#Ports&Shipping - A former Belfast Port based tug, Irishman is currently to be found busy working in the East Yorkshire port of Hull on the Humber Estuary that flows into the North Sea, writes Jehan Ashmore.
Irishman, a 40 ton bollard pull tug had served in the original fleetline up stationed in Belfast Harbour, when Yorkshire based company SMS Towage located in Hessle, upriver of Hull, entered the towage market on the River Lagan from 2013. The 50 bollard pull tug Masterman, which started work in the city also that year was joined by sister Merchantman in 2015.
Merchantman in recent weeks assisted in the neighbouring Port of Larne. This involved handling the longest ever ship to the port, tanker CPO Germany which called to the ferryport (P&O services to Cairnryan) for scheduled maintenance.
In addition to Northern Ireland, SMS Towage which has an all (ASD) Azimuth Stern Drive designed fleet totalling 16 tugs, has operations spread throughout the UK, at ports on the Bristol Channel, Portsmouth in Hampshire and asides Hull, the towage firm has fleets elsewhere on the Humber estuary. These operations are at the Ports of Goole, Grimsby and Immingham (see major investment plans at the UK's Biggest Port). The port trio is operated by Associated British Ports (ABP).
Afloat recalls the first occasion of setting sight on Irishman, when in the summer boarding Cruise & Maritime Voyages (CMV) veteran Marco Polo berthed in Hull's King George V Dock. The 24m Irishman had berthed ahead of the sweeping gracefull classic hull lines of former Soviet liner Aleksandr Pushkin launched in 1965 in the then Eastern Bloc state of East Germany.
These liner voyages ran between Leningrad, Russia and Montreal and Quebec in Canada, and also en-route calls via Tilbury, London, coincidently CMV's main UK homeport. (See further below, current cruise to Canada).
When Marco Polo eased of the berth in Hull's King George V Dock (used by P&O Ferries services to Belgium and Netherlands), the Irishman assisted at the bow of the 20,080 gross tonnage cruiseship. Also in the North Sea port was the aptly named Yorkshireman that handled operations at the ship's 'cruiser' stern. It is from here overlooking the stern that cruise-goers thronged the outside tiered decks to lap up the summer's notably prolonged heatwave and experience transitting the dock's lock.
Powered by twin Niigata engines at 3,000 bhp, Irishman lead Marco Polo through the dock's entrance. When Marco Polo eventually vacated the dock into the open waters of the Humber Estuary, mooring lines were handled by the cruiseship crew and those of the tugs in advance to the start of a one-night coastal mini cruise to Harwich, Essex.
As previously reported on Afloat, Marco Polo is also pictured in same Hull dock during another cruise accompanied by SMS new Superman which boasts a 72 ton bollard pull capability. The newcomer joins fleetmates, among them Englishman, Welshman and Scotsman.
Marco Polo as previously reported operates cruises to Ireland based from Hull, in addition the port has attracted other operators. This week on Thursday at Tilbury, is from where the cruiseship departed the Thames Estuary on a trans-Atlantic cruise. The first leg involved an overnight passage to Ireland, where the 880 adults-only cruiseship made an arrival yesterday to the scenic surroundings off Glengariff. The Bahamas flagged took anchorage in Bantry Bay.
The cruisecall to the west Cork destination, is where Bantry Bay Port Company is responsible for such ships visiting (but otherwise tanker traffic dominates). A further two cruise callers are scheduled this month marking the end of this year's season.
Today, Marco Polo continues heading further into the Altantic Ocean and bound for St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada, where the aforementioned former liner spent a career in the early years. The cruiseship is due to make landfall on 12 September followed by calls including Montreal and Québec City.