Austal (ASX:ASB) announced on Thursday a €83.65 million (~ A$136 million) contract for the design and construction of a new 115 metre high-speed catamaran for Molslinjen of Denmark.
A follow-up order to the 109 metre high-speed catamaran Express 4, delivered to Molslinjen in January 2019, the new Auto Express 115 will be the largest ferry (by volume) ever built by Austal. The vessel will be fitted with a new generation of medium-speed engines that are LNG compatible, and is designed with the potential to upgrade to LNG fuel in the future.
Construction will commence in the third quarter of 2020 and delivery of the vessel will be in the first quarter of 2022. The vessel construction will dovetail neatly at the end of the second Fred Olsen trimaran currently being built in the Philippines, creating continuity of production for the facility.
Austal Chief Executive Officer David Singleton said the new order from Molslinjen confirmed Austal’s continuing international competitiveness and leadership in high-speed ferry design, construction and technology.
"With this new order, Austal has once again demonstrated a clear capability to offer the best, most advanced high speed ferries, cost competitively, reliably and to the highest quality.
"To be designed in Henderson over a 12 month period and then built at our state-of-the-art shipbuilding facility in Balamban in the Philippines, the catamaran will feature Austal’s signature raked-bow and optimised hull form, and an LNG-capable medium-speed power plant that offers a powerful, yet economical and environmentally-friendly solution.
"Express 5 will provide Molslinjen with a truly exciting high speed craft that will deliver a unique customer experience."
Featuring capacity for 1,610 passengers, space for 450 cars (or 617 lane metres for trucks + 257 cars) over 2 vehicle decks and an operating service speed close to 37 knots, the new ship will add valuable additional capacity on Molslinjen’s Bornholm route between Ystad and Rønne, from early 2022. On board, passengers will enjoy leather appointed reclining seats (with USB ports), Wi-Fi, a full bistro and bar(s), children’s play area and multiple audio-visual screens.
With this latest design, Austal’s Auto Express vehicle-passenger ferry portfolio has expanded to include over 30 catamaran and trimaran hull designs, ranging from 49 to 127 metres LOA, delivered to 30 operators since 1996.
Customisable to suit any operational requirement or route, the proven Auto Express platform also features Austal’s proprietary Motion Control and MARINELINK-Smart systems that deliver a smoother journey for passengers and crew and a more efficient, better performing, ‘smart’ ship for operators.
This announcement is the shipbuilding contract referred to in Austal’s trading halt request on 23 October 2019. That announcement was made to enable the parties to resolve the security arrangements under the shipbuilding contract and as a result Austal requests an end to the current trading halt in place.