Pacific Maritime Magazine - Marine Business for the Operations Sector

Fast Ferry Market STEADY, Tugs Pulling Ahead


January 1, 2020

Last year's new vessel survey found aluminum catamaran ferries were still by far the biggest category in newbuilds, with five Washington yards plus one in the Bay Area all reporting enough orders for vessels over 65 feet to keep them fully occupied up to the start of 2020. However, a year later the outlook is not quite as sunny with a definite ebb in the demand from the major fleet customers in the transit sector and declining orders for single vessels for whale watching and sightseeing, which are both being affected by political decisions.

Dakota Creek of Anacortes, Washington and Mavrik Marine in La Conner, Washington are both completing large fast ferries for San Francisco' Bay's Water Emergency Transit Authority (WETA), which has been Washington's biggest customer for catamarans for the last decade with 15 modern fast passenger-only ferry vessels at the last count - six in just the last three years. In September, WETA welcomed the Vela, a 142-foot by 39-foot 445-passenger ferry from Dakota Creek, into their SF Bay fleet. This is the second in the order for three identical ferries, the third, Lyra, is expected to arrive in early 2020.

They are powered by a pair of Tier 4, MTU 16V4000M65 engines rated at 3,433 hp each, driving a pair of HamiltonJet HT810 waterjets through ZF 9055 gears with a service speed of 34 knots loaded, and 38 knots light ship. These are the first Tier 4 ferries in the country, with Pacific Power Group of Kent, Washington providing engineering and maintenance at the year-old Operations and Maintenance Facility in Alameda.

"Demand for ferry service throughout the Bay Area continues to grow, and the new boats will help us meet that demand," said Nina Rannells, WETA's executive director. "Our fleet now numbers 15 ferries and Vela has taken us past the 5,000-seat threshold. There really is a ferry renaissance happening on the Bay." Funding for the $23 million vessel included California State Proposition 1B, bridge toll revenue, Federal Transit Administration grants, and California Low Carbon Transit Operations Program funds.

Mavrik's boat was designed by Australian architects One2three, and 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. WETA intends to release an RFP for the construction of one more 300-passenger ferry similar to this design, funded with Federal Transit Administration funds and the proceeds from measures to raise revenue by increasing tolls on the seven state-owned bridges.

Is the Funding Tide Turning?

The agency had expected to receive the next round of funding from Regional Measure 3 - a bill that would raise some $300 million for WETA capital projects and up to $35 million in annual operating funds. Measure 3 was approved by 53 percent of the electorate in a June 2018 vote, but has been stalled when a taxpayers' association sued on the grounds that the toll hike needed a two-thirds vote of the electorate, because it is allegedly a tax. A judge threw that case out, but appeals continue and the legal battle has moved to an appellate stage that might last several years.

WETA is now re-evaluating its proposed spending on a 20-year plan to construct a fleet of 44 vessels, 16 terminals, and 12 service routes, while a far larger new tax proposal called Faster Bay Area is planned for the November 2020 (presidential) ballot. This would raise more than $100 billion for transportation improvements over the next 40 years with a 1-cent sales tax hike for the nine-county Bay Area.

A more modest amount has been approved for a study of the possibility of using hovercraft for service from the cities in the south bay where navigation is impossible in the shallow channels and tidal mudflats. While the hovercraft may seem an unlikely scenario, a more futuristic design for the nation's first hydrogen fuel cell-powered ferry is set to be launched at Bay Ship and Yacht Co. in Alameda in the near future. The 84-passenger 70-foot "E-ferry" is designed by INCAT Crowther and built from a kit of aluminum parts shipped from Louisiana.

This zero-emission technology combines hydrogen and oxygen in a chemical reaction to create electricity. The 360 kW-bank of Hydrogenics fuel cells will be supplied by an array of compressed H2 tanks at 250 bar weighing 264 kg, giving up to two full days operation. The electricity will run two 300-kW (400-hp) shaft motors, backed-up by 100 kWh batteries in hulls to provide boost power to achieve 22 knots. It is reported to be the first commercial fuel-cell ferry in the world, and will be re-fueled at the dock by hydrogen from a truck - most likely in Oakland.

The project was developed by Golden Gate Zero Emission Marine with private funding and a $3 million grant from the California Air Resources Board. An East Coast maritime investment group called SW/TCH (pronounced "switch") Maritime acquired a controlling interest in the project last summer. SW/TCH works with Clean Marine Energy, another technology developer and both companies are owned by a large, privately held maritime venture business called MidOcean Marine.

Another vessel of similar length was acquired with less effort by Tideline Marine Group, an operator with three small charter boats. The 75-foot, 149-passenger Peregrine was purchased from a builder on the Gulf coast and delivered through the Panama Canal. Danielle Weerth, Tideline's director of business development, said the new boat will be used initially for cruises but that it is slated eventually for a Jack London Square-to-Mission Bay service.

Moose Boats' 2016 merger with Lind Marine resulted in the company re-locating to Mare Island Naval Shipyard in Vallejo, California, where it has continued to build two standard designs of aluminum catamaran equipped to meet a variety of applications for law enforcement, emergency response, and security patrol purposes. The latest order is from the City of Rochester, New York Fire Department for the construction of the first M2 38-foot fire and rescue catamaran to be delivered to the Great Lakes. It is custom built from the deck up with an extended cabin holding three shock-absorbing crew seats, and is powered by twin Cummins 425-hp turbo diesels, with Twin Disc transmissions and Hamilton water-jets. It is equipped with a fire pump system delivering 1,500 gallons per minute.

With all the facilities of the property and a larger workshop, Moose was qualified to bid on the contract to build a 75-foot by 24-foot catamaran crew boat designed for Westar Marine Services of San Francisco. The Subchapter T design is by the Australian architects Incat Crowther, who have an American office in Lafayette, Louisiana specializing in crew boats and ferries for the oil patch. The deck plan incorporates a 20-foot by 20-foot rear cargo deck that has a 20,000-lb. capacity, with a cabin that can seat a crew of three and up to 28 passengers.

The high-efficiency propulsion system consists of a pair of Volvo 6-cylinder D13 12.8-liter engines turning a Volvo IPS900 steerable pod drives turning twin counter-rotating propellers. Each engine will produce 690 hp (515 kW) and will be operated by integrated IPS controls and steering; the running speed is estimated to be 25 to 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.

In November, 2019, Moose won another contract from the State of California's Department of Fish and Wildlife for the construction of an M1 46-foot catamaran to serve as an offshore Game Warden boat on the Northern California coast. Power will be supplied by twin Volvo Penta D11-625hp turbo diesel propulsion engines turning Hamilton water-jets.

Kitsap County Transit Completing Fast Ferry Fleet

In Washington, the second major source of fast ferry orders is Kitsap Transit, operated by Kitsap County, that has passed the half-way point in its ambitious plan to build a fleet of fast passenger-only catamarans to provide an alternative to Washington State Ferries. This began with the introduction of high-speed low-wake service on the Bremerton-Seattle run through the critical Rich Passage, and the use of the first hybrid-electric ferry operating in the Pacific Northwest on the short routes to Port Orchard and Annapolis.

Taking full advantage of its new building, All American Marine (AAM) of Bellingham, Washington completed all three vessels in 2019. The two 78-foot by 28-foot low-wake passenger catamarans, Reliance and Lady Swift used aluminum for the hulls and platform, topped by a lightweight composite superstructure to save weight and increase efficiency. The patented design by Teknicraft of New Zealand featured the adjustable carbon-fiber hydrofoil spanning the hulls, previously tested on the prototype, Rich Passage 1, which ran a test service in 2012 and now serves as the reserve boat. Propulsion on the new boats consists of quad Hamilton 403 waterjets driven by Tier 3 Caterpillar C-18 engines. The service speed is 36 knots.

AAM also launched Waterman in early February, a 150-passenger short-haul hybrid-electric ferry designed by Seattle-based Glosten. The 70-by-26-foot vessel is the first hybrid-electric ferry operating in the Pacific Northwest. Propulsion comes from twin BAE HybriDrive systems that include a generator, propulsion power converter, batteries and additional components.

"The hybrid system is fully automated, assessing the power loads, both hotel and propulsion loads, and manages the entire system," said Matt Mullett, All American Marine's president and CEO.

Nichols Brothers Boat Builders was awarded a $23-million contract by Kitsap County to construct the two 140-foot by 37-foot ferries that will speed 250 passengers on the Kingston and Southworth routes across Puget Sound to Pier 50 in Seattle. "Nichols Brothers provided the most complete, competitive proposal for Kitsap Transit's bow loaders that could meet our speed requirements," said Sanjay Bhatt, Kitsap Transit public information officer. The design was by BMT Nigel Gee of the UK to optimize speedy loading and unloading of passengers and bikes through a two-station loading area on the sides, or alternatively through divided passenger/bike lanes from the bow.

BMT said that particular attention has been paid to passenger comfort with air conditioning and heating, noise reduction materials, in the form of pre-fabricated panels in bulkheads, walls and decks that reduce weight and improve insulation and comfortable aircraft-style seating. "We are renowned for our expertise in low wash ferry design, which was an important requirement for Kitsap Transit. Good seakeeping is also prioritized to provide comfortable motions for customers during spells of more inclement weather on Puget Sound," said a BMT spokesman. An active ride control system by Naiad will ensure a smooth, comfortable ride.

The ferries will be the first in the Northwest to feature a selective catalytic reduction (SCR) exhaust after-treatment system for the two MTU Tier IV 16V400M65L main engines supplied by Pacific Power Group of Kent, Washington. Each engine will produce 3435 hp at 1,800 rpm, through ZF 9050 gears, turning Kamewa S71-4 waterjets. Maximum speed will be 37 knots and cruise speed of 35 knots at full load. The first boat is expected to be launched early in 2020.

Bay Welding in Homer Delivers 75-foot Fast Crewboat

Bay Welding in Homer on Alaska's Kenai Peninsula stays busy as one of the few yards in the state that supplies workboats, commercial and charter fishing vessels. The business produced its first boat, a 20-foot skiff, in 1995 and built its 100th boat in 2013 and its 200th in 2018. The shop recently completed its biggest project - the Goldbelt Seawolf<</i>/strong> - a 75-foot by 25-foot 118-passenger catamaran to transport workers between Juneau and the Kensington goldmine. The owner is Goldbelt Transportation - a subsidiary of Goldbelt Inc. - an Alaska native corporation.

The 30-foot tall craft is the largest vessel ever built in Homer and required Bay Welding to add an extension to its space behind the Harbor. The new boat is powered by four Scania 700-hp Tier 3 engines, driving four HamiltonJet 364 waterjets. The project took 11 months and 10,000 man-hours to build, and employed 40 people, said Bruce Friend, safety administrator of Bay Weld. The Liebherr LTM 1500 crane that arrived to lift the boat into Kachemak Bay at the Northern Enterprises Boatyard was so big it took a second crane just to assemble and rig it, he noted. (It was reported to be the biggest mobile crane in Alaska.) The launch of the Seawolf was an achievement for the region, said Kate Mitchell with the Homer Marine Trades Association.

"We're thrilled to continue to grow our operations," said Captain Clint Songer, Goldbelt Transportation manager. "We had a great experience working with the team at Bay Welding and we're incredibly proud to say that our new vessel was made in Alaska, by Alaskans, for Alaskans, and will be operated by a local crew." The boat's design by Coast Wise Corp. of Anchorage gives it the flexibility to explore other business opportunities like whale-watching tours.

Bay Welding has also received an order from Juneau Tours for a second 49.5-foot charter catamaran, a sister to the 49.5-foot by 17.5-foot Atlin, delivered in 2017 with design by Coastwise. Power will again be quad 350-hp Yamaha outboards for a 28-knot cruising speed with a full load of 49 passengers.

Armstrong Marine Fits Volvo Penta Z-Drives

Armstrong Marine of Port Angeles continues to be a leader in the production of aluminum boats in the 30- to 45-foot range, including a second 42-foot catamaran for underwater work in the San Diego area. Orca Maritime will utilize the workboat in support of the US Navy's unmanned underwater systems programs in San Diego. Work will include the launch and recovery of autonomous underwater vehicles (AUV), underwater gliders, surface and underwater sensors, ROV operations, and surface-supplied and SCUBA diving operations.

Pacific Power Group, working closely with Armstrong, supplied an identical Volvo Penta IPS propulsion system. A Volvo Penta six-cylinder D11, 10.8-liter engine drives twin counter-rotating forward-facing propellers giving a cruising speed of 25 knots and a range of 500 miles. This propulsion package has been tested on more than 25,000 motor yachts and is now entering the commercial sector.

Deck gear includes a 5,000-lb. A-frame with a Pullmaster PL5 winch and a Morgan Marine 200.3 knuckle-boom crane for deploying autonomous and remotely operated vehicles. Northern Lights supplied 9kw gen-set. All electronics are by Garmin with accommodations for four and small galley.

Armstrong Marine delivered as smaller catamaran, the 35-foot by 13-foot Seawolf, to the Kodiak Legends Lodge on Kodiak Island, Alaska. Propulsion comes from twin Yamaha 300-hp outboards paired with SeaStar Pro steering. The boat can accommodate up to 10 passengers and two crew and features an extended T-transom, hydraulic drop bow door. It will be used for sport-fishing, wildlife viewing, beach landings around Uyak Bay.

Schooner Creek Delivers 65-foot Charter Boat to Hawaii

Schooner Creek Boat Works is a full-service yacht and boat repair and manufacturing yard in Portland, Oregon. They also specialize in building 65-foot US Coast Guard-certified sailing catamarans for the charter fleets of Hawaii and California. The construction method uses a fiberglass-foam sandwich laminated with vinylester and epoxy resin with carbon fiber reinforcements, all under vacuum infusion to meet strict ABS certification.The last three vessels have all been based on a standard 65-foot hull design by Morelli & Melvin design. The deck and interior layout is built to the customers' specification. The first was delivered in 2018 to the Teralani Sailing Adventures in Lahaina, Maui. The second went to O'Neill Sea Odyssey of Santa Cruz, California. It is used to educate school children during week days on Monterey Bay's National Marine Sanctuary, and offers public cruises on the weekends with meals from the well-equipped galley, plus a full entertainment system. Mechanical power is provided by twin 125 horsepower John Deere auxiliary engines.

The third version went to Hawaii, and was a repeat order from the Teralani Company. It is also heavily reinforced on the forefoot to handle the abrasion caused by the beach loading of passengers via a stairway lowered from the foredeck. Both boats are powered by a pair of Cummins QSB 6.7 Liter 305 hp diesels. That total of 610 hp is larger than normal and is required to ensure they are able to reverse off the beach, Schooner Creek explained.

Three Washington Yards Building Tugs for US Navy

The last year saw three Washington yards constructing tugs from 30 to 90 feet for the US Navy - a notable demonstration of the state's marine sector competitiveness. Dakota Creek Industries is following its fast ferry work with an order for four 90-foot tugs based on the Valiant class (YT-800) of "Yard" tugboats. The YT-808 will be the first of four vessels to an updated Z-Tech design by Robert Allan Ltd., of Vancouver BC, which is well-established as the leading tug design office internationally.

With an updated deck house, new EPA Tier IV engines and a new type of underwater fendering, these boats will be used by the US Navy to perform ship-handling duties for the full range of US Navy surface warships, barges and submarines. Propulsion will be two Caterpillar 3512E engines with SCR after-treatment - each rated at 1,800 hp at 1,600 rpm turning Schottel's latest high-performance azimuthing stern drives with anodes recessed into the nozzle. The Leacon sealing system prevents oil from escaping into the seawater, which complies with EPA regulations, according to Schottel. The bollard pull is predicted to be 43 tons with a free-running speed of 12 knots.

Snow Boat Building of Seattle has won additional orders to continue its contract with the US Navy after delivering four 40-foot by 17-foot boats in the "Workboat Large" class. These sturdy steel hulled tugs with aluminum superstructure are propelled by a pair of Cummins QSM11 mains with shaft brakes, each developing 455 mhp at 2,100 RPM. This power will give the vessel a bollard pull of around ten tons and a speed of nine knots.

Steering is via a traditional system with twin rudders and twin flanking rudders fitted forward of the screws. The foredeck is equipped with a pair of Pullmaster winches, push knees and a heavy bitts, with smaller bitts on the aft deck. These will aid in performing a variety of duties including moving security barriers, barges, and other floating equipment. The Workboat Large is operated by a crew of two.

Modutech Marine of Tacoma, Washington has completed the original order for 25 small tugs classed by the US Navy as the "Work Boat Medium." Design for the 30-foot by 15-foot tug was by Hockema Whalen Myers Associates. Power is supplied by a pair of Cummins QSL 9 diesels, each delivering 285 hp continuous duty through ZF W325 gears with 3:1 reduction ratios. The 39-inch by 36-inch propellers are nozzled and steering is by triple shutter-vane rudders; draft is 5 feet, 6 inches. The combined output of 570 hp gives the boat an 8-ton bollard pull, and a free-running speed of 8-9 knots. The company reports that it has secured an order for several additional vessels and 25-foot barrier boats.

Foss Places Major Order with Nichols

Besides its fast ferry work for Kitsap County, Nichols Brothers Boat builders on Whidbey Island, Washington is building a minimum of four 100-foot by 40-foot Z-drive tractor tugs for Foss Maritime, with options for up to six additional vessels. Jensen Maritime Consultants designed the new class, based on its Valor class, seven of which have been delivered to Baydelta Maritime in the SF Bay Area.

The new boats will feature twin MTU Series 4000 Tier 4 V-16 engines, producing a total of 6,866-hp to turn Rolls-Royce US 255 azimuthing thrusters. The class will have ABS loadline certification, and UWILD notation. Nichols will implement a new production line to improve efficiencies to meet the accelerated four-boat order with delivery of the first boat expected early in 2020. "It's a very tight timeline but we're confident they can do it," said Janic Trepanier, a Foss naval architect who is managing the project. "They've already built ten of this class, including one that we operate under charter, the Delta Lindsey." The first two, which will be outfitted for rescue towing, are scheduled to go to the San Francisco Bay Area and to Southern California.

This order comes a decade after Foss completed the last of ten Dolphin Class vessels in Rainier, Oregon. The new tugs, at 100-feet long will be substantially bigger than the 78-foot Dolphins. Their size and muscular pulling power also makes them ideal for tanker escorts and assists. They also will be equipped with the latest Markey winches for ro/ro escorts, barge maneuvering and other Harbor work. "The new tugs are designed to upgrade our fleet and improve the company's ability to provide timely Harbor and port services to a variety of customers," said John Parrott, president and CEO of Foss Maritime. "By offering lower maintenance downtime, greater operating efficiencies and lower emissions, these new tugs help expand our nearshore and offshore capabilities."

Sause Commissions Two 128-foot Tugs

Sause Brothers of Coos Bay, Oregon is adding two new long-haul towboats to its fleet using an updated version of its 128-by-35-foot Mikiona-class design developed by company engineers in the early 2000's as an evolution of the traditional oceangoing tug. The builder is Diversified Marine of Portland, who delivered the first vessel, Apache, last summer. "The Apache is going to go in and out of San Francisco, or Terminal Three in the Richmond part of the Bay Area. It will be doing work for Chevron primarily, hauling fuel barges," said Caitlin Sause, company vice president, at the christening.

The identical second tug, Geronimo, was nearing completion at the Columbia River yard at the end of 2019. Both vessels are powered by MTU engines, which Sause began using around 2000. The latest models are twin 2,000-hp V-16 Tier 3 MTU's, with Reintjes reduction gears and Nautican nozzles. Bollard pull is about 65 tons. Electrical power is provided by two 99-kW John Deere PowerTech 4045 gensets.

The Rapp (now McGregor) winches fore and aft have been updated with the Pentagon touch-screen system in the wheelhouse, and the bridge carries the best of new technology and advanced navigation equipment. The double-vane rudders aft of each nozzle are pre-fabricated by Sause Bros.' Shipyard, Southern Oregon Marine (SOMAR). Diversified is also building another 80-foot ASD tug for Brusco Tug & Barge based on a standard Robert Allan design with beam increased to 40 feet.

Vigor Returns to Aluminum Construction in New Vancouver Plant

Vigor and Fincantieri Marinette Marine (FMM) have delivered the first three 45-foot by 14.7-foot response boats, medium (RB-M) in a six-boat contract as part of a Foreign Military Sale to the Kingdom of Bahrain's Coast Guard. The RB-M is the standard class for the US Coast Guard, which has taken delivery of 182 boats built by Vigor in Seattle. FMM was the prime contractor and program manager.

Vigor fabricated the vessels at its Seattle facility, upgraded with an Arabian Gulf hot weather package that includes additional air conditioning, thermal insulation and an aft deck GRP canopy. Their primary missions are patrol and search and rescue. Power is from twin MTU Series 60, 825-hp engines coupled with Rolls Royce Kamewa FF375S waterjets for a top speed of more than 42 knots.

Vigor is currently building two pilot boats for the Port of Los Angeles in its new facility in Vancouver, Washington. The 56-foot by 16.5-foot craft will follow a design from Camarc of the UK, the leading pilot boat designer who supplied the designs for the 72-foot boats used by the Columbia River Bar Pilots. However, they have the advantage of requiring only 1,600 hp, which enables the use of twin CAT C18 ACERT's rated at 803 bhp at 2,100 rpm - the maximum power output that is allowed in EPA Tier 3 engines without SCR systems. Propulsion is a pair of five- blade propellers via ZF665A-1 reduction gears for a maximum speed of 27 knots and a cruise speed of 24 knots. The boats can seat two crew and eight pilots.

"The American mid-sized market has needed a world-class pilot boat at an acceptable acquisition and maintenance cost," said Art Parker, Vigor sales manager. "Camarc has optimized this design to incorporate the significant seakeeping and safety of the larger pilot boats." An articulated rescue davit provides man overboard recovery. The fender system is the integrated Popsafe large-diameter HDPE tubing.

74-Foot High Speed Skimmer Built in Washington for BC

The YT-808 will be the first of four vessels built by Dakota Creek to a Z-Tech design by Robert Allan Ltd., of Vancouver BC. Artwork courtesy of Robert Allan Ltd.

In early August, Rozema Boat Works of Mt. Vernon, Washington launched their first 74-foot by 24-foot fast response skimmer, the Barkley Sentinel, for Western Canada Marine Response Corporation (WCMRC) based in Burnaby, BC. This is the latest and largest design in Rozema's range of oil skimmers, which have been delivered to oil-spill contractors in California and the Gulf coast. WCMRC has been their best customer in recent years, but delays in starting the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion has cut the funding for additional boats and crews.

Barkley Sentinel is powered by two CAT C32's each producing 1,600 hp via Twin Disc MGX 6620 RV gears. Two 40kW Northern Lights Generators provide electrical power, and the vessel has a recovered oil capacity of 277 US barrels. They will give the skimmer a top speed (light ship) of 23 knots to reach a spill as fast as possible. Rozema's design is based on the need to carry 2000' of Kepner Ocean Boom on a large reel, and a pair of three- brush LAMOR skimmers integrated into the hull, with long booms and watertight doors in the topsides to deploy the skimmers.


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