Monday, April 7, 2014

Island RoRo Freight and Passenger Ferry Link to Cease for Repairs in June

Vessel to Have Long Standing Damage Rectified
Shipping News Feature

UK – Damage which occurred to the RoRo freight and passenger ferry Ben my Chree, which plies between the Isle of Man and the mainland will now not be repaired until a quiet period later in the summer according to its owners, the Steam Packet Company.

During the January gales the vessel, which with its 1235 lane metres and limited passenger carrying capacity is more appropriately described as RoPax rather than RoRo, had one of its two stabilising fins damaged and which subsequently had to be removed. Fincantieri, the fin manufacturer found that components had suffered significant levels of damage and retained it for repair, allowing the vessel to return to service without it.

The vessel will now be taken out of service between 19 and 21 June, a comparatively quiet period for the island, with school term time being between the beginning of June to the end of July and, more importantly for the island’s economy, after this year’s TT races which run from May 24 to June 6.

Missing a fin does not affect the vessel’s ability to sail or berth but can make things a little ‘uncomfortable’ for passengers, especially in heavy weather. A revised sailing schedule will operate over the three days the Ben my Chree is out of service with a spokesman quoted as saying:

“The Steam Packet Company is contacting any passengers affected on these [out of service] dates in the coming weeks and Manannan and Arrow will provide sailings to Heysham and Liverpool.”

The Steam Packet Company announced last month that it had already begun negotiations to extend the current User Agreement that it has with the Isle of Man Government which owns the vital linkspan and offers use of the facility to the ferry group under preferential terms, thus preserving the island link, whilst also agreeing to the company having the right to site its own linkspan. The current agreement ends in 2020 with an option to both parties to extend for a further six years.

Photo: The pier at Douglas circa 1930 by Cockney photographer Ted Groom courtesy of the IoM Steam Packet Co.