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#FerryCaptainInterviewCaptain Paul Sellers, master of Irish Ferries chartered ro-pax ferry Epsilon, talks about his seafaring career to Jehan Ashmore, and the vessel which serves the core Dublin-Holyhead route in addition the new direct link to France, between the Irish capital and Cherbourg.

Passengers on the 26,375 tonnes Epsilon have economy style service facilities that include a bar, cafeteria, self-service restaurant, two and four berth cabins and free wi-fi service. In addition the ro-pax has boosted vehicle deck space capacity with approximately 2,860 lane metres.

The 19 hour French route augments the cruiseferry operations of the Oscar Wilde on the Rosslare-Cherbourg route and the seasonal-only service to Roscoff.

Where did you study for your seamanship qualifications and what was the most challenging aspect involved?

I studied at Hull Nautical College for both Pre-Sea and the Second Mates and then with the demise of this fine institution I continued with my Chief Mates and Masters Certificates at South Tyneside College South Shields.

Sections of algebra, particularly differentiation I found at times quite challenging, but fortunately my girlfriend and later my wife Julie was a maths graduate and could help me out with that. Also Meteorology could be an enigma, however one day the penny drop and it all became clear ...'hot air rises'

How long was your deep-sea career and where in the world did this take you?

My deep sea career lasted 18 years and took me to all parts of the world with the exception of main land China and East Africa, the rest of the world was pretty much covered during that period.

Describe your thoughts on having your first command, the name of ship and company?

I was fortunate to be promoted to Master in a ship I was serving as Chief Officer in so I was comfortable with the vessel and those I worked with. The ship was an English Channel ro-pax vessel operated by Norfolk line in the Dover Straits between Dover and Dunkirk, this being the mv Northern Merchant.

She was a fine ship to command being predictable and very manoeuvrable, but still a sharp learning curve when you first start. It was a little strange at first I remember walking down the alleyway and someone called 'Captain' I continued to walk they called again, then I realised they meant me ...I was now the Captain!

Also the second mate asked me to look at something one day which was not working, I asked him what he usually did when this happened before, he said I send for the Captain ...and I thought right I am now expected to know all the answers now.

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Captain Paul Sellers

Why did you move from a career working in deep-sea to a short-sea role?

The long trips of between 4/6 months then were not compatible with a good family life , I had luckily secured a position which was 2 months on and off but there was no realistic chance of early promotion so I thought I would try and secure some relief work on Ferries during my leave.

I was offered some work with Stena which lead to further work which I enjoyed and they seemed to like me as the offered me a full time position and I left deep sea for the cut and thrust of the Ferry world.

Can you outline your career path and how this led to your current role as master of Epsilon.

A varied career on different vessel types serving with Blue Star for 14 years from cadet to Chief Officer then 2 years as Chief Officer with Curnow on RMS St .Helena.

Following this 4 years were spent altogether with Stena, the first 2 years were on conventional ships then appointed to the revolutionary first HSS Stena Explorer where I was 1st Officer over 2 very interesting years.

I then went back deep seas for two years with P&O /Princess Cruises as 1st Officer which was great for seeing the world but professionally not too rewarding and hankered back for ferries and was offered a job in Dover with new start operator Norfolk Line initially as Chief Officer and was promoted Master with the year. I have sailed Master ever since with Norfolk Line/Maersk and last 6 years with Irish Ferries.

In November 2013, I was appointed Senior Master of Epsilon and went out to Messina in Sicily to take (as previously reported on Afloat.ie), the delivery voyage of the then mv Cartour Epsilon to Ireland.

The introduction of the ro-pax required a new crew to settle into service over a six week period which proved to be both interesting and challenging in equal measure. This proved to be ultimately a very rewarding experience as we now have a built up a happy crew and a good hardworking ship.

What are the main operational differences on the Epsilon between serving the Irish Sea route and those on the longer run to France?

The weather although can be severe as this last winter has shown the Irish Sea is not as exposed as the long trip to France as once south of the Tuskar Rock you are at the mercy of the weather coming in from the Atlantic. So the weather needs to be watched carefully for our passage through the Celtic sea and rounding Lands End and into the western English Channel.

The vessel is robust and on the whole a very good sea ship but she is not invincible as no vessel is and consideration needs to be given when undertaking certain voyages. This may involve delays so to allow very severe weather systems to pass through and navigate her carefully during these periods when on the French run, which can be many hours on the bridge but this is the nature of the FerryMasters position and goes very much with the territory.

How do you find the performance of the Cantiere Navale Visentini built ro-pax Epsilon in terms of her efficiency and that of passenger accommodation?

These vessels offer the operators a very cost effective platform as there are efficient load carriers with good lane meterage for their size and the fuel running consumption/cost are good. The overall package and costs are therefore attractive and appealing to the operators.

The interiors and features may not be as luxurious as other Cruise Ferries in the market place but they do serve a particular sector which is looking for a more cost effective option. Our feedback from Passengers both Tourist and Commercial Drivers is very positive.

Also there is a good reserve of speed available in this class of vessel to catch up if running late to maintain schedule.

What service speed is required? to meet the Dublin-Holyhead route and that of the weekend round trip service on the Dublin-Cherbourg route?

On the Dublin-Holyhead route this is 21 Knots and on the Dublin-Cherbourg service this is 22 Knots, though we can comfortably do 23 knots and have witnessed the vessel achieve 25 knots so we have a little reserve for bad weather.

In having the responsibility of master, what are the main challenges and also the highpoints?

The Master role is a varied at time difficult but rewarding one. The main challenge is to keep everything and everyone together. The ship must trade but at all times ensure that all regulations met and company requirement are observed, it can be at times a bit of a balancing act.

Rewards are achieving this, particularly when the weather is challenging there are additional stresses and pressures in berthing and un-berthing and maintaining the vessel schedule.

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Cafe Lafayette lounge

Published in Ferry

#FerryNews –CEO of Irish Continental Group has said that Tourism Ireland should take advantage of the "benign" economy in Britain to push for greater numbers of British tourists to visit, writes The Irish Times.

Eamonn Rothwell said he did not wish to criticise Irish tourism authorities but they can be tempted to become "wound up in exotic markets" when Britain should be more of a focus.

Mr Rothwell, a former tourist board employee, said Britain was set to be the fastest growing economy in the OECD this year. This, coupled with Ireland's existing popularity with British tourists, made it "a benign economy in which to say, 'let's go for it'."

He identified the Wild Atlantic Way initiative, whereby Tourism Ireland is promoting visits to the west coast, as positive, but said more was needed. For more click HERE.

 

Published in Ferry

#FerryResolved – Irish Ferries ro-pax Epsilon re-entered service today, following technical issues that started on Friday, leading to cancellation of the weekend Dublin-Cherbourg round trip and those to Holyhead, where today's 14.15hrs sailing departed from the capital to Wales, writes Jehan Ashmore.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, all effected passengers on the central corridor route were accommodated on the ferry company's High Speed Craft, HSC Jonathan Swift in addition to sailings served by flagship cruiseferry, Ulysses.

During her absence on the routes to Anglesey and Normandy, Epsilon had shifted berths from the Dublin Port ferry terminal to the Deepwater Quay facing opposite, and more recently she had occupied a berth within Alexandra Basin, before repairs were resolved.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the parent company of Irish Ferries, the Irish Continental Group (ICG) released first quarter financial figures as part of the interim management statement.

In the statement's report, in terms of the ferries division, volumes of Year-to-date (17 May 2014) were as follows and with changes in performance as outlined below within brackets.

Passengers: 441,100 (0%)
Cars: 95,000 (+5%)
RoRo Freight: 87,900 (+18%)

During the period Irish Ferries inaugurated a weekly Dublin-Cherbourg service, operated at weekends by the chartered Epsilon. The Italian flagged Visetini built ro-pax also provides an additional 8 round trips (except Mondays) on the Dublin-Holyhead route.

As a result the contribution of Epsilon operated sailings combined to the overall route network increase by 17%.The other routes are Rosslare-Pembroke Dock, Rosslare-Cherbourg and as recently reported the reopened Rosslare-Roscoff seasonal-only service that began the 2014 season to the Breton port.

The financial results for the last quarter of this year reflected additional costs of operating the Epsilon during the launch phase period on both her sailings serving Holyhead and Cherbourg.

According to Irish Ferries, in the 20 weeks up to last Saturday, they carried 95,000 cars, an increase of 5% on 2013. While car passenger numbers were up, in line with the car volumes, total passenger volumes were in line with the previous year at 441,100 due to a fall in 'foot' passenger carryings.

As regards Roll-on Roll-off (Ro/Ro) freight sector, Irish Ferries carried 87,900 units in this market, an increase of 18% compared with the same period for last year and is a reflected from the introduction of Epsilon's freight capacity and in a growing freight market.

For more information on other sectors of ICG operations, the statement as linked before can also be read in full HERE.

Published in Ferry

#CancelledSailings – Irish Ferries ro-pax Epsilon sailings on the Dublin route to Wales are cancelled and to France this weekend, the operators are citing technical reasons, writes Jehan Ashmore.

Last night's round trip Dublin-Holyhead sailings were cancelled and throughout today on the Welsh service. Irish Ferries regrets also to advise sailings on this weekend's round trip Dublin-Cherbourg route are cancelled too.

All effected passengers on the Dublin-Holyhead service will be accommodated instead on their High Speed Craft, HSC Jonathan Swift and sailings served by flagship cruiseferry, Ulysses.

For the latest information on sailing schedules, including Irish, UK and French contact telephone lines, visit this Irish Ferries website link.

Epsilon remains berthed in Dublin Port, having shifted berths from the ferryport to an opposite quay and so to free up the linkspan used by other ferries.

 

Published in Ferry

#FerryRoscoff - Irish Ferries Rosslare-Roscoff route reopened last weekend, the seasonal-only operated service brings to three routes the operator has between Ireland and France, writes Jehan Ashmore.

In January, Irish Ferries launched the ro-pax Epsilon on the new direct Dublin-Cherbourg route as an 'economy' class service which is scheduled to operating a weekend-round trip and run all year-round.

The capital-continent link compliments Irish Ferries established Rosslare-Cherbourg served by the family friendly cruiseferry Oscar Wilde. The Wexford link to Normandy began in 1978, while the service to Roscoff in Brittany commenced in 1995.

 

Published in Ferry

#FerryReturns – Irish Ferries French route cruiseferry, Oscar Wilde, which had to cancel sailings due to a technical fault involving the radar, is expected to resume service with today's night-time sailing departing from Cherbourg to Rosslare.

As previously reported, the cruiseferry Oscar Wilde (1987/31,914 tonnes), was due to have departed Cherbourg on Tuesday, however she has remained since then in the French port. As a result this also led to the cancellation of a round trip crossing from Ireland which was scheduled to arrive to Cherbourg this afternoon.

Tonight's sailing from Cherbourg is scheduled to depart at 21.30 local time and arrive in Rosslare Harbour tomorrow afternoon at 15.30hrs. For the latest information on sailings updates and contact details from ports, visit this link from Irish Ferries website.

 

Published in Ferry

#FerryFault- RTE News reports that passengers numbering around 1,000 had to spend the night on board an Irish Ferries vessel in the French port of Cherbourg after the crossing to Rosslare was cancelled.

Tonight's sailing from Rosslare to Cherbourg has also been cancelled. The 1987 built cruiseferry Oscar Wilde of 31,914 tonnes, was due to leave the French port at 8pm yesterday evening, but a fault with its radar system meant the journey could not go ahead.

An Irish Ferries spokesperson said that a ship may be able to get permission to sail in these circumstances provided there are good weather conditions, but the port of Cherbourg was enveloped in fog at the time.

All passengers on-board the ferry in Cherbourg, have now disembarked and alternative travel is being arranged for them.

An Irish Ferries spokesperson said that the nature of the technical problem necessitated the use of an expert technician and it would not be possible to have the ferry sail today.

For the latest information on sailings updates and contact details from ports, visit this link from Irish Ferries website.

 

Published in Ferry

#StPatricksShamrock – In addition to Celtic Link Ferries Cherbourg-Rosslare route ferry Celtic Horizon arrival to the Wexford port this St. Patrick's Day, Irish Ferries new service from the same Normandy port saw Epsilon dock in Dublin Port, writes Jehan Ashmore.

As previously reported this was Celtic Link's final St. Patrick's Day promotional sailing before the operator is taken over by Stena Line at the end of the month and contrasts to Irish Ferries first sailing on this national day on the direct continental service.

The Dublin-Cherbourg route is the third Ireland-France route option to compliment Irish Ferries established Rosslare routes to Cherbourg and Roscoff. Last year, the company celebrated 40 years of direct continental operations, having started in 1973 firstly between Rosslare and Le Havre.

At that time, the route was operated by Irish Continental Line, part of the state-owned Irish Shipping Ltd, which was inaugurated by the brand new Saint Patrick. She sported a white 'shamrock' painted on a green funnel to reflect the routes ownership origins and marketing to a continental audience.

This symbolic symbol of Ireland was given further coverage when Saint Patrick II made a special publicity cruise in Dublin Bay as part of the 'postcard' videos during the 1994 EuroVision Song Contest held at the Point Depot and the contest's hosting of interval act 'Riverdance'.

Since then the use of the shamrock has been increasingly involved to market the island of Ireland overseas by Aer Lingus and more so on a global stage by Tourism Ireland. As such the shamrock represents an easily recognisable symbol and remains on the ferry company successor, Irish Ferries, whose parent company is the Irish Continental Group.

Both Celtic Link's 2006 built Celtic Horizon and Irish Ferries 2011 built Epsilon (recently renamed) are chartered Visentini built ro-pax ferries of the same design and fitted out with a limited range of passenger facilities.

However, following the pending demise of Celtic Link Ferries with the entry of newcomer Stena Line on the direct continental service, an historic first for the company, this is no doubt to lead to new corporate colours and introduction of the Stena passenger experience.

Published in Ferry

#NameEPSILON - Irish Ferries chartered newcomer Cartour Epsilon introduced in late 2012 firstly on Dublin-Holyhead service and in January launching a new Dublin-Cherbourg route has been renamed, writes Jehan Ashmore.

The renaming albeit shortened to 'Epsilon' took place late last month and is a move away by Irish Ferries from the naming theme derived from previous Italian operator, Caronte & Tourist. They operate a pair of Visentini-built sisters, 'Cartour' Gamma / Delta from Salerno to the Sicilian port of Messina.

As Epsilon is chartered she continues to fly the Italian flag and port of registry of Bari on the Adriatic Sea from where the Visentini shipyard near Venice launched her as Akerman Street. It is understood she ran initially for Epic Shipping Ltd and Visemar before her last role off the 'boot' of Italy.

Irish Ferries new entrant has a 500-passenger capacity and facilities are a restaurant, bar/lounge, shop kiosk, free Wi-Fi and en-suite cabins accommodating 2 and 4-berth cabins all equipped with T.V.

Overall facilities are limited and as such the new Ireland-France route is been advertised as an alternative 'economy' service.

Irish Ferries continue to operate the family-friendly cruiseferry Oscar Wilde on the established Rosslare-Cherbourg route that reopened last month and a seasonal service to Roscoff.

Epsilon brings a capacity boost to the Dublin-Holyhead route as Irish Ferries will undertake 5,000 sailings to the UK (up from 4,122 in 2013) and this includes Rosslare-Pembroke Dock services.

In addition to 380 continental crossings on the Dublin-Cherbourg route which is an increase of 259 sailings on last year.

 

Published in Ferry

#FerryResults - Commenting on the Irish Continental Groups' preliminary statement of results for year end of 31 December 2013, the group's Chairman John B McGuckian commented,''2013 was a successful year for the Group with a solid financial and operational performance in a competitive passenger and freight market place. The improving economic outlook in Ireland has encouraged us in our recently announced investment in the charter of an additional vessel, the Epsilon, which has been trading since mid-December."

Mr. McGuckian added, "RoRo freight volumes are up 18% year on year, to date, despite adverse weather conditions which have led to cancelled sailings."

Below are extracts from the preliminary results, which focus on the operating review of the Irish Ferries division:

Revenue in the division was 1.1% higher than the previous year at €161.7 million while operating profit (before non-trading items) was €24.9 million compared with €22.4 million in 2012.

The increase in profit was due principally to increased freight revenue and lower bunker (fuel) costs partially offset by reduced passenger revenue.

Fuel cost in the division was down €3.5 million (8.9%) to €35.8 million. Revenue in the first half of the year was flat at €69.4 million (2012: €69.5 million), while the second half saw an increase of 2.0%, to €92.3 million (2012: €90.5 million).

Passenger: Given the weak economic backdrop in our main markets, which affects consumers' propensity to travel, Irish Ferries' car carryings remained resilient during the year, at 350,900 cars, (2012: 353,800), down slightly (0.8%) on the previous year.

This is broadly in line with the overall market performance into and out of the Republic of Ireland, which we estimate to have been flat year on year. Irish Ferries' passenger numbers carried were up 1.6% at 1.568 million (2012: 1.544 million).

In the first half of the year, our passenger volumes were up by 0.3% and car volumes were down by 4.2%. In the second half of the year, which is seasonally more significant, the growth in passenger numbers was 2.6% while cars carried were up by 1.6% compared with the same period last year. During 2013 sterling was weaker than in the previous year which provided a headwind in our passenger segment.

Our business benefited from the start of a recovery in demand in the British market for Ireland's Tourism product where overall visitor numbers grew slightly following four years of serious decline. Britain continues to provide the largest proportion of passenger traffic for Irish Ferries amongst all of the countries where we source income and the continuation of Ireland's attractiveness in that market is critical to our future growth.

Freight: The Republic of Ireland's RoRo market returned to growth with a 3% increase in overall market carryings during the first half of the year followed by a 6% increase in the second half, to provide full year growth of 4%. This is a welcome sign of Ireland's return to improved economic health.

Irish Ferries' carryings, at 205,300 freight units (2012: 183,700), were up 11.8% in the year reflecting a strong performance by Irish Ferries relative to the market (volumes were up 7.9% in the first half and 15.7% in the second half).

The improvement in the RoRo markets informed our decision in the final quarter of 2013 to augment our capacity on the Dublin / Holyhead route whilst also commencing a new service between Dublin and Cherbourg.

The chartered vessel Epsilon will provide a major improvement in our frequency on Dublin / Holyhead which we believe will restore some lost competitive advantage. With the vessel's superior freight deck and the number of cabins on board (70), we will also provide a once weekly service to France which will provide additional capacity to our customers throughout the year – much of which we are unable to provide because of the freight deck limitations of the cruise ferry Oscar Wilde (which is a more passenger-oriented vessel). It will also broaden our tourist offering by providing an economy style service to France complementing the Oscar Wilde.

This investment in both the Dublin / Holyhead and Dublin / Cherbourg routes will increase the Ferries' Division cost base but the initiative is targeted to become profitable within a short number of years.

Charter: The MV Kaitaki remained on charter during the year, trading in New Zealand. The charter to P&O terminated on 30 June 2013 following which a new charter commenced, on 1 July 2013, to KiwiRail. The new charter is for a period of 4 years with an option for the charterer to extend the agreement by a further 3 years, out to 2020.

The Princess Anastasia (formerly 'Bilbao') remained on bareboat hire purchase charter to St. Peter Line. Under the terms of the charter party, (forming part of the hire purchase sale agreement), title to the vessel will transfer to the charterers, on payment of the remaining instalments due under the agreement.

To read further information of the results including freight Lo-Lo performance figures, they can be downloaded in full from this link.

 

Published in Ferry
Page 8 of 17

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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