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NEWS BULLETIN - March 2009

March 29

Acknowledgements:  Gary Andrews, Ian Collard, Chris Beale, Kevin Bennett and "others".


On December 17, Irish Sea Shipping reported that HEBRIDEAN SPIRIT operated by the Skipton, Yorkshire based company was being offered for sale by ship brokers CW Kellock & Company.

This week the ship was reported as sold and her scheduled cruises have been cancelled. The company has issued the following press release:

Hebridean International Cruises have announced that they have sold the larger of their two vessels, the 98 berth HEBRIDEAN SPIRITThe vessel will be withdrawn ahead of the Summer 2009 season.

Announcing the sale, Managing Director Mike Deegan said “We have made the decision to withdraw from international operations to concentrate on our core product, which is the operation of HEBRIDEAN PRINCESS in Scotland”.  He added “For some time now we have experienced rising costs of operating HEBRIDEAN SPIRIT in international waters due in part to the deterioration in the £ Sterling against the US Dollar and Euro and we can not continue to absorb these increases, especially when the vessel has been operating in a very aggressive market where heavy discounting is the norm”.

The line is in course of contacting all customers booked on future programmes of the vessel to offer a full refund or a transfer to a cruise aboard HEBRIDEAN PRINCESS, the operation of which is not affected.  They have also announced a number of redundancies will result from this move, both at Head Office in North Yorkshire and amongst its sea staff.

Mr Deegan added “Clearly we have not taken this decision lightly.  I am very aware that the cancellation of an eagerly anticipated holiday is very upsetting and we shall work with all affected customers.  That we shall also be losing some good staff, some of whom have seen many years of service with us, is equally upsetting for us”.

HEBRIDEAN SPIRIT was introduced in 2001 and has provided 5 star luxury afloat whilst operating in Northern Europe, the Mediterranean, the Indian Ocean, the Caribbean and South America.  Fleet mate HEBRIDEAN PRINCESS, which was chartered by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II for a family holiday in 2006,will continue to offer 5 star holidays throughout the Western Isles of Scotland and is in her 21st season of operation for the Company.


Following representations made by the ICG Board and its advisers, and  correspondence with those advisers and with the advisers to Moonduster Ltd, the  Panel has ruled that, except with the consent of the Panel, Moonduster must by 17:0. on April 20, 2009 either announce an offer for ICG under Rule 2.5 of the Takeover Rules or announce that it will not proceed with an offer for ICG.

The Panel also ruled that in the event that Moonduster announces that it will not proceed with an offer for ICG, Moonduster and any parties acting in concert with it will, except with the consent of the Panel, be bound by the restrictions contained in Rule 2.8 of the Takeover Rules for 12 months from the date of such announcement.


SNAEFELL opened the 2009 fast craft season on Friday March 27. She had been due to depart Douglas at 07:30 and return from Liverpool at 11:15. However, due to prevailing weather conditions the Douglas departure was put back until 10:00. Her revised Liverpool departure being 14:00, however, AIS recorded that her actual departure was around 14:30. She also appeared to be making heavy weather of the crossing with speed being noted at times around 21 knots.


The Fleetwood to Knott End ferry service will be ready to run by Wednesday,  April 1 at the latest, says Wyre Council.

It was hoped the crossing would have been ready by Monday this week but essential repairs to the dock caused delays.

The vessel has been out of action since last month while annual maintenance was carried out and vital repairs costing £165,000 were made to the dock.

A council spokeswoman said: "It is likely the service will be back by April 1 or possibly even a little sooner.

"The urgent refurbishment works taking place involve piling across the ferry dock immediately in front of the section that moved late last year.

"The work will secure the dock and allow the Fleetwood to Knott End ferry to continue when it comes back from its maintenance break."

Work being done at the dock follows the discovery of serious structural faults last year.

Despite the work and also initial problems with vessel WYRE ROSE since it began in 2007, there have been more than 128,000 journeys made since its launch. [FLEETWOOD WEEKLY NEWS]


Building work on the Royal Navy's most powerful attack submarine programme reached a major milestone March 24th as the traditional 'laying the keel' ceremony was performed by Defence Secretary John Hutton for the fourth of class Astute submarine, AUDACIOUS.

Weighing in at over seven thousand tonnes, AUDACIOUS - which is currently under construction by BAE Systems Submarine Solutions at Barrow-in-Furness - will join sister boats ASTUTE, AMBUSH and ARTFUL to become a cornerstone of UK defence capability.

Defence Secretary John Hutton said: "This ceremony marks an important stage in a challenging project. The Astute class will be the most advanced and powerful attack submarines the Royal Navy has ever operated and these boats will play a key part of our defences for decades to come.

"The Royal Navy has a long term and enduring requirement for nuclear powered submarines and the Barrow-in- Furness yard remains the UK's centre of excellence for submarine building.

"Submarines are extremely demanding engineering projects, and the Astute class is no exception. The skills, expertise and commitment of the Barrow workforce are absolutely fundamental to the success of the Astute programme."

The Astute class is the biggest and most powerful attack submarines ever ordered for the Royal Navy. The vessels have an improved capability for world-wide operations, including much greater firepower and better communications and crew accommodation than the current in service submarines.

Director General Submarines Rear Admiral Simon Lister said: "The Astute programme is forging ahead; the Navy is looking forward to getting its hands on the First of Class, ASTUTE; the building of the second, AMBUSH, is making good progress, and the third, ARTFUL, incorporates a range of initiatives which speed up production and cut cost. AUDACIOUS benefits from further innovation, particularly in team working with the company and throughout the supplier base."

Around 5000 people are employed on the project for the first four Astute class submarines. The fourth of seven Astute class submarines ordered by the MOD, AUDACIOUS joins ASTUTE named by Duchess of Cornwall in June 2007 and AMBUSH and ARTFUL already under construction

Astute-class submarines will displace 7,400 tonnes dived and are 97 metres long. Capable of circumnavigating the globe in a single 90 day patrol without resurfacing, they will have six weapons tubes and massively increased firepower compared with earlier attack submarines.

Each Astute class submarine has a complement of 98 men and is powered by a Pressurised Water Reactor 2, equipped with Core H, which will fuel the reactor for the submarine's full service life, ending the need for costly reactor refuellings.

Astute class submarines will be based at Faslane on the Clyde and will undergo refits at Devonport. ASTUTE, AMBUSH, ARTFUL and AUDACIOUS are being procured by the Defence Equipment and Support organisation Submarine Production Integrated Project Team.

There have been three warships named AUDACIOUS. The first was a 74 gun wooden ship of the line that fought under Nelson at the battle of the Nile in 1801; the second was an ironclad that served on the China station and the third was a First World War battleship serving with the Grand Fleet that was mined and sunk in 1914.

[Maritime Clippings / DefPro]


Stena Line is seeking what it calls "essential" cost reductions in a bid to return its Dun Laoghaire to Holyhead service to profitability. Management at Stena Line met with union representatives earlier this month to discuss their cost saving proposals. The company is seeking to reduce its Dun Laoghaire workforce by a quarter through voluntary redundancies.

As recently as 2006 the HSS Explorer operated three round trips a day from Dún Laoghaire to Holyhead. However, last November Stena Line reduced this service from two to just one round trip a day. As a result, the company now says it needs significantly fewer of its passenger staff to run the reduced service. In addition, Stena Line has been seeking a major reduction in the annual fees charged by the Dún Laoghaire Harbour Company, reported to be €6.8 million per annum. It is understood that Dublin Port, by comparison, charges Stena around €3 million for the same berthing fees. Stena Line currently employs a total of 64 personnel in Dún Laoghaire and it is wants to reduce this by 18 positions to 46.

The company said it hoped to achieve this through voluntary redundancies but could not rule out compulsory job losses. The changes are scheduled to be introduced by mid-May following discussions with staff and trade unions. Vic Goodwin, Route and HR director for Stena Line, said: "Our route between Dún Laoghaire and Holyhead operated by the HSS Stena Explorer has traded in a loss making situation for the last few years and with the economic downturn now facing us we must take action to address these issues. "In recent years we have reduced the number of trips being operated by our HSS and recently introduced a one round trip schedule. We now have to implement changes to our organisation to reflect these timetable changes. Unfortunately this will mean job reductions, including changes to shifts and working practices. "These cost reductions are an essential part in working towards getting this route back into profitability."

Mr Goodwin added that Stena was trying to secure a new operating agreement with the Dún Laoghaire Harbour Company and was "confident" that it could secure the long-term viability of the route. Oliver McDonagh of the SIPTU marine section said the union would make a decision on the proposals after it meets its members. "We have a letter from the company and we will be responding to the letter very clearly," he said. "Obviously none of our members is very happy about this and I can't see it going down well with them, so I'd say we are going to have problems."



The group aiming to reinstate the Swansea - Cork ferry service remains optimistic of success.

The following being posted on the web site on March 26, 2009:

Paul O'Brien and the West Cork Tourism team have now received over €2.9m in confirmed pledges and with more than €2.3m of that actually in the bank they are pressing ahead with the formation of the co-operative.

Their solicitors, McGuire Desmond, are finalising the documentation with the Registrar of Friendly Societies in preparation for the first A.G.M. which will take place in mid-April.

Just to recap on where we are with the purchase of the Julia:

We were the highest bidder at auction but our bid did not meet the reserve price.
Since then we have been in direct negotiation through our solicitors, but the deal has proven very complicated due to the fact that this is a marine liquidation sale.

Our solicitors are carrying out the necessary 'due diligence' on all aspects of the purchase  – in order to get the best possible deal for you - our passengers and investors All of this is taking a great deal of time and effort for our voluntary team but we are doing absolutely everything we can to bring about a successful conclusion to the process.

We will issue a further news update next week.  In the meantime, for those of you who have not yet done so, please send in your investment money as soon as possible. Your money must be received before the co-operative AGM to allow you to attend and vote as a shareholder.


WAVERLEY - it was announced this week that Waverley requires additional boiler repair work which means that the Western Isles Cruises have been postponed until May 29 - when Waverley will operate the same timetable as advertised for the May Bank Holiday until June 2.

March 22

Acknowledgements:  Gary Andrews, Michael Pryce, Gary Davies, John Williams and "others".


ANNA D & DOWLAIS D operated by Big Ditch Shipping have been sold to foreign interests - one believed going to Greek owners and the other West Indian.

The vessels are reported renamed (though Equasis is still showing their original names. However, they appear stuck on their berths at Manchester as due to problems with public liability insurance.


The new £365m QUEEN ELIZABETH currently under construction by Fincantieri will enter service in October 2010. The vessel, whose home port will be Southampton, departs on its maiden voyage to the Canary Islands on 12 October.

The new ship will boast art deco features similar to those in the original 1930s QUEEN ELIZABETH, the new vessel boasts a ballroom with artwork depicting views from royal palaces and photography of the Queen, as well as a garden lounge with a vaulted glass ceiling.

The liner also features a games deck, an Art Deco-style restaurant and a bar displaying 1930s memorabilia. Fares for

the 13 night maiden voyage to the Canaries - including stops at Lisbon, Tenerife and Madeira - will range from £1,489 up to almost £16,000 per person for one of the grand suites.

Cunard president Carol Marlow said: "For over 70 years there has been an Elizabeth in the fleet and this beautiful modern day celebration of our past Elizabeth's will ensure this proud tradition will continue far into this century.

"We are quite confident that this ship will be a success." The vessel will feature the Royal Standard first presented to the first QUEEN ELIZABETH by the late Queen Mother when she launched the ship in 1938. [MARITIME CLIPPINGS / BBC]


ICG issued a press release concerning the ongoing saga of the attempted acquisition of the company by Moonduster Ltd:

On 23 October 2008, the Company announced that it had received an approach  from Moonduster Limited ("Moonduster") seeking to engage with the other  major shareholders of the Company with a view to potentially bringing forward an offer to acquire the Company.

On 9 March 2009 the Company announced that, for various reasons set out in that announcement, it was requiring Moonduster to bring forward an offer by no later than close of business on 18 March 2009 that is capable of recommendation and execution, subject only to due diligence.

On 18 March 2009, Moonduster's advisers wrote to the Independent Directors providing an update on the status of the proposed offer and seeking an extension of the deadline. The details provided in the letter do not meet several of the criteria set by the Independent Directors and, inter alia, did not include details of a proposed offer price. Therefore, the letter does not constitute a proposal which is capable of consideration by the Independent Directors.

Consequently, in line with our previous announcement, the Independent Directors will now request the Irish Takeover Panel (the "Panel") to exercise its powers pursuant to Rule 35 of the Irish Takeover Rules and impose a deadline for Moonduster to announce an offer.

Notwithstanding the deadline being sought from the Panel, the Independent Directors will remain available to engage with Moonduster with a view to bringing forward an offer which is capable of both recommendation and execution within an acceptable timeframe set by the Panel.


SNAEFELL moved from winter lay-up on Merseyside to Douglas on Thursday March 19. She is due to enter service for the 2009 season on Friday March 27. The company had announced enhancements to the Manannan Executive Club Lounge and a complete refurbisment of the vessel's toilet facilities

The Isle of Man Steam Packet Company fast craft service recommences on Friday 27 March with Snaefell covering the Liverpool route at the start of the season.

SNAEFELL starts the new season having benefitted from enhancements to the Manannan Executive Club lounge and a complete refurbishment of the toilet facilities.

The company has also introduced a ban on smoking on the outside decks of the fast craft with effect from the start of the 2009 season.

MANANNAN - work continues on the vessel at Portsmouth. The photographs (right © Gary Davies - Maritime Photographic) show MANANNAN on Friday March 20 looking substantially complete and very impressive. Her AIS has gone live this week and it is thought she could be heading north by mid April.


Protestors opposed to the redevelopment of Penzance harbour are carrying out last-minute campaigning before the deadline for objections closes.  The Isles of Scilly Route Partnership wants to build a new freight and passenger terminal and buy a new ferry for the Penzance to Scillies route. But opponents claim the work will ruin one of the most "historic and pretty" parts of the town's waterfront. The deadline for objections to the scheme is 26 March.


Similar new facilities are also planned at St Mary's harbour in the Isles of Scilly. The Isles of Scilly Route Partnership is made up of Cornwall County Council, the Council of the Isles of Scilly, Penwith District Council, the Duchy of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly Steamship Company. It claims the £39.1m project would free up space in Penzance harbour and is needed to modernise the link with the Isles of Scilly. But John Maggs, from Friends of Penzance Harbour, said: "This is a really important spot right in the middle of the most historic and pretty part of the waterfront. "The project will involve serious mutilation of the lighthouse pier, which is built on medieval foundations and affect a beach that lots of people use. "Penzance should protect its assets."


He said campaigners would prefer the new freight transport hub to be built instead on the outskirts of the town. The date the planning application will be decided is unclear, because Penwith Council, which is processing it will cease to exist on 1 April when the new Cornwall Council unitary authority is created. [BBC}


As of Friday March 20 it was reported that talks are still on going over the acquisition of the JULIA. The consortium is comments that it is hopeful that it can conclude the negotiating process during the coming week.

March 18

Acknowledgements:  Gary Andrews, Michael Pryce, and "others".


A&P Falmouth honoured the patron saint of Cornwall last week by naming and dedicating their newest tug ST PIRAN. The new ST PIRAN was acquired by A&P Falmouth last summer, replacing the old ST PIRAN, which left the port in September 2007 to fulfill a new role of floating tuna cages in Malta after 23 years of service in Falmouth.

Formerly named the HALLGARTH, Falmouth’s latest tug was built on the Clyde in 1979 and brings the port’s full complement of tugs up to three, operating 24 hours a day with a crew of three to manoeuvre vessels within Falmouth’s waters. It is anticipated that the new ST PIRAN will make around 20 movements a month.

The new ST PIRAN has a top speed of 10 knots and is the Falmouth Dock’s fastest and most powerful tug, with 20.5 tons bollard pull. The 28m vessel is also incredibly manoeuvrable thanks to twin multi-directional propulsion units instead of a conventional rudder.

The tug was named at a ceremony on Queen’s Wharf by Ann Trudgen, The Mayor of Falmouth’s Consort, before being blessed by Rev. Mark Mesley, Chaplain of Falmouth’s Mission to Seafarers.

Peter Child, A&P Falmouth’s managing director said, ‘We’re very pleased with the performance of the new tug and to once again have a ST PIRAN operating within the port is a symbol of the pride we take in our Cornish identity. Our tugs play a vital role in our operations, moving in the region of 720 large vessels a year in and out of Falmouth, so I’m delighted that we are back up to full capacity.

‘ST PIRAN's  sister tug, MORGARWR, has recently been acquired by the Port of Fowey and is appropriately named after the mythical Cornish sea giant spotted between Falmouth and Fowey. Its another great local connection that the sister ships with their new Cornish names will work together when four tugs are needed in Falmouth and was wonderful to see the Cornish sisters work together recently when RFA ARGUS entered port ahead of her overhaul.”

Dressed for the occasion in a Cornish tartan kilt, Mayor Mike Varney said, ‘In the two years since I have had the honour of being Falmouth’s Mayor, Ann has accompanied me on over 500 civic occasions but today I was delighted to join Ann as she see took centre stage in naming the new tug ST PIRAN, which I hope will enjoy many years of service in Falmouth.’



Cammell Laird shipyard, in Birkenhead, is to shed workers as the company battles to bring in lucrative contracts.

The lay-offs are not said to be linked to the current recession, but have followed the completion of military and commercial contracts.

New deals which could see the Ministry of Defence award part of a £150m aircraft carrier contract to the shipyard have yet to be signed off.

One union source last night told the Daily Post he feared up to 200 people could be laid off from a total of 1,000 direct and indirect employees.

But chief executive John Syvret said: “The shipyard industry is a contract-related business, which means there are peaks in demand for work.

“The company increased the workforce over the last 12 months in order to undertake some large military and commercial contracts. These were completed over a month ago and whilst we have won other contracts they are not large enough to sustain the enlarged numbers of personnel.

“The company is actively pursuing other contracts and is optimistic that we will continue to be successful.”

Cammell Laird is joint preferred bidder to build flight decks for the UK’s next generation Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers.

Mr Syvret said: “We’re optimistic that the company will be successful in the coming months which will see shipbuilding return to the Mersey.

“Importantly, in total the shipyard spent £58m in the UK supply chain last year, which includes more than £34m on Merseyside.”

GMB and Unite representatives said they recognised they had to perform a balancing act.

A union statement said: “We will continue to support its efforts to win work for the local community whilst understanding it is primarily a contracting business.

“We have been working together with the company to minimise compulsory redundancies.

“The company has agreed to seek volunteers and offer members incentives to take some holidays between now and June.”




James Fisher’s financial results are demonstrating remarkably recession-resistant qualities.


The UK’s leading marine services and shipping group has unveiled a 26% improvement in annual profit, issued positive remarks about the current year, and could soon be returning to the acquisition trail.


Fisher’s confidence in these turbulent times is underlined by a 15% increase in the final dividend, lifting the payment for the year to 13.01p per share from 11.41p.


The group’s underlying pre-tax profit grew to £24.2m ($33.9m) from £19.2m in 2007, a performance that chairman Tim Harris described as “a very strong result and ahead of market expectations”.


He pointed out that the second half of 2008 represented a record six-month result for the group in terms of organic growth.

Mr Harris said it was difficult to comment “too definitively” in an economic climate that was changing rapidly and mainly for the worse.


“However, the immediate outlook for the divisions has not changed from last year and the company in 2009 is trading to management expectations,” he said.


“On present evidence, the company is well placed, with a proven track record, to continue to produce good growth and further value for our shareholders.”


Analysts were impressed with both Fisher’s performance and Mr Harris’ optimism, and lifted their profit forecasts for 2009.

Brewin Dolphin, for example, was last night expecting to increase its pre-tax profit forecast by 6% from £25.7m. The stock market, now unaccustomed to success stories, lifted Fisher’s shares by 29p, or almost 10%, to close the day at 330p.

Fisher said the key to last year’s strong performance was organic growth in the marine support divisions of offshore oil, specialist technical services and defence, where increases in operating profit of 38%, 71%, and 49%, respectively, were achieved.


As indicated at the half-year stage, the result of the marine oil division, which houses the group’s fleet of small product tankers, was “disappointing”, with a 30% decline in operating profit to £6m from £8.6m.


However, this reflected mainly operational problems relating to the introduction of new tonnage, rather than a shortfall in demand, and have now been resolved.


Mr Harris said Fisher had not come under pressure from charterers to renegotiate rates, as the company had not benefited from the “vast increases” seen in commodity shipping before the collapse in the bulk carrier market last September. Last year was a quiet time for Fisher in terms of acquisitions.


Mr Harris explained that the group had been content “to let the cash roll in” and bide its time as “prices were falling out of bed”.

He said the market for acquisitions had now improved and there were “good opportunities at reasonable prices”.


Fisher had “strong credit lines and plenty of headroom on its banking covenants”. The group had £17m of cash in its balance sheet and £35m in undrawn credit facilities at December 31.


Mr Harris said Fisher’s strategy of using its core marine operational and engineering skills, based on its marine oil division, to invest in niche service businesses in the marine sector remained “valid in the present credit crunch”, and gave the company “a good degree of resilience in an economic downturn”. [Lloyds List]


A ceremony will be held at the Albion Shipyard, Bristol on Saturday June 06, 2009 to mark the laying of steel for the hull of the new PS MEDWAY QUEEN.


Gates open at 14:00 to displays and stalls.

14.30      Brass Band concert

15.00     Speeches, followed by ceremony of laying of steel.

15.30     Stalls etc open again, including further performance by the Band.

Other items will be added to the programme nearer the event.


Stalls and displays may include:

Bulkheads, hydraulic test rig, riveting test frame, CNC plate cutting, Model of Medway Queen, Photo displays, Medway Queen Sales Stand, Medway Queen draw, and Reading Group Railway Wagons.

For updates:   

March 15

Acknowledgements:  Gary Andrews, Tony Brennan, Neil Burns, Trevor Kidd, Kevin Bennett and "others".



BRITTANY Ferries has donated four large framed photographs of a number of their ships to the City Museum in Plymouth.

Brittany Ferries was established in 1972 and has run ferries from Plymouth since 1973. The photographs were presented to the museum to mark a momentous episode in the history of the company.

Pictured is the entry into service of the VAL DE LOIRE, a 33,000 tonne passenger ferry that took over the Plymouth to Santander and Plymouth to Roscoff routes from the original ferry, the BRETAGNE.

The much sort after pictures were presented to Nigel Overton, the Maritime Heritage Officer at the museum. Chris Jones of Brittany Ferries commented: "The pictures have hung on our walls for a long time, and Nigel has always been interested in them. We decided to donate the pictures to the museum so they could gain a wider audience, and so we could show the historic links we have with the city of Plymouth." The museum were pleased to work with Brittany Ferries, and plan to use the pictures as part of exhibitions and displays in the future.



The day excursion from Fleetwood to Douglas on August 18 sold out within just a few days of days of tickets going on sale. As a result of demand another trip is being offered on Saturday June 20 departing from Fleetwood at 10:00. It would appear that passengers travelling to Douglas on this sailing may have the opportunity to cruise to the Calf of Mann on board Waverley Excursion's BALMORAL which is scheduled to operate an afternoon cruise from Douglas.

BEN-MY-CHREE a windy day combined with a flood tide appeared to cause berthing difficulties at Twelve Quays North on Saturday March 14. An observer noted the ship passing Egg Buoy at 11:26 though she did not report all secure until 12:33



Passenger traffic through Douglas Harbour has revealed positive growth for the first two months of 2009 as revealed by the latest figures released on March 07, 2009.




Year to Date





















Route Performance:









Liverpool/ Birkenhead




Director of Harbours, Captain Michael Brew comments: February passenger figures build on the positive start seen in January with the Heysham route performing particularly well. The challenge for the Steam Packet will be to maintain and build on this level of increase. The introduction of the new larger fast craft MANANNAN  later this year should provide the catalyst for future growth along with an increase in the availability of special offer fares.


It is reported that the steam dredger MANNIN ex Isle of Man Harbour Comissioners is being broken up at Runcorn Docks.

The vessel, which was once berthed at the Boat Museum, Ellesmere Port was the subject of an aborted preservation attempt.

Shortly after being moved to Runcorn the vessel sank - she has lain there for some years.


STENA ADVENTURER has departed from dry dock at Harland & Wolff revealing new style fleet name lettering. Photo © Trevor Kidd.




It appears that attempts to secure the former Color Line JULIA at auction on Thursday were not successful. The latest news from the campaign web site is that further negotiations are inprogress and will continue into this week.

Investment pledges are still being accepted go to for the latest news on the project.


Full sailing schedules in .pdf format are now available for all regions on the company web site - .

Irish Sea sailings have been seriously curtailed this year.

There are two sailings from Garlieston to Douglas on Friday June 19, and Saturday June 20.

North West England sailings are from Whitehaven to Douglas on June 21 and June 22.

Afternoon cruises are available from Douglas on the afternoons of Saturday and Sunday June 20 & 21. The June 20 timings appear to afford a connection with the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company's SNAEFELL excursion from Fleetwood.

There is one cruise from Peel on Tuesday June 23 to Portaferry and Strangford Lough where a three hour afternoon cruise is offered for passengers from Ireland.

There are only two north Wales cruises from Menai Bridge and Caernarfon around Anglesey on Wednesday June 24 and from Menai Bridge only on Monday August 17.

There will be some special sailings on Thursday August 13, Friday August 14 and Saturday August 15 from Belfast which remain to be confirmed.

There is an additional all day cruise on the BALMORAL from Peel to Belfast on August 16 where she will rendezvous with Waverley which is sailing from Belfast Harbour both vessels will then follow the Tall Ships Parade of Sail.


Many will be dismayed to realise that Liverpool just doesn't feature in the schedules at all! As the major port in NW England with a large hinterland and potential market which extends eastwards to Manchester this must surely be a major error of judgement?

Last year BALMORAL failed to operate both the Tall Ships Parade of Sail at Liverpool and The QUEEN ELIZABETH 2 Farewell cruise during 2008.

One trusts that intending passengers sailing to Belfast for Tall Ships 2009 do not suffer the same fate as those who had booked to view the Parade of Sail and QE2 from Liverpool! Perhaps a case of caveat emptor? Only time will tell!

March 09

Acknowledgements:  Gary Andrews, Tony Brennan, Kevin Bennett and "others".


A car plunged off one of the Cork Harbour car ferries around 18:45 on Sunday March 08 as it approached Carrigaloe. Two people men were believed to be in the car. One man escaped and was rescued and taken to hospital in Cork city. He was subsequently arrested by Gardai on suspicion of reckless endangerment but later released without charge.

A file is to be sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions. A search for the second car has taken place but it was called off on Monday and was due to resume at 10:15 on Tuesday, March 10.


On 23 October 2008, the Company announced that it had received an approach from Moonduster Limited ("Moonduster") seeking to engage with the other major shareholders of the Company with a view to potentially bringing forward an offer to acquire the Company.

Since the offer period commenced on 23 October 2008 the Independent Directors of the Company have been concerned as to protect and act in the best interest of all shareholders by ensuring that there is a timely and efficient process for the resolution of the uncertainty regarding the future ownership of the Company, yet at the same time being cognisant of the ongoing difficult conditions in the financial markets.

Taking all of this into account, and notwithstanding that Moonduster is continuing in its efforts to bring forward an offer for the Company, the Independent Directors are concerned at the length of time it is taking for an offer to be announced. Therefore, the Independent Directors believe that it is now appropriate to require Moonduster to bring forward an offer that is capable of recommendation and execution, subject only to due diligence, by no later than close of business on 18 March 2009.

In the meantime, the Company is writing to the Irish Takeover Panel informing it that if such an offer is not forthcoming the Company will request the Irish Takeover Panel to exercise its powers pursuant to Rule 35 of the Irish Takeover Rules and impose a deadline for Moonduster to announce an offer.

The Company has decided to continue to defer a decision on the interim redemption of redeemable shares (first deferred on 23 October 2008) and also to defer a decision on any final redemption of redeemable shares.


The future of the Foyle car and passenger ferry could be saved through laws passed 60 years ago.

Supporters of the ferry – which could cease to operate in June if it is not subsidised – believe laws enacted in 1949 when the Irish Republic was declared could provide a vital breakthrough in efforts to save the service.


Under the 1949 legislation, the service could be designated as "domestic" rather than international, thereby reducing security costs.


The ferry, which began in 2002, operates between Greencastle, Co Donegal, and Magilligan Point, Co Derry, and has proved hugely popular with tourists and residents in the area.


Manager Jim McClenaghan said he could not continue operating unless new contracts, and a subsidy of €200,000, were issued by Donegal and Limavady councils.


Junior finance minister Martin Mansergh told the Seanad on Thursday: "At the time of the declaration of the Republic, legislation was passed in the Oireachtas and the British Houses of Parliament which specifically stated that both states did not regard each other as foreign countries."


Inishowen senator Cecilia Keaveney said this could lead to savings of up to  €250,000 on reduced security costs.




HAMNAVOE departed from Cammell Laird around 21:00 on March 09, 2009 at the completion of her refit.


MERSEY MARINER the last remaining Mersey Docks & Harbour Company dredger is to be decomissioned in June putting 12 jobs under threat. The grab dredger which has been retained for work in the docks will have its work contracted to a third party dredging contractor.


The heroes of the RIVERDANCE ferry rescue operation off the Blackpool coast have been awarded a prestigious honour for their bravery.


Crewmen from two air-sea rescue helicopters airlifted 23 people – including  four terrified passengers – to safety on a night of gale force winds.


Lieutenant Mike Paulet, who co-ordinated the rescue operation, has been  awarded one of Britain's top military decorations, the Air Force Cross, for his bravery and determination in the face of a difficult rescue.


RAF Flight Lieutenant Lee Turner will receive the Air Force Cross and Royal Navy Leading Aircrewman Kevin Regan and RAF Master Aircrewman Richard Taylor  will receive the Queen's Gallantry Medal.


The crew of the ship were dramatically winched to safety in 70mph winds when a freak 23ft wave smashed into the side of the cargo vessel.


It was knocked off course and began to list, finally grounding on Blackpool  beach, opposite Anchorsholme Park.The ferry laid there for almost a year while efforts were made to refloat it  before it was eventually dismantled and sent to the scrapyard.

Lieutenant Paulet, 32, said: "We knew that time was of the essence and that  we were dealing with scared people, as well as dreadful conditions. "We lowered our winchman on to the deck of the ferry and set about getting  people off as quickly as possible. Our team all pulled together that night  and we were absolutely united in the opinion that failure was not an  option."


The crew, from HMS Gannet, joined colleagues from RAF Valley's search and rescue station as well as a coastguard helicopter from Belfast.The dramatic rescue happened on January 31 while the ferry was on a journey from Belfast to Heysham.



STALINGRAD - the stranded crew of the Russian cargo ship arrested by the Admiralty Marshal have finally returned home. The Ship was detained in the Port of Liverpool in mid-December and the crew were stranded. The crew have praised the people of Liverpool for gifts of food and drink.

Four of the crew have agreed to stay on for a few weeks as caretakers until the ship is sold at auction.


STENA CALEDONIA will be operating a programme of pleasure cruises from Belfast this year.

There will be a Mothers' Day Lunch Cruise on March 22.

There will be Childrens' Fun Day Cruises on March 21 & 22, April 04, 11, 18, 25, May 02, 09, 16, 23, 30, and June 06, 13, 20 & 27.

And a "Lazy Sunday Cruise" on March 29, and April 05, 12, 19 & 26

[ISS Comment: This is an imaginative move and Stena are to be congratulated on this initiative. Perhaps some other operators could operate the occasional pleasure trip? Enthusiasts are encouraged to support the venture!]


A £70m plan for a new port on the route linking Scotland to Northern Ireland has been backed by councillors.

Stena Line wants to move its Irish Sea services out of Stranraer and along the coast to Old House Point in order to cut journey times and fuel costs.

Dumfries and Galloway Council has given its backing to the company's bid for a harbour empowerment order (HEO).

The final decision on granting the order now lies with the Scottish Government.

Stena Line is a major employer in the area with 330 permanent staff and about 50 temporary workers on shore and aboard its ferries.

However, it said the current facilities were "out-of-date and inefficient".

The new facility would reduce journey times, cut fuel use and avoid the need for operational dredging of the navigational channel.

Stena has already been given approval to carry out preparatory works for its new terminal.

Once the company vacates its old site it would allow major redevelopment plans for Stranraer to move forward.


March 04

Acknowledgements:  Gary Andrews, Michael Pryce, Jenny Williamson and "others".


It was announced this week that the Cammell Laird ship yard at Birkenhead has been named as joint preferred bidder with A&P for a £150m contract to build flight deck sections for the new aircraft carriers HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH & HMS PRINCE OF WALES.


Barrow based PACIFIC PINTAIL and PACIFIC HERON have been reported to be the the targets of a protest from the Greenpeace group. The ships are due to sail from Cherbourg to Japan this week carrying a cargo of 1.8 tonnes of fissile material. Greenpeace has appealed to the International Atomic Energy Agency to intervene to prevent it leaving the French port.


Two well known Irish Sea vessels were detained for brief periods by the authorities in Dublin recently - details from the Paris MOU web site:



Inspection details :

Date of first boarding : 20/02/2009

Date of final boarding : 23/02/2009

Port of inspection : Dublin, Ireland.

Type of inspection : More detailed inspection

Nb of deficiency(ies) : 11

Nb of deficiency(ies) ground(s) for detention : 2

Duration of detention : 4 days

Ship's particulars at the time of inspection :

IMO number : 9009633


Flag : Cyprus

Callsign : P3CU8

Ship type : Ro-ro cargo ship

Gross tonnage : 11086

Keel date : 1991

Classification society :

- Class certificate issued by Korean Register of Shipping (KRS),  classification society responsable for issuance of class certificate as at date of first boarding


Ship manager - Jay Management Corp, Greece

Areas inspected :

- Accommodation and galley

- Car deck

- Engine and steering room

- Navigation bridge

- Outside decks and forecastle

Operational controls carried out

- 15 ppm OWS tested

Deficiencies :

- Fire safety measures, Doors within main vertical zone

- Fire safety measures, Fire fighting equipment and appliances

- Fire safety measures, Fixed fire extinguishing installation

- Food and catering, Lighting

- MARPOL annex I, Control of discharge, Not as required, ground for


- MARPOL annex I, Oil record book

- MARPOL annex V, Garbage record



Inspection details :

Date of first boarding : 02/02/2009

Date of final boarding : 05/02/2009

Port of inspection : Dublin, Ireland.

Type of inspection : More detailed inspection

Nb of deficiency(ies) : 13

Nb of deficiency(ies) ground(s) for detention : 4

Duration of detention : 4 days

Ship's particulars at the time of inspection :

IMO number : 9119426


Flag : Malta

Callsign : 9HGG8

Ship type : Ro-ro cargo ship

Gross tonnage : 7606

Keel date : 1999

Classification society :

- Class certificate issued by Nippon Kaiji Kyokai (NKK), classification society responsable for issuance of class certificate as at date of first boarding


Ship manager

- Seatruck Ferries Shipholding, United Kingdom

Areas inspected :

- Cargo holds / tanks

- Engine and steering room

- Navigation bridge

Deficiencies :

- Cargoes, Loading and unloading equipment, Not as required, ground for detention

- Fire safety measures, Emergency escape breathing device

- Fire safety measures, Fire fighting equipment and appliances

- Fire safety measures, Ready availability of fire fighting equipment, Inoperative, ground for detention and class responsible

- Food and catering, Lighting

- ISM related deficiencies, Maintenance of the ship and equipment, Not according SMS, ground for detention

- Propulsion & aux., Cleanliness of engine room, Insufficient, ground for detention

- Propulsion & aux., Gauges,thermometers, etc

- Ship's certificates and documents , Cargo ship safety equipment (including exemption)

- Structural safety, Closing devices/watertight doors

- Structural safety, Closing devices/watertight doors

- Structural safety, Hull damage impairing seaworthiness

- Structural safety, Steering gear


HMS TYNE (P281) the River Class patrol vessel was an unexpected visitor to the Liverpool Cruise Terminal this week.


CLIPPER PACE entered service on the Liverpool - Dublin route on Tuesday March 03, 2009.


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