Wight completes MBNA Thames Clippers vessel
UK shipbuilder Wight Shipyard Co has completed its third and largest vessel for MBNA Thames Clippers, the first Hunt Class Mk3.
The 38m Venus Clipper has been built to a ten-month build schedule and is reflective of the increased business the yard has previously predicted in the fast ferry sector.
Peter Morton, CEO, Wight Shipyard, said: “One of the most important elements that strengthens this sector is that it is cushioned against the effects of the 2020 low sulphur cap and is actually in a better position than the conventional ferry market.”
“This is because it does not have to worry about finding the increased CapEx to fit scrubbers or face a huge surge in costs by changing to low sulphur fuel, as fast ferries already run on low sulphur fuel. When fuel costs go up for conventional ferries for low sulphur fuel post-2020, fast ferries will be in a much more competitive position.”
MBNA Thames Clippers had some very particular requirements for its latest newbuild. Importantly, the new Clipper had to be able to transport of passengers between numerous floating piers at a speed not less than 25 knots at full load draft. The vessel’s catamaran hullform uses twin symmetric hulls and has been designed by Australia’s One2three Naval Architects. Its hull structure is designed for frequent and repeated berthing at London’s floating piers with particular attention paid to potential contact with obstructions in the water and harsh weather conditions.
Venus Clipper is classed by Class Lloyds Register / DNVGL and obtains the notation DNVGL +1A1 HSLC Passenger R4 HSC (A) EO meeting the delegated survey requirements for capacity and seating for a minimum of 220 passengers, with space for two wheelchairs.
The two main diesel engines are of the four-stroke water-cooled type, turbocharged and with charge air cooling. With regards to propulsion, the vessel is equipped with two Rolls Royce/Kamewa 40A3 waterjets fitted to each hull. The waterjet system comprises RR/Kamewa proprietary control and monitoring system complete with docking joystick and backup controls. To complete the power and propulsion system, there are two ZF2000 series reversing marine gearboxes fitted, directly coupled to the main engines.
The arrangement of the wheelhouse is in accordance with Survey Requirements having all-round vision for safe navigation in confined waters and frequent berthing. The outfit includes forward control and monitoring console incorporating all engine and waterjet controls, alarms and navigation equipment, monitoring panel and electrical panels.
External vinyl wrapping by Indigo Graphics was chosen instead of paint because it is so much lighter.
With a high emphasis on safety, the vessel is equipped with two Zodiac 151-person open reversible life rafts, fitted in the forward position with two RFD Ferryman 30 and 85 person open reversible life rafts in the aft position. Both yard and operator had to complete a safety evacuation test as a standard requirement for a first in class vessel. The drill required at least 110 passengers safely disembarked onto lift rafts within 17 minutes, which it passed with flying colours achieving evacuation in just 12.
Wight Shipyards is thankful to its neighbours Aluminium Marine Consultants for its support with the build.
Wight Shipyard completed its first two vessels for MBNA Thames Clippers back in August 2017, the 35m low wash catamarans Mercury Clipper and Jupiter Clipper. At the time the builds were announced in October 2016, it was the largest fast passenger ferry order for a UK shipyard in over 25 years.
Sean Collins, Managing Director, MBNA Thames Clippers said: “MBNA Thames Clippers are very pleased to receive our third build by Wight Shipyard Co, bringing our total fleet to 19 vessels. Venus Clipper was delivered on time and on budget to full specification and with an exceptional standard of British workmanship. It was especially gratifying that there was continuity with the personnel involved in our previous two builds, that enabled the main construction stage to be delivered with a seamless process. The end result came in under its designed weight, which contributes to Venus Clipper being our most efficient vessel to date.”
All the new vessels 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. The role of the vessels is to provide rapid passenger transport services on the River Thames in Central London on various routes ranging from Putney in the west to Royal Woolwich Arsenal in the east.
Its newest addition the Venus Clipper was handed over on 28th February and arrived in London the following day.
MBNA Thames Clippers now has the largest fast commercial passenger fleet operating solely in English waters.
The River Bus service, which operates seven days per week for up to 20 hours per day, saw 4.2 million passenger numbers in 2018 and conducted over 568,000 berthings for its scheduled services alone.