08/04/2009 - 22:00

Austal rockets on $220m contracts in Denmark, Malta

08/04/2009 - 22:00

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HENDERSON-BASED shipbuilder Austal this month secured $220 million worth of contracts, one for the construction of the largest catamaran ferry in the company's history.

HENDERSON-BASED shipbuilder Austal this month secured $220 million worth of contracts, one for the construction of the largest catamaran ferry in the company's history.

Austal has entered into an unconditional $114 million contract to build a 113-metre long ferry for Denmark's Nordic Ferry Services, with delivery expected in 2011.

The ferry, to be built in Henderson, will have the capacity to carry 1,400 passengers and 359 cars.

"We are pleased to secure this significant commercial contract with an important repeat customer for the construction of what will be Austal's largest catamaran ferry to date," Austal managing director Bob Browning said.

A few days later, Austal scored another contract, valued at $106 million, to design and construct a 107-metre high-speed vehicle-passenger ferry for Maltese operator Virtu Ferries.

The vessel will also be built at Henderson and is scheduled for delivery in mid-2010.

Austal said the vessel will be its 24th commercial delivery to the Mediterranean region and follows the recent order of four inshore patrol boats for the Armed Forces of Malta, valued at around $18 million.

The 107-metre long vessel will have capacity to carry 800 passengers and 230 cars and can travel at a speed of approximately 39 knots.

It will operate between Malta and Italy.

The vessel will join the existing Austal-built vehicle-passenger ferry Maria Dolores, which was delivered to Virtu Ferries in 2006.

"This contract adds momentum to Austal's traditional commercial market, reinforcing the company's commitment to delivering customised vessel solutions and to maintaining strong relationships with our existing customer base," Mr Browning said.

"The staggered delivery of the two large vehicle ferries announced this month ensures a smooth, ongoing workload for our Western Australian facilities over the next few years."

The contract wins have boosted Austal's share price on the Australian Securities Exchange by 20 per cent, to last trade at $2.06 at time of publishing.

The company's share price had been on a steady decline since reaching its last peak of $2.14 in early December.

In November last year, Austal secured the lucrative contract for the US Navy and Army's Joint High Speed Vessel program, which at the time was worth $US1.6 billion to the company.

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