First of three Staten Island ferries completed

By July, the Guy V. Molinari, the first of three new Kennedy-class Staten Island ferries, should be operating in New York City. The 310-foot ferry, named after a former Staten Island borough president, was built at Marinette (Wis.) Marine Corp. for the city of New York. The three ferries will cost about $120 million.

The new double-ended ferries will replace earlier Kennedy-class ferries that were built in the 1960s. The new ferries are bigger, faster, and can carry more passengers. 

The 1960s-era ferries are 294’×69’10”×13’6”, carry 3,500 passengers and 42 cars, deliver 6,100 hp on each shaft, and have a top speed of 17.5 mph. 

The boats being built at Marinette are 310’×70’×13’6”, will carry 4,596 passengers and 30 cars, deliver 5,000 hp on each shaft, and have a top speed of 18.2 mph. The ferries will be operated by a crew of 22.

Another difference between the new and old class is that the new ferries have a fourth “hurricane” deck. “There’s a main, saloon, bridge and hurricane deck,” said Allen Chin, president of George G. Sharp Inc., designers of the new Kennedy-class ferries. 

Elevator access is provided to all decks between the main deck and hurricane deck passenger cabins. The hurricane deck has an enclosed passenger cabin and an open deck area around the cabin for passengers who want an open-air ride. The central portion of the hurricane deck has skylights to illuminate the bridge deck passenger cabin below.  

Passengers enter and leave on two levels at each end of the ferry as the boats dock at the Whitehall Terminal in Lower Manhattan and the St. George Terminal on Staten Island.

Since the boats are double-ended, there are not only access areas at each end but twin pilothouses with duplicate controls as well. To help avoid accidents on the 20-minute, 5.2-mile run, Chin said the wheelhouses have GPS, radars and various alarms. “There are more navigational aids on these boats to hopefully prevent accidents,” he said. For security, there’s closed-system TV throughout the boat.

There’s also duplication in the engine rooms. The ferries are each powered by three General Motors EMD ME 16G7B turbocharged diesel-electric generators. (One will be a backup unit.) All three will be interconnected and can drive two transformers and two electric motors at each end. That’s a 5,000-hp capability driving a fixed-pitch propeller at each end of the boat, which is more than is required, according to Chin. 

There’s also a pair of Caterpillar 3408C ship’s service generators that put out 370kw each, plus an emergency 300kw generator. 

The second of the three ferries, the Sen. John J. Marchi, was launched in May, and the third, the September 11th, is scheduled to be launched in the fall.

In anticipation of the new ferries, both ferry terminals are being renovated. The Whitehall Terminal in Lower Manhattan, severely damaged during a September 1991 fire, is being rebuilt at a cost of $190 million while the St. George facility on Staten Island is being rebuilt for about $120 million. 

Both terminals should be completed by the fall.

                              — Michael Crowley

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