AUSTAL Ships has completed its 19th and 20th deliveries to Asia, with the handover this month of the 40-metre catamaran passenger ferries San Bu and Gui Feng to owners in China. A further five are being built, including three to be powered by Textron-Lycoming gas turbines. The latest completions were ordered by Yuet Hing Marine Supplies of Hong Kong for the Sanford Passenger and Cargo Transport Association (San Bu) and the Xin Gang Passenger Transport Co (Gui Feng). Although the round-bilge, bulbous-bowed catamarans look like sibling ships and have the same overall length (39.99 metres) and draught (1.40 m) San Bu has a beam of 11.5 m compared with the 10 m beam of Gui Feng. Their passenger-carrying capacities also vary, with each ferry outfitted to meet the requirements of the services they operate from Hong Kong to the ports of San Bu and Xing Hui on the Pearl River delta. Boarding is via doors amidships on both sides of the main deck, allowing flexibility in boarding as the vessels can be brought alongside to either port or starboard. San Bu seats 266 passengers in aircraft-style chairs on the air-conditioned main deck, 60 in the upper deck lounge, and 12 in two plushly furnished VIP rooms immediately aft of the bridge. Gui Feng carries 313 passengers - 260 on the main deck, 48 in the upper deck lounge, and five in individual armchairs in the VIP room. Austal has in the past three years sold 24 catamaran ferries and cruise ships to Asian owners. It has exported eight vessels worth more than US$56 million so far this year. Separately, Austal has clinched a US$5.8 million contract to build a fast ferry for Tahitian owner SPI Maritime. The company said the deal could open a new and lucrative market. SPI Maritime plans to use the 450-passenger vessel to operate from Tahiti's main port of Papeete to the neighbouring islands of Huahine, Raiatea, Bora Bora and Tahaa. Austal marketing manager Chris Norman said: ''The vessel will prove popular with Tahitians and enhance tourism because at present the only method of transport - apart from aircraft - is to board one of the freighters that take about 10 hours to make the passage from Papeete to Huahine. ''This means that any tourist who wants a weekend on the island is restricted to flying, which is quite expensive. Our vessel will make that leg of the voyage in three hours.'' Mr Norman said the vessel, which is expected to be delivered in June next year, would carry passengers in separate lounges on three decks. To compensate for the rough seas in which the ferry will operate, Austal has designed a fine bow to minimise slamming and has fitted its ''Ocean Leveller'' stabilising system. The vessel is also the yard's first mono-hull ferry, as Austal is a catamaran specialist. Austal has added a 57 m catamaran vehicle-ferry to its design portfolio. With this, Austal aims to provide cheap entry into the fast car and passenger market for new, low density routes. This ferry can carry 450 passengers and 50 cars at up to 36 knots.