Red Funnel has today placed an order with Wight Shipyard in East Cowes for another 41 metre high-speed catamaran which will inject £7 million into the Isle of Wight economy and secure 85 highly-skilled jobs.
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. The decision underpins the new owner’s commitment to Red Funnel’s Southampton-West Cowes route and to the future growth of the Island’s economy.
Red Jet 7 will be a sister ship to the successful Red Jet 6 which was built by Wight Shipyard on the Isle of Wight in 2016. That order from Red Funnel restarted the construction of fast-ferries in the UK and on the Isle of Wight after a gap of 16 years. Delivered on time and on budget, Red Jet 6 helped Wight Shipyard secure more vessel refit contracts and two new fast-ferry orders from London based MBNA Thames Clippers, the last of which was delivered this summer.
Kevin George, Red Funnel CEO, commented: “We are thrilled to announce that Red Jet 7 will be built on the Island. The order represents a £7m 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 Island 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 3 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.”
Peter Morton, managing director of Wight Shipyard, said: "We are delighted to receive this order for Red Jet 7 which follows on from Red Jet 6 which we built last year. There can be no better endorsement than a customer placing a repeat order and I would particularly like to thank Red Funnel for their belief in our product and the quality of our work on the Isle of Wight.
“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.
"We have over 100 local companies supplying us goods and services and whilst we have our challenges in finding a permanent facility in East Cowes we are working with Local and National Government to resolve the issue."
Like her sister, Red Jet 7 will offer ground breaking levels of reliability, safety and passenger comfort with the accommodation insulated from the hulls to reduce vibration and cabin noise. Customers will experience a quiet, spacious and well-lit cabin fitted with leather seats and a sophisticated air-handling system designed to dry, cool or warm the air automatically. A high bandwidth ship-to-shore Wi-Fi system will be installed which will be free for customers and the latest travel information system will be installed to show connecting services for buses, coaches, trains and flights in real-time. Other features include USB charging-points, LED coloured lighting and a toilet.
Red Jet 7 will be one of the greenest ship 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.