Penguin’s first Fast Ferry X has been delivered. Chief executive James Tham reveals the innovative features on the newbuild and how it fills a gap in the market
Penguin has delivered its new Flex Ferry X to a South African ship operator – a product the Singapore shipyard developed as it saw a gap in the supply of mid-sized ferries.
Its chief executive James Tham gives the background to the design and construction of this model. “Penguin has been operating passenger ferries since 1972 and building passenger ferries since 1995. We have benefited from our decades-long experience as an operator and as a builder. In recent years, we have undertaken extensive studies on passenger ferry markets around the world. Many ferry segments are starting to recover from years of high oil prices.
“In 2018, together with IBS, we identified mid-sized passenger ferries as a growing niche that is underserved by builders (30-40 m length, 250-300 passengers). We subsequently decided to launch the Flex Ferry X as a new stock product under Penguin’s internally funded build-for-stock programme, which currently includes the Flex Fighter armoured security boat and the Flex-42X Executive Fast Crew Boat.”
The Flex Ferry X stands out as it is the first stock ferry to be built by Penguin. All the other ferries built by Penguin were built to order by third-party owners. It is also the first time Penguin worked exclusively with International Broking Services (IBS) to jointly develop and market a passenger ferry.
The broker has developed fast ferry sales and charters as its core business and has a longstanding relationship with IBS.
IBS Global Pty director John Aitkenhead says “The trifecta of Penguin, Incat Crowther and IBS as builder, designer and broker has resulted from a special relationship between the parties and the results speak for themselves, past present and future.
“The iconic Penguin shipyards in Singapore and Batam have built an enviable reputation, with construction and repair of a variety of vessels since 1995. During that time both Penguin and IBS have adopted and maintained the highest industry values of quality, integrity, and reliability. With this special relationship, and shared values of 24 years, both IBS and Flex share a vision of mutual co-operation for the next 24 years.”
Penguin is proud of its position regarding mid-sized ferries. Mr Tham comments “Penguin is one of very few shipyards in the world building mid-sized ferries for stock. It benefits from having its own ship management team that can operate the ferries it builds.”
The Flex Ferry X has been delivered to Robben Island Museum in South Africa. Named after the first recorded female political prisoner on Robben Island, Krotoa, the new ferry arrived on 12 July 2019. “We are very excited about Krotoa’s arrival as this will enhance our carrying capacity as a key component to ensuring high visitor numbers and a seamless visitor experience,” says Robben Island Museum visitor operations specialist Ellerick Olckers.
Mr Olckers was appointed a year ago to address visitor experience and improve Robben Island’s operations.
“It is of critical importance that we prepare for peak periods months in advance. This enables the organisation to be ready in terms of resource acquisition, staff training, increasing ferry capacity and retail requirement planning. We would like to proactively prepare to avoid situations where we are caught on the back foot that may detract from visitors’ experience of the Island,” shares Mr Olckers. “Our staff are undoubtedly our number one asset, with most of them having a wealth of experience with regards to peak periods which we can tap into as we prepare for the next peak season. We always appreciate their input from which the organisation can learn and grow,” adds Mr Olckers.
Krotoa is expected to take its maiden journey once full marine processes have been finalised and cleared by the governing marine authority, South African Maritime Safety Authority.
Krotoa is built to Bureau Veritas classification standards and is fully high speed craft (HSC) code compliant. It has a gross tonnage of 319 tonnes and a speed of 28.5 knots at a 100% load.
The propulsion system consists of Caterpillar C32 engines with Reintjes gearboxes and fixed pitch propellers. Mr Tham says “Caterpillar engines and generators have the widest appeal among ferry owners around the world, backed by an extensive network of service agents.”
Explaining why propellers rather than water jets were chosen, he adds “At the service speed of the vessel, propellers offer efficiency gains over waterjets, resulting in lower fuel consumption and lower operating costs for the owner.”
Mr Tham sums up what he believes are the key strengths of the Flex Ferry. “The Flex Ferry X is the result of a greater focus on performance, weight, comfort, aesthetics and ergonomics. This unique combination results in a globally appealing design with mass appeal.” He highlights the optimised low weight structure and fuel-efficient, low-wash hull form as being energy efficient features.
Penguin is expanding its facilities to accommodate growth in the mid-sized ferry market and to accommodate its Flex vessel construction. It is building its sixth workshop in Batam, which it sees as a sign of “increased shipbuilding activity arising from higher demand for its Flex vessels”.
The company expects its annual production capacity to rise to more than 50 mid-sized vessels with the addition of the fifth workshop.
Penguin has also bought an island less than 1 km across from its Batam shipyard’s waterfront to allow for further expansion of its production capacity in the years to come. An environmental impact study is underway and it is estimated that Penguin will receive the permit for land use by late Q4 2019 or early Q1 2020.
Flex Ferry X
Passenger seating: 285 passengers
Developed by: Penguin Shipyard and Incat Crowther
Classification: Bureau Veritas
Length Overall: 33.00 m
Beam: 8.50 m
Depth: 2.80 m
Hull draught: 1.20 m
Maximum speed: 27.5 knots @ 100% MCR
Maximum fuel consumption: 585 litres per hour
Cruising speed: 26 knots @ 85% MCR
Main equipment providers
Marine radar: Simrad Argus12U/6XPHSC
GPS: Simrad GN70
ECDIS: Simrad MK15
Gyro compass: Simrad GC85
Magnetic compass: Lilley & Gillie Sestrel
Number of main engines: 2 units with resilient mountings
Make/Type: Caterpillar C32 ACERT ’C’ IMO Tier 2
Intercom system: Vingtor SPA240V2
Propellers: 2 x fixed pitch, Ni-Al-Bronze, 5 blades EPIRB: Mcmurdo E5
Rope cutters: Mcmurdo S4
AIS: Simrad V5035
Generators: 2 x Caterpillar SR4 alternator 86 ekW