The new ferries will be in the same class as Galaxy Clipper., pictured passing in front of Big Ben in London
London-based ferry operator MBNA Thames Clippers has ordered two 170-passenger ferries from the Wight Shipyard on the Isle of Wight.
Representing the largest fast passenger ferry order at a UK shipyard in more than 25 years, the two newbuilds will cost over £6.3million and are due for delivery in summer 2017. Together, they will add 14% more capacity to the line’s river bus service in central London and enable it to become the biggest commercial passenger fleet operating solely in English waters.
“In 2016 alone the MBNA Thames Clippers fleet will carry over four million commuters and visitors around London,” said Sean Collins, founder and CEO of MBNA Thames Clippers. “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.”
MBNA Thames Clippers’ newbuilds represent the first order for Wight Shipyard, which recently rebranded from Shemara Refit. In total, the project is expected to create 75 new jobs across the Isle of Wight and London, and the involve more than 100 businesses in the South of England. Plus, MBNA Thames Clippers will create two new dedicated apprenticeship roles.
“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,” said Collins. “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.”
Wight Shipyard specialises in aluminium vessels for the ferry industry and most recently delivered Red Jet 6 for Red Funnel Group on the Isle of Wight.
“Wight Shipyard is delighted to be awarded the contract to build two new 35m high-speed ferries for MBNA Thames Clippers,” said Peter Morton CEO of Wight Shipyard. “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 40m 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 the company.”