Hoverspeed Great Britain pictured crossing the Dover Strait.

Hoverspeed Great Britain (also known as HIGH SPEED JET, Sea Runner, Speedrunner 1, Emeraude GB, Cosmos Jet, Christopher Columbus)

The 1st of Hoverspeed's 74m "Seacat" car carrying catamarans was built by International Catamarans (InCat) in Australia was launched as Christopher Columbus on January 28th 1991.  Despite being hull number 25, she was launched some months before hull 23 (Seacat France, later Seacat Tasmania). All 5 of these vessels where built to the same "Mark 1" design and specification, with a further 4 built afterwards for other operators to modified specifications.  After delivery it was decided to rename Christopher Columbus to Hoverspeed Great Britain.  Of the 5 74 metre craft built for Hoverspeed, Hoverspeed Great Britain was the only one to retain the name with which she originally entered service whilst operating for the company.

Hoverspeed Great Britain pictured in New York before her record breaking crossing of the Atlantic. InCat.
Hoverspeed Great Britain pictured in New York before her record breaking crossing of the Atlantic. InCat.

Hoverspeed Great Britain commenced service on the 14th of August 1990 between Portsmouth and Cherbourg, but was plagued with technical issues being the first of her class in service.  On her delivery voyage she had captured the Hales Blue Riband trophy for the fastest crossing of the North Atlantic (Eastbound) which had previously been held by the SS United States for some 38 years.

Hoverspeed Great Britain passes under Tower Bridge in London. She was in the UK capital for the occasion of the awarding of the Hales Blue Riband Trophy for the fastest crossing of the Atlantic (eastbound). InCat.
Hoverspeed Great Britain passes under Tower Bridge in London. She was in the UK capital for the occasion of the awarding of the Hales Blue Riband Trophy for the fastest crossing of the North Atlantic (eastbound). InCat.

In November 1990 she made publicity sailings to the Isle of Man and Heysham, before entering service between Dover and Calais/Boulogne.  After a final sailing between Portsmouth and Cherbourg on 8th January 1991, she proceeded for refit at Cherbourg.  Hoverspeed Great Britain re-entered service on July 20th 1991, a month later than had projected, between Dover and Calais/Boulogne.  Between December 1992 and March 1993 she was chartered to Ferrylineas Argentinas S.A. for service between Buenos Aries and Colonia, before returning to the UK to operate between Belfast and Stranraer.

Hoverspeed Great Britain. Copyright © Scott Mackey.
Hoverspeed Great Britain. Copyright © Scott Mackey.

November 1993 saw a return to the Dover to Calais and Boulogne services until March 1994, when Hoverspeed Great Britain operated from Folkestone to Calais.  In 1995 she returned back to the Dover to Calais service until March, when she resumed services between Folkestone and Boulogne.

March 2001 would see Hoverspeed Great Britain return back to Belfast, this time operating to Heysham in place of Seacat Denmark which had operated the service the previous year.  However, Hoverspeed Great Britain returned again to the Dover to Calais route the following year having been replaced on the Heysham link by the larger Seacat Rapide (by now the Folkestone to Boulogne route had been closed), before layup in 2003.

Hoverspeed Great Britain arriving at Calais on 16th August 2002. Copyright © Roger Marksand licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

From 2004 to 2005, Hoverspeed Great Britain was chartered out to French operator Emeraude (renamed Emeraude GB) for services to the Channel Islands.  Early 2005 saw a further charter, this time to the Greek operator Aegean Speedlines and a renaming to Speedrunner I.  2008 saw Speedrunner I purchased by Alpha Ferries (also of Greece) who renamed her Sea Runner and used her to operate between Santori and Crete.  However, in 2010 the vessel was arrested.

HSC Speed Runner 1
Aegean Speed Lines Speedrunner 1 at Piraeus. By dennis and aimee jonez (Flickr: Fast Beast) and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.
A further Greek operator, Seajets, took over the craft in 2011 and renamed her Cosmos Jet.  However, her service between Heraklion, Agios Nilkolaos, and Santori was to last little over a month before Cosmos Jet was laid up in Heraklion with engine problems.  She was towed later that month to Keratsini for further layup.

After a career spanning over 2 decades, it has been reported that the former Hoverspeed Great Britain is still laid up in Greece (Chalkis Shipyard, Evia Island) and out of class.  Her registered owner changed in June 2015 to Kalan Shipping (another Greek company) according to IHS Maritime, when she was renamed High Speed Jet, however at present we do not know wether she will ever enter service again.

Title image: Hoverspeed Great Britain pictured crossing the Dover Strait.  © Fotoflite.

Technical Data

 Current Name

HIGH SPEED JET
IMO Number 8900000
Design

InCat

Building Yard

InCat Tasmania Pty Ltd., Hobart, Tasmania

Hull Number

25

Year Completed

1990

Launched 28/1/1990 with sea trials following that April.

Owner (in NI Service)

Sea Containers

Operator (in NI Service)

Sea Containers Ferries (Scotland)

Classification

Det Norske Veritas – DNV +1A1 HSLC R1 Car Ferry “A” EO NAUT B
In service (original) 14/07/1990

Call sign (in UK service)

 C6IW4

Length overall

73.6m
Beam

26m

Draft

3.1m

Gross Tonnage

3003

Construction

Design - Two slender, aluminum hulls connected by two main bridging beams and intermediate transverse sections with centre bow structure at fwd end.

Subdivision - Each hull is divided into vented watertight compartments divided by transverse bulkheads. One compartments in each hull prepared as short- range fuel tanks and one as a long-range fuel tank.

Fabrication - Welded aluminium construction using longitudinal stiffeners supported by transverse web frames and bulkheads.

Machinery

Main Engines - 4 x resiliently mounted Ruston 16RK270 marine diesel engines at 4050 kW each.

Water Jets - 4 x Lips LJ115DX. Two waterjets configured for steering and reverse.

Transmission - direct drive.

Ride Control - A ‘Maritime Dynamics’ active ride control system is fitted to maximise passenger comfort. The system combines active trim tabs aft and optional T-foil with active fins located at the forward end of each hull.

Alternator - 4 x Caterpillar 3306 142kw (nominal) marine, brushless, self- excited alternators

Power(Max)

16,200kW

Speed (Max/Operational)

42/36kts

Capacity

450 passengers and 84 cars.
Cargo Access

Bow door/visor and stern doors leading directly onto the car deck

Flag (whilst serving NI) Bahamas (Nassau), UK (Folkestone) 1997 onwards.

Photographs

Hoverspeed Great Britain. © Fotoflite
Hoverspeed Great Britain. © Fotoflite

 

Hoverspeed Great Britain and Hoverspeed France passing mid-channel whilst operating from Dover. Hoverspeed.
Hoverspeed Great Britain and Hoverspeed France passing mid-channel whilst operating from Dover. Hoverspeed.

 

Hoverspeed Great Britain arriving at Calais on 16th August 2002. Photo by Roger Marks (Displayed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic licence https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/ ).
Hoverspeed Great Britain arriving at Calais on 16th August 2002. Photo Copyright © Roger Marks and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

Hoverspeed Great Britain pictured at Calais during 1999. Copyright © Christopher Sparks and licensed for reuse under this <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/" target="_blank">Creative Commons Licence</a>.
Hoverspeed Great Britain pictured at Calais during 1999. Copyright © Christopher Sparks and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

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