Australian naval architects, Schwetz Design, provided the aluminium boat designs for the two powerca

Australian naval architects design Maltese ferries

The two 120-passenger, 19.3m low-wash catamarans operate across the Grand Harbour and Marsamxetto Harbour in Malta. Constructed from aluminium and built in the UK by Exeter Marine Services under a contract worth approximately £1.2m ($A2.19m), they were delivered to Marsamxetto Steamferry Services.

The design was completed by Schwetz Design naval architects, which undertook the commission from the shipyard and worked in close cooperation with Marsamxetto Steamferry Services. The design brief called for two fuel-efficient ferries with very low wash characteristics capable of providing frequent services across the harbours with the minimum of disruption to other harbour users and vessels moored in close proximity to each ferry’s route.

To the north west of Valletta one ferry operates between Sliema and Marsamxetto and to the south east the second ferry connects Lascaris with Bormla and Isla.

Each has capacity for 120 passengers, with 96 seats in the main passenger lounge and 24 seats on the upper deck. The upper deck has been designed to accommodate a further 30 outdoor seats to increase the capacity to 150 should traffic volumes increase sufficiently to justify the extra capacity.

Propulsion is provided by two Doosan LO66TI diesel engines driving Teignbridge fixed-pitch propellers. The total of 220kW provided by the diesels gives a speed of 10kts. Teignbridge also supplied shafting, sterngear and rudders.

Passenger traffic volumes are expected to increase with the introduction of the new ferries and this dictated a passenger discharge and loading arrangement that could provide fast turn-rounds at each of the four terminals with the possibility of simultaneous loading and discharge. The vessels each feature two bow access points and dock bow-on to the terminals. Wheelchair access was also a specific requirement and this dictated the introduction of wheelchair-friendly loading arrangements and an interior free of steps or other obstructions.

Located in Fremantle, and staffed by experienced engineers and naval architects, Schwetz Design has specialised in the design of commercial aluminium boats for nearly 20 years. In addition to ferries, the company’s design portfolio includes barges; work boats; patrol and rescue craft; windfarm service vessels; crewboats; and jet boats.