Two senior figures who between them have amassed more than half a century at the Steam Packet are to retire later this year.

Chief Executive Officer Mark Woodward and Commercial Director John Watt will both leave in July.

Between them, the two men have chalked up 58 years with the Steam Packet during which time they have overseen a large number of changes for the company including its purchase by the Manx government and securing the construction of the new flagship Manxman, which is due to come into service in 2023.

Having joined the company in 1989, Mark Woodward replaced Hamish Ross as Chief Executive Officer in 2007.

He said: ‘I have been contemplating retirement for a year or so now. While I was pleased in December to be asked to stay for a few more years, ultimately the glimpse of freedom offered by working from home last year led to my final decision. I have steered the company through both calm seas and choppy waters for 14 years now and I am happy it will be in safe hands under the Chairmanship of Lars Ugland. I will, of course, miss all my colleagues and the camaraderie in the office. It has been a genuine pleasure and an honour to work for such a vital and historic company.’

John Watt moved to the company in 1995 and joined the Board of Directors eight years later.

He said: ‘It has been a privilege to serve this great Company over a fascinating period in its long history. In that time, fast craft has replaced conventional tonnage in some areas, special offers rather than standard fares have become the norm, the number of Liverpool services has virtually trebled and Heysham passenger services have doubled. It has been a real pleasure working for such an important Company and with such friendly and professional colleagues.’

Chairman Lars Ugland added: ‘I’d like to place on record our gratitude for both Mark and John’s long service and acknowledge the fine contribution they have made. Under Mark’s leadership, the Company has made great strides to provide what is best for our island, stabilising the long-term future of sea services for the Isle of Man and its people.

‘His quick intelligence, huge experience, sense of humour and loyalty have made him an excellent Chief Executive and he has offered constant wise counsel, always with the best interests of the company and the Isle of Man at heart. He will be much missed by me, the staff and the Board. Likewise, John’s diligent and efficient manner has served us well and he too will be greatly missed, both on a personal level as well as for his contribution to the Company’s success.’

Meanwhile, two separate investigations into the Steam Packet’s adherence to Covid regulations are continuing. One is led by Treasury’s Director of Audit Advisory Stephen Hind and the other by Tynwald’s Public Accounts Committee.

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