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Messages - Steven

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Has there been a strategic and tactical mistake by many players in the industry , including Irish Ferries , in believing that trade would settle back to the landbridge?       Is the whole distribution and supply framework for Ireland not inevitably going to tilt toward direct Ireland -continent ferries ?
Impossible to answer at this stage (though plenty of people seem to have acquired crystal balls in the past 18 months).  It could also be argued that it was a mistake by some to commit so much to direct given how capacity has now dropped.  There were also suggestions that more than one operator was rate dumping, which begs the question, how much money was actually being made by the operators?  A question many of us will never know the answer to I suspect! 

It?s all very well ?filling? a ship and getting the PR (and fully booked isn?t the same as leaving full given the amount of block booking that takes place for freight), but companies are in the business of making money at the end of the day!  Even now it isn?t clear how things will pan out in the coming months.

Discussion Board / Re: ICG new ships
« on: June 21, 2021, 10:58:27 pm »
Given more recent developments, I think it?s pretty obvious what ICG were looking at the ships for!  P&O Ferries? specific denial was that the ships had been sold, NOT that there had been interest (which is what the article actually said).  According to multiple witnesses senior people from Irish Ferries visited the ships.

Question is, did P&O get wind of their plan or did the interest stop for another reason?

Burgundy returns to Dover on Thursday after a while at A&P Falmouth in what is being seen as a response to Irish Ferries.  There have been suggestions from France that Irish Ferries intends to add a second ship in the next couple of months, with a third joining in the new year.

Discussion Board / Re: Stena Adventurer - Voyage Report
« on: June 21, 2021, 10:47:05 pm »
You wait all year for some fabulous interior shots of a ferry and then we get two sets of on board reports in as many days, please see below link to a fantastic image gallery on the Stena Adventurer from the team at NIferry:

We?ve been sitting on these for a while but haven?t had the time to put something together.  I?m also currently working on getting an accurate up to date deck plan as the one onboard doesn?t appear to have been updated yet.

The News Board / Re: Stena Line fleet movements
« on: June 21, 2021, 10:45:11 pm »

Given the length of time it was in the shipyard, amazing they did not get a chance to paint the top decks above the passenger accommodation !
That?s something the crew can do!  Shipping companies aren?t really in the habit of paying shipyards for doing jobs crew can take care of themselves.  Note that many of the pics released are actually of the vessel on trials during May too, including those directly from SEDEF AFAIK.

Some further info and pics here.  I must say she looks much better than expected.  From the preview pics I?ve seen she is very much in the same style of the E-Flexer?s inside (as you?d expect).

The News Board / Re: Belfast - Holyhead route
« on: June 21, 2021, 10:41:43 pm »
There is stil a roro ramp at berth 4 in Dun Laoghaire Harbour where the Lynx used to berth

Ah ha! Maybe there is still some hope for Dun Laoghaire yet!
Just need to find a ship that can fit while still being commercially viable while not upsetting the ?Dunlorry? crowd.

back door onto RoI for tourists without the restrictions?
There?s a large number of us in Northern Ireland who had booked to travel to GB via Dublin, only to have to change our plans.  Capacity is a big problem given the amount of NI traffic that usually passes through Dublin.  Freight demand is also an issue with loads that would previously passed through Dublin going NI - GB.   As weekends are generally quieter for freight (even in ?normal? times), it makes sense to switch Estrid to boost capacity elsewhere given the low passenger deman. The central corridor has recovered quite a bit from the lows earlier in the year and a lot of that seems to be due to land-bridge freight.  People and companies have gotten used to the paperwork and the process itself has become more streamlined as the kinks in the system have been ironed out (the process starts before the load even arrives at Dublin or Rosslare).  It?s still not perfect, but the nightmares some predicted never seem to have materialised apart from some extreme cases were there was a belief nothing had changed by someone somewhere in the process.  In terms of passengers, until truly free travel is allowed between ROI and GB it?s never going to be back to ?normal?.  There?s also an issue with those of us from NI proving our vaccinated status at present as there is no official documentation either digitally or on paper form yet.

If people are circumventing the Irish government rules by using a ?back door? then that?s on their conscience - ferry companies aren?t the police (or border guards) and don?t have the power to refuse travel based on a suspicion, especially given some will be travelling for permitted reasons.  I will say that there are a heck of a lot of cars with ROI registrations around Belfast these days though, especially around retail areas! 

The News Board / Re: Isle of Inishmore to launch Dover - Calais route
« on: June 21, 2021, 10:27:19 pm »
More here for those interested (courtesy of George Holland).  There's also a couple from Denmark showing the completed work.  They've done quite a tidy job!

According to Irish Ferries she is 'newly refurbished' and has an enlarged shop.  From the pics I have seen to date the refurbishment appears to mainly consist of new carpeting

The News Board / Re: Irish Ferries HUll 777
« on: October 19, 2020, 11:43:08 pm »
Following the cancellation of the new build an extension to the charter of Epsilon has been agreed until November 2021 with options to extend beyond that. The deposit of ?33 million paid to FSG has been returned to ICG and they have entered into preliminary talks with a number of other shipyards for the construction of ship similar in design to 777.
It was a while ago (months) so cant remember the source but Eamonn Rothwell himself is quoted as saying any new build order is 2 years off.  They are essentially starting from scratch (FSG wasn't just the builder of 777 but also designer).

To be honest, all shipping operators could be doing with all the liquidity they can get at present rather than having money tied up in new tonnage.

The News Board / Re: P&O
« on: October 19, 2020, 11:41:26 pm »
P&O are to close their HUll to Zeebrugge route according to local media (Hull Live).The two vessels on the route Prides of York and Bruges both built in 1987 are to be scrapped. It is also being rumoured that two other of their channel fleet are also to be disposed of.
No reason to think they will definitely be scrapped although it's a tough time for operators looking to buy new tonnage and they aren't in great condition.

With the demise of the Pride of York there won't be a significant UK-built passenger ship sailing from this country for what must be the first time in about 300 years  :-\

Indeed.  One thing in their favour is the approved facilities at Aliaga are rather busy with cruise ships at present, and I assume the scrap price isn't great either given scrap metal isn't in short supply at present.

Interestingly there have been reports that cruise ships have been sold below scrap value just to move them on!

The News Board / Re: Irish Ferries Fleet movements
« on: October 19, 2020, 11:39:17 pm »
A body has been located on the shore on Anglesey, near Carmel head.

Sad to report the ID was positive

The News Board / Re: Duty Free IS Back On Irish Sea
« on: October 19, 2020, 04:31:42 pm »
Always best to use an official source IMO

New GB inbound personal allowances specified below. For example, someone will be able to bring three crates of beer, two cases of still wine and one case of sparkling wine to GB without paying UK duties.

42 litres of beer
18 litres of still wine
4 litres of spirits OR 9 litres of sparkling wine, fortified wine or any alcoholic beverage less than 22% ABV
200 cigarettes OR
100 cigarillos OR
50 cigars OR
250g tobacco OR
200 sticks of tobacco for heating
or any proportional combination of the above

No idea if Ireland has increased its non-EU limits specifically for the UK but I suspect their hands may be somewhat tied.

The News Board / Re: Duty Free IS Back On Irish Sea
« on: October 19, 2020, 04:25:50 pm »
The amount one can bring in to the UK seems to have been determined by a beer and spirit man /woman.

In my reckoning 3 cases of beer means 72 bottles,  4 litres of spirits is 5 bottles but 2 cases of wine is only 12 bottles, 12 bottles  won't last the winter.

Why this discrimination against lovers of the fruit of vine?
Still more than the current limits for those coming into the UK from outside the EU (including IIRC the Canary Islands) which is as following

beer - 16 litres
wine (not sparkling) - 4 litres
You can also bring in either:

spirits and other liquors over 22% alcohol - 1 litre
fortified wine (for example port, sherry), sparkling wine and alcoholic drinks up to 22% alcohol - 2 litres.

You can bring in one from the following:

200 cigarettes
100 cigarillos
50 cigars
250g tobacco
You can split this allowance - so you could bring in 100 cigarettes and 25 cigars (both half of your allowance

For Ireland the duty free allowance from outside the EU is as follows

200 cigarettes or 100 cigarillos or 50 cigars or 250g of smoking tobacco (Allowances are on a fractional basis, for example 100 cigarettes plus 50 cigarillos would be the limit together.)
1 litre of spirits (more than 22%) or 2 litres of intermediate products (e.g. port, sherry, etc. but not sparkling wine)
4 litres of wine or 16 litres of beer
50g of perfume and 250ml of eau de toilette

If these limits apply its not going to be much of a duty free bonanza!  The limits are based on the domestic duty applied to products which is very different depending on the product.

More on the potential for capacity being added by an existing operator here

And a key quote

"The company, which began sailing to Dublin in 2009, accounts for 40 per cent of all units moved between Dublin and continental Europe, averaging about 4,500 freight units a week or 116,000 a year each way."

A few points on this discussion

Le Havre from a ferry operator point of view is further away than Cherbourg for not a lot of benefit but increased cost and reduced utilisation.  From a haulier point of view they are potentially paying a driver to sit on a ship longer when they could be overtaking the ship on the road.

Running a ship at a "steady 25 knots" is pretty much out of the question.  Most ships likely to be employed on such a service aren't even capable of 25 knots!  Rosslare - Dunkirk might make more sense for a CLdN style unaccompanied service.  Speaking of which, I'm not sure CLdN/Cobelfret have any intention of taking drivers again, particularly on the longer sectors such as Ireland to Europe.  They've briefed press about how their costs are lower as they don't carry drivers for example.

The supply of suitable vessels for freight orientated services isn't that good at present, its passenger vessels like Stena Saga and Pride of York which are "spare".  Running the more passenger orientated vessels, even with subsidy, is unlikely to be very profitable IMO.

Its not often mentioned, but at present Ireland - France is oversupplied already (hence Brittany Ferries freight orientated service to France being seasonal, and Stena being able to put less than ideal (and in the case of Vinga, smaller) vessels on their Cherbourg route if Horizon is required elsewhere.  The most logical option to increase capacity would be Stena doubling frequency to Cherbourg, something that wouldn't be that hard to do considering they have ships which appear to be spare.  One of Flavia or Scottish Viking should be spare in January, and Stena Vinga is obviously already surplus to requirements anyway.  Hence her little excursion to our waters.  Its also a fact that a significant amount of landbridge traffic originates or is destined for Northern Ireland - for that it may be more attractive to use landbridge from Belfast, Larne, Warrenpoint and the North Sea.

A senior Stena crew member hinted to me that there is the ?potential? for Stena to move one of the Dublin Holyhead ships to Rosslare for a direct continental service IF in the event of a no deal brexit departure, demand reduces on the central corridor? Supposing Stena receive 25% of the annual 170000 annual land bridge units transiting through Holyhead, it would mean circa 800 units a week looking to avoid the grid locked UK landbridge. That could potentially support a 2000m+ lane metre ship on a three times a week service? Lot of what if?s and the biggest is obtaining support from the hauliers as it is a more time consuming crossing than is currently available. Un accompanied units are the more likely customers for this potential market, so a large RO Pax ship would not be cost efficient for any potential new route. Also which ever continental port is assessed it would need at least a 100+ trailer park to accommodate this potential traffic.
There are 150,000 annual movements and that is for both directions (official figures).  Thats of around 450,000 total RoRo movements though Holyhead (the landbridge figure naturally doesn't account for trailers which stop and discharge or load partially in GB en-route of course).  Thats not as much as it sounds if we account for the fact that there is existing excess capacity on Ireland-France (some say its running at around 50%), and that not everything will be suitable to transit on the direct routes.  Rates are going to be a big factor as well - they'll inevitably be much higher on the direct routes than short sea. Of course, Calais and Portsmouth aren't the only ports used for landbridge via Holyhead either.  Dropping a ship on Dublin - Holyhead would massively reduce their capacity there, by at least 6,200 lane metres in each direction per day. 
Another point of note, for a lot of traffic which uses landbridge France isn't the ultimate destination.  Perhaps there will be increased demand for landbridge to the "Low Countries" rather than France, particularly if a scheme is agreed where trailers can pass through the UK more or less unobstructed if sealed and the appropriate paperwork is already forwarded as has been suggested.

Personally IF the worst case scenario happens I can see a combination of an increased use of North Sea (already happening), switch to unaccompanied direct services to Europe, and LoLo services.  CLdN are banking on the middle option and ICG will certainly like the last one!

It would probably make more sense to switch Rosslare - Rosscoff to Rosslare to Cork.  Of course that would put them in direct competition with Stena.  Alternatively they might be happy just to take the trade coming off the two existing services - there’s only going to be so much traffic heading that far south that isn’t on the direct service to Spain.  They’ve been clear that the rail service is open to all trailers and not just those using Brittany Ferries crossings. 

Discussion Board / Re: Rosslare to Le Havre shipping route to open soon?
« on: February 19, 2020, 03:40:41 am »
I can’t see either Stena or Irish Ferries leaving Cherbourg any time soon.  The livestock trade is quite important and Cherbourg has lairage space (unlike Le Havre to my knowledge).  Cherbourg is also soon getting a direct rail service to southern France - run by Brittany Ferries but it will take all trailer traffic - 42 trailers in both directions every day.  It’s also a shorter sea journey which means less fuel cost.

The Cap Finistere rumour seems to have stemmed in part from the rumour of Stena Superfast X becoming a France ship permanently (well she did in a way, but in this case it’s Marseille and Corsica) which was never going to happen.   With CF sharing a hull form suddenly she was going to sail to Rosslare in some people’s minds as she has successfully berthed in Le Havre of course and X at Rosslare.  There WAS a rumour that BF were going to do Rosslare - Le Havre rather than Roscoff at one stage with Kerry though.  Le Havre could still happen, but CF is hardly the ideal ship for a year-round service on that route.  There’s also the fuel penalty of sailing all the way to Le Havre rather than to Cherbourg or Roscoff. 

Additionally, Ireland doesn’t actually do that much trade with France in the grand scheme of things.  Belgium and Holland is a bigger market but there is a direct service (and potentially more to come) to there and the land bridge is quicker - even if accounting for a significant customs delay.  Ships only sail at around 20kts and have to go the long way round after all!  Is there the demand for another Ireland to France route given Irish Ferries for one seem to drop France first when they are a ship short?

If goods to and from Ireland continue to be treated the same way in France (why wouldn’t they?) there’s not really any reason there should be any issues at Cherbourg - the GB traffic will likely be segregated and held elsewhere to be checked and sealed.  Depending on what is agreed (and something will have to be, even if it’s a case of it being imposed by the WTO) it may be a case of everything being done in the U.K. anyway with French officials present if required (in the same way U.K. border force currently carry out checks in France).  The bigger worry for many will be checks between Ireland and Great Britain - there’s a heck of a lot of meat and produce shipped over to GB daily so checks could be a big blow to the rural economy.  The French have their own produce of course and enough to go around that BF was established to ship it to the U.K.!

As for the British Government contingency measures, those have been scaled back significantly.  The lorry park on the airfield appears to have been shelved, as has the concrete barriers on the motorway.  £50m is being invested in a retractable barrier, however.  The council at Ramsgate has withdrawn the funding for maintaining the ferry terminal afaik as well.  Current planning appears to be to provide additional capacity on existing services for essential items such as medicines should the worst case scenario occur.  To be fair there was only so much a few sailings out of Ramsgate could do - the problem will be customs check capacity rather than ship capacity!

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