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Cammell Laird stages keel laying ceremony for new £10million ferry for Red Funnel

Red Funnel , the original Isle of Wight ferry operator announced that its new £10m freight ship will be called Red Kestrel at a keel laying ceremony at Cammell Laird.

The keel-laying  was witnessed by some 300 invited guests with BBC North West Tonight and ITV Granada reporting from the event. Cammell Laird is scheduled to deliver the vessel in spring 2019.


Karen George, wife of Red Funnel’s Chairman, had the honour of pushing the button to lay down the first section of the keel, accompanied by the Rt Hon Alok Sharma MP, Minister of State for Employment at Department of Work and Pensions; John Syvret CBE, CEO of Cammell Laird; and Kevin George, Chairman of Red Funnel Group. The milestone event was followed by a keynote address from the Minister of State as part of his visit to businesses in the North West of England.

Kevin George, Chairman of Red Funnel Group, said, “We are proud to have placed this order in the UK as the work helps ensure the revival of world-class shipbuilding in this country. The keel laying is one of the most time-honoured traditions in the building of a ship and we very much look forward to watching the build progress over the coming months. Once in service, the additional freight capacity on our Southampton-East Cowes route will help grow the Isle of Wight economy.”


John Syvret CBE, CEO of Cammell Laird, said, “It gives me great pleasure on behalf of the entire workforce to welcome Red Funnel’s team to Cammell Laird for this historic keel laying ceremony.  My thanks go to Kevin George and his executive team for placing their trust in us. The Cammell Laird management and workforce are looking forward to building this state-of-the-art ferry, drawing on all our marine engineering expertise.”


He added, “We are especially proud to be working for a British ferry company and winning the contract against international competition. This wonderful new ferry will join a collection of ferries that Cammell Laird has built in recent years, and will share the build hall with the iconic vessel Sir David Attenborough, which is the largest commercial vessel built in Britain for a generation. 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.”


Minister for Employment Alok Sharma MP said: “I am delighted that Red Funnel’s multi-million pound investment is supporting local jobs, providing a boost to the local economy and also enhancing Cammell Laird’s very strong shipbuilding credentials.”


In time honoured tradition and as a symbol of good luck, coins, in this case an Isle of Wight silver sixpence dating from 1811 and a halfpenny from 1792 were placed under the keelblock. Both coins will eventually be recovered and presented to “Red Kestrel” when she enters service.


Red Kestrel is Red Funnel’s first dedicated ro-ro freight ship and will provide additional year-round freight capacity on Red Funnel’s Southampton-East Cowes route which currently handles 53% of all freight movements across the Solent.


At 74m in length, she will provide 265 lane metres of roll-on/roll-off freight capacity and will carry up to 12 passengers. 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 highly 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.


Editor’s note


Red Kestrel Quick facts

–          Length: 74m

–          Beam: 17m

–          Passengers: 12

–          Crew: 6-7

–          Engines: 2 x Cummings Tier III diesels connected to 2 x Rolls Royce azimuth thrusters

–          Speed: 12.5 knots @ 85% MCR

–          Delivery: spring 2019

About Red Funnel

Red Funnel is the original Isle of Wight ferry company with roots tracing back to 1820. Based in the UK port of Southampton, Red Funnel carries 2.3m passengers and over 800,000 vehicles on its ferry route between the UK port of Southampton and East Cowes and 1.1m passengers between Southampton and West Cowes on its Red Jet Hi-Speed service.  In addition to ferry travel, Red Funnel is the only cross-Solent operator to offer ferry inclusive bonded holiday accommodation, attraction tickets, festival and event tickets and activity packages. Sub-brands include ‘Red Jet’ (the Hi-Speed passenger only ferry service serving West Cowes) and two food & beverage brands, ‘Steam Coffee Company’ and ‘ReFuel’.  The Company is a founder member of Visit Isle of Wight Ltd, the Island’s not for profit destination management organisation and Red Funnel sponsors or supports most of the Island’s premier events including the IW Festival, Cowes Week, Isle of Arts, The Red Funnel IW Literary Festival, IW Newport Jazz Festival, Isle Walk Festival, Ventnor Fringe Festival and Wolverton Manor Garden Show as well as a range of community and niche interest events. Red Funnel’s 2018 Charity of the Year is the Isle of Wight Donkey Sanctuary.

About Cammell Laird

Founded in 1828, Cammell Laird is one of the most famous names in British shipbuilding and is based on the River Mersey at Birkenhead. The site covers 130 acres and includes four dry docks, a large modular construction hall and extensive covered workshops. It is also at the centre of a marine and engineering cluster with easy access to support services classification societies and port state authorities. Today, Cammell Laird is rapidly expanding as a cutting edge engineering services specialist with a highly skilled workforce and extensive world class facilities to support a broad range of sectors and projects. The company has also continued to develop its capability in the marine sector, and is a world leader specialising in military ship refit, commercial ship repair, upgrade and conversion and shipbuilding.