Virtu invests €75 million in high speed Wavepiercer Catamaran
Virtu Ferries has signed a new build contract with Incat Tasmania Pty. Ltd. to build a High Speed Wavepiercer Passenger/Vehicle Catamaran for their Malta – Sicily route. Delivery is scheduled for the fourth quarter of 2018.
At 1,000 tons deadweight, the vessel will be the largest RoPax Catamaran ever built for operation in the Mediterranean, and the second largest in the world. The vessel will have a capacity of 900 passengers in four luxury lounges on two passenger decks and additional outside seating. The full span of the garage deck is designed to carry 23 heavy commercial trailers, equivalent to 490 truck lane metres or 167 cars. At a cruising speed of 38 knots, the Malta to Sicily crossing will, as with the Jean De La Valette, take approximately 90 minutes. Incat Tasmania is the world leader in building large environmentally-friendly high-speed ferries with an emphasis on eco operations and fuel efficiency. Incat vessels, both commercial and military, are found in all four corners of the world.
Using state-of-the-art Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) and hydrodynamic free-running model test techniques, the wellproven Incat wave piercing catamaran hull form has been further developed for this exposed route. The hydrodynamic tests were carried out by Seaspeed Marine Consulting Ltd at the Haslar Ocean Basin and Ship Tanks in Gosport, UK – facilities normally associated with UK Ministry of Defence projects.
The already well-proven Incat wave piercing catamaran hull design has been further developed to minimise fuel consumption, increase passenger comfort and sea-keeping 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.
Virtu Ferries has been operating high speed ferries for 28 years and apart from the Malta-Sicily route operates ferries between Venice and Adriatic Ports in Croatia and Slovenia as well as between Tarifa, Spain and Tangiers, Morocco.
The new vessel will be deployed on Virtu’s core route between Malta and Sicily alongside the Jean De La Valette. The current schedule of daily return voyages between the two neighbouring EU islands will be further increased to better connect Malta to mainland Europe. Virtu is also looking into further market-driven route expansion; a second vessel will also increase flexibility and reliability. The company is carrying out a number of initiatives to increase incoming tourism and better serve the Maltese and Italian business communities.
The new ferry will be built under DNV-GL Classification Society Rules and will comply with IMO High Speed Craft HSC 2000, the Malta Flag Statutory Regulations and Italian Port State requirements. As with all other Virtu vessels, the new ferry will fly the Malta flag.