Manx keel coin upholds ship-building tradition


An Isle of Man coin will fulfil a centuries-old tradition and sit underneath the Steam Packet Company’s new vessel, the Manxman, during its construction in South Korea next year.

A keel coin is regarded as a symbol of good fortune and is placed under the keel block to bless a ship while it’s built.

Treasury Minister David Ashford MHK and Bill Henderson MLC, Department Member with responsibility for coins and currency, welcomed Steam Packet chairman Lars Ugland to Government Offices last week to hand over a crown issued in 1979 to mark the Millennium of Tynwald, after being approached by the company and made aware of the tradition.

The coin, which depicts a ship, was chosen due to its reference to the Island’s strong maritime history. It will be taken to South Korea by Mr Ugland, when he visits the Hyundai Mipo Dockyard next year.

Minister Ashford said: ‘The Steam Packet’s long and proud history is continuing with the construction of the Manxman, which I’m sure will be a great asset for our Island community for many years to come.

‘Government’s investment in the company in 2018 was aimed at providing long-term stability to the Island’s lifeline ferry operations, and I’m extremely pleased to see this project moving forward.

‘The keel coin presented today will, I’m sure, play its part in supplying good fortune and helping the project go smoothly while fulfilling a strong ship-building tradition.’

Mr Ugland said: ‘It is an honour and great pleasure to receive this coin on behalf of the Steam Packet Company and I am delighted that the tradition of a keel coin is being continued.

‘The tradition is to have a Keel Coin Ceremony at the shipyard at an early stage of the vessel’s construction, often at the same time as keel laying takes place.  However, for the Manxman this will take place 24 December this year when there will be a Keel Laying Ceremony. It has not yet been decided when the keel coin will be fixed to the vessel’s bottom or mast.

He added: ‘The Manxman project got under way in earnest in August, when the first steel was cut. This element has now been completed ahead of the construction phase, which is due to take six months with the vessel scheduled to begin service in spring 2023.

‘This is a very exciting time for the company and we’re looking forward to keeping the Island community up-to-date with the progress of the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company’s new flagship ferry ahead of her coming into service.’

The steel cutting ceremony is a milestone occasion and cause for celebration which signifies that, after years of planning, the construction of Manxman is under way.

Mr Henderson concluded by adding he was delighted to be associated with the project in this way through the Treasury Banking and Finance Division and for the help from staff there in sourcing the coin.

For more information on the project, visit


Steam Packet chairman Lars Ugland receives the keel coin from Treasury Minister David Ashford MHK and Member of the Treasury with responsibility for coins and currency Bill Henderson MLC