Red Funnel’s new Hi-Speed flagship was named Red Jet 6 by HRH The Princess Royal on 4 July at a ceremony in Cowes on the Isle of Wight, writes Andrew Cooke.
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, watched by members of 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 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.
Construction of the 41.2m by 10.87m vessel took 12 months. Red Jet 6 replaces the 1999-built Red Jet 5, which was purchased for the Cowes-Southampton route in 2009 to replace the FBM-built Red Jet 1 and Red Jet 2 that began the Red Jet era in 1991.
The 35m/186 seater Red Jet 5 has been sold to ferry operator Toremar Regionale Maritima SpA from Livorno, Italy for an undisclosed sum and she left Southampton by ship on 9 July. Red Jets 1 & 2 were sold in May 2009 to operators in the Caspian Sea.
The 1998-built Red Jet 3 remains in frontline service and was also built at Cowes, while the 39.88m/275 passenger capacity Red Jet 4, upon which the 275-passenger capacity Red Jet 6 is largely based, was constructed in 2003 by North West Bay Ships Pty Ltd, Hobart, Tasmania.
Unlike her predecessors, Red Jet 6 has four MTU 10V 2000 M72 engines and four MJP 500 DRB waterjets while the others have two of each. The extra machinery is for redundancy purposes so that, if an engine or waterjet develops an issue, the craft can remain in operation. The service speed is 38 knots.
The spacious passenger deck is separated from the hulls by anti-vibration mountings designed to reduce noise and vibration in the same way that the cockpit of the 12000TD hovercraft is mounted.