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Saturday, December 22, 2018 

Australian Shipbuilder Incat has launched a new 110m fast ro-pax catamaran ferry from its shipyard in Hobart, Tasmania. The ship will commence sea trials in mid-January prior to delivery to owner Virtu Ferries for service between Malta and Sicily.

Named Saint John Paul II, the vessel honours the Pope who served from 1978 to 2005, who has often posthumously, but unofficially, been referred to by Catholics as "St. John Paul the Great".  It is the second Incat ship named in honour of a Pope; in 2013 Buquebus named an Incat 99m ship Francisco in honour of Argentina-born Pope Francis.

This new 110m wave piercer will be the 15th fast ferry Virtu has acquired, and the largest high speed catamaran in the Mediterranean. With a service speed up to 38 knots it will complete the crossing, berth to berth, in around 90 minutes.

Work commenced on HSC Saint John Paul II in 2017, and together with other export orders has been a catalyst for the significant increase in workforce numbers at Incat over the past two years.

Robert Clifford, Incat Tasmania Chairman, said: “Virtu Ferries is amongst the oldest, most respected and most discerning fast ferry operators in the world, operating a variety of high speed ship services throughout the Mediterranean and Adriatic. We are delighted that this Incat vessel will operate their year-round lifeline service between the islands of Malta and Sicily. Virtu Ferries were looking for increased reliability, sea keeping, passenger comfort, capacity and economy with less operational downtime, and it is a pleasure to welcome them to the Incat family of shipowners”. 

For Virtu Ferries this new vessel provides a significant increase in capacity, the 490 truck lane metres offering 43% more truck capacity, with 15% more passenger capacity and 7% more car capacity than their previous craft. The ship is fitted with a total of 1120 seats, including outdoor seating on the aft deck.

The design was modelled by Revolution Design and Seaspeed Consulting and then extensively tank tested and optimised at QinetiQ, the tank and aerospace testing facility in the UK. The ferry has been built under DNV-GL Rules to comply with IMO High Speed Craft HSC 2000, the Malta Flag statutory requirements and Italian Port State requirements. As with all other Virtu vessels the new ferry will fly the Malta flag.

Incat currently has two 111m vessels under construction. Now that the drydock position has been vacated the next ship is being moved down through the shipyard into its final construction area where it will be assembled during the first half of 2019.

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