Pacific Maritime Magazine - Marine Business for the Operations Sector

2019 West Coast Shipyard Report: Catamaran Boom Continues


March 1, 2019

All American Marine has launched the M/V Waterman, an aluminum hybrid-electric passenger ferry built for Kitsap Transit. Photo courtesy of All American Marine.

Pacific Maritime Magazine's 2019 Shipyard survey reveals that the demand for aluminum catamarans has continued to grow with five Washington yards, one in the Bay Area, plus one fiberglass builder in Portland, all reporting a full order book well into 2020. The busy builders are (alphabetically) All American, Armstrong, Dakota Creek, Mavrik, Moose, Nichols and Schooner Creek. Their orders total at least ten boats over 100 feet long, four in the 65- to 75-foot range, plus many in the 30- to 40-foot range from Armstrong and others building a range of small vessels.

While recent production has mainly been for whale-watching, wilderness cruises and sightseeing, the new orders are all for publicly-owned ferries or crew boats. Vessels of this type are popular all over the world and the naval architects from Australia, New Zealand and the UK who specialize in catamaran ferries for the international market have all been refining hull shapes by computer simulation, tank, and full-size test methods.

The goal continues to be reducing fuel consumption and motion in a seaway, which also results in a lower wake – an important feature on many routes. Reducing weight in the superstructure by using composite panels in bulkheads and walls also improves insulation from vibration and sound to increase passenger comfort. Other amenities like high-quality seating, lighting, food service and wi-fi are becoming standard features.

Kitsap County "Mosquito Fleet"

After several attempts over the last three decades to run fast foot ferries between Bremerton and Seattle, Kitsap County successful tested an advanced low-wake high-speed catamaran in 2012. Local voters approved an ambitious plan to finance a year-round service with this vessel, the Rich Passage 1 (RP1) by adding 0.3 percent to the state sales tax on the November 2016 ballot. In 2017, the Kitsap Transit board issued up to $50 million in bonds to finance a fleet of catamaran ferries running on three routes. In January 2019, the county had five state-of-the-art catamarans under construction.

Three are coming from All-American Marine of Bellingham: two are 118-passenger Rich Passage (RP1) class boats for the Bremerton-Seattle route, designed by Teknicraft of New Zealand, who designed the RP1 and the two 104' boats used by the King County Ferry District – the Sally Fox and Doc Maynard. Like the experimental RP1, the RP2 and RP3 are also equipped with an adjustable molded carbon fiber hydrofoil to minimize wake; the 77' long hulls are high tensile 5383 aluminum alloy, the passenger cabin and deck are made from lightweight aluminum honeycomb panel materials composites. Propulsion is by four water jets and Caterpillar C-18 Tier 3 engines for a service speed of up to 37 knots. The total price for both vessels is over $15 million; the RP2 will be delivered early in 2019.

The third vessel from All American is a 149-passenger, 70-foot long short-haul low-speed boat designed by Seattle naval architects Glosten for the inshore route between Bremerton, Port Orchard, and Annapolis. It is powered by two BAE HybriDrive propulsion systems. It will replace the Carlisle II, which celebrated its 100th birthday last year – one of the last remaining vessels from the Puget Sound Mosquito Fleet.

Nichols Brothers Boat Builders won the contract to build two more conventional catamaran ferries for Kitsap Transit with an option for a third. They will be 140-foot by 37-foot by 12-foot designs from BMT Nigel Gee of the UK, who were responsible for the pair of 236-foot high speed ro/pax ferries for the Alaska Marine Highway System launched 2004-2005. The Kitsap boats will be built to USCG subchapter K regulations and will each carry 250 passengers and 26 bicycles, a must for Seattle commuters.

They will join the Finest, a 20-year old 350-passenger catamaran from New York that was shipped to Puget Sound, and has been running between Kingston and downtown Seattle since Thanksgiving. Nichols was responsible for the extensive restoration of this vessel and has built more than 50 catamarans since introducing the twin-hull concept in the early 1980's. The new design is optimized for easy and fast loading and unloading of passengers and bikes.

These cats will be powered by two MTU Tier 4 16V400M65L main engines and will be the first use in the USA of MTU's advanced SCR module. Each engine will put out 3,435 HP at 1,800 rpm, through ZF 9050 gears turning Kamewa S71-4 waterjets, and will reach 35 knots at full load. Additionally an active ride control is being installed, supplied by Naiad, which will ensure a smooth, comfortable ride.

"We really appreciate the opportunity to work with Kitsap Transit on the development and implementation of this new transportation system networking the Olympic Peninsula with Seattle," said Gavin Higgins, Nichols CEO. "Using Puget Sound as a water highway to reduce the Seattle metro traffic congestion and expand housing market with very reasonable travel times is a great model for the other counties around Seattle to follow."

The new Kitsap fleet has been compared to the network of private ferries on Puget Sound prior to 1950, when operators like the "Kitsap County Transportation Company" ran a "mosquito fleet" of steamboats connecting the Kitsap peninsula with Seattle. To honor this tradition, Kitsap Transit's board of commissioners has chosen to name its growing fleet after the wooden craft that connected Bremerton and the surrounding communities in the early 20th century.

WETA Continues to Expand on SF Bay

By the end of 2019, the San Francisco Bay Area Water Emergency Transportation Authority (WETA) will have added eight new catamarans built in Washington to its fleet in three years, at a cost of well over $100 million. To support its existing fleet of 14 high-performance vessels built in Washington, the San Francisco Bay Area Water Emergency Transportation Authority (WETA) officially opened the new Ron Cowan Central Bay Maintenance and Operations Facility in Alameda in December 2018. The $50 million facility at the former Naval Air Station Alameda serves as an operations and maintenance hub for the ferry fleet serving Alameda, Oakland, Harbor Bay, San Francisco and South San Francisco.

Emergency water transit is a key part of WETA's statutory mission. This facility will streamline WETA's operations, improve routine maintenance and repairs and provide emergency response capabilities. The agency currently operates nine terminals with 14 vessels; the 20-year strategic plan calls for operating 16 terminals with 44 vessels by 2035. "WETA's long-range strategic plan calls for more frequent service and additional terminals: a tripling of the fleet and a quadrupling of ridership," said Nina Rannells, WETA's executive director.

While Vigor Ballard has completed the fourth and final 400-passenger vessel for WETA designed by Incat Crowther, Australia in its contract, Dakota Creek Industries of Anacortes, is delivering the first of three 445-passenger boats, the Pyxis, with the Vela and Lyra coming later in the year The 142.7-foot long North Bay-class is a product of naval architects AMD Marine Consulting of Australia, who also designed the last six ferries the yard has delivered to WETA since 1997. These ferries will also be equipped with MTU Tier IV engines and waterjet propulsion by HamiltonJet for a service speed of 34 knots.

The latest order from WETA was a $13 million contract awarded in October, 2018 to Mavrik Marine of La Conner, Washington. This is for a new 300-passenger high-speed ferry designed by Australian architects One2three, who have designed all of Mavrik's previous charter catamarans. It will be powered by a pair of MTU 12V4000M65R engines producing 2,000 hp to turn with Hamilton waterjets for a service speed of 32 knots. The 125-foot ferry will also have capacity for at least 35 bicycles.

Pacific Power's MTU Engines Drive WETA Fleet

WETA's ferries are almost completely powered by MTU engines supplied by Pacific Power Group (PPG) of Kent, Washington, which designs and installs the power systems at the boat yards, and maintains them in the Bay Area. This has allowed the fleet to see continued efficiencies, especially in terms of shared parts inventory. The four new ferries will be powered by twin MTU Series 4000 engines designed to meet Tier 4 Final regulations.

To ensure those performance standards are maintained, PPG will be staffing a full-time maintenance crew in the Bay Area for the first time in the company's history. "This is truly a cradle-to-grave relationship between PPG, MTU and WETA," said Doug Schwedland, PPG's vice president of the marine division. "We worked very closely as a team to ensure the propulsion system would be an ideal match for WETA's needs – for fuel efficiency, reliability and environmental sensitivity. The faith that MTU has put in us to maintain the existing and new ferries is a great honor and one we look forward to upholding," Schwedland said.

Moose Boats has been building aluminum catamarans 36 to 44 feet long in the Bay Area for 15 years. The 2016 merger with Lind Marine resulted in an expansion into a new production space with deep water access on Mare Island Naval Shipyard in Vallejo, California. This gave Moose the opportunity to bid and win the first 75- by 24-foot Subchapter T catamaran crew boat designed by Incat Crowther for Westar Marine Services of San Francisco. The 20-foot by 20-foot rear cargo deck has a 20,000-lb. capacity and the cabin will be able to carry a crew of three and up to 28 passengers.

Propulsion will be a pair of Volvo IPS900 diesel engines connected to Volvo IPS3 Z-drives through Volvo marine gears. This complete Volvo package will include integrated IPS controls and steering and will give the boat a running speed of 27 knots. Electrical power will come from a 20-kW Northern Lights genset. Deck equipment will include a 4,000-lb. capacity hydraulic boom crane. Engine, steering and joystick maneuvering controls in both the raised pilothouse and the upper level aft steering station are designed to provide captains with optimal visibility for bow and stern operations. With an option for repeat orders, this is a significant step up into a larger class of vessel.

Armstrong Marine of Port Angeles continues to be a leader in production of smaller aluminum catamarans and has several 40 footers on the schedule this year, reported Captain Charlie Crane, the company's sales expert. The latest delivery was a 42-foot research vessel for the San Diego area equipped with a gantry on the stern and a pair of 510-hp Volvo IPS drives. Now underway are three more 40-foot by 24-foot boats, two for Washington DNR, and one for the University of Alaska. Also taking shape is another 49-passenger boat for a wildlife tour company in Juneau, where several Armstrong tour boats are already based.

Fiberglass Sailing Catamarans

At the end of 2018, Schooner Creek Boat Works of Portland, Oregon delivered a Coast Guard-inspected 65-foot sailing catamaran to O'Neill Sea Odyssey in Santa Cruz, California, founded by surf pioneer Jack O'Neill. The design was by Morrelli and Melvin, the leading sailing multihull specialist in North America, for construction in fiberglass sandwich with a foam core. The hulls, deck and cabin are all resin-infused under vacuum with vinyl ester resin.

The accommodation is intended to meet the needs of both the educational children's tours during the day for O'Neill Sea Odyssey, and the evening and weekend cruises for O'Neill Yacht Charters, with a complete galley and entertainment system. Mechanical propulsion is provided by twin John Deere auxiliary engines, and all deck equipment is chosen for durability and ease of operation. "We are excited to be part of such a great project, helping teach the public how to respect the oceans in this amazing boat," said Schooner Creek owners Kevin and Shauna Flanigan.

He explained that Schooner Creek has a full order book from charter operators for several more boats based on the yard's standard hull mold. The next two boats are for Teralani, a charter company in Lahaina, Hawaii. The first boat was launched in January 2019 and will be soon be ready for delivery under sail to Hawaii.

Owners Placing Multiple Tug Orders

On the conventional side, yards with solid records in tug construction are also running at full capacity: Nichols Brothers on Whidbey Island is building a 105-foot hybrid escort tug for Baydelta Maritime and four 105-foot escort tugs for Foss. Diversified Marine on the Columbia River in Portland is working on two long-haul tugs for Sause Brothers while the Hansen yard in Everett has a repeat order for a sister ship to the Sigrid Dunlap from Dunlap Towing.

Nichols is nearing completion on the USA's first hybrid tug project since Foss Maritime converted the 80-foot Campbell Foss in 2012 at its Rainier, Oregon yard which has since closed. The customer is Baydelta Maritime LLC of San Francisco who operate six of these Jensen-designed 100-foot by 40-foot Delta Class vessels with conventional power that were all built by Nichols.

The tug is powered by two Caterpillar C3516 C Tier 3 diesel engines each rated at 1,995 kW (2,675 hp) at 1600 rpm, supplied by Peterson Power of Portland, Oregon; and by two Rolls Royce supplied 424-kW electric motors. The z-drive system, two Rolls Royce 255FP units, can accept power from the diesel engines, electric motors and from both power sources. The electric motors are powered by three CAT C9.3 300-kW gensets and one Harbor generator.

The Rolls Royce hybrid system, allows for the vessel to operate direct-diesel, diesel-electric or fully-electric. This concept will save on fuel and reduce emissions, while suppling Baydelta with the same power and vessel characteristics needed for their operations. The flexibility provided by the drive system will allow loitering and transit at up to 8 knots in electric-only mode, then a bollard pull of better than 90 short tons in combined diesel-electric mode.

The tug will have 7 berths and the major equipment on board includes a Rapp Marine electric hawser winch and a single drum tow winch, as well as Centa carbon fiber shafts. In addition to the drive units and hybrid system, Rolls Royce will be supplying the control system and main switchboard, electric motors and their control cabinets.

"Nichols Brothers is excited about the opportunity to build our seventh Delta Class tractor tug for Baydelta Maritime" says Matt Nichols Executive Vice President, Nichols Brothers Boat Builders. "It is even more exciting to take the design even further with a hybrid concept." The tug will carry an ABS loadline certificate. "We have a long-standing partnership with, Baydelta and Nichols Brothers and are proud to once again be chosen for this historic build. " said Bryan Nichols, Director, Business Development Jensen Maritime.

Nichols will implement a new production line to improve efficiencies on the order from Foss, with deliveries beginning winter 2020 through winter 2021. The four 100-foot by 40-foot tractor tugs will have a 90-ton bollard pull. "This is the first contract we have had with Foss, and it allows us the opportunity to work with one of the most respected players in the US tug and workboat industry," said Tor Hovig, Nichols' vice-president of sales. The design is by Jensen with an ABS loadline and UWILD notation. The vessels will be propelled by two MTU 4000 Tier 4 engines turning Rolls-Royce US255 azimuth thrusters. The winches will be supplied by Markey. Foss has an option for six more vessels.

After the commissioning of the 121.5-foot Sigrid Dunlap last summer, Hansen Boat Company resumed work in Marysville, Washington on a sister ship for delivery in 2020. Both these long-haul tugs are based on the design of the Phyllis Dunlap created in the early 2000s by naval architects Hockema Whalen Myers Associates. "This hull has a relatively shallow draft that is suited to transit the seasonal shallow rivers of Alaska as well as cross the ocean to Hawaii and beyond," noted Meghan Rice, assistant controller at Dunlap.

The third tug in the class will be nearly identical to the Sigrid with two EPA Tier III CAT C175-16 EPA Marine engines developing a total of 5,350 horsepower and more than 90 tons of bollard pull. It will also be IMO-and SOLAS certified. "She will be fully equipped to meet the regulatory advancements of the last 18 years," Rice added.

Two Boats for Sause

On the Columbia River, Diversified Marine has recently delivered the 8,440 hp Samantha S, one of the most powerful ship-handling tugs in the nation, to local company Shaver Transportation. She will be followed by the first of two offshore tugs for the Sause company. They will be similar to the 123-foot Mikiona and Cochise launched in Tacoma in 2007 and 2008. Since 2003, Sause has fitted its new builds with MTU 4000 engines and installed them in their older tugs during refits. Rapp Marine has a long-standing relationship with Sause to provide their fleet with durable hydraulic tow winches.

US Navy Tugs

Dakota Creek Industries has won the contract to build four 90-foot by 38.5-foot yard tugs for the US Navy. The design is based on the Valiant class (YT-802) updated by designers Robert Allan Ltd. To become the YT-808-class. They will be fitted with an updated deck house, new EPA Tier IV CAT 3512E engines, Schottel 1012 Z-Drives, and a new fendering system. Bollard pull will 40 short tons minimum. Their main duty will be ship-handling for the full range of US Navy surface warships, barges and submarines.

Snow and Company boatyard of Seattle won a prestigious contract to construct the 40 by 17-foot US Navy Workboat Large. The small heavily built steel vessel is topped by an aluminum superstructure and is operated by a crew of two, with seating for five passengers and deck space for a 3,100 pound load. Propulsion will be a pair of Cummins QSM11 mains, each developing 455 hp at 2100 RPM. This power will give the vessel a bollard pull of 10 long tons or a speed of nine knots. As a naval installation support vessel, the workboat will be employed in transporting barges and floating equipment, assisting submarines and other vessels. It can also open and close anti-submarine nets and security barriers.

A third US Navy workboat is also being built in Washington – the 30-foot by 15-foot 'Work Boat Medium' – at Modutech Marine in Tacoma. The design is by Hockema Whalen Myers and Associates, and the contract is for 24 boats. Power comes from a pair of Cummins QSL 9 engines. each delivering 285 hp continuous duty. The engines will turn 39- by 36-inch propellers in nozzles through ZF W325 gears with 3:1 reduction. A triple shutter rudder is mounted behind each propeller resulting in a draft of 5.5 feet.

The total of 570 hp will give the 30-foot tugs an 8-ton bollard pull. Design features include wide side decks for enhanced personnel safety while working on deck. The deck is equipped with an 181-kg davit, which can be moved to port or starboard mounts, and a pair of deck winches, located forward, starboard and port. The first boat was delivered in December 2017, the last should be completed by December 2019.

Rozema Delivering Skimmers to B.C.

Snow and Company of Seattle is building a steel 40-foot by 17-foot US Navy Workboat Large with an aluminum superstructure propelled by a pair of Cummins QSM11 mains for a bollard pull of 10 long tons or a speed of nine knots. Photo courtesy of Snow Boat Co.

Rozema Boat Works of Mount Vernon, Washington has won a contract to build three more oil skimmers for WCMRC, based in Burnaby, British Columbia. The two 74-footers will be the flagships in the company's expanding fleet to cover the growing traffic in Vancouver Harbor, the TMPE expansion project, and the Canadian government's mandate to improve oil spill response and readiness. WCMRC has previously purchased two 65-foot mobile skimmers, two 47-foot FRV skimmers, and eight 249- barrel recovery barges from Rozema.

WCMRC will purchase one more 65-foot skimmer, and introduce two of the new 74-foot model – the largest and most capable skimmer that Rozema has built. Delivery of vessel number one will be this March, with the second scheduled for delivery in August. The overall size with stern roller is 78 feet by 25 feet, powered by two 1,600 hp CAT C32's and two Twin Disc MGX 6620 RV's for a top speed of 23 knots.

The boom capacity is 2,000 feet of Kepner 43-inch Reel Pack Ocean Boom, the skimmers are a pair of 3 brush LAMORs integrated into the hull. The generators are two 40-kW Northern Lights, the bow thruster is a 16-inch Niad hydraulic and the boat is fitted with a Tomil T-045 deck crane. The boat has a capacity of 277 US barrels of recovered oil, which will be offloaded by a Desmi DOP 250 pump.


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