DECEMBER 6, 2018 — Austal (ASX:ASB) has won a contract worth about AU$97.7 million (about US$71 million) to build a high speed vehicle and passenger catamaran for delivery to Trinidad and Tobago in mid 2020.
The contract, placed by the National Infrastructure Development Company (NIDCO) which is owned by the Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, will see for Austal to design and build a 94 m derivative of the two 109 m AutoExpress ships designed in the last two years by Austal and incorporating many of the same design features.
Signing of the contract follows an initial announcement by the Government of Trinidad and Tobago reported in September of this year. Subsequently NIDCO funded a limited program of early works to protect the delivery schedule of the vessel. This has allowed for the necessary design changes to the vessel to be undertaken and in addition for some advanced materials to initiate construction. NIDCO intends to finance the vessel through an export loan from Australia’s Export Finance and Insurance Corporation (EFIC).
The 94 m AutoExpress ship design is being undertaken in Australia and is already well advanced, allowing initial construction to commence. The ship will be built in Austal’s new shipyard in Vung Tau, Vietnam. This new facility commenced operations on November 1 this year and has already delivered large aluminum modules for a 109 m catamaran being built in the Philippines.
As a result of the new contract, Austal now expects that the new shipyard in Vietnam will be profitable in its first year of operations and will quickly expand to over 450 people from the just under 100 employed currently.
The 94 m AutoExpress is designed to carry 926 passengers and 250 cars at speeds of 37.5 knots and will operate a daily service between the islands of Trinidad and Tobago. The ship will also feature Austal’s newly developed innovation in smart ship technology, MarineLink Smart.
“We are delighted that the Government of Trinidad and Tobago has selected Austal as its partner to design and build this next-generation vessel. This new contract will build upon the Austal fleet already in Trinidad which includes four 41 m catamaran water taxis and six, 30 m, monohull fast patrol craft.” Austal CEO, David Singleton said.