Red Funnel's largest ever Hi-Speed ferry prepares to leave Australia

10-02-2003 Cross-Solent ferry operator, Red Funnel’s new high-speed catamaran, Red Jet 4 is in the final stages of its build programme at North West Bay Ships Pty Ltd in Tasmania, prior to being shipped to the Solent for the final trials taking place in May.


Due to enter service in June, Red Jet 4 will have an official naming ceremony led by Ellen MacArthur on 18 June 2003 at Cowes, Isle of Wight.

Red Jet 4 follows the basic design principles of Red Jet 3, the largest Hi-Speed craft currently in operation, but, at 39 metres, will be 5 metres longer. Red Jet 4, designed to carry 277 passengers, will join Red Funnel’s existing fleet of Red Jets, which has brought high standards of passenger comfort and reliability to the Hi-Speed service.

Alistair Whyte, Managing Director of Red Funnel, commented: “When Red Funnel first introduced its Hi-Speed Red Jets on the Southampton to West Cowes crossing in 1991 we had approximately 20 per cent market share. Today we have 35 per cent and it is one of the UK’s fastest growing routes. Red Jet 4 will be invaluable to us in continuing to provide a first class service to customers and will allow us to grow our cross-Solent operations.”

Red Funnel is the original Isle of Wight ferry operator. Owned by JP Morgan Capital, the company operates three RO-RO car ferries and three Hi-Speed passenger catamarans on the Southampton to Cowes route. 

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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