Warbaby Fox

The government of Bermuda took delivery in August of a 350-passenger catamaran ferry Warbaby Fox built by Derecktor Shipyards LLC in Bridgeport, Conn.

This is the fifth high-speed vessel acquired by Bermuda since its ferry system was created in 1999.

“Our main objective is to provide a viable commuter alternative to the motor car between Hamilton and the East End of the island,” said Francis Richardson, the Bermuda government’s director of Marine and Port Services (BMP). With a length of 124 feet and a beam of 29 feet 2 inches, the all-aluminum high-speed catamaran was built to a design by Nigel Gee & Associates.

The primary role of the vessel will be 13-mile commuter runs from St. George at the eastern end of Bermuda to downtown Hamilton in the middle of the main island.

Between those runs and during the summer cruise-ship season, the ferry will be used to transport tourists between the West End cruise ship berths at King’s Wharf of the Royal Naval Dockyards and downtown Hamilton and St. George. King’s Wharf is west of Hamilton across Great Sound. The ferry crossing will take about 20 minutes.

As commuter traffic demands, additional direct Hamilton-St. George runs may be scheduled.

“The element of speed came into play when designing this vessel,” said Richardson. With a service speed of 33 knots, the new vessel is expected to attract many of the commuters now making the trip by cars. The ferry ride from Hamilton to St. George is scheduled to take 30 minutes, slightly less time than it takes to make the trip by car.


With a service speed of 33 kots, it is propelled by four MTU 12V2000 diesels powering Hamilton HM521 waterjets.
Low noise and vibration in passenger areas were also important issues in the ferry’s design and construction.

“The deckhouse is a completely independent structure technically isolated from the hull by rubber mounts. The deckhouse structure’s design was optimized using extruded panels to keep weight low while achieving high strength,” explained Gavin Higgins, chief operating officer of Derecktor Shipyards. Seating on the main deck’s air-conditioned/heated compartment is available for 212 passengers plus four wheelchairs. Additional seating is provided on the weather deck in a combination of covered and open seating areas. A food service kiosk is located aft on the main deck.
Rapid, smooth passenger boarding and off-loadings are vital for a successful ferry operation targeting commuters. The ferry is primarily a bow loader to achieve fast turn-around times; however, the vessel can load from the side where dock facilities for bow loading do not exist. The absence of ramps or side sills on the main deck ensures total accessibility for wheelchair passengers. Although Warbaby Fox is primarily a passenger ferry, a limited number of storage racks at the bow are provided for mopeds or motorcycles.

Warbaby Fox is 39 feet longer than the two biggest ferries now operated by BMP. “To help improve operating efficiencies we’ve improved seakeeping for the open waters between Hamilton and St. George with a hull as long as possible that still meet the demands of the maneuvering at the docks at either end,” said Higgins.

The vessel is not equipped with ride control, but its design allows for it to be added at a future time if it is deemed desirable. During the design phase, offshore sea state conditions were not considered a major operational and design issue for the normal 13-mile route since “the vessel actually will not get out into the open ocean and at all times will be within one mile of the shore. So the normal route of the vessel is considered inland service,” explained Richardson. The operators also have the option of taking a more protected route between Hamilton and St. George “if the seas are a bit rough and there are winds over 20 to 25 knots from the north or northeast,” he noted.


Those who want to enjoy the fresh air and sunshine can travel on the weather deck, which offers both covered and open seating.
Warbaby Fox is powered by four MTU 12V2000 series diesel engines each operating a Hamilton HM521 waterjet through a ZF Marine Co. ZF 2555 power transmission gear box. The requirement for redundancy in the propulsion system was a major reason for choosing the four diesels, since the vessel can still operate with one engine down.

Richardson noted that BMP’s experience with the MTU diesels on the four existing ferries and the desire to maintain propulsion equipment standardization was “very much” a factor in selecting MTU. Each of the two A60-rated engine spaces is protected by a single-discharge Kidde FM-200 fire suppression system. The system is rated as safe for discharge even when people are present in the discharge space.


More than 200 passengers can be accomodated in the boat’s climate-controlled cabin.
Low maintenance requirements for the entire vessel are expected to be achieved by the coatings selected. Orca Maritime Vinyl products were applied to topside deckhouse surfaces. “There is no wet paint on this boat above the waterline, so there should be no exterior maintenance above the waterline for 10 years,” said Higgins. Below the waterline, International Paint’s Intersleek hull coating was applied and “should last in excess of four years,” he said.

Warbaby Fox is part of a continuing effort by Bermuda to relieve traffic congestion and protect the environment. The Bermuda government made a $26 million commitment in 1999 to build four ferries and docking facilities to serve Bermuda’s West End.

In 2002 it purchased two 85-foot, 250-passenger, 22-knot catamaran ferries from Gladding-Hearn in Somerset, Mass., followed by two 75-foot, 33-knot, foil-assisted catamaran ferries built in Hobart, New Zealand.


From the wheelhouse the crew controls the four diesel engines. For increased reliability and safety, the ferry is designed to be able to operate with just three of the four engines.
Higgins said those vessels and their routes have proven to be very successful.

The bidding process that culminated in the purchase of NAME produced the “best boat, best price, best delivery,” according to Barry Coupland, former BMP director.

Overall, said Richardson, Bermuda’s existing ferries already provide efficient transportation to West End residents and tourists and Warbaby Fox will provide “improved service to the East Enders of the island.”

By Professional Mariner Staff