Austal Secures New Vehicle Ferry Order

Wednesday, September 29, 2004
Virtu Ferries orders 67 metre catamaran Austal is pleased to announce a contract for a 67 metre high speed vehicle-passenger catamaran for Virtu Ferries of Malta adding to an already healthy order book for the West Australian shipbuilder. The new vessel is scheduled for delivery to Virtu Ferries in time for the European 2005 summer season and will have the capacity to carry 600 passengers and 65 cars or 95 lane metres of trucks plus 35 cars. Commenting on the contract Austal’s Managing Director, Mr Bob McKinnon said, “This latest order for a mid-sized car ferry is particularly pleasing in that it adds another important customer to our extensive list of clients. “We already have a strong forward order position and this contract obviously enhances that.” Established in 1988 Virtu Ferries operates fast ferry services between Malta and Sicily. This new vessel will operate on routes from Valletta to Catania, Licata and Pozzallo. Designed specifically for this route, with aft and side ramps for rapid turnaround, the ferry will greatly expand the service to mainland Italy. The ferry is powered by six MTU 16 cylinder diesel engines driving a Kamewa propulsion system through six ZF gearboxes. Austal Sales Manager Glenn Williams said this arrangement was developed to provide the optimum solution to meet the operator’s preferred engine manufacturer, speed and deadweight requirements. “We listened to what the customer wanted and our design team found the best propulsion configuration to attain Virtu Ferries’ desired result. This arrangement also provides high levels of flexibility and redundancy,” he said. The vessel has a maximum deadweight of 260 tonnes and will operate loaded at a speed of 35 knots providing a year-round schedule catering for car traffic and the import/export of cargo. The vehicle deck on the new ferry will offer a clear height of 4.6 metres allowing for shipment of campers and coaches, a niche market hitherto untapped by Malta. Europe is experiencing an unprecedented increase in coach travel, with hundreds of thousands of coach tourists across the continent each year and increasing numbers taking advantage of reduced rates in the shoulder months in Southern Europe. The new vessel will ensure Malta is seen as extension of mainland Europe following its accession to the EU on 1 May 2004. Passenger accommodation will be located on two decks: the tourist class upper deck for 508 passengers also provides two catering outlets, two shops and recreational facilities. The bridge deck will accommodates 92 club class passengers, with outside seats also available. The spacious seating configuration on both decks has been designed to allow for ease of circulation of passengers. The vessel is being built in accordance with the requirements, and under the survey, of the Det Norske Veritas, conforming to International Maritime Organisation codes and Malta Flag State and Italian Port State Regulations. Registration will be under the Malta Flag.

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