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NEWS BULLETIN - August 2009

August 30

Acknowledgements: Ian Collard, Eric Shenton, Michael Pryce, Gary Andrews and "others"


A protest was held by striking staff at the Peel Ports operated Marine Terminals son August 27, The protesting strikers, amounting to around 40 in number, attempted to block vessels entering and leaving Dublin Port. There was a brief stand off which resulted in delays to the STENA NORDICA on her afternoon departure to Holyhead.

The strikers agreed to call off their protest over cutbacks in pay and conditions following an agreement to enter talks at the Labour Relations Comission on Monday August 31, 2009. [CLICK HERE FOR PHOTOS]


VIKING is reported to have suffered a minor fire on Sunday August 23, 2009 as she entered Ponta Delgada Harbour. The fire, in a ventilation duct, was extinguished by the crew though the fire brigade were summoned as a precaution. A photo showing smoke staining on a vent below the port side funnel can be seen in the report on the Acorianoa Oriental Newspaper web site [click here]


Barrow based marine services company and ship operator James Fisher reports group revenue from operations up 13.9% to £130m (US$212m) during the first half of 2009 while pre-tax profit was was up 18.2% to £13.0m.

The company says that strong organic growth overseas led by the Specialist Technical division more than offset the recessionary issues in the UK market. It says in a statement “The Company's strategic focus on high margin, niche businesses has again confirmed its resilience and ability to produce organic growth. Although the Singapore submarine vessel entered service as anticipated in the first half, the related financing was not contracted until after 30 June 2009.

Final drawdown is imminent but this has distorted the reported gearing at 30 June 2009 by some 18.8%.” Company chairman Tim Harris says: "In the first half strong organic growth overseas led by the Specialist Technical division more than offset the recessionary issues in the UK market. Encouragingly, our nuclear cluster has begun to perform well and the Defence division, unquestionably a world leader in specialist submarine rescue, is beginning to produce good revenue growth. Prospects for both remain promising.”

However the company statement notes: “Unsurprisingly the recession is not without some adverse effects on the Company, the most significant of which can be summarised as follows. Firstly in the Marine Oil division, James Fisher Everard has suffered from a sharp drop in volumes carried which has reduced its profitability to breakeven in the first half.” [Maritime Clippings / Maritime Global Net]


NORMAN VOYAGER will commence a new Rosslare to Cherbourg service commencing September 19. Operating three times each week, this service replaces the once a week service to Le Havre. The reduced distance reduces crossing times to 17 hours from 22.


A controversial £44 million scheme to build a new ferry terminal in Penzance, Cornwall, has won crucial independent backing, despite condemnation that it is "politically undeliverable".

The Halcrow Report, which scrutinised the options to renovate dated passenger and freight facilities for the vital sea link to the Isles of Scilly, published its results yesterday.

It said the consequences of creating an out-of-town freight facility in Penzance passenger building on the quayside would be dire, leading to the loss of 35 jobs and most of a £44 million Government funding package for the scheme.

Instead, it backed proposals put forward by the Cornwall Council led Route Partnership, which favours building on the historic Battery Rocks area of the town's seafront.

But John Maggs, spokesman for opposition group Friends of Penzance Harbour said the public was "overwhelmingly against the scheme", while local MP Andrew George said feelings were running so high that the plan might never get off the ground.

Mr George, MP for West Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, said: "The report acknowledges that each of the three options are 'workable solutions'. Much of the rest of the report is open to both reasonable interpretation and to calm debate.

"However – and perhaps crucially – the consultants were not asked to assess the 'political deliverability' of each of the options.

"I have made clear to the Route Partnership that, in my view, recent events have, if anything, inflamed the situation in the Penzance area and has made the Battery Rocks Beach extension a more difficult – if not impossible – project to deliver."

The plans have attracted much attention since Isles of Scilly councillors commissioned a report addressing the transport issues between the islands and the Cornish mainland in 2002.

Opinion polls and meetings have been held to discuss public opinion on the subject ahead of yesterday's eagerly-awaited report.

Isles of Scilly councillors had also explored the possibility of developing at Falmouth as a "plan B" if the Penzance scheme collapsed.

The Halcrow Report found that the scheme put forward by the Route Partnership consortium for a new passenger and freight terminal, with a ship carrying both passenger and freight, would provide the lowest operational costs.

It said other options put forward for an out-of-town freight depot or a passenger building on the quayside would have substantially higher ongoing costs, which could result in increased fares and freight charges or a subsidy from Cornwall's taxpayers.

The consultants also noted the options would require the closure or relocation of local businesses with the loss of around 35 jobs and significant effects on the local community.

But Mr Maggs said the Route Partnership's conclusions "downplay the advantages of an out-of-town freight handling depot and ignore the risks associated with their own scheme".

The Route Partnership scheme currently has the chance of taking advantage of a large part of a £44 million funding package to build the terminal and provide a new vessel. The Department for Transport (DfT) has said that Penzance will most likely miss out on Government funding if the project has not secured full approval by February 2010.

The report states that its preferred option has the lowest running costs, compared with building at Long Rock, on the outskirts of town, and the former Trinity House Museum building, next to Penzance dock.

The report says all three options are seen to be "functional, workable solutions", but that the option "with the greatest functionality" is the original plan to develop on Battery Rocks. The report adds: "This is mainly due to the controlled nature of freight handling and the location with a direct connection to the quay." Graeme Hicks, Cornwall Council cabinet member for highways, transport and planning, said: "This report makes it crystal clear that these alternatives would have serious financial consequences both for the economy of the Isles of Scilly and for that of West Cornwall. This is a historic maritime link that has massive economic benefits for people both in Penzance and on the islands and this independent report clearly identifies the right way to deliver this vitally important scheme."

[Western Morning News]


The former Carnival - Cunard liner has been reregistered at Port Vila, Vanuatu by her owners property developers Nakheel

Cunard sold the ship for £50m to Nakheel, which is now in talks to move it to Cape Town to become a hotel in time for the 2010 football World Cup. The developer said international law required the removal of Southampton since it was now registered in Vanuatu.

The QE2 left the Drydocks World-Dubai, where it was transferred to in July for routine marine surveys in compliance with international standards, on Saturday August 22 in preparation for sea trials. A spokesman for Nakheel said:

"Although she will no longer be taking passengers or operating as a cruise ship, the registration documents will state her class as being 'a passenger/cruise ship'.

"To conform to international law, the name 'Southampton' has been painted over on the stern, although the letters remain attached, and her temporary home port of Port Vila has now been painted underneath. "To comply with the terms of the sale

contract, the Cunard brand has also been removed from the side of the ship." Nakheel had planned to refurbish the ship and open it as a floating hotel in Dubai but that has been put on hold. The QE2 will now go to the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront in Cape Town, where there is a shortage of hotel rooms.

Nakheel, which has a financial interest in the South African port, said the ship would be staying in Cape Town for 18 months.

[BBC / Maritime Clippings]


CLIPPER PENNANT - The final delayed Spanish new build for Seatruck, was handed over to Seatruck on Tuesday August 25. She will depart Spain around September 01 and enter service on the Liverpool - Dublin route some time after that.


An occasional visitor to Ireland's trans-Atlantic port of Cóbh - the SS UNITED STATES was in the news again this week:

Bill Clinton was in his first term as president when the peeling hulk of the SS UNITED STATES was towed up the Delaware River for temporary moorage. The massive ocean liner has now idled in the shadow of the Walt Whitman Bridge for so long that its 12-story stacks are virtually part of Philadelphia's skyline, hardly noticed by the thousands who drive overhead each day.

But the once-grand ship could soon slip away as quietly as it arrived. Its owner, Star Cruises of Hong Kong, has put the vessel up for sale. Though the United States was the world's fastest, and arguably most luxurious, cruise ship when it made its maiden voyage in 1952, career prospects for middle-age ocean liners aren't particularly bright these days. "Scrap" gets mentioned a lot.

That hasn't stopped a boatload of romantics from sending out a major SOS. An advocacy group called the SS United States Conservancy believes the ship, which arrived here by happenstance in 1996, carries too much history to be discarded so casually. So it's mounting a campaign to save the vessel. "We keep hearing America doesn't make stuff, but if there is a single thing that represents the golden era when America made the best stuff in world, it's the SS UNITED STATES," said Steven Ujifusa, a Philadelphian on the conservancy's board.

"What would it say about our country," he added, "to have the SS UNITED STATES towed to Asia to be scrapped?" The liner, which was built in Newport News, Va., probably represents the apex of transatlantic travel, as well as America's industrial might. Its designer, William Francis Gibbs, a Philadelphia native, built it to dislodge the British cruise lines as the rulers of the sea. On its maiden voyage, the United States fulfilled its destiny by capturing the speed record from the Queen Mary, sailing at 36 knots, or 41 m.p.h. - faster than many big ships today.

The SS UNITED STATES was a technological advance in other ways, Ujifusa said. Because of its strong construction, the military classified it as a standby troopship, although it was never pressed into service. The 990-foot-long liner was bigger than the Titanic, and the sight of its sleek prow knifing through the water was said to be breathtaking. Its deluxe midcentury-modern interiors were fitted out without any wood, to make it fireproof.

But being the fastest and safest ocean liner in the world did the ship little good once airlines began flying between the United States and Europe. The ship was pulled out of service in 1969, though it did duty long enough to transport the young Clinton to England in 1968 for his Rhodes Scholarship.

Ujifusa's grandmother had also traveled on the United States, and her stories of its grandeur first ignited his imagination. It wasn't until he visited Philadelphia on a college scouting trip in 1996 that he spied the real thing. He remembers driving over the Ben Franklin Bridge and shouting, "There she is!" Ujifusa has been studying the ship ever since and is writing a book on its history.

It's not clear why the ship was dubbed United States, but it became the flagship of the United States Lines, said Susan Gibbs, another member of the conservancy board and the granddaughter of the ship's designer. Once it was decommissioned, the United States wandered from port to port looking for a home and purpose.

It 1994, it was sent to Turkey for asbestos removal. Although its magnificent interiors were gutted, it was picked up by local businessman Edward A. Cantor, who proposed first turning it into a hotel, then a waterside casino, but merely succeeded in docking it at Pier 82.

It was sold in 2002 to Norwegian Cruise Lines, later acquired by Star Cruises. The company hoped to make it an ocean going vessel again, but estimates for the retrofit skyrocketed to more than $250 million.

Although the UNITED STATES' extended stay in Philadelphia was unintentional, Gibbs believes the vessel could have a future in the city as a tourist attraction, much like the QUEEN MARY in Los Angeles and the aircraft carrier Intrepid in New York.

Unlike those two, which retained important parts of their interiors, the United States is a mere shell.

The conservancy argues that the ship would nevertheless add depth to the three maritime attractions now on the Delaware River: the battleship New Jersey from World War II, on the Camden side, and the Spanish-American War cruiser OLYMPIA and the tall ship MOSHULU, both docked at Penn's Landing. The group has already enlisted some big names to support the cause, including yachting enthusiast Walter Cronkite, who died last month, and Philadelphia philanthropist H.F. "Gerry" Lenfest, who has pledged $300,000 to save the ship from destruction. [Maritime Clippings / Philidelphia News]

August 20

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



Minister Noel Dempsey TD published a study on the future role of Dublin Port. The study was conducted under the National Development Plan 2007-2013 and contains important conclusions in relation to Dublin Port and the wider port sector.

Speaking on the publication of the report Minister Dempsey said: “The future of Dublin Port has been the subject of much discussion in recent years. The future of this port is not just a local or regional matter it is of major strategic importance to the country as a whole. The National Development Plan recognised this fact by providing for this study.

As a trade dependent island nation we are reliant upon our ports to facilitate economic growth. Notwithstanding the current downturn and its associated effects in terms of decreased traffic volumes, the ports sector is one that demands long term forward planning and analysis.

This report is an important analysis not just of the future of Dublin Port but also provides a useful insight into the capacity challenges that face the sector as a whole.” 

The study highlights the strategic importance of Dublin Port to the economy. Over 40% of national tonnage passes through the port and it plays a particularly important role in terms of fast moving high value cargos. The port has a 75% market share for roll on roll off trucks (RoRo) and 64% for lift on lift off containers (LoLo). The port is also vital in terms of the State’s energy supply, handling 45% of national oil imports.

Highlights from the study include the following:

  • A projection that national port throughput will continue to decline in 2009 and into 2010 and that traffic throughput will not return to 2007 levels until post 2011.
  • Traffic projections have been formulated at a time of great uncertainty, but this does not impact on the key conclusions reached.
  • There is a need to develop significant additional port capacity by 2025 - 2030 as a result of future capacity constraints in existing port facilities. 
  • There are two significant projects at different stages of the planning process at present. Dublin Port’s proposed expansion is currently with An Bord Pleanála and the proposal for a new port at Bremore is at the pre-planning stage. The study identifies considerable uncertainties with regard to both projects. It concludes that nothing should be done at a policy level to hinder either.
  • The cost benefit analysis of seven different future scenarios identifies potential benefits relating to the relocation or partial relocation of Dublin Port in terms of city sustainability issues arising out of increased urbanisation, greater usage of public transport and a related reduction in congestion. However, the costs of such a relocation are very significant in terms of the capital costs of building alternative capacity, the inevitable business disruption caused by such a relocation and increased traffic movements.
  • An important finding of the cost benefit analysis is in relation to the scale and value of the port estate if it were to be redeveloped. The study concludes that such redevelopment would have to take place over a considerable length of time, which could realistically reach a century.
  • The detailed cost benefit analysis of seven different scenarios concludes that retention of Dublin Port in its present location together with onsite expansion would deliver the highest net present value in cost benefit terms.

Minister Dempsey added; “The State ports played a vital role in facilitating the strong economic growth over the last decade, with tonnage increasing 50% over the ten years up to 2007. It was quite an achievement for the sector to accommodate such growth levels without any major disruption of trade and it is equally important that the sector is in a position to perform the same role when the economy returns to growth.”

The Ports Sub-Programme of the National Development Plan 2007 -2013 estimates port infrastructural expenditure of between €300 million and €600 million over the period of the programme. To date capital investment under the sub-programme is in line with this. Some €120 million has been invested in the first two years of the programme, with a further €75 million budgeted for 2009. This expenditure is being funded by the port companies themselves, without recourse to Exchequer funding.

The recently enacted Harbours (Amendment) Act 2009 contains a number of provisions designed to enhance the commercial ethos of the State owned port companies and to facilitate their continued growth and development.



With four months of the year still to run - and the opportunity for some pre-Christmas shopping to consider - Irish Ferries has announced two new short break fares to France.

One takes the form of a car plus two offer from EUR99 one way valid for travel from the beginning of September through to January next. This represents a saving of up to 33%.

The second sees the revival of their popular mini-cruise fare from EUR99 per person return. Availing of this package, passengers spend two nights on board Oscar Wilde with accommodation in an ensuite cabin plus up to 7 hours ashore for shopping and sightseeing in France.

Special discount of up to 12.5% on wine purchases has been agreed with selected outlets in Cherbourg and Roscoff exclusively for Irish Ferries clients. Passengers wishing to bring their car to transport their purchases may do so for only EUR89 return when two or more persons travel together.
Bookings can be made online at or call 0818 300 400.



The latest analysis of 2009 shipping traffic data published by the Irish Maritime Development Office (IMDO) indicates that the rate of decline of shipping on the island of Ireland eased during the 1st half of 2009. However the overall volume of traffic handled at ports on the island continued to decline over the first 6 months of 2009 compared to the same period in 2008. 

Following a peak in traffic volumes in all shipping sectors through Irish ports during 2007 a steady decline took place with significant volume corrections occurring in the market in line with the general downturn in both the domestic and global economies. IMDO’s latest data indicates that between January and March this year, 4 of the 5 key shipping market segments have recorded their lowest levels of volume demand for the last 30 months. Since March 09 the majority of sectors, with the exception of dry bulk, have seen small positive monthly increases in volumes shipped. In spite of this recent recovery, shipping volumes remain significantly depressed compared to 2007 peak levels.

1st half 2009 lift-on/lift-off (lo/lo) traffic fell 24% on the same period in 2008, with a total of 525,874 TEU handled at all Irish and Northern Irish ports over the 6 month period.  Underlying weakness in consumer demand in the ROI contributed to a 30% decline in laden imports of container traffic (in particular from Asia) while, despite difficult external market conditions, Irish export laden traffic declined by only -11% over the same period. Lo/Lo container volumes increased by 6% between May to June, with the largest growth being recorded via Northern Irish shipping corridors.

Roll-on/Roll-off (ro/ro) Ferry traffic, which is traditionally heavily weighted in traffic movement to the UK and Continent, fell 13% when measured on an all island basis in the first half of 2009 compared to the same period in 2008.  753,845 freight units were handled at all Irish ports compared to 869,146 for the 1st half of 2008 . Latest data indicates that the volume of traffic bottomed out in February this year with 117,600 units being shipped. Since this period volumes have increased slowly with a 4% month on month increase recorded between May to June. Ro/Ro traffic on the southern continental corridor increased by 48% for the 1st 6 months from 11,610 to 17,164 units.

Bulk traffic through ROI ports fell 21%, from 16,567,909 tonnes to 13,050,405 tonnes in the first half of 2009. The dry bulk market is the only individual market which has not seen any sign of bottoming of volumes as depressed global markets for ores and agri-products continue to dampen demand. Dry bulk traffic throughput fell by 35% and break bulk traffic dropped by 40% to 5,358,421 tonnes and 893,776 tonnes respectively.

The volume of liquid bulk traffic through ROI ports remained largely unchanged with a small decrease of 1% in the first 6 months of 2009. 


The Dublin Docklands Development Authority (DDDA) says it intends to run the  replica Famine ship Jeanie Johnston as a museum next year, due to funding  difficulties.

The authority, which owns the vessel, says it "intends to continue to  investigate opportunities to sail the ship, should funding come available in  the future".

It has secured a west of Ireland company, Aiseanna Mara Teo (Sail West), to  conduct a maintenance programme for the vessel to ensure that it "remains in  good order with works to the timber decking, mechanical and electrical  equipment, as well as assessment of all rigging and sails".

Aiseanna Mara Teo runs the Liffey ferry service between Spencer Dock and Sir  John Rogerson's Quay.

The decision to suspend sail training on the ship comes as calls have been  made on the Government to ensure that the national training programme run by  Coiste an Asgard under the Department of Defence is maintained.

The McCarthy report on public expenditure and staffing has recommended abandoning the State programme, and cancelling plans to replace Asgard II .

The Jeanie Johnston was modelled on a three-masted barque of the same name  which was built in 1847 and carried 2,500 Famine victims to north America without one loss of life on board.

It cost almost 16 million to complete in Kerry, compared to just 6 million for the DUNBRODY replica Famine ship in Co Wexford.

The financial overspend had to be supported by Kerry Group, Shannon Development and the local authorities in Kerry and Tralee, and it was then taken over by the DDDA four years ago.

During the start of the Tall Ships race in Waterford in 2005, it sailed out in formation with ASGARD II and the DUNBRODY to Dunmore East. A successful corporate and sail training programme was run on the ship by River Cruise Ireland from 2006 on behalf of the DDDA.

[Irish Times]


As part if the Beatles Week Festival Mersey Ferries are offering a special cruise on Friday August 28, 2009.

The cruise departs Liverpool at 20:30 and Seacombe at 20.45.  Cruise duration is approximately 3½ hours. Price £20.00 per person.  Advance booking necessary online or by telephoning 0151 330 1444.


MERSEY VIKING & LAGAN VIKING - passengers on the Birkenhead to Belfast service will be offered a range of beauty treatments during the summer months.


It was reported this week that the 6 week strike at Peel Port's Maritime Terminal in Dublin was still on going and whilst talks were underway there were no sign of an early resolution with the union involved - SIPTU - taking a very entrenched position as noted by its August 19 press release:

The Dublin Council of Trade Unions has called on members to support next Monday’s rally in support of Marine Terminals workers in Dublin Port. The dockers, who are members of SIPTU, have been on strike for the past six weeks after the company tried to force through mass compulsory redundancies as well as drastic cuts in pay and working conditions for remaining employees.

The call by the DCTU represents a significant potential escalation of the dispute. DCTU President Phil McFadden said today, “The modern Irish trade union movement was born on the Dublin docks and we certainly do not intend to see it buried there by a company whose tactics are a throwback to the early years of the last century.

“This company has treated the workers and the industrial relations institutions of this state with contempt. It had the audacity to bring private security ‘minders’ into talks at the Labour Relations Commission and tried to sack its workforce en masse. It only cancelled this attempt when it realised it was in breach of the 2007 Collective Redundancies Act.

“Peel Ports began life as a property developer and made a killing by buying privatised British ports at knock down prices. It now wants to introduce knock down rates of pay in Dublin. As President of the Dublin Council of Trade Unions I am calling on members and their families to support next Monday’s rally in Ringsend to show we are standing in solidarity with Marine Terminals workers.”

Lloyds List reported that SIPTU is threatening to blacklist vessels operated by Peel Ports subsidiary BG Freight Line and to ask colleagues in Antwerp, Rotterdam and Hamburg to refuse to work the ships as a gesture of solidarity.

Other tactics under consideration include protests outside the company’s ports in the UK, including Liverpool and Sheerness, although employment legislation in the UK is likely to rule out official industrial action.

Peel Ports’ position is that pay cuts are necessary to meet reductions in port traffic and to introduce greater efficiency and flexibility. It claims it is offering workers enhanced voluntary redundancy packages worth up to €75,000.


HSS DISCOVERY - still remains at Belfast - though it is now believed, from gossip on an online group, that ballast tanks are currently being converted to long range fuel tanks to for the delivery voyage to Venezuela. Departure is now believed to be this coming weekend with a call at Holyhead for bunkers


Tolls on the Tamar Bridge and Torpoint Ferry are to rise by 50 per cent from  the end of the year.

Cash fares for cars are set to jump from £1 to £1.50 in December, and concessionary users will pay 75p rather than 50p at the bridge and ferry. Cars towing caravans will pay £3.

The toll for the heaviest goods vehicle, towing a trailer, will go up from  £11 to £16.50, in the first increase in bridge and ferry tolls for 15 years.

The rises, intended to plug a growing hole in the bridge and ferry finances,  must be approved by the Department for Transport after a six-week public consultation starting next week.

The operation is already eating into its reserves as spending on staff and  maintenance outstrips income, say bridge and ferry management. 

By 2011-12 they expect the gap to be £2.5million a year, with the reserves plunging about £7million into the red.

"I know it won't be popular during the recession, but we have no choice,"  said Cllr Richard Ball, co-chairman of the joint Plymouth and Cornwall Tamar Bridge and Torpoint Ferry committee.

"It's not palatable but it's inevitable. We have to pay our way.

"If it doesn't happen we're in trouble. The current toll isn't meeting rising costs," he said.

"If the operation runs into deficit, taxpayers would have to pick up the bill, and that would be even less popular."

He said this was the first increase since 1994. "The 50 per cent increase evens out the rise in inflation over the years since the last price hike. "There's been no increase in 15 years and over that time inflation has been more than 50 per cent.

"It wouldn't be workable to have annual rises because you'd be dealing in small change, which could cause hold-ups on the bridge.

"Green pressure groups lobbied for an even higher toll to persuade people to  use the buses.

"The Tamar Bridge is still the lowest-priced river crossing in the country - and most bridges don't offer discounts.

"I would hope this would give us a period of stability for four to five years, assuming inflation remains below 2.5 per cent."

Asked about reports of a promise allegedly made when the bridge was built that tolls would be scrapped after it had been paid for, he said: "Nobody seems to know who made any such promise.

"Nowadays, nobody would say anything so foolish."

During the six weeks of consultation, bridge users can make their views  known to the Department for Transport.

"If there is sufficient weight of objection there could be a public inquiry,  but you'd need a huge body of opinion against for that to happen," Mr Ball  said.

After a period of stability between 2002 and 2007, rising maintenance costs  had been making the operation increasingly unprofitable, he said. "A 50 per cent rise will keep us in the black until about 2013 or 2014, and  then we'll probably have to consider another increase."

The bridge subsidises the Torpoint Ferry by about £3million a year. Mr Ball  defended the subsidy, saying: "You'd have to charge the people of Torpoint  about £5 a trip to pay their way, which would be unfair."

Small businesses locally would have a Tamar Tag, he said, which meant the  increase would be '12.5p each way, which is likely to be a small proportion of the business.'

However, Richard Thomas, chairman of the Plymouth Federation of Small Businesses, said some of his members made numerous crossings by bridge or ferry every day and would feel the impact.

"We will oppose the increase robustly," he said. "It's totally disingenuous to say this is a small rise.

"Everything is going up; it's a constant drip of non-headline inflation that's badly affecting business operating costs."

Mr Ball said he would like to see a better Tamar crossing to serve Torpoint. "People have talked about a more effective crossing to replace the ferries,"  Mr Ball said.

"During my tenure as co-chairman I'm going to reopen the debate.

"Saltash is doing well and was voted as the top town in the UK. The Tamar Bridge is a gateway for Saltash, while Torpoint hasn't grown by as much as people might have hoped."


[ISS COMMENT: Whilst a 50% fare rise sounds a high percentage rise it should also be placed in the context that fares are only charged on crossings from Torpoint to Devonport, west bound crossings are not charged. This does not appear to be made clear in the news report above. Foot passengers also pay no fares either way. Compared to many other esturine car ferry services that provided by the Torpoint Ferry remains excellent value for money!]

August 16

Acknowledgements:  Tony Brennan, Barry Rodgers, Edwin Wilmshurst, Gary Andrews and "others"


Once again suspicion is falling on Royal Navy for sinking the Breton Trawler off the Cornish Coast as reported by the Western Morning News this week:

The Royal Navy is likely to be questioned over the deaths of five French fishermen when their trawler sank off the Cornish coast more than five years ago.

It has been confirmed Cornwall's coroner Dr Emma Carlyon is preparing an inquest into the tragedy of the BUGALED BREIZH, which capsized off the Lizard on January 15, 2004.

Two French investigating judges who probed the accident for more than four years ruled that there was no guilty party. But the inquest on British soil is likely to rekindle allegations that a nuclear attack submarine was involved in the accident.

Relatives of the dead fishermen have repeatedly claimed the BUGALED BREIZH fell victim to a submarine which became entangled in its trawl cables and pulled it under in less than a minute.

Military activity, involving several nations, was going on in the area at the time as NATO vessels were participating in the regular "Thursday War" exercise.

The French judges, investigating charges of manslaughter and failing to assist persons in danger, stated it was likely the vessel sank as a result of an accident with an unknown submarine.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has said that no Royal Navy submarine was involved in the loss of BUGALED BREIZH, and that it has co-operated fully with all investigations.

The British inquest is possible because the bodies were recovered in Cornwall. Andrew George, Lib-Dem MP for St Ives and West Cornwall, has pressed the Government on what it knows, and welcomed the development.

Asked whether the MoD should be called to give evidence at the inquest, he said: "I suspect they would be keen to. They gave as much information as they could in their responses to me. They seemed keen to want to demonstrate their innocence in all of this, and seemed concerned that the finger of blame was being pointed in their direction. I would hope the Ministry of Defence would be willing to co-operate fully in any inquiry."

The Western Morning News understands any inquest is likely to be months away. Preparations are thought to be under way to request documents from the French authorities who carried out the rigorous investigation. Once paperwork has arrived, a list a witnesses could be drawn up and an official date set. As part of the preparations, the WMN received a request from the coroner's office for photographs showing the damage caused to the BUGALED BREIZH.

Two of the five bodies were recovered after the tragedy and the body of a third crew member was discovered when the ship was raised from the sea bed. A number of theories have been put forward, but the French judges concluded the fishing boat was "most probably" sunk by a high-speed submarine. Last year, a submarine expert produced a detailed report which concluded that a nuclear attack submarine was the "highly probable cause" of the tragedy.

In 2007, then Armed Forces Minister Adam Ingram dismissed French claims that the British submarine HMS TURBULENT snagged the Breton trawler. In a letter to Mr George, Mr Ingram said a leaked NATO document quoted in a French book which claimed to prove that the Turbulent was at sea at the time of the sinking of the BUGALED BREIZH, and not in Devonport, as the Navy and the MoD claimed, was out of date.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Defence said : "The Royal Navy provided unprecedented co-operation to the exhaustive French investigation which was unambiguous about the cause of the accident. We fully appreciate that the families involved want final closure as to how their loved ones were lost, but it does the families no justice to use a NATO berthing plan which was two months out of date by the time of the incident to suggest alternative causes."

The French and Dutch navies have also denied any involvement. Mr George said the families of the dead Breton fishermen would be "heartened if an inquest got closer to truth of what happened".

"My indirect discussions with them would suggest they are keen to follow this through," he said. "The French investigation – you would ultimately have to conclude – did not come to a firm conclusion. But the investigator pointed the finger in the direction of a submarine, possibly a submarine that was spying on the Thursday Game itself. Of course this is all rather shadowy and unclear."

In 1991, six crew members died when the Plymouth-based trawler PESCADE was lost off the coast of Cornwall. Its co-owner, Alan Ayres, has spent years trying to establish exactly what happened and believes the PESCADO was dragged down by a submarine during an exercise off Falmouth. He has lent his support to BUGALED BREIZH campaigners.

Mr Ayres, who was cleared over the loss of life on the boat, said of the BUGALED BREIZH inquest: "What is required is total transparency. There has been lots of rumours bandied around."


Edwin Wilmshurst advises that there has been a printing error. Apparently the section which shows "Vessels with more than one call around the UK & Ireland." Shows the information for JULY 2009 and not as it should SEPTEMBER 2009.

Irish and Celtic Seas ports of call are on the Irish Sea Ships web site anyway, however, if anyone is looking for information for other locations for this misprinted section please contact Edwin on and he will do his best to help out.


BEN-MY-CHREE operated her annual round the island cruise on Saturday August 15, 2009. The ship sailed south about in contrast to the MANANNAN RTI Cruise in July which undertook the less common north about route.


Merseyside Maritime Museum is to unveiled a new 120-cover restaurant and conference facility offering exceptional food and stunning views of the city.

Located on the fourth floor of their Grade 1 listed home, the Maritime Dining Rooms has been a year in the planning and officially opened its doors to the public on Friday August 07, 2009.

The menu, which has been devised by executive chef Nigel Paul Smith, who has cooked for celebrity chefs Gordon Ramsay and Paul Gayler, celebrates British and local produce, combining classic flavours with modern presentation.

Food will be served seven days a week between 12:00 and 17:00 initially with, while a number of bookings have already been made for the restaurant post 17:00 when Maritime Dining Rooms will cater for corporate and private functions.

In addition, several conferences have been arranged in the newly designed space next to the restaurant offering space for up to 200 delegates.

An excited Julie Ehlen, Director of Trading, said: “In completing this 12 month project, we can now proudly boast that we have a restaurant that matches the quality offer that is the Merseyside Maritime Museum experience.

“I think the Maritime Dining Rooms will quickly join the best of Liverpool’s eating out circuit in bringing attractive lunch and classic afternoon tea menus to our target markets that include the city’s business district, families and discerning general public including the huge numbers of visitors to the city and the Albert Dock.

She added: “We will be unrivalled too because it will house unique objects from the Maritime Museum’s collection. Local architects Austin-Smith: Lord have developed the contemporary and stylish interior that features woven flooring, wave lighting and furniture by Bolon, Artemide and Andreu World. The dual aspect views are undoubtedly breathtaking and one of many unique selling points at Maritime Dining Rooms.”

Head chef Nigel Paul Smith believes his “guests will now have as high expectations from our team’s food offer as they have had previously from the overall visitor experience” 

He said: “Being located in a world heritage site demands that food and service standards compete with the best. It’s all about simple food in an unsurpassed environment for views, maritime heritage and quality customer service.”

David Fleming Director of National Museums Liverpool said: “The new Maritime Dining Rooms offer three great things: great food, a great atmosphere, and great views of the Albert and Canning Docks. It is very exciting that visitors to the Maritime Museum and International Slavery Museum can now eat in such wonderful surroundings.”


QUEEN ELIZABETH 2 has been dry docked in Dubai where the former Carnival Cunard Liner is berthed. Reports suggest that the dry docking is being undertaken by owners Nakheel prior to the ship's proposed move to South Africa.


HSS DISCOVERY - the former HSS STENA DISCOVERY is now believed to be departing Belfast for Venezuela on Monday August 17, 2009.

STENA CALEDONIA will be operating a Giant's Causeway Cruise on September 19 as part of a joint venture with the National Trust.


The excursions due to be operated by PS WAVERLEY and BALMORAL for passengers to observe the departure of the Tall Ships from Belfast on Sunday August 16, 2009 have been cancelled due to adverse weather conditions.

 WAVERLEY had been due to sail from Ayr, Scotland and BALMORAL from Peel, Isle of Man.

August 09

Acknowledgements:  Ian Collard, Jenny Williamson and Gary Andrews and "others"


BLACK WATCH made her maiden call at Liverpool Cruise Terminal on Friday August 07. Arriving around 09:00 and departing at 17:30. Photographs [Click Here]


The SOLWAY HARVESTER is to be scrapped onshore, the isle of Man Department of Transport has confirmed.

Harbour officials are awaiting confirmation as to whether the wreckage is needed for pending court action between the families of the seven crew and the vessel's former owner Richard Gidney.

The news comes as a Facebook group calling for the vessel to be scrapped gains momentum with more than 500 members.

The Scottish scallop dredger sank in rough seas off the coast of the Isle of Man in January 2000, claiming the lives of skipper Andrew Craig Mills, 29, David Mills, 18, Robin Mills, 33, Martin Hugh Milligan, 26, John Doyle Murphy, 22, Wesley John Jolly and David Joseph Lyons, both 17.

Shortly after the tragedy, the Manx Government decided to use £1 million of taxpayers' money to recover the boat and bodies of the men, who were all from the Isle of Whithorn.

The inquest into the crew's deaths concluded last year and Coroner Michael Moyle released the vessel. The ownership of the vessel was then formally transferred to the DoT from Mr .Gidney's operating company Jack Robinson Trawlers Ltd.

Harbours director Captain Michael Brew advised the families the DoT wanted to scrap the vessel and checked to see if it was needed for any pending action in the Scottish courts.

The matter has been referred back to the courts but the DoT has not been told if it needs to retain the scallop dredger.

A DoT spokesman said the department was conscious of the need to dispose of the vessel in a manner respectful of the deceased crew, their families, the environment and other seafarers.

'Scuttling would involve placing a hazard back on the seabed, in relatively shallow water, having once removed it at a significant public cost, and in so doing re-create a hazard to vessels, particularly fishing vessels.

Scuttling is also an environmental risk that would have to be mitigated by a substantial cleaning of the vessel before it could be sunk. Finally, as the Irish Sea is relatively shallow, the vessel would be readily accessible to leisure divers, which is considered to be both a risk to them and unacceptable to the families,' the spokesman explained.

'Consequently, the department has accepted that scrapping onshore is the preferred means of final disposal. This would ensure that control of a sensitive issue would be retained by the department.'

Many of those who posted messages on the Facebook group 'Respectfully dispose of the SOLWAY HARVESTER' believe the vessel should be scrapped but that the final decision should rest with the families. [IOM Online]

Information on the Isle of Man suggests that SOLWAY HARVESTER would probably be scrapped at Ramsey Shipyard.


HSS STENA VOYAGER - A Union was locked in talks with Stena Line this week over the future of Wigtownshire-based staff on the HSS STENA VOYAGER.

The purchase of the former Seafrance MANET has put their ability to work on the fast craft in jeopardy.

It is understood the ferry company plans to lay the HSS overnight in Belfast allowing the MANET to take on the last sailings at night and the first in the morning. [Stranraer Free Press]


ABIGAIL H - The former Humber Workboats Dredger was delivered to Ramsey Shipyard on Friday August 07 by the tug ALBICORE on a tow from Fleetwood. Her arrival was assisted by Laxey Towing Company's tug WENDY ANN. The dredger sank in Heysham Harbour in November 2008. She had been returned to her operating base at Fleetwood. Initial reports had suggested that she would be rebuilt, however, it now appears that the 1958 veteran dredger will be dismantled at Ramsey. [CLICK HERE] for photographs.

August 05

Acknowledgements:  Ian Collard, Jenny Williamson and Gary Andrews and "others"


Liverpool based Bibby Line has taken delivery of its latest vessel from a Chinese shipyard.

MV SHROPSHIRE is a 57,000-tonne dry bulk carrier commissioned before the recession really began to bite.

Although prospects for its deployment were looking grim a few months ago, the company reports it has now secured a 12-month charter contract.

The vessel was delievered by Yangzhou Guoyu Shipbuilding in China. Located some 15 hours steaming upriver from the port of Shanghai, the completion of this vessel means this new shipyard itself achieved two significant milestones - it is the largest vessel built by the shipyard and also the first ship constructed for export.

Managing director Jebb Kitchen said: "Shropshire was ordered by Bibby Line in June 2007 as the start of a major shipping re-investment programme following on the back of some highly profitable disposals of our LPG and
chemical tanker fleets.

"The vessel is a 57,000 tonne deadweight dry bulk carrier, referred to in shipping parlance as a Handymax, is 180 metres long and 32 metres in breadth.

"Employment prospects for the vessel were not looking particularly rosy at the end of 2008 after the decimating effects of the financial crisis, but a huge Chinese Government stimulus package for infrastructure investment within China has spurred the dry bulk markets back to reasonable levels over the first half of 2009."

MV SHROPSHIRE has now been contracted on a charter of 12 months and will be engaged in world-wide trading in the transportation of dry bulk commodities such as coal, grain and steel products.

Technical and crew management of the ship will be performed by Bibby Ship Management, who have in the last few months been engaged with the shipyard in the process of commissioning the vessel to be ready for trading.

The ship is heading to her charterers in Shanghai where she will undertake a lengthy voyage across the Pacific Ocean towards the west coast of North America to get her ready to commence trading. [DAILY POST]


VIKING - began service with Azores based Atlanticoline on the morning of August 05, 2009. Her first sailing commenced at Ponta Delgada. She apparently uses her stern door for loading at Ponta Delgada (on São Miguel island) and Praia da Vitória (Terceira Island). The newly installed side door is used at the other ports of call.

Apparently the future of the service which VIKING is operating has not yet been decided. the  The government has not decided whether to accept the ANTICICLONE, the second ship ordered from ENVC at Viana do Castelo.


The mega yacht LE GRAND BLEU was an interesting visitor to Douglas Bay on Sunday August 02, 2009.

She is one of the world's largest private yachts completed by Vulkan of Breman in 2000 for American businessman John McCaw Jr.. Mr McCaw sold her to the Russian businessman Roman Abramovich in 2002. In June 2006 Mr. Abramovich gave the yacht to Eugene Shvidler who is the current owner.

The vessel measures 114m in length and is powered by two 3,600-hp Wärtsilä  diesel engines.


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