Steiner delivers latest ferry for North Carolina

Steiner Shipyard, Bayou La Batre, Ala., recently delivered the 180’×44’×11’ double-ended ferry Hatteras to the North Carolina Department of Transportation, Morehead, N.C.

The $5.8 million boat is designed to help ease congestion on the busy Hatteras-Ocracoke run. The Hatteras has a capacity of 400 passengers and 40 vehicles. Its draft is 5’6”. She has an A end and a B end, instead of a bow and stern. 

The steel-hulled ferry’s spaces below the main deck are voids with the exception of the engine room, sanitation machinery, fuel tanks and propulsion compartments.

The heads, emergency generator and engine room access are located off the centerline on the main deck. Passenger lounge and open deck are positioned on the upper deck. The single pilothouse sits on the centerline above passenger spaces on the bridge deck and includes identical steering stations at both ends. 

Main propulsion comes from twin Caterpillar 3412D diesels, spinning Voith Schneider 16 R5/120-1 propulsion units with five 39” blades per unit. NCDOT had wanted to install Cat 3412E engines, but the model was not EPA Tier 2 approved in time to be installed into the Hatteras. The 3412Ds run at 1,800 rpm, while the 3412E runs at 1,200 rpm.

Don Chapman, assistant director of NCDOT’s Ferry Division, said that Voith propulsion units are now on seven ferries in its fleet. His only complaint is that Voith doesn’t have a better  parts inventory in the U.S. There was a problem with a seal on one of the Hatteras’ units and a new one had to be sent from Germany, which delayed sea trials.

Yet Chapman couldn’t say enough about how much he liked Voith units. “They help increase our runs,” he said. “I haven’t had to replace one blade on those units on any of the boats they’re on.”

NCDOT pilots report that the Voith units really make a difference on windy days.

Steiner has been building ferries for NCDOT for many years. “Russell Steiner builds a quality product — absolutely great,” said Chapman. “If it was up to me, I’d let him build every boat we need.”

The Hatteras is USCG-certified Subchapter H for vessels in excess of 100 GT service in lakes, bays, sounds, and partially protected waters.

Unfortunately for Steiner, an option for a sistership wasn’t exercised, but Chapman said that had nothing to do with the shipyard. “Like so many states, our appetites are bigger than our wallets,” he said.              — K. Hocke 

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