8th December, 2011
The Ben My Chree sailed overnight on Wednesday 7th December and arrived Thursday morning with a full compliment of freight trailers. However there is still a substantial backlog of trailers awaiting shipment at Heysham and with gales gusting to Force 10 in the Irish sea today, Thursday 8th December, there is little prospect of shipping that freight until the weekend.
Mark Woodward, Chief Executive of the isle of Man Steam Packet made the following statement:
‘In response to calls for us to charter another vessel, we have looked at this possibility. However, given the current weather patterns, it is difficult to see how chartering another vessel, even if one was available, would help the situation. Any vessels that are suitable in terms of size for Douglas harbour are typically older freighters with limited manoeuvrability themselves.
‘However, of much more relevance is that they are simply not readily available for short-term charter.’
Mr Woodward said: ‘Thankfully, the Ben-my-Chree is a very large capacity vessel allowing us to quickly catch up with any freight requirements, so minimizing the potential for disruption.’
The Ben-my-Chree is set to go into dry dock next week for repairs on a bow thruster which was damaged earlier this year and as a result has exacerbated recent problems. Mr Woodward said: ‘A dry-docking date for the Ben-my-Chree has been reserved for December 16-18 in order to refit the second bow thrust unit. Provisional arrangements for the charter of a freighter to cover the dry-dock period have been made, and we are awaiting final confirmation.
‘Manannan is being readied and will be used to provide a passenger service with a single daily crossing to the UK, and will also be used to operate the Dublin sailing on December 17.
‘We will confirm final arrangements for dry-dock and freighter charter as soon as we can.’