The Isle of Man Steam Packet Company (IoMSP) has ordered a new purpose designed ropax from Hyundai Mipo Dockyard (HMD) at a price reported to be €76.8 mill.
A contract for the newbuilding was signed on 31st July and the vessel is expected to enter service in Spring 2023.
This followed a week-long visit to South Korea by IoMSP senior personnel, during which they visited the HMD shipyard, viewed a recently completed ship to assess the standard of work and discussed technical and commercial considerations with shipyard executives.
The process began last autumn when the company commissioned a tender exercise, during which a large number of shipyards worldwide expressed an interest in building the vessel.
IoMSP CEO, Mark Woodward, said: “For some time we have been conducting detailed analysis as we develop plans for major investment in our fleet.
“I am delighted to confirm that, following lengthy discussions with a leading shipyard in South Korea, we have confirmed specifications for the vessel and today signed a contract with Hyundai Mipo Dockyard.
“This truly is an exciting time in our history and, in the year we marked our 190th anniversary, the new vessel will take the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company forward to our 200th anniversary and beyond,” he said.
The new vessel, will bring high levels of on board facilities and enhanced freight capability.
IoMSP said that it is also committed to maintaining a third back-up vessel, intended to be the ‘Ben-my-Chree’ when the new vessel arrives, to enhance security of both passenger and freight links and also help increase capacity during the TT and Classic TT race weeks on the island.
Woodward added: “The final specification and build programme is still in development but it is expected the new vessel will be slightly larger than the ‘Ben-my-Chree’ in most respects but with considerably more passenger space. It is also intended to be more environmentally efficient and manoeuvrable in poor conditions.
“Factoring in various technical and logistical considerations for a new vessel, and taking into account the recent public consultation exercise where possible, our aim for when we introduce the new addition is to ensure we provide an even higher level of service to the Island community and our customers,” he concluded.
UK-based design and engineering consultancy, Houlder has won a contract to acting as technical advisor in the design and building of this battery hybrid ferry.
Houlder said that this project presented two key design challenges, including the provision of a dependable lifeline throughout the winter and be able to consistently tolerate the harsh conditions of the Irish Sea while on voyage between Douglas and Heysham, Lancashire. In addition, the new vessel will provide increased passenger capacity, especially important during the two weeks of the Isle of Man motorcycle event, the annual TT.
The company will guide the shipyard during her building phase, ensuring she meets the design specification, as well as advising IoMSPC on technical and regulatory aspects, to ensure a high quality and timely delivery.
David Wing, Houlder’s Ship Design & Engineering Director, said: “We are delighted to be working with the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company again on its latest project and providing pragmatic solutions to the various technical and logistical considerations for the new vessel. Solving design challenges and meeting ambitious targets, whether technical, operational or environmental, is where we do our best work.
“The Isle of Man has significant ambitions for growth in tourism to the island and, IoMSPC is the only company to offer passenger and freight ferry services. There are many challenges in this brief, including the vessel’s size constraints in tight ports while meeting lane metre requirements for freight, as well as meeting environmental expectations for the vessel’s life-span, which includes reducing local emissions while in port.
“We are looking forward to working with Hyundai Mipo Dockyard and IoMSPC to ensure a smooth and successful delivery of this new vessel.”
Jim Royston, IoMSP Fleet Operations Manager, added: “Our relationship with Houlder dates back many years, with our last major project together being the conversion of ’Manannan’ from a military transport ship to a passenger catamaran.
“This latest partnership ensures we have technical experts providing us with pragmatic solutions to challenges being faced by the vessel’s operational profile. Houlder is acting as our advisor to the shipyard to ensure they deliver a vessel of a quality and standard in keeping with the demanding route and the high expectations of our customers. We look forward to working with Houlder again on this exciting new project.”
Houlder has had experience in the passenger vessel sector, supporting ferry operators with newbuild designs, upgrades and conversions. Newbuilds include vessels for the Gosport Ferry Company and Wightlink.
The company has also undertaken conversion and upgrade work for P&O Ferries, Condor Ferries, as well as previous conversion projects and new designs for IoMSP.