April 21, 2006
Gulf Craft delivers high speed cat
Gulf Craft, Inc., Patterson, La., last month delivered its second Incat Crowther design catamaran ferry to Florida's Key West Express LLC.
Operating on the west coast of Florida between Fort Myers and Key West, the 52 m Key West Express is capable of carrying 513 passengers at a speed of 41.5 knots.
The vessel is powered by four MTU 16V4000 M71 diesels producing 3,305 bhp each coupled to Hamilton HM811 waterjets.
Key West Express provides a high speed ferry service between the ports of Fort Myers and Marco Island to Key West on the southern tip of the Florida Keys. The 120 nm route is arguably the longest and roughest passenger only trip in the U.S.A.
The Incat Crowther design was specifically developed with a combination of higher than normal freeboard and an interceptor based MDI ride control system to provide a very comfortable ride over the three and a half hour journey.
The design was also optimized around the MTU 16V4000 M71's to provide an extremely fuel efficient vessel.
Co-owner of the vessel Joe Miller believes "the new vessel will save us over 2,000 gallons of fuel per day when compared with our existing two vessel operation."
The main cabin contains seating for 268 passengers in a mix of lounge, bar and row seating. Catering facilities are a feature of the vessel, which has a journey time of approximately 3.5 hours.
A centrally located bar provides full cocktail drinks service with counterside seating for nine.
A kiosk, providing pre-packaged food, snacks and gifts is located aft amongst casual lounge and kiosk seating.
The mid deck cabin has seating for 147 passengers primarily seated in rows.
There is a small feature lounge at the rear of the cabin offering passengers a more relaxed atmosphere.
An outdoor seating area for 56 passengers is fitted aft of the mid deck cabin and protected from the elements by enclosed sides.
For the more adventurous there is seating on the upper deck for 54 who will, says Incat Crowther's Ben Hercus, "be able to experience the true force of this vessel when under way at full speed."
Gulf Craft Managing Director Kevin Tibbs said "with the help of the value adding service of Incat Crowther, this is one of the finest vessels we have had the privilege of building".
Gulf Craft is also in the final stages of completing a third Incat Crowther catamaran being built for service in Honduras. This vessel is expected to be launched this summer.