In early October, the Yankee Freedom III, a 250-passenger, high-speed catamaran ferry, left Gladding-Hearn Shipbuilding in Somerset, Mass., and headed for Key West, Fla. Once there it began making 70-mile runs for the Yankee Fleet between Key West and the Dry Tortugas National Park.
The Yankee Freedom III was designed by Incat Crowther in Australia to replace another ferry that had been on the run and was built by Gladding-Hearn in 1999, the Yankee Freedom II.
“The National Park Service had put out specific criteria for the service, and the old boat was not up to the standards,” said Gladding-Hearn’s Peter Duclos.
At 110’x30’6″x7′ the Yankee Freedom III is bigger than the older 92′ Yankee Freedom II, and it has a number of “green” features built into it to meet NPS standards that were not on the older ferry.
“We worked out a lot of features in the boat that are environmentally responsible but not crazy. They are things that also make economic sense,” said Duclos. Those features include zero discharge, an onboard oil boom, and solar-charged emergency batteries. The use of LED lights means a smaller generator can be used and less fuel burned. The boat was also coated with metal-free bottom paint and covered with vinyl wrap on the topsides.
In addition, Duclos said the Yankee Freedom III’s design “was a very careful management of the weight of the vessel and optimization of the hull for that weight. It’s a nice balance between efficiency and commercial viability.” That, he noted, will translate into burning less fuel.
Propulsion power comes from a pair of 1,650-hp Caterpillar 3512C diesels matched up with TwinDisc MGX6848SC Quick Shift gears spinning 47″ Brunton props that push the Yankee Freedom III to more than 28 knots.
Accommodations for the 250 passengers include 142 Beurteaux seats, 24 tables and a snack bar in the main cabin. The upper level has a wet bar, Beurteaux seats and tables for 56 passengers, and there’s outside seating for 54. A Vosper/MDI active interceptor motion-control system provides comfort for the passengers no matter what deck they are on.
Yankee Freedom II has been sold and is now at Gladding-Hearn undergoing retrofit work for its new owner. It will be operating in the Northeast. Besides that work, Gladding-Hearn has contracts for five patrol boats for New York City, three patrol boats for the government of Columbia, and four pilot boats.