RED Funnel has place a £10 million order for a new freight ferry.

The ship is designed to provide additional year-round freight capacity for Red Funnel's Southampton to East Cowes route, which currently handles 53 per cent of all freight movements across the solent.

Built by UK shipbuilder Cammell Laird, the ship will have 265 lane meters of roll-on, roll-off freight capacity and will carry up to 12 passengers. The hull shape has been designed to reduce wash and minimise the environmental footprint.

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.

Chairman and CEO of Red Funnel, 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."

The ship will be constructed at Cammell Laird’s yard in Birkenhead which built the White Star passenger liner Mauretania in 1938 and HMS Ark Royal in 1955. The yard is currently building the technically advanced polar-research ship Sir David Attenborough for the British Antarctic Survey, and is scheduled to deliver Red Funnel’s new ferry in spring 2019.