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March 10, 2003

Austal adds car ferry order
Australia's Austal Ships has added a third vehicle-passenger catamaran to its order book, signing a contract for a 49.9 m ferry with South Australian ferry operator, Kangaroo Island SeaLink.

SeaLink operates the primary sea transportation ferry services between mainland South Australia and Kangaroo Island. Kangaroo Island SeaLink operates up to 10 ferry services to Kangaroo Island each day. Kangaroo Island is Australia's third largest island situated 16 km offshore from Cape Jervis, on the tip of the Fleurieu Peninsula in the state of South Australia..

Valued at approximately A$14 (US$8.6) million, the new contract increases the Austal group's order book to 19 vessels with a combined value of close to A$430 million (US $262 million).

The order is Austal's first sale of a vehicle-passenger ferry to the Australian market,

Austal managing director Bob McKinnon said the new contract was positive news, demonstrating the company's competitiveness in the medium sized ferry market and ongoing ability to reach new clients and new markets.

"This order shows that we are competitive not only internationally, but also within Australia," he said. "It is encouraging that when opportunities such as this arise locally we are able to apply our skills to produce a vessel that suits the different operational and commercial requirements of the domestic market.""

Austal's ability to meet the necessity for a short build time to enable delivery in November 2003 and flexibility in adopting a client specified external design were key factors in securing the order.

With the capacity for 250 passengers and 55 cars or 16 cars and eight trucks and featuring what Austal calls "an economical and practical interior fit out," the aluminum catamaran will join SeaLink's two existing vessels to meet an increase in demand in passenger traffic and improve ferry services in the region.

Once delivered, the ferry will operate at a speed of 15 knots across the challenging waters of the Backstairs Passage between Cape Jervis and Penneshaw, a 45-minute crossing.

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