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Archive 90: Sea Containers SuperSeaCat Two

Photographs  John H. Luxton 1998 - 2010

After the successful inauguration of the Liverpool - Dublin service by LADY OF MANN and the experimental operation on Wednesdays of SEACAT ISLE OF MANN in 1997, Sea Containers deployed  SUPERSEACAT TWO on the route from Spring 1998. This Fincantieri MDV1200 class vessel had been delivered to Sea Containers and operated on the English Channel the previous year. She arrived on Merseyside some weeks before the service commenced whilst she was partially repainted and underwent trials.  
 

During February 1998 SUPERSEACAT TWO spent some time in Alexandra Dock, Liverpool, where she was repainted and received new logos. The cat logo was reported to be a likeness of one of the Sea Containers Chairman's pets - Bagpuss!

SUPERSEACAT TWO seen departing from Langton Lock on sea trials bound for Douglas.

The maiden service voyage took place on Thursday March 12, 1998. She was dressed overall at Liverpool Pier Head. Passengers on the first voyage were piped on board. The vessel is seen departing left and returning during the late afternoon on the right.

Your web master took his first trip on the vessel on March 14 - some bridge scenes are shown above taken during spring 1998.  SSC2 at berth 49 Dublin
 
Back in 1998 everything was new and shiny and there was great hopes for the future of the Liverpool - Dublin service - but a number of factors including vessel reliability issues dogged the first season and resulted in the substitution of the newly constructed and enhanced SUPERSEACAT THREE for the 1999 season.

Various vessel changes took place over the years before the Liverpool - Dublin was discontinued in autumn 2004 not long after Sea Containers had disposed of The Isle of Man Steam Packet Company to Montagu. The Liverpool - Dublin route made a brief reappearance for part of 2005 operated by Irish Sea Express using SEACAT ISLE OF MAN - renamed SEA EXPRESS 1.

However whilst vessel reliability improved over the route weather reliability was always and issue with the various fast craft used. This unreliability combined with competition provided by the conventional vessels operated by Norse Merchant Ferries (later Norfolkline and latterly DFDS) and P&O together with the growth in budget airlines finally sealed fate of the Liverpool to Dublin route.  

 

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