Auto Express 115 high-speed catamaran is being developed for Molslinjen of Denmark. Credit: Wartsila.
The Auto Express 115 ferry will be powered by four Wartsila 31 engines. Credit: Wartsila.
Express 4 design serves as the basis for Auto Express 115. Credit: Austal.

Auto Express 115 high-speed catamaran, also called Express 5, is a new vehicle passenger (Ro-Pax) ferry being developed for Danish ferry operator Molslinjen.

The ferry will operate on the Molslinjen Bornholm route, running between the towns of Ystad and Rønne in Denmark.

A design and construction contract worth €83.65m ($93.02m) for the catamaran was awarded to Austal in October 2019. The construction will begin in the third quarter of 2020 with delivery scheduled in the first quarter of 2022.

The ferry’s design works will be performed at Austal’s facility in Henderson, while the construction will be completed at the company’s Balamban shipbuilding facility in the Philippines.

It is a follow-up order to the 109m high-speed catamaran Auto Express 109 or Express 4, which was delivered to Molslinjen in January 2019.

Auto Express 115 is the latest addition to Austal’s Auto Express vehicle-passenger ferry portfolio and will be the largest ferry by volume ever built by Austal.

Auto Express 115 design and features

Express 4 design serves as the basis for the Auto Express 115 catamaran. The new ferry will feature raked bow, which will reduce the quantity of water shipped over the bow. It will have optimised hull form for improved sea-keeping performance.

“Auto Express 115 is the latest addition to Austal’s Auto Express vehicle-passenger ferry portfolio and will be the largest ferry by volume ever built by Austal.”

The ferry will be 115m-long and will be able to carry up to 1,610 passengers. There will be two full vehicle decks to accommodate 450 cars or 617 lane metres for heavy vehicles and 257 cars.

The Auto Express 115 catamaran will feature leather-appointed seats with USB ports and power recline for improved passenger comfort. It will also offer children’s play area, Wi-Fi, several audio-visual displays, as well as a restaurant and bar for enhanced passenger experience.

The ferry’s platform will be equipped with Austal’s proprietary motion control system and MARINELINK-Smart systems to enable smart operations for a smoother journey with more efficiency.

The catamaran will have an operating service speed of approximately 37k.

Auto Express 115 propulsion

The Auto Express 115 Ro-Pax ferry will feature a high-efficiency, liquefied natural gas (LNG)-capable medium-speed propulsion solution provided by Wartsila.

The contract for the propulsion system was awarded to Wartsila in May 2020, while the equipment deliveries will start in July 2021.

The catamaran is the first fast ferry to use a combination of four four-stroke, 16-cylinder Wartsila 31 engines, driving four high-performance WXJ1500SRI waterjets.

The Wartsila 31 engine is the world’s most efficient diesel engine according to the Guinness World Records, offering the best fuel economy in its class. It delivers a power output of 9.8MW at 750rpm.

The modular design of the engine reduces time and costs for maintenance, as well as the need for spare parts while boosting power availability.

The WXJ1500SRI waterjet series was launched in 2019 to succeed the LJX series. The improved axial pump design of the WXJ modular waterjets offers an increased thrust of up to 3%.

It features a 35% increase in cavitation margin, a 25% reduction in mounting flange diameter and an overall weight reduction of 10%. The improved cavitation margins control noise levels, reducing environmental damage.

Wartsila propulsion control system

Auto Express 115 catamaran will employ the Wartsila Propulsion Control System (PCS), which comprises control devices, indicators, displays and modules suitable for all possible propulsion configurations of a modern ship.

Wartsila ProTouch is a human interface of Wartsila PCS with an arrangement of touchscreen interfaces and levers apt for modern and compact control devices.

The Wartsila PCS has the capacity to control up to eight propulsors from up to five operator stations.

The system is simple to install with a compact design, customisable to fit all propulsion products and layouts. Its touch screen technology offers a user-friendly operation by guiding the user in case of a more complex sequence or action.