After months of planning and preparation, work has started to build Wightlink’s new flagship for the Fishbourne-Portsmouth route. It will come into service in summer 2018.

Staff at the Cemre shipyard in Yalova began cutting steel on Tuesday (4 October) in a ceremony watched by Operations Director Elwyn Dop and project manager Colin Stanton.

Steel cutting begins on Wightlink’s new ferry

Cemre chairman Orhan Gulcek hands a souvenir of the steel cutting ceremony to Wightlink Operations Director Elwyn Dop

The new ship is part of Wightlink’s £45million Investing for the Future programme and will be able to carry more than 1,000 passengers and up to 178 cars. The most environmentally friendly ferry to sail the Solent, it will use diesel electric hybrid batteries (with marine gas oil) for propulsion and waste heat from the generator engines for heating. The eco-efficient lifts will put power back into the ship’s electrical supply harnessing excess energy generated by the elevators. Together with motion-activated LED lighting, these initiatives will all lead to a significant reduction in the ferry’s carbon footprint.

The project also includes new two tier boarding ramps at Fishbourne and Portsmouth Gunwharf to enable more efficient loading and unloading at both terminals. Work will begin shortly to sink piles ahead of construction works, there will be 256 at Portsmouth Gunwharf and seven at Fishbourne. Wightlink will be using the quietest method of piling – continuous flight auger – and will not be working at night. The new boarding ramps will be ready for use by St Clare in summer 2017.

“While we are doing all we can to minimise disruption over the next few months, we are sorry if any of our customers experience any inconvenience while our development is underway,” says Operations Director Elwyn Dop. “Our investment will enable us to carry more customers at times they want to travel in greater comfort.”

A revised timetable will be in operation on 1, 2 and 3 November 2016. Car ferry services from Fishbourne will use Portsmouth International Port (PIP) while piling is underway close to the boarding ramp at Gunwharf.

Source: Wightlink UK