All American Marine, Bellingham, Wash., has been awarded a contract to build two 77', 118-passenger ferries for Kitsap Transit that will hit low-wake speeds of 37 knots. The contract is worth $15 million.

The ferries will be designed to operate on Kitsap Transit’s current cross sound ferry route between Bremerton, Wash., and downtown Seattle and be constructed with high tensile strength 5383 aluminum alloy.

The design of the new vessels is based upon the successful ultra low wake All American Marine built Rich Passage 1. All American was tapped as the sole source to build the vessels as the licensed builder of Teknicraft Design hulls in North America. Teknicraft’s patented hydrofoil-assisted hull design is proven to have a low wake wash energy signature that will not degrade the sensitive shorelines of Rich Passage, shipyard officials said.

The two new vessels are currently dubbed RP-2 and RP-3 after their sistership, Rich Passage 1, that established the vessel class. That boat was built by All American Marine in 2011 as a research vessel for a demonstration study to prove that high speed passenger ferry service could safely operate through Rich Passage without causing detrimental shoreline erosion. Extensive wake wash testing and beach monitoring has shown that the Rich Passage 1 is a viable solution. The new boats will fill the need for additional service with one vessel and the other available as a spare or to fill in where needed.

"This is kind of an exciting day for the fast ferry program, that we can get the additional RP-class boats under construction," executive director John Clauson of Bremerton-based Kitsap Transit said in a statement.

The design for the original Rich Passage 1 research vessel was spearheaded by Auckland-based Teknicraft Design, but there were numerous consultants and contributors to the design effort. This included hydrodynamicists from the University of Iowa’s IIHR-Hydroscience and Engineering Research Center, naval architects from INSEAN in Rome, Italy, and a leading America’s Cup design consultant.

Rich Passage 1 is not your typical ferry, it was built to be lightweight and to fly smoothly through the wake sensitive zone,” explained Matt Mullett, CEO for All American Marine. The new boats will be strictly modeled on the proven hull design, but additional enhancements and modernization will be added where possible without hampering performance or its low-wake characteristics.

The passenger cabin and deck are made from composites and an adjustable hydrofoil will be molded in carbon fiber. Quad waterjets and Caterpillar C-18 engines will be fit to provide the high-powered propulsion system in compliance with EPA Tier 3 emission regulations. All American will also use lightweight aluminum honeycomb panel materials for finishing the interior spaces and will apply high performance bottom paint to further enhance the speed and wake characteristics.

Though the release did not elaborate on additional specifications for the new ferries, the Subchapter T-certified Rich Passage 1’s four Cat engines, producing 873 hp at 2,200 rpm each, connect to HamiltonJet HJ403 waterjets. The ferry carries a crew of four and 800 gals. of fuel. Ancillary equipment includes adjustable-pitch hydrofoil and stern interceptors with Naiad control system.

This latest contract with Kitsap Transit follows a previously awarded contract for a new hybrid powered passenger ferry. All American is currently constructing a new 149-passenger, 72' aluminum catamaran to operate on Kitsap Transit’s ferry routes between Bremerton, Port Orchard, and Annapolis. Alongside Kitsap’s new hybrid ferry, All American is also building the largest lithium-ion hybrid powered vessel in the U.S. for San Francisco-based Red and White Fleet. Each of these vessels are constructed in All American’s new shipyard that has provided the builder with expanded capacity and production capabilities for larger vessels.

Ken Hocke has been the senior editor of WorkBoat since 1999. He was the associate editor of WorkBoat from 1997 to 1999. Prior to that, he was the editor of the Daily Shipping Guide, a transportation daily in New Orleans. He has written for other publications including The Times-Picayune. He graduated from Louisiana State University with an arts and sciences degree, with a concentration in English, in 1978.