Austal wins contract for Canary Islands trimaran ferries

The 127m ‘Benchijigua Express’ was designed and built by Austal for Fred Olsen SA in 2005. (Image: Austal)
The 127m ‘Benchijigua Express’ was designed and built by Austal for Fred Olsen SA in 2005. (Image: Austal)
Two 117m high-speed vehicle passenger ferries to be built by Austal for Fred Olsen SA of Spain (Image: Austal)
Two 117m high-speed vehicle passenger ferries to be built by Austal for Fred Olsen SA of Spain (Image: Austal)
Industry Database

Australian shipbuilder Austal says its latest contract announcement for two 117 metre high speed vehicle passenger ferries, for Fred Olsen SA, sends a strong signal to the international market that ‘fast ferries are back’.

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.

Benchijigua Express transports up to 1,350 passengers and over 340 cars at speeds exceeding 40 knots.

Austal claims that 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.

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.

Construction of the vessels will commence in Henderson Western Australia in 2018, and continue over 29–36 months.

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.

The company’s portfolio now extends from vessels of 16 metres LOA to 127 metres LOA.

“This is a watershed contract for our next generation trimaran design that will deliver new levels of seakeeping, passenger comfort and efficiency, and proves the trimaran is the right tool for the job in the challenging sea conditions of the Atlantic. It is a game-changer in the market.” – said Austal VP Sales and Marketing Ben Marland.

By Jake Frith

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