THE CEO to a Southampton ferry service has sailed her way to an award for "meritorious" service.

Red Funnel Ferries' CEO and Captain Fran Collins, was presented the 2019 Merchant Navy medal at a ceremony at Trinity House, London by HRH The Princess Royal, for her services to the marine passenger sector.

She started her career as a dual cadet and sailed on deep-sea oil and gas tankers, and following a job in the cable-laying industry, she became the first female captain for Channel Islands operator Condor Ferries.

In 2008, Fran moved ashore and was promoted to Executive Director of Operations, ahead of her role as CEO of Red Funnel.

Fran said: “Receiving the Merchant Navy Medal is an incredible honour and one of the proudest moments of my career. I have been inspired by the achievements of previous recipients, so to now be part of this group is somewhat surreal and a huge privilege.

"I am very proud of the UK’s maritime industry and am deeply committed to encouraging our young people, especially women, to consider it as a career. Those of us in shipping have a responsibility to improve perceptions of it as it is a rewarding, dynamic and exciting career choice, especially given the range of options across many aspects of shipping and its supporting industries, and I am incredibly grateful for the opportunities and support offered to me throughout my career in the Merchant Navy."