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Voyage Report: Sea Containers


by John H. Luxton


Liverpool to Dublin

18th August 1997

Commander: Captain Cowin

Visibility: Good

Sea State: calm/slight

On this trip I took my car over to Dublin. Arriving down at the Pier Head in good time at a little after 07.00 there was already a good queue of vehicles waiting to board. Departure was at 08.34 the slight delay due to having to squeeze in an almost capacity load of 128 cars, 2 vans and 2 motor cycles. Passenger loadings were 485.

As the LADY OF MANN departed the landing stage a flotilla of Howard Smith Towage tugs headed out from Langton Lock - COLLINGWOOD, GLADSTONE and CANADA. They were also accompanied by Cory Towing's YEWGARTH. Heading down river was NORTON CROSS another Cory tug.

At the Brazil buoy the Shell Tanker CARDINA was passed in bound. At C17 buoy PHOENIX M closely followed by the small coaster IBERIAN OCEAN also passed in bound. Further down the channel at C12 was Ramsey Steamship Company’s BEN ELLEN" inbound for Garston Docks. SEACAT ISLE OF MAN was passed inbound near The Bar. At anchor were the tankers STOLT DIPPER, and unidentified VLCC. Shell's NORISIA was also to be seen. The Trawler MARY M was seen heading towards the channel. As the Douglas rig was passed the SEFTON SUPPORTER was to be seen. Llandudno was passed at 10.28 with the Skerries appearing off our port side at around 12.22. Visibility was good. To starboard the Isle of Man was clearly visible as were the Mountains of Mourne.

Little other traffic was seen until the approach to Dublin. A coaster was passed in bound. The container vessels STINA, YVETTE J and INKA DEDE were to be seen in the container berths. An unidentified cruise liner could be seen up river. STENA CHALLENGER was berthed in the STENA LINE link span berth which was unusual. I have not seen that vessel there at that time before. SIR JOSEPH BAZALGETTE was at her berth at Poolbeg. Arrival at Dublin was at 15.05 just five minutes late.



Dublin to Liverpool

22nd August 1997

Commander: Captain Crellin

Visibility: good

Sea State: calm/slight


The LADY OF MANN was rather late arriving at Dublin. I had parked myself up at the car park on the South Wall Pier near Poolbeg Power Station. Monitoring Dublin port radio it became apparent that the LADY would not pass the Baily lighthouse until around 15.00. When she came into view I drove round to the terminal to find a good queue of cars in front of me. Some minutes later the LADY OF MANN arrived and her car ramps could again be seen packed with cars.

Despite a late arrival her car load was rapidly discharged and I drove aboard sometime after 16.00. It was apparent that another good vehicle load was in the offing. An AA transporter delivered an immobile crashed car. This was kept until last and then pushed up the ramp. Departure was 14 minutes late at 16.44. There were 125 cars, 7 motor cycles and one van on board together with 497 passengers.

Container vessels COASTAL BAY and KATARINA B were in the adjacent container terminal. The Dublin Corporation sludge boat SIR JOSEPH BAZALGETTE was at her berth opposite.

In the Liffey Channel the small vessel ARROW appeared to be ploughing the channel bed and working in conjunction with the dredger W.D. MEDWAY II which was passed inbound near Poolbeg light.

At around 17.39 STENA CHALLENGER was passed in bound followed a few minutes later by ISLE OF INISHMORE. A little later P&O's PUMA was passed inbound followed by an unidentified Merchant Ferries vessel.

Sometime afterwards an unusual vessel was seen heading southbound. From the distance it had twin blue funnels one on each side a grey, almost Naval grey superstructure and bright orange hull - its layout was almost naval in style too. Any information as to what this vessel is would be most welcome.

Shortly afterwards frigate HMS LANCASTER [F229] came into view some way off approaching from starboard. My perusing of the passing scene was interrupted by a passing seaman who had also spotted the frigate. A short conversation followed and within minutes I found myself up on the LADY's bridge with the officer of the watch Richard Oakley. Not having been on the bridge of the LADY before this was a pleasant surprise. Shortly after arriving there a slight course change was effected to pass behind HMS LANCASTER which was heading north. I spent a good hour up there until Holyhead bay was passed. In the bay and moving off north was the cruise ship ISLAND PRINCESS on which apparently the officer of the watch had served in the past. Also at this time the Nuclear Carrier PACIFIC SANDPIPER was passed, she was heading south.

HSS STENA EXPLORER was to be seen departing from Holyhead a good hour behind schedule.

On Friday the LADY OF MANN took the same course as had SEACAT ISLE OF MAN which I reported on a few weeks ago. Not as far north as that preferred by Captain Cowin but several miles further south though still a good way north of the Skerries and Anglesey coast. So it looks as though there are three tracks, with Captain Cowin preferring the most northerly, Captain Albiston, O'Toole and Crellin a more southerly course and with Captain Kinley hugging the Anglesey coast. The variation in routs makes the Dublin to Liverpool journey most interesting and offers a variety not apparent on the Liverpool to Douglas route.

A fairly uneventful journey back to The Bar [passed 22.11]followed. Several ships were passed though as it was by now virtually dark identification was not possible. In Langton Lock, making a later than usual departure was the NORSE LAGAN. Arrival at PRINCES' LANDING STAGE was at 23.10


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