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ARM MERCHANT SHIPS?
Should merchant ships transiting high risk areas carry small arms for defense against pirates?

Selected crew should be trained and have guns available
Professional armed security teams should be hired
No guns on merchant ships, ever

July 29, 2009

PacifiCats sold to Abu Dhabi megayacht yard

Could the much-maligned PacifiCats wind up as luxury gigayachts? That is the question following the recent Washington Marine Group announcement that the three large aluminum ferries were sold to UAE-based shipyard Abu Dhabi MAR for export from Canada.

Located in the United Arab Emirates, Abu Dhabi MAR is full service shipyard that constructs luxury yachts up to 200m in length. It is currently converting two 1980's-built ex-Royal Netherlands Navy frigates into some of the world's largest luxury private yachts. The ex-Piet Heyn (now the F02 Al Emerat) will be the 465 ft Swift 141, while the ex-Abraham Crijnssen (now F01 Abu Dhabi) will be the 445 ft Swift 135. Both gigyachts have been styled by Pierrejean Design Studio in Paris. The yachts will be built to a new DNV Large Yacht Code.

Earlier this month, Abu Dhabi MAR acquired a controlling interest in the Nobiskrug Shipyard, Rendsburg, Germany. Nobiskrug currently has five large yachts under construction.

The PacifiCats never lived up to their billing. Cost overruns, high fuel consumption, and wake issues plagued the ferries. They were built by Catamaran Ferries International, a B.C. Ferries subsidiary. at a cost of $454 million and the first two of the class were briefly operated in 1999 and 2000. All three 123 m ferries were sold to Washington Marine Group for $19.8 million in 2003.

Washington Marine Group, North Vancouver, B.C., Canada, said the details of the transaction with Abu Dhabi MAR were confidential. It also stated that it was "bound by privacy and confidentiality contracts and policies, no further comments will be made at this time by the Washington Marine Group of Companies."

The three ferries will be transported from Vancouver Harbour via heavy lift deep-sea vessel. The first is scheduled to depart next month.


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