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Nov 6, 2015 02:53 PM

First LNG ferries for North America; more newbuilds coming for Circle Line

Samish, the second Olympic-class vessel for Washington State Ferries, undergoes sea trials in April in Seattle.

Courtesy Washington State Department of Transportation

Samish, the second Olympic-class vessel for Washington State Ferries, undergoes sea trials in April in Seattle.

The dream of North American ferries powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG) became a reality in 2015 with the arrival and launch of the first such vessels in the St. Lawrence River — one built overseas and one produced by Quebec’s Davie Shipyard. In the excursion sector, a new paddle wheeler from Chesapeake Shipbuilding began rolling on the Mississippi River, and Circle Line placed a three-boat order with Gladding-Hearn Shipbuilding to upgrade the tourist experience in New York Harbor.

The 437-foot F.A. Gauthier, built by Fincantieri in Italy, arrived in April for Societe des traversiers du Quebec (STQ), becoming the first LNG-powered ferry to ply the continent’s waters. The ferry line will soon add two other dual-fuel ferries constructed by Chantier Davie Canada of Levis, Quebec: Armand-Imbeau II, launched in July and scheduled for delivery in the fall of 2015, and Jos-Deschenes II, slated to join the ferry service in early 2016.

Armand-Imbeau II has the distinction of being the first LNG-powered ferry built in North America. Otherwise, the Davie newbuilds are cut from the same steel. Both are double-ended, 302-foot ships with ice-capable hulls; both will be able to handle 432 passengers and 115 cars, and both will operate on STQ’s Tadoussac/Baie-Sainte-Catherine crossing on the Saguenay River. Each vessel has four Wartsila 20DF engines and LNGPac fuel storage and treatment systems.

LNG was in the mix for ferries on Canada’s Pacific coast as well. BC Ferries announced in July 2015 that Poland’s Remontowa Shipbuilding had cut steel on the last of three intermediate-class newbuilds that will be able to operate on LNG or ultra-low-sulfur diesel.
The 351-foot vessels — Salish Orca, Salish Eagle and Salish Raven — will have the capacity for 145 vehicles and up to 600 passengers. Delivery of Orca is slated for August 2016, with Eagle following in October 2016 and Raven in February 2017.

Nichols Brothers Boat Builders delivered the ferry Oscar B to Wahkiakum County, Wash., in February.

Courtesy Elliott Bay Design Group

BC Ferries is also upgrading its two Spirit-class vessels to give them dual-fuel capability. Seaspan’s Vancouver Shipyards is on the short list for the contract to convert the 550-foot Spirit of British Columbia and Spirit of Vancouver Island, competing with overseas rivals Fincantieri and Remontowa.
The midlife modifications are expected to cost $50 million to $60 million. Work on British Columbia is scheduled from the fall of 2017 through the spring of 2018; Vancouver Island will follow from the fall of 2018 through the spring of 2019. BC Ferries expected to announce the successful bidder by late fall of 2015.
News in the ferry sector during the past year wasn’t limited to LNG, as U.S. and Canadian shipbuilders kept busy with a range of projects. Region by region, here is a look at the latest developments:

West Coast
Vigor Fab delivered its second Olympic-class ferry, Samish, to Washington State Ferries in April. The 362-foot, 144-car vessel follows Tokitae (see profile in American Ship Review 2015) in the fleet, with the third in the series, Chimacum, under construction at the Seattle shipyard. A fourth vessel is also planned as WSF replaces its 1950s-era Evergreen State-class ferries.

The $126 million Samish was put into service on the Anacortes-San Juan Island route following two months of sea trials and crew training. Like Tokitae, it is powered by a pair of EMD 12-71OGC Tier 3 diesels producing 3,000 hp at 900 rpm. Falk 4.986:1 reduction gears drive Rolls-Royce controllable-pitch propellers.

Rider-friendly features on the Olympic class include a car deck restroom, flexible seating configurations, improved heating and ventilation systems and wider stairwells and passageways. In addition to its vehicle-handling capacity, Samish can carry 1,500 passengers.

Officials celebrate the laying of the keel for Armand-Imbeau II at Davie Shipyard in Quebec. 

Courtesy Chantier Davie Canada

Nichols Brothers Boat Builders of Freeland, Wash., delivered the 115-foot Oscar B to Wahkiakum County, Wash., in February. Designed by Seattle’s Elliott Bay Design Group (EBDG), the ferry has a steel hull and aluminum superstructure that is a signature of Nichols. It operates between Cathlamet, Wash., and Westport, Ore.

The 23-car, 100-passenger vessel is nearly twice the size of its predecessor, Wahkiakum, which was skippered for 17 years by the new ferry’s namesake, the late Oscar Bergseng. Oscar B is powered by a pair of Cummins QLS diesels, each delivering 285 hp at 1,800 rpm. The mains are coupled to ZF Marine reversing reduction gears with two fixed-pitched propellers.

In April, Kvichak Marine Industries of Seattle was awarded a contract to design and build two all-aluminum, 400-passenger ferries to serve the city of San Francisco. The 135-foot catamarans, designed by Incat Crowther, will replace two aging ferries in the 12-vessel fleet operated by the Water Emergency Transportation Authority (WETA).

Each cat will feature a pair of MTU 12V4000 M64+ Tier 3 engines rated at 1,950 hp at 1,830 rpm coupled to ZF reduction gears. Service speed is estimated at 27 knots. Exhaust aftertreatment systems will be included.

Nichols Brothers will provide the bolt-on superstructures for the ferries, extending a San Francisco connection with Kvichak. From 2007 to 2010, the companies collaborated on the delivery of four 118-foot ferries to WETA. The two newbuilds — the 700th and 701st vessels built by Kvichak — are scheduled to be in service by the summer of 2017.

To the north, Vigor Alaska was awarded a $101 million contract in the fall of 2014 to build two ferries for the state. The 280-foot, Alaska-class day boats are being designed by EBDG with the capacity to handle 300 passengers and 53 standard vehicles. The ferries will feature bow and stern doors for quicker loading and unloading, fully enclosed car decks and controllable-pitch propellers.

Armand-Imbeau II, shown in the rendering above, is the first LNG-powered ferry built in North America.

Courtesy STQ

Keels were laid simultaneously during a ceremony in Ketchikan in December 2014. Delivery of both newbuilds is expected by October 2018. The vessels will then serve the Alaska Marine Highway System between Juneau, Haines and Skagway.
Looking beyond LNG, Sandia National Laboratories and the San Francisco-based Red and White Fleet are pursuing the design and construction of a high-speed hydrogen fuel cell passenger ferry. Called SF-BREEZE (San Francisco Bay Renewable Energy Electric vessel with Zero Emissions), the project would include building the largest hydrogen refueling station in the world.
The U.S. Maritime Administration (MarAd) is providing $500,000 to support a feasibility study to examine potential technical, regulatory and economic issues. The project also involves the U.S. Coast Guard, the American Bureau of Shipping and EBDG.

East Coast, Gulf, Midwest
Hy-Line Cruises of Massachusetts went back to the well in early 2015, ordering another high-speed catamaran from Gladding-Hearn Shipbuilding. The 153-footer will be the fourth Incat Crowther fast ferry that the Somerset, Mass., yard has built for the Cape Cod tour company.

The all-aluminum, 493-passenger ferry will be powered by four Cummins QSK60-M Tier 3 diesels — each providing 2,200 hp at 1,800 rpm — with Twin Disc gears and Hamilton waterjets. Top speed on the ferry’s run between Hyannis, Mass., and Nantucket is expected to exceed 30 knots fully loaded. Delivery is scheduled for 2016.

Woods Hole, a 235-foot freight and passenger ferry from Louisiana’s Conrad Shipyard, will ply the waters off Massachusetts upon delivery in 2016. 

Courtesy Elliott Bay Design Group

The waters off Nantucket will soon host a new freight and passenger ferry as well: the 235-foot Woods Hole. The vessel, designed by EBDG, will be built by Conrad Shipyard in Morgan City, La., for the Woods Hole, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket Steamship Authority (SSA).

The single-ended ferry will replace M/V Governor, the oldest vessel in SSA’s fleet. Capacity will be 384 passengers and 55 standard vehicles or 10 tractor-trailers. Woods Hole will have a bow thruster and a service speed of 14.5 knots. Construction is scheduled to be complete in the spring of 2016.

In Michigan, the 85-foot Miss Margy entered service in the summer of 2015 as part of Shepler Marine Service’s Mackinac Island fleet. The 281-passenger vessel, built by Moran Iron Works in Onaway, is the first ferry ever produced in northern Michigan.

Construction of the $3.8 million vessel involved the products and services of 20 in-state companies. Miss Margy features an air-conditioned cabin and a ventilation system to remove condensation from windows during inclement weather.

British Columbia is now home to the longest cable ferry crossing in the world. The 258-foot Baynes Sound Connector, built by Seaspan’s Vancouver Shipyards, entered service in the summer of 2015 on BC Ferries’ Buckley Bay-Denman Island route. 

Burger Boat Company added to its diverse portfolio in 2015 with the delivery of Lucia to Wendella Sightseeing for tours in the Chicago area.

Courtesy Burger Boat Company

The ferry makes the 1,900-meter crossing — about 6,230 feet — with one drive cable and two guide cables. It is capable of traveling at 8.5 knots but typically will operate at 7.5 knots. It can accommodate 50 vehicles and 150 passengers and crew.

BC Ferries estimates that the cable ferry will provide $80 million in savings over the 40-year life of the vessel compared to the current service.
British Columbia is also bullish on cable ferries for inland service. In July, the Transportation Ministry issued a call to shipyards to bid on designing and building cable ferries for four crossings: Adams Lake, Glade, Harrop and Arrow Park.

The new cable ferries will replace three built in the 1940s and one that went into service in 1996. A contract value for the newbuilds was not made public. 

Activity in the world of passenger vessels in 2015 extended beyond the busy ferry sector and into excursion boats. Tourists in New York Harbor will be among the first to benefit courtesy of a three-vessel order from Circle Line Sightseeing for Gladding-Hearn.

A keel-laying ceremony for the first of the 600-passenger newbuilds was held at the shipyard in January to commemorate the cruise line’s 70th anniversary. Gladding-Hearn is no stranger to tour boats or Circle Line, having delivered three vessels to the operator in 2009.

Gladding-Hearn Shipbuilding, which delivered three 600-passenger vessels to New York’s Circle Line in 2009, booked orders for three more of the Manhattan tour boats.

Courtesy Gladding-Hearn Shipbuilding

Like their predecessors, the new all-steel boats — designed by DeJong and Lebet N.A. of Jacksonville, Fla. — will be 165 feet long with a 34-foot beam. Propulsion will be provided by twin Cummins QSK38M1 diesels delivering 2,600 hp, with a Wesmar 125-hp bow thruster for dockside maneuvering. Top speed is 14 knots.

The pilothouse will feature port and starboard wing stations. The cabins will be arranged for “significantly improved” concession areas, beverage bars and wheelchair-accessible heads, according to Gladding-Hearn. Delivery of the first new vessel is expected in 2016.

In June 2015, Burger Boat Company of Manitowoc, Wis., launched the 89-foot Lucia for Wendella Sightseeing. Modeled after other boats in the company’s fleet, Lucia will host lake and river tours in the Chicago area.

Power aboard the all-steel vessel is provided by two Caterpillar C12 mains and two Northern Lights generators. For passenger comfort and enjoyment, the new boat features an enclosed climate-controlled deck cabin with a black granite bar.

Lucia can carry 340 guests and is certified Subchapter K by the U.S. Coast Guard.

Chesapeake Shipbuilding of Salisbury, Md., delivered the world’s newest paddle wheeler, the 280-foot American Eagle, to American Cruise Lines in January 2015. It joins Chesapeake-built sister Queen of the Mississippi on the river and will primarily cruise between New Orleans and Memphis, Tenn. 

On the Mississippi, the 280-foot American Eagle, right, went into service in New Orleans. The paddle wheeler was built by Maryland’s Chesapeake Shipbuilding.

Courtesy American Cruise Lines

The new riverboat is powered by three Caterpillar C32 mains with stern-mounted z-drives from ZF Marine. The z-drives supplement the hydraulic paddle wheel, enhancing speed and maneuverability. Three Caterpillar C18 gensets produce a combined 1,275 kW.
American Eagle can accommodate 150 overnight passengers in 84 staterooms, 78 of which have private balconies and sliding glass doors. The riverboat’s late 1800s aesthetic doesn’t reflect its technology: It has in-room phones, Wi-Fi and satellite TV.

In Alaska, eco-tourists can look forward to riding aboard the first oceangoing electric-powered tour boat in the U.S. E/V Tongass Rain, to be built by Armstrong Marine in Port Angeles, Wash., is scheduled to begin service in Juneau in the summer of 2016 for Tongass Rain Electric Cruise (TREC).

The 50-foot, 47-passenger catamaran will be powered by two electric motors and is designed to cruise quietly at 8 knots. The boat’s lithium ion batteries will be charged by Juneau’s hydroelectric grid, with secondary wind and solar sources on board charging batteries for lighting, navigation and the sanitation system.

Tongass Rain is designed by Jutson Marine of Vancouver, British Columbia. TREC reported in the late summer of 2015 that the boat was in design phase two and that construction was expected to begin in November.

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