Gladding-Hearn Shipbuilding, Duclos Corporation, is building a second high-speed passenger ferry for Rhode Island Fast Ferry Inc. The 320-passenger Julia Leigh will operate on a new seasonal route between Quonset Point, R.I., and Block Island, R.I. Delivery is scheduled for 2019.

The Ava Pearl, the operator’s first high-speed catamaran built by Somerset, Mass.-based Gladding-Hearn in 2012, provides passenger service to Martha’s Vineyard off of Cape Cod.

The new all-aluminum catamaran measures 109'x31'6" and draws 6'. It will be powered by twin MTU-12V4000M64 diesel engines, each delivering 1,875 hp at 1,800 rpm. The engines turn a pair of five-bladed nibral propellers through ZF 5055 gearboxes. The ferry will be equipped with a pair of 55-kW generators and a VT/MDI hydraulic trim tab motion-control system. Top speed will be an estimated 29 knots.

The Julia Leigh will feature the designer’s “S” bow hulls, which, according to Gladding-Hearn, provide excellent seakeeping, directional stability, and a high tolerance to shifts in trim and displacement.

The boat is boarded through the port and starboard side doors. With more than twice the passenger capacity of the Ava Pearl, the new ferry’s seating arrangement reflects a blend of interior and exterior comfort for the summer season. Equipped throughout with Beurteaux seats and tables, the main cabin has generous seating for 142 passengers, a snack bar and four heads. A 180,000-Btu HVAC system will heat and cool the main cabin and wheelhouse on the second deck. The second deck features partially-protected outdoor seating for 124 passengers. The open third deck, with seating for 18 passengers, has ample standing room for additional passengers.

Luggage storage is on the fore and aft decks. The vessel is equipped with an interior and exterior public address system and a video entertainment system in the main cabin.

David Krapf has been editor of WorkBoat, the nation’s leading trade magazine for the inland and coastal waterways industry, since 1999. He is responsible for overseeing the editorial direction of the publication. Krapf has been in the publishing industry since 1987, beginning as a reporter and editor with daily and weekly newspapers in the Houston area. He also was the editor of a transportation industry daily in New Orleans before joining WorkBoat as a contributing editor in 1992. He has been covering the transportation industry since 1989, and has a degree in business administration from the State University of New York at Oswego, and also studied journalism at the University of Houston.