In 2010, the world's oldest steamship line celebrated its 180th anniversary. For 183 years, the Isle of Man Steam Packet Co. has been the lifeline to the island, providing passenger and freight services for the island. Almost into the twentieth century, the ships were primarily paddle steamers but screw steamers took over then. In 1962, the first ro-ro ferries arrived and by the late 1990s catamarans were being used, offering a huge increase in speed. The ships saw service during both wars and IOMSP vessels carried about one in fourteen of all the soldiers rescued at Dunkirk. After numerous changes of owners, the IOMSP is now owned by Portuguese investment banks but continues to dominate the Irish Sea routes to the Isle of Man, despite the competition from air transport. Ian Collard, who has written many books on the Mersey and its ships, tells the story of the Steam Packet through time.
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