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#CastleLaunch- Arklow Castle was launched in the Netherlands yesterday to form the third ‘C’ class newbuild of a 10-ship order from the Co. Wicklow based operator, writes Jehan Ashmore.

The 5,054dwt cargoship Arklow Castle (yard No. 426) slid into the canal at the Ferus Smit shipyard in Westerbroek. 

Arklow Castle has a maximized single-hold volume of 220.000cft and a carrying capacity over 5000 deadweight tons and still falls under the 3,000 gross tons limit. The newbuild's hull has an 1A iceclass notation. Propullsion is from a 1740 kW MaK engine with a single ducted propeller.

ASL transport cargoes among them: bulk grain and dangerous bulk cargoes, steel rails, minerals, generals, offshore and landline pipes and provision to carry containers.

Arklow Castle follows sisters ‘Cape’ launched last October and leadship ‘Cadet’. Both these 2,999grt newbuilds have been given new names whereas Arklow Castle revives a predecessor that operated a rare ‘container' only liner-service for ASL until around 2006.

This former Arklow Castle ran a liner-service between Avonmouth (Bristol) to Bilbao link with calls to Greenock and Dublin on the outward voyage.

According to the ASL fleet list, a ‘W’ class bulker, Arklow Wave is no longer included. This leaves only Arklow Wind as the final of a trio of South Korean built ships dating from the early 2000’s left in service.

As reported on Afloat the 14,000dwt Arklow Willow was sold last year to Canadian interests, McKeil Marine, Hamilton which saw the ship make a delivery voyage to Lake Ontario.

Published in Ports & Shipping

#Dredging - In recent weeks at Rosslare Europort a dredging programme was conducted within the harbour to remove spoil offshore, writes Jehan Ashmore.

Dredging operations were carried out by Sospan Dau and assistance from tug Trojan. The resultant spoil was taken offshore and near the Lucifer Bouy.

The works are to maintain sufficient depths at the ferryport's four (one not used) linkspans located on two piers. Asides the ferry industry, the Wexford port has timber trading cargoships and the first cruiseship, Braemar in two decades called last season. 

In further efforts to attract business the Irish Rail operated port are to waive fees for cruiseships calling during this year's season and up to 2019. 

Ferries sail to Wales and France and in the high season there are four services using three routes. They are operated by just two operators, Irish Ferries and Stena Line. Celtic Link Ferries year-round service to Cherbourg and route ship Celtic Horizon (Stena Horizon docked this afternoon in Rosslare) was acquired almost three years ago (March 2014) by the giant Swedish-owned operator.

At the height of Storm Barbara, the second of this year’s storms, Afloat noted Sospan Dau, the Boskalis operated trailing suction hopper dredger take shelter at Wicklow Port.

This saw the ship berth alongside the South Pier. It is along this breakwater during the Round Ireland Yacht Race is where crowds gather to watch the start of the biennial held event. The last such event was held last year.

Published in Ports & Shipping

#BusyBunkering – Short-sea coastal ‘bunker’ tanker, Mersey Spirit now in its 21st year, has in recent days kept busy serving several ships and has almost completed a full-circle itinerary by returning to her homeport of Liverpool today, writes Jehan Ashmore.

For more than two decades the small ship has played a big role in serving the fuel requirements of numerous vessels. To give a snapshot of the hard-working career of Mersey Spirit’s crew, Afloat has been monitoring movements this week so far of the 2,366dwt oil products tanker.

On Monday Mersey Spirit was offshore of Killiney Bay bound for Dublin Port having departed that day from Rosslare Europort. At the Wexford port bunkers (supply of fuel in port) were discharged from the tanker while berthed alongside Stena Horizon.

This is a routine practise as on that particular day of the week there is a layover period of the ropax ferry's sailing roster in between continental crossings to Cherbourg.

Mersey Spirit having docked in Dublin then departed to arrive the following morning of Tuesday in Liverpool (where again she is returning today). The UK flagged 76m vessel entered Huskisson Dock. From there the small ship transited through the docks system to serve several ships.

Among them was P&O Ferries ropax Norbank in Gladstone Dock, neighbouring Royal Seaforth Dock, the lo-lo terminal where ACL’s giant new G4 con-ro vessels dock for example Atlantic Star (see related recent report). At this same terminal in October, a sister Atlantic Sea was named by Princess Anne, the first ship to be christened at the port since the 1960’s.

Rivals of P&O on the Irish Sea central corridor route is Seatruck Ferries whose Seatruck Pace berthed in Langton Dock was also given bunkers by the 1996 built tanker.

Upon completion of tasks, Mersey Spirit docked astern of another bunkering tanker, Keewhit in Canada Dock. The also UK flagged tanker had arrived from Belfast. The 2,332dwt tanker at 77m long was built in 2003 and was next to call to Lynas in north Wales. The jetty there is served by cargoships exporting slate and stone from nearby quarries. 

It is further west along the coast on Anglesey and that of Holy Island to be precise as this is where the ferryport of Holyhead is located. Keewhit and likewise of Mersey Spirit are both frequent callers due to the demands of Stena Line ferries (serving Dublin Port) and also visiting cruiseships.

In addition the Mersey Spirit has also provided bunkers to clients Irish Ferries, having witnessed while been on board flagship Ulysses at Holyhead. On that occasion the decks of the tanker berthed alongside could easily be viewed from the much higher above Ulysses uppermost deck beside the funnel.

Also berthed adjacent in Liverpool on Tueday was the Mersey Endurance. The inland barge tanker of 1,650dwt had arrived from Tranmere on the Manchester Ship Canal and the 86m vessel was only built in 2012.

Mersey Spirit was then again underway when Afloat tracked down the vessel offshore of the Llŷn Peninsula yesterday. The distinctive long arm that juts out from the Welsh mainland into the sea south of Holyhead, was where the tanker was bound for Fishguard.

The ferryport also served by Stena whose Rosslare relief route ship, Stena Nordica was given bunkers. On completion of duties the vessel having been alongside the ferry berthed at the quay up from where the ferry once occupied. Last night Mersey Spirit departed bound for Liverpool.

As of this afternoon, Mersey Spirit is at time of posting in the channel approches and aptly returning to home waters on Merseyside.

 

 

Published in Ports & Shipping

#PortTransfer - County councillors writes The Irish Times from all the main parties of Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown have expressed concern at potential financial liabilities involved in taking over responsibility for Dún Laoghaire Harbour.

The debate on due diligience issues as Afloat previously covered took place at a council meeting on Monday (last night). Councillors unanimously agreed “serious risks for the local authority” had been raised in a due diligence report commissioned by the council into the position of Dún Laoghaire Harbour Company.

Under the provisions of the Harbours Act 2015, (see National Ports Policy) responsibility for the harbour is due to be transferred from the Department of Transport to the local authority.

‘Urgent need’

However, Fianna Fail councillor Mary Hanafin said the due diligence report had identified “an urgent need for a risk assessment” in almost every area of the harbour company’s operations.
She said issues were raised about pension liabilities, legal costs, ownership of assets and liability for the repayment of grants which had been paid to the harbour company.
She told the meeting the grants could be as high as €112 million, and “the liabilities for clawback are absolutely potentially enormous”.

Fellow Fianna Fáil councillor Shay Brennan said taking over the harbour company could see its debts transferred to “every household between Dún Laoghaire and Dundrum”.

Fine Gael councillor John Bailey said the council wanted democratic control over the harbour, but not the liabilities of the harbour company - the scale of which he said was unknown.
He called for certified, audited accounts from the harbour company. “There is no way we are taking on this liability, I want the harbour but this is an absolute joke,” he said.
“Where are the audited accounts for 2015?”

Cllr Barry Ward of Fine Gael called for the dissolution of the harbour company before responsibility for the harbour is transferred to the council.
He said the council did not want a subsidiary company, because this would prevent “any oversight and governance” by the elected members.

He said the harbour company should be dissolved before the harbour comes under democratic accountability.

People Before Profit councillor Melisa Halpin also expressed concern over the due diligence report, saying councillors had been waiting 20 months to find out what the issues were.
She said there were “major questions” which remained to be asked in a risk assessment.

For more on the story including 'favouring dissolution' as discussed in the council chamber, click here.

Published in Ports & Shipping

#ExportsToUK - In order to prepare for a hard Brexit, Enterprise Ireland is advising firms here amid growing signs the British government may opt to quit the single market in order to regain full control over immigration.

The Irish Times writes the agency’s chief executive, Julie Sinnamon, said it would be “foolish” to do otherwise given the current signals from Downing Street.

She was speaking in the wake of UK prime minister Theresa May’s suggestion that Britain would not attempt to cling on to “bits of EU membership” in its negotiations with Brussels.

“Irrespective of Theresa May’s comments, we have to prepare for the worst. And if it becomes a softer Brexit, then we’re in a stronger position,” Ms Sinnamon said at the publication of Enterprise Ireland’s latest annual report.

A key plank of the agency’s Brexit strategy was getting companies to look at new market opportunities while consolidating their position in the UK market, she said.
The UK’s share of Irish exports has fallen from 45 per cent to 37 per cent in the past decade, and this trend will likely be accelerated by Brexit, Ms Sinnamon said.

She also confirmed that a number of high-profile businesses in the agri-food sector here were now being courted by UK agencies about the possibility of setting up operations there in the wake of Brexit.

The Republic’s €10 billion food sector is the most vulnerable to Brexit with more than half of the State’s food output going to the UK.

“At this stage, companies are not saying we’re closing up shop and going [to the UK], but I’ve no doubt that the UK will get their act together and really begin to proactively try and attract more companies there,” she said, noting that a disparity in state aid constraints in the wake of Brexit would make things more competitive.

For more on jobs created by Enterprise Ireland and its annual report click here.

Published in Ports & Shipping

#Appointments – Ardmore Shipping Corporation which has its Principal Operating Office at Cork City’s Albert Quay has made several appointments last month, writes Jehan Ashmore.

Ardmore is engaged in the ownership and operation of a fleet of 27 product and chemical tankers totalling in worldwide trade. The modern vessels on average are only five years in service. For further details of the mixed fleet, see further below.

The corporation’s executive office is based in Bermuda and has offices also located in Singapore and Houston, USA. The appointments made were for positions located in the latter two offices as outlined below:

Liwen Zhang joins the Ardmore financial team to work with the company’s financial team as Financial Accountant. Liwen is a Chartered Accountant with a strong background in shipping, having previously worked in various accounting and financial reporting roles within the industry.

She will be based in the Singapore office and will assist the financial team to meet its reporting requirements while reporting to Ardmore’s senior management team.

James (Jim) Monigan joins Ardmore as Regional Operations Manager based in Houston, USA, having had 20 years of experience in the maritime field. In his new role, Jim will be responsible for managing Ardmore’s spot trading vessels currently operating in the west region. 

He will also be working closely with Chartering Manager Holly Cummings, to provide support for Ardmore’s chartering activities in the US region.

Also recently joined Ardmore is Celia Kang to the team as Marine Personnel Manager. Kang holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering and Banking, and joins the operations team in Singapore with 10 years of experience in the maritime industry including Maersk Singapore and AP Moller.

In her previous role, Celia worked for Thome Ship Management holding various positions including Strategic Crewing, Assistant Manager (tanker fleet), and lastly Deputy Head of Crewing. Her positions within Thome enabled her to have a direct working relationship with Ardmore’s operations team.

The recent appointments follow that of Afloat's coverage last October of Jorge Lavin as the company's Financial Controller.

Ardmore also provides to customers, voyage charters, commercial pools and time charters. In recent years the company have engaged in a succession of orders from Asian shipyards, culminating with ten newbuilds completed in 2010 alone.

Afloat has examined the fleet list that totals 27 vessels. Those that perform both functions range from 25,217dwt up to 49,999dwt.

Of the above fleet total, a quartet of vessels are ‘product’ only ships that range from 45,000 to 49,999dwt. Overall the fleet are modern given the majority were built since 2013 and mostly built in South Korea, the balance at yards in Japan.

What they also share in common is the fleet are all flagged in the Marshall Islands in the Pacific Ocean.

Published in Ports & Shipping

#Top25boxCo - According to Multimodal, the 14th edition of Dynamar annual Top 25 Container Liner Operators publication has been issued. It offers an exclusive insight into the world’s largest container shipping companies, their history, nature, characters, developments, strategies, relationships and performances.

The report opens with a summary of the Top 25 carriers looking at their operated vessel fleet, capacity, carryings, container box fleets and subsidiaries. Furthermore, this section includes financial results for full year 2015 and the first 9 months of 2016. A rundown of performance and financial parameters for the period 2011/2015 for operators consistently forming the Top 20 is also provided. It concludes with the shares of operated vessel capacity by region of control and by company type.

Dynamar’s latest study offers a most comprehensive overview of the financial results of the globe’s 25 largest operators. For the first time, as a group, they collectively posted a net loss in 2015, this running into hundreds of millions of dollars. Even more monetary horror is to come: for the first 9 months of 2016, the combined net result of twelve reporting lines fell by more than USD 13 billion...!

Little wonder: over the same 9-month period, spot rates quoted for the 10,500 nautical miles Shanghai-Rotterdam leg were USD 618 all-in per TEU on average. This equals less than 6 dollar cents per nautical mile. Quotations ranged between a nadir of USD 205(!) in March, and a zenith of USD 699 in July… which carrier could survive on that?

In January 2015, four East-West Alliances kicked off:

2M - Maersk Line, MSC
CKYHE Alliance - Coscon, Evergreen, Hanjin, “K” Line, Yang Ming
G6 Alliance - APL, Hapag-Lloyd, Hyundai, MOL, NYK, OOCL
Ocean Three - China Shipping, CMA CGM, UASC
Less than one-and-a-half year later, in April/May 2016 already, the relevant carriers announced drastic re-arrangements of their groupings. Taking effect April 2017, these will read:

2M+ - Maersk Line and MSC, plus Hyundai sharing space
Ocean Alliance - CMA CGM/APL, Coscon, Evergreen, OOCL
THE Alliance - Hapag-Lloyd/UASC, Hanjin, “K” Line, MOL, NYK, Yang Ming
All being well and with the permission of the FMC already in their pockets, these three new Alliances will start operations effective 1 April 2017.

It is unprecedented developments outside of the existing alliances having pushed aforementioned changes. All actualised or initiated within the space of a single year (2016), which saw six of the original Top 20 lines go, it concerns:

China Shipping merged into Coscon (February)
Acquisition of APL by CMA CGM (June)
Hanjin’s sad going under (September)
Merger-to-be of UASC into Hapag-Lloyd (1Q2017)
The proposed joint venture between “K” Line, MOL and NYK (September 2017)
Maersk Line’s intended acquisition of Hamburg Süd (late 2017)
In the course of all the above sweeping, powerful changes, smaller liner companies come under great pressure to consider consolidation as well: 2017 promises to become another exciting year!

Concluding the “Top 25 Container Liner Operators (2016)” study is a separate chapter on Alliances, Consortia or similar. Profiles are provided on each of the present and future groupings.

Cost reduction, in the form of larger, less gas guzzling and more efficient ships has been the answer to low rates of the top container liner operators. It started with Maersk Line’s 2006-launched 15,600 TEU E-class, developed and built for the Europe-Far East trade. High volumes; an excellent relationship between time spent at sea versus time in port; capable container terminals: this trade is the ideal route for ULCS to reap the maximum from their economies of scale.

Worried by the Danish company’s lower slot costs eroding their market share, other carriers followed suit in big numbers. By mid-2016, eighteen of the Top 25 lines controlled 100% of all ULCS operating and 94% of the orderbook, representing 366 ships/4.9 million TEU, and 156 vessels/2.7 million TEU, respectively. Capacities range between 10,000 TEU and 21,200 TEU. By the end of 2016, 178 ULCS with an average capacity of 15,300 TEU operated between North Europe and Asia.

A deluge of large newbuildings combined with a faltering market resulting in severe overcapacity inducing a bitter rate war ensuing dramatic losses: it is the price of too many too big ships...

Aware of the overcapacity damage done with their financials turning deep dark red, no carrier ordered any ULCS in 2016. That is to say, almost, as in December IRISL fulfilled an earlier “promise” to go for ULCS as well, ordering an initial 14,500 TEU units.

Cold comfort, but it is not container liner shipping alone immersed in uncertainty. Breakbulk, heavy lift, dry bulk, tankers, non-operating owners, you name it, all main shipping segments are concurrently groaning under a downturn as severe as seldom seen before. It can barely get worse.

In addition to maturation, container shipping also faces the yet largely unknown effects on cargo streams of 3D-printing and robotising facilitating near shoring.

Interestingly, despite all doom and groom, at the very end of 2016 it was reported that shipping industry confidence had hit its highest level in 15 months. That’s the spirit, that typifies shipping!

It may have helped that in the fourth quarter, spot rates in all long haul trades from Shanghai saw a recovery, to positively influence the level of contract rates for the new year. Scrapping has never been as high as 700,000 TEU. Troubles are not, but would the worst be over!?

Ongoing container liner consolidation as so convincingly initiated in 2016 should help addressing all challenges if... the larger companies and Alliances seriously work on eradicating the current excess tonnage while keeping future capacity expansion in check.

And finally: 2006 ended with (ultimately) eight companies less than it started with. No worry, as long as there is worldwide water and trade, there will be 25 largest container liner companies with all of them worth to know everything about them!

Many more topics and subjects than the above are discussed and analysed in the core of the 2016-edition of Dynamar’s “Top 25 Container Liner Operators” which consists of the profiles of each of the individual Top 25 carriers and their affiliated companies. In summary, each profile contains:

An opening page of at-a-glance key details, overviews, indexes and ratios on literally anything container shipping company-relevant, showing the subject’s progression since 2005
A history and corporate background section: how the carrier got to where it is today

Operated containership fleet and orderbook development
Trade lanes and markets served as a vessel operator and as a slot-charterer
Overview of interests in container terminals worldwide
Summary of container-related and other relevant affiliations or activities
Membership of alliances, consortia, conferences and discussion agreements

Concluding the study is a glossary featuring all major, main and regional trade lanes along which the Top 25 are active (as vessel providers) listed by trade and country. All this is complemented by around 145 different tables and another 50 figures of supporting information.

The 2016 edition of the Top 25 Container Liner Operators is immediately available and can be ordered for direct download under the link www.dynamar.com/publications/173

Published in Ports & Shipping

#Shipbuilder - UK shipbuilder Cammell Laird saw profits and sales fall last year – but the shipyard on Merseyside which Afloat has noted is where Irish Ferries flagship Ulysses awaits drydocking, remains upbeat that it will win more new contracts.

As the Liverpool Echo writes the Birkenhead company reported turnover for the year to March 2016 of £99m – down from £115m in 2015 – thanks to an expected lull in military work.

Pre-tax profits fell by three quarters to £2.5m, down from £10m, accounts filed at Companies House show. But the group is hopeful it will win more military contracts and more work in the renewable energy and offshore wind power sector.

Cammell Laird had warned last year that it expected turnover to fall as there was a pause in military work.

In 2013 it signed a five-year contract extension to maintain nine Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) vessels.

During the year it completed refits of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary’s vessels Wave Knight, Black Rover, Fort Austin, Wave Ruler and Fort Rosalie. The latter replenishment stores supply ship Afloat adds is berthed in the facility's wet basin. Ulysses is also berthed here having completed a Dublin-Holyhead sailing then continued to Merseyside to arrive on Wednesday.  

The yard also completed work on parts of the Prince of Wales aircraft carrier, and did work for BAE Systems on the Astute Submarine.

Cammell Laird also completed contracts with firms including Irish Ferries, P&O and the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company.

In November 2015, Cammell Laird won the contract to design and build the new polar research vessel the RRS Sir David Attenborough – the boat almost named Boaty McBoatface. The project secured more than 400 jobs at the yard and another 100 jobs with local suppliers.

Sir David visited the shipyard last October for the keel-laying ceremony.

The Merseyside newspaper has more to report on  the shipyard's activities here.

Afloat adds that the yard also won a £6m contract to build a new carferry, Strangford II. The newbuild however during berthing trials last month on Strangford Lough as previously reported encountered vehicle ramp issues.

Published in Ports & Shipping

#PortTransfer - Minister for Transport Shane Ross has said the transfer of the Dún Laoghaire Harbour Company to local authority control is taking too long, writes The Irish Times.

“Dún Laoghaire is certainly the slowest of these ports that will be taken into local authority control,’’ Mr Ross said.
“I accept the delay in decision-making and progress in any direction is not satisfactory.’’

The company, which is the State enterprise responsible for the maintenance and development of the harbour, is to be transferred to the control of Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council under the Harbours Act 2015.

Mr Ross said the council had commissioned consultants to conduct the “due diligence’’ of the company and had recently forwarded a draft report for the company’s consideration.
He said he also understood both sides had established transitional teams to work on the practical issues associated with the transfer.

Mr Ross was responding to a strongly-worded attack on the company in the Dáil by Dún Laoghaire AAA-PBP TD Richard Boyd Barrrett.

For more on the port transfer story, click here

Published in Dublin Bay

#NewTug – A new tug to Cork Harbour was notably seen with a water display to welcome the arrival of LE Samuel Beckett following the crew’s gallant yet harrowing experience in the rescue of migrant refugees in the Mediterranean, writes Jehan Ashmore.

Afloat has identified the tug as Stevns Breaker which has been acquired by Doyle Shipping Group (DSG). The newcomer had been noted in advance of the OPV90 class patrol vessel's Haulbowline homecoming last Friday, having berthed alongside Cork Dockyard also part of the DSG group. 

The 70 bollard pull (bp) tug now under the Irish flag joined DSG's Rushbrooke and Cobh based fleet of tugs, worklines-boats in addition their nearby Cross River Ferries operation. 

Launched in 2010 as Stevns Breaker the tug would later became part of the Danish tug giant Svitzer which renamed the tug on two occasions as Svitzer Nabi followed by Svitzer Hutton.  

The almost 32m long green hulled tug reverted back to her original name to join Irish fleetmate Breedbank of 30 (bp) which sports a red hull. Together the pair assisted the berthing of LE Samuel Beckett at the Naval Base.

Prior to the arrival of the 'Operations Pontus' serving patrol ship, Naval Service flagship LE Eithne vacated the outer Oil Berth to free up this quay for the OPV90 vessel. This led to the LE Eithne shift berths into the confines of the naval basin.

Also berthed in the basin is the laid-up  'Aisling'. Since decomissioning the ship is no longer named with the official LÉ prefix which stands for Long Éireannach/Irish Ship.

A decision has yet to be announced by the Department of Defence as to the future role of the final ‘Emer’ class OPV. There have been calls to have Aisling as a floating museum in Galway Port, given the veteran vessel is twinned with the mid-west single dock basin harbour.

 

Published in Cork Harbour
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