New landing craft ferry serves Washington out islands

Salish Sea islanders in Washington state have a new ride for their vehicles and heavy equipment deliveries, with the arrival of the landing craft ferry Nordland II. The ferry was built for San Juan Ferry & Barge in Friday Harbor, Wash., on San Juan Island.

The 86’x25’ vessel delivered last week by Latitude Marine Services LLC, La Connor, Wash., features a 75’x23’ cargo deck open at the stern for cargo overhang. A high pilothouse offset to starboard gives Capt. Marty Starr excellent all-around visibility.

Both those features help the Nordland II deliver big cargo with nimble grace in tight quarters.

“It increases the amount of useful deck space without lengthening the boat,” Starr said of the high cab. “I’ve had utility poles 90’ long. I’ve had excavators on lowboys (trailers) with 8’ or 9’ of trailer deck out from the stern. We deliver in some pretty tight places, like marinas.”

A 75'x23' cargo deck, open at the stern and with an offset pilothouse, helps the Nordland II handle big loads. San Juan Ferry & Barge photo.

A 75’x23′ cargo deck, open at the stern and with an offset pilothouse, helps the Nordland II handle big loads. San Juan Ferry & Barge photo.

Now in its 41st year, San Juan Ferry & Barge started with the original wooden ferry Nordland, joined in 2003 by the Henry Island built by Latitude Marine, which four years later became the company’s sole boat.

“The owners have been wanting to build a new boat since the original was retired in 2007,” said Starr. For a few years there was not enough business to justify the project, “but they decided this was a good time to make a long-term investment.”

“Basically we’re landing craft. We’re on and off beaches and boat ramps, roll on, roll off,” said Starr. “Out here in the Salish islands there’s dozens of islands that don’t have ferry service.” The Nordland II will also deliver cargo and commodities that cannot be shipped on Washington State Ferries, such as bulk gasoline, he said.

Propulsion comes from twin John Deere 6090 AFM 85 engines rated at 285 hp each at 2,100 rpm, turning 4-bladed stainless 34” propellers on 3” Aquamet 22 shafts through ZF W 325 gears.

On deck, a DMW Marine Group 95.45A3 knuckle boom crane has a load lifting range of 3,946 lbs. to 13.7’ and 1,631 lbs. to 30.5’.  A Pullmaster winch operates the bow ramp.

About the author

Kirk Moore

Associate Editor Kirk Moore was a reporter for the Asbury Park Press for over 30 years before joining WorkBoat in 2015. He wrote several award-winning stories on marine, environmental, coastal and military issues that helped drive federal and state government policy changes. He has also been a field editor for WorkBoat’s sister publication, National Fisherman, for almost 25 years. Moore was awarded the Online News Association 2011 Knight Award for Public Service for the “Barnegat Bay Under Stress,” 2010 series that led to the New Jersey state government’s restoration plan. He lives in West Creek, N.J.

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