Virtu Ferries' new Saint John Paul II being launched from Incat's building dock (Image: Incat)
Virtu Ferries’ new passenger and vehicle ferry, the 110-metre Saint John Paul II, is to start sea trials in mid-January after being launched by shipbuilder Incat at its yard in Hobart, Tasmania in late December.
Named in honour of Pope John Paul II, who served as head of the Catholic church from 1978 to 2005, the new wave-piercing catamaran was designed by Revolution Design and Seaspeed Consulting. The initial design model was extensively tank tested and optimised at QinetiQ, the British Navy and UK Ministry of Defence’s purpose-built tank and aerospace testing facility in the UK. The ferry will comply with DNV-GL Classification Society Rules, the International Maritime Organization’s High Speed Craft HSC 2000 code, Malta Flag statutory requirements and Italian Port State requirements.
Inside, the ferry will have a total 1,120 seats, including outdoor seating on the aft deck and VIP, business and economy class areas for 924 passengers. The newbuild will be able to accommodate 15% more passengers, 43% more trucks and 7% more cars than Virtu Ferries’ previous high-speed craft.
Saint John Paul II will offer 90-minute crossings between Malta and Sicily, operating at a service speed of 30 knots. This will make the ferry the largest high-speed catamaran in the Mediterranean.
“Virtu Ferries is among the oldest, most respected and most discerning fast ferry operators in the world, operating a variety of high-speed ship services throughout the Mediterranean and Adriatic,” said Robert Clifford, chairman of Incat Tasmania. “We are delighted that this Incat vessel will operate its year-round lifeline service between the islands of Malta and Sicily. Virtu Ferries was looking for increased reliability, sea keeping, passenger comfort, capacity and economy with less operational downtime, and it is a pleasure to welcome the company to the Incat family of shipowners.”
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