Isle of Wight ferry firm Red Funnel today confirmed an order for a £7 million new fast craft.

The deal for the new Red Jet 7 high speed vessel secures 85 jobs at island ship builder Wight Shipyard.

The announcement made on Twitter this morning follows the company introducing the 277-passenger Red Jet 6 a year ago.

The move to construct a new fast ferry follows rival Wightlink revealing plans for a £30 million hybrid-powered car ferry due to be introduced on the Portsmouth-Fishbourne route next year.

The order for Red Jet 7 marks the first major investment in Red Funnel by a consortium of UK and Canadian pension funds which acquired the cross-Solent ferry operator in July.

Red Funnel chief executive, Kevin George, said: “We are thrilled to announce that Red Jet 7 will be built on the Island.

“The order represents a £7 million investment in the local economy and will secure a wide range of skilled jobs in East Cowes and in the local supply chain.

“I am delighted that our new investors are showing, at such an early stage, their commitment to the future of Red Funnel, the Island and local businesses.

He added: “Red Jet 7 will be virtually identical to Red Jet 6 which has proved to be efficient, comfortable and popular with our customers.

“Once Red Jet 7 joins the fleet next summer we will have three large modern Red Jets each capable of carrying 277 passengers in comfort in all weather conditions.

“The introduction of Red Jet 7 will represent a further 51% increase in capacity for the Red Jet service.”

Peter Morton, managing director of Wight Shipyard added: “We are delighted to receive this order for Red Jet 7 which follows on from Red Jet 6 which we built last year.

“There can be no better endorsement than a customer placing a repeat order and I would particularly like to thank Red Funnel for their belief in our product and the quality of our work on the Isle of Wight.

“I am extremely proud of my colleagues at Wight Shipyard who I am convinced now build the finest high-speed ferries in the world.

“This contract follows the two boats we recently completed for MBNA Thames Clippers in London and with final contracts for our first export order being negotiated, the prospects for the Wight Shipyard and the 85 jobs on the Island are healthy.”