Austal’s latest contract announcement for two 117 metre high speed vehicle passenger ferries, for Fred Olsen SA, not only sends a strong signal to the international market that ‘fast ferries are back’, but confirms Austal’s proven trimaran hull design as the most cost effective and highly capable vessel platform to deliver superior seakeeping and schedule performance.
The €126million Euro (A$190million) contract, announced at Interferry 2017 in Split Croatia represents Fred Olsen SA’s largest ever ferry order. The two new ferries will add to the ‘Fred Olsen Express’ fleet of 6 vessels that transport more than 2.8 million passengers, 750,000 cars and more than 150,000 heavy vehicles over 5 routes in the Canary Islands each year.
Fred Olsen SA and Austal revolutionised the international fast ferry market in 2005 with the launch of Benchijigua Express, a 127 metre stabilised monohull (or trimaran) vessel that has forever raised the benchmark in high speed commercial ferry capability.
Designed and constructed by Austal in Australia, the Benchijigua Express transformed the traditional fast ferry market and has added a new dimension to passenger comfort and vessel capability. Transporting up to 1,350 passengers and over 340 cars at speeds exceeding 40 knots, the iconic high-performing vessel has proven to be safe, comfortable, reliable and economical in all-weather operations over the past 12 years.
The Benchijigua Express’ trusted seakeeping ability and exemplary performance record is highlighted by the fact that Fred Olsen SA has never cancelled a scheduled sailing due to bad weather or technical faults. Company representative Juan Ignacio Liaño confirmed with Austal the Benchijigua Express has never missed a beat in the company’s busy schedule, with no sailing cancellations due to technical faults over the past 12 years of operation.
“The reliability of the vessel is outstanding and it is a testament to Austal’s hull design and quality construction that we have never had to cancel a scheduled service due to severe weather or technical issues. We couldn’t be happier with the trimaran,” Juan Ignacio Liaño said.
The vessel’s capability in rough seas is renowned and both passengers and crew benefit from the greater comfort, achieved from the unique trimaran hull and Austal’s proprietary Ride Control technology. Passengers consistently report a smoother journey whilst the crew benefits from safer, more productive schedules where seasickness is minimal and passengers, vehicles and cargo are more secure.
Austal’s close commercial relationship and effective collaboration with Fred Olsen SA over the life of the Benchijigua Express – from design through to delivery and operations - has formed the basis for the development of the next generation of commercial trimarans.
The two new ferries, to be designed and constructed by Austal in Australia, are both 117 metres long and have a beam of 28.2 metres; with capacity for over 1,100 passengers and 276 cars each. Featuring a draft of just 4.2 metres and deadweight of 750 tonnes, the new vessels are light and fast with the practicality and manoeuvrability to operate in any port.
Powered by 4 x MTU diesel engines and propelled by 4 x waterjets, the new trimarans will achieve service speeds of 38 knots with a range of up to 711 nautical miles.
A key element in achieving the trimaran’s class-leading seakeeping and stability will be Austal’s latest evolution in ‘Ride Control’, featuring T-Foils, roll control foils and transom flaps that ensure smooth and comfortable sailings in conditions up to Sea State 6.
The on-board customer experience will be enhanced and new levels of comfort achieved with spacious, thoughtfully appointed passenger saloons, including 4 bars, a shop, kids’ play area and a premium ‘Gold Class’ lounge.
Austal’s latest trimarans offer an ideal solution to transporting large numbers of people, vehicles and cargo safely, quickly and cost effectively – delivering more ‘bang for the buck’ than traditional RO/PAX ferries. More spacious, more efficient and more comfortable than equivalent monohulls and catamarans, the high speed trimaran design provides operators with enhanced schedule performance / availability and improved customer experience leading to greater satisfaction, brand loyalty and repeat business.
Construction of the vessels will commence in Henderson Western Australia in 2018, and continue over 29 – 36 months.
The two new trimarans for Fred Olsen SA represent the 9th and 10th large high-speed ferries over 100 metres in length to be built by Austal; confirming the company’s leadership as Australia’s - and the world’s - most successful shipbuilder of large, high-speed craft (HSC).
Austal has delivered (and under construction) in excess of 300 vessels, to more than 100 operators in 54 countries around the world since 1988 and more than 50% of these deliveries have been commercial vessels with monohull, catamaran or trimaran hulls.
Austal’s innovative, distinctive designs have been developed in Australia for global markets and customised and refined over time to meet customer demands and operational or geographic requirements. The company’s portfolio now extends from vessels of 16 metres LOA to 127 metres LOA.