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The ship which sent an iceberg warning to the RMS Titanic, before the ocean liner sank, has been identified lying in the Irish Sea by researchers from Bangor University in Wales.

In 1912 the merchant steamship SS Mesaba was crossing the Atlantic and sent a warning radio message to the RMS Titanic. The message was received, but never reached the bridge.

Later that night, the supposedly unsinkable Titanic hit an iceberg and sank on her maiden voyage, taking 1,500 lives and becoming the world’s most infamous shipwreck. 

The SS Mesaba continued as a merchant ship over the next six years before being torpedoed while in convoy in 1918.

Using state-of-the art multibeam sonar mounted on Bangor University’s research vessel Prince Madog, researchers have finally been able to positively identify the wreck and have revealed her position for the first time.

The merchant ship SS Mesaba which radioed an iceberg warning to the RMS Titanic | Credit: State Library of QueenslandThe merchant ship SS Mesaba which radioed an iceberg warning to the RMS Titanic | Credit: State Library of Queensland



“For the marine archaeologist, multibeam sonar has the potential to be as impactful as the use of aerial photography was for landscape archaeology,” the university says.

Multibeam sonar enables seabed mapping of such detail that superstructure details can be revealed on the sonar images, it adds.



The SS Mesaba was one among 273 shipwrecks lying in 7,500 square miles of Irish Sea which were scanned and cross-referenced against the UK Hydrographic Office’s database of wrecks and other sources.


It was thought that 101 wrecks were unidentified, but the number of newly identified wrecks was far higher, as many — the SS Mesaba included — had been wrongly identified in the past.



Details of all the wrecks have been published in a new book, Echoes from the Deep by Dr Innes McCartney of Bangor University, conducted under a Leverhulme Fellowship while at Bournemouth University.

Dr McCartney said: “The results of the work described in the book has validated the multidisciplinary technique employed and it is a ‘game-changer’ for marine archaeology. 

Bangor University’s purpose-built research vessel Prince MadogBangor University’s purpose-built research vessel Prince Madog

“Previously we would be able to dive to a few sites a year to visually identify wrecks. The Prince Madog’s unique sonar capabilities has enabled us to develop a relatively low-cost means of examining the wrecks. We can connect this back to the historical information without costly physical interaction with each site.


“It should be of key interest to marine scientists, environmental agencies, hydrographers, heritage managers, maritime archaeologists and historians.” 



Dr Michael Roberts, who led the sonar surveys at the university’s School of Ocean Sciences, said: “The expertise and unique resources we have at Bangor University, such as the Prince Madog enable us to deliver high-quality scientific research in an extremely cost-effective manner.

“Identifying shipwrecks such as those documented in the publication for historical research and environmental impact studies is just one example of this.

“We have also been examining these wreck sites to better understand how objects on the seabed interact with physical and biological processes, which in turn can help scientists support the development and growth of the marine energy sector.”


Published in Titanic

Ferry company Stena Line celebrates its 60th anniversary today having established itself as a trusted link between people, places and societies.

Sten A. Olsson, the founder of Stena Line, began operating a shipping service from his hometown Gothenburg in Sweden to Skagen in Denmark in 1962 where he was a scrap merchant for 20 years. Where others saw waste, he saw business opportunities, as he needed a means to transport scrap metal, helping to lay the foundations for what would become one of the most iconic brands in Sweden.

In 1967, after establishing routes to Skagen and later Fredrikshavn, Stena Line opened a direct route from west Sweden with its route to Kiel, Germany. Through strategic purchases and acquisitions, Stena Line in the 80s and 90s, now under the management of Sten’s son, Dan Sten Olsson, established its first routes from the Netherlands to the UK and from the UK to Ireland where is still dominates in the Irish Sea ferry market.

Following the fall of the iron curtain, Stena Line introduced the new Karlskrona – Gdynia route in 1995 which laid the foundations for what is now one Stena Line’s busiest regions.

Stena Line transports 6 million passengers and several million tonnes of freight units per year on 38 ships, operating 18 routes across a European wide network spanning from the west of Ireland to Latvia. Three principles have always determined the course of the company: the ambition to grow, the ability to adapt, and a never-ending curiosity that inspires new innovations.

“At Stena Line, we never forget our heritage. Sten A Olsson was a real entrepreneur, and it was his ambition, flexibility and everlasting curiosity that shaped our DNA. Over the six decades that have passed since he opened his first shipping service, we have continued to challenge existing ideas and models within our business. This is what has enabled us to develop into a leading ferry operator. And we are now eagerly looking forward to taking the next steps in our future, with further expansion and sustainable innovations“, said Niclas Mårtensson, CEO Stena Line.

The company is characterised by its efficient, regular passenger and freight services and is constantly reviewing its business to offer its customers the best experience on the Irish Sea.

Today, Stena Line is an efficient, high-frequency, freight-heavy and guest-friendly ferry transport service. Constant innovation and transition saw the original “floating grocery store” to Denmark first turn into a leisure, cruise like business driven by tax-free shopping in the 80´s and 90´s, and then into today’s resourceful, flexible and network-driven company.

The next big challenge for the operator and the entire transport sector is the green transition. Projects like the methanol ferry on Kiel-Göteborg, the state-of-art E-Flexer ferries, and ambitious electrification projects will put the Stena Line motto into reality: Connecting Europe for a Sustainable Future.

Published in Stena Line

An intrepid duo intend to cross the Irish Sea from Wales to Wicklow this weekend in an unusual fashion — paddling on their bellies.

Damien Wildes and Charlie Fleetwood will assume the prone position on their stand-up paddleboards from Holyhead in the early hours of this Saturday 9 July for the crossing to Greystones, which they expect to take somewhere between 14 and 20 hours.

Each will be assisted by their own volunteer-operated support boat for the endurance feat in which they hope to raise at least €15,000 for three local charities: Purple House Cancer Support, Wicklow SPCA and Wicklow RNLI.

“Completing the prone crossing will be a world’s first,” Damien told Greystones Guide, “and I know not many people have actually made it across by SUP, so Charlie will make it onto a very short and very illustrious list.”

The pair’s iDonate page has more on their plans HERE.

Published in Offshore

Portaferry and Peel RNLI came to the aid of a kayaker who got into difficulty in the Irish Sea earlier this week.

The man, who had been kayaking from the Isle of Man to Northern Ireland from early morning on Wednesday (8 June) became fatigued and, when he couldn’t see land, raised the alarm for help.

Both the inshore lifeboat from Portaferry RNLI and the all-weather lifeboat from Peel RNLI on Mann were requested to launch.

The pagers at Portaferry RNLI sounded shortly after 5pm as the station’s operational and fundraising volunteers were enjoying a visit by the RNLI’s chief executive Mark Dowie.

The inshore lifeboat, helmed by Chris Adair and with three crew onboard, launched immediately and made its way to the scene some 14 miles out from the Strangford Narrows. The Irish Coast Guard’s Dublin-based helicopter Rescue 116 was also tasked.

Weather conditions at the time were drizzly but there was good visibility. The sea was calm and there was a Force 3 easterly wind blowing. Once on scene at 5.58pm, the crew faced a Force 4 wind, fair visibility and a rough sea state.

The volunteer crew assessed the situation before helping the casualty out of his kayak and bringing him onboard the lifeboat.

He was then transferred to Peel RNLI’s all-weather lifeboat where he was brought inside the wheelhouse to be warmed up.

Both Portaferry and Peel lifeboat crews made their way to Portaferry with the casualty, who was checked over to ensure he was safe and well before he got warmed up with pizza and tea at the station.

Speaking following the callout, Philip Johnston, Portaferry RNLI lifeboat operations manager said: “The casualty was wearing the appropriate gear for kayaking and made the right decision to call the coastguard for help once he found the conditions too much.

“We would like to wish him well and thank our fellow volunteers from Peel and our colleagues in the coastguard who were also on scene.

“The pagers went off as our volunteers were having a meeting with Mark Dowie, our chief executive who was visiting from England. We were delighted to update him on our lifesaving work at Portaferry RNLI and were equally delighted to be brought up to speed from him on the various work that is happening across our charity that we are all so passionate about.

“As the pagers went off, Mark commented that out of the 124 stations that he has visited so far, we were the fourth station to have a call out during his visit.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

A further two ships of the P&O Ferries fleet are being inspected as the company attempts to resume normal operations after sacking nearly 800 workers.

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) said it began assessing European Highlander on Thursday and Norbay yesterday.

P&O Ferries suspended most of its sailings after replacing 786 seafarers with cheaper agency staff on March 17.

European Highlander normally operates between Larne in Northern Ireland and Cairnryan in Scotland, while Norbay serves the Dublin-Liverpool route.

A total of eight P&O Ferries vessels will be examined by the MCA through the Port State Control regime.

RTE News has more on the Irish Sea route ferries in addition to the rest of the fleet, some still detained from UK-mainland Europe services.

As Afloat reported earlier, the North Channel route's second ship, European Causeway following an MCA inspection resumed service last week. 

Published in Ferry

The Talsma Shipyard and sustainable shipping company EcoClipper B.V. this week announced in Alkmaar, The Netherlands, in finalising a partnership to complete work on retrofitting sailing vessel De Tukker which is to trade in the North Sea, the Irish Sea and in the Baltic.

The Talsma Shipyard, based in Franeker is highly experienced in shipbuilding and retrofitting vessels. They will be responsible for the large-scale steel work construction on EcoClipper’s first cargo vessel, De Tukker as Afloat reported in January.

EcoClipper will use their own crew to work on maintenance, rigging and fitting out.

When Jelle Talsma, CEO of the Talsma Shipyard, joined on the first inspection of the ship he commented: "This ship is beautifully lined and well built. It is obvious that the former owners loved the ship and left us with many fine details. Yes, we will be happy to help EcoClipper to get this vessel trading again."

Last week De Tukker was moved into the shipyard's construction hall in Franeker.

The retrofit of the ship will include returning the day cabin and galley to their former use as cargo hold. A small deck house with a mess room will be positioned on deck, in front of the mizzen mast. All spars, standing and running rigging will be serviced and re-rigged.

When work is completed the De Tukker will be registered as a Sailing General Cargo Vessel.

Jorne Langelaan commented: “We are excited to partner with Talsma Shipyard for the retrofit of De Tukker. Not only is Jelle Talsma an expert in the field, but he is an avid sailor of traditional sailing vessels and shares many of the ideals and values that we have at EcoClipper.”

EcoClipper has launched a financing campaign for investors for the EcoClipper Coöperatie U.A. Investors are able to become part owners of the future fleet of sailing ships, including De Tukker.

Published in Shipyards

The Irish Government has contacted P&O Ferries seeking details of the impact on its Irish Sea operations of the decision by the UK-based company to suddenly suspend all services and sack its 800 seafaring crew.

P&O currently operates two routes from Ireland, including a Dublin Port-Liverpool route comprising mostly freight traffic along with passengers in cars, and Larne in Antrim to Cairnryan in Scotland, which carries passengers and freight. Both services are suspended after P&O said it was ceasing operating temporarily.

It is understood that P&O accounts for close to 10 per cent of all unitised freight movements through Dublin Port. Sources at the port suggested it was unaware of what is happening.

The Department of Transport said had contacted the company but it had not yet received any details about the Irish impact. It suggested that if services on the Irish routes are affected, other shipping companies will step in to replace it.

Earlier on Thursday P&O Ferries suspended all services and ordered its ships back to port as it announced it was making 800 staff redundant. Unions said the company had sacked all its UK sailors.

The Irish Times has more on the operator's Irish Sea ferry services and those serving UK-mainland Europe routes. 

Published in Ferry

On Stena Line's Dublin Port-Holyhead service today, a ropax that served the Ireland-Wales route has returned following a repositioning voyage from Scandinavia so to provide cover on the Irish Sea during routine annual dry-dock overhauls, writes Jehan Ashmore.

Stena Nordica which normally serves between Karlskrona, Sweden and Gdynia in Poland, had departed from the Baltic Sea port on Friday. This to enable covering in for fleetmates of the Gothenburg based company counterparts serving between Ireland and Britain.

As for operations firstly in the Baltic Sea with the Stena Nordica's roster which has been assigned to Stena Gothica. Afloat previously reported that in May this ship is to join sister Urd on Stena Line's new and first route connecting Finland, albeit a freight-only service. 

It was during the weekend that Afloat tracked the 2001 built Stena Nordica in the Skagerrak while off Jutland in northern Denmark, where the nearest ferryport, Hirtshals has links to Norway and the Faroe Islands. The voyage also included the crossing of the North Sea and via Scotland until arriving at the Welsh port.

Not every detail of the ropax's relief cover is listed by Afloat, given the complexity and changes that may take place during the ship's return on the Irish Sea due to operational reasons. However, Afloat can report was in observing Stena Nordica in Dublin Bay, with as the operator had planned this afternoon's sailing from Holyhead completed, marking the start of covering the overhauls.

This sees Stena Nordica take over the roster of Stena Adventurer which in turn covers those of Stena Estrid which today Afloat tracked having departed Holyhead and bound for Belfast. This is to cover dry-docking for another E-Flexer class, the Stena Embla on the Birkenhead (Liverpool) route. 

The Stena Nordica is no stranger to the Irish Sea as in 2008 was transferred to the Ireland-Wales route. As a result the ropax became the routes second ship to the Stena Adventurer until replaced by the Stena Superfast X. 

The 405 passenger/ 375 car/90 lorry capacity Stena Nordica was however originally commissioned by P&O (Irish Sea) Ferries as their European Ambassador which entered service in 2001. The then newbuild made a debut on the Liverpool to Dublin route. This was followed by the operators short lived service, having relocated the UK port to Mostyn in north Wales until operations resumed on Merseyside and continue do to so.

Other routes included P&O's weekend service from Dublin to Cherbourg with the French connection also occcasionally calling via Rosslare Europort. The was the first ever passenger car ferry link between the Irish capital and France.

Stena Nordica will also see duty on the St. Georges Channel when later this month the ropax takes over the Rosslare-Fishguard route, relieving routine serving veteran Stena Europe. There have been recent rumours spectulating as to the route's future and Stena Nordica replacing the 1981 built Stena Europe' which is scheduled on 24 February to be overhauled at A&P's dry-dock facility in Falmouth, Cornwall.

Afloat also at the weekend tracked at A&P Falmouth, P&O Ferries Norbay, one of the Dublin-Liverpool ropax sisters, having sailed directly from Larne where duties took place on the North Channel link to Cairnryan.

Asides 'Nordica's Stena career, there have also been charters, firstly to DFDS on the Dover-Calais route though this too saw a change of name as Malo Seaways complete with livery change.

Another charter during the ships two decades has seen a spell spent in the Meditteranean for operator GNV with at the time the ship's 'Stena' name reverted.

Published in Stena Line

Further to previous installation works on the Havhingsten fibre optic telecommunication cable system in the Irish Sea, post-lay inspection and burial (PLIB) of the cable is planned to begin later this week.

Works outside Irish and Isle of Man territorial waters are will start on Friday 14 January and continue until next Thursday 20 January, subject to weather.

It is advised that extra care is taken when vessels are operating near this area and that no vessel should trawl within 500m.

Installation will be via industry-standard burial tools including water jetting with remote operated vehicle (ROV). The target cable burial depth is 1.5m below seabed level in the region.

There will be two locations where PLIB will be performed: at Final Splice (FS) location outside Irish territorial waters, and at Branching Unit (BU) location outside of Isle of Man territorial waters.

The operations will be conducted by the cable installation vessel CS Ile d’Aix (callsign FICI) which will be working on a 24-hour basis, and will display appropriate day shapes and lights during reduced visibility and night operations.

All vessels operating within this area are requested to keep their distance and pass at minimum speed to reduce vessel wash.

For more information, including coordinates and contact details, see Marine Notice No 01 of 2022 attached below.

Published in News Update

The latest Marine Notice from the Department of Transport advises that the Informing and Mapping the Offshore Renewable Environment (I-MORE) Survey will be carried out in the North Irish Sea from early in the New Year.

From 4-13 January 2022, the RV Celtic Explorer (callsign EIGB) will carry out the survey on a 24-hour schedule using the Manta–200 Seabed Cone Penetration Testing (CPT) system.

The aim of this survey is to gather critical seabed data to feed into existing postdoc and group research across a range of disciplines, including marine geotechnics and physical geology, to better understand the geology and engineering properties of the sediment in this area and to identify potential geohazards to infrastructure development.

Map of the proposed iMORE survey areaMap of the proposed iMORE survey area

Coodinates of the survey area and other details can be found in Marine Notice No 66 of 2021, available to download below.

Published in Marine Science
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