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

Molslinjen placed a contract worth A$109m ($77.4m) 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 ship first sailed in October 2018.

The Express 4 ferry was delivered to Molslinjen in January 2019 and completed a 27-day voyage from Henderson, Australia to Odden, Denmark in February 2019. It will conduct regular ferry services in the Kattegat Sea beginning March 2019.

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

Express 4 design and technical specifications

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

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

The catamaran features passenger, vehicle and viewing decks. The passenger deck has a crew mess, a bar, a kiosk and a children’s playroom. The ferry received DNV-GL’s notation 1A1 HSLC R1Passenger Car Ferry B EO. It is operated by a crew of 22.

The ferry has 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 is 1,000t.

Cargo capacity

Express 4  is capable of carrying up to 1,006 passengers and 425 passenger cars. It can also transport a combination of cars, buses, trucks, caravans and motorcycles. Passengers are provided with different seating configurations in the aft, centre and forward lounges.

The vehicle deck of the ferry provides sufficient width for articulated vehicles. It offers 610 lane metres for trucks and other commercial vehicles. The main deck has a clearance height of 4.6m while the mezzanine deck provides a clearance of 2.1m.

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

“The optimised hull shape and lower deadweight ensures improved performance and greater fuel efficiency.”

Propulsion and performance of Express 4

The main propulsion integrates four independent marine diesel engines, developing an optimal power-to-weight ratio, reliability and fuel economy. The engines are 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 Wärtsilä waterjets offer higher efficiency and cavitation margins, as well as a lower impeller tip speed.

High-performance components built using stainless-steel reduce wear and corrosion, while the water-lubricated bearing in the stator bowl improves the reliability of the waterjet. The bearing block integrates a sump enabling lubrication to the bearings under all conditions.

With a deadweight of 600t, the ferry sails at a speed of 37k at 85% of maximum continuous rating (MCR). The maximum operational speed of the vessel is 40k and the maximum range is 600nm.