Jets for 50-plus knot ro-pax ferry

Wärtsilä-Lips waterjets on the ‘Francisco’ Wärtsilä-Lips waterjets on the ‘Francisco’

Wärtsilä reports that it has provided the waterjets for what is claimed to be the world's fastest high speed ferry, which has now passed its sea trials and is ready to begin commercial operation.

In addition to two LJX1720SR axial waterjets, Wärtsilä has supplied an advanced propulsion control system for the Incat-built and LNG-fuelled Francisco. The 99m catamaran attained a lightship speed of 58.1 knots (107.6 km/h) in recent trials. The ship will transport both passengers and cars between Uruguay and Argentina, for South American operator Buquebus.

According to Wärtsilä, a particular feature of the chosen waterjets is the high level of efficiency, which allows high power to be applied on relatively small jets. The compact dimensions enabled the waterjets to be installed within the ferry's transom, thus saving space.

The Lipstronic 7000 propulsion control system, used for manoeuvring, is designed in accordance with IMO regulations and fulfils class society requirements. The system controls and indicates the steering angle, bucket position and impeller speed, and can be operated with joystick control or by autopilot. It includes built-in redundancy.

Builder Incat Tasmania claims that the Francisco is now the world’s fastest ship. It says that while small boats can surpass 58 knots, there is no other vessel that can reach these speeds and can carry 1,000 passengers and 150 cars. Its LNG-fuelled gas turbine plant gives it a service speed of 50 knots, and in crossing the River Plate at this speed, Francisco will be able to viably compete with air traffic between Uruguay and Argentina.

"Wärtsilä is recognised as a market leader in this field, and this valuable order has further strengthened our position in the high powered waterjet end of the range. We are delighted to have continued our long standing co-operation with Incat in the completion of this vessel, which is truly a milestone delivery within the fast ferry sector. Our proven track record, together with the high efficiency and low operating costs of the Wärtsilä waterjet portfolio, were all key reasons for us being awarded this contract," said Arto Lehtinen, vice-president, propulsion, Wärtsilä Ship Power.

"The Francisco will be the largest catamaran to be operated by Buquebus, and the fastest, environmentally cleanest, and most efficient high speed ferry in the world," said Juan Carlos Lopez Mena, president of Buquebus.

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