The announcement has been made by CEO Kevin George at Venture Quays, where the new hi-speed vessel is going to be built with a local workforce with the creation of up to 50 jobs, including apprenticeships.
Shemara Refit won the order for Red Jet 6 by offering a competitively priced vessel which met Red Funnel’s design brief and desire to have the vessel built on the Isle of Wight. Confidence in Shemara Refit’s management capabilities and quality of workmanship stemmed from the impressive restoration of the famous motor yacht Shemara for Sir Charles Dunstone.
Red Jet 6 will enter service in Summer 2016 with production starting in July of this year at a cost of £6.1million, but Kevin George says prices won’t go up because a new Red Jet is coming.
Passengers will experience a quiet, spacious and well-lit cabin with leather seats and a sophisticaed air-handling system. A new high bandwidth ship-to-shore Wifi system will be free to customers and provisions have been made to carry a total of 22 bicycles and 4 wheelchairs.
The new hi-speed craft will carry a total of 275 passengers – the same as Red Jet 4 – and will be built in two halves. It will boast a total of 4 jets instead of 2 on existing Red Jets, which means significantly less service downtime. At 40 metres in length, RJ6 will be able to travel a speed of up to 38 knots and can go 200 miles without refueling.
The Island’s MP, Andrew Turner, has warmly welcomed today’s announcement:
“Any investment aimed at improving cross-Solent services is to be applauded, but this is truly fantastic news from Red Funnel. It is another great boost to the Island’s economy and a real vote of confidence in the future of the British boat-building industry. The Island’s long-standing reputation of technological innovation and engineering excellence is further enhanced by the decision to build Red Jet 6 here.
“The fortunes of the Island and the ferry companies are inextricably linked, so I congratulate this forward-thinking by the owners and managers of Red Funnel who so clearly recognise that”.
Commenting on the news, Isle of Wight Council leader, Councillor Jonathan Bacon, said:
“We are delighted that Red Funnel has chosen 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.
“The Isle of Wight Council works closely with a wide range of marine businesses, supporting growth, supply-chain development and with innovation. Support was offered to all of those Solent based companies who tendered for the contract and the council’s economic development team and other local partners will now work closely with Shemara Refit to support build process and any future build projects. The potential supply-chain benefits for the marine sector locally are significant.
“The council is working hard to attract inward investment, there-by securing more skilled employment for local people. Today’s announcement is very welcome news and credit needs to be given to Red Funnel for seeking to support the economic wellbeing of the Island. This could be described as a win-win situation.”
Red Funnel is now inviting customers and members of the public to submit their ideas and suggestions for features they would like to see fitted or introduced on Red Jet 6. Some of the more challenging ideas will be given to local students to try and develop practical solutions.
The Red Jet 6 project will be used to engage with local schools and colleges who have students interested in a career in engineering or manufacturing. It is hoped a viewing gallery will be installed at Venture Quays to enable members of the public to watch the build processs and to fit a webcam so progress can be seen online.
More information about Red Jet 6 and details of how to submit ideas and suggestions can be found at www.redfunnel.co.uk/redjet6.