JANUARY 26, 2017: Continuing its recent success in commercial ferry construction, Louisiana-based shipbuilder Metal Shark has been awarded two separate contracts to produce passenger vessels for the Potomac Riverboat Company division of Entertainment Cruises, and for the New Orleans Regional Transit Authority.
For the Potomac Riverboat Company, Metal Shark will build four 88 ft, high speed/low wake, 149-passenger aluminum catamarans. The new passenger vessels will provide commuters in the Washington, DC, metro region with service between Old Town Alexandria, Virginia; National Harbor, Maryland; and Georgetown and The Wharf in Washington, DC. Potomac Riverboat Company parent Entertainment Cruises is the nation’s largest dining and sightseeing cruise company, with a fleet of 30 ships operating in over a dozen major U.S. cities.
For the New Orleans Regional Transit Authority (RTA), Metal Shark will produce two 105 ft, high-speed, low wake, 149-passenger aluminum catamaran ferries, which will bring vastly improved passenger comfort and convenience, operating economy, safety, and environmental friendliness to New Orleans ferry routes. Currently RTA operates two ferries built in 1977 and 1937 to transport New Orleans-area passengers across the Mississippi River between Algiers Point and Canal Street, and Lower Algiers and Chalmette.
The vessels for both projects have been designed by BMT Designers and Planners, drawing from the company’s extensive portfolio of proven low-wake, low-wash hull forms. Both vessels are USCG Subchapter T compliant and have been designed to combine passenger comfort with fuel efficiency and low environmental impact.
Metal Shark will commence deliveries of vessels to Potomac Riverboat Company in 2017, and to RTA in 2018. Rendering of the vessel design is shown at right.
“Efficiently producing multi-vessel orders of sophisticated design within tight timeframes is what we do best,” says Carl Wegener, Metal Shark’s Director of Commercial Sales. “With our large in-house team of engineers and project managers, we’re able to take complete design packages to the next level, ensuring high quality construction and delivering great value to our customers.”
These two awards represent the latest multi-vessel passenger ferry construction projects for Metal Shark’s Franklin, LA, shipyard, which the builder opened in 2014 and is currently expanding to meet increased production volume. In 2016 Metal Shark was awarded a contract to produce multiple high speed aluminum catamaran ferries for New York’s CityWide Ferry System, which are currently being built alongside other projects at the yard.
“These newest awards are the result of extensive collaborative efforts between Metal Shark, BMT, and our newest customers, Entertainment Cruises and RTA,” says Metal Shark’s CEO Chris Allard. “All of us at Metal Shark are honored to have been selected to produce these state-of-the-art passenger vessels that will serve New Orleans and the Washington, DC area for years to come.”