25 December 2018






2 mins

On Saturday 22nd December 2018 the Australian shipbuilder Incat Tasmania launched Virtu Ferries latest 110.6metre long High Speed Craft SAINT JOHN PAUL II at its Hobart, Tasmania, shipyard.

This wave piercing catamaran will be the 15th fast HSC Virtu has acquired; the largest high speed catamaran in the Mediterranean and the second largest in the world. The vessel is being built in accordance with the EU Maritime Green Policy, which seeks to promote an innovative, competitive and environmentally-friendly maritime industry. She has been built to DNV GL rules and complies with IMO High Speed Craft HSC 2000, the Malta Flag statutory requirements and Italian Port State requirements.

For Virtu Ferries this new vessel provides a significant increase in capacity, the 490 truck lane meters offering 43% more truck capacity, with 15% more passenger capacity and 7% more car capacity than her previous craft. HSC SAINT JOHN PAUL II interior incorporates VIP, Business and Economy class areas for the 924 passengers and crew. The cat is fitted with a total of 1,120 seats, including outdoor seating on the aft deck. Total is 900 passengers and 23 heavy commercial trailers, equivalent to 490 truck lane meters or 167 private vehicles.

Virtu Ferries had the honour and pleasure of welcoming HH Pope John Paul II, on board SES SAN FRANGISK, on that momentous return voyage between Grand Harbour, Valletta, St Paul’s Islands and Gozo on 27th May 1990. His Holiness’ entry into Grand Harbour, surrounded by hundreds of people in a fleet of boats, including many in a traditional Maltese Dghajsa or Luzzu, lingers in the island’s collective memory.

SAINT JOHN PAUL II will join JEAN DE LA VALETTE on the Malta/Sicily route too, in practical everyday terms, bring Malta closer to Europe. At a cruising speed of 38 knots (70.4 km per hour) she will make the crossing in approximately 90 minutes. Virtu have been operating a scheduled high speed ferry service between Malta and Sicily since 1988 and commissioned the SAINT JOHN PAUL II specifically for the Malta Channel route. Propulsion is 4 x Wartsila WJX water jets with 4 x MTU 8000 series g100kW each as main engines

Passengers can look forward to travelling to Malta’s closest neighbour, Sicily, in six luxury lounges, with a design based on twenty eight years of surveyed passenger feedback. The Club Class lounge is on the Bridge Deck. The five other lounges are on the Main Deck, one forward and aft, another two amidships on the port and starboard sides, and a designated Truckers lounge with additional facilities, after a hard day’s work. Outside seating is provided on both passenger decks.

Like all Virtu vessels, including those operating between Venice and Adriatic ports and Spain and Morocco, the SAINT JOHN PAUL II will be homeported at Valletta flying the Maltese Flag.

Photos by Glenn Towler . Do not use these images without my permission. © All rights reserved. Malta Ship Photos & Action Photos –

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© All rights reserved. Malta Ship Photos & Action Photos –