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Ulysses Out of Service Again On Dublin-Holyhead Route

30th October 2018
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Ulysses is currently out of service on the Dublin-Holyhead route. Above is a view taken earlier this year from a coach about to board the flagship on (26 July) the day the cruiseferry returned to service following major work carried out on propulsion systems that took place during the high-season.  On the right connecting the ferry is the double tier vehicle linkspan. Ulysses is currently out of service on the Dublin-Holyhead route. Above is a view taken earlier this year from a coach about to board the flagship on (26 July) the day the cruiseferry returned to service following major work carried out on propulsion systems that took place during the high-season. On the right connecting the ferry is the double tier vehicle linkspan. Photo: JEHAN ASHMORE

#FerryNews - Ulysses, flagship of Irish Ferries which was forced out of service for over a month during the peak season is once again not operating on the Holyhead route having docked in Dublin Port last night, writes Jehan Ashmore.

The company had cited a 'technical reason' though it is understood this incident it is not a repeat of the summer's problems with the starboard controllable pitch propeller which took place on 24th June. This led to the 50,938 gross tonnage flagship having to undergo major repairs in Harland & Wolff, Belfast. Otherwise the custom-built cruiseferry has had a strong reliability record since introduction in 2001.  

Ulysses having completed a round trip to Holyhead, yesterday evening proceeded upriver to berth in Alexandra Basin. It would appear that the off service situation is short-term, given that the Ulysses is scheduled to return to service this Wednesday (1st November) on the 20:55 sailing to Holyhead. Check here for updates. 

In the meantime while Ulysses remains in Alexandra Basin, this is also where earlier this month, the route's Holyhead newly introduced fast-ferry craft Dublin Swift had problems too. Work was carried out that enabled a return to the route just days before it ended a first 'seasonal' service previously operated by Jonathan Swift.  The winter layover in the port of the larger and newer fast-craft is to end with resumption of sailings in Spring 2019.

Currently, taking place of Ulysses sailing roster is Isle of Inishmore, where Afloat noted a repositioning passage from Rosslare which saw an arrival yesterday morning to Dublin Port. The Isle of Inishmore is no stranger on the Dublin route having also been custom-built in 1997 to serve the north Wales route when ordered by the operator's parent company ICG. 

Also operating on the Wales route but routinely is ropax Epsilon, however a third ferry was also in service until Sunday night, Oscar Wilde that provided additional sailings since earlier this month. The cruiseferry also served direct Dublin-Cherbourg crossings, however in the early hours of yesterday morning made a repositioning passage to Rosslare to take over the 'Inishmore' roster that began with a morning crossing to Pembroke.

On a related note to Ireland-France services, Afloat will have more to report on the much delayed €150m cruiseferry W.B. Yeats that was to have made a debut on the Dublin route last July followed by a transfer to Holyhead from September but only for the winter.  During that time Epsilon would maintain the year-round operated route given no Rosslare based sailings. 

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. 

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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