Austal lands Maltese cat

06 Apr 2009

Austal has received its second large vehicle ferry order within a week after being selected by leading Maltese operator Virtu Ferries to design and build a 107m vehicle-passenger catamaran.

The order follows last week?s announcement of a contract with Denmark?s Nordic Ferry Services to build Austal?s largest ever catamaran, emphasising the company?s position at the forefront of high speed vessel design and construction. The Virtu Ferries? vessel will be built by Austal?s Western Australian workforce and is scheduled for delivery by mid 2010.

Intended for operation between Malta and Sicily, the vessel will join Virtu Ferries? existing 68 metre vehicle ferry Maria Dolores which was delivered by Austal in 2006.
A number of high speed ferry builders, including Austal, were invited by Virtu Ferries to submit vessel options that would enable it to further expand its ferry service to Italy. Through continual communication with the client, Austal was able to utilise its in-house design team and experience to develop a highly customised vessel design that met all Virtu?s requirements for the route.

Austal Managing Director Bob Browning said the company?s ability and willingness to customise vessel design and functionality was an important factor in providing the optimum solution for Virtu Ferries.

The staggered delivery of the two large vehicle ferries announced this month would ensure a smooth, ongoing workload for Austal?s Western Australian facilities over the next few years. Designed to carry 800 passengers and 230 cars at a speed of approximately 39 knots, the vessel will be Austal?s 24th commercial delivery to operators in the Mediterranean region, which includes 14 large vehicle-passenger ferries.

Powering the vessel are four MTU 20V 8000 M71L diesel engines at 9,100kW each driving Rolls-Royce Kamewa waterjets. The vehicle deck has the capacity to carry up to 230 cars or 45 cars and 342 truck lane metres, enabling Virtu Ferries to efficiently service the needs of private passengers with cars and campers, commercial tourist operators and trucking companies. Vehicle loading and unloading will utilise ramps installed on both the stern and port-side.

Seating for the ferry?s 800 passengers will be spread over two decks, each offering a passenger-friendly seating density of 2-3 seats per row, as well as a dedicated upper deck lounge area overlooking the vessel?s bow. A central staircase will lead to a first class seating area featuring natural overhead lighting, a separate kiosk and two VIP lounges. Outdoor seating will also be available for more than 110 passengers.

The vessel will be built in accordance with the requirements and under the survey of Det Norske Veritas, conforming to IMO HSC Codes and Malta Flag State and Italian Port State Regulations. Registration will be under the Malta Flag.

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