A 41 metre high speed aluminium passenger catamaran, “Vale Grand Sud” has recently entered into operation for mining company Vale Nouvelle-Calédonie, marking the fourth Austal-built vessel to operate in New Caledonia.
“Vale Grand Sud” was designed to provide new levels of speed and comfort to members of the company’s 1,000 strong workforce, as they commute between Noumea and the Goro mine site’s Prony Port.
The vessel will offer Vale’s Goro workforce a safe, reliable and comfortable commute of approximately one hour, which makes it possible for mine workers to return home each day, instead of staying on the mine site or driving approximately two hours through mountainous terrain from Goro to Noumea. The introduction of “Vale Grand Sud” makes a considerable difference in improving quality of life for employees.
“Vale Grand Sud” is a milestone vessel in that it is the first significant step in Austal’s strategic plan to work more closely with resource companies and provide both marine and non-marine products utilising Austal’s extensive capability in design, modular manufacturing and in-service product support.
Earlier this year, Austal delivered a 35 metre monohull passenger ferry, “Mary D Odyssey” to Noumea-based tourism operators, Mary D Enterprises. It has been successfully transporting passengers between Noumea and Amadee Island, as well as servicing other locations on New Caledonia’s south and west coasts, since April 2012. “Mary D Odyssey” joins Austal-built “Mary D Dolphin”, which has transported more than 300,000 passengers on the Amadee Island route since its delivery in 1998.
The 52.4 metre passenger catamaran, “Betico”, delivered to Compagnie Maritime des Iles in 1999, is the largest Austal-built vessel to operate in New Caledonia to date.
Austal Chief Executive Officer, Andrew Bellamy, said “Austal is pleased to have delivered another quality product to New Caledonia, and commented that the company works hard to create and maintain strong relationships with all of its customers.”
“Throughout the sales, design and construction process of “Vale Grand Sud”, Austal worked closely with Vale’s Marine Operations team in New Caledonia. Our Design Manager and Sales Manager spent a significant amount of time assessing every detail of the operational requirements between Noumea and Prony Port,” he said.
“This close interaction between client and builder benefited the development of this vessel immensely, as we were able to see first-hand the operating environment of the vessel.
“This close relationship continued with Austal’s Project team during the construction and commissioning stages, and resulted in a vessel that is truly customised for optimal passenger convenience and operational efficiency,” said Mr Bellamy.
The Head of Vale Nouvelle-Calédonie’s Maritime Section, Olivier Rousseau, commented that Austal impressed throughout the design, construction and delivery process of “Vale Grand Sud”.
“We were most impressed with the Austal sales, design and project teams we worked with throughout the build process. Austal always sent us very professional teams, which gave us the confidence in the product, and the feeling that our assets were always in good hands,” said Mr Rousseau.
Seating for “Vale Grand Sud’s” 439 passengers is spread over two decks, with functionality and comfort a priority. The spacious upper deck also includes a large meeting room, captain’s office and crew mess. A kiosk is located on the main deck. Flat screen televisions are located throughout the vessel, and all passengers are provided with comfortable Beurteaux reclining seats.
Working closely with the customer, Austal’s designers developed an interior colour palette that complements Vale’s brand identity while matching the vessel’s sleek green, yellow and white exterior. The interior of the vessel was also designed to reduce maintenance requirements with the selection of hard wearing, easy-to-clean material for bulkheads and flooring.
The vessel’s wheelhouse contains ergonomically designed navigation and control stations as well as Austal’s Marine Link fully integrated monitoring and control system. This provides the ferry’s Engineer with the ability to monitor and control the vessel’s safety, propulsion, generating and other operationally critical systems, as well as the option to be monitored remotely.
Capable of travelling at speeds of up to 37 knots, “Vale Grand Sud” offers a fast, smooth and quiet journey, powered by four MTU 16V 2000 M72 engines coupled to Kamewa waterjets through Reintjes gearboxes.
Demonstrating the versatility of Austal’s existing product range, “Vale Grand Sud” was based on the same platform design as used for four 41 metre catamarans designed and constructed for the National Infrastructure Development Company of Trinidad and Tobago. Delivered in mid-2010 and able to carry 405 passengers at speeds of more than 37 knots, the Trinidad and Tobago vessels were designed to help reduce road congestion by establishing a water taxi service between San Fernando and Port of Spain in southwest Trinidad.
At present, Austal is contracted to build 24 vessels at its shipyards in Australia, the Philippines and the United States.
Austal is currently building an 80 metre vehicle-passenger catamaran ferry for French Polynesian operator, Aremiti Cruise. The vessel will have the capacity to carry up to 967 passengers and 146 cars at speeds of approximately 20 knots, and is due for delivery in late 2013.
The company is also building a 27 metre TRI SWATH wind farm support vessel for UK operator, Turbine Transfers Limited. Launched in mid-2010, Austal’s Wind Express vessel range has been designed specifically for the burgeoning offshore wind farm support market, offering safer and more efficient offshore wind turbine service.
On the defence side, Austal is contracted to build eight 58 metre monohull Cape Class Patrol Boats, nine 103 metre catamaran Joint High Speed Vessels and five 127 metre trimaran Littoral Combat Ships.
Austal also continues to provide support for vessels operating worldwide, including from its three shipyards; service centres in Darwin (Australia), Europe, the Caribbean, and the Middle East; and its recently opened Marine Support Base in Henderson, Western Australia.
Source: Austal, June 26, 2012