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Irish Flagged Cargoship Departs Ireland's Sole 'Ship' Dockyard With A Charter to Where Next?

28th May 2020
In this file photo is the occasion of the Irish flagged container/general cargoship M.V. Huelin Dispatch which is seen in the graving dry-dock at Cork Dockyard in 2017. The vessel since returned on 13th May for routine inspection and as of yesterday departed Ireland's sole dry-dock for ships and remains this evening at anchor offshore of Cork Harbour awaiting orders for the next charter. In this file photo is the occasion of the Irish flagged container/general cargoship M.V. Huelin Dispatch which is seen in the graving dry-dock at Cork Dockyard in 2017. The vessel since returned on 13th May for routine inspection and as of yesterday departed Ireland's sole dry-dock for ships and remains this evening at anchor offshore of Cork Harbour awaiting orders for the next charter.

It is pleasing for Afloat to track an Irish flagged cargoship that appropriately used an Irish Dockyard, albeit sadly at the only dry-dock facility available for 'ships' in the State, writes Jehan Ashmore.

The shipyard is Cork Dockyard, as distinct to boatyards scattered around our coast which concentrate primarily with the fishing fleet, though larger trawlers from Killybegs have used the facility in Cork Harbour. It is here that the shiprepair and maintenance facility part of the Doyle Shipping Group (DSG) easily accommodated the 89m cargoship MV Huelin Dispatch into the 165m graving dock.

Afloat contacted Dundalk Shipping which cited the reason for the call of Huelin Dispatch was merely for a routine intermediate docking. Also according to the Co. Louth based operator, nothing major was found and that the vessel refloated is now ready for business and is awaiting orders from a charterer.

As for the dominance of the Arklow Shipping's fleet of around 40 Irish flagged cargoships (plus 16 on the Dutch registry) when compared to the Dundalk shipowner which is a rare breed in the Irish merchant shipping scene given its trades with a single-ship. Huelin Dispatch is a cargoship that can transport containers as well as hazardous shipments. In addition to trading bulk, steel coils, steel, forest products, grain and general cargo etc.

For almost a fortnight the 2,597 gross tonnage Huelin Dispatch was at the marine engineering facility located in Rushbrooke nearby of Cobh. Following yesterday's afternoon departure, the cargoship remains this evening is at anchor offshore west of Cork Harbour, the main anchorage zone for ships using the Port of Cork.

Meanwhile the local ferry Spike Island is outside of the Munster graving dock which in 1995 DSG acquired and as alluded is the sole surviving ship dry-dock in the State. This following the closure of Dublin Graving Docks in 2016 with the last merchant ship Arklow Fame (subsequently reopened 'temporarily' especially for tallship Jeanie Johnston in 2017). The larger 220m dry-dock in the Irish capital is where Huelin Dispatch was too a customer though the former site is part of Dublin Port's ongoing Alexandra Basin Redevolopment (ABR) project. This is to increase quay space and cargo hard standing for increasingly larger vessels. 

Another customer albeit at the remaining southern dry-dock as Afloat recently reported was the Northern Ireland fishery and research vessel RV Corystes which had sailed south from Ulster in late April. The 1,280 gross tonnage UK Red Ensign flagged vessel departed the dry-dock on 12th May to return to the Belfast based owner the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) which among the clients of the 53m vessel is the Northern Ireland government.

On the next day Huelin Dispatch entered Cork Dockyard, ironically a previous Dutch owner of the facility was the Damen Group. They built in 2012 for the Irish owner at a cost of £8.8m, to the shipyard's own design the Combi-Freighter 3850 at Bergum in the Netherlands.

Also in that year the 3,800dwt newbuild Huelin Dispatch was delivered in September, with the Dundalk registered vessel (see photo) firstly entering service by trading on the English Channel between the UK and Channel Islands with a charter to Huelin-Renouf. The Damen standard ship was built with modifications specified by Dundalk Shipping, this involved the accommodation for up to 8 crew (in particular the Captain's quarters) in addition the fitting of tween decks to suit trading to the Channel Islands. 

Initially, the freight service included calls to Braye Harbour on Alderney, the most outlying of these islands but situated the nearest to France. The relationship with the Channel Islands based firm was all too brief as the firm went into liquidation in 2013, however the legacy remains from this stint during the ship's early career as the name of the cargoship is retained.

The short-sea trader however continued its freight run as Channel Island Lines (CIL) stepped in on the link from the UK mainland. Likewise of Huelin-Renouf they based the Irish ship out of Southampton to connect services to the main Channel Islands of Guernsey and Jersey.

CIL's charter however in more recent times ceased. In the interim period until the current return to Irish waters, Afloat has on occasions tracked Huelin Dispatch to Scandinavia. So where next? for this small cargoship yet proudly Irish-owned, registered and sailing under the tricolor.

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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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.

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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.

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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

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Salve Marina Ltd

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Port of Cork 100m. pontoon

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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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