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MBNA Thames Clippers is expanding  again – and has awarded a £6 million contract for two new fast ferries to an Isle of Wight shipbuilding firm.

The two new 35-metre boats which can each carry 170 passengers will enter service in the summer of 2017.

The services already carry  four million passengers a year and  when the two new fast ferries join the fleet they will add 14 per cent additional capacity to the company’s network.

They follow the addition of two Australian-built boats last year -  in total adding an additional 30 per cent capacity in two years. MBNA Thames Clippers will become the biggest commercial passenger fleet operating solely in English waters when the two newly confirmed boats enter service.

The order  is the biggest order won by Wight Shipyard at East Cowes and is expected to create 75 jobs on the island and in London.

Around 100 businesses in the South of England are expected to be involved as part of the delivery supply chain.

Sean Collins, founder and CEO, MBNA Thames Clippers said: “We are investing in an expanded fleet, built in the UK, as well as exploring new options for piers to enhance London’s infrastructure and maximise the River Thames as a thoroughfare.

“Our commitment to enhancing the London river transport network is moving at a considerable pace.

 “The experience and track record of the company means that we have found a new innovative yard with ambition who shares our vision for high quality, safe and environmentally efficient fast ferries.

“The complex nature of the tidal Thames means that it takes a specialist design and build team. We are thrilled to have found the right partners using One2three Naval Architects to design the vessels and a UK shipyard for the build, to make this important investment within the British Isles.”

The two new boats mean over £26 million has been invested by MBNA Thames Clippers in their fleet over the past ten years.

The company founded by Sean Collins in 1999 currently operates from 21 piers in London from Putney to Woolwich with long-term plans to expand further downstream towards the estuary.

Story dated Oct 19th 2016