A HOVERCRAFT builder has a £25million deal – one of its biggest ever – to supply three of its vehicles to Japan.

Southampton-based Griffon Hoverwork will start making the first of the hovercraft at the end of January, with the final oner due to be delivered before January 2024.

The deal with the Oita Prefecture government will see it supply the 12000TD hovercraft to provide a passenger service connecting Oita Airport in Kunisaki with Oita City, reintroducing a ferry route which was last used around 10 years ago.

The Griffon Hoverwork design team is working with the Japanese government and Japanese suppliers to adapt the 12000TD design to local requirements.

The 23.7metre craft will carry around 80 people with a payload of 12 tonnes and top speed of 45 knots.

The 12000TD is already used in the UK by Hovertravel, to link Portsmouth with Ryde on the Isle of Wight.

Adrian Went, managing director at Griffon Hoverwork, said: “Overseas clients continue to come to Griffon for the quality that we deliver.

“Our team are all very much looking forward to working with this latest esteemed customer and providing them with the latest British developed technology,” he added.

“Our work will also allow the restart of a dependable hovercraft passenger route serving the people and visitors of Oita.

“The project will provide opportunities across the range of roles in our business, from graduate engineers, through supply chain activity to the complete range of marine workshop skills.”

The deal is the latest in a series of export wins secured by Griffon Hoverwork.

The business has been involved in making hovercraft around the Solent since they were first conceived more than 60 years ago, working alongside the hovercraft’s inventor, Sir Christopher Cockerell.

Privately owned by the Bland Group, the company moved its main manufacturing facility from Hythe to Merlin Quay, on the River Itchen in Southampton, at the start of 2011 in order to increase capacity.

It has hovercraft on all continents and supports more than 200 of its craft in more than 40 countries.