TT-Line Company Pty Ltd is set to order two new ships to replace the current Spirit of Tasmania vessels by 2021.

While they will be a similar roll on / roll off design to Spirit of Tasmania I and II, the new ships will have substantially larger capacity for passengers, passenger vehicles and freight.

TT-Line chairman Mike Grainger said the Board and the executive team of the company had worked closely with the Tasmanian Government on vessel replacement through the Ships Replacement Sub-Committee of Cabinet, chaired by the Minister for Infrastructure, Rene Hidding, and including Premier Will Hodgman and Treasurer Peter Gutwein.

“The company has carefully assessed vessel types and fleet configurations over the past 18 months to determine the most appropriate vessel to operate daily crossings on Bass Strait,” he said.

“We looked at capacity, customer expectations, operating speed, seakeeping properties for Bass Strait, capital and operating costs and operational efficiency.

“Further, independent expert industry modelling for future demand for travel on the Spirits projected a continuation of strong passenger and freight growth.

“We are obviously very pleased that the government has accepted our business case and look forward to finalising the contracts for this significant infrastructure investment which will facilitate the strong growth in our key tourism and freight markets.”

Mr Grainger said he expected the order for the new vessels would be placed in the first half of the 2018 calendar year and delivered in time to commence operations on Bass Strait by 2021.

“The company has short listed a number of international shipyards to build the new purpose-built vessels,” he said.

“While there are no Australian shipyards with the capacity to build the new monohull Spirits, the vessels will feature the best of Tasmanian products in the fit-out.”

TT-Line is planning ahead for changes to international regulations on ship emissions to ensure the company is fully compliant.

“The new Spirits will be designed to run on dual fuel, including liquefied natural gas, which will comply with all international regulations,” Mr Grainger said.