Red Funnel’s new Hi-Speed flagship was named Red Jet 6 by HRH The Princess Royal on Monday at a prestigious ceremony 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 followed by the breaking of a bottle of Island produced champagne on her bow and the unveiling of a commemorative plaque by HRH The Princess Royal. The celebrations, which were viewed by the public included a parachute display by the Red Devils and a fly-past by an historic Spitfire.

Red Jet 6 was built in East Cowes by Shemara Refit LLP and represents a £6m investment by Red Funnel in marine manufacturing on the Isle of Wight. Despite fierce competition, the contract was awarded to Shemara Refit as their proposal met the technical brief and was competitively priced; they were also keen to build the vessel in the famous “Union Jack” building in East Cowes. The team also had a proven track record following the extremely impressive restoration of the famous motor yacht Shemara for Sir Charles Dunstone in 2014.

The contract was placed in May 2015 and the vessel was launched on schedule and on budget in May 2016, marking the return of fast ferry building to the Isle of Wight and Great Britain. Some 80 skilled Island craftsmen have been employed during the build including several new apprentices thanks in part to a joint initiative with the Royal Yacht Squadron’s Isle of Wight Foundation.

Key points

  • First fast ferry of her type to be built in Great Britain for 16 years.
  • £6m investment by Red Funnel in the Isle of Wight’s economy, creating local jobs, developing manufacturing skills and acting as a showcase and catalyst for future marine work.
  • At 41m in length, she is Red Funnel’s largest Hi-Speed Red Jet to date and showcases a striking new livery inspired by the rooster-tail wake common to waterjet powered craft.
  • First Red Jet to be fitted with a quad propulsion package to improve in-service availability. She’s also the greenest ship in the fleet with a host of technical innovations to reduce fuel consumption, exhaust emissions, noise and wash.
  • Adds significant capacity to the Southampton-West Cowes ferry route, carrying 275 passengers and 4 wheelchairs. This is a considerable increase compared to Red Jet 5; the vessel she replaces.
  • Cross-Solent travellers will experience benchmark-setting levels of comfort thanks to dynamic ride control, a sophisticated dehumidifier & air conditioning system, USB charging points, FREE high-speed Wi-Fi, toilet facilities and LED lighting.
  • Six TV screens are fitted to display the vessels GPS position, local & national news, real-time travel information for connecting services and a live feed from bow & stern facing cameras.

Kevin George, Red Funnel’s CEO said:We would very much like to thank HRH The Princess Royal for naming Red Jet 6. The ship is the first of her kind to be built in Great Britain for 16 years and it is only fitting that the naming ceremony took place where she was built in Cowes.

Red Jet 6 represents a £6m investment by Red Funnel in marine manufacturing on the Island and the team at Shemara Refit can be extremely proud of not only building a ship of such high quality but also for delivering it on time and on budget. Red Jet 6 adds a significant increase in capacity to our Southampton-West Cowes route and we are confident she will help grow the market by offering ground breaking levels of passenger comfort, reliability and safety”.

Peter Morton, CEO of Shemara Refit said:Red Jet 6 represents a number of important firsts and is testament to the world-class skills and dedication of the entire team at Shemara Refit. Red Jet 6 is proof that we can build and refit technically advanced fast ferries competitively on the Isle of Wight and I’m confident that she will lead to future orders from operators around the world”.

Jonathan Bacon, leader of the Isle of Wight Council said: “We were delighted that Red Funnel chose a company based on the Isle of Wight to construct its newest Red Jet craft. This certainly demonstrates that the Island has the necessary skills and facilities to build these types of vessels – on a competitive basis with shipyards around the world – and sends out a strong message that the Island is a great place to do business”.

Like her sisters, Red Jet 6 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. In a break with tradition, she is fitted with four main engines rather than the usual two. Each MTU 10V 2000 M72 diesel powers a separate MJP 500 waterjet unit connected via a ZF 3050D gearbox. This configuration will help reduce fuel consumption by 11% vs. Red Jet 4 and 30% vs. Red Jet 5. It will also provide high levels of in-service availability as she can operate on two or three engines if any waterjet intakes become obstructed by floating debris. 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 6 achieve an impressive top speed of 42.4 knots (48.8mph) in trials which is well in excess of her required in-service speed of 36-38 knots.

Internally, Red Jet 6 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 featured highly on the wish-lists from customers so these 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.

Despite the short 23-minute crossing time many customers wanted a toilet so a wheelchair-friendly unisex facility has been installed. 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, trains and flights. 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.

Red Jet 6 is due to enter service between Southampton and West Cowes in mid-July 2016.

For more information: redfunnel.co.uk/redjet6

Images available here: https://we.tl/PmVDdmRIju