The Ocean Queen Rockstar, the first of six 350-passenger vessels to help the NYC Ferry meet ridership demands, arrived in New York City this week.

The 97’1”x27’10” Incat Crowther-designed aluminum catamaran was delivered by Metal Shark from its Franklin, La., shipyard and is undergoing final installations and testing at the NYC Ferry Homeport at the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

After the public ferry system launched in May 2017, operator Hornblower and the New York Economic Development Corporation scrambled to meet higher than anticipated demand for the service, which offers a fare of $2.75 – the same as a ride on the city subway.

As of Thursday, five million passengers have ridden on the 16-boat fleet, according to EDC officials. Those 86’x23’3” Incat Crowther boats carry up to 150 passengers and were built by Metal Shark and Horizon Shipbuilding Inc., Bayou La Batre, Ala.

The new vessel features outdoor seating for 182 passengers. NYEDC photo

The new vessel features outdoor seating for 182 passengers. NYEDC photo

Within six weeks of the startup, city officials pledged to build bigger boats, and began work to upsize the next six vessels to 350 passengers. But in October Horizon declared bankruptcy, citing financial shortfalls brought on in part by underestimating its costs for building the first vessels.

Last month Metal Shark acquired Horizon’s assets, and will complete the next phase of the fleet.

Earlier this year Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the city will invest an additional $300 million to double the NYC Ferry capacity by 2023, when it is project ridership could reach an annual 9 million passengers. The system has had record ridership again during the first weeks of July, carrying 75,000 passengers last weekend, EDC officials said.

Like the earlier ferries, the Ocean Queen Rockstar was named in a contest among second-grade students in city schools. It has a maximum passenger capacity of 354, with 162 interior seats and 182 exterior seats – additional outdoors accommodations atop the cabin is a feature of the new class. There are two restrooms on the boat, capacity for six wheelchairs and a bike rack for six bicycles.

“We are thrilled about the arrival of the newest and largest NYC Ferry vessel in New York this week," said Cameron Clark, senior vice president of NYC Ferry by Hornblower. "We continue to work collaboratively with NYCEDC to accommodate the high ridership numbers and excitement of our riders."

Contributing 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 an editor for WorkBoat’s sister publication, National Fisherman, for over 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.