Hampton Roads Transit (HRT) has two 150-passenger ferries under construction at Armstrong Marine’s shipyard in Swansboro, N.C. The two new Elizabeth River ferries — River Ferry IV and River Ferry V — will provide daily, round-trip connections between the downtowns of Norfolk and Portsmouth in southeastern Virginia.

The two aluminum pedestrian ferries were designed by Alexandria, Va.-based BMT Group and are under construction at Armstrong Marine’s shipyard in Swansboro, N.C. One ferry is expected to be delivered before the end of 2016 and the second is slated for delivery during the first half of 2017.

The boats will be powered by pairs of Volvo Penta D13, Tier 3/IMO NOx Tier II diesel engines. The mains also meet the U.S. Coast Guard requirements for decibel levels in marine commercial engines. HRT repowered one of its existing vessels, Elizabeth River Ferry III, with the same propulsion package in 2014 and was satisfied with the results, in the form of improved fuel economy, reduced emissions and high performance, according to Volvo Penta officials.

“Our decision to standardize on the Volvo Penta D13s for the new boats was largely based on our complete satisfaction with the repowering experience,” Mark Stemple, project manager at HRT, said in a statement announcing the decision to use Volvo engines in the new ferries. “Through the course of the repower and subsequent operation of the boat, we were impressed by the engines’ performance and reliability, as well as the high level of customer support from the Volvo Penta team. After we put the repowered boat back into the water, the Volvo Penta engineering team worked hard to tweak the RPM-to-fuel consumption ratio, giving us even better fuel efficiency without sacrificing boat speed.”

“Volvo Penta engines are known for their low noise production and pure performance,” Tracy Gable, contract administrator, Armstrong Marine, said. “These engines will provide a quick, reliable and easily maneuverable ferry ride back and forth across the river.”


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.