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Shipbuilder Cammell Laird sees off newly-built freight vessel Red Kestrel

By Mersey Maritime

Merseyside shipbuilder Cammell Laird has completed its 1,393rd vessel – Red Kestrel – for Isle of Wight ferry operator Red Funnel.

The £10m freight-only roro vessel has left the firm’s Birkenhead shipyard following a nine-month build programme sailing past Liverpool’s world-famous waterfront on its way to operate a route between Southampton and the Isle of Wight.

In total the project used 45 British supply chain businesses and generated 3,000 man hours of work for Cammell Laird’s apprentices. Cammell Laird further employed 200 direct workers, 200 sub-contractors and 10 apprentices on the Red Kestrel contract.

Engineering expertise

Tony Graham, Cammell Laird’s chief operating officer, said: “Cammell Laird would like to thank Red Funnel for placing its trust in us to build this wonderful state-of-the-art ferry, drawing on all our marine engineering expertise.

“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.

“Shipbuilding is back in a serious way on the Mersey and it has been brilliant to see the Red Kestrel being built alongside the iconic RRS Sir David Attenborough, which is the largest commercial vessel built in Britain for a generation.

“Cammell Laird sees a big market in ferry repair, conversion and new build and we will be showcasing our work on Red Kestrel at the Nor Shipping trade fair in Oslo later this year.”

Total capacity

Fran Collins, chief executive of Red Funnel, said the addition of a new ship is always an “exciting time” for everyone in the company.

He added: “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.”

Red Kestrel will officially join the fleet on arrival in Southampton, and enter service in May, following trials and its official naming ceremony. It is Red Funnel’s first dedicated roro freight ship since the company’s inception almost 200 years ago.

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-East Cowes route, which currently handles 53% of all freight movements across the Solent.

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Shipbuilder Cammell Laird sees off newly-built freight vessel Red Kestrel