The Ben-my-Chree will be out of service for at least a week after one of her propellers was damaged.

She was damaged as she entered Heysham harbour on Thursday night.

The Ben was due to sail to dry dock in Falmouth, Cornwall, today (Tuesday) for repairs.

These are expected to take at least a week, depending on a further inspection and assessment by specialists when the vessel is out of the water.

The Ben is currently expected to return to scheduled service on Friday, September 11. In the meantime, a revised timetable has been introduced.

From today, the fastcraft Manannan will operate the daily Heysham sailings, while the MV Arrow will continue to provide a daily freight service.

Any passengers affected will be contacted directly by the company.

Steam Packet chief executive Mark Woodward said: ’I would like to apologise to our passenger and freight customers who may experience some interruption to services as a result of this unscheduled dry-docking.

’Unfortunately, we have no other option in order to repair the Ben and avoid further disruption to schedules.

’As soon as it became clear she had sustained damage when entering Heysham harbour, a team of engineers and divers inspected the vessel. We have worked quickly to secure a slot in dry dock so repairs can be carried out as soon as possible.

’The measures we have put in place with Manannan and Arrow ensure we are able to maintain our passenger services and our ongoing commitment to transport essential food and goods.

’Service frequency and capacity remains well in excess of current demand levels.’