HSC Wight Ryder I

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Wight Ryders I and II in Portsmouth Harbour.
Civil Ensign of the United Kingdom.svgUnited Kingdom
Name: HSC Wight Ryder I
Operator: Wightlink
Port of registry: Portsmouth
Route: Ryde to Portsmouth
Builder: FBMA, Philippines
Launched: 2009
Maiden voyage: 2009
In service: 29 September 2009
Fate: In Service
General characteristics
Tonnage: 520GRT
Length: 41 metres (135 ft)
Beam: 12 metres (39 ft)
Draught: 1.60 metres (5 ft 3 in)
Installed power: 2x 12-cyl Caterpillar C32 ACERT diesel engines
Speed: 26.7 knots (49.4 km/h; 30.7 mph)
Capacity: 260 passengers
Crew: 4-5

HSC Wight Ryder I is the first of Wightlink's new purpose built high-speed passenger catamarans to operate the Ryde to Portsmouth ferry route. It was introduced along with sister ship HSC Wight Ryder II. Both vessels left their construction site in the Philippines in June 2009, and began service in September 2009. In preparation for the new vessels berth improvements at Portsmouth Harbour and Ryde Pier were carried out. The existing vessels, FastCat Ryde and FastCat Shanklin will be phased out on arrival of the new ones by the Spring, when they will be sold on to new owners in Bristol.[1]

Unlike previous high-speed passenger catamarans owned by Wightlink, the new vessels no longer feature yellow and white 'FastCat' branding. They will be branded in a Wightlink livery similar to the much larger car ferries adapted for smaller ships.[2]

The new vessels have been criticised for being too slow and too small, with a decreased seating capacity of 260 compared to 294 previously, with concerns passengers will be left behind. Wightlink later stated that a new timetable would be introduced along with the ferries offering more services during the day to prevent this from happening.[3]

A private naming and dedication ceremony took place on 17 September 2009 following the issuing of the passenger certificate. The vessels were initially expected to go into service on 21 September, with two days of discounted travel enabling passengers to trial the new vessels,[4] however this was later postponed and occurred towards the end of September.[3]

Following the launch, further problems occurred with Wight Ryder II suffering from a generator glitch. This was followed by more problems on a later crossing involving a bang. The vessel was taken back to Ryde Pier on the other engine to be switched with an older FastCat vessel to keep timetables running. Wightlink were criticised by passengers for low levels of communication after the screens went blank and passengers were told to leave their seats.[5] The older FastCats were once again drafted in the following weekend when engineers discovered fuel contamination affecting both vessels.[6]


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