July 8, 2003

New ferry hits hurricane barrier
Rhode Island's Providence Journal reports that the July 7 "belated debut of the new high-speed ferry between Providence and Newport ended with a crunch yesterday afternoon, when the ferry bumped into the Fox Point Hurricane Barrier." The new catamaran Ocean State was carrying about 20 people on its fourth trip from Newport when it struck the barrier, the newspaper quotes Mike Glasfeld, as saying. Glasfeld is the president of New England Fast Ferry Co., which runs the ferry for the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority.

The 24-foot wide catamaran was running about three feet off-center through the hurricane barrier when its bumper hit the steel wall, the paper reports Glasfeld as saying. The collision smashed several windows on the port side and peeled back the fashion work on top of the bumper. He estimated the damage at about $1,000 and said he could have the catamaran repaired by this morning.

The encounter with the hurricane barrier is the latest in a series of snags that have hindered introduction of the service. The new cat was originally supposed to debut June 15. That was deferred until July 4 because of building delays. Then the July 4 introduction was postponed to let the Coast Guard complete standard safety inspections

The new vessel, Ocean State, was designed by Australia's Crowther Design and built at Merrifield-Robert, Inc. in Bristol, Rhode Island. It is 68 feet long, by 24 feet wide, has an interior salon, two outdoor decks, and a snack bar. With a top speed of 34 knots, the Ocean State accommodates 146 passengers and three crew members.

The new catamaran will reduce the ferry trip between Providence and Newport from 70 to 45 minutes.

"The new boat provides faster and more comfortable service than we were able to offer previously. It's a great travel option and it's going into service at just the right time, when our roads are most heavily congested with summer traffic. We're proud to be able to offer high-speed ferry service between Providence and Newport‹ it's an important step in the development of water transportation in our state," said RIPTA Acting General Manager Alfred J. Moscola at the vessel's July 3 christening.

Funded by the Federal Highway Administration and Federal Transit Administration in conjunction with the Congestion Mitigation Air Quality Program and the RI Department of Transportation, RIPTA's Providence/Newport high speed ferry service is a demonstration project designed to help reduce traffic congestion and improve air quality.

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