An early concept image for the new Spirits of Tasmania. Image: RMC

THE COST of TT Line’s new Spirit ferries has risen and delivery of both vessels has been delayed, again.

Spirit of Tasmania IV and V, being built by Finland’s Rauma Marine Constructions, will now cost an extra $81.6 million (50 million euros) over the original $850 million agreed for the two Bass Strait ro-paxes.

And delivery of the first vessel to Tasmania will now not be before the third quarter of this year while the second has slipped to 1Q 2025. Both ships are expected to undergo around three months’ of local fit-out work before entering service.

The setbacks were revealed in the Tasmanian Parliament yesterday [15 May] by new Labor leader Dean Winter and were confirmed by premier Jeremey Rockliff.

TT Line originally signed for newbuilds with Germany’s FSG but was forced to start again when the builder suffered financial difficulties. A new contract for a new design was then agreed with RMC in 2021.

Mr Rockliff told Parliament the TT-Line board had earlier this year agreed to pay additional money for the new vessels and that the government was provided with the board’s final decision to approve the additional payment on 5 April.

“I want to make it clear, it was a decision for the board, not the ministers,” he said. “I’m further advised the alternative was to potentially go back to market for a new ship that would have cost more and resulted in a significant additional delay.”

Mr Winter later said the delay would devastate Tasmanian tourism operators ahead of a challenging winter season. “Respected, independent economist Saul Eslake has estimated that every year the new vessels are delayed there will be a cost to the Tasmanian economy of $350 million and 6000 jobs will not be created,” he said.

Labor also claimed that if the government hadn’t delayed signing on with RMC to investigate construction options in Australia during 2020, the new vessels would already be in Tasmania.

A TT-Line spokesman told local media said RMC had informed the state-owned company that it was experiencing severe difficulties in completing the two vessels due to several factors including material price increases, material availability and labour shortages.
“At the time, Treasury advised TT-Line that any decision to pay additional funds for the vessels was a commercial matter for the board under the existing contractual arrangements,” he said.

“As was announced last year, the initial delivery date of the vessels had been delayed by labour shortages caused by the after-effects of COVID at the shipyard and steel shortages created by the war in Ukraine that also impacted the workforce in Europe.”
The spokesman said there were important clauses in the contract regarding the performance of the vessels during sea trials that needed to be met before TT-Line would accept delivery of the vessels, The Advocate reported.

Tasmania’s new transport minister, former federal senator and minister Eric Abetz, later issued a media release saying Mr Winter’s predecessor Rebecca White and Labor were briefed on the Spirit of Tasmania project during caretaker mode pre-election and well aware of the circumstances.
Labor was “all at sea” on the matter, Mr Abetz said.

Fire at Rauma shipyard 27 February 2023

Ships facts | Spirit of Tasmania

A fire occurred at Rauma shipyard in a ship located in the construction dock on Monday 27 February 2023 at approximately 16.30 o’clock.

The fire ignited in the tank room as a result of hot work. Work was halted and the fire was quickly put out after the arrival of the Rescue Department. Their final unit left the scene at 18 o’clock.

The fire caused no casualties and any material losses were minor. Work resumed Tuesday morning 28 February and the fire had no impact on the ship’s delivery schedule.

The ship in question is the first of two sister vessels ordered by Spirit of Tasmania (TT-Line Company). The new vessels will operate on the world’s southernmost open sea route across the Bass Strait between Geelong, Victoria, and Devonport, Tasmania. The first ship is planned to be delivered in the first quarter of 2024 and the second in late 2024.

End of Melbourne terminal, new era at Geelong

Spirit of Tasmania I docked at the new berth in Geelong
Mitchell Bruce photo

The Spirit of Tasmania I departed last night from Melbourne for the final time to much fanfare. TT-Line ferries started to dock at Station Pier in 1985 with the Abel Tasman. Subsequent ferries have been docking there until last night.

Back in 2019 the owners of Station Pier had told TT-Line that they would be putting the price up for the berth, a considerable amount more. TT-Line begin to investigate alternatives places to dock. 2020 they announced they had made a deal with Geelong and would move in during 2022.

Spirit of Tasmania I docked at the new terminal this morning 23/10/22 commercially for the first time.

Fire onboard Spirit II

Spirit of Tasmania II heading for Melbourne from Devonport
Photo:© Mitchell Bruce

On Thursday night, 29/7/22 a fire broke out on main (G3) garage deck of Spirit of Tasmania II around midnight in the engine of a truck.
The general alarm was sounded throughout the ship calling for passengers to go to gather at muster stations.
The fire was successfully extinguished and the ship increased speed around 1:30am on Friday morning.

23 years ago, when Spirit II was Superfast III she suffered a major fire on the main deck which took over 6 months to repair in Germany.

TT-line press release

Tasmania Talks Spirit Fire

Construction commences on SeaRoad’s newbuild vessel

German shipbuilding yard Flensburger Schiffbau-Gesellschaft (FSG) has completed the first cut of steel for SeaRoad’s newbuild vessel.

A ceremony on 20 May officially commenced the construction of the new roll-on / roll-off (RoRo) freight vessel, a project valued at more than €100 million.

The event involved the ceremonial ‘pushing of the button’ to start the laser cutting machine with SeaRoad Technical Marine Manager, Tony Johnson, and FSG CEO Philipp Maracke doing the honours. Mr Johnson is currently on the ground in Germany overseeing the newbuild project.

Reaching milestones

Executive Chairman of SeaRoad, Chas Kelly, said the steel-cutting ceremony marked the official start of production at the shipyard.

“The ceremony marks an exciting chapter for SeaRoad, working together with FSG to deliver a vessel that will be of outstanding quality,” said Mr Kelly.

“SeaRoad is known for its attention to detail and dedicated customer service. Our new vessel will enable us to continue to deliver on SeaRoad’s commitment to service excellence for our partners”

FSG Chief Executive Officer, Philipp Maracke, said, “Seeing the first steel being cut is a great milestone for a vessel and we look forward to our good cooperation with SeaRoad and to seeing this project taking shape.”

The new freight vessel will join SeaRoad Mersey II and replace SeaRoad’s charter vessel MV Liekut to operate on Bass Strait between Melbourne and Devonport, scheduled for delivery in the fourth quarter of 2023.

The 210-metre-long vessel will feature the latest technology, including LNG power, as part of SeaRoad’s commitment to sustainable practices.

The ship will have a capacity of 4,227 lane metres and capability to transport heavy cargo with a unit weight of up to 100 tonnes.

Ilos, ex Nils Holgersson, Abel Tasman, Pollux, Theofilos beached

Ilos beached in Aliağa yesterday 16/5/22
Photo:Serkan Deniz

Yesterday the long suffering Theofilos was beached in Aliağa where she will be cut up for scrap.
She has been laid up for almost 10 years now after the finical collapse of her owner NEL Lines.
She was laid up at Spanopoulos ship yard for the last year or so. The tug Christos LXI, also of Spanopoulos group towed Ilos through the Aegean, where she had sailed many times over the past 20 years.

Ilos under tow
Photo: arxipelagos.gr
Ilos under tow
Photo: arxipelagos.gr
Theofilos beached
Photo: arxipelagos.gr

Theofilos, Former Abel Tasman on the way for scrap

Ilos under tow.
Photo: Panagia Ekatontapiliani Ship Friends

It has been reported a few times now that the former Bass Strait ferry Abel Tasman, Theofilos had been sold for scrap, but it never eventuated. It seemed she may even escape the torch of the breakers.
But late on Friday in Greece the line of the Tug Christos LXI was attached to the Theoflios, now named Ilos for one last voyge. She was towed from Spanopoulos ship yard where she had been situated for 14 months.
Over the past few weeks NEL Lines had been painted out on the sides of the ship. She is expected to arrive off Aliağa in the next day or so.

AIS of the Christos LXI towing Ilos

Reprieve for Theofilos.

It looks like the auction of the fomer NEL Line ships has been delayed, meaning the old Abel Tasman will probably be with us for a bit longer yet.

Translation: In the postponement of the auction hastings, which were due to take place on 11/9, for the ships Aiolos Kenteris 1, Aiolos Kenteris 2, TAXIARCHIS, THEOFILOS and MYTILINI, the postponements were postponed by the judicial authorities after the 3

According to the auction data, for AEOLOS CENTER 2, the price of the first bid was set at € 1,000,000 while for the other 4 ships € 120,000


Princess Seaways and King Seaways sold to Moby.

Princess Seaways departing Newcastle.

King and Princess Seaways have been sold to Italian operator Moby Line, with the Moby Aki Andy Moby Wonder to replace King and Princess on the North Sea. The Moby sisters will be renamed Amsterdam Seaways and Newcastle Seaways. This deal has been in the pipeline for many months, It is believed DFDS had concerns about the condition of the Moby sisters lack of maintenance .

Government’s ‘hands-off’ approach to TT-Line ship deal criticised

INVESTMENT: An artist's impression of one of the new Spirit of Tasmania vessels. Picture: Flensburger Schiffbau-Gesellschaft
Article from the Advocate newspaper https://www.theadvocate.com.au/story/6208497/tt-line-to-meet-with-spirit-shipbuilder-amid-delivery-concerns/

The state government’s failure to step-in to ensure the on-time delivery of two new Spirit of Tasmania ships has been criticised as TT-Line is set to meet with the troubled shipbuilder this week. 

Questions raised by the Labor party regarding the ability of German shipyard Flensburger Schiffbau-Gesellschaft to fulfill its contract to deliver the new vessels by 2021 follow the resignation of the Tasmanian-based project leader on Sunday. 

FSG has been plagued with financial difficulties and, despite being bailed out from near-bankruptcy by a German investor in recent months, industry reports say a number of engineers have left the company causing delays on the ships scheduled to be completed by FSG before construction starts on the two Spirits. 

A TT-Line spokesman said the meeting this week was the latest in a series of meetings since TT-Line announced FSG was experiencing financial difficulties in February this year.

The spokesman said the timeline for the delivery of the ships had not changed since the contract with FSG was signed, with the vessels due to be in service by the end of 2021. 

The ships are currently in their design stage with their construction to begin after FSG completes a vessel for Irish Ferries.

A more detailed timeline regarding the stages of the build was not available as the ships were not started yet, the spokesman said. 

Treasurer Peter Gutwein said TT-Line would work through what he labelled the “obvious challenges” facing FSG with the shipyard. 

When asked why the Tasmanian-based project leader resigned, Mr Gutwein said “people come and go in companies all the time”.

Mr Gutwein said the new Spirits would be fully funded in the budget over the next four years and, because the contract is in euros, the government has hedged additional funds.

“We haven’t paid any money to the company, nor will we until we have a guarantee of delivery in place,” Mr Gutwein said. 

Labor infrastructure spokesman David O’Byrne said it was unacceptable the government was taking a hands-off approach to the ships’ delivery. 

“What we are seeing is leaks and stories coming from Europe and now TT-Line itself. It’s not good enough for them not to brief the Tasmanian people on the status on what is one of the most important infrastructure projects in the state’s history,” Mr O’Byrne said.

Mr O’Byrne said industry reports of key staff leaving FSG caused him to question the timing of the delivery of the vessels.

“The TT-Line replacement vessels are very important for the state,” he said, stating the new ships were crucial to meet the growing demands of freight and tourism.