Built at Cammel Laird’s in Birkenhead, Red Kestrel, the newest addition to Red Funnel’s fleet, will be the operator’s first dedicated Ro-Ro freight ship since the company’s inception almost 160 years ago.
The additional freight capacity that the vessel will provide will mean that the company’s ro-pax ferries will have more capacity freed up for non-commercial traffic.
The Great British-themed naming ceremony, which celebrated Red Kestrel being built in the UK, took place in Southampton docks by the Ocean Terminal and was witnessed by some 200 invited guests. Karen George, wife of Red Funnel’s Chairman, Kevin George, had the honour of christening Red Kestrel, with the traditional formality of breaking a bottle of champagne across the stern of the vessel.
Karen was accompanied by the Rt Hon Alok Sharma MP, Minister of State for Employment at Department of Work and Pensions, who also shared a speech highlighting the importance of British craftmanship, supporting local jobs and the revival of world-class shipbuilding in this country.
Opting for the build of the ship to be based within the UK, Red Funnel awarded the contract to the famous British shipbuilding company, Cammell Laird, based on the River Mersey at Birkenhead. In total, the project used 45 British supply chain businesses and generated 3,000-man hours of work for Cammell Laird’s apprentices.
Commenting on the naming ceremony, Fran Collins, CEO of Red Funnel, said, “Today has marked a very special occasion in the history of Red Funnel. The addition of a new ship is always an exciting time for everyone, and Red Kestrel marks an important new direction for us as our first-ever freight ship.
“Our investment marks a vote of confidence that the UK and Isle of Wight economies are going to continue to grow and we can support this growth with the additional sailings Red Kestrel will provide.”
Tony Graham, Cammell Laird’s Chief Operating Officer, added: “Cammell Laird would like to thank Red Funnel for placing its trust in us to build this wonderful state-of-the-art ferry. Completing this ship sends a very strong message to the global maritime industry about Cammell Laird’s ferry building capabilities after we won the contract against international competition.”
Red Kestrel will operate between Southampton and the Isle of Wight and will officially enter service in May. As a freight vessel, she is limited to 12 passengers and constructed specifically to provide additional year-round freight capacity for Red Funnel’s Southampton to East Cowes route.
At 74m in length, she will provide 265 lane metres of roll-on/roll-off freight capacity, allowing for 12 HGVs. 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. The use of proven azimuth thrusters supplied by Rolls Royce will also make the ship very manoeuvrable. Her dedicated drivers-only lounge offers comforts and features such as access to hot/cold food, reclining leather seats with foot rests, free Wi-Fi and ample charging points.