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Oct 31, 2017 12:15 PM

A parade of new ferries for NYC; Eastern gets Staten Island deal

The first boat from Metal Shark for Hornblower’s NYC Ferry makes the rounds off Manhattan last spring.

Courtesy NYC Ferry

The first boat from Metal Shark for Hornblower’s NYC Ferry makes the rounds off Manhattan last spring.

Over the past year, Metal Shark and Horizon Shipbuilding have rapidly built more than a dozen high-speed ferries for Hornblower’s new commuter service in New York City. But of course that wasn’t the only high-profile ferry project at U.S. shipyards.

The Staten Island Ferry service ordered three new double-ended vessels from Eastern Shipbuilding Group to link the borough with Manhattan, and the Water Emergency Transportation Authority of San Francisco took delivery of two high-speed, low-emissions ferries from Vigor and ordered two more. Operators in Washington, D.C., Baltimore and Cape Cod also took delivery of new ferries, and projects proceeded for newbuilds for New Orleans, Alaska and the Caribbean.

In the excursion boat sector, North American yards turned out several aluminum catamarans for whale-watch and snorkel operators. Lindblad Expeditions and American Cruise Lines launched new small cruise ships, and the city of San Antonio took delivery of the first electric-powered passenger barges for its famous Riverwalk.

Hornblower took delivery of the first high-speed catamaran ferries this spring for its NYC Ferry service, and the vessels haven’t stopped coming. As of late August, Metal Shark of Jeanerette, La., and Horizon of Bayou La Batre, Ala., had delivered 16 boats from the original 19-boat order.

The fleet is comprised of 85-by-26-foot aluminum catamarans designed by Incat Crowther. A pair of Moteurs Baudouin engines generate 1,600 hp and 2,800 hp, respectively, on each of the River-class and Rockaway-class boats. Service speed is 25 knots. There are 12 River-class and three Rockaway ferries in operation.

The vessels have Vulkan couplings, ZF Marine gears and Michigan Wheel props. Accommodations include airplane-style seating for 149 people, wireless Internet and bicycle storage. The final three boats of the 19-boat order are scheduled for delivery in the next six to eight months.

Cameron Clark, Hornblower’s senior vice president of development, said ridership has exceeded expectations and the company is considering building even larger ferries to handle demand.

Horizon Shipbuilding ferry

Shipbuilders at Metal Shark's Louisiana yard and Horizon Shipbuilding of Alabama are providing 19 aluminum ferries for the operator’s initial phase of service.

Courtesy Horizon Shipbuilding

The Hornblower ferries aren’t Metal Shark’s only passenger vessel project. The company also is building four 88-foot, 149-passenger water taxis for the Potomac Riverboat Co. and two 105-foot ferries for the New Orleans Regional Transit Authority. BMT Designers & Planners of Alexandria, Va., designed the vessels in collaboration with BMT Nigel Gee of Southampton, United Kingdom.

The Potomac boats, two of which were scheduled for delivery in September, are powered by twin Scania DI-13 Tier 3 engines generating 500 hp each at 1,800 rpm. The vessels will be operated by Entertainment Cruises and will carry tourists and commuters around Washington, D.C., and surrounding communities.

The 149-passenger New Orleans boats, slated to replace the venerable Algiers Ferry vessels working in the Mississippi River, will be powered by twin Caterpillar C18 ACERT Tier 3 engines generating 671 hp each at 2,100 rpm. Delivery is expected in 2018.

Eastern Shipbuilding of Panama City, Fla., is building three double-ended Ollis-class vessels for the Staten Island Ferry operated by the New York City Department of Transportation. The 320-foot ferries will be powered by four EMD 12-710 Tier 4 engines generating a combined 9,980 hp. Two engines will turn Reintjes DUP 3000P combining reduction gears and a Voith Schneider propeller at each end of the boat.

Elliott Bay Design Group of Seattle provided the design for the new ferries, which will have seating for 2,551 passengers and space for 4,500. Eastern selected Guida Perla & Associates of Seattle as the detail designer, and Glosten of Seattle will handle onsite owner’s representation for the project.

The lead vessel in the series is named for U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Michael Ollis, a native Staten Islander who died fighting in Afghanistan. Delivery is expected in 2019.

Another New York City project will involve Elliott Bay Design Group and Blount Boats. The design/build partners were awarded a contract in July to build a passenger ferry for The Trust for Governors Island.

Blount will build the 132-foot, 400-passenger vessel at its shipyard in Warren, R.I. No delivery date was announced for the ferry, which will provide service between the Battery Maritime Building in Lower Manhattan and Soissons Landing on Governors Island.

Ollis class ferry

Eastern Shipbuilding Group cut steel in September on the first of three Ollis-class vessels for Staten Island Ferry. The 320-foot ferries will have EMD Tier 4 engines and the capacity for 4,500 passengers.

Courtesy Elliott Bay Design Group

Gulfstream Shipbuilding of Freeport, Fla., built the 118-foot Edward V. Kramer for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The vessel will link the Plum Island Animal Disease Center, just off eastern Long Island, N.Y., with the mainland. C. Fly Marine Services of Mandeville, La., designed the vessel, which is scheduled for delivery in fall 2017.

Propulsion aboard the aluminum monohull ferry comes from four Caterpillar C32 engines, while two John Deere 4045 gensets provide electrical power. Other components include a Skipper Hydraulics steering system and ZF Marine four-station Clear Command controls. The vessel can accommodate 149 passengers and carry fire engines, support vehicles and freight.

Elsewhere in Florida, St. Johns Ship Building of Palatka built the 190-foot landing craft Grand Master II for Bahamas Ferries. Propulsion is provided by twin Cummins QSK19 engines each generating 700 hp, while electrical service comes from two John Deere 99-kW gensets. A 22-inch Wesmar electric thruster is installed at the bow.

The vessel has 6,400 feet of cargo space and a two-story deckhouse for crew quarters, passenger accommodations and a galley. The wheelhouse and captain’s quarters are on the second deck. Grand Master II, which launched in August, is the first of three 190-foot landing crafts the shipyard is building for Caribbean customers.

In early 2017, Corinthian Catamarans of Tarpon Springs, Fla., delivered the 45-foot Papa George to the Island Express Ferry Service, a U.S. National Park concessionaire carrying passengers to Outer Banks destinations from Beaufort, N.C. The fiberglass vessel has twin 250-hp outboard engines and seating for 49 people.

VT Halter Marine of Pascagoula, Miss., is designing and building a 499-passenger, 70-vehicle vessel for the Virginia Department of Transportation’s Jamestown-Scotland Ferry system. The $16.5 million vessel is scheduled for delivery in 2018.

The 271-foot ferry will replace Virginia, the oldest of four ferries running between Jamestown and Scotland, Va., on the James River. VT Halter also built Pocahontas, a 70-vehicle ferry built for the Jamestown-Scotland system in 1995.

Elizabeth River Ferry IV

Armstrong Marine delivered a pair of passenger ferries to Hampton Roads Transit in Virginia, both built at the company’s yard in Swansboro, N.C. Elizabeth River Ferry IV entered service in June.

Courtesy Hampton Roads Transit

Power aboard the new vessel comes from twin 1,341-hp Caterpillar 3512C Tier 3 engines paired with Voith Schneider 21R5/150-2 propulsion systems. Furuno navigation equipment is installed in the wheelhouse.

Another Virginia ferry operator, Hampton Roads Transit, took delivery of two 150-passenger ferries built by Armstrong Marine at its Swansboro, N.C., shipyard. BMT Designers & Planners designed the vessels, which each have a decorative paddlewheel.

The 78-foot Elizabeth River Ferry IV and Elizabeth River Ferry V are powered by twin Volvo Penta D13 engines generating 800 total horsepower. Elizabeth River Ferry IV entered service in June, while Elizabeth River Ferry V was scheduled for September delivery.

Maritime Applied Physics Corp. of Baltimore, Md., designed and built three 55-foot vessels for Baltimore Water Taxi. Twin 38-hp Beta Marine diesel engines power the aluminum boats turning four-blade bronze props through ZF gears. Passenger capacity is 49 plus two crew.

Key’s Anthem was the lead boat delivered in November 2016, followed by Cal’s Streak six months later. Thurgood’s Justice was scheduled to arrive in September. The vessels are designed to resemble Chesapeake Bay deadrise boats long used by local crab fishermen.

In September 2016, Gladding-Hearn Shipbuilding of Somerset, Mass., delivered the high-speed Grey Lady IV to Hy-Line Cruises, a Cape Cod ferry operator. Incat Crowther designed the 153-foot, 493-passenger aluminum vessel.

Propulsion comes from four 2,200-hp Cummins QSK60-M Tier 3 diesels powering HamiltonJet HM721 waterjets through Twin Disc MGX-61500SC gearboxes. Twin Cummins 125-kW gensets provide electrical power. The ferry can reach 34 knots fully loaded. It also can meet its schedule running on just three engines, reducing wear.

Salish Sea Dream

The 78-foot Salish Sea Dream plies the waters between Vancouver and Victoria, British Columbia. The sightseeing boat has a top speed of 34 knots and can accommodate 95 passengers for operator Prince of Whales.

Courtesy Prince of Whales

On the West Coast, longstanding vessel replacement plans led to a series of notable deliveries, many coming from Vigor. Crews at the company’s Seattle yard delivered Chimacum, the third in a series of four 362-foot ro-ro ferries for Washington State Ferries, in April. The final boat in the series, Suquamish, is due in 2018.

The Olympic-class vessels can carry 144 vehicles on two decks and 1,500 passengers. Propulsion comes from twin EMD 12-710 engines producing 6,000 total horsepower for a service speed of 17 knots.

Chimacum replaced Hyak on the ferry system’s busy Seattle-to-Bremerton route. It follows deliveries of Tokitae and Samish in 2014 and 2015, respectively. The four-vessel contract is worth more than $500 million.

Across town, at the former Kvichak Marine Industries yard, Vigor delivered two high-speed ferries to the Water Emergency Transportation Authority of San Francisco. The company also received approval to build two more sister vessels due out next year. The lead vessel in the series, Hydrus, was delivered in April, followed by Cetus in July. Incat Crowther provided the design.

The 135-foot, 400-passenger ferries are powered by two MTU 12V 4000 M64 Tier 3 engines each rated for 1,875 hp, coupled with ZF 7600 reduction gears turning Michigan Wheel nibral props. Each engine is paired with a Hug Engineering selective catalytic reduction (SCR) exhaust aftertreatment system. Service speed is 27 knots.

Vigor’s shipyard in Ketchikan, Alaska, continued work on two 280-foot ro-pax ferries for the Alaska Marine Highway System. Elliott Bay Design Group designed the vessels, Tazlina and Hubbard, which can hold 300 people and up to 53 vehicles each. The two ferries will be delivered in 2018.

All American Marine of Bellingham, Wash., built two 150-passenger ferries for the National Park Service, which is planning a new ferry service linking Pensacola, Fla., with the Gulf Islands National Seashore. The aluminum catamarans, Pelican Perch and Turtle Runner, were delivered last spring and are scheduled to begin carrying passengers in 2018.

In Canada, WaterBridge Steel of Nakusp, British Columbia, won a $28 million contract in 2016 to build four cable ferries to replace existing vessels operating within the province. The first delivery, Adams Lake II, will carry people and vehicles across Adams Lake, northeast of Kamloops, B.C. It is slated for delivery in late 2017.


Crews launch Calypso at Navatek Boat Builders in Honolulu last spring. The 70-foot aluminum newbuild, serving Hawaii’s Quicksilver Charters, is the largest snorkel cruise catamaran in the U.S.

Courtesy Navatek Boat Builders

The three other ferries will serve the inland communities of Glade and Harrop on the Kootenay River, and Arrow Park on Arrow Lake. All four boats are scheduled to be in service by 2020. The new vessels will replace cable ferries built in the 1940s.

Catamaran hulls dominated the excursion boat sector in the past year. In May, Armstrong Marine of Port Angeles, Wash., delivered the 78-foot aluminum catamaran Salish Sea Dream to British Columbia tour operator Prince of Whales. Gregory C. Marshall Naval Architect Ltd. of Victoria, B.C., designed the whale-watch vessel, which operates in waters off Vancouver and Victoria.

Propulsion comes from four Volvo Penta 700-hp diesels paired with four MJP UltraJet 377 waterjets. The vessel cruises at 30 knots and effectively can be walked sideways for mooring from wing stations on both sides, company spokesman Ben Duthie said.

Salish Sea Dream has floor-to-ceiling windows in a heated main cabin beneath covered and open decks on the second level. As of late August, the vessel had about 80 days on the water and was meeting the company’s high expectations.

All American Marine is building a 125-foot, 500-passenger aluminum tour boat designed by Teknicraft Marine for Argosy Cruises of Seattle, and a 600-passenger, 128-foot hybrid tour boat for Red and White Fleet of San Francisco. The vessels, both monohulls, will be delivered in late 2017 and spring 2018, respectively.

Another Washington state builder, Mavrik Marine of La Conner, delivered the 91-foot high-speed catamaran Island Explorer 5 to Island Adventures Inc. of Anacortes, Wash. One2three Naval Architects of Australia designed the aluminum whale-watch boat. It has three viewing decks and two large heated cabins.

In January, Gladding-Hearn delivered the 165-foot Circle Line Bronx to Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises of New York City. The 599-passenger steel monohull, designed by DeJong and Lebet N.A. of Jacksonville, Fla., was followed in June by Circle Line Staten Island in the three-boat order. The boats follow the delivery of three sister ships in 2009.

Bronx and Staten Island are powered by twin Cummins QSK38-M1 1,300-hp diesels connected to ZF W3355 gearboxes and 60-inch, five-blade nibral props. A Wesmar 125-hp bow thruster provides assistance for dockside maneuvering on each boat. Top speed is 14 knots.


Juneau Whale Watch took delivery of Atlin, a 49-foot sightseeing catamaran, from Bay Welding of Homer, Alaska last spring. The boat provides panoramic views for passengers courtesy of designer Coastwise Corp. of Anchorage.

Courtesy Juneau Whale Watch

In September, Lake Assault Boats of Superior, Wis., delivered 20 27-foot passenger barges to San Antonio, Texas, and another 23 are scheduled for delivery in mid-November. The vessels are outfitted with Torqeedo electric outboards that can run all day on a single charge.

The barges bound for the city’s popular Riverwalk can accommodate up to 40 people depending on the configuration. Modular decks can be converted for sightseeing, dinner cruises, water taxi service and other uses.

Last spring, American Cruise Lines took delivery of the 175-passenger American Constellation, the first of two small cruise ships built by Chesapeake Shipbuilding of Salisbury, Md. The Guilford, Conn., cruise company also announced the pending arrival of sister vessel American Constitution, which will be delivered in 2018.

In July, Lindblad Expeditions took delivery of the 239-by-44-foot National Geographic Quest, the first of two ships from Nichols Brothers Boat Builders of Freeland, Wash. The 3,200-hp vessel designed by Jensen Maritime Consultants of Seattle has 50 cabins and space for 100 passengers.

It is equipped with a remotely-operated vehicle, bow camera and other equipment allowing passengers to see marine life underwater. The ship operates with 49 crew and will be used for cruises around Alaska and Central America. Quest began its first voyage from Juneau, Alaska, in August.

Bay Welding Services of Homer, Alaska, delivered the 49-foot aluminum catamaran Atlin to Juneau Whale Watch last spring. Anchorage-based Coastwise Corp. designed the 49-passenger vessel used for whale-watch tours in southeastern Alaska.

Atlin is powered by four 350-hp Yamaha outboard engines. The vessel has two decks, enclosed and open viewing areas and a second-deck wheelhouse.

In March, Navatek Boat Builders of Honolulu, Hawaii, delivered the 70-foot aluminum catamaran Calypso for Quicksilver Charters of Lahaina, Hawaii. Incat Crowther designed the 149-passenger vessel used for snorkeling tours and dinner cruises from Maui.

Calypso can reach 20 knots fully loaded thanks to twin 600-hp Cummins diesel engines and Twin Disc gears. Electrical power comes from a 15-kW Northern Lights generator.

Calypso is reportedly the largest snorkel cruise catamaran in the United States. Amenities include water slides, a jumping platform, 4,000 square feet of covered seating on four decks, and three bathrooms. There are also two freshwater showers and a glass-bottom viewing room.

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