TAHITI-BASED Degage Group has returned to shipbuilder Austal for a new ro-pax for French Polynesia service, to be constructed at the WA company’s Vietnam yard in Vũng Tàu.

To be named Dory 2 the 71-metre vessel will be steel-hulled with an aluminium superstructure and will be able to accommodate 140 passengers and 17 crew. It will have a 494 sq m cargo deck, able to handle vehicles, palletised freight and 10- and 20-foot containers. Cruising speed will be 12 knots at a range of 1000 nautical miles. It will be the first steel monohull to be constructed at the Vietnam Yard

Dory 2 will be the fifth vessel designed and built by Austal for Degage, which operates from Papeete to the Palliser Islands, with the fourth, the 66-metre high-speed catamaran ferry Apetahi Express delivered last June. Others include two 69-metre monohull cruise ships (Austal Hulls 172 and 173), a 56-metre vehicle passenger catamaran ferry (Austal Hull 266), an 80-metre vehicle passenger catamaran ferry (Austal Hull 201), and a 49-metre vehicle passenger ferry (Hull 421).

“This contract is a testament to the successful business partnership developed between Austal and The Degage Group over a number of decades; reflecting the Degage Group’s great satisfaction in the Austal ferries delivered to date and their tremendous confidence in our team’s capability to deliver this all-new, steel hull design,” Austal Limited CEO Paddy Gregg said.

Owner and MD Eugene Degage said the group was extremely satisfied with its fruitful collaboration with Austal, which “reinforces our conviction that Austal shipyard is a reliable and competent partner for large-scale marine projects.”

An earlier, 1973-built Dory 2, caught fire and sank off Makatea Island on 13 August 2022. 28 passengers and crew were safely rescued.