HSC Manannan

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Hsc manannan.png
Manannan entering Douglas Harbour
Name: 1998–2001, 2008: Incat 050
2001–08: USS Joint Venture
2008–present: Manannan
Namesake: Manannán mac Lir
Operator: 1998–99: TT-Line
1999–2000: Fast Cat Ferries
2000–01: Laid-up
2001–08: US Navy
2008–present: IoM Steam Packet Co.
Port of registry: Isle of Man Douglas
Route: DouglasLiverpool
Builder: Incat, Tasmania, Australia
Yard number: 050
Completed: 1998
Commissioned: 1998
Recommissioned: 2009
Refit: 2001, 2009
Identification: IMO number: 9176072
Status: In service
General characteristics
Class and type: 96 metre WPC
Type: High speed craft
Tonnage: 5,743 GT[1]
Length: 95.47 m (313 ft 3 in)
Beam: 26.16 m (85 ft 10 in)
Draft: 3.7 m (12 ft 2 in)
Installed power: 4 × Caterpillar diesel engines
Speed: Lightship condition 50+ knots. Fully laden 40-42 knots.
Capacity: Passengers: 850
Vehicles: 200

HSC Manannan is a 96-metre (315 ft) wave-piercing high-speed catamaran car ferry built in Tasmania in 1998. After commercial service in Australia and New Zealand, she was chartered to the US Military as USS Joint Venture (HSV-X1). Now owned and operated by the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company, she mainly provides a seasonal service between Douglas and Liverpool.

Early history[edit]

Manannan is one of six 96-metre (WPC 96) catamarans built by Incat of Tasmania, Australia. She was built as Incat 050 in 1998. Under the name Devil Cat, she operated for a short period as a commercial ferry for TT-Line. A spell followed crossing the Cook Strait as Top Cat.[2] Then she was acquired by the US Navy and converted for military purposes.

United States Navy[edit]


In 2001, she was commissioned as USS Joint Venture (HSV-X1), serving for five years with the United States Armed Forces. A flight deck was added to accommodate various helicopters in the US Navy arsenal. Joint Venture was rapidly re-configurable and could perform a variety of missions, principal among them the ability to ferry up to 325 combat personnel and 400 tons of cargo up to 3,000 nautical miles (5,600 km) one way at speeds in excess of 40 knots (74 km/h).[citation needed]

In 2003, Joint Venture was assigned to Operation Enduring Freedom in the Horn of Africa.[3] She operated as a fast transport in support of the Combined Joint Task Force and performing a variety of tasks, such as transporting and supplying troops at high speed over long distances, operating as a mobile command centre, working close inshore, and operating as a helicopter carrier.

At the end of the five year charter, she was handed back to Incat in early 2006. She underwent a refit and was painted in the livery of Express Ferries. Plans for her to enter service as a car and passenger ferry never materialised.

Isle of Man Steam Packet Company[edit]

On 19 May 2008, the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company announced the purchase of the wave-piercing catamaran for £20 million, as the replacement for the fast craft Viking. Because of its previous use, the company said it had significantly fewer hours of service than a vessel of comparable age and was ideally suited for the planned service.[4] She completed the 11,868 miles (19,100 km) mile voyage from Hobart to Portsmouth, with most of the materials for her refit, in 27 days.

A £3 million refit, carried out by Burgess Marine in Portsmouth, provided a new aft accommodation module and the "Sky Lounge". The heavy military ramp was replaced with a new stern door and the helideck was removed. Following this, she arrived in Douglas on 11 May 2009. An open day took place at each of the Company's ports and at a renaming ceremony, she was renamed after Manannán mac Lir, the Celtic god of the Irish sea. Manannan made her maiden service voyage with the Steam Packet Company on Friday 22 May 2009 on the 07:30 sailing from Douglas to Liverpool.[4]

During the winter period 2014/2015 Manannan was fitted with a removable mezzanine deck which created additional space for motorcycles during the TT and Festival of Motorcycling periods, allowing fans who have previously traveled as foot passengers the chance to bring their bikes.[5] - by late March 2015, the number of motorcyles booked for the TT Festival was up 10% on the previous year.[6]


At 96 metres (315 ft), Manannan is the largest vessel of its kind on the Irish Sea.[4] In summer season, she operates daily sailings from Douglas to Liverpool, and weekly/twice weekly sailings to Belfast and Dublin. In the winter she is laid up in Liverpool and goes on reserve until the summer season.

Onboard facilities[edit]

The Manannan '​s passenger facilities are located over two decks.

Lower deck

  • Blue Point café/bar
  • Two Cinemas
  • Coast-to-Coast café
  • Junior Shipmates children's play area
  • Ocean Avenue shop
  • Lower outside deck

Upper deck (Sky Lounge)

  • Manannan Executive Club Lounge
  • Manannan Premium Lounge
  • Niarbyl Reserved Lounge
  • Upper outside deck

Photo gallery[edit]


  1. ^ "HSC INCAT 050 (1998)". Fakta om Fartyg. Retrieved 2 May 2012. 
  2. ^ "Cook Strait Fast Ferries". History Group of the New Zealand Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 30 Jun 202.  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  3. ^ Sgt. Bradly Shaver, U.S. Marine Corps. "High Speed Naval Vessel Surfs African Region". Defend America. Retrieved 1 Jan 2012. 
  4. ^ a b c "Manannan Arrives in the Isle of Man". Maritime Reporter. 27 May 2009. Retrieved 1 July 2012. 
  5. ^ http://www.steam-packet.com/aboutus/news/2015/Mar/TT_2015_Increase
  6. ^ http://www.steam-packet.com/aboutus/news/2015/Mar/TT_2015_Increase

External links[edit]