FEBRUARY 2, 2018 — There was an unusual sight on the Solent (the strait that separates the Isle of Wight from the mainland U.K.) on January 31. The sleek new lounge modules for the RoPax ferry Red Eagle were being transported from Wight Shipyard Co in East Cowes, Isle of Wight, to Southampton Marine Services (SMS), where the vessel is undergoing a major refurbishment that marks a £3 million (about $4.25 million) investment by ferry operator Red Funnel.
The project will see a significant increase in the number of internal seats for customers and will be completed in time for the summer timetable which starts on March 29.
Highlights of the modernization include:
- New sun deck and promenade walk (with wheelchair/pushchair access)
- Two new passenger lounges with additional toilets & baby changing facilities
- New pet friendly lounge, new Signature Lounge and designated quiet zone
- New food and drink options
- Digital entertainment
- Air-conditioning in all passenger lounges and improved heating in winter
- Flexible space to host live music, entertainment and meetings
- High capacity Wi-Fi solution and more laptop/phone charging points
- Reduced environmental footprint thanks to LED lighting and additional recycling.
The aluminum fabrication work was awarded to Wight Shipyard and interior fit-out is being carried out by Trimline.
Lounge module is lifted into place at SMS
The Red Eagle refit comes at a particularly good time for Southampton Marine Services as it begins 2018 in a period of expansion that includes the recent acquisition of dry dock and marine workshops at Lowestoft on the U.K.’s North Sea Coast.
“Our expansion with Lowestoft coupled with the addition of marine workshops in Poole, Avonmouth, Portsmouth, Devonport and Dover to our facilities at Southampton and the dry dock at Shoreham means SMS is now the largest independent ship repair business in the U.K.,” says Managing Director Chris Norman. “It is therefore particularly pleasing to manage the refurbishment of the Red Eagle and a pleasure to work with the Red Funnel team.”
The refurbishment of Red Eagle, coupled with the Wight Shipyard Co order for fast ferry Red Jet 7 (see earlier story), already amount to an investment of over £10m (about $14 million) in Red Funnel’s cross-Solent services.
Kevin George, Red Funnel’s CEO commented “The refit of Red Eagle will bring the interior right up-to-date with a contemporary new look and a class-leading travel experience for customers which matches the best in the UK ferry industry. We are particularly pleased to award the work to local suppliers, supporting jobs in both Southampton and in East Cowes on the Island.”