Sailing into new waters

LAST year’s winner of the 2000 Australian Export Awards, Austal Ships Pty Ltd, is planning to venture into a new market after developing a design to supply defence logistical support ferries to the United States.

The company is currently the world’s leading supplier of large diesel powered passenger ferries.

“The vessels will be similar to our largest ferries and used to transport defence personnel and vehicles and equipment, in short anything the defence forces need,” Austal Ships managing director Bob McKinnon said.

“We offer a load capacity far in excess of our competitors and have built up a solid reputation for supplying large car ferries with high quality finishes, both aesthetically and in a technical sense.”

The Western Australian company not only took out the highest honour in the 2000 Export Awards, it also won the Australian Made Large Advanced Manufacturer Award.

“It’s hard to put a figure on how the award has helped our company, it definitely has enhanced our reputation with overseas clients, who hold us in high regard,” Mr McKinnon said.

“It’s also had a beneficial effect on our workforce, it’s been fantastic for them to be able to share in the recognition. They’re proud of what they do and happy to get external recognition.

“Austrade helps Austal Ships when the need arises, we always get support.”

Austal Ships offers a range of products; most notably the company recently sold the largest diesel powered passenger ferry ever built to a client in Spain.

The ferry, which holds 950 people and 250 cars, will transport people and vehicles, offering a 30-minute crossing, from Algeciras on the southern coast of Spain to Ceuta in Spanish Morocco.

“We don’t patent our designs, however we are ahead of our competitors in terms of delivering customised boats that meet our clients’ requirements,” Mr McKinnon said.

Austal Ships is hoping to expand its presence in the Greek market, to which they recently delivered three large vessels worth approximately A$140 million.

With the on-ground assistance of the Australian Trade Commission, European countries are buying up big from Australia’s fast ferry manufacturers, which lead the world in building the fastest, biggest and best wave piercing catamaran ferries, tailor made to suit individual needs of companies globally.

Another Western Australian company experiencing high demand for its wave piercing catamaran ferries overseas is WaveMaster Inter-national Pty Limited.

WaveMaster is a leading designer, developer, manufacturer and marketer of the world’s most technologically advanced high-performance aluminium fast ferries and other vessels.

WaveMaster had a recent success refurbishing the passenger ferry named MV Polarstern for its German owner, AG Ems.

WaveMaster International has a boat building history that spans more than 50 years and, since 1983, has produced more than 60 vessels for customers around the world.

Both ferry manufacturers say Austrade has helped them in providing useful contacts and giving advice during the inspection and purchasing phase.

The two companies have also been recipients of Export Market Development Grants (EMDG) at some stage of their early ventures into foreign waters.

pMore information: Aus-trade, 13 28 78.

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