Reflecting the its existing Austal catamarans, Hong Kong based New World First Ferry Services (Macau) Limited [“First Ferry (Macau)”] has signed its third contract with Austal Ships in two years. The latest order is for two 47.5 metre passenger catamarans that will take the total number of vessels built by Austal for the group to seven.
Austal subsidiary Image Marine will shortly deliver two 41 metre harbour cruise vessels to New World First Travel Services Limited, a member of NWS Holdings Limited, and will also build the two new catamarans. The high-speed ferries will be almost identical to the trio Austal Ships delivered to First Ferry (Macau) in October last year and will join those vessels on the Hong Kong to Macau route
Due for delivery in September 2004, the two new vessels will carry 430 passengers, a slight increase compared to the previous three deliveries. They will powered by four MTU 16V 4000 diesels driving Kamewa waterjets to give a service speed of 42 knots, allowing the crossing from Hong Kong to Macau to be completed in approximately 55 minutes. First Ferry (Macau)’s operational experience has proved the excellent seakeeping performance of the Austal hull design and led to its decision not to fit the retractable ride control fins that feature on the earlier vessels.
Mr John Hui, Director and General Manager of First Ferry (Macau), said passenger demand on the route was continuing to increase, at least in part due to the high quality service the company was providing with its modern fast ferries.
“Our initial ferry order with Austal Ships demonstrated
how successful this route could be utilising these fast, comfortable and reliable catamarans. We are very pleased with the performance of the vessels and the feedback we have received from our customers has been very positive,” Mr Hui said.
Austal’s Managing Director, Mr Bob McKinnon, said the excellent performance of those vessels and First Ferry (Macau)’s previous experience working with Austal were both keys to securing the repeat order.
“This contract reflects the good relationship formed between our companies throughout the previous builds of five quality, customised vessels and the superior performance they have displayed,” Mr McKinnon said.
Mr Hui confirmed Bob McKinnon’s comments about the good rapport that has developed between the two companies.
“During the build of the passenger ferries and the harbour cruise vessels our companies have developed a very positive and cooperative working environment and we look forward to this continuing throughout the course of this new project,” Mr Hui said.
The First Ferry (Macau) contract takes the total number of vessels currently contracted to the Austal Group to 24, including five vehicle-passenger ferries. Having recently delivered an Auto Express 66 catamaran to Fred. Olsen, S.A., Austal Ships in Western Australia is now building a 126 metre trimaran for the same company, an 86 metre catamaran for Canadian American Transportation Systems, a 56 metre catamaran for Aremiti Cruise, and a 50 metre catamaran for Kangaroo Island SeaLink. In Mobile, Alabama, Austal USA is building a 58 metre Auto Express catamaran for Lake Express, which will operate it across Lake Michigan.
In the paramilitary market, Austal Ships is currently building ten 37 metre patrol boats for a Middle Eastern nation and, together with partner Defence Maritime Services, has recently been awarded preferred tenderer status for the design and construction of twelve 56 metre Armidale Class patrol boats for the Royal Australian Navy. Image Marine will soon launch three 22 metre Coast Guard vessels for the Kuwaiti Government.