Cahaya Baru is new ferry for the Cocos (Keeling) Islands, recently launched from the Hobart shipyard, Richardson Devine Marine Constructions. “New Life” is the translation from Malay “Cahaya Baru” and that is exactly what this vessel will bring to the aged Cocos (Keeling) Islands ferry service.

The Cocos (Keeling) ferry is a main lifeline for the islands, ferrying passengers between Home Island, West Island and Direction Island on a regular timetable. The existing ferry which has seen close to 28 years service crosses the lagoon at a modest 11 knots.

Responding to a Commonwealth Government tender, Richardson Devine Marine asked Incat Crowther to come up with a vessel that met or exceeded all of the specific criteria presented within the tender. The vessel needed to carry around 90 passengers at 20 knots with a shallow draft.

Incat Crowther developed a design based on a proven hull form and instead of the conventional shaft line with rudders and propellers, the design incorporated two Hamilton HM 422 water jets each driven by a Cummins QSM11 HX engine rated at 610hp.

Having fulfilled the brief successfully and recognised for their vessels’ high quality and reliability, RDM were awarded the tender in August 2011.

The vessel is designed to carry 94 passengers with 70 seated on Beaurteax Krue seats in the air conditioned cabin and 24 on the upper, open sundeck on Beaurteax Café seats. The wheelhouse is a compact half in half out module located forward of the passenger cabin with a well laid out Simrad navigation suite. Toilets are aft with one oversized and allocated as disabled amenities.

Successful sea trials were completed during May with the vessel exceeding contract speed of 20knots with full load displacement at 85%MCR.

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