The demand for Incat-built High Speed Wave Piercing Catamarans continues apace with news that the Port Authority of Trinidad & Tobago has snapped up a 91 metre vessel to continue fast ferry operations between Port of Spain and Scarborough.
The vessel replaces the Incat 98 metre ferry The Cat which after an incredibly successful first four months operating between Trinidad & Tobago has now returned to Canada for summer operations on owner Bay Ferries’ service between Yarmouth, Nova Scotia and Bar Harbor, Maine, USA.
Like The Cat, Incat 046 is Scarborough-based on charter to the Port Authority of Trinidad & Tobago for the 85 nautical mile route to Port of Spain. Manning and operational management of the vessel is again provided by Bay Ferries.
Since December 2003 Incat 046 has operated across New Zealand’s notorious Cook Strait between Wellington and Picton for the Interisland Line marketed as “The Lynx”. Completing its final sailing from Picton on April 17 the vessel left New Zealand for a two week overhaul in Australia before continuing on to the Caribbean.
Now Incat 046 is taking up where The Cat left off — continuing to build the high speed following and delivering to the people of Trinidad and Tobago a quality service on a route which has been dogged by many problems in recent years.
The arrival of The Cat in January 2005 was the result of more than three years of investigating tonnage options involving the Tobago House of Assembly, the Port Authority of Trinidad & Tobago, the Ministry of Transport and Works, the Government Shipping Service and several technical sub committees.
Upon entry into service The Cat’s impressive turn of speed turned heads and the idea of having not just one but two catamarans in service soon gained momentum, a call sparked by the revelation that the high speed ferry had carried over 175,000 passengers and 25,000 vehicles in a four month period.
Incat 046 has capacity for 900 passengers, 240 cars and has the ability to maintain fully loaded service speeds of 43 knots. At lightship condition during sea trials the vessel achieved an impressive 49 knots.
The vessel is powered by four MAN B&W 20 RK270 medium-speed diesel engines, which each provide 7,080kW. Each engine drives a transom mounted Lips LJ145D waterjet through a Renk ASL60 reduction gearbox.
While Incat 046 is not owned by Incat the charter of the vessel to Trinidad and Tobago is a resounding endorsement of the versatility of the 91 metre Wave Piercing Catamaran, says Incat Chairman Robert Clifford.
“Built in 1997 this vessel has seen service in Canada, Miami, Australia and New Zealand and I have no doubt it will serve the people of Trinidad & Tobago well. It is of course replacing a much larger craft, one with the ability to ship large trucks, and so while the car capacity of the 91 metre vessel is impressive it is not the optimum vessel for the service. The people of Trinidad and Tobago have had a taste of what a 98 metre vessel can offer and I expect to see a 98 metre vessel plying these waters again very soon,” Mr Clifford said.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the globe Incat vessels are dominating the high speed ferry scene in UK waters during the 2005 summer season.
On the global scene, since May 2004 the following 17 Incat-built vessels have been contracted, placed onto new routes or had their charters extended:
Hull No. Name Operator
025 Speed Runner 1 Aegean Speed Lines
026 Sea Express 1 Irish Sea Express
030 Condor 10 Condor Ferries
033 Thundercat 2 Contracted, operator TBA
034 Elanora El Salam
035 Tarifa Jet FRS Iberia
045 Speed One Speed Ferries
046 Incat 046 Port Authority of Trinidad & Tobago
047 P&O Express P&O Ferries *
050 HSV-X1 Joint Venture US Special Operations Command
051 Bonanza Express Fred Olsen, S.A.
053 Bencomo Express Fred Olsen, S.A.
055 Bentaga Express Fred Olsen, S.A.
057 Normandie Express Brittany Ferries
059 The Cat Bay Ferries * *
060 USAV TSV-1X Spearhead TACOM/US Army
061 HSV 1 Swift US Navy
* Chartered to Isle of Man Steam Packet Company for extra sailings during the Manx TT Race period on the Isle of Man.
**Chartered to Port Authority of Trinidad & Tobago between January and May 2005
“Incat has been busy over the past six months, contracting and renewing charters on several second hand ships ranging in size from 78 metres to 98 metres,” says Incat Europe General Manager Steve Thurlow.
“In addition a number of Incat’s customers have also placed Incat-built tonnage in their own right ensuring that the Incat second hand market has been very active. In fact there is now a shortage of Incat second hand tonnage for routes particularly in the Mediterranean/Adriatic/Greece,” he said.
In the UK Nobody Does it Better
No less than 10 Incat-built passenger-vehicle ferries are operating to and from ports in England, Scotland and Wales to France, the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man, the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland in 2005. Impressive numbers when one considers that the total number of vehicle-carrying fast craft operating in UK waters is 15. That’s two-thirds of high speed car ferries in UK waters were built by one Australian shipbuilder, Incat.
A newcomer to the Irish Sea in 2005 is 91 metre vessel P&O Express (hull 047), taking over high speed services from the Northern Irish port of Larne to Scotland’s Cairnryan and Troon.
Another newcomer to the Irish Sea is Irish Sea Express, taking over the Liverpool — Dublin high speed service discontinued at the end of last year. The company has chartered 74 metre vessel Sea Express 1, formerly SeaCat Isle of Man (hull 026) to reopen the route which was previously operated by a monohull vessel.
Meanwhile, now in its seventh year on the Irish Sea fast craft sailings across the exposed St George’s Channel between Fishguard and Rosslare continue to be operated by Stena Line’s 81 metre Stena Lynx III on the popular Stena Express service.
On the English Channel, where all Cross-Channel high speed services are operated by Incat vessels, Brittany Ferries has expanded their fleet with the Normandie Express. The largest high speed craft operating on the English Channel, this Incat 98 metre wave piercing catamaran is capable not only of year round operations, but also of carrying a diversified payload of passengers, cars, coaches and heavy trucks.
Celebrating a first anniversary in May, SpeedFerries and their 86 metre Speed One offer up to five round trips per day across the Dover Strait between Dover and Boulogne.
Also operating out of Dover is high speed ferry pioneer Hoverspeed with two 81 metre Incat vessels on the intensive Calais service.
Moving westwards, from Poole and Weymouth with two 86 metre vessels, Condor Express and Condor Vitesse, Condor Ferries operate a network of sailings to the Channel Islands with connections from there onwards to the French port of St Malo with the 74 metre Condor 10. In addition the company continues to provide Condor Vitesse to Brittany Ferries for a daily Poole — Cherbourg service.
Incat on the Red Sea
Egypt’s El Salam has become the latest company to acquire an Incat vessel in the form of 78 metre ferry Elanora.
With a fleet of 15 ferries El Salam is the largest private shipping company in Egypt and the Middle East, each year transporting over one million passengers.
Elanora is the first Incat ferry to operate on the Red Sea and will serve on the company’s operations between Egypt and Saudi Arabia. The recently refitted vessel offers accommodation for 674 passengers and capacity for 146 cars on the vehicle decks.