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Displaying items by tag: Dublin Port

12th March 2011

Tall Order for Ireland

Sailing in Ireland could yet have a tall ship to replace the Asgard II and the Lord Rank. A meeting in Dublin in late March represents a major step forward in the process to put an Irish tall ship back on the high seas.

The open workshop, to be held on March 26th, will be facilitated by Dublin Port, and will include state interests, tourism interests, commercial port interests, youth organisations, maritime organisations and education groups, together with the former Lord Rank and Asgard II operators.

The catalyst for the initiative is a 'reference group' which represents a broad cross-section of interests, both North and South. Operating under the chairmanship of Lord Glentoran, and supported by Dr Gerard O'Hare, David Beattie and Enda O'Coineen, the group has also engaged a professional consulting firm to move the process along.

The initial focus is on the necessary organisation and rationale behind building a new vessel, while scientifically quantifying the benefits to build a plan and justification.

The view taken is that, while there may be no money available at this time, there is no excuse for not having a plan and the idea is to create ' joined-up' thinking. And while the government in the South placed the insurance money paid out on Asgard II back into general exchequer funds, the insurance payment on the Lord Rank was kept and ' ring-fenced' for this new initiative.

To date, there have been several meetings of the reference group. The planned workshop on the subject at Dublin Port March 26 is open and interested parties are invited to contribute. It will also bring together for the first time the leaders of Tallships in Dublin, Belfast, Waterford and Cork.
Ultimately Tall Ships is about youth training and development; without an active Tall Ship, it will be very difficult for Ireland to attract Tall Ship events. The new reference group will work to support the new Sail Training Ireland Association initiative, and link in with Sail Training International which runs Tall Ship events.

Following the Dublin workshop, Belfast Harbour Commissioners will host a working meeting of the group in early May to finalise a plan, present to stakeholders and create a roadmap forward.

"In addition to youth training, a working Tall Ship forms a brilliant ambassadorial role promoting tourism, enterprise and commercial interests," said Lord Glentoran. "It is something that we can all relate to and it has universal acceptance for youth training on an island of Ireland basis." Lord Glentoran has a long commitment to youth sail training and was Chairman of the organising committee that brought the Tall Ships to Belfast in 1991.

The reference group is seeking to engage with as many stakeholders as possible, and has pledged that the new vessel will be owned by the community in Ireland and the Irish Diaspora. The initial view is that the project clearly needs to be linked with the institutions of State - North and South - as are universities state agencies and ports, while at the same time having a strong private support network making for a mix of public and private funding, "We now have a brilliant opportunity to look around the world, establish best practice in the best kind of vessel, how to fund it and to quantify the benefits for each of the stakeholder group," said Enda O'Coineen, who has been instrumental in bringing the group together. In addition to being a former Coiste and Asgard Director, he is the founding Chairman of Let's Do It Global, which brought the Volvo Ocean Race to Galway and successfully raced the Green Dragon around the world.

O'Coineen added that a "world class solution" can be created and that its benefits can be financially quantified, which would allow supporters to make a compelling business case to divert and use existing funds in Tourism, Enterprise and Youth Training. "While there is no money available now to support the scale and professionalism needed, this is not an excuse not to have a plan and a vision," he added.

Since the loss of the Asgard II and Lord Rank, Ireland has been left with no sail training opportunities for young people and likewise for maritime development, enterprise and tourism. If nothing is done, future generations will suffer. The reference group believes that the solution is the construction of an Ireland - North and South - training vessel, fulfilling several roles with a common mission and resourced according to quantifiable benefits delivered to stakeholders. It is also open to the use of an existing vessel - a key component being suitability and the operations budget.

The proposed Tall Ship project will enhance skills and opportunities for young people across the island, regardless of background, class or education. It could be used to showcase Ireland as a brand at overseas events and it could also host international students who wish to come to the island of Ireland, as is the case with many of the International Tall Ships Programmes already running on a global scale which create a huge amount of tourism for their respective countries.

The reference group notes that the Tall Ships concept appeals to young and old alike as the romanticism behind the concept touches on history, social studies, legacy, family, travel, adventure and, most importantly, fun. Tall Ships allow people to dream. They do however have an underlying seriousness and the concept is grounded in methodology that has been tested and proven the world over.

An advertisement in March/April of Afloat magazine - out now - gives full detials of the 'Tall Ship for Ireland' Workshop

Should Ireland be represented at the Tall Ships Races at Waterford 2011 and Dublin 2012? We want your vote on our Facebook Poll HERE.

Looking for further reading on Tall Ships in Ireland? Click the links below:

Click this link to read all our Tall Ships Stories on one handy page


Previewing Ireland's Tall Ships 2011 Season


Published in Tall Ships
The ro-ro freight-ferry Norcape departed Dublin Port this evening for what is believed to be her last sailing operating under the colours of P&O (Irish Sea) and in which the 1979 built vessel originally served a career with B+I Line as the Tipperary, writes Jehan Ashmore.
Replacing the 14,087gross tonnes vessel is the 22,152grt ro-pax European Endeavour which is expected to enter service next Tuesday. The vessel built in 2000, can take 130 lorries and has a larger passenger capacity for 210 passengers compared to the existing route's 17,464grt ro-pax sisters Norbay and Norbank.

This will enable P&O to offer up to three Ro-Pax style sailings a day on the 7.5 hour route instead of the previous two-plus one ro-ro (freight-only operated) service. The Norcape could take 125 drop trailers but only had 12-passenger cabins (for freight accompanied truck-drivers).

Norcape was only re-introduced onto the Irish Sea last year but made her final departure tonight as the vessel headed into a foggy Dublin Bay.

In 1979 the Japanese built vessel was launched as the Puma for P&O but was chartered to B+I Line and renamed Tipperary. During the 1980's the vessel first operated a then new Dublin-Fleetwood route jointly operated with P&O, alongside Tipperary's Ro-Ro sister, Ibex. The P&O brand name Pandoro cleverly stood for P and O Ro, their roll-on roll-off freight division. 

TIPPERARY

Cut-away deck profile of M.V. Tipperary and sistership of M.V. Ibex

The route's UK port switched to Liverpool in 1988 with Tipperary remaining on the route until sold to North Sea Ferries in 1989 and renamed Norcape. Prior to her transfer to the North Sea, the Tipperary collided with the 4,674grt bulker Sumburgh Head off the entrance to Dublin Port on 18 February 1988. For a report and photo taken of the two vessels which met at the port last year under different names click here.

Like the Tipperary the Sumburgh Head was built in Japan too by Hashihama Zosen KK, Imabari in 1977, yard no. 624. During her Dublin Bay incident, the vessel was owned by Christian Salvesen (Shipping) Ltd based in Edinburgh.

In 1990 she was sold to Barra Head Shipping Ltd and renamed Hood Head under the Irish flag. Three years later sold again to the KG Jebsen group and renamed Husnes.

The Panamanian flagged bulker remained with the Norwegian owner until 2003 when sold to her current owners, Wilson Shipowning AS of Bergen and renamed Wilson Tana, this time under the Maltese flag.

Published in Ferry
It was a Valentine's Day start for Seatruck Ferries opening of the Dublin-Heysham freight-only route, writes Jehan Ashmore.
Initiating the service, the port welcomed back a familiar vessel, the chartered Anglia Seaways which only a fortnight ago had operated the same route before DFDS Seaways closed Irish Sea operations.

The vessel has accommodation for 12 drivers. Most of the daily sailings depart Dublin at 15:15hrs and return from the Lancashire port at 02:15hrs. On certain days the schedules vary, to view the timetable click here.

In addition to the new route for Seatruck Ferries, the freight-only operator has a fleet of 8 vessels on routes between Dublin-Liverpool, Warrenpoint-Heysham and Larne-Heysham.

Anglia Seaways arrived into Dublin yesterday morning from Avonmouth Docks, where the 120 unit capacity vessel went into temporary lay-up period, since departing the Irish capital on 31 January (see related posting and photo).

The 13,073grt vessel revived the 8-hour route yesterday with an afternoon sailing bound for Heysham. The vessel was originally reported to be relocated to Baltic Sea operations, but with its charter to Seatruck, the DFDS Seaways funnel symbol of the Maltese cross was painted out.

Though, the Maltese cross can still be seen in Irish ports with calls made by sisterships, Dana Gothia (ex. Maersk Westland) and Dana Hollandia (formerly Maersk Waterford) which are part of the DFDS Group container subsidiary DFDS Logistics.

In total the Lo-Lo shipping division operates four vessels on several routing options with weekly calls to Belfast, Dublin, Cork and Waterford to Rotterdam and Zeebrugge.

The German built sisters originally operated Dublin-Rotterdam and Waterford-Rotterdam routes for Norfolk Line (a subsidiary of Maersk / A.P. Moller Group).Incidentally Maersk /Norfolkline also owned the Anglia Seaways until DFDS Seaways purchased the vessel last year.

Published in Ferry

The Dublin Port Company has approved for the railway extension of the existing track tramway on Alexandra Road in order to serve one of the port's Lo-Lo container terminals, writes Jehan Ashmore.

The new extension is to directly connect rail-freight trains to the Common User Container Terminal at Alexandra Quay East. The extension will make a right turn off the Alexandra Road immediately after the Tara Mines zinc unloading facility and then along the quayside to the terminal, close to Ocean Pier.

Currently there are three weekly rail-freight trains running between Ballina, Co. Mayo and Dublin port, where the containers are required to be loaded and unloaded on Alexandra Road. From this location they are transferred by road to the terminal. When the new rail-tramway is completed in April, this will reduce costs by eliminating the transfer.

The rail-freight service to Dublin Port started operations in August 2009 and is run as a public private partnership between International Warehousing & Transport (IWT), Iarnrod Eireann and Dublin Port. IWT is the only train operator to the port, but it is believed that the Dublin Port Company has received a number of enquiries from other port users who are interested in using the new facility.

IWT are also agents for Tschudi Shipping and Tschudi Logistics on services to the Belgium, The Netherlands, Scandinavia and the Baltic Sea which use the Common User Container Terminal. The terminal is operated by the Burke Shipping Group through its subsidiary Portroe Stevedores. Other clients using the terminal are Cobelfret, C2C Lines, APL, Coastal Containers, Evergreen, Gracechurch and OOCL.

In addition to the terminal, the port operates two other container facilities at the Dublin Ferryport Terminal (DFT) and the Marine Terminals Ltd (MTL). According to figures released yesterday, Dublin Port recorded growth in Lo-Lo container volumes by 1.1% with an outturn of 554,259 TEU in 2010.

Dublin Port's position as the island's largest Lo-Lo (unitised) port was reinforced by the rail-freight services to Ballina. According to IWT the service on an annual basis saves up to 5.5m road kilometres and CO2 emissions are reduced by as much as 2,750 tonnes. In addition the service removes up to 10,000 trucks away from the roads.

The Common User Container Terminal is also a multi-model terminal, as Ro-Ro traffic started in 2009 with the installation of a new ramp at berth 36/37 at Ocean Pier, Alexandra Basin East. In 2010 the port recorded Ro-Ro freight units increase by 12.8% to 725,665 which is less than 1% down from the port's highest ever throughput.

Ro-Ro growth in 2010 was driven in part by the new CLdN /Cobelfret Ro-Ro services to Zeebrugge and Rotterdam. CLdN's ro-ro Yasmine made a recent first-time visit to the port followed by the newest vessel of the Belgium owned fleet, Amandine (see photo) the last of six con-ro newbuilds, which too made an inaugural visit to the port. The 195-m vessel departed from the upgraded ramp at Ocean Pier yesterday bound for Rotterdam.

For further port traffic figures which showed an overall increase in the port's volumes of 6.1% in 2010, logon here

Published in Ports & Shipping

Dublin Port Company today published trade statistics for 2010 which showed an increase in the port's volumes of 6.1% in 2010.

Total throughput for the year was 28.1m tonnes which is less than 10% down from the port's best ever performance in 2007 at the height of the boom. Export traffic was particularly strong with 12.6% growth in the year.

Screen_shot_2011-02-08_at_11.27.28

Growth was concentrated in the unitised modes but was partially offset by declines in bulk liquid and bulk solid cargoes due directly to the sluggish performance of the economy.

The volume of Ro-Ro freight units increased by 12.8% to 725,665 which is less than 1% down from the port's highest ever throughput. This performance confirms Dublin Port as the island's premier port for Ro-Ro. Growth in the year was driven in part by the new CLdN Ro-Ro services to Zeebrugge and Rotterdam.

Growth in Lo-Lo container volumes was 1.1% with an outturn of 554,259 TEU in 2010.

Dublin's position as the island's largest unitised port was reinforced by the commencement of rail freight services linking Dublin to Ballina. Demand for these services continues to grow and during 2011, we expect rail freight to remove up to 10,000 trucks from the road.

Further underpinning Dublin Port's popularity among RoRo shipping lines was the decision by Seatruck Ferries yesterday to announce a new freight- only service linking Dublin with Heysham which will commence Monday 14 Feb 2011.

Imports of fuel oil products (motor fuel and aviation spirit) dropped 6.5% in the year to 3.8m tonnes. Notwithstanding this decline, Dublin Port remains the country's most important port for oil imports, accounting for more than 50% of national demand.

In the bulk solid mode, there was a 7.9% decline to 1.5m tonnes in the year due to the continued decline in demand for construction materials. Trade cars imported through Dublin Port doubled to 47,249 in the year and there was also a strong performance in the ferry passenger business with numbers up 17.6% to 1.8m.

Screen_shot_2011-02-08_at_11.27.36

In addition to the ferry business, Dublin Port remained the country's largest port for cruise ship visits with 85 cruise ship calls bringing 130,000 tourists and crew to the city during the year.

Discussing Dublin Port Company's outlook for trade levels in 2011, Eamonn O'Reilly, Chief Executive of Dublin Port Company, said:

"2010 was an exceptional year for Dublin Port. Notwithstanding the poor performance of the economy, port volumes grew by 6.1% as importers and exporters sought to minimise the cost of moving goods to market. Passenger and tourism volumes were also very buoyant as the benefits and reliability of ferry travel became clear particularly during the ash-cloud crisis.

"For 2011, we are projecting continued growth, albeit at a reduced level compared to 2010."Dublin Port's success is due to its location at the centre of the largest concentration of population on the island and also to the exceptional connections to the national road and rail networks. Dublin is close to the main markets, and shipping services are available from a wide range of excellent ferry and container lines offering importers and exporters competitive and reliable routes to market. We are very conscious of the central role Dublin Port plays in facilitating merchandise trade, the value of which is in excess of 80% of Ireland's GDP, and we are committed to continuing to develop the port in line with the needs of the economy and funded from our own resources."

Dublin Port Company's Annual Report for 2010 will be published later in the year.

Published in Dublin Port
The Anglia Seaways became the last vessel of the DFDS Seaways fleet to depart Dublin yesterday, following the official closure of the operator's Irish Sea services at the weekend, writes Jehan Ashmore.
In January DFDS announced the closure of the Dublin-Liverpool (Birkenhead Twelve Quays Terminal) and the freight-only Dublin-Heysham routes with the loss of 200 jobs to include 50 shore-staff based at the Irish terminal.

The ro-pax Dublin Seaways made a last crossing with a Saturday morning arrival at Birkenhead. After disembarking passengers, vehicles and freight traffic, the 21,856grt vessel immediately departed the Mersey for a short-term deployment on the company's North Sea Rosyth-Zeebrugge service.

Sistership, Liverpool Seaways also completed her last crossing to Birkenhead with an overnight Saturday sailing. This was the final scheduled sailing under DFDS Seaways ownership and marked the last foot-passenger crossing on the Liverpool route as rival operators P&O (Irish Sea) and Seatruck Ferries do not cater for this market.

The vessel returned to Dublin yesterday from Birkenhead; this was to facilitate the loading of drop-trailers and terminal based tugmasters (engine-driven truck/cabs) that tow unaccompanied trailers on the roll-on roll-off vessels. After a short turn around at the terminal, Liverpool Seaways departed Dublin, bound for Immingham. The UK east coast port is where DFDS operate an extensive freight route network across the North Sea.

DFDS_SEAWAYS

The ro-pax Liverpool Seaways and freight-ferry Anglia Seaways berthed in Dublin Port yesterday prior to sailing away from the Irish Sea. Photo Jehan Ashmore / ShipSNAPS

In addition the 13,704grt Anglia Seaways also docked in Dublin yesterday from Heysham to perform similar duties like the Liverpool Seaways. Several hours later, the 114-trailer capacity vessel set a southbound course past The Muglins, bound for Avonmouth.

DFDS cited its decision to exit entirely from Irish Sea sector due to the sharp decline in the Irish and UK economies in 2008 and 2009. The company suffered continuous losses on its remaining routes and the issue of over-capacity, particularly on the north Irish Sea.

Only last December, the Danish owned shipping operator sold its other two Irish Sea routes to Stena Line in a £40m acquisition deal. This is all the more remarkable considering DFDS Seaways purchased the previous route operator, Norfolkline's Irish Sea division of their four routes and seven vessels, in July 2010.

The sale to Stena covered the three terminals used on the Belfast routes to Birkenhead and Heysham, which is another freight-only service. In addition the acquisition involved the sale of the South Korean built freight-ferries Hibernia Seaways and Scotia Seaways; like the Anglia Seaways they were all former Norfolkline / Maersk Line vessels.

Interestingly the acquisition is to include the purchase of the chartered 27,510grt ro-pax sisters Lagan Seaways and Mersey Seaways. When the Visentini built sisters were completed at the Italian shipyard, they were placed on the Belfast-Birkenhead route in 2005.

On 1 December Stena Line UK Ltd acquired DFDS Seaways Irish Sea Ferries Ltd (since renamed Stena Line Irish Ferries Ltd). Although the acquisition of SL ISF by Stena Line has been completed and DFDS no longer owns SL ISF, Stena Line await formal approval from the Irish competition authority and the UK's Office of Fair Trading (OFT) to integrate SL ISF into the wider Stena Line business.

In the meantime during this transitional period, it is business as usual for customers using the Belfast-Birkenhead and Belfast-Heysham routes. Online bookings continue to be accepted on www.dfdsseaways.com or tel: (01) 819 2999 and in the UK tel: 0871 230 033

Published in Ferry
Three large vessels from one company arrived into Dublin Port on Sunday, to include an inaugural call of the 49,166 tonnes M.V. Pauline from Zeebrugge, writes Jehan Ashmore.
At 203-metres the Pauline built in 2006, made a special once-off sailing to the capital to cope with the demand in January car-sales imports. Nearly 1,000 vehicles were carried between the Pauline and the 195-metre Opaline which arrived later on the day from Rotterdam.

Normally the Pauline operates on other routes. She along with her sister Yasmine are the largest vessels in the Compagnie Luxemburgeoise de navigation SA (CLnd) / Cobelfret fleet. The vessels are of the Con-Ro design, also known as the 'HumberMax' vessels which have 5,632 lane metres capable of carrying 258 container trailers and 656 cars.

Apart from the Dublin debut of the Pauline which docked at Ocean Pier, the final vessel of the trio, Celestine (1996 / 23,986grt) was the first to arrive from Zeebrugge, docking at the ferryport berth 51A (also used daily by Stena Line vessels). Like the Pauline, the Opaline (2009 / 25,235grt) docked at Ocean Pier and is the newest and last of six newbuilds built from German yard of FGS Flensburg.

CLnD won the Short-Sea Shipping Company Award in 2010 at the Irish Exporter Awards in November and hosted by the Irish Exporter Association (IEA). The award was sponsored by the Irish Maritime Development Office (IMDO) which recognises the strategically important role of short sea shipping to our island economy.

There are four sailings operated by CLnD between Dublin Port and Rotterdam / Zeebrugge. From the Dutch port there are onward sailings linking Göteborg and Esbjerg while the Belgian route connects the UK ports of Killingholme, Purfleet and Ipswich.

The development of the Irish routes are part of the "Motorways of the Sea", an EU-wide programme to promote a modal shift of goods from congested roads to alternative sea transportation. In addition to the concept is the international trend in the use of larger and more efficient vessels.

In October 2009 CLnD /Cobelfret switched their Irish operations from Rosslare to Dublin Port. The transfer to Dublin allowed CLnD to introduce larger tonnage at the then newly upggraded No. 2 ro-ro linkspan at Ocean Pier, Alexandra Basin East.

CLdN ro-ro SA and CLdN ro-ro UK offer ro-ro connections from Belgium and the Netherlands to the UK, Ireland, Sweden and Denmark. Both divisions share a combined core fleet of 20 vessels. Some ships including the Pauline are registered and flagged from land-locked Luxembourg. The fleet operate on short sea ro-ro trade routes, occasionally supplemented by time chartered tonnage, which accommodate trailers, containers, vehicles and other rolling equipment.

Published in Ports & Shipping
DFDS Seaways recent announcement to close its operations on the Irish Sea this month is a major blow considering the Danish company entered the Irish-UK ferry market only six-months ago, writes Jehan Ashmore.
The Dublin-Birkenhead (Liverpool) and freight-only Dublin-Heysham service is to close at the end of this month. Up to 200 staff are to lose their jobs of which 48 are shore-based positions in Dublin Port. DFDS cite its decision to exit entirely from Irish Sea operations due to the sharp decline in the economies of both countries in 2008 and 2009 and the issue of over-capacity.

The routes represented a fifth of the freight market and will result in the withdrawal of the twin 21,856grt passenger ferry (ro-pax) sisters, Dublin Viking and Liverpool Viking on the 7-hour Mersey route and the 13,000grt freighter Anglia Seaways on the route to Lancashire.

In recent years, new tonnage notably in the form of four freight-only newbuilds commissioned for Seatruck Ferries on their Warrenpoint-Heysham and Dublin-Liverpool routes has added to intense competition in a crowded north Irish Sea ferry-freight sector.

The process to purchase Norfolkline's Irish Sea operations by DFDS Seaways was finally completed in mid-summer of last year. The acquisition saw the Scandinavian newcomer take control of four routes between Birkenhead-Belfast / Dublin and the freight-only Heysham-Belfast / Dublin services and a fleet of seven vessels, four (ro-pax) ferries and three freight-only vessels.

DFDS Seaways latest decision is all the more dramatic as the company in early December then sold both Belfast routes to Birkenhead and Heysham to Stena Line. In addition the £40m acquisition included the sale of the chartered 27,510 ro-pax sisters Lagan Seaways and Mersey Seaways and the 13,000grt freighter half-sisters, Scotia Seaways and Hibernia Seaways. The deal is significant in that Stena will make an inaugural foothold on the Merseyside market.

With the sea-changes swirling in the Irish Sea market, the dominant player is with out doubt Stena Line. The ferry operator closed late last year the Larne-Fleetwood route and three vessels (for more information about those vessels click here) yet the inclusion of the former DFDS Belfast-Heysham route is closely similar with neighbouring ports and newer larger vessels.

The acquisition by Stena of the loss making routes from DFDS last month also coincided with a review to be conducted by the Danish companies remaining Dublin routes to Birkenhead and Heysham. The findings of that review were concluded with this months' decision by DFDS to close down the routes, marking the Scandinavians operators brief foray on the Irish Sea ferry scene.

Published in Ports & Shipping
A second drill-rig platform, the Pauline was positioned in Dublin Bay on Friday, to investigate suitable conditions for an outfall discharge pipe from the Ringsend wastewater treatment plant, writes Jehan Ashmore.

The work is part of a Dublin City Council project to evaluate an extension at the Ringsend plant where treated water will be released into the bay. The council are conducting detailed feasibility studies which will be examined for an Environmental Impact Assessment.

To date the project has involved two other rigs, the Aran 250 and the larger Excalibur which remains in the bay. The barges will be towed to 20 pre-determined bore-hole locations in the bay where the jack-up rig barges operate 'legs' to sit on the seabed which enables a steady working platform. The rigs are operating on a continuous basis in an area covering most of Dublin Bay and close to the Burford Bank on the eastern fringes.

In addition a buoy will be positioned 300-metres of the barge during drill operations, which is expected to take approximately one week for each drill. For information on the location of the bore-holes, they can viewed from the Dublin Port website by clicking HERE The project is expected to be completed in late Spring.

Several support craft are engaged in the project that recently included the Seabed Worker, a 3,923 gross tonnes Norwegian anchor-handling tug supply vessel (AHTS) the tugs Multratug 7, MTS Valiant and Trojan and the RIB-craft sisters, Brian Boru and James Joyce which are on standby duties. Like the Trojan, the 12-seater RIBS are based at the Poolbeg Yacht Club Marina where in the tourist season the craft provide excursions in Dublin Bay for Sea Safari Tours. In October the project also required the services of the yellow-hulled catamaran, Xplorer to carry out a bathymetric survey of Dublin Bay. The larger tugs and rigs are based opposite in Alexandra Basin / Ocean Pier.

The largest drill-rig working to date on the project, the Excalibur arrived under the tow of the Multratug 7 on a misty morning on Christmas Day. Due to the weather conditions the red-hulled craft slipped quietly into the port. Several days later the imposing looking craft re-emerged with its six-towering jack-up 'sea-legs' that jutted skywards into an otherwise horizontal expanse of Dublin Bay.

The sight of the rig has presented many onlookers to mistakenly believe the drilling was for oil!...Not so but the assumption is not surprising given the reports last year of an oil-field discovery named the Dalkey Island Prospect. The name for the oil-field was referred to Dalkey, as the coastal suburb on the southern shores is the nearest landfall to the exploratory well sites at the Kish Bank Basin.

In fact this kind of exploratory activity was again to confuse residents throughout the bay when the drill-ship, Fugro Synergy was offshore at the Kish Bank between December 2009 and early Spring of 2010. Though on this occasion the search was not for oil but coal!

During this period the 5,200 tonnes vessel equipped with a drill-tower, seemed to be a near permanent feature on the horizon. A series of drill-wells up to 3,500-metres were conducted when the 2009 built ship was contracted to Irish based VP Power Ltd, to determine the commercial viability of extracting coal from the sea for generating electricity. The Underground Coal Gasification (UCG) project is a process where coal is heated in underwater rock reservoirs to extract gas, essentially converting gas-from-coal energy. Otherwise this method is commonly referred to as a 'clean' technology.

In addition to last year's search for deposits of large coal seams under the seabed, there was reports of a significant natural resource in the form of oil!... when several exploratory blocks again in the Kish Bank Basin were surveyed. The company behind this venture, Provident Resources, another Irish based exploration company, conducted initial oil surveys using air-born craft and as such no actual drill-based ships or rigs were used. Though should any oil flow, such an operation would be required.

Incidentally the Excalibur is designed also to perform offshore wind turbine installation work and is equipped with a 250-ton crane to hoist the wind-farm components. The vessel is operated by Fugro Seacore, a subsidiary of the Dutch parent company, Fugro, which also managed the drill-ship Fugro Synergy.

Published in Dublin Bay
At this quiet time of the year, vessels from Irish Sea ferry operators are taken off routes to undergo annual dry-docking, writes Jehan Ashmore.

In the case of Irish Ferries, their Rosslare-Pembroke Dock route vessel, Isle of Inishmore arrived on the Mersey yesterday at the Cammell Laird dry-dock facility in Birkenhead.

The 1997 Dutch-built Isle of Inishmore had relieved the 50,938 tonnes 'flagship' Ulysses from the Dublin-Holyhead route which too had gone to Birkenhead for maintenance since January 4th.

The Ulysses is now back on service and the company's French routes cruiseferry, Oscar Wilde is covering the Isle of Inishmore's absence from Rosslare-Pembroke Dock sailings.

Continental services to France on the Rosslare-Cherbourg route will resume on February 16th when the Oscar Wilde returns from her overall. The Bahamas flagged vessel will re-open seasonal Rosslare-Roscoff sailings starting on May 13th.

In addition to conventional tonnage Irish Ferries also operate the fast-craft catamaran Jonathan Swift in tandem with Ulysses on the Dublin-Holyhead route. The Ulysses takes 3 hours 25 minutes while the 39-knot catamaran craft marketed as the Dublin 'Swift' is advertised with a scheduled passage time of 1 hour and 49 minutes.

The Australian-built catamaran was taken off the central corridor route yesterday to be drydocked also in Birkenhead until January 18th. Dublin Swift sailings return to the Dublin-Holyhead route on February 19th with the first crossing to depart at 14.30 hours from the capital port.

For the latest information on ferry sailings and reservations click: www.irishferries.com

Published in Ports & Shipping
Page 47 of 50

William M Nixon has been writing about sailing in Ireland and internationally for many years, with his work appearing in leading sailing publications on both sides of the Atlantic. He has been a regular sailing columnist for four decades with national newspapers in Dublin, and has had several sailing books published in Ireland, the UK, and the US. An active sailor, he has owned a number of boats ranging from a Mirror dinghy to a Contessa 35 cruiser-racer, and has been directly involved in building and campaigning two offshore racers. His cruising experience ranges from Iceland to Spain as well as the Caribbean and the Mediterranean, and he has raced three times in both the Fastnet and Round Ireland Races, in addition to sailing on two round Ireland records. A member for ten years of the Council of the Irish Yachting Association (now the Irish Sailing Association), he has been writing for, and at times editing, Ireland's national sailing magazine since its earliest version more than forty years ago

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