Red Funnel has placed an order with Wight Shipyard Ltd for another 41 m high-speed catamaran.
The order for Red Jet 7 marks the first major investment in Red Funnel by the consortium of UK and Canadian pension funds which acquired the cross-Solent ferry operator in July 2017.
Red Jet 7 will be a sister ship to Red Jet 6 which was built by Wight Shipyard on the Isle of Wight in 2016.
Red Funnel chief executive Kevin George commented “The order represents a £7M (US$9M) investment in the local economy and will secure a wide range of skilled jobs in East Cowes and in the local supply chain. I am delighted that our new investors are showing, at such an early stage, their commitment to the future of Red Funnel, the Isle of Wight and local businesses.
“Red Jet 7 will be virtually identical to Red Jet 6 which has proved to be efficient, comfortable and popular with our customers. Once Red Jet 7 joins the fleet next summer we will have three large modern Red Jets each capable of carrying 277 passengers in comfort in all weather conditions. The introduction of Red Jet 7 will represent a further 51% increase in capacity for the Red Jet service.”
Wight Shipyard managing director Peter Morton said “I am extremely proud of my colleagues at Wight Shipyard who I am convinced now build the finest high-speed ferries in the world. This contract follows the two boats we recently completed for MBNA Thames Clippers in London and with final contracts for our first export order being negotiated, the prospects for the Wight Shipyard and the 85 jobs on the Island are healthy”.
Red Funnel said that Red Jet 7 will be one of the greenest ships in Red Funnel’s fleet with a host of design features to reduce fuel consumption and protect the environment in line with the company’s ISO 14001 accreditation.
Using waterjets rather than propellers will aid manoeuvrability and provide stopping power while keeping wash to an absolute minimum.
It will be fitted with four main MTU 2000 series diesel engines, each connected to a Hamilton DRP-500QD waterjet unit.
Other technical innovations to reduce fuel consumption include using vinyl instead of paint for the superstructure to reduce weight and applying the latest Teflon hull coatings to minimise drag through the water. Installing a rescue boat on the stern will also enable the vessel to operate outside the confines of the Solent.