Florida based operator Key West Express LLC, has taken delivery of its third Incat Crowther catamaran ferry for operation along the west coast of Florida between Fort Myers and Key West.
The vessel is a 52m high speed catamaran ferry capable of carrying 513 passengers at a speed of 41.5 knots. The main cabin contains seating for 268 passengers in a mix of lounge, bar and row seating. Catering facilities are a feature of the vessel, which has a journey time of approximately 3.5 hours. A centrally located bar provides full cocktail drinks service with counterside seating for 9. A kiosk, providing pre-packaged food, snacks and gifts is located aft amongst casual lounge and kiosk seating. The mid deck cabin has seating for 147 passengers primarily seated in rows. There is a small feature lounge at the rear of the cabin offering passengers a more relaxed atmosphere. An outdoor seating area for 56 passengers is fitted aft of the mid deck cabin and protected from the elements by enclosed sides. For the thrill seekers there is seating on the upper deck for 54 who will be able to experience the true force of this vessel when under way at full speed.
The vessel is powered by four MTU 16V4000 M71’s producing 3305 BHP each coupled to Hamilton HM811 waterjets.
The vessel was built by Louisiana based shipbuilder Gulf Craft Inc. This is the second high speed vessel that has been built to an Incat Crowther design
in the past two years and has now helped to establish a strong bond between the two organizations. Gulf Craft Managing
Director Kevin Tibbs said “with the help of the value adding service of Incat Crowther, this is one of the finest vessels we have had the privilege of building”.
Gulf Craft are also in the final stages of completing a third Incat Crowther catamaran being built for service in Honduras. This vessel is expected to be launched during the northern summer.
Key West Express specialize in providing a high speed ferry service between the ports of Fort Myers and Marco Island to Key West on the southern tip of the Florida Keys. The 120nm route is arguably the longest and roughest passenger only trip in the USA. The Incat Crowther design was specifically developed with a combination of higher than normal freeboard and an interceptor based MDI ride control system to provide a very comfortable ride over the three and a half hour journey. The design was also optimised around the MTU 16V4000 M71’s to provide a very fuel efficient vessel. Co-owner of the vessel Joe Miller believes “the new vessel will save us over 2000 gallons of fuel per day when compared with our existing two vessel operation”.
The Key West Express represents the 226th high speed catamaran designed by Incat Crowther and the 20th design in the 40m to 60m range.