Ships of Mann
King Orry V by Bob Ellsmoor ex Chief Officer, IOMSPCo Ltd
I was appointed to the King Orry in 1993 and immediately found her to be a very adaptable and useful ship on all of the Company’s services at that time.
The Company had done a fine job of refurbishing and updating her through the 1990 and 1992 winter periods, which had involved the fitting of mezzanine decks which were unusual in that cars could be driven up one side across the centre casing and back down the other side ready for discharging again. They consisted of three sections aside with the after two capable of being lowered to the maindeck for access. All these decks could be lifted to the deckhead to create full height for freight vehicles, coaches etc or a combination of the same.
The ship had been built as a train ferry and had recessed railway lines each side of the centre casing with four sets of buffers at the forward end. The buffers were later removed to create more vehicle space and the rails filled in, but it was interesting to note she also had a heavy stringer round each side half way up the ship’s side which would suggest mez decks could be fitted at a later stage if required. She also had provision for the fitting of a bow door, again if required at a later stage.
The bow door modification was not required by the Steam Packet as through loading was not used on Manx services due to the number of freight trailers carried block stowed but it has since been fitted by Moby Lines. Through loading at the present time is only used by the Steam Packet with the 74metre Incat, Snaefell. (ex Seacat Isle of Man). It is however widely used on other ferry routes mainly for quick turnarounds, some employing a two tier loading system.
A special addition to the King Orry was the fitting of the so called Liverpool door on the starboard side aft, for use at the Liverpool landing stage. It was only fitted on one side due to the fact that all vessels were required to berth starboard side to at the stage because of the layout to segregate foot passengers and vehicles. This also introduced to the river the now familiar ebb swing required to berth on an ebb tide, not an easy manoeuvre on a fast flowing spring ebb! This practice is now used across the river at the Twelve Quays terminal by Norfolk Line vessels.
Further additions during the refits included the fitting of a second bow thrust unit, vital to help counteract the windage on the high superstructure forward during confined harbour manoeuvres. This did however take up some heeling tank space which reduced the amount of water available to pump across to bring the vessel upright after loading. I experienced the original system on her when she was the St. Eloi serving at Holyhead; it was of course designed to counteract the effect of loading railway traffic on one side and was very effective. We now had to put more thought into using the cargo to balance the ship.
The final addition to the King Orry was the fitting of a new deckhouse abaft of the funnel which contained eight passenger cabins. This, together with a full refurbishment of all the passenger accommodation made her one of the finest ships the Company has ever had and she was always much appreciated by the travelling public.
She was the first vessel in the fleet to have an inflatable escape chute system in addition to her eight lifeboats. When it was installed it meant the removal of the two after lifeboats to the upper boat deck forward. This was somewhat different to the latest units with an inbuilt raft, this system angled slightly aft when deployed and had a circular landing platform at the base, rafts would be duly launched, inflated then launched from this platform. It was all new to us and we were sent down to Dover on a one day course with P&O to familiarise ourselves with the procedures.
The loading of the King Orry was quite straightforward and we had a well tried routine in both normal service and during the TT period. The ship could also be used in freight only mode by stowing all the mez decks to give full height right down the vessel on both sides. We would occasionally assist the Peveril in this way, carrying up to twenty six trailers of various lengths. The Saturday Liverpool service in the winter was restricted to cars and low vans only, dictated by our side door height and the arches on the link bridge off the landing stage. All mez decks would be used and the stow arranged in the after end for discharge through the famous Liverpool door on the starboard quarter.