East Cowes Layby Berth

Case Study Overview

To increase the capacity of its ferry service between Southampton and the Isle of Wight, Red Funnel has invested £10m in a new freight-only RoRo vessel named ‘Red Kestrel’. The new vessel marks the debut of Red Funnel’s first dedicated RoRo freight ship since the company’s inception almost 200 years ago. Red7Marine was contracted by Red Funnel to construct a new layby berth in East Cowes in time for the introduction of the new service in May 2019.

At a glance

  • Location: East Cowes, Isle of Wight 2019
  • Plant used: 250t Jack-up Barge ‘Haven Seariser 2’
  • What we did: Red7Marine constructed a new layby berth on behalf of Red Funnel for its new 1000t freight ferry ‘Red Kestrel’.
  • Contract value: £2,000,000

Why Red7Marine?

Red7Marine was able to deliver the full package of works as principle contractor, managed by a professional site team with office support from Engineering, SHEQ and the Operations team in Ipswich. Red7Marine supplied all key marine plant required to deliver the project in-house and was also responsible for the procurement of all structural steelwork and fender components.

East Cowes

What makes the project standout?

The layby berth was successfully delivered within the time constraints for the project. Fierce deadlines for piling and dredging were set out within the marine license application, all governed by the arrival of the new Red Kestrel Ferry. Key factors that led to the success of the project are listed below:

  • The Client (Red Funnel), Designer (Ramboll) and Contractor (R7M) all worked collaboratively to achieve a common goal. The one team approach meant any challenges were solved and overcome quickly.
  • Rapid mobilisation – Unexploded Ordnance (UXO) surveys were completed within two weeks of the contract award (December 2018). All key items of marine plant and equipment were mobilised to site in just four weeks, which included the Christmas break.
  • All 14no. piles (40m in length, each weighing 30 tons) were driven to level and within tolerance in two weeks to comply with license deadlines. The post installation of 3no. jacket frames onto support collars relieved the requirement for additional in-situ temporary works such as spud piles. This saved time and cost where the piles were driven within tolerance ensuring fitment.
  • The project was carefully planned and executed to ensure the existing Red Funnel ferry service between Southampton & Cowes could operate unrestricted whilst the construction of the new berth was taking place.
  • Red7Marine utilised several local suppliers to help deliver the project. All structural steel fabrication was completed by Southampton Marine Services (SMS, Southampton), UXO surveys by Fellows International (Gosport, Portsmouth), Dredging by Jenkins Marine (Poole), and Vessel and Towage services by Williams Shipping (Southampton).
  • Over 25% of the site team came up through the Red7Marine training academy and were actively involved in operating the marine plant whilst also being engaged fully in the construction works.

East Cowes

East Cowes

The Challenges and Solutions

To ensure successful delivery, several challenges were overcome during the planning and construction phase of the project:

  • The layby berth site is located in close proximity to several conservation areas and Sites of Significant Scientific Interest (SSSI). Red Funnel along with R7M and the license team at Ramboll overcame a number of key issues to ensure the necessary consents were in place before the construction works commenced.
  • East Cowes was heavily bombed during WWII. The site therefore required a robust intrusive UXO survey that picked up several anomalies which were safely cleared before piling works started.
  • The ground makeup comprised of soft clay overlying shell sand beds. This weak ground increased the design length of the piles to 40m which presented certain logistical challenges. The piles were sourced from Readman Steel and delivered to Southampton by road using special low loader transport. Upon arrival in Southampton, the piles were self-loaded onto the crane barge ‘Forth Atlas’ equipped with a 280t pedestal crane, this barge was selected for the project due to its ability to handle and install piles of this length and weight.
  • The annulus connection between the steel jacket frames and the piles required approximately 45t of grout, equivalent to circa 1400 25kg bags to be mixed over two weeks. R7M batched the grout on site utilising a specially tailored pan mixer, reducing the programme timeframe by over 100% to four days.
  • All works had to be planned within a tight site boundary to enable the existing ferry service to operate as normal around the clock. In addition, the 250t jack-up had to be positioned accurately to avoid a live and redundant sewer main which dissects the site. To overcome this issue, R7M carefully planned the sequence of operations for every barge movement, and also utilised an innovative modular piling gate which had been adapted specifically for the project.

East Cowes Challenge

East Cowes Solution

Complete Package Delivery

Red7Marine provided equipment, crew and engineering support to the project to ensure our clients’ successful delivery.

Solutions Provider

Red7Marine provided specialist barge and marine experience to the project.

Skilled Team

Red7Marine’s operations and engineering teams are all highly skilled and experienced in the marine environment providing partners with an industry-leading service.




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“It is always a pleasure working with such a highly motivated and professional team, from office to site team working alongside us we could not ask for any better working partnership between our companies. Once again, many thanks and look forward to our next project.”

Lawrence Rogers, Works Manager Mackley