Ireland's sailing, boating & maritime magazine

Displaying items by tag: Belfast Lough News

#Jutland100 - Northern Ireland First Minister Arlene Foster is due to launch the Jutland Square project on Friday, writes the Belfast Telegraph.

The project is an art installation commemorating more than 300 sailors from all over Ireland who lost their lives at the Battle of Jutland, the centenary of which falls on May 31.

The project, commissioned by the City of Belfast Army Benevolent Fund at the Spectrum Centre, consists of a seven-panel artwork on a wall at Tennent Street.

There will also be an exhibition on board the only surviving warship from the battle, HMS Caroline which is due to open to the public as a museum this year.

The art installation will be Ireland's first Battle of Jutland memorial to feature a list of all the Irishmen who lost their lives in the naval engagement, along with diary extracts charting the course of the clash with German warships between May 31 and June 1, 1916.

For more on the story, click here

Published in Belfast Lough

#JobLosses - Sixty jobs are set to go at Harland & Wolff, the losses represent approximately one third of the east Belfast engineering firm's permanent workforce, reports BBC News.

Discussions are soon to get underway with unions.

The company is blaming the move on a downturn in the offshore oil and gas sector. The firm stopped shipbuilding in 2003.(Afloat, adds the last vessel built was the Anvil Point).

Its activities now include the repair and refurbishment of vessels ands oil rigs.

Unions have described the news as "the latest bad news story for manufacturing in Belfast and Northern Ireland".

They added the decision "reflects the recent decline in the company's order books". For more on this story, click here.

Published in Belfast Lough

#FerryRefits - The Belfast firm, Harland and Wolff, one of Europe's largest heavy engineering facilities is drydocking a pair of rival ferries for routine annual winter refits, writes Jehan Ashmore.

In recent days, Irish Ferries seasonal French routes cruiseferry, Oscar Wilde entered the facilities Belfast Dry Dock, having covered Rosslare-Pembroke sailings.

At 335 metres in length, the 50.39m wide drydock provides plenty of space for the Rosslare-based 166 metre ferry on a beam of 28 metres. Upon completion of the work, Oscar Wilde launches the year's season with Rosslare-Cherbourg sailings on 24 February and opens the Roscoff service on 6 May.

The rest of the Irish Ferries fleet (except Epsilon) received dry dockings at Cammell Laird, Birkenhead and also A&P Falmouth.

Rivals Stena Line which began last month a £4.4m contract with Harland & Wolff to refit seven Irish Sea based vessels, among them a Belfast-Cairnryan ferry, the 203 metre Stena Superfast VIII. The ferry is located in the larger Main Dock which measures 556 metres long. Spanning the 93m wide dock are the famous Samson & Goliath gantry cranes that dominate the skyline.

Over the course of the two-month contract, each Stena ferry will visit the shipyard on a carefully sequenced timetable to facilitate a range of specialist works.

Harland & Wolff in a separate yet related contract to Stena Bulk (part of the Stena Group) carried out major refit work that began last year on the ‘Aframax’ ice-class 240m long Stena Arctica.

On that occasion, the 117,000 dwt crude oil tanker that features an ice-breaking bow to cope with polar conditions had also occupied Belfast Dry Dock.

Published in Ferry

#23mTonnes - Around 23 million tonnes of cargo was handled by Belfast Harbour during 2015, similar to its throughput for 2014.

The tonnages suggest a varying performance between sectors in the wider Northern Ireland economy with commodities linked to the energy and consumer sectors growing, and the agri-food sector declining.

The number of freight vehicles handled, an indicator of consumer confidence, increased by 5,000, surpassing 480,000 for the first time. Imports of home heating oil grew by 13% to 843,000 tonnes as oil prices fell, driving liquid bulk imports to a five-year high of 2.3m tonnes.

Northern Ireland firms exporting construction materials also had a good year with stone exports rising by 6% to a record 1.5m tonnes. Exports of cement products were up 84% to 199,000 tonnes, the highest level for seven years.

Animal feed imports, however, fell back by 9% as the local agri-food sector reacted to well-documented difficult international trading circumstances during 2015. These included Russian economic sanctions on EU food products, and falling demand from Chinese and Middle East markets.

Roy Adair, Belfast Harbour’s CEO, said: “While the overall figures suggest a steady economic performance for the wider Northern Ireland economy, there have been winners and losers. Construction material exports and freight traffic linked to consumer activity have been largely positive, as has been heating oil imports within the energy sector.

“On the downside, international marketplace challenges have negatively impacted Northern Ireland’s agri-food sector, leading to a 9% fall in animal feed imports, offsetting any tonnage gains and resulting in a similar tonnage performance to 2014.

“Overall, though, tonnages are more than seven million tonnes higher than the recession’s low point and our long-term projection is for continued tonnage growth. To support this the Harbour progressed a number of projects during 2015, including an upgrade of its Roll-On / Roll-Off and container handling facilities, plus a new Cruise ship berth.”

Steel imports were up 6% to 125,000 tonnes, almost three times higher than the recession’s low point of 2009, but container traffic declined by under 2% to 123,000 boxes, suggesting a slight decrease in overall manufacturing activity.

Ferry passenger numbers dipped slightly by 2% to just under 1.4m following three years of growth, while cruise passengers calling at Belfast continued to grow, increasing to 115,000 in 2015. Figures published recently revealed that during 2016 the total number of cruise visitors will continue to grow to 145,000.

Published in Belfast Lough

#CruiseLiners- Cruise Belfast has announced that 2016 will be the busiest season in the city’s history with over 145,000 passengers and crew due to visit, representing a 26% increase in visitor numbers compared with 2015.

Several cruise operators have significantly increased the number of times they plan to call at Belfast this year. UK based Cruise & Maritime Voyages is scheduled to call a total of eight times following the successful single call of its cruise ship the MV Magellan in 2015.

Fred Olsen Cruise Line has also increased the number of its calls from seven in 2015 to a total of 11 visits in 2016.

The larger ships are also strongly represented with US based Princess Cruises continuing to show strong support for Belfast and Northern Ireland with a total of 11 large cruise ships due to call carrying a total of 53,000 visitors.

Belfast Harbour will play host to 81 cruise calls in 2016, carrying passengers from around the world with the cruise industry’s best known operators once again scheduling Belfast including Princess Cruise, Celebrity Cruise and P&O.

Joe O’Neill, Belfast Harbour’s Commercial Director, said: “This is a fantastic announcement for Northern Ireland’s tourism industry with thousands of first time visitors getting the chance to sample the region’s great scenery, attractions, warm welcome and hospitality. In the past 5 years we have almost doubled the number of cruise ships calling into Belfast which is a major achievement and a tremendous vote of confidence in Northern Ireland’s tourism offer. Most of the major lines operating in western Europe now call at Belfast and it’s particularly pleasing that year on year they have increased the number of calls they make to the city.”

Gerry Lennon, Chief Executive of Visit Belfast added: “The huge popularity of world class attractions such as Titanic Belfast and Giant’s Causeway coupled with the international appeal of Game of Thrones and our world-class golf courses is helping profile Northern Ireland’s appeal as a destination, and the feedback from cruise operators is that Belfast remains one of their passengers’ most popular ports of call. Visit Belfast will continue to work with Belfast Harbour and the city’s tourism providers to ensure that passengers have every opportunity to see the very best that Belfast has to offer.”

Among the ships calling next year will be Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth, launched in 2010 at a cost of £350m. The largest vessel due is Princess Cruise’s Regal Princess with 5,100 passengers and crew, whilst the smallest will be All Leisure’s Hebridean Princess with just 74. The first visitor will be the MV Astoria in March as part of a British Isles cruise.

August 2016 will be the city’s busiest cruise month ever with 26 calls expected. During the year there will also be a number of cruises embarking from the port.

In recent years cruise lines operating western European itineraries have been introducing larger and longer vessels which require deeper channels and additional quay space. To accommodate these next-generation cruise ships and the increased popularity of Belfast, Belfast Harbour has plans to develop a new, dedicated cruise facility.

Published in Cruise Liners

#BelfastBoard - Northern Ireland's Regional Development Minister, Michelle McIlveen has announced the appointment of four Belfast City Councillors to the Board of Belfast Harbour Commissioners (BHC).

The Board is responsible for operating, maintaining and improving Belfast Port. 

The Minister has appointed Councillor Sonia Copeland, Councillor Mervyn Jones, Councillor Ciaran Beattie and Alderman Frank McCoubrey. The councillors were nominated by Belfast City Council and appointed following a selection process.

The appointments take effect from next Monday, 25 January and will last for as long as the appointee remains on the Council, up to a maximum of four years.

Michelle McIlveen said: “I congratulate Councillor Copeland, Councillor Jones, Councillor Beattie and Alderman McCoubrey on their appointment to the Board of Belfast Harbour Commissioners. I am confident that their experience and knowledge of local issues will add significant value to the work of the Port and facilitate the continued efficient and effective development of the port’s business in the years ahead.”

The appointment has been made in accordance with the Commissioner for Public Appointments for Northern Ireland Code of Practice.

Published in Belfast Lough

#StenaRefits - Almost £5m is to be spent by Stena Line in refitting its Irish Sea ferries fleet at Harland & Wolff, reveals The Belfast Telegraph.

Over the next two months, seven Stena Line vessels (likewise of refits in 2015) will visit the shipyard on a carefully sequenced timetable to facilitate a range of specialist works.

These include annual inspections, passenger facility upgrade work as well as ongoing technical enhancements and this work will also carried out by Harland & Wolff. 

Paul Grant, Stena route manager, said the "refits are very important to ensure the smooth and safe running of our expanding fleet of ships. The decision to place the majority of our refit contract work with Harland & Wolff allows us to play our part in helping to support local business".

To read what more the route manager has to say on the refit programme, click here. In addition to last year's refit of Stena Group's 117,000dwt crude oil ice-class 'Aframax' tanker, Stena Arctica.

Published in Ferry

#HMScaroline – A large scale appeal to find descendants of sailors from the island of Ireland who served in the First World War Battle of Jutland is to be launched in the New Year.

The Newsletter also writes that, a series of events will be held on May 31 marking the centenary of a famous naval battle, in which thousands of men lost their lives.

The last surviving vessel of the Battle of Jutland, HMS Caroline as Afloat reported on will also be launched as a heritage visitor attraction in Belfast.

History Hub Ulster is supporting the Northern Irish Executive and Republic of Ireland Government in encouraging relatives of Irishmen who served at sea in the First World War to share their stories.

Thousands of men and women from across the island assisted the war effort at sea and in maritime roles. For more on the story, click here.

Published in Belfast Lough

#VesselValeVisits – Leadship of Arklow Shipping’s newest and only cargsoship currently in service out of 10 vessels ordered, Arklow Vale is understood to have made her maiden call to the island of Ireland, writes Jehan Ashmore.

The 2,999grt cargoship had berthed in the Port of Belfast from where she departed the Herdmand Channel yesterday. Later that day ASL’s ‘R’ class cargoship Arklow Ranger docked at the same part of the port's estate on the Co. Antrim side of the Northern Ireland capital. This also Dutch built cargoship launched from the yard of Bijlsma Lemmer in 2002, had arrived from Gijon in northern Spain.

Overnight the Arklow Vale built to a design from the yard of Royal Bodewes own 5,100dwt Trader Series, had sailed southbound through the Irish Sea. As of this morning the 87m long vessel exited St. Georges Channel into the Celtic Sea.

Arklow Vale is bound for Terneuzen, Netherlands to where despite her career which only begin last month, the cargoship had visited this port en-route to Ghent in Belgium while on a maiden voyage from Delfzijl.

The Dutch port on the Ems Estuary, provided a base for sea-trials and is likely to be the case for second sister, Arklow View.

Afloat reported yesterday that this latest newbuild launched from the inland yard of Royal Bodewes located near Groningen, is to be handed over at Delfzijl and be given a naming ceremony.

The roll-out of the ‘V’ class newbuilds will continue to provide ASL through its subsidiary Arklow Shipping B.V. Nederland, in the transportation of cargoes. Among the cargoes that the overall fleet of 45 ships in between them can carry are in the bulk grain trades, steel rails, minerals and containers.


Published in Belfast Lough

#BelfastPort- In this year’s Northern Ireland Environmental Benchmarking Survey, Belfast Harbour has achieved platinum status – the highest scoring level.

The achievement for Belfast Harbour came just before the United National Climate Change Conference COP21 in Paris began. Like the port, companies throughout Northern Ireland have put their ‘green’ credentials on the table for all to see. With 83 organisations from all sizes and sectors participating in 2015 Northern Ireland Environmental Benchmarking Survey.

Results from the survey were announced at Belfast Harbour last week along with materials handing giant, NACCO Materials Handling Ltd that was revealed as the top performing company, closely followed by Belfast Harbour and Bombardier Aerospace.

The survey, generated by Business in the Community’s ARENA Network campaign, annually assesses top businesses in Northern Ireland for environmental management, performance and assurance.

The 2015 results have seen scores increase to 78% from 74% in 2014 and 58% of participants scored over 80%. This continued improvement demonstrates that Northern Ireland businesses are committed to making progress and managing their impacts effectively.

Published in Belfast Lough
Page 2 of 10