Passenger Vessel Archive

Since 1840, Red Funnel has built many innovative ships with pioneering designs for the time. These include vessels for the cross-Solent packet services, numerous tug boats and tenders for the great liners and famous, streamlined excursion boats which sailed to France and all along the south coast.

A lot has changed over the years; steam (produced by coal and then oil), gave way to diesel and paddle wheels and even screw propellors have been replaced by more efficient waterjet and Voith Schneider designs. Who knows whether our forefathers in 1840 could ever envisage a vessel such as Red Jet 6 crossing the Solent at 48mph with virtually no wash!

Tabs

1840-1860

 

PS Gem

PS Gempaddle steamer
Registered No: 25119
Builders: J.White, Cowes, Isle of Wight
Built: 1840
Acquired: 1861
Tonnage: 87 tonnes gross
Dimensions: 107'6" x 14'9"
Machinery: 40hp - paddle
Withdrawn: 1883 (scrapped 1889)


Built for Isle of Wight Steam Packet Company and launched 5 September 1839. She was passed to the present company on its formation in 1861. In 1867 she was based in Cowes for tendering American liners in Cowes Roads, at a time when many Americans were coming ashore in Cowes. From 1869 she carried freight traffic and was finally withdrawn after 43 years service.

 

PS Ruby



PS Rubypaddle steamer
Registered No: 13862
Builders: Day, Summers & Co. Northam
Built: 1841
Acquired: 1861
Tonnage: 103 tonnes gross
Dimensions: 114'9" x 16'4"
Machinery: 40hp - paddle
Withdrawn: 1872 (scrapped 1872)


The first Isle of Wight steamer to be built of iron and ordered by the new competing concern, South Western & Isle of Wight Steam Navigation Co. She was launched 14 October 1840 at Northam as 'The Pride of the Waters' and after bankruptcy was acquired by the Isle of Wight Royal Mail Co. and renamed Ruby. She was one of the earliest excursion steamers, inaugurating a Southampton-Swanage voyage in 1849. From 1861 she was used for cargo duties but in 1870 she was hired by a priest to meet refugees crossing from France during the French/German War.

 

PS Pearl

PS Pearlpaddle steamer
Registered No: 13863
Builders: Day, Summers & Co. Northam
Built: 1844
Acquired: 1861
Tonnage: 64 tonnes gross
Dimensions: 89'8" x 13'3"
Machinery: 32hp - paddle
Withdrawn: 1867 (scrapped 1875)


Built of iron for Isle of Wight Royal Mail Co. and launched 2 May 1844. She was sold for £150 at public auction in 1867 after 23 years service.

 

PS Queen (I)

PS Queen (I)paddle steamer
Registered No: 13865
Builders: Day, Summers & Co. Northam
Built: 1848
Acquired: 1861
Tonnage: 93 tonnes gross
Dimensions: 117'1" x 14'0"
Machinery: 40hp - paddle
Withdrawn: 1876 (scrapped 1876)


Built of iron for Isle of Wight Royal Mail Co. She hit the headlines in September 1868 for sinking the yacht Ulalie and again on 15 April 1874 when she transhipped the body of Dr David Livingstone from the P&O ship Malwa to the Royal Pier on route to Westminster Abbey for his funeral on 18 April 1874.

 

PS Medina (I)

PS Medina (I)paddle steamer
Registered No: 13860
Builders: J. White, Cowes, Isle of Wight
Built: 1852
Acquired: 1861
Tonnage: 104 tonnes gross
Dimensions: 120'8" x 14'9"
Machinery: 50hp - paddle
Withdrawn: 1882 (scrapped 1883)


Acquired unused by Isle of Wight Royal Mail Co. as PS 'Times', she had lain engineless on the River Medina having been commisioned by a competing interest that had gone bankrupt. Engined by Summers, Day and Baldock, she was renamed 'Medina' and proved a fast and popular excursion boat. Although the first Medina of the present company, her predecessor of the same name 1822-1848 opened up many of the sea routes to steam, holding title of the first steamer into Guernsey in 1823, the first steamer to circumnavigate the Isle of Wight and known for occasional trips to Le Havre. Withdrawn after 21 years service.

 

PS Emerald

PS Emeraldpaddle steamer
Registered No: 22532
Builders: Day, Summers & Co. Northam
Built: 1857
Acquired: 1861
Tonnage: 69 tonnes gross
Dimensions: 105'0" x 14'1"
Machinery: 32hp oscillating - paddle
Withdrawn: 1871


Built of iron for Isle of Wight Steam Packet Co. with oscillating engines. She was often based in Yarmouth running into Cowes to feed the main packet service. She retired after 10 years with the Company and was sold to the Spanish.

 

PS Saphire

PS Saphirepaddle steamer
Registered No: 29130
Builders: CA Day, Northam, Southampton
Built: 1860
Acquired: 1861
Tonnage: 82 tonnes gross
Dimensions: 120'3" x 14'5"
Machinery: 40hp oscillating - paddle
Withdrawn: 1873


Built of iron with two oscillating engines and Morgan's patented feathering paddles for the Isle of Wight Steam Packet Co. On her trials she ran from Southampton to Portsmouth via Cowes in 1 hr 50 minutes. In April 1864 she was used by the Italian statesman Giuseppe Garibaldi who sailed to Cowes to visit Lord Alfred Tennyson at Farringford. Saphire was withdrawn after 12 years service and sold to the Spanish.

1861-1880


PS Lord of the Isles

PS Lord of the Islespaddle steamer
Registered No: 29100
Builders: Thames Shipbuilding Co.
Built: 1861
Acquired: 1865
Tonnage: 126 tonnes gross
Dimensions: 145'0" x 18'1"
Machinery: oscillating paddle
Withdrawn: 1889 (scrapped 1889)


Built for the competing Southampton, Isle of Wight and Portsmouth Improved Steam Boat Co. this iron hulled Solent steamer was the first to have deckhouse saloons, a ladies cabin, hot water pipe heating and even a promenade deck with seats and a handrail. Her maiden voyage was on 6 May 1861 where she made 14.18 knots over the Stokes Bay measured mile. Within a year her owners were bankrupt and she was purchased by the newly formed Red Funnel in 1865. On 1 August 1871 she was deployed on the R.Y.S Cowes fireworks excursion from Portsmouth and Ryde but drifted across the bows of another Southampton steamer. In the pursuing investigation she was found to have 400 passengers aboard despite a certificate for only 208. From 1883 until retirement Lord of the Isles was used for cargo duties.

 

PS Lady of the Lake



PS Lady of the Lakepaddle steamer
Registered No: 43772
Builders: Thames Shipbuilding Co.
Built: 1861
Acquired: 1865
Tonnage: 104 tonnes gross
Dimensions: 147'6" x 17'9"
Machinery: oscillating paddle
Withdrawn: 1887 (scrapped 1887)


Sister ship to Lord of the Isles and again built for the opposition, the Southampton, Isle of Wight and Portsmouth Improved Steam Boat Co. This steamer was acquired by Red Funnel in 1865 for passenger duties. She had a perculiar forward saloon which was oval in shape and the aft saloon did not extend the full width of the hull. In 1882 she was modified for cargo work.

 

PS Vectis



PS Vectispaddle steamer
Registered No: 56125
Builders: J. White & Co, Cowes
Built: 1866
Acquired: 1866
Tonnage: 137 tonnes gross
Dimensions: 150'6" x 18'2"
Machinery: 60hp paddle
Withdrawn: 1910 (scrapped 1911)


This wooden hulled steamer was the first built for the Southampton Isle of Wight and South of England Royal Mail Steam Packet Company Limited ("Red Funnel") and was launched on 14 June 1866 by Miss Elizabeth Lamb, daughter of the Chairman. In 1870 Vectis was used to tow the yacht 'Cambria' from Cowes to the Nab for the start of 3 races with the yacht 'Sappho'. PS Ruby was used to tow 'Sappho' but required assistance from Vectis due to the strong wind. With officials aboard, she escorted the yachts eastwards to Beachy Head before returning to Cowes arriving at 3am the next day. Cambria won the race, arriving in Cowes at 4am and Sappho at 6am! With newer ships taking over excursion work, Vectis was used on the packet services until 1887 when she was converted into a cargo steamer - the removal of her clipper bow reduced her length to 140'8".

 

PS Southampton



PS Southamptonpaddle steamer
Registered No: 62236
Builders: Barclay, Curle & Co Ltd Glasgow
Built: 1872
Acquired: 1872
Tonnage: 203 tonnes gross
Dimensions: 150'1" x 20'0"
Machinery: compound diagonal, paddle
Withdrawn: 1902 (scrapped 1915)

Southampton was the first of a series of iron-hulled ships built on the Clyde. She had a narrow deck saloon aft, an open foredeck, a foredeck wheel in front of the funnel and engine room telegraphs fitted to the forward sponsons. Later she was fitted with a plank bridge aft of the funnel between the paddle boxes and given a new boiler in 1897 by Fay & Co. in Northam, she was sold in 1902.

 

PS Carisbrooke



PS Carisbrookepaddle steamer
Registered No: 72360
Builders: Barclay, Curle & Co Ltd Glasgow
Built: 1876
Acquired: 1876
Tonnage: 198 tonnes gross
Dimensions: 165'7" x 20'1"
Machinery: 70hp compound oscillating, paddle
Withdrawn: 1905 (scrapped 1935)


Launched on 26 January 1876, she left Glasgow on 25 March arriving in Southampton after a stormy passage on the 31 March. Unlike the modern PS Southampton, the Company reverted to the 'old style' with this ship, fitting compound oscillating engines with a funnel aft of the paddle box. She started life on excursion and tendering duties. In September 1893 when backing out of Cowes at night she sank the yacht 'Titania' and cost the Company £485 1s. 0d. Carisbrooke was reboilered in 1889 and redecked in 1895 but the need for another new boiler in 1905 led to the decision to sell her to the Colwyn Bay & Liverpool Steamship Co. Ltd.

 

PS Prince Leopold



PS Prince Leopoldpaddle steamer
Registered No: 72361
Builders: Barclay, Curle & Co Ltd Glasgow
Built: 1876
Acquired: 1905
Tonnage: 196 tonnes gross
Dimensions: 165'6" x 20'1"
Machinery: 70hp compound oscillating, paddle
Withdrawn: 1905 (wrecked 1908)

Arriving from Glasgow on 17 April 1876, Prince Leopold's career was very similar to sister ship PS Carosbrooke. She collided with Yarmouth Pier in August 1876 causing £200 worth of damage to her port sponson, deck and pantry. She was reboilered in 1889, redecked in 1895 and sold to the Colwyn Bay & Liverpool Steamship Co. in 1906.

 

PS Princess Beatrice



PS Princess Beatricepaddle steamer
Registered No: 82408
Builders: Barclay, Curle Co Ltd Glasgow
Built: 1880
Entered service: 1880
Tonnage: 253 tonnes gross
Dimensions: 175'7" x 20'1"
Machinery: 90hp compound diagonal, paddle
Withdrawn: 1930 (scrapped 1933)


This steamer was an improved version of the PS Southampton reverting back to compound diagonal engines with the funnel forward of the paddle boxes. Her maiden voyage was to Alum Bay on 9th June 1880 and was the first steamer to call at Lee-on-Solent Pier on the day it was opened. On the 28 October 1897 she was badly damaged by PS Altrato whilst berthed in Southampton Docks. She was was repaired by Day, Summers & Co at Northam at the expense of Altrato's owners. She was reboilered in 1893 and fitted with electric light during her 1908/9 refit. During the Great war she served as a minesweeper but returned to service with the Company until her final run on 19th December 1930. She was laid up at Northam until March 1933 and then sold to Pollock, Brown & Co for scrap.

1881-1900

 

PS Princess Helena

PS Princess Helenapaddle steamer
Registered No: 86341
Builders: Barclay, Curle Co. Ltd Glasgow
Built: 1883
Entered service: 1883
Tonnage: 246 tonnes gross
Dimensions: 175'4" x 20'2"
Machinery: 90hp compound diagonal, paddle
Withdrawn: 1950 (scrapped 1952)

Similar to the Princess Beatrice, Helena was launched 22 July 1883 and became proof of the longevity of the iron hull, remaining in service until 1952. Reboilered in 1893, fitted with electric light during the 1908/9 refit, she continued to operate excursions in the early 1900's. Although trialed by the Navy as a patrol vessel in the English Channel during WWI, she was rejected and returned to Red Funnel. The steamer did assist in May 1940 with the recovery of troops from Dunkirk in WWII, but was involved in a minor collision with the GWR steamer St. Helier off Dover. In 1945 her mast was removed to allow better access for vehicles on the foredeck, and in 1949 the elderly lady was placed on cargo duties where she remained as relief boat until 1952. That summer she was sold for scrap, but a high tide and gale caused her paddle arch to override the quay wall as she waited in line for the cutters torch. As the tide ebbed she heeled over and sank but was later pumped out, raised and scrapped as planned.

 

PS Her Majesty



PS Her Majestypaddle steamer
Registered No: 90419
Builders: Barclay, Curle Co. Ltd Glasgow
Built: 1888
Entered service: 1888
Tonnage: 352 tonnes gross
Dimensions: 185'2" x 20'1"
Machinery: compound diagonal, paddle
Withdrawn: 1940 (scrapped 1940)

Similar to Princess Beatrice and Princess Helena. Reboilered in 1901, she was fitted with electric light and new steam steering gear during the 1908/9 refit. Military service commenced in April 1917, acting as minesweeper with Princess Beatrice in the English Channel and Irish Sea. She returned to Red Funnel in 1919, was reconditioned and continued on the passage service until September 1927. Thereafter she was converted from a passenger steamer that carried cars on the open foredeck's to a car carrier. The mast was set back, the companion way from foredeck to promenade deck was removed, as was the aft saloon. In this form Her Majesty could carry 18 cars. She was used on both relief and scheduled services and also acted as a car and mail tender to liners like the Normandie, Nieuw Amsterdam, Bremen and Europa.

 

PS Princess of Wales



PS Princess of Walespaddle steamer
Registered No: n/a
Builders: Barclay, Curle & Co Ltd Glasgow
Built: 1888
Entered service: n/a
Tonnage: 320 tonnes gross
Dimensions: 215'6" x 21'1"
Machinery: compound diagonal, paddle
Withdrawn: 1888 (lost at sea June 1888)

The Princess of Wales, a two-funnelled ship with steam steering gear and a capacity to carry 600 passengers was famous for being the shortest serving ship in the Company's history! At 1pm on Saturday 16 June 1888 whilst on speed trials over the Skelmorlie measured mile on the Firth of Clyde, the brand new steamer was run down, cut in two and sank in a collision with former Castle Line steamer Balmoral Castle. A party from the Company and 50-60 others were rescued but a number of painters and joiners went down with the stern, all were plucked from the water with the exception of 3 painters who sadly lost their lives. The forepart of the Princess remained afloat and was taken in tow but it later sank in deep water. Efforts to raise her were not successful and she was declared a 'total loss'. The Board of Enquiry found both pilots guilty of negligence but it was later reported that she never attained her contract speed and it was questionable whether she would have been accepted. Her replacement, Solent Queen would incorporate several improvements.

 

PS Bangor Castle




PS Bangor Castlepaddle steamer
Registered No: not known
Builders: T Wingate & Co. Glasgow
Built: 1864
Chartered: 1888
Tonnage: 250 tonnes gross
Dimensions: 191'0" x 22'0"
Machinery: 2cyl simple diagonal, paddle
Withdrawn: 1888 (scrapped 1899)

A two funnel ship with its bridge set between them and a pair of enormous paddle wheels, she was chartered for 3 months during the summer of 1988 from the Belfast, Bangor & Larne Steamboat Company to replace the Princess of Wales. Starting her career on the Thames, she was transferred to the Belfast to Bangor service in 1873. Her first sailing with Red Funnel was 26th June 1888 and she ended her stint with the Company by breaking down on her way to Ryde to pick up passengers for a round the Island excursion. She was rescued and towed to Cowes by Princess Beatrice.

 

PS Solent Queen (I)



PS Solent Queen (I)paddle steamer
Registered No: 97201
Builders: Barclay, Curle Co. Ltd Glasgow
Built: 1889
Entered service: 1889
Tonnage: 324 tonnes gross
Dimensions: 215'6" x 21'1"
Machinery: compound diagonal, paddle
Withdrawn: 1948 (scrapped 1948)

This iron-hulled ship was built as a permanent replacement to the ill-fated Princess of Wales and incorporated a number of improvements. Launched on 3 April 1889 she attained a mean speed of 14.5 knots in the Gareloch on the 29 April. In her early days she was used mainly for excursion work and remained in the Company's service during the Great War. From 1921-1931 she spent the summer based in Bournemouth serving Swanage. On 27 April 1893 whilst berthed at the Royal Pier, Southampton she was gutted by a major fire but happily she was renovated and returned to service on the 20 July. A new boiler was fitted in 1902 and electric light in 1907. On the 3 December 1906 she was in collision with the ferry steamer Frances in Portsmouth Harbour but was again repaired. Like Princess Helena, she set off for Dunkirk but ran into difficulties and returned without troops. In August 1948, boiler failure led to her withdrawal and she was sold for scrap to TW Ward Ltd of Grays, Essex - arriving under tow on 31 October 1948. Her binnacle is in the National Maritime Museum at Greenwich.

 

PS Prince of Wales



PS Prince of Walespaddle steamer
Registered No: 98850
Builders: Southampton Naval Works, Woolston
Built: 1891
Entered service: 1891
Tonnage: 280 tonnes gross
Dimensions: 185'5" x 22'2"
Machinery: paddle compound diagonal
Withdrawn: 1937 (scrapped 1938)

Built at Woolston unlike her Clyde built sisters, Prince of Wales cost £11,255 in 1891 and was the Company's first steel-hulled steamer. Launched on 7 July 1891, she was distinguishable by her tall single funnel, short waste steam pipe, extremely small paddle boxes, bow rudder and a hog-backed keel which was intended to counterbalance the tendency of paddle steamers to sag amidships under the weight and vibration of the engine and paddle gear. The thinking was that the keel would be depressed to neutralise the hogging but unfortunately she did not sag and carried this peculiarity throughout her life. At the Company's AGM in 1891 it was stated that various modifications had been made to enable her to attain 15 knots. During the winter of 1893/4 new paddle wheels with wooden floats were fitted to replace the steel originals that were the cause of excessive vibration - satisfactory speeds were recorded in trials over the Stokes Bay measured mile. Always prone to mishaps the Prince of Wales had a colourful life. Incidents include a collision with Clarence Pier on 23 March 1896, fouling a buoy in Cowes fairway on 3 June 1901 and colliding with a submarine in Portsmouth Harbour on 16 December 1903 in which she came close to being lost. In December 1927, when backing into Cowes fairway she collided with the yacht Cuffrida and the two vessels became locked together - it took Lord Elgin and two tugs to separate them! She was in the wars on 2 July 1934 after a minor collision with Princess Helena off Cowes and in the news again on 3 June 1935 after sinking the yacht Robin that was on its maiden voyage. After 36 years service the Prince of Wales was withdrawn and towed to Llanelli in March 1938 for breaking up.

 

PS Duchess of Yorke / Duchess of Cornwall



PS Duchess of Yorke / Duchess of Cornwallpaddle steamer
Registered No: 106903
Builders: Barclay, Curle Co. Ltd Glasgow
Built: 1896
In service: 1896-1916 / 1921-1949
Tonnage: 302 tonnes gross
Dimensions: 185'5" x 22'1"
Machinery: compound diagonal, paddle
Withdrawn: 1949 (scrapped 1949)

Ordered as a replacement for Her Majesty (which later returned to service), the Duchess of York was launched on 28 May 1896 and averaged 14.865 knots (and a maximum of 16.143 knots) in trials. Similar to the Prince of Wales, minus her peculiarities she had slightly bigger paddle boxes and a flatter funnel. In May 1916 she was sold to the Admiralty for minesweeping duties in the Mediterranean and Aegean. The Company repurchased her in 1921 and she was refitted and returned to service. In 1928 her name was relinguished to Canadian Pacific Steamships who were buiding their 4 'Duchess' class liners, so the Duchess of York became the Duchess of Cornwall. She was again called up for war service in September 1939 only to be returned the following month because she was unsuitable. During the Dunkirk period in 1940 she headed east along the coast to Dover but did not cross due to fuel problems. Later in 1940 she was sunk at the Royal Pier in Southampton during an air raid but was raised and returned to service. In July 1945 she performed the first post-war excursion to Ryde, the last one had been at Whitsun 1940. Her last passenger sailing was 16 October 1946 when she accompanied SS Queen Elizabeth down Southampton Water on her first commercial voyage to New York. She was retained as a cargo steamer until being sent to Pollock, Brown's yard in Northam on 19 December 1949 for breaking up.

 

PS Lorna Doone


PS Lorna Doonepaddle steamer
Registered No: 98413
Builders: Napier Shanks & Bell, Yoker
Built: 1891
Acquired: 1898
Tonnage: 427 tonnes gross
Dimensions: 220'5" x 26'0"
Machinery: compound diagonal, paddle
Withdrawn: 1947 (scrapped 1948)

Lorna Doone was acquired from John Gunn of Cardiff as a stopgap until a new steamer arrived to compete against the superior paddler Cambria owned by Messrs P. & A. Campbell. She arrived in Southampton on 1 April 1898 and on trials averaged 16.3 knots. She had one funnel initially behind an open bridge, an open foredeck with a short fore saloon with side alleyways, a full length and full width promenade deck and a full width saloon aft. The dining saloon was on the main deck; to starboard was a bar named 'Half Way Doone' and opposite on the port side a lounge bar called the 'Retreat'. She was granted a 'Steam 3' certificate for 706 persons and 818 on a 'Steam 4' and was used primarily for excursion work. A feed pump problem between Bournemouth and Weymouth on 12 September 1898 led to the hoisting of distress signals. A foresail was used to stop her drifting ashore until repairs were affected. In the winter of 1898/9 she was reboilered by J. Samuel White & Co. of Cowes and fitted with improved water-tube boilers which required two funnels. Her machinery was removed, rebuilt and a high-pressure cylinder added before refitting in the hull. There were high hopes for increased speed and less soot on the deck but this did not materialise and she was reboilered again with a locomotive type boiler, reverting to one funnel. Significant damage caused by rough weather in 1906 led to the promenade deck being carried forward to the bows and topside plating fitted. Between August 1914 and December 1919 she was used by the Navy as a minesweeper during WWI and requisitioned again in December 1939 serving as a minesweeper and anti-aircraft ship in WWII until she was released to the Company in January 1947. Her condition was so poor that repair was out of the question and so one of the Company's best loved and most successful steamers was moved, with some regret on 14 October 1948 to Pollock, Brown's yard at Northam for breaking up.

 

PS Victoria

PS Victoriapaddle steamer
Registered No: 82335
Builders: Aitken & Maxwell, Glasgow
Built: 1881
Acquired: 1899
Tonnage: 366 tonnes gross
Dimensions: 191'9" x 25'1"
Machinery: compound diagonal, paddle
Withdrawn: 1900 (scrapped 1900)

Built for the combined fleet of the London, Brighton & South Coast Railway and the London & South Western Railway companies, she was used on the Portsmouth to Ryde service before being purchased by the Company. Victoria was a stop-gap until PS Balmoral I arrived to counter the challenge posed by P. & A. Campbell's magnificent PS Cambria and PS Glen Rosa which had been placed at the Southampton station in 1897. Victoria was a double ended design with two funnels placed fore and aft and central paddle boxes.

 

PS Balmoral (I)



PS Balmoral (I)paddle steamer
Registered No: 113300
Builders: S. McKnight & Co. Ayr
Built: 1900
Entered service: 1900
Tonnage: 473 tonnes gross
Dimensions: 236'0" x 27'1"
Machinery: compound diagonal, paddle
Withdrawn: 1947 (scrapped 1949)

Ordered from Hutson & Son in Glasgow (the steel hull was sub-contracted to S. McKnight & Co. of Ayr), she was promised for the 1900 season. Balmoral was fitted with compound diagonal surface condensing engines with a stroke of 66in. and cylinder diameters of 36½in. (high-pressure) and 66½in. (low-pressure).  Haystack water-tube boilers of 110p.s.i were installed and the ship had five watertight compartments. Her accommodation was similar to Lorna Doone but she had a full-length promenade deck. After successful trials, attaining 19.51 knots, she was given a 'Steam 2' certificate to carry 1,033 passengers and arrived in Southampton on 14 July 1900. On her first trip on the 17 July with Directors, shareholders and invited guests aboard she encountered her rival PS Cambria, winning the first of many friendly tussles. In reality there was little to choose between them in terms of speed. Balmoral was an expensive ship to operate and her season was short but arduous, operating the long day excursions to Eastbourne, Brighton, Weymouth, Torquay and cross-Channel trips to Cherbourg and even Boulogne on occasions. She became very well known but bad weather and fog sometimes played havoc with her schedules and occasionally caused minor damage. She was reboilered in the winter of 1907/8 and requisitioned for war service in February 1915, being used mainly for troop transport before conversion into a minesweeper. She returned to the Company in February 1919, was refurbished and reboilered, resuming her duties in 1921. In WWII she was fitted out as an auxiliary anti-aircraft ship and served in the Thames area before being transferred to the Clyde to provide accommodation for shipyard workers. In January 1947 she was towed back to Southampton and sat on the mud at Northam in a very sorry condition. She was beyond economic repair and on 31 December 1948 she was taken to Pollock, Brown's yard and broken up the following year.

1901-1920

 

PS Queen (II) / Mauretania / Corfe Castle

PS Queen (II) / Mauretania /Corfe Castlepaddle steamer
Registered No: 114559
Builders: J. Reid & Co. Glasgow
Built: 1902
Entered service: 1902
Tonnage: 346 tonnes gross
Dimensions: 200'3" x 24'1"
Machinery: paddle compound diagonal
Withdrawn: 1938 (scrapped 1939)

Originally designed for excursion work, she performed this role for most of her career but modifications were made to make her more versatile and permit the carriage of cars. In 1908 when returning from an excursion she smashed into rocks during a gale and the full extent of the damage was only revealed after she was slipped. In 1914 she served the admiralty in the Mediterranean performing minesweeper duties. After the war she returned to excursion duties.

 

PS Princess Royal

PS Princess Royalpaddle steamer
Registered No: 119739
Builders: J. Thornycroft & Co Ltd, Woolston
Built: 1906
Entered service: 1906
Tonnage: 428 tonnes gross
Dimensions: 195'6" x 25'1"
Machinery: paddle compound diagonal
Withdrawn: 1906 (scrapped 1957)

Most reports say that this vessel was not accepted by the Company because her speed did not meet the contract requirements, but some newspaper reports say that she did represent the Company for 3 weeks!

 

PS Stirling Castle

PS Stirling Castlepaddle steamer
Registered No: 1069600
Builders: Scott & Co. Kinghorn
Built: 1899
Entered service: 1907
Tonnage: 271 tonnes gross
Dimensions: 170'0" x 24'2"
Machinery: paddle simple diagonal
Withdrawn: 1916 (lost at sea)

Serving on the Bournemouth route during her short career,  the Stirling Castle was another member of the fleet who represented her country during the First World War. In 1916 whilst performing her mine sweeping duties she was sunk by an explosion just off the West coast of Malta, the cause was unknown. The Stirling Castle was the first war loss for the company.

 

PS Bournemouth Queen


PS Bournemouth Queenpaddle steamer
Registered No: 124501
Builders: Ailsa Shipbuilding Co. Troon
Built: 1908
Entered service: 1908
Tonnage: 353 tonnes gross
Dimensions: 200'1" x 24'1"
Machinery: paddle compound diagonal
Withdrawn: 1957 (scrapped 1957)

The penultimate ship to be built exclusively for excursion work, serving her namesakes route. In the First World War she served as a minesweeper, and in the Second World War she was fitted with anti-air craft guns. After the war she returned to continue her service with Red Funnel until she was scrapped in 1957.

 

PS Lord Elgin

PS Lord Elginpaddle steamer
Registered No:  
Builders: Richardson, Duck & Co. Stockton
Built: 1876
Entered service: 1908
Tonnage: 203 tonnes gross
Dimensions: 160'0" x 20'0"
Machinery: paddle compound diagonal
Withdrawn: 1955 (scrapped 1955)

Lord Elgin started life as a Bournemouth Steam Package Service ship until the company was bought by Red Funnel. In 1910 she was converted to cargo duties and remained a cargo steamer until finally withdrawn in 1955. From 1923 to the end of her service the Lord Elgin had the same captain; Captain Joseph Sewley.

 

PS Princess Mary

PS Princess Marypaddle steamer
Registered No: 131780
Builders: Day, Summers & Co. Northam
Built: 1911
Entered service: 1911
Tonnage: 326 tonnes gross
Dimensions: 195'2" x 24'1"
Machinery: paddle compound diagonal
Withdrawn: 1919 (lost at sea)

The Princess Mary was designed as a general purpose vessel and was occasionally used for summer excursions. Her career was cut short during the First World War when her hull was ripped open after coming into contact with the wreck of HMS Majestic whilst on patrol in the Mediterranean.

1921-1950

 

PS Princess Elizabeth

PS Princess Elizabethpaddle steamer
Registered No: 149297
Builders: Day, Summers & Co. Ltd Northam
Built: 1927
Entered service: 1927
Tonnage: 388 tonnes gross
Dimensions: 195'0" x 24'2"
Machinery: paddle compound diagonal
Withdrawn: 1959

Sister ship of the ill fated Princess Mary. She was a Passage Steamer for the Bournemouth leg of the service until 1936 when the Gracie Fields replaced her. She, like her sister was recruited for the war effort as a minesweeper, in the Second World War. After the war she returned to her original role, the only difference was that she was based in Yarmouth and then Southsea. Her career at sea ended in 1959 whe she was sold, eventually being converted into a restaurant.

 

MV Medina (III)

MV Medina (III)motor vessel
Registered No: 161721
Builders: J Thornycroft & Co. Ltd Woolston
Built: 1931
Max Speed: 11-13 knots
Tonnage: 347 tonnes gross
Dimensions: 143'0" x 28'1"
Machinery: 2 x diesel, twin propeller
Withdrawn: 1962

The Medina broke with tradition, she was the first diesel driven vessel to operate on any of the Solent crossings. This was her main role even through WWII. There was space for cars and as the passenger accommodation was of a higher standard than the old paddlers she proved popular. She was unsuitable for calls at piers, owing to her widely flared bows, although pontoons were no problem. Maximum speed was 11 knots, increasing to 13 knots when re-engined in 1953. She was sold by Red Funnel in 1962 and sailed out of Gibraltar until 1971, thereafter returning to home waters and eventual convertion into a restaurant.

 

Sea Coach Island Enterprise

Sea Coach Island Enterprisemotor launch
Registered No: 167277
Builders: British Power Co. Ltd, Hythe
Built: 1933
Max Speed: 20 knots
Tonnage: 9 tonnes gross
Dimensions: 36'1" x 8'2"
Machinery: 2 x 6cyl, 100hp, 200bhp
Withdrawn: 1938

She was the first attempt to establish a high-speed service between Southampton and Cowes. In 1936 the craft was described as a "fast (35 minute crossing), eleven passenger, powerful twin-engined motor cruiser, affording speed, comfort and safety to passengers in all weathers. The luxurious cabin was fitted with eleven coach type seats, and had toilet facilities and hand baggage accommodation." Whilst there was no winter service the Island Enterprise provided a particularly safe service in fog.

 

PS Gracie Fields

PS Gracie Fieldspaddle steamer
Registered No: 166825
Builders: J. Thornycroft & Co. Ltd, Woolston
Built: 1936
Entered service: 1936
Tonnage: 396 tonnes gross
Dimensions: 195'11" x 24'11"
Machinery: paddle compound diagonal
Withdrawn: 1940 (lost at sea)

Launched on 8 April 1936 by her namesake, who sung "Sing As We Go" at her launch. She was unusual in that she was named after a celebrity, rather than the tradition of royalty and nobility. Similar to Princess Elizabeth, she was an improved version, with a raised forecastle, designed to keep the spray off the cars she carried in her well deck. Originally she had an open bridge, but a wheelhouse was added in 1937. Performing a variety of duties including, excursions, tendering and packet services she was a popular ship. On 26 July 1936 she was chartered by her namesake to take orphans on a trip from Bournemouth to Brighton, where Miss Fields was performing. She was requisitioned for minesweeping duties in 1939 and went to Dunkirk for the evacuation. After one successful trip she was hit by a bomb and was badly damaged. Her crew were taken off by HMS Pangbourne, which tried to tow her home. However, her rudder was stuck and she was taking on water and sank on 30 May.

 

MV Vectra (I)

MV Vecta (I)motor vessel
Registered No: 166825
Builders: J Thornycroft & Co. Ltd Woolston
Built: 1938
Max Speed: unknown
Tonnage: 630 tonnes gross
Dimensions: 191'6" x 30'2"
Machinery: English Electric Co diesels, twin Voith-Schneider propellers
Withdrawn: 1965 (scrapped 1996)

The new design of the engines and propellers on this vessel gave it greater versatility and much greater manoeuvrability. Due to these qualities Vecta could be used on various duties, she tendered to some of the worlds famous liners, carried cars between Southampton & Cowes and was used for excursions. She set-off for Dunkirk for the evacuation of the British Expeditionary Force in 1939 but turned back with mechanical problems. Due to the War, obtaining spares from Germany was difficult and she was later fitted with conventional propellers. She was sold to Townsend Car Ferries Ltd for use in the Bristol Channel and renamed Westward Ho before being converted for shoreside use.

 

TSS Upton

TSS Uptonsteam vessel
Registered No: 147343
Builders: Cammell Laird & Co. Ltd, Birkenhead
Built: 1925 (acquired 1946)
Max Speed: 10 knots
Tonnage: 462 tonnes gross
Dimensions: 145'1" x 32'0"
Machinery: steam triple expansion, twin screw
Withdrawn: 1950 (scrapped 1953)

An ex Birkenhead ferry, she was purchased to help replace losses during WWII and was deployed on the Southampton-Ryde service in May 1946. Upton was a slow steamer and struggled with her schedules. She only carried passengers (no room for cars) and was tried on the Poole- Bournemouth and Swanage service. Her bulky shape and wide hull belting did not endear her to the local piermasters and after just one month she returned to Southampton. For a while she continued the Ryde service but the polio outbreak on the Isle of Wight in 1950 saw a vast drop in passengers and she was laid up at Northam. An attempt was made to try her as a tug tender in 1951 but she proved unsatisfactory and was again laid up before being scrapped in 1953.

 

MV Norris Castle (II)

MV Norris Castle (II)motor vessel
Registered No: 182326
Builders: A. Findlay, Old Kilpatrick
Built: 1942 (acquired 1947)
Max Speed: unknown
Tonnage: 473 tonnes gross
Dimensions: 180'0" x 38'1"
Machinery: 12 cyl oil engines, twin screw
Withdrawn: 1962

This vessel was originally designed as a landing craft for the D-day mission. As she could load from both the front and side, Norris was used on the East Cowes service. Her crossing time was longer at 1½ hours but she had a greater capacity than most of the vessels at that time. She also performed jobs tending other vessels, along with cargo runs. In 1962 she was sold to a service in the Greek Islands.

 

TSS Robina

TSS Robinasteam vessel
Registered No: 135726
Builders: Ardrossan Dry Dock Co. Ltd
Built: 1914 (acquired 1948)
Max Speed: unknown
Tonnage: 306 tonnes gross
Dimensions: 159'6" x 26'1"
Machinery: twin screw, triple expansion
Withdrawn: 1949 (scrapped 1952)

The Robina led a nomadic life, in her career she was owned by several companies, and to her credit managed to maintain her name through all these changes. Her career with Red Funnel was short lived due to consistent boiler troubles, she was eventually scrapped in 1952.

 

PS Lorna Doone (II)

PS Lorna Doone (II)paddle steamer
Registered No: 148380
Builders: Ailsa Shipbuilding Co. Troon
Built: 1916
Acquired: 1949
Tonnage: 798 tonnes gross
Dimensions: 235'2" x 29'1"
Machinery: paddle compound diagonal
Withdrawn: 1952 (scrapped 1952)

Originally purchased to perform a cross channel service for Red Funnel, this former minesweeper and control ship was later used on Bournemouth excursions during the summer season. It was decided in 1952, when the vessel was being refitted, that she would be scrapped.

 

PS Solent Queen (II)

PS Solent Queen (II)paddle steamer
Registered No: 160696
Builders: W. Hamilton & Co. Ltd, Port Glasgow
Built: 1916
Acquired: 1949
Tonnage: 792 tonnes gross
Dimensions: 234'9" x 29'1"
Machinery: paddle compound diagonal
Withdrawn: 1951 (scrapped 1951)

The Solent Queen was the sister ship of the Lorna Doone and their careers mirrored one another. She performed the Southsea and Shanklin crossings. In 1951 when in for a refit the engine room caught fire and the Solent Queen was completely gutted.

 

MV Balmoral



MV Balmoralmotor vessel
Registered No: 183576
Builders: J Thornycroft & Co. Ltd Woolston
Built: 1949 (launched 27 June 1949)
Max Speed: 16.25 knots
Tonnage: 688 tonnes gross
Dimensions: 203'6" x 32'0"
Machinery: 2 x 6 cyl oil, twin screw
Withdrawn: 1969 (sold to P&A Campbell)

With capacity for 10 cars, Balmoral's main role was the Southampton-Cowes service but at times she performed tending and excursion duties. Adjustments to the vessel were made as her role became more orientated around the excursions until they finally ended in 1968. After this the Balmoral was sold and has had a number owners since. She is now owned by Waverley Steam Navigation Limited and operates excursions throughout the summer. On 27 June 2009 the ship celebrated her Diamond Jubilee.

1951-1980

 

MV Carisbrooke Castle

MV Carisbrooke Castlemotor vessel
Registered No: 300672
Builders: J Thornycroft & Co. Ltd Woolston
Built: 1959
Max Speed: 18 knots
Tonnage: 672 tonnes gross
Dimensions: 191'2" x 42'2"
Machinery: 2 x 8 cyl oil, twin screw
Withdrawn: 1974

A purpose built passenger vehicle ferry. Although not an attractive ship, she was effective in her role, carrying 15,829 cars and 3,147 commercial vehicles in the first six months. She could alo make the trip to Cowes in 40 minutes! She had a couple of collisions, the worst was with an Esso Tanker in 1964 in thick fog, no injuries were reported. With the arrival of the Netley Castle she was sold to operate in Naples.

 

MV Osborne Castle

MV Osborne Castlemotor vessel
Registered No: 303396
Builders: J Thornycroft & Co. Ltd Woolston
Built: 1962
Max Speed: unknown
Tonnage: 736 tonnes gross
Dimensions: 191'2" x 42'1"
Machinery: 2 x HRN 8/45 diesels, twin screw
Withdrawn: 1978

The Osborne Castle was seen as an improvement on her sister ship the Carisbrooke Castle. Despite this she was mainly restricted to tender work because her design meant she was unsuitable for pier work. She continued until 1978 when she was sold to a Canadian ferry company.

 

MV Cowes Castle

MV Cowes Castlemotor vessel
Registered No: 307303
Builders: J Thornycroft & Co. Ltd Woolston
Built: 1965
Max Speed: 12 knots
Tonnage: 786 tonnes gross
Dimensions: 191'0" x 41'6"
Machinery: 2 x 8 cyl Premier diesels, twin screw
Withdrawn: 1994

The Cowes Castle was of a similar shape to the Osborne Castle up until 1975 when she was converted to become a roll-on roll-off ferry. Mezzanine decks were also fitted to enable her to carry an extra 25 to 30 cars. On arrival of Red Falcon in 1994 she was sold to Jadrolinija for service in Croatia.

 

MV Norris Castle

MV Norris Castlemotor vessel
Registered No: 336718
Builders: J Thornycroft & Co. Ltd Woolston
Built: 1968
Max Speed: 12 knots
Tonnage: 734 tonnes gross
Dimensions: 191'3" x 42'1"
Machinery: 2 x 8 cyl Premier diesels, twin screw
Withdrawn: 1994

The Norris Castle was a modernized version of her namesake and principally used for commercial vehicles in her early life. Like the Cowes Castle, she was later converted to a roll-on roll-off ferry and mezzanine decks were fitted. In gale force winds in 1981 when turning in the River Medina she was blown on to the Cowes floating bridge but there was no real damage done to either vessel. On the arrival of Red Osprey in 1994 she, like her sister was sold to Jadrolinija for service in Croatia.

 

Shearwater

Shearwaterhydrofoil
Registered No: 336741
Builders: Sea Flight SpA, Sicily
Built: 1969
Max Speed: 32 knots
Tonnage: 26 tons displacement
Dimensions: 61'0" x ?
Machinery: 2 x 530 hp Fiat diesels, twin screw
Withdrawn: 1973

The demand for a quicker crossing time led Red Funnel to experiment with different types of high-speed passenger craft. Shearwater was the first of 5 hydrofoils that were introduced during this period. She carried 54 passengers at a speed of between 32-35 knots, the the only problem was reliability. When Shearwater 3 arrived this craft was used as a standby vessel, she was disposed of in 1973.

 

Shearwater II

Shearwater IIhydrofoil
Registered No: unknown
Builders: Seaflight SpA, Sicily
Built: 1970
Max Speed: 32.5 knots
Tonnage: 26 tons displacement
Dimensions: 61'0" x ?
Machinery: 2 x 530 hp Fiat diesels, twin screw
Withdrawn: 1971

Convinced there was a market for speed and that the hydrofoil design philosophy was suitable, the company bought Shearwater 2 to improve reliability. This did not prove to be the case and instead she was used as parts to maintain the original hydrofoil. In 1974 she was towed to Portsmouth for scrapping but ended up being sold to operate a ferry service in Loch Fyne.

 

Shearwater III

Shearwater IIIhydrofoil
Registered No: 357766
Builders: Rodriguez, Messina
Built: 1972
Max Speed: 32.5 knots
Tonnage: 35.1 tons displacement
Dimensions: 73'0" x ?
Machinery: 1 x 1350 hp V12 Maybach diesel
Withdrawn: 1992

This new improved hydrofoil with a powerful Mercedes engine proved to be far more reliable and became the mainstay of the service. She could carry 67 passengers and do the crossing in 23 minutes at 32.5 knots. This led to the reintroduction of a winter service. She was held in reserve after the arrival of Red Jet 1 in 1991 and later sold in 1992.

 

Shearwater IV

Shearwater IVhydrofoil
Registered No: 351756
Builders: Rodriguez, Messina
Built: 1973
Max Speed: 32.5 knots
Tonnage: 35.1 tons displacement
Dimensions: 73'0" x ?
Machinery: 1 x 1350 hp V12 Maybach diesel
Withdrawn: 1992

This vessel joined the fleet in August 1973, joining her identical sister Shearwater 3. The vastly improved reliability of these two craft made the previous two hydrofoils redundant. She was demoted to back-up boat after the arrival of Red Jet 2 in 1991 and sold a year later in 1992.

 

MV Netley Castle

MV Netley Castlero-ro ferry
Registered No: 361802
Builders: Ryton Marine Ltd, Wallsend
Built: 1974
Max Speed: 14 knots
Tonnage: 1183 gross tonnes
Dimensions: 242'2" x 49'9"
Machinery: 4 x 8 cyl Caterpillar diesels, 4 x steerable propellers
Withdrawn: 1997

At the time, Netley Castle was the largest vessel built by Red Funnel and was capable of carrying 80 cars (with mezzanine decks deployed) and nearly 1,000 passengers. She was a true doubled-ended design with two wheelhouses which meant on the Southampton-Cowes run she did not have to turn around. With 4 separate Caterpillar engines each driving a steerable propeller, reliability was excellent. On the arrival of Red Eagle in 1996, the Netley Castle was sold to Jadrolinija, joining her old running mates in Croatia. 

1981-2010

 

HM2 GH2019

HM2 GH2019hovercraft
Registered No: unknown
Builders: Hovermarine Ltd
Built: 1969
Acquired: 1981
Tonnage: unknown
Dimensions: 51'0" x 20'0"
Machinery: 3 x Cummins diesels
Withdrawn: 1982

This hovercraft was chartered to help meet increased demand but in the main she was used for transporting shipyard workers between East Cowes and Vosper Thornycrofts Itchen yard. After the arrival of the fourth hydrofoil, Shearwater IV, the craft was no longer required.

 

HM2 GH2024

HM2 GH2024hovercraft
Registered No: unknown
Builders: Hovermarine Ltd
Built: 1969
Acquired: 1981
Tonnage: unknown
Dimensions: 51'0" x 20'0"
Machinery: 3 x Cummins diesels
Withdrawn: 1982

This was the second hovercraft taken on by Red Funnel to meet the increased demand for high-speed services. She was mainly used on the shipyard service but occasionally appeared on the scheduled Southampton-Cowes run.

 

Shearwater VI

Shearwater VIhydrofoil
Registered No: 700233
Builders: Rodriguez, Messina
Built: 1982
Max Speed: 33.5 knots
Tonnage: 31.5 tons displacement
Dimensions: 20.95m in length
Machinery: 1 x 1287 hp V12 331 MTU diesel, single screw
Withdrawn: 1999

The arrival of Shearwater 6 from Italy, the fourth in her class left the two hovercraft redundant. Her arrival consolidated the high speed service as there was now sufficient back-up craft to improve resilience and cope with peak demand like Cowes Week. Like her sister, Shearwater 6 acted in a back-up role after the arrival of Red Jet 1 & 2 in 1991 and was eventually withdrawn in 1999 after the delivery of Red Jet 3 in 1998. She was sold to dive operators in Thailand.

 

Red Jet 1



Red Jet 1hi-speed catamaran
Registered No: 719584
Builders: FMB Marine, Cowes
Built: 1991
Max Speed: 35.5 knots
Size: 168 gross tonnes, 32.5m x 8.4m 
Machinery: 2 x 1360 kW 12V 396TE84L MTU diesels, 2 x MJP waterjets
Passengers: Passengers:
Sold: 2009

Red Jet 1 proved to be a revolutionary step forward and was the first waterjet propelled scheduled high-speed ferry on the Solent. Accommodating 138 passengers in comfort and offering excellent visibility, she completed the crossing at 32.5 knots in just 22 minutes. Her arrival led to the withdrawal and sale of Shearwater 3 in 1992. The delivery of Red Jet 3 in 1998 meant the normal two boat service was shared between Red Jet's 1, 2 and 3 but Red Jet 4's arrival in 2003 relegated Red Jet 1, like her sister, to a back-up role. She was sold in May 2009 to Caspain Mainport for continued service in the Black Sea. 

 

Red Jet 2



Red Jet 2hi-speed catamaran
Registered No: 721064
Builders: FMB Marine, Cowes
Built: 1991
Max Speed: 35.5 knots
Size: 168 gross tonne, 32.5m x 8.4m
Machinery: 2 x 1360 kW 12V 396TE84L MTU diesels, 2 x MJP waterjets
Passengers: 138 seated
Sold: 2009

Identical to her sister Red Jet 1, the new craft were an instant hit with customers and set new standards of comfort and all weather reliability. Her arrival led to the withdrawal and sale of Shearwater 4 in 1992. The delivery of Red Jet 3 in 1998 meant the normal two boat service was shared between Red Jet's 1, 2 and 3 but Red Jet 4's arrival in 2003 relegated Red Jet 2, like her sister, to a back-up role. Red Jet 2 was sold in May 2009 to Caspain Mainport for continued service in the Black Sea. 

 

MV Red Falcon



MV Red Falconro-ro vehicle ferry
IMO No: 9064047
Builders: Ferguson Shipbuilders, Port Glasgow
Built: 1994
Max Speed: 14 knots
Tonnage: 3,953 gross tonnes
Dimensions: 93.22m x 17.5m
Machinery: 2 x FHD240 Watsila diesels, 2 x Voith Schneider propellers
Passengers: 892

One of two identical sisters ordered in 1993, the Raptor class as they were known, were a doubled-ended design with a central bridge affording excellent all-round visibility. There was no centre casing to impede loading and deployable mezzanine decks could be deployed in various configurations to improve flexibility. Voith Schneider propulsion, trialled on previous vessels in the fleet, gave excellent manoeuvrability, enabling her to turn on her own axis and even move sideways! Red Falcon entered service in April 2004 wearing the Company's new corporate identity and was an instant hit compared to the old Castle class ships. Red Falcon, like her sisters was lengthened and fitted with a new car deck by Remontawa Shipyard in Gdansk between Jan-Mar 2004. This increased her capacity to approximately 220 cars. In 2014, the ship received a £2.2m interior refit which included fitting two new lounges on A deck and the creation of a new exterior AA deck.

 

MV Red Osprey



MV Red Ospreyro-ro vehicle ferry
IMO No:  9064059
Builders: Ferguson Shipbuilders, Port Glasgow
Built: 1994 (modified in 2003)
Max Speed: 14 knots
Tonnage: 3,953 gross tonnes*
Dimensions: 93.22m* x 17.5m
Machinery: 2 x FD340 Watsila diesels, 2 x Voith Schneider propellers
Passengers: 895

Sister ship to Red Falcon, Red Osprey entered service in October 1994 after being delayed on route from the shipyard by extreme weather in the Irish Sea. Identical to the Red Falcon, she was the first of the class to be lengthened and fitted with an additional end-to-end car deck. The work was carried out between October and December 2003 by Remontawa Shipyard in Gdansk, Poland. Red Osprey returned to service with a new red and white paint scheme and the Company's logo on her sides. At the time she was the largest ferry ever to serve the Isle of Wight. In 2015, like her sister, the ship received £2.2m interior refit which included fitting two new lounges on A deck and the creation of a new exterior AA deck.

 

MV Red Eagle



MV Red Eaglero-ro vehicle ferry
IMO No:  9117337
Builders: Ferguson Shipbuilders, Port Glasgow
Built: 1996
Max Speed: 14 knots
Tonnage: 4,075 gross tonnes
Dimensions: 93.22m x 17.5m
Machinery: 2 x FD340 Watsila diesels, 2 x Voith Schneider propellers
Passengers: 894

Surging demand for cross-Solent travel brought the order for this ship forward from 1998 to 1996. Red Eagle, the Company's flagship can be distinguished from her two sister Raptor class vessels by having a taller funnel and a raised bridge which was designed to maintain sight-lines fore and aft. This was necessary due to the increased length of the passenger accommodation deck. The higher bridge section also provided more office and meeting room space for the crew. In the winter of 2004, Red Eagle was fitted with a new mid-section and a new end-to-end car deck, increasing vehicle capacity to 220 cars. She returned to the Solent in early Jan 2005 and entered the record books as the largest ferry to serve the Isle of Wight, a record she holds to this day.

 

Red Jet 3



Red Jet 3hi-speed catamaran
IMO No: 901323
Builders: FMB Marine, Cowes
Built: 1998
Max Speed: 38 knots
Tonnage: 213 gross tonnes
Dimensions: 32.90m x 8.32m
Machinery: 2 x 1500 kW 12V 396TE74L MTU diesels, 2 x MJP waterjets
Passengers: 184 seated

A similar hull form to Red Jet 1 & 2, Red Jet 3 provided much needed seating capacity to help cope with increasing numbers of commuters on the West Cowes-Southampton route. Higher rated engines provided a top speed of 38 knots and trim-tabs helped ensure the low-wash characteristics of the design were maintained. Onboard, passengers were treated to a drinks service, improved ventilation and a video safety announcement. Red Jet 3 is the work horse of the fleet and in 2007 leather seats and LCD screens were added together with improved luggage space. 

 

Red Jet 4



Red Jet 4hi-speed catamaran
IMO No: 906937
Builders: North West Bay Ships Pty, Hobart
Built: 2003
Max Speed: 42 knots
Tonnage: 342 gross tonnes
Dimensions: 39.88m x 10.82m
Machinery: 2 x 1740 kW 12V 4000 M70 MTU diesels, 2 x MJP waterjets
Passengers: 275 seated

Built in Hobart, Tasmania, Red Jet 4 is the only vessel Red Funnel has built outside the UK and offers a big step forward in terms of ride comfort, speed and low-wash. Anti-vibration mountings separate the hull from the cabin to reduce noise and vibration, whilst vertical interceptors lift the aft section of the hull when deployed at speed to reduce wash. Capable of speeds in excess of 41 knots, Red Jet 4 is the fastest commercial passenger catamaran in the Solent. 

 

MV Bergen Castle



MV Bergen Castlero-ro vehicle ferry
Registered No: unknown
Builders: Loland VFT, Norway
Built: 1976 (acquired in 2003)
Max Speed: 12.5 knots
Tonnage: 1,220 gross tonnes
Dimensions: 66.02m x 12.25m
Machinery: 1650 hp Normo LDMB-9, 1 x variable pitch propeller each end
Withdrawn: 2005

Purchased from a Norwegian operator, Bergen Castle was a temporary vessel used to maintain the service whilst the Company's 3 Raptor ships were away being stretched and refitted in Poland. Bergen Castle took over Red Osprey's duties in October 2003 and covered for both Red Falcon and Red Eagle. She had 2 cargo decks, accommodating about 85 cars & 5 lorries, a side mounted bridge with two control positions and 2 passenger saloons for up to 250 people. She was fitted with a single variable pitch propeller mounted at either end. Although inferior to the Raptor fleet in terms of speed, manoeuvrability, capacity and interior comfort she provided a useful role until the Red Eagle returned from Gdansk. She was withdrawn in early 2005, sold to Greek interests in Nov 2005 and renamed Stella.

Red Jet 6

Red Jet 6hi-speed catamaran
Registered No: 9788083
Builders: Shemara Refit LLP, East Cowes, Isle of Wight UK
Built: 2016
Max Speed: 42 knots
Tonnage: xxx gross tonnes
Dimensions: 41.12m x 10.87m
Machinery: 4 x 900 kW 10V 2000 M72 MTU diesels, 4 x MJP 500 DRB waterjets
Passengers: 275 seated


Red Jet 6 is the first vessel of her kind to be built in the UK since 2000 and the first such vessel Red Funnel has built on the Isle of Wight since Red Jet 3 in 1998. Red Jet 6 is very similar to Red Jet 4 but she incorporates a lot of new technology to improve passenger comfort and reliability and reduce through-life running costs. The £6m vessel has 4 engines and 4 waterjets for redundancy and can easily operate on 2 or 3. To reduce weight, she is covered in special marine grade vinyl instead of paint and from a bridge perspective, her controls and navigation aids are state-of-the-art.