The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has welcomed the delivery of its two Austal-built 88 metre high speed vehicle-passenger catamarans, “Riyadh” and “Cairo” during a handover ceremony in Jeddah attended by King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and the Egyptian President Mohammed Hosni Mubarak.
Ordered by the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Finance in 2007, the vessels are a gift to the Egyptian Government, and will assist in improving the standard of ferry services across the Red Sea. Operating on a 100 nautical mile route between Dibba in Saudi Arabia and Safaga in Egypt, the vessels are intended for Pilgrims travelling to Mecca, Egyptian workers travelling to and from Saudi Arabia as well as business and leisure travellers.
Both vessels carry 1200 passengers, 120 cars and 15 trucks and recorded impressive service speeds of 37 knots during recent sea trials, three knots in excess of contract requirements. Each vessel is powered by four MTU 20V8000 M71R engines at the reduced maximum rating of 7,200kW @ 1,150rpm, allowing low engine stresses, increased fuel efficiency and longer intervals between engine overhauls.
The car deck features both port and starboard mezzanine levels capable of being lifted for truck and bus access. With an open bow above the forward turning area, the aft loading point features combined vehicle and passenger ramps for quick deployment and retrieval, enabling fast port turnarounds. Passenger seating is situated on a spacious upper deck with panoramic window views, with a private VIP cabin offering exclusive views from the vessel’s bow.
Both 88 metre ferries made the 15-day, 5700 nautical mile journey from Western Australia to Jeddah, via the Maldives and the Gulf of Aden, on their own power. Construction is continuing on an additional two 69 metre vehicle-passenger catamarans at Austal’s Western Australian shipyard, which are to be owned and operated by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and are scheduled for delivery by mid 2009.
Handover of two Austal-built high speed catamarans to Middle East