Tasmanian government in talks with Finnish shipyard for future Bass Strait ferries

Spirit of Tasmania II (Photo: ABB)

The Tasmanian government has confirmed its preferred course of action as regards replacement of the older government-owned passenger vessels that ply Bass Strait.

Following consideration of the Vessel Replacement Taskforce report released on Monday, March 15, the government has made the decision to enter negotiations with Finnish shipbuilder Rauma Marine Constructions (RMC) to deliver two new steel monohull ferries with increased Tasmanian local content.

Premier Peter Gutwein said the taskforce was established to explore how the government could give Tasmanian businesses a larger share and more local content supporting local jobs.

The report revealed there is “significant local capacity” to play a greater role in the replacement of the ferries in addition to outlining three potential options, said Mr Gutwein.

The option chosen by the government entails the purchase of ships from overseas, but with an increased focus on maximising the Tasmanian spend. Among other things, both the fit-out and the ongoing maintenance over the life of the vessels are expected to be carried out in Tasmania.

Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Michael Ferguson said, given the pre-existing relationship with RMC, TT-Line Company will work with the shipbuilder over the next 30 days to finalise negotiations on the construction contract with an increased Tasmanian spend to be negotiated, estimated by TT-Line to be between AU$50 million (US$38.5 million) and AU$100 million (US$77 million) of local content across both vessels. This is a substantial increase on the current memorandum of understanding, which provides for AU$16 million (US$12.3 million) of Tasmanian content across the two vessels.

Mr Ferguson added that TT-Line will negotiate with RMC on a target date for the two new vessels to be delivered in 2023 and 2024.

In the event that RMC and TT-Line are not able to reach a contractual agreement in the next 30 days, the contract will proceed to open market.

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