Allianz and Afloat - Supporting Irish Boating

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Displaying items by tag: Cargoship Service

Inisheer off Co. Galway, at this time of year is normally a hive of activity with bands of tourists alighting from the ferries ready to soak up the peace and quiet. Or they may be arriving for Irish language or art courses or even to swim alongside Dusty the dolphin, whose presence has been absent from the waters for the last few months.

Inisheer, or Inis Oírr, is the smallest and most southerly of the Aran Islands and along with Inishmore and Inishmaan form a northwest-to-southeast barrier of sorts to Galway Bay. The tourist ferries from Rossaveal and Doolin, Co Clare, have ceased operations since mid-March because of the pandemic, but the Lasta Mara cargo ferry run by Rory Beatty and Co (from Galway) has proved a lifeline for the islands.

“We have a wonderful cargo service from Galway. They’ve been extremely facilitative as well. The best of people is coming out,” says Máire Uí Mhaoláin, manager of the Community Development Co-operative on Inisheer.

Aran Island Ferries, run by the O’Briens of Carraroe and the O’Brien and Garrihy ferries from Doolin, has all stopped running trips to the islands in accordance with government regulations.

“They’ve all helped us out by not running tourists to the island,” says Máire. “That was a huge concern for us back in March. We get a lot of tourists, particularly European students travelling at that time of year.”

The subsidised service is still continuing but instead there is one ferryboat servicing the three Aran islands twice a day only for islanders, and only for essential travel.

For more including visits from those in essential services the Irish Examiner reports here. 

Freight-only services adds Lasta Mara Teo last year introduced second hand tonnage in the form of Fagerfjord from Norwegian owners. The former palletised cargo ship since renamed Saoirse na Mara made its maiden arrival in September to Kilronan Harbour on Inishmore, Aran Islands (see video). Note the hoisted on board vehicles.

The new tonnage joined existing cargoship Bláth na Mara also based out of Galway. In addition they run a former army landing craft Chateau Thierry which operates a ro-ro vehicle (un-accompanied) service but from Rossaveal in Connemara.

Published in Island News

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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