Isle of Man Steam Packet Company vessel Ben-my-Chree will resume scheduled services tomorrow (31st December) following the successful completion of repairs to the ship’s steering gear.

She will recommence her scheduled services with the 08.45 sailing from Douglas to Heysham tomorrow.

The Steam Packet Company brought in specialist engineers from Rolls Royce to assist with repairs to a fault which had meant, on safety grounds, the vessel was unable to sail since Saturday morning.

The technical issue led to the cancellation of the weekend’s Birkenhead and Dublin services. By Saturday evening MV Arrow had taken over Ben-my-Chree’s freight role and on Sunday Manannan had been brought out of dry dock in Liverpool, where she was undergoing her annual winter overhaul, to provide passenger services.

Sailings between Douglas and Heysham continued on a revised schedule until Ben-my-Chree was repaired.

Steam Packet Company Chief Executive Mark Woodward said: ‘It was extremely regrettable for Ben-my-Chree to suffer a mechanical failure at such a busy time and I would like to apologise once again to all our passengers inconvenienced by the disruption to services.

‘We have carried out the repairs as quickly as we could and made every effort to ensure freight transport was not impacted and that passenger services were maintained.

‘I’d like to thank everyone involved in making the vessels available so quickly and at such short notice, which allowed us to ensure continuity of service. I would also like to thank the call centre staff and the many volunteers from other parts of the business who worked into the evening on Saturday and from 6am on Sunday to try and help passengers make alternative travel arrangements.

‘We appreciate some passengers experienced difficulties getting through to our reservations agents, and understand their frustrations. However, more than 2,500 passengers were affected by the weekend cancellations and our operators worked flat out to try and cope with the volume of calls while staff also assisted people who had attended the Sea Terminal.

‘Ensuring every passenger is looked after takes time, and with so many people to help, including many more who had to be informed about changes to the sailing schedules for Monday and Tuesday, I think my colleagues did the best that could be done with limited resources and in difficult circumstances.’