Robert Clifford, Chairman of Australian shipbuilder Incat Tasmania said “Virtu Ferries is amongst the oldest, most respected and most discerning fast ferry operators in the world, they operate a variety of high speed craft services throughout the Mediterranean and Adriatic. This vessel is intended for their year round lifeline service between Malta and European Union which is an immense responsibility to the people of the islands served. Virtu Ferries were looking for increased reliability, sea keeping, passenger comfort, capacity and economy with less operational downtime, we are pleased to welcome them to the Incat family of shipowners”.
This new 110 metre wave piercing catamaran will become the 15th fast ferry Virtu has acquired, it will be the largest high speed catamaran in the Mediterranean and with a service speed up to 38 knots it will complete the crossing from Malta to Sicily, berth to berth, in around 90 minutes.
For Virtu Ferries this new vessel provides a significant increase in capacity offering 43% more truck capacity, 15% more passenger capacity and 7% more car capacity. The vessel will incorporate a three class interior (VIP, Business and Economy) with a total of 1134 seats of which 996 seats are inside and 138 outdoor.
The design was modeled by Revolution Design and Seaspeed Consulting and then extensively tank tested and optimised at QinetiQ, the tank and aerospace testing facility in the UK which was purpose built for use by the British Navy and UK Ministry of Defence.
The ferry will be built under the DNV-GL Classification Society Rules and 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 Incat built ferry will fly the Malta flag.
Construction of the vessel will commence in early 2017 with delivery scheduled at the end of 2018. Incat currently has a 500 strong workforce at its Hobart shipyard and the yard is geared for delivering up to two large HSC (High Speed Craft) per year.
In announcing the purchase Virtu Ferries Chairman and Owner Mr Francis Portelli said “We simply 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. As this project has evolved over more than 12 months we have enjoyed an excellent cooperative working relationship with Incat, Revolution Design and Seaspeed Marine where they have listened to our particular requirements and continually evolved the design to a point where we are confident that we will be delivered a fantastic vessel suited not only to our requirements but the design is suited to many other island communities around the world.“