Largest UK fast ferry shipyard order in over 25 years confirmed

By Cruise

The largest fast passenger ferry order for a UK shipyard in over 25 years has been confirmed by MBNA Thames Clippers Tuesday (Oct 11). Two new 170 capacity passenger boats will be built at the Wight Shipyard Co on the Isle of Wight, and will join London’s growing river transport network in summer 2017.

Representing an investment worth over £6.3million, the order will see the creation of 75 new jobs across the Isle of Wight and London, and the involvement of over 100 businesses in the South of England as part of the delivery supply chain. Plus, MBNA Thames Clippers will be creating two new dedicated apprenticeship roles. The finalisation of the two new fast ferries is the largest ever order for the recently rebranded Wight Shipyard Co (WSC) based on the Isle of Wight.

Largest UK fast ferry shipyard order in over 25 years confirmed

When the two new fast ferries join the MBNA Thames Clippers’ river bus service in central London they will add 14 per cent additional capacity to the company’s network. They swiftly follow the addition of two boats in late 2015, in total adding an additional 30 per cent capacity in two years. MBNA Thames Clippers will become the biggest commercial passenger fleet operating solely in English waters when the two newly confirmed boats enter service.

Sean Collins, founder and CEO, MBNA Thames Clippers explains: “In 2016 alone the MBNA Thames Clippers fleet will carry over four million commuters and visitors around London. We are investing in an expanded fleet, built in the UK, as well as exploring new options for piers to enhance London’s infrastructure and maximise the River Thames as a thoroughfare. Our commitment to enhancing the London river transport network is moving at a considerable pace.

“This is the first order for the new ship yard following its rebrand. The experience and track record of the company means that we have found a new innovative yard with ambition who shares our vision for high quality, safe and environmentally efficient fast ferries. The complex nature of the tidal Thames means that it takes a specialist design and build team. We are thrilled to have found the right partners using One2three Naval Architects to design the vessels and a UK shipyard for the build, to make this important investment within the British Isles.”

The two new boats will enter service in the summer of 2017 and means over £26 million has been invested by MBNA Thames Clippers in their fleet over the past ten years.

Peter Morton CEO of Wight Shipyard Co. added: "Wight Shipyard (formally Shemara Refit LLP) is delighted to be awarded the contract to build two new 35 metre high speed ferries for MBNA Thames Clippers. The company operates a large fleet of high profile ferries on the River Thames and this new order signifies that use of the river as a means of commuter transport is growing quickly.

"We are particularly pleased that these are the first high speed ferries to be built for the company in England as in the past all new MBNA Thames Clippers fast craft have been built in Australia. Having successfully completed the 40 metre Red Jet 6 for the Red Funnel Group we are confident that we will deliver high quality ferries for MBNA Thames Clippers and look forward to a long partnership with them.” 

Formerly known as Shemara Refit LLP, Wight Shipyard Co specialises in aluminum vessels for the ferry industry and has a reputation for excellent management capabilities and quality workmanship. The yard’s most recent delivery was a new 40 metre high speed passenger ferry for Isle of Wight services.

Source: Wight Shipyard