The Isle of Man Steam Packet Company is looking forward to commencing operations from the Isle of Man Government’s new terminal in Liverpool.
As the project nears completion, the Company is preparing to commence berth fit trials, and a programme of mooring trials, familiarisation and safety training.
The Isle of Man Government’s Department of Infrastructure is working towards having the first berth fit trials in early March, with IOMSPC’s Manannan set to be the first vessel to moor to the new linkspan.
This will allow DoI’s team, their contractors, plus crew and engineers from IOMSPC, to make sure that the berth is aligned properly and fit for purpose. It will also be an opportunity to test the Passenger Access System operates as expected.
Providing the berth fit goes to plan, the Company then expects to be in a position to undertake mooring trials and familiarisation towards the end of March. This is quite an intensive set of manoeuvres requiring vessels to be brought alongside at all states of tide and in different weather conditions to build a full picture for the Company’s risk assessments and safety management system.
Each Master will have to be familiarised with the new berth for each vessel expected to operate to the new Liverpool terminal.
Manannan is priority as it will be running from Liverpool at the end of March. There is a contingency plan for Manannan's first sailings to take place via the existing terminal at Pier Head.
Manxman is first expected to visit the new terminal for trials in April, provided everything runs to plan. The flagship’s first visit to the terminal in revenue operation is scheduled for November 2024.
Brian Thomson, Managing Director of the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company, commented: ‘We’re very excited about the prospect of improved passenger experience that the new terminal promises, but we also have to be realistic about timelines. Taking a ship, particularly a passenger vessel, to a new berth for the first time is an involved process, and as we always say, safety is our top priority.’
‘All being well, we are on schedule to commence operations from the new Isle of Man Government terminal in Spring 2024, but until the berth fit has taken place and we’ve started berth trials we won’t be in a position to commit to a firm date for the first sailing.’
Mr Thomson added, ‘This has been a bigger project than most people expected and a lot has changed since it started out. One thing that has changed is the commercial underpinnings. We’ve been working with the Department of Infrastructure to re-evaluate the heads of terms that were signed early on in the process. I’m pleased to report those talks are going well and we should be in a position to sign off on the lease shortly. This will allow us to get started on the works that we need to do within the terminal and around the facility to be ready to welcome passengers as soon as possible.’