, from breaking up the ships. They argue that the process will release asbestos and toxic chemicals into an area already blighted by some of the highest asbestos-related cancer rates in the country.


However, the EA and the Health and Safety Executive say that careful management of asbestos and the use of a sealed dry dock to prevent chemicals leaking into the water system will ensure the facility is safe.


Lord Mandelson, the business secretary, pressed for permission for the expansion of the ship recycling industry in Hartlepool when he served there as MP, arguing that it would create hundreds of jobs. For years, western navies and shipping firms have quietly disposed of their retired fleets in docks in India where they are often stripped for scrap by women and children under appalling conditions. A spokesman for the EA said that providing facilities to recycle vessels safely in the UK would “reduce environmental damage caused by scrapping ships in the third world”.


The £9m deal to recycle the Clemenceau in Teesside marks the end of a decade-long search for a country willing to accept the contaminated vessel. In 2006, Jacques Chirac, the then president of France, was forced to order the 27,000-tonne warship to return home after India barred it from entering its waters. It has been waiting in Brest, northern France, ever since. Peter Stephenson, chairman of Able UK, said the company’s facilities would provide the West with a “sustainable alternative” to the subcontinent’s shipyards.


“What happens in India is horrific,” said Stephenson. “Hopefully there will be increasing pressure for people to do the job properly here, even if the price is four times higher.” In 2003 the US navy sent four warships to Able to be broken up, but they became enmeshed in a legal limbo, and could not be dismantled for scrap. To satisfy environmental standards imposed by the EA, Able has built the world’s largest dry dock on the Tees to prevent the leakage of toxicchemicals. The facility - which can recycle up to 30 ships a year - will provide an initial 200 new jobs for workers in an area once famous for ship building.


The Friends of Hartlepool, a local community group, supported legal challenges against the company, arguing that the area “has already disproportionately suffered the ill-effects of polluting industries”. Stephenson dismisses their fears as “scaremongering”, saying most local people are happy to have the jobs. “Hartlepool used to be one of the greatest shipbuilders in world. We were proud to build them, now we’re proud to recycle them.”


Belfast and Liverpool have similar licences but operate smaller facilities. With 200 single-hulled oil tankers needing to be disposed of by 2015, the global market for ship-breaking is estimated to be worth up to £3 billion.




Many will be aware that the STALINGRAD has been sitting at West Alexandra Dock, Liverpool since mid December and rumours have circulated about the vessel being detained. She has now been moved to Huskisson Dock and the following has appeared in the press:

Operators of a Russian ship who, they say, have effectively abandoned their crew -- leaving wages unpaid for more than four months.

The 4,643gt general cargo ship STALINGRAD is presently arrested in the Port of Liverpool by other creditors, who are also owed significant sums of money. "The vessel has been in Liverpool since 19 December 2008," said Nautilus UK/ITF inspector Tommy Molloy.

‘It is arrested via the Admiralty Court by a number of creditors for non-payment of bills, and the crew have added their claim for owed wages to the list."

"They are owed approximately €85,000 -- and the amount increases daily. The owners are no longer feeding the crew or taking care of any of their basic needs," he said. "The Admiralty Marshall is providing food, water and fuel for heating and cooking. In effect the owners have abandoned the crew."

The owner, SakhalinMor Trans LLC of Russia has, according to the unions, another vessel arrested in Estonia and one arrested in Italy.

Mr Molloy claimed: "The owners have tried to convince the crew to run from the arrest here in Liverpool, by sailing the ship in contravention of the Court detention, for part payment of owed wages. Thankfully the crew are not as stupid as the owners of the vessel would like to believe."

The unions are also critical of the flag state, Russia. Mr Molloy said: "We are working with all concerned to have the crew repatriated to their homes as soon as possible. Unfortunately the Russian Embassy has refused to help, despite calls for assistance from various quarters. They have suggested that the crew can pay for their own air fares when they receive their wages.

But they know it can take years for a vessel to be sold and a claim via the courts to come to fruition. If they were to fund their citizens’ repatriation now the cost could be claimed back via the sale of the vessel."

Source : Maritime Global Net / Maritime Clippings


STENA NORDICA - which is operating on the Dublin to Holyhead service is to be reflagged to the UK register from March 31, 2009.


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