Menu

Ireland's sailing, boating & maritime magazine

Displaying items by tag: P&O Ferries

Operator P&O Ferries which closed the Dublin-Liverpool route last month, has announced a new ro-ro freight route in the North Sea, between London (Tilbury 2) and the Dutch port of Rotterdam (Europoort) which is to start in March.

The UK-Netherlands route will complement P&O Ferries’ existing route to Belgium, the London-Zeebrugge route which together strengthens its rail-connected hub in Rotterdam.

Peter Hebblethwaite, P&O Ferries’ CEO, said: “The opening of our new route between London and Rotterdam gives P&O Ferries a unique network in the North Sea. We now have five hubs: Hull, Teesport, Tilbury, Zeebrugge and Europoort, connecting the north-east and south- east of England with the continent".

“We will offer our freight customers the earliest arrival on the Thames from Rotterdam, along with swift access to the M25 and terminal rail connections.

“The opening of the London - Rotterdam route will mark another significant step in our business transformation and further contribute to the end-to-end logistics service offered by our parent company, DP World.”

The new route will be served by the 125 freight-unit capacity Norbank, which in a ropax role recently ran on the Irish Sea route which closed with a final sailing from the Irish capital on 20 December.

The 17,464 gross tonnage vessel, Afloat.ie tracked the final departure from Merseyside on 26 December with the vessel arriving at the Dutch port two days later from where it will sail on a daily schedule with customer-focused sailing times including an early arrival in London, enabling on-time local delivery.

P&O Ferries operates services in the North Sea from three east coast UK ports – Hull, London and Teesport – and two ports in northern Europe at Zeebrugge,Belgium and Rotterdam.

Norbank, Afloat also adds is currently providing dry-dock relief cover on vessels that routinely serve the Hull-Rotterdam route.

Published in Ferry

A P&O Ferries ropax, the Norbay which operated their Dublin-Liverpool route which is set to close before the end of the year, has been time-chartered to ICG, parent company of Irish Ferries, writes Jehan Ashmore.

Afloat.ie contacted P&O Ferries which confirmed with a statement: We are delighted to confirm a time charter agreement with Irish Ferries for our vessel Norbay is for up to 6 months - with the potential for longer-term charter options and that the crew of Norbay will continue to be employed on the vessel during the charter.

Owen Barry, Director of Maritime Operations, P&O said: “Norbay is a great asset to retain within the business with many options for the longer term. Following her upcoming time charter we can either renew, redeploy her in our own fleet to give us great flexibility on other routes, or consider other charter options given the high market demand for this type of vessel. This provides not only ongoing employment for the vessel’s crew but strong options for additional revenue within the business.”

Until now, Norbay has been one of two ships operating on P&O Ferries’ Dublin-Liverpool route. P&O Ferries is now operating one ship on this route, (Afloat adds the Norbank) which is proposed to be closed towards the end of the year due to a lack of berth availability at the port of Liverpool from 2024.

Afloat has consulted the Irish Ferries website and Norbay is first to be deployed to the Dublin-Holyhead route next week, on 7 November. The chartered-in 17,464 gross tonnage Norbay has a 125 freight trailer unit capacity and for 125 passengers, however it appears the ropax will be operating in a freight-only mode.

Noting it is understood that the charter term of the Ireland-Wales route's existing ropax the Epsilon is to expire. Afloat awaits a confirmation from ICG on the freight-orientated vessel which also operates to France, having entered service for Irish Ferries a decade ago this month.

As for a full passenger and freight service on the Dublin-Holyhead route, Irish Ferries continue to maintain with Ulysses on the central Irish Sea corridor route which until recently was also served by the high speed craft, Dublin Swift. 

Last month, P&O had withdrawn the Norbay from the Dublin-Liverpool route with a final sailing on 16 October, this involved the overnight 8 hour crossing to Merseyside. This left twin ropax, Norbank as alluded, currently operating as a single-ship service in competition with Seatruck/CLdN, which in response increased capacity on the Irish Sea central corridor route to Dublin where they also have routes to mainland Europe.

It was on Wednesday when Afloat tracked Norbay in the Irish Sea having departed Liverpool, however the ropax headed to Holyhead to conduct berthing trials. The Norbay continued to Dublin with the ropax arriving in th evening notably at Irish Ferries Terminal 1 (berth 51a) and then shifted to berth (49) to facilitate the arrival of ropax Epsilon from Holyhead.

Berth 49 is also where Irish Ferries operate to Cherbourg, noting yesterday’s 1600 hrs sailing from the capital by W.B. Yeats was cancelled due to the adverse weather impacts of Storm Ciaran affecting in particular, north-west France. 

To recap, in August P&O announced it was to close the historic Ireland-England route, having cited that the port owners of Liverpool, Peel Ports Group, had a lack of berth availability in 2024, at the Gladstone Dock facility. No sooner had P&O decided to end the Irish Sea route, led Stena Line to express an interest in establishing the Liverpool (Birkenhead)-Dublin route as the ferry operator already has a route from Wirral Peninsula at the Twelve Quays terminal at Birkenhead connecting Belfast.

Originally Norbay which was built in 1992 to serve the P&O owned North Sea Ferries Hull-Rotteram (Europoort) route, together with younger twin, Norbank dating to 1993. In January, 2002 both ropax’s were transferred to the Dublin-Liverpool route and have served the link for almost twenty two years.  

Published in Ferry

The welfare of thousands of seafarers will be guaranteed fair wages, proper rest periods and suitable training thanks to a new Seafarers’ Charter launched by the UK Government today.

Building on government action already taken, the charter – backed by DFDS Ferries, Condor Ferries, Brittany Ferries (see related story) and Stena – is part of the Government’s wider nine-point plan to protect seafarers and boost employment protections, ensuring they’re paid and treated fairly – irrespective of flag or nationality.

This is at the heart of the UK’s response to P&O Ferries’ appalling decision to fire nearly 800 of its staff without consultation or notice last year.

  • Wages and working conditions for thousands of seafarers will be bolstered by launch of historic Charter.
  • UK and French Governments agree to join forces to improve conditions for Seafarers and help grow the economy.
  • Part of UK’s nine-point plan to support seafarers following P&O Ferries’ disgraceful sackings of nearly 800 staff.

The UK Government’s charter will be launched alongside a similar initiative by the French Government during a visit by Maritime Minister Baroness Vere to Paris today to meet her counterpart Minister Berville.

Maritime Minister Baroness Vere said: “Fair pay and protection against unlawful discrimination are the basic rights of any employee. Our seafarers deserve nothing less.

“I therefore expect companies across the maritime sector to sign up to this Charter, letting their staff know they’re serious about protecting their rights and welfare.

“Today, in Paris, alongside Minister Berville, we strengthen our commitment to protect those working in the Channel and we’ll continue collaborating with our international partners on this vital issue.”

During the UK-France summit in Paris earlier this year, Transport Secretary Mark Harper met his French counterpart Clément Beaune, with both nations agreeing to continue working together to improve conditions for those working in the Channel.

The Government has already delivered the Seafarers’ Wages Act, a key safeguard to protecting domestic seafarers in the UK. The law will make it illegal to not pay the thousands of seafarers regularly entering the UK at least the equivalent of the UK National Minimum Wage.

The Seafarers’ Charter requires employers to:

  • pay seafarers for overtime at a rate of a least 1.25 times the basic hourly rate
  • ensure adequate training and development is provided
  • provide employees with a full, indefinite contract
  • allow seafarers to receive social security benefits, including sickness benefits, family benefits, and medical care
  • adopt roster patterns considering fatigue, mental health and safety
  • provide adequate rest periods between shifts and rosters
  • carry out regular drug and alcohol testing

As well as the Seafarers’ Wages Act and the Charter, strong action has been taken against rogue employers using controversial practices which was revealed in the plans to create a statutory code of practice.

The Code will make it explicitly clear to employers that they must not use threats of dismissal to pressurise employees into accepting new terms, and they should have honest and open discussions with their employees and representatives.

John Napton, CEO, Condor Ferries, said: “Condor Ferries is a proud and responsible employer, dedicated to building a diverse, inclusive and authentic workplace for all staff and crew across our network. We therefore fully support the Seafarers’ Charter being launched by the UK government today.”

Christophe Mathieu, Brittany Ferries CEO, said: “When it comes to seafarers’ wages and working conditions, we believe that all ferry companies should aim for the highest bar and not participate in a race to the bottom. (For comments from Christophe Mathieu on today’s event, urging passengers and freight customers to choose companies that are committed to their seafarers, see attachment).

“That’s why this charter is such an important step forward for us. We never forget the importance of seafarers and are proud to be part of the fight to protect their rights, on both sides of the Channel. We also intend to shout about this from the rooftops, urging freight and passenger customers to make the right decision when choosing a carrier.”

Gemma Griffin MBE, Vice President & Head of Global Crewing, DFDS, said: “DFDS welcomes the Seafarers Charter and any related legislation that protects the employment rights of seafarers and ensures that there is a level playing field for all operators. We have been cooperating with the French & UK authorities on the practical application of the charter and the new laws, and are very pleased to see the actions taken by both authorities, so far.”

Published in Ferry

More ferry crossings from Northern Ireland to Scotland are to be added by Stena Line to mitigate the harm caused by P&O Ferries suspending its services after laying off 800 staff.

UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps confirmed the extra sailings will take place from Tuesday, March 22 (yesterday) and will help retailers transport goods.

He described Stena Line as having "stepped up" in the wake of the P&O surprise cancellation of routes last week.

"Reprehensible", "disgraceful" and "callous" - these are some of the terms used by government ministers to describe P&O since the scandal hit headlines last week.

The way the workers, including fifty from Northern Ireland were laid off, has caused outrage across all parties in Stormont uniting political adversaries in their condemnation of P&O.

Economy Minister Gordon Lyons said that neither he nor anyone in his department were given any warning about P&O's sudden sacking of employees, including on its Larne to Cairnryan route.

To read comments made by the minister, ITV News covers more of the political response.

Across the Irish Sea, Afloat adds on Monday at the House of Commons, the Labour Party's emergency vote on workers' rights resulted in a victory for seafarers as MPs voted to condemn P&O Ferries.

The vote was passed by 211 votes to none, with the UK government abstaining. For more about the Commons vote can be read from the union, Nautilius International's website here.

While the response by the Irish Government, reports The Irish Times, is that they admit it has ‘limited’ options under Irish law in dealing with the ferry company.

The company caused outrage when it dismissed the 800 workers by Zoom call on St Patrick’s Day and told them that their employment was being terminated immediately.

At least 60 of the employees sacked by P&O Ferries on Thursday are from Ireland, their trade union Nautilus Maritime has stated.

More from the newspaper here including the role of the Irish Maritime Development Office (IMDO) over the ferry dispute. 

Published in Ferry

P&O Ferries has confirmed that 800 employees were issued “immediate severance notices” with its sudden cancellation of services today (Thursday 17 March).

As reported earlier on Afloat.ie, the ferry company — which operates Dublin-Liverpool and Larne-Cairnryan services — said it was not going into liquidation but that all of its ferries have been instructed to stay in port.

In a statement flagging a £100 million loss year on year, the company said it “is not a viable business”, according to TheJournal.ie.

The statement added: “Our survival is dependent on making swift and significant changes now. Without these changes there is no future for P&O Ferries.”

Unions have instructed their members currently on board P&O vessels not to leave, as agency workers have reportedly been bussed into replace them at various ports.

RTÉ News adds that six people who work for the company at Dublin Port have been assured that their jobs remain secure.

Published in Ferry
Tagged under

#FerryNews - A North Sea ferry docking in Hull, England was delayed for an hour and a half after a man had to be airlifted to hospital.

The Pride of York, operated by P&O ferries, reports HullLive was returning to the UK port on Sunday July 29 having sailed overnight from Zeebrugge, Belgium, when an air ambulance was called after a man became unwell on board.

Passengers on board the ship filmed as staff on board the helicopter landed on the ship.

P&O ferries confirmed the medical evacuation took place and the man was assisted by doctors on board the ferry. A spokesman for P&O said: "There was an evacuation by helicopter last night.

For further reading including footage of the helicopter rescue, click here.

Published in Ferry

The Irish Coast Guard

The Irish Coast Guard is Ireland's fourth 'Blue Light' service (along with An Garda Síochána, the Ambulance Service and the Fire Service). It provides a nationwide maritime emergency organisation as well as a variety of services to shipping and other government agencies.

The purpose of the Irish Coast Guard is to promote safety and security standards, and by doing so, prevent as far as possible, the loss of life at sea, and on inland waters, mountains and caves, and to provide effective emergency response services and to safeguard the quality of the marine environment.

The Irish Coast Guard has responsibility for Ireland's system of marine communications, surveillance and emergency management in Ireland's Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and certain inland waterways.

It is responsible for the response to, and co-ordination of, maritime accidents which require search and rescue and counter-pollution and ship casualty operations. It also has responsibility for vessel traffic monitoring.

Operations in respect of maritime security, illegal drug trafficking, illegal migration and fisheries enforcement are co-ordinated by other bodies within the Irish Government.

On average, each year, the Irish Coast Guard is expected to:

  • handle 3,000 marine emergencies
  • assist 4,500 people and save about 200 lives
  • task Coast Guard helicopters on missions

The Coast Guard has been around in some form in Ireland since 1908.

Coast Guard helicopters

The Irish Coast Guard has contracted five medium-lift Sikorsky Search and Rescue helicopters deployed at bases in Dublin, Waterford, Shannon and Sligo.

The helicopters are designated wheels up from initial notification in 15 minutes during daylight hours and 45 minutes at night. One aircraft is fitted and its crew trained for under slung cargo operations up to 3000kgs and is available on short notice based at Waterford.

These aircraft respond to emergencies at sea, inland waterways, offshore islands and mountains of Ireland (32 counties).

They can also be used for assistance in flooding, major inland emergencies, intra-hospital transfers, pollution, and aerial surveillance during daylight hours, lifting and passenger operations and other operations as authorised by the Coast Guard within appropriate regulations.

Irish Coastguard FAQs

The Irish Coast Guard provides nationwide maritime emergency response, while also promoting safety and security standards. It aims to prevent the loss of life at sea, on inland waters, on mountains and in caves; and to safeguard the quality of the marine environment.

The main role of the Irish Coast Guard is to rescue people from danger at sea or on land, to organise immediate medical transport and to assist boats and ships within the country's jurisdiction. It has three marine rescue centres in Dublin, Malin Head, Co Donegal, and Valentia Island, Co Kerry. The Dublin National Maritime Operations centre provides marine search and rescue responses and coordinates the response to marine casualty incidents with the Irish exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

Yes, effectively, it is the fourth "blue light" service. The Marine Rescue Sub-Centre (MRSC) Valentia is the contact point for the coastal area between Ballycotton, Co Cork and Clifden, Co Galway. At the same time, the MRSC Malin Head covers the area between Clifden and Lough Foyle. Marine Rescue Co-ordination Centre (MRCC) Dublin covers Carlingford Lough, Co Louth to Ballycotton, Co Cork. Each MRCC/MRSC also broadcasts maritime safety information on VHF and MF radio, including navigational and gale warnings, shipping forecasts, local inshore forecasts, strong wind warnings and small craft warnings.

The Irish Coast Guard handles about 3,000 marine emergencies annually, and assists 4,500 people - saving an estimated 200 lives, according to the Department of Transport. In 2016, Irish Coast Guard helicopters completed 1,000 missions in a single year for the first time.

Yes, Irish Coast Guard helicopters evacuate medical patients from offshore islands to hospital on average about 100 times a year. In September 2017, the Department of Health announced that search and rescue pilots who work 24-hour duties would not be expected to perform any inter-hospital patient transfers. The Air Corps flies the Emergency Aeromedical Service, established in 2012 and using an AW139 twin-engine helicopter. Known by its call sign "Air Corps 112", it airlifted its 3,000th patient in autumn 2020.

The Irish Coast Guard works closely with the British Maritime and Coastguard Agency, which is responsible for the Northern Irish coast.

The Irish Coast Guard is a State-funded service, with both paid management personnel and volunteers, and is under the auspices of the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport. It is allocated approximately 74 million euro annually in funding, some 85 per cent of which pays for a helicopter contract that costs 60 million euro annually. The overall funding figure is "variable", an Oireachtas committee was told in 2019. Other significant expenditure items include volunteer training exercises, equipment, maintenance, renewal, and information technology.

The Irish Coast Guard has four search and rescue helicopter bases at Dublin, Waterford, Shannon and Sligo, run on a contract worth 50 million euro annually with an additional 10 million euro in costs by CHC Ireland. It provides five medium-lift Sikorsky S-92 helicopters and trained crew. The 44 Irish Coast Guard coastal units with 1,000 volunteers are classed as onshore search units, with 23 of the 44 units having rigid inflatable boats (RIBs) and 17 units having cliff rescue capability. The Irish Coast Guard has 60 buildings in total around the coast, and units have search vehicles fitted with blue lights, all-terrain vehicles or quads, first aid equipment, generators and area lighting, search equipment, marine radios, pyrotechnics and appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE). The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) and Community Rescue Boats Ireland also provide lifeboats and crews to assist in search and rescue. The Irish Coast Guard works closely with the Garda Siochána, National Ambulance Service, Naval Service and Air Corps, Civil Defence, while fishing vessels, ships and other craft at sea offer assistance in search operations.

The helicopters are designated as airborne from initial notification in 15 minutes during daylight hours, and 45 minutes at night. The aircraft respond to emergencies at sea, on inland waterways, offshore islands and mountains and cover the 32 counties. They can also assist in flooding, major inland emergencies, intra-hospital transfers, pollution, and can transport offshore firefighters and ambulance teams. The Irish Coast Guard volunteers units are expected to achieve a 90 per cent response time of departing from the station house in ten minutes from notification during daylight and 20 minutes at night. They are also expected to achieve a 90 per cent response time to the scene of the incident in less than 60 minutes from notification by day and 75 minutes at night, subject to geographical limitations.

Units are managed by an officer-in-charge (three stripes on the uniform) and a deputy officer in charge (two stripes). Each team is trained in search skills, first aid, setting up helicopter landing sites and a range of maritime skills, while certain units are also trained in cliff rescue.

Volunteers receive an allowance for time spent on exercises and call-outs. What is the difference between the Irish Coast Guard and the RNLI? The RNLI is a registered charity which has been saving lives at sea since 1824, and runs a 24/7 volunteer lifeboat service around the British and Irish coasts. It is a declared asset of the British Maritime and Coast Guard Agency and the Irish Coast Guard. Community Rescue Boats Ireland is a community rescue network of volunteers under the auspices of Water Safety Ireland.

No, it does not charge for rescue and nor do the RNLI or Community Rescue Boats Ireland.

The marine rescue centres maintain 19 VHF voice and DSC radio sites around the Irish coastline and a digital paging system. There are two VHF repeater test sites, four MF radio sites and two NAVTEX transmitter sites. Does Ireland have a national search and rescue plan? The first national search and rescue plan was published in July, 2019. It establishes the national framework for the overall development, deployment and improvement of search and rescue services within the Irish Search and Rescue Region and to meet domestic and international commitments. The purpose of the national search and rescue plan is to promote a planned and nationally coordinated search and rescue response to persons in distress at sea, in the air or on land.

Yes, the Irish Coast Guard is responsible for responding to spills of oil and other hazardous substances with the Irish pollution responsibility zone, along with providing an effective response to marine casualties and monitoring or intervening in marine salvage operations. It provides and maintains a 24-hour marine pollution notification at the three marine rescue centres. It coordinates exercises and tests of national and local pollution response plans.

The first Irish Coast Guard volunteer to die on duty was Caitriona Lucas, a highly trained member of the Doolin Coast Guard unit, while assisting in a search for a missing man by the Kilkee unit in September 2016. Six months later, four Irish Coast Guard helicopter crew – Dara Fitzpatrick, Mark Duffy, Paul Ormsby and Ciarán Smith -died when their Sikorsky S-92 struck Blackrock island off the Mayo coast on March 14, 2017. The Dublin-based Rescue 116 crew were providing "top cover" or communications for a medical emergency off the west coast and had been approaching Blacksod to refuel. Up until the five fatalities, the Irish Coast Guard recorded that more than a million "man hours" had been spent on more than 30,000 rescue missions since 1991.

Several investigations were initiated into each incident. The Marine Casualty Investigation Board was critical of the Irish Coast Guard in its final report into the death of Caitriona Lucas, while a separate Health and Safety Authority investigation has been completed, but not published. The Air Accident Investigation Unit final report into the Rescue 116 helicopter crash has not yet been published.

The Irish Coast Guard in its present form dates back to 1991, when the Irish Marine Emergency Service was formed after a campaign initiated by Dr Joan McGinley to improve air/sea rescue services on the west Irish coast. Before Irish independence, the British Admiralty was responsible for a Coast Guard (formerly the Water Guard or Preventative Boat Service) dating back to 1809. The West Coast Search and Rescue Action Committee was initiated with a public meeting in Killybegs, Co Donegal, in 1988 and the group was so effective that a Government report was commissioned, which recommended setting up a new division of the Department of the Marine to run the Marine Rescue Co-Ordination Centre (MRCC), then based at Shannon, along with the existing coast radio service, and coast and cliff rescue. A medium-range helicopter base was established at Shannon within two years. Initially, the base was served by the Air Corps.

The first director of what was then IMES was Capt Liam Kirwan, who had spent 20 years at sea and latterly worked with the Marine Survey Office. Capt Kirwan transformed a poorly funded voluntary coast and cliff rescue service into a trained network of cliff and sea rescue units – largely voluntary, but with paid management. The MRCC was relocated from Shannon to an IMES headquarters at the then Department of the Marine (now Department of Transport) in Leeson Lane, Dublin. The coast radio stations at Valentia, Co Kerry, and Malin Head, Co Donegal, became marine rescue-sub-centres.

The current director is Chris Reynolds, who has been in place since August 2007 and was formerly with the Naval Service. He has been seconded to the head of mission with the EUCAP Somalia - which has a mandate to enhance Somalia's maritime civilian law enforcement capacity – since January 2019.

  • Achill, Co. Mayo
  • Ardmore, Co. Waterford
  • Arklow, Co. Wicklow
  • Ballybunion, Co. Kerry
  • Ballycotton, Co. Cork
  • Ballyglass, Co. Mayo
  • Bonmahon, Co. Waterford
  • Bunbeg, Co. Donegal
  • Carnsore, Co. Wexford
  • Castlefreake, Co. Cork
  • Castletownbere, Co. Cork
  • Cleggan, Co. Galway
  • Clogherhead, Co. Louth
  • Costelloe Bay, Co. Galway
  • Courtown, Co. Wexford
  • Crosshaven, Co. Cork
  • Curracloe, Co. Wexford
  • Dingle, Co. Kerry
  • Doolin, Co. Clare
  • Drogheda, Co. Louth
  • Dun Laoghaire, Co. Dublin
  • Dunmore East, Co. Waterford
  • Fethard, Co. Wexford
  • Glandore, Co. Cork
  • Glenderry, Co. Kerry
  • Goleen, Co. Cork
  • Greencastle, Co. Donegal
  • Greenore, Co. Louth
  • Greystones, Co. Wicklow
  • Guileen, Co. Cork
  • Howth, Co. Dublin
  • Kilkee, Co. Clare
  • Killala, Co. Mayo
  • Killybegs, Co. Donegal
  • Kilmore Quay, Co. Wexford
  • Knightstown, Co. Kerry
  • Mulroy, Co. Donegal
  • North Aran, Co. Galway
  • Old Head Of Kinsale, Co. Cork
  • Oysterhaven, Co. Cork
  • Rosslare, Co. Wexford
  • Seven Heads, Co. Cork
  • Skerries, Co. Dublin Summercove, Co. Cork
  • Toe Head, Co. Cork
  • Tory Island, Co. Donegal
  • Tramore, Co. Waterford
  • Waterville, Co. Kerry
  • Westport, Co. Mayo
  • Wicklow
  • Youghal, Co. Cork

Sources: Department of Transport © Afloat 2020