Catamaran Round Up: Builders Strive for Lower Weight and Lower Wake
August 1, 2018
In 2018, Washington shipyards are continuing to produce a range of high-speed aluminum catamarans from 65 to 96 feet long for fast transit, wilderness cruises and whale-watching. The international architects from Australia and New Zealand who specialize in this type of craft have all been refining hull shapes by tank and full-size testing to reduce fuel consumption and motion, which also results in a lower wake – an important feature in many harbors. There is also a second trend to reduce weight in the superstructure by using composite wall panels that also improve insulation and appearance. Lightweight carbon-fiber drive shafts, foils and structural components are also becoming more popular.
In addition, lightweight hulls can also be powered by smaller engines, which allows naval architects to specify multiple engines under 805 hp that meet EPA Tier 3 standards, avoiding the complexities of the Tier 4 propulsion systems. This allows a craft under 65 feet to be powered by twin engines for a total of 1,600 hp or a larger vessel with quad Tier 3 engines with two in each hull aligned in tandem for a total of 3,200 hp.
This is the case with the 73-foot Saratoga, a whale watcher designed by Nic De Waal of Teknicraft Design in Auckland, New Zealand and built by All American Marine of Bellingham, Washington. Saratoga is operated by Puget Sound Express of Port Townsend, Washington. This Subchapter T-certified vessel, delivered in June 2018, was designed for low fuel consumption at high speeds, a critical factor to the success of the daily whale watch tours out of Edmonds, Washington. It is powered by four Tier 3 Scania D16 diesel engines turning four HJ364 waterjets via carbon fiber drive shafts, with MECS control systems. The design features two asymmetrical semi-planing hulls, and an adjustable aluminum hydrofoil spanning the hulls amidships, plus two trim foils aft that allow the boat to reach top speeds of better than 40 knots with low wake.
All American is also reviving its involvement with Kitsap Transit's goal of introducing a year-round fast ferry service on the cross-sound route between Bremerton and Seattle, which passes the sensitive shorelines of Rich Passage. The experimental 78-foot ultra low-wake high-speed M/V Rich Passage based on Teknicraft's patented hydrofoil-assisted hull was thoroughly tested and documented in a research program in the summer of 2011. This demonstrated the boat's ability to cover the route in half the time of the WSF car ferries without causing any shoreline erosion in Rich Passage
Kitsap Transit's board recently approved a $15 million contract for the construction of two sister ships based on this design. The new 77-foot ferries are designed to carry 118 passengers and travel at service speeds up to 37 knots. The hulls will be constructed of high tensile 5383 aluminum alloy with an adjustable hydrofoil molded in solid carbon fiber. Quad waterjets and Tier 3 Caterpillar C-18 engines will provide the power.
Mavrik Marine in La Conner, Washington has followed up the launches of three catamarans in the 90- to 98-foot size range over the last year with the delivery of a 65-foot by 25-foot 149-passenger whale-watching boat to Hawaii for the Pacific Whale Foundation of Maui. The company already operates a fleet of six 65-foot catamarans and had the Ocean Guardian delivered on a deck barge. It is powered by twin Cummins QSM11 450-hp diesels giving a cruising speed of 20 knots with a maximum speed of 24 knots. It features large windows and wide decks; amenities for passengers include multiple swim steps off the stern. All five of Mavrik's sub-chapter T
catamarans were designed by Australian naval architects One2three.
Vigor's Ballard plant (formerly Kvichak) is busy finishing the third and fourth Hydrus-class 400-passenger ferries for the Water Emergency Transportation Authority (WETA) San Francisco Bay commuter service for delivery by the end of the year. Incat Crowther based in Sydney, Australia is the designer; Pacific Power Group is supplying two more packages consisting of a pair of high-performance MTU 12V 4000 M64 Tier 3 main engines with Hug Engineering selective catalytic reduction (SCR) after-treatment systems each fed by a 60-gallon urea tank. This lowers the emissions to EPA Tier 4 equivalent to meet California's strict air-quality standards. The MTUs turn 50- by 54-inch, five-blade Michigan Wheel props with P struts for less drag, via ZF 7600 reduction gears for a service speed of 27 knots.
Electrical needs are met by two John Deere/Marathon 99-kW Tier 3 gensets. Solar panels are also fitted to trickle charge the batteries. On the passenger deck, the $15 million ferries have four heads, wireless internet and outlets for charging electrical devices, and storage for 50 bicycles. Adjustable interceptors are mounted on the transoms to optimize performance and fuel efficiency at speed and can also be adjusted to reduce wake.
Dakota Creek Industries of Anacortes, Washington is contracted to build a further three fast ferries for WETA, each capable of carrying 445 passengers on San Francisco's North Bay. AMD Marine Consulting of Australia is the naval architect. Since 1997, Dakota Creek has constructed six of the company's designs that are all in service in the Bay Area. The new boats are 143 feet by 37 feet and Pacific Power Group is supplying six 16V 4000 MTU Tier 4 engines, MTU-built SCR systems, and ZF gearboxes connected to Hamilton waterjets for the three vessels. Each engine will deliver 2,560 kW/ 3,435 bhp at 1,800 rpm, for a 28-knot service speed and a 34-knot top speed. They will also be equipped with MTU BlueVision ship automation. The price is more than $19 million each and delivery is scheduled for 2019.
San Francisco's Ambitious Fast Ferry Plans
WETA's current ferry fleet comprises 14 high-speed catamarans that provide service via nine terminals between the cities of Vallejo, San Francisco, Alameda, Oakland and South San Francisco. WETA now operates more than thirty MTU engines – Series 2000 or 4000 – in its passenger-only ferries. The MTU/San Francisco Bay Area ferry partnership goes back to 1997 and its development was strongly supported by the MTU distributor Pacific Power Group of Kent, Washington.
"Our goal is to operate a ferry service that is sustainable, cost-efficient and eco-friendly," said Nina Rannells, WETA Executive Director. "The MTU Tier 4 engines will play a critical role in WETA's expansion of sustainable and reliable ferry service on the San Francisco Bay. The solution that MTU offers satisfies all our criteria with respect to emissions, space requirement and performance," Rannells added.
Knut Müller, head of marine and governmental business at MTU said: "We are immensely proud that WETA has selected our Tier 4 engines. WETA has always sought drive technology of the highest order in terms of innovation and ecological soundness and that has constantly challenged us to keep on developing."
Kitsap Transit Buys NY Fast Ferry
The Finest is a 350-seat catamaran ferry from the Derecktor Shipyard that shuttled commuters between Monmouth County, New Jersey, and Manhattan. In the aftermath of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the 128-foot Finest was one of many vessels to help evacuate survivors from lower Manhattan. Kitsap Transit paid $1.5 million for the 21-year-old vessel, and had it shipped as deck cargo to Victoria, BC in late 2017. It is undergoing a complete $3.5 million renovation at Nichols Brothers Boat Builders on Whidbey Island, including a complete rebuild of its engines, new seats, windows, bulkheads, and an upgraded galley and bathrooms, plus modern electronics and navigational equipment.
"When we're finished, the plan is we're going to have a new boat in a 21-year-old hull," said John Clauson, Kitsap Transit executive director. The total cost will amount to about $5 million, he estimated. The long-range plan is to have a new vessel built, with the Finest serving as a backup on the county's Kingston and Southworth routes.
In April 2018, Kitsap Transit signed a lease for the Melissa Ann, a 172-passenger catamaran built in 1988 by Nichols Brothers, to serve as a backup for the Finest. The Melissa Ann is owned by owned by Four Seasons Marine and its sister ship, the Rachel Marie, previously ran on the West Seattle and Vashon Island routes for King County before they acquired new boats.
In May 2018, the Kitsap Transit board approved $1.8 million in additional repairs to the Finest after Nichols discovered heavy corrosion on the engines, HVAC, and bilge piping, and the need for a complete rebuild on the water jets. In addition, the Coast Guard had insisted that the previous owner, NY Waterways, replace a large amount of plate before it signed off on a certificate of inspection that was necessary for the sale to proceed. Some of this welding was not performed properly and will have to be replaced. However, the total cost will still only be 30 to 40 percent of a new ferry, Clausen pointed out. He expects the Finest and the Melissa Ann to begin scheduled service in September.