Citywide Ferry Service

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Citywide Ferries hit the water

MARCH 2, 2017 — The first two passenger vessels built by Louisiana-based shipbuilder Metal Shark for New York’s new Citywide Ferry Service are now on the water, after being splashed at Metal

Horizon to build five more Citywide ferries

JANUARY 31, 2017 — Hornblower subsidiary HNY Ferry Fleet, LLC has awarded Horizon Shipbuilding, Inc., Bayou La Batre, AL, contracts for five additional ferries for New York City’s new Citywide ferry service.

Construction of Citywide ferries marks a milestone

NOVEMBER 20, 2016 —Construction of the first Incat Crowther designed vessels for New York City’s new Citywide ferry service has marked another milestone with completion of the superstructure for the first ferry.

Ferry Good Ambitions

Considered the “forgotten borough” by some New Yorkers, Staten Island is on the verge of making its presence known in the city that never sleeps. The borough is a 25-minute ferry ride from the lowest tip in Manhattan, the Staten Island Ferry terminal at Whitehall.

Staten Island’s plan for renewal includes a $1.2 billion investment that will see the construction of the New York Wheel at St. George—an impressive 630 ft tall observation wheel that will rival England’s infamous London Eye, and feature 36 pods with accommodations for 40 in each, on a 38 minute ride/revolution, giving passengers a spectacular view of New York Harbor. Alongside the New York Wheel, New York City’s first outlet mall, Empire Outlets, is currently being constructed at St. George. The mall will feature 350,000 square feet of retail, 100 different shops and a 190-room hotel. Both the New York Wheel and Empire Outlets are expected to be operational by 2018.

How will tourist, potential shoppers, and New Yorkers alike make their way to these new attractions? They’ll be taking the Staten Island Ferry of course. The fleet, currently comprised of nine ferries, carries 22 million passengers a year—second only to Washington State Ferries’ fleet which carries over 23 million passengers annually.

And come 2019, the Staten Island Ferry fleet will welcome a new class to its fleet—the Ollis Class ferries.

Designed by Seattle-based Elliott Bay Design Group, the Ollis Class will mix the new with a bit of the old, providing passengers with a faster, more efficient ride to help meet increased ridership demand.

Its design will give the 320 ft x 70 ft ferries a striking resemblance to the beloved John F. Kennedy—which was commissioned in 1965 and is one of the oldest ferries in the Staten Island Ferry fleet. The Kennedy is one of three-that will be retired once the new Ollis Class series is delivered—the S.I. Newhouse and Andrew J. Barberi, both commissioned in 1981 are the other two.

The new Ollis Class will be double-ended and have capacity for 4,500 passengers; and like the Kennedy, will feature plenty of open air space, enabling passengers to enjoy the harbor view. The ferries will be built to ABS class requirements and will be powered by Tier 4 EMD engines and Voith Schneider Propulsion Drives.

The first of the three ferries will be named in honor of U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Michael Ollis, a native Staten Islander who died while saving another soldier in Afghanistan. He was only 24 years old.

The Staff Sgt. Michael Ollis ferry is expected to begin operations in 2019, with vessels two and three following later in 2019 and 2020.

Building the Ollis Class
As we were going to press, yards were putting in their final bids for the ferry project.

Among the yards that have expressed interest in the Ollis Class—at least according to the 2015 Industry Day attendance—are Conrad Shipyard, Eastern Shipbuilding Group, Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding, and Vigor. All are builders of a variety of vessel types including ferries.

Conrad Shipyard—which has won a number of newbuild contracts this year — has had its share of ferry projects in the past, and is looking to keep the momentum going.

As Dan Conrad, Conrad Shipyard’s Senior Vice President and Director, explains, “Conrad Shipyard has a great track record on deliveries to the Puerto Rico Maritime Authority, the Texas Department of Transportation, the State of North Carolina and the Alaska Marine Highway, among others.” And he assures that his team is committed to pursuing the ferry market for years to come.

Most recently, Conrad’s Conrad Aluminum, Amelia, LA, yard delivered the M/V Woodshole to the Steamship Authority. The 235 ft x 64 ft ferry was designed by Elliott Bay Design Group and has capacity for 384 passengers, 55 automobiles or 10 eighteen-wheel tractor-trailers.

Eastern Shipbuilding Group is said to have the inside track on building the Ollis Class ferries, according to our sources. It would be quite a month for the Panama City, FL-based shipyard, which recently secured the lucrative contract to build the OPC for the U.S. Coast Guard.

Meanwhile, Fincantieri’s recent expansion is helping it position its Bay Shipbuilding yard for larger projects that can be produced and worked on, year-round. The three-acre expansion will pave the way for additional covered fabrication and erection facilities, an indoor paint and coating building, and outfitting shop that will enable FBS to increase its pursuit of ferry projects.

“This expansion allows us to increase our capacity and positions us to pursue a number of new construction markets, including large passenger ferries,” said FBS Vice President and General Manager Todd Thayse. “Our experience in building ferries and other complex passenger vessels dates back to our origins almost a hundred years ago, and includes the New York Staten Island Ferry now operating (the Guy V. Molinari). We have the people, the experience, the facilities, and the global resources of Fincantieri to ensure that we can tackle the most challenging construction projects.”

As for the shipbuilding powerhouse in the Northwest, Vigor, it’s currently working on six ferry projects at the moment, including the final two vessels in Washington State Ferries’ new 144-car Olympic Class.

AlaskaDayFerry2“Vigor has deep expertise in the ferry market with successful, on-time and on-budget deliveries of car ferries, passenger only vessels and catamarans. Six ferries are currently under construction at our Washington and Alaska yards and we expect ferry construction to continue to be a focus in our business development efforts, leveraging our considerable experience,” said Corey Yraguen, Vigor Executive VP of Fabrication. 

Just last month the Chimacum, the third in the series was christened at Vigor’s Harbor Island yard. The fourth vessel in the series, the Suquamish, is currently under construction and scheduled for completion in 2018, with operations set to begin in 2019.

The 144-car ferries are the result of a combined effort from a consortium of Northwest based companies, including Nichols Brothers Boat Builders, Freeland, WA, which has been in charge of building the superstructures for the144-car ferries.

In other Vigor ferry news, Vigor’s Ballard Facility (formerly Kvichak Marine) is building two 400 passenger ferries for the Water Emergency Transportation Authority of San Francisco (WETA). The Incat Crowther designed ferries will travel 27 knots and are scheduled for delivery Summer 2017.

And Vigor’s Ketchikan yard in Alaska has taken up the task of constructing the highly anticipated 280 ft Day Boat ferries for the Alaska Marine Highway System. The ferries, designed by Elliott Bay Design Group, are scheduled to be completed Fall 2018.

Vigor’s Executive VP of Business Development, Keith Whittemore, will be discussing Vigor’s ferry projects and more at the Marine Log Ferries Conference & Expo November 3 & 4, 2016, Seattle, WA. Attendees of the event will also have the chance to tour Vigor’s Harbor Island yard after the conference’s conclusion. Learn more at

Route Extension?
Staten Island Borough President, James Oddo sparked additional interest in the Staten Island Ferry system when he requested the New York City Department of Transportation explore the feasibility of extending the Staten Island Ferry’s route north of the Whitehall Terminal, possibly extending the service into midtown.

While the idea sounds great in theory, and will certainly foster a sense of “transit equality” for Staten Islanders who have a grueling commute (just ask our Editor-in-Chief, John Snyder), the route extension could prove problematic as there is currently no operating terminal in place in midtown, with the right infrastructure to handle such large vessels.

CITYWideHullNew York’s Ferry Boom
Of course, the Staten Island Ferry isn’t the only New York City ferry operation making waves. Operated by Hornblower NY, Citywide Ferry Service’s new fleet of ferries are currently under construction at Louisiana-based Metal Shark Boats and Alabama’s Horizon Shipbuilding. The contract catapults both yards into new markets—propelling Metal Shark into the commercial market in a very big way, and introducing Horizon to the ferry market.

A large portion of the Incat Crowther-designed ferries are expected to be delivered in time for Citywide Ferry Service’s launch Summer 2017. The service, according to the New York City Economic Development Corporation is projected to make 4.6 million trips annually.

The 85 ft ferries will have capacity for 150 passengers, as well as space for bikes, strollers and wheelchairs. The Citywide Ferry Service is expected to add five new routes on the East River.

Meanwhile, another well-known ferry operator in New York harbor is upping its stake in the market. Seastreak says its “raising the bar in fast passenger ferry service” with the addition of a new, high-speed, 600-passenger, catamaran in 2017. The ferry will be the highest passenger capacity USCG K-class high speed ferry in the U.S.

The addition of the new ferry will help Seastreak meet growing passenger demand on the New Jersey to New York route.

SeastreakDesigned by Incat Crowther, the ferry, the first in Seastreak’s new Commodore class, will be 147 ft 8 in x 39 ft 5 in. The vessel was designed to provide Seastreak with an operational advantage. The ferry’s boarding arrangement will include large forward and aft side gates as well as an adjustable bow ramp. This will help facilitate turnaround times at terminals.

The first vessel in the series will be built at Gulf Craft Shipyard, Franklin, LA. Construction is to be completed by 3rd quarter 2017. Meanwhile, Seastreak expects a keel to be laid for a second Commodore class vessel before the end of 2016.

The Commodore Class ferry will be powered by four MTU 12V4000 M64 EPA Tier III main engines, each delivering 1,875 hp at 1,800 rev/min and driving Rolls-Royce KaMeWa 63S4 waterjets. The vessel will also feature LED lighting and an advance energy efficient HVAC system.

The ferry’s main deck will hold 234- passengers; mid deck will seat 271 passengers inside and 52 passengers outside; and the third deck features 160 exterior seats as well as the vessel’s wheelhouse.

Seastreak is also initiating the upgrades and repowering of several members of its current operating fleet. First one up will be the Seastreak New York, which is expected to enter into drydock this coming winter. At press time, the bids were out to multiple yards. The repowering project is expected to be completed by the end of the 1st quarter 2017.

Florida gets in the game
New York isn’t the only city getting its ferry action on. This month, service officially begins on the Cross-Bay Ferry system—connecting St. Petersburg and Tampa, Fl. The service is part of a pilot project intended to introduce residents and visitors to water transit services in the area. 

The route will be operated by the 98 ft twin-hull aluminum catamaran, Provincetown IV. The ferry was originally built for Bay State Cruise Company, Boston, MA, by Gladding-Hearn Shipbuilding, the Duclos Corporation, Somerset, MA. Designed by Incat Crowther, the 149-passenger ferry can operate at a top speed of up to 30 knots on the 50 minute route.

“We only have one vessel, and one crew, so we cannot do everything, but we do mean to showcase this technology to a lot of people and test ferry service in a variety of ways and markets,” said Ed Turanchik, policy advisor for the project.

Organizers of the project are testing the service on a variety of different market segments including tourist and local commuters, and the entertainment and sports markets. Learn more about the project at

VDOT accepts ferry bids
Last month, the Virginia Department of Transportation was accepting bids for a new 70-vehicle ferry based on a design by Alion Science. The boat would be a replacement for the VDOT’s oldest ferry, the Virginia, built in 1936. Construction on the steel-hull ferry is to start this fall with completion in 2018.

Gladding Hearn delivers high-speed ferry
Gladding-Hearn Shipbuilding, the Duclos Corporation, recently delivered a new 493 –passenger, high-speed Incat Crowther designed ferry to Hy-Line Cruises, a division of Hyannis Harbor Tours, Inc., Hyannis, MA. 

The all-aluminum ferry is 153.5 ft x 35.5 ft and is powered by four Cummins QSK60-M, EPA Tier 3 diesel engines each delivering 2,200 bhp at 1,800 rev/min. Each engine will power a Hamilton HM721 waterjet through a Twin Disc MG61500SC horizontally-offset gearbox.

Incat Crowther says the ferry represents an evolutionary step from its previous designs built by Gladding-Hearn. According to the designer, the capacity increase had to fit within docking constraints, enforcing upper limits on both the length and beam of the vessel. To meet the requirements, it moved the wheelhouse to a third deck, freeing up the front end of the second deck for VIP passengers.

The restructuring shifted boarding arrangements, with the addition of a middeck boarding door and both forward and aft stairways improving passenger flow and turnaround times, says Incat.

The ferry will provide year-round service between Hyannis and Nantucket Island. It will top speeds of over 34 knots when fully loaded at a deadweight of more than 64 tonnes, said Peter Duclos, President of Gladding-Hearn.

The new ferry is also outfitted with a Naiad Dynamic trim-tab, ride-control system to help improve passenger comfort and safety. The system’s motion sensor measures the relative movement of the vessel and transmits a signal to the hydraulic device to counter the boat’s actions through the waves.

Europe’s Ferry Market
The European ferry market remains in the forefront of technology. The continent that gave the world emission-free, battery operated ferries, will now give forth, the world’s largest hybrid ferry.

Just last month, Norway’s Color Line reported that it would order the largest hybrid ferry ever built. The ferry, which will feature batteries charged via green electricity from dedicated shore side facilities, or recharged on onboard via the ship’s generators, would double the capacity of the vessel it will replace.

Tentatively named the “Color Hybrid, the ferry will be 160 m long and have capacity for 2,000 passengers and up to 500 cars. The ferry is expected to be put into service on the Sandefjord, Norway to Stromstad, Sweden route in 2020.

DAMENwaterbusAnd not to be outdone, Damen says its ready to launch its first composites-construction Water Bus. As we were going to press, the prototype was prepping to begin sea trials.

The Damen Water Bus is the first vessel for public transportation produced at Damen Shipyards, Antalya, Turkey. Its benefits are plentiful—the vessel, which features a slender hull, making it lighter than a traditional aluminum vessel, requires less fuel consumption, less maintenance, will suffer from no corrosion or fatigue problems. It can travel at speeds up to 21 knots and has capacity for 100 passengers.

Damen’s Design & Proposal Engineer, Fast Ferries, Marcel Elenbaas, explains that the Water Bus is built using high quality vacuum infusion technology that creates a “difficult to penetrate closed cell, epoxy sandwich structure.”

Damen says the vessel is ideal for highly congested urban areas, and is a simple and efficient way for using a city’s natural waterways system.

The Water Bus is equipped with two, forward facing, double-screw podded propulsion units—helping to reduce vibrations. Damen says the vessel can be easily adapted to customer specifications, and because of the nature of the composites’ production process, delivery to clients will be quick.

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CEO Spotlight: A Tale of Two Shipyards

In the months following Hornblower’s selection by New York City as the operator of its new Citywide Ferry Service, speculation was rampant as to what shipyard or shipyards would be able to build the fleet of 19 ferries in less than a year’s time. Many of the traditional passenger-only ferry builders in the U.S. were fully booked or declined to tender an offer because of what one shipbuilder called “an impossible delivery schedule.”

When we broke the news in early July of the award of the boatbuilding contracts, the two Gulf Coast shipyards to emerge as the winners were Horizon Shipbuilding and Metal Shark Aluminum Boats. The selections caught many outside the marine industry by surprise because neither yard had built a passenger-only ferry to date.

One, Horizon Shipbuilding, is situated in Bayou La Batre, AL—the heart of the shrimp boat business. While the other, Metal Shark Aluminum Boats, is headquartered in Jeanerette, LA—known as “Sugar City” because of its local sugar cane crop and sugar processing mills.

While the selections might have raised some eyebrows among the general public, both yards have carved out impeccable reputations for meeting challenging production schedules for constructing boats and vessels in series for government and commercial customers. Both have a highly skilled, core workforce; both count the U.S. Navy and U.S. Coast Guard among their customers; and both are owned by confident, forward-thinking entrepreneurs.

Horizon Shipbuilding’s Travis Short
Travis Short, Owner and President of Horizon Shipbuilding, knows his shipyard can deliver. He points out that the shipyard built 40 vessels in a 20-month timeframe for a commercial offshore oil customer. Those boats, by the way, just so happen to be the same tonnage as the 149-passenger Citywide Ferry catamaran vessels.

He also cites a contract that Horizon Shipbuilding won to build ten 10,000-gallon-capacity oil barges after the Deepwater Horizon disaster. The barges were to be used in the cleanup in the Gulf and the shipyard had one month to deliver them.

“Our key people have been with us for a long time,” says Short. “They know how Horizon Shipbuilding operates. Building boats is what we do.”

The Gordhead Factor
A graduate of the University of Southern Alabama with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, Short started Horizon Shipbuilding in 1997 with his father, Travis Sr. While Short is fully confident in the ability of his core workforce, five years ago he felt that they could be more productive. “We weren’t doing poorly,” says Short, “but we just weren’t getting any better.” Short wanted to make improvements in workflow, reporting and resource management. That’s where he got the idea for Gordhead management software.

“We wanted to start by giving access to more information,” says Short. “With Gordhead, we created a software platform that brings together all of the information.”

Gordhead is an app that can be used on your mobile device. By using a modular-based system, it syncs with existing enterprise resource planning, scheduling and timekeeping software to provide project transparency and promote collaboration between production managers and workers.

“It’s all about better communication,” says Short. He says the use of Gordhead by management has allowed Horizon Shipbuilding to share information throughout the day on projects and do away with daily production meetings. Shorts says that what often holds up any production process is that someone is waiting on an answer before he can proceed with his work. “Gordhead wipes that out. It raises the level of communication, allowing the time for decision-making to get shorter. It gets rid of bottlenecks.” The software also allows greater transparency for an owner to check on the status of the construction of his vessel.

Cameron Clark, VP and GM, Hornblower NY, cited the use of Gordhead as one of the factors in selecting Horizon Shipbuilding as one of the builders for the NY Citywide Ferry project. Clark says the use of the Gordhead management software will allow Hornblower to stay connected with the team on the ground 24/7 and ensure the project stays on schedule.

Located about three miles from Mobile Bay, Horizon’s facility is made up of a West Yard and Main Yard, with nine steel buildings for steel and aluminum fabrication and construction. The construction and outfitting of modules and vessels is mainly performed in two 175 ft x 50 ft buildings. Horizon Shipbuilding also uses a huge 660-ton Travelift for the transfer and launch of vessels.

The key piece of the fabrication process is the ALLtra Model PG14-12 Shape Cutting Machine, which is a CNC-controlled gantry designed for cutting complex shapes for sheet or plate materials. It is capable of producing parts at high speeds and close tolerances and was used to cut precise jig patterns, allowing for innovative ways of rapid hull construction for the ferries. The machine is easily configured for plasma or oxy/fuel shape cutting processes and can be customized for special applications. Horizon’s application utilizes the Hypertherm HPR260 plasma cutter controlled by the Burny 10 LCD shape cutting motion controller using MTC ProNest 8 nesting software.

The current workforce at the shipyard is about 300, with about 125 of those dedicated to the New York ferry project.

The NYC Ferry Design
Designed by Incat Crowther, the new catamaran ferries will be 85 feet 3 inches long, with a beam of 26 feet 3 inches, and draft of 3 feet 4 inches. The ferries will also feature plenty of charging stations for the connected crowd, concessions, Wi-Fi and a space for up to 19 bicycles on board.

Each vessel will use two 803-hp EPA-compliant Tier 3 Baudouin 6M26.3 P3 main engines to help reduce diesel emissions and noise. Incat Crowther’s innovative hull design will help limit wake and maximize fuel efficiency, and the ferries will primarily be built out of aluminum further increasing fuel efficiency.

Each boat is expected to carry at least 149 passengers (some could have higher capacities). The vessel’s main deck will have seating for 123 passengers plus space for four wheelchairs and four strollers. The upper deck will seating capacity for 42 passengers.

“We are going to start out with a five-day-a-week schedule,” says Short, “and adjust if necessary. It is an ambitious schedule, but we’ll start delivering boats on their own bottoms starting in the early spring and finishing in the late spring.

“While these are the first catamaran ferries we’ve built,” he continues, “they are not the first passenger boats. We’ve delivered high-speed crewboats for Mexico and West Africa.”

Of course, the New York ferries aren’t the only game in town. Horizon also has five repair jobs in the yard, including river inland towboats, a research vessel, and 130 ft yacht.

It is also building two 100 ft x 40 ft escort tugs for McAllister Towing, New York, NY. Based on a design by Jensen Maritime, Seattle, WA, the steel-hulled tugs will be ABS classed and fitted with Caterpillar 3516E Tier 4-compliant main engines, driving Schottel SRP4000FP propulsion units. The tugs are to be delivered in early 2017.

Bold Plan, Bold Choice
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio’s plan to create the citywide ferry service—at a cost of $325 million—is a bold reimagining of the city’s future public transportation. The Mayor thinks that the ferry service when up and running would carry an estimated 4.5 million passengers in a year. All of the new ferries would be in service by mid-2017. At $2.75 per ride the ferry service would be affordable for the average New Yorker. The new citywide ferry service would be a crowning achievement for the Mayor just months before he stands for reelection in the fall of 2017.

Metal Shark’s Chris Allard
The choice of Metal Shark Aluminum Boats as the other shipyard to build the new ferries is a bold one, too. Metal Shark is owned by Chris Allard and Jimmy Gravois. A Long Island native, Allard joined American Marine Holdings after graduating from the prestigious Webb Institute. He later partnered with Gravois, owner of Gravois Aluminum Boats, to acquire Metal Shark in 2006.

Ten years later, Metal Shark has emerged as a premier builder of aluminum military craft for all of the branches of the U.S. military—Navy, Coast Guard, Air Force and the Army.

All of those boats are built at what Allard calls the Jeanerette “boat production facility” because it delivers almost a vessel on a daily basis. Back in 2011, Metal Shark grabbed headlines when it was awarded the contract to replace the U.S. Coast Guard’s aging Response Boat-Small (RB-S) fleet. The nearly $200 million contract of over 470 boats, was the largest of its kind ever awarded by the Coast Guard.

In 2014, Metal Shark took the next step in its growth with the acquisition of a 25-acre waterfront tract in Franklin, LA, a short drive from the company’s headquarters in Jeanerette. Located on the Charenton Canal, the Franklin yard, says, Allard, is designed for shipbuilding and provides direct access to the Gulf of Mexico. Recent deliveries include 90- and 75-foot catamarans and 60- and 50-foot catamarans. The Franklin yard has also built some 45-foot patrol boats.

Allard sees the New York City ferry contract as a springboard into growth into the commercial vessel market. “We’ve been primarily known as a military and government contractor,” says Allard. “This contract is part of a major company diversification.” In the coming months, Allard expects to announce a number of commercial contracts to build its largest vessels yet. The Franklin facility has enough capacity to build multiple vessels of 200 feet in length.

Engineering company at heart
“We are really an engineering company at heart,” says Allard. It says the company leverages technology, such as robotics, CNC cutting, bending, CAD software systems to stay focused on production efficiencies, controlling costs and producing quality products for the customer. These same engineering processes can be seen in the sheet metal, automotive, and aeronautical industries.

As for the New York City ferry contract, Allard says Metal Shark secured the business “the good, old fashioned way.” Allard says, “We’ve been working with Hornblower for more than two and a half years providing them the information and the tools they needed to secure the contract. We also showed them how we could replicate our building processes to construct the ferries.”

Metal Shark currently has about 200 workers between its two shipyards and might ramp up “a little,” says Allard. The company will also be able to shift some of the labor pool from one facility to the other based on project demand.

The Franklin yard is also benefitting from a Small Shipyard Grant from the U.S. Maritime Administration for $582,410, which will be used to acquire portable shelters and marine transporters.

“We were able to cut metal within 10 days of signing the contract,” he says. “We do most of our design work in-house with its naval architectural staff—but for the New York City ferry project, the design is owner-furnished from Hornblower. We are working on the same design as Horizon Shipbuilding in order to make the boats as absolutely identical as possible.”

According to Allard, Metal Shark (and Incat) are participating in a limited usage of Gordhead at Hornblower’s request for sending and receiving technical clarifications during the design phase of the project in order to minimize differences in interpretation of design clarifications by the two builders. He says that Metal Shark has its own advanced software, tools and processes for project management, engineering planning, production coordination and customer communications.

A return to its maritime roots

“Anyone studying the growth of the city …cannot help but be struck by the fact that New York was first a port before it was anything else.” This William Bixby quote adorns the perimeter of South Street Seaport in New York. The city is one with a rich maritime history—operations on both the East and Hudson River have played a vital role in shaping the city and its people’s history—but its one often forgotten by most New Yorkers navigating their way through the hustle and bustle of the concrete jungle.

New York was originally the landmass south of Wall Street on the island of Manhattan, as time went on, however, New Yorkers began expanding out into the neighboring boroughs and eventually made their way to the suburbs. Today, Manhattan is still the city’s center with New Yorkers spending, on average, 40 minutes traveling to or from work each day, according to the New York Times —more than any other city in the United States. But one mode of transportation often not used by New Yorkers, are ferries operating on New York’s marine highway, the East River. Granted, most communities in the city’s five boroughs don’t have access to such ferry operations—except for Staten Island which has the government operated Staten Island Ferry, most ferry operations are private and confined to Manhattan and parts of Queens and Brooklyn—but that’s all about to change thanks to a partnership between the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) and Hornblower, Inc.

Hornblower is no stranger to New York, the company’s subsidiary Statue Cruises currently provides transportation to the Statue of Liberty National Monument and Ellis Island. Hornblower also debuted its New York Hornblower Hybrid, a ferry/luxury yacht, back in 2011.

Citywide Ferry
Promising a fast, frequent and convenient service operating year round, the Citywide Ferry will bring a total of six routes that, when combined, will cover over 60 miles of waterways. The creation of the service will help meet growing waterfront community demand, and help lighten the load for an already overworked, overcrowded, and outdated MTA subway system.

Hornblower will have the option to purchase at least 17 new ferries, as well as chartering already existing ferries to help meet the system’s demand. Our sources tell us Hornblower will likely contract up to three shipyards, which will each build three to four ferries in the first round of construction. One of the shipyards is believed to be Metal Shark Aluminum Boats, Jeanerette, LA. It recently received a Small Shipyard Grant from the Maritime Administration for its Franklin, LA, shipyard.

The city is providing the service with $55 million in infrastructure upgrades—this includes the building of ten new ferry landings and the repair/refitting of six others. Additionally, the city will provide $10 million for startup costs, such as vessel upgrades and ticketing machines and $30 million in operation support per year for a period of six years.

NY Waterway’s East River Ferry boats are also to be fully integrated into the Citywide Ferry fleet. The transition is expected to be complete by the summer of 2017.

The Citywide Ferry service will roll out in two phases. Phase one will initiate service to Astoria, South Brooklyn and Rockaway in 2017. Phase two to Soundview (Bronx) and Lower East Side will launch in 2018.

The catamaran ferries, which will be based on an Incat Crowther design, say our sources, will carry at least 149 passengers, will be fully accessible to those with disabilities, will be equipped with WiFi, and will operate using low emission engines and “Low Wake” technology. The ferries will offer passengers 360 degree views, and LED screens will be fitted on board displaying information and entertainment.

The ferries, like its Staten Island ferry counterpart, will also offer food and beverage options on board.

However, unlike the Staten Island Ferry, which is free, the Citywide Ferry will cost passengers $2.75, the same price as a New York City Metro Card swipe on the city busses or Subway system.

Passengers however will not be able to transfer from the train/bus to the Citywide Ferry—meaning the service won’t be fully integrated with the NYC mass transit system. However, free transfers will be available between ferries. The ferries will operate from 6:30 am to 10 pm, seven days a week.

LandingsFerry Landings for Citywide Ferry
A total of 10 ferry landings—the barges were designed by Blancke Marine Services, Woodbury, NJ, and the topside outfit by project design manager McLaren Engineering—will be built for the service, and are expected to be ready in time for the service’s launch in 2017.  The barges for the landings are being built at May Ship Repair on Staten Island.The ferry landings will be 35 ft wide by 90 ft long.

The landings are being fabricated for Soundview, Bronx; Astoria, Queens; East 62nd Street, Manhattan; Roosevelt Island (between Manhattan and Queens); Long Island City, Queens; Stuyvesant Cove in Manhattan; Grand Street (Lower East Side Manhattan); Red Hook, Brooklyn; Bay Ridge, Brooklyn; and the Rockaways.

According to NYCEDC, upon completion, the landings will be equipped with canopies and wide screens to provide passengers a sheltered space from inclement weather. Additionally, the barges will feature ticket machines and waiting areas, allowing for minimal upload impact at the landing sites, says the NYCEDC.

Helping the waterfront community
The Citywide Ferry system is projected to add 155 new jobs to the New York Harbor. Additionally, the company will participate in the City’s HireNYC program which will match qualified applicants from neighborhood-based WorkForce1 training centers, meaning that the folks working at the landings will be qualified people from the communities.

Crews are expected earn more than $15 an hour and will also receive a comprehensive benefits package.

Further exemplifying its desire to highlight and foster the growth of the city’s maritime tradition, NYCEDC has partnered with a number of federal, state and city agencies to launch the Waterfront Navigator—a website that will serve as an official source of information for businesses and waterfront property owners seeking to learn what tools are available to them. In addition, the website, WaterfrontNavigator.NYC, will help facilitate environmental permit applications for waterfront construction.

NYCEDC President Maria Torres-Springer says that the “one-stop” user friendly website is where regulatory agencies from the federal, state and local levels joined forces to create a resource for simplified permit planning.

Staten Island Ferry
One constant presence on the New York Harbor has been the Staten Island Ferry (or at least some incarnation of it). Formal service on the route between Manhattan and Staten Island was established in 1817 under the Richmond Turnpike Company when it began sailing the steam-powered Nautilus. Eventually, the City of New York took over the operation in 1905 when it ordered five new ferries for the route, each named after the city’s five boroughs: the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan and Staten Island.

Since then, a number of new ferries have been built and retired for the now famous orange Staten Island fleet. Currently, the fleet is made up on nine ferries providing service to 22 million passengers a year. And with the population on the island growing, demand is high for a new series of ferries that provide faster, more efficient ride.

Earlier this year, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio confirmed that the NYC Department of Transportation (NYC DOT), the agency that runs the Staten Island Ferry operation would be ordering three new ferries for the route. This would enable the operator to retire three of the older ferries in the fleet including the 51-year-old John F. Kennedy, commissioned in 1965. Additionally, the S.I. Newhouse and Andrew J. Barberi, both commissioned in 1981 will also be put out of service. The two hold the distinction of having the highest passenger capacities, with room for 6,000 passengers.

The three new 320 ft x 70 ft ferries are designed by Seattle-based Elliott Bay Design Group, and are expected to bare a striking resemblance to the beloved Kennedy, with lots of open-air space. The ferries will also be double-ended and have capacity for 4,500 passengers.

The ferries, which will be built to ABS class requirements, will be powered by Tier 4 EMD engines and Voith Schneider Propulsion drives.

Glosten Inc. will act as the Owner’s Representative [Team] providing all construction management and oversight on behalf of the NYCDOT.

Industry Day Reveals Interested Parties
At the New Staten Island 4500 Class Ferry Industry Day event held last September at the Whitehall Terminal, the NYC DOT laid out details on the Ollis class project as well as its target dates.

The city operator expects for bids to be due 90 days after it was advertised (sometime in the 3rd Quarter of 2016)—we should note that as we were going to print, the NYC DOT released the Request for Bids (RFB) for construction of the ferries; and expects to issue a Notice to Proceed (NIP) contract start by the 4th Quarter of 2016. The NYCDOT expects all three vessels to be completed within 1,460 consecutive calendar days following NIP.

Looking at the Industry Day’s attendance sheet, one could wager a guess on what yards will be bidding on the project. Conrad Shipyards, Dakota Creek Industries, Eastern Shipbuilding Group, Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding, GD NASSCO, Leevac Shipyards, Vigor Industrial, and VT Halter Marine were all in attendance.

The first of the three new ferries, the Staff Sgt. Michael Ollis, is expected to begin operations in 2019. The ferry is named in honor of the late U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Michael Ollis, a native of the New Dorp area of Staten Island, who died while saving a Polish soldier in Afghanistan. He was only 24 years old at the time of his passing. 

Vessels two and three in the Ollis Class are to be delivered later in 2019 and 2020.

FTA awards ferry grants, WETA expands
The Staten Island Ferry system will also get a boost from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration (FTA). Under its Passenger Ferry Grant Program a total of ten projects received a combined $59 million in funding. Of that, $6 million will go to the NYC DOT, which will use part of the funds to replace the deck scows (barges) for the Staten Island Ferry Dockbuilding Unit as well as upgrade the Staten Island Ferry Maintenance Facility Ramps and Racks.

WETAThe San Francisco Bay Area Water Emergency Transportation Authority (WETA) was also a recipient of the FTA grants. Under the program, WETA will receive $4 million to expand berthing capacity at the Ferry Terminal from its current four berths to six, and the construction of three new ferry gates. According to WETA the expansion project is set to begin Summer 2017. WETA says the project will improve landside conditions at the Ferry Terminal by providing new amenities, such as weather-protected canopies, the construction of a new plaza area south of the Ferry building, the extension of pedestrian promenade areas and other public access improvements. The expansion will also enable WETA to stage emergency water transit services in the event of a regional transportation disruption or disaster.

“Improvements to the San Francisco Ferry Building ‘hub’ is a key element to expanding our services on the Bay, and validation of the important role ferry service will play in the future of the Bay Area’s transit infrastructure,” says Nina Rannells, Executive Director of WETA.

The improvements come at a time of growth for WETA. The ferry system in the Bay area has experienced a boost in ridership over the last few years and to help meet increasing passenger demands WETA has invested in both new ferries and is currently in the process of converting/refurbishing other members of the fleet.

Last April, the operator awarded Kvichak, a Vigor company, the contract to build two all-aluminum 400-passenger only ferries. The 135 ft x 38 ft catamarans, currently under construction—the hulls are being built by Kvichak and the superstructure is by Nichols Brothers Boat Builders, were designed by Australia’s Incat Crowther, and will be equipped with MTU 12V4000 M64+ EPA Tier III engines rated at 1,950 bhp at 1,830 rev/min. The engines, coupled to ZF7600 reduction gears, will enable the ferries to reach a top speed of 27 knots. Delivery of the ferries is expected to occur November 2016 and April 2017.

Beyond the newbuilds, WETA also has two of its existing ferries, the MV Intintoli and MV Gemini, undergoing upgrades at San Diego-based Marine Group Boat Works.

At press time, the MV Intintoli was nearly done undergoing a propulsion upgrade. Meanwhile, the MV Gemini is currently undergoing a minor refit to help improve vessel reliability and passenger amenities, according to WETA’s Ernest Sanchez. Among the improvement is the refurbishment of shafts, propellers and rudders, and the replacement of bearings; plus the overhaul of the Selective Catalyst Reduction System as well as the main engines, HVAC, electrical, plumbing, emission and fire and lifesaving safety systems.

The Gemini’s conversion from a Subchapter T to a Subchapter K ferry—means an increase in passenger capacity from 149 to 225 and an upgrade of the interior spaces. The MV Gemini project will be completed this summer.

WSF phases out older ferries
While New York City and San Francisco get ready to up the ferry ante, up in the Northwest, the largest ferry operator in the U.S., Washington State Ferries continues its newbuild program in the hopes of phasing out older members of its fleet and improving safety and efficiency. The ferry division of the Washington State Department of Transportation recently announced that construction has officially began on the state’s newest ferry, the Suquamish.

The keel was laid last month at Vigor’s Harbor Island Shipyard in Seattle, where Governor Jay Inslee, State Senator Christine Rolfes, and Suquamish Tribal Chairman Leonard Forsman struck ceremonial welds on to the keel—Inslee welded his granddaughter’s initials, Rolfes welded an orca whale, and Forsman welded a circle with a dot, an ancient design element found in the early Suquamish winter village.

The Suquamish is the fourth ferry in the Olympic Class, which was designed by Seattle-based Guido Perla & Associates, Inc., and is based on the Issaquah class design, WSF’s most versatile ferry. The Olympic class ferries each have capacity for 144 cars and 1,500 passengers.

While construction has officially started on the Suquamish, the third ferry in the class, the Chimacum, is about 75 percent complete. In April, Chimacum’s superstructure, built by Nichols Brothers Boat Builders, was joined to its hull at Vigor.

The Chimacum is expected to go into service on the Seattle/Bremerton route in 2017. WSF is expected to take delivery of the Suquamish in the Fall of 2018.

The total cost to build four Olympic Class ferries is $515.5 million.

The hope for WSF is to continue “investing in long-term ferry build programs” in order to keep up with increasing ridership numbers—WSF carries more than 23 million riders and 13 million cars, annually— in addition to replacing aging members of the fleet, said Matt Von Ruden, Director of vessels for WSF.

One of those aging vessels, the Hiyu was officially retired last month after nearly 50 years of service. Considered cute by many, it was even affectionately called “Baby Hiyu” by some, the ferry was tiny in size—only 162 ft long with a maximum capacity for 199 passengers and 34 vehicles—but lacked ADA accommodations and incurred high maintenance costs, rendering it obsolete.

“While the Hiyu was a good and dependable vessel, its tiny size means it is no longer the best option for moving passengers and commerce across the Puget Sound,” said Elizabeth Kosa, Washington State Ferries’ Chief of Staff. “The addition of modern, bigger and faster Olympic Class vessels to the fleet means its time to bid farewell to the Hiyu.”

WOODSHOLE1Conrad christens MV Woods Hole for Steamship Authority
As we were going to press, the Woods Hole, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket Steamship Authority was prepping to take delivery of its newest ferry, the M/V Woods Hole.

Built by Conrad Shipyard, the ferry, was christened on May 20th at Conrad Aluminum, Amelia, LA. Called a “beauty” and a “perfect example of the ships built by Conrad…quality in every detail,” by Project Manager Thomas Rachal, the ferry features state-of-the-art technology, WiFi stations, a snack area, and oversized reclining leather seats for passenger comfort.

The M/V Woods Hole, designed by Seattle-based Elliott Bay Design Group (EBDG), is 235 ft x 64 ft with a maximum draft at 10 ft 6 inches. It has a passenger (plus crew) capacity of 384, car capacity of 55 and the freight-vehicle deck is designed to carry ten 100,000 lb tractor-trailers.

It features a highly shaped bulbous bow to help minimize wave and improve fuel efficiency. Further improving efficiency are Becker high-lift rudders, which, when working in combination with the controllable pitch propeller system and vectorable bow thruster provide the ferry with high maneuverability in a small area.

Powering the M/V Woods Hole are a pair of MTU 16V4000 EPA Tier 3 engines providing 2,680 hp connected to Hundested controllable pitch propellers, generating service speeds of 12 to 14 knots and sprint speeds of 16 knots.

The ferry is expected to go into service sometime this month providing service between Woods Hole and Martha’s Vineyard.

Alaska Class Ferries Get Named
Meanwhile, another EBDG-designed ferry series, the new Alaska Class ferries being built for the Alaska Marine Highway System have officially been named. Following a call to students from Alaska’s Governor Bill Walker to submit essays on what the ferries names should be, two students, seventh grader Malea Voran and 10th grader Taylor Thompson, won the naming rights.

The two new ferries will be named Tazlina, which Voran explained in her essay was an Ahtna Athabaskan name that means “swift river”, and the Hubbard, after the Hubbard Glacier, which Thompson says “surpasses all others (glaciers) in its beauty and magnificence. A ferry named after it would surely do the same.” The Hubbard Glacier has actually thickened over the years as opposed to melting like its other glacier counterparts, making it an anomaly to the science community.

The 280 ft ferries are being built in modules by Vigor’s Ketchikan Alaska Shipyard. Once the modules are complete—with pipes, electric cable raceways and other systems installed—they will be set in place and attached to the ships.

The two-day boat Alaska Class ferries will seat up to 300 passengers and carry 53 standard size vehicles. Delivery is expected from the yard in 2018.