Australia-headquartered shipbuilder Austal has announced that Austal Vietnam has successfully launched Hull 397, a 94 metre high-speed catamaran for the National Infrastructure Development Company (NIDCo) of Trinidad and Tobago, from the company’s shipyard in Vũng Tàu.
The ro-pax ferry, to be known as APT James, is the first vessel to be constructed by Austal Vietnam, and comes just 20 months following the official opening of the shipyard in November 2018. The vessel is now in the final stages of fit out, prior to delivery to NIDCo in the 2nd half of 2020.
The Austal Auto Express 94 is an all-new aluminium catamaran design, with capacity for 926 passengers and 250 cars, travelling at speeds up to 37.5 knots. The ship will feature the very latest in Austal’s ‘smart ship’ technology, including an advanced Motion Control System, to deliver a more comfortable and stable ride for passengers and crew.
The launch, which took place over 5 days, comprised the rolling out of the vessel on a self-propelled modular transporter (SPMT) from Austal Vietnam’s Vũng Tàu shipyard onto a barge, which was then towed up the Saigon River to Ho Chi Minh City, where the vessel was lowered into the water via floating dock. The vessel was then towed back to Vũng Tàu, where the vessel will be kept alongside for final internal fit out under scheduled delivery, in the second half of 2020.
Austal Vietnam has already commenced construction on the shipyard’s next project, a new 41 metre high speed catamaran ferry for SGTM of Mauritius, announced in January 2020.
Austal Chief Executive Officer David Singleton said the successful launch of the ‘Auto Express 94’ catamaran was a fantastic accomplishment for Austal Vietnam, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, and welcome news for the people of Trinidad and Tobago. “We couldn’t be more pleased with the performance of the 450-strong Austal Vietnam team, launching this impressive new vessel, their very first, at this challenging time in world history,” Singleton said.
“To their great credit and like all of our shipbuilding teams around the world, the Austal Vietnam team have continued working diligently and effectively during the COVID-19 pandemic to complete and launch APT James, while meeting all applicable Government Health and Safety guidelines. This highly anticipated and exciting new ship for NIDCo is going to have a very positive and immediate effect on Trinidad and Tobago’s ‘sea bridge’ by improving the overall performance, reliability and amenity of this essential inter-island ferry service,” he added.