MS Lady of Mann

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Lady of Mann arrives in Douglas, 2004
Name: 1976—2005: Lady of Mann
2005-pres: Panagia Soumela
Owner: 1976-2005: Isle of Man Steam Packet Company
2005-pres: SAOS Ferries
Operator: 1976-2005: Isle of Man Steam Packet Company
2005-pres: SAOS Ferries
Port of registry: Template:Country data IMN Douglas (1976-2005)
Template:Country data GRE Piraeus (2005-)
Builder: Ailsa Shipbuilding, Troon, Scotland
Cost: £3,800,000
Yard number: 547[1]
Launched: 4 December 1975
Christened: 1975
Completed: 1976
Acquired: 1976
Maiden voyage: 30 June 1976
In service: 1976
Identification: IMO number: 7400259
Status: In service
General characteristics (as Lady of Mann)
Class and type: Mona's Queen-class sideloader
Tonnage: 3,083 GT
Length: 104.43 m (342 ft 7 in)
Beam: 16.74 m (54 ft 11 in)
Draught: 3.63 m (11 ft 11 in)
Installed power: 2 × 12 cylinder Pielstick diesels
Propulsion: 2 propellers
Speed: 21 kn (24 mph)
Capacity: 1,000 passengers
100+ cars

The MS Lady of Mann was a side-loading car ferry built for and operated by the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company. She was built in 1976 by Ailsa Shipbuilding in Troon, Scotland. She was probably the most popular vessel to ever serve the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company, serving the company for 29 years. In 2005 she was converted to a RORO ferry and is now operated by SAOS Ferries in Greece under the name MS Panagia Soumela .

Isle of Man Steam Packet Company

The vessel was ordered as the final vessel in a quartet which was the Manx Maid of 1962, the Ben-my-Chree of 1966, the Mona's Queen of 1972, and the Lady of Mann.

The vessel was ordered as the company's demand for car space was still in demand, so the result of this, a fourth car ferry, based on the design of the earlier Mona's Queen, the Lady of Mann arrived into company service in 1976, becoming the flagship of the fleet. She was slightly different from her elder sister, being 2 inches (51 mm) smaller and having 12 cylinder diesel engines, compared to her sister's 10.

Her Maiden Voyage was the morning sailing to Liverpool on 30 June 1976, having already been several weeks late and missing the peak TT traffic, something which caused a lot of stress to the Steam Packet Company. Fortunately, the vessel was not delayed by a long time. The Lady of Mann once raced her fleetmate, the Manxman, from Llandudno to Liverpool, and surprisingly, the older Manxman won, however nobody mentioned the head start she got.

The Lady of Mann remained the fleet's flagship until 1984, when she was replaced by the unpopular Mona's Isle, which proved to be an operational disaster. Her owners looked in serious financial difficulties, and with the forced merger with Manx Line, the Lady of Mann became fleetmates with her ex-rival the RO-RO Manx Viking.

In 1989, the Lady of Mann was withdrawn from service to receive a £2.6 million refit at Wright and Beyer, which resulted in a complete modernisation of the interior layout, increased vehicle capacity, passenger capacity for 1000, and a new livery. She returned to service on 26 May 1989. This made her sister Mona's Queen redundant, and she was withdrawn from service in 1990. In 1991 she appears in Alan Parker movie "The Commitments". Disaster struck on 2 June 1993. Instead of going astern onto the Victoria Pier in Douglas, she surged straight ahead and crashed into the Battery Pier, crumpling her bow.

She was temporarily repaired, and issued with a lower passenger certificate to operate during TT, after which she was withdrawn for permanent repairs. The first fastcraft to operate from the island was a result of this, with SeaCat Scotland making a return sailing from Stranraer.

The next season (1994), saw the arrival of the first SeaCat to operate for the Steam Packet Company, and the HSC SeaCat Isle of Man operated for the company in place of the Lady of Mann, and a period of calm weather prevailed, allowing a successful operation for the wave-restricted SeaCat, but at the end of August, there were problems, which led to the Lady of Mann returning to service, and a drop in passenger numbers, who had been tempted by the SeaCat's high speed. 1995 saw the Lady of Mann operate for Porto Santo Line in Madeira.

In 1996, the Steam Packet Company lost its independence to Sea Containers, and all the vessels, including the Lady of Mann, lost their time-honoured Steam Packet liveries in place of Sea Containers' blue livery, much to the distaste of many (if not all) enthusiasts. After the 1996 TT, the Lady of Mann was employed on the new Liverpool-Dublin service, taking around 6 hours to complete a passage. She was replaced on this service in 1997 by the SuperSeaCat Two, and often came to the rescue of the craft due to recurrent technical problems and weather cancellations. She was joined in 1997 by the new flagship, the Ben-my-Chree, the largest vessel the company has ever operated.

Following the 1999 TT period, she was not sent to her usual Madeira charter, but instead retained as a back-up vessel for the Ben-my-Chree. The winter of 1999 led to a long programme of sailings for the Lady of Mann, with the fastcraft and the Ben-my-Chree unable to operate, she operated instead. The following year after TT, she was sent to the Azores for a three month charter. During the winter of 2000/01, the Lady of Mann maintained the company's Douglas-Liverpool services, before the 25-year-old vessel entered the Cammell Laird yard for a refit to comply with the latest SOLAS regulations, which included a new fast response craft on her starboard boat deck.

Due to the foot and mouth outbreak, the Lady of Manns 25th anniversary cruise to her birthplace in Troon was cancelled to prevent the disease reaching the island. This also led to the cancellation of the annual TT races. The following year's TT saw the "the highest recorded traffic for about 20 years". The Lady of Mann covered for the Ben-my-Chree on the 28/29 May, 2002 when the latter had to be withdrawn for emergency repairs.

Sea Containers put the company up for sale, with Montagu Private Equity purchasing the company.

During the Ben-my-Chrees major refit in 2004, the Lady of Mann and the chartered freight ship Hoburgen covered the sailings unable to be operated by the Ben-my-Chree. During TT of that year, the island had a record TT season. Once again after TT 2004, the Lady of Mann went out on charter to the Azores, returning for the winter schedule. During the winter of 2004, the Steam Packet Company operated only the Ben-my-Chree and Lady of Mann, with the fastcraft being laid up for the next season.

In 2005, the company sold the "Lady" to SAOS Ferries of Greece.

SAOS Ferries

The Panagia Soumela left Liverpool for the final time in October 2005, arriving the following month. Over the winter of 2005-6, the Panagia Soumela was converted to a stern loading vessel in Piraeus, increasing in size considerably, leaving her ex-fleetmate Mary the Queen as the sole example of a Steam Packet sideloader still in service.

In August 2006, the vessel commenced operations for SAOS Ferries on the Lavrion - Limnos route. In December 2008 the Panagia Soumela was laid up in Lavrion, however returned to service the same month. As of 2009, the Panagia Soumela continued to operate between Lavrion and Limnos.


  1. Asklander, Micke. "M/S Lady of Mann (1976)" (in in Swedish). Fakta om Fartyg. Retrieved 2008-04-26. 


  • The specifications of Lady of Mann are from the Steam Packet Company's 175th anniversary book, being correct at time of the vessel's sale. The contents of this article are from Life and Times of the Steam Packet by John Shepherd and Steam Packet 175 by Miles Cowsill and John Hendy.