Houlder to advise on design and build of Irish Sea battery hybrid RoPax

Written by Nick Blenkey
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RoPax will be larger and have more capacity than vessel it replaces

The Isle of Man Steam Packet Company (IoMSPC) has awarded London-headquartered design and engineering consultancy Houlder a contract to act as technical advisor on the design and build of a new battery-hybrid ferry.

The new purpose-built RoPax vessel will replace the 1998-built, 125.2 by 23.4 meters Ben-My-Chree, which has a crew and passenger capacity of 666 persons, a vehicle capacity of 275 and 1,235 lane meters of freight capacity.

The order for the new vessel was placed with South Korean shipbuilder Hyundai Mipo Dockyard on July 31. IoMSPC CEO Mark Woodward said then that “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 maneuverable in poor conditions.”

The vessel will operate between Douglas, Isle of Man, and Heysham, Lancashire, and Houlder says the project presents two key design challenges, including providing a dependable lifeline throughout winter and consistently tolerating the harsh conditions of the Irish Sea while providing the needed increased passenger capacity.

Houlder will guide the shipyard during the build of this new vessel, ensuring it meets the design specification, as well as advising IoMSPC on technical and regulatory matters.

To ensure a high quality and timely delivery. Houlder will use its experience of the local regulations, knowledge of the routes, and operational and technical expertise to ensure a smooth process from concept to delivery.

“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,” said David Wing, Ship Design & Engineering Director, Houlder. “There are many challenges in this brief including the vessel’s size constraints in tight ports while meeting lane meter requirements for freight, as well as meeting environmental expectations for the vessel’s life-span which includes reducing local emissions while in port.”

Jim Royston, Fleet Operations Manager, Isle of Man Steam Packet Company, noted that the companies relationship Houlder dates back many years, with its last major project being the conversion of former military transport ship (built as Incat 095) 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,” he said. “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.”

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