by Johnathan Cilia
The Saint John Paul II is a technological marvel – and the second largest catamaran to travel at over 70km/hrs in the world.
Virtu Ferries has announced the newest catamaran to be joining its fleet – and it’s quite the badass boat. The M/V Saint John Paul II is headed to Malta from Incat shipyard in Hobart, Tasmania. The vessel will be given to Virtu Ferries on the 24th of January, and, just a few days later, will commence a 9,600 nautical miles (17,780 kilometres), 20 day journey to Malta. The vessel’s maiden voyage will see her crossing the Indian Ocean, calling at the ports of Fremantle in Western Australia and Colombo in Sri Lanka for refuelling, before passing Somalia, at the Eastern tip of Africa, to transit the length of the Red Sea where she will call at the last refuelling port of Jeddah before entering the Mediterranean via the Suez Canal. The last leg of the journey, Port Said to Valletta, should be covered in 30 hours.
The vessel will be deployed on the Malta-Sicily route in March 2019
Saint John Paul II is being built to conform not only to the obligatory International Maritime Organisation High-Speed Craft Code 2000 but also to The EU Directive 1999/35/EC of the European Maritime Safety Agency of the European Commission. The newbuild also conforms with the EU Maritime Green Policy, the European response to the new generation of ocean strategies based on science, technology and innovation. The shipbuilders, Incat, are acknowledged world leaders in design and construction of high speed vessels, who pride themselves in building the fastest, efficient, environmentally clean, high speed vessels in the world.
Saint John Paul II is powered by four MTU engines, generating a total of 36.4 Megawatts
These state of the art engines meet IMO Marpol Annex VI Tier II standards which regulate exhaust gas emissions, with the aim of reducing local and global air pollution. Four Wärtsilä waterjets give the vessel a cruising speed in excess of 38 knots (over 70.4 km/hour). With a deadweight of 1000 tons, capacity for 900 passengers in five lounges, and a garage that takes 167 cars or 23 trailers, Saint John Paul II will be the largest High Speed RoPax Catamaran operating in the Mediterranean and the second largest in the world.
Saint John Paul II is the fifth new-build and 11th high speed vessel delivered to Virtu since the commencement of the high-speed ferry service between Malta and Sicily in 1988
The company has invested more than €175 million in high speed vessels that have, at some time, been operated on the Malta/Sicily route, effectively revolutionising the carriage of passengers and cargo between the neighbouring islands. Virtu Ferries currently also operate high speed vessels on international routes between Venice and Adriatic Ports in Slovenia and Croatia as well as Tarifa, Spain to Tangier in Morocco.
Virtu Ferries have been known to let their vessels be used in crises
In times of humanitarian crisis, Virtu have operated their vessels on time-charter to the Governments of Australia, the USA, Italy, and Malta and international corporations and institutions such as the International Red Cross and Medicins Sans Frontier.
The vessel’s name echoes a memorable moment in the company’s history
Virtu Ferries had the honour of welcoming HH Pope John Paul II on board ACC San Frangisk on that momentous return voyage between Grand Harbour, Valletta, St Paul’s Islands and Gozo on 27th May 1990. Of course, like all other Virtu high speed vessels, the Saint John Paul II will fly the Maltese flag.