SPIRIT of Tasmania operator TT-Line announced it had signed a letter of intent with Flensburger Schiffbau-Gesellschaft (FSG) for the construction of two new ships to replace the current Spirit of Tasmania vessels.
TT-Line chairman Mike Grainger said the companies would now commence contract negotiations and agree to final design specifications.
“FSG was endorsed by the board after the company short listed a number of international shipyards to build the new tailor-made vessels,” he said.
“As previously announced, we expect to place an order for the new vessels in the first half of the 2018 calendar year and for them to be delivered in time to commence operations on Bass Strait in 2021.”
FSC CEO Rüdiger Fuchs said, “We are very happy and proud to be appointed as TT-Lines preferred shipbuilder for the build of their two next generation passenger ferries.”
The TT-Line board and executive team has worked with the Tasmanian government on vessel replacement through the Ships Replacement Sub-Committee of Cabinet, which is chaired by minister for infrastructure Rene Hidding.
In a statement on TT-Line’s announcement, Mr Hidding said it was an affirmation of the success of the state government’s policy on the vessels, which aims to increase visitors to Tasmania via the Spirits.
“TT-Line has brought forward its vessel replacement project by two years following the government’s strategy, which has seen a comprehensive refurbishment of the interiors of the vessels, a 15% real reduction in average fare prices and more than doubling the frequency of day sailings,” he said.
“The success of our policy has boosted TT-Line profits and dividends, which are being locked away to replace the Spirits with much larger roll-on, roll-off vessels, to cater for growth in passenger demand for decades to come.”
Mr Hidding continued, saying, “Today’s announcement of a deal between TT-Line and the Flensburg shipyard is an exciting milestone of which we can be very proud”.