Express 4

Express 4 is a high-speed vehicle-passenger ferry being built by Austal at its Henderson shipyard in Western Australia for Molslinjen, a ferry operator based in Denmark.

Molslinjen placed a contract worth A$100m ($74m approximately) with Austal for the design and construction of a 109m-long roll-on / roll-off-passenger (Ro-Pax) ferry, in June 2016.

Construction of the Express 4 began with a traditional plate-cutting ceremony held at Austal’s Henderson shipyard in April 2017. The Express 4 ferry is scheduled to be delivered to Molslinjen in the fourth quarter of 2018 and is expected to enter service in early 2019.

The ship will have a similar size and capacity to Molslinjen’s three other catamaran ferries Express 1, Express 2 and Express 3. It will sail on the crossing of the Kattegat between Aarhus and Odden.

Express 4 design and technical specifications

The Express 4 ferry is based on Austal’s proven catamaran design integrating a sleek hull form and modern superstructure. The all-aluminium hull will be made of laser-welded and composite aluminium structural panels.

The optimised hull shape and lower deadweight will ensure improved performance and greater fuel efficiency, resulting in lower operating costs and enhanced passenger experience. The ferry will integrate waterjets for improved propulsion efficiency.

The catamaran will feature passenger, vehicle and viewing decks. The passenger deck will have a crew mess, a bar, a kiosk and a child play room. The ferry will receive DNV-GL’s notation 1A1 HSLC R1Passenger Car Ferry B EO. It will be operated by a crew of 22.

The ferry will have an overall length of 109m, a waterline length of 105m, a moulded beam of 30.5m, a moulded depth of 7.6m, and a maximum hull draft of 3.4m. The maximum deadweight of the ferry will be 1,000t.

Cargo capacity

The super ferry will accommodate up to 1,006 passengers and 425 passenger cars. It can also transport a combination of cars, buses, trucks, caravans and motorcycles. The passengers will be provided with different seating configurations in the aft, centre and forward lounges.

The vehicle deck of the ferry will provide sufficient width for articulated vehicles. It will offer 610 lane metres for trucks and other commercial vehicles. The main deck will have a clearance height of 4.6m, while the mezzanine deck will provide a clearance of 2.1m.

The twin catamaran hulls will house storage tanks for carrying fuel, lube oil, bilge / sludge, freshwater, grey water and black water.

"The optimised hull shape and lower deadweight will ensure improved performance and greater fuel efficiency."

Propulsion

The main propulsion will integrate four independent marine diesel engines, developing an optimal power-to-weight ratio, reliability and fuel economy. The engines will be coupled to Wärtsilä modular waterjets via reduction gearboxes.

Wärtsilä was contracted to supply four waterjets, hydraulics and a control system for the high-speed Ro-Pax ferry in May 2017. The equipment will be delivered to the shipyard in May 2018.

The Wärtsilä waterjets offer higher efficiency and cavitation margins, as well as a lower impeller tip speed. The high-performance components were built using stainless-steel reduce wear and corrosion, while the water-lubricated bearing in the stator bowl improves the reliability and maintainability of the waterjet. The bearing block integrates a sump enabling lubrication to the bearings under all conditions.

With a deadweight of 600t, the ferry will be able to sail at a speed of 37kt at 85% of maximum continuous rating (MCR). The maximum operational speed of the vessel will be 40kt and the maximum range will be 600nmi.