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Austal delivers first Saudi Arabian ferries to Egypt

Austal delivers first Saudi Arabian ferries to Egypt

Sydney: The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has taken delivery of two Austal-built 88 metre high speed vehicle-passenger catamarans, "Riyadh" and "Cairo" during a  handover ceremony in Jeddah attended by King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and the Egyptian President Mohammed Hosni Mubarak.

Ordered by the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Finance in 2007, the vessels are a gift to the Egyptian Government, and will assist in improving the standard of ferry services across the Red Sea.

Operating on a 100 nautical mile route between Dibba in Saudi Arabia and Safaga in Egypt, the vessels are intended for Pilgrims travelling to Mecca, Egyptian workers travelling to and from Saudi Arabia as well as business and leisure travellers.

Both vessels carry 1200 passengers, 120 cars and 15 trucks and recorded impressive service speeds of 37 knots during recent sea trials, three knots in excess of contract requirements.

Speaking at the ceremony, Dr. Ibrahim Bin Abdul Aziz Al-Assaf, the Saudi Arabian Minister of Finance said that the inauguration of the two vessels represented a qualitative leap and would establish a new phase in marine transport between Saudi Arabia and Egypt, reducing the current eight-hour trip between Dibba and Safaga by about two hours. The vessels will contribute in transporting about 1 million passengers every year, he added.

Each vessel is powered by four MTU 20V8000 M71R engines at the reduced maximum rating of 7,200kW @ 1,150rpm, allowing low engine stresses, increased fuel efficiency and longer intervals between engine overhauls.

The car deck features both port and starboard mezzanine levels capable of being lifted for truck and bus access. With an open bow above the forward turning area, the aft loading point features combined vehicle and passenger ramps for quick deployment and retrieval, enabling fast port turnarounds.

Passenger seating is situated on a spacious upper deck with panoramic window views, with a private VIP cabin offering exclusive views from the vessel's bow.

Austal's Director - global sales and marketing, Andrew Bellamy, said the vessels drew on Austal's extensive experience with similar high speed vehicle ferries, many of which have been proven in operation throughout the Middle East region.

Both 88 metre ferries made the 15-day, 5700 nautical mile journey from Western Australia to Jeddah, via the Maldives and the Gulf of Aden, on their own power. Each vessel is powered by four MTU 20V 8000 Series diesel engines producing 4 x 7,200kW and driving Kamewa waterjets.

Construction is continuing on an additional two 69 metre vehicle-passenger catamarans at Austal's Western Australian shipyard, which are to be owned and operated by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and are scheduled for delivery by mid 2009.  [08/12/08]