NEW Steam Packet vessel will be named Manannan.
The vessel is currently undergoing a substantial refit and refurbishment in Portsmouth, which will see her benefit from a bespoke vehicle ramp and an entirely new internal passenger layout.
Manannan, a 96-metre catamaran previously known as Incat, was bought in Tasmania and undertook a month-long 11,868 mile trip to Britain in July. She is set to enter service next year and will replace the Viking on the Liverpool/Douglas sailings.
The total project cost including buying the vessel and its refit is around 20m.
She will be the largest vessel of her type in the Irish Sea, significantly enhancing service due to a faster cruising speed, greater vehicle, passenger and freight back-up capacity and increased levels of passenger comfort, the Steam Packet said.
The Manannan will carry up to 800 passengers. compared with the 675 capacity on the Viking .and up to 200 cars, compared with 140 on the Viking.
The name was decided upon following a competition on the online blog of Steam Packet chief executive Mark Woodward.
He said: 'We felt that the winning suggestion for the name epitomises the status of the new vessel within our fleet. Manannan, while not a traditional Steam Packet name, is nevertheless clearly identifiable with the Isle of Man and reinforces the vital lifeline relationship between the company and the Island.'
Manannan was attributed as being a Celtic God of the Sea.
The Steam Packet has tried unsuccessfully to contact the winner of the naming competition, called Alison, and would like her to get in touch and claim her prize of 1,000 worth of sailings.
Manannan was built in Tasmania in 1998 and served for three years as a passenger and vehicle carrier in Australia and New Zealand, before being chartered to the US military for evaluation trials.
The Viking which will be replaced by the Manannan has completed 3,000 sailings and carried more than 1m passengers to and from the Island in her seven years service.
Built by Fincantieri in Italy at a cost of 18m, Viking covered more than 200,000 miles across the Irish Sea.
Mr Woodward said: 'Viking has been a fantastic servant to both the travelling public and the company. Despite having the lowest wave tolerance of our vessels she has still averaged over 97 per cent reliability over recent years.'
WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE NEW NAME?
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Whilst we all anticipate and welcome the new IOMSP vessel coming into service will the ship be covering the Liverpool route? That is to say not Birkenhead but Liverpool, this is after all the most popular destination for passengers both ways. Or is it a replacement for the Ben as has been rumoured? Also, will it be using its svelte lines and extra power to full potential and maybe give us a sub 2 hour journey time? Will it be able to deal with the adverse weather conditions we experience in the Irish Sea and not be stuck in port as soon as a hint of gale force 6 is mentioned? Finally, has the IOMSP thought about introducing new routes like Hollyhead or Fishguard?
Can someone please explain to me why, with Oil now below $60 a barrel, that the IOM Steampacket continue with their fuel surcharge. This "surcharge" increased the cost of a recent foot passenger crossing by 15%. Apart from it being totally disproportionate, it surely can no longer be valid.