FastShip, Inc. today announced that it has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with National Steel and Shipbuilding Company (NASSCO), a subsidiary of General Dynamics, to build the first generation high-speed vessels that will make up the FastShip trans-Atlantic transportation fleet. Under the proposed agreement, NASSCO, a renowned designer and builder of new ships headquartered in San Diego, California, will construct the first four revolutionary vessels in the FastShip fleet. The agreement establishes a timeline to finalize a construction contract that will include definitive pricing, delivery schedule and performance guarantees. Moreover, NASSCO has agreed to consider a financing commitment to FastShip, Inc. "NASSCO's recent extensive experience in building roll-on, roll-off vessels and their expertise in gas turbine powered ships is especially relevant to the FastShip project," said Roland K. Bullard II, President of FastShip, Inc. "Their expertise has been proven over the years in both commercial and military shipbuilding with an emphasis on quality, cost control and meeting delivery dates. We are excited to include them as a very important partner in developing the FastShip logistics network." FastShip is creating a time-definite seven-day, door-to-door North Atlantic transportation network linking the middle of Europe to the middle of the United States. The service is made possible through use of patented technology that represents a quantum leap in hull design, propulsion systems and terminal technology. FastShip's high-speed vessels, proprietary loading and unloading system, dedicated terminal, and intermodal network will change the entire dynamic of freight movement between Europe and the U.S. Trial operations will start in the second half of 2002 with the initiation of commercial operations in early 2003. "We are excited to join FastShip as a strategic partner in the development of this revolutionary cargo container fleet and network," said Richard H. Vortmann, President of NASSCO. "We look forward to forging a long-term relationship with FastShip that goes beyond the first four ships and further combines our shipbuilding expertise with the FastShip technology and patents." FastShip will be powered by five marinized aero-derivative gas turbines. Each turbine will drive one Kamewa water jet, delivering in total 250 megawatts, or 335,000 horsepower -- roughly equivalent to the takeoff power of two 747s. This propulsion package will enable the 860-foot vessels, carrying a 10,000-ton payload, to make the passage from Philadelphia to Cherbourg in less than four days, and to attain speeds of up to 40 knots. The hull form, coupled with the propulsion package will enable the ship to maintain those speeds even under adverse weather conditions. Once in port, the ships will be loaded and unloaded in six hours using a rail-based roll-on roll-off system developed by TTS Technology in Norway. "FastShip's partnership with NASSCO significantly propels the development of the FastShip transportation network forward by assuring the successful construction of four state-of-the-art vessels," said Einar Pedersen, Chairman and CEO of FastShip, Inc. "Our partnership with NASSCO combined with many recent developments are clear indications of the growing international support for FastShip, Inc. The FastShip vessels' huge productivity gains and the intermodal network will provide a substantial technological and competitive advantage for the U.S. Maritime industry. This technological advantage is created not only by the vessel's revolutionary hull design and propulsion system, but also by FastShip's state-of-the-art intermodal terminals, which will be unmatched by any port in the world. "It is this combination of speed, technology and asset utilization that yields substantial productivity gains," Bullard said. Moreover, through relatively minor modifications and costs, the FastShip vessels can be transformed into dual-use vessels that could be used for military sealift and pressing humanitarian missions. With these added features, the vessels could even be used in areas with an undeveloped port infrastructure. Headquartered in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, FastShip, Inc. will target high-value, time-sensitive goods including electronics, apparel and perishable items. The FastShip service will provide speed, reliability and frequency comparable to air freight at a cost closer to conventional ocean shipping rates. Customers will realize benefits that are strategically essential in improving their global competitiveness including reduced inventory investment, supply chain management efficiencies and lower logistics costs. NASSCO is a major ship design, construction and repair company located in San Diego, California. NASSCO is well known in the shipping industry for excellence in on-time delivery of a wide variety of ships manufactured at the highest quality standards. Ship diagram available upon request. Fastship Milestones FastShip has garnered significant support from industry leaders and organizations. In recent months:
* the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Cherbourg-Cotentin has entered into an agreement with FastShip to establish Cherbourg, France as the exclusive European port
* PricewaterhouseCoopers published an economic impact study detailing how the FastShip services will create almost 7,500 direct and indirect jobs in Greater Philadelphia and southern New Jersey
* J.P. Morgan Securities, Inc. was enlisted to assist FastShip in raising the necessary funds for the construction of the vessels and to act as the company's financial advisor
* the Delaware River Port Authority (DRPA) and FastShip announced an agreement to finance the construction of a new marine-shipping terminal in Philadelphia at a cost of up to $74.8 million (the DRPA is also an investor in the project)
* Interocean Ugland Management (IUM), owned by Saltchuk Resources, Inc. in Seattle, Washington and Ugland Capital Limited of Tunbridge Wells, United Kindgdom, signed an agreement with FastShip to operate and manage its fleet between the United States and Europe
* Kamewa of Kristinehamn, Sweden, a subsidiary of Vickers, plc, announced a formal agreement with FastShip to develop and supply water jets for the four FastShip vessels; and
* MAINCO, a subsidiary of Transnucleaire, announced an agreement to oversee FastShip's exclusive European terminal in Cherbourg, France and to carry out all stevedoring services at the French port. MAINCO will also contribute to current financing in the form of project work relating to the terminal and inland distribution network. MAINCO will also underwrite the financing of the terminal equipment up to $60 million. ots Original Text Service: FastShip, Inc. Internet: http://www.newsaktuell.de Contact: Thomas C. Beck of FastShip, Inc., 215-574-1770; or Eric Hollreiser of The Tierney Group, 215- 732-4100, for FastShip, Inc.