On Air Greatest Hits Simon Clarke | 6:30pm - 9:00pm

Extra vessels for the TT

The Steam Packet has signed up another freighter as cover for this year’s TT.

The 'Merchant Brilliant' will be on charter in practice week - from next Tuesday, May 27 until Saturday, May 31 - and also on Monday, June 9 to assist with returning fairground traffic.

Chief Executive Mark Woodward says the freighter will be surplus to requirements in terms of capacity, but will provide additional 'resilience' and improved service for freight customers.

She will also 'free up' additional vehicle deck space on the Ben-my-Chree for any late booking passengers who want to travel.

'Merchant Brilliant' was built in 1979 and has capacity for 1,200 lane metres of freight. She is chartered from Norfolk Line, but has recently been operating with P&O and is expected to return to the Belfast/Heysham service after the TT.

The 'Stena Caledonia' will also provide extra sailings over the two peak weekends of the festival, and 'P&O Express' will provide several sailings from Larne.

Built in 1981, 'Stena Caledonia' usually operates between Stranraer and Belfast. It will be her second time on an Isle of Man route, having been here for last year’s TT.

She will operate from May 31 to June 2, and from June 7 to 9, providing extra capacity primarily between Heysham and Douglas, although there will also be an extra Isle of Man-Belfast service.

'P&O Express' is a 91-metre Incat fast craft which was built in1998 and can carry up to 800 passengers and 200 vehicles. She normally operates from Larne to Cairnryan/Troon and this will be her third successive charter for the TT.

With its regular fleet of Ben-my-Chree, Viking and Snaefell all in service, the Steam Packet will have six vessels in operation during TT 2008, with around 300 sailings scheduled.

The company says bookings for 2008 are up 3% on this stage in 2006, and if the same number of bookings come through as two years ago, it would expect to carry 32,000 passengers and 10,000 motorcycles.

More from Isle of Man Business