Wight Shipyard Co has achieved a UK first by building four ferries simultaneously at its yard in Cowes, IOW, for a Maltese tour operator.

The order, WSC’s largest ferry export order to date, consists of two 20-metre and two 33-metre light weight ferries, designed by One2Three Naval Architects.

“We are proud of being able to produce four large ferries within a year, despite the restrictions and changes to working brought about by the worldwide pandemic Covid19,” Jo Daly, COO, WSC, commented.

Photo: Wight Shipyard Co.

As explained, the vessels for Captain Morgan Holdings Ltd, a subsidiary of Fortina Investments Ltd, have been created to be lighter and more fuel efficient than anything that the yard has built before.

WSC specialises in the build of light weight ferries with the subsequent benefit of lower fuel burn. Attention is paid to the weight of every element of the materials and equipment used on the builds, which has led to weight reductions on all four of the ferries offering substantial fuel savings. Every one percent of weight saving equates to one percent of fuel saving, according to the shipbuilder.

The 20-metre catamarans

The two newbuild 20-metre harbour catamarans will replace existing vessels which already service the historic harbour cruise around the two natural harbours surrounding the capital city of Valletta and the 3-cities.

Specifically, the vessel of this type is designed to be a slower harbour waterbus for frequent stopping in ports surrounding the sheltered waters around the capital. It is designed for optimum efficiency achieving speeds of between 8-10 knots, with a top speed of 20 knots.

It is powered by two MAN D2676 LE434 rated to 2 x 270kW = 540kw total @ 1800 rpm coupled to ZF500 marine transmissions and twin CJR 5 bladed dynamically balanced fixed pitch propellers.

The vessel can carry 197 passengers and three crew members.

The 33-metre vessels

The two 33-metre-long medium speed vessels will service a new commuter/tourist hop-on hop-off service along the east coast of Malta as far as the island of Gozo. These vessels are also replacing a number of old existing vessels which transport commuters between the islands of Malta, Gozo and Comino.

Whilst operating below 20 knots and under high speed code, the ship can achieve a top speed of 30 knots. This vessel requires more power than the 20-metre ferry with two MAN D2862 LE466 marine diesel engines rated at 2 x 749kw = 1498kw total @ 2100rpm coupled with two ZF3050 marine transmissions and two CJR 5 fixed propellers.

It can carry 298 passengers and four crew.

Despite the changes to safe working practises and subsequent problems brought about by the worldwide pandemic, the builds have been received in good time and on budget, Wight Shipyard said.

Compared to the older boats they are replacing, the vessels are expected to achieve considerable fuel savings and reduced operating costs. They will also help to achieve sustainability targets and obtain lower emissions across the fleet.

It is anticipated that current traffic congestion around Malta will be eased by large volumes of people using water transport, not cars or buses.

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