Virtu Ferries latest Malta/Sicily high speed sea connection
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Virtu Ferries is due to take delivery of M/V Saint John Paul II – currently afloat at the Incat shipyard in Hobart, Tasmania – on the 24th of January.
Following delivery, Virtu said that a few days later the vessel will commence a 9,600 nautical miles, 20-day journey to Malta.
Her maiden voyage will see her crossing the Indian Ocean, calling at the ports of Fremantle in Western Australia and Colombo in Sri Lanka for refuelling, before passing Somalia, at the Eastern tip of Africa, to transit the length of the Red Sea where she will call at the last refuelling port of Jeddah before entering the Mediterranean via the Suez Canal.
Port Said to Valletta – which is the last leg of the journey – should be covered in 30 hours. The company said that the vessel will be then be deployed on the Malta/Sicily route in March.
Virtu said that Saint John Paul II is being built to conform not only to the obligatory International Maritime Organisation High-Speed Craft Code 2000 but also to The EU Directive 1999/35/EC of the European Maritime Safety Agency of the European Commission.
It explained that the vessel also conforms with the EU Maritime Green Policy, the European response to the new generation of ocean strategies based on science, technology and innovation.
“The shipbuilders, Incat, are acknowledged world leaders in design and construction of high speed vessels, who pride themselves in building the fastest, efficient, environmentally clean, high speed vessels in the world,” said Virtu.
Saint John Paul II is powered by four MTU engines generating a total of 36.4 Mega Watts. These state of the art engines meet IMO Marpol Annex VI Tier II standards which regulate exhaust gas emissions, with the aim of reducing local and global air pollution. Four Wärtsilä waterjets give the vessel a cruising speed in excess of 38 knots (over 70.4 km/hour)
Saint John Paul II will be the largest High Speed RoPax Catamaran operating in the Mediterranean and the second largest in the world. Virtu said that with a deadweight of 1000 tons, it has a capacity for 900 passengers in 5 lounges, and a garage that takes 167 cars or 23 trailers,
Saint John Paul II, is the fifth newbuild, and 11th high speed vessel, delivered to Virtu since the commencement of the high speed ferry service between Malta and Sicily in 1988.
The company said that it has invested in excess of €175 million in high speed vessels that have, at some time, been operated on the Malta/Sicily route, “effectively revolutionising the carriage of passengers and cargo between the neighbouring islands.”
Virtu currently also operate high speed vessels on international routes between Venice and Adriatic Ports in Slovenia and Croatia as well as Tarifa, Spain to Tangier in Morocco.
The vessel is named after Saint John Paul II. Virtu Ferries said that it had the honour of welcoming HH Pope John Paul II on board ACC San Frangisk, on that momentous return voyage between Grand Harbour, Valletta, St Paul’s Islands and Gozo on 27th May 1990.
Like all other Virtu high speed vessels, the Saint John Paul II will fly the Malta Flag and is certified for international voyages by the International Classification Society, DNV GL.