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NEWS BULLETIN - April 2009

April 29

Acknowledgements:  Gary Andrews, John Entwistle  and "others"



MANANNAN - information suggests that she may be out and about on trials from Portsmouth on Thursday April 30. A Round the Island trip is being operated on Tuesday June 30.

BEN-MY-CHREE - this year's Round-The-Island sailing will be on Saturday August 15. A month later than has been customary. Somewhat surprising as by mid August the nights will be pulling in and it is doubtful little more than half the island will be seen in light! With the mid July sailings twilight usually sets in around the Point of Ayr, it will likely be somewhere much further south!


The takeover attempt of ICG by Moonduster Ltd has fallen through. Moonduster Group confirmed on April 28 that  despite their best efforts over several months, it was has not been possible to bring forward an acceptable offer in the current economic climate and difficult funding environment. Accordingly Moonduster and any parties acting in concert with it will not be proceeding with an offer for ICG.


HMS DARING - the new Type 45 destroyer is due to visit Liverpool, berthing at the cruise terminal on May 22 for 5 days. She will be open to the public.


STENA LYNX III arrived back in Rosslare Europort on April 27 at 15:15, following winter lay-up in Dublin and refit at A&P Falmouth. She is expected back in service on May 14, 2009.


A letter appeared in the Liverpool Daily Post on Tuesday April 28 from the executive director of National Museums Liverpool reveals that NML were not aware of the extent of the problems with the MV WINCHAM. It is stated that the society took the decision to scrap the vessel without consulting NML. Therefore, it would appear from the available information that some of the earlier blame being heaped on NML may not have been justified. The destruction of this fine little ship appears to have been the sole responsibility of those responsible for preserving her.

April 26

Acknowledgements:  Gary Andrews, Mike Deegan, Dan Cross, Ian Collard and "others"


BALMORAL Bookings are now being taken by via Travel Agents Miles Morgan Travel for a Titanic Memorial Cruise to be undertaken by Fred Olsen Line's BALMORAL departing Southampton on April 08, 2012. For full details:


It has been announced that the All Leisure Group has acquired the small cruse ship HEBRIDEAN PRINCESS following the recent announcement that Hebridean International Cruises had gone into administration following the sale of HEBRIDEAN SPIRIT. The following press release being issued:

All Leisure group plc, which operates Swan Hellenic and Voyages of Discovery is pleased to announce that it has purchased the unique small cruise ship, HEBRIDEAN PRINCESS. All Leisure group plc is keen to ensure that the HEBRIDEAN PRINCESS will continue to offer distinctive cruises around the Scottish Highlands and islands and through the Norwegian fjords and will continue to operate from its head office in Skipton.

Guests and Travel Agents will be contacted during the next few days with further information.

Lord Sterling - Chairman, Hebridean Island Cruises comments:

"For many years I have admired this highly respected cruise ship and know that it has a tremendous following of people who enjoy exploring our beautiful coastline. I am delighted to have been invited to become Chairman of this highly respected brand, and am pleased to confirm that these cruises will continue to operate as in the past. It is important to preserve well-established and much loved British cruise lines; this latest news underscores our commitment to preserving the best of our shipping heritage."

Roger Allard - Chairman, All Leisure group plc comments:

"We have been looking to expand our specialist small ship cruise fleet and I welcome HEBRIDEAN PRINCESS into our group, enabling us to expand our range of special interest destination cruise holidays. We recognise that the Captain, officers and crew of HEBRIDEAN PRINCESS, along with the long-serving and dedicated office staff in Skipton, provide a unique cruising experience, which is cherished by her loyal following."


With just 30 cabins on board this traditional country house ship, HEBRIDEAN PRINCESS has unique characteristics which are enjoyed by a small number of guests who wish to cruise in elegant comfort to the remote areas of our Highlands and Islands. Passengers enjoy cruising in congenial company and perfect tranquillity and proceed ashore to explore the hidden gems of our remotest shores.


The investigation into the Isle of Man Steam Packet monopoly may not be completed until October according to a report on Manx Radio.


VIKING underwent a brief dry docking at Cammell Laird this week as the company announced that the VIKING would be made ready for service should additional back-up be required for the 2009 TT Festival. Whilst the company will be chartering a freighter they hope to meet passenger demand with their own vessels following delivery of the MANANNAN. The company claims that forward bookings indicate a 5% increase on last years passenger numbers for the TT.

MANANNAN - the company has announced that it is hoped that the vessel will depart Portsmouth on Friday May 08 and arrive at Douglas around lunchtime on Saturday May 09.


As a scenic cross border transport link remains in jeopardy, a Coleraine Sinn Féin councillor has urged NI Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster to take action to save the ferry.

Billy Leonard wants the DUP Minister to play her part along with other Stormont Executive colleagues to save the Magilligan ferry service to Greencastle.

The Minister who has responsibility for tourism was at Coleraine Council offices meeting local businessmen and councillors to discuss jobs and the economic development of the area this week with Councillor Leonard underlining the case for funding for the 15-minute international car ferry journey to be supported.

"Minister Foster confirmed her discussions with DRD Minister Conor Murphy and that her Department was waiting on some documentation on the ferry service," he said, afterwards.

"She was also aware of our debate this week when Coleraine Council called for the abolition of the security classification and the linking £90,000 costs which threaten the ferry's survival.

"I stressed the importance of the service to the entire North Coast and beyond, its contribution to the all important tourism industry and how it would be a travesty if we were to lose the service at a time when we are encouraging more Irish visitors to spend their euro here," he continued.

"She is in no doubt of the pressure of time given that the current contract expires in June and she agreed to promptly work on the issue with Conor Murphy and their Executive colleagues."

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

It has been operating between Magilligan and Greencastle in Co Donegal for the last seven years.

Back in February, Mr Murphy said replacement funding "was not possible" because the ferry runs between two jurisdictions and also government budgets were so tight.

"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, at the time.

SDLP MLA John Dallat also commented in February that the Northern Ireland Assembly and the Dáil in the Republic of Ireland should both step in.

However, last year, the Lough Foyle Ferry Company lost €56,000 with estimates that it could lose nearly €224,000 this year.

[Northern Ireland News[


LOGO HOPE - the missionary ship (ex Lion Ferry GUSTOV VASA and  Smyril Line NORRONA) will be visiting the following Irish / Celtic Sea Ports during 2009

Belfast:  April 29 to May 12.

Dublin: May 13 to May 26

Cardiff: May 27 to June 09

Cork: July 01 to July 14

A London visit takes place between June 11 and June 29.  


INCAT 066 - The Ireland based ship leasing company MGC Chartering has announced that the recently completed 112m Incat will go into service on the English Channel with LD Lines as NORMAN ARROW.


P&O Larne - Cairnryan ships are destined for major overhauls this year with the booking system revealing the EUROPEAN HIGHLANDER out of service 20 May - 7 June inclusive and the EUROPEAN CAUSEWAY out of action 8 June - 23 June inclusive.

It appears that the plan is for NORBAY or NORBANK from Dublin - Liverpool to provide cover with that vessel replaced by the EUROPEAN ENDEAVOUR. This would fit in with the completion of the Dover overhaul period.


  The destruction of the preserved Weaver Packet MV WINCHAM got underway with a vengeance this week. By April 22 when the photograph  was taken there was clearly no going back. The sight of this little vessel, who only three weeks ago was photographed on the Mersey by Ian Collard, being destroyed is enough to bring tears to any ship lover's eye.

This historic little vessel which has been a feature of the Mersey waterfront since the 1980s deserved a better fate that this. Many people should hang their heads in shame for this state of affairs.

April 19

Acknowledgements:  Gary Andrews, "Michael", Ian Collard, Tony Brennan and "others"


MALLARD - the cross Windermere car ferry will be out of service for refit for five weeks after conclusion of operation on April 20 for it's five yearly refit. The vessel resumes service on May 23.  During this period motorists will face a lengthy detour.


Ownership of Ireland's biggest ferry group, Irish Continental Group (ICG)  which trades as Irish Ferries, has been up for grabs for about two years,  with two bids having been tabled for the company in 2007.

Last month the Takeover Panel told ICG chief executive Eamonn Rothwell and  the Moonduster consortium headed by former IAWS boss Philip Lynch, that they  have until next Monday to table another offer for the ferry company or face a 12-month ban on making another approach.

Moonduster entered talks with former rival Mr Rothwell in December in an effort to break a year-long stalemate by proposing a joint offer for the group, which could value it in the region of €380m. The proposed offer could be in the range of €11 to €15 a share, but at least one US-based minority shareholder has said it would not be prepared to accept even the higher end of that scale.

Property developer Liam Carroll spent an average of €24 a share two years ago amassing a 29.8pc stake in ICG, and may be unwilling to take a significant haircut on his investment. However, in the current climate he could also be content to get his hands on ready cash.

Last year ICG reported revenue of €343m, down 3.6pc on 2007, while earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation fell 17.7pc to €66m. It carried 1.46 million passengers during the year, down from 1.56 million in 2007.



The Douglas Harbour traffic figures for March 2009 have been released:

Traffic Figures:




Year to Date






















Route Performance:










Liverpool/ Birkenhead





All Minus




All Minus




Director of Harbours, Captain Michael Brew comments: “The fall in passenger figures is solely as a result of all of the Easter Traffic falling in April this year.  Excluding the Easter factor the underlying traffic levels are broadly on a par with previous years and in line with expectations.  April passenger figures will incorporate the Easter traffic and are expected to show a significant increase on 2008 carryings.”


MANANNAN - it appears that contrary to early rumours the new vessel will not be heading north yet. Sailings previously indicated. Messages sent to passengers with reservations indicate that SNAEFELL will be taking passenger sailings until at least May 17 inclusive.


The BBC News reports that the Royal Navy dockyard at Plymouth is to have all of its frigate warships transferred to Portsmouth. Portsmouth is set to become the home of almost all the Navy's warships.  Portsmouth had been expected to lose out to Plymouth as part of an MoD review to cut over-capacity and costs. An MoD source said it "makes sense" to have all the Navy's frigates and destroyers in Portsmouth, as the city was home to the fleet headquarters.

The review, which began in 2006, looked at the three UK Navy bases in Plymouth, Portsmouth and Faslane.

DEVONPORT was founded in 1691 and employs 4,800 and is the sole refitting base foe Vanguard nuclear submarines.

BBC South has learned of the decision ahead of an official announcement by the MoD, expected in the next few weeks.  At present Portsmouth is home to the Navy's two operational aircraft carriers, six frigates and seven destroyers.

MoD sources have told the BBC that 11 frigates currently based at Plymouth's Devonport dockyard will move to Portsmouth as a result of the review.

The MoD source said: "Portsmouth is the home of the Royal Navy and it will be the home of the operational fleet.  "It makes sense to have all the navy's frigates and destroyers in Portsmouth as the city is already the home of fleet headquarters and has the infrastructure to support operational ships.

'Efficient and logical'

"The changes to be announced are the most efficient and most logical way of using Britain's three naval bases."

The MoD's official response in a statement said: "Work on the Maritime Change Programme (MCP) is ongoing but no final decisions on the programme have been taken and no date for an announcement has been planned."

Portsmouth's naval dockyard currently employs more than 17,000 people and is home to about two-thirds of the Royal Navy's surface ships.

Devonport, which in area is western Europe's largest naval shipyard, employs 4,800 people and is the UK's sole refitting base for Vanguard submarines, which provide the UK's strategic nuclear deterrent with Trident nuclear missiles.

It is understood Devonport will retain its submarines and amphibious assault ships as well as re-fit work.

Nuclear submarine base Faslane is expected to be largely unaffected by the review.

PORTSMOUTH  was founded in 1194.  Employs 17,200 and is home to almost two-thirds of the Royal Navy's surface ships

Mike Hancock, MP for Portsmouth South and a member of the Defence Select Committee, said: "It's going to be great news for Portsmouth."

He said it "put into place the final part of the jigsaw" regarding the Navy's shore-based future over the next 25 years, "possibly longer".

"It will mean that virtually the whole of the surface fleet, including the two new carriers, will be port-based here in Portsmouth.

"I think it's great news for the city as a whole, super news for the naval base."

He said there had been a "cloud of despair right across the city" when the naval base review had been first announced in 2006 and there had been speculation that nearly 20,000 jobs could be lost. [BBC]

However, as would be expected the news has not been well received in Devon and Cornwall with local politicians demanding that the MoD reveal the future plans for the Devonport base.


Following a recent meeting with representatives of the local authorities and  others which have put forward proposals for the future of the ferry and freight link between Penzance and the Isles of Scilly – the Route Partnership – the local MP, Mr Andrew George, will attempt to bring together groups of objectors and the proposer and supporters of the plans for  Penzance Harbour for what he has described as a "considered, evidence based and rigorous opportunity for discussion and debate."

Mr George had called for a public meeting in September last year. The Route Partnership put on a further public exhibition in January this year.  Following the recent course of events, Mr George believes that a seminar between the key representative bodies and individuals would provide the best way forward. He has offered to chair the event. He is currently brokering an  agreement between both sides to bring them together.Mr George said, "Regional Development Agency and the Department for

Transport have commissioned an evaluation of options – ‘marine verification – which will look at matters including the choice of vessel and shore side infrastructure. The Route Partnership has also commissioned a review of the scoring of the original Penzance Harbour options.

"Whilst the planning application itself will go through the required formal procedure before being considered at a future planning committee under the new Cornwall Council and after the election of new members of Council, I hope that the ‘seminar’ will provide a good opportunity to scrutinise some of the alternatives proposed by objectors to the Penzance Harbour plans. By that time, I hope that the Route Partnership will have completed and published its options and evaluation reviews.

"I appreciate that by attending the seminar the Route Partnership will not be bound to accept any alternative. I know that many of us would appreciate a thorough and considered assessment of the merit or otherwise of the various options/alternatives which have been presented since the Route Partnership exhibited their proposals."

Further information regarding the arrangements for the seminar will be publicised in due course. [Cornwall 24]


The Manxman Steamship Company have recently announced that their web site will shortly become defunct as it cannot be sustained during the winding up of the organisation. However, a Yahoo Group has been created to give public access to archive material relating to the ship - it can be found by [clicking here]


MOONDANCE re-entered service on Monday April 13 when she left Liverpool and headed up to Heysham to provide cover for CLIPPER PANORAMA which is due to dock until returning to service on April 22. CLIPPER POINT will then go out of service for maintenance due back in service on May 02.

It appears the reason why the MOONDANCE is being used instead of the also spare CLIPPER RACER is because that vessel is shortly beginning a 3-month charter to Balearia.


Many visitors to this web site will be familiar with the preserved "Weaver Packet" WINCHAM which has been a feature of the Mersey Maritime Museum environs for many years. Several years ago the vessel was in receipt of a Heritage Lottery Grant to further her restoration. On April 01, Ian Collard photographed her heading up river towards the slipway at the Bromborough Shipyard (formerly McTay Marine and now operated by Mersey Heritage Ship Repair) [click here]. The photo (c) John Eyres, shows WINCHAM stripped of fittings and awaiting the scrap man.

Sadly it appears that this was the WINCHAM's last voyage. Rumours were circulating of he iminent demise just over a week ago - this ha snow been confirmed in the following report in the Daily Post

A much loved historic vessel is due to be scrapped next week after falling victim to a bitter feud between National Museums Liverpool (NML) and its members. The WINCHAM, was moved from the Albert Dock a few weeks ago and is now on a slipway at a ship repair yard in Brombrough, where she will be broken up after being sold to a scrap dealer for around £5,000.

This is despite extensive restoration work being carried out following a £47,500 Lottery grant in 2001. The WINCHAM has already been stripped of movable fittings and is now only a bare hulk. The decision to scrap her was condemned by conservationists as “an unbelievable state of affairs”. The estuarial coaster was owned by the Wincham Preservation Society, which was affiliated to and received most of its funding from the Friends of National Museums Liverpool.

But, when the 1,700-strong Friends group was disbanded in January, after relations between it and NML director Dr David Fleming broke down, the preservation society also lost its main source of income.

The society sold the WINCHAM for scrap after an annual survey found she would need £40,000 spent on her for essential repairs and maintenance, and to meet the cost of dry-docking facilities.

Discussions between the group and NML about converting the ship’s large hold into an educational “floating classroom” came to nothing.

A spokeswoman for the Friends said the ship’s fate showed that the consequences of the fall-out between the group and NML’s management were much bigger than originally thought.

Bruce Porter, secretary of the Wincham Preservation Society, said: “Some of our volunteers have been involved with the preservation society for 20 years and they’re heartbroken. It’s like losing a valuable personal possession.

“After a proposed sale to another charity fell through, the shipyard negotiated a sale with a scrap dealer. We have no money and we have had to say goodbye to the vessel. It’s a decision that was not taken lightly and has saddened us all.”

The MV WINCHAM plied the Mersey waterways carrying chemicals between the ICI’s former Runcorn plant and Liverpool docks.

When the Weaver packet reached the end of her commercial life, she was bought by the preservation society in 1982 and used to give demonstrations of cargo handling to schoolchildren.

Martin Heighton, chairman of the UK's Historic Ship Register committee, said: "The scrapping of the historic Mersey estuarial coaster WINCHAM is an unbelievable state of affairs.

“WINCHAM is in the top 300 of the 1,200 ships in the UK National Historic Fleet Register. We have not been informed or consulted about WINCHAM's deconstruction.

“Owners are obliged to seek alternative ownership before considering scrapping.”

Tony Tibbles, director of Merseyside Maritime Museum, said; “National Museums Liverpool (NML) is disappointed to learn that the Wincham Preservation Society has decided to scrap MV WINCHAM.

“NML was willing to co-operate with others, and explore options for her future preservation.

“However, we understand the vessel has been sold for scrap and the dismantling process has already begun. NML was not consulted or informed about the results of the survey or the repair costs until after this decision was made.”

April 09

Acknowledgements:  Dave Billinge and "others".


The Skipton, Yorkshire, based luxury cruise company have gone into administration just one day after the sale of the HEBRIDEAN SPIRIT had been confirmed.

The following press release has been posted to the company's web site:

On 8 April 2009, Colin Peter Dempster and Fiona Livingstone Taylor, of Ernst & Young LLP, were appointed Joint Administrators of Hebridean International Cruises Limited and Leisure and Marine Holdings Limited. The affairs, business and property of the companies are being managed by the Joint Administrators who contract as agents of the companies and without personal liability.

Information for customers who have booked a cruise on the HEBRIDEAN PRINCESS:

The administrators recognise the value of the Princess business and have taken steps to secure funding to continue its sailing schedule as planned. The Princess is therefore continuing to trade whilst we pursue a sale of the business as a going concern. Consequently, HEBRIDEAN PRINCESS cruises are not being cancelled. The Companies will continue to take booking enquiries.

Information for customers who have booked a cruise on the HEBRIDEAN SPIRIT

On 7 April 2009, the sale of the HEBRIDEAN SPIRIT was completed. In March 2009, all customers of the HEBRIDEAN SPIRIT were contacted to advise them of the forthcoming sale and were informed that a full refund would be given to those who had booked cruises on the HEBRIDEAN  SPIRIT.

We regret to advise that the Joint Administrators are not in a position to refund any customers in respect of the cancelled HEBRIDEAN SPIRIT cruises. Customers may be protected by the Air Travel Organiser's Licenses (ATOL) and should contact ATOL directly on 020 7453 6350 between 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday.

Customers should also check their travel insurance policy since it may provide cover for the cancellation. The type of cover provided will vary according to the type of policy taken out. Your policy may cover the complete or partial cost of the original booking purchased.

If you paid by credit card, you may also be protected by Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974. You should check with your credit card provider for further advice.


The photograph from Dave Billinge was taken recently taken from the floor of Canada Graving Dock. The mechanical excavators are eating away at the vessel from the stern and she should have been completely demolished by the end of May.

 The photograph is one of a series that has been taken for an article which will appear in Warships International Fleet Review, during coming months on the RFA Support contracts and Leavesley Internationals Mersey re-cycling. [Photo: David Billinge]


MANANNAN may depart from Portsmouth towards the end of next week - probably Friday . However, rumour on the waterfront suggests she will not be in service before TT Practice Week in late May. That is despite the fact that the booking engine has been issuing tickets on line showing MANANNAN from early May.

April 08

Acknowledgements:  Gary Andrews, Ian Collard, John Williams, Kevin Bennett and "others".



Minicruises from Plymouth to Santander are back by popular demand. Brittany Ferries has joined forces with Wessex Continental Travel to allow those living in the South West once again to enjoy these cruises to the beautiful port of Santander in northern Spain.

2009 sees Brittany Ferries’ flagship, PONT-AVEN operating a triangular service from Plymouth to Santander, then back to Portsmouth, or vice versa. A coach transfer between Plymouth and Portsmouth operated by Wessex Continental Travel effectively ‘closes the loop’, allowing passengers to begin and end their break in Plymouth. And starting from just £79 per person including the coach transfer, all port charges and comfortable en suite cabin accommodation, these breaks offer outstanding value.

With two days and two nights on board, there’s plenty of time to relax and enjoy the delights of life on the ocean wave. With elegant restaurants serving fine French cuisine, a choice of bars with live entertainment, a shopping mall offering great savings, and two cinemas showing the latest releases, PONT-AVEN offers a level of service and range of facilities more often associated with cruise ships. There is even a leisure area with a pool and open-deck lido.

On arrival in Spain there is time to go ashore and enjoy the vibrant resort city of Santander. With its wide, tree-lined boulevards, elegant plazas and beautiful parks, this is a great introduction to the delights of northern Spain. The ship docks right in the heart of the city, within easy walking distance of the bustling town centre with its abundance of shops, cafes and bars.

For further information or to book please visit or phone 01752 846880.


Fastnet Line has successfully acquired the former Color Line ship JULIA. They hope to have the service running by late May or early July, 2009.

At a packed meeting of co-op shareholders in the West Cork Hotel, Skibbereen this week it was voted unanimously to form a formal co-op, and elected officers for that co-op.

The shareholders also heard presentations on the current situation with investment and the new ship - and gave the go-ahead for the purchase of the JULIA.

The new company (Fastnetline) has opened a website where people who would like to book on the new service can register their interest. []


The latest edition of the Irish Maritime Transport Economist has been published by the Irish Maritime Development Office.

It can be downloaded from - it includes some passenger and ro-ro stats.

These are very interesting.  In particular they show the poor year most operators had in 2008.  The overall market declined by 5.3%


P&O Larne - Troon - 29,356 units - down 2.8%

P&O Larne - Cairnryan - 238,201 units - down 5.8%

Stena Larne - Fleetwood - 138,185 units - down 3.1%


Stena Belfast - Stranraer - 107,648 units - down 6.4%

Norfolkline Belfast - Birkenhead - 149,674 units - down 3.6%

Norfolkline Belfast - Heysham - 60,771 units - down 15.6%

Seatruck Warrenpoint - Heysham - 79,502 units - up 1.1%


Norfolkline Dublin - Heysham - 49,556 units - down 18.3%


Norfolkline Dublin - Birkenhead - 128,084 units - down 7.8%

P&O Dublin - Liverpool - 162,290 units - down 8.7%

Seatruck Dublin - Liverpool - 55,837 units - up 42.4%


Stena Dublin - Holyhead - 162,442 units - up 4.5%

Irish Ferries Dublin - Holyhead - 149,378 units - down 10.4%

Stena Dun Laoghaire - Holyhead - 13,847 units - down 18.3%


Stena Rosslare - Fishguard - 50,249 units - down 6.6%

Irish Ferries Rosslare - Pembroke - 81,901 - down 13.0%


On nearly all routes accompanied traffic is down by more than unaccompanied.  The Market Shares are interesting based on a total figure of 1,656,931 units:

Stena Line - 28.5%

P&O - 25.9%

Norfolkline - 23.4%

Irish Ferries - 14.0%

Seatruck 8.2%

Passenger wise - there were declines in all sectors.


Central Corridor down 5%

Northern Corridor down 7%

Southern Corridor down 8%

Southern Continental down 1%



Container trade at the Port of Liverpool has slumped by an alarming 25% in the first three months of the year.

Although figures were expected to fall due to the global shipping downturn, the news that traffic has been so sharply hit is a major shock.

Executives at the port estimate that volumes for the year to the end of March will be around 7 or 8% down.

There have been no cuts in sailings to the port, but volumes of cargo carried have been severely hit.

Managing director Gary Hodgson said: “We are not seeing services cancelled, but volumes are clearly down as a result of the global situation.”

Seaforth Container Terminal deals with services to and from North America, as well as Europe and Ireland. Volumes have been hit across all of these markets, causing the dock company to consider a range of cost-cutting measures, including rationalising some services.

The situation is even more acute, as the dock company’s profits must service massive debts at parent company Peel Ports, and any dip in profits could have knock-on consequences for the business.

Mr Hodgson declined to comment on the debts, but said: “The economic downturn has really hit us hard in this part of the business last quarter. We are looking at how we can optimise resources and services, as well as reviewing costs.

“Outsourcing labour is one area we have been looking at, but there are examples of practices which are historic but not really cost-effective.”

Measures so far include transferring the last remaining in-house dockers to stevedore firm Drake Port Services and axing the dredger, MERSEY MARINER.

The roles of other workers around the dock estate are also under review, including those who man the lock gates. The target is to achieve savings of 8% this year, equating to around £6m of turnover.

Total cargo throughput is expected to fall by around 5% from the current level of 37m tonnes a year.

The company is hoping that its diverse range of cargoes will help protect it from the worst ravages of the recession. Animal feeds, food and aggregates are holding up, but the steel and scrap metal industries have already been affected.




Fast ferry services over the Irish Sea could be disrupted as a union threatens strike action over job cuts.

Last week it was announced that Stena Line was to reduce its dockside personnel at Dun Laoghaire from 64 to 46 after cutting back the fast ferry service from Holyhead last autumn.

Now the Siptu workers union is warning that HSS STENA EXPLORER sailings could be affected by industrial action over the redundancies as they ballot members at Stena Line.

In response Stena said it aimed to engage with unions and the Labour Relations Commission to reach an agreement.

They said the redundancies, which do not affect any staff in Holyhead, were required to ensure the fast ferry service was brought back into profitability.

A spokesman said: "We would just like to reassure our customers that all services are running as normal.

"We trust this situation will remain as we attempt to engage with the unions and move the process forward."

As recently as 2006 the HSS STENA EXPLORER operated three round trips a day between Holyhead and Dun Laoghaire but the schedule has now been reduced to one daily return trip.

The company says this reduction and the fact the HSS STENA EXPLORER is currently running at a loss meant cuts have been necessary.

Stena Line said it hoped to achieve any reductions through voluntary redundancy but could not rule out compulsory redundancies.

Vic Goodwin, route and HR director for Stena Line, said: "Our route between Dun Laoghaire and Holyhead has traded in a loss making situation for the last few years and with the general economic downturn now facing us we must take action to address these issues."

But the union is claiming that an offer to relocate staff to Dublin port instead of making staff redundant is not being honoured. Siptu warned severe disruption to travel was inevitable unless an agreement was made.



LYNHER II was taken out of service on Friday April 03, 2009 for refit at 09:00. She will undergo refit at A&P Falmouth and is expected to be out of service for 30 days.

This means that the ferry service will operate every 15 minutes during the day.

April 05

Acknowledgements:  Gary Andrews, Ian Collard, John Williams, Kevin Bennett and "others".


The Cunard division have announced their 2010 cruise programme which includes Queen Victoria's first Round Britain 10-day cruise departing from Southampton on July 22,  2010 which includes Irish Sea calls at Cobh, Dublin, Liverpool, Belfast and Greenock.


OSCAR WILDE is reported have had a minor collision with the linkspan at Cherbourg on April 03, 2009 as she arrived from Rosslare causing some damage to the bow door. The vessel was forced to turn and discharge through the stern door.


SNAEFELL undertook berthing trials at the Albert Quay ro/ro ramp at Belfast on the morning of Friday April 03. This year sailings from Belfast which commence on April 05 will use part of the former Stena Line terminal at Albert Quay.

The former Belfast terminal was unsuited to handling the MANANNAN which enters service later this year and is scheduled to provide sailings on the Belfast route for TT and Manx Grand Prix festivals.


It appears that two of the 15 ships originally listed as calling a the Liverpool City Cruise Terminal have changed their itineraries which included the Liverpool call.

Regent Cruises SEVEN SEAS VOYAGER is no longer listed as making a cruise during the first week in June - she had been due to call at Liverpool on June 02.

RCCI's JEWEL OF THE SEAS will now call at Belfast on September 06 on a west bound  Transatlantic repositioning cruise.


The Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA) announced on April 03 that 11 foreign flagged ships were under detention in UK ports during February 2009 after failing Port State Control (PSC) inspection.

Latest monthly figures show that there were 7 new detentions of foreign flagged ships in UK ports during February 2009 and 4 vessels under detention from previous months. The overall rate of detentions compared with inspections carried out over the last twelve months was 4%, this is slightly up from Januarys twelve month rate.

During the month of February 122 Port State Control inspections were carried out in the UK.
A total of 32 vessels had no deficiencies raised against them, 56 had between one and five deficiencies 20 had between six and ten deficiencies 9 had between eleven and twenty deficiencies and there were 5 vessels inspected that had more than twenty deficiencies.
Out of the detained vessels, 6 were registered with flags states listed on the Paris MOU white list, none were registered with flag states on the grey list, 4 were registered with flag states on the black list and 1 was registered with an unlisted flag state.

The following vessels were detained at Irish Sea ports:


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 for 17 days 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 released 13/02/2009

Date & Place of Detention: 24/02/2009 (Belfast)
Vessel Name: BUENA VISTA (General Cargo)
GT: 38,459
IMO No: 8010855
Flag: Panama
Company: TMT Co Ltd
Classification Society: Nippon Kaiji Kyokai (NKK)
Recognised Organisation: Nippon Kaiji Kyokai (NKK)
Recognised Organisation for ISM: Nippon Kaiji Kyokai (NKK)
Summary: 23 deficiencies (8) grounds for detention

The vessel was detained in Belfast because the hand held VHF radios were inoperative the batteries were unusable the port and starboard lifeboat painters were rotten and the port lifeboat release gear had been removed and the hooks welded up during December 2008. In addition the exhaust insulation was missing from several main engine units, and major non conformities were identified in respect of the maintenance of the ship and equipment and emergency preparedness. Other deficiencies included; the engine room and store hatches, port and starboard on the poop deck need ed the rubber replacing and securing; the magnetic compass had a bubble and the gimbals need adjusting. The maintenance of the Ship and equipment was not according to SMS and did not match the ship records.
The vessel was still detained at 28/02/2009


Date & Place of Detention: 12/02/2009 (Belfast)
Vessel Name: BALLYHEALY (General Cargo)
GT: 1,949
IMO No: 8104553
Flag: Panama
Company: KQ Shipping Ltd
Classification Society: Germanischer Lloyd (GL)
Recognised Organisation: Germanischer Lloyd (GL)
Recognised Organisation for ISM: Germanischer Lloyd (GL
Summary: 20 deficiencies (11) Grounds for detention
This vessel was detained in Belfast for 7 days because the moveable bulkhead was erected in a non designated position and the procedures relating to the moveable bulkheads were missing. The company was unaware of the moveable bulkhead operation and the documentation of the report of the bulkhead failure was missing In addition the records of rest were not correct and not all the crew were fluent in English – the language of the ship; and the cargo hold bilge pumping arrangements were inoperative.
The vessel which had been previously detained in Londonderry in January 2008 was released from the current detention on 17/02/2009.


Owners Merseytravel have revealed that the economic situation is likely to result in the transport authority posting £13m deficit next year.

To tackle this various measures are being suggested which include a review of the number of vessels required by Mersey Ferries - this could result in the reduction of the current fleet of three.

This week saw the start of the 2009 Summer Season and a massive 19% rise in the river cruise fare from £5.30 to £6.30.

At a time when the RPI has fallen to 0% and the CPI was recorded at 3.2% such a massive rise is hardly likely to endear the ferries to passengers.


The case of Seaside Shipping vs Isle of Man Steam Packet Company and the Department of Transport which had previously been dismissed by the Isle of Man courts has been allowed to go forward on appeal

Details can be found on the Isle of Man Courts service web site:

Seaside Shipping is challenging the the Isle of Man Government to open access to the Douglas Harbour linkspans and break the IoMSPCo monopoly on ro/ro services.


Stena Line ferry workers have become the latest to threaten strike action over planned cutbacks and redundancies in the transport sector.

SIPTU members at the shipping company are to vote on industrial action against lay-offs at the HSS service at DunLaoghaire harbour. Some 18 jobs, mainly among administration and harbour workers, are to be axed from the highspeed Irish Sea route to Holyhead in Wales, according to Stena Line.

Union leaders branded the cutbacks drastic and accused company bosses of reneging on an earlier deal that workers no longer needed at Dun Laoghaire would be transferred to their Dublin Port operation.

“Anticipating such a downsizing we wrote to the company last December 2008 reiterating the importance of honouring the agreement,” said SIPTU branch organiser Owen Reidy.

“We did not even receive a response. Regrettably, when we met with them on March 12, they stated that the agreement did not mean what it said, that they would not honour it and they threatened compulsory redundancies.”

But Eamon Hewitt, Stena Line spokesman, insisted they were not going back on the Labour Relations Commission agreement hammered out in 2007. “We are not going back on that at all,” he said.

“That was always contingent on jobs being available at Dublin Port and there are no jobs available at Dublin Port.” There are presently 64 Stena Line staff in Dun Laoghaire which the company wants to reduce to 46, through compulsory redundancies if necessary. The service ran three sailings a day as recently as 2006 but this was recently reduced to two sailings a day and will now be cut back to just one daily crossing.

Stena Line said it plans to make the changes by mid May but will continue discussions with staff and trade unions. “We will engage in the normal procedures, including involving the Labour Relations Commission,” said Mr Hewitt.

[Maritime Clippings / Irish Examiner]


It was confirmed on Friday April 03, that the Finnish bank which currently owns the ferry JULIA, has agreed to sell the ship to the consortium.

West Cork Tourism chairman Conor Buckley said he hoped co-op members (who have raised  nearly €3m in pledge investment to help purchase the ferry) will wholeheartedly ratify the sale agreement when they meet in Skibbereen on Tuesday night.

"We started raising money on February 12 and we’ve been in talks with the Finnish bank for the past three weeks. This is a huge milestone for us. There is a lot of excitement in our group," Mr Buckley said.

"We are currently preparing the necessary working capital. We are going to be launching the service in a difficult economic environment, but there is huge goodwill both here and in Britain for it."

The 28-year-old vessel, which was recently refitted, will have to undergo some minor alterations to comply with Irish maritime law – and it is hoped that she can start sailing between Swansea and Cork by June.

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