ALE’s bespoke design enabled the successful launch of the ferry, ‘Red Kestrel’ in Birkenhead, UK, which has been designed to have a reduced environment footprint and will now provide additional freight capacity between Southampton and East Cowes, with space for up to 12 heavy goods vehicles.

The operation was unusual as the ferry, weighing 750t, had to be transported from a fabrication shop located on the actual slipway. This meant launching the vessel on a slope and as a result ALE had to design a solution that would ensure there was sufficient restraint to overcome the changing gradients.

There were only a few tides high enough throughout the year that were suitable for the launch, so it was vital that the manoeuvres were on schedule and ALE was able to mobilise quickly.

ALE created a specialist ramp system that spanned 12m, which enabled the ferry to be transferred from the level of the fabrication shop to the main slipway. The rest of the transportation manoeuvres were then carried out. ALE followed the tide out, ensuring the ferry was offloaded at the bottom of the slipway before the tide came back, and the ferry was then floated onto the River Mersey.

The operation was completed using 36 axle lines of SPMT.

The new 74m ship is Red Funnel’s first dedicated Ro-Ro freight ship and will provide additional year-round freight capacity.