VESSEL REVIEW | Maria Galanta Express – New ferry for Mauritius operator boasts fast, smoother coastal trips

Photo: Austal

Mauritius-based shipowner Oceanoi has taken delivery of a new high-speed catamaran ferry from Austal Vietnam.

Maria Galanta Express is being operated on behalf of Oceanoi by Société de Gestion et de Transport Maritime (SGTM) in the Comoro Islands, situated off the southeastern coast of Africa between Mozambique and Madagascar. The newbuild is the second Austal-built vessel to join the SGTM fleet after the 1997-built Marine View, a 30-metre, 140-passenger fast catamaran that was acquired from Japanese operator Kumamoto Ferry Company in 2013.

Austal was awarded the AU$15.5 million (US$10.7 million) contract to design and construct the vessel in January 2020. Construction commenced at the Austal Vietnam shipyard in Vung Tau in March 2020 and was completed by the end of the second quarter of 2021.

The newbuild has an LOA of 41.2 metres, a beam of 10.9 metres, a draught of two metres, and capacity for 400 passengers and mixed cargo of up to 20 tonnes on two decks. Loading and unloading of passengers and cargo are done via two ramps. The passenger capacity is nearly double that of each of the earlier vessels in the SGTM fleet, which means fewer trips can be completed each day along the routes served by the company.

Photo: Austal

Amenities include toilets, satellite TV, and a snack bar. Luggage compartments are also available on board.

Fitted with four MTU 12V2000 M72 engines driving four Kongsberg KaMeWa 56A3 waterjets, the new catamaran achieved 31.9 knots at 100 per cent MCR during sea trials. A maximum distance of of approximately 685 kilometres can be covered in between refuelings.

Austal’s proprietary motion control system, which includes active interceptors and T-foils, has also been installed to guarantee a smoother ride even at high operating speeds. The system automatically makes adjustments to the ferry’s hydronamic control surfaces to ensure effective pitch and roll damping. This also leads to reduced vertical acceleration, which in turn translates into reduced fuel consumption when sailing over the same distances.

Maria Galanta Express has already begun operational sailings under the Comoros flag alongside the five other vessels in the current active fleet of SGTM. It can cover the 100-kilometre Mayotte-Anjouan route in two hours and 30 minutes and the 243-kilometre Mayotte-Moroni route in a little over five hours. As with the other passenger vessels in the SGTM fleet, the new ferry will also be used for humanitarian trips wherein passengers are allowed on board for free, such as during medical transport of residents to islands with better-equipped hospitals.

Photo: Austal

Click here for the other news, features and reviews comprising this month’s Passenger Vessel Week.

Maria Galanta Express
Type of vessel:Ferry
Owner:Oceanoi, Mauritius
Operator:Société de Gestion et de Transport Maritime, Comoros
Designer:Austal Australia
Builder:Austal Vietnam
Length overall:41.2 metres
Beam:10.9 metres
Draught:2.0 metres
Capacity:20 tonnes
Main engines:4 x MTU 12V000 M72
Propulsion:4 x Kongsberg KaMeWa 56A3 waterjets
Maximum speed:31.9 knots
Range:685 kilometres
Other electronics:Austal motion control system
Other equipment installed:Austal T-foils; Austal interceptors; loading ramps
Interior fitout/furnishings:Toilets
Type of fuel:Diesel

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