INCAT founder and chairman Robert Clifford has received the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award at the annual SHIPPAX Ferry Conference, held this year aboard Tallink Silja’s Baltic Queen sailing between Stockholm and Tallinn.

Incat Tasmania said the award was a testament to Mr Clifford’s decades-long commitment to innovation, leadership, and advancement in shipbuilding.

“I have always tried to inspire others by showing them what can be done, and this award means a lot to me,” Mr Clifford said. “It has been a long and rewarding journey in shipbuilding, and I’m not done yet. Incat is entering a new chapter in its history with the transition to electric ships and I’m looking forward to what the future brings.”

Mr Clifford’s son Craig, Incat MD, said the award was a fitting tribute to his father’s dedication and pioneering spirit.

“Robert has always led the industry in motivation and innovation, and his drive for pushing the boundaries of what’s possible is extraordinary. I couldn’t be prouder of his achievements,” Mr Clifford said. “Incat could not ask for a more inspiring leader than Robert, and I know everyone at the company is proud to work for him.”

Robert Clifford’s passion for shipbuilding began as a teenager, when he constructed his first boat. He then operated fishing boats for several years before establishing a river cruise business, which evolved into Hobart’s primary commuter service, transporting millions of passengers. His expertise in moving boats and passengers proved invaluable in the design and construction of larger high-speed craft.

Founded by Mr Clifford in 1988, Incat Tasmania has been at the forefront of developing large, lightweight, fast aluminium ferries for the global market. In 1990, the company delivered the first of its vehicle-carrying catamarans, revolutionising the industry, and inspiring shipbuilders worldwide. Today, nearly 100 Incat-built vessels operate globally, a testament to Robert’s vision and leadership, Incat said.

Under Robert’s guidance, Incat has shifted its focus in recent years from diesel ships to environmentally friendly vessels and is currently building the world’s largest battery electric ferry. His recognition with the SHIPPAX Lifetime Achievement Award celebrates not only his personal accomplishments, but also the enduring legacy of Incat Tasmania as a leader in maritime innovation.

Mr Clifford holds an Order of Australia award for services to industry, was Honorary Consul for Denmark in Tasmania from 1998 to 2016, is a founding member of Interferry, and former member of the Council of the Australian National Maritime Museum.