Dutch shipbuilder Damen Shipyards Group has been contracted by Malaysia’s Penang Port to build up to five roll-on/roll-off passenger (RoPax) ferries to replace the current fleet.

As informed, the new vessels will operate on the ferry route that links the Malaysian Peninsula (Butterworth) with Penang Island and its city of George Town.

The newbuilds will, pandemics permitting, be delivered in mid-2023 to serve an estimated 2.5 million pedestrians and 1.5 million two-wheeler vehicles each year.

The Damen Ferry 3508 class is designed to carry a maximum of 250 passengers and 50 vehicles (scooters and motor bikes). Damen said it has worked closely with Penang Port to ensure that the new vessels are efficient and cost-effective.

The new fleet will deliver a combined passenger and vehicular service with departures every 15 minutes in peak periods. At quieter times of day, it will be feasible to take a ferry out of service, bringing further cost savings.

Standardising the design also delivers a wide range of operational efficiencies when it comes to redundancy, maintenance, spare parts, crew training and operating and build costs, according to Damen.

Damen will also be assisting in upgrading the ferry terminals with time-saving technology such as auto berthing and berthing pontoons with fast ramp control.

As part of the overall package, Damen will provide one year’s technical support for Penang Port’s new fleet once it is delivered. The shipbuilder will establish a local maintenance hub for this purpose.

“In a joint effort with Penang Port we have achieved a cost-efficient solution while maintaining the daily schedule of the ferries, and we look forward to seeing them making a significant contribution to the area’s transport infrastructure,” Gysbert Boersma, Damen’s Regional Director Malaysia, said.

“Furthermore, our maintenance hub will bring local employment and a transfer of skills that will make a positive contribution to the regional maritime sector.”

Source: Offshore Energy