Sixteen of the 19 new 85'4" aluminum catamaran ferries for New York’s Citywide Ferry Service are in various stages of construction at Horizon Shipbuilding, Bayou La Batre, Ala., and Metal Shark, Franklin, La.

Designed by Incat Crowther, the new high-speed passenger boats will have capacities of 149 passengers (three crew) and service six routes and 10 new ferry landings.

San Francisco-based Hornblower Cruises & Events, New York City Economic Development Corp. (EDC) and Horizon hosted the media Nov. 16 at the Alabama shipyard. Hornblower subsidiary HNY Ferry Fleet LLC will act as operator of the new citywide service.

“The idea for this expansion has been in place for several years. It’s an historic expansion,” said the EDC’s executive vice president Seth Myers. “It’s exciting to see the boats move from the planning state to seeing the boats take shape in front of us.”

Construction of the new ferries are on an aggressive schedule. Though no specific dates have been released for deliveries, some of the ferries will be delivered in 2017 as Phase I of the new routes is planned for summer 2017. An unspecified number of boats will be delivered in 2018. Contracts for boats 17-19 have not been let, but Horizon, Metal Shark or a combination of the two will build them.

“Things have slowed here in the Gulf because of the slowdown in the oil and gas industry. That fact figured into our decision to build the ferries down here,” said Terry MacRae, Hornblower’s owner, president and CEO. “The experience, for example, that Horizon has building large aluminum offshore boats. That was a consideration. Not only that but there is a ready made workforce here.” Horizon currently has over 300 employees and is still hiring.

Five New York ferries in different stages of construction at Horizon Shipbuilding. Ken Hocke photo.

Five New York ferries in different stages of construction at Horizon Shipbuilding. Ken Hocke photo.

In addition to carrying 149 passengers, the new ferries will be equipped with Wi-Fi, and feature concessions and space for bikes, strollers and wheelchairs. The vessels will be ADA and LL68 compliant,

Not all the boats will be the same, however. Three of the ferries will have a deeper depth, draft and freeboard than the others. The new ferries will run on routes named Rockaway, Astoria, South Brooklyn, North Brooklyn, Lower East Side and Southview. The Rockaway ferries, which are being built at Horizon, will measure 85'4"x26'3"x11"6", with a draft of 4'2" and a freeboard of 7'4". The other boats, known as the River ferries, will measure 85'4"x26'3"x8'6", with a draft of 3'3" and a 5'10" freeboard. The Rockaway ferries are beefier because they could encounter rougher water at certain times of the year.

Main propulsion for the new ferries will come from twin Baudouin 6M26.3, Tier 3 diesel engines producing 815 hp at 2,100 rpm each. (The Rockaway boats will carry Baudouin 12M26.3 diesels, producing 1,380 hp at 2,100 rpm each.) The mains will connect to 5-bladed, NiBrAl, 38" Michigan Wheel propellers through ZF 2050 marine gears with 2.519:1 reduction ratios. (The Rockaway wheels will measure 42".) The propulsion packages will give the River ferries a running speed of 25 knots and the Rockaway boats a running speed of 27 knots.

At Horizon, the boats are constructed in a modified assembly line fashion, moving in and out of three sheds until eventually they are launched into the water. “We’re building in an assembly line, constructing in modules, and moving along the process,” said Travis Short, Horizon’s owner and president. “This hasn’t been done in such a compressed schedule. It’s never been done before, but I had no doubt that we could do it. We’re probably the most diverse yard in the country.”

Capacities for the new River ferries will include 750 gals. of fuel and 200 gals. water. Tankage for the Rockaway ferries will be 1,000 gals. fuel and 200 gals. water.

Hornblower’s Terry MacRae (l) and Horizon’s Travis Short at Horizon Shipbuilding.

Hornblower’s Terry MacRae (left) and Horizon’s Travis Short at Horizon Shipbuilding.

MacRae said New York is getting a turnkey package with these ferries, which is what it wanted. “You’ll see a lot of people showing interest in this business model when all is said and done. In fact, I’m getting interest now,” he said. “There’s a huge value in the way this project is being put together. The industry hasn’t seen anything quite like this.”

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.