The Isle of Man Steam Packet Company has paid tribute to three of its retired Masters, who passed away recently.

Collectively Captains Allan Bridson, John Kelly and Gwyn Peters served the Company for more than 100 years.

Chief Executive Mark Woodward said: ‘Everyone connected to the Company was very saddened to hear the news. We’ve lost three of the Company’s finest Masters in a long history of outstanding Masters and it’s difficult to come to terms with losing three Steam Packet stalwarts in such a short period of time.

‘Captains Bridson, Kelly and Peters served the Company with distinction, dedication and loyalty and were responsible for the safe carriage of many thousands of passengers and freight to and from the Island and throughout the Irish Sea.’

Douglas-born Captain Bridson began his 44-year Steam Packet career in 1956 as a seaman on the Company’s first Lady of Mann, working the summer season before heading abroad to work for a variety of maritime companies during the winter. It was during one of these trips, in 1957, that he saved the lives of two swimmers in New Zealand and was awarded the Royal Humane Society’s Testimonial on Vellum. Captain Bridson was promoted to 2nd mate in 1967 and Chief Officer in 1977, taking his first command, Peveril, in 1984. He went on to serve on every vessel operated during his time, the last being Ben-my-Chree. He retired in 2000, but remained involved with the seafaring community, most notably being instrumental in the establishment of the Merchant Marine Services Standard, which was dedicated earlier this year.

Captain Kelly, born in Liverpool, joined the Steam Packet as a 2nd mate in 1979 after three years with the Elder Dempster line, serving on the Apapa and Accra. He became a Chief Officer during 1988 and took his first command in 1999 as Master of SeaCat Isle of Man. Captain Kelly also served on Ben-my-Chree until his retirement in 2009, after 30 years’ service.

Captain Peters joined the Steam Packet Company in 1972 as a 2nd mate and, as a resident of Criccieth, North Wales, was the first company Master not to live in the Isle of Man. During his 30-year career with the Company, Captain Peters became Master of the Peveril in 1991 and served on other vessels, including being one of the first Masters of the current Ben-my-Chree.

Mr Woodward added: ‘Our Centenary book, published in 1930, stated that the most potent reason for the continued success of the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company is the fact that it has always insisted on having first class officers and ratings, and not least its Captains.
‘Captains Bridson, Kelly and Peters were all excellent shipmasters, navigators and seamen in their own right and proudly upheld that fine tradition throughout their long careers with the Company. They were all greatly admired and respected by colleagues ashore and afloat for the diligent and efficient manner in which they discharged their duties and responsibilities.

‘On behalf of the Company, I’d like to place on record our gratitude for their long service and extend our sincere and heartfelt condolences to their families at this difficult time.’