manannanThe Isle of Man Steam Packet Company has named its new vessel following a naming competition launched by the Chief Executive on his blog.

The new vessel will be called Manannan, reflecting the Company’s desire to focus on its Manx heritage and share in the mystique of Manannan, the Celtic God of the Sea and protector of the Isle of Man.

According to mythology and folklore Manannan had magical powers. His palace was on the summit of South Barrule in the Isle of Man, surrounded by mists he could create at will to shroud the Island in a protective cloak. It is said the Manx people would pay Manannan a rent of rushes for their land and he would use them to build a model boat and set it sailing on the water. His enemies would believe they could see a fleet of a hundred great wooden ships.

The Isle of Man Steam Packet Company’s Manannan is currently undergoing a substantial refit and refurbishment which will see her benefit from a bespoke vehicle ramp, and an entirely new internal passenger layout.

Manannan, a 96-metre catamaran, was purchased in Tasmania and undertook a month-long 11,868 mile trip to Britain in July. She is set to enter service next year and will replace Viking on the Liverpool/Douglas sailings. She will be the largest vessel of her type in the Irish Sea, significantly enhancing the Company’s service due to a faster cruising speed, greater vehicle, passenger and freight back-up capacity and increased levels of passenger comfort.

manannanChief Executive Mark Woodward said: “We felt that the winning suggestion for the name epitomises the status of the new vessel within our fleet. Manannan, while not a traditional Steam Packet name, is nevertheless clearly identifiable with the Isle of Man and reinforces the vital lifeline relationship between the company and the Island.  This is a major step forward for us and a significant investment for the future. Everyone at the Company is looking forward to seeing Manannan when she finally arrives in Manx waters in her new livery.”

The Company has been trying to contact the winner of the naming competition and would be delighted if Alison could contact them and claim her prize of £1,000 worth of Steam Packet Company travel.

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

However, while the new vessel ferried holiday-makers and soldiers down under, Viking has completed 3,000 sailings and carried more than 1 million passengers to and from the Island in her seven years service with the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company.

Built by Fincantieri in Italy at a cost of £18 million, Viking covered more than 200,000 miles sailing back and forth across the Irish Sea.

manannanMr Woodward said: 'Viking has been a fantastic servant to both the travelling public and the Company. Despite having the lowest wave tolerance of our vessels she has still averaged over 97% reliability over recent years.'