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London ferry operator adds two low-wash cats to fleet

MBNA Thames Clippers now has the largest fast commercial passenger fleet operating solely in English waters MBNA Thames Clippers now has the largest fast commercial passenger fleet operating solely in English waters

AUGUST 23, 2017 — London's MBNA Thames Clippers has added two more fast ferries to its expanding fleet. Built by Britain's Wight Shipyard Co., the 35 meter low-wash catamarans Mercury Clipper and Jupiter Clipper each entered service within 48 hours of completing their respective 200 mile, 10 hour delivery voyages from the Wight Shipyard facility at East Cowes on the Isle of Wight to Trinity Buoy Wharf in east London in just ten hours.

"The new boats 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," says Peter Morton, CEO of Wight Shipyard Co. "They offer London's commuters and visitors a comfortable, relaxed and highly efficient way to get from A to B while taking in the sights of the capital."

Designed by Australia's One2three Naval Architects, 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.

The two new 172 capacity passenger vessels took 10 months to build and represent a GBP 6.3 million investment in London's port and transport infrastructure.

With the order, MBNA Thames Clippers set the record for the largest fast ferry contract for a UK shipyard in over 20 years with non-government backed funding.

MBNA Thames Clippers now has the largest fast commercial passenger fleet operating solely in English waters.

Sean Collins, MBNA Thames Clippers' co-founder and CEO says "We are excited to welcome Mercury Clipper and Jupiter Clipper to the fleet. It's fantastic that we were able to build these ultra-high specification catamarans here in the U.K. 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." he says.

The two new Wight Shipyard low wash river vessels are catamarans with twin symmetric hulls of all welded construction. The 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 in weather conditions that can reasonably be expected in the area of operation.

The vessels are each powered by twin resiliently mounted Scania DI16 072M marine diesel engines, each delivering 625kW @ 2100 rpm. They power two Rolls Royce Kamewa 40A3 waterjets via two ZF2000 series reversing marine gearboxes, 1.5000:1 reduction ratio,

Operating in a high-profile area of the River Thames in Central London they have a modern style with an appearance representative of a contemporary rapid passenger ferry operated by a professional company.

Marine grade high-gloss vinyl wrapping, rather than paint, is applied on external surfaces of the superstructure for application of the eye-catching MBNA Thames Clippers livery. The wrapping also provides a weight-savings advantage with vinyl covering across the vessel being approximately two thirds the weight of required paint applications.

Customers enter the air conditioned passenger cabin port and starboard, forward and aft. Seating is provided for 172 persons in comfortable Beurteaux Ocean Tourist seating.

Panoramic and roof windows maximize opportunities for passengers to enjoy the London skyline. LCD screens enable seated passengers to view safety messages, service and tourist information and on board refreshment menus. Outboard seating is provided with USB points for recharging mobile phones.

Separating the main cabin area from the forward seating space is a kiosk which offers passengers a range of snacks and beverages, including espresso coffee served by MBNA Thames Clippers' on board baristas. The kiosk block is also shared with access to an electronics space and the cabin-top wheelhouse.

The wheelhouse is equipped with the latest in electronic, navigation and communication equipment to comply with the High Speed Craft Code. There are two forward facing adjustable seats with the Captain sitting on the centerline, and the Mate to port.

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