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Shipbuilder Incat has today launched the 110-meter vehicle / passenger ferry from the shipyard at Derwent Park in Hobart Tasmania.  The ship will commence sea trials in mid January prior to delivery to her new owner Virtu Ferries for service between Malta and Sicily.

Bearing the livery Saint John Paul II the vessel has been named in honor of the Pope who served from 1978 to 2005, so revered the Pope has often posthumously, but unofficially, been referred to by Catholics as “St. John Paul the Great”.  It is the second Incat ship named in honor of a Pope; in 2013 Buquebus named their Incat 99 metre ship Francisco in honour of Argentina-born Pope Francis.

This new 110 metre wave piercing catamaran will be the 15th fast ferry Virtu has acquired, it will be the largest highspeed catamaran in the Mediterranean and with a service speed up to 38 knots it will complete the crossing from Malta to Sicily, berth to berth, in around 90 minutes.

Work commenced on HSC Saint John Paul II in 2017, and together with other export orders has been a catalyst for the significant increase in workforce numbers at Incat over the past two years.

Robert Clifford, Chairman of Australian shipbuilder Incat Tasmania said “Virtu Ferries is amongst the oldest, most respected and most discerning fast ferry operators in the world, operating a variety of high-speed ship services throughout the Mediterranean and Adriatic.  We are delighted that this Incat vessel will operate their year-round lifeline service between the islands of Malta and Sicily. Virtu Ferries were looking for increased reliability, sea keeping, passenger comfort, capacity and economy with less operational downtime, and it is a pleasure to welcome them to the Incat family of shipowners”.

For Virtu Ferries this new vessel provides a significant increase in capacity, the 490-truck lane meters offering 43% more truck capacity, with 15% more passenger capacity and 7% more car capacity than their previous craft. HSC Saint John Paul II interior incorporates VIP, Business and Economy class areas for the 924 passengers and crew.  The ship is fitted with a total of 1120 seats, including outdoor seating on the aft deck.

The design was modelled by Revolution Design and Seaspeed Consulting and then extensively tank tested and optimised at QinetiQ, the tank and aerospace testing facility in the UK which was purpose built for use by the British Navy and UK Ministry of Defence.

The ferry has been built under the DNV-GL Classification Society Rules and comply with IMO High Speed Craft HSC 2000, the Malta Flag statutory requirements and Italian Port State requirements. As with all other Virtu vessels the new Incat built ferry will fly the Malta flag.

Incat has two 111 metre vessels currently under construction at the shipyard, now that the drydock position has been vacated the next ship is today being moved down through the shipyard into its final construction area where it will be assembled during the first half of 2019.