Austal Delivers RoPax Catamaran to French Polynesian Operator

Austal Limited announced the handover of a 79.8m RoPax Catamaran, the most recent iteration of its enduring Auto Express ferry range, to French Polynesian operator and repeat customer SNC Aremiti Ferry. The vessel is due to arrive in Papeete just before Christmas and will then enter service between Tahiti and Moorea.

This handover is a major achievement for Austal’s new facility in Balamban, Philippines, which started operations barely 2 years ago.

Designed by the Austal team in their global headquarters in Henderson Western Australia, and built in this new Philippines shipyard, the bespoke platform’s distinctive hull and propulsion package offers operators in the medium to high-speed ferry market an exciting new solution to reduce their running and maintenance costs, stylishly packaged in a low-risk and low-cost platform.

‘Aremiti Ferry II’ is a 79.8 metre high speed aluminium catamaran, classed Germanischer Lloyd X 100 A5, HSC-Passenger B, Ro-Ro Type, DG rules, operable in conditions with a significant wave height up to 4 metres. Approved for 967 passengers with 146 available car bays, or 228 truck lane metres, the deadweight capacity is 480 tonnes.

The catamaran platform is powered by 4 x MTU 16V 4000 M53R ‘IronMen Series’ engines, in combination with ZF 7640 Gearboxes and a quad Teignbridge FPP shaft line configuration, with four spade rudders. Two 160kW DTG tunnel thrusters are provided, one per hull, along with Austal’s Ride Control System compromising active T-foils under each hull forward, with active interceptors across each transom.

Four Volvo D9MG 225kWe generators are located in pairs in each engine room, sharing the compartment with the two main engines and their gearboxes. The quad screw propulsion equipment is controlled by a dual lever ZF ClearCommand system, positioned in the bridge and on each bridge-wing, in combination with a Navitron NT1000 steering control system activating the paired-rudders. The quad-screw quad-rudder configuration in combination with the bow thrusters provides exceptional manoeuvrability and steering performance, equivalent to Austal’s water jet powered vessels, with a similar ability to walk the vessel sideways during mooring operations.

With only 6,080 kW of total power available (100% MCR), Aremiti Ferry II achieved a full-load speed of over 21 knots.

While operating at 18 knots, the fuel consumption of Aremiti II is 850 litres per hour; which equates to less than one-litre of diesel per seat over a one hour journey. The tankage enables a range of over 2000nm.

Austal developed a hard chine symmetrical hull shape specifically for this project, designed for low cost of manufacture but with lowest possible resistance. The main engines, four of MTU 16V 4000 M53R, have a published TBO of 30,000 hours: the sea trials revealed better than expected performance providing some growth margin for Aremiti and potentially an even longer TBO.

Austal designers provided a practical engine room layout which maximises access around the engines. Engine room flooring, structural fire protection, the exhaust layout and the design of the services have all been designed with a genuine emphasis on maintainability. Should it be required, engine removal is addressed by way of three soft-patches per room located above each main engine and the pair of generators, along with a purpose-built engine lifting and removal frame that is stored off-vessel. The framework permits main engines to be lifted up onto the vehicle deck and out of the vessel with minimal fuss.

The open vehicle deck provides 950 square metres of available space for trucks and cars on main deck, with a further 725 square metres of hoistable ramps and decks arranged as two independent assemblies port and starboard; enabling 63 cars or smaller packaged goods to transported at mezzanine level. Ample tie-down points, rub-rails and large storage bins for tie downs are located throughout the deck.

Minimal shore infrastructure is required for vehicles to gain access via the substantial bow and stern vehicle ramps, boasting 5.5 metre wide vehicle lanes for two-abreast loading and a maintenance-friendly cable winching arrangement with simple-to-operate manual hydraulic control. The bow ramp features a novel inner-bow door design, which independently lowers the bow door as a separate entity flush into a recess in the bow ramp for loading/unloading (effectively forming a single integrated ramp), whilst maintaining two independent sealing and dogging arrangements to secure the bow before transit. As the vehicle space features structural pillars located on the vessel centre-line only, along with the independent reconfigurable mezzanine decks, the Ro-Ro deck configuration is designed to minimise turn-around times and maximise versatility. Furthermore the vessel is also certified to carry dangerous goods of category 2.1 and 3 (flammable liquids and gasses), with suitable reductions in passenger numbers.

Austal developed a distinctive non-slip solution to external decks, in both passenger and crew areas. Multiple aluminium studs were individually spot welded to the bare aluminium, providing exceptional grip with zero-maintenance compared to non-slip paint. The aluminium handrails were left unpainted. Once painted, always painted: the theory being that it’s easier, cleaner and more cost-effective for the crew to use a pressure-cleaner rather than a paintbrush over the life of the vessel.

Passengers on-board are greeted by two spacious internal accommodation decks, and the opportunity to promenade on a large exterior sun deck, containing 150 additional non-revenue seats. Styled by Austal’s in-house design team in conjunction with Aremiti, the passenger space features three distinctive colour-schemes. Upper deck aft features a large central kiosk, with hot and cold displays, ample drinks fridges, hot-dog roller grille and even soft-serve ice cream. Seating provides a combination of four and six seats with tables, or curved leather-clad lounges and tub-seats, with all seating supplied by Beurteaux Australia. The upper deck forward and the Bridge deck provide two and three abreast aircraft style leather seating, installed at an 850mm pitch. Whilst passengers forward enjoy the view from the large forward windows, all passengers are able to enjoy one or more of the 48 televisions on board, including two 52 inch screens forward in the Bridge deck, with satellite TV, DVD and three 500GB hard drive media players providing ample entertainment options. Austal incorporated specific design features such as Móz Designs decorative metal panels to provide modern, clean and operator-friendly feature artworks that complement the décor.

The low internal noise levels also enhance the passenger experience. HSC mandates a maximum of 75 dB(A) noise levels within passenger spaces; Aremiti Ferry II peaks at well below 70 dB(A), with the majority of the Bridge deck space registering under 60 dB(A).

The vessel also provides full access for disabled passengers, with a Kone MonoSpace lift servicing Main, Upper and Bridge decks, suitable for use underway at-sea, along with dedicated easy-access seating, permanent doorway ramps and wide aisles to enable wheelchair movements.

Austal’s in-house team designed a water-cooled direct expansion HVAC system, with six air handling units suppling crisp conditioned air to the passenger spaces. It’s a comfortable practical passenger space that would meet with the requirements of a variety of operators.

The Bridge features a large forward console for Captain and 1st Mate, with a separated console for the Engineer with ample standing and storage space for crew and their documents. The engineer’s console centre-piece is Austal’s widely acclaimed Marine Link monitoring and control system, displayed via two fully redundant LCD screens. Marine Link has received further enhancements on this vessel, incorporating a SCADA and process bus, consisting of a fully redundant Ethernet network ring, with two routes to each device. Marine Link also integrates the monitoring of all principal systems including main engines, generators and gearboxes, providing a single point of reference at the engineer’s console as well as full access, via touch-screens, from the main switchboards in the engine rooms.

The Bridge and crew areas contain a common crew’s mess and officer’s mess, along with two double berths, each with en suite, and all meeting the regulatory requirements of French Flag.

Austal has provided a ground-breaking, cost-effective, environmentally sound and refreshingly new variant to their Auto Express range.

This 79.8m Catamaran is a highly efficient platform, with the ability for fast-turn around in port, sufficient range enabling optimised scheduling for re-fuelling, a focus on reduced maintenance and extended TBO and a quiet and pleasant experience for passengers. Aremiti Ferry II heralds the first of a new generation of medium-speed Ro-Pax ferries for ferry needs today and into the foreseeable future.

Austal, December 20, 2013

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