Bay Shipbuilding delivers new year-round ferry to Washington Island fleet

Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding and Washington Island Ferry Line announced the completion of a new, year-round passenger/vehicle ferry for service to the Washington Island community across the Death’s Door Passage.

The new 124’x40′, 150-passenger, 28-vehicle ferry, Madonna, is the largest vessel in the Washington Island Ferry Fleet, allowing crews to operate a spacious second ferry with year-round capabilities.

“We are very happy to have our latest ferry, completed in less than one year, ready to sail this summer within our fleet,” Washington Island Ferry Line president Hoyt Purinton said in a statement announcing the delivery. “The work that was completed within our Door County community has impressed us; and we are happy with our continued partnership with Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding. We look forward to operating the Madonna between the tip of the Door Peninsula and Washington Island’s Detroit Harbor for many years to come.”

The Madonna, which has a 9′ draft, joins four additional vessels in the Washington Island Fleet, the Arni J. Richter, the Eyrarbakki, the Robert Noble, and the Washington. All current vessels in the fleet were built in Sturgeon Bay.

“This is the third build we have completed for Washington Island Ferry Line,” said Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding’s vice president and general manager Todd Thayse. “All current ferry vessels were built in Sturgeon Bay — two by Peterson Builders Inc. — and three by the talented women and men here at Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding. The work done on the new ferry has exemplified our quality and standards, especially during the Coronavirus pandemic. Our workforce was able to stay on schedule for an on-time delivery, which is commendable during this challenging time.”

The ferries complete 25 or more round-trips daily throughout peak season, with two daily during ice-bound months.

“Although we are all going through a challenging time during the COVID-19 pandemic, we are excited about the newest expansion to our fleet, which will enhance our service to the island community for generations to come.” Purinton said. “With a similar design to the Arni J. Richter, which Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding built for us in 2003, the Madonna allows us to run a second, year-round ferry with icebreaking capabilities.”

Twin Caterpillar C32 main engines provide 1,600 maximum horsepower while its stainless propellers and shafts (and stout framing) make it ice-capable.

In addition to its winter operational capabilities, the ferry offers added vehicle and passenger capacity throughout the year. Outdoor, upper deck seating and an indoor, climate-controlled cabin are available to passengers, along with restrooms on two decks. Bow and stern ramps with wide gates allow for easy vehicle loading.

The Madonna also has an overhead of 15′, sufficient to transport high-clearance specialty equipment and large oversized loads as needed.

The new steel icebreaking ferry is built to USCG Subchapter K regulations for passenger vessels operating year round.

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