Kelvin Hughes, a designer and supplier of navigation and surveillance systems, announced that its SharpEye radar is now in continuous use on the world’s fastest ferry, operating between Argentina and Uruguay.
Launched in Oct 2013 by the President of Argentina, Christina Fernandez de Kirchner, and operated by Buquebus of Uruguay, the ferry, named Francisco after the Argentinian-born Pope Francis, carries up to 1024 passengers and crew together with 150 cars on a daily basis between Buenos Aires and Montevideo. It makes the 116 nautical mile journey along the River Plate estuary in a record-breaking 2 hours and 12 minutes. Built by the innovative Australian ship builders, Incat, Francisco is 99m in length and features Incat’s wave-piercing catamaran technology. Powered by gas turbine engines using LNG as the primary fuel, the vessel has a service speed in excess of 50 knots.
In addition to the unique S-Band SharpEye solid state, upmast radar, the Francisco is also equipped with an X-Band radar, a MantaDigital radar processor, MantaDigital ECDIS and console mounted displays with control interface as well as a voyage data recorder, all manufactured by Kelvin Hughes. The provision of this equipment was arranged by AMI Marine, Australia & Southeast Asia's leading wholesale distributor for marine, electronic, offshore & safety products.
Kelvin Hughes’ commercial representative in Australia, Jim Fraser, said, “AMI has been a long-standing partner with Incat and we were delighted to have the opportunity to provide state-of-the-art Kelvin Hughes equipment for the Francisco.”
According to the manufacturer, SharpEye brings many benefits to commercial marine applications. Being located upmast and with no magnetron or maintenance requirements, it brings both high reliability and low lifecycle costs. Only cables, not radar waveguide, are routed from the antenna to the downmast equipment area of the vessel. Most importantly, however, is safety. With a ferry travelling at speeds of up to 58 knots in a busy marine traffic area such as an estuary, the ability of the captain to see small yachts and large vessels alike at the earliest possible opportunity is critical.
As Spike Hughes, Sales and Marketing Director at Kelvin Hughes, commented, “SharpEye in a Sea State four can detect a small yacht at 11 nautical miles where an equivalent magnetron radar wouldn’t typically pick it up until it was about six nautical miles away. That makes a big difference when you’re travelling at nearly 60 knots.”