THE vehicle-passenger ferry, made by Australian company Austal, is the largest aluminium vessel ever launched in the Philippines and the largest by volume ever constructed by Austal.

The vessel is now in the final stages of fit out, prior to delivery to Fjord Line of Norway in the second quarter of CY2020.

Austal CEO David Singleton said the launch of the ‘Auto Express 109’ catamaran was a significant milestone for Austal Philippines, as the first ship to be wholly constructed from the Balamban shipyard’s expanded production facilities, which were opened in July 2019.

“This impressive new ship for Fjord Line of Norway is the first of many large, high-speed commercial ferries to be constructed at our newly expanded shipyard in the Philippines.

“After Hull 419, we have Hull 395, a 118-metre trimaran under construction, which will be the longest high-speed ferry to be constructed in the Philippines.

“We also have a 115-metre catamaran ferry scheduled for later this year – ensuring continuity of production at the Philippines shipyard well into the 2020s,” Mr Singleton said.

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Austal Philippines president Wayne Murray celebrated the launch of Hull 419 by thanking the local shipbuilding team and acknowledging the outstanding capability of the Balamban shipyard – which now includes a 120-metre long assembly bay and multiple new fabrication bays.

“I am exceptionally proud of the entire Austal Philippines team. The launch of Hull 419 from our newly expanded shipyard is a significant event that highlights our capability to deliver multiple projects concurrently – safely and cost effectively,” Mr Murray said.

Fjord Line’s FSTR (Hull 419) is capable of transporting 1200 passengers at up to 40 knots and features Austal’s largest ever vehicle-carrying capacity constructed to date, with a beam of 30.5 metres enabling 404 cars to be carried across two decks.

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