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NEWS BULLETIN - June 2009

June 28

Acknowledgements:  Gary Andrews, Kevin Bennett, Ian Collard and "others"
 

CARNIVAL CORPORATION

ARTEMIS - the P&O Divisions 1984 built ship is due to make her first cruise call at Douglas on Monday June 29, 2009.

The Isle of Man Government web site has issued the following press release

If you live in Douglas, or visiting the Isle of Man’s capital next Monday 29th June, cast your eyes seaward and you should be able to behold the largest of the cruise ships due to visit the Isle of Man in 2009. She is the 44,348 ton ARTEMIS.

Students of the classical period of Greek mythology (or Wikipedia!) will no doubt be aware ARTEMIS was the daughter of Zeus and Leto and the twin sister of Apollo. She was the Hellenic goddess of forests and hills, child birth, virginity, fertility, the hunt. She was also identified with the Roman goddess Diana. That is also an interesting connection because when the vessel entered service she was the ‘Royal Princess’ of Princess Cruises and was dedicated in November 1984 by Diana, Princess of Wales.

In May 2005 the vessel underwent a £10.5 million transformation and emerged as ARTEMIS. P&O Cruises advise that the vessel is fully booked with 1200 passengers for its call to Douglas in addition to having 537 crew members on board.

Shore excursions by coach will include visits to Laxey, Castletown, Cregneash and Tynwald, while all of the vintage transport electric and steam railway systems will also be utilised in transporting our visitors around the island.

Geoff Corkish MBE, MHK and Political member for the Department of Tourism and Leisure, has expressed delight at the call of the ARTEMIS. He said: ‘

We will be extending the warmest of welcomes to the vessel which will be on her inaugural call to the Isle of Man. We very much hope that those passengers who will be enjoying their first ‘sample taste’ of our Island will be enticed back at a later date for an extended ‘land-based’ holiday.

CROWN PRINCESS - is due Liverpool Cruise Terminal between 07:00 and 19:00 on Monday June 29.

FRED. OLSEN LINES

BLACK PRINCE - The Greenock Telegraph recorded the final departure of the Fred. Olsen veteran last week following her final departure on Saturday June 20.

A dozen years of cruising from Greenock came to an end last Saturday for the Black Prince. The Fred Olsen ship is retiring from sailing the oceans to be a coastal steamer in Venezuela.

She arrived at the Ocean Terminal Saturday morning from Lerwick and left at 16:30 for Dublin and Liverpool. The Renfrew Burgh Pipe Band was playing on the quayside for half an hour before departure.

HMS BRONNINGTON

HMS BRONNINGTON - It has been noted this week that the former member of the Historic Warships Collection at Birkenhead has been moved in the last few days. She now lies to the east of HMS PLYMOUTH in Vittoria Dock.

HPB 1

HPB 1 - an interesting Fast semi rigid craft was noted undergoing trials on the Mersey on the afternoon of Saturday June 27. She travelled out to the Bar and back. The Norwegian registered vessel is a commercial demonstrator fast craft for "Sea Air Rescue" and "Fishery Protection" duties.

ISLE OF MAN STEAM PACKET COMPANY

VIKING - an opening for the side loading door has been cut in the vessel's port side. The vessel is expected to depart from Merseyside on a two month charter to Atlantico Line of the Azores in July. The Atlantico Line web site has been updated and shows recent photographs of the vessel. However, the movie being played on the web site appears to be a ten year old Sea Containers Superseascat promotional video!

MANANNAN - on the evening of June 30 the ship is due to operate her first "Round The Island" cruise which is reported to have sold out some time back. Due to demand the company have announced that a second cruise will be operated on Wednesday July 29 - departing Douglas at 19:00. Fares inclusive of a buffet are £19 adult and £15 children. Tickets are available from the Douglas reservations office.

IRISH CONTINENTAL GROUP

Irish Continental Group, parent company to Irish Ferries issued the following statement this week:

In the 25 weeks to 20 June 2009 we have seen a continuation of the challenging trends identified in the Group's Interim Management Statement issued on 14 May 2009. In that Interim Management Statement we reported that, in the first four months of the year, Group revenue was down 25% on the same period in 2008, partially offset by a 24% reduction in operating costs, before depreciation. The reduction in costs comprised lower payroll, fuel, vessel time charter costs and volume related port charges. These trends in revenue and cost have continued.The following is an update on the volumes of traffic carried to date.

In the car market, our carryings, at 145,500 cars, are down 6.6% on the same period in 2008 (this compares with minus 5% at 9 May ), while passenger numbers are down 9.7% at 571,000 (-10% at 9 May 2009) In the Roll On Roll Off freight market Irish Ferries carried 93,700 freight vehicles, down 23% on the same period in 2008 and in line with the position at 9 May 2009.

Container volumes shipped by Eucon and Feederlink (178,000 teu) and containers lifted (73,500 units) in our terminals in Dublin and Belfast are down 29% and 27% respectively after 25 weeks (also in line with the position at 9 May ).

I reiterate that we are continuing to actively manage our cost base to leave us in a strong position to benefit when the markets in which we operate recover.

NOMADIC

Restoration work on the White Star Line tender NOMADIC tenderrequires another £5.5m, the BBC reported a spending watchdog as claiming this week A NI Audit Office report described the target date for the completion of work on the NOMADIC as "challenging".

It had been hoped the work would be finished in time for the centenary celebrations of the TITANIC in 2012. The NOMADIC, like the TITANIC, was built by Belfast shipbuilders Harland and Wolff. The Department of Social Development bought the NOMADIC three years ago and brought it back to Belfast as a potential tourist attraction. So far the department has spent £900,000 on the project.

The NOMADIC Charitable Trust was set up by the Department in December 2006 to oversee the full restoration in time for the centenary celebrations. The trust set fundraising targets of £1m to be met by October 2008 and £5m by October 2009.

However, the Audit Office report said that "raising the expected levels of funds has been a challenge, with £1.37m raised at January 2009"

P&O IRISH SEA

EUROPEAN ENDEAVOUR departed from Liverpool at 20:30 on Wednesday June 24, bound for Dover on completion of her Irish Sea refit cover.

EUROPEAN MARINER - is due to dry docking at Cammell Laird on July 14, 2009 for 14 days.

June 21

Acknowledgements:  Gary Andrews, Kevin Bennett, Ian Collard, Jerome Rafferty, Mark Ervine   and "others"
 

DARTMOUTH & KINGSWEAR FLOATING BRIDGE COMPANY

On Monday, June 15 hundreds of people lined the River Dart to welcome the new Dartmouth to Kingswear Higher Ferry.

The new Higher Ferry, which was completed by Pendennis super yacht builders of Falmouth, Cornwall, was accompanied by an official Naval escort. With almost double the capacity of the old Higher Ferry and simultaneous loading and disembarking systems, the new Dartmouth Higher Ferry will make crossing the Dart quicker and more efficient.

The ferry's hull was manufactured at the Dutch Ravestein yard on the bank of the River Waal. It was then delivered to Falmouth in 2008 for fitting-out and engine installation.

A video of the recently withdrawn Paddle Ferry made by Jenny Williamson can be seen on You Tube. [click here]

ISLE OF MAN STEAM PACKET COMPANY

MANANNAN - will be open for public inspection at Douglas Sea Terminal on Tuesday June 23 between 16:00 and 19:00. MANANNAN will operate a Round-The-Island Cruise on the evening of Tuesday June 30. The fare includes a buffet. Reservations can be made at Douglas Sea Terminal or by telephone 01624 661661.

VIKING is expected to depart from Liverpool for her Azores charter to Atlantico Line around July 5 / 6. It is understood that a side loading door currently being fabricated in Portsmouth will be fitted. According to the Atlantico Line website - the VIKING will enter service in the Azores service on 11 July remaining there until September. Steam Packet masters are believed to be accompanying the ship for training purposes and then to act as the representatives.

SNAEFELL - the first of two summer excursions to and from Fleetwood were operated on Saturday June 20. The round trip from Fleetwood was well supported and capacity loaded, clearly demonstrating the popularity of such excursions from the Lancashire port. The next excursion scheduled from August has long sold out with the trip on June 20 being added in response to the high demand. The return sailing scheduled for 19:15 was delayed to 19:38, partly due to large numbers of passengers departing on the Waverley Steam Navigation Co BALMORAL sailing to Garlieston and the notorious inflexibility of the Douglas Harbour foot passenger security screening system!

[COMMENT: The Isle of Man Department of Transport really does need to review the search system at Douglas Harbour especially when large numbers of foot passengers are travelling. If typically a 30% search of departing vehicles is acceptable at Douglas in normal security conditions why are foot passengers rigidly subject to a 100% search? Such searches are far in excess of those operating at most UK ports.]

The Company has reported that TT 2009 motor cycle bookings showed a 5.7% increase from 8,550 in 2008 to over 9, 050 in 2009. Passenger bookings during the TT period have increase by 2%.

Sadly it was reported in the this week that retired Steam Packet Captain "Tommy" Harrison has passed away, he will be well remembered by many shipping enthusiasts on the Irish Sea. His funeral service will take place at St Mary's Church, Douglas on Tuesday June 23.

MARITIME & COASTGUARD AGENCY

3 FOREIGN SHIPS UNDER DETENTION IN THE UK DURING MAY

The Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA) announced this week that 3 foreign flagged ships were under detention in UK ports during May 2009 after failing Port State Control (PSC) inspection.

Latest monthly figures show that there was 1 new detention of a foreign flagged ship in a UK port during May 2009 and 2 vessels under detention from previous months. The overall rate of detentions compared with inspections carried out over the last twelve months was 3.54% this is slightly down from April's twelve month rate.

During the month of May, 97 Port State Control inspections were carried out in the UK. A total of 30 vessels had no deficiencies raised against them 47 had between one and five deficiencies, 15 had between six and ten deficiencies, 4 had between eleven and twenty deficiencies and there was one vessel inspected that had more than twenty deficiencies.
Out of the detained vessels, 1 was registered with a flag state listed on the Paris MOU white list, two were registered with flag states on the black list and none were registered with flag states on the grey list.


Vessel detained in May

A. 18,663 GT. Ro -Ro Cargo Vessel which was detained because a large number of Solas deficiencies were identified which indicated a failure of the Company Safety Management System.

SHIP DETAINED IN MAY 2009

Date & Place of detention: 21/05/2009 (Hull)

Vessel Name: BOULARIBANK
(RO-RO CARGO)
GT: 18,663
IMO No: 8119168
Flag: Antigua & Barbuda
Company: Andrew Weir Shipping Ltd.
Classification Society: Lloyds Register (LR)
Recognised Organisation: Lloyds Register (LR)
Recognised Organisation for ISM: Germanischer Lloyd (GL)

Summary: 19 deficiencies 3 grounds for detention

The vessel was detained in Hull for 4 days because the emergency preparedness was not according to SMS. The drills with regard to dangerous spaces were not being held in compliance with SMS/ statutory requirements. Other deficiencies identified included; the tricing pennants on the starboard lifeboat were heavily corroded; the port side access ladder from the bridge deck to the monkey island and the port side deck 5 ladder had heavily corroded steps. The flood light bracket on the starboard side bridge deck was corroded through; In addition the emergency lights were not functioning throughout the vessel and a number of light fittings were in poor condition -loose, and corroded through, also the lifebuoy bracket at the forward side of no 4 hatch was badly corroded. The fire door between the galley and the crew mess was obstructed by a bulkhead cabinet and the door handle was missing. The aft engine room tank tops were very oily  A major non conformity was raised in respect of the maintenance of the ship and equipment which was not according to SMS. The deficiencies identified indicated a failure of the Company's safety management system.

The vessel was released from detention on 24/05/2009 for a single voyage to Antwerp


DETENTIONS CARRIED OVER FROM PREVIOUS MONTHS

Date & Place of detention: 20/09/2007 - Lowestoft
Vessel Name: ST PIRAN (Other Cargo)
GT: 306
IMO No: 5085407
Flag: Sierra Leone
Company: Charter Shipping Inc
Classification Society: Phoenix Register of Shipping (PRS)
Summary: 18 deficiencies 6 grounds for detention.

The vessel was detained with a significant amount of oil leaking from the silencer drain soaking the exhaust manifold lagging of the main engine, causing an imminent fire hazard. There was no effective fire pump available due to the breakdown of the main engine, and the alternative submersible electric pump was not effective. Also the Aldis signalling lamp was out of order, the VHF radio installation had an incorrect MMSI number and the radio battery charger arrangement and power distribution were incorrect. Other deficiencies included: some inoperative navigation lights as well as improperly maintained emergency batteries and portable fire extinguishers. The ship was still detained at 31/05/2009


Date & Place of Detention: 02/03/2009 (Hull)
Vessel Name: ASPET (General Cargo)
GT: 2,976
IMO No: 8881682
Flag: Georgia
Company: BAF Shipping & Trading Ltd
Classification Society: Inclamar
Recognised Organisation: Inclamar
Recognised Organisation for ISM: Inclamar
Summary: 26 deficiencies (3) Grounds for detention

This vessel was detained in Hull because the vessel sailed through sea area A3 when it was only equipped for areas A1 and A2, in addition the oily water separator was defective and the number and nature of the deficiencies indicated that the company safety management system (SMS) was not functioning on board. Other deficiencies identified included; the load lines and ships name were not clearly painted; the port hole starboard side aft glass was cracked and securing dogs seized; the engine room fire door was seized and the wheelhouse top vent cover was corroded and the there was a hole in the funnel door. The vessel was still detained at 31/05/2009.

P&O IRISH SEA

EUROPEAN CAUSEWAY returned to Larne on the afternoon of Sunday June 21, 2009 after dry docking at Harland & Wolff

The NORBAY was reported enroute to Larne with the 16:00 sailing from  Cairnryan and the EUROPEAN CAUSEWAY is scheduled to operate the 20:00 sailing from Larne this evening.

The NORBAY departed back to Liverpool at 20:15 on Sunday June 21.

STENA LINE

STENA CALEDONIA it was reported this week that the Belfast Lough Kids' Fun Cruises have had the disco replaced by a Karaoke "due to health and safety reasons"!

STENA DISCOVERY - the Det Norsk Veritas web site shows that ownership has passed to Venezuelan owners Albamar C.A.

WAVERLEY STEAM NAVIGATION COMPANY

BALMORAL - the Friday sailing from Garlieston to Douglas was cancelled due to adverse weather conditions on the north Irish Sea. However, the second scheduled sailing from Garlieston on Saturday June 20, did operate. However, this sailing arrived at Douglas somewhat behind schedule at around 13:40 which coincided with the slightly early arrival of MANANNAN from Liverpool.

As a consequence the late arrival the 13:30 Cruise to the "Calf of Mann" did not get away until around 14:35 over one hour behind schedule. Her departure from Douglas with a good load of around 500 passengers was also slightly behind schedule - this had the knock-on effect of delaying 19:15 return Fleetwood Steam Packet excursion which was unable to get away until 19:38. 

June 14

Acknowledgements:  Gary Andrews, Edwin Wilmshurst, Ian Collard  and "others"
 

CRUISE SHIP NEWS

ATHENA (STOCKHOLM) - the vintage cruise ship is reported to be replacing ALEXANDER VON HUMBOLDT from June 05, 2009. This effects a number of Irish Sea Cruise calls. The cruise calls list has been updated to reflect the change.

QUEEN ELIZABETH 2 -  Owners Nakheel have denied speculation that the former Carnival-Cunard ship will be sold on instead of being turned into a floating hotel. Work on converting the ship, which is now berthed at Dubai, into a hotel has yet to commence.

SAGA ROSE - The 24,472 ton cruise vessel Saga Rose made her final call at Douglas on Friday June 12  2009 - senior TT Race Day.

The SAGA ROSE, which entered service in 1965 as the SAGAFJORD, is described as a ‘finely proportioned, traditional cruise ship’. However, this vessel with her ‘classic liner styling and profile’ is only months away from her final voyage and this call to the Isle of Man will be the final visit to our shores.

Her final voyage to the Mediterranean is in October and thereafter she sails off into retirement. She will possibly then head for a beach in Alang, India where many famous Ocean Liners and Cruise vessels are broken -up. [IOM DoT]

ALBATROS will not be calling at Falmouth on October 04. Southampton has been substituted due to a change in intineraries

DARTMOUTH & KINGWEAR FLOATING BRIDGE COMPANY

HIGHER FERRY - a large number of passengers turned out for a final crossing of Britain's last remaining diesel electric paddle vessel on Sunday June 07, 2009. So many people wanted to be on the last trip that the final crossing for the ferry, which has been part of the town's river scene for almost half a century, had to be delayed by 15 minutes. More than 200 people packed the slipway as the Higher Ferry made her last crossing of the River Dart. The ferry was crowded as townspeople and visitors made the final voyage from Dartmouth to Kingswear and back. And she was followed by a mini flotilla of small boats, revealed ferry boss Tony Tucker. Mr Tucker, director of the Dartmouth and Kingswear Floating Bridge company, said the public's affection for the old ferry caught him by surprise. He said: "There were far more people than I thought would be there. It was a sea of flashlights. There were two past mayors and the current mayor there to see the ferry off. "It seemed to be something which was pretty spontaneous. "It was a surprise for me and the crew. All day people had been taking photos. I think they wanted something for posterity. "A convoy of small boats escorted her over and back. It was very pleasant." [THIS IS SOUTH DEVON]

DUKE OF LANCASTER

The web site has been during the past few days with many photographs from the "Fun Ship" days. www.dukeoflancaster.net .

ISLE OF MAN STEAM PACKET COMPANY

A correspondent reports that a leaflet giving outline timings for TT 2010 is available. They comment that the timings appears to have been drawn up on the basis that only two ships will operate - The BEN-MY-CHREE and MANANNAN. The Northern Ireland sailings are overnight and operate to and from Larne which suggests that P&O EXPRESS may be chartered again. Recently the company indicated that the future of SNAEFELL remained under review due to poor loadings on the Irish routes.

LIVERPOOL CRUISE TERMINAL

Earlier this year it looked as though parties were working together to find a solution to the Liverpool Cruise Terminal being made available for originating and departing cruises.

However, according to a report in the Daily Post this week:

The Government has threatened to claw back a £17m grant used to build Liverpool’s waterfront cruise liner facility. The Department for Transport (DfT) may ask for the cash to be returned if the city goes ahead with a plan to introduce Customs and baggage-handling services at the facility. Peel Ports last night revealed it had been willing to relocate its own rival facilities from dismal Langton Dock to the landing stage at Princes Dock, and says this plan was initially given approval from the DfT. But Peel Ports property manager Ian Pollitt said: "We thought we had got the nod and then they suddenly changed their mind. It was very disappointing."

Baggage handling and Customs facilities would enable cruise lines to start and finish cruises at Princes Dock, potentially leading to a huge surge in passenger numbers. Currently, cruise lines can only use Liverpool for day visits. When the £17m was offered in 2005, the then deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott, said it was "vital to the local economy that Liverpool capitalised on its waterfront." Peel also says it will create another fully-funded first-class cruise berth with reception amenities as part of its long-term plan to develop the docklands. Mr Pollitt said: "In the city we are united. We know the facilities at Langton Dock are not good enough and have looked at various ways of countering this, including using the airport. "The best mid-term solution would be to switch facilities from Langton to the landing-stage while developing long term plans for a properly thought-out scheme. "We thought we had got the nod from DfT and then they suddenly changed their mind and we got into a situation where the city council might be liable for a clawback."

Cllr Gary Millar, council business and tourism executive member, said: "We want the Government and Europe to acknowledge what a great job we’ve done and let us get on with it to improve Liverpool’s economy." The grant assistance was given with restrictions that the terminal would not compete with places like Southampton but the DfT has said it will listen to an appeal. Under Peel’s long-term solution, a £25m state-of-the-art cruise berth would be created in central docklands.

NORFOLK LINE

LAGAN VIKING appeared to be somewhat off schedule towards the latter part of the week with rumoured technical problems.

ROYAL FLEET AUXILIARY

RFA MOUNTS BAY - visited Liverpool over the weekend of June 12 - 15, 2009 berthing at the Liverpool Cruise Terminal. She was scheduled to depart on June 15 at 15:00.

June 07

Acknowledgements:  Gary Andrews, John Caley, Adrian Sweeney, Kevin Bennett, Ian Collard  and "others"
 

AUSTAL

The recent introduction of MANANNAN with the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company and the delivery of MGC's INCAT 066 as NORMAN ARROW to Louis Dreyfus Lines has focused attention in the British Isles on the products of Tasmania based Incat.

Perhaps not to be outshone by recent developments, fast craft rivals Austal announced on June 5 that the company has evolved their revolutionary trimaran design.

The first, and to date only trimaran appeared in the form of Fred. Olsen Lines' BENCHIJIGUA EXPRESS delivered in 2005.

The western Australian company announced that they have a new 102-metre trimaran underconstruction. The company claims the new vessel optimises performance, sea-keeping, fuel efficiency, passenger comfort and payload to deliver a truly next generation transportation solution.
 
The vessel utilises Austal’s trimaran technology, combining the softer roll of monohulls with the low resistance, stability and carrying capacity of catamarans, to open up new markets beyond existing fast ferry designs. A lower roll speed means lower accelerations experienced by passengers – significantly reducing passenger seasickness.
 
The trimaran’s unique hydrodynamic hull form combined with its three engine propulsion train delivers fuel efficiency across a range of operating conditions.
 
Further details can be found on the Austal web site [click here]
 
DARTMOUTH & KINGSWEAR FLOATING BRIDGE COMPANY
 
On June 07 the Philip of Dartmouth HIGHER FERRY was due to be taken out of service prior to being replaced by a new £4m vessel. The service will be suspended for two weeks as essential work is carried out before the new vessel is introduced.

Britain's last diesel electric paddle vessel will make it's final journey from Dartmouth at 21:30 and from Kingswear at 21:45.

More than a dozen ferry workers and company staff will then be heading for the Floating Bridge Inn next to the slipway to celebrate the end of an era for Dartmouth. Townspeople who want to make a last trip on the old ferry may have to think about getting there in advance of the 9.30pm sailing time because it can only carry a maximum of 130 foot passengers.

The old ferry is being replaced by a much larger vessel which will be able to carry twice as many cars and cut the crossing time by a quarter. The hull was manufactured in Holland by Ravestein before being transported to Falmouth where it has been fitted out. It is due to debut on the Dart on June 15 but is not expected to go into operation until around June 22.

Although work has already been carried out to both slipways to accommodate the bigger ferry some work could not be carried while the old one was still connected to the wires which guide it across the river. These will all have to be removed out and a new system of wires which will guide the new ferry installed before the new operation can begin.

On top of that a new traffic system will have to be installed on the Dartmouth side of the river to help the faster flow of traffic onto and off the new ferry. The future of the old vessel has yet to be decided.

A spokesman for the ferry company explained that it had not yet been sorted out whether it will end up going for scrap or whether someone may want to give it an overhaul and use it elsewhere in the country.

He admitted: "There will be an interim period when there is no service. "It involves a massive engineering operation to take one ferry off and install the other one. It's going to be a big operation and we need time to work it all out. "Of course everything is weather dependent. The new ferry should be towed to arrive on the Dart on Sunday, June 15. The link won't be in operation until around June 22.

There is a new web site with photographs of the new vessel at www.dartmouthhigherferry.com

DUBLIN PORT COMPANY

Over the weekend of June 05 to June 07, 2009 Dublin Port hosted a unique live theatre performance at the port terminal.

Carpet Theatre will took  over Dublin Port Company’s Ferry Terminal for a limited run of four performances, inspired by the myriad of characters that pass through Dublin Port on ferries every day. Theatre, movement and live music will all combine to serve up a slice of the real with a dollop of the surreal.

Ferry Tales will bring the audience on board an interactive journey to catch a phantom ferry from Dublin Port. The performance begins as soon as the audience steps onto a bus destined for Dublin Port. A host of fascinating characters get caught up in a pattern of coming and going as Carpet Theatre unpack the experience of collective travel through the generations: check-in rituals, meetings and partings, tears of joy and despair when the ship comes in.

Myna knows where she’s not wanted, Edele has a secret, Ann is looking for someone, Harry is going back to Wales without Julie, Deano’s on the way to a match, Nailer has picked up more than a t-shirt at the concert, Mel from Manchester has lost the other hens, Patsy is traveling with a relation in his suitcase, and Tony just likes the boat. They may be leaving but can they ever escape?

Ferry Tales was created by Ciarán Taylor and Carpet Theatre with the support of Dublin Port Company. The performance features actors Bryan Burroughs, Mia Gallagher, Maud Hendrix, Ian Lloyd Anderson, Karl Quinn, and Lorna Quinn. The musicians are Jack Cawley, Christophe Capewell and Kim Porcelli. Costumes are by Miriam Duffy.

SEATRUCK FERRIES

SHIELD has gone to Cammell Laird for dry docking at the conclusion of her Norfolk Line charter. ARROW has remained at Heysham.

STENA LINE

The Belfast Telegraph published a report this week claiming that the HSS STENA VOYAGER is likely to be withdrawn within the next two years and replaced "by a more conventional fast ferry".

The report came as a result of revelations that no provision has been made for HSS docking facilities at a proposed new £70m ferry terminal due to open in 2011 at Loch Ryan Port in Scotland.

The primary problem for the HSS has been the soaring price of fuel in recent years. When the HSS was launched, oil cost $25 a barrel, but last year the price soared to $147, although it has now settled back to around $65.

It is understood that the breakeven price for operating the HSS is around $45 a barrel.

Another difficulty for the HSS is the speed restrictions in Belfast Lough and Loch Ryan because of the bow wave it creates.

Nigel Tilson, UK communications manager for Stena Line, said: "The plan for now is to continue to operate the HSS STENA VOYAGER and the conventional ferry, Stena Caledonia, on their present schedules while we review options."

Despite the onset of the budget airlines, the Stena service carries 1.2 million passengers a year, and is a lifeline for imports and exports. While a question mark hangs over the future of HSS STENA VOYAGER, her sister HSS STENA DISCOVERY, is in the process of being sold. The vessel was withdrawn from service in 2007.

It is understood that HSS STENA VOYAGER, which recently underwent sea trials, is likely to be bought by a ferry operator in Venezuela, and will be leaving Belfast shortly.

Meanwhile, it has emerged that a Northern Ireland contractor is one of three firms shortlisted for the construction of Loch Ryan Port. McLaughlin & Harvey from Newtownabbey is up against HochTief from Germany and a UK consortium called PIHL. Tenders will be submitted in July but Stena will wait until autumn to make a decision.

A planning application has been submitted for the new facility, and four major objections have been received.

The terminal, which will replace the existing Stena facility in Stranraer, will be located at Old House Point, one mile north of the P&O terminal at Cairnryan.

Stena has already moved downstream in the Port of Belfast, where the new £37m Victoria Terminal Three opened in June last year.

The objective is to provide modern facilities and to reduce the crossing time, thereby saving fuel.

If the planning application proceeds without major delay, the new port could be operational by summer 2011.

But Stena acknowledges that there are still planning hurdles to be overcome.

Key to the proocess are a Harbour Empowerment Order, which has to be granted by the Scottish Government, and an Environmental Impact Assessment, which is part of the planning process.

MANANNAN was reported running slow on the morning of Saturday June 06 with engine problems. Her morning sailing from Douglas did not arrive at Liverpool until 11:10. She was assisted berthing by tug ASHGARTH. The 12:15 sailing to Douglas was delayed until 14:50. However, she was soon back up to speed and noted running well later in the day.  

ISLE OF MAN STEAM PACKET COMPANY

Isle of Man Steam Packet Company announced on that with effect from 1st June 2009, the surcharge for new bookings will reduce  from £5.00 single per passenger to £3.50 and the surcharge on freight will be reduced by 53 pence from £5 per metre to £4.47 per metre. This follows the £3 reduction to the freight fuel surcharge in the last review on 1st March 2009.

The fuel surcharge is calculated in strict accordance with the terms of the new agreement with the Department of Transport and is now based 50 per cent on the weighted average marine fuel cost incurred over the three months prior to the review date and 50 per cent on the forecasted costs forward three months.

Future reviews, under the new fuel surcharge agreement, will take place every three months. Surcharges will be based on fluctuations in both gas oil and heavy fuel oil.

When formulating the new agreement the Department of Transport took on board all the various Select Committee recommendations and also consulted with hauliers, Travelwatch and the Office of Fair Trading.

The fuel surcharge is included in the price displayed on the Steam Packet Company website and will continue to be monitored by the Department of Transport.

Isle of Man Steam Packet Company Chief Executive, Mark Woodward, said: ‘This latest review of the fuel surcharge has been carried out in strict accordance with the new agreement with the Department of Transport and will take effect immediately from June 1.

‘This new agreement is good news for both the Steam Packet Company and the Isle of Man and has resulted in a substantial fall in the surcharge for passengers and a further reduction in the rate for freight, which fell by 37% at the previous review in March. The new agreement reflects current market rates and forecasts, as per the Select Committee preference, and three-monthly reviews will reflect market changes more promptly than the old agreement.’

Minister for Transport David Anderson MHK said: ‘The Department studied the Select Committee recommendations carefully and consulted widely before drawing up the new agreement. We’re confident that any flaws there may have been under the old agreement have now been adequately addressed. ‘In particular, the three-monthly reviews should be welcomed by both general passengers and freight customers, as one of the major issues with the old agreement was that it was felt there was too long between reviews and, as such, the fuel surcharges did not reflect the changes in the market quickly enough.’

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