In its third significant commercial order for the year, Austal will design and construct four 134.5 ft high speed passenger catamaran ferries for the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.
Designed to carry 405 passengers at a speed of approximately 37 knots, the aluminium vessels are intended to help reduce road congestion in Trinidad and Tobago by establishing a water taxi service between San Fernando and Port of Spain in southwest Trinidad.
The water taxi service is part of the Trinidad and Tobago Government’s “Vision 2020” strategy plan, which aims for an efficient, integrated, multi-modal public transport system. When fully operational the water taxi service is expected to facilitate the transport of approximately 8,000 to 12,000 passengers in a normal working day and will be integrated with other transport systems.
Construction of the four ferries will be shared across Austal’s Tasmanian and Western Australian shipyards, with delivery scheduled for late 2010. Included in the contract is a maintenance and training package which will see Austal deliver crew familiarisation and planned maintenance management.
Austal’s latest contract continues a recent run of commercial orders for the company, which has included two large high speed vehicle ferries for leading European operators Nordic Ferry Services and Virtu Ferries.
Austal Managing Director Bob Browning said recent orders had underlined the importance of diversity within the company’s product range and production facilities.
The vessels will be owned by Trinidad and Tobago’s National Infrastructure Development Company Limited (NIDCO) - a government statutory authority - and operated by external consultants. The international tender process undertaken by NIDCO called for proven vessels that could be customised to best meet the proposed service and be delivered within 12 months of contract effective.
Austal’s design is based on its 134.5 ft catamaran platform, two of which have been successfully operating in Norway with leading operator OVDS since 2003.
With a combined capacity of 1620 passengers, the four Austal high speed catamarans will reduce travel times between North and South Trinidad by almost two thirds. The reduction in the number of cars on the road will also deliver environmental benefits including reduced vehicle exhaust and noise emissions, and reduces the need to maintain and expand major roads and highways.
Austal Director – Global Sales and Marketing, Andrew Bellamy, said the order reaffirmed Austal’s commitment to the passenger ferry market.
Passenger seating onboard each vessel is split over two levels, with the main passenger deck featuring four passenger entry points, a central kiosk and dedicated baggage compartment and bike racks. The vessels will be powered by four MTU 16V2000 M72 engines driving Kamewa waterjets and will be fitted with Austal Ride Control to ensure passenger comfort.
As well as performing an important water taxi service, the ferries will provide emergency backup for the existing inter-island service between Trinidad and Tobago. To meet this secondary function, Austal configured all four vessels with the capability to retrofit a forward mounted T-foil ride control system at short notice, allowing the vessels to operate in open, unprotected seas.
The four vessel order is set to expand Austal’s presence in the Caribbean country, which currently includes the design and construction of six fast patrol craft for the Trinidad and Tobago Coast Guard, due for delivery in early 2010. Attached to the fast patrol craft order is a comprehensive five year maintenance and training package to be undertaken by Austal’s Trinidad and Tobago–based service representatives.
Austal also has a further five vessels operating in the greater Caribbean region, including four high speed ferries in Guadeloupe.