RED FUNNEL's newest ship has been built, and is on her way to Southampton.

The £10m freight ferry, Red Kestrel, has been completed by Merseyside shipbuilder, Cammell Laird.

The ferry will begin to operate between Southampton and Isle of Wight next month.

The nine-month build programme used 45 British supply chain businesses and generated 3,000-man hours of work for Cammell Laird's apprentices.

Fran Collins, CEO of Red Funnel, said: "We are delighted to see Red Kestrel begin her journey to Southampton for her naming ceremony and her life on the Solent.

"The addition of a new ship is always an exciting time for everyone in the company.

"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.

"It's a very special feeling for all of us and we've been in very good hands with Cammell Laird.

"They have been a brilliant partner and we are very grateful for its tremendous work."

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.

"We are proud to see the Red Kestrel join a collection of ferries that Cammell Laird has built in recent years in addition to the large number of dry dockings and repairs we do each year in the ferry sector."

The Red Kestrel is Red Funnel's first dedicated roll on-roll off freight ship.

She is limited to 12 passengers and is constructed to provide all year-round freight capacity for Red Funnel's Southampton to East Cowes route.

The current ferry timetable will be updated to accommodate the vessel.

The crossing time of 55 to 60 minutes will be identical to Red Funnel's existing ships that use the same berths in Southampton and East Cowes.