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#Ferry - Ferry operator Stena Line has reached an important milestone in its major new fleet investment programme with steel-cutting of a third E-Flexer RoPax ship to be deployed on its Irish Sea routes.

This means that all three of Stena Line’s new E-Flexer ships, planned to enter into service on the Irish Sea during 2020 and 2021, are now under construction at the Avic Weihai Shipyard in China.

The first of the new vessels will commence operation on the Holyhead to Dublin route in early 2020, with the remaining two ships to be introduced on the Liverpool to Belfast route in 2020 and 2021.

Stena Line Chief Operating Officer Peter Arvidsson commented: “We are delighted to report that the steel cutting ceremony for the third of our Irish Sea E-Flexer ships has now taken place and that construction is going to plan across all three of our new generation RoPax vessels. Having visited the site several times, we are very impressed with the work being carried out by Stena RoRo, the Avic shipyard and its subcontractors.”

All three Irish Sea E-Flexer vessels will be bigger than today’s standard RoPax vessels at 215 meters long with a freight capacity of 3,100 lane meters and the space to carry 120 cars and 1,000 passengers.

In addition, Stena Line has also ordered a further two E-Flexer RoPax vessels with a larger design, to be deployed within Stena Line’s network in 2022. These larger ships will be 240 meters long with a total freight capacity of 3,600 lane meters, and passenger capacity of 1,200.

“With continued investment in our fleet, we want to lead the development of sustainable shipping and set new industry standards when it comes to operational performance, emissions and cost competiveness,” added Mr Arvidsson.

Stena Line is the largest ferry operator on the Irish Sea, offering the biggest fleet and the widest choice of routes between Britain and Ireland including Liverpool to Belfast, Heysham to Belfast, Cairnryan to Belfast, Holyhead to Dublin and Fishguard to Rosslare, a total of 232 weekly sailings. The company also offers a direct service from Rosslare to Cherbourg with three return crossings a week.

Internationally, Stena Line is one of Europe’s leading ferry companies with 38 vessels and 21 routes in Northern Europe.

The company is an important part of the European logistics network and develops new intermodal freight solutions by combining transport by rail, road and sea.

Stena Line also plays an important role for tourism in Europe with its extensive passenger operations.

The company is family-owned, was founded in 1962 and is headquartered in Gothenburg.

Stena Line is part of the Stena AB Group, which has about 15 000 employees and an annual turnover of around 36.5 billion SEK.

Published in Ferry

#FerryNews - Operator, Stena Line welcomed over 70,000 Chinese visitors on its Irish Sea vessels this year having become the first passenger ferry company in Europe to achieve the Chinese Tourist Welcome (CTW) Certification.

The CTW is officially recognised by tour operators in China and Europe. In addition the certification is also the official travel service standard and travel platform recognised by the China Tourism Academy (CTA), China's main governmental research and promotion institute, under the Chinese National Tourism Authority (CNTA).

Diane Poole OBE, Stena Line’s Travel Commercial Manager (Irish Sea South) said: “We’re extremely proud that we have been able to achieve this unique service standard for our Irish Sea services. Stena Line became the first passenger ferry company in Europe to be awarded the CTW certification for our ex Belfast routes last year and I’m delighted that our ex Dublin services have now followed suit and are officially ‘China Ready’. The number of Chinese visitors we have been welcoming onboard our Stena Line vessels has been growing significantly in recent years so it’s important that we do all we can to make our guests feel welcome and valued.”

Diane added: “We made a number of changes onboard including updating our current services, products and communications to ensure that we we’re ‘China Ready’ and focused on providing a special welcome to all of our Chinese passengers. We already welcome around 70,000 Chinese tourists annually on our Irish Sea routes and our latest certification means we are now recognised as the first in Europe to ensure that Chinese guests are treated to the best possible standards.”

The training programme was delivered by China Outbound Tourism Research Institute (COTRI), the world’s leading independent research institute for Chinese outbound tourism, and the Centre for Competitiveness (Ireland).

Dr Tony Lenehan, Executive Director of the Centre for Competitiveness and COTRI (Ireland) said: “The commitment to ensuring that a special and focused welcome from the crew onboard and ashore from the Stena Line teams awaits the Chinese Tourist is a great example of the professionalism and dedication to excellence which is synonymous with Stena Line as a major tourism and travel operator.”

Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland, said: “Congratulations to Stena Line on welcoming 70,000 Chinese passengers this year and on becoming the first passenger ferry company in Europe to achieve the Chinese Welcome Certification. Stena Line has taken part in several of Tourism Ireland’s sales missions to China in recent years – so it’s really great to see the result of those promotions and the significant growth in the number of Chinese visitors travelling on Stena Line vessels.

“The potential of the Chinese outbound travel market is significant, with Chinese travellers expected to number 250 million in the next few years. Currently, 4 million Chinese travel to Europe annually and Tourism Ireland is working hard to win a greater share of that business for the island of Ireland.”

 

Published in Ferry

#MarineNotice - Fugro is currently carrying out marine operations in the Irish Sea on behalf of Alcatel Submarine Networks for the Havhingsten Subsea Cable System project.

The works from Loughshinny in North Co Dublin on an east-northeasterly route were scheduled to commence yesterday (Wednesday 26 September) and will last for around 30 days.

The vessel involved is the MV Fugro Helmert (Callsign: ZDNM8), which is running hull-mounted multibeam echo sounder lines along the proposed route.

Towing equipment such as magnetometer and side-scan sonar will be used during the shallow water phase, from around 105m of water depth and shallower.

The vessel will slow down or stop from time to time to measure the speed of sound in the water, and to perform geotechnical measurements.

A dynamic programme of survey is to be conducted in several stages. The survey vessel will be deployed within the working area at times and positions determined by client requirements, weather and sea conditions.

Inshore survey operations will be conducted on a 12-hour basis (daylight). Offshore survey operations will be conducted on a 24-hour basis.

Throughout the offshore survey, the vessel will be displaying shapes and lights prescribed in the International Rules for the Prevention of Collisions at Sea (COLREGS) Rule 27 to indicate that the survey vessels are restricted in their ability to manoeuvre.

A listening watch will be maintained on VHF Channel 16, and the vessels will actively transmit an AIS signal.

Details of co-ordinates are included in Marine Notice 35 of 2018, a PDF of which is available to read or download HERE.

Published in News Update

#Jellyfish - Ireland’s recent invasion of lion’s mane jellyfish has extended from Galway Bay to the East Coast, where a teenager was hospitalised after a nasty sting in recent days.

Herald.ie reports that 14-year-old Jack Dunne was stung over most of his body after getting entangled in the tentacles of a lion’s mane while swimming with friends off Port Beach, near Togher in Co Louth.

The teen needed “strong antihistamines and anti-inflammatory tablets” to recover from the intense pain of the jellyfish stings, which have the potential to cause death from anaphylactic shock.

Irish Water Safety chief John Leech warned that the dangerous marine species is not normally seen in the Irish Sea till autumn — and may be increased in number due to an absence of their natural predators, sunfish and turtles. Herald.ie has more on the story HERE.

Lion’s mane jellyfish currently being encountered in Irish waters are also larger than usual, according to one animal expert.

Published in Coastal Notes

#Ports&Shipping - UK trade with continental Europe is likely to be gridlocked when Britain leaves the customs union without a fundamental rethink of English Channel roll-on roll-off (RoRo) services.

Peel Ports [a UK ports group incl. Liverpool] is calling on cargo owners, hauliers and others to look at two potential solutions to inevitable congestion at Dover, learning lessons from a model commonly used for Irish Sea freight and using capacity at ports across the country.

Stephen Carr, Commercial Director at Peel Ports, said: “The supply chain needs certainty, predictability and resilience but we all know about the acute delays and problems that already exist at Dover when there’s the slightest disruption to normal operations. There’s a growing realisation in the whole logistics community that we’re at a tipping point that will force traffic away from the Dover Straits.

“Businesses simply can’t take a huge gamble on what that post-Brexit world might look like, especially those with ‘just-in-time’ processes or that are shipping perishable goods. They need to take steps now to ensure they can deliver goods on time without incurring massive extra costs or compromising on quality. That is perfectly achievable by moving away from the fixation with Dover and by using unaccompanied trailers as many companies do already on the Irish Sea.”

Currently, more than 75% of all RoRo freight from ports on the near continent passes through the Dover Straits. The market is around 4 million units, of which 99% is transported by conventional means of a lorry driver with a cab and trailer.

This is in contrast to Irish Sea freight, where more than 50% of the cargo is only the trailers. In this model, goods are held as contingency stock at the port of entry, with trailers not leaving the port until up to 48 hours after their arrival in some circumstances. Such an approach would provide more time for border checks to take place without the pressure of them needing to be completed during a short sea crossing or at a congested border point.

Stephen Carr added: “Cargo owners and their supply chain providers typically need freight units to leave ports immediately on arrival or just 90 minutes after vessel departure from Calais. But there’s no certainty in the industry that this can be achieved reliably post-Brexit. Companies could look at creating stockpiles in UK warehouses that will allow them to meet business requirements in the event of any delays, but that results in long leases and increased road or rail mileage in diverting to warehouses, increased handling costs, and increased risk of damage to goods. Also, it’s not clear that such warehousing is available in sufficient supply or on flexible terms.

“The modelling that we’ve done shows that routing via ports such as London Medway is just as efficient as the existing options through the Dover Straits, as although the sea leg is longer road miles are reduced. Door to door cargo owners might actually save money, as well as avoiding congestion and reducing carbon emissions. Other benefits include improved productivity for hauliers as drivers do not to waste any time on the sea leg.”

The UK has around 30 major ports, the majority of which handle RoRo cargo. Although not all will have the docking facilities and land required at the moment, many could increase capacity to accommodate goods diverted away from delays at Dover. Peel Ports operates four ports with RoRo capabilities in London Medway (Kent), Liverpool, Clydeport and Heysham (Lancashire).

For more information on our Brexit solutions and to download our white paper click here.

Published in Ports & Shipping

#Fishing - Marine Minister Michael Creed has signed a statutory instrument to increase the minimum conservation reference size for razor clam in the North Irish Sea.

This new measure, which was initiated by local fishermen, comes into effect on 1 July 2018 and means that the minimum landing size for razor clam in the North Irish Sea will be 125mm.

Razor clams are typically fished in the area extending from Howth to Dundalk Bay.

“I welcome the introduction of this measure, particularly as it was proposed and developed by inshore fishermen seeking to protect the sustainability of this important fishery,” Minister Creed said.

“I am pleased the Inshore Fisheries Forums are engaging with conservation issues in the inshore sector, and I would like to thank the forum members for their support in bringing this proposal forward.”

The new conservation measure follows an extensive consultation process involving the National and Regional Inshore Fisheries Forums and a public consultation earlier this year.

It also goes beyond the mandatory standards set by European regulations, and is being touted by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine as another step towards sustainability for the stock.

Industry members see the conservation size increase as a way of protecting smaller razor clams, which may help the razor clam stock to become more sustainable in the long term while also increasing its value.

In 2016, the value of razor clams fished in Irish waters was over €5.7 million. While they do not feature highly on Irish menus, razor clams are in favour in China and Spain.

Published in Fishing

RNLI volunteers from Holyhead in North Wales were called to a paddle steamer sinking in the Irish Sea yesterday afternoon (Friday 25 May).

The vessel had been under tow by tug towards Ireland after a period in the south of England when it began taking on water some 10 miles west of South Stack.

Holyhead’s Severn class all-weather lifeboat Christopher Pearce was called at 2.20pm and launched immediately, arriving on scene within 40 minutes.

By that time, the 36m vessel was in trouble and beginning to sink from the bow.

The Holyhead lifeboat crew quickly ascertained that the paddle steamer did not have anyone on board, and did not contain any fuel.

A swift decision was made by Holyhead coxswain Tony Price that the situation was too dangerous to try and put any crew on board the stricken vessel.

Within half an hour, the vessel had sunk further into the sea, and at 4.20pm she sank completely into the 50m deep waters.

“It was very sad to see such a lovely vessel sink like that, but fortunately no one was endangered and the lack of fuel on board meant there were no environmental issues,” Price said.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

#MarineWildlife - An “extremely rare” pod of minke whales has been sighted in the Irish Sea off the Isle of Man this week.

According to BBC News, the pod comprising as many as 20 minke whales was engaged in a “feeding frenzy” as seen by members of Manx Whale and Dolphin Watch on Wednesday (13 September)

The marine wildlife species is a regular visitor to the waters around the Isle of Man, but sightings are usually of solitary adults or small pods.

It’s believed that spawning herring have attracted them in much greater numbers. BBC News has more on the story HERE.

In other marine wildlife news, the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group’s AGM takes place on Sunday 8 October at the Middle Country Café in Cloughjordan, Co Tipperary. Details are available from the IWDG website.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#Seasick - A pleasure cruise on the Irish Sea at the weekend turned sour when severe weather prompted a wave of seasickness.

Mail Online reports that some passengers on board the MV Balmoral were vomiting for up to six hours as they were ‘thrown around like rag dolls’ on the decks of the vintage liner.

The trouble began when the excursion ship hit choppy waters an hour into its passage from Liverpool to Llandudno in North Wales.

After two hours of violent lurching in the water, the ship’s 390 passengers were told they would not be docking in Llandudno due to the severe conditions — meaning another three hours of ‘torture’ at sea as the vessel returned to Liverpool.

An elderly woman was tended to by paramedics on arrival as the rest of those on board recovered from their ordeal back on dry land.

One passenger wrote on social media in the aftermath: “I have never seen so many strangers throwing up in front of each other.”

Mail Online has much more on the story HERE.

Published in Cruise Liners

#RNLI - Holyhead RNLI’s all-weather lifeboat was launched last evening (Monday 22 May) after a man fell ill on board his sailing boat in the Irish Sea.

The station’s Severn class Christopher Pearce launched at 6.25pm after the man, who was sailing for the port of Holyhead in North Wales, had become ill and made the correct decision to call for help.

Due to the vessel’s location, a large tanker diverted from its course to shelter the stricken craft.

Once the lifeboat arrived minutes later, one volunteer was transferred onto the boat with the lone sailor, who was able to rest while the RNLI crew took his 27ft vessel in tow.

About 20 minutes into the tow, the crew member aboard reported the sailor’s condition was worsening and he was developing chest pains and breathing issues.

The tow was then released and the lifeboat went back alongside to transfer another crew member aboard with more medical equipment.

The casualty’s condition continued to worsen and the need for an immediate evacuation of was needed, so the casualty was transferred to the lifeboat ahead of a medevac by helicopter from HM Coastguard while his boat was brought into Holyhead.

Coxswain Tony Price said: “All at Holyhead RNLI are hoping the man made a swift recovery.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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