Hobart shipbuilder “extremely disappointed” by Tasmanian government move to buy ferries overseas

Spirit of Tasmania II (Photo: ABB)

A Hobart-based shipbuilder has criticised the recent decision by the Tasmanian government to enter negotiations with a competitor from overseas regarding the supply of new passenger vessels.

Incat was one of the local manufacturers that had been considered to provide new Ro-Pax ferries for TT-Line Company’s Spirit of Tasmania Service on Bass Strait following the government’s pledge of increased assistance during the Covid-19 pandemic and the subsequent decrease in passenger traffic.

However, Incat chairman Robert Clifford told local news outlet The Australian that he was “extremely disappointed” by the government’s “wrong decision” to instead source the replacement ferries from a shipbuilder in Finland.

Mr Clifford added that this is not the first time Incat has been snubbed by the Tasmanian government, citing prior instances wherein the company was unable to secure contracts to supply new ferries to serve the suburb of Bellerive and Bruny Island.

In a statement released following Tasmania Premier Peter Gutwein’s announcement of the decision, Incat said it remains “confident” that a Tasmanian vessel, built in Tasmania by Tasmanians would be a practical solution for Bass Strait.

The company had hoped it will be selected to build two 180-metre catamaran vessels to replace the older Spirit of Tasmania ferries.

The government clarified that the new ferries will come with increased Tasmanian content as the vessels’ fit-out and maintenance are expected to be carried out in Tasmania. Incat, however, has not commented on this condition.

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