First Royal ship christening in the Mersey since 1960

The first Royal christening of a ship on the Mersey since 1960 will take place at the Pier Head next week in the city’s latest maritime spectacular.

The Princess Royal will christen the new Atlantic Container Line (ACL) vessel Atlantic Sea at the city’s Cruise Terminal on October 20.

And later that day the ship – which proudly boasts the name Liverpool on its stern – will sail out to sea to a massive fireworks display on the waterfront.

It’s rare to see a container ship at the Pier Head and this ship will dominate the waterfront as much as any cruise liner.

ACL says this will be the first Royal christening of a ship on the Mersey in Liverpool since Princess Alexandra launched the HMS Devonshire in 1960.

The Atlantic Sea is one of five new container vessels that will double ACL’s capacity to carry containers from the UK and Europe across the Atlantic. ACL says the Container Roll-On/Roll-Off ships are the world’s largest and most advanced vessels of their kind in the world

At least four of the ships will fly the UK’s Red Ensign and will have Liverpool as their home port. Each ship can carry 3,800 containers.

ACL was founded in 1967 and been investing here since 1969. It has just finished building its new European head office in the city and has doubled its workforce in the city over the last three years.

ACL’s UK managing director, Ian Higby, said he was excited to welcome Princess Anne to the city.

He said: “This is an opportunity to champion Liverpool as a port city of the future and for ACL to thank Merseyside for all its support since the 1960s.

“We are committed to the Port of Liverpool where we have operated two transatlantic vessel calls per week since 1969.

“We have constructed our brand new office building on Duke Street, which is the first shipping line headquarters built in the city since 1924.

“In addition, ACL is investing in local people and we have doubled our workforce in the last three years to 168, including six apprentices.

“Liverpool people and the city know and understand the maritime business. It is in our DNA.

“It is also fantastic to see Liverpool on the stern of the ship as its home port. Few ships have carried the city’s famous name in recent years and it is good to see it back where it belongs.”

What’s happening and when?

Princess Anne will christen the Atlantic Sea at midday on Thursday, October 20. Viewing will be available along Princes Parade and the Pier Head.

Later in the day, the ship will move into the Mersey for a firework display at around 6.30pm. She will then sail out to sea.

What is Atlantic Container Line?

ACL was founded in 1967 to bring together the container shipping operations of five major shipping lines, including Cunard.

In 1969 Liverpool was chosen as a main port in ACL’s Atlantic schedule and it has remained so ever since.

In May 1982 an ACL vessel, the Atlantic Conveyor, was sunk during the Falklands War with a loss of 12 crewmen.

Six Cunard seamen, including Captain Ian North, died when the ship, which had been requisitioned by the Royal Navy, was struck by two Exocet missiles. Six Royal Navy personnel also perished. A memorial to their sacrifice stands at Liverpool Parish Church.

Today ACL is one of the biggest operators at the Port of Liverpool in Seaforth. Peel Ports even widened the entrance to the basin at Seaforth Dock so its new vessels, including the Atlantic Sea, could fit through the lock.

Press release courtesy of Liverpool Echo

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