WORK has started to build Wightlink’s new flagship for the Fishbourne-Portsmouth route, which will come into service in summer 2018.
Staff at the Cemre shipyard in Yalova, Turkey, began cutting steel in a ceremony watched by operations director Elwyn Dop and project manager Colin Stanton.
The new ship is part of Wightlink’s £45m Investing for the Future programme and will be able to carry more than 1,000 passengers and up to 178 cars.
The ship will use diesel electric hybrid batteries for propulsion and waste heat from the generator engines for heating.
The project includes new two-tier boarding ramps at Fishbourne and Portsmouth Gunwharf to enable more efficient loading at both terminals. Work will begin shortly to sink piles ahead of construction works – 256 at Portsmouth Gunwharf and seven at Fishbourne.
Wightlink will be using the quietest method of piling – continuous flight auger – and will not be working at night.
The new ramps will be ready for use by St Clare in summer 2017.
Mr Dop said: ‘While we are doing all we can to minimise disruption over the next few months, we are sorry if any of our customers experience any inconvenience while our development is underway.
‘Our investment will enable us to carry more customers at times they want to travel in greater comfort.’
A revised timetable will be in place on November 1, 2 and 3.