Hampton Roads Transit (HRT), which provides ferry services to six cities within the state of Virginia, US, has taken delivery of the first of three new ferries, which were ordered to replace an older, existing trio on its Norfolk-to Portsmouth route.
Christened Elizabeth River IV (pictured, above right, during her naming ceremony) the ferry was constructed at Armstrong Marine’s yard in North Carolina to the specifications of a design provided by UK naval architect BMT Nigel Gee. The latter company has managed to make significant strides into the US passenger ferry market recently, having been contracted to provide the blueprints for a series of ferry newbuilds under construction at Metal Shark in Louisiana. The Metal Shark-related contracts include two 32m x 7.6m, 149-pax catamaran ferries for the New Orleans Regional Transport Authority and four 26.8m, 149-pax cats for Potomac Riverboat Co, a division of Entertainment Cruises.
Fashioned from aluminium, Elizabeth River IV measures 23.88m x 6.7m overall (or 18.3m in hull length and 6.6m in waterline width) and features a depth of 2.2m and a draught of 1.24m. The vessel has been equipped with a pair of Volvo D13-400, 6-cylinder, 24-valve engines, each rated 298kW at 1,800rpm. These drive two 36” (914mm) Rice four-bladed propellers through Twin Disc MGX-5114SC reduction gears. This arrangement helps grant the vessel a service speed of 10knots. Elizabeth River IV’s tank capacity, meanwhile, enables the vessel to store just over 6,819litres of fuel oil.
Unlike their predecessors, which deployed single side ramp configurations, Elizabeth River IV and each of her forthcoming sisters has been designed with two ramps, for speedier turnarounds during the passenger embarkation/disembarkation stages. A spokesperson for BMT Nigel Gee adds: “The flat deck and door sill ramps also significantly improve access for those with disabilities.”
The contract for the three new ferries has a reported value of US$7 million, and will see HRT phase out the three existing vessels that it has been operating for the past few decades – the earliest of which entered service in 1982.