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Lake Express aft roll-out from Austal USA's aluminum-shipbuilding facility

March 24, 2004

Austal USA launches Lake Express

Austal USA has successfully launched its seventh and largest vessel to date. The 192 ft high-speed vehicle-passenger ferry Lake Express rolled out of Austal's purpose-built aluminum-shipbuilding facility in Mobile, Alabama, and into the Mobile River.

This vessel has several points of significance:

  • Largest vessel built at Austal USA
  • First high-speed vehicle-passenger ferry built at Austal USA
  • First high-speed vehicle-passenger ferry to operate within the Continental US
  • First vessel of its kind to operate across Lake Michigan

Principal particulars are:

Overall length:191ft 07in
Waterline length (approx):171ft 03in
Molded beam:57ft 09in
Hull depth (molded):16ft 05in
Maximum hull draft:7ft 10in
Passengers:248
Cars:46
Main engines:4 x MTU 16V 4000 M70
Gearboxes:4 x ZF 7550
Waterjets:4 x Kamewa 80 SII
Speed:34 knots

The hull is being built to Germanischer Lloyd class and GL surveyors are currently preparing to issue the certificate of classification, once sea trials are completed.

Austal USA CEO, Greg Metcalf characterizes the Lake Express project as "a further step in building up capacity and capability at Austal USA which will stabilize our efforts to be a major contender in larger contracts in both the commercial and military markets."

David Lubar of Lake Express, LLC, commented, "The vessel is truly amazing. We all are awed by its size and imposing profile. You have certainly recruited and trained a team of very capable workers. We are all impressed by the results."

With capacity for 248 passengers (COI for 400) and 46 cars, the Auto Express 58 will be capable of 34 knots. It will link the cities of Milwaukee, Wisconsin and Muskegon in Michigan, crossing Lake Michigan in just over two hours, saving passengers a lengthy drive around the southern shore of Lake Michigan that includes Chicago traffic congestion.

The ferry is scheduled to be delivered to her homeport of Milwaukee in May and to start service in early June.

Austal USA is also currently completing a contract to build a high-speed catamaran that will be used to demonstrate advanced hullform technology to the United States Office of Naval Research (ONR). The 31.2 meter vessel will be built for American Marine Holdings, which has been awarded a contract to deliver and demonstrate its SeaCoaster military vessel design to the ONR.

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