Isle of Man Steam Packet Company’s Latest Incat Ferry
The Isle of Man Steam Packet Company’s latest Incat fast ferry has completed her first Manx TT Race period, ferrying thousands of passengers and their bikes to and from the island during race festival.
During the TT period, the Steam Packet Company carried over 9,900 motorcycles, 4,000 cars/vans and 30,000 passengers, in each direction with its two fast craft and conventional ferry. The arrival of the Manannan and the extra capacity she brings has enabled the Company to meet demand at TT without the need to charter additional vessels.
Allocated to the busy Douglas to Liverpool service, the Manannan is the largest diesel-powered high speed craft on the Irish Sea with greater cruising speed and increased vehicle and passenger capacity than the vessel she replaces.
Isle of Man Steam Packet Company Chief Executive, Mark Woodward, said, “Based on the feedback that has been received, our expectations for the Manannan have been justified. Our £20 million investment in the Manannan is a clear demonstration of our commitment to providing the Isle of Man with a high quality fast craft service.”
To further showcase their new craft, and with her busy TT schedule complete, the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company held an open evening on board on 23rd June. A round-the-Island trip on the Manannan is scheduled to take place on Tuesday 30th June. The trip will include a buffet and offer a highly enjoyable way to take in the Isle of Man’s beautiful coastline.
The 96 metre Wave Piercing Catamaran was built by Incat in Tasmania in 1998 as the Incat 050 and after a period of commercial service in Australia & New Zealand was chartered to the US Military for evaluation purposes in 2001. Because of this use the vessel has significantly less hours of service than another of comparable age, and was ideally suited for the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company’s requirements.
Purchased by the Manx company in May 2008 the vessel sailed from Tasmania bound for Portsmouth, England in June of that year. Having completed the 11,868 miles voyage from Hobart to Portsmouth in 27 days, she then was placed into the care of Burgess Marine, a company with a sound history of service support on Incat-built ferries. They immediately began an extensive refit project, to extend the seating capacity of the former military vessel from 320 to over 800 passengers, involving the construction of a completely new aft accommodation block where a helicopter flight deck was previously installed, and a much enlarged Sky Lounge on the top deck.
Burgess Marine immediately set about putting together the best team to manage such a challenging conversion. Their long standing partnership with BVT Portsmouth ensured that the very best dock-yard facilities were made available to the project. Shortly thereafter marine outfitters Trimline joined the project team to handle the interior fit out of the vessel. With this in place, works began in earnest.
The project had five main phases:
1. The strip out of the existing interior, ensuring that as many materials as possible were removed in a controlled fashion, thus allowing them to be reused in the conversion project.
2. The removal of the existing small 32 passenger sky lounge on tier three, and the replacement with a considerably larger, three class, 160 passenger capacity sky lounge, to include the addition of an internal passenger lift.
3. Transom modifications including a passenger lift from the vehicle deck, new stern quarter bulwarks, a substantial loading ramp to allow the Manannan to carry heavy freight traffic in addition to cars and light vans should the need arise, and the removal and ‘making good’ of a central slipway utilised to launch Special Forces RIB’s at high speed.
4. A new aft accommodation module adjoining the existing tier two passenger accommodation aft of frame 17. This module needed to accommodate approximately 300 passengers in a spacious ‘airy’ environment, with both bar and basic galley facilities, whilst seamlessly integrating with the rest of the vessel.
5. The final phase of the project was the interior fit out. The conversion project would increase the passenger capacity by approximately 125%, or 760 square metres. This new interior needed to accommodate 820 passengers, of 3 differing classes, with superior facilities throughout.
Challenges to Overcome.
The strip-out progressed well with no major problems. However, phase 2 presented one immediate challenge. Hart Fenton, the owners’ representative and naval architect, confirmed that every transverse and longitudinal roof beam from frame 17 to frame 36 on tier two needed to be cut out and replaced primarily due to the increased loadings from the enlarged tier 3 Sky Lounge.
This presented two major problems, the first being the weather. The conversion was taking place alongside and not in an enclosed dock; hence, the vessel would be fully exposed to the elements for many weeks. The second issue being time; removing and replacing these 18 beams added approximately 1920 man hours to conversion, roughly 160 man days.
The latter proved of no concern as the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company’s requirement for delivery was simply pre the Isle of Man TT race at the end of May 2009, the former however proved a major problem. As summer moved in to autumn substantial rain and extreme cold snaps prevailed on a regular basis; post completion Burgess Marine estimate that the beam replacement exercise and poor weather conditions contributed to approximately eight weeks slippage with regards to the original project plan.
Nicholas Warren, Managing Director of Burgess Marine comments: “Working alongside rather than in an enclosed dock always presents problems on a conversion of this scale. Unlike our Mediterranean refits, Portsmouth isn’t renowned for its good weather. Whilst we had an expansive provision for working in poor weather conditions we certainly didn’t expect weeks of subzero temperatures, snow and ice.”
With the foundations in place phase 3 moved forward swiftly. The newly created Sky Lounge equated to 278 square metres of premium passenger space.
Structurally the only problem encountered was the interface with the ships electrical room which is obviously the vessel’s nerve centre. This room, mounted below the bridge, had sat positioned aft of the original Sky Lounge. The new design fully enclosed the electrical room, in an ‘island’ like fashion, within the new tier three sky lounge.
Now surrounded by passenger space on all four sides the electrical room not only had to be A60 clad and protected, Burgess Marine had to carry out a very time consuming structural interface to ensure that a) none of the ship’s key components or systems were disturbed, and b) the interface was strong enough to support the appropriate loads and weather extremities.
With the Sky Lounge in place work moved aft. Fabrication teams had since the arrival of the Manannan utilised 1/3 of the car deck for the fabrication of the structural jigsaw that would make up the new aft accommodation module.
With the full support of Incat over 90% of the materials used in the project had been loaded onboard in Hobart and travelled to Portsmouth with the vessel. The car deck, swiftly converted in to a workshop, suited prefabrication perfectly. As BVT Portsmouth delivered the portal steel deck supports and cross-tie sections Burgess Marine secured these in place and began the installation of the aft accommodation block in its prefabricated modules.
This vast section of the vessel, some 400 square metres in size sits on flexible mounts aft of frame 17. The aft accommodation module consumed 6000 man hours of prefabrication and construction time.
With the aft accommodation module (phase 4) underway Burgess Marine fully utilised BVT Portsmouth’s workshop facilities to begin fabrication of the loading ramp. For a three month period work continued simultaneously on the Sky Lounge, aft accommodation module and transom. As Burgess Marine moved through the vessel from bow to stern Trimline followed closely behind.
Having dry-docked the vessel in October 2008 to satisfy both class and the clients’ overhaul requirements Burgess Marine ensured that the Special Forces slipway had been removed and the transom returned to its original design.
Successful Completion of the Manannan
By March 2009 the ramp and remaining transom modifications were completed. The Sky Lounge was mid fit-out and the aft accommodation module was following closely behind.
Trimline designed and specified all the major internal compartments, including fabrics and colour schemes. The new interior featured new air-conditioning throughout, two hi-spec TV audio lounges, two bars and galleys, over 820 seats split across 3 different passenger classes, a new interior disabled lift between tier two and three, and a new main passenger lift from the tier one car deck to the aft accommodation module on tier two.
Trimline’s Sales & Marketing Director Mike Oliver commented, “Working with Burgess Marine has meant that the best fast craft aluminium fabricators created superb spaces that Trimline could capitalise on with their fit out expertise. Proof that major fast craft conversions can be carried out to the highest standards in Europe.”
On Friday 1st May the Manannan left BVT Portsmouth for sea trials off the Isle of Wight. Having removed 45 tonne of weight in the form of the heavy duty tank loading ramp and helicopter landing pad, then added over 760 square metres of passenger accommodation the Incat-built vessel made her operational speed with ease. Shortly thereafter the conversion was completed both on time and within budget. The Manannan subsequently left Portsmouth for the Isle of Man, arriving there on 11th May to a warm welcome from islanders and visitors alike.
Following successful completion of local trials at the Isle of Man’s Steam Packet Company’s ports, the Manannan, proudly flying the Manx flag and registered at Douglas – the first high speed craft to do so – entered passenger service between Douglas and Liverpool on Friday 22nd May.
Stylish Interior for Discerning Manx Residents
The Manannan has been successfully transformed from a utilitarian and functional vessel for fast and efficient movement of troops and equipment to a stylish and well-appointment passenger/vehicle ferry and flagship of the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company fleet.
On board, the forward lounge has been fitted out with 138 new black and gold aircraft type seats in a lounge offering views out over the ship’s fore deck. New carpet is complemented by Amtico flooring in heavy traffic areas.
Moving aft, the port and starboard lounges provide a total of 204 seats under a new a new deckhead and bespoke carpeting underfoot. Connecting these lounges is a galley circular cross passageway, passage lobby and galley servery. The Coast-to-Coast cafe offers a much wider selection of food options than previously available on other Steam Packet Company fast craft.
A passenger lobby provides an attractive thoroughfare and includes lounge settees. At the rear of these passenger facilities is a new shop complete with new storeroom beneath the stairs.
This central hub of passenger entertainment and facilities also includes two TV lounges with 47 club class seats, each either side of the central passageway. Between the two lounges, female, male and disabled toilets feature granite worktops and Macassar Ebony cubicles with sanitary ware and tiled flooring. In addition, crew facilities and the rest room include lounge seating and a dining table, while a shower, wash basin and toilet have been installed in an adjoining area.
At the aft end of the ship is the new lounge area, accommodating 230 seats and tables. The spacious Blue Point café bar, with its stylish granite worktops, serves both drinks and cold food. An area for informal relaxation, the lounge and bar comprise some 400 square metres and represent the major addition to the ship’s facilities.
Moving up one deck, the Sky Lounge offers a range of pre-bookable seating including the Niarbyl Reserved Lounge, the Manannan Premium Lounge and the Manannan Executive Club which equal or better anything found on similar vessels operating around the British Isles. The Club features 40 luxury leather reclining seats, sofas and side tables and is situated at the forward end of the Sky Lounge, offering breathtaking sea views, and may be accessed via a passenger lift from the deck below. The port side Premium Lounge, which also benefits from steward service from the pantry, has similar seating and tables. The starboard side lounge includes a bookable seating area with 86 club class seats. Both areas are served by exclusive toilets.
Mark Woodward believes the introduction of the Manannan benefits not just the Steam Packet but just as importantly the Island. “It says to the outside world that the Isle of Man is open for business and has a high quality lifeline transport infrastructure necessary to support its offshore finance centre status,” he says.
Built: 1998, Incat Tasmania Pty Ltd, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia.
Length overall: 96 metres
Length waterline: 86 metres
Beam: 26 metres
Beam of hulls: 4.5 metres
Draft: 4.0 metres (Max)
Passengers and crew: 850
Main engines: 4 x Caterpillar 3618 marine diesel engines.
Propulsion power: 28,800 KW Total Power @ 1050 RPM.
Water Jets: 4 x 150D Wärtsilä LIPS, steering and reversing.