JR Kyushu will use the trimaran platform to expand its Japan to South Korea route, has a capacity for 502 customers and an operational speed of 37 knots.
Construction will commence in late 2018, with services scheduled to begin prior to the Summer Olympics Games in Tokyo in 2020.
The contract was signed at Austal’s Australian shipyard at an official ceremony attended by Australia’s ambassador to Japan Richard Court, Japan’s Counsel-General in Perth Tatsuo Hirayama, Austal’s chairman John Rothwell and CEO David Singleton, plus JR Kyushu Jet Ferry’s president Masayuki Mizuno and general manager, planning, Hitoshi Ogawa.
The shipbuilding deal builds on a strong 2017 for commercial vessel sales for Austal, Singleton said, and “reflects our continued focus as a technology-led organisation in developing industry-leading, customised solutions for commercial operators around the world”.
Austal already has nine trimarans in operation around the world, with another seven under construction and five under order.
The company recently announced the delivery on the seventh vessel in the Independence-variant littoral combat ship (LCS) class to the US Navy from its US shipyard.
Austal is also under contract to build 12 expeditionary fast transport vessels (EPF) for the US Navy, with nine vessels delivered so far.