The Steam Packet is buying a new fast craft.
The £20 million vessel will mainly serve the Douglas to Liverpool route and will replace the existing fast craft Viking.
The 96 metre wave piercing catamaran will be the largest vessel of its kind in the Irish Sea.
Edward Oldham reports (text, below, from attached audio file).
The ship, currently known as Incat 050, was built in Tasmania in 1998 and, after a short period of commercial service in Australia and New Zealand, was chartered to the US Military for evaluation purposes in 2001.
Because of its most recent use, the company says it has significantly fewer hours of service than a vessel of comparable age and will be ideally suited for the substantial refit proposed.
Steam Packet Chief Executive Mark Woodward says the purchase is a real step forward for the company and represents a significant investment. He adds: 'We have looked at a number of possible vessels and we believe we have found the craft that most ideally meets our requirements for a versatile, high capacity vessel which is capable of serving our passengers' expectations for increased comfort and reliability'.
(Picture: The Steam Packet's new fast craft, in a previous commercial guise as Devil Cat).