An on-again, off-again contract between Tasmanian ferry operator TT Line Company and Finnish shipbuilder Rauma Marine Constructions (RMC) is on again.
Yesterday, April 14, the Prime Minister of Tasmania granted permission for government-owned TT-Line Company, which operates as Spirit of Tasmania, to sign a shipbuilding contract contract with RMC for the construction of two car and passenger ferries. Today, both parties signed the contract via a video conference, today on 15 April.
RMC said today that “TT-Line had to withdraw from a previous Memorandum of Understanding last summer due to the coronavirus pandemic,” adding that negotiations resumed in March this year, initiated by the Tasmanian government.
There’s a little more to the story. As we reported at the time, in July last year the Tasmanian government pulled the plug on the deal, saying it would set up a task force to look at building the ferries in Tasmania.
Construction of the new car and passenger ferries will begin in spring 2022. The first vessel will be delivered to TT-Line in late 2023 and the second one in late 2024.
Once completed, the vessels will operate in challenging conditions on the Geelong–Devonport route running between mainland Australia and the island State of Tasmania. The ferries will accommodate 1,800 passengers and will have an approximate gross tonnage of 48,000. The vessels will replace the Spirit of Tasmania I and II, both built in Finland in 1998.
RMC calls the agreement with TT-Line “a positive signal for” its financial outlook for 2021, as it increases the company’s order book to approximately EUR 1.6 billion (about $1.9 billion) and increases the number of ship projects at the shipyard to four.