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    October 2, 2002Austal trio heads for Hong KongAfter an absence of five years, Austal Ships has made a dramatic return to Hong Kong, a market that helped to establish the Australian shipbuilder as an international force in the design and construction of high speed ferries. The simultaneous delivery of three 47.5 m aluminium catamarans takes the total number of Austal-built vessels delivered to Hong Kong to 32, making it the leading supplier of fast ferries to this globally significant market. Delivered over a five year period beginning in November 1990, the previous 29 Austal deliveries to Hong Kong were critical in establishing the company's reputation as a supplier of world class fast ferries in the 40 m range. "Based on this solid foundation," said managing director Bob McKinnon, "Austal has built up a product range that now also includes vehicle-passenger ferries, cruise yachts, patrol boats, offshore crewboats and large high speed vessels for military applications." "We are delighted to welcome [Hong Kong's] New World First Ferry to the expanding group of leading operators that are taking advantage of Austal's expertise in high performance vessels," said McKinnon. "I am confident that the success of these vessels will be the start of a long-term relationship between our two companies." New World First Ferry operates 12 routes within Hong Kong Harbor and to outlying islands. This includes the services between Hong Kong and Macau operated by New World First Ferry Servicios Maritimos on which the new Austal catamarans will run. Adolf H. Hsu, Managing Director of First Ferry said: "By bringing these three new high-speed catamarans alongside the existing fleet, First Ferry 's capacity is nearly doubled. With their loaded speed of 41.8 knots, reclining seats, wide passage ways, tinted windows and modern kiosk service, the new ferries represent our dedication to pursue a higher standard of passenger comfort and operational safety." The acquisition of the three Austal ferries (with an option for up to four more) reflects New World First Ferry's confidence in the prospects for continued growth in passenger volumes on the Hong Kong to Macau route. The new cats will make the run in approximately 50 minutes. Seakeeping and thus passenger comfort is optimized by an active motion control system supplied by Seastate. This consists of interceptors aft and retractable T-foils forward. PRINCIPAL PARTICULARS Length Overall: 47.5 m Length Waterline: 44.0 m Beam Molded: 11.8 m Hull Depth Molded: 3.8 m Maximum Draft: 1.4 m Maximum deadweight: 55.8 tonnes Passengers: 414 Crew: 8 Fuel : 20,000 liters PROPULSION Engines: 4 x MTU 16V 4000 M70; 2320 kW at 2000 rpm each Gearboxes: 4 x Reintjes VLJ 930 HL Waterjets: 4 x Kamewa 63 SII Speed: 41.8 knots at 95% MCR with 44.1 tonnes of deadweight SURVEY Classification Det Norske Veritas X1A1 HSLC Passenger R2 EO John Hui, director and general manager of First Ferry , said: "The new catamarans are equipped with the latest navigational aids ensuring the optimal performance of the vessels. The cabin is well-appointed with a strong focus on passenger comfort, featuring audio-visual equipment and luxurious seating throughout, and of course with the striking livery of our company logo." "New Ferry LXXXI", "New Ferry LXXXII" and "New Ferry LXXXIII" can each carry 414 passengers on two decks. Of these, 100 are carried on the upper deck, including 16 passengers in private VIP lounges. Comfortable Beurteaux seats are fitted throughout the passenger areas, which feature hard-wearing vinyl type flooring for long life and ease of maintenance. The purple floors are in keeping with New World First Ferry's corporate color scheme which combines purple with bright orange and green, making the company's modern fleet instantly recognizable. Austal says it worked closely with New World First Ferry to ensure that the corporate branding was maintained throughout, right down to details such as the color of the toilet doors and including the pattern on the stairway capping in the passenger cabin. Hui described working with the staff of Austal as a "great pleasure." "They were very forthcoming and always prepared to discuss the pros and cons of various issues that arose over the course of the project," he noted, adding that he was also "impressed by the professionalism and zeal of the Austal staff" who "went to great lengths to ensure that all three vessels were delivered before the contract date." Mark Stothard, who managed the successful contract bid for Austal, said the close contact and understanding between Austal and NWFF was a key to making the project so successful. "The performance of the entire Austal team is typified by project manager John Van Meekeren, who showed great dedication and drive to develop a close working relationship with the customer and thus ensure that we fully understood their needs," Stothard said. "On the customer side," he said, New World First Ferry had a "great asset in David Wong, who both wrote the tender and then followed the vessels through as the owner's representative." Among the passenger goodies installed on the three cats are 107 cm color plasma monitors allow main deck passengers to view either local television or video/DVD entertainment. Another large plasma screen and four smaller LCD monitors are fitted on the upper deck. The monitors can be linked to a camera on the wheelhouse roof, showing all passengers the view ahead of the vessel. Other onboard facilities include a main deck kiosk, toilets and baggage racks on both decks. Each ferry operates with a crew of eight, including five in the bridge which features maximum vision and an electronics package incorporating two X-band radars, electronic charting, night vision and a day and night sailing recording system. McKinnon said that although Austal is best known internationally for fast aluminium catamarans such as the Hong Kong vessels, the combined order book of Austal group companies reflects a far more varied product range. "Austal group companies are currently building no fewer than 12 vessels, including cruise yachts, passenger and vehicle-passenger ferries, dinner cruise / sightseeing vessels and luxury motor yachts," Mr McKinnon said. "These vessels are being built in both aluminium and steel, and include both monohulls and catamarans, which really serves to illustrate the success of our policy of diversifying our product range," he explained.

    1. Austal's managing director, Bob McKinnon said the contract was won in very competitive circumstances, including competition from local Norwegian shipyards. "This is the second contract for a Norwegian client by the Austal group and is the result of a concerted team effort by Image and Austal sales and design staff,"McKinnon said. "OVDS' preference for an Austal product and our ability to offer a fully customized vessel were major factors in securing this order. With the large vehicle/passenger ferry market still not as buoyant as we would like, it is very pleasing to continue to win orders across our product portfolio." The two 41.5 m catamarans, with an operating speed of approximately 34 knots, will have the capacity to carry 216 passengers and 12 tonnes of refrigerated cargo and will feature a functional, commercial interior outfit. OVDS currently operate a substantial fleet of vessels including high speed and conventional ferries, cruise ships and cargo vessels. This contract adds to the 39 m live-aboard catamaran currently under construction at Image Marine for operation in the Maldives, and follows closely the delivery of two 37 metre river catamarans for Portuguese operator, Transtejo. AUSTAL GROUP ACTIVITIESIn other group activities, Austal currently has under construction three passenger ferries for operation in Hong Kong, one 86 m vehicle/passenger ferry for Conferry of Venezuela and two 69 m 'boutique' cruise vessels for Bora Bora Cruises of Tahiti. Luxury motor yacht builder, Oceanfast is booming with the construction of four luxury motor yachts, including Greg Norman's 69.5 m "Norman Expedition Yacht", Aussie Rules. Austal USA currently has under construction a 34 m dinner cruise vessel for Island Queen Cruises of Miami, Florida.

    Car passenger ferry order for AustalAustralia Austal Ships today announced an unconditional contract for a 66 m high speed vehicle-passenger catamaran for a "well-established ferry operator." This is the unnaamed customer first contract with Austal and brings the total number of vessels under construction for the Austal group to 16. Austal managing director,Bob McKinnon said, "We are particularly pleased by this order as it is from a new customer and reinforces the fact that Austal continues to provide cost effective, tailored solutions for transportation requirements." "The new vessel will be joining an existing fleet of ferries and we anticipate that its success will lead to more orders from this client in the future," said mcKinnon. Due for delivery in August 2003, the Auto Express 66 will operate at a speed of approximately 31 knots and will have the capacity to carry 450 passengers and 69 cars or 110 lane meters of trucks plus 37 cars. Principal particulars, Auto Express 66 Overall length: 66.2 m Waterline length : 59.0 m Molded beam: 18.2 m Hull depth : 5.9 m Maximum hull draft: 2.5 m Passengers: 450 Cars: 69 Heavy vehicles: 110 truck lane-meters (plus 37 cars) Main engines: 2 x Paxman 18VP185 and 2 x Paxman 12VP185 Gearboxes: 2 x Reintjes VLJ 2230 and 2 x Reintjes VLJ 1130 Waterjets: 2 x Kamewa 80SII and 2 x Kamewa 90SII Speed: 31 knots Austal Ships notes it also has an 86 m vehicle-passenger catamaran ferry available for delivery in June July 2003. Capable of loaded speeds in excess of 42 knots, this vessel provides capacity for 774 passengers and 238 cars or 10 trucks and fewer cars. For some time now, Austal has reported that the market for large ferries remains subdued. Commenting on this, McKinnon said, "The overhang of Incat vessels and their urgent need to sell these ships has made it impossible for us to win contracts for two vessels." In spite of the difficult market resulting from the Incat situation, Austal says its core commercial vessel business continues to provide satisfactory levels of profitability. In addition to the 66 and 86 m vehicle ferries, Austal Ships is currently building two 69 m cruise yachts for Tahiti. Austal, together with its partner Defence Maritime Services, has recently submitted its final bid for the Royal Australian Navy SEA 1444 Replacement Patrol Boat project. The preferred tenderer for this project will be announced in the first half of 2003. Austal USA, with the support of Austal Ships in Australia, is also currently pursuing military projects involving large multihulls, as well as having orders for three vessels for commercial operators. Another four catamarans in the 40 metre range two for Norway and two for Hong Kong are being built by Austal Image Marine unit. On the other side of the coin, delivery of the 86 m vehicle-passenger catamaran currently under construction for Canadian American Transportation Systems has been delayed by some seven months as port facilities in Rochester, N.Y., where the vessel will operate from are not ready. And McKinnon confirmed yesteray that the Austal subsidiary company Oceanfast built luxury motor yacht Aussie Rules, built for golfer Greg Norman, had incurred significant cost overruns. "There is no question that the effort and investment required to gear up our resources and experience levels to achieve the demands of this project have been considerable," said McKinnon. "The end result however, is an outstanding quality product that will deliver opportunities associated with the profile of such a vessel.We also believe that Aussie Rules will further establish Oceanfast as a premier luxury yacht builder in what is a very large world market." The company is therefore forecasting a modest loss for the first half of the 2003 financial year. It is anticipated that the full year result will be a small profit substantially lower than expectations.

    World's most powerful diesel catAustal Ships has now released more details about the 86 m vehicle/passenger ferry it is to build for Canadian American Transportation Systems . The ferry will be the first of its type to be fitted with four MTU 20V 8000 M70 engines, each rated at 8,200 kW, making it the most powerful diesel powered high-speed catamaran in the world. Each engine will drive a steerable waterjet via a ZF gearbox.With a speed of 42 knots, the 86 m vehicle-passenger ferry will be the first of its type on the Great Lakes. It will operate on Lake Ontario between the cities of Rochester N.Y and Toronto, Ontario, with a voyage time of two hours and 15 minutes.Austal's managing director, Bob McKinnon, said the contract is a vital step forward in maintaining Austal's share of the fast ferry market."This order indicates that Austal is winning lucrative contracts for large fast ferries in very a competitive environment," he said."We are delighted to be involved with CATS in this project and look forward to delivering our Auto Express product to this part of the world."The order, the first Austal Ships has received from North America, is another key achievement for the Austal Group in this important market. In 1999, Austal established a joint venture shipyard in Mobile, Alabama with a view to making its world-leading aluminium shipbuilding expertise available to the US domestic markets for commercial and military vessels. Austal USA has already made significant progress, including its first deliveries, two 45 m offshore crew/supply vessels completed earlier this year. A 26 m catamaran ferry will be delivered for operation in New York shortly, and the yard is also building two dinner cruise vessels.In addition, the Theater Support Vessel "WestPac Express" built by Austal Ships is on a three year charter to the United States military. It has already completed a highly successful first year of operations with the Third Marine Expeditionary Force of the US Marine Corps based in Okinawa, Japan. The 101 m catamaran will be re-flagged to the United States in the next six months.Scheduled to arrive in Rochester in late July 2003, the CATS ferry will have the capacity to carry 774 passengers in its luxurious dual-class interior and 238 cars, or up to 10 trucks and fewer cars. The garage features Austal's highly efficient drive-through vehicle deck design, with hoistable mezzanine decks to allow the carriage of trucks and other overheight vehicles, without sacrificing maximum car capacity.Although it will be the seventh Auto Express 86 vehicle-passenger catamaran built by Austal Ships, the CATS vessel will be different in a number of ways. This includes structural and design changes in accordance with the latest IMO HSC Code 2000 requirements and to allow operation in limited ice conditions. As noted, it will be the first to be powered by MTU 20V 8000 M70 diesels.Principal particulars:Overall length:86.6 m Waterline length :74.15 m Molded beam:23.75 m Hull depth :7.6 m Maximum draft:3.2 m Passengers: 774 Cars:238 Trucks:10 Engines:4 x MTU 20V 8000 M70 Gearboxes:4 x ZF53000 Waterjets:4 x steerable Speed:42 knots Classification:Germanischer Lloyd

    May 7 2002Austal to build two cats for NorwayAustal Limited has won a contract for two 41.5 m passenger/cargo catamarans for ferry operator, Ofotens og Vesteraalens Dampskibsselskad ASA of Norway.Australian press reports indicate the order is worth Aus.$23 million (about US $12.4 million). The two new aluminium catamarans will be built by Austal subsidiary, Image Marine and are due for delivery at the end of April