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Olympic gold medallist Dame Kelly Holmes has officially named the largest ferry to sail across one of the world's busiest waterways.
The 40-year-old athlete joined 300 VIPs on board P&O Ferries' new #152 million cross-Channel ship, Spirit Of Britain, at Dover's Eastern Docks in Kent today.
The 49,000-tonne vessel can hold up to 2,000 passengers and has three vehicle decks capable of carrying nearly two and a half miles (4km) of traffic end to end.
Dame Kelly told the audience: ``As a record-breaker myself, I always take a close interest in 'firsts' and I am pleased to note that the Spirit Of Britain sets many new records, not least for being the biggest, longest and widest ferry ever to operate on the Dover Strait.''
The Spirit of Britain can carry up to 2,000 passengers and the equivalent of two and a half miles of traffic parked end to end.
Her owners say her revolutionary design, with a unique hull form that reduces drag in shallow Channel waters and enhances fuel economy, means she will be able to carry twice the payload of today’s ferries for the same running costs. And that in turn will help keep ticket prices low.
In September, the £150million ship will be joined on the Dover-Calais service by her identical twin, Spirit of France, which is currently under construction at a shipyard in Finland.
Ship fact file
Length: 213m overall
Lane metres: 3,746m
Speed: 22 knots
Gross registered tonnage: 49,000
Classification Society: Lloyd's Register