Incat’s Big One Launched!

First Incat 112 metre High Speed Ferry is named Natchan ReraAmidst fanfare and celebration the first of Incat’s landmark 112 metre Wave Piercing Catamarans has been launched and named at the Hobart shipyard in Tasmania.

Named Natchan Rera the largest, most fuel efficient diesel powered high speed catamaran in the world is beautifully adorned with a livery adapted from paintings made by Natsumi Kawashima, a seven year-old Japanese girl whose grandfather, Mr Mutsuo Kawashima, is a well-known artist of Japanese traditional style painting.

In Japan, the name Natchan is often shortened to Natsumi, while Rera is from Hokkaido’s Ainu language and means wind. Ably assisted by her father, Mr Wataru Kawashima, himself a Japanese-style painter who is a lecturer at Kyoto City University of Arts, Natsumi proudly named the ship before sending it into Hobart’s River Derwent before a crowd of around 1500 spectators.  A contingent of fifty Japanese guests flew in from Japan for the Ceremony. 

When completed the 112 metre long vehicle-passenger ferry will sail at loaded speeds of approximately 40 knots and will have the capacity to carry 355 cars or 450 lane metres of trucks and 193 cars. While Incat’s 112 metre design can accommodate up to 1500 persons the Natchan Rera‘s luxurious accommodation has been custom designed and laid out to cater for 800 persons in high levels of luxurious style and comfort.

The largest catamaran ever built in Australia the new ferry will provide greater seakeeping qualities and passenger comfort, even over the world-renowned Incat 98 metre class.

The Natchan Rera is powered by four MAN 20V 28/33D diesel engines, each rated 9000 kW at 1000 rpm and delivering a low weight when compared to other engines in its class. The advantages of engine durability, efficiency, low noise and low maintenance costs make it the engine of choice for Incat vessels, not least of all an impressive fuel consumption, burning less kg per cargo tonne per hour than any other high speed catamaran.

Ordered in May last year, construction of this, the largest ever vessel produced by Incat, has proceeded well over the past thirteen months, the vessel growing at an often alarming rate to a stage where it completely filled one half of the cavernous Wilson’s shipbuilding hall at the Incat yard.

Launch night for the first time revealed to the world the sheer scale of the 112 metres by 30 metres ferry as it emerged onto Hobart’s DerwentRiver to a colourful display of fireworks and light.  Visitors to the ceremony were welcomed to the shipyard through an avenue of candlelit lanterns made by Hobart schoolchildren, the lanterns depicting the life cycle of the Albatross.

While all who witnessed the growth of the vessel over the past year have awaited launch day with excitement, for Incat Chairman Robert Clifford it was a particularly poignant occasion. “Just seventeen years ago we were heralding the arrival of the world’s first high speed car and passenger carrying Wave Piercing Catamaran,” he said.

“That first vessel, at 74 metres, could accommodate 198 tonnes deadweight. At 112 metres this giant vessel can carry more than seven times that amount!”

When delivered to Higashinihon Ferry at the end of July, the luxury vehicle-passenger ferry will operate across Tsugaru Strait between the islands of Honshu and Hokkaido. The vessel will approximately halve the time currently taken for voyages between Aomori and Hakodate by the existing ships and greatly enhance the convenience of regular passenger services. 

The Chief Executive of Higashinihon Ferry, Mr Shinji Koga speaking at the naming ceremony referred to the vessel as his “Treasure Ship” and said  “several shipyards contacted us but we nominated Incat without any hesitation. It was because not only the state-of-art skills Incat possesses but also the passion of Chairman Clifford and all the Incat members towards the wave piercing catamaran. We were, and still are, impressed by your avid and sincere attitude towards this project”.

Robert Clifford praised the team who have constructed the vessel referring to Incat’s 650 staff as the real VIP’s of the evening.   “The Ship will turn heads in Japan and revolutionise sea transport between the islands of Hokkaido and Honshu.  The ship will also turn heads around the world, its entry into service will be widely reported and closely watched by European operators.” 

 “As we move towards delivering the vessel Incat is fielding ever increasing levels of global interest in what it will bring to the industry,” said Robert Clifford.

“To those following our progress we say ‘watch this space’ as we sea trial the vessel – we are confident they will not be disappointed!”

Premier of Tasmania, Paul Lennon, said “This is a landmark moment in Tasmanian manufacturing, construction of the world’s largest and fastest diesel-powered catamaran right here in Hobart is a proud moment for our State.

“Incat has been leading the way for many years in showing the world that Tasmania is at the cutting edge of design, development and innovation.  But the launch of this much larger vessel sets the bar even higher and underline’s the company’s position as a world-leader in the high-speed catamaran market.”

Leaders of Incat and Higashinihon exchanged gifts, an Australian stockman’s coat and whip presented to Chairman Yamamoto, and a gift of Japanese armour accepted by Chairman of Incat, Robert Clifford.

Natchan Rera Principal Particulars

Length overall:       112.60m

Beam (moulded):    30.50m

Draft:                    approximately 3.93m

Speed:                   40 knots

Deadweight:          Up to 1450 tonnes

Total persons:         800 persons

Vehicle Deck:         450 truck-lane metres plus 193 cars or 355 cars.

Fuel consumption:   6.84 tonnes (8208 litres) per hour at 40 knots.