New British-built freight ferry set to join Red Funnel’s Isle of Wight service

29 April 2019

Nautilus has welcomed the arrival of the new Isle of Wight freight ferry Red Kestrel – which has provided a boost for British maritime jobs onshore and at sea.

Due to enter into service with Red Funnel in May 2019, the vessel was built at the Cammell Laird shipyard in Birkenhead, and will be commanded by Nautilus member Captain Ned Tutton.

The 74m-long Red Kestrel will provide 265 lane metres of ro-ro freight capacity, allowing for 12 HGVs. Passenger numbers are also set at 12. To minimise the ship’s environmental footprint, the hull shape has been designed specifically to reduce wash, and a highly fuel-efficient propulsion package has been selected.

Red Kestrel's naming ceremony was held in Southampton docks on 25 April 2019, with the traditional bottle-breaking carried out by Karen George, the wife of Red Funnel's chairman Kevin George.

In a speech at the event, employment minister Alok Sharma MP highlighted the importance of British craftmanship, supporting local jobs and the revival of world-class shipbuilding in this country.

Afterwards, Red Funnel CEO Fran Collins commented that Red Kestrel marked an important new direction for the company as its first-ever freight ship.

'With the growth in the Isle of Wight economy over recent years, we had reached a point where we could no longer fulfil the growing demand,' she explained. 'Following extensive research, we identified that to increase capacity on our passenger vessels, we would need a dedicated freight ferry to assist with the freight side of the business.

'Red Kestrel is designed to provide additional year-round freight capacity for our Southampton to East Cowes route, which currently handles 53% of all freight movements across the Solent.'