By EMMIE V. ABADILLA
Austal Philippines, the local partner of Australian-based global ship builder Austal Group, recently launched FSTR (Hull 419), a passenger ferry touted as the largest aluminium vessel the company launched in the country and the largest it has constructed in the world, in terms of volume.
The company launched the 109-meter high-speed catamaran ferry from its expanded Balamban shipyard in Cebu. The vessel is now in the final stages of fit out before it will be delivered to Fjord Line of Norway in the second quarter of this year.
Notably, this “Auto Express 109” catamaran was the first ship to be wholly constructed from the Balamban shipyard’s expanded production facilities. Hence, it was a milestone for Austal Philippines, according to Austal Chief Executive Officer David Singleton.
Fjord Line’s FSTR (Hull 419) can transport 1,200 passengers at the speed of 40 knots and features Austal’s largest vehicle-carrying capacity constructed to date. Its 30.5-meter beam can carry 404 cars across two decks.
The ship’s design innovations improve operating performance and passenger comfort. Its optimized hull form saves fuel and reduces wake wash when operating on the Skagerrak Sea between Hirtshals, Denmark and Kristiansand, Norway.
“It’s the first of many large, high-speed, commercial ferries to be constructed at our expanded shipyard in the Philippines,” he added. The company is also building a 118-meter trimaran which will be the longest high speed ferry to be constructed in the Philippines.
“Austal Philippines is also constructing a 115-meter catamaran ferry later this year. It will be another record build, as the largest vessel to be constructed by Austal, worldwide, in terms of volume.”
Hull 395, the “Banaderos Express” which the company built for Fred Olsen Express of the Canary Islands, is a 118-meter high-speed trimaran ferry and a sister ship to Bajamar Express, launched in Australia earlier this week.
In the third quarter of this year, the Balamban shipyard will start building the follow-up order from Molslinjen of Denmark, Hull 423, a 115-meter high speed catamaran ferry to be known as Express 5.
“The launch of Hull 419 from our newly expanded shipyard highlights our capability to deliver multiple vessel projects concurrently – safely and cost effectively,” Austal Philippines President Wayne Murray concluded as he thanked the 1,000-strong Filipino shipbuilding team and acknowledged the capability of the Balamban shipyard which now includes a 120-meter long assembly bay and multiple new fabrication bays.