The new recruit to the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company’s fleet set off this morning on her delivery voyage from Hobart to Portsmouth.

The purchase of the Incat 050 catamaran was finalised last month and she will replace Viking, primarily serving the Liverpool-Isle of Man route.

The first leg of her voyage will see her sail 1,794 nautical miles from Hobart, Tasmania, to Fremantle on Australia’s West Coast, where she is expected to dock on Monday afternoon, June 23.

Her journey will then take her from Fremantle to Colombo, Sri Lanka (3,413 miles) and on to Jeddah in Saudi Arabia (2,773 miles), where she is scheduled to arrive on July 5. The next leg will be from Jeddah to Port Said on the Suez Canal (768 miles), and from there to Valetta, Malta (960 miles).

The final stage will see her leave Valetta for Portsmouth (2,160 miles), where she is scheduled to arrive between July 13 and July 15.

In Portsmouth the vessel will go to the FSL Naval Dock Yard for a substantial refit, ahead of entering service in 2009.

A team from Isle of Man Steam Packet Company flew out to Hobart earlier this week to prepare for Incat 050’s 11,868-mile voyage.

Chief Executive Mark Woodward will be joining Incat 050 in Colombo and staying with her until Malta. He explained: “Planning the voyage to Portsmouth has been a major logistical exercise. The team involved has worked tirelessly to ensure as smooth a journey as possible.

“It’s an exciting acquisition for us and everyone at the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company is looking forward to seeing Incat 050 when she finally arrives in Manx waters in our new livery.”

Incat 050 was built in Tasmania in 1998 and served three years as a passenger and vehicle carrier in Australia and New Zealand, before being chartered to the US Military.

The 96-metre wave-piercing catamaran will be the largest vessel of its type in the Irish Sea, significantly enhancing the service the Company can offer due to its faster cruising speed, greater vehicle and passenger capacity, freight back-up capacity and increased levels of passenger comfort.