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Preparations By Isle of Man Steam Packet to Start Ferry Trials at New Liverpool Terminal

12th January 2024
The new Isle of Man Steam Packet ferry terminal at Liverpool built by an Irish contractor, is to be prepared for berthing trials by their fast-craft and new flagship during Spring.
The new Isle of Man Steam Packet ferry terminal at Liverpool built by an Irish contractor, is to be prepared for berthing trials by their fast-craft and new flagship during Spring. Credit: Stratus Imagery / IOMSP retweeted

Preparations by the Isle of Man Packet Company reports 3FM are to see the ferry operator start trials and safety training at their new terminal in Liverpool.

The infrastructure built by a UK arm of the Irish contractor, John Sisk & Co as Afloat previously reported is located at Princes Half Tide Dock. The Department of Infrastructure is also working to ensure the berth will be ready for sea-trials to take place in early March.

This is to see the Steam Packet’s fast-craft, Manannan become the first vessel to berth at the new link-span which is less than a 1 km downriver of The Pier Head, the existing ferry terminal on Merseyside.

As long as such works can be put in place, the company expects the new terminal will be enabled to undertake Manannan’s mooring trials and familiarisation to be concluded towards the end of March.

According to the Steam Packet, the main priority is for Manannan to be in operation from Liverpool also at the end of the same month on the route to Douglas. Should it arise, a contingency plan will be put into effect for its first sailing to take place using the Pier Head terminal.

A fleetmate, flagship Manxman is also to make a debut at the new ferry facility for berthing trials in April, providing that everything goes according to plan. The flagship’s inaugural commercial call, however will be later in the year, when the terminal is scheduled for such sailings in November.

More here on the new Irish Sea terminal.

Published in Ferry
Jehan Ashmore

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Jehan Ashmore

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Jehan Ashmore is a marine correspondent, researcher and photographer, specialising in Irish ports, shipping and the ferry sector serving the UK and directly to mainland Europe. Jehan also occasionally writes a column, 'Maritime' Dalkey for the (Dalkey Community Council Newsletter) in addition to contributing to UK marine periodicals. 

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Ferry & Car Ferry News The ferry industry on the Irish Sea, is just like any other sector of the shipping industry, in that it is made up of a myriad of ship operators, owners, managers, charterers all contributing to providing a network of routes carried out by a variety of ships designed for different albeit similar purposes.

All this ferry activity involves conventional ferry tonnage, 'ro-pax', where the vessel's primary design is to carry more freight capacity rather than passengers. This is in some cases though, is in complete variance to the fast ferry craft where they carry many more passengers and charging a premium.

In reporting the ferry scene, we examine the constantly changing trends of this sector, as rival ferry operators are competing in an intensive environment, battling out for market share following the fallout of the economic crisis. All this has consequences some immediately felt, while at times, the effects can be drawn out over time, leading to the expense of others, through reduced competition or takeover or even face complete removal from the marketplace, as witnessed in recent years.

Arising from these challenging times, there are of course winners and losers, as exemplified in the trend to run high-speed ferry craft only during the peak-season summer months and on shorter distance routes. In addition, where fastcraft had once dominated the ferry scene, during the heady days from the mid-90's onwards, they have been replaced by recent newcomers in the form of the 'fast ferry' and with increased levels of luxury, yet seeming to form as a cost-effective alternative.

Irish Sea Ferry Routes

Irrespective of the type of vessel deployed on Irish Sea routes (between 2-9 hours), it is the ferry companies that keep the wheels of industry moving as freight vehicles literally (roll-on and roll-off) ships coupled with motoring tourists and the humble 'foot' passenger transported 363 days a year.

As such the exclusive freight-only operators provide important trading routes between Ireland and the UK, where the freight haulage customer is 'king' to generating year-round revenue to the ferry operator. However, custom built tonnage entering service in recent years has exceeded the level of capacity of the Irish Sea in certain quarters of the freight market.

A prime example of the necessity for trade in which we consumers often expect daily, though arguably question how it reached our shores, is the delivery of just in time perishable products to fill our supermarket shelves.

A visual manifestation of this is the arrival every morning and evening into our main ports, where a combination of ferries, ro-pax vessels and fast-craft all descend at the same time. In essence this a marine version to our road-based rush hour traffic going in and out along the commuter belts.

Across the Celtic Sea, the ferry scene coverage is also about those overnight direct ferry routes from Ireland connecting the north-western French ports in Brittany and Normandy.

Due to the seasonality of these routes to Europe, the ferry scene may be in the majority running between February to November, however by no means does this lessen operator competition.

Noting there have been plans over the years to run a direct Irish –Iberian ferry service, which would open up existing and develop new freight markets. Should a direct service open, it would bring new opportunities also for holidaymakers, where Spain is the most visited country in the EU visited by Irish holidaymakers ... heading for the sun!