New ships at RMC cancelled.

Concept design of the cancelled ro-paxes.. © Rauma Marine Constructions

TT-Line have announced they have cancelled the MoU with finish ship builder Rauma Marine Constructions Oy (RMC).

Some snippets from Tasmania media and TT-line:

“The reasons given are focused around the effects of Covid19. Chairman Michael Grainger said the government indicated that, given current and emerging economic problems caused by COVID-19, there needed to be more consideration of local content and manufacturing jobs in Tasmania and Australia as part of the overall vessel replacement project.”

Given the impact of COVID-19, Premier Peter Gutwein said government wanted to “make decisions that present the greatest opportunity for our local and Australian manufacturers”.

TT-Line chair Mike Grainger said the state-owned company had made a recommendation to the government to proceed with a build in Finland.

A taskforce will be established to identify local procurement, purchasing and manufacturing options, and will include representation from Treasury, State Growth, TT-Line and a representative of the federal government.

RMC said “We are always ready to continue the negotiations with TT-Line Company when the shipbuilding project is topical again”

Whilst it sounds noble of the Government to explore local options to build the vessels, Australia no longer has an industry capable of building such vessels. Before the order was placed with FSG back in 2017 local options were explored in depth.
Incat have been asked to join the vessel replacement task force, but I do wonder what they can bring to the table, they are a high speed aluminum catamaran specialist, they don’t have a yard capable of building the required vessels and their expertise is very niche.
Incat were invited to complete the renovations to the Spirits, but declined because they aren’t set up for such work.

There is a high risk that Tasmania will end up with inferior vessels at a high price due to politics. Lets not forget TT-Line looked at Chinese yards, but turned them down due to the fact they couldn’t deliver by the required time. The FSG deal fell through because they couldn’t deliver on time, now Tasmania is throwing the RMC deal away because of Covid. There is no guarantee that the slot at RMC will be available once TT-Line are ready to order again.

A similar situation has happened with Calmac, a Sottish state owned ferry operator where they placed an order for the ferry, the Glen Sannox at a local sottish yard, but the build is years late and way over budget.
I believe in the end they will need to turn to Europe or Asia , at high cost and later delivery.