Austal's Auto Express
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Austal's Auto Express


Following a 12,760 nautical mile delivery voyage, Austal's latest Auto Express vehicle-passenger catamaran, the 86 metre "Carmen Ernestina", is set to enter service for Venezuelan company, Conferry.

Fitted with 4 x Caterpillar 3618 engines each generating 7,200 kW, and the Austal Ocean Leveller ride control system, "Carmen Ernestina" achieved the following performance results: Trial Deadweight - 400 tonnes, Maximum Speed (100% MCR) - 42 knots, Service Speed (90% MCR) - 40 knots.

The Austal Ocean Leveller Ride Control System featuring T-foils forward and variable interceptors aft has been fitted to ensure optimum passenger comfort. Since the system's first application in 1993 aboard two 40 metre catamarans, several configurations of the basic system have been installed covering both monohull and catamaran arrangements with a variety of control surface sizes and configurations. All systems have functioned very well with reductions in vertical accelerations of between 40% and 50% being achieved. The system's main strength is its user friendly nature with minimal user input being required to achieve such motion reductions. The Austal Ocean Leveller was the first ride control system to introduce variable interceptors which provide a significant advantage in lift to drag ratio. Future developments include speed sensitive automatic trimming, remote diagnostic capabilities and the ability to continue to reduce motion with one or more control surfaces incapacitated.

"Carmen Ernestina" features a drive through vehicle deck arrangement for driver convenience and to ensure faster turnaround times in port. The Auto Express 86 design features nine main deck lanes and six mezzanine deck lanes configured to carry 200 cars or up to 10 buses and 125 cars. With a deadweight of 400 tonnes, the 86 metre catamaran has the ability to carry a large number of commercial vehicles in its centre lanes where the overhead clear height is 4.4 metres.

A total outfitted area 2050 square metres is devoted to the 800 passengers and support services, with the accommodation to a comfortable and high quality finish. The interior was developed by Austal's in-house design group and customised to Conferry's operational requirements. Once again the large circular skylight dome, central atrium and impressive companion-way staircase are prominent features of the Austal Auto Express design.

Electronics in the wheelhouse include Kelvin Hughes radars, navigational equipment and electronic chart navigation (Nucleus 2 5000 Ecdis, and Nucleus 6000A), CPlath Gyro and Magnetic Compasses, Skipper echo sounder, Leica DGPS and Skanti GMDSS A2 communications with Satcom B. The captain and first officer's chairs also feature the Kelvin Hughes "Ergopod" system with trackerball on the armrest for radar and chart display manipulation. From the Engineer's station, ISIS - integrated ship's instrument system, monitors the engine and machinery spaces whilst power management, air conditioning and ventilation and emergency shutdown systems are controlled and monitored by the Austal developed "Marine-Link" system.

The Marine Evacuation System (MES) with four stations have been supplied by Liferaft Systems Australia. Six additional 100 man liferafts are located on the bridge deck superstructure.

More information: Glenn Williams


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