Austal Ships has completed the first of three Auto Express high speed vehicle-passenger ferries for Greek operator, Minoan Flying Dolphins Maritime. The 72 metre catamaran, “Highspeed 2”, will be ready to enter service for the summer season and will be followed by identical sistership, “Highspeed 3”, and the larger capacity Auto Express 92, “Highspeed 4”. “High Speed 2”, with a capacity to carry 620 passengers and 70 cars, will operate in and around the beautiful Aegean islands.
The 72 metre catamaran boasts a number of unique features, making it one of the most sophisticated vessels delivered by Austal to date. “Highspeed 2” is the first Austal vessel to be fitted with a high speed steering system. Traditionally, waterjet steering has been accomplished using a steering bucket to vector the jet thrust. In rough seas these buckets operate to increased angles resulting in considerable additional drag and reduced vessel speed.
Seastate has neatly solved this problem with the development of Tmax. This innovative system takes over control from the vessel’s waterjets at speeds in excess of 25 knots, allowing all waterjet thrust to be vectored forward for maximum propulsive thrust, and eliminating waterjet bucket drag. Seastate estimates the system to provide average service speed improvements in excess of two knots in rough sea operations.