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#FERRY NEWS-Stena Superfast VII the first of two ferries to make a new career on the North Channel departed Poland yesterday after completion of an extensive upgrade in Gdansk. The work included the installation of a Nordic spa containing a sauna and jacuzzi, a novel feature to appear on an Irish Sea ferry service, writes Jehan Ashmore.
She is expected to arrive on Saturday at Loch Ryan Port, the new £80m ferry terminal at Cairnryan, which replaces Stranraer, as the new route to Belfast. The new service will reduce sailing times as Stranraer is located at the end of Loch Ryan and as such is eight-miles away from the open sea.
Superfast-leaves-Gdansk

The New Superfast leaves Gdansk

The 30,285grt newcomer and her sister Stena Superfast VIII will become the largest ever ferries running on the North Channel , though prior to entering service on 21 November, they will undertake berthing trials and crew training.

For the next two-years the sisters are on charter from Scandinavian operators Tallink, and are to operate the new 2 hour 15 minute route with 12 crossings daily. The ten-deck ships can carry up to 1200 passengers, 660 cars or 110 freight units. The sisters will be re-gistered in their new homport of Belfast.

The relocation of Scottish ferry port and the introduction of the Superfast sisters will replace the existing pair of conventional ferry tonnage, Stena Caledonia and Stena Navigator (1984/15,229gt) the latter vessel is believed to be sold. In addition HSS sailings will cease causing the HSS Stena Voyager to become redundant, she was the second of the trio of pioneering HSS 1500 craft built.

When Stena Superfast VII departed Gdansk, she passed the Stena Vision which operates Stena Line's Karlskrona-Gdynia route, the Baltic Sea city lies to the west of Gdansk. Also in Gdansk was the Stena Feronia, the former Irish Sea serving Visentini built ro-pax Dublin Seaways, which was operated albeit briefly by DFDS Seaways last year on the Dublin-(Birkenhead) Liverpool service.

She served under her new Scandinavian owners but the firm's first foray into the Irish market lasted a mere six months. DFDS Seaways sold their Irish Sea network to Stena Line (to read report click HERE) with the exception of their Dublin-Birkenhead service which closed. In addition the Dublin-Heysham freight-only route which closed until re-opened by Seatruck Ferries. The route is currently served by Anglia Seaways, the freightferry which DFDS previously used on the route is on charter to the operator.

 

Published in Ferry
#FERRY – Following yesterdays High Court appointment of an interim examiner to the Fastnet Line Group, the ferry operator has issued two statements (click here) and an apology to passengers with the immediate closure of sailings, writes Jehan Ashmore.
As part of the examinership process, a re-structured business plan has been implemented with the Cork-Swansea service set to resume in the shoulder months starting on Easter's Good Friday, 6th April 2012 and throughout the high-season months, and ending the season on 29th September.

The discontinued winter sailing schedule for this year is also expected not to be repeated during October 2012-March 2013. Fastnet Line's decision to make the Celtic Sea route into a shoulder season and summer only service follows a similar path taken by Stena Line which withdrew Dun Laoghaire-Holyhead (HSS) sailings in mid-September, for report click here. The central corridor route is due to reopen sometime in April or May 2012.

Cork City and County council and Kerry County council have provided €700,000 to support Fastnet Line and yesterday they announced an additional €150,000 in co-funding for the period of the examinership. In order to stabilise finances the ferry company are to radically reduce passenger capacity of the Julia (see photo) from 1,500 down to 950. This is in line with the capacities of the Julia serving 'night' sailings.

She has a crew predominately from Eastern Europe and Irish and UK deck officers. The Bermuda flagged, Hamilton registered vessel is currently berthed at Ringaskiddy Ferry Terminal, Cork Harbour. At 154m she is the largest ferry to date capable of berthing in the limited confines of the swing basin in Swansea and with a draft of 5.8m in a port which is subject to a large tidal range on the Bristol Channel.

Operating costs on the 10 hour service has been severely hampered by continuing increases to world oil prices. From the year 2010 to this year, fuel costs rose by 27% and almost 50% from the original budget of 2009. The company claims that each crossing amounts to €18,560 alone in fuel costs.

Fastnet Line to date has carried 150,000 customers, of which 75% have originated from the UK market, generating on average €350 per person (€40m approx) exclusive of fare and on-board spend. This crucial market is core to the success of the company's direct 'gateway' route to scenic south-west Ireland, with Swansea connected to the M4 motorway linking midland population centres and London. The operator claims a saving of 600km driving based on a round trip compared to using rival ferries running on routes to Rosslare from Pembroke Dock and Fishguard.

Since the reinstatement of the service in March 2010, after Swansea Cork Ferries pulled the Superferry (photo) off-service in 2006, the loss to tourism generated revenue on both sides of the Celtic Sea was estimated to be £25m per annum according to the Welsh Assembly and a similar figure recorded in the Cork and Kerry region.

The company also outlines the reduction in carbon emissions saved from operating the only direct service specifically connecting the regions of Glamorgan and Munster. Some 500,000 freight miles alone were saved in the Welsh region since the service started instead of using alternative route running from Pembrokeshire ports.

Published in Ferry
#Ferry – The High Court has appointed an interim examiner to the Fastnet Line group of companies, which operates the M.V. Julia (1981/22,161grt) on the Cork-Swansea ferry service, according to report on RTE.ie
The 154m German built ferry which can take 1,500 passengers and 325 cars is to discontinue its full published service with immediate effect. The next sailing was to be this Thursday with an outward sailing from (Ringaskiddy) Cork Harbour. A statement said all booked passengers would be contacted in the coming days, and full refunds would be issued.

Mr Justice Peter Kelly appointed Michael McAteer of Grant Thornton interim examiner at a sitting of the High Court. Mr McAteer will present a progress report to the court on November 15.

The Fastnet Line companies are owned by the West Cork Tourism Co-Operative Society Limited, which was formed in April 2009. Over 400 members have invested funds in the venture which started in March 2010 following the closure of Swansea Cork Ferries which ran on the route until 2006.

Published in Ferry
#FERRY Two months after the launch of Seatruck Progress, the first of four ro-ro newbuilds for Seatruck Ferries, a second vessel was launched for the Irish Sea freight-ferry only operator, according to Heavy-Lift.
Seatruck Power joins her sister as part of a quartet of 142m long vessels which have 2,166 lane freight metres spread across four decks and capacity to handle 151-trailers. At around 23,000grt they will become the largest vessels to operate out of Heysham and will be designed also for rolling project cargo and heavy-lift items.

The remaining pair are due for delivery in June 2012 from the German shipbuilder Flensburger Schiffbau-Gesellschaft (FSG) located on the Baltic Sea, close to the Danish border.

Seatruck Ferries is a division of the Danish shipping giant Clipper Group, which operates four routes in the north Irish Sea. The company offer 80 sailings per week on four routes: Dublin-Heysham, Dublin-Liverpool, Warrenpoint-Heysham and Larne- Heysham.

Published in Ferry
Stena Line has been voted 'Best Ferry Company' at the annual Northern Ireland Travel and Tourism Awards which was hosted by TV personality Eamonn Homes. The accolade comes in advance to next month's opening of the company's new Belfast-Cairnryan ferry route, writes Jehan Ashmore.
Paul Grant, Stena Line's Belfast – Stranraer route director collected the award on behalf of the company commenting: "I am absolutely delighted that Stena Line has won the Best Ferry Company title for the 19th time and all of us are very proud that our commitment to improving our services has been recognised once again."

"We are moving into a very important time for Stena Line's operation between Northern Ireland and Scotland. On November 21 we are scheduled to start our new Belfast to Cairnryan service which will also see the introduction of two new vessels, Stena Superfast VII and Superfast VIII, the largest ships every to have sailed between Northern Ireland and Scotland," he continued.

Stena Line's switch of Scottish terminal from Stranrear to the new purpose built facility in Cairnryan which is some 8-miles closer to the open sea along Loch Ryan will reduce sailing times by 35 minutes down to 2 hours 15 minutes.

The 30,285grt Stena Superfast VII and Superfast VIII sisters can carry 1,200 passengers, 660 cars and 110 freight-unit / trucks. In addition they have a novel Nordic Spa facility incorporating a sauna and Jacuzzi.

The 206m pair will compete with rivals P&O (Irish Sea) which operates also from a neighbouring terminal in Cairnryan where another pair of sisters European Highlander and European Causeway provide 2-hour sailings to Larne.

Currently Belfast-Stranraer sailings are served by conventional tonnage ferries Stena Caledonia and Stena Navigator which lost engine-power on 14 October, to read more click HERE.

In addition fast-sailings are run by the expensive to operate HSS Stena Voyager which manages a faster crossing time on the existing route by shaving 15 minutes off the link between Loch Ryan and Belfast Lough. In 2008 the terminal in Belfast was relocated downriver to Victoria Terminal 4 (VT4) on the eastern edge of the port from the older inner-city terminal at Albert Quay.

Stena are to lease the 'Superfast' pair for three years from Scandinavia operator Tallink and they are to directly replace both the HSS and conventional ferries.

Published in Ferry
Celtic Link Ferries newest ferry Celtic Horizon was officially launched onto the Irish-French service with a reception held on board the 27,522 tonnes vessel at her homeport of Rosslare Europort on Monday, writes Jehan Ashmore.
Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin T.D. launched the 840-passenger capacity vessel onto the Rosslare-Cherbourg route and welcomed the newcomer as part of an "important driver of the economy ".

She replaces the Norman Voyager which too was built by Visentini. The 186m ro-pax vessel last week arrived from the Mediterranean (to read more click HERE) and will be chartered to CLF for a five-year term contract. Overall she has a larger passenger deck compared to her predecessor, with a restaurant, two bars, pull-man lounges, a cinema, children's play-area, game-zone and kiosk-shop.

In addition to her 130 cabins she has five vehicle decks for 200 cars and a total 2,500 lane freight metres equating to around 110-trucks. An unusual feature is an escalator that whisks passengers from the car-decks up to the passenger deck.

Prior to the event, Celtic Horizon had arrived into the Wexford port. She had completed her maiden 'Irish' round-trip commercial voyage over the weekend from Cherbourg during stormy seas under the command of Captain Richard Collins.

Last year CLF handled 60,000 passengers and 50,000 vehicles between tourist vehicles and freight business. This year they are expecting an increase of passenger traffic of around 30%. The company are the only ferry operator running year-round sailings on the Irish –French routes.

CLF took over the Rosslare-Cherbourg route from P&O in 2005. With the Celtic Horizon they will continue providing three-round trips per week on the route which transports passengers, tourist cars, camper-vans, freight trucks including livestock and the importation of French manufactured new trade-cars.

Published in Ferry
Irish Sea fast-ferry Stena Lynx III (1996/4,113grt) which has been laid-up in Dun Laoghaire Harbour since last month has been sold to interests in South Korea. Renamed Sunflower 2 and flying the flag of the Far-Eastern nation, she departed yesterday afternoon on a delivery voyage expected to take around twenty-five days, writes Jehan Ashmore.
The Dublin Port pilot cutter Camac was in attendance as the 650 passenger/153 vehicle fast-ferry departed at 16.20hrs. She is re-registered in Busan, South Korea's second largest city, located in the south-east, where she is to operate to the island of Jeju off the country's south-west coast.

Sunflower 2 is to make bunker calls on the repositioning voyage, firstly in Valletta, Malta before she transits the Suez Canal to the Red Sea port of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia and Columbo, Sri Lanka. From there she transits the Strait of Malacca then through the South China Sea followed by the East China Sea before finally entering the Strait of Korea to her homeport of Busan.

Since 1999 she has served Stena Line's fast-ferry high-season Rosslare-Fishguard route sailings taking 1 hour 50 minutes in tandem with conventional ferry Stena Europe (1981/24,828grt) which currently maintains the year-round 3 hours 30 minutes route. It is believed that Stena Line will not be operating high-season fast-ferry services in 2012.

Prior to her Dun Laoghaire departure, her South Korean crew have been preparing the craft over the last three weeks. Notably there was the removal of all Stena Line corporate livery markings on the hull. Her new name and port of registry were painted at the stern though she retained her original name at the bow which included both symbols of an Irish shamrock aptly to starboard (green) and the Welsh dragon to port (red) to reflect her Irish Sea southern corridor route.

Stena Lynx III departing Dun Laoghaire last year, note her starboard 'Shamrock' at the bow.

In recent years on the St. Georges Channel route she was marketed as the Stena 'Express'. Her final sailing this year was 4 September and three days later she docked Dun Laoghaire at St. Michaels Pier. On the adjacent berth which is designed specifically for and only capable of accommodating the HSS 1500 class fast-ferries.

Stena Lynx III also ran several shoulder season stints on the Dun Laoghaire-Holyhead route with the HSS Stena Explorer (1996/19,638grt) only running during the busier summer months. During this summer all sailings were maintained by HSS Stena Explorer until the route became a seasonal-only service for the first time this year when the last sailing took place in mid-September. The HSS remains in layover for the winter in Holyhead at her dedicated berth. The route is due to re-open in April or May.

The 35 knot Stena Lynx III was launched from fast-ferry catamaran specialists InCAT Pty based in the Tasmanian capital of Hobart. Early in her career the 81m wave-piercing catamaran (WPC) craft served Dover-Calais followed by two seasons between Newhaven-Dieppe when renamed P&O Elite for joint operators P&O Stena Line.

Her predecessors the WPC InCat 74m Stena Sea Lynx, became the first car-carrying catamaran to operate Dun Laoghaire-Holyhead sailings in 1993. The pioneering water-jet propelled craft was replaced in subsequent years by the larger InCAT 78m Stena Lynx II.

She was replaced in 1996 when the revolutionary four gas-turbine engine water-jet propelled HSS Stena Explorer was introduced. A further two sisters of the HSS 1500 class (High-speed Sea Service) were completed by Finnyards in Rauma.

Published in Ferry
Strong winds on the Irish Sea, has led to cancellations of Irish Ferries Dublin-Holyhead fast-ferry Jonathan Swift today, though passengers will be accommodated on the cruiseferry Ulysses.
Tomorrow mornings fast-ferry sailings from Dublin and the corresponding return sailing from Holyhead, have also been cancelled. The subsequent second round-trip sailings later that day are scheduled to operate a normal service. For the latest sailing schedules click HERE.

Stena Line's Dublin-Holyhead sailings are on schedule in addition to services on the Rosslare-Fishguard, Belfast-Stranraer (incl. HSS sailings) and Belfast-Liverpool. P&O's Dublin-Liverpool and North Channel Larne-Cairnryan route are also on schedule.

On the Celtic Sea, Fastnet Line's Cork-Swansea is unaffected as there are no sailings on Monday's, Tuesday's and Wednesday's during this month and November. The next sailing is this Thursday from Cork at 20.30hrs and returning Swansea on Friday at 21.30hrs.

According to Met Eireann, this afternoon will be extremely windy, especially across the southern half of the country, with southwest gusts of between 90 and 120km/h. For more detailed and updated weather forecasts visit www.met.ie

Published in Ferry
Celtic Link Ferries new ro-pax Celtic Horizon made an inaugural appearance as she docked in Rosslare ferryport this morning, having completing her delivery voyage from Sicily, writes Jehan Ashmore.
As the 27,552 gross tonnes Celtic Horizon last night headed towards Irish waters (for previous report click here), her predecessor Norman Voyager was making her final sailing for CLF as she sailed away from the Celtic Sea towards Land's End bound for Cherbourg.

The changeover of vessels coincides with the existing Rosslare-Cherbourg sailing schedule of three round-trips per week, noting there are no sailings from the Wexford port on Mondays. Celtic Horizon is due to be introduced with her maiden 'Irish' voyage on Tuesday night, departing Rosslare at 21.30hrs. On the following Monday she is to be officially launched onto the service.

Celtic Horizon will boost capacity on the French route, offering a wider choice of restaurants, bars and a children's play-room. She can carry 840 passengers, 200 cars and 120 freight vehicles. The 186m ferry is from a ro-pax series (including Norman Voyager) designed and built by Cantiere Navala Visentini based in Portoviro, outside Venice.

During her five-day repositioning route from the Mediterranean, Celtic Horizon made an en-route call to Gibralter, anchoring off the British colony on Thursday. Another of the same Visentini ro-pax class vessels, Cartour Epilson is believed to have taken over Celtic Horizon, formerly named Cartour Beta when she served her last season between Termini Imerese in Sicily to Salerno while on charter to C&T.

CLF will be the only ferry operator running services to France, between 2 January -19 February 2012, as Irish Ferries, which also operates on the Rosslare-Cherbourg route, will be taking off Oscar Wilde for annual dry-docking. For schedules click HERE.

In addition there will be no sailings between Cork-Roscoff, as Brittany Ferries final sailing for this year is 29 October, served by 'flagship' Pont-Aven. The 2012 season starts in late March.

Published in Ferry
Dublin Port-Douglas sailings in the winter months are operated by Ben-My-Chree, a conventional ferry that only calls to the Irish capital on a handful of sailings during this period, writes Jehan Ashmore.
The Isle of Man Steam Packet Company (IOMSPCo) ferry docked just after midnight at the multi-user ferryport (terminal 1) and departed at around 02.30hrs. She returns to Dublin on the 22 October,17 December and the final sailing for this year is 26 December.

Following this mornings Irish route sailing, she resumed on her regular Douglas-Heysham route and she also serves Douglas-Birkenhead (Liverpool) during the winter months.

During the summer Dublin-Douglas sailings are served by fast-ferry catamaran Manannan (1998/5,743grt). The 96m InCAT built in Hobart,Tasmania had also operated Douglas-Belfast high-season crossings. Her roster is now confined to a Douglas-Liverpool sailing schedule.

Ben-My-Chree (photo) is Manx for 'Girl of my heart' and her island owners commissioned the 12,504grt ro-pax from Dutch shipbuilders Van de Giessen-de Noord. The 125m ferry was launched in 1998 and she can accommodate 630 passengers,275 vehicles and 1,235 freight lane-metres.

This particular ro-pax design has also been built for Channel Islands operator Commodore Ferries with their Commodore Clipper and a Scandinavian ferry operator. In addition another Dutch shipbuilder, Merwede built a multi-support vessel (MRV) derived from the design of Ben-My-Chree for the Royal New Zealand Navy when they commissioned HMNZS Canterbury (L421). Click for similar port-side photo view to compare differences.

Incidentally the Manannan prior to entering service last year for the IOMSPCo. was for five years chartered initially to the United States Navy but transferred to the United States Army Forces. To read more click HERE.

Published in Ferry
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Marine Science Perhaps it is the work of the Irish research vessel RV Celtic Explorer out in the Atlantic Ocean that best highlights the essential nature of marine research, development and sustainable management, through which Ireland is developing a strong and well-deserved reputation as an emerging centre of excellence. From Wavebob Ocean energy technology to aquaculture to weather buoys and oil exploration these pages document the work of Irish marine science and how Irish scientists have secured prominent roles in many European and international marine science bodies.

 

At A Glance – Ocean Facts

  • 71% of the earth’s surface is covered by the ocean
  • The ocean is responsible for the water cycle, which affects our weather
  • The ocean absorbs 30% of the carbon dioxide added to the atmosphere by human activity
  • The real map of Ireland has a seabed territory ten times the size of its land area
  • The ocean is the support system of our planet.
  • Over half of the oxygen we breathe was produced in the ocean
  • The global market for seaweed is valued at approximately €5.4 billion
  • · Coral reefs are among the oldest ecosystems in the world — at 230 million years
  • 1.9 million people live within 5km of the coast in Ireland
  • Ocean waters hold nearly 20 million tons of gold. If we could mine all of the gold from the ocean, we would have enough to give every person on earth 9lbs of the precious metal!
  • Aquaculture is the fastest growing food sector in the world – Ireland is ranked 7th largest aquaculture producer in the EU
  • The Atlantic Ocean is the second largest ocean in the world, covering 20% of the earth’s surface. Out of all the oceans, the Atlantic Ocean is the saltiest
  • The Pacific Ocean is the largest ocean in the world. It’s bigger than all the continents put together
  • Ireland is surrounded by some of the most productive fishing grounds in Europe, with Irish commercial fish landings worth around €200 million annually
  • 97% of the earth’s water is in the ocean
  • The ocean provides the greatest amount of the world’s protein consumed by humans
  • Plastic affects 700 species in the oceans from plankton to whales.
  • Only 10% of the oceans have been explored.
  • 8 million tonnes of plastic enter the ocean each year, equal to dumping a garbage truck of plastic into the ocean every minute.
  • 12 humans have walked on the moon but only 3 humans have been to the deepest part of the ocean.

(Ref: Marine Institute)

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