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Voyage Report: Sea Containers


by John H. Luxton

10 April 1999

08.00: Liverpool – Dublin

12.45: Dublin - Liverpool

Wind NW Force 5

I took another trip on SUPERSEACAT THREE on Saturday. I thought it would be interesting to take another trip after the festive occasion of its debut on the Liverpool – Dublin route on Thursday.

Departure from Liverpool was at 08.02 with 318 passengers on board. The couple of minutes delay appeared to be due to the fact that some of the MDHC rope men could not be found!

A quick run down the Mersey saw us pass The Rock at 08.14 where speed is increased. The sea was noticeably more lumpy than on Thursday with quite noticeable waves over the sandbanks being blow in by the north westerly wind. At 08.18 COASTAL BREEZE passed in bound for Gladstone Lock whilst a few minutes later there was a blast one the ships whistle, followed a few moments later by another couple. Shortly afterwards a small yacht could be seen scurrying to the other side of the channel. Obviously some yachtsman wasn't keeping a good look out for vessels approaching from the rear! I dare say the sight of an MDV1200 approaching at around 36 knots must be quite alarming for those on board a small yacht! Leaving the channel at Q2 buoy at 08.35 SSCIII set off west bound. At 08.42 FORTH FISHER was seen heading outbound. [This was one of a number of James Fisher vessels seen during the day.] Shortly afterwards we overtook a west-bound coaster which I think was a Ramsey Steamship Company vessel.

Llandudno was passed at 09.09, as we headed west the sea remained rather lumpy though SSCIII appeared to be coping quite well. Though listening into the on board comms revealed that some ABs had been summoned to secure some deck head fittings which had fallen off in the Duty Free Shop. The weather began to improve noticeably off Anglesey with a significant improvement in visibility. At 09.41 off Anglesey the tanker MORACOS BAY passed eastbound followed a few minutes later by Atlantic Container Line's ATLANTIC CARTIER. A small low air draught coaster could also be seen heading west bound past Anglesey. Skerries was passed at 09.53 and South Stack at 10.05. In the distance, heading westbound, could be seen the Mersey Docks and Harbour Company floating crane MERSEY MAMMOTH. This vessel always looks rather top heavy and very vulnerable in the open sea outside of her dock environment. However, she is very well travelled visiting various ports to undertake heavy lift jobs.

Shortly after MERSEY MAMMOTH came into view SSCIII changed course around 10.20 suddenly and started heading into the waves being blown by the north westerly wind. I don't know if some people had queried the course change but the first officer announced on the PA that as the ship was new they wanted to undertake some vibration tests. We carried on in a NNW course for a few minutes before swing sharply to a SSW direction for a short while before resuming our westerly course.

Whilst these tests had been carried out and until calmer water was reached the duty free shop was closed. Obviously some vibration had occurred as comms revealed that later in the morning crew had been despatched to recover light fittings! On the subject of vibration on the return journey whilst sitting on the starboard side of the vessel I noted that the BR lounge servery and fridge doors had been secured by cloth adhesive tape to stop them flying open!

At 10.48 STENA CHALLENGER passed east bound followed by ISLE OF INISHMORE at 11.00. Kish light was passed at 11.20 and 5 minutes later HSS STENA EXPLORER could be seen departing from Dun Laoghaire. Anchored in Dublin Bay was another James Fisher tanker – possibly SOLENT FISHER – a Coastal Container Lines vessel, a freighter.

Arrival at berth 49 was 11.47 just two minutes behind schedule with a crossing time of 3hrs 45 minutes this was despite the quite lumpy seas and deviation from the usual course.

Some ships to be seen in Dublin were MARGARETHA B, COASTAL ISLE and ARUM TRADER all at the container berths.

After disembarking and passing through to the departure lounge only a short wait followed as boarding recommenced quite quickly. Looking at the port side of SSCIII it looks as though some attention has been given to the forward main deck widows, as plates appear to have been welded in position between the windows but not yet painted. I hadn't noticed this on Thursday, but that’s not to say they were not there.

A quick turn round meant a slight early departure at 12.42 with 536 passengers. Though there appeared to be some electrical problems. An electrician was seen at work behind the bureau when reboarding at Dublin. The video monitors were not functioning as we left Dublin which resulted in the CSO having to explain the emergency procedures over the PA system with the cabin crew performing their demonstrations in time with the CSO's explanation.  Passing North Burford Buoy at 13.00 one of Arklow Shipping's smart little coasters could be seen heading in a northerly direction a few minutes later at 13.04. As SSCIII approached Anglesey yet another James Fisher tanker came into view heading south. Whilst HSS STENA EXPLORER was seen passing South Stack.

Passing Lynas at 14.45 we over took an inbound Ramsey Steamship company coaster at 15.15 and entered Queen's Channel a few minutes later. Ahead could be seen ACL's ATLANTIC CARTIER which had passed east bound when we had been passing Anglesey. We caught up with and passed ATLANTIC CARTIER before reaching the Rock and reducing speed. SSCIII was on the stage at 16.15 with ropes secured at 16.18. Crossing time 3 hours 35 minutes another good performance and early arrival.

Considering the more lively sea conditions prevalent today it was interesting to see how SSCIII coped. She certainly felt smoother than SSC2 though it looks as though some of the fixtures and fittings may need modifying along with one or two electrical adjustments! All in all another good crossing.


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