Gordon River cruise vessel adopts hybrid drive system

THE RACT’s new Gordon River cruise vessel – currently being constructed locally by Richardson Devine Marine – has been fitted with a world-first hybrid drive system that will reduce fuel consumption and its impact on the environment.

RACT Group chief executive Harvey Lennon said the company believed it was the first commercial passenger vessel of its kind in the world to be fitted with such a system that featured both diesel engines and electric motors.

“It will allow us to switch between one or the other or both, depending on the location of the vessel at the time and the weather conditions,” he said.

“When we enter the Gordon River we will switch the diesel propulsion engines off, leaving only the electric drive.

“This will mean guests on-board will enjoy a cruising experience like nothing that has ever been available in Tasmania’s World Heritage Area before – quiet cruising, which is completely in keeping with the values of this remarkable place.”

Richardson Devine Marine (RDM) co-director Toby Richardson said the building of the new vessel set a new benchmark for the company.

“This is a landmark opportunity for RDM to be the first builder in the world to produce a commercial hybrid drive vessel of this size,” he said.

“The main engines can be shut down and the vessel quietly propelled with electric motors driving the propellers, offering a level of serenity otherwise unknown on a commercial cruise vessel of this size.

“The hybrid drive system has been developed by one of the world’s leaders in marine propulsion – MTU, based in Germany.

“There is only one other vessel with this same drive package – a spectacular private yacht recently launched and cruising in the Caribbean.”

The new Gordon River Cruises vessel is due to launch in April 2018.

The vessel has been officially named ‘Spirit of the Wild’.

Mr Lennon said the name was chosen to reflect the UNESCO Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area’s rugged, wild and pristine nature.

“The name also reflects the new vessel’s journey that will take passengers deep into the wilderness and west coast history, cruising in virtual silence,” he said.

Mr Lennon said the vessel would launch during an excellent period of growth for the Tasmanian tourism sector given the positive set of visitor numbers recently released by Tourism Tasmania.

“For the 12-months ending September 2017, Tasmania welcomed 1.28 million visitors, an increase of eight per cent compared to the previous 12-months,” he said.

“Total visitor spending and total nights spent in the state over the same period also increased to $2.3 billion and 10.73 million nights respectively.

“The stats released also indicated growth in visitor numbers across each regional area, which is obviously good news for our properties.

“In the 12-months to September 2017, the east coast experienced 10 per cent growth while the Cradle Coast region enjoyed seven per cent growth.”

For more details and to watch the video, visit www.gordonrivercruises.com.au/2018.

Caption: The RACT’s Gordon River cruise vessel. Photo credit: Spear Green Design.