Rix Sea Shuttle will take delivery of a 27.4 metre ship made by French company Piriou in April, 2016.

The crew transfer vessel will be the largest in their fleet with the capacity to carry a crew of 24 seafarers and sleep up to eight, enabling it to stay offshore for longer than our other vessels.

It is specifically designed to operate in the shallow waters which exist around many UK and European offshore wind farms and will use jet engines instead of a traditional prop and propeller configuration, making it more manoeuvrable.

James Doyle, managing director of Rix Sea Shuttle, said they had decided to expand their fleet due to growing demand in the market place which was looking likely to increase this year.

Currently all the company’s other vessels – the Rix Cheetah, Rix Panther, Rix Tiger and the Rix Lion – are working at offshore wind farms in UK and European waters.

Mr Doyle said: “Demand for crew transfer vessels has increased significantly this year and is forecast to grow exponentially in 2016. With all our current boats chartered, we need more capacity.

“We have ordered this boat at precisely the right time. As the UK and European offshore market has begun to mature, the industry has got a much better understanding of what vessels are needed to do what jobs. In effect, it is becoming more specialised. Our strategy has always been to develop a varied fleet of crew transfer vessels to give us the ability to work across all aspects of the sector and the new boat builds on that. It will enable us to operate in shallow waters, which a number of offshore wind farms require, so broadens the range of work we can carry out.”

The vessel – due to be named the Rix Leopard – has been designed by leading naval architect Nigel Gee and is currently under construction in Vietnam.

It has a top speed of 27.5 knots, a maximum cargo capacity of 20 tonnes and features an 8.5 tonne crane as standard.

The boat will be certified to work in Germany.

Mr Doyle said: “We chose Piriou specifically because they have significant history in ship building and the necessary experience to deliver a quality crew transfer vessel. The Rix Leopard will be the most versatile crew transfer vessel in our fleet and I’m confident it will be in great demand by the industry.”