#BusyBunkering – Short-sea coastal ‘bunker’ tanker, Mersey Spirit now in its 21st year, has in recent days kept busy serving several ships and has almost completed a full-circle itinerary by returning to her homeport of Liverpool today, writes Jehan Ashmore.
For more than two decades the small ship has played a big role in serving the fuel requirements of numerous vessels. To give a snapshot of the hard-working career of Mersey Spirit’s crew, Afloat has been monitoring movements this week so far of the 2,366dwt oil products tanker.
On Monday Mersey Spirit was offshore of Killiney Bay bound for Dublin Port having departed that day from Rosslare Europort. At the Wexford port bunkers (supply of fuel in port) were discharged from the tanker while berthed alongside Stena Horizon.
This is a routine practise as on that particular day of the week there is a layover period of the ropax ferry's sailing roster in between continental crossings to Cherbourg.
Mersey Spirit having docked in Dublin then departed to arrive the following morning of Tuesday in Liverpool (where again she is returning today). The UK flagged 76m vessel entered Huskisson Dock. From there the small ship transited through the docks system to serve several ships.
Among them was P&O Ferries ropax Norbank in Gladstone Dock, neighbouring Royal Seaforth Dock, the lo-lo terminal where ACL’s giant new G4 con-ro vessels dock for example Atlantic Star (see related recent report). At this same terminal in October, a sister Atlantic Sea was named by Princess Anne, the first ship to be christened at the port since the 1960’s.
Rivals of P&O on the Irish Sea central corridor route is Seatruck Ferries whose Seatruck Pace berthed in Langton Dock was also given bunkers by the 1996 built tanker.
Upon completion of tasks, Mersey Spirit docked astern of another bunkering tanker, Keewhit in Canada Dock. The also UK flagged tanker had arrived from Belfast. The 2,332dwt tanker at 77m long was built in 2003 and was next to call to Lynas in north Wales. The jetty there is served by cargoships exporting slate and stone from nearby quarries.
It is further west along the coast on Anglesey and that of Holy Island to be precise as this is where the ferryport of Holyhead is located. Keewhit and likewise of Mersey Spirit are both frequent callers due to the demands of Stena Line ferries (serving Dublin Port) and also visiting cruiseships.
In addition the Mersey Spirit has also provided bunkers to clients Irish Ferries, having witnessed while been on board flagship Ulysses at Holyhead. On that occasion the decks of the tanker berthed alongside could easily be viewed from the much higher above Ulysses uppermost deck beside the funnel.
Also berthed adjacent in Liverpool on Tueday was the Mersey Endurance. The inland barge tanker of 1,650dwt had arrived from Tranmere on the Manchester Ship Canal and the 86m vessel was only built in 2012.
Mersey Spirit was then again underway when Afloat tracked down the vessel offshore of the Llŷn Peninsula yesterday. The distinctive long arm that juts out from the Welsh mainland into the sea south of Holyhead, was where the tanker was bound for Fishguard.
The ferryport also served by Stena whose Rosslare relief route ship, Stena Nordica was given bunkers. On completion of duties the vessel having been alongside the ferry berthed at the quay up from where the ferry once occupied. Last night Mersey Spirit departed bound for Liverpool.
As of this afternoon, Mersey Spirit is at time of posting in the channel approches and aptly returning to home waters on Merseyside.