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Arklow’s Remaining ‘R’ Series Quartet Reduced to Trio as Norwegian Rival Acquire Cargo Ship

6th September 2023
After serving Arklow Shipping for more than 17 years, the ‘R’ series short-sea trader Arklow Rainbow of the Co. Wicklow ship-owner, has been sold to a rival Norwegian owner. Above is Afloat’s photo of Cork Harbour with the Naval Base, Haulbowline and in background the National Maritime College of Ireland, Ringaskiddy and another former R series, Arklow Racer, which name was revived when given to a new R series /Eco-Trader cargoship from Dutch shipbuilders, Royal Bodewes from where this newbuild Afloat reported of its launch during the summer, noting a further four are to be completed as part of the seven strong ship series.
After serving Arklow Shipping for more than 17 years, the ‘R’ series short-sea trader Arklow Rainbow of the Co. Wicklow ship-owner, has been sold to a rival Norwegian owner. Above is Afloat’s photo of Cork Harbour with the Naval Base, Haulbowline and in background the National Maritime College of Ireland, Ringaskiddy and another former R series, Arklow Racer, which name was revived when given to a new R series /Eco-Trader cargoship from Dutch shipbuilders, Royal Bodewes from where this newbuild Afloat reported of its launch during the summer, noting a further four are to be completed as part of the seven strong ship series. Credit: Jehan Ashmore

During routine consultation of the Arklow Shipping website fleetlist, it was noted short of an ‘R’ series cargoship, which has led to identification of its new shipowner, writes Jehan Ashmore.

The Arklow Rainbow until recently, was one of just a quartet of remaining ‘R’ series dry-cargoships which originally had reached a total of 16 such ships with the Co. Wicklow ship-owner. The series were significant, as Afloat adds they represented the largest newbuild order ever given by an Irish owned operator.

Even in the era of the former Irish-state owned, Irish Shipping Ltd, which had custom-built series but nothing compared to the 16 strong R series which first began in 2002 with Arklow Rose from Barkmeijer Strooboos, a Dutch shipyard which completed them all.

Arklow Rainbow of 4,399 deadweight tonnes (dwt) dating to 2006, which until recently was the oldest of the quartet, had departed the Port of Waterford on 22 August for a delivery passage to Rotterdam. Two days later the 17 year old cargo ship arrived in the Dutch port where Afloat tracked today the almost 90m vessel which has been renamed Wilson Plymouth. 

The prefix of the ship’s name easily identifies as to the new owner, Wilson Ship Management AS of Bergen, Norway which Afloat by coincidence of recent months had highlighted Europe's largest short-sea fleet of around 130 vessels, ranging from 1,500-8,500dwt. The Nordic based operator in July had announced an order for up to 14 newbuilds.

Every year Wilson transport about 15 million tonnes dry cargo across Europe and this equates to approximately 10,000 port calls on an annual basis. The head office in Bergen is supported by more offices located in Moi-i-Rana also in Norway, Germany, the Netherlands, Iceland and eastern Europe.

Berthed in Rotterdam nearby of Wilson Plymouth, now Norwegian flagged, is the Wilson Flex IV, the fourth of five Hanse class ‘Open Top’ cargo ships, albeit this quartet are flagged in Portugal. Also berthed alongside of the 2022 vessel is the Wilson Maas which likewise of the newcomer is of second-hand tonnage.

As for the fleet of Arklow Shipping Ltd, this is Ireland’s only indigenous ship-owner with a fleet 37 Irish flagged vessels, mainly comprising of short-sea traders and several deep-sea bulkers.

While ASL’s Dutch counterpart, Arklow Shipping Nederland B.V. have a fleet which are registered in Rotterdam and they number 18 vessels, all of them short-sea traders.

So overall, Arklow Shipping has a combined fleet of 55 vessels with further newbuilds among them the next generation of R series /Eco-Traders been built by Royal Bodewes, see related launch of Arklow Racer that took place this summer. 

Afloat will have more to report on the remaining older Arklow ‘R’ series trio, which includes Arklow Raider which departed Dublin Port on Friday, 1st September on a passage to London.

The 2007 built vessel Afloat tracked currently downriver of the Pool of London at Northfleet, Thames Estuary, having arrived on Monday of this week. Also consulted was the Port of London Authority, as the dry-cargo ship is expected to depart Bevens Wharf tomorrow evening.

On related coverage regarding the UK capital is where the London International Shipping Week (LISW) starts next Monday with among the events will take place in the Pool of London.

Jehan Ashmore

About The Author

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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About Arklow Shipping

Arklow Shipping Limited, one of Ireland's leading shipping companies, has marked over 50 years of operation following its establishment in 1966.

The company, which began with a fleet of seven ships, has grown steadily over the years and now boasts a fleet of 59 vessels.

The company was founded by Captains James Tyrrell, Michael Tyrrell, and Victor Hall, who collaborated to create an umbrella company to operate their ships. This move allowed them to reduce overheads and strengthen their position in the market. The original fleet comprised seven ships, namely Tyrronall, Murell, Marizell, Valzell, Kilbride, River Avoca, and Avondale, all of varying sizes.

The shipping industry in Ireland underwent a significant transformation in the 1960s, with the replacement of traditional auxiliary schooners with modern crafts.

Arklow Shipping was at the forefront of this change, and the founders recognized the need for a new approach to shipping in Ireland. They built a company that could adapt to the changing market demands, and this has been a key factor in the company's continued growth.

Over the years, Arklow Shipping has bought, sold, and built ships, facing the challenges and opportunities that come with operating in the shipping industry. Despite these challenges, the company has remained committed to meeting market demand and providing high-quality services to its clients.

Today, Arklow Shipping is a leading player in the shipping industry, with a strong reputation for reliability and professionalism. The company's success story is a testament to the vision and dedication of its founders, who laid the foundation for a company that has stood the test of time.