The 1945 Ben-my-Chree sailing to Heysham on Monday 23 May was forced to turn back to Douglas having been unable to berth at Heysham.
The Ben departed as scheduled on the back of a forecast for improving weather conditions later in the evening. The vessel waited outside Heysham until around midnight, however, the improved conditions did not materialise as forecast and the vessel was unable to berth. As a result the decision was taken to return to Douglas. The Ben arrived in Douglas at 0530.
The passengers were updated regularly by the crew and were provided with food and refreshments. The Sea Terminal was opened earlier than normal and Steam Packet Company staff were on hand for arrival to assist passengers with their travel arrangements.
Chief Executive Mark Woodward said, ‘We had been monitoring the unseasonal weather forecasts during the course of Monday to provide every possibility for a sailing to take place. At 1800 on Monday the forecast was for improving weather conditions later in the evening which would have enabled the Ben-my-Chree to berth at Heysham. We will always try to operate our scheduled sailings when we can, although on this occasion a rapidly changing weather system has conspired against us.
‘As passenger safety is our primary concern, the decision was taken to return to Douglas. The damage to the after bow thruster was not a factor in the decision to return to Douglas, as arrangements had been made for tug assistance. Had the actual weather experienced been forecast, the sailing would not have taken place. A vessel did enter Heysham following the decision to return the Ben to Douglas. This vessel sustained damage while berthing and is currently sitting on the Heysham berth used by the Ben. As a result we will be using an alternative berth today.
‘In order to assist passengers with their travel plans, the Sea Terminal was opened earlier than usual and Steam Packet Company staff were on hand to meet passengers as they arrived in Douglas. I would like to thank the passengers for their understanding and apologise for the inconvenience caused by the unseasonal weather we are currently experiencing. Our sailings on Tuesday will operate as scheduled.’