Southwest Shipyard delivers two double-ended ferries


Southwest Shipyard, Channelview, Texas, delivered two new 159’7″×52’×11’8″ double-ended, passenger/vehicle ferries to the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), Corpus Christi District in July. The new ferries will serve as a continuation of Texas Highway 361 across Corpus Christi channel, between Port Aransas and Harbor Island. With the delivery, the Port Aransas Ferry Service now has eight vessels in its fleet.

The Charles W. Heald and the Michael W. Behrens were designed by Elliott BayDesign Group (EBDG), Seattle. The ferries have carrying capacities of 149 passengers, 28 vehicles (262.5 tons of total vehicle weight). They are designed to provide a smoother and quieter ride than the other vessels in the fleet. In addition, the new boats provide passenger shelters and accessibility to passengers with disabilities. 

The new boats feature a different pilothouse support structure than the other ferries in the fleet.

“The old vessels have a pilothouse on a pylon that comes up from the center of the vehicle deck,” Brian King, Elliott Bay’s vice president of engineering, said. “This ferry has the pilothouse over a bridging structure supported on each edge of the ferry, leaving the vehicle lanes clear of obstructions. This is most significant for trucks that load on the center line of the vessel.” 

Twin MTU Series 60 diesels, producing 600 hp at 2,100 rpm each, provide each ferry with its main power. The diesels are connected to 3-bladed nickel-bronze-aluminum, 60″×31″ Bauman wheels through Twin Disc MG-5170 marine gears with reduction ratios of 4.06:1. “These vessels are also considerably more fuel efficient and produce fewer emissions” compared to the older ferries in the fleet, said King. 

The Charles W. Heald and the Michael W. Behrens are 1,200 hp each, while the older boats have about 750 hp each. Fuel capacity on the new ferries is 4,000 gals. in two tanks.

Ship’s service power is provided by twin Kohler 55EOZD gensets, sparking 55 kw of electrical power each. The new ferries also have an IPS switchboard for monitoring control and distribution systems. The switchboards feature generator auto-start and transfer and load shedding.

MTU provided the electronic propulsion controls and EMI handled the electro-hydraulic steering system duties.

The new ferries are ABS classed A1 River Service — Ferry Service, U.S. Coast Guard certified, Subchapter T.




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