© "Mike Jackson"HSC Britannia (GH – 2011) – Past and Present

HSC Britannia (GH – 2011)

Nicolas Lévy Collection

Nicolas Lévy Collection

“Winchester Class” (SRN.6) Mk I Hovercraft built in 1966 by British Hovercraft Corporation, East Cowes, Isle of Wight, England (024) for Townsend Car Ferries.

Technical Data

  • Length: 14.80m (overall)(1966), 17.80m (1972)
  • Beam: 7.70m (overall)
  • Height: 3.80m (overall on landing pads)
  • Skirt Depth: 1.22m
  • Cabin Size: 6.62m (length), 2.34m (breadth)
  • Cabin headroom: 1.83m (@ centre line)
  • Weight: 10 tons
  • Engines: Rolls Royce Marine “Gnome” gas turbine
  • Power: 900 shp
  • Speed: 52 knots (over calm water), 30 – 35 knots (average service)
  • Capacity: 38 passengers or 3 tonnes of freight


March 1966: Launched and delivered to Townsend Car Ferries (in association with their subsidiary company P & A Campbell Ltd) at Dover and running from The Camber.

Nigel Thornton Collection  Nicolas Lévy Collection

Nigel Thornton Collection (left) Nicolas Lévy Collection (right)

© A G Jones   © A G Jones

© A G Jones

© A G Jones (all)

April 30th 1966: Inaugural service from Dover – Calais. The service was then suspended for “training” reasons.

May 15th 1966: Service resumed.

July 27th 1966: Last trip owing to weather and technical problem. “Off beach” pleasure trips in the Thanet (Kent) area and then returned to British Hovercraft Corporation.

© "Mike Jackson"

©  “Mike Jackson”

February 22nd 1967 – May 10th 1967: Chartered to Cunard Line and was carried on the deck of the SYLVANIA supplementing the cruise by running trips from the ship to Athens, Beirut, Istanbul, Tripoli and Lisbon.

May 26th 1967: “Off beach” trips from Hastings, Greatstone, Folkestone, Margate and Leysdown before being returned to British Hovercraft Corporation.

June 1968 – September 1968: Chartered to Hoverlloyd .

1969: To Hoverwork, rebuilt with a drill tripod to the bow and strengthened side panels for work on the Waddenzee, Holland.

January 1979: Demonstrated around Jersey.

May 1970: Undertook work for a gravity survey in Bahrain.

March 1971: Undertook seismic survey work in Bahrain.

May 1971: Returned to Isle of Wight for conversion, by Air Vehicles and Hoverwork, to flat-decked freighter.

1971 – January 1972: Moved to Spitzbergen for logistics charter to Fina Petroleum.

July 1st 1974: Chartered for a seismic survey in Bahrain.

November 1974: Badly damaged by a seismic charge. Repairs completed on site.

February 1975: Returned to service.

1976: Survey completed and returned to St Helens, Isle of Wight where she became a “Gnome” engine test bed.

1980: Scrapped.

All information is believed to be correct and no responsibility is accepted for any errors or omissions found. All items included in this article are subject to © copyright. We would like to take this opportunity of thanking: A G Jones, “Mike Jackson” and Nicolas Lévy for their assistance in producing this feature.

Article © Nigel Thornton and Ray Goodfellow (Dover Ferry Photos Group)

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