Malaysia’s Penang Port Sdn. Bhd. has ordered up to five new RoPax ferries from Damen Shipyards to replace existing vessels on the route between Butterworth on the Malaysian Peninsula and George Town on Penang Island. In a statement, the shipyard group said that the new ferries will be delivered in mid-2023 but did not specify where they will be built.
The new class of vessel, designated Damen Ferry 3508, will be capable of carrying up to 250 passengers and 50 scooters and motorbikes in a mix of air-conditioned and open, sheltered spaces. The ferries will carry an expected 2.5 million passengers and 1.5 million two-wheeled vehicles every year.
Operating efficiency has been a key priority in the vessels’ design. Sailings will be scaled back from departures every 15 minutes at peak times to a lower frequency during quieter times of day, enabling one vessel to be taken out of service. The standard design will facilitiate a range of savings in maintenance, spare parts, crew training, operating costs and redundancy, Damen said, while the ferry terminals are to be upgraded with auto-berthing and berthing pontoons with fast ramp control.
The shipyard group will also provide one year of technical support. A maintenance hub will be set up and local engineers recruited and trained to maintain the ships in the future.
Gysbert Boersma, Damen’s Regional Director Malaysia, said: “In a joint effort with Penang Port we have achieved a cost-efficient solution while maintaining the daily schedule of the ferries, and we look forward to seeing them making a significant contribution to the area’s transport infrastructure. Furthermore, our maintenance hub will bring local employment and a transfer of skills that will make a positive contribution to the regional maritime sector.”
Damen lands five-ship RoPax contract in Malaysia