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Former B+I Line Freight-Ferry Bound for Turkish Breakers

21st December 2011
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Former B+I Line Freight-Ferry Bound for Turkish Breakers

#FERRY NEWS-P&O Irish Sea's Larne-Troon freight-ferry Norcape (14,087grt) departed the Co. Antrim port last week to be broken-up at ship-breakers in Aliaga, Turkey. She originally served B+I Line as the Tipperary, but her last sailings took place on the North Channel in late November, as the ageing vessel is in her fourth decade of service, writes Jehan Ashmore.

The 125-trailer capacity ro-ro was not replaced on the single-ship operated route which closed for the winter months, though sailings will resume next March by the 92m fast-ferry Express. In the meantime freight traffic will be accommodated on the companies Larne-Cairnryan service.

Yesterday morning Norcape transitted the Strait of Gibraltar having called en-route to Falmouth several days previously. She represented the last vessel to serve in Irish waters with a direct link to B+I Line, the state-owned operator which was sold in 1992 to ICG, parent company of Irish Ferries.

When she arrives in Aliagra, this is where her former P&O fleetmate European Mariner (5,897grt) was scrapped after also serving Larne-Troon sailings until last July. Norcape entered the North Channel route replacing the smaller 53-trailer capacity vessel.

Prior to then Norcape had been in laid-over in Liverpool docks when European Endeavour replaced her in February on the Dublin-Liverpool route. To read more click HERE.

Norcape's return to the Irish Sea service in 2009, reflected her original career for P&O. She was named Puma in 1979 from the Japanese shipyard at the Mitsui Engineering & SB Co Ltd, Tamano, however she was chartered to B+I Line and renamed Tipperary. To read more and to view a deck-drawing profile, click HERE.

Her career started with a new Dublin-Fleetwood route jointly operated with P&O, who contributed with a sister, the Ibex. The P&O brand name Pandoro stood for P and O Ro, their roll-on roll-off freight division. The route's UK port switched to Liverpool in 1988 with Tipperary remaining on the route until sold to North Sea Ferries in 1989 and renamed Norcape.

Before her transfer to the North Sea, Tipperary collided with the 4,674grt bulker Sumburgh Head off the entrance to Dublin Port in 1988. Incidentally the two vessels, under different names and ownership were in Dublin Port in 2010, as previously reported (with photo) click HERE.

Jehan Ashmore

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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. 

Ferry & Car Ferry News The ferry industry on the Irish Sea, is just like any other sector of the shipping industry, in that it is made up of a myriad of ship operators, owners, managers, charterers all contributing to providing a network of routes carried out by a variety of ships designed for different albeit similar purposes.

All this ferry activity involves conventional ferry tonnage, 'ro-pax', where the vessel's primary design is to carry more freight capacity rather than passengers. This is in some cases though, is in complete variance to the fast ferry craft where they carry many more passengers and charging a premium.

In reporting the ferry scene, we examine the constantly changing trends of this sector, as rival ferry operators are competing in an intensive environment, battling out for market share following the fallout of the economic crisis. All this has consequences some immediately felt, while at times, the effects can be drawn out over time, leading to the expense of others, through reduced competition or takeover or even face complete removal from the marketplace, as witnessed in recent years.

Arising from these challenging times, there are of course winners and losers, as exemplified in the trend to run high-speed ferry craft only during the peak-season summer months and on shorter distance routes. In addition, where fastcraft had once dominated the ferry scene, during the heady days from the mid-90's onwards, they have been replaced by recent newcomers in the form of the 'fast ferry' and with increased levels of luxury, yet seeming to form as a cost-effective alternative.

Irish Sea Ferry Routes

Irrespective of the type of vessel deployed on Irish Sea routes (between 2-9 hours), it is the ferry companies that keep the wheels of industry moving as freight vehicles literally (roll-on and roll-off) ships coupled with motoring tourists and the humble 'foot' passenger transported 363 days a year.

As such the exclusive freight-only operators provide important trading routes between Ireland and the UK, where the freight haulage customer is 'king' to generating year-round revenue to the ferry operator. However, custom built tonnage entering service in recent years has exceeded the level of capacity of the Irish Sea in certain quarters of the freight market.

A prime example of the necessity for trade in which we consumers often expect daily, though arguably question how it reached our shores, is the delivery of just in time perishable products to fill our supermarket shelves.

A visual manifestation of this is the arrival every morning and evening into our main ports, where a combination of ferries, ro-pax vessels and fast-craft all descend at the same time. In essence this a marine version to our road-based rush hour traffic going in and out along the commuter belts.

Across the Celtic Sea, the ferry scene coverage is also about those overnight direct ferry routes from Ireland connecting the north-western French ports in Brittany and Normandy.

Due to the seasonality of these routes to Europe, the ferry scene may be in the majority running between February to November, however by no means does this lessen operator competition.

Noting there have been plans over the years to run a direct Irish –Iberian ferry service, which would open up existing and develop new freight markets. Should a direct service open, it would bring new opportunities also for holidaymakers, where Spain is the most visited country in the EU visited by Irish holidaymakers ... heading for the sun!

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