THIS image reveals Gosport ferry’s brand new boat in the water for the first time.
The £3.2m boat was built in Croatia, launched on Saturday and is currently undergoing internal fitting in Croatia.
Keith Edwards, general manager at Gosport Ferry, hopes the boat named Harbour Spirit should be in service in March next year.
He said: ‘It was a milestone in the project, which has been on the table for three years.
‘We are expecting to be doing sea trials locally in Croatia in mid-January.
‘We’re exciting about her coming back here and entering service in the spring.’
The 300-capacity vessel is similar in design to the 2005-launched ferry Spirit of Portsmouth.
It will be crewed by three staff with space for 297 passengers when she carries commuters from Portsmouth Harbour to Gosport.
The boat is due to eventually replace the two oldest craft in the firm’s fleet – the 1966-built Gosport Queen and Portsmouth Queen.
Mr Edwards added: ‘Ultimately she will be replacing the two older vessels but we are yet to decide how soon.
‘They are going through servicing and Gosport Queen passed without any problems and is safety certificated for 12 months.
‘Portsmouth Queen is going through the process in the next few weeks and we expect her to be fully safety certificated.’
The firm is also refurbishing the Portsea pontoon.
The new ferry will arrive at Portsmouth International Port next year on a cargo ship.
A dedication service will follow before she is put into service on the water.
Mr Edwards added there were no current plans to increase the firm’s fares.
He said: ‘At the moment we will do anything we can to ease the traffic on the A32.’
Council leader Mark Hook has praised the company for investing in the town.
He said: ‘It’s always good when people continue to invest in improving their stock.
‘Anything that improves the travel and comfort for those using public transport has got to be good.’