Red Funnel’s new Hi-Speed flagship has been named Red Jet 7 by HRH The Duchess of Cornwall at a prestigious ceremony today in Cowes.
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.
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.
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”.