VT Halter Marine, Pascagoula, Miss., is building a new steel-hull 270'6"x65'4"x15'6", double-ended, 70-vehicle, 499-passenger ferry for the Virginia Department of Transportation’s Jamestown-Scotland Ferry.

The new ferry, the Powhatan, will replace the system’s oldest vessel, Virginia, which was built in 1936. The Jamestown-Scotland Ferry is the only 24-hour, state-run ferry in Virginia and transports almost a million vehicles annually.

“The Virginia is a boat we’ve gotten our money out of,” said Wes Ripley, the ferry system’s facilities manager. It was built in the 1930s "and carrying only 25 vehicles on narrow lanes just doesn’t work anymore.”

Designed by Alion Science and Technology, McLean, Va., the ferry project is included in the state’s six-year improvement plan, with $2.5 million in funds allocated for the ferry’s design and $25 million for its construction. One of the other ferries on the run, the Pocahontas (262'x65', 70-car, 444 passengers), will be repowered next year, said Ripley. “We’ll use the same Cat engines as the new boat and change out the Voiths.”

Main propulsion for the Powhatan will come from twin Caterpillar 3512C HD, Tier 3 diesels, producing 1,340 hp at 1,600 rpm each. The Cats will connect to Voith 21R-150 cycloidal propulsion units and give the new ferry a running speed of 12 knots. “What’s great about the Voiths is the maneuverability,” said Ripley. “We have a short run of 2.2 miles, so we’re docking all day long.”

The Jamestown-Scotland route uses a four-boat rotation. The other two ferries are the Surry and the Williamsburg, both 50-car, 360-passenger boats. With Memorial Day coming up, demand will increase. “Depending on the weather, from Memorial Day to Labor Day, there are people coming out of the woodwork,” said Ripley. "We run one boat 24 hours, a second boat from 0500 to 2030. On Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays in the summer we run a third boat for 10 hours during peak traffic times."

Ship’s service power will be the responsibility of three John Deere 6068AFM85-powered gensets, sparking 153 kW of electrical power each and a 99-kW John Deere-powered 4045AFM85 emergency generator. The diesel engines power Marathon generators.

With a deadweight tonnage of 633 LT and a draft of 11', the new ferry's capacities include 20,000 gals. of fuel; 5,000 gals. water; and 784 gals. lube oil.

The electronics suite will include Furuno TZT14 navnet chart plotter/radar DRS6AX radar, FA 30 AIS, BBWGPS/GP 330B, GPA/WAAS antenna, Dff1 digital black box echosounder, and Richie Globemaster D-6-S magnetic compass.

The Powhatan also will feature a redFox Environmental Services sanitation system, Fairwinds Automation alarm system, and Fernstrum gridcoolers.

When the boat is delivered in July, it will be ABS classed Maltese Cross A1, Passenger Vessel, River Service, AMS, ACC.

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.