SPIRIT of Tasmania IV was named and launched at the Rauma Marine Constructions shipyard in Finland on Friday 27 October.

The ro-pax ferry is the first of two new Spirit of Tasmania vessels ordered by TT-Line to replace the current fleet.

Deborah Grainger, the wife of Spirit of Tasmania chairman Michael Grainger, christened Spirit of Tasmania IV at the RMC shipyard with a bottle of sparkling Tasmanian wine.

Mr Grainger said he was delighted to witness the launch of the first new Spirit of Tasmania vessels.

“Both Spirit of Tasmania and RMC have invested significant time on this project, and to see that culmination of effort today in the official naming and launch of the vessel was truly rewarding,” he said.

After the naming ceremony Ms Grainger and members of the RMC and Spirit of Tasmania project teams opened the valves to let water flow into the dry dock, allowing the ship to float for the first time.

RMC laid the keel for Spirit of Tasmania IV in October last year. The shipbuilder also celebrated the production sister ship Spirit of Tasmania V with a steel cutting ceremony in December 2022.

Johanna Kaijo, project manager of Spirit of Tasmania at RMC, said the company was excited to start a new phase in the construction of the vessel as work shifts from building the hull to working on the interiors and systems.

“This also means that we are able to start constructing the second vessel’s hull in the construction pool,” Ms Kaijo said.

Other next steps following the launch are equipment assembly, finishing plumbing and electrics and interior design for the accommodation area. Work around the vessel’s engine room and car deck will also continue.

RMC said the equipment assembly phase will continue with the implementation of various systems, culminating in sea trials conducted before the handing out of the vessel.

Spirit of Tasmania managing director and CEO Bernard Dwyer said the new vessels were the first purpose-built for Spirit of Tasmania for operation on Bass Strait.

They will have an overall length of 212 metres and a beam of 31 metres, compared with the current ships that are 194.33 metres LOA and with a beam of 25 metres.

“These ships are much bigger than the current vessels – they have substantially larger capacity for passengers, passenger vehicles and freight,” Mr Dwyer said.

“The new vessels will feature up to $100 million in Tasmanian and Australian content.

“A number of contracts have been awarded to Tasmanian firms including for the provision of catering and hotel equipment, marine fire safety insulation material, carpet, marine blinds, arcade games, water filling stations, artwork and beer and post mix system equipment.”

RMC has an orderbook worth approximately €1.2 billion (almost $2 billion) that extends to 2028. On Monday 30 October it was due to begin construction on the first of four corvettes for the Finnish Navy.

“We at Rauma work every day to enhance our expertise in shipbuilding, striving to become stronger and more modern,” RMC president and CEO Mika Nieminen said.