The news of the Isle of Man Government’s acquisition of the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company announced in May, and expected to be agreed and completed as this edition of Sea Breezes goes to print, surprised me.
Founded in 1830, this famous old company has a proud record of service to the island and, indeed, through two World Wars to the British nation. As an example during ‘Operation Dynamo’ (May 27th-June 4th 1940) – the evacuation of retreating allied troops from Dunkirk – eight ships of the IOM Steam Packet Co were involved. The Steam Packet paid a high price, in a period of less than 24 hours on the 29th May 1940, three of the company’s vessels were lost – the Mona’s Queen, Fenella and the King Orry. It is considered that circa 25,000 allied troops were evacuated from Dunkirk by the IOM Steam Packet vessels.
My own past involvement with the Isle of Man Steam Packet was a strong one. In the early 1990s, I became a Director of the Steam Packet and when Sea Containers acquired the Steam Packet in 1996, I had the honour and privilege of becoming its Managing Director 1996-2007.
I am not a great believer in state control of businesses, but do hope that the strong Steam Packet management team will be allowed to run the business without too much political interference. In my own time with the company, all of us felt privileged to be playing a part in the ongoing story of a very special shipping company. We were proud of the island we served and hoped that many people in the island were equally proud of the historic shipping company which has, over so many years, provided the island’s ‘lifeline’ services.
To all involved in taking the Steam Packet forward, I wish every success.