Posted on 29 Mar 2007
Following meetings with Wightlink early in 2006, the Society’s Council received a presentation from Mr. Andrew Willson, Chief Executive of Wightlink and Mr. John Burrows, Operation Manager, covering their plans for the future of the Lymington/Yarmouth route.
Wightlink plans to replace the present 30-year old ferries with vessels of 4 metres greater overall length (58 to 62 metres), 80 cms. greater beam, the same maximum draft of 2.3 metres. The new vessels will be able to carry up to 65 cars, compared to the present 48, displacing up to1500 tons compared to the present 800. Their new engines, using the same Voith Schneider propulsion system, will have substantially cleaner emissions. The two units will be on the centreline, thus improving water flow and manoeuvrability. However, due to their increased beam and displacement, there may be some increase in wash; to overcome this, the operating speed in the Lymington River may need to be reduced, any lost time being made up in the open waters of the Solent. Wightlink have undertaken to keep the Society informed when the initial trials take place next Spring.
Delivery of the first two vessels is expected early in 2008, with a possible third to follow later.
The new ferries will follow the same track as the present ones, thus there will be no need to move yacht moorings With a full width bridge together with cameras on the beam and forward, blind spots will be significantly reduced, making the new vessels safer to navigate in the river.
While the Society’s Council was pleased to note that the concerns expressed at the time of the previous owners plans to introduce larger ferries onto this route had been taken on board by the present Wightlink management, some residual concern remained about the potential environmental effects of operating the new increased displacement ferries on the Lymington River. The Society has been reassured by the Lymington Harbour Commissioners that discussions with Wightlink are ongoing in connection with possible changes to operating parameters that may be required to ensure that the new vessels are operated in such a manner that does not adversely impact upon other river users or on the environment and also that baseline monitoring is being undertaken to enable this assessment to be made.
Report by T.J. Gerald, Esq