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Displaying items by tag: Belfast Lough News

Trade through Belfast Harbour has grown for the first time in three years, up 5.4% to 16.4m tonnes, according to the port's 2010 annual report, writes Jehan Ashmore.
The boost in trade figures at the Port of Belfast reflects rising tonnages which have assisted in an improved turnover, up 5% to £34.7m and profits before taxation stood at £17.4m.

The principle driver in the ports performance came from the agri-food sector with a record 2m tonnes of grain and animal feed imports. The sector also recorded fertiliser imports alone leap by 32%, reflecting the major investment by the harbour in recent years in the dry-bulk cargo trade.

Roll-on roll-off (Ro-Ro) accounted for a 2% rise to 313,000 vehicles carried, partly due to the introduction of newer larger tonnage on the Belfast-Heysham route.

Belfast Harbour Chairman, Len O'Hagan, said: "Although trading conditions in the UK and Ireland remain weak, the increase in tonnages handled by Belfast Harbour suggests that business confidence is starting to return, albeit slowly.

"Belfast Harbour continues to operate in a highly competitive port sector, but I am pleased to note that the £160m which the Harbour invested in new facilities during the past decade has enabled it to emerge from the downturn with new customers and a presence in new sectors such as renewable energy.

Capital investment in the port worth almost £6m were undertaken during 2010, including the purchase of a new mobile crane, a 10,000 sq ft expansion in logistics space and preliminary works to support the proposed development of an offshore wind turbine terminal for DONG Energy (click HERE). The combined capital expenditure in these projects is in excess of £60m.

Within the ports real estate, projects at the Titanic Quarter progress at the Public Record Office, Belfast Metropolitan College and the core attraction of the 'Titanic Belfast' visitor centre.

Master planning for the 24-acre mixed-use City Quays site adjacent to the Harbour Office was secured. In addition planning permission was lodged for a 230,000 sq ft of space at Sydenham Business Park on the south-eastern fringes of the harbour.

Further upstream closer to the city-centre at the Abercorn Basin, initial work had been completed on a marina where there are more plans for the development of a 250-berth full-service leisure facility.

Next Monday the port's cruise business is to welcome a new cruiseship, the 66,000 tonnes Marina of Oceania Cruises. The 1,250-passenger /800 crew newbuild's arrival to Belfast comes in a year that marks the thirteenth anniversary since the first liner docked in the city. In 2011 over 30 such vessels are due to visit bringing some 50,000 passengers and crew.

Published in Ports & Shipping
Dockers a play written by Martin Lynch and directed by Andrew Flynn is a vibrant recreation of Belfast's docklands set during the 1960's.
The play which is running at the Lyric Theatre, Belfast ends this Sunday at 7.45pm. Ticksts cost €5-€21.50 Tel: 02890 385685

Laced with whiskey, wit and ballsy humour, Dockers is a very Northern Irish play with a universal message. Working class hero John Graham struggles to bring equality and integrity to the brutal working environment of the Belfast docks.

As one man's idealism confronts the tribal politics of the docks, a sobering and shocking turn of events brings the play to a climactic ending. Lynch's critically acclaimed and popular play was first produced by the Lyric in 1981. For further information click HERE

Published in Boating Fixtures
With summertime in full-swing, Stena Line are running a 'Family Fun Day Cruise' on their Belfast-Stranraer port route on certain dates during July and August, writes Jehan Ashmore.

The 'cruise' onboard the ferry Stena Navigator (for virtual tour click HERE) is based on a return excursion on the North Channel route.

So what's included?...there's live music, disco / karaoke, face-painting, balloon modeling and party games for the children. For further family entertainment there's even a magician, Wii-games, free movies and free Wi-Fi.

In addition a 10% discount is available from the onboard shop, though exclusions apply.

Cruises are not catered for vehicles but apply to 'foot' passengers, for further details on terms and conditions, cruise itinerary and travel dates click HERE.

Published in Ferry

The US-flagged replica tallship H.M.S. Bounty arrived into Belfast Lough this morning for the Belfast Titanic Maritime Festival (24-26 June), writes Jehan Ashmore.

Measuring some 200 tonnes, the three masted-replica ship of the original H.M.A.V Bounty where the famous mutiny against Captain William Bligh took place in Tahiti in 1789, is to open to the public.

The replica was constructed in Nova Scotia of the original Hull-built vessel for the 1962 MGM film 'Mutiny on the Bounty' starring Hollywood screen legend Marlon Brando.

The Bounty was also used in the filming of Pirates of the Caribbean II and a Lone Wolf Production Group documentary on Blackbeard and has featured in several documentaries.

'Bounty' will be open to visitors (for information www.tallshipbounty.org) and is to be accompanied by the Jubilee Sailing Trust's Lord Nelson (www.jst.org.uk/).

The festival venue is at the Queen's Quay, Abercorn Basin and Arc, behind the Premier Inn Hotel at the Titanic Quarter.

As for the Titanic, tours of the old main offices of the H&W shipyard on the Queen's Road courtesy of the Titanic Quarter Ltd will be open to the public with displays relating to Titanic and Edwardian Fashion.

In addition Titanic Bus Tours lasting two hours which are free are available from the Belfast Welcome Centre, to contact Tel: 028 9024 6609.

For a complete listing of the festival events, dates and opening hours go to www.belfastcity.gov.uk/maritimefestival/index.asp

Published in Maritime Festivals
Stena Line are to introduce two chartered sisterships in the Autumn to coincide with the opening of a £80m ferryport near Cairnryan, which is to replace Stranraer, as the new Scottish port for their route to Belfast, writes Jehan Ashmore.
At 30,285grt the sisterships Superfast VII and Superfast VIII will be the largest ferries to operate on the North Channel routes. The 203m long pair can take 1,200 passengers, around 660 cars or 110 freight vehicles.

Stena will lease the ferries for a three year period from Tallink, the Baltic Sea based shipping group. (Click here for photo of Superfast VIII in ice-flow waters). The charter arrangement includes an option to extend for a further year.

The distance between the new ferry terminal named the 'Loch Ryan Port' at Old House Point (which is just north of Cairnryan) is approx. 8kms apart from Stranraer taking the coastal (A77) road along the Loch that leads onto to Glasgow. At Cairnryan,  rivals P&O (Irish Sea) who along with predecessing operators have run services on the route to Larne for several decades.

With a speed of 27-knots, passage times on the new Stena Belfast-Cairnryan route will take 2 hours 15 minutes, this compares to the existing time of 2 hours 50 minutes from Stranraer by conventional ferry and 2 hours taken by the HSS fast-ferry.

As a consequence of Stena operating from Loch Ryan Port, passage times by the Superfast sisters will be reduced by 35 minutes as the Belfast terminal was also relocated in recent years. Though despite the relocated ferry terminals, the Superfast sisters scheduled 2 hours 15 minutes sailings from the new port will be slightly longer compared to the HSS Stena Voyager's 2 hour sailing time from Stranraer.

Also serving the Belfast Stranraer route are the conventional ferries, Stena Caledonia (formerly Sealink's St. David built at Harland & Wolff) and Stena Navigator, that served SeaFrance on Dover-Calais sailings as SeaFrance Manet. When the Superfast sisters replace the HSS Stena Explorer and the conventional ferries, perhaps there will be a new a role for the two vessels in replacing expensive to run fast-craft operated elsewhere.

In the meantime the Superfast pair will maintain running on Tallink's 26-hour Helsinki-Rostock until mid-August. The 2001 German will then undergo an extensive refit of passenger facilities and a new freight-only deck will be incorporated to cater for haulage operators increasing use of higher vehicles and double-deck freight units.

The 'Superfast' vessel naming theme derives from the original owners, Greek operator Superfast Ferries, which sold their Scandinavian operations to Tallink in 2006.

Published in Ferry
Page 10 of 10

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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