The Isle of Man Steam Packet Company’s 5,743gt/1998 built Manannan (above) had only been in service for around a week when problems struck on 3rd April, Good Friday. The craft suffered damage due to the ingestion of floating debris of a substantial nature. As a result, she was unable to reach her normal service speed and fell behind schedule.
The affected departure from Liverpool on 3rd April was delayed whilst attempts to repair the issue were made. Manoeuvrability was affected so a tug assisted with berthing/ departure. The Ben-My-Chree took traffic where possible, including covering for the Douglas-Belfast sailings on Easter Saturday, to the detriment of her own Douglas- Heysham schedule. Attempts to continue using the Manannan failed as it became clear that the damage done was severe, including the loss of a complete trim tab, damage to both starboard waterjets and steering difficulties due to a damaged starboard side reversing flap. On 5th April both the damage (requiring extensive underwater repairs) and fog caused the fast craft to be sidelined until repairs were completed (the vessel being towed back into Douglas by tug Wendy Ann after an aborted departure) and this was ongoing until 10th April.
The 7,606gt/1998 built Arrow had been helping Condor Ferries out but sailed back to Douglas from the Solent on 5th April allowing the “Ben” to concentrate on tourist traffic. P&O’s 5,902gt/1998 built Express, herself only just back to work from winter lay-up, was chartered for a Larne-Douglas-Larne service on 8th April in lieu of the Manannan’s Belfast schedule but had developed a fault of her own so was on three engines. Isle of Man sailings returned to normal from 11th April. Easter 2015 was certainly a bad one for fast craft in the U.K. The IoMSPCo had not seen such extensive damage to the Manannan before and costs are expected to exceed £100,000. Indeed, the degree of damage is unprecedented both locally and also in the community of other fast ferry operators globally. Since 2007 there have been 17 instances of damage to the craft.