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Voyage Report: Sea Containers


by John H. Luxton

Saturday March 20, 1999

11.00 Liverpool – Dublin.

16.00 Dublin - Liverpool

I arrived at the Sea Terminal just before 10.00 as SSC2 was berthing, in bound from Douglas. Boarding commenced at around 10.30. Down on the landing stage it was noted that one of the modified linking plates was now in position between stage and linkspan. A significant amount of metal work appears to have been removed to allow the linking section to lie flat on the stage.

At around 10.50 the tanker STOLT DIPPER came into view inbound for Alfred Lock. Swinging with the aid of the incoming current and bow thrusts she proceeded into Alfred Lock.

SUPERSEACAT TWO made a slightly early departure at 10.57 with 261 pax and 33 cars. Around departure time Mersey Radio transmitted its movement statement which announced the arrival of SUPERSEACAT THREE at Prince's Landing Stage at 18.00. As we set off up the channel NORSE could be seen outbound for Belfast having already rounded the Crosby bend. Meanwhile the container vessel CAST LYNX was approaching bound for Gladstone Lock.

Passing the Rock at 11.18 speed increased. Proceeding down the channel a procession of inbound vessels passed by the LPG tanker JERSBEK, the SHOYNA, the MATVICK and finally ATLANTIC WIND passed at Q1 at the end of Queen's Channel.

SUPERSEACAT TWO passed off Llandudno at around 12.02. At around 12.20 as the Anglesey Coastline approached radio transmissions between SSC2 and SSCIII were received, suggesting that SSC2 would be arriving earlier than announced by Mersey Radio.

A few minutes later another MDV1200 class vessel could be seen approaching on the port side. Snatching my camera and telephoto lens I hurried out of the door onto the open deck. SSC2 appeared to be changing course to pass quite close to SSCIII. As the vessels closed at speed there was an exchange of whistle blasts. At 12.35 SSC2 and SSCIII passed of Point Lynas.

Skerries was passed at 12.55, the officer of the watch announcing that SSC2 was running at 40 knots. At Holyhead, STENA CHALLENGER could be seen approaching her berth.

At 13.45 SSC2 called up Dublin Port Radio to announce she was 30 minutes from the Baily. Approaching the Kish light at 14.07 an interesting cable laying ship could be seen also heading inbound.

Passing the Baily at 14.13, Belfast Freight Ferries RIVER LUNE could be seen heading outbound on her sailing to Heysham.

Approaching berth 49 in Dublin the BT cable ship C.S. SOVEREIGN could be seen berthed on the south side of the river. SIR JOSEPH BAZALGETTE was at his usual berth at Poolbeg.

The container vessel MARAGTHA B was at the container terminal berth opposite the Merchant Ferries terminal, whilst COASTAL ISLE was at the other container berth.

Ropes were on the berth at 14.35. Arrival being 15 minutes ahead of schedule.

After disembarking I walked over to the car park adjacent to the Merchant Ferries berth in time to see the BT Cable Ship depart and watch Belfast Freight Ferries SAGA MOON berth.

Departure from Dublin was 5 minutes ahead of schedule at 15.55 with 294 pax and 39 vehicles. Ten minutes before departure the MARGARTHA B had departed and her place was taken by COASTAL ISLE. As SSC2 made her way slowly down the fairway the HSS STENA EXPLORER could be seen also making an early departure from Dun Laoghaire.

On the return journey STENA CHALLENGER was seen heading westwards at 16.41 followed by the ISLE OF INISHMORE at 16.53.

Passing Skerries Light at 17.30 and Lynas at 17.49 good progress was made along the Welsh coast with the Bar being passed at 18.41. Around this time the lights of an outbound coaster were visible to starboard.

Entering the channel at Q1 SSC2 briefly slowed to pass the inbound container ship JUPITER. Slowing down as we passed the Rock, it became apparent that SUPERSEACAT THREE was still on the landing stage. If the stage had been clear, it would have been possible to berth at around 19.20, however, it took some time before SSCIII moved off and consequently the ropes were not on the stage until 19.33, still some 17 minutes ahead of schedule. Cars were unloaded promptly, though there was a few minutes delay before foot passengers could disembark. The delay probably being due to the constricted link span access whilst the modification work is in progress which necessitates the bulk of the cars being off loaded first.


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