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Tug Arrives At Dun Laoghaire Harbour Following Dismantling of Stena HSS Related Infrastructure

14th September 2016
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The barge used to break-up Stena HSS related berth infrastructure (see remnants of linkspan in blue) at Dun Laoghaire Harbour The barge used to break-up Stena HSS related berth infrastructure (see remnants of linkspan in blue) at Dun Laoghaire Harbour Photo: Jehan Ashmore

#LinkspanScrap -A tug arrived in Dun Laoghaire Harbour this morning to remove a barge involved in the process to dismantle infrastructure of the former Stena HSS berth, writes Jehan Ashmore.

MTS Indus had sailed from Brixham in the UK to moor alongside the barge that arrived earlier this summer at St. Michaels Pier, from where Stena Line for almost two decades had operated as the only major client of Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company.

Stena’s pioneering HSS fast-ferry service to Holyhead launched in 1996 was revolutionary, bringing a completely new concept of ferry travel on the Irish Sea and setting new technical innovation globally. The HSS Stena Explorer was the first of a trio of HSS1500 (number reflecting passenger capacity) class craft capable of also carrying large freight trucks.

In more recent years, Stena suffered heavy losses and the near 20,000 gross tonnage craft was withdrawn in 2014, though an existing route from Dublin Port to the Welsh port was consolidated with the introduction of larger second replacement ferry.

Contractors at the Dun Laoghaire ferry terminal began work earlier this summer to dismantle all Stena related infrastructure consisting of the adjoining passenger gangway, linkspan and associated equipment at No 5 berth. These constituent parts were broken up on site, using the barge as working platform as well to torching work carried on shore on the site of the vehicle marshalling area, from where scrap merchants loaded trucks for removal.

Yesterday it was observed the lashing of equipment on the barge in addition to containers, portacabins and heavy machinery used in the works. According to DLHC, the MTS Indus was expected to tow the red-hulled barge to the Holyhead today. The north Wales port which is operated by Stena, however may not have the tug arriving until tomorrow, again weather permitting.

The works carried along the centre of the Dun Laoghaire Harbour waterfront also saw the removal of the pontoon located next to Berth No. 4. This is now the only berth complete with linkspan on St. Michaels Wharf.

With the completion of the work to remove Stena infrastructure, Berth 4 will now be made available for a new operator, should DLHC be successful in securing a suitable client in a tender process to resume a seasonal-only service next year.

Published in Ferry
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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