Seacat Isle of Man / Snaefell (InCat 026)
Currently named MASTER JET.
The 2nd of Hoverspeed’s 5 74m “Seacat” car carrying catamarans was built by International Catamarans (InCat) in Australia and launched as Hoverspeed France on April 28th 1990. Despite being hull number 26, she was launched some months before hull 23 (Seacat France, later Seacat Tasmania), but 3 months after hull 25 (Hoverspeed Great Britain). All 5 of these vessels where built to the same “Mark 1” design and specification, with a further 4 built afterwards for other operators to modified specifications. 4 out of the 5 original 74m long Seacat’s would operate from Belfast over the years, with the only craft never to operate from the port being that launched as Seacat Tasmania.
InCat 026, in common with the other original Hoverspeed ‘SeaCat’s’ was well-travelled over the years. While initially she operated on Hoverspeed’s own English Channel services from July 1991, she was chartered out to Sardinia Express (and renamed Sardegna Express) the following June. However, that charter was short lived due to problems with her new operator paying the charter fee, and InCat 026 had returned to England by December 1992.
1993 saw another change of name, this time to Seacat Boulogne. Despite what her name might suggest, Seacat Boulogne operated both the Dover-Calais and Folkestone-Boulogne routes. In June 1994 Seacat Boulogne was chartered to the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company (which at the time was partially owned by Sea Containers, the parent company of Hoverspeed) and renamed Seacat Isle of Man. From June to September 1994 Seacat Isle of Man operated from Douglas to Liverpool, Fleetwood, Belfast, and Dublin. At the end of September, Sea Containers Ferries (Scotland) chartered Seacat Isle of Man to operate between Belfast and Stranraer, which she did until the following January.
Having been laid up for a few months, Channel Islands operator Condor Ferries chartered Seacat Isle of Man to operate from Weymouth to the Channel Islands from March 1995. During this charter Seacat Isle of Man retained her name and most of her Isle of Man Steam Packet livery. Once the Channel Islands charter ended at the end of May Seacat Isle of Man returned to the Isle of Man to again run from Douglas to Liverpool, Fleetwood, Belfast, and Dublin. Again the charter ran until the end of September, but a freak wave encountered on the 27th of September caused twisting of the outer bow door and structural damage to the bow of the vessel (though it is important to note that the inner watertight door remained intact). This meant the vessel was withdrawn and sent for repairs at Cammell Laird after which she was laid up at Liverpool. During October 1995 the Isle of Man Steam Packet announced that Seacat Isle of Man would not operate from Douglas the following year.
In January 1996 Seacat Isle of Man returned to the Dover-Calais service, retaining her Steam Packet name. However, during April she was chartered to ColorSeacat KS of Norway to operate between Langesund in Norway to Fredrikshavn in Denmark. Before entering service she was sent to the Cityverken shipyard in Gothenburg in order to be made more suitable for her new service and to receive a new livery. During this process InCat 026 was renamed Color Seacat Norge. From the first of May to 30th September, Color Seacat Norge operated between Norway and Denmark, before returning to the UK for lay-up at Newhaven. This lay-up was short-lived, as Color Seacat Norge had a brief period of service between Belfast and Stranraer in November, before moving back to Dover and taking up services to Calais until the end of the year.
InCat 026 was again renamed in February 1997, this time adopting Seacat Isle of Man again. However before returning to the Isle of Man she had another period of service from Dover to Calais between March and mid-May. She then made her way to Douglas to resume services from the Isle of Man until late September 1997. Following another lay-up in Liverpool, Seacat Isle of Man again returned to the Dover to Calais service from December 1997 until May 1998. From May 21st 1998 until October 2005 Seacat Isle of Man stayed with the Isle of Man Steam packet, operating services from Douglas to Liverpool, Belfast, and Dublin throughout that period (excluding seasonal lay up periods).
April 2005 saw a new route, operator, and name for Seacat Isle of Man. A new operator by the name of Sea Express chartered her for a new service between Liverpool and Dublin under the name Sea Express 1. However this new service was short-lived and by September Sea Express 1 had been laid up again. The Isle of Man Steam packet used Sea Express 1 for their own services again in 2006, though notably not between April and September.
During February 2007 Sea Express 1 was involved in a collision with the bulk carrier Alaska Rainbow when attempting to berth in Liverpool, meaning she had to be towed across the river Mersey to Birkenhead for repairs. However she resumed services from the Isle of Man once repairs had been completed. During December 2007 Sea Express 1 was again renamed, receiving the Manx name Snaefell.
Snaefell continued in service with the Steam Packet until October 2010 when she was again laid up in Liverpool. This would be her last lay-up in Liverpool though, as in January the Isle of Man Steam Packet announced that Snaefell was no longer a part of the operational fleet and was to be offered for sale. In June 2011 Snaefell was chartered to Sea Jets for operating services in Greece. Following lay-up periods in Drapetsona and Ambelakia, Snaefell was towed to Valetta in Malta at the end of January 2012. During 2012 Snaefell was purchased outright and at the start of May was towed from Valetta to the Greek port of Keratsini having been renamed MASTER JET. From July that year onwards MASTER JET operated various on routes in Greece. However, in recent years she has been detained a number of times having failed inspections by the maritime authorities. On the 18th May 2017, MASTER JET started service between the Azores, operating for publicly owned Atlânticoline.
|InCat Tasmania Pty Ltd., Hobart, Tasmania|
Launched 28th April 1990
Delivered April 1991
Owner (in NI Service)
|Operator (in NI Service)|
Sea Containers Ferries (Scotland) / Isle of Man Steam Packet Company
|Det Norske Veritas – DNV +1A1 HSLC R1 Car Ferry “A” EO NAUT B|
|In service (original)||1/7/1991 Dover – Calais|
Call sign (in UK service)
Design – Two slender, aluminum hulls connected by two main bridging beams and intermediate transverse sections with centre bow structure at fwd end.
Subdivision – Each hull is divided into vented watertight compartments divided by transverse bulkheads. One compartments in each hull prepared as short- range fuel tanks and one as a long-range fuel tank.
Fabrication – Welded aluminium construction using longitudinal stiffeners supported by transverse web frames and bulkheads.
Main Engines – 4 x resiliently mounted Ruston 16RK270 marine diesel engines at 4050 kW each.
Water Jets – 4 x Lips LJ115DX. Two waterjets configured for steering and reverse.
Transmission – direct drive.
Ride Control – A ‘Maritime Dynamics’ active ride control system is fitted to maximise passenger comfort. The system combines active trim tabs aft and optional T-foil with active fins located at the forward end of each hull.
Alternator – 4 x Caterpillar 3306 142kw (nominal) marine, brushless, self- excited alternators
|450 passengers and 84 cars.|
Bow door/visor and stern doors leading directly onto the car deck
|Flag (whilst serving NI)|| Bahamas (Nassau) 1991-1996|
UK (Newhaven) 1996-2008
UK (Liverpool) 2008-2011