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#CounterPorts - It is the belief of management at the Ports of Waterford and Rosslare Europort that they can become ‘valuable counterpoints’ to reduce congestion in the Dublin area while also supporting a ‘robust and pragmatic’ response to Brexit.

The ports have made a joint submission writesThe Munster Express to the South East Chambers of Commerce’s final submission to the National Planning Framework (NPF – ‘Ireland 2040 – Our Plan’) which is set to guide planning over the next 20 years.

“The south east ports together provide a full range of services to the South-East region and beyond. Rosslare Europort and Waterford (Belview) are Tier 2 Ports of National Significance and are Comprehensive Ports on the Ten-T network,” they state in their submission. “The ports have Ro-Ro, Lo-Lo, bulk and passenger services/facilities with excellent road/rail connectivity and direct links to the UK and the continent. These ports have some areas of under-utilised capacity and significant scope for the expansion of freight services.”

The report adds: “In the context of some of the challenges posed by Brexit, the South East can offer a platform for solutions that bypass the UK land bridge with little or no upfront investment.
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“Similarly, the opportunity is there to reduce freight road miles and related CO2 emissions while taking some pressure off of Dublin’s road and port infrastructure. We submit that the south east ports have a very significant role to play in the economic development of the south east and that this role is equivalent to that performed by the Tier 1 Ports (Dublin, Cork and Shannon Foynes) for their respective regions.”

To read more on this story, click the link here.

Published in Ports & Shipping

#Railfreight - It was another year of increases to rail freight traffic on Iarnród Éireann / Irish Rail (IÉ) during 2016 according to MultiModal, with the number of freight trains operated being up 6% and tonnes carried up by 8% on 2015.

In 2015, 96.4 million tonne kilometres of freight were moved by rail in Ireland and this increased by 5% to 101.5 million tonne kilometres in 2016. In that same year multimodal trains serving DFDS Logistics (shipping container operator) increased by 6%. The railway operation is run by Dublin based International Warehousing and Transport (IWT). 

IWT commenced their rail operation on 19 August 2008 with just two return trains per week from Dublin Port to Ballina in County Mayo and now with up to seven return trains per week the 2000th train was operated for the company by IÉ on 16th August this year. Two return multimodal services per week are also operated for DFDS Logistics between Port of Waterford (see 2016 overall figures) and Ballina, with shipping connections to Europe via Rotterdam.

Multimodal traffic has been steadily increasing on IÉ now for several years with soft drinks and medical supplies for export being amongst the staple loadings. Rail routes from Dublin and Waterford ports are both cleared for conveying 9’6’’ hi-cube containers on standard platform wagons.

The number of bulk trains carrying pulpwood and zinc ore were also up by 6% on 2015. Pulpwood trains are operated for Coillte from Waterford and Ballina to Waterford where the timber is used for the manufacture of building products, most of which are exported. The ore trains operate twice daily from Navan to Dublin Port from where the product is exported.

During 2016 IÉ successfully completed the trail run of a 54 TEU multimodal freight train, the longest ever freight train run in Ireland.

Other initiatives during the year include ‘Rapid Rail’, a rail parcels service and also parcels collection lockers at principal stations on the network. The IÉ freight sector also operate ‘Navigator’, which specialises in the collection and distribution of automotive car parts. Navigator is amongst the best service of its kind in Europe with 99.6% of all deliveries arriving on time throughout the island of Ireland.

Published in Ports & Shipping

#Results2016 - The Port of Waterford Company recently announced that the port handled 1.4m tonnes of goods in 2016.

The figure is very much in line with 2013 and 2014 but somewhat back on the 2015 numbers. Bulk tonnages handled were down, driven by agri market and weather conditions while on the container side activity grew by 7% year-on-year.

The Company reported profits for the financial year of €886,000, up from €569,000 in 2015. Turnover was €6.3m and shareholder’s funds ended the year at €31m. Frank Ronan, Chief Executive, commented: “This has been another solid year of progress for Port of Waterford. The business is profitable, we are debt-free, we have made some good investments and we have a clear strategy to expand and build on our contribution to the economic development of the southeast region. There has been significant positive progress on our legacy defined benefit pension deficit and we are excited about the potential for development on the North Quays in Waterford. Overall, Port of Waterford is very well positioned for the future.”

2017 Activity

Mr Ronan noted that “Bulk throughput at Belview is showing an extraordinary 40% increase for the first quarter of 2017 and while container handling has started the year a little sluggishly, this is being offset by record levels of project cargo - in the main wind turbines - being handled through the Port. There has also been a resumption of live cattle exports, very much a traditional feature at Waterford but one that has been missing for some time.”

Masterplan

The Port has recently appointed ABPmer as its lead modelling company to assist with studies on the estuary. ABPmer have extensive experience of working with ports to develop and manage marine projects while protecting the marine environment. Capt Darren Doyle, Harbourmaster, confirmed that “the Port’s master planning process continues with some environmental surveys on the estuary currently being undertaken. These include studies of the currents and wave systems from Hook Head to the rivers Nore, Suir and Barrow. Additionally, surveys of the topography of the estuary are being undertaken using a range of techniques. This information will result in a comprehensive database of information to facilitate hydrodynamic modelling on a range of potential marine development projects.”

Key members of the local estuary community, who have experience on the water, have been consulted for their local knowledge to inform the overall understanding of the environment. Capt Doyle confirmed that the Port will continue to consult with stakeholders throughout the process.

Published in Ports & Shipping

#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

#FinalCaller - Nautica became the final cruiseship caller of the season to visit the Port of Waterford, writes Jehan Ashmore.

Oceania Cruises which operates the cruiseship which has undergone a multimillion dolar refurbishment had berthed at Belview on Monday.

The facility 5kms downstream of Ireland's oldest city is the main terminal for the port, which launched last week a business plan looking forward to 2020.

The 30,000 tonnes ship had called with a capacity for 684 passengers. Accommodation consists of 342 luxurious suites and staterooms, nearly 70% of which feature private verandas.

Guests visited the attractions of the south-eastern region in which a total of 16 calls were made this season. 

The cruiseships calling at Waterford Estuary asides using Belview,  also docked at the city quays and at anchorage off Dunmore East.

Published in Cruise Liners

#BusinessPlan - The south east Port of Waterford is to increase it's annual revenue by almost a third over the next four years, reports WLR FM.

The Waterford Harbour Board celebrated it's bicentenary this week with an event held in City Hall, during which the port's business plan for 2020 was revealed.

It sets out a strategy for growth at the Belview facility through a €7 million investment into capital projects, infrastructure and services.

Frank Ronan is CEO of the Port of Waterford Company says it's hoped that will yield an increase in revenue of €3 million over four years

Published in Ports & Shipping

#CruiseWaterford - Noble Caledonia, an operator in the high-end small ship cruise market whose latest addition, Hebridean Sky yesterday called to Dun Laoghaire Harbour, having sailed from the quays of Waterford City, writes Jehan Ashmore.

This was the 4,200 tonnes ship’s second call this year to the River Suir quayside berth that allowed her guests easy access to Ireland’s oldest city. The 72 crew of Hebridean Sky with other cruise-goers are to visit the city with a third and final call this season at the end of August.

In all 16 callers are to visit the Port of Waterford, where the smallest cruiseships sail to the city quays whereas Belview, the main terminal for the Port of Waterford caters for medium sized cruiseships. This leaves, Dunmore East at the mouth of the estuary with deeper waters for much larger cruiseships to anchor and passengers tendered and from the fishing harbour.

The former Sea Explorer renamed Hebridean Sky was re-launched for Noble Caledonia this season as one of a trio of flagships, after undergoing a multi-million refurbishment in Sweden. During Spring’s dry-docking of Hebridean Sky, this involved upgrading to both technical and interiors including crew quarters.

At only 90m long the 114 guest cruiseship joins a pair of flagship sisters, Hebridean Sky and Caledonian Sky, the trio are more akin to private yachts and amongst the most luxurious in this market. The trio under Noble Caledonia operate expedition cruising destinations including the Antarctic as well to runnning a fleet of river cruising vessels.

The Caledonian Sky under a previous operator, Hebridean Island Cruises visited Dun Laoghaire Harbour in 2001 as Hebridean Spirit  which berthed at the East Pier. On that occasion, I was able to board as a port visitor during a promotional cruise tour. Sadly, the use of this berth, no. 1 is no longer available to visiting tallships, navies and mostly vessels of the Irish Naval Service.

It was noted then the recent changes made to the 'Spirit's exterior styling, notably the single funnel, compared to her sisters twin uptakes. This work was carried out for Hebridean Island Cruises, which still operates Hebridean Princess, which is claimed to be the most luxurious small-cruise ship in the world.

The former CalMac ferry, Columba, mostly cruises throughout the Scottish Isles, but also the rest of the UK and occasional calls to Ireland. 

Published in Cruise Liners

#NewCrane - A new €3m mobile crane commissioned for Belview is a vote of confidence for the Port of Waterford.

The Port of Waterford Company welcomed the investment by Suir Shipping Ltd in the crane that loads and unload ships at Belview. This is the main terminal for the port located in Co. Kilkenny and is situated downriver of Waterford City. 

The newly-commissioned Liebherr crane will be used by the stevedoring company run by the O’Brien family to service a range of ships carrying bulk cargo to and from the Southeast.

With a lifting capacity of up to 84 tonnes and the ability to discharge 1,500 tonnes per hour, the new crane is particularly well suited to the types of ship that use the facilities at Belview.

Frank Ronan, CEO, Port of Waterford, said: “We welcome this significant investment by Suir Shipping Ltd in the infrastructure they use to serve shipping customers at Belview. It is a vote of confidence by them in the future of their business which is based on efficiently servicing ships transporting bulk products to and from the region.”

Published in Ports & Shipping

#Dredging - Freeway, a trailing suction hopper dredger is working on removing silt from the shipping channel on Waterford Estuary between Belview Port and out to sea, writes Jehan Ashmore.

The Dutch flagged vessel with a dredging spoil capacity of 4,500m3 began duties last week on what in total will be a continuous 14-day dredging operation. Dumping is taking place at an approved site south-west of Hook Head.

Freeway is a sister of Causeway, which last year carried out the same work for the Port of Waterford. The dredgers form part of a 30 strong fleet from Dutch specialists Boskalis Westminster B.V, whose agent in this country is Irish Dredging Ltd.

The port which has a container (lo-lo) terminal at Belview also handled a 10% increase in tonnage of bulk cargoes in 2015 compared to 2014.

In addition Waterford City welcomed 16 cruise ships in 2015, including those making anchorage off Dunmore East. The cruise sector has provided further economic spin-offs for the city and the wider south-east region.

 

 

Published in Ports & Shipping

#ShippingReviewJehan Ashmore reviews the shipping scene over the last fortnight where among the stories are outlined below.

The Port of Waterford reported increases in 2015 across all categories shipped in to and out of the port at Belview.

Uncertainty about China’s economic performance and slowing trade growth will make 2016 a difficult year for shipping executives according to one leading analyst.

European Sea Port Organisation and maritime industry stakeholders co-signed a joint declaration for the recently adopted EU Operational Guidelines on Places of Refuge.

A new director was appointed to UK's top energy port of Milford Haven. Natalie Britton will be tasked among other roles in bringing new business to the Welsh waterway that includes Pembroke ferryport.

Belfast Harbour handled around 23m tonnes in 2015, similar to its throughput for the preceding year.

Published in Ports & Shipping
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