MS Ben-my-Chree

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For other ships of the same name, see Ben-my-Chree.
Ben-my-chree april 2010.jpg
Ben-my-Chree in Douglas Harbour
Name: Ben-my-Chree
Namesake: Manx: Woman of my heart
Owner: Isle of Man Steam Packet Company
Operator: Isle of Man Steam Packet Company
Port of registry: Douglas, Isle of Man
Route: DouglasHeysham
Douglas—Birkenhead (winter only)
Douglas—Dublin / Belfast
Ordered: 1997
Builder: van der Giessen de Noord, Netherlands[1]
Cost: GB£24,000,000[2]
Yard number: 971[2]
Laid down: 1997
Launched: 1998
Commissioned: 1998
Identification: IMO number: 9170705
Status: In Service
General characteristics
Tonnage: 12,747 GT[2]
Length: 125.2 m (411 ft)[2]
Beam: 23.4 m (77 ft)[2]
Draught: 5.8 m (19 ft)
Installed power: 2 × MAK 9L32 diesel engines
Propulsion: 2 × Controllable pitch propellers
2 × bow thrusters
Speed: 19.5 knots (36.1 km/h; 22.4 mph)
Capacity: Passengers: 630
Cars: 275

MV Ben-my-Chree is a Ro-Pax vessel launched in 1998. The flagship of the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company, she operates primarily on the Douglas-Heysham route.


Ben-my-Chree was ordered in 1997 by Sea Containers for the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company. Costing around £24 million, she was built by van der Giessen de Noord of the Netherlands and launched on 4 April 1998. The sixth vessel to carry the name,[3] she is registered in Douglas, Isle of Man.

Brought around to the island from the Netherlands by the late Captain Vernon Kinley, Ben-my-Chree entered service on 5 July 1998, Tynwald Day - the Isle of Man's national holiday. At a gross tonnage of around 12,000, she was the largest ship to enter service with the company. The vessel received a lot of criticism due to her low passenger capacity of 500 (carrying no more than 350 per sailing), and the fact she had no open deck for passengers. The company insisted this was a "comfort level" for the vessel's size. Subsequently, the islanders have warmed to the vessel.

In 2004 the vessel underwent a refit carried out by Cammell Laird to increase passenger capacity with the addition of a new passenger module.[4] In 2014 Ben-my-Chree underwent a £1.6 million refit which included new LED lighting fitted to the lounge areas, refitted the crew rest area. also carried out by Cammell Laird.[5]


On 25 July 2008, Ben-my-Chree suffered a technical failure, with the Viking taking her Heysham sailing until she was repaired.

On the evening of 1 May 2013 when arriving in Douglas Harbour from Heysham, Ben-my-Chree struck part of the King Edward Pier Linkspan, Number 5 berth. In the collision part of the ship was slightly damaged, meaning the evening departure to Heysham was cancelled. Passengers were transferred to the Liverpool service. Ben-my-Chree re-entered service the following day with a freight-only service to Heysham and was back in full service at 19.45 the same day.[6]

In December 2011 the Ben-my-Chree suffered a number of cancelled sailings due to high winds and a problem with a bow thruster that had been damaged in May that year. Arrangements to dry dock the ship in June and then in September had to be cancelled after the manufacturers, Wartsilla, failed to complete the necessary repairs.[7] Chief executive of the Steam Packet Company wrote to the local newspaper, the Manx Independent to express the company's frustration at the ongoing problems.[8]

On 12 February 2015, Ben-my-Chree lost control and collided with fishing boat, while entering Douglas Harbour. The vessel's stern made contact with Battery Pier and a fishing boat at its mooring. It was found that the ship and the fishing boat only suffered superficial damage. The ship was checked by divers for signs of damage to the propellers and steering.It was then relocated to Victoria Pier using a tug boat - where passengers disembarked.[9]

On 2 May 2015, the morning sailing from Douglas to Heysham was cancelled and the afternoon return. Ben-my-Chree was suffering from a "bow thruster... only operating on reduced power".[10]

On Saturday 16 May 2015 there was a suspected chimney stack lagging fire was detected on the 8.45am crossing from Douglas to Heysham.[11] The sailing arrived in Heysham Port around 1 hour late and no passengers or crew were injured.

Design and construction[edit]

Ben-my-Chree is a Ro-Pax ferry, largely designed to carry freight, with two vehicle decks (decks 3 and 5) and two passenger accommodation decks (7 and 8). There are 20 four-berth cabins and crew accommodation for 22.[12] Her freight capacity is 200 vehicles (1235m).[2]

A refit during her first winter improved passenger accommodation. Reclining chairs were added in the forward and aft lounges and partitions added between the restaurant and bar areas.[12] In 2004, a major refit allowed her to carry a full capacity of 636 passengers. A new accommodation section containing the Legends café/bar, Niarbyl Quiet Lounge and toilets was added. The refit also created an outside deck space and modified the vessel's stern door. Another refit in April 2008, included a new livery and internal refit.

The Royal New Zealand Navy multi-role vessel HMNZS Canterbury was based on Ben-my-Chree‍ '​s design, and entered service in 2007.

Onboard facilities[edit]

The Ben-my-Chree's passenger facilities are centred on the main passenger area on Deck 7.

Deck 7

  • Coast-to-Coast café
  • Junior Shipmates children's play area
  • Legends café/bar
  • Ocean Avenue shop
  • Manannan Premium Lounge
  • Niarbyl Reserved Lounge
  • Passengers with dogs lounge

Deck 8

  • Manannan Executive Lounge
  • Passenger cabins
  • Outside deck


On 16 July 2008, Ben-my-Chree completed 10 years of Manx service. She operates primarily on the Douglas - Heysham route, with occasional services to Belfast, Birkenhead and Dublin.

Future Replacement[edit]

In March 2013 the chairman of local group TravelWatch, Brendan O’Friel, said ‘The Ben is currently mid-way through her life and she is starting now to develop problems of one sort or another. She is not as reliable as she was. A replacement would take two years to build and we are keen to see plans go ahead.’[13] In Issue 17 of the company newsletter 'Steam Packet Times', Chief Executive Mark Woodward explained that ‘Now that the refinancing has been completed we have begun the process of assessing the longer term - it is clear that the most significant investment in the coming years will be replacement vessels for Ben-my-Chree and Manannan.[14]

Photo gallery[edit]