With more and more visitors to Bali seeking a beach holiday offshore at the nearby Gili Islands, Gilicat - a leading marine operators Ė is preparing to launch a new 20-meter, 70-passenger vessel to provide regular service between the Balinese port of Padang Bai to the Gili Islands with an extension leg to Lombok island.
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In order to meet demand that, according to the operator, has grown by 25% in 2009, the new vessel is scheduled to enter service in December 2010.
Recent mishaps including the sinking on August 24, 2010, when 34 Gili-bound passengers narrowly escaped drowning [See: Don't Go Down with the Ship
], underline the need for high quality vessels capable of handling the strong currents and sometimes high seas found in the 34 nautical mile crossing separating Padang Bai and the Gili Islands.
The new vessel soon to be launched by Gili Cat
meets this criteria.Built at a cost of US$1.5 million, the all aluminum vessel was designed by Global Marine Design
in Australia with structural plans approved by Det Norske Veritas (DNV)
, an International Classification Society. Hull and superstructure were pre-cut and shipped to Indonesia for assembly and final fit out. The final construction and sea trials are being overseen by Biro Klasifikasi Indonesia (BKI)
- the Republic's national classification society who will certify the construction, machinery, safety equipment and crewing conform to international standards. The boat is powered by twin 1200 hp diesel engines.
Although 13 operators are currently licensed to serve the Bali to Gili island route, the general manager of Gilicat,
Captain Chris Ellis, who is a retired Australian Navy Commander with more than 40 years of marine experience, seems unconcerned with the competition.
According to Captain Ellis, "It is a significant capital investment and it does have some strategic risks from the competition posed by other operators with smaller, cheaper, locally produced boats. Notwithstanding, one only has to see the comments posted on blog sites following the recent sinking of a vessel off Padang Bai in August to realize that traveling public expects, quite rightly, a more comfortable and safer means of getting them and their families to the Gili Islands and Lombok. With the intention of being a long-term player in this business, Gilicat is leading the way in this regard. I have no doubt that the new vessel will get the support it needs to provide the best product at a competitive price."
Adding, "the writing is on the wall for all fast boat operators Ė as a group we have to maintain strict safety standards as set by the Government of Indonesia as well as the expectations of many foreign governments whose citizens we carry on our boats. A serious incident resulting in loss of life will not only affect all fast boats, but the Gili Islands tourism market and the reputation of Indonesia as a whole." Gili Cat Services
[Single Journey on Gili Cat
[Round Trip Journey on Gili Cat
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