The transit between Long Beach and Catalina Island will be reduced to "well under" one hour when the "Jet Cat Express" joins the Catalina Express fleet. "This will take place before Memorial Day," according to Greg Bombard, president of the California company. The 381-passenger, 145-foot, 39-knot catamaran ferry was delivered to Catalina Express in ceremonies on Whidbey Island, Washington, on April 28.
The vessel, designed by International Catamarans Designs, Ltd., (Incat) Australia, was the 26th passenger catamaran built by Nichols Brothers Boat
Builders, Inc., for U.S. service since the program began in 1983. Meanwhile, Nichols Brothers is building two other Incat catamarans for the San Francisco bay area
. The company expects to deliver a 139-foot, 400-passenger vessel to the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District in July and a 115-foot, 315- passenger vessel to the Alameda/Oakland Ferry Service later this year.
The vessel incorporates a "third bow," as well. This structure is installed forward between the double hulls to slice through head seas preventing waves from slapping the undersides of the boat.
The main deck layout involves seats on the aft deck, a baggage compartment, airline style seats in the main cabin, and a refreshment bar. The upper deck provides seats on the open aft deck and some 79 seats in the first-class "Commodore Lounge." The upscale interior and bars were constructed by Arduous, Inc and the seats by Beurteaux.
The "Jet Cat Express" is propelled by a four-engine arrangement of a type that is becoming popular in the larger twin hull configurations. Two Cummins KTA 50 diesel engines, developing l875 hp at l950 rpm, are mounted slightly offset in tandem in each hull. ZF BU 460 DHWL non-reversing marine gears, with a ratio of 1.689:1, are also offset. An engineered arrangement of carbon-fiber shafts and pedestal bearings carries power to four HM651 Hamilton water jets. Main engines were supplied through Cummins Northwest, which provided assistance in engineering the propulsion plant.