First logo of TT-Line utilized the Transport Tasmania TT logo.

The TT-Line began back in 1985 under the direction of the Tasmanian government department responsible for transport, Transport Tasmania. The structure of the company was a board of directors who reported directly to the state Government of Tasmania. It was stared because the Australian government owned, Australian National Line (ANL) who had operated the route since 1959 had decided in 1984 to exit the passenger ferry business.
The first task of the Transport Tasmania line was to buy a ferry suitable for the Bass Strait run. During 1984 representatives from the department of Transport Tasmania traveled to Europe to inspect available tonnage. During their time in Europe many ships were inspected. In the end they settled on the Nils Holgersson from a German Company, TT-Line for AUD $26 Million, although this included the renovations and upgrading of the terminals. (It should be noted that even though they had the same logo and name for 17 years, there is no connection between the two companies, apart from two the ships having sailed for both lines.) After handover the ship was renamed Abel Tasman and underwent four months of modification and then sailed to Tasmania. The Abel Tasman started service on the Bass Strait on 1/7/85 from Melbourne.
The company originally started with the TT logo of Transport Tasmania, but later adopted the diamond logo, previously used by TT-Linie of Germany. This logo was used until 1993

TT-Line logo from on Abel Tasman from 1989 -1993, adopted from the German TT-Line.

On the 24/12/1990 TT-Line announced they had purchased the Peter Pan from the German TT-Line for AUD$150m, with expected delivery some time in 1993.

TT-Line of Tasmania adopted the logo of the German TT-Line. The Yellow and Blue represent the colours of the Swedish flag.

On 1/11/1993with the introduction of the Spirit of Tasmania ferry, the Bass Strait ferry operation was transferred from the Tasmanian Department of Transport (Previously Transport Tasmania) to the newly formed TT-Line Company Pty Ltd, a government business enterprise wholly owned by the Tasmanian Government. The new TT-Line Company Pty Ltd was set up the same as a public listed company, with one share holder, the state Government of Tasmania.
In April of 1994 the Abel Tasman was sold to Venturis Ferries for USD $24.7 Million. The company ran the vessel Spirit of Tasmania from 1993 until 2002. During this period it also operated several fast catamarans from Tasmanian ship builder Incat. Two of which were knows as the Devil Cat.
During 1997 TT-Line’s only vessel Spirit of Tasmania suffered a major mechanical failure, which caused significant damage. It was fixed within two weeks. During the vessels absence from the time Bass Strait they had to charter an incat built catamaran ferry, Lynx (Condor 10), which had to come from New Zealand.

Logo used on the original Spirit of Tasmania, in conjunction with the TT-Line company logo

In 2001 representatives from TT-Line were actively seeking tonnage to replace the Spirit of Tasmania. They inspected several ferries across Europe, but were very keen on two Ferries from Superfast Ferries. Initially having their eye on Superfast I & II, but eventually persuading Attica Enterprises to sell them the newer and faster Superfast III & IV for AUD$290 million. They took delivery of the new ships 10/5/02, and entered service on 1/9/02. At this time they retained the red livery of Superfast ferries and had a new logo designed to be more fitting to the new ships. The new ships revolutionized the Bass Strait service and boosted visitor numbers to the state.
In December of 2002 the old Spirit of Tasmania was sold to Fjord Line for AUD $61 million.

Logo of TT-Line from 2002 onward.
Photo: Mitchell Bruce

Riding the wave of success the Government led by Jim Bacon though it would be a nice idea to re open the Sydney service to Tasmania. It had previously been operated by ANL until 1976. TT-Line and Government officials traveled to Europe again to inspect ferries owned by Magna Marine, Superfast Ferries. Superfast were only prepared to sell the first two, so Superfast II was selected being the slightly newer and second constructed of the pair. It is beveled there was an option on Superfast I also, but the purchase of that vessel never materialized. The Superfast II was handed over at the end of the European summer season, at the end of September. The price paid was AUD $105 million, this included refitting and rebuilding works. She was refitted in Greece and sailed to Australia to have some rebuilding done in Hobart.
After she was ready she sailed to Sydney where the ship received plenty of media attention. on 13/1/04 Spirit of Tasmania III made her maiden voyage out of Sydney to Tasmania, where environmental protesters stole the lime light by abseiling down the side of the ship with a banner saying “Wood chopping” the Spirit of Tasmania. It was on national news and gave the new service coverage, whether it be good or bad.
The operation of this ship caused TT-Line many difficulties financially. After a short time of running the service, TT-Line was asking the Government for money to subsidise the service. Since the ship had started the price of fuel had risen significantly, low cost airlines had grown and international travel had become cheaper. The Government agreed to give AUD$115 million over three years to the service, as required. Over the the next year the service continued to make a loss, causing TT-Line to loose even more money. TT-Line wrote to the Government in May of 2006 saying it would have to sell the ship if more money wasn’t injected immediately, as it was going to force TT-Line into bankruptcy. On 5/6/06 the Tasmanian government decided to discontinue the loss making service, and sell the Spirit of Tasmania III, to recoup TT-Line’s losses. During the sale process, several European companies had representatives inspect the ship, the sale was done via traditional “sealed-bid auction”. The sale of the ship was completed for AUD $111.475 million. At the time Sydney ship broker Harry Mansson made a claim that Norwegian Shipping Company, Norferries bid of $111 million was not considered by the TT-Line. TT-Line said Norferries weren’t the highest bidder and had unacceptable conditions attached.
The sale was completed on 6/9/06 to Corsica Ferries in Melbourne.

In March 2015 renovations aboard the companies two ships were competed by UK company trim line for AUD$31.5m. the work took five months, much of the work being done whilst the ships were still in service.

On 7/12/17 TT-Line announce it has signed a letter of intent with German ship builder Flensburger Schiffbau-Gesellschaft (FSG) for the construction of two new fast Ro/Pax ferries. In May 2018 the two parties signed a contract, with delivery expected in 2021.

In 2020 the contract with FSG was cancelled because the yard was unable to for fill its obligations to the contract and deliver the ships on time. Consequently a LOI was signed with RMC (Rauma Marine Constructions) to build the ferries. Just before the finalising of the contract to be singed TT-line was ordered to pull out of the deal by the Tasmanian Government, who wanted to explore avenues to have the vessels built in Australia. A task force was set up which explored several avenues, but ultimately the signing of a contract with RMC was recommenced. The steel cutting ceremony is due to take place on 28/2/2022.

Rendering of the new Spirit of Tasmania ferries to be built for TT-Line.
© Flensburger Schiffbau-Gesellschaft