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Weekly Maritime News Round-Up

Weekly Maritime News and Comment Round-Up from Marine Correspondent, Tom MacSweeney
Dateline – April 7, 2014.

THIS WEEK: What is the point of a Heritage Department if it will not look after the heritage of the last Irish ship of its kind? Stout wreck; Largest ship at Drogheda …


It is not often that the RNLI and the Commissioners of Irish Lights combine to rescue a yacht in serious trouble. They did so on Saturday in the rescue shown in the photographs with this week’s blog, when the Arklow all-weather lifeboat, Ger Tigchelaar, went to the assistance of a 33ft.yacht that was sinking four miles east of the Wicklow village. “Challenging weather and declining visibility,” according to Arklow RNLI’s Press and Safety Officer, Mark Corcoran. Two RNLI crew members went aboard the yacht with pumps on arrival at the stricken vessel. These were unable to control the water ingress. Two sailors on the yacht were taken aboard the lifeboat. With the yacht sinking the CIL lights tender Granuaile arrived on the scene, having been tasked to assist as well as the Coastguard Rescue Helicopter 116. Lines were passed to Granuaile whose crew secured the vessel to theirs and then, with additional pumps, cleared the yacht of water and stemmed the ingress. Arklow Lifeboat took the yacht in tow back to port, a classic rescue.

“The professionalism shown by Arklow RNLI’s volunteers, the Commissioners of Irish Lights crew and Coastguard colleagues overhead, not only helped save two lives but also the sinking vessel,” said Mark Corcoran. “It showed how all the training and exercising involved between the RNLI and the other agencies on our coast pays off.”

Indeed it did.


Talking to Sam Field Corbett on my THIS ISLAND NATION radio programme last week he was not too happy with the outcome of the meeting he and his supporters trying to save the Naomh Eanna in Dublin had with Arts and Heritage Department officials and Minister Jimmy Deenihan, though the Minister listened attentively and spent half-an-hour at the meeting. The rest of the time was with Department officials and Waterways Ireland who appear to be reluctant to have anything to do with the former Aran Islands ferry. While one can understand reluctance if there is absolutely no possibility of an effective salvage and refurbishment, have Waterways and the Department set their minds on destruction without giving equal attention to the possibilities of restoring the ship? Bearing in mind that Sam Field Corbett has proven ability in this regard with the Cill Airne floating restaurant at Dublin Docklands, perhaps a more consultative approach rather than a fixed-mind one-only solution should be taken. In my interview with him, Sam Field Corbett outlined a series of difficulties encountered with various aspects of officialdom in a number of ports against what he claims are reasonable development proposals. When one sees empty quaysides in ports one does wonder and the barge operations which he runs on the Dublin canals are an interesting example of what can be done. The Trust which is campaigning to save the Naomh Eanna is seeking public donations. Go to their Facebook page for more information. Galway Port Company has promised to provide a berth for the vessel if it can be got there. The crucial issue now seems to be a hull survey which involves dry-docking that Waterways Ireland and the Heritage Department don’t want. But what is the point of an Arts and Heritage Department if it does not look after heritage? The last Irish ship of its kind surely deserves a modicum of more consideration than officialdom is giving it.


The images of a merchant ship which was sunk ninety-four years ago off the coast of Dublin are interesting to view on the Marine Institute website. They were revealed by the INFOMAR (Integrated Mapping for the Sustainable Development of Ireland’s Marine Resource) Programme. The images were obtained during a mission by the national research vessel the RV Celtic Voyager of the Marine Institute which surveyed the wreck of the first Guinness merchant vessel, the W.M. Barkley. The detailed seabed images, which include deck features and complex sand wave structures, were recorded by towed sidescan sonar provided by the Moore Marine Group and give a visual insight into the defensively armed ship that was sunk by a German torpedo in 1917, seven miles east of the Kish Bank off Dublin.


Ireland is a great place to do marine business right now, with a growing number of high tech marine and ocean energy companies developing novel products and services for international markets, according to the Chief Executive of the Marine Institute, Dr. Peter Heffernan. The Marine Institute is developing Ireland’s national test facility for marine energy and subsea technologies in Galway Bay. The subsea observatory will include a standard telecommunications cable to provide power and high speed data communication between the shore station and a network of subsea data ports and surface buoys at the test site. The project is a collaborative one between the Marine Institute, SmartBay Ireland, Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland and Hydraulics and Maritime Research Centre (UCC). SmartBay Ireland is seeking companies with technology prototypes to use this facility to test novel sensors and equipment, for example Wave Energy Converters, Subsea Sensors, Data and Communications systems.


Drogheda Port reports its largest ship at 420 feet long and 4,970 gt., a Russian cargoship, berthed at the Ballast Quay assisted by the port company’s vessel, Boyne Protector at the weekend.


The Nautical Institute, the professional body for merchant marine officers both in Ireland and the UK and which is an international representative body for maritime professionals involved in the control of sea-going ship is looking for a partner Flag State to present a paper on the Master/Mate two-watch system to the International Maritime Organisation’s Maritime Safety Committee in November. A Flag State is required under IMO regulations. Capt John Dickinson, Head of Delegation at The Nautical Institute says the paper “will be the result of an investigation by the Institute into a system that is of great concern to our members and which is currently in operation on many ships, especially around the European coast.”

The Institute is also working with Australia to develop a broader approach to fatigue problems caused by working patterns at sea and how to manage the issue safely. This work is continuing, also with the objective of submitting a paper to the IMO’s Maritime Safety Committee in November.


The River Lee looks a lot better than the Liffey in Dublin at low tide, particularly when viewed walking towards the Cork train at Heuston Station. That is the view of Jim O’Donovan, Director of Services with Cork City Council, who expressed it with a sense of pride when he spoke about the increased awareness amongst Corkonians of the value of being citizens of a riverside city: “We do need to look at developing leisure amenities and encouraging more people to take an interest in water activities, but the Lee is now cleaner and people are more aware of its value to the city.”
He told me that the clean-up of the river, a big voluntary effort backed by the Port and the City Council, had taken 250 out shopping trolleys, as well as traffic cones and even furniture: “I took part in the clean-up myself and every year since it is being repeated by Meitheal Mara. As well as singing about the Banks of the Lee, pride shows in keeping it clean,” he told an EU Boat seminar in the Port of Cork offices, organised by Meitheal Mara.


The Hong Kong-based Seaspan Corporation which uses a fuel efficient and cost-saving hull design called “saver-design,” developed by MARIN and Marine Design and Research Institute of China is to build four more 10,000 TEU containerships with these hulls at Jiangsu New Yangzi Shipbuilding and Jiangsu Yangzi Xinfu Shipbuilding yards in China. They are scheduled for delivery in 2016. Seaspan says it expects to sign long-term time charters for these vessels with one of the major container liner companies in the near future. It has a managed fleet of 109 containerships representing a total capacity of over 840,000 TEU, including 35 new containerships on order, also scheduled for delivery to Seaspan and third parties by the end of 2016.


The Irish Whale and Dolphin Group[‘s Celtic Mist will sail to the Hebridean Islands in Scotland on Wednesday, June 5, leaving from the Rathlin Island Sound Maritime Festival, heading first for the southern tip of the Outer Hebrides on a week-long cruise in search of whales and dolphins. The Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust have invited IWDG to join them for a World Oceans Day Festival on June 8 in Tobermory to celebrate their 20-year anniversary. More information by Email to:
celticmist@iwdg.ie for further details.


A team of four will represent the Royal Cork Yacht Club of Crosshaven at the Manhattan Sailing Club in the Dennis Connor International Yacht Club Challenge from August 15-17 next. The purpose of this regatta is to promote international goodwill through friendly competition. There will be three days of racing and, accepting the invitation to participate the RCYC team will be – David Lane, Sinéad Enright and Clem and Wendy McElligott. The regatta will be sailed in J24′s in New York Harbour, with the teams switching boats after each race. These will be provided by the Manhattan Sailing Club which is based at Dennis Conner’s North Cove in Lower Manhattan. Local sailing information will be provided by an extra crew on each boat whose duties will include communications with the Race Committee. The representative will stay with the boat while the teams rotate. A novel touch will be that each team must bring a symbolic – and humorous – gift or trophy to give to the team finishing directly behind them in the overall standings.


Irish sailors have improved their positions in the world rankings published this week, even though they had a lower-than-expected performance at the Palma ISAF World Cup in Spain last week. Annalise Murphy has been placed in the top 20 overall in the Laser Radial Class. 49er pair Ryan Seaton and Matt McGovern moved up ten places to 30th. But for James Espey there has been a drop of two places to 51st in the Laser Class.


THIS ISLAND NATION SUPPLEMENT IS NOW PUBLISHED IN THE APRIL EDITION OF THE MARINE TIMES on sale throughout Ireland with a bright, new, editorial layout, reporting on aspects of the marine sphere – shipping, fishing, leisure and the marine environment.

Readers’ comments are welcome. Please note new Email address: tommacsweeneythisislandnation@gmail.com

Twitter follow for regular marine news: @TomMacSweeney