M/V Saint John Paul II is due to be delivered to shipowners Virtu Ferries on the 24th January 2019, and will be deployed on the Malta/Sicily route in March 2019.
With a deadweight of 1,000 tonnes, capacity for 900 passengers in 5 lounges, and a garage that takes 167 cars or 23 trailers, Saint John Paul II will be the largest high-speed RoPax (roll-on/roll-off passenger) catamaran operating in the Mediterranean, and the second-largest in the world.
The vessel is named after Saint John Paul II. Virtu Ferries had the honour of welcoming HH Pope John Paul II on board ACC San Frangisk on the return voyage between Grand Harbour, Valletta, St Paul’s Islands and Gozo on 27th May 1990.
Like all other Virtu high-speed vessels, the Saint John Paul II will fly the Malta Flag and is certified for international voyages by the International Classification Society, DNV GL.
Saint John Paul II is being built to conform not only to the obligatory International Maritime Organisation High-Speed Craft Code 2000 but also to The EU Directive 1999/35/EC of the European Maritime Safety Agency of the European Commission. Built by world-renowned shipbuilders Incat, it also conforms with the EU Maritime Green Policy, the European response to the new generation of ocean strategies based on science, technology and innovation.
Saint John Paul II is powered by four MTU engines generating a total of 36.4 Mega Watts, while four Wärtsilä waterjets give the vessel a cruising speed in excess of 38 knots (over 70.4 km/hour)
It is the fifth newbuild, and 11th high-speed vessel, delivered to Virtu since the commencement of the high speed ferry service between Malta and Sicily in 1988. The company has invested in excess of €175 million in high speed vessels that have, at some time, been operated on the Malta/Sicily route, effectively revolutionising the carriage of passengers and cargo between the neighbouring islands.
Virtu currently also operate high speed vessels on international routes between Venice and Adriatic Ports in Slovenia and Croatia as well as Tarifa, Spain to Tangier in Morocco.
Virtu Ferries are acknowledged internationally as pioneering operators of high speed passengers and cargo ferries. In times of humanitarian crisis, Virtu have operated their vessels on time-charter to the Governments of Australia, the USA, Italy, and Malta and international corporations and institutions such as the International Red Cross and Medicins Sans Frontier.