Australian shipbuilder Incat Tasmania Pty Ltd launched the world’s first high speed passenger Ro-Ro ship powered by LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas) on Saturday 17th November to allow the vessel to be completed outside the main shipyard shed. The vessel has been moored alongside at the Incat shipyard wharf on Prince of Wales Bay to enable the final stage of construction and commissioning of machinery in the lead up to the sea trial period anticipated to be January 2013.
Named the Lopez Mena, the 99 metre LNG ship was contracted by South American company Buquebus in November 2010, for operation on their River Plate service between Buenos Aires, Argentina and Montevideo in Uruguay. It will be the largest catamaran they have operated and — according to Incat — the fastest, environmentally cleanest, most efficient, high speed ferry in the world.
Hull 069 (production name), with capacity for almost 1000 passengers plus around 140 cars, has a projected lightship speed of 53 knots, and an operating speed of 50 knots. Crossing the River Plate (Rio de la Plata) at high speed will allow the ferry service to compete with airline traffic between Uruguay and Argentina.
The passenger cabin will include tourist, business and first class seating, and over 1100 square metres of extensively fitted out duty free shop, the largest shopping area ever installed on a fast ferry.
The vessel will be the first installation of LNG powered dual fuel engines in an Incat high speed ferry, and the first high speed craft built under the HSC code to be powered by Gas Turbines using LNG as the primary fuel and marine distillate for standby and ancillary use.
(This article compiled using information from an Incat Tasmania Pty Ltd press release)