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Thursday, February 7, 2019 

High Speed Craft builder Incat has delivered its latest large fast ferry, a 110m catamaran for Virtu Ferries of Malta. Incat Hull 089 left Hobart Tasmania on 6 February and arrival in Grand Harbour, Valletta is expected before the end of the month.

The Saint John Paul II is the 44th large commercial fast ferry delivered by Incat and the sixth in excess of 5,500 gt in the past decade; a decade shared with 19 other Incat newbuilds of smaller passenger ferries and support vessels. On the delivery voyage the ship will travel via the Indian Ocean, Red Sea and the Suez Canal.

“The 110m wave piercing catamaran, one of the largest, and most revolutionary built by the yard is the first Incat newbuild vessel to join the Virtu fleet,” said Incat Chairman Robert Clifford. “Virtu Ferries was seeking increased reliability, sea keeping, passenger comfort, capacity and economy with less operational downtime than vessels in its current fleet. They knew exactly what they wanted and, with the benefit of extensive tank testing and studies, we believe we have turned that vision into reality with Saint John Paul II.”

Incat CEO Tim Burnell said: “Despite being at the forefront of the industry for 40 years, Incat is still evolving the product. Using the latest computational fluid dynamics (CFD) and hydrodynamic free-running model test techniques, the well proven Incat Wave Piercing Catamaran hullform has been further developed for Mediterranean winter conditions. The hydrodynamic tests were undertaken by Seaspeed Marine Consulting at the Ocean Basin and Ship Tank in Gosport, UK – facilities normally associated with UK Ministry of Defence projects. The result is a completely new bow arrangement and increased tunnel height, ensuring Saint John Paul II is truly fit for purpose on year-round ferry operations on what is an exposed Mediterranean island route.”

Virtu Ferries Chairman and Owner, Francis Portelli, said: “During the winter months we can experience very strong winds and high waves on our route. So we wanted a hull design developed to minimise fuel consumption and to increase passenger comfort and seakeeping performance, at the desired contract speed, in simulated sea conditions prevailing in the Malta Channel. This is in line with established green policies being recommended by the international maritime industry. Simply put, we want to provide our passengers and freight operators with the highest levels of service, reliability and comfort yet, at the same time, operate an economical and environmentally-sustainable high-speed service.”

The Saint John Paul II was completed under DNV GL rules and complies with IMO HSC Code 2000 rules, Malta flag statutory requirements and Italian port state requirements.

At 1,000 dwt, the vessel is the largest ro-pax catamaran built for operation in the Mediterranean and is the second largest in the world. She has capacity for 900 passengers on two decks and additional outside seating on both upper and lower passenger levels. The full span of the vehicle deck is designed to carry 23 heavy commercial trailers, equivalent to 490 truck lane metres or 167 cars.

On contractual speed trials off the southern coast of Tasmania Saint John Paul II achieved speeds in excess of 38 knots running at 85% power and ballasted to 600 dwt.

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