“Benchijigua Express”, the 127 metre high speed trimaran built by Austal for Fred Olsen, S.A. has arrived and entered service in the Canary Islands.
Following her handover and departure from Fremantle, Australia on 13 April the vehicle-passenger ferry sailed to Tenerife via Cape Town arriving
at 23:00 local time on Thursday 28 April, accomplishing the 9,250 mile journey in 15 days at an impressive average speed, including one scheduled stop, of 25 knots.
During the delivery voyage, which included passing the notorious Cape
of Good Hope, the vessel encountered severe weather conditions with combined sea and swell of up to eight metres. In the words of the seasoned delivery crew it was the “worst they had ever seen or experienced”.
It is therefore testament to the nature of the trimaran hull design and superb construction that “Benchijigua Express” was able to complete the delivery voyage, make preparations and pass all local surveys unchallenged to enter service fully
operational and on schedule at 07:00 on Monday 2 May.
During the first day of service the vessel performed without fault, completing seven one-way trips between San Sebastian de La Gomera and Los Cristianos (Tenerife) and one round trip between Los Cristianos and Santa Cruz de La Palma. A total of 5,453 passengers, 851 cars and 1,250 lane metres of cargo were transported at a service speed of 38 to 40 knots. Passenger comfort levels and approval of the new Austal ferry were said to be excellent.
Austal Chairman John Rothwell said “The theoretical advantage of the trimaran has now been clearly demonstrated in practice. This product has no peer in high speed ocean transport
and we now turn our focus towards the development of exciting new applications in the commercial and defence markets including the US Navy Littoral Combat Ship that
is now the subject of detailed design at Austal”.