SHIPBUILDER Austal Ships has produced the first Australian built high-speed ferry for commuter service in Japan. The stylish 43-metre aluminium catamaran was built at a cost of A$10.7 million (about HK$60.9 million) for Diamond Ferry Ltd, a subsidiary of the giant Japanese shipping group Mitsui OSK. It will operate in the Inland Sea of Japan between the cities of Oita on Kyushu Island and Matsayama on Shikoku Island completing the journey in two hours. Apart from being Austal's first sale to Japan, the vessel aptly named Speeder, has a capacity for 331 passengers and is the fastest catamaran that the company has ever built. With a combination of style, technology and performance, Austal is excited by the vessel's potential. 'We are honoured to have been able to build Diamond Ferry, simply one of the best vessels we have ever produced. This vessel is very clearly our ambassador to Japan,' said John Rothwell, chairman and managing director of Austal Ships. As is increasingly necessary in the fast ferry market, speed coupled with passenger comfort are prime considerations, according to Austal's marketing manager Chris Pemberton. Speeder provides both a fully laden service speed of 42.5 knots and is fitted with a fully computerised Ocean Leveller stabilising system to provide optimal passenger comfort during high-speed transit, said Mr Pemberton. The Ocean Leveller display panel is positioned in front of the helmsman. Once activated, the fully automatic system requires no further input by the crew. The vessel was built to Japanese Government classification and will be delivered to the port of Oita this month.