|SpeedOne fast catamaran service commenced yesterday across the English Channel between Dover UK and Boulogne in France; offering a low cost best value ferry service to the beautiful city of Boulogne after a break of many years.The 86 metre high speed catamaran built by Incat in Australia crosses the Dover Strait in 50 minutes making five return trips each day in a year- round service for a new operating company SpeedFerrries.
SpeedOne takes the number of Incat built high speed catamarans operating on the English Channel to ten, with all the fast ferries operating out of the world’s busiest port (Dover) being Incat vessels – impressive numbers in that ten of the eleven cross-channel fast craft were built by one Australian shipbuilder, Incat.
Fanfare and photography were planned for the inaugural SpeedFerries service yesterday, Wednesday 19 May. Heavy Dover fog put paid to the photography sessions as even the crew couldn’t see the bow of the ship from the bridge.
Undaunted the first service with paying customers and their cars did get underway, albeit the fast ferry not quite as fast on its inaugural crossing as planned. As the fog cleared for the return trip to Dover crew and passengers experienced the exhilaration of travelling at over 40 knots, quickly bringing the vessel back onto its schedule.
The midday sailing from Dover included a contingent of 15 UK media whose numbers were boosted in Boulogne by over 50 French journalists and VIP’s keen to witness and write about the historic link between the two countries.
It is an historic service for the port of Boulogne which has not had a ferry service for several years.
Recent media coverage, including articles in the London Times Travel section ensured the SpeedFerries call centre lines have been running hot. The internet-based FAIR Flexible Web Pricing is an innovative pricing structure established by SpeedFerries which ensures that the earliest bookings automatically get the lowest available price, the price increasing automatically as capacity is sold.
The Boulogne Chamber of Commerce has worked enthusiastically to ensure the facilities were in place for the start of service. A dedicated linkspan has been installed, allowing two lanes of traffic to board the vessel simultaneously which will facilitate very fast turnarounds.
SpeedOne is Incat hull number 045, built in Hobart, Tasmania. The wave piercing catamaran was best known when she served as HMASJervisBay for the Royal Australian Navy during the East Timor Crisis between 1999 and 2001. Since then she has also operated fast ferry services between the mainland and islands of Italy.
The fast wavepiercer has a capacity of 200 cars, the original passenger capacity of 900 passengers has been reduced to around 700 to allow additional facilities to be incorporated for passenger comfort. The vessel has a top speed of 50 knots and service speed of over 40 knots.