|Lymington – Yarmouth Vehicle & passenger|
Portsmouth and Fishbourne Vehicle & passenger
Portsmouth Harbour and Ryde Pier Head Passenger
|Total assets||£165,179,000 (2015)|
|Total equity||£165,166,000 (2015)|
|Owner||Basalt Infrastructure Partners LLP/Fiera Infrastructure Inc|
Number of employees
|between 600 – 750|
|Footnotes / references|
The core routes are car ferries between Lymington and Yarmouth (40 minutes) and between Portsmouth and Fishbourne (45 minutes). A fast passenger-only catamaran operates between Portsmouth Harbour and Ryde Pier Head, taking 22 minutes, and directly links with the Island Line rail line.
In recent years the firm has been owned by the Macquarie European Infrastructure Fund, then sold to Balfour Beatty Infrastructure Partners in 2015, but as of 2019 is owned by Basalt Infrastructure Partners and Fiera Infrastructure Inc. Each of whom own a 50% stake in the firm.
Wightlink's main competitors are Red Funnel, who run passenger catamarans between Southampton – Cowes and vehicle ferries between Southampton – East Cowes, and Hovertravel who operate passenger hovercraft between Southsea and Ryde.
Wightlink and its forerunners have provided ferry services to and from the Isle of Wight for more than 160 years. In the early 19th century, ferries ran to the island from Lymington and Portsmouth. Later, steam ferries operated a circular route around Lymington, Yarmouth, Cowes, Ryde and Portsmouth. When the rail companies became involved they concentrated on two direct routes, Lymington – Yarmouth and Portsmouth – Ryde. Ownership of the ferries eventually passed from the British Railways Board to Sealink UK Limited.
In 1984 Sealink UK Limited was denationalised and the operating name became Sealink British Ferries, which was subsequently bought by the Bermuda based Sea Containers Ltd. When Stena Line bought Sealink in 1990, the Isle of Wight ferries remained with Sea Containers, as Wightlink. In June 1995 Wightlink was the subject of a management buy-in. In 2005 it was bought by the Macquarie European Infrastructure Fund for an estimated £240,000,000.
In October 2006 Wightlink announced its intention to build two new ferries for the Yarmouth to Lymington route. These ships are slightly bigger than their predecessors, with extra vehicle space, but only accommodate 360 passengers compared to 500 on the older vessels. Wightlink later announced that a third new ferry would enter service in spring 2009. A dispute with some Lymington residents led to delay and threatened the viability of the route. In November 2008, the service was reduced so only two ships were required, allowing for the delay in the introduction of the new vessels. Sea trials were not complete by November 2008 and introduction became pressing with the expiry of safety certificates on the previous fleet. Wightlink proposed interim arrangements enabling them restricted use of the new ferries until the trials could be completed in full.
In March 2008 Wightlink revealed that an order had been placed with FBMA Marine to construct two new passenger catamarans for the Portsmouth to Ryde service, to replace the three craft currently employed. They entered service in 2009.
From May 2008 Wightlink introduced a fuel surcharge on all crossings, linked to the price of Brent Crude oil. However, in November 2008 the surcharge dropped to zero following the sharp reduction in crude prices during the credit crunch and as of November 2009 was still at zero.
Wightlink planned to spend £17.5 million on improving its Portsmouth to Fishbourne route. This involved remodelling the terminal facilities at both Fishbourne and Portsmouth. The flagship St Clare was to have its upper car deck adjusted so vehicles access it directly from on-shore ramps. Two of the older ferries were to be stretched in length by 12 metres, with upper car decks similar to St Clare's being added, replacing movable mezzanine decks. Of the remaining two ferries, St Catherine has been sold and St Helen was used mainly for freight until she too was sold. As part of this investment project the reservations and ticketing system was replaced by CarRes from Carus. 
On 15 May 2015, Wightlink announced a revised investment of £45 million to include the purchase a new ferry, upgrading St Clare and modifications to the terminals at both ends to facilitate double-deck loading.
In August 2017, Wightlink announced that its new vehicle ferry Victoria of Wight for the Portsmouth to Fishbourne service would enter service in late July or early August 2018. The new ship was launched on 7 February 2018 in Turkey and entered service on 26 August.
In May 2019, a 50% stake of the business was sold to the Fiera Infrastructure Inc of Canada.
|Ferry||In service||Route||Current status|
|MV St Faith||1990||Portsmouth to Fishbourne||In Service|
|MV St Clare||2001||Portsmouth to Fishbourne||In Service|
|MV Victoria of Wight||2018||Portsmouth to Fishbourne||In service|
|MV Wight Sun||2009||Lymington to Yarmouth||In Service|
|MV Wight Light||2009||Lymington to Yarmouth||In service|
|MV Wight Sky||2009||Lymington to Yarmouth||In service|
The introduction of the Wight class ferries was a much discussed affair, with some Lymington residents claiming that the increased size of the ferries posed a risk, both in environmental terms and to users of pleasure craft on the Lymington river.
|Catamaran||In service||Route||Current status|
|HSC Wight Ryder I||2009||Portsmouth to Ryde||In service|
|HSC Wight Ryder II||2009||Portsmouth to Ryde||In service|
|PS Glasgow||1830–1850||Solent Steam Packet Co|
|PS Red Lion||1858–1880||Solent Steam Packet Co|
|PS Solent||1841–1861||Solent Steam Packet Co|
|PS Solent||1863 –1901||Solent Steam Packet Co|
|PS Mayflower||1866||Solent Steam Packet Co|
|PS Lymington||1893||London and South Western Railway|
|PS Solent||1902||London and South Western Railway|
|PS Freshwater||1927-1959||Southern Railway||Sold and renamed Sussex Queen, renamed Swanage Queen|
|MV Lymington||1938–1973||Southern Railway||First Voith Schneider driven ferry. Sold and renamed Sound of Sanda|
|PMV Farringford||1948–1974||British Transport Commission|
|MV Freshwater||1959–1983||British Transport Commission||2x 320bhp 8cyl Crossley diesels|
|MV Cenwulf||1973–2009||Wightlink||Scrapped 2010|
|MV Cenred||1974–2009||Wightlink||Scrapped 2010|
|MV Caedmon||1983–2009||Wightlink||Scrapped 2010|
|PS Arrow||1825–1851||Portsmouth & Ryde Steam Packet Co|
|PS Union||1825||Portsmouth & Ryde Steam Packet Co|
|PS Lord Yarborough||1826–1851||Portsmouth & Ryde Steam Packet Co|
|PS Lord Spencer||1833|
|PS Prince Albert||1847–1868||Portsmouth & Ryde Steam Packet Co|
|PS Prince of Wales||1850||Portsea, Portsmouth, Gosport & Isle of Wight Steam Packet Co|
|PS Princess Royal||1850||Portsea, Portsmouth, Gosport & Isle of Wight Steam Packet Co|
|PS Her Majesty||1850-1883||Portsmouth & Ryde Steam Packet Co|
|PS Prince Consort||1859–1882||Port of Portsmouth & Ryde United Steam Packet Co|
|PS Princess of Wales||1865–1885|
|PS Duke of Edinburgh||1869–1884|
|PS Princess Alice||1869–1882|
|PS Ventnor||1873–1879||Southsea & Isle of Wight Steam Packet Co|
|SS Princess Louise||1873–1874||Port of Portsmouth & Ryde United Steam Packet Co|
|SS Princess Beatrice||1874-1874|
|PS Heather Bell||1875|
|PS Albert Edward||1878|
|PS Alexandra||1879–1913||Sold to Cosens & Co Ltd|
|PS Victoria||1881–1899||Joint Railway Companies Steampacket Service|
|PS Duchess of Edinburgh||1884–1910|
|PS Duchess of Connaught||1884–1910|
|PS Duchess of Albany||1890–1927|
|PS Princess Margaret||1893–1927|
|PS Duchess of Kent||1897–1933||Sold and renamed Clacton Queen|
|PS Duchess of Fife||1890–1929|
|PS Duchess of Richmond||1910–1915||Mined in the Mediterranean|
|PS Duchess of Norfolk||1911–1937||Sold and renamed Embassy. Scrapped June 1967|
|PS Shanklin||1924–1950||Southern Railway||Sold and renamed Monarch|
|PS Portsdown||1928–1941||Mined off Southsea|
|PS Southsea||1930–1941||J113 HMS Southsea mined off the River Tyne|
|PS Whippingham||1930–1962||J136 HMS Whippingham in WW2|
|PS Sandown||1934–1965||J20 HMS Sandown in WW2, evacuated 3000 men at Dunkirk|
|PS Ryde||1937–1969||J132 HMS Ryde in WW2
Sold for use as a floating hotel and later a nightclub. Subsequent attempts at preservation finally failed in 2018.
|TSMV Brading||1948–1986||British Transport Commission|
|TSMV Southsea||1948–1988||British Transport Commission||Acquired for preservation, ultimately unsuccessful. Scrapped 2005.|
|TSMV Shanklin||1951–1980||British Transport Commission||Sold and renamed Prince Ivanhoe. Holed and beached in 1981.|
Scrapped in 1984.
|HSC Our Lady Patricia||1986–2006||Wightlink||Scrapped 2006|
|HSC Our Lady Pamela||1986–2008||Wightlink||Scrapped 2008|
|HSC FastCat Shanklin||1996–2009||Wightlink||Sold and renamed Sochi 2|
|HSC FastCat Ryde||1996–2010||Wightlink||Sold and renamed Rapparee, resold and renamed Sochi 1|
|MV Fishbourne||1927–1961||Southern Railway||Sent to Dunkirk in 1940. 2x 120bhp Gardner 4T7 semi diesels|
|MV Wootton||1928–1961||Southern Railway||Sent to Dunkirk in 1940. 2x 120bhp Gardner 4T7 semi diesels|
|MV Hilsea||1930–1961||Southern Railway||2x 120bhp Gardner 4T7 semi diesels|
|MV Fishbourne||1961–1983||British Transport Commission||IMO5115587, 2x 320bhp 8cyl Crossley diesels|
|MV Camber Queen||1961–1984||British Transport Commission||2x 320bhp 8cyl Crossley diesels|
|MV Cuthred||1969–1986||Wightlink||Sold and renamed Mira Praia|
|MV Caedmon||1973–1983||Wightlink||Transferred to Lymington - Yarmouth route. Scrapped 2010|
|MV St Catherine||1983–2010||Wightlink||Sold to Delcomar and renamed GB Conte|
|MV St Helen||1983–2015||Wightlink||Sold to Delcomar and renamed Anna Mur|
|MV St Cecilia||1987–2019||Wightlink||Sold to Delcomar and renamed Nando Murrau|
|TF Carrier||1885–1888||Isle of Wight Marine Transit Co||Ex Firth of Tay train ferry. Scrapped 1888 due to being ill-suited for the Solent|
Every year, Wightlink carries:
- 4.8 million passengers
- over 1.2 million cars
- almost 200,000 coaches and freight vehicles
- annual revenue of £51 million
- "Annual Accounts (2015)". Open Corporates.
- "History". Wightlink. Retrieved 29 March 2009.
- "Fragile - a belated Isle of Wight film review". Isle of Wight Guru. Retrieved 8 March 2016.
- "Threat to ferry route". Isle of Wight County Press. 7 November 2008. Retrieved 1 April 2009.
- "Isle of Wight: MP Andrew Turner asks why introduction of new Wightlink ferry is being delayed". Isle of Wight County Press. 14 November 2008. Archived from the original on 2 April 2015. Retrieved 21 November 2008.
- "New Lymington Timetable". Wightlink. Archived from the original on 17 December 2008. Retrieved 21 November 2008.
- Andrew Wilson (20 November 2008). "Press Statement: Introduction of new Ferries". Archived from the original on 3 April 2009. Retrieved 29 March 2009.
- "Fuel Surcharge". Wightlink. Archived from the original on 22 August 2008. Retrieved 29 March 2009.
- "Portsmouth to Fishbourne Investment". Wightlink. Retrieved 27 March 2009.
- "Portsmouth to Fishbourne Car Ferry Service – The Way Forward" (PDF). Wightlink. Summer 2008.
- "Article Search". Shippax. Retrieved 24 September 2017.
- "Wightlink bought by Balfour Beatty Infrastructure Partners". Isle of Wight County Press. 16 February 2015. Archived from the original on 23 March 2015. Retrieved 20 March 2015.
- "Cross-Solent island ferry firm sold". BBC News. 16 February 2015. Retrieved 9 April 2019.
- "Wightlink invests £45 million in a new ship and port facilities". Wightlink.co.uk. Retrieved 24 September 2017.
- "New island ferry in £45m investment". BBC News. 15 May 2015. Retrieved 9 April 2019.
- "Balfour Beatty sells its Infrastructure Partners business". World Highways. 6 July 2016. Retrieved 9 April 2019.
- "Balfour Beatty exits from BBIP | 1 July 2016 | Stock Market Wire". www.stockmarketwire.com. 1 July 2016. Retrieved 9 April 2019.
- "WIGHTLINK REVEALS THE NAME OF ITS NEW FLAGSHIP - Island Echo - 24hr news, 7 days a week across the Isle of Wight". IslandEcho.co.uk. 15 August 2017. Retrieved 24 September 2017.
- "Ferry firm 50% stake sold to investor". BBC News. 10 June 2019. Retrieved 19 June 2019.
- "History of Isle of Wight Ferries – Wightlink". Archived from the original on 4 January 2008. Retrieved 18 February 2008.
- Hendy, John. (1989) Sealink Isle of Wight, Ferry Publications
- "Information - Wightlink Ferries". Wightlink Ferries. Retrieved 8 March 2016.
- Hendy, John (1993). Wightlink: Isle Of Wight Ferries (2nd ed.). Narberth, Pembrokeshire: Ferry Publications. ISBN 0951309366.
- Hendy, John (2008). Lymington-Yarmouth: The New Generation. Ramsey, Isle of Man: Ferry Publications. ISBN 9781906608019.
- Hendy, John (2010). Solent Seaways: Wightlink - Isle of Wight Ferries. Ramsey, Isle of Man: Ferry Publications. ISBN 9781906608118.
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