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Tuesday, December 4, 2018 

Western Australian shipbuilder Austal has entered into a c.AU$97,700,000 million contract with the National Infrastructure Development Company which is owned by the Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago to design and build a high speed vehicle and passenger catamaran.

The 94m AutoExpress, to be delivered in mid-2020, will provide high speed passenger and vehicle operations on the key sea bridge between the islands of Trinidad and Tobago. It is a derivative of the two 109m AutoExpress ships designed in the last two years by Austal  and incorporates many of the same design features.

The design is being undertaken in Australia and the ship will be built in Austal’s new shipyard in Vung Tau, Vietnam. This new facility commenced operations on 1 November this year and has already successfully delivered large aluminium modules for a 109m catamaran being built in the Philippines. As a result of this contract, Austal expects that the new shipyard in Vietnam will be profitable in its first year of operations and will quickly expand to over 450 people from just under 100 employed currently.

The 94m AutoExpress is designed to carry 926 passengers and 250 cars at speeds of 37.5 knots and will operate a daily service between the islands of Trinidad and Tobago. The ship will also feature Austal’s newly developed innovation in smart ship technology, MarineLink Smart.

Austal CEO, David Singleton said: “The development of the new AutoExpress design was initiated in early 2016 and has proven to be a great success which has now resulted in ship contracts worth approximately AU$300 million. We remain committed to developing the most advanced high speed aluminium ships in the world further exemplified by the sale of three new trimarans, previously announced, which are currently in the construction phase. We are delighted that the Government of Trinidad and Tobago have selected Austal as their partner to design and build this next-generation vessel. This new contract will build upon the Austal fleet already in Trinidad which includes four 41m catamaran Water Taxis and six, 30m monohull fast patrol craft.” .

Austal’s current contracts include two 109m catamarans for Molslinjen of Denmark and Fjord Line of Norway, two 117m trimarans for Fred. Olsen SA of the Canary Islands, and an 82m trimaran for JR Kyushu of Japan. This is in addition to programmes for the US Navy. Austal currently has more than 48 vessels either in build or design across shipyard operations in the US, Australia, Philippines, Vietnam and China.

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