Red Funnel is adding a £10 million freight ferry to its fleet.

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The order for the 74-metre-long vessel has been placed with Birkenhead’s Cammell Laird today (Wednesday).

It’s expected to enter the Solent early next year and begin operating in the spring (2018).

The ferry firm says it’s good news for passengers, as removing freight lorries from its East Cowes – Southampton car ferry during peak times could to create up to 100 more spaces.

There are also plans to make it more environmentally friendly, with the hull shape has been designed to reduce wash and a propulsion package has been selected to make it more fuel efficient.

Chairman and CEO Kevin George said:

“We are the number one operator for cross-Solent freight and this new ship will provide more early morning capacity on weekdays and more freight-only sailings between October and March each year. After a competitive tender, we are delighted to place our third new-build in succession with a UK yard. The order will help sustain marine manufacturing in the UK and will bring benefits to the economy of the North West and also to the Isle of Wight once she enters service.”

Business Secretary Rt Hon Greg Clark MP said:

“This is another vote of confidence in British shipbuilding and the excellence of our marine manufacturing sector, which we want to build on as part of our Industrial Strategy. Red Funnel continues to grow with this new investment in high quality UK manufacturing. This announcement is great news for the skilled workers at Red Funnel and Cammell Laird, and the local economies of Merseyside and the Isle of Wight.”

1. Designs for Red Funnel’s new £10m freight ferry

2. Designs for Red Funnel’s new £10m freight ferry

3. Designs for Red Funnel’s new £10m freight ferry

4. Designs for Red Funnel’s new £10m freight ferry