Tasmania Orders Finnish Ferries After Studying Domestic Construction
A year after the Tasmanian government stopped plans for two new ferries to be built in Finland, the contract has finally been signed with Finland’s Rauma Marine Constructions. The order, which is an important development for the Finish shipyard, will build new ships to replace the two current ferries which were built in Finland in 1998.
Tasmanian shipping company TT-Line Company started working on a plan to build two replacement ferries in 2018. An order was initially placed with Germany’s Flensburger Schiffbau-Gesellschaft (FSG) for two new ro-ro ships with increase cargo capacity and modern passenger amenities to begin service in 2021. That order was later canceled due to the financial difficulties at the German shipyard and a new memorandum of understanding was reached with Rauma Marine.
In July 2020, the Tasmanian government announced that it was withdrawing its support for the contract with RMC, instead calling for the ferries to be built domestically. A task force was launched to study the construction of the ships. This spring the government announced it would begin to renegotiate the construction contract seeking to include local components in the foreign-built ships.
The Tasmanian government is hailing the new contract as being a better deal for the country. The Premier told reporters that up to US$70 million worth of local components would be included in the two new ferries and that the overall cost was US$20 million lower than anticipated.
Construction of the new car and passenger ferries will begin in spring 2022. The first vessel will be delivered to TT-Line in late 2023 and the second one in late 2024. Once completed, the vessels will operate the route running between Australia and the island of Tasmania. The ferries will accommodate 1,800 passengers and will have an approximate gross tonnage of 48,000.
The 9 to 11-hour voyage is currently maintained by two ferries originally built in 1998 at Kvaerner Masa-Yards in Turku, Finland to operate in the Greek Islands. The ships, known today as the Spirit of Tasmania I and Spirit of Tasmania II, were acquired and began operating the runs across the Bass Strait carrying passengers, cars, and freight in September 2002. The current Spirit of Tasmania I and II, are each about 29,000 gross tons with a capacity for 1,400 passengers and 500 cars.
The contract for two new car and passenger ferries for TT-Line strengthens RMC's order book significantly, increasing the value of the orders to approximately US$1.9 billion. The new order also grows the number of ships to be built by RMC to eight. In addition to TT-Line’s vessels, RMC is currently working on car and passenger ferries for Finnish shipping company Wasaline and Estonian shipping company Tallink, as well as four multi-purpose corvettes for the Finnish Defense Forces.