The boss of Wightlink insists the Isle of Wight ferry firm is 'one of the most reliable in the UK' as he brandished claims made by the Island's MP, 'highly inaccurate'.

In a new report, MP Bob Seely was critical of the Island's two main ferry operators — Red Funnel and Wightlink — and said Islanders are fed up of repeated technical and mechanical issues.

He also said 'the pace of investment in services has been slow compared to the broader maritime sector'.

In response, Wightlink CEO Keith Greenfield said the MP's 'accusations' are 'highly inaccurate'.

Read more: Isle of Wight ferry report written by MP on Red Funnel and Wightlink

He said: "Out of 35,583 scheduled sailings in the last 12 months, 215 were cancelled (less than one per cent) a performance which puts Wightlink among the most reliable transport operators anywhere in the UK.

"We have invested more than £90 million over the last 10 years giving us one of the most modern fleets in the country - including the UK’s first large hybrid electric ferry, Victoria of Wight, launched in 2018.

"The average age of our ferries is 18 years, compared to a design life of 35 years."

Mr Greenfield said the firm is 'always open' to ideas on how ferry services are run and can be improved but, he said, for it to be constructive the MP also needs to recognise Wightlink’s starting point is "not as he describes."

"Our customers have already done this by voting us into first place as Best UK Ferry Operator in 2023 in the British Travel Awards, the country’s largest customer travel survey", he added.

Read more: Isle of Wight ferry firm Wightlink crowned best operator in UK

Wightlink said it welcomes debate and understands that fares and timetables will always be important discussion points.

The cross-Solent operator said it engages 'consistently' with customers by conducting thousands of surveys every month and holding regular Island Link Forum meetings and has introduced a number of schemes in response to customer feedback.

Bob Seely's report considers proposals for a Solent ferries regulator, Department for Transport oversight, price caps on health journeys and voluntary regulation. 

He is seeking feedback on his study in the coming weeks, through his website.