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242 FEET








4 - DIESEL - 4,580 HP

Richard Branson renewed interest in the Blue Riband in 1985 by attempting to break the Atlantic crossing records set by the liner United States in 1952. His first run in a large powerboat named Virgin Atlantic Challenger ended in disaster after hitting a submerged object and sinking in mid Atlantic. The following year with a new powerboat named Virgin Atlantic Challenger II, Branson successfully completed the voyage averaging 36.79 knots. With his boat not providing a commercial service and having to stop to be refueled three times, the Hales Trusties refused to award him the Blue Riband. This led to the Hales Trusties adding some additional rules to their list of qualifications criteria for the trophy in 1989. These new rules stated that the Blue Riband only applied to ships of a wave breaking design intended for commercial service.

Hoverspeed Great Britain

In 1990, Incat Australia was due to deliver a new aluminum hulled Catamaran capable of carrying 600 passengers and 90 cars to the British company Hoverspeed UK LTD. This vessel named Hoverspeed Great Britain was to be operated across the English Channel between Dover and Calais. To give her a chance of winning the Blue Riband for the fastest Atlantic crossing, Incat conceived a delivery route that crossed the Pacific, passed through the Panama Canal and put into New York. Hoverspeed Great Britain then set out for England in an attempt to break the record. Crossing at an average speed of 36.97 knots, she broke the eastbound record of 35.59 knots set by the liner United States in 1952.

As Incat Australia were delivering a 300-foot catamaran named Catolina to the Spanish Buquebus Group in 1998, the same route was taken to America before crossing from Nantucket - Tarifa/Spain. This run saw the Spanish vessel take the Blue Riband with an average speed of 38.88 knots. Catolina was originally operated on the crossing between Barcelona and Mallorca.


Later in 1998, a third catamaran Catlink V was to be delivered from Incat Australia - Denmark. This vessel took the same route to America in an attempt to take the Blue Riband from Catolina. Even though Catlink V encountered heavy seas and had to assist in the search for a missing light aircraft, she still managed to set a new record by averaging 41.2 knots, crossing in 2 days, 20 hours and 9 minutes. Catlink V was originally operated on the 42 mile crossing between Arhus and Kalundborg in Denmark.

As these Atlantic crossings are for delivery purposes only, they cross in the easier eastbound route. Ships traveling in that direction are assisted by the Gulf Stream that runs up from the Gulf of Mexico to the British Isles. The liner United States still holds the record for the more difficult westbound route with an average speed of 34.51 knots. It is said the United States set the records in both directions using only her service speed, she was supposed to have a top speed in excess of 40 knots.

Catlink V

Update: Catlink V is now operated by the Fjord Line as their Fjord Cat on high speed crossings between Hanstholm in Denmark and Kristiansand in Norway. The crossings take just 2 hours, up to 3 times daily.

Update: Catalonia has been operated on the crossings between Larne/Northern Ireland and Troon & Cairnryan/Southwest Scotland since 2005 by P&O Irish Sea under the name Express.

Update: Hoverspeed Great Britian has had a number of owners and operated under the names Hoverspeed Great Britain (1990-2004), Emeraude GB (2004-2005), Speedrunner 1 (2005-2008) and Cosmosjet (2011- ) More Information.

Update: The Stena 415 feet in length and 131 feet wide HSS Voyager, 1500 class, as seen below, is one of three sisters regarded as the largest fast ferries in the world that can carry 1520 passengers + 375 cars, or 120 cars + 50 freight units. More impressive, the HSS 1500 craft are powered by four jet engines, two the same as power Jumbo jets and two that power the Swedish Airforces Saab Gripen jet fighter, powering massive water jets that spew vast amounts of water out the back of the craft, giving a top speed of over 40 knots. The combined power output of the four jet engines is about 100,000 horsepower.

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HSS Stena Voyager travels between Stranraer/Southwest Scotland and Belfast/Northern Ireland. HSS Stena Explorer travels between Holyhead/Northwest Wales and Dún Laoghaire/ by Dublin/Ireland. HSS Stena Discovery was taken off the Hoek van Holland to Harwich/England route January 8th 2007 to be laid up at Belfast/Northern Ireland due to spiraling fuel costs. Discovery was sold in 2009 to a company based at La Guaira, Venezuela.

Voyager has to remain at slow speeds until it is well clear of Stranraer and Belfast as people began complaining after being hit by large waves while paddling or swimming in the sea. At full speed across the Irish Sea, as seen right, the waves created by the craft even discourage other ferries from crossing close behind. The image right was taken on the way back from Belfast in July 2007 after visiting the docks where the Titanic was built to see plans for the development of that site for accommodation, tourism and leisure. The rear deck on an HSS 1500 is probably as close as you can get to feel the power of 100,000 HP.

HSS Voyager Wake
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