Order placed for new Isle of Man ferry

Purpose-built ship to be constructed in Korea

The Isle of Man Steam Packet Company has announced that an order for a new ferry has been signed with Hyundai Mipo Dockyard in Korea, one of the largest shipbuilders in the world. When the new ship arrives in 2023, it is expected that the current conventional ferry BEN-MY-CHREE will move to a backup role. The new ship will be slightly larger in terms of dimensions but will more passenger accommodation than BEN-MY-CHREE. Early renders suggest that passenger accommodation will be housed across three decks, with two of those decks stretching much of the length of the ship.

Construction of the new ferry is expected to begin in the middle of next year. While some of the design has already been agreed, there are still elements which need to be finalised. As well as having more passenger facilities, the new ship is also designed to be more manoeuvrable and efficient than the ship she replaces. The contract was signed at Hyundai Mipo Dockyard (HMD) in Ulsan earlier today following a week long visit to the facility by representatives of the Steam Packet. The order follows an international tender exercise which started last autumn with Hyundai Mipo winning the order against international competition.

An early rendering of the new Isle of Man Steam Packet ferry ordered from Hyundai in Korea. Isle of Man Steam Packet.

Isle of Man Steam Packet Company Chief Executive Mark Woodward said:

‘For some time we have been conducting detailed analysis as we develop plans for major investment in our fleet.

‘I am delighted to confirm that, following lengthy discussions with a leading shipyard in South Korea, we have confirmed specifications for the vessel and today signed a contract with Hyundai Mipo Dockyard.

‘This truly is an exciting time in our history and, in the year we marked our 190th anniversary, the new vessel will take the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company forward to our 200th anniversary and beyond.’

BEN-MY-CHREE seen in the River Mersey approaching Birkenhead, 09.02.19. Copyright © Das Boot 160 Photography.

Higher level of service

Mr Woodward continued:

‘The final specification and build programme is still in development but it is expected the new vessel will be slightly larger than the Ben-my-Chree in most respects but with considerably more passenger space. It is also intended to be more environmentally efficient and manoeuvrable in poor conditions.

‘Factoring in various technical and logistical considerations for a new vessel, and taking into account the recent public consultation exercise where possible, our aim for when we introduce the new addition is to ensure we provide an even higher level of service to the Island community and our customers.’

The new ship will not be the first ferry to be built at the Ulsan yard for Irish Sea service. Stena Line’s STENA ADVENTURER is a product of the same shipyard, as is CLdN’s CELINE and DELPHINE among others. This order does represent a return to passenger ferry building for the Northern European market for the famous Korean shipbuilder, however. In recent times the company has concentrated on tankers, cargo vessels, and large pure car and truck carriers (PCTC’s). The yard itself covers a vast area and has four separate building docks. Additionally, Hyundai Mipo also has a subsidiary yard in Viennam.

At present BEN-MY-CHREE and the catamaran MANANNAN are the main vessels on the Steam Packet’s routes, with the chartered Ro-Ro freight vessel ARROW providing additional capacity when required. The new ship will be the first entirely purpose-built ship acquired by the Steam Packet since the delivery of BEN-MY-CHREE in 1998. Previous statements by the company suggests the new ship will be around 140m long which is close to the limits of Heysham harbour. BEN-MY-CHREE is smaller than this at 125.2m long.