Construction begins on Austal’s largest ferry

Image credit: Austal

Austal has commenced building its largest ferry at its shipyard in the Philippines for Danish ferry operator Molslinjen.  

The new 115-metre vessel is a further design evolution of the distinctive 109 metre high-speed catamaran, Express 4.

The Express 5 will have capacity for 1,610 passengers, space for 450 cars (or 617 lane metres for trucks plus 257 cars) over two vehicle decks and an operating service speed of 37 knots.

It is powered by an LNG-capable, medium-speed power plant that offers a powerful yet economic and environmentally-friendly solution. 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.

In a statement to the ASX, Austal CEO David Singleton said the start of construction on Express 5 was a significant milestone, not only for Austal Philippines but the Austal group, as it represents a successful global collaboration of effort to improve the speed of build, flexibility and management of workload across the group during COVID-19.

“Express 5 is the biggest ferry ever constructed by Austal, and if that sounds familiar, it’s because the last two catamarans we have constructed in the Philippines and Australia, have also been our largest, at the time of construction.

“Molslinjen’s Express 4, Austal Hull 393, was the largest we had built by volume, in 2019. This year, Fjord Line’s FSTR, Austal Hull 419, has taken the crown as our largest vessel ever built and is progressing towards delivery in the third quarter of CY2020.

“Now, with Molslinjen Express 5, we’re integrating the proven capabilities from our Australian, Philippines and Vietnam shipyards to improve competitiveness, reduce build times and maintain steady employment levels.”

The ferry was designed by the same Austal Australia team who developed the signature raked-bow hull for Molslinjen’s Express 4 in 2017, and includes Austal’s proprietary Motion Control and MARINELINK-Smart systems that help deliver a smoother journey for passengers and crew and a more efficient, better performing, “smart” ship for operators.

Austal Philippines president Wayne Murray said his team were excited to be working on another record-breaking commercial shipbuilding project that  demonstrates the Balamban shipyard’s expertise and capabilities.

“This is the third large, high-speed ferry we have started in less than two years, including the largest ferry ever built in the Philippines – the 109 metre FSTR for Fjord Line,” Murray said.

“Following on from FSTR, and the 118-metre trimaran ferry, Banaderos Express, we’re constructing for Fred Olsen Express, we’re very excited to be working on the very latest and greatest for Molslinjen.”

Molslinjen CEO Carsten Jensen said the company was looking forward to adding another Austal high speed catamaran to its fleet, following the popularity and success of Express 4, operating successfully in the Kattegat Sea, Denmark since March 2019.

“Our valued customers tell us they have enjoyed the outstanding comfort and performance of Express 4, so we’re very much looking forward to Express 5 joining the Molslinjen fleet and offering a superior on-board experience to even more of our customers,” Jensen said.

Molslinjen Express 5 will add additional capacity to Molslinjen’s Bornholm route between Ystad and Rønne, following delivery anticipated in 2022.