Red Funnel has revealed its plans to replace its ageing fleet with three new vessels – albeit not for another four or five years.

Speaking to the BBC, the cross-Solent firm announced it is raising investment for three new ferries, with its current fleet approaching the end of their design life.

The cross-Solent operator’s Red Falcon and Red Osprey are 30 years old, and it will be several years before the new vessels can enter service.

Speaking to the BBC, Fran Collins, Red Funnel chief executive, said the vessels will be “smaller and more agile” but have a similar capacity to the two car ferries in use now.

She said they may be built in the UK, and the tender for shipyards to build the new ferries will be issued later in the year.

The vessels, which will have diesel engines because ‘there is insufficient supply for them to be powered by electricity on the south coast’, will not be delivered until 2028 or 2029.

Red Funnel senior chief engineer, Lewis Gray, told the BBC the new ships will be designed with the potential for the engines to be replaced at a later date if electric or hydrogen power become viable.

In March, it was revealed eight Red Funnel directors had resigned as part of a plan to replace the operator's “ageing vehicle ferries”.

In what Red Funnel describes as a ‘review’ of its board structures and memberships, some of its directors resigned on February 28.

A spokesperson told the Echo's sister paper, the Isle of Wight County Press, the change was in support of its “fleet replacement programme”.

“Red Funnel, like most companies, periodically reviews its board structures and memberships, and the recent change is in support of our fleet replacement programme," they said.

At the time, Red Funnel said it had no timeline for replacing the ferries.