Austal announces US$97.7 million agreement with Govt for catamaran

Australian shipbuilders, Austal, says it expects its new Vietnam shipyard will turn a first-year profit after it booked a $97.7 million contract to deliver a high-speed catamaran for Trinidad and Tobago.

The announcement was made in Australia December 4. 

The 94-metre passenger and vehicle catamaran, to be delivered in mid-2020, will provide a daily service on the key route between the islands of Trinidad and Tobago.

It will be able to carry 926 passengers and 250 cars at speeds of 37.5 knots.

Austal said the vessel would be a derivative of the two 109-metre AutoExpress ships it had designed in the past two years.

The contract meant initial construction had already started at its Vung Tau shipyard in Vietnam.

The new facility, which only started operations on November 1, has so far delivered large aluminium modules for a 109-metre catamaran being built in the Philippines and is now expected to grow to more than 450 workers.

Austal chief executive David Singleton said the AutoExpress design had already helped the Henderson-based shipbuilder secure contracts worth about $300 million.

“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 41-metre catamaran water taxis and six 30-metre monohull fast patrol craft.”

The National Infrastructure Development Company will finance the vessel through an export loan from Australia’s Export Finance and Insurance Corporation.

On September 10th, Austal had said that it ntoed the announcement by Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley that the Cabinet had authorised the purchase of a fast ferry from Austal but said that it was still looking forward to negotiating and resolving terms for the purchase of the vessel as quickly as possible.

"In the meantime, this initial announcement will trigger the release of a down payment which will allow design of the vessel to commence and for initial long lead materials to be procured," the statement said.

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