Aulong has been awarded contracts totaling $20 million to design and build four 42-metre, high-speed catamarans for Xidao Dazhou Tourism Co Ltd.
The aluminium ferries will carry up to 399 passengers each, at speeds in excess of 20 knots and will operate from Xideo, a tourist island off Sanya City, in the Hainan Province.
Announcing the contracts in Australia, Austal chief executive David Singleton said the Aulong joint venture has rejuvenated its sales in mainland China, with six new high-speed ferries ordered in just 18 months.
"This $20 million order is a great start to 2018, following our record sales in 2017 when we added eight commercial vessel orders wordwide, worth over $380 million," Singleton said.
"Our strategic objective in China is to establish our joint venture, Aulong, as a highly credible brand leader in the very large mainland Chinese market. While the current vessels under construction and on order are relatively small by Austal standards, our work to date has been of the highest quality and we expect over the next few years that larger, more complex vessels will be required in this market."
Singleton said the latest order will help the West Australian company introduce Chinese suppliers into its global supply chain.
"Our growing shipbuilding presence in China will also allow Austal to progressively identify and manage quality Chinese suppliers that can enter our global supply chain and so create additional benefits to the company," he said.
Construction of the ferries will commence from Aulong’s Zhongshan shipyard in Guandong Province in March 2018, with delivery scheduled for early 2019.
Aulong Shipbuilding, established in 2016, employs close to 1,000 people, with Austal holding 40 per cent ownership and Guangdong Jianglong Shipbuilding holding 60 per cent.