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Quick Connection

Four new high-speed catamarans with GL class are cutting the transit times across the Red Sea

S audi Arabia is putting tourism on the fast track. Only a few weeks ago, two new high-speed catamarans com- menced service between Jazan in the southern part of the country and the Farasan island group located 25 sea miles away. Regarded to be a diver’s paradise because of its spectacular coral riffs, this archipelago is a popular holiday resort, especially for local tourists.

What is more, the quick connection considerably short- ens the travelling time needed by commuters and scholars. With a top speed of 32 knots, the two catamarans “Jazan” and “Farasan” cover the distance in less than an hour. They offer space for 650 passengers, 50 cars and 15 trucks. To account for the cultural and religious requirements of the passengers, who are mainly of the Muslim faith, the pas- senger deck has designated seating zones for families and separate prayer rooms for men and women.

The fast ferries are two of four high-speed catamarans ordered in 2007 by Saudi Arabia’s Finance Ministry from the Australian yard Austal.

The first two vessels, the “Riyadh” and the “Cairo”, had already been taken into service in December 2008, at a cer- emony held in the presence of King Abdullah of Saudi Ara- bia and President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt. The catamarans are a state gift to the Egyptian govern- ment and reduce the transit time across the Red Sea between Duba and Safaga by five and a quarter hours.

Safaga in Egypt is one of the oldest

FARASAN. This high-speed catamaran has a speed of 32 knots and can accommo- date up to 650 passengers.


nonstop 02/2009

Photos: Austal




Red Sea





RIYADH. The ferry is one of two catamarans deeded by Saudi Arabia to Egypt as a gift.

harbours on the Red Sea. With a draught of 25 to 34 m, it can also be used by larger ships. Besides exporting alumi- nium and importing wheat, it serves as a “stepping stone” for pilgrimages to Saudi Arabia. Business visitors and tour- ists are already making good use of the “Riyadh” and the “Cairo”. Both catamarans can transport more than 1,200 passengers, 200 cars and 15 trucks.

Safety at Sea

All four high-speed catamarans were built at Austal to the classification rules of Germanischer Lloyd and the Inter- national Code of Safety for High-Speed Craft (HSC Code). “In this way, the customers are documenting their high de- mands on safety and reliability,” says Georgios Spiliotis, GL Vice President Area Australia/New Zealand. The “Riyadh” and the “Cairo” are powered by four MTU 20V 8000 diesel engines developing 4 x 7,200 kW. The sister ships are each 88 metres long, with a beam of 24 metres.

The four MTU units driving the “Jazan” and the “Fara- san” are smaller: the 16V 4000 diesels each provide 2,800 kW. These catamarans are 68.6 metres long and 17.65 metres wide. For the initial voyage from Western Australia to Jazan,

the fast ferries took 15 days under their own steam.

  • SNB

CEREMONY. President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt (front row l.) and King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia.

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