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Dun Laoghaire Harbour Profits Sink Following Ferry Withdrawal

19th July 2016
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Dun Laoghaire Harbour made a loss of €6.3m for the year 2015, following the withdrawal of the Stena HSS operated fast-ferry to Wales. Tomorrow the port will welcome the fourth of eight cruiseships calls this season when Celebrity Silhouette anchors offshore as seen above on her first visit last year. Dun Laoghaire Harbour made a loss of €6.3m for the year 2015, following the withdrawal of the Stena HSS operated fast-ferry to Wales. Tomorrow the port will welcome the fourth of eight cruiseships calls this season when Celebrity Silhouette anchors offshore as seen above on her first visit last year. Photo: Jehan Ashmore

#ProfitsSink - Dun Laoghaire Harbour will welcome tomorrow a mid-season cruise caller, this will be against the backdrop of losses by the port company last year, writes Jehan Ashmore.

Celebrity Silhouette of 122,400 gross tonnage, and a combined passenger and crew total of 4,000, is to make a return 'anchorage' visit off the south Dublin Bay harbour following a debut call in 2015. A proposed new cruise liner berth submitted by Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company is still awaiting a decision by an Bord Pleanala.

Accounts for the Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company reveal a €6.3 million loss reports The Times, after Stena Line officially confirmed that is was to withdraw HSS services ‘permanently’ from the port to Holyhead last year. Not to be confused Afloat adds with the final season of HSS Stena Explorer sailings that actually took place the previous year when the fast-ferry ceased in September 2014.

The company had previously said that it was focused on finding a new operator to continue the long history of ferry links between Dun Laoghaire and Britain.

In its latest annual report it said that while it still hoped to resume some ferry services to Holyhead, it was also looking at new uses for the St Michael’s Pier terminal building.

When Stena Line ceased to operate the route in February 2015 seven expressions of interest were received as previously reported on Afloat.ie.

Also reported on Afloat was the dismantling and removal of the former Stena HSS berth-linkspan and associated passenger gangway structure. Since that report, Afloat has learnt that the custom-built linkspan at St. Micheal’s Pier has been removed on site and not taken away by barge. 

The process of removing HSS related port infrastructure are scheduled to take up to next month. DLHC added that harbour facilities will only become available for use by a potential new ferry operator but not until 2017.

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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. 

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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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