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VESSEL REVIEW | APETAHI EXPRESS – Fast Ferry For French Polynesia’s Degage Group

Photo: Austal Vietnam

Shipbuilder Austal Vietnam has completed the construction of a new high-speed catamaran ferry ordered by the Degage Group of French Polynesia.

Named after a species of flower found only on the French Polynesian island of Raiatea, the 66.4- by 15.2-meter, aluminum-hulled Apetahi Express can accommodate 574 passengers on two decks. A sun deck has additional seating for up to 80 passengers. Passenger access is via four ramps while two cranes are used to load and offload assorted cargo totaling 16 tonnes.

The crew accommodations meanwhile include seven two-berth cabins and two single-berth cabins.

Source: Austal Vietnam

Four MAN 175D diesel engines that each produces 2,720 kW at 1,800 rpm drive waterjets to propel Apetahi Express to a maximum speed of 35.8 knots and sail for up to 360 nautical miles even without the incorporation of an optional long-range fuel tank. The engines are also fitted with compact selective catalytic reduction systems to ensure compliance with both current and future exhaust gas emission requirements.

The ferry is also fitted with Austal’s proprietary motion control system, which consists of active interceptors and automatically-activated T-foils and was developed to ensure greater stability as well as improved comfort even when cruising at more than 30 knots at full load. However, Austal said that the optimized hull design already delivers a significant reduction in resistance that not only lowers fuel consumption – in line with the owner’s aim of reducing CO2 emissions and improving efficiency – but also improves seakeeping and ensures more stable sailings.

A draught of only 1.8 meters meanwhile enables the ferry to easily navigate through port waters.

Apetahi Express recently arrived in French Polynesia and will commence operational sailings this July, serving the 113-nautical-mile stretch between the country’s capital of Papeete in Tahiti and the city of Vaitape in Bora Bora. It is the sixth Austal-designed and -built vessel to join the Degage Group fleet.


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