Wilderness tour boat is Australia's first with Silent Drive

MAY 28, 2018 — Recently launched by Australian shipbuilder Richardson Devine Marine for Tasmania's Gordon River Cruises, the Incat Crowther designed Spirit of the Wild is the first tour boat in Australia to operate in a World Heritage-listed wilderness area with Silent Drive.

The 109 ft 4 in x 29 ft 7 in, 192 passenger Spirit of the Wild is fitted with a pair of MTU 10V2000M72 main engines and a cutting-edge hybrid electric system, consisting of a pair of ABB e-motors, driving hybrid-ready ZF gearboxes.

Particular attention was given to the mounting of the engines and gears to reduce the transmission of vibration and noise. The main engines' modest rating (2 x 749 kW @ 2,250 rpm) is tailored to the local manning requirements.

In open water, the vessel will use boost mode from the hybrid system, which matches e-motor speed to engine speed, to seamlessly add electric power. In this mode, the vessel operates at 25 knots.

When the tour comes to the World Heritage-listed Gordon River, Silent Drive mode is engaged. In this mode, the main engines are shut down and the vessel runs on electric power at 11 knots.

Spirit of the Wild exhibits excellent noise and vibration characteristics, even in boost mode. Engine ventilation systems and the engine room were addressed with a fully-engineered acoustic insulation system. Attention was paid to fittings and door openings, with seals and bushes used extensively to stop rattles and gaps. In silent drive mode, the experience is described as "eerily quiet," with seats returning sound level readings as low as 45dbA.

Incat Crowther has designed the vessel that with triangular side structure to enlarge openings and minimize obstructed viewing locations, wrapped in a stealth-like exterior design. Dark reflective floor-to-ceiling glass provides an unparalleled viewing experience and enables the vessel to disappear into a backdrop of tannin-colored water and ancient wilderness forest.

The vessel layout is designed around optimal viewing. Every seat on the vessel was considered in the design to provide exceptional vistas.

Service areas are located in the center of the vessel. The main deck side boarding areas, involving engine room ventilation and engine removal, have been minimized, while the main stair case is open to avoid obstruction.

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