Business

Tas shipbuilder making huge aluminium ship

The ferry will be the world's largest aluminium ship at 130 metres long and 13,000 tonnes. (AAP)

Tasmanian shipbuilder Incat has won an $US130 million order to build the world's largest aluminium ship, a 130m ferry that will be used in Latin America.

Tasmania shipbuilder Incat has signed a contract to build the world's largest aluminum ship, an order worth about $US130 million ($A188m) that will keep hundreds of workers busy for years.

Incat will build the 130-metre ferry for longstanding Latin American customer Buquebus to operate between Argentina and Uruguay.

Incat founder and chairman Robert Clifford told AAP the privately held company will spend six months designing the vessel, with delivery expected in three years.

The vessel will likely weigh 13,000 tonnes and be 32m wide, carrying 2,100 passengers and 220 cars on two routes from Buenos Aires lasting 75 minutes and three hours.

The ship will be the largest aluminium vessel ever made by tonnage, by length and "certainly" by width, he said.

The ferry will also feature the world's largest duty-free shop on a ship, with over 3000 square metres of retail floor space, similar to the size of large airport duty-free shop.

Aluminium is gaining favour as a ship-building material as aluminium ships are half the weight of steel ships, so use less fuel, Mr Clifford said.

"Everyone's getting very environmentally friendly and power conscious," he said.

Aluminium ships also retain their strength better as they don't rust, he added.

The ferry's four engines will burn eco-friendly LNG, and are forecast to propel the vessel faster than over 40 knots.

Between 600 to 700 workers will be employed on the project, Mr Clifford said.

With five other ships on order and more large vessel orders expected, Incat is looking to hire about 100 workers a year to handle the production, he said.

The ferry will the ninth ship Incat has built for Buquebus.

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