Project Background

Having completed the acquisition of Burgess Marine in 2017 we acquired the refit and repair expertise for major fast ferry conversions; this expertise, when coupled with the newbuild knowledge within our Sister Co., the Wight Shipyard, makes our aluminium high speed experience unrivalled. Our management team proudly completed the world’s largest passenger fast ferry conversion by transforming Incat hull no. 050 in to “Manannan”, the Isle of Man Steam Packet Co’s flagship vessel. She is now the largest diesel-powered high speed craft on the Irish Sea with greater cruising speed and increased vehicle and passenger capacity. On-board facilities were improved to include lounges, bars and eateries, and executive seating to better anything found on similar vessels operating around the British Isles. Originally built in Tasmania in 1998 for commercial service in Australia and New Zealand she was then chartered to the US Military in 2001 for evaluation purposes. At the time of conversion, she had significantly less hours of service than a vessel of comparable age which made her ideal for the substantial refit and inevitably, very attractive to purchase. “Manannan” represented a £20million plus investment in the Manx operators’ fleet with a clear objective; the “HSV-X1” vessel crudely catered for 363 military personnel, “Manannan” would increase passenger capacity by some 125% to carry approximately 820 people in comfort.

Our Work

With all key skills in-house with regards to the structural fabrication and project management the immediate need was to find a dock-yard partner and an interior fit out specialist. Our long standing partnership with BVT Portsmouth (now BAE Systems) ensured that the very best dock-yard facilities in the UK were made available to the project. Shortly thereafter Trimline joined the project team, under our management, to handle the interior fit out of the vessel. The project consisted of five main stages:

  1. Strip out the existing interior, ensuring that as many materials as possible were removed in a controlled fashion, thus allowing them to be reused in the conversion project.
  2. The removal of the existing small 32 passenger ‘pod’ sky lounge on tier three, and replacement with a considerably larger, 3 class, 160 passenger capacity sky lounge, to include the addition of an internal passenger lift.
  3. Transom modifications including a passenger lift from the vehicle deck, new stern quarter bulwarks, a substantial loading ramp to allow “Manannan” to carry heavy freight traffic in addition to cars and light vans should the need arise, and the removal and ‘making good’ of a central slipway utilised to launch Special Forces RIB’s at high speed.
  4. A new aft accommodation module adjoining the existing tier two passenger accommodation aft of frame 17. This module needed to accommodate approximately 300 passengers in a spacious ‘airy’ environment, with both bar and basic galley facilities, whilst seamlessly integrating with the rest of the vessel.
  5. The final phase of the project was the interior fit out. The conversion project would increase the passenger capacity by approximately 125%, or 760sq meters. This new interior needed to accommodate 820 passengers, of 3 differing classes, with superior facilities throughout.

Resulting Success

By March 2008 the ramp and remaining transom modifications were completed. The sky lounge was mid fit out and the aft accommodation module followed closely behind. The interior featured new air-conditioning throughout, two hi-spec TV audio lounges, two bars and galleys, over 820 seats split across 3 different passenger classes, a new interior disabled lift between tier two and three, and a new main passenger lift from the tier one car deck to the aft accommodation module on tier two.

On Friday May 1st 2008 “Manannan” left Portsmouth for sea trials off the Isle of Wight. Having removed 45 tonne of weight in the form of the heavy duty tank loading ramp and helicopter landing pad, then added over 760 sq meters of passenger accommodation the vessel made her operational speed with ease. Shortly thereafter the conversion was completed both on time and within budget cementing our position as one of world’s leading high speed craft specialists. “Manannan” subsequently left Portsmouth for the Isle of Man where she now proudly serves as the Isle of Man Steam Packet Co’s flagship vessel.

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client testimonials

You should be very proud of all that you do, it is wonderful.
Classic Yacht Owner
Many thanks for your rapid work today; we are back in action again
Chief Engineer, Solent Ship Operator
Please pass on my thanks and also the thanks from my Chief Executive and Operations Director, the support of the SMS team is very much appreciated
Head of Engineering, Solent Ferry Operator
Many thanks for your teams hard graft, the work was completed and as always I am extremely happy with the quality
Colour Sergeant, Royal Marines HM Naval Base Devonport
Thank the welders, the work that they produced was to the highest standard and were great to work with
Project Manager, UK Shipyard
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