Cruise & Ferry Review - Autumn/Winter 2023

92 All the Spirit of Tasmania vessels feature comfortable interiors and large windows to optimise the guest experience FEATURED INTERVIEW Photo: credit “Little details can make a big difference,” says Dwyer. “We will have Australian power points instead of European ones which we had to modify on the second-hand vessels. Separating cars from trucks through the third vehicle deck and the third-level linkspan is another example. The height of the freight vehicle decks will be increased to 4.8 metres, a new requirement in Australia. The new ships will be wider, so we will have wider lanes which is something where we are a little bit cramped today. On the freight side we have designed the newbuilds for lock-in trestles which is a way better lashing solution. It cuts down risk of injury for our crew but also makes it much more efficient to load and discharge. All lashing points that secure trailer trestles were manufactured in Tasmania and shipped over to be installed at the builder’s yard.” As for the accommodation, Dwyer prefers to keep things under wraps although he hints that services that were taken away after the refurbishment of Spirit of Tasmania I and Spirit of Tasmania II, such as à la carte dining, may come back. The décor of the new ships will reflect the look and feel of Tasmania. “We are very excited about it,” he says. “Richard [Nilsson] travelled around Tasmania with us and the unique scenery of its four different regions – the west coast’s rugged wilderness, the east coast with its beaches, the metropolitan side with the island’s capital on the south coast and the pasture or grazing land on the north coast – are replicated in the interior design.” The new Spirits will be the first large ro-pax ferries in the Southern Hemisphere to boast dual-fuel engines. Beside four Wärstilä’s 46DF four stroke dual-fuel main engines, the 212-metrelong and 31-metre-beam vessels will also have three Wärtsilä 20DF dual-fuel auxiliary engines and Wärtsilä LNGPac fuel storage, supply and control systems. “It’s something we are really looking forward to,” says Dwyer. “The engines are future-proofed to burn alternative green fuels such as new biofuels. Together with Wärtsilä and RMC we try to understand the future fuel market, so we have tried to make that as open a base as possible as we don’t want to hamstring ourselves. In Australia the question is what fuel types are available rather than what the best fuel type is. There is LNG supply in Tasmania from a Westbury plant, but it is not big enough to sustain all of the operators on the Bass Strait. The facility would need to be upgraded or we’d look at other alternatives, potentially on the mainland. We have an LNG supply contract for the first ship, but it will not be using LNG for the whole voyage.” As part of the new port infrastructure in both Geelong and Devonport, cold ironing facilities will guarantee zero emissions and less noise in port. While the hybrid element is gaining importance in Europe, the new Spirits will not have a single battery pack. “It wasn’t considered purely because of the speed requirement and the distance of the run,” says Dwyer. Spirit of Tasmania IV is slated for delivery during the first quarter of 2024, with sister ship Spirit of Tasmania V to follow in December. As the new ships come in, the 1998-built ones will be retired from the fleet. The first vessel will leave the fleet about a month after the introduction of Spirit of Tasmania IV, a scenario to be repeated when Spirit of Tasmania V is introduced. “Our brokers will put the vessels on the market in September or October,” says Dwyer. “Already now there’s a lot of interest from Europe but not necessarily from Mediterranean operators. Our ships have a great reputation, and everybody knows that we maintain them in the best way we can.” “ In Australia the question is what fuel types are available rather than what the best fuel type is” Photo: Spirit of Tasmania