The new flagship designed and built specifically for the route, with the capacity to carry the equivalent of 178 cars and more than 1,000 people on each crossing, is planned to come into service in 2017.
It will boast a host of features to minimise the ship’s impact on the Solent and its shoreline. Plans include the capacity to use both MGO and LNG fuels, a sophisticated power management system recycling engine heat to warm water and indoor spaces, and a modern hull designed to create low levels of wash.
Wightlink has commissioned environmental specialists to ensure the proposals meet all relevant legislation.
Chief Operating Officer John Burrows has said:
“We are delighted to announce our plans to introduce the most environmentally friendly ferry ever to serve the Isle of Wight with a host of impressive modern features”.
The multi-million pound investment will also include improvements to terminals at the company’s ports at Fishbourne and Portsmouth Gunwharf. They will mean better facilities for customers, and faster loading and unloading times which will reduce congestion, particularly at Portsmouth Gunwharf. New boarding ramps will allow vehicles to be loaded and unloaded on two levels simultaneously and more quietly than at present.
Wightlink is embarking on a major consultation programme, seeking opinion from its customers, neighbours and other stakeholders on its Investing For The Future (IFTF) proposals. Anyone interested in finding out more about the plans can see full details online at www.wightlink.co.uk/IFTF
Chief Executive Russell Kew and the management team will be available to answer questions at ‘drop in’ consultation sessions at both Fishbourne and Portsmouth Gunwharf terminals. Information about the proposals will also be on display.
Chief Operating Officer John Burrows says:
“Wightlink is proud to invest in our lifeline service to and from the Isle of Wight. Since 2009 we have bought five new ships for our Ryde Pier Head to Portsmouth and Yarmouth to Lymington routes, and we are delighted to be announcing today’s investment in our Fishbourne to Portsmouth Gunwharf route.
“Our new ship announced today will be the most modern, comfortable and environmentally friendly ferry crossing the Solent and we look forward to carrying many more Islanders and holidaymakers every year.
“The works to our terminals will see improved customer facilities, quicker and quieter loading and unloading, and reduced traffic congestion. The introduction of a second tier of boarding lanes at Portsmouth will have a particularly positive effect on reducing traffic and improving road safety for pedestrians in and around the harbour.
“Today we are inviting our customers and other stakeholders to share their views on our project to modernise and improve the service we offer.”
Andrew Turner, the Island’s MP, has welcomed the announcement, saying:
“I am delighted that Wightlink’s new owners have shown such confidence in the future of the Island and the company with this new investment. I look forward to the improvements in service that will be delivered when the new ship comes into service”.