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TT-LINE and Finnish shipbuilder Rauma Marine Constructions have signed a contract for the construction of two ro-pax ships to replace the current Spirit of Tasmania vessels.

The new 212-metre-long vessels are planned for delivery in late 2023 and late 2024. Construction is slated to begin in Northern-Hemisphere spring 2022.

TT-Line chairman Michael Grainger said the contract’s signing was a significant event for the company, the state’s tourism and freight industries and the broader Tasmanian economy.

“It is also a significant infrastructure announcement, made more important by the contracts providing the new fit-for-purpose vessels which will feature up to $100 million of local content,” he said.

While the new ships will be a similar design to Spirit of Tasmania I and Spirit of Tasmania II, they will have substantially larger capacity for passengers, passenger vehicles and freight and support increased operational efficiencies.

Mr Grainger said the new vessels would provide long-term increased capacity for further economic growth of Tasmania.

“The tourism sector is already a highly successful sector that is delivering positive results for the state,” he said.

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“Our independent expert modelling for future travel demand on the Spirits projected a continuation of strong passenger growth that will only benefit the tourism industry, particularly in regional areas.

“Similar projections were made for freight and our first-in, last out sailing schedule that perfectly suits the time sensitive freight market.”

Mr Grainger thanked “each and every TT-Line employee” who had worked on the vessel replacement project for their collective efforts and diligent work.

“The company invested many resources over many years into the vessel replacement project,” he said.

“Prior to delivering our first business case to the Tasmanian Government in 2017, the company carefully assessed vessel types and fleet configurations to determine the most appropriate vessel to operate daily crossings on Bass Strait.

“We looked at capacity, customer expectations, operating speed, seakeeping properties for Bass Strait, capital, operating costs and operational efficiency.

RMC CEO Jyrki Heinimaa said he is happy with how the two parties reached the agreement despite a very challenging situation worldwide.

“We are very grateful for the trust shown to us by TT-Line Company and their representatives. This agreement means that our customer believes that we can offer a world-class solution that is perfect for their business, even in challenging operating conditions,” he said.

TT-Line CEO Bernard Dwyer said: “We eagerly await these three years of fruitful collaboration with RMC. The vessels will also make extensive use of the expertise of Tasmanian companies.”

The deal between TT-Line and RMC was announced last month.

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