|Operator:||Crescent Marine Services Ltd|
|Builder:||Rickmers Reederei G.m.b.H, Bremerhaven, Germany.|
|Launched:||15 April 1977|
|Completed:||30 June 1977|
|Out of service:||31 January 2008|
|Identification:||IMO number: 7635361, Callsign C6CG3|
|Fate:||Beached at Blackpool, Lancashire on 31 January 2008. Scrapped in situ May – October 2008.|
|Length:||116.31 m (381 ft 7 in)|
|Beam:||18.22 m (59 ft 9 in)|
|Draught:||5.38 m (17 ft 8 in)|
|Installed power:||4,410 kilowatts (5,910 hp)|
|Propulsion:||2 x MaK 8M453AK Diesel engines|
|Speed:||15 knots (28 km/h)|
|Capacity:||12 passengers, 65 trailers|
Riverdance was a RORO ferry in service with Seatruck Ferries on the Irish Sea. On 31 January 2008 she was hit by a wave that caused her cargo to shift and she beached at Blackpool, very close to the boundary with Cleveleys. Attempts to refloat her failed, and she was scrapped on site during 2008.
Built as Mashala in 1977, renamed Halla in 1987, Tikal in 1988 and Schiaffino in 1989, she operated at first in the Mediterranean and then the Caribbean. In 1993 she was operating in the Irish Sea, renamed Sally Eurobridge. In 1994 she was operating in the North Sea under the name Eurobridge, returning to Sally Eurobridge when the charter ended. In 1995–96 she was on charter to Norfolk Line under the name Eurobridge again, then chartered to Seatruck and renamed Riverdance, being bought outright in 1997.
On 31 January 2008 at 19:30 she was "broadsided" by a wave, causing the cargo to shift. At 19:45 the captain sent a Mayday call. The ship was listing at 60 degrees. At 20:00 the rescue crew at RAF Valley on Anglesey was put on standby, being scrambled at 20:20. Liverpool Coastguard co-ordinated assistance. Helicopters from the Irish Coast Guard, Royal Navy and Royal Air Force attended, along with lifeboats from Lytham and Fleetwood. The Steersman assisted with communications and the support vessels Clwyd Supporter and Highland Sprite were reported to be on their way to assist. Before he was rescued, one of the passengers made an emotional, and what he thought at the time final, mobile phone call home to his wife. Starting at 21:00, eight people were airlifted from the ship, which lost one engine and drifted aground on Cleveleys's North Beach opposite Anchorsholme Lane at around 22:50 (grid ref SD 309,424 ), very close to the remains of the Abana. The passengers and crew lifted off the ship arrived at Blackpool airport at 22:00, and two of them were taken to hospital suffering from mild hypothermia, but were not admitted. The passenger who had called his wife was able to call her at 22:30 to say that he was safe. Six crew members were taken off the vessel after it had run aground.
The decision to evacuate the remaining nine crew members was made in the early hours of 1 February. The remaining crew were airlifted off the ship at 04:00 on 1 February. The rescued crew and passengers were accommodated at a hotel in Lancaster or provided with a taxi home.
Rescue crews involved in the incident described the weather as "some of the worst we've ever seen". The crew of the helicopter from RAF Valley said the wind was gusting between 30 and 70 knots (56 and 130 km/h; 35 and 81 mph). The position on board ship of the people to be rescued that was the safest for them to be in should the ship roll over was also the position which made it hardest for the helicopter crew to rescue them from.
Like the Athina B at Brighton in 1980, Riverdance was a temporary tourist attraction, with local traders reporting that they were as busy as they would normally be during the Blackpool Illuminations. The boom lasted for over ten weeks, with the refloating at one time being scheduled to take place in the week commencing 18 February, coinciding with the half-term holiday. Large crowds were expected to view the refloating. The ship was also expected to bring extra visitors to Blackpool over the Easter weekend. The Tourist Information Centre at Cleveleys reported a large increase in enquiries in the weeks after Riverdance grounded. Local residents complained that the influx of visitors "made their lives hell", raising parking, traffic and litter issues. By early April, the number of visitors had begun to drop.
The owner of an ice-cream parlour in Cleveleys prepared a display of photographs of the stricken ferry and used them to raise funds for the local Fleetwood branch of the RNLI, in appreciation of their work in rescuing the passengers and crew. Blackpool Council was reported to be studying the effect that the shipwreck had on tourism, and looking to learn lessons that could help boost tourism. It was estimated that over 100,000 people came to see the Riverdance.
The crew of the helicopter from RAF Valley involved in the rescue were given the 2008 Defence Helicopter SAR award for their part in the rescue: Flight Lieutenant Lee Turner, Flight Lieutenant Giles Ratcliffe, Sergeant John Stevens and MACR Rich Taylor. Chief Coastguard Commendation for Meritorious Service was awarded to the 5 members of the watch at Liverpool Coastguard who were on duty for the grounding on the MV Riverdance on the evening of 31 January 2008 were awarded the Chief Coastguards Commendation for Meritorious Service on Friday, 8 February 2013.
Coastguard monitored the ship, which was carrying 150 tonnes of fuel oil. An attempt to refloat her was to have been made at high tide at 18:00 on 1 February, but it was later announced that no attempt would be made to refloat her that day. A salvage team from Smit International assessed the ship on 2 February,and a 400-metre (440 yd) exclusion zone was set up. Liverpool Coastguard warned that refloating the ship would take another two or three days, depending on weather and tide conditions, although another source stated the salvage operation could take weeks. It was estimated that refloating would take place in the second week of February, but this proved to be over optimistic. The salvage team assembled the equipment needed to refloat the ship, including a rigid inflatable boat suitable for use in shallow water. They planned to reduce the list of the ship and pump out the fuel on board. Riverdance was reported to be "intact".
It was reported that salvage teams had made "good progress" on 4 February. A crane travelled from York on 5 February and lifted equipment onto the ship. The salvage team aimed to reduce the list of the ship and make it more stable. On 4 February, around 50 members of the public ignored the exclusion zone to get close to the ship. Police and Coastguard admitted they were powerless to prevent the breach of the Government-imposed exclusion zone and vowed to step up security to prevent a recurrence. The imposition of the exclusion zone on grounds of public safety was proved to be correct when several trucks fell off on the afternoon of 5 February, caused by the ship moving at high tide. The exclusion zone was enforced on 6 February, with police, coastguard and security patrols being used. More of the ship's cargo fell overboard on 6 February. It was reported on 7 February that the salvage operation was going well, and about half of the equipment required for the operation was aboard. On 8 February, shackles holding the remaining trailers were released, allowing the vehicles on the top deck to fall overboard. The wreckage was cleared by a specialist demolition contractor.
The salvage team removed fuel from the ship by drilling a hole in the hull and pumping the fuel out. The process, known as "hot tapping", was expected to take up to a week. A boom was placed around the ship, and defuelling commenced. 18 tonnes of fuel was removed on 11 February and 29 tonnes on 12 February. Temporary repairs were made to the hull in preparation for refloating. Sightseers continued to breach the exclusion zone, including two jet skiers who approached the ship from the sea. The refloating of the ship was scheduled to take place in the week commencing 18 February. Large crowds were expected to witness the event, which would have coincided with the half-term holiday. It was later estimated that the ship would not be refloated for at least another two weeks. All fuel was removed from the tanks, and work was done to ensure the hull was watertight and to reduce the list. Over the weekend of 23–24 February, the ship settled further onto its side, listing at 85 degrees. Officials had to prevent people from trying to board the ship. It was revealed that the operation to refloat the vessel could take weeks, although speculation that she would be cut up on site was refuted by Smit International, who said they needed only 8 m (26 ft) of water to refloat the ship. A 40 ft (12 m) diameter accommodation box fell from the ship between 24 and 27 February.
It was reported that Smit International still intended to refloat the ship. There was a two-week period ending 13 March in which to refloat the ship, with the refloating being most likely to take place towards the end of that period. Efforts to salvage the ship were hampered by the weather and the position the ship was in. The plan was to put the ship on an even keel on 13 or 14 March, seven weeks after the grounding. However, storms with winds of 78 knots (144 km/h; 90 mph) meant that plan was abandoned. Refloating was expected to take place about a week after the ship was righted.
A trench was dug in the sand alongside the ship, which had been made watertight. Four 20-tonne containers were placed on the port side, and water was to be pumped from the starboard to port tanks in an effort to right the ship. No date was set for the operation, due to the strong winds at the time. Once the ship was righted, it was expected to take several weeks to refloat her. Attempts to right her were abandoned on 12 March after storms battered her with 78-knot (144 km/h) winds, causing her to sink further into the sand and the list to increase to 100 degrees. The salvage plan was re-evaluated early in the week commencing 17 March. Meanwhile, work continued to reduce the threat of pollution from the vessel and clearing up any wreckage that was deposited from the vessel. A meeting between the salvors, insurers and owners of the ship took place on 20 March to discuss options for salvage. One option considered was to scrap her on site. On 21 March 2008, it was revealed that she had been declared a "constructive total loss" due to further damage inflicted by the storms earlier in the month. The preferred option was to refloat her and remove her by sea, but she would be cut up on site if the refloating operation failed. The plan was to use mechanical winches to haul her upright, rather than relying upon flotation devices.
On 10 April 2008, it was announced that attempts to refloat her had been abandoned and that she was to be scrapped in situ. The contract to dismantle her was awarded to Hancock's Contractors, of Heysham. The work was expected to take about 12 to 14 weeks. One of the reasons for that decision was that Riverdance had suffered further structural damage during the storms on 12 March 2008. The damage included damaged propellors and engine, loss of a rudder, the bulwarks destroyed on her starboard side, and a lifeboat destroyed.
The scrapping of Riverdance was carried out by Hancock's, with initial work to remove the remaining fuel, oil and cargo from the vessel. Hancock's took control of the site on 14 April 2008. Contractors inspected the Moondance, her sister ship, to get an idea of the general construction of the vessel. Dismantling plans included some night working, to the dismay of some local residents. Work commenced in the week beginning 29 April 2008, with an estimated completion date of "the end of June". By early May the work was underway, with the removal of handrails and the funnel to enable easier access to the interior. The initial phase of the demolition was expected to take four or five weeks. On 17 May 2008, a fire broke out on two lorries at about 4:20am, causing 30 workers to be evacuated from the vessel. The local fire brigade attended with five appliances and a mobile fire station, but withdrew shortly after due to the rising tide, leaving the fire to burn itself out. The scrapping resumed on 19 May 2008 with the wreck reduced to the level of the beach by 10 October 2008.
Culture and media
'Riverdance' appears in the 2006 film 'Ghosts', directed by Nick Broomfield, based on the 2004 Morecambe Bay cockling disaster. Chinese immigrant Ai Qin is smuggled from Calais to Dover hidden inside a van aboard the ship.
The salvage operation was the subject of an episode of Salvage: Code Red, a National Geographic Channel documentary series.
- "Maritime Digital Encyclopedia". Maritime Digital Archive. Retrieved 1 February 2008.
- All times GMT
- The Guardian page 3 dated 2 February 2008 ISSN 0261-3077
- "Air rescue for ferry travellers". BBC News Online. 31 January 2008. Retrieved 1 February 2008.
- "Riverdance ferry drama: Timeline". Blackpool Gazette. Retrieved 1 February 2008.
- "Operation to float stricken ferry". BBC News. BBC Online. 1 February 2008. Retrieved 1 February 2008.
- "LIVERPOOL COASTGUARD COORDINATE RESCUE OF PASSENGERS FROM LISTING VESSEL". Maritime & Coastguard Agency. Archived from the original on 25 November 2008. Retrieved 1 February 2008.
- "Ferry rescue man feared for life". BBC News Online. 4 February 2008. Retrieved 5 February 2008.
- "Royal Air Force wins Defence Helicopter SAR 2008 Award for Riverdance Ferry Rescue". Rotorhub.com. Retrieved 21 April 2008.[dead link]
- "Ferry runs aground at Blackpool". BBC News Online. 1 February 2008. Retrieved 1 February 2008.
- "Dramatic airlift from stricken ferry". Blackpool Gazette. Retrieved 1 February 2008.
- "Shipwreck Gallery". Blackpool Gazette. 25 February 2008. Archived from the original on 1 March 2008. Retrieved 25 February 2008.
- "Desperate bid to stabilise stricken ferry". Blackpool Gazette. Retrieved 4 February 2008.
- "Riverdance passenger phones wife to say: "I'm going to die"". Blackpool Gazette. Retrieved 5 February 2008.
- "Vessel grounded at North Shore Blackpool update". Maritime & Coastguard Agency. Retrieved 1 February 2008.[permanent dead link]
- "Rescue crews tell of sea horror". Blackpool Gazette. Retrieved 4 February 2008.
- "Business booming as crowds flock in to see ferry". Blackpool Gazette. Retrieved 6 February 2008.
- "Last chance to see Riverdance". Blackpool Gazette. Retrieved 17 February 2008.
- "Riverdance ferry: Easter attraction". Blackpool Gazette. Retrieved 20 March 2008.
- "Riverdance visitors boost tourist office figures". Blackpool Gazette. Retrieved 28 March 2008.
- "Riverdance ferry 'making our lives hell'". Blackpool Gazette. Retrieved 2 April 2008.
- "Shine wearing off Riverdance ferry". Blackpool Gazette. Retrieved 7 April 2008.
- "Raspberry tribute to Riverdance ferry". Blackpool Gazette. Retrieved 11 April 2008.
- "Riverdance tourism lesson". Blackpool Gazette. Retrieved 24 May 2008.
- Chief Coastguard Commendation for Meritorious Service Liverpool HMRC Archived 2 October 2013 at the Wayback Machine.
- "Sea rescues amid stormy weather". BBC News. BBC Online. 1 February 2008. Retrieved 1 February 2008.
- "Salvage bids assessed amid storms". BBC News. BBC Online. 1 February 2008. Retrieved 1 February 2008.
- "SALVAGE MEETING HELD TO DISCUSS PLANS FOR RIVERDANCE REMOVAL". Maritime & Coastguard Agency. Archived from the original on 25 November 2008. Retrieved 2 February 2008.
- "Bad weather hampers ferry salvage". BBC News. BBC Online. 2 February 2008. Retrieved 2 February 2008.
- "Stricken ferry could be stranded "for weeks"". Blackpool Gazette. Retrieved 2 February 2008.
- "Ferry sheds thousands of biscuits". BBC News. BBC Online. 2 February 2008. Retrieved 2 February 2008.
- "Ferry may be grounded for a week". BBC News. BBC Online. 3 February 2008. Retrieved 4 February 2008.
- "New attempts to stabilise ferry". BBC News. BBC Online. 4 February 2008. Retrieved 4 February 2008.
- "SALVAGE OF STRANDED RO-RO FERRY MAKING GOOD PROGRESS". Maritime & Coastguard Agency. Archived from the original on 25 November 2008. Retrieved 4 February 2008.
- "Sightseers risk lives walking under toppling ferry". Blackpool Gazette. Retrieved 5 February 2008.
- "Trucks slip off stricken ferry". Blackpool Gazette. Retrieved 6 February 2008.
- "CRANE BEGINS LIFTING SALVAGE GEAR ONBOARD RIVERDANCE". Maritime & Coastguard Agency. Archived from the original on 10 February 2008. Retrieved 7 February 2008.
- "Blackpool ferry: Oil spill fears". Blackpool Gazette. Retrieved 7 February 2008.
- "'Stay off the beach' warning". Blackpool Gazette. Retrieved 11 February 2008.
- "Riverdance: Salvage crews start drilling". Blackpool Gazette. Retrieved 11 February 2008.
- "Oil removed from stricken ferry". BBC News. BBC Online. 11 February 2008. Retrieved 11 February 2008.
- "Riverdance: Sightseers kept away". Blackpool Gazette. Retrieved 14 February 2008.
- "GOOD PROGRESS FOR RIVERDANCE SALVAGE". Maritime & Coastguard Agency. Retrieved 14 February 2008.[permanent dead link]
- "Blackpool ferry: Lives at risk". Blackpool Gazette. Retrieved 14 February 2008.
- "RIVERDANCE – UPDATE". Maritime & Coastguard Agency. Archived from the original on 25 November 2008. Retrieved 20 February 2008.
- "Gang try to board Riverdance". Blackpool Gazette. Retrieved 25 February 2008.
- "Riverdance refloat will take weeks – if at all". Blackpool Gazette. Retrieved 28 February 2008.
- "Riverdance ferry 'can be righted'". Blackpool Gazette. Retrieved 28 February 2008.
- "Riverdance ferry will not be cut up – salvors". Blackpool Gazette. Retrieved 5 March 2008.
- "Weather hampers Riverdance move". BBC News Online. 7 March 2008. Retrieved 9 March 2008.
- "Float hopes for Riverdance ferry". Blackpool Gazette. Retrieved 15 March 2008.
- "New date for Riverdance ferry refloat". Blackpool Gazette. Retrieved 9 March 2008.
- "Plan to lift Riverdance ferry". Blackpool Gazette. Retrieved 12 March 2008.
- "NEW PLAN FOR RIVERDANCE REMOVAL TO BE PRESENTED NEXT WEEK". Maritime & Coastguard Agency. Archived from the original on 25 November 2008. Retrieved 15 March 2008.
- "Riverdance ferry: Crisis talks". Blackpool Gazette. Retrieved 17 March 2008.
- "Riverdance will never sail again". Blackpool Gazette. Retrieved 23 March 2008.
- "Final death knell for Riverdance ferry". Blackpool Gazette. Retrieved 11 April 2008.
- "RO-RO RIVERDANCE TO BE DISMANTLED ON SITE". Maritime & Coastguard Agency. Archived from the original on 25 November 2008. Retrieved 23 March 2008.
- "SEATRUCK FERRIES". Mersey Shipping. Retrieved 30 April 2008.
- "Dismantlers tackle stricken ferry". BBC News Online. 14 April 2008. Retrieved 21 April 2008.
- "Riverdance ferry – gone by June". Blackpool Gazette. Retrieved 29 April 2008.
- "Riverdance ferry: Cargo removed". Blackpool Gazette. Retrieved 7 May 2008.
- "Fire drama on Riverdance ferry". Blackpool Gazette. Retrieved 24 May 2008.
- "Firefighters tackle Riverdance blaze". Blackpool Gazette. Retrieved 24 May 2008.
- "Crew back on board Riverdance after blaze". Blackpool Gazette. Retrieved 24 May 2008.
- "Removal hopes over stricken ferry". BBC News Online. 10 October 2008. Retrieved 27 January 2009.
- "Report on the investigation into the grounding, and subsequent loss, of the ro-ro cargo vessel Riverdance, Shell Flats – Cleveleys Beach, Lancashire 31 January 2008" (PDF). Marine Accident Investigation Branch. Retrieved 7 September 2009.
- "New role for Riverdance ferry". Blackpool Gazette. Retrieved 21 July 2008.
- Visit Cleveleys Story and photos.
- Fortunes de Mer Webpage dedicated to this casualty.
- Yahoo news report
- M/S Mashala in Swedish.
- BBC News Image gallery
- Exploring the wreck Photos and story
- Blackpool Gazette – rescue crews story
- Gallery[permanent dead link] Blackpool Gazette pictures
- BBC Lancashire Photos of stranded ship.
- Miramar Ship Index: Riverdance
- Blackpool Gazette Shipwreck feature.
- Blackpool Gazette Photo gallery.
- Ships Nostalgia thread about the Riverdnce
- Riverdance[permanent dead link], 17 April 2008.
- complete ship details