Cruise & Ferry Review - Autumn/Winter 2023

91 Indeed, many materials will be manufactured in Tasmania and Australia to be shipped in containers to Finland. “We are pushing very hard on just about everything we look at,” says Dwyer. “For the sea trial purposes, most things will either need to be sent to Finland or the yard will need to put their equivalent weight onto the ship. For example, mattresses, Tasmanian artwork and wooden tabletops will only be installed once the ships are here, but their weight will be replicated to undertake as accurate sea trials as possible.” The new ro-pax ferries, to be named Spirit of Tasmania IV and Spirit of Tasmania V, will be about 40 per cent larger than the ships they replace, and also boast a third dedicated car deck. The new vehicle deck configuration requires new linkspans with a third level giving direct access to the upper car deck, Deck 7. An industry first, direct triple deck access will reduce port turnarounds significantly, something which is crucial during the peak summer months when the ships do ‘doubles’ (when they perform both day and night crossings). “In the summer our current ships need about three hours to be turned around in port,” says Dwyer. “With the three-level linkspan and an auto-mooring system we want to get this down to 90 minutes. With their 26-knot service speeds, crossing times on the newbuilds will be similar, so it’s the port times that need to be reduced to fit a return sailing or a ‘double’ in a 24-hour period. This also guarantees a fixed 18.45 departure and 06.00 arrival, whether it’s a morning or evening departure. Currently we cannot fit a return sailing in a 24-hour period, so every day you’re creeping up the departure and arrival times.” In October 2022, TT-Line Company moved its mainland terminal from Melbourne’s Station Pier to Geelong, Victoria’s second largest city. Dwyer says the new Geelong operation is a change for the better. “Firstly, Geelong is not as congested as getting into Melbourne’s Station Pier,” he explains. “It was often gridlocked with trucks stranded in a 90-minute traffic jam within a kilometre of the terminal, trying to get in. From our point of view, we have gone from a one-hectare site to a 12-hectare site. Operationally it is a much better facility, not only for us but also for users with improved passenger facilities and a 24-hour freight yard allowing our customers to drop off and pick up their freight units at any time of the day. We haven’t seen a decrease in passengers at all – in fact we have seen an increase in travellers with caravans and campervans because it is a lot easier to get to the Geelong terminal.” So, how about the terminal on the other side of Bass Strait – will new facilities also be provided in Devonport? “This is a work in progress,” says Dwyer. “We are in a transition period and just like in Geelong, we are building a threelevel linkspan that fits both generations, albeit the third level is of no use for our current ships. When the first new ship arrives during the second quarter of 2024, we will move from berth one to three which is in the same area. It matches the Geelong land space, also avoiding a bottleneck. A lot of land reclamation is being done by TasPorts.” Designing a ship from scratch in close cooperation with the naval architects of Foreship and Figura’s Richard Nilsson, the Swedish interior designer also responsible for the makeover of Spirit of Tasmania I and II, was a new experience for TT-Line Company’s management and newbuilding team. Unlike a second-hand ro-pax, a purpose-designed newbuild doesn’t come with a lot of compromises or shortcomings. The next-generation Spirit of Tasmania ro-pax ferry under construction at Finland’s RMC yard Photo: Spirit of Tasmania