Wight Shipyard Co delivers second MBNA Thames Clippers ferry

Wight Shipyard Co delivers second MBNA Thames Clippers ferry
Jupiter Clipper has now joined the MBNA Thames Clippers fleet in London (Image: Wight Shipyard Co)

Wight Shipyard Co is celebrating after successfully delivering two new 172-passenger fast ferries to London-based operator MBNA Thames Clippers.

Designed by Sydney-based One2three Naval Architects, Jupiter Clipper and Mercury Clipper took Wight Shipyard 10 months to build and represent a £6.3 million investment in London’s port and transport infrastructure. The order also represented the largest fast-ferry contract for a UK shipyard in more than 20 years with non-government-backed funding.

“The delivery of Jupiter Clipper follows the June launch of her twin sister, which also made the 200-nautical mile journey from the Wight Shipyard facility at East Cowes on the Isle of Wight to Trinity Buoy Wharf in east London in just 10 hours,” said Peter Morton, CEO of Wight Shipyard Co. “Both vessels arrived at their new home fully certified enabling them to enter passenger service within 48 hours of completing their respective delivery voyages.”

Each of the low-wash catamarans has twin symmetric hulls, which have been designed for frequent and repeated berthing at London’s floating piers. The newbuilds are coated in marine-grade high-gloss vinyl wrapping, which is two thirds lighter than traditional marine paint.

Onboard, the air-conditioned passenger cabin features seating from Beurteaux Ocean Tourist, USB charging ports with some seats, toilet and baby changing facilities, and LCD screens showing safety messages, service and tourist information, and refreshment menus. Separating the main cabin area from the forward seating space is a kiosk, which sells snacks and beverages, including espresso coffee served by MBNA Thames Clippers’ onboard baristas. Panoramic and roof windows enable passengers to see London’s iconic skyline. The outside deck has space for 12 bicycles.

The wheelhouse is equipped with the latest in electronic, navigation and communication equipment to comply with the High Speed Craft Code. There are two forward-facing adjustable seats so the captain can sit on the centreline, and the shipmate to port.

“The new boats have been designed and built to accommodate the unique tidal conditions of the River Thames, allowing them to navigate its shallow reaches and pass under London’s famous, but sometimes low, bridges,” said Morton. “They offer London’s commuters and visitors a comfortable, relaxed and highly efficient way to get from A to B while taking in the sights of the capital.”

Jupiter Clipper and Mercury Clipper increased MBNA Thames Clippers’ total passenger capacity by 14%, which means that the company now has the largest fast commercial passenger fleet operating solely in English waters.

“It’s fantastic that we were able to build these ultra-high specification catamarans here in the UK,” said Sean Collins, MBNA Thames Clippers’ co-founder and CEO. “This build marks a significant investment in MBNA Thames Clippers and London’s river network and I’m proud of it enabling investment in our team too. Mercury and Jupiter Clipper join the fleet following the two boats we added in late 2015 and combined, the four mark a 30% growth in our fleet. Along with continued pier additions to the route, we are committed to ongoing investment in the capital’s growing river network.”

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