Austal has signed a contract for four additional 47.5 metre passenger catamarans with Cotai WaterJets (Macao) Ltd, adding to the initial ten-vessel contract signed
in 2006 by sister company Venetian Marketing Services Limited (VMSL).
The new vessels will be identical to those currently under construction at Austal’s Henderson shipyard and will be delivered in the first half of 2009.
Completion of the entire 14-vessel order will see the number of Austal vessels delivered to China / Hong Kong waters grow to 52, reinforcing Austal’s success in the region.
Of the initial ten vessels ordered by VMSL in 2006, five have already been completed, with the construction of two catamaran ferries for another Hong Kong operator continuing at Austal’s shipyard in Tasmania, Australia.
The four Cotai Waterjets passenger ferries will capitalise on the rapidly growing demand for the Hong Kong to Macau service, currently the world’s largest route in terms of passenger numbers. Driven by the Las Vegas Sands Corporation’s development of the Cotai Strip, traffic on the route is likely to double in the next three years.
Macau’s emergence as an entertainment, shopping, conference, gaming and mega-resort epicentre has seen a remarkable increase in tourist arrivals, with last year’s passenger numbers from Hong Kong to Macau rising more than 13 per cent to 14.3 million.
The new order is a fitting start to Austal’s 20th year celebrations given the company first found success for high speed ferries in Hong Kong in the early 1990s.
With the capacity to carry 411 passengers at a service speed of 42 knots, the four additional vessels will be powered by four MTU 16 cylinder 4000 series diesel engines driving a Rolls-Royce / Kamewa waterjet propulsion system. Each ferry is additionally fitted with transom mounted SeaState Interceptors providing an active high speed ride control system
for maximum passenger comfort.
The vessels are being built in accordance with the requirements and under the survey of Det Norske Veritas, conforming to the International Maritime Organisation High Speed Craft code (HSC 2000) in conjunction with the Hong Kong Marine Department requirements for high speed ferries.