Incat delivers large new fast ferry to Virtu Ferries of Malta

World leading High Speed Craft builder Incat is celebrating the delivery of its latest large fast ferry, a 110 metre catamaran for Virtu Ferries of Malta. Incat Hull 089 left Hobart Tasmania on Wednesday 6th February and arrival in Grand Harbour, Valletta is expected before the end of the month.

The Saint John Paul II is the 44th large commercial fast ferry delivered by Incat and the sixth in excess of 5,500 gross tonnes in the past decade; a decade also shared with 19 other Incat newbuilds of smaller passenger ferries and support vessels.

Incat Chairman Robert Clifford and Incat executives were joined in Hobart by Virtu Ferries executives Francis Portelli and Matthew Portelli to see the Saint John Paul II off on her delivery voyage via the Indian Ocean, Red Sea and the Suez Canal. “The 110 metre wave piercing catamaran, one of the largest, and most revolutionary built by the yard is the first Incat newbuild vessel to join the Virtu fleet,” says Robert Clifford.

“Virtu Ferries was seeking increased reliability, sea keeping, passenger comfort, capacity and economy with less operational downtime than vessels in its current fleet. They knew exactly what they wanted and, with the benefit of extensive tank testing and studies, we believe we have turned that vision into reality with Saint John Paul II,” he says.

Incat CEO Tim Burnell says “Despite being at the forefront of the industry for 40 years, Incat is still evolving the product.

“Using the latest computational fluid dynamics (CFD) and hydrodynamic free-running model test techniques, the well proven Incat Wave Piercing Catamaran hullform has been further developed for Mediterranean winter conditions. The hydrodynamic tests were undertaken by Seaspeed Marine Consulting at the Ocean Basin and Ship Tank in Gosport, UK – facilities normally associated with UK Ministry of Defence projects.

“The result is a completely new bow arrangement and increased tunnel height, ensuring Saint John Paul II is truly fit for purpose on year-round ferry operations on what is an exposed Mediterranean island route,” Tim Burnell says.

“As an island nation with a strong and growing economy it is imperative that Virtu Ferries’ year-round lifeline passenger and freight services are reliable,” explains Virtu Ferries Chairman and Owner, Francis Portelli.

“During the winter months we can experience very strong winds and high waves on our route. So we wanted a hull design developed to minimise fuel consumption and to increase passenger comfort and seakeeping 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.

“Simply put, we want to provide our passengers and freight operators with the highest levels of service, reliability and comfort yet, at the same time, operate an economical and environmentally-sustainable high-speed service.

“As this project has evolved, we have enjoyed an excellent cooperative working relationship with Incat, Revolution Design and Seaspeed Marine, where they have listened to our particular requirements and continually evolved the design to a point where we are confident that we have a fantastic vessel suited not only to our requirements but to many other island communities around the world”.

The Saint John Paul II was completed under DNV GL classification society rules and she complies with IMO HSC Code 2000 rules, Malta flag statutory requirements and Italian port state requirements.

“For Virtu Ferries this new vessel provides a significant increase in capacity over their existing vessel operating on the Malta – Sicily route, offering 43% more truck capacity, 15% more passenger capacity and 7% more car capacity,” Tim Burnell says.

At 1,000 tonnes deadweight, the vessel is the largest RoPax catamaran ever built for operation in the Mediterranean and is the second largest in the world. She has capacity for 900 passengers on two decks and additional outside seating on both upper and lower passenger levels. The full span of the vehicle deck is designed to carry 23 heavy commercial trailers, equivalent to 490 truck lane metres or 167 cars.

Onboard Saint John Paul II, passengers can enjoy luxury lounges with a design based on 28 years of surveyed passenger feedback. The vessel has a three-class interior (VIP, business and economy) with a total of 1134 seats of which 996 seats are inside and 138 outside.

There are two VIP lounges on the Bridge Deck. The principal lounges are on the Main Deck, one forward and aft, another two amidships on the port and starboard sides, and a designated Truckers lounge with additional facilities. Outside seating is provided on both passenger decks.

On contractual speed trials off the southern coast of Tasmania Saint John Paul II achieved speeds in excess of 38 knots running at 85 percent power and ballasted to 600 tonnes deadweight.

Brief specification & GA are at:

Images of Saint John Paul II are at:



Principal particulars:   Saint John Paul II 

Incat Yard No:             089

Designer:                     Revolution Design Pty Ltd

Builder:                       Incat Tasmania Pty Ltd

Class Society:              DNV GL

Certification:               DNV +1A1 HSLC R1 Car Ferry “B” EO

Length overall:            110.6 m

Length waterline:        101.9 m

Beam moulded:          28.2 m

Beam of Hulls:            5.4 m

Draft:                           4.375 m

Speed:                         38 knots at 85% MCR, 600 DWT


Deadweight:                1000 tonnes.

Passengers:                 900 passengers (and 24 crew = 924 persons)

Vehicles:                      490 truck lane metres at 3.5m wide and 4.6m clear height or up to 167 cars at 4.5m length x 2.4m wide.

Axle loads:                   12 tonne (single axle single wheel) or 15 tonnes (single axle dual wheel)


Main Engines:             4 x resiliently mounted 20V MTU 8000 M71L, each rated at 9100kW

at 100% MCR


Water Jets:                  4 x Wartsila LJX 1500SR waterjets configured for steering and reverse.

Transmission:              4 x ZF gearboxes

Ride Control:               A ‘Naiad’ active ride control system is fitted to maximise passenger comfort. This system combines active trim tabs aft and two hull mounted T-foils


Generators:                 4 x 300ekW MTU 8V2000 M51A generators.

Evacuation:                4 x LifeRaft Systems Australia (LSA) Marine Evacuation Stations (MES). Two port, two starboard each MES capable of serving up to 300 persons. Eleven x 100 person lifefafts are fitted. 2 x SOLAS inflatable dinghies with 25hp motor & approved launch/recovery method.



Virtu Ferries has been operating high speed ferries for over 30 years. As well as the Malta–Sicily route, Virtu operate ferries between Venice and Adriatic ports in Croatia and Slovenia as well as between Tarifa in Spain and Tangier, Morocco. The company is part of the Virtu Holdings Group and is undertaking a number of initiatives to increase incoming tourism as well as serving the Maltese and Italian business communities.

Revolution Design’s team of naval architects, engineers and designers work with the concept and creative teams at Incat and their clients to develop, refine and optimise new build vessels.   The team provides research and development, structural design and analysis, drive line technical specification and layout, naval architecture services and complete drafting and design services for Incat vessels.   Revolution Design have an impressive track record of more than 60 high speed vessels and with gradual increases in vessel size over more than 25 years, Incat can successfully apply any lessons learned to newer vessel designs.

Seaspeed Marine Consulting is a fully independent technical consultancy specialising in the technology and safety of advanced marine systems covering the energy, transport and defence sectors. Established in 1990, Seaspeed serve a wide range of stakeholders including designers and builders, owners and operators, suppliers, investors and insurers, lawyers and regulatory authorities, universities and government departments.



For further Information contact Incat Public Relations on +61 3 62 711333 or

After hours media enquiries to Judy Benson +61 418 335 299