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New Isle of Man Ferry to be Powered by ‘Worlds Most Efficient Engine’

The Isle of Man Steam Packet has announced that its new purpose-built ferry MANXMAN will be powered by what Guinness World Records describe as the ‘world’s most efficient four-stroke diesel engine’. In addition, the ship will use a hybrid powertrain.

Finland-headquartered Wärtsilä has been selected to supply not only the main engines, but also the propulsion package for MANXMAN. This includes the transverse thrusters. Additionally, Wärtsilä will also supply the navigation system, bridge console, and ballast water treatment system. The package has been described as a “a state-of-the-art bridge to propeller solution”.

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

Four Main Engines

While full details of MANXMAN’s propulsion package have not yet been released, a total of four Wärtsilä 31 common-rail fuel-injected diesel engines will be used. Two of these will be 8-cylinder, while the other pair will be larger 10-cylinder versions. Waste heat recovery and energy storage batteries will also be incorporated into the vessels design.

Wärtsilä 31 engine. Image: Wärtsilä.
Wärtsilä 31 engine. Image: Wärtsilä.

Molslijnen’s recent 158 metre long new-build HAMMERSHUS is also powered by 8-cylinder Wärtsilä 31 engines. Viking Line’s newest cruise-ferry VIKING GLORY is the first ship in the world to be fitted with the dual-fuel version of the Wärtsilä 31.

Greater Efficiency and Lower Emissions

Commenting on the announcement, Isle of Man Steam Packet Company Chief Executive Mark Woodward said:

‘This is a major investment in our fleet and the ultimate aim for when we introduce the new addition is to provide an even higher level of service to the Island community and our customers. Alongside our drive for greater efficiency and lower emissions levels, there is also an ever-increasing focus on the environmental aspects of marine transportation so we were naturally keen to select an engine that can deliver sustainable operations.

‘We’ll continue to work closely with Wartsila design engineers and the ship builder HMD and look forward to seeing this come to fruition after many months of planning.’


Jim Royston, Fleet Operations and Project Manager at IOMSPC said;

“We have selected Wärtsilä as their solution brings notable advantages in terms of system integration and operational optimisation. It will also have the flexibility to take advantage of alternative future fuels as they become available. Wärtsilä has the experience to deliver a state-of-the-art bridge to propeller solution, along with the track-record needed for this complex newbuild project,”


Future Proof

According to Karl Hinks, Sales Manager, Wärtsilä Marine Power:

“The Hybrid solution, combining highly efficient engines and energy storage, is increasingly being seen as a practical means for meeting today’s environmental and operating challenges. This solution lowers emission levels and extends the time between engine overhauls, and is an effective future-proof model for ship owners,”


MANXMAN is expected to be delivered in-time for Spring 2023 and will replace BEN-MY-CHREE as the Steam Packet’s main vessel. Specifically designed for the Douglas – Heysham route, MANXMAN will be constructed by Hyundai Mipo Dockyard in Korea. The shipyard will also be responsible for the design of the vessel alongside UK-based Houlder and the Steam Packet.

The Isle of Man Steam Packet Company RoPax BEN-MY-CHREE. Isle of Man Steam Packet.
The Isle of Man Steam Packet Company RoPax BEN-MY-CHREE. Isle of Man Steam Packet.

The South Korean shipbuilder has also signed a Letter of Intent (LOI) for two new rail-enabled Ro-Pax ferries for KiwiRail’s Interislander service.

Although most specifications of the new ship have yet to be revealed, Wärtsilä’s press release reveals that MANXNMAN will be 132 metres long. Previous indications were that the ship could be a Heysham-Max 142m, somewhat longer than the BEN-MY-CHREE’s 125m. This may avoid the need to upgrade the King Edward VIII Pier berth at Douglas which is used by the Roll On Roll Off ships on the Manx service.

Update: After going to press, the author was reminded by a contributor via the site contact form that the max length for turning within Douglas harbour is 135m. This could explain why the length of the new vessel appears to be 132m rather than 142m.

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