MBNA Thames Clippers’ Venus Clipper has been lowered into the water for the first time at Wight Shipyard Co in East Cowes, UK.
She will now undergo a series of system tests and sea trials, before making her way by sea from the Isle of Wight to the River Thames in the coming weeks. Once in London she will become the 19th vessel in the company’s fleet of high speed catamarans, helping serve the capital’s commuters and visitors as MBNA Thames Clippers celebrates its 20th anniversary.
The addition of Venus Clipper represents a £3.8 million investment and is expected to enable London’s river bus operator carry an additional 300,000 passengers every year.
The vessel marks another impressive milestone of London’s river bus operator and will add flexibility across its busy network of routes in what will be its 20th year of serving the capital’s commuters and visitors.
Sean Collins, CEO and co-founder of MBNA Thames Clippers, said: “Everyone in the business is very excited about Venus Clipper and what it represents. I never would have believed when we started out that MBNA Thames Clippers would get to where it is today – a vital cog in London’s transport infrastructure.
“Earlier this year we celebrated carrying our 40 millionth customer – not bad for a business that had just 80 passengers on its first day back in 1999. It proves that the demand for river transport is there and we are only scratching the surface when it comes to moving people around the capital.”
With a capacity of 222 passengers Venus Clipper has been designed with commuters in mind, with 50 more seats on board than its sister Hunt-class vessels Mercury Clipper and Jupiter Clipper, which joined the fleet in summer 2017. The new boat also features more tables, making it more adaptable for specialist charters and commuters alike.
The contract with Wight Shipyard Co to build Venus Clipper continues a long-running association between the two businesses and makes a significant economic contribution. In all, more than 100 businesses in the Southeast region have been involved in the delivery supply chain.
MBNA Thames Clippers’ further boosted its role on the river last year when it won the five-year contract to manage the Central London Cruise Moorings, alongside the Port of Tilbury.
By Jake Frith