Isle of Man ferry expected to be absent from service for at least another week
The Isle of Man Steam Packet’s conventional ferry BEN-MY-CHREE is to dry dock on Tuesday it has been confirmed. The Ro-Pax ferry has been out of service since damaging a propeller entering Heysham harbour on Thursday. Due to the nature of the damage the vessel needs to be taken out of the water. Normally the Steam Packet would use Cammell-Laird at Birkenhead for dry docking, but with that yard and Harland & Wolff (Belfast) both busy, BEN-MY-CHREE has been booked into A&P Falmouth, Cornwall. The ship crossed from Heysham to Douglas last night at much reduced speed, reportedly to change crew and prepare for dry docking.
Steam Packet chief executive Mark Woodward said:
‘I would like to apologise to our passenger and freight customers who may experience some interruption to services as a result of this unscheduled dry-docking. Unfortunately, we have no other option in order to repair the Ben and avoid further disruption to schedules.
‘As soon as it became clear she had sustained damage when entering Heysham harbour, a team of engineers and divers inspected the vessel and we have worked quickly to secure a slot in dry dock so repairs can be carried out as soon as possible.
‘The measures we have put in place with Manannan and Arrow ensure we are able to maintain our passenger services and our ongoing commitment to transport essential food and goods to the Island community.
‘Service frequency and capacity remains well in excess of current demand levels and we will release further updates as information becomes available.’
Return to service for Arrow
BEN-MY-CHREE is expected to be in dry dock for at least a week. Depending on the outcome of further inspections once the vessel is out of the water, the ship may be off service for even longer. Until her return, ARROW has left warm layup at Larne to continue providing a link for freight between Douglas and Heysham. With strict travel restrictions still in place on the Isle of Man as a result of COVID-19 measures, passenger demand to the island is remains lower than normal for the time of year.
BEN-MY-CHREE is currently the Steam Packet’s only year-round vessel with seasonal passenger and vehicle services offered by the fast craft MANANNAN. At the end of July it was announced that a contract had been signed with Hyundai Mipo Dockyard in South Korea for a replacement vessel. When she arrives, BEN-MY-CHREE will become a backup vessel.