Red Funnel’s new Hi-Speed flagship was named Red Jet 7 by HRH the Duchess of Cornwall 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.
The Right Reverend Christopher Foster, Lord Bishop of Portsmouth blessed the new ship, followed by the Duchess of Cornwall breaking a bottle of Isle of Wight produced ‘champagne’ on Red Jet 7‘s bow and unveiling a commemorative plaque. Celebrations included a short early afternoon excursion aboard the vessel by members of the public, with all proceeds going to Red Funnel’s charity of the Year the Isle of Wight Donkey Sanctuary.
Built in East Cowes
Red Jet 7 was built in East Cowes by Wight Shipyard Co and represents a £7m investment in Red Funnel’s 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 built at the same yard.
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.
Construction of both new vessels 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 due for completion in 2020.
Launched on schedule
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.
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.”
Advanced hull design
Like her sister, Red Jet 7 uses waterjets rather than propellers to aid maneuvrability and provide impressive stopping power. An advanced hull-design and computer controlled interceptors help keep wash to an absolute minimum. She is fitted with four MTU 10V 2000 M72 main engines powering quad Hamilton HM571 waterjet units connected via ZF 3050D gearboxes.
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 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 cabin air temperature and humidity is controlled automatically. Six LED HD TV screens offer a wealth of information in real-time including local and national news headlines, 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.