Isle of Man Steam Packet Company vessel Manannan had a different look on its sailing from Liverpool to Douglas today (Friday, 4th April) when she flew a United States of America flag to mark the retirement of Captain Thomas Shaw, who commanded the vessel during her time with the US Navy.

Captain Shaw officially retires in June after 27 years’ military service, and the Steam Packet Company agreed to recognise his service with Manannan – known as USS Joint Venture during his command – after being approached by Commander Robert Stover.

Commander Stover, Director of Engineering with the Afloat Training Group in San Diego, said: ‘The significance for Captain Shaw will be that the Steam Packet Company graciously took the effort to recognise his transition from the military service.

‘I would like to pass my personal best regards to everyone at the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company for allowing this to happen.’

Captain Shaw joined the US Navy in 1987 after graduating from university. He served in a variety of roles on several vessels, including USS Pluck, USS O'Brien and USS Reid, before becoming commanding officer on the US Special Operations Command High Speed Vessel Joint Venture – which became Manannan when it joined the Steam Packet Company fleet in 2009 - and Deputy Commander of the Expeditionary Strike Group Seven deployed to Japan.

During this tour he also served as Commander of the Port Clearance Group conducting harbour clearance and port opening operations following the devastating earthquake and tsunami in north eastern Japan in March 2011. Captain Shaw also participated in operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Philippines.

During his long career he was awarded the Legion of Merit, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, and various unit and campaign awards.

Commander Stover explained Captain Shaw’s retirement will be marked with a formal ceremony in June attended by family, friends and colleagues, and featuring a Navy band, guest speaker and a formation of Navy personnel.

Steam Packet Company Chief Executive Mark Woodward said: ‘Manannan has served the Isle of Man well since joining our fleet and we are extremely proud of her. When Commander Stover asked if it would be possible to recognise Captain Shaw’s time with the vessel in his retirement year, we were delighted to pay our tribute.

‘With so much history of our own, the Steam Packet Company was happy to agree to recognise the role Captain Shaw played in the history of Manannan. Everyone here at the Steam Packet Company wishes Captain Shaw all the best for his retirement.’