As a result of heavy fog in the Mersey, the Liverpool Port Authorities closed the river to shipping today in the interests of passenger and ship safety. It was anticipated that the fog would clear during the course of the morning and would enable the Ben-my-Chree to complete the sailing to Birkenhead.

At 11.00 this morning it was confirmed that the river would not open to shipping for some considerable time and, as a result, the Ben-my-Chree diverted to Heysham where she berthed at 13.15 in poor, but manageable, visibility. There had been the possibility that the ship would not be able to berth in Heysham either.

Foot passengers are being transferred by coach from Heysham to both Liverpool and Birkenhead.

Passengers were alerted to the possibility of delays to the Birkenhead service yesterday by text message and via announcements to the media and on the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company website and sailing information line. However, the unpredictable weather conditions and the closure of the river resulted in the ship diverting to Heysham to enable passengers to complete their journey to the UK.

The return sailing from Heysham is scheduled to depart at around 16.30 with an estimated arrival time in Douglas of 20.15. Foot passengers are being transferred from Liverpool and Birkenhead to Heysham by coach.

Updated sailing information is available on this website.

Mark Woodward, Chief Executive of the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company, said: “It is frustrating for everyone when weather conditions turn out to be worse than expected. However, passenger safety has to be our main priority and with deteriorating visibility causing the closure of the Mersey, we took the option to transfer to Heysham which was experiencing changeable but less severe fog. This enabled passengers to complete journeys to the UK and the Isle of Man.”