Marine and specialist engineering company Cammell Laird shipyard has received a multi-million pound contract from the Department for Regional Development in Northern Ireland to construct a new car and passenger ferry.
The ferry is intended to replace the existing MV Strangford, which operates between Strangford and Portaferry in County Down, Northern Ireland.
Northern Ireland Transport minister Danny Kennedy said: "The Department for Regional Development currently operates a vehicle ferry service in Strangford Lough between Strangford and Portaferry with two vehicle ferries and a back-up passenger ferry.
"The new ferry will replace the existing MV Strangford, which is over 40 years old and is approaching the end of its economically operational life."
Delivery of the new-build is expected to be completed by August 2016.
This arrangement will offer enhanced capacity and allow the operator to eliminate the need for a 7.5t weight restriction in place when the MV Strangford is in service, Cammell Laird stated.
In December 2014, Cammell Laird completed a £49.5m refit of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) Fort Victoria, one of the largest vessels operated by the British Ministry of Defence.
The new-build will be capable of carrying 260 passengers and 28 cars, and it will be deployed in service on a rotational basis with the MV Portaferry II.
Image: Northern Ireland Executive Transport Minister Danny Kennedy with Cammell Laird Director Rob McBurney. Photo: courtesy of Cammell Laird.