Pacific Maritime Magazine - Marine Business for the Operations Sector

New Ferries Make Use of New Technology


The four Rolls-Royce Kamewa 50A3 jets on the fast ferry Kilimanjaro IV push the 636-passenger craft at speeds of up to 36 knots. Photo courtesy of Rolls-Royce.

New technology in propulsion packages, from engines to transmissions to drive systems, is helping new ferry builders meet the challenges of reduced emissions and higher speeds.

All American Marine, Inc. (AMM) based in Bellingham, Washington currently has two ferries under construction for King County to be delivered in the spring and fall of 2015. The aluminum catamarans will be 250-passenger vessels designed by New Zealand naval architecture firm Teknicraft Design. One will run from West Seattle to downtown Seattle, the other, from Vashon Island to downtown Seattle.

The new vessels will be just over 104 feet, cruise at 28 knots, and will be driven by fixed pitch propellers powered by Cummins QSK50-M engines. They are not a hydrofoil-assisted design that AMM is most known for. "Given the short route from West Seattle to downtown, it doesn't necessarily lend itself to the full benefits of a hydrofoil-assisted catamaran design," says Joe Hudspeth, Vice President of Business Development. "However, King County Ferry District currently operates another one of the vessels we built, named Spirit of Kingston, which is a hydro-foil assisted catamaran that operates on that West Seattle route."

Speed is critical with this particular application as the ferries must run on schedule and be able to handle any kind of weather condition that the Pacific Northwest can succumb to. "The Cummins engine package provided us with reliable engines at 1,800-HP and that allows for the boat to be driven at the 28-knot cruise speed with all 250 passengers on board," explains Hudspeth.

The interior design includes wide aisles and doorways in order to afford the quick loading and unloading of passengers, and as well as being ADA accessible, the vessels will also have capacity to accommodate up to 26 bicycles.

The catamaran ferries are the first to be built in compliance with the new US Coast Guard structural fire protection rules that ensures there is appropriate insulation along with specific design elements that will mitigate the spread of fire.

In an interesting environmental twist, King County Ferry District opted to maintain the natural patina finish on the bare aluminum hulls as the exterior coating instead of adding paint. "We're very proud to have built the Sprit of Kingston and are pleased to build two more to create a complete fleet of All American Marine vessels that King County Ferry District will own and operate," adds Hudspeth.

The newest 23-car ferry Freeland, Washington-based Nichols Bros. Boat Builders is building has some family ties. The vessel, under construction to be delivered in early 2015 for Wahkiakum County, will replace the original ferry – which Matt Nichols' grandfather built in 1961 – and will operate between existing ferry terminals to Puget Island in Cathlamet, Washington and Westport, Oregon.

The new steel monohull, 115-foot, 100-passenger vessel will be powered by two diesel Cummins QLS9, 285-HP engines coupled to ZF Marine reversing reduction gears with two fixed-pitch propellers. Overall, the technology in design and construction over the years hasn't changed in large part says Matt Nichols, CEO. "It's still just a twin screw, flat deck, wheelhouse off to the side design. There are cleaner-burning Tier 3 engines, but other than that there is not too much different about it."

Nichols Bros. has also partnered on several Washington State Ferries' projects with Vigor Industrial, which include building three 64-car ferry and two 144-car ferry superstructures.

The Tokitae 144-car ferry, the first of Washington State Ferries' Olympic Class Ferries, was delivered and entered service on the Clinton-Mukilteo route in June. A second vessel, the Samish, is currently under construction at Vigor with delivery planned for early 2015. Additionally, State lawmakers have provided funding for a third ferry, which should start construction near the end of 2014.

The 362-foot, 1,500-passenger Tokitae was built in Vigor's Seattle Shipyard, over the course of construction that started in 2012, also by a consortium of other Washington-based marine companies, including Nichols Bros. Boat Builders. "Overall, this project represented about 500 jobs at Vigor and the sub-contractors around Puget Sound," says Brian Mannion, Vigor's communications manager. "It's a ferry built for Washington by Washingtonians.

The Tokitae is a double-ended vessel equipped with propellers and rudders on either side for ease of entering and existing ports. The ferry is expected to be in service for the next 60 years. "The fact that we were able to deliver it to Washington State Ferries in time for their peak summer season is something we're really proud of," says Mannion.

While excitement continues on the WSF Olympic-class ferries building front, Vigor is also investigating LNG conversions and newbuilds with a range of customers, including Washington State Ferries and the Alaska Marine Highway system, to keep pace with that emerging technology.

On the propulsion side, Rolls-Royce has been advancing waterjet technologies over the past years to be more efficient, powerful and lighter weight for use in fast ferries. In fact, Rolls-Royce is the only waterjet manufacturer with its own hydrodynamic research center.

"Our constant development focus has been on developing the hydrodynamic, mechanical and control systems to be as efficient as possible," says Erik W. Larsen, Sales Manager, Rolls-Royce Marine North America.

The company's A3 series of waterjets allow for fuel efficient pump design with a smaller waterjet design that requires less power, thereby reducing overall weight. Additional benefits include improved steering, integrated interceptor, better maneuverability and a control system that has a modern, ergonomic and user-friendly design.

The four Cummins KTA 50 M2 main engines of the 44.7-meter Incat Crowther-built Kilimanjaro IV make for a short 40-minute trip between Zanzibar and Dar es Salaam. Photo courtesy of Rolls-Royce.

This series uses a mix flow pump technology, stainless steel waterjet that allows increased steering nozzle efficiency at full turns with higher speed during curves along with low noise levels. "Rolls-Royce excels with higher speed systems and demanding applications," says Larsen. "The A3 series is the best product offering for top speed, improved acceleration and steering efficiency."

The Kamewa A3- and new FF-series reversing bucket design includes low bucket control forces with extended lifetime and wear of components and high side thrust for better control of vessels and minimal spraying.

Azam Marine & Kilimanjaro Fast Ferries took delivery last year of

Kilimanjaro IV with four Rolls-Royce Kamewa 50A3 jets. This ferry enables tourists to discover Tanzania and allows them to travel from Zanzibar to Dar es Salaam in comfort and speed.

In 2014, Brødrene Aa, a world leader in construction of fast ferries and the builder of the MS Trondheimsfjord I, converted the ferry from propellers to twin Rolls-Royce Kamewa 50A3 water jets for FosenNamsos Sjo AS.


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