Kelvin Hughes

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Kelvin Hughes SharpEye™ radars for new Guadeloupe fast ferries

Superior performance and service clinched bridge equipment contract in the face of stiff competition.

Kelvin Hughes has supplied SharpEye™ solid-state S-Band (10cm) radars for two 47m fast ferry catamarans constructed by Austal Ships in Western Australia for Caribbean operator L'Express des Iles, based in Guadeloupe.

Perle Express is configured to carry passengers and vehicles while Liberty is a passenger only ferry. Both vessels will shortly commence inter island operations.

Speaking for L'Express des Iles when the vessels were ordered, Captain Onick Deravel explained the decision to specify SharpEye™ technology for the S-Band radars: "We operate fast craft, sometimes in darkness. The majority of vessels we encounter are very small, so for the safety of navigation it is important that we have the best radar available for these conditions." He added that because Guadeloupe is a long way from the major equipment suppliers, service is a priority. "We chose Kelvin Hughes because it could guarantee good after sales service."

The high performance solid-state radars form part of Kelvin Hughes' integrated bridge packages for the new vessels. Other equipment supplied includes Kelvin Hughes Manta Digital 20-inch X-Band (3cm) radars, ECDIS and VDR.

"Selection of the bridge equipment triggered a long and fiercely competitive battle between major bridge equipment manufacturers," commented Jim Fraser, managing director of AMI Marine International, Kelvin Hughes' Australian representative. "Factors that helped to win the contracts include SharpEye™’s superior target detection, and Kelvin Hughes's ability to provide a full suite of navigational equipment, including ECDIS and VDR."

Kelvin Hughes supplied radar and bridge packages for two earlier 45m catamaran fast ferries built by Austal for the same operator: the passenger/vehicle Silver Express andthe passenger-only Gold Express, both delivered in 2005. "L'Express des Iles has been pleased with the equipment's performance and reliability," Mr Fraser says. "In the unlikely event of problems, immediate, effective support is important to the company, so several years ago we arranged a link up between a local service agent and Kelvin Hughes. Furthermore, the compatibility and interchangeability between radar, ECDIS and VDR processors helps to keep any down-time to a minimum."

Kelvin Hughes has a well established relationship with Austal, which regularly installs the company's integrated bridges on its vessels.

"It is a credit to the quality, performance and reliability of equipment from Kelvin Hughes that all but one of the new HSC fast ferries currently under construction in Australia is being fitted with the company's radars," says Mr. Fraser.

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