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Displaying items by tag: Norfolkline

A former Irish Sea freight ferry which was originally named with an equine-theme, returned to the Dublin-Liverpool port route yesterday and coincides with this Saturday's Aintree Grand National, writes Jehan Ashmore.
The entry of the chartered Norman Trader onto P&O (Irish Sea's) Dublin-Liverpool route retraces her career as the 1998 built ro-pax vessel Dawn Merchant which was used on the same route to start a rival service in 1999. She was soon joined by sistership Brave Merchant to operate the route run by Merchant Ferries which named the vessels after the well known racing thoroughbreds 'Dawn Run' and 'Dancing Brave'.

Dawn Merchant and Brave Merchant represented the first pair of the 'Racehorse' class quartet of ro-pax sisters commissioned for the Cenargo Group. The quartet were built by Spainish shipbuilders Astilleros Espanoles SA in Seville, noting the first pair at 22,046grt where slightly smaller in tonnage terms compared to their 22,215grt counterparts Midnight Merchant and Northern Merchant. Upon delivery in 2000 the second pair were chartered to Norfolkline's Dover-Dunkerque route.

With a 130 truck capacity the Norman Trader can handle a marginally higher number of freight vehicles compared to the Norcape which handled 127 trucks. The Norcape, a 32-year-old freight-only vessel,was stood down in February and remains laid-up at Liverpool's Huskisson Dock. Incidentally, Norman Trader has joined one of her Racehorse class sisters, European Endeavour (formerly Midnight Merchant) which had directly replaced the Norcape on the central corridor route.

Likewise the European Endeavour is no stranger to the Irish route as for the last two years she has acted as winter relief vessel to cover the refits of the routes Dutch built ro-pax sisters Norbay and Norbank. The latter vessel is now undergoing a refit by Cammell Laird Shiprepairers in Birkenhead, now that the Norman Trader is in service to maintain the three-ship operated 8-hour route.

The Norman Trader had arrived into Dublin Bay last Friday from London's Tilbury Docks, on the next day she entered Dublin Port. In recent years she has operated on English Channel routes for the French shipping giant Louis-Dreyfus Armateurs through their ferry division LD Lines.

Norman Trader's (Dawn Merchant) sister Brave Merchant now renamed Norman Bridge also runs for LD Lines 'Motorways of the Seas' (MOS) route across the Bay of Biscay between Nantes /St. Nazaire to Gijón in northern Spain. The 14-hour route which started last year, which was run iniatially as a joint venture between Grimaldi Lines and Louis-Dreyfus and traded as GLD Atlantique.

Published in Ferry
It was a Valentine's Day start for Seatruck Ferries opening of the Dublin-Heysham freight-only route, writes Jehan Ashmore.
Initiating the service, the port welcomed back a familiar vessel, the chartered Anglia Seaways which only a fortnight ago had operated the same route before DFDS Seaways closed Irish Sea operations.

The vessel has accommodation for 12 drivers. Most of the daily sailings depart Dublin at 15:15hrs and return from the Lancashire port at 02:15hrs. On certain days the schedules vary, to view the timetable click here.

In addition to the new route for Seatruck Ferries, the freight-only operator has a fleet of 8 vessels on routes between Dublin-Liverpool, Warrenpoint-Heysham and Larne-Heysham.

Anglia Seaways arrived into Dublin yesterday morning from Avonmouth Docks, where the 120 unit capacity vessel went into temporary lay-up period, since departing the Irish capital on 31 January (see related posting and photo).

The 13,073grt vessel revived the 8-hour route yesterday with an afternoon sailing bound for Heysham. The vessel was originally reported to be relocated to Baltic Sea operations, but with its charter to Seatruck, the DFDS Seaways funnel symbol of the Maltese cross was painted out.

Though, the Maltese cross can still be seen in Irish ports with calls made by sisterships, Dana Gothia (ex. Maersk Westland) and Dana Hollandia (formerly Maersk Waterford) which are part of the DFDS Group container subsidiary DFDS Logistics.

In total the Lo-Lo shipping division operates four vessels on several routing options with weekly calls to Belfast, Dublin, Cork and Waterford to Rotterdam and Zeebrugge.

The German built sisters originally operated Dublin-Rotterdam and Waterford-Rotterdam routes for Norfolk Line (a subsidiary of Maersk / A.P. Moller Group).Incidentally Maersk /Norfolkline also owned the Anglia Seaways until DFDS Seaways purchased the vessel last year.

Published in Ferry
The Anglia Seaways became the last vessel of the DFDS Seaways fleet to depart Dublin yesterday, following the official closure of the operator's Irish Sea services at the weekend, writes Jehan Ashmore.
In January DFDS announced the closure of the Dublin-Liverpool (Birkenhead Twelve Quays Terminal) and the freight-only Dublin-Heysham routes with the loss of 200 jobs to include 50 shore-staff based at the Irish terminal.

The ro-pax Dublin Seaways made a last crossing with a Saturday morning arrival at Birkenhead. After disembarking passengers, vehicles and freight traffic, the 21,856grt vessel immediately departed the Mersey for a short-term deployment on the company's North Sea Rosyth-Zeebrugge service.

Sistership, Liverpool Seaways also completed her last crossing to Birkenhead with an overnight Saturday sailing. This was the final scheduled sailing under DFDS Seaways ownership and marked the last foot-passenger crossing on the Liverpool route as rival operators P&O (Irish Sea) and Seatruck Ferries do not cater for this market.

The vessel returned to Dublin yesterday from Birkenhead; this was to facilitate the loading of drop-trailers and terminal based tugmasters (engine-driven truck/cabs) that tow unaccompanied trailers on the roll-on roll-off vessels. After a short turn around at the terminal, Liverpool Seaways departed Dublin, bound for Immingham. The UK east coast port is where DFDS operate an extensive freight route network across the North Sea.

DFDS_SEAWAYS

The ro-pax Liverpool Seaways and freight-ferry Anglia Seaways berthed in Dublin Port yesterday prior to sailing away from the Irish Sea. Photo Jehan Ashmore / ShipSNAPS

In addition the 13,704grt Anglia Seaways also docked in Dublin yesterday from Heysham to perform similar duties like the Liverpool Seaways. Several hours later, the 114-trailer capacity vessel set a southbound course past The Muglins, bound for Avonmouth.

DFDS cited its decision to exit entirely from Irish Sea sector due to the sharp decline in the Irish and UK economies in 2008 and 2009. The company suffered continuous losses on its remaining routes and the issue of over-capacity, particularly on the north Irish Sea.

Only last December, the Danish owned shipping operator sold its other two Irish Sea routes to Stena Line in a £40m acquisition deal. This is all the more remarkable considering DFDS Seaways purchased the previous route operator, Norfolkline's Irish Sea division of their four routes and seven vessels, in July 2010.

The sale to Stena covered the three terminals used on the Belfast routes to Birkenhead and Heysham, which is another freight-only service. In addition the acquisition involved the sale of the South Korean built freight-ferries Hibernia Seaways and Scotia Seaways; like the Anglia Seaways they were all former Norfolkline / Maersk Line vessels.

Interestingly the acquisition is to include the purchase of the chartered 27,510grt ro-pax sisters Lagan Seaways and Mersey Seaways. When the Visentini built sisters were completed at the Italian shipyard, they were placed on the Belfast-Birkenhead route in 2005.

On 1 December Stena Line UK Ltd acquired DFDS Seaways Irish Sea Ferries Ltd (since renamed Stena Line Irish Ferries Ltd). Although the acquisition of SL ISF by Stena Line has been completed and DFDS no longer owns SL ISF, Stena Line await formal approval from the Irish competition authority and the UK's Office of Fair Trading (OFT) to integrate SL ISF into the wider Stena Line business.

In the meantime during this transitional period, it is business as usual for customers using the Belfast-Birkenhead and Belfast-Heysham routes. Online bookings continue to be accepted on www.dfdsseaways.com or tel: (01) 819 2999 and in the UK tel: 0871 230 033

Published in Ferry
DFDS Seaways recent announcement to close its operations on the Irish Sea this month is a major blow considering the Danish company entered the Irish-UK ferry market only six-months ago, writes Jehan Ashmore.
The Dublin-Birkenhead (Liverpool) and freight-only Dublin-Heysham service is to close at the end of this month. Up to 200 staff are to lose their jobs of which 48 are shore-based positions in Dublin Port. DFDS cite its decision to exit entirely from Irish Sea operations due to the sharp decline in the economies of both countries in 2008 and 2009 and the issue of over-capacity.

The routes represented a fifth of the freight market and will result in the withdrawal of the twin 21,856grt passenger ferry (ro-pax) sisters, Dublin Viking and Liverpool Viking on the 7-hour Mersey route and the 13,000grt freighter Anglia Seaways on the route to Lancashire.

In recent years, new tonnage notably in the form of four freight-only newbuilds commissioned for Seatruck Ferries on their Warrenpoint-Heysham and Dublin-Liverpool routes has added to intense competition in a crowded north Irish Sea ferry-freight sector.

The process to purchase Norfolkline's Irish Sea operations by DFDS Seaways was finally completed in mid-summer of last year. The acquisition saw the Scandinavian newcomer take control of four routes between Birkenhead-Belfast / Dublin and the freight-only Heysham-Belfast / Dublin services and a fleet of seven vessels, four (ro-pax) ferries and three freight-only vessels.

DFDS Seaways latest decision is all the more dramatic as the company in early December then sold both Belfast routes to Birkenhead and Heysham to Stena Line. In addition the £40m acquisition included the sale of the chartered 27,510 ro-pax sisters Lagan Seaways and Mersey Seaways and the 13,000grt freighter half-sisters, Scotia Seaways and Hibernia Seaways. The deal is significant in that Stena will make an inaugural foothold on the Merseyside market.

With the sea-changes swirling in the Irish Sea market, the dominant player is with out doubt Stena Line. The ferry operator closed late last year the Larne-Fleetwood route and three vessels (for more information about those vessels click here) yet the inclusion of the former DFDS Belfast-Heysham route is closely similar with neighbouring ports and newer larger vessels.

The acquisition by Stena of the loss making routes from DFDS last month also coincided with a review to be conducted by the Danish companies remaining Dublin routes to Birkenhead and Heysham. The findings of that review were concluded with this months' decision by DFDS to close down the routes, marking the Scandinavians operators brief foray on the Irish Sea ferry scene.

Published in Ports & Shipping

Fastnet Yacht Race 

This race is both a blue riband international yachting fixture and a biennial offshore pilgrimage that attracts crews from all walks of life:- from aspiring sailors to professional crews; all ages and all professions. Some are racing for charity, others for a personal challenge. For the world's top professional sailors, it is a 'must-do' race. For some, it will be their first-ever race, and for others, something they have competed in for over 50 years! The race attracts the most diverse fleet of yachts, from beautiful classic yachts to some of the fastest racing machines on the planet – and everything in between. The testing course passes eight famous landmarks along the route: The Needles, Portland Bill, Start Point, the Lizard, Land’s End, the Fastnet Rock, Bishop’s Rock off the Scillies and Plymouth breakwater (now Cherbourg for 2021 and 2023). After the start in Cowes, the fleet heads westward down The Solent, before exiting into the English Channel at Hurst Castle. The finish is in Plymouth, Devon via the Fastnet Rock, off the southern tip of Ireland.

  • The leg across the Celtic Sea to (and from) the Fastnet Rock is known to be unpredictable and challenging. The competitors are exposed to fast-moving Atlantic weather systems and the fleet often encounter tough conditions
  • Flawless decision-making, determination and total commitment are the essential requirements. Crews have to manage and anticipate the changing tidal and meteorological conditions imposed by the complex course
  • The symbol of the race is the Fastnet Rock, located off the southern coast of Ireland. Also known as the Teardrop of Ireland, the Rock marks an evocative turning point in the challenging race
  • Once sailors reach the Fastnet Rock, they are well over halfway to the finish in Plymouth.
  • The lighthouse first shone its light on New Year’s Day in 1854
    Fastnet Rock originally had six keepers (now unmanned), with four on the rock at a time with the other two on leave. Each man did four weeks on, two weeks off

At A Glance – Fastnet Race

  • The world's largest offshore yacht race
  • The biennial race is 605 nautical miles - Cowes, Fastnet Rock, Plymouth
  • A fleet of over 400 yachts regularly will take part
  • The international fleet is made up of over 26 countries
  • Multihull course record: 1 day, 8 hours, 48 minutes (2011, Banque Populaire V)
  • Monohull course record: 1 day, 18 hours, 39 minutes (2011, Volvo 70, Abu Dhabi)
  • Largest IRC Rated boat is the 100ft (30.48m) Scallywag 100 (HKG)
  • Some of the Smallest boats in the fleet are 30 footers
  • Rolex SA has been a longstanding sponsor of the race since 2001
  • The first race was in 1925 with 7 boats. The Royal Ocean Racing Club was set up as a result

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