Victoria of Wight, Wightlink’s new hybrid energy ferry for the Portsmouth-Fishbourne route, has been launched at Cemre shipyard in Turkey.
“This will be a proud day for Wightlink as it marks the culmination of our largest ever investment. We have spent £45M (US$63M) on our environmentally friendly new ship and improved port facilities on our lifeline route to the Isle of Wight,” said Wightlink chief executive Keith Greenfield.
Steel cutting at the shipyard began on the ferry company’s new flagship in November 2016. Cemre will complete construction work following the launch before the ship travels to home waters. Victoria of Wight will be seen around the Solent for several weeks as crew are trained to operate the vessel before it enters service mid-year.
After Victoria of Wight arrives in the Solent, Wightlink will embark on a programme to train 11 crews to “make the most of the opportunities offered by the innovative hybrid battery technology to reduce noise and emissions before introducing her to the schedule”, a statement said.
Wightlink’s £45M investment started with work to extend the upper car deck of Wightlink’s current flagship St Clare to increase its capacity.
Double-deck boarding ramps were built and installed at both Portsmouth and Fishbourne car ferry terminals to allow vehicles to be loaded on two levels at the same time. Wightlink said this immediately reduced delays and improved punctuality.
The arrival of Victoria of Wight completes the project.
More than 50 shipyards around the world, including in the UK, were asked if they were interested in building the ferry. Wightlink received 22 tenders and shortlisted five yards – from Turkey, Spain and Croatia – before choosing Cemre.