On Friday 11th July,2008 afternoon the 96 metre High Speed Craft INCAT 050 entered Grand Harbour, Malta after finishing her charter to the United States Navy as JOINT VENTURE HSV-XI.
INCAT 050 was one of six 96 metre (WPC 96) catamarans built by Incat, Australia in 1998. Under the name DEVIL CAT, she operated for a short period as a commercial ferry for TT-Line. Later to Fast Cat Ferries crossing the Cook Strait and renamed TOP CAT trading from 1999-2000. Between 2000-2001 she was laid up and in 2001 she was contracted by the United States Armed Forces for a 5 year, joint Army/Navy program, as JOINT VENTURE HSV-XI .A flight deck was added to accommodate various US military helicopters. She 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).
During 2003, JOINT VENTURE HSV-XI was assigned to Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) which was the official name used by the US Government for the Global War on Terrorism in the Horn of Africa. 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 was struck from the Naval Vessel Register and re-listed as “IX-532” (unclassified experimental). She then underwent a refit and was painted in the livery of Express Ferries and renamed INCAT 050.
On 19th 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 monohull high speed craft VIKING . She completed the 11,868 miles (19,100 km) voyage from Hobart to Portsmouth Harbour stopping at Malta, with most of the materials for her refit, in 27 days. In fact she left in the morning of Saturday 12th July, 2008 bound to Portsmouth, UK.
A £3 million refit, carried out by Burgess Marine, 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 11th May 2009. An open day took place at each of the company’s ports and at a renaming ceremony, she was renamed as MANANNAN after the Celtic god of the Irish sea. She made her maiden service voyage with the Steam Packet Company on Friday 22th May 2009 on the 0730 hrs route sailing from Douglas Harbour to Liverpool.
Watermarked Photos are by Capt. Lawrence Dalli otherwise stated. NO PHOTOS can be used or manipulated without our permission. © All rights reserved. Malta Ship Photos & Action Photos – www.maltashipphotos.com
Published – Friday 26th November, 2021.