Wightlink’s new environmentally friendly ferry, Victoria of Wight, went down the slipway at the Cemre shipyard in Yalova, Turkey, earlier to cheers from Wightlink staff and hundreds of shipyard workers.
She will become the company’s flagship on the Portsmouth-Fishbourne route.
Wightlink project director, John Burrows, said “The launch marked a significant milestone for Wightlink in our £45 million investment in future services.
“Our new flagship is now afloat and we look forward to welcoming her to the Solent this summer.”
Workers at Cemre started construction on Victoria of Wight in November 2016.
They will complete fitting out work in the next few weeks before the ship travels to home waters.
Victoria of Wight will be seen around the Solent this summer as crew are trained to operate her before she enters service.
This summer, Wightlink will embark on a programme to train 11 crews to make the most of the opportunities offered by the innovative hybrid battery technology to reduce noise and emissions before introducing her to the schedule.
Wightlink’s £45 million investment programme started with work to extend the upper car deck of Wightlink’s current flagship St Clare to increase her capacity.
Double deck boarding ramps were built and installed at both Portsmouth and Fishbourne car ferry terminals to allow vehicles to be loaded on two levels at the same time.
This immediately reduced delays and improved punctuality.
The arrival of Victoria of Wight completes the project.
More than 50 shipyards around the world, including the UK, were asked if they were interested in building the ferry.
Wightlink received 22 tenders and shortlisted five yards – from Turkey, Spain and Croatia – before choosing Cemre on the Sea of Marmara, at Yalova, south of Istanbul.
The decision was made on the grounds of value for money and the capacity to deliver the vessel within two years.