Last week, Senior Editor Ken Hocke was at Horizon Shipbuilding in Bayou La Batre, Ala., for a media event touting the new ferries being built for New York’s Citywide Ferry Service. Next week, Ken will be in Franklin, La., at Metal Shark who, along with Horizon, is building 19 new ferries for the ferry service.

Sixteen of the 19 new 85’4″ aluminum catamaran ferries for Citywide Ferry Service are in various stages of construction at Horizon and Metal Shark. Each vessel will cost close to $4 million.

Designed by Incat Crowther, the new high-speed 149-passenger ferries will service six routes and 10 new ferry landings.

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

EDC’s executive vice president Seth Myers calls the project “an historic expansion.” It’s more than that.

Construction of the new ferries are on an aggressive schedule, with the shipyards reportedly under pressure from New York City officials to have several boats ready to enter service a few months before Mayor Bill de Blasio is up for re-election next November, The New York Times reported yesterday. The yards have been contracted to deliver boats in the first quarter of 2017, in time for the city’s hoped-for June rollout of the new ferry service. The system will reportedly cost more than $325 million, and the Times said it would be the most extensive of its kind in any U.S. city.

Though no specific dates have been set for deliveries, some of the ferries will be delivered next year, with Phase I of the new routes planned for June. The city and Hornblower chose the two Gulf of Mexico shipyards — located about 230 miles from each other — not primarily because of price, but because of the promise of speedy construction, city and company officials say.

“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,” Terry MacRae, Hornblower’s owner, president and CEO told Ken at the event last week. “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 more than 300 employees and is still hiring.

Be sure to visit Horizon and Metal Shark at the International WorkBoat Show that begins on Wednesday in New Orleans. Horizon will be at booth 2837 and Metal Shark can be found at booth 3480.

For more information on the show, visit the show website or call 800-454-3007.

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.