Red Funnel's new Hi-Speed flagship is named Red Jet 7 by HRH The Duchess of Cornwall at a prestigious ceremony today in Cowes on the Isle of Wight.
The ceremony, at Trinity Landing, was attended by civic dignitaries, invited guests and members of the public including 300 children from local schools in Cowes.
The Right Reverend Christopher Foster, Lord Bishop of Portsmouth blessed the new ship, which was followed by HRH The Duchess of Cornwall breaking a bottle of Isle of Wight produced 'champagne' on Red Jet 7's bow and unveiling a commemorative plaque. The celebrations included a short early afternoon excursion aboard Red Jet 7 for members of the public, with all the proceeds going to the Isle of Wight Donkey Sanctuary, which is Red Funnel's Charity of the Year.
Red Jet 7 was built in East Cowes by Wight Shipyard Co and represents a £7m investment by Red Funnel in its Southampton-West Cowes route. Despite fierce international competition, the contract was awarded to Wight Shipyard following the huge success of sister ship Red Jet 6 which was also built at the same yard in East Cowes.
Red Funnel's order for Red Jet 6 in 2015 led to the resurrection of aluminium fast ferry shipbuilding on the Isle of Wight after a gap of 15 years. Since then, Wight Shipyard has gone from strength to strength, winning vessel refit work and new build orders from domestic and international fast ferry operators.
The construction of both new Red Jets equates to a £13m investment by Red Funnel in the Isle of Wight and Solent economies with a further £10m being spent on the twin phase expansion and redevelopment of the company's East Cowes terminal which is due for completion in 2020.
The contract for Red Jet 7 was placed in summer 2017 and the vessel was launched on schedule and on budget in June 2018. Some 85 skilled Island craftsmen have been employed during the build, including several apprentices.
• £7m investment by Red Funnel in the Isle of Wight's economy, sustaining local jobs, developing manufacturing skills and acting as a showcase and catalyst for future marine work.
• First Red Jet to be designed for charter and excursion work with the ability to operate outside the Solent.
• Greenest Red Jet in the fleet - 4 tons lighter than Red Jet 6 which aids manoeuvrability, improves fuel consumption and further reduces emissions and wash. Red Jet 7, in contrast to Red Jet 3 which she replaces, meets tough MARPOL IMO Tier ll engine emission standards and uses vinyl instead of paint to save weight and reduce the environmental impact from Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs).
• Adds significant additional capacity to the Southampton-West Cowes ferry route with 51% more seats than the outgoing Red Jet 3. Red Jet 4, 6 and 7 all have 275 seats and space for wheelchairs.
• Unrivalled travel experience thanks to dynamic ride control, sophisticated dehumidifier & air conditioning system, leather seats, toilets, charging points, FREE high-speed Wi-Fi, LED lighting and a refreshment service. TV screens display the vessels GPS position, local & national news and real-time travel information for connecting services. All these features are now standard across the fleet.
• In conjunction with South Western Railway, Red Funnel's Southampton-West Cowes route is the fastest service between London Waterloo and the Isle of Wight with journey times of under 2 hours using connecting services.
• Through-tickets arrangements are in place with Hythe Ferry, National Express and all train operating companies.
Kevin George, Red Funnel's Chairman said: "We would very much like to thank HRH The Duchess of Cornwall for naming Red Jet 7. It is only fitting that the naming ceremony took place in Cowes where the boat will be a very frequent visitor and in sight of where she was built in the 'Union Jack' building. Red Jet 7 represents another significant investment by Red Funnel in marine manufacturing on the Island and the team at Wight Shipyard can be extremely proud of not only building a ship of such high quality but also for delivering her on time and on budget."
Fran Collins, Red Funnel's CEO said: "The arrival of Red Jet 7 continues to enhance our fleet and gives our customers an unrivalled travel experience. She also adds more capacity to our Southampton-West Cowes route to accommodate the anticipated growth in the Isle of Wight's population and economy over the next 10 years.
We are actively encouraging more people to visit the Island on foot and the new Red Jet based day-trip tours and packages that we have just launched will make the Island even more accessible for visitors. Red Jet 7 will also be used to help develop the excursion and private charter market to places like The Needles and to watch events like the Bournemouth Airshow."
Peter Morton, CEO of Wight Shipyard said: "Red Jet 7 demonstrates once again that we can build technically advanced high-speed ferries that are amongst the best in the world. The manufacturing skills and dedication of the entire team at Wight Shipyard is unsurpassed and I'm confident that Red Jet 7 will help us expand our already full order book in the years ahead".
Dave Stewart, leader of the Isle of Wight Council said: "We were delighted that Red Funnel once again chose Wight Shipyard in East Cowes to build its latest Red Jet. Marine manufacturing is an important sector for the Isle of Wight and Red Jet 7 is proof that we can compete against shipyards around the world – it sends out a strong message that the Island is a great place to do business".
Alastair Welch, Director ABP Southampton said: "We are delighted that Red Jet 7 will be a frequent visitor to the Port of Southampton along with the rest of the fleet. Red Funnel plays a key role in the prosperity of the region and every year we welcome over 3 million people to the port using their services to and from the Isle of Wight."
Like her sisters, Red Jet 7 uses waterjets rather than propellers to aid manoeuvrability and provide impressive stopping power. An advanced hull-design and computer controlled interceptors also help keep the wash to an absolute minimum which is good news for leisure craft. She is fitted with four MTU 10V 2000 M72 main engines powering quad Hamilton HM571 waterjet units connected via ZF 3050D gearboxes. This proven configuration will ensure high levels of in-service availability as she can operate on two or three engines if any waterjet intakes become obstructed by debris in the Solent. Exhaust emissions fully comply with the IMO Tier II regulations.
Other technical innovations to help reduce fuel consumption include the use of specialist marine grade vinyl instead of paint for the superstructure to reduce weight and the application of the latest Teflon hull coatings to minimise drag through the water. Such technology has helped Red Jet 7 achieve a top speed of 39 knots (44.9 mph) in trials which is in excess of her required in-service speed of 36-38 knots.
Internally, Red Jet 7 offers a premium experience with 275 comfortable high-back leather seats with cup-holders, space for four wheelchairs and ample amounts of luggage. USB charging points for phones and tablets have been fitted to all window seats. In common with the rest of the fleet, FREE Wi-Fi is available, offering customers a fast and stable ship-to-shore connection.
Other features include wheelchair-friendly unisex toilets, LED lighting is provided throughout and the cabin air temperature and humidity is controlled automatically thanks to a sophisticated air-handling system which puts a stop to internal condensation on the windows; all of which are tinted to prevent glare.
Six LED HD TV screens offer a wealth of information in real-time including local and national news headlines, the latest weather and live travel connections for buses, coaches and trains. The screens also show the vessels GPS position along the route and can display a live video feed from external cameras facing forward and aft.
For more information: redfunnel.co.uk/redjet7 #redjet7
Notes to editors
Aluminium fast ferries have been designed and built on the Isle of Wight in the past. Three pioneering Solent class catamarans were built by FBM Marine in Cowes for Red Funnel in 1991, 1992 and 1998 and FBM's customers included the Ministry of Defence and Thames Clippers. Vessels were also constructed for operators in Portugal, Greece and Asia and large 45m and 53m gas-turbine TriCat catamarans were built between 1995 and 1999 for service in Greece, Hong Kong and Macau. The Cowes shipyard closed in 2000, marking the end of building displacement fast ferries in the UK until Red Funnel placed the order for Red Jet 6 in 2015.
Red Funnel is the original Isle of Wight ferry company with roots tracing back to 1820. Based in the UK port of Southampton, Red Funnel carries 2.3m passengers and over 857,000 vehicles on its ferry route between the UK port of Southampton and East Cowes and over 1.1m passengers between Southampton and West Cowes on its Red Jet Hi-Speed service.
Red Funnel first started trialling a Hi-Speed service between Southampton and West Cowes from 1933 to 1938 with 11 seat twin engine motor cruiser 'Island Enterprise'. After conducting trials with hovercraft in 1968, the service resumed in 1969 using an Italian designed and built 55 seat hydrofoil named 'Shearwater'. The following year, hydrofoil 'Shearwater II' joined the fleet but was replaced in 1972 by the larger 67 seat 'Shearwater III', 'Shearwater IV' was added in 1973. These two 32.5 knot, low-wash craft remained in service until 1992, completing the crossing in 23 minutes. In response to increasing traffic, 'Shearwaters V & VI' were added to the fleet in 1980 and 1982 respectively and remained as back-up craft until 1998. Demand continued to grow throughout the 1980s to the point where larger vessels were needed. In 1990 Red Funnel placed an order with FBM Marine in Cowes for two Solent Class low-wash aluminium catamarans. Each had a capacity for 138 passengers and a service speed of 35.5 knots. The waterjet propelled craft provided a much enhanced travel experience and proved hugely successful with passengers. The larger 35 metre Red Jet 3 was ordered from FBM in 1997 and joined the fleet the following year replacing the last two hydrofoils which were sold for use in Thailand. With the closure of FBM's yard in Cowes in 2000, Red Funnel was forced to look abroad and ordered the 39.8 metre, 275 seat Red Jet 4 from North West Bay Ships in Tasmania in 2002. Red Jet 1 and 2 were sold for use in the Black Sea in 2009 and were replaced by the 35 metre US built Red Jet 5 in the same year. Red Jet 5 was sold to an Italian operator in June 2016 and was replaced by Red Jet 6.