Thursday, September 11, 2008

This is interesting...blogger reports on Austal ferry in Oman

Wednesday, September 10, 2008
"Oman Ferries loosing money like crazy - take one of the most subsidised trips in the world today!"

"Word is the vaunted car/passenger ferries Oman purchased earlier this year - the car ferry without any jetties to load cars - are loosing money fast.

I heard that the average number of passengers on the Muscat - Kasab ferry run at the moment is 5 people. 5. Unfortunately, the ferry burns fuel like there's no tomorrow - 30,000 litres of diesel per trip. Plus the ferries were designed down in terms of weight to save money, and are therefore apparently more suitable for short, 1-2 hr type trips rather than the long 6hr+ run being used here. This means the maintainence programme is greater than anticipated, plus they are pretty high tech, so the work has to be done by expensive mechanics from Australia. So not only is the money being poured down its throat, the bills to keep it running are huge too.

Now, don't get me wrong. There's no doubt these are beautiful, world class, state of the art boats. The second ferry Hormuz just successfully broke the world speed record of its sister Shinas in July. However, as anyone who owns a boat knows, big engines and high speeds on water take 1 thing: lots and lots of hydrocarbons.

The organisational and business capability to ensure the boats are used efficiently and economically here in Oman has been a total unmitigated cock-up. Despite ordering the ferries 3 years ago, no jetties were built, nor Omani crew pre-trained. The demand for the service is obviously not great (especially as they can't put cars on them), plus there has been precious little marketing of the service either. The pricing structure is also a disaster - too expensive to come close to filling the boat or compete with going by air, but not enough to actually pay even the running costs, let alone getting capital and interest payments back. As a result, the things are just burning through the cash at a rate of knots, if you'll excuse the pun. I don't know who is responsible for the project, but he's damn lucky he's not working for me or investing my money.

I'd recommend taking a 3 day trip to Kasab as soon as possible, while you can. It'll be like having your own private multi-million dollar boat cruise. (although pack a nice lunch - food is apparently pretty spartan, and there isn't a bar either, so think about taking some magic masafi). The boats are beautiful, the trip is great, and the Ministry of National economy is paying most of your bill, so go for it!"

Austal Ferry - Hormuz
"Second Oman Ferry Betters Sister's Speed Record"

"The second of Austal’s two 65 metre vehicle-passenger ferries built for the Sultanate of Oman has become the first diesel-powered vehicle ferry to reach a speed of 56 knots. “Hormuz” recorded a maximum speed of 56 knots (103.7km/h) and a service speed of 52 knots during sea trials held near Henderson in Western Australia yesterday.

The feat makes it the fastest diesel-powered vehicle passenger ferry in the world – a title previously held by its sister vessel “Shinas”, which recorded a maximum speed of 55.9 knots last year.

The vessel is scheduled for delivery to Oman next month, where it will join “Shinas” in providing a new tourism service to Oman’s spectacular Musandam Peninsular as flagships of the Sultanate’s expanded marine transport network.

The unrivalled performance of the two 65 metre vehicle-passenger catamaran ferries showcases the world-class ability of the Austal design team, who successfully developed a new, customised, high efficiency hull design capable of delivering record-breaking performance, while Austal’s construction team managed to meet demanding weight targets." Posted by Undercover Dragon at 8:48 AM

Yeah, but were they fuel-efficient enough to be viable, esp. on more than 2 hr. routes?
Aloha, Brad

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