Island Home/Iyanough: Steamship Authority adds to its fleet with auto ferry and high-speed catamaran

Island Home incorporates hydraulic lift decks for 16 cars for flexibility in loading; total capacity is 1,200 passengers and 78 cars. Service speed is 16 knots. The vessel, a double ender, features two pilothouses, both with wing stations to port and starboard. (Brian Gauvin photos)

One of the enduring features of the Cape Cod area is the Steamship Authority (SSA), a public entity of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. For 99 years this company has been transporting passengers, vehicles, freight and living essentials between Nantucket, Hyannis, Woods Hole and Martha’s Vineyard, a service so valuable it has been dubbed “the Lifeline to the Islands.”

This year, SSA added two passenger vessels: Island Home, a huge 1,200-passenger ferry that will also hold 78 cars, and Iyanough, a 395-passenger-only all-aluminum fast ferry with a catamaran hull.

Island Home

The $32 million Island Home replaced another double ender, the 201-foot, 54-year old Islander, on the Martha’s Vineyard-to-Woods Hole route. The vessel was designed by Elliott Bay Design Group Ltd. of Seattle and built by VT Halter Marine in Moss Point, Miss.

Island Home is a steel-hulled vessel with an aluminum superstructure. The main deck seats all 1,200 passengers and the 254-foot-by-64-foot vessel has room for 80 vehicles (cars and semi-trailers). Hydraulic lift decks for 16 cars offer a flexible loading configuration. Bow and stern doors are also hydraulically operated.

Main power for the ferry is a pair of EMD 12-cylinder 710 G7B engines rated at 3,000 hp at 900 rpm. A pair of Caterpillar C18 500-kW generators provide ship’s power, and a KiloPak 175-kW generator acts as an emergency generator.

Gears are by Reintjes, driving Centra carbon shafts spinning Bird Johnson 90-inch diameter, five-blade propellers. The vessel also has White Gill bow and stern thrusters each driven by a 400-hp electric AC motor.

Service speed for Island Home is 16 knots, and the double-ended design allows vehicles to drive on and off without turning around inside the ship. Island Home has two pilothouses and both have wing stations on port and starboard.

“Our wing stations are integral with the pilothouse so the pilots do not have to exit the pilothouse and face the elements in bad weather. That is good for both the pilots and the navigation equipment,” said Carl Walker, SSA’s director of engineering.

Top: the view from one wheelhouse over the top deck. Above: Capt. David Allain.

EMI of New Orleans supplied the electro/hydraulic steering system. Each pilothouse has a pair of Raytheon ARPA radars and two Icom VHF radios as well as a suite of navigation and communication electronics, such as Kenwood MF/HF radios, a Raymarine wind speed/direction indicator, Transas navigation system, a C. Plath speed log, and a Northstar DGPS with a Raytheon gyrocompass and gyro repeater. EMS supplied the engine controls and the integrated alarm system.

Tank capacities for Island Home include 2,000 gallons of fresh water, 8,700 gallons of fuel oil and 600 gallons of lube oil.

Interior design was by Directions in Design of St. Louis and joinery by Jamestown Metal Marine Sales of Boca Raton, Fla. The main passenger deck has deluxe seating by Beurteaux and is divided into functional spaces with room for high-density seating, a spacious lunch counter with stools and tables, and a lounge area. Passengers can take refuge from cell phones and iPods in a nearby quiet area.

Travel between decks is via a pair of 2,000-pound elevators by Bagby.

Originally, Island Home was to go into service for the 2006 tourist season in June. However, construction was setback because of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. VT Halter Marine suffered significant damage from the storm.

“It really has gone pretty smoothly, considering what they went through down there,” said SSA general manager Wayne Lamson. “Of course there were things we had to do with the ferry once it got here, but this is a very good boat and the people love it.”

An enclosed cargo space on the foredeck of Iyanough accommodates large quantities of baggage and bicycles; passenger capacity is 395, on two decks. Power comes from four MTU 12V400 engines each rated at 2,335 hp; since the hull is a catamaran, two are placed in series in each hull with an offset gear.


The Steamship Authority also has taken delivery of a high-speed, passenger-only fast ferry, Iyanough, built at Gladding-Hearn Shipbuilding in Somerset, Mass.

The all-aluminum catamaran vessel is 154.1 feet long with a 39-foot beam and a 5.3-foot draft. Iyanough is the 34th Incat-Crowther high-speed vessel delivered by Gladding-Hearn and will operate nine months a year on the 26-mile Hyannis-to-Nantucket Island route on an hourly schedule.

The $9.4 million catamaran replaces the seven-year-old Flying Cloud. It is slightly faster and holds 50 more people than the older fast ferry, which is being sold.

Named after a local American Indian chief from the time of the Pilgrims, Iyanough carries 395 passengers on two decks plus large quantities of baggage and bicycles in an enclosed cargo space on the foredeck.

The vessel can travel at 35 knots fully loaded. Power is from a quartet of MTU 12V4000 engines each rated at 2,335 hp driving ZF reduction gears that power Hamilton HM 721 waterjets. One of the outstanding attributes of this power plant is that the ferry can achieve 31.5 knots on three engines, which is fast enough to maintain its schedule.

Since the hull is a catamaran, two of the engines are placed in series in each hull with an offset gear.
Ship’s power is provided by two Alaska Diesel Electric 175-kW generators.

Owner/Operator: Woods Hole, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket Steamship Authority
Dimensions:  L: 254.8′ B: 64′ D: 10.10′
Designer: Elliott Bay Design Group Ltd.
Builder: VT Halter Marine, Pascagoula, Miss.
Mission: Auto/passenger ferry
Crew size: 12
– Steel monohull, aluminum superstructure (02, 03 & Pilothouses)
– Speed: 16 knots
– (2) EMD 12-710 G7B rated at 3,000 hp each at 900 rpm
– (2) Reintjes marine gears (WAF 3445K – 3.036:1)
– (2) 400-hp White Gill bow and stern thrusters
– EMI steering system
– (2) Becker high-lift rudders
– (2) Bird Johnson, 90-inch diameter propellers
– Centa propulsion shafting
– (2) Caterpillar C18 rated at 500 kW
– KiloPak 175 kW
– Passengers: 1,200
– Vehicles: 78
– Fresh water: 2,000 gallons
– Fuel oil: 8,700 gallons
– Lube oil: 600 gallons
– (4) Raytheon ARPA radars
– (2) Ray Marine wind speed/direction
– (2) CPlath speed logs
– (2) Transas navigation systems
– (2) Northstar GPS
– Raytheon gyrocompass
– (2) Raytheon gyro repeaters
– Furland depthsounder
– EMS Integrated alarm system
– (4) Icom VHF radios
– (2) Kenwood MF/HF radios
– Hose-McCann PA system
– (2) Huber lift decks
– (2) Huber freight deck doors
– (2) Bagby 2,000-pound elevators
– (2) Wellin Lambie SOLAS davits
– (2) LSA marine excavation systems
– (2) 22′ Zodiac rescue boats
– IPS switchboards
– (1) US Filter impressed current system
– HVAC: Bronswerk Marine, Inc.
– Certification: USCG
– Interior design: Directions in Design
– Joiner: Jamestown Metal Marine Sales
– Windows: Pacific Coast Marine
– Seats: Beurteaux
– Paint: Sherwin Williams
– MSD: Omnipure marine sanitation device

The ferry had to meet strict parameters for speed, wash, seakeeping, maneuverability, sound and vibration. Seakeeping was addressed by the Incat-Crowther S-design bow along with an Interceptor-based ride control system from Maritime Dynamics Incorporated.

Passenger comfort and interior noise levels were enhanced by Incat-Crowther’s rubber-mounted superstructure. On sea trials, Iyanough generated only 60 to 72 dbA at 38 knots in the interior passenger cabin and 72 dbA at 100 meters from centerline on the exterior at service speed. Vibration in the passenger cabin was excellent, less than 50 percent of the maximum allowable for fast ferries, and approaching the level for luxury yachts.

Incat-Crowther faced a design challenge in meeting the owner’s requirements for the foredeck luggage area. Space had to be provided for 30 luggage carts or 20 luggage carts and 30 bicycles. In addition, the space had to be compatible with the authority’s existing terminal facilities for its fleet of monohull vessels.

The main cabin has seats for 166 passengers as well as space for six wheelchairs. A large bar and shop area is also on the main deck along with three restrooms. The upper deck features open-air seating for 46 people and an interior cabin with 177 seats plus restroom facilities, with the wheelhouse forward.

The interior passenger seats are by Beurteaux, and there is a WiFi system for passenger use.

Large vertical windows provide an attractive view for passengers and give wheelhouse personnel maximum visibility over the luggage room on the foredeck for docking and undocking.

Iyanough holds 3,700 gallons of fuel and 250 gallons of fresh water. The vessel is certificated by the U.S. Coast Guard as a subchapter-K vessel for operation on lakes, bays and sounds with a cold water certificate. To operate in cold water, the vessel features Gladding-Hearn’s Winterization Pack, including heated foredeck, hull strengthening at the waterline for operating in slush ice, and double-glazed and heated wheelhouse windows.

Island Home went into service March 5 and Iyanough followed on March 28. SSA has several ferries in its fleet, including the 230-foot Martha’s Vineyard, built by Atlantic Marine in Jacksonville, Fla., in 1993; Eagle, built in 1987 by McDermott Shipyard in Amelia, La.; Nantucket, another 230-footer from Atlantic Marine, and the 242-foot Governor, the fleet’s only diesel-electric-drive ferry. All carry both vehicles and passengers.

SSA also has three vessels that primarily haul freight: Katama, Gay Head and Sankaty. All are 235 feet long and were formerly offshore oil vessels. They serve as backup car and truck carriers. Katama and Gay Head are certified as Subchapter-T vessels with a passenger capacity of 149; Sankaty is a subchapter-H vessel, certified for 300 passengers. All three vessels have been extensively modified with midbody additions and widening conversions over the years.

SSA typically operates only five of its boats in the winter season. “That is when we do repairs, drydocking for Coast Guard inspections and capital improvements on at least three of the vessels every year,” said Walker.

By Professional Mariner Staff