A long-awaited industry plum — new boats for the Staten Island Ferry — gained even more appeal last summer when a design contract was awarded to Seattle’s renowned Elliott Bay Design Group (EBDG). For the yard that gets the construction work, the reward promises to be substantial: The three ferries are expected to cost more than $300 million.
Adding to the attraction is the fact that the job won’t be limited to newbuilds. Besides designing a new class of ferries to replace Staten Island’s Barberi- and Kennedy-class boats, EBDG has been tasked with providing a blueprint to modify three Molinari-class vessels. The design work alone for the New York Department of Transportation is worth $10.5 million.
Andrew J. Barberi and Samuel I. Newhouse, the 310-foot Barberi-class ferries, began serving the route between Staten Island and Manhattan in the mid-1980s. The 297-foot John F. Kennedy, the elder statesman of the fleet, was built in 1965. The Molinari-class boats — the 310-foot Guy V. Molinari, John J. Marchi and Spirit of America — were placed into service in 2005 and 2006.
A 2009 study examining options for revitalizing the fleet pointed to retirement for the three oldest boats.
“With the exception of the Molinari-class ferries, all of these vessels are either at or are approaching the end of their useful operating lives and must be replaced,” the New York DOT said in a request for proposals (RFP). “The analysis suggested that reconstructing (these) vessels was not an economically viable option and that new construction would be the best path to pursue.”
Washington State Ferries’ Samish has a Rolls-Royce propeller and rudder at both ends of the vessel.
Courtesy Washington State Department of Transportation
The three newbuilds will be based on the Molinari class, double-ended boats that can carry up to 4,500 passengers. But EBDG will design the new boats with cycloidal propulsion systems, something the existing Molinari ferries don’t have. To establish consistency in the fleet, Guy V. Molinari, John J. Marchi and Spirit of America will be retrofitted.
Christina Villiott, vice president of sales and marketing for EBDG, said design work was expected to start in the fall of 2014. The New York DOT declined to provide a timetable for construction bids, but with the ball now rolling and given the potential size of the contract, the process will be closely watched.
Generating similar buzz on the West Coast last year was the delivery of Tokitae, built by Vigor Fab and Nichols Brothers for Washington State Ferries (see ASR’s profile on page 22). Tokitae is the first of a new Olympic class of boats that will include Samish, slated for delivery to WSF in early 2015. Construction of the third in the series is expected to start toward the end of this year. The total cost of the three boats will be $393 million.
Tokitae’s arrival in June came none to soon for the ferry line, which had two boats in routine dry dock at the time, and then lost another for a week in July due to mechanical problems. The 362-foot Tokitae can accommodate 144 cars and 1,500 passengers — capacity sorely needed by the largest ferry system in the United States. WSF has 22 ferries, carrying 22 million passengers and 10 million vehicles annually.
Noteworthy developments in the ferry sector in 2014 weren’t limited to the United States. North of the border, liquefied natural gas was the talk of the industry. Quebec’s Chantier Davie shipyard was working on a pair of dual-fuel boats for Societe des Traversiers du Quebec (STQ) and BC Ferries ordered three LNG vessels.
In late June, STQ, the government ferry line operator in Quebec, hailed the launch of what will be North America’s first LNG ferry. The 436-foot F.A. Gauthier, built by Fincantieri in Naples, Italy, features four Wartsila 34DF dual-fuel engines and Wartsila’s LNGPac fuel system. It will have a service speed of 20 knots and will be able to carry 800 passengers and 180 cars. The ferry is also classified for ice to handle the Matane-Baie Comeau-Godbout route in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. F.A. Gauthier was scheduled for delivery in late 2014.
One of Tokitae’s EMD main engines is loaded onto temporary alignment blocks at Vigor Fab in Seattle in 2012.
Courtesy Washington State DOT
STQ also has two smaller LNG ferries on order from Chantier Davie in Levis, Quebec. The 302-foot, double-ended boats will service the Tadoussac-Baie Saint Catherine crossing on the Saguenay River. Each will be powered by a pair of Wartsila 6L20 dual-fuel engines and two 9L20 diesels. Capacity will be 432 passengers and 115 cars. Delivery had been anticipated in 2014, but repeated attempts by ASR to confirm the timetable with Chantier Davie were unsuccessful.
BC Ferries of Victoria, British Columbia, threw its hat into the LNG arena by ordering a trio of intermediate-class, dual-fuel ferries. The shipyard that designs and builds the boats won’t be North American: In July, the ferry line announced that Remontowa Shipbuilding of Poland had won contracts totaling $165 million.
Of the five bidders shortlisted for the project, Seaspan’s Vancouver Shipyards was the only U.S. or Canadian builder. Seaspan, however, dropped out of the competition due to a full slate of work for the Royal Canadian Navy and Canadian Coast Guard, including a new CCG offshore fisheries science vessel.
Two of the new LNG boats, with proposed capacities of 600 passengers and 145 cars, will replace the 48-year-old Queen of Burnaby and the 49-year-old Queen of Nanaimo. Both of those boats will be retired in 2016. A third newbuild with slightly less vehicle capacity is expected to join the BC fleet in 2017.
In 2012, BC Ferries spent $121 million on fuel, an expense it says it will reduce by going with LNG. The shift also will allow the ferry operator to cut carbon emissions by 25 percent, sulfur oxides by nearly 100 percent and nitrogen oxides by 85 percent compared to diesel.
Region by region, here are other developments in the ferry sector during the past year:
Nichols Brothers provided the superstructure for Tokitae, shown during construction at Vigor Fab.
Courtesy Washington State DOT
In addition to the dual-fuel newbuilds, BC Ferries announced that it would upgrade its two largest boats to operate on LNG. Modifications to the 550-foot Spirit of British Columbia and Spirit of Vancouver Island are expected to cost $50 million to $60 million.
The ferries, which run between Swartz Bay and Tsawwassen, were built in Canada in the early 1990s. Each can handle 2,100 passengers and up to 410 cars. The midlife refits are scheduled for 2016 and 2017.
BC Ferries also announced in February 2014 that it had awarded a $15 million contract to Seaspan’s Vancouver Shipyards to build a cable ferry. The 257-foot vessel will be the first of its type in the carrier’s fleet.
The new ferry will be able to accommodate 150 passengers and 50 vehicles. Seaspan began cutting steel on it in September, with service expected to begin during the summer of 2015 on the route between Buckley Bay and Denman Island. It will be the longest cable ferry crossing in the world.
Seaspan’s offer topped bids from two other undisclosed shipyards, one in the U.S. and one in Canada. The contract was another reason that Seaspan cited for dropping out of the procurement process for BC Ferries’ LNG boats.
Another BC boat, Kwuna, was removed from service in late 2013 for a $5 million upgrade. The 235-foot ferry, built in 1975, underwent an overhaul that included expanding the wheelhouse and installing new evacuation slides. The work was done by Allied Shipbuilders of North Vancouver.
BC Ferries has ordered three LNG-powered boats from Poland’s Remontowa yard.
Courtesy BC Ferries
In eastern Canada, the 528-foot Nova Star restored ferry service between Nova Scotia and Maine for the first time since 2009. Built six years ago to ply the English Channel, the former Norman Leader never sailed due to a dispute between the builder, Singapore Technologies Marine, and the buyer, LD Lines of France.
With financial support in the form of a provincial subsidy, operator Quest Navigation pulled the ferry out of dry dock and upgraded it with luxury cabins and a casino to offer a cruise-ship experience. Nova Star began sailing the Yarmouth-to-Portland route in May 2014. It can accommodate 1,215 passengers and 336 cars.
In Halifax, A.F. Theriault & Son of Meteghan River, Nova Scotia, delivered the 79-foot Christopher Stannix for the city’s Metro Transit agency. The $4.1 million ferry is named for a 24-year-old master corporal in the Canadian Armed Forces who was killed in Afghanistan in 2007.
A.F. Theriault will build two additional ferries to serve Halifax Harbor at a cost of $8.8 million. The first of those two newbuilds is scheduled for delivery in 2015; the other is expected in 2018. The new boats are replacing ferries that entered service as far back as 1978.
In Alaska, all eyes remained focused on plans for two Alaska-class day boats. In August, the state Department of Transportation released a request for proposal to Alaska Ship and Drydock of Ketchikan, which has a contract that allows it to make the first bid on construction. The shipyard is operated by Vigor Industrial.
The state is working with a $114 million budget for the pair of 280-foot newbuilds. Designed by Elliott Bay Design Group, they will serve the Alaska Marine Highway System between Juneau, Haines and Skagway. Each day boat will carry 300 passengers and about 50 vehicles.
All American Marine added to its aluminum resume by signing a contract to build a pair of 105-foot catamarans for the King County (Wash.) Ferry District. The sister boats will operate in Puget Sound and serve water taxi routes from Vashon Island and West Seattle to downtown Seattle.
Nova Star, built to sail the English Channel, now plies the Gulf of Maine. It can accommodate more than 330 cars.
Courtesy Nova Star Cruises
The Bellingham, Wash., boatbuilder partnered with New Zealand’s Teknicraft for the hull design of the 250-passenger ferries. Each will have a symmetrical bow, asymmetrical tunnel and integrated wave piercer, according to AAM. The vessels will be powered by a pair of Cummins QSK50 Tier 3 engines.
Besides providing the superstructure for Washington State Ferries’ new Tokitae, Nichols Brothers of Freeland, Wash., inked a deal with Wahkiakum County to further enhance the yard’s ferry portfolio. Nichols is teaming with Elliott Bay Design Group on the 115-foot Oscar B, which will operate between Puget Island and Westport, Ore.
The ferry will have a steel hull, aluminum superstructure, twin Cummins QLS diesels and ZF Marine reversing reduction gears. It will be capable of carrying 100 passengers and 23 cars. Delivery is expected in February 2015.
East Coast and Gulf
Yank Marine of Tuckahoe, N.J., started 2014 with a bang courtesy of a $10.4 million contract to build a pair of 110-foot catamarans for Port Imperial Ferry Co. of Weehawken. The 400-passenger, all-aluminum commuter boats will be operated by New York Waterway and will run the Hudson River between Belford, N.J., and Manhattan.
Designed by LeMole Naval Architecture of Tuckahoe, the ferries will be powered by a pair of Caterpillar 3512C Tier 3 diesels with an expected cruising speed of 27 knots. The first boat is slated for launch in the first quarter of 2015, with the second boat due in the third quarter.
Farther north, Blount Boats of Warren, R.I., delivered the 110-foot Wabanaki to Casco Bay Lines of Portland, Maine. Wabanaki — pronounced Abanaki — replaced another Blount-built boat, the 40-year-old Island Romance.
Wabanaki, built by Rhode Island’s Blount Boats, serves the islands of Maine’s Casco Bay.
Courtesy Blount Boats
The new ferry was designed by Seaworthy Systems/Rolls Royce and is powered by two C18 Caterpillar diesels. Funding for the newbuild was provided through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
Blount Boats also completed the 85-foot Fire Islander for Fire Island Ferries of Bay Shore, N.Y. The 382-passenger aluminum commuter boat operates between Bay Shore and Fire Island in Long Island Sound.
The ferry is powered by three MTU Detroit Diesel Series 60 engines, giving it a top speed of 24 knots and a cruising speed of 19 knots. It is the sister to three other Blount boats built for Fire Island Ferries dating back 30 years: Firebird (1984), Fire Island Flyer (2001) and Fire Island Belle (2008).
On the Gulf Coast, Midship Marine of Harvey, La., delivered a pair of 85-foot catamarans for service in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Red Hook I and Cruz Bay I will operate between Red Hook on St. Thomas and Cruz Bay on St. John.
The boats, powered by a pair of Caterpillar C32 ACERT mains, can each accommodate 205 passengers. The Incat Crowther design features a half-height wheelhouse that allows for a completely open upper deck.