Displaying items by tag: Falklands Task Force
#CRUISELINERS – Cruise & Maritime Voyages Ocean Countess (17,593 tonnes) departed Liverpool's City Cruise Terminal this evening bound for Cobh, though thirty years ago she sailed considerably further south and for completely different reasons, writes Jehan Ashmore.
The 800 passenger capacity was built in 1976 for Cunard Line as their Cunard Countess which undertook an unusual charter less than a decade later. For six months she was used as a troopship by the British Government's Ministry of Defence after the conclusion of the Falklands War in 1982.
The vessel's deployment was to support troop movements between Ascension Island and Port Stanley whilst the islands airfield at Port Stanley was being reinstated.
She sailed 8,000 miles to the South Atlantic islands, where families and friends of British personnel lost in the conflict were also carried on one round voyage. This was to enable commemorations to take place at sea and ashore. Today marks the end of the war, where further commemorations were held on the islands and in the UK.
The O'Flaherty Brothers of Wexford have a diverse range of shipping interests ranging from a fishing trawler fleet, a short-sea coaster and ferries under the Celtic Link Ferries banner, writes Jehan Ashmore.
The shipping family can now also claim to have operations in the far-flung seas of the Caribbean Sea through the chartering of their freight-ferry Diplomat (1978/16,776grt) which was replaced late last year by Norman Voyager (2008/26,500grt) on the Rosslare-Cherbourg route.
Celtic Link Ferries former French freight-ferry, Diplomat laid-up at Waterford earlier this year is now serving in the Caribbean Sea. Photo: Jehan Ashmore/ShipSNAPS
Diplomat spent the winter laid-up at Waterford, where the 32-year vessel was one of the largest vessels to dock at the city-centre quays and formed a temporary albeit floating landmark.
In April the veteran departed Irish shores to take up a new career in the Caribbean. The Diplomat now serves three weekly round trips for Marine Express between the ports of Mayaguez and the capital of San Juan in Peurto Rico and Rio Haina and San Domingo, the capital in the Dominican Republic, which shares the large island of Hispaniola with Haiti.
In an earlier career, the Diplomat whilst serving as the Baltic Ferry, was requistioned by the British Military of Defence as part of the Falkland Islands task force in the war with Argentina in 1982. The vessel saw action which involved Royal Air Force Harrier Jump-Jets landing on the cargo-deck using the aircraft's unique vertical take-off lift (VTOL) capability.
Another vessel under the O'Flaherty sphere of operations, Finnforest (1978/15,525grt), a sistership of Diplomat and built from a series of successful Searunner-class vessels ordered by Stena Rederi, returned to Dublin early this year. The vessel had spent several years on charter to Finnlines serving in the Baltic Sea between Helsinki and Gdynia, Poland.
Finnforest like the Diplomat underwent dry-docking at Dublin, with both vessels heading afterwards for lay-up periods at Waterford. Finnforest remains laid-up awaiting a charter while berthed alongside the city-centre's disused quays on the Co. Kilkenny side of the River Suir.