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Displaying items by tag: New Mersey ferry

The shipyard which built the UK's polar research ship, RRS Sir David Attenborough, Cammell Laird is to construct the first new Mersey ferry in 60 years, in a move which marks a major milestone for the shipbuilder.

Located at Birkenhead on the Wirral Peninsula, the shipyard part of the APCL group, has put pen to paper with the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority on a deal which will see the new ferry designed and built exclusively on-site (see previous related overseas shipyard story).

The state-of-the-art newbuild will be designed to harness green technology, with a cutting edge Azi-pull propeller system for reduced fuel usage, along with a diesel-electric hybrid-ready propulsion system. With this feature there is the potential for future conversion to full electric propulsion as technology evolves.

The ferry will also have an exhaust after treatment system which will operate in excess of current UK & international standards to reduce harmful nitrous oxide emissions.

It comes six decades after the last Mersey ferry, which was also built at Cammell Laird had entered service. The vessel will be designed by in-house Cammell Laird naval architects and constructed by the facility’s local workers and apprentices, with a target delivery date of the end of 2025.

The announcement today marks the culmination of a process which started back in 2016 and represents a major vote of confidence in Cammell Laird.

Ferries on the Mersey date back to the early 13th century and have become one of the most iconic modes of transport in the world. Cammell Laird has a long history with Mersey ferries, having built 15 of the vessels dating back to 1836.

The new ferry will bear the hull number 1,395 - being the 1,395th ship built at the shipyard. Other recent ferry projects have included construction of Strangford II (Afloat adds on the Ards Peninsula) Red Kestrel (Isle of Wight) Sound of Seil and Sound of Soay (Upper Clyde service).

Cammell Laird has a rich shipbuilding history dating back 200 years. Its 130-acre site has four dry docks and one of the largest modular construction halls in Europe.

Published in Shipyards

A project to build a new Mersey ferry in more than 60 years has been announced by the Mayor of Liverpool City Region.

The Mayor, Steve Rotheram said that the multi-million pound project will "ensure that the iconic 'Ferry Cross the Mersey' will continue to be enjoyed by generations to come."

According to ITV News, the new ferry is expected to be constructed at the historic Cammell Laird shipyard located in Birkenhead, opposite of Liverpool's famous Three Graces waterfront which includes the former Cunard Line building. 

The work at the shipyard on the Wirral Peninsula would support jobs, apprenticeships and development opportunities for the region in north-west England.

Steve Rotheram said: "The Mersey Ferries are not only a vital transport link between communities in the Liverpool City Region, they're also an important part of our identity.

"But, as the current vessels are older than the Gerry and the Pacemakers song that helped make them world famous, they are becoming harder and harder to maintain and definitely in need of an upgrade.

"There have been boats crossings the Mersey since the 12th century and, thanks to our investment, here they’ll stay…"

Following a consultation process in 2018, feedback received has led to a design which will provide passengers with greater comfort and improved accessibility so to enhance the overall experience on the service operated by MerseyTravel.

More here on the ferry service which Afloat adds is currently served by the Cammell Laird's 1960 built Royal Iris of the Mersey (see ex Mountwood's Dun Laoghaire role) which runs the commuter service in addition to River Explorer Cruises.

Another veteran ferry, the Snowdop (known as the Dazzle ferry) is out of service. The former Woodchurch also from the shipyard in Birkenhead, in more recent years was repainted in an eye-catching design in honour of the 'camouflage dazzle' patterns that were first used on vessels in World War One.

Published in Shipyards

Sharks in Irish waters

Irish waters are home to 71 species of shark, skates and rays, 58 of which have been studied in detail and listed on the Ireland Red List of Cartilaginous fish. Irish sharks range from small Sleeper sharks, Dogfish and Catsharks, to larger species like Frilled, Mackerel and Cow sharks, all the way to the second largest shark in the world, the Basking shark. 

Irish waters provide a refuge for an array of shark species. Tralee Bay, Co. Kerry provides a habitat for several rare and endangered sharks and their relatives, including the migratory tope shark, angel shark and undulate ray. This area is also the last European refuge for the extremely rare white skate. Through a European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) project, Marine Institute scientists have been working with fishermen to assess the distribution, diversity, and monthly relative abundance of skates and rays in Tralee, Brandon and Dingle Bays.

“These areas off the southwest coast of Ireland are important internationally as they hold some of the last remaining refuges for angel shark and white skate,” said Dr Maurice Clarke of the Marine Institute. “This EMFF project has provided data confirming the critically endangered status of some species and provides up-to-date information for the development of fishery measures to eliminate by-catch.” 

Irish waters are also home to the Black Mouthed Catshark, Galeus melastomus, one of Ireland’s smallest shark species which can be found in the deep sea along the continental shelf. In 2018, Irish scientists discovered a very rare shark-nursery 200 nautical miles off the west coast by the Marine Institute’s ROV Holland 1 on a shelf sloping to 750 metres deep. 

There are two ways that sharks are born, either as live young or from egg casings. In the ‘case’ of Black Mouthed Catsharks, the nursery discovered in 2018, was notable by the abundance of egg casings or ‘mermaid’s purses’. Many sharks, rays and skate lay eggs, the cases of which often wash ashore. If you find an egg casing along the seashore, take a photo for Purse Search Ireland, a citizen science project focusing on monitoring the shark, ray and skate species around Ireland.

Another species also found by Irish scientists using the ROV Holland 1 in 2018 was a very rare type of dogfish, the Sail Fin Rough Shark, Oxynotus paradoxus. These sharks are named after their long fins which resemble the trailing sails of a boat, and live in the deep sea in waters up to 750m deep. Like all sharks, skates and rays, they have no bones. Their skeleton is composed of cartilage, much like what our noses and ears are made from! This material is much more flexible and lighter than bone which is perfect for these animals living without the weight of gravity.

Throughout history sharks have been portrayed as the monsters of the sea, a concept that science is continuously debunking. Basking sharks were named in 1765 as Cetorhinus maximus, roughly translated to the ‘big-nosed sea monster’. Basking sharks are filter feeders, often swimming with their mouths agape, they filter plankton from the water.

They are very slow moving and like to bask in the sun in shallow water and are often seen in Irish waters around Spring and early Summer. To help understand the migration of these animals to be better able to understand and conserve these species, the Irish Basking Shark Group have tagged and mapped their travels.

Remarkably, many sharks like the Angel Shark, Squatina squatina have the ability to sense electricity. They do this via small pores in their skin called the ‘Ampullae of Lorenzini’ which are able to detect the tiny electrical impulses of a fish breathing, moving or even its heartbeat from distances of over a kilometre! Angel sharks, often referred to as Monkfish have a distinctively angelic shape, with flattened, large fins appearing like the wings of an angel. They live on the seafloor in the coastal waters of Ireland and much like a cat are nocturnal, primarily active at night.

The intricate complexity of shark adaptations is particularly noticeable in the texture of their skin. Composed of miniscule, perfectly shaped overlapping scales, the skin of shark provides them with protection. Often shark scales have been compared to teeth due to their hard enamel structure. They are strong, but also due to their intricate shape, these scales reduce drag and allow water to glide past them so that the shark can swim more effortlessly and silently. This natural flawless design has been used as inspiration for new neoprene fabric designs to help swimmers glide through the water. Although all sharks have this feature, the Leafscale Gulper Shark, Centrophorus squamosus, found in Ireland are specifically named due to the ornate leaf-shape of their scales.