The Ben-my-Chree will be out of service until New Year’s Eve at the earliest.
However, misery for stranded passengers travelling to and from the Island may not be as bad as first feared.
The Steam Packet has announced the fast craft Manannan will arrive back in Douglas tomorrow afternoon (Sunday) to cover many of the scheduled Heysham sailings.
A revised timetable has now been issued (details below:).
After this morning’s sailing was cancelled due to an issue with the Ben’s steering gear, Steam Packet engineers have carried out tests and found the fault lies within the vessel’s hydraulic actuator.
Although a new unit will be transported to the Island as soon as possible, Steam Packet bosses say it will take up to 36 hours to repair, providing the equipment manufacturer can offer support and technicians.
Tonight’s Dublin (Saturday) return sailing has been cancelled, along with all Ben-my-Chree sailings over the next few days.
Manannan will now operate a 6.30pm sailing from Douglas to Heysham on Sunday night (Dec 28), returning at 9.30pm.
The revised twice-daily timetable for Manannan for Monday (December 29) and Tuesday (December 30) will be two Douglas to Heysham sailings departing at 1pm and 7pm, returning at 4pm and 10pm respectively.
MV Arrow will cover freight services until the Ben has been repaired and all freight should be brought to and from the Island as normal.
Steam Packet Company chief executive Mark Woodward says he’s particularly frustrated after the equipment was fully serviced and its seals renewed during a recent major overhaul. 'On behalf of the Steam Packet Company, I sincerely apologise to all our passengers and customers at this busy time of the year. I assure you that we have been making, and will continue to make, every effort to restore normal services as soon as we possibly can,’ he said. Passengers who were due to travel on Saturday and Sunday’s cancelled sailings are asked to call 661661 to make alternative arrangements.