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January 4, 2002

NY Waterway orders five high-speed ferries from Allen Marine
To handle the surge in its ridership since Sept. 11, NY Waterway, Weehawken, N.J., is ordering five new high-speed ferries from Allen Marine, Sitka, Alaska.

The five boats, three 149-passenger catamarans and two 97-passenger monohull vessels, are expected to join NY Waterwaysin June in time to replace several vessels currently under charter from whale watch and tour boat operators.

Prior to Sept. 11, NY Waterways daily ridership averaged 34,000. Because of PATH train service disruptions, subway and tunnel traffic restrictions since then, its daily ridership is 60,000. To meet the additional demand, NY Waterway chartered 11 additional boats, says president Arthur E. Imperatore Jr. "The owners of these boats will want them back by summer and we are determined to have new high-speed ferries available to continue serving the people of New York and New Jersey," he says.

The three 149-passenger, 78 ft catamarans will be similar to five Italian Class (see photo of Frank Sinatra) ferries already in the NY Waterway fleet. Costing about $1.7 million apiece, they will have top speeds of 27 knots. Propulsion power for each will be supplied by four 600-hp Cat 3406 electronic diesel engines and four Hamilton waterjets.

The two Sea Otter Class 97-passenger, 64 ft ferries will reach speeds in excess of 30 knots and be propelled by three Cat 3406 electronic engines and three Hamilton waterjets.

Whats particularly interesting about the Sea Otters, which cost about $1 million apiece, is that they are economical to operate, requiring only a captain and a deckhand. Company spokesman Pat Smith called the Sea Otters, the company's workhorses of the future.

NY Waterway plans to eventually operate the ferries in East River service from 90th Street to 34th Street to Pier 11 at Wall Street with connections to Queens.

Last year, NY Waterway ordered four Sea Otters from Allen Marine. One, the Austin Tobin, has joined the fleet and the three others are in transit from Sitka. NY Waterway currently owns 25 ferries and charters 11 others.

  • For our latest feature coverage on New York ferry operations click here

Great Lakes self-unloader fleets pool operations
Oglebay Norton Company subsidiary, Oglebay Norton Marine Services Company, LLC, is to pool its fleet operations with those of GATX Corporation subsidiary American Steamship Company. The multi-year agreement provides for the coordination of dispatch and other fleet operations but will not involve the transfer of any assets.

Oglebay Norton Marine Services, LLC owns and operates a fleet of 12 self- unloading vessels and numerous docks and terminals on the Great Lakes. American Steamship Company provides waterborne transportation of dry-bulk commodities on the Great Lakes with a fleet of 11 modern, self-unloading vessels.

Michael D. Lundin, Oglebay Norton Company president and CEO said, "Pooling our resources with American Steamship will enable us to deploy the pooled fleet more efficiently resulting in better service to our shipping and limestone customers. We look forward to building a long-term relationship with American Steamship Company."

American Steamship Company EVP Jerry Welsch said, "Our companies share a long and successful tradition made possible by the commitment of dedicated employees in each of our respective organizations. The pool arrangement is the next logical step toward building a better value for our customer base.''

Air merger could spur Hawaiian ferry service
According to a recent story in the Honolulu Star Bulletin. a pending merger between Aloha and Hawaiian airlines pushes interest for an interisland ferry "one notch higher," in the view of state Senate Transportation Chairman Cal Kawamoto.

"Now with the airlines situation, (people are going to be asking) have we done anything with the interisland ferry," Kawamoto (D, Waipahu-Pearl City) said . "If there's companies out there, we're willing to listen."

The newspaper reports that one company, Rainbow Island Express, says it could start an interisland ferry system transporting passengers and their cars -- with rates competitive with airlines -- within two years.

And state transportation planner Julia Tsumoto told the newspaper that in addition to an interisland ferry, the department has also been talking with operators to initiate a West Oahu-to-Honolulu commuter ferry.

Tsumoto said unlike the commuter ferry, which would probably have to be subsidized by the state or city, the interisland ferry would be a "purely business arrangement."

"If there are operators out there that think they can fill a need or market, then we would be willing to work with them to provide the facilities."

The state, she said, is considering proposals for a roll-on/roll-off system.

She emphasized that talks are in the "preliminary concept stage" for both interisland and commuter ferries.

Last year, says the newspaper, state lawmakers and the governor approved nearly $44.5 million in special-facility revenue bonds for harbor improvements. Those bonds were specifically linked to interisland and intraisland ferry systems that would be operated by Rainbow Island Express, a local subsidiary of the Rainbow Transportation Group of Las Vegas.