COMMERCIAL - Austal's Red Sea route
The Government of Egypt’s two Austal-built high-speed vehicle ferries have officially commenced operations between Egypt and Saudi Arabia, introducing a new standard of ferry service across the Red Sea.
Austal said the important milestone was achieved on the back of its recent award of a technical management and maintenance contract for the two catamaran ferries.
Each 88-metre vessel now performs six return trips per week, operating a 100nm route between Dibba in Saudi Arabia and Safaga in Egypt.
Austal said the service has already proven popular with pilgrims travelling on to Mecca, Egyptian workers travelling to and from Saudi Arabia, as well as business and leisure travellers. So far, more than 69,700 people have reportedly utilised the service, which has also facilitated the transport of 3514 vehicles and 730 trucks.
Integral to the successful launch of the new service, is the Austal comprehensive technical management and maintenance package, which is being undertaken over a three-year period and includes options for an additional two years.
The package will see Austal perform planned and preventative maintenance support, unscheduled maintenance, management and performance of annual surveys and maintenance periods, as well as shore-based engineering support.
As a result, Austal said it has established a dedicated, fully staffed service office in the Egyptian port city of Safaga, where it will utilise the region’s existing maintenance docking facilities where required.
Along with building on the company’s extensive experience in the Middle East region, Austal General Manager – Service, Michael McCourt said the project demonstrated Austal’s growing technical management and maintenance capability.
“Austal continues to grow its global Through Life Support (TLS) capability, which now includes countries such as Oman, Australia, Trinidad and Tobago, and Venezuela” McCourt said.
“As this contract has already shown, Austal is committed to ensuring client vessels are fully maintained and available for operation in accordance with the vessels’ planned operational profile. We are pleased to be involved in establishing and maintaining this important public transportation service in the Middle East,” he said.
McCourt said Austal can tailor service packages to suit individual requirements by drawing on more than 20-years experience in aluminium vessel design and construction.
“Having delivered more than 200 vessels to both commercial and defence customers worldwide, including 16 to the Middle East, we understand what is required to maximise the operational availability of every fleet,” said McCourt.
The two ferries Cairo and Riyadh were originally delivered to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in December 2008 and later gifted to the Egyptian Government to improve the standard of ferry services across the Red Sea.
Each vessel has the capacity to carry 1200 passengers, 120 cars and 15 trucks at an operating speed of 37kts.
Photo: The Austal-built 88m high-speed ferry Riyadh plying the Red Sea.