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fleetMaritime: IRISH SHIPPING & FREIGHT Compiled by Howard Knott Edited by Jarlath Sweeney email:

Volume 6, No. 1 Spring 2011

What future for smaller Irish Ports?


ne part of the All-Island Freight Forum’s work has been to look at the alternative transport modes for the movement of freight from one location in Ireland to another. Well over 90% of this traffic moves by road with rail and coastal shipping taking the balance. The question posed, was whether or not the balance is optimal and that these modes are fulfi lling their economic and environmental potential. As an island with the main population centres located on the coast it would appear to be logical that Coastal Shipping would play a significant role but, with the exception of liquid fuels and gas products this is hardly the case and the Irish coastline is littered with piers that are completely underutilised. There is, of course, a Shipping business in supplying the populations of the islands off the west coast.

that can accommodate the 4,000 tonne vessels and less again that can take the new Arklow Shipping Coastal trade vessels.

Can the sector be revived and the infrastructures of the smaller Ports whether built for handling shipping or as Fishery Ports be put to good use as Freight Ports? If they cannot, should they seek to earn their keep as leisure activity locations, or, where the geography is right, as service Ports for the offshore power industry?

into the Mediterranean. Forty years on these sturdy, simple vessels that had very shallow draft and flat bottoms, that could carry bulk goods and/ or a few containers are getting well beyond their 'sell-by' date. A glance at the fleet list of Arklow Shipping, a European leader in the whole short-sea shipping business, will show that, while twenty years ago they were commissioning vessels with under four metres draft and with a gross tonnage of under 2,000 tonnes, the recent arrivals require almost twice that depth and have a tonnage and carrying capacity of up to seven times larger. Other owners that specialise in small ships such as Scot Line and Union Transport’s recent vessels have a draft of over five metres and a tonnage of almost 4,000 tonnes.

The major problem lies with the fact that smaller vessels are not now readily available. In the 1970s there was a burst of buildings in Dutch and German Yards, in particular, of small vessels that could navigate the great rivers of Europe and could also safely trade to Ireland, Scandinavia and down the French and Iberian coastlines and

Immediately you will see that the number of Irish Ports that would have the depth at both the Port entrance and alongside the Quay at low tide is very limited. Add to this the fact that Ship-owners are increasingly reluctant to use Ports in which vessels sit on the bottom and you will see that there are probably less than ten Ports around the Irish Coast

A Warrenpoint based Shipping Agent advised Fleet Maritime that the Port has always served the agricultural sector with a steady flow of grain and fertiliser and other input cargoes moving in to and out of the Port in smaller Coastal vessels. However, as the Port has been developed and, in particular, dredged so as to be able accommodate larger Ro-Ro vessels, the animal feeds and other bulk product importers have been able to avail of vessels with up to 40,000 tonnes capacity bringing the cargo from far cheaper sources further afield and at a very keen transport cost. The savings per tonne on Port costs are also very significant, while in a time when warehouse costs are low, the problems of bringing in product ahead of requirement are minimised. From the Port’s point of view, while the Port Community is glad to see the larger vessel coming to them and not going to Dublin, Belfast or elsewhere, they are also very much aware that their incomes will suffer. The question then, is whether and when it becomes not worth it to offer services to such vessels and the island of Ireland becomes reduced to about six freight handling Ports. As the number of fully functioning Ports is reduced so, the options for vessels to run from one Irish Port to another are closed off. It would appear that for the future; shipping fuel products by sea – yes, feedering containers from City Port to City Port by sea – perhaps, shipping other cargoes around our coasts – NO.

Maritime Management Ltd. secures major Accreditation


ublin based Maritime Management Ltd, a leading Irish International maritime services company, founded in Dublin in 2002, has been awarded ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 accreditation by the International Germanischer Lloyd. Speaking at the Award Ceremony Maritime Management Managing Director, Jan Berg said: “These awards show our dedication to delivering high quality ship management services, beyond the strict compliance required in this highly regulated industry. It is of particular significance to our clients involved in underwater exploration

and scientific research and to those involved in the transport of agricultural produce either refrigerated or in bulk.” John Toner, Technical Director at Maritime Management, in welcoming the accreditation and its validation of the Company’s Green credentials also commented on the Irish maritime sector, saying, “while we have seen significant growth and increasing confidence in the Irish Maritime sector over the last few years, there is still some work to be done before we take our rightful place among world shipping.”

Maritime Management has a diverse range of International clients and operate different vessels from specialist passenger and cargo ships to specialist vessels such as the E/V Nautilus operated on behalf of the famous undersea explorer Dr. Robert Ballard. He is best known for his discovery of the Titanic, ‘PT 109’ and the German Batt leship Bismarck. Discoveries in the Mediterranean have included Phoenician vessels and previously unseen marine life around hydrothermal vents.



New Operating rules will make UK Port vehicle checks fairer


he vexed question of fairness in the way in which the UK Vehicle Operator VolumeServices 5, No. Agency 4 Winter 2010 (VOSA) operates has fi nally been addressed following the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Agency and the British Ports Group together with other representative Agencies. This follows the publication on 3 March of a report on the VOSA Ports Operation by the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee.

companies concerned. Fleet Maritime previously reported the concerns expressed by the Milford Haven Port Authority that VOSA appeared to be targeting the Port of Pembroke and that there was a diversion of traffic to the Rosslare to Fishguard route. Dover Port, Operations Director, Robin Dodridge was recently reported as holding the view that VOSA Inspectors had in the past tended to concentrate their activities in the Port rather than on their rival Eurotunnel terminal.

Many UK Ports have expressed strong concerns that the presence of VOSA vehicle checkpoints within or close to the Port has deterred drivers from using Ferry Services operating into the affected Ports and that this has prejudiced the business, both of the port and of the Ferry

The March MOU stated that, in principle, where there is no reasonable alternative to carrying out vehicle checks at Ports, VOSA should be given access to suitable areas; that vehicle checks carried out within or close to Ports should be coordinated and carried out so

that fair competition is maintained and that the level of checks carried out at competing ports and inland checkpoints is proportionate; and that checking of vehicles is carried out, so as to minimise disruption to traffic. VOSA has also put into place arrangements for inspection of HGVs at Coquelles on the French side of the Eurotunnel with the intention of reducing congestion on the M20 route caused by roadside inspections and being consistent with their operations in Dover. VOSA will also now have access to the UK Revenue and Customs Freight targeting database. It expects that this arrangement will help them to target the highest risk traffic.

Cobelfret Group’s bring largest vessels onto Irish routes


ince the beginning of 2011, Luxembourg based CLdN Group subsidiary has brought the largest Ro-Ro vessels in its fleet onto the Zeebrugge and Rotterdam to Dublin routes to meet peaks in cargo demand. The sister vessels, Pauline and Yasmine each have over 5,000 metres of lane space, almost double that of vessels that have become regulars on the route over the last twelve months, and with a capacity, over three times that of the vessels used to introduce the Irish services just over two years ago. A significant factor in the steep increase of carryings on the service, has been the consolidation by

the Irish and UK markets and, instead, they are using the Cobelfret regular services. The January registration peak in the Irish market led Cobelfret, not only to substitute these larger vessels for their normal service vessels on a temporary basis, but also to add extra sailings.

many of the motor distributors of their principal European Distribution hubs at Zeebrugge. This has eliminated the need for the specialist vehicle carriers to operate their own feeder vessels to

On the linked Radicatel to Dublin Lo-Lo service this is no longer a C2C Lines joint venture operation between Cobelfret and ECS European Containers. The vessel Marus is now operated by CLdN RoRo S.A. and operates a weekly Radicatel/Dublin rotation, leaving out the Dublin to Waterford leg.

Stena Line thinks big for its new Belfast /Cairnryan link tena Line has announced that it has entered into a long term lease agreement with Baltic operator, Tallink for the lease of sister ships, Superfast VII and Superfast VIII and will introduce them to open the service from Belfast to the Stena Terminal in Cairnryan in Lough Ryan in the Autumn 2011. Building of the new Terminal there is due for completion by end of September.


The Superfast vessels, with a cruising speed of 27 knots will be able to complete the Belfast/Cairnryan sailing in two and quarter hours. Prior to entering Stena services the vessels will each be altered to allow for extra deck height to accommodate the trend for higher, more efficient freight units. Each vessel will be able to carry up to 1,200 passengers and 660 cars or 110 freight units.

The new ships, the largest ever to operate on the Scotland/Northern Ireland route will displace the HSS Stena Voyager and the cruise ferries, Stena Navigator and Stena Caledonia. Th is latter vessel was one of the last ships built by Harland and Wolff in Belfast and, as the St. David, was introduced by Sealink to the Rosslare/Fishguard route in 1981. This boat moved to the Northern Corridor ten years later and was re-named Stena Caledonia. She was one of a group of four sister ships built for Sealink and the other three vessels are currently operating in the Western Mediterranean.

Frank Nieuwehuys, Freight Manager, Stena UK and Ireland said, “Belfast is now firmly established as the logistics focal point in Northern Ireland and the deployment of the new ships later in the year will coincide with the opening of our new purpose built £80 million Port facility at Cairnryan, replacing that at Stranraer.” He added, “The new ships will be the largest ever to operate between Scotland and Ireland and will provide Stena with the increased operational efficiency of replacing three ships with two.” Asked separately about Stena Line’s stated commitment to level the playing field as far as


possible for smaller hauliers and/or exporters who use their own vehicles and to give them a fighting chance of competing with the Big Boys, Nieuwehuys told Fleet Maritime, “Stena Line manages its pricing strategy to assure realistic price levels across our network of routes for customers of all shapes and sizes. Freight works in a highly competitive market and normal factors affecting price will apply, for instance, economies of scale that allow large businesses to improve their cost base through the traditional benefit of being able to buy in bulk whether it is trucks, trailers, fuel or, indeed, sea freight. All Stena line freight operatives work to a structured rates matrix which is developed and reviewed annually.” Meanwhile the Belfast/Birkenhead operation which Stena bought from DFDS Seaways in December has yet to clear the UK Competition Authority hurdles and remains operating under the brand, Stena Irish Sea Ferries with the existing vessels and schedules.


PORT PORTALS Commenting on the concerns being expressed through a Wexford Chamber Working Group studying the Port of Rosslare, Tony Kelly of Irish Ferries said that the Line was fully committed to the Wexford Port and its services through that Port. “Th is commitment is underlined by our recent major investment in our Ireland/ France routes and, this year, our signing of a new ten year agreement with Milford Haven Port Authority regarding our Terminal arrangements at Pembroke Dock." His analysis of the 2010 Irish Sea freight market showed a decline by four per cent of volumes shipping through Rosslare and, though there was a four per cent increase in traffic through the Dublin Bay Central corridor, this growth was entirely on the longer routes which increased by nine per cent. The routes to and from Holyhead suffered a freight decline by nine per cent in 2010.

In February Mezeron Line withdrew its six times weekly Liverpool / Isle of Man container service in the face of intense competition from the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company Ro-Ro services. At the time of closure of the service it was estimated that Mezeron had taken 15% of the established company’s freight business and had forced it into an aggressive cost cutt ing exercise. The Isle of Man Company has also undertaken to refit their Ro-Pax vessel Ben-my-Chree so as to be able to accommodate double deck trailers to reduce costs and drive down emissions. The Line has also put its Fast Ferry Snaefell on the sales market. Th is vessel has been used extensively on the Douglas/Dublin route and it is not clear how the vessel’s sale will affect schedules. The twice week Mezeron service, ex Garston and once weekly ex Belfast general cargo and limited number of container services, which have operated for many years will continue.

Communications Manager has pointed out, however, that in 1996, the fi rst year of the HSS service, the vessel operated up to five round trips a day over a 48 week year and carried 1.7 million passengers. Current passenger numbers, even with the boost from weather and other events in 2010, do not exceed 250,000. The Ferry service is now likely to operate on a purely seasonal April to September, basis. Dublin Port expects completion of the installation of the rail spur to the Common User Container Terminal to be completed in early April. Th is would facilitate operation by Iarnród Éireann of the four times weekly trains chartered by IWT from beneath the gantries at the Port to the Freight Terminal at Ballina at a speed that is competitive with road freight. The Forwarder expects to increase the service frequency to five times weekly before Summer 2011. The National Transport Authority’s draft Transport Strategy document for the period 2011 –2030 is currently in its Public Consultation phase. The focus is on the greater Dublin area. The NTA proposals include the retention of the plan for the outer orbital route which could link the proposed Bremore Port to Navan and run through to Naas and the development of this road in stages. The Authority also supports the Dublin City Council’s plans for the extension of the ban on HGV’s operating out of Dublin Port into the City Centre to smaller and lighter vehicles and supports the preservation of the Eastern Bypass corridor and the retention and making greater use of the rail infrastructure to take freight into and out of the Port. A Congestion Charge system is also in the proposal. The operation of Lighthouses, Buoys, and other aids to maritime navigation is funded by payment of light dues by every vessel that calls to a Port in the waters concerned. In the case of these islands the funds are remitted through Trinity House who, in turn pass the required funds for maintenance of navigational aids around the Irish coast to the Commissioners for Irish Lights. A group of major Shipping Lines, comprising of the Independent Light Dues Forum (ILDF)

have complained that contrary to experience in other waters the Light Dues in British and Irish Waters have remained very high and has pointed out that these costs can now amount to up to 45% of the cost of a Port Call. The ILDF has stated that failure to reduce such charges will drive the Ocean Lines to call only to Continental Ports and drive the Lines to serve these islands by Feeder vessels only, thus increasing costs for traders. The closure of Nuclear Power Plants and other disruption to Japanese industry has had an immediate impact on the Worldwide shipping industry. There was an immediate switch to LNG as a fuel source, leading to a serious shortage of vessels capable of bringing the gas to Japan and a spike in charter costs. Demand for coal has also surged leading to increased charter rates for Bulk Cargo vessels, while the effective temporary close-down of the Japanese based motor industry has hit the market for, in particular, the very large car carriers. Lines such as Maersk, however, confirmed that its container shipping operations through Japanese Ports have been largely unaffected. Dublin and Cork based ships’ agency company Aquaship Agencies has been acquired by the Aramex Group. Aquaship Managing Director, Andy Humphries said, “Since its founding in 1993, Aquaship has earned a reputation for consistent quality customer service.” Aramax states that the aquisition in Ireland is the latest in a series of recently formalised International partnerships and acquisitions, including in Turkey, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Vietnam and Kenya. The Company believes that it is building an International, strong operation. DFDS Seaways is now operating its Rosyth/ Zeebrugge Ro-Ro route on a four times weekly schedule in each direction. In order to reduce fuel use and costs the vessels are now scheduled to run a sailing time between the Ports of between 27 and 32 hours rather than the 18 hours when the route was operated by Norfolk Line. DFDS Seaways has a strong focus on trade cars and operates a substantial mafi fleet to facilitate the carriage of Lo-Lo containers, tanks and other specialised equipment.

Stena Line has concluded a two year agreement with the Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company that will see the company’s ferries operating into the County Dublin Port for at least another two years. The new agreement will reduce the annual Harbour dues for the Line from €6.7 million to €2 million. Eamonn Hewitt , Stena’s




Brittany Ferries ‘Barfleur’ reinstated


rittany Ferries reinstated the ‘Barfleur’ on 27 February with a large dollop of enthusiasm one year after this service was withdrawn due to the downturn. Now it is confident that with the additional capacity that the faithful vessel will add to its PooleCherbourge route, will once again prove popular with both freight and car travellers on the four and a half hour trip between the South coast of England and the Northern French Port. A combination of schedules has been specifically tailored to allow hauliers meet peak overnight demand from France. A reduced passenger capacity on board also provides increased comfort for clients of the French carrier which has been on the seas since 1972. Although the route has only been resurrected until October next, Brittany Ferries does not see this as a testing of the water action, more a vote of confidence in the route and a response to the forthcoming Summer season which indicates that additional traffic is expected. Regular freight movers which ship to France, and vice versa will be well aware that Brittany Ferries also run a dedicated service for goods to and from Cherbourg on another flagship vessel, the Cotentin, which also operates on its Poole-Bilbao crossing. The addition of the Barfleur will allow it to add an extra weekly service to Spain, now numbering seven times per week. The Barfleur has a scaled down capacity of 450 passengers, catering for 20 trucks and the remainder cars while the Cotentin can carry 110-120 vehicles – all trucks – on its routes. Travelling on both you are immediately taken by the standards that Brittany Ferries apply. Speaking to some of those on board, they were high in their praise for the pleasant surroundings, the ample space and levels of comfort in the lounges and in the cabins and, most importantly the quality of the food on offer on both ships. In fact, everyone I spoke with commended the food. It is a French carrier, after all and as David Mercier, Brittany Ferries Continental


Sales Manager in France said, “it’s always lunchtime in France”, so you can enjoy the pleasures of the chefs at anytime.

Ferries ships have air-conditioned cabins with en-suite facilities – a total of 6,360 beds across the entire fleet.

Poole Port itself is ideally positioned between Plymouth and Portsmouth, both of which are also Brittany Ferries routes. Access to the Poole area may not be as straight forward as the other two because it is not on a direct motorway route. There is a narrow swing bridge at the entrance, which is opened regularly which causes minor delays and can be clogged by two large vehicles meeting each other at that point – best for one or other to give way. Generally it is a clear run. A new bridge is being built and will be in operation by the end of this year.

On our trip we got to go to the control deck where Captain Daniel Roignan and his trusty lieutenants steered the Barfleur through the narrow channel which was dredged by Poole Harbour Authority to allow for the passage of big ferries, past the home of ‘Spurs Manager, Harry Redknapp and the Haven Hotel on the left both near the famous Sand Banks, some of the most expensive real estate in the World. Looking right you see Old Harry’s Rocks called after the notorious pirate, Harry Paye who terrorised ships in the past and out into the open seas bound for Cherbourg. On the way home we got to test out the sleeping quarters on the Cotentin on the overnight sailing and arrived back in the UK again at 6.30am.

Cherbourg is familiar to all Irish hauliers. As well as Brittany Ferries, Irish Ferries and Celtic Ferries are frequent users. However, it was interesting to see the number of Irish trucks that used the Barfleur on our outward journey and on the Cotentin for our return trip. Nolan Transport, New Ross was clearly one of the dominant players on both crossings. In fact, on a quick observation, Nolan Transport had more trucks on board than any other single carrier, testament to their International reach and to the convenience of this particular route. On the French side, Cherbourg is a town dominated by the Port. Most of the surrounding area is agriculturally based. Indeed, Brittany Ferries, then called BAI Ltd – meaning literally ‘Bretagne-Angleterre-Irelande’ was originally set up by a group of farmers in order to transport vegetables to Britain. That link remains today and is made stronger by the expansion of this route. The company now employs 2,700 staff in high season, 325 UK based with the majority on board being French nationals. All Brittany

Speaking about the restoration of the route, Jon Clarke, Director of Freight said, “We were first to recognise that the downturn was coming when we withdrew the Barfleur and we are the first to see that there is now a need for additional capacity. That is why we are restoring the Barfleur to the Poole-Cherbourg route. It also allows us to add extra capacity with additional services on our Poole-Bilbao route too.”

Fleet Maritime  

Magazine for the Maritime Industry

Fleet Maritime  

Magazine for the Maritime Industry