Ellen MacArthur names new Red Funnel Hi-Speed vessel "Red Jet 4"

18-06-2003 Cross-Solent ferry operator, Red Funnel named its newest and fastest high-speed catamaran on Wednesday 18 June in Cowes, Isle of Wight. The naming was carried out by Ellen MacArthur and the Service of Dedication was led by the Reverend Richard Emblin. Red Jet 4 enters full service on 23 June 2003.



Commissioned from North West Bay Ships in Tasmania, Red Jet 4 was delivered to Red Funnel ahead of schedule, on Friday 9 May. Red Jet 4 follows the basic design principles of Red Jet 3, the largest Hi-Speed craft currently in operation, but at 39.23 metres, it will be 5 metres longer. Red Jet 4 is designed to carry 277 passengers and will join Red Funnel’s existing fleet of Red Jets.

Red Funnel was acquired by JP Morgan in 2000, and since then J P Morgan has continued a policy of investment in the fleet. The new Red Jet 4 cost £2.7 million and is part of an ongoing investment strategy in expanding the fleet, on the increasingly popular Southampton to Cowes route.

Alistair Whyte, Managing Director of Red Funnel, comments:
“We are delighted to take ownership of Red Jet 4 which underlines our commitment to providing the best Hi-Speed service for our passengers. The new Red Jet is the biggest in our fleet and with its improved design – will cut through the water with even greater ease offering our passengers an even smoother ride.”

The new vessel has deployable interceptors to maintain low-wash characteristics when lightly loaded, the very latest satellite navigation and electronic charting equipment and is fully air-conditioned for maximum passenger comfort.

The interior is styled to echo an airline Club Class lounge and is laid out with comfortable high-backed seats, soft recessed lights and video screens for relaying safety information. The videos will also give up-to-date details of consumer offers on the route, for tourists and commuters alike.

Red Jet 4 has now successfully completed its extensive sea trials in the Solent and following the Naming Ceremony and Service of Dedication it will come into service on Monday 23 June 2003, in good time for the start of Cowes Week in August.

For every person who travels on the Hi-Speed service between June 23 and July 6, Red Funnel will donate 10p to the Ellen MacArthur Trust, set up to support young people suffering from cancer or leukaemia by taking them on sailing trips.

Images of the Red Jet 4 available on request


Notes to editors:

  • Red Funnel became the first operator to run Hi-Speed services across the Solent when the twin-engined Red Funnel Sea Coach Enterprise was launched in 1933
  • The first craft launched took a maximum of 11 passengers and 35 minutes to cross the Solent at an average speed of 22 knots
  • Red Funnel then introduced the first generation of hydrofoils on the route in 1969 with Shearwater 1 and 2, becoming the first hydrofoil operator in the country
  • Shearwater 3, which was a larger RH70 design from Cantière Navale Rodriguez, was launched in May 1972, followed by Shearwater 4 in August 1973
  • Shearwater 5 went into operation in May 1980 and Shearwater 6 in May 1982
  • Red Jet 1 and 2 commenced service in 1991, followed by Red Jet 3 in July 1998

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