The newest addition to London’s river bus transport network has made an almost 200 nautical mile maiden journey to the Capital from the Isle of Wight. Mercury Clipper, is the first of two new boats that will enter service in London this summer with MBNA Thames Clippers.
Six members of crew – with over 80 years of combined experience between them – carried out the 12 hour journey, at an average speed of 20 knots. Travelling along the English coast, the boat sailed past landmarks including Spinnaker Tower at Gunwharf Quays, Brighton Pier and the White Cliffs of Dover to its home at Trinity Buoy Wharf in east London.
The two new 172 capacity passenger boats are a £6.3 million investment in London’s port and transport infrastructure and have been built at the Wight Shipyard Co Ltd on the Isle of Wight. With the order, MBNA Thames Clippers has set the record for the largest fast ferry order for a UK ship yard in over 20 years with non-government backed funding.
Mercury Clipper and Jupiter Clipper took 10 months to build, creating over 75 new jobs across the Isle of Wight and London, including the hiring of two dedicated apprentices and engagement with over 100 local suppliers from across the South of England.
Adding 14 per cent capacity to the company’s network, MBNA Thames Clippers now has the largest fast commercial passenger fleet operating solely in English waters. Mercury Clipper will enter service late June with Jupiter Clipper making the journey from the Isle of Wight and entering service by early August 2017.
Sean Collins, MBNA Thames Clippers’ co-founder and CEO said: “We are excited to welcome Mercury Clipper and shortly Jupiter Clipper to the fleet.
It’s fantastic that we were able to build these ultra-high specification catamarans here in the UK. This build marks a significant investment in MBNA Thames Clippers and London’s river network and I’m proud of it enabling investment in our team too.
Mercury and Jupiter Clipper join the fleet following the two boats we added in late 2015 and combined, the four mark a 30 per cent growth in our fleet. Along with continued pier additions to the route, we are committed to ongoing investment in the Capital’s growing river network.”
Use of the river is expected to grow, with a forecast 7.9 million passengers using it by 2021 and several new piers are planned, including a potential six piers in east London.
By the autumn, three piers will have been added to MBNA Thames Clippers’ network since 2015, Plantation Wharf Pier, Westminster Pier and Battersea Power Station Pier. Services to Battersea Power Station Pier are due to launch on 18 September 2017 and will include all day and weekend services.