Red Funnel’s new hi-speed flagship has been officially named Red Jet 7 by the Duchess of Cornwall at a prestigious ceremony in Cowes on the Isle of Wight.
The ceremony, at Trinity Landing, was attended by civic dignitaries, invited guests and members of the public including 300 children from local schools in Cowes.
Reverend Christopher Foster, lord bishop of Portsmouth blessed the new ship, which was followed by the Duchess of Cornwall breaking a bottle of Isle of Wight produced wine on Red Jet 7’s bow and unveiling a commemorative plaque.
Red Jet 7 was built in East Cowes by Wight Shipyard and represents a £7 million investment by Red Funnel in its Southampton-West Cowes route.
Despite fierce international competition, the contract was awarded to Wight Shipyard following the huge success of sister ship Red Jet 6 which was also built at the same yard in East Cowes.
Red Funnel’s order for Red Jet 6 in 2015 led to the resurrection of aluminium fast ferry shipbuilding on the Isle of Wight after a gap of 15 years.
Since then, Wight Shipyard has gone from strength to strength, winning vessel refit work and new build orders from domestic and international fast ferry operators.
The construction of both new Red Jets equates to a £13 million investment by Red Funnel in the Isle of Wight and Solent economies with a further £10 million being spent on the twin phase expansion and redevelopment of the company’s East Cowes terminal which is due for completion in 2020.
The contract for Red Jet 7 was placed in summer 2017 and the vessel was launched on schedule and on budget in June 2018.
Some 85 skilled Island craftsmen have been employed during the build, including several apprentices.
Image: Jake Sugden