August 18, 2003
"Zephyr" is Circle Line's first aluminum high speed vessel, and the second Austal USA has delivered to the New York area in the last three months. Austal delivered the 135 ft dinner cruise yacht "Cloud 9" to its owners in May.
The new catamaran meets Circle Line's requirements for a vessel capable of fulfilling a variety of roles. With a service speed of 29 knots and COI (Certificate of Inspection) for 600 passengers, the vessel has been developed through close co-operation between Austal USA and Circle Line and will expand the owner's harbor sightseeing cruises, and evening charter operations as well as providing speed and comfort on longer distance runs.
Most noticeable when entering through the large double doors, forward, is the atrium area, with a large expanse of skylight providing the twin benefits of an airy spacious saloon as well as unparalleled views of the Manhattan skyline, viewed from seats within the air-conditioned cabin. Equally striking is the circular, Amtico dance floor set below the skylight. The Main Deck is extremely spacious and will allow for a variety of functions on-board including corporate presentations. To facilitate these, a large screen can be electrically lowered from the ceiling, and is supplemented by feed to 21 inch flat screen televisions. Suspended from ceiling and wall locations throughout the vessel, these can also receive Direct TV satellite service.
Laptop computer connections are provided on the main and upper decks to facilitate onboard presentations and there are additional power outlets on the upper deck for commuters to hook into during their time aboard.
Internal furnishings are provided by Beurteaux of Australia and external bench seats come from Turnbull in the U.S. The main deck shows off some very interesting curved Beurteaux seats of a design very similar to some seen on some large Austal Ships ferries operating in Europe. Small, built-in drinks tables are signature Beurteaux touches.
Further aft on the main deck is the large concession/servery area, behind which what Circle Linecalls the "Multi ‹Purpose room." In the ferry mode this area becomes a cross walkway between the two, large aft passenger doors and links to the bathrooms. In the evening, dinner cruise, mode, the mahogany-look veneered cabinets in this room (a veneer repeated throughout the vessel) fold back to reveal refrigerators, microwaves and ice maker with the overall space being large enough to locate a trolley with pre-cooked meals brought on board.
Also in this space is a mobile counter which serves a number of functions not least of which is when it is wheeled onto the dock to serve as a ticket/check-in counter! The room can also be completely shut off for food preparation, away from guests.
The aft part of the vessel features the male and female bathrooms and on the outside decks (with engine soft patches all but invisible) are two sets of bulwark doors. The design matches docks/boarding ramps throughout Manhattan, including those that are still in the planning stage.
The vessel's freeboard and bow loading have been designed and built to be compatible with existing and planned future docks in Manhattan and will allow either bow loading or side loading (from three separate entranceways).
The vessel will also be able to operate alongside Battery Park, the traditional home of Circle Line Statue of Liberty Ferry, where pilings and dock heights posed specific challenges. These were met with a much larger than normal fendering system to accommodate for the piling angles and by protecting the aft loading area with a heavy duty stainless steel wear plate at each side onto which shore side gangways can be located.
Moving upstairs can be effected by way of the central staggered staircase or the very large double stairs aft, which also make their way to the top, sun deck by way of a small landing on the upper deck. With a COI of 600, a big emphasis was placed on moving large numbers of people (in the excursion mode) in a very short time. Circle Line's experience here was instrumental in ensuring this vessel can be turned around in very short order.
The upper deck once again reflects the owner's desire for versatility with the barely noticeable flush seat tracks forward a special feature, allowing for rapid conversion to a flat function area. Beurteaux Diner chairs are located around beautifully finished tables also supplied by Beurteaux. Aft is another bar with aft facing booth windows to serve the outside deck.
The third deck, the sun deck, is completely dominated by three separate banks of Turnbull benches to accommodate passengers. Once again, the center bank can be readily removed if required.
The vessel is powered by four Cummins KTA38M2 diesel engines, each coupled to a Hamilton 571 waterjet through a Reintjes WVS 440 reversing gearbox. This configuration allows the catamaran to be operated with either two or four engines, giving the vessel two distinct service speeds to match its varied operating profiles. Noise levels onboard are extremely low even at top speed and when cruising the harbor the engines are barely noticeable.
The vessel is operated from a comfortably furnished helm (two Bostrom SeaPost helm seats) from which the crew can work state-of-the-art navigation equipment, including Furuno FR 2125 X-band and FR 2135 S-band radars, a Comm NAV 2001 autopilot system, Furuno 1850D GPS, and a NAUTI-comp Explorer processor 4 chart plotter. The communications system onboard consists of Icom 602 and Icom IC-M502 radios, ACR Sattelite-2 EPIRB and a Multicom Voyage model loudhailer. Wing station controls are also provided.
Circle Line spent considerable time and effort launching the Zephyr product and the main color theme of turquoise blue is taken throughout the vessel even to the painting of the external decks forward and on top. As such she presents as a new and exciting addition to the NY harbor vessels and it is appropriate this landmark vessel design is seen for the first time in the city of New York.
"Zephyr" is the latest high performance vessel to emerge from Austal USA's state-of-the-art facilities, which were established in 1999 specifically to introduce parent company Austal Ships' world-leading aluminum ship design and construction techniques to the US market. Austal USA's next major undertaking is a 192ft high-speed vehicle/passenger ferry; the first of its kind planned for operation within the Continental United States. This vessel will be put into operation on Lake Michigan between Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and Muskegon, Michigan, in May 2004.
Length Overall: 142 ft 9 in
Beam (molded): 37 ft 9 in
Hull Depth (molded): 11 ft 6 in
Draft (max): 4 ft 7 in
Main engines: 4 x Cummins KTA 38 ‹ M2 (1,200 BHP @ 1800 rpm)
Gearboxes: 4 x Reintjes WVS 440 DL
Waterjets: 4 x Hamilton 571
Speed 29 knots
Survey USCG according to 46 CFR Subchapter K ‹ Coastal