Austal Ships Secures Ferry Order

Monday, December 09, 2002
Australian shipbuilder Austal Ships is pleased to announce an unconditional contract for a 66 metre high speed vehicle-passenger catamaran for a well-established ferry operator. This is the customer’s first contract with Austal and brings the total number of vessels under construction for the Austal group to 16. Commenting on the contract, Austal’s Managing Director, Mr Bob McKinnon said, “We are particularly pleased by this order as it is from a new customer and reinforces the fact that Austal continues to provide cost effective, tailored solutions for transportation requirements.” “The new vessel will be joining an existing fleet of ferries and we anticipate that its success will lead to more orders from this client in the future.” Due for delivery in August 2003, the Auto Express 66 will operate at a speed of approximately 31 knots and will have the capacity to carry 450 passengers and 69 cars or 110 lane metres of trucks plus 37 cars. Austal Ships also has an 86 metre vehicle-passenger catamaran ferry available for delivery in June / July 2003. Capable of loaded speeds in excess of 42 knots, this vessel provides capacity for 774 passengers and 238 cars or 10 trucks and fewer cars. For some time now, Austal has reported that the market for large ferries remains subdued. Commenting on this Mr McKinnon said, “The overhang of Incat vessels and their urgent need to sell these ships has made it impossible for us to win contracts for two vessels.” In spite of the difficult market resulting from the Incat situation, Austal’s core commercial vessel business continues to provide satisfactory levels of profitability. In addition to the 66 and 86 metre vehicle ferries, Austal Ships is currently building two 69 metre cruise yachts for Tahiti. Austal, together with its partner Defence Maritime Services, has recently submitted its final bid for the Royal Australian Navy’s SEA 1444 Replacement Patrol Boat project. The preferred tenderer for this project will be announced in the first half of 2003. Austal USA, with the support of Austal Ships in Australia, is also currently pursuing military projects involving large multihulls, as well as having orders for three vessels for commercial operators. Another four catamarans in the 40 metre range – two for Norway and two for Hong Kong – are being built by Image Marine.

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