Vietnam’s largest catamaran passenger ferry suffered an engine failure shortly after departing a major stop on Thursday, just one week after its inaugural voyage.
The engine of the Con Dao Express 36 stuttered just 15 minutes after leaving the terminal in Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province at around 6:00 am on Thursday.
The ferry attempted to turn around and make its way back to the terminal, but its engine completely died while it was still 800 meters off the coast.
An attendant persuaded the 500 passengers on the boat to remain calm, but after several hours many of those aboard decided to leave the ferry on speedboats provided by the operator, according to passenger Nguyen Thanh Tam.
The catamaran ferries passengers between terminals in the southern Vietnamese province of Ba Ria-Vung Tau and the tourist islands of Con Dao.
It takes about three hours to complete a journey between Ba Ria-Vung Tau and the islands, about 180 kilometers off the coast.
The vessel, built to European standards by a Vietnamese military-run enterprise, has a design that guarantees stability against waves and can offer a relatively pleasant experience to those prone to seasickness.
With four Rolls-Royce engines whose collective power is 7,400 horsepower, it can cruise at the maximum speed of 60 kilometers per hour.
The vehicle, 47 meters long and 12.2 meters wide, can carry 600 passengers – double the capacity of the five catamaran ferries currently in operation in Vietnam.
It has a double-decker cabin with a soundproof floor and seating options for economy, premium economy, and VIP classes.
The VIP seats are equipped with screens for entertainment and can recline 120 degrees.