The Natchan Rera is a breath of fresh air in Japanese sea travel, the new Incat-built high speed ferry’s entry into service on 1st September bringing a completely new concept in ferry travel to those crossing Tsugaru Strait between the islands of Hokkaido and Honshu.
The 61-nautical mile run across the Strait takes just 95 minutes, approximately half the time currently taken by conventional ships. While passengers are reaching their destination twice as quickly, Higashi Nihon Ferry is also changing the quality of time passengers spend on board from one of simple transportation to that of a high-class comfortable hospitality-focused experience.
By the end of her second week in service the luxury ferry was already sailing at full capacity – a remarkable achievement given that the ship left the shipyard in Hobart as recently as 4th August.
Launched into Hobart’s River Derwent on 30th June the 112 metre Wave Piercing ferry commenced sea trials on 19th July before being handed over to her new owner, Higashi Nihon Ferry, on 1st August. Four weeks later, after crew training to meet the requirements of the IMO’s High Speed Craft Code and also a series of promotional cruises on Tsugaru Strait, the Natchan Rera carried her first fare-paying passengers.
The Natchan Rera is a busy craft, Higashi Nihon Ferry offering four high speed round trips a day with a crossing time of approximately 95 minutes. The high speed ferry departs Aomori at 0300, 1000, 1500 and 2000 with returns from Hakodate at 0730, 1230, 1730 and 2300.
When joined by her sister ship in time for the next Japanese summer, the two Incat 112m ferries will have replaced the route’s four conventional ferries enabling Higashi Nihon to win back traffic from the airlines, a goal which its seems is already within reach.
Hull 064 Principal particulars
Length overall: 112.60m
Beam (moulded): 30.50m
Service speed: 40 knots
Deadweight: Up to 1450 tonnes
Total persons: 800 persons including crew
Vehicle Deck: 450 truck-lane metres plus 193 cars or 355 cars.