Isle of Man Steam Packet company vessel Ben-my-Chree has marked 15 years’ service, during which time she has carried the equivalent of the Island’s population 45 times over and enough freight to reach from Douglas to Liverpool and back more than 20 times.
Built for the Steam Packet Company at the Van der Giessen de Noord shipyard in the Netherlands, at a cost of £25 million, Ben-my-Chree arrived in Douglas on 6th July 1998. After a period carrying freight, she conducted her maiden passenger-carrying voyage on 4th August that year.
Since then she has carried around 3.9 million passengers, 1.1 million cars, 250,000 motorcycles, and more than 100,000 vans and trade cars.
Ben-my-Chree, the sixth Steam Packet Company vessel to carry that name, has also moved 500,000 freight trailers to and from the Island, carrying everything from food to space capsules. Freight is measured in metres and it is estimated she has carried 6.2 million metres of freight over the 15 years.
Chief executive Mark Woodward said: “In the mid-1990s, the Steam Packet Company decided to update its fleet with the addition of a newly-built vessel designed to meet the Island’s freight needs long into the future as well as delivering capacity for increases in passenger travel.
“Ben-my-Chree represented a significant investment for the company, and a vote of confidence in the future success of the Isle of Man.
“Over the past 15 years Ben-my-Chree has provided a vital link for the Island all year round, with an exemplary reliability record of 97.8% since January 2010. Today, she continues to exceed freight and passenger demands, ensuring the Steam Packet Company is able to meet increases in future requirements.”
He added: “We look forward to many more years of reliable service from the Ben-my-Chree, but as a forward-looking company, we are already in discussions about the future shape and size of our fleet to ensure the Isle of Man Steam Packet continues to be the Island’s lifeline for generations to come.”
Photos - Ben-my-Chree early in her Isle of Man Steam Packet Company service.