Australian shipbuilder Austal Ships will
design and build the world’s most powerful diesel-powered catamaran for Canadian American Transportation Systems
(CATS). The contract represents a major milestone for the Austal Group in the North American market.
With a speed of 42 knots, the 86 metre vehicle-passenger ferry will be the first of its type on the Great Lakes. It will operate on Lake Ontario between the cities of Rochester in New York State, USA and Toronto in Canada, with a voyage time of two hours and 15 minutes.
Austal’s Managing Director, Mr Bob McKinnon, said the contract is a vital step forward in maintaining Austal’s share of the fast ferry market.
“This order indicates that Austal is winning lucrative contracts for large fast ferries in very a competitive environment,” Mr McKinnon said.
“We are delighted to be involved with CATS in this project and look forward to delivering our Auto Express product to this part of the world.”
The order, the first Austal Ships has received from North America, is another key achievement for the Austal Group in this important market.
In 1999, Austal established a joint venture shipyard in Mobile, Alabama with a view to making its world-leading aluminium shipbuilding expertise available to the US domestic markets for commercial and military vessels.
Austal USA has already made significant progress, including its first deliveries, two 45 metre offshore crew/supply vessels completed earlier this year. A 26 metre catamaran ferry will be delivered for operation in New York shortly, and the yard is also building two dinner cruise vessels.
In addition, the Theatre Support Vessel “WestPac Express” built by Austal Ships is on a three year charter to the United States military
. It has already completed a highly successful first year of operations with the Third Marine Expeditionary Force of the US Marine Corps based in Okinawa, Japan. The 101 metre catamaran will be re-flagged to the United States in the next six months.
Scheduled to arrive in Rochester in late July 2003, the CATS ferry will have the capacity to carry 774 passengers in its luxurious dual-class interior and 238 cars or up to 10 trucks and fewer cars. The garage features Austal’s highly efficient drive-through vehicle deck design, with hoistable mezzanine decks to allow the carriage of trucks and other overheight vehicles, without sacrificing maximum car capacity.
Although it will be the seventh Auto Express 86 vehicle-passenger catamaran built by Austal Ships, the CATS vessel will be different in a number of ways. This includes structural and design changes in accordance with the latest IMO HSC Code 2000 requirements and to allow operation in limited ice conditions.
The ferry will also be the first of its type to be fitted with MTU’s 20V 8000 M70 engines, each rated at 8200kW, making it the most powerful diesel powered high-speed catamaran in the world. Each engine will drive a steerable waterjet via a ZF gearbox.