A MULTIMILLION-POUND ferry has been unveiled at a naming ceremony.
Harbour Spirit is the new Gosport Ferry and will be replacing Gosport Queen and Portsmouth Queen.
It has been four years in planning and building so it is great to have it here in Gosport.John Foster
The £3.3m vessel was named yesterday in front of councillors and staff from both the ferry company and firms which helped build it.
A guided tour of the harbour was also given for people to test the new ferry which will be bought into action at the end of this month.
John Foster, managing director of Gosport Ferry, said: ‘We are really delighted to see the ferry here in the harbour.
‘It has been four years in planning and building so it is great to have it here in Gosport.
‘It is a lot more modern and is more comfortable.
‘It seats more people and has extra space for cyclists and people with disabilities.’
Of the two old ferries, which were built in 1966, one will be chosen to stay as a back-up vessel while the other will be sold or reused for parts.
Mr Foster added: ‘The two ferries have lasted very well but they are nearly 50 years old.
‘We thought it was about time they were replaced with something new.
‘But one will be kept to use when the ferry is busy or in other situations.
‘We are expecting this summer to be very busy with all the events happening in Portsmouth so it would be good to have not only a bigger ferry but a spare one too.’
Harbour Spirit has room for 300 passengers and was named by Gosport resident David Hurman.
He said: ‘I thought it was important that the name of the new ferry should reflect the way that Portsmouth and Gosport have come together through the regeneration made to the harbour area.’
The ferry was built in Croatia and was shipped to Portsmouth in a container.
It underwent a number of sea trials and tests and will have to go through more testing in the Solent before it can start being used.
Janet Saville, marketing advisor at Gosport Ferry, said it was great to celebrate with everyone who helped put the ship together.
‘The ceremony was definitely a celebration for everyone,’ she said.
‘We had councillors there, ferry staff, people who helped build the ferry in Croatia and everyone else who was involved in the planning or building of Harbour Spirit.’