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Virtu's new catamaran will be among the world's largest

Date: 31/01/2019

New vessel for Malta-Sicily crossings nearing completion

A new large catamaran will be delivered to Virtu Ferries later this month, after which it will start its long journey from Tasmania to Malta to operate services to Sicily.

The M/V Saint John Paul II is being fitted out at the Incat shipyard in Hobart and will be handed over to Virtu on January 24.

Its 17,780km journey to Malta will take 20 days.

With a deadweight of 1000 tons, capacity for 900 passengers in five lounges, and a garage that takes 167 cars or 23 trailers, Saint John Paul II will be the largest High Speed RoPax Catamaran operating in the Mediterranean and the second largest in the world.

The vessel’s maiden voyage will see her crossing the Indian Ocean, calling at the ports of Fremantle in Western Australia and Colombo in Sri Lanka for refuelling, before passing Somalia, at the Eastern tip of Africa, to transit the length of the Red Sea where she will call at the last refuelling port of Jeddah before entering the Mediterranean via the Suez Canal. The last leg of the journey, Port Said to Valletta, should be covered in 30 hours, Virtu said.

The vessel will be deployed on the Malta-Sicily route in March 2019.

Saint John Paul II is powered by four MTU engines generating a total of 36.4 Mega Watts. These state of the art engines meet IMO Marpol Annex VI Tier II standards which regulate exhaust gas emissions, with the aim of reducing local and global air pollution. Four Wärtsilä waterjets give the vessel a cruising speed in excess of 38 knots (over 70.4 km/hour).

Saint John Paul II is the fifth newbuild, and 11th high speed vessel, delivered to Virtu since the commencement of the high-speed ferry service between Malta and Sicily in 1988.

The vessel was built to conform to International Maritime Organisation High-Speed Craft Code 2000 and the standards of the European Maritime Safety Agency.  

It was named after Saint John Paul II to recall the day Virtu Ferries welcomed  Pope John Paul II on board the much smaller San FranÄ¡isk on a trip from Gozo to Malta on May 27, 1990.

Like all other Virtu high-speed vessels, Saint John Paul II will fly the Malta Flag and is certified for international voyages by the International Classification Society.

In a statement, Virtu Ferries said it had invested in excess of €175 million in high-speed vessels that have, at some time, been operated on the Malta-Sicily route.

Virtu currently also operate high-speed vessels between Venice and Adriatic ports in Slovenia and Croatia as well as Tarifa, Spain to Tangier in Morocco.

Source: Times of Malta

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