Red Funnel launches first dedicated RoRo vessel

The latest ship in the fleet of Red Funnel, the original Isle of Wight ferry provider, has been launched from the famous Cammell Laird shipyard in Birkenhead.

Red Kestrel, a new freight-only vessel, will operate between Southampton and Isle of Wight when it enters service in May. The launch marked the debut of Red Funnel's first dedicated RoRo freight ship since the company’s inception almost 200 years ago.

The £10 million vessel highlights Red Funnel’s commitment to British shipbuilding and engineering, building on its history of investing in UK shipyards.

Fran Collins, CEO of Red Funnel, said: “We’re thrilled that not only will Red Kestrel increase our total capacity and enhance convenience for our cross-Solent customers but we also take tremendous pride in supporting the revival of world-class shipbuilding in this country. It’s a very special feeling for all of us and we’re in good hands with Cammell Laird.”

Tony Graham Cammell Laird’s Chief Operating Officer, added “It is tremendous to see more ship owners and ferry operators choosing to build in the UK, this is very much in line with the Government’s National Shipbuilding Strategy which aims to recalibrate British shipbuilding as a major job and wealth creator now and into the future.”

Having been built specifically to provide additional year-round freight capacity for Red Funnel’s Southampton-East Cowes route, which currently handles 53 per cent of all freight movements across the Solent, Red Kestrel will be limited to carrying up to 12 passengers.

At 74 metres in length, she will provide 265 lane metres of roll-on/roll-off freight capacity. To minimise the environmental footprint, the hull shape has been designed specifically to reduce wash and a propulsion package has been selected to make her highly fuel efficient whilst meeting the latest Tier III emission regulations.

The use of proven azimuth thrusters supplied by Rolls Royce, will also make the ship very manoeuvrable. The crossing time of 55-60 minutes will be identical to Red Funnel’s existing Raptor class Ro-Pax ships and she will use the same berths in Southampton and East Cowes.