Saint John Paul II took the water
Incat launched Virtu Ferries’ catamaran dedicated to the Polish Pope
Virtu Ferries’ 110m wave-piercing catamaran Saint John Paul II was launched as Hull 089 by Australian fast ferry specialist Incat at its Derwent Park shipyard in Hobart, Tasmania just before Christmas.
The ferry has been named in honor of Poland-born Saint John Paul II and is the second Incat ship named in honor of a Pope; in fact in 2013 Buquebus named its Incat 99m ship Francisco in honor of Argentina-born Pope Francis. Virtu Ferries had the honour of welcoming HH Pope John Paul II, on board hi-speed vessel San Frangisk, on that momentous return voyage between Grand Harbour, Valletta, St Paul’s Islands and Gozo on 27th May 1990.
When delivered during next weeks, the high-speed ro-pax will operate between Valletta and Sicily, making the crossing in just 90 minutes thanks to its 38 knots speed.
This is the 15th fast ferry that the Maltese operator has acquired.
“Virtu Ferries is amongst 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. We are delighted that this Incat vessel will operate their year-round lifeline service between the islands of Malta and Sicily. Virtu Ferries were looking for increased reliability, sea keeping, passenger comfort, capacity and economy with less operational downtime and it is a pleasure to welcome them to the Incat family of shipowners” commented the shipyard’s boss Robert Clifford, Chairman of Incat Tasmania.
The newbulding will provide a significant increase in capacity, compared to the 2010-built Austal Auto Express 107 catamaran Jean De La Valette; in fact the Tasmanian 110m catamaran has 490 lanemetres offering 43% more freight capacity, 15% more passenger capacity and 7% more car capacity. The two fast vessel will be used altogether to provide a daily service Italy to Malta. Virtu Ferries has been operating a high speed service between Valletta and Pozzallo, Sicily since 1988.
The new ferry offers passenger seating on two decks, with two VIP Lounges as well as seating for 924 passengers and crew, although 1,120 seats are provided, including outdoor seating on the aft deck. It has 3 bars, gift shop and a gaming lounge.
The design of the new Maltese fast ferry was modelled by Revolution Design and Seaspeed Consulting and then extensively tank tested and optimised in the UK at QinetiQ.
The vessel, that will fly the Maltese flag, has been built to DNV GL class DNV +1A1 HSLC R1 Car Ferry “B” EO and complies with IMO’s High Speed Craft HSC 2000 rules, the Malta flag statutory requirements as well as Italian Port State requirements.