Virginia ferries save fuel with Volvo Penta engines


(CHESAPEAKE, Va.) — “We estimate we have saved nearly 3,500 gallons of fuel per year with the Volvo Penta engines.”

That’s what Deon Glover, chief operating officer of Norfolk by Boat, had to say about his fleet of Volvo Penta-powered passenger ferries.

Norfolk by Boat operates three aluminum ferries on behalf of Hampton Roads Transit on the Elizabeth River. The picturesque vessels, with their trademark stern paddlewheels, carry up to 150 passengers at a time between downtown Norfolk and Portsmouth, Va. During the peak summer season, they operate every 30 minutes with 15-minute crossing times for 15 to 19 hours per day.

In 2014, the company repowered one of its ferries with a Volvo Penta 13-liter 400-hp engine. Based on the engine’s performance, fuel economy, reduced emissions and low noise levels, they decided to specify the same D13-400 engines in two new ferries, which were built in 2016 and 2017.

“Our ferries are constantly shifting in and out of gear, pulling in and out of docks, fighting the tide and wind all day long,” said Glover. “We needed something very reliable. I’m telling you these engines offer every aspect of reliability.”

While the annual 3,500 gallons of fuel savings is impressive, Glover also praised the customer service from Volvo Penta, which has its U.S. headquarters in Chesapeake, Va., just a 20-minute drive from the Elizabeth River docks. 

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By Professional Mariner Staff