Cape May ferry heads to N.Y. shipyard for overhaul

T1200 Mvdelaware Enters Capemaycanal

The following is the text of a news release from the Delaware River and Bay Authority:

(CAPE MAY, N.J.) — On Nov. 1, M/V Delaware, one of three active vessels in the Cape May-Lewes Ferry fleet, will depart bound for Caddell’s Drydock and Repair Co. of Staten Island, N.Y., to have new engines installed. The repowering effort, which is coinciding with the vessel’s regularly scheduled dry-docking, is a four-month process and the vessel is expected to return to service in April 2016. The dry-docking is expected to cost $3.5 million.

“We’re excited to begin our vessel repowering program,” said Heath Gehrke, director of operations for the Cape May-Lewes Ferry. “These new engines not only burn less fuel and are more efficient, but emissions are reduced by nearly 40 percent. By undertaking this effort, we can significantly extend the useful life of our fleet and provide a cleaner environment in the communities we serve.”

Gehrke also noted that the ferry expects to save approximately $130,000 per year in maintenance costs associated with old engines and that the new clean diesel engines have the capability to be converted to operate on natural gas in the future.

The existing Fairbanks Morse engines are overhauled and rebuilt every 10,000 hours of usage compared to every 30,000 hours for the new EMD engines. The engines were purchased from Marine Systems Inc at a cost of $1.8 million.

In addition to repowering the vessel, M/V Delaware will also undergo its normal five-year U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) and American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) required maintenance to the hull, steering and propulsion systems.

While at the shipyard, the vessel will have other modifications and improvements completed, including the installation of a new graywater recovery system; new stainless-steel railings and new propeller shaft seal system; installation of a new keel cooler system for main engine and generator cooling; and the bow thruster system will be overhauled.

To further assist the University of Delaware’s water research efforts on the Delaware Bay, the SeaKeeper seawater monitoring system, which collects water quality data while a vessel transits the Delaware Bay, will be installed on M/V Delaware.

During a ceremony held at the Lewes Ferry terminal in December 2014, U.S. EPA Regional Administrator Shawn M. Garvin announced the award of a Diesel Emission Reduction Act (DERA) grant of $970,000 to help facilitate the project. The Delaware River and Bay Authority (DRBA) sought the grant funding through the National Clean Diesel Assistance Program, which focuses on reducing emissions at ports under the Diesel Emission Reduction Act (DERA).

M/V Delaware is currently equipped with two Fairbanks Morse 38D8-1/8 propulsion engines with a power rating of 2,060 horsepower each. More than 40 years old, these workhorse engines are approaching 100,000 operating hours or the equivalent of 1.5 million miles. In addition, because the engines are no longer built, spare parts are both difficult to find and expensive.

Within the next five years, the authority plans to repower the other vessels in the Cape May-Lewes Ferry fleet: M/V New Jersey and M/V Cape Henlopen.

By Professional Mariner Staff