RYDE Preservation Effort Fails
Perhaps it was too good to be true but the attempt to save, remove and rebuild the paddle steamer Ryde was announced as over on 15th January 2019. Apparently, December 2018 saw considerable deterioration in the shell of the vessel where she languishes at Binfield Pond, Island Harbour, on the River Medina between Newport and Cowes. A series of collapses had taken place, as if the ship had no wish to be saved. The original plan to remove the vessel in sections had become impossible and the alternative, requiring a piece by piece dismantling, brought its own problems and further costs. So, a meeting on 20th December sealed the fate of the vessel and everyone walked away from the plan.
As was made clear to anyone making donations for the Ryde, any funds received by the point when the proceedings to save the ship had to stop would be passed to the Medway Queen, or any other historic ship charity if people had a preference. If nothing else, this final attempt to save the veteran paddle steamer had progressed much further than anything attempted since 1977, but alas it really was too little, too late. Meanwhile, the saga surrounding the fate of the former Sealink ferry Horsa continues. The group trying to save her and bring her back to the UK were advised to await an auction on 6th February where the Penelope A would have a starting bid of €800,000. However, this date came and went with the auction being deferred by a month.
Tempestuous Times for FSG Related Projects
On 28th January came the news that the National Transport Authority (NTA) had found Irish Ferries to be liable in respect of the cancellations that arose following the delayed delivery of the W.B. Yeats. These cancellations were due to extraordinary circumstances which were completely outside of the company’s control. Since the issue was due to unforeseen delays caused by the shipbuilder FSG, and all passengers were notified as early as 21st April 2018, and again on 12th June 2018, Irish Ferries does not agree that the company infringed the relevant EU Regulation. In dealing with its customers, Irish Ferries believes it took every reasonable action to provide passengers with alternative travel options, from a no-quibble immediate refund to allow them to make alternative travel plans, as well as alternative sailings on the Oscar Wilde out of Rosslare Europort and Land bridge alternatives via the UK. A goodwill gesture of €150 discount for a sailing to France this year has already been provided to all customers impacted by the cancellations.
Ongoing discussions with the NTA on the interpretation of EU regulation has been a critical factor in regretfully concluding that Irish Ferries is unlikely to operate the 31,914gt/1987 built Oscar Wilde to France out of Rosslare in 2019, a service which has been in operation continuously for 45 years, providing the South East of the country with an important tourism and freight link directly to the European market. The NTA’s approach to the Regulation has contributed to making the route commercially unviable into the future.
Third Saint Class Retires
On 25th January the 2,968gt/1987 built St. Cecilia (above) was retired from the Wightlink I.o.Wight Ferries fleet after a 32 year career. The ship will join her older sisters St. Catherine (GB Conte) and St. Helen (Anna Mur) in the Delcomar fleet in Sardinia. The other two Saint Class ships sailed there from the Solent in 2010 and 2015. The St. Cecilia was launched at Cochrane Ship-builders in Selby, East Yorkshire in 1987 and it is estimated she has crossed the Solent 200,000 times since then, the equivalent of around a million miles.
During her time in the Solent, the St. Cecilia was used as a filming location for the BBC TV children’s programme Grange Hill and the French movie A Loving Father starring Gérard Depardieu, where she carried the fictitious Norse Link livery on her starboard side. The ship made her last departure from Fishbourne, I.o.Wight, to Portsmouth at 1130 on Friday 25th January before being de-stored and moved to lay up at Hythe where she was handed over to Delcomar. The ferry’s new name for her Delcomar career will be Nando Murrau, christened in honour of one of the company’s Senior Masters.
First Export Delivery for Wight Shipyard Co.
In February the East Cowes, I.o.W, based shipyard confirmed that it had successfully delivered its first export order in the form of a 250-passenger river catamaran to Central Danube Region Marketing & Development GmbH’s Twin City Liner, a tourist service running on the River Danube between Vienna and Bratislava, linking two European capital cities. The 39m vessel is Wight Shipyard’s sixth ferry in two years and comes on the back of successful deliveries in 2018 to Red Funnel for a second 41m high-speed passenger ferry, followed by a 21m day cruise catamaran for Jacobite Cruises on Loch Ness.