The sight of Sea Hunter leaving the Tyne for a coast hugging voyage to Barrow in Furness on the opposite side of the UK is a reminder of the work that naval shipbuilding has brought to coastal traffic.
Which, in recent years has seen large sections of the aircraft carriers being assembled at Rosyth brought from the disparate UK yards that have manufactured them.
The Sea Hunter 2,443,’90 voyage may be a variant of this business, taking engineering sections loaded from the former Swans yard on the Tyne to Barrow where a large new covered facility is taking shape there that will be tasked with constructing the new series of nuclear missile subs should the government give the Trident replacement programme the go ahead. As I write, the well travelled Sea Hunter, managed by Gillie and Blair, is around Lands End heading for Waterford.
If this navy linked traffic is an example of the massive injection of government (i.e. public) money helping to keep the economy turning, then the little Scottish freighter Burhou I is another. A diversion from her usual timber tramping often from Argyll to Workington, found her recently making upto 16 short voyages from Furnace on Loch Fyne to Arran, bringing rock armour to help the expansion of the Brodick ferry terminal. Furnace quarry uses the site and quay of a charcoal fuelled iron furnace built by Cumbrian and Lancashire iron masters (from near Barrow in Furness!) in the mid 1700s when their own sources of charcoal were running out.
Also usually involved in the timber trade, the bow ramp landing craft type freighter Red Princess followed up her recent stint as emergency car ferry (see last month’s Ferry World) with a contract to shuttle the required pre cast sections for the Brodick terminal from Larne. She is a handy craft to have around on the West Coast of Scotland and a worthy import after her initial career as a ferry in Greece where she was built.