Delayed ship prepares for a Dublin Bay Christmas

Gibraltar-registered vessel has been in the bay since August due to ‘issues’ with cargo

Seafarers are used to spending Christmas at sea, but one ship’s complement in Irish waters will have a more unusual experience than most.

Some 13 crew on board the 129-metre tanker Iver Ability will be neither out of sight nor out of mind in Dublin Bay due to “issues” with unloading the ship’s cargo.

The red- and white-hulled vessel has already spent more than four months on the anchorage, apart from several brief forays into Dublin Port for supplies.

Illuminated at night, it has become a talking point for coastal walkers.


Managers of the Gibraltar-registered ship have confirmed that it was transferred on to the anchorage in August after it “experienced a reaction to its cargo of bitumen during cargo operations in the port”.

It is understood that a seal on its hatch ruptured while on berth in Dublin Port, and posed a potential safety hazard.

The ship’s owners say that the situation has “stabilised”, with “no further pressure release of the cargo occurring”, and that they have been conducting a “full investigation”.


Members of the ship’s crew, mainly Filipino with some of eastern European nationality, are constrained from being interviewed, according to International Transport Workers’ Federation inspector Mickey Whelan.

Mr Whelan, who visited the ship while it was taking on supplies on Thursday, said he was satisfied that there were no issues with pay and conditions, or with safety.

However, he understood there were “difficulties” in relation to unloading the cargo, which were preventing the ship from leaving.

He said that there had been a crew change, but that some personnel had been on board since August.

The full complement had been reduced from 17 to 13, and repairs had been effected.

The tanker temporarily berthed in Dublin Port during Storm Barbara this week, but was due to return to its anchorage in the bay as winds subsided.

Dublin Port said that a berth was available for the ship over the Christmas period if the owners chose to take it.

However, this would involve paying harbour dues, and with unresolved issues over cargo this could prove costly.

The port stops work on December 25th only, with normal duties resuming among its 154 staff on December 26th.

The ship’s owners said the vessel was “fully operational, with all seafarers performing normal duties and standard crew changes taking place.

“Discussions with charterers are ongoing on a port of discharge for the vessel’s cargo.”

Lorna Siggins

Lorna Siggins

Lorna Siggins is the former western and marine correspondent of The Irish Times