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Heightened Activity in Cork Dockyard Evokes Memories of Floating Dry-Dock

21st February 2017
An Irish managed cargoship, Ziltborg that is owned by Dutch owners is seen at their headquarters homeport of Delfzijl where the vessel is in a floating dry-dock. Such a structure was a feature of Cork Dockyard where currently an unconventional busy marine engineering scene is underway as giant ship-to-shore container cranes are to be loaded onto a heavy-lift ship bound for Puerto Rico in the Caribbean. An Irish managed cargoship, Ziltborg that is owned by Dutch owners is seen at their headquarters homeport of Delfzijl where the vessel is in a floating dry-dock. Such a structure was a feature of Cork Dockyard where currently an unconventional busy marine engineering scene is underway as giant ship-to-shore container cranes are to be loaded onto a heavy-lift ship bound for Puerto Rico in the Caribbean. Photo: Wagenborg

#FloatingDock - Dublin based Corrib Shipping Group’s management of a newly acquired cargoship that went into a floating dry-dock in the Netherlands last month brings memories of a similar former structure in Cork Dockyard, writes Jehan Ashmore.

The cargoship Ziltborg is the fifth in the fleet of the Irish group but is owned by Wagenborg. They are based in Delfzij where in the previous report a photo features only a close up of the ship's bow while in the Dutch floating dry-dock.

Another connection with Ireland was Dutch shipping magnet Cornelius Verolme who in 1957 was invited by the fledging State owned Irish Shipping Ltd (ISL) that set up a repair dockyard at the Rushbrooke dockyard (origins dating from 1853) to purchase and assist in the development of Irish shipbuilding industry. This led to the establishment of the Verolme Cork Dockyard.

In 1984 however V.C.D. closed and also that same year saw the collapse of ISL. Since then there have been interim owners of the dockyard and in 1995 Cork Dockyard was in the hands of Burke Shipping. The Cork family owned business still controls the dockyard and in late 2015 the shipping and logistics agency was rebranded as Doyle Shipping Group (DSG). 

As reported on Afloat, Cork Dockyard is where currently large scale marine engineering activity is underway as three giant Liebherr cranes towering 85m high having been erected on site are bound for San Juan, Puerto Rico. The ship-to-shore container cranes had been manufactured at Liebherr's plant near Killarney and from there taken to the port of Fenit, Co. Kerry and shipped by sea to Cork Dockyard for assembly. Such activity evokes memories of the yard’s former floating dry-dock, again a unconventional structure that was unique in Irish waters.

The floating dry-dock was higher than the dockyard's quay and was berthed east of where the heavy-lift ship Albatross is to be loaded with the cranes. This will involve rails at the quayside to transfer the ship-to-shore container cranes before shifting berths to Ringaskiddy and eventually departure from Cork Harbour this week.

Likewise of the much higher cranes to be exported by the ship across the Atlantic to the Carribean, the floating dry-dock was too equipped with cranes. They were perched atop at the entrance of the structure.

Cork Dockyard continues to repair and overhaul ships using a conventional land-based graving dry-dock. The facility is now unique as the only drydock left in the State following the recent closure in Dublin last month. By coincidence, the graving dry-dock was opened in 1957, the same year of Verolme's notable entry into Irish maritime industry that saw 33 ships built under his stewardship as they slipped down into the River Lee. The yard at its peak employed more than 1,500, however the last vessel built in this State at V.C.D was Naval Service flagship, L.E. Eithne in 1984. 

It was more than a decade ago that a visit was made to Cork Dockyard especially to observe the Siren on board the floating dry-dock which remained under new owners. Siren, a former Trinity House Lighthouse tender had sailed previously onto the silver screen in Neil Jordan’s ‘Micheal Collins’. In the film she featured as an Irish Sea mail-boat taking senior Irish delegation officials to the pivotal ‘Treaty’ negotiation talks of 1921 held in London with the British Government.

Priot to the film-making, Siren had been based during the early to mid-1990’s in both Dun Laoghaire Harbour, along the East-Pier followed by those in Dublin Port at Sir John Rogersons Quay. Siren had until then served as a survey ship in Irish waters and among ports spent some time based in Waterford City.

The presence of the aforementioned heavy-lift ship, Albatross in an Irish port is rare. The former bulk-carrier, Tordis Knutsen which was converted to carry such large loads has at Rushbrooke been accompanied within the port by another newly acquired vessel but directly Irish owned tug DSG Titan. The green-hulled tug that at first glance strongly resembles to a pair of Dublin Port tugs, is seen in the related report photograph alongside the Albatross.

The tug’s prefix, DSG as previously referred is that of Doyle Shipping Group. They chartered in the Albatross on behalf of Liebherr to transport the ship-to shore container cranes across the Atlantic Ocean. 

Published in Cork Harbour
Jehan Ashmore

About The Author

Jehan Ashmore

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Jehan Ashmore is a marine correspondent, researcher and photographer, specialising in Irish ports, shipping and the ferry sector serving the UK and directly to mainland Europe. Jehan also occasionally writes a column, 'Maritime' Dalkey for the (Dalkey Community Council Newsletter) in addition to contributing to UK marine periodicals. 

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Cork Harbour Information

It’s one of the largest natural harbours in the world – and those living near Cork Harbour insist that it’s also one of the most interesting.

This was the last port of call for the most famous liner in history, the Titanic, but it has been transformed into a centre for the chemical and pharmaceutical industry.

The harbour has been a working port and a strategic defensive hub for centuries, and it has been one of Ireland's major employment hubs since the early 1900s. Traditional heavy industries have waned since the late 20th century, with the likes of the closure of Irish Steel in Haulbowline and shipbuilding at Verolme. It still has major and strategic significance in energy generation, shipping and refining.

Giraffe wander along its shores, from which tens of thousands of men and women left Ireland, most of them never to return. The harbour is home to the oldest yacht club in the world, and to the Irish Navy. 

This deep waterway has also become a vital cog in the Irish economy.

‘Afloat.ie's Cork Harbour page’ is not a history page, nor is it a news focus. It’s simply an exploration of this famous waterway, its colour and its characters.

Cork Harbour Festival

Ocean to City – An Rás Mór and Cork Harbour Open Day formerly existed as two popular one-day events located at different points on Cork’s annual maritime calendar. Both event committees recognised the synergy between the two events and began to work together and share resources. In 2015, Cork Harbour Festival was launched. The festival was shaped on the open day principle, with Ocean to City – An Ras Mór as the flagship event.

Now in its sixth year, the festival has grown from strength to strength. Although the physical 2020 festival was cancelled due to Covid-19, the event normally features nine festival days starting on the first week of June. It is packed full of events; all made possible through collaboration with over 50 different event partners in Cork City, as well as 15 towns and villages along Cork Harbour. The programme grows year by year and highlights Ireland’s rich maritime heritage and culture as well as water and shore-based activities, with Ocean to City – An Rás Mór at the heart of the festival.

Taking place at the centre of Ireland’s maritime paradise, and at the gateway to Ireland’s Ancient East and the Wild Atlantic Way, Cork is perfectly positioned to deliver the largest and most engaging harbour festival in Ireland.

The Cork Harbour Festival Committee includes representatives from Cork City Council, Cork County Council, Port of Cork, UCC MaREI, RCYC, Cobh & Harbour Chamber and Meitheal Mara.

Marinas in Cork Harbour

There are six marinas in Cork Harbour. Three in Crosshaven, one in East Ferry, one in Monkstown Bay and a new facility is opening in 2020 at Cobh. Details below

Port of Cork City Marina

Location – Cork City
Contact – Harbour Masters Dept., Port of Cork Tel: +353 (0)21 4273125 or +353 (0)21 4530466 (out of office hours)

Royal Cork Yacht Club Marina

Location: Crosshaven, Co. Cork
Contact: +353 (0) 21 4831023

Crosshaven Boatyard Marina

Location: Crosshaven, Co. Cork
Contact: +353 (0)21 4831161

Salve Marina Ltd

Location: Crosshaven, Co. Cork
Contact: +353 (0) 21 4831145

Cork Harbour Marina

Location: Monkstown, Co. Cork
Contact: +353 (0)87 3669009

East Ferry Marina

Location: East Ferry, Co. Cork
Contact: +353 (0)21 4813390

New Cove Sailing Club Marina

(to be opened in 2020)

Location: Cobh, Co. Cork
Contact: 087 1178363

Cork Harbour pontoons, slipways and ramps

Cork City Boardwalk Existing pontoon

Port of Cork 100m. pontoon

Cork city – End of Cornmarket St. steps and slip;

Cork city - Proby’s Qy. Existing limited access slip

Quays Bar & Restaurant, Private pontoon and ramp for patrons, suitable for yachts, small craft town and amenities

Cobh harbour [camber] Slip and steps inside quay wall pontoon

Fota (zoo, house, gardens) Derelict pontoon and steps

Haulbowline naval basin; restricted space Naval base; restricted access;

Spike Island pier, steps; slip, pontoon and ramp

Monkstown wooden pier and steps;

Crosshaven town pier, with pontoon & steps

East Ferry Marlogue marina, Slip (Great Island side) visitors’ berths

East Ferry Existing pier and slip; restricted space East Ferry Inn (pub)
(Mainland side)

Blackrock pier and slips

Ballinacurra Quay walls (private)

Aghada pier and slip, pontoon & steps public transport links

Whitegate Slip

Passage West Pontoon

Glenbrook Cross-river ferry

Ringaskiddy Parking with slip and pontoon Ferry terminal; village 1km.

Carrigaloe pier and slip; restricted space; Cross-river ferry;

Fountainstown Slip

White’s Bay beach

Ringabella beach

Glanmire Bridge and tide restrictions

Old Glanmire - Quay

Cork Harbour Festival & Ocean to City Race

Following the cancellation of the 2020 event, Cork Harbour Festival will now take place 5 – 13 June 2021, with the Flagship Ocean to City An Rás Mór on 5 June.

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