The Minister for the Treasury has reiterated that the Ben my Chree will only be used as a back up vessel to the Manxman in future.

Dr Alex Allinson was asked about what plans the Steam Packet has for the vessel during Tuesday’s House of Keys sitting by MHK for Douglas Central Chris Thomas.

In reply, Dr Allinson said: ‘As set out in the current Sea Service’s Agreement, the Ben my Chree can only be used to cover the current Manxman schedule as a back up vessel if required.

‘The vessel is currently crewed and all staff undertake regular training exercises to ensure operational efficiency and that health and safety procedures are maintained.

‘As things stand she is a live ashore vessel, but this could change to a live aboard vessel following the continued negotiations between the Steam Packet and the Nautilus International union in accordance with the restrictions set out in section 5.4.2 of the Sea Services Agreement.’

Mr Thomas made a further enquiry asking why the Ben my Chree wasn’t used on Saturday, January 27 in the absence of the Manxman due to a technical issue.

Dr Allinson confirmed that the Ben my Chree has a 12 hour notice period in place. If there is no notification of the Ben my Chree being required 12 hours prior to the sailing time, it cannot operate the sailing.

He said: ‘Should the Manxman have not been able to operate the 8:45pm sailing, the Ben my Chree would have been able to undertake the sailing due to there being that 12 hour notice from the cancelled morning sailing earlier that day.’