Hovertravel is a ferry company operating from Southsea, Portsmouth to Ryde, Isle of Wight, UK. It is the only passenger hovercraft company currently operating in Britain since Hoverspeed stopped using its craft in favour of catamarans and ceasing all ferry operations in 2005. Hovertravel is now the world's oldest hovercraft operator, and this service is believed to be unique in western Europe. The service commenced operations in 1965 and currently operates two 12000TD hovercraft on a single route between Ryde and Southsea.
|Headquarters||Ryde, Isle of Wight, United Kingdom|
|Solent, Isle of Wight, Southsea|
Number of employees
The service operates between Southsea Common on the English mainland and Ryde Transport Interchange on the Isle of Wight: the crossing time of less than 10 minutes makes it the fastest route across The Solent from land to land.
Hovertravel operate two 12000TDs produced by Griffon Hoverwork called "Solent Flyer" and "Island Flyer". These craft each have 78 seats with the cabin accessible by two doorways from the bow of the craft. The pilot operates from a central wheelhouse.
The twin engine vehicles travel at a speed up to 40 knots 1.5m above the surface.
Hovertravel operate between the mainland of the United Kingdom from Southsea across the Solent to Ryde on the Isle of Wight. At low tide the hovercraft travels over sand flat at a distance of a mile to reach Ryde's hover port.
On 4 March 1972, Hovertravel's SR-N6 012 capsized off Southsea, with a loss of five lives, including one person missing, presumed drowned. This was the world's first fatal accident involving a commercially operated hovercraft, and the first fatal accident involving a hovercraft in the United Kingdom.
The craft was en route from Ryde to Southsea when it was hit by an unusually large wave. The hovercraft capsized about a quarter-of-a-mile (400 metres) offshore. After all visible survivors had been rescued, the hovercraft was towed ashore at Southsea.
|Model||Number||Name||In Service||Out Service|
|Griffon 12000TD||GH2160||Solent Flyer||2016||Present|
|Griffon 12000TD||GH2161||Island Flyer||2016||Present|
In October 2017, the two Griffon craft were taken out of service owing to a number of technical problems including engine failures. The two AP1-88s were taken out of reserve to operate the service in their places. The Griffon craft returned later that month.
Hovertravel's hovercraft have occasionally been chartered to operate temporary services across the Firth of Tay between Carnoustie and St Andrews in connection with major golf tournaments (due to Carnoustie's relative lack of hotel accommodation). Also, the Solent Express was chartered to operate an experimental service across the Firth of Forth (marketed as "Forthfast") between Portobello (Edinburgh) and Kirkcaldy 16–28 July 2007.
- "BBC – Hovercraft on the Isle of Wight". www.bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 25 September 2008.
- Magazine, Justin Parkinson BBC News. "What happened to passenger hovercraft?". BBC News. Retrieved 9 November 2015.
- "Hovertravel – Homepage". www.hovertravel.co.uk. Retrieved 13 September 2008.
- "HOVERCRAFT ACCIDENT". Hansard 6 March 1972. Retrieved 5 December 2017.
- "Hovercraft Casualty". Hansard 20 December 1972. Retrieved 5 December 2017.
- "1972, The Hovercraft". Thirty Two Years in the Ambulance Service. Portsmouth and Hampshire (UK). Archived from the original on 22 November 2009. Retrieved 17 September 2009. Cite uses deprecated parameter
- "Southsea to Ryde hovercraft taken out of service". BBC News. Retrieved 7 September 2017.
- "Southsea to Ryde hovercraft back in use after breakdowns". BBC News. 28 October 2017. Retrieved 1 February 2018.
- "Stagecoach – Fife – forthfast". www.stagecoachbus.com. Archived from the original on 2 October 2009. Retrieved 13 September 2008. Cite uses deprecated parameter
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