A high-speed craft (HSC) is a high-speed water vessel for civilian use, also called a fastcraft or fast ferry. The first high-speed craft were often hydrofoils or hovercraft, but in the 1990s catamaran and monohull designs become more popular and large hydrofoils and hovercraft are no longer built. Most high-speed craft serve as passenger ferries, but the largest catamarans and monohulls also carry cars, buses, large trucks and freight.
In the 1990s there were a variety of builders, but many shipbuilders have withdrawn from this market so the construction of the largest fast ferries, up to 127 metres, has been consolidated to two Australian companies, Austal of Perth and Incat of Hobart. There is still a wide variety of builders for smaller fast catamaran ferries between 24 and 60 metres.
The design and safety of high-speed craft is regulated by the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) Convention, Chapter 10, High-Speed Craft (HSC) Codes of 1994 and 2000, adopted by the Maritime Safety Committee of the International Maritime Organization (IMO).
In accordance with SOLAS Chapter 10 Reg. 1.3, high-speed craft are craft capable of a maximum speed, in metres per second (m/s), equal to or exceeding:
where = volume of displacement in cubic metres corresponding to the design waterline, excluding craft of which the hull is supported clear above the water surface in non-displacement mode by aerodynamic forces generated by ground effect.
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