‘We are suffering an unusually prolonged period of consistent gale and severe gale force winds at present. To make matters worse these winds have been from an unusual direction which makes berthing in Heysham more difficult.

‘The lack of a second bow thrust, in conjunction with these other factors, has contributed to the higher than usual level of cancellations we have been suffering. However, given the severity of the weather, it is clear that we would have lost some, but not all, of the sailings even if both bow thrust units had been functioning.

‘We have been working as hard as we can to put pressure on the bow thrust manufacturer, Wartsila, since the early summer. We have made clear to them by every means possible the need to urgently repair, rebuild and re-deliver the replacement bow thrust.

‘The fact that they have failed on two occasions to deliver the repaired unit as promised is explained by them as follows:

‘We are extremely sorry that the repair of the thruster has been delayed, and also the consequential problems your company has suffered.

‘The issue has already been escalated to the highest level in our company in Finland. The problems have arisen from supplies from subcontractors, who have lead time issues at the moment. Furthermore, the hub body had to be recast due to porosity in the casting.

‘This unfortunately, is the nature of the casting business sometimes.
I would like to reassure you that there is anything but a lack of urgency on our behalf.’

‘On a more positive note, and because of continued pressure from us, Wartsila has now indicated that the unit will be delivered on the 14th December.

‘A dry-docking date for the Ben-my-Chree has been reserved for the 16th, 17th and 18th December 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 the 17th December.

‘We will confirm final arrangements for dry-dock and freighter charter as soon as we can.’