The Isle of Man Steam Packet Company has confirmed that the Ben-my-Chree sustained minor damage to its hull during its recent passage to Belfast for lay-up.

The vessel is in Northern Ireland because of the Department of Infrastructure’s ongoing works on the King Edward VIII pier in Douglas Harbour.

A statement from the ferry operator said: 'Following investigation of various options, it is now apparent that repairs cannot be carried out while the vessel is in the water.

'Ben-my-Chree will require dry-docking in order to effect permanent repairs. The Company is assessing the quickest way to fix the damage, ideally in combination with the routine annual dry docking.

'At this time an internal investigation is being undertaken into the circumstances surrounding the damage and IoMSPC is working in collaboration with Isle of Man Ship Registry, Maritime and Coastguard Agency and Lloyds Register.

'At no point has the vessel or any member of crew been in danger.

'MV Arrow is in place in order to provide resilience for the Company’s lifeline services.

'A further update on the progress of repairs will be provided in due course.'