Debut for Isle of Man Steam Packet’s Latest Incat Ferry
The Isle of Man Steam Packet Company’s latest Incat fast ferry has arrived in her new home waters after completion of a major refit in the United Kingdom.
Allocated to the busy Douglas to Liverpool service, the Manannan is now the largest diesel-powered high speed craft on the Irish Sea with greater cruising speed and increased vehicle and passenger capacity than the vessel she replaces. Onboard facilities have been enhanced to include lounges, various bars and eateries, and pre-bookable executive seating which equal or better anything found on similar vessels operating around the British Isles.
Purchased by the Manx company in May 2008 the vessel sailed from Tasmania bound for Portsmouth, England in June of that year. On arrival in Portsmouth Burgess Marine, a company with a sound history of service support on Incat-built ferries, set about the extensive project which included the construction of a completely new aft accommodation block and a much enlarged sky lounge on the top deck, both of which have contributed to the vessel’s increased seating capacity of more than 800 passengers.
The 96 metre Wave Piercing Catamaran was built in Tasmania in 1998 as the Incat 050 and after a period of commercial service in Australia & New Zealand, was chartered to the US Military for evaluation purposes in 2001. Because of this use the vessel has significantly less hours of service than another of comparable age, and was ideally suited for the Steam Packet’s requirements and the substantial refit proposed to provide passengers with the best quality facilities.
Soon after arrival in the UK, the Steam Packet Company’s CEO Mark Woodward announced the vessel’s new name; Manannan, reflecting on the company’s desire to focus on its Manx heritage while sharing in the mystique of the God of the Sea and protector of the Isle of Man.
Given the comprehensive nature of the refit, the Manannan has been completely updated to ensure that she complies with the most up-to-date safety requirements. The wide-ranging refit has been particularly challenging and the project team has successfully implemented solutions to a number of technical issues. Recognising the challenges it faced during the course of the project, the Isle of Man Steam Packet has applied significant resource and relevant expertise to the refit to bring the vessel into service in time for the busy Manx TT Race season and summer period.
With the full support of Incat, over 90% of the materials used in the project had been loaded onboard in Hobart and travelled to Portsmouth with the vessel. The car deck, swiftly converted in to a workshop, suited prefabrication perfectly. As BVT Portsmouth delivered the portal steel deck supports and cross-tie sections Burgess Marine secured these in place and began the installation of the aft accommodation block in its prefabricated modules.
On 1st May 2009 the Manannan left Portsmouth for sea trials off the Isle of Wight. Having removed 45 tonne of weight in the form of the heavy duty tank loading ramp and helicopter landing pad, then added over 760 sq metres of passenger accommodation the vessel made her operational speed with ease. Shortly thereafter the conversion was completed both on time and within budget. The Manannan subsequently left Portsmouth for the Isle of Man where she will now proudly serve the Isle of Man Steam Packet Co as the flagship passenger vessel.
Mark Woodward confirms the Manannan is scheduled to enter service on the Douglas – Liverpool route on 22nd May. “Forward bookings for this year’s busy TT Race season are up on last year and with the Manannan’s extra capacity, the company will be able to accommodate extra last-minute bookings over the TT period,” he said.