Fincantieri Bay to build new Wisconsin ferry

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The following is text of a news release from Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding:

(STURGEON BAY, Wis.) — Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding and Washington Island Ferry Line have signed an agreement to construct a new, year-round passenger/vehicle ferry for service across Wisconsin’s Death’s Door Passage.

The new ferry will be named Madonna, measuring 124 feet in length with a 40-foot beam and 10-foot, 8-inch draft. It will have capacity for as many as 28 vehicles and 150 passengers. The new ferry will be the largest in the ferry line fleet. It is scheduled for delivery in late May 2020.

“We are pleased to build what is our third ferry for Washington Island,” said Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding Vice President and General Manager Todd Thayse. “All current ferry vessels were built in Sturgeon Bay – two by Peterson Builders and this will be our third here at Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding. Our past work is indicative of the quality and attention to detail the ferry line and all of our customers have come to expect from our seasoned workforce. This contract will add to the steady work relied upon by the hundreds of women and men we employ from across the region.”

“This opportunity to build yet another ferry vessel in a Door County shipyard is something we’re extremely proud of,” said Washington Island Ferry Line President Hoyt Purinton. “Built locally, this ferry – like our other vessels – will operate exclusively in Door County waters between Washington Island and the tip of the Door Peninsula.”

Similar to the icebreaker Arni J. Richter, launched by Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding in 2003, this newest ferry design will also incorporate ice capabilities in addition to adding significant vehicle capacity throughout the year. Twin Caterpillar C32 main engines will provide 1,600 maximum horsepower, while the boat's stainless propellers and shafts as well as stout framing make it ice-capable. Outdoor upper deck seating and an indoor climate-controlled cabin will be available to passengers, along with restrooms on two decks. Bow and stern ramps with wide gates will allow easy vehicle loading. It will have an overhead of 15 feet, sufficient to transport high-clearance specialty equipment (such as portable asphalt plants) as needed.

“We’ve worked with naval architect Mark Pudlo and his firm SeaCraft Design LLC, also of Sturgeon Bay, for design and engineering details,” said Purinton. “We are fortunate both designer and builder are close at hand, a real plus for our company in this process.”

Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding will immediately begin the construction process by cutting steel and placing orders for engines, transmissions and other key components.

By Professional Mariner Staff