Gulf Craft to deliver fast cat to Florida operator

Gulf Craft Inc., Patterson, La., is scheduled to deliver a 170’×38’, 500-passenger catamaran to Fort Myers, Fla.-based Key West Express in February. The boat, Key West Express, will have a draft of 4’6”. 

The aluminum vessel was designed by Incat Crowther. Gulf Craft is a licensed builder of the company’s designs.

“I first worked with [Gulf Craft] in the 1980s,” said George Hilton, president of Key West Express. “Two of our company’s main partners have been building with the Tibbs [family]since the 1970s.” 

The Key West Express will actually have seating for 513 passengers — 441 interior seats and 72 exterior seats. 

Main propulsion will be provided by four MTU 16V4000 M71 diesels, producing 3,310 hp at 2,000 rpm each. The engines will connect to four HamiltonJet HM 811 waterjets. The propulsion package will give the boat a running speed of 40 knots.

Ship’s service power will come from two Northern Lights generators powered by John Deere diesels. The gensets will spark 99kw of electricity each.

Hilton said he likes doing business with a family-owned yard that does good work and does it consistently. “We go back a long way,” he said. “We love the fact that it’s a family business.”

Gulf Craft also has another Incat Crowther vessel under construction. The 152’×34’, 450-passenger cat is for Safe Way Maritime Transportation, Roatan, Honduras.

The boat has seating for 452 passengers — 297 inside and 155 outside.

Four Caterpillar 3512B diesels (1,800 hp at 1,785 rpm each) will provide the main propulsion. The Cats will connect to HamiltonJet HM 651 waterjets to produce a top speed of 37 knots. 

The vessel is scheduled to be delivered in June.                     — K. Hocke 

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