Builder: Kvaerner Masa -Yards, Turku, Finland.
Year of build: 1998
Ship yard number: 1341.
IMO Number: 9158446
Call sign: VNGY
Daft: DWL 6.4m / Scantling: 6.55m.
GT/ NT / DWT. 29,338 / 11,246 / 5,650t.
Main engines. Four Wärtsilä Sulzer 16ZAV40S Diesel.
Power rating: 42240 kW.
Gear ratio: 510 rpm to 147 rpm.
Service speed: 28.5 knots
Passengers capacity: 750 beds in 222 cabins.
1400 with deck passengers.
Trailer deck lane meters: 1,852m.
Total Lane meters: 2,635m
Spirit of Tasmania I arrived in Tasmania in 2002. She was built in Turku, Finland by Kvaerner-Masa Yards in 1998 as Superfast IV, along with sister ship Superfast III. They were built for Greek company Attica Enterprises subsidiary Superfast Ferries to serve their Patras (Greece) to Ancona (Italy) route. They were designed with a service speed of 28.5knots, to offer a 7 day a week time table, completing the journey in 19 hours with a 2.5 hour turn around each end. The previous pair, Superfast I &II (The II later becoming Spirit III) could only offer a 6 day schedule, due to the slightly slower speed.
Superfast IV was baptized on 1/2/98, in a twin ceremony with Superfast III at the Turku ship yard. On the Delivery voyage, from Finland to Greece, the ship’s anti-fouling hull paint suffered damage from the Baltic ice. On arrival in Greece she had to be dry docked to have this fixed . It also happened a few months earlier with her Sister.
1/4/98 Superfast IV was handed over to Superfast ferries, departing Turku Finland, for Patras Greece. On the 10/4/98 she made her maiden voyage from Patras to Ancona. In the summer season of 2000, Superfast ferries began to offer departures from Igoumenitsa, Greece with Superfast IV. But due to the late delivery of the next Superfast pair (V & VI) it was only offered one way (On the way the Patras in the first half of the season and on the way to Ancona in the second half) At the end of the Summer season, Superfast IV was again used on Patras-Ancona direct. After the delivery of Superfast V & VI, Supefast IV was placed on Patras-Igoumenitsa-Ancona every voyage.
In March 2002 Attica Enterprises entered into an agreement to sell Superfast IV and III to TT-Line. During April of 2002 Superfast IV was deployed on Patras-Igoumenitsa-Bari to cover the absence of Superfast I & II during their refits. Some senior crew from Australia joined the ship in her final weeks, for familiarization.
On 10/5/2002 Superfast IV was handed over to TT-Line at Patras. She sailed for the Neronian ship yard on Syros Island, in the Cyclades group of islands, arriving the next day. She was dry docked for in preparation for her new career. Among the works carried out was the repainting into Spirit of Tasmania livery, Name change to Spirit of Tasmania I, general overhaul of machinery, removal of the Superfast funnel wings, which Superfast wanted removed for trademark reasons. On the 7/7/2002 Spirit of Tasmania I departed Greece for Australia, sailing via the Suez canal, Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, Arabian Sea, calling at Colombo, Sri lanker for bunkers. She then set off across the Indian Ocean for Fremantle, Western Australia for Bunkers again, arriving 25/7/2002. She set off across the Great Australian bight for Hobart, Tasmania. Both Spirit of Tasmania I & II met up at the mouth of the Derwent river at 9:30 am on 29/7/02 and sailed up the river together, to heavy media attention. She docked in Hobart an hour later. She was docked in Hobart for almost two weeks, with final preparations were being made to enter service. Spirit of Tasmania I (& II) Held open days in Hobart 11/8/02.
Both sisters sailed for Melbourne the next day, arriving 14/8/02. Both ships were open to the public 17&18/8/02. 23/8/02 Spirit of Tasmania I departed Melbourne for her repositioning voyage to Devonport to commence operations. She took a slightly different course to Devonport than normal, as to hug the coast so that residents of North Western Tasmania could get a glimpse of their new ferry. She sounded her horn many times along the coast, meeting the original Spirit of Tasmania at the mouth of the Mersey River, who was on one of her final voyages to Melbourne. On 25/8/02 an open day was held in her home port, Devonport, where huge crowds flowed through the ship all day to inspected her. The city held many festivities to celebrate the occasion. After the open day she was laid up for a few days on the Western side of the river, until the final departure of the Spirit of Tasmania on 31/8/02 .
On the evening of 1/9/02 at 9PM Spirit of Tasmania I set sail from Devonport for her maiden voyage to Melbourne. As the vessel turned around in the basin of the Mersey River and preceded out to sea, fire works were set off from the shore, as people waved the ship off.
She arrived the next morning at port Melbourne to heavy media attention, including news helicopters and news crews on shore. The premier of Tasmania, Jim Bacon had sailed with the vessel from Tasmania to Melbourne, to greet news crews and be interviewed with the Victorian Premier Steve Bracks to gain publicity.
Only a few weeks after entering service, a week of heavy weather come in Bass Strait. Spirit of Tasmania I aborted attempts to enter the Mersey river on more than one occasion. A week later on the 19/9/02 Spirit of Tasmania I was forced to turn back to Melbourne after entering heavy Seas in Bass Strait. A indicator was activated on the bridge to warn of an issue with the bow door. She arrived back in the early hours of the next day, where it was found there was a blockage in a drain. She then set off again for Devonport, arriving 9 hours late. The government came under fire from opposition that they had purchased ships not capable of dealing with the big seas of Bass Strait.
Within the first year of service, it was found the outside decks were too open and therefore too windy for the Bass Strait. It was decided to enclose the lido/pool deck 10. The old swimming pool was covered over as well the addition of an air seat lounge at the old aft deck 8 bar. The work was done by Tasmanian based marine engineering firm, Taylor bros.
On the 3/2/05 on a voyage from Melbourne to Devonport Spirit of Tasmania I encountered very large seas, waves of up to 20m battered the ship, smashing quite a few portholes on the fore of the superstructure. Many passengers thought the ship was sinking, since there was water running down the corridors, entering the ship from the smashed cabin windows at the bow. Crew had to wake passengers personally, because the PA system wasn’t working due to the water ingress. Some cabin walls were destroyed due to the strength and weight of the sea water. One couple had to be rescued from their cabin by crew cutting a hole the the cabin next door, because the door could not be opened due to damage. The vessel arrived back in Melbourne in the morning, where passengers disembarked. Emergency repairs were carried out, and the ship sailed the next day.
In 2007 Taylor Bros of Tasmania were again contracted to modify the Spirit I and II. The work included lengthening the hoistable car decks of G6, with four sections 14 metres long, to be installed at each end of the hostable decks to increase car capacity. The work also involved enclosing the open car deck at the aft of G5, so there would be no salt spray on passengers cars, and they could utilize the area. It previously wasn’t used for passengers cars, as people complained about salt spray on them.
In March 2015 renovations aboard the Spirit of Tasmania I commenced. The contract was awarded to a UK based company, Trim line.
All of the work was done whilst the ship remained in service, unlike Spirit of Tasmania II. The ship sailed with freight units only for three weeks whilst the ship was being renovated. At the end TT-Line had applied large red lettering “THE NEW” above the hull for 12 months, to advertise the new interiors of the vessels.
From pre renovation to now.