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Displaying items by tag: Ferry news

#Cancellations - Storm Barbara continues to cause ferry cancellations but also freight operations on the Irish Sea notably those serving Dublin Port in the busy run-up to the festive season.

Strong winds involving a ro-ro freight ferry arriving to Dublin this morning required tugs to assist while berthing at Terminal 5. A freight sailing tonight on a route to the UK has been cancelled. 

The bad weather may pose a concern for passengers with possible further ferry cancellations closer to Christmas Eve in particular on the core Holyhead-Dublin services. Thousands of passengers make the trip annually from the UK to reach the capital and beyond. The route from Wales is operated by two operators, Irish Ferries and Stena Line.

At Dublin Port's main passenger ferry facility, Terminal 1 is where Irish Ferries fast-craft Jonathan Swift remains berthed in port due to cancellations as covered on Afloat yesterday. Sailings of the fast-craft's Dublin-Holyhead sailings today are cancellled due to the what the operator describes as 'adverse weather conditions'. 

Irish Ferries advises that 'fast-craft' passengers will be accommodated on alternative sailings using the other Holyhead-Dublin cruiseferry Ulysses. Also currently operating on time is the ropax Epsilon. 

Recently introduced by Irish Ferries is Oscar Wilde to boost capacity on the Dublin route which too however was affected by the bad weather. The cruiseferry’s morning sailing to Holyhead was cancelled and also this afternoon's sailing at 16.45hrs from the Welsh port to Dublin. Passengers are to be accommodated on tomorrow's 02.30hrs sailing, Saturday 24 December (Christmas Eve).

There have been no Stena Line cancellations reported so far today on their Holyhead-Dublin service which is operated by a pair of ferries. Stena have said that Storm Barbara is to bring wet and windy conditions to the UK and Ireland. The operator added that unfortunately this may cause disruption to some scheduled sailings today and Saturday (Christmas Eve). 

It is advisable to check all ferry operator websites for the latest sailing information for times and (dates of operation given the festive season) and those on France-Ireland services.


Published in Ferry

#FerryDiplomacy – Former Celtic Link Ferries first ship that in another guise took part in the Falklands Conflict, had ended her Irish career in 2010 laid-up in Waterford is where at the exact berth is docked since last week a Lough Foyle ferry, writes Jehan Ashmore.

The Celtic Link Rosslare-Cherbourg ro-ro freight-ferry, Diplomat (1978/16,766grt) had vehicle decks for around 82 freight-units. In addition to carrying around 80 passengers. CLF acquired the joint passenger-freight service from P&O European Ferries when they closed their Rosslare-Cherbourg route 12 years ago in December 2004.

P&O's European Diplomat (originally launched as Stena Trader) was renamed by CLF that was owned by the O’Flaherty Brothers of Kilmore Quay. For more on their fish /shipping connected business click here. It was pleasing to see an Irish owned ferry company competing with the established continental serving operators.

Almost full circle as Stena Line acquired CLF in 2011 whom previously deployed Diplomat (see report photo at Waterford) on charter in the Caribbean and replaced by chartered Norman Voyager. A second charter replacement followed in the form of Celtic Horizon (see final voyage report here) since renamed Stena Horizon.

The Italian built ropax Stena Horizon recently underwent a refurbishment upgrade to closer match level of passenger facilities found elsewhere in the Stena fleet. In recent years refurbishments were applied to sisters Stena Lagan and Stena Mersey serving Belfast-Birkenhead (Liverpool). The pair were introduced as newbuilds more than a decade ago for NorseMerchant Ferries.

Falklands ‘Conflict’

Diplomat as previously mentioned was the Stena Trader built in 1978 for Stena Rederi as one of 11 successful ‘Searunner’ South Korean class freight-ferry sisters. She was soon renamed Stena Transporter and from thereon a chequered career involving many charters and names changes. Most notably was her historic role in the Falklands Island ‘conflict’ war with Argentina in 1982.

The UK Ministry of Defence having requisitioned the ship then named Baltic Ferry. The Townsend Thoresen North Sea serving ferry became part of the Falkland Islands Task Force that included HMS Illustrious. In recent weeks the final ‘Invincible’ class aircraft carrier bade her homeport of Portsmouth Naval Base farewell. This saw HMS Illustrious under tow bound for a Turkish scrapyard.

The deployment of Baltic Ferry saw her upper vehicle freight deck (see photo above of Diplomat) modified with a pair of helicopter pads. In addition it was from this deck that the ship saw action by Royal Air Force Harrier Jump-Jets using the aircraft's unique vertical take-off lift (VTOL) capability.

In addition Baltic Ferry on the deployment delivery voyage had on board troops with replenishment at sea equipment prior to the long distance voyage to the South Atlantic. She set sail along with sister Nordic Ferry to the far flung colonial outpost. The ship was service in San Carlos waters of the Falklands and later was stationed in the capital of Port Stanley as a stores ship.

A plaque in recognition of the freight-ferry’s role in the war was noted during my port visit.

A Diplomatic Voyage

An opportunity arose in 2008 having requested CLF to conduct a first ever interview with a captain and that on board a ship. Another reason for the request was Diplomat’s unique Ireland-France ‘freight-ferry service’ days were numbered given the ageing vessel.

The freight-ferry departed Rosslare though the interview took place in the busy English Channel. This all added to the experience of interviewing the master, Captain Ivan Walsh published Ships Monthly, November 2009. The interview also allowed for photography having joined the procession of the eastbound traffic shipping lane before veering off for Cherbourg.

Upon arrival at Cherbourg, a speedy disembarkation was required to make a train connection to another Normandy port, Caen (Oustreham). This was to enable English Channel crossings with Brittany Ferries. They involved sailing to Portsmouth on Normandie but returning to France out of Poole on Barfleur for Cherbourg. All forming part of a three-route ‘working’ holiday.

In reflecting on the Diplomat interview now it is noted that Captain Walsh early career cadetships was that with the former Bell Lines. The Irish based lo-lo container operator whose Waterford Port terminal at Frank Cassin Wharf is where Diplomat had spent the layup. On completion of the Carribean charter Diplomat was sold and renamed Pavilon for scrapping at Alang, India in 2011.

As for the Foyle Venture as mentioned in the introduction she is berthed at the exact berth of Diplomat. This is along the underused city quays lining the River Suir. 

A second on board interview regarded the final leg to Ireland with Irish Ferries cruiseferry Oscar Wilde. This was published in Ships Monthly, August 2009. The interview was conducted with master, Captain John Grace who talked about the ship’s continental service and the role of his crew and working patterns. 

Ironically both masters would later be working together in the early days of Fastnet Line’s Julia on the Cork-Swansea route. Afloat had an opportunity to make a round-trip in the first year of the short-lived service but at that stage another master was in command.

Foyle’s War

Incidentally, Oscar Wilde features on the new owner's website of the Passage East Ferry Company, which Afloat covered the sale to Fraser Ferries earlier this year. The promotional video showcases the tourism attractions of the sunny south-east.

Only last week was where the Waterford Estuary service saw Lough Foyle Ferry Company’s Foyle Venture carrying out ‘berthing’ trials.

This took place in tandem of the River Suir’s routine ferry FBD Tintarn (1978/325grt). The former German ferry shuttles between Passage East, Co. Waterford and Ballyhack, Co. Wexford. 

As Afloat covered the issue of Brexit that raised dormant territorial dispute between Britain and Ireland over the ownership of Lough Foyle.

The estuary between Counties Donegal and Derry is under the auspices of the cross-border Loughs Agency since the Good Friday Agreement.

In addition there is also uncertainty on Lough Foyle and Carlingford Lough between counties Louth and Down over fishing rights as the UK prepares to leave the EU and the Common Fisheries Policy.

On a related note to ferry developments, Fraser Ferries was given the go-ahead in 2015 for a new Carlingford ferry route despite local objections. 

Published in Ferry

#FerryFestive – In this week of Christmas Day, ferries on the Irish Sea are as expected to transport thousands of extra passengers as they prepare to embark making travel plans, writes Jehan Ashmore.

For information on sailings dates and schedules visit the ferry operator websites. 


Holyhead-Dublin Port (Irish Ferries)

Irish Ferries have recently transferred the 1,458-passenger Oscar Wilde ferry on to the premier central corridor Wales-Ireland route of Holyhead-Dublin. The cruiseferry having ended Ireland-France duties of Rosslare-Cherbourg sailings for 2016.

Oscar Wilde will assist the influx of inbound traffic bound for Ireland on the Holyhead-Dublin route. In addition traffic demand will also be taken by regular ferries Ulysses, Epsilon and fast-craft Dublin Swift.

Holyhead-Dublin Port (Stena Line)

Also operating on this key Wales-Ireland route is Stena Line which will too be kept busy on the Holyhead-Dublin Port. The route is run by route partners Stena Adventurer and relative newcomer Stena Superfast X which made a debut in 2015. 

Liverpool-Dublin (P&O Ferries)

The longer central corridor route linking Liverpool to Dublin are served by P&O Ferries trio, sisters Norbank and Norbay along with European Endeavour.

Noting P&O Ferries on the Mersey-Liffey service do ‘not’ accommodate ‘foot’ passengers.

Liverpool-Dublin (Seatruck Ferries)

Also operating this route Seatruck which is a dedicated freight operator, have a limited service available for passengers (accompanied by motorhomes and cars). In addition Seatruck operate Heysham-Dublin again providing a motorists-only service.


Fishguard-Rosslare (Stena Line)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

On the St. Georges Channel crossing, Stena's Fishguard-Rosslare route is operated by Stena Europe.

Pembroke-Rosslare (Irish Ferries)

Also on the Wales-Ireland link, Irish Ferries have Isle of Inishmore running Pembroke-Rosslare.


For information on UK-Northern Ireland operators (except Irish Ferries) visit their respective websites.


Douglas-Dublin (IOM Steam-Packet)

As previously reported on, Isle of Man Steam-Packet’s future plans and referred special festive seasonal Douglas-Dublin sailings, which since coverage however at this stage only apply to post Christmas Day sailings.

On Boxing Day there is a Douglas-Dublin sailing which docks in the Irish capital in the early hours of 27 December. A return leg to the Isle of Man departs the same day at 01.00hrs.

Published in Ferry

#BerthingTrials – A pair of car ferries were on the Waterford Estuary link of Passage East-Ballyhack yesterday but only one vessel was actually operating in service, writes Jehan Ashmore.

Foyle Venture (44 vehicle/300 passenger) was carrying out 'berthing trials' for the Passage East Ferry Company service operated by the routine ferry F.B.D. Tintarn (28 vehicle/130 passenger). The south-east service provides commuters a short cut connecting Waterford City and the Wexford region. 

The Ulster ferry had previously stopped winter service of the Lough Foyle Ferry Company's Greencastle-Magilligan Point route. Sailings are to resume between Donegal and Derry in Spring 2017.

The established ferry service in Leinster was founded in 1982 by Derek Donnelly who announced his retirement from the business earlier this year. In that timeframe Dunbrody and Edmund D have run the shuttle service until the current ferry FBD Tintarn. This ferry has been in service for a decade having made a debut in December 2006. 

As Afloat covered in May the operation was sold to Frazer Ferries, the Limerick based company behind Carlingford Ferries that has proposed a new service in Northern Ireland. As for the Passage East based ferry FBD Tintarn, the prefix refers to FBD Holdings plc which retains a 70% share in the business, arising out of a legacy investment.

Afloat noted Foyle Venture had berthed in Waterford City earlier this week along the Frank Cassin Wharf, the former Bell Liner container terminal.

The ferry has since returned to the same city berth which in recent years was occupied by a passenger freight-ferry that had a wartime role. Afloat will have more on this soon.


Published in Ferry

#AranIslands - An Oireachtas committee on Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht were addressed (yesterday) by a group of representatives from Inis Mór, the largest of the Aran Islands as a dispute over a ferry service to the island continues.

RTE News reports that Cathy Ní Ghoill, from the co-op on Inis Mór, said islanders have been battling for four years to keep basic services like air and ferry connections, and a change of policy is needed.

Local secondary school principal Micheál Ó Cualáin said a reliable air and ferry service was essential to bring teachers to and from the mainland.

For more on this ongoing story, click here.

Published in Island News

#DFDS@150th - DFDS celebrates its 150th anniversary today, the giant Danish ferry and freight operator is northern Europe’s largest integrated shipping and logistics company which includes container operations connecting Ireland, writes Jehan Ashmore.

On 11 December 1866, the famous Danish industrialist Carl Frederik Tietgen formed Det Forende Dampskibs-Selskab (The United Steamship Company) DFDS, following the merger of three of the nation’s largest steamship lines of the day. DFDS became a domestic and international shipping company, carrying both goods and passengers throughout the North Sea and the Baltic, later expanding to the Mediterranean. For decades, DFDS also sailed routes to the Americas, but closed in 1935 albeit a brief return to the US with a New York-Bahamas-Miami service in the early 1980's.

The DFDS Group currently has a network of around 30 routes and 50 passenger ships and freight ships involving ports in Ireland, the UK, France, Holland, Germany, Denmark, Norway, Sweden and the Baltic region. Afloat in the summer reported on the North Sea Tall Ships Race 'Parade of Sail' hosted by the Port of Blyth where DFDS Seaways cruiseferry Princess Seaways made a special excursion for spectators to view the ‘Parade of Sail’.

A sister, King Seaways (see photo above) also operates the Newcastle-Amsterdam (Ijmuiden) route. Beforehand she was an Ireland-France serving ferry, Val de Loire of Brittany Ferries which was introduced in 1993. Prior to entering service the bow was rebuilt to cope with notably notorious Bay of Biscay weather conditions when also operating UK-Spain services and a France-UK link.

A slanted forward superstructure was also added. Having made a crossing from Ireland this area revealed an internal observation zone. While on the deck directly above this too was a viewing area but exposed to the open elements.   

One of the Danish shipping group's subsidiaries, DFDS Logistics operates container services connecting Ireland, Belgium and The Netherlands. This involves a network of ports: Dublin, Cork, Waterford (see previous coverage) and Belfast with European ports of Antwerp and Rotterdam.

A decade ago in 2006, DFDS had acquired Norfolk Line Containers BV, the Dutch operator having previously introduced a pair of newbuild sisters given names to reflect the geographic regions they served. They were Maerk Westland and Maersk Waterford which was aptly named at the Port of Waterford (Belview). An opportunity arose to board the brand new vessel was taken months later at its namesake port where Irish owned former Bell Lines were once the 'Kings' of a similar service.

The south-east port is Ireland's nearest to that of mainland continental Europe, noting in the early stages a joint Norfolkline / Marline service saw en-route calls via Cherbourg.

Four years after DFDS acquired the Dutch container subsidiary, the Danes for first time entered the Irish Sea ferry marketplace in 2010. This arose following DFDS largest and most important decision in its history by acquiring the remaining businesses of Norfolkline, from another yet even larger Danish clongomerate, AP Møller-Maersk. These pale-blue hulled ships are very much a familiar sight as they operate worldwide.

The purchase transformed the DFDS Group into a major shipping company. Albeit the presence of the ‘Maltese’ cross symbol synonymous with the company would only be around a mere six months.

Another Scandinavian shipping heavyweight, as Afloat reported almost six years ago was Stena's £40m acquisition deal of DFDS Irish Sea's unprofitable routes over the winter of 2010/2011. The Swedish-based ferry operator took over freight-only Belfast-Heysham route along with Belfast-(Birkenhead) Liverpool but not the closed Dublin-Heysham /Liverpool links.

It was on the Dublin route that sisters Dublin Seaways and Liverpool Seaways served, however the ropax pair are now operating far away from the Irish Sea.

Dublin Seaways is serving in the southern hemisphere for operator Bluebridge linking New Zealand’s north and south islands. The Cook Strait service is where other former Irish Sea ferries operate.

As for Liverpool Seaways (for photo at Dublin Port, scroll down page) she surprisingly still retains the Mersey link name. In addition she remains with DFDS in Scandinavia plying the Baltic Sea between Kapellskär, Sweden and Paldiski, Estonia.




Published in Ports & Shipping

#Strangford - Strangford Lough's new £6m carferry as previously reported on Afloat remains tied up in County Down because problems with the ramps mean vehicles are unable to drive off it.

The ramps on the vessel reports BBC News which was specifically built for the Strangford Lough crossing, will have to be modified before it can be used.

As it stands, cars would be unable to disembark from the vessel at high tide.

The Stormont Executive paid £5.7m for the bespoke ferry. 

It is intended for use on the half-mile crossing between Portaferry and Strangford.

During recent sea trials in Strangford Lough, it emerged that the ramps on the ferry do not drop low enough to allow cars to drive off them when the ferry docks at high tide, as the ramps stop before they reach the slipway.

For much more including photos of the newbuild's ramps click here.

Published in Ferry

#FerryFuture - Nationalisation or acquisition of the Isle of Man Steam Packet, franchising of ferry services to a private operator and keeping or extending the user agreement are among options being reviewed as part of a proposed new sea services policy.

But no decision writes IOM Today will be made on whether or not to accept the Steam Packet’s £170m offer [including a pair of newbuilds] to government until the April Tynwald.

Infrastructure Minister Ray Harmer MHK will seek Tynwald support this month for the next step in his department’s bid to secure reliable and affordable lifeline ferry services into the future.

Members will be called on to endorse the Strategic Sea Services Policy which suggests that a level of state intervention is needed in ferry services. For more click here.

Afloat adds that the historic company dating to 1830 operates a network of routes including summer services among them Douglas-Belfast and Douglas-Dublin. In addition sailings between the Manx and Irish capitals during the festive season operating on selected dates. 


Published in Ferry

#FreightRise - Freight levels at Seatruck have grown by a third with further gains expected in the coming months as the Port of Heysham now has a new £125m Bay Gateway relief road.

The operator headquartered at the port according to Insider Media has revealed that freight levels so far in November 2016 have been 30% up on November 2015.

Chief executive Alistair Eagles also forecasted that Seatruck will win even more business from hauliers switching ferry operators as a result of the opening of the relief road on 31 October 2016. The route bypasses the previous bottleneck of Lancaster, slashing journey times between the M6 and the port.

He said: "The new Bay Gateway relief road is a game changer. It sends a massive message to the transport industry that the Port of Heysham is now a hugely more competitive alternative to more remote ports like Holyhead and Cairnryan.

"Hauliers no longer have to wrestle with congestion around Lancaster and the Heysham peninsula."

In October, Seatruck added a larger vessel Clipper Point to its Heysham-Dublin route, almost doubling capacity. At the same time, the company added a fourth vessel, Clipper Ranger to its Liverpool-Dublin service.

Published in Ferry

#AranIslands - Ferry services to Inis Mór, the largest of the Aran Islands will resume this evening, while talks continue to find a long term solution with regard to a year-round service.

The Connacht Tribune writes that Island Ferries, Gaeltacht Minister Sean Kyne and County CEO Kevin Kelly met for talks this morning as Inis Mór residents faced into a second day without a ferry service. 

The Island Ferries service ceased on Wednesday, and was due to remain out of action until March. 

Last evening, County Councillors gave CEO Kevin Kelly a mandate to meet with Island Ferries on their behalf.

Today’s meeting was also attended by Gaeltacht Minister Sean Kyne and as Afloat previously covered he had called for the Naval Service to provide a short-term service to residents.

In a statement to NewsBreak, Galway County Council has confirmed that Island Ferries, as a gesture of goodwill, will resume its service to Inis Mor from 5 this evening until January 4th.
In the interim, talks will continue in a bid to ensure a year-round service for islanders and visitors.

Published in Island News
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