National Ferries Company chairman Mehdi Al Abduwani has signed a contract for two new ROPAX Catamarans to operate the Shannah-Masirah route.
The deal was signed with Strategic Marine, an experienced international aluminum shipbuilder.
Mehdi informed the press that the shipbuilding contract was a by-product of an International Tender through the
Tender Board with stringent evaluation process to ensure the company acquire the best in international design, build quality and state of the art technology and operating system for the two vessels.
The vessel’s aluminum twin hull construction allows substantial weight reduction compared to similar steel vessel and it translates to a substantial reduction in weight, hence, major reduction in fuel consumption for the vessel.
The lighter hull also means a much lighter draft, of 1.5 meters, for the vessel which ensures that it can be operated all year round in the shallow waters of Shannah-Masirah without having to worry about insufficient depth of water along the passage and alongside berth.
The three decks, main deck for vehicles and trucks, second upper deck for passengers and the sun deck ensures safety with segregation of vehicles and passengers.
Passengers also have the choice to stay in the comfort of the enclosed passenger deck or to opt for the open sun deck to enjoy beautiful weather and surrounding sights.
Vessel will be built with efficiency in the planning and operating system, ensuring quick embarkation and equally quick disembarkation for passengers and vehicles, including commercial vehicles and trucks.
The four engines powering the vessel provides a maximum service speed of 15 Knots (miles/hour), ensuring a high degree of reliability guaranteeing on time departure and arrival.
The speed of this new vessel will ensure passage time from Shannah to Masirah or vice versa will be below one hour one way, which will cut travelling time by half, compared to existing service.
The vessel is designed with the future in mind and for a seamless boarding and off-vessel vehicles departure.
The 45.8m long vessels is equipped with two ramps, one on each end of the vessel which allows direct loading from one end and subsequently driving off from the other end on arrival, cutting down operation time without vehicles having to reverse loading on conventional vessels.
The vessel is designed with the capability for direct beach landing, if required.
Passenger capacities of 154 full seats, manned by six crew, will cater to and facilitate future capacities requirement as the country focus and emphasize on tourism and more tourist arrivals and the expected increase in local movements.
The vessel is able to carry at the same time 38 vehicles (saloon cars) or a combination of 28 cars and 4 trucks.
Vessel is designed with provision to handle & facilitate handicapped travel on board.
Abduwani further explained that the building and delivery of the new vessel would take a full year, from the builder’s international standard ship-building facility in Vietnam, and delivery planned for end 2013.
NFC has set up an experienced technical team who will supervise and ensure the vessels will be built to agreed design and to excellent international standards.
National Ferries Company recently won the Middle East’s Responsible Tourism Award at the World Travel Awards.