Lake Assault Boats said it has secured a $6.5 million contract to build 43 river barges for the City of San Antonio, Texas. The versatile and reconfigurable craft will become a component of San Antonio’s River Walk experience that connects retail stores, restaurants, office buildings and tourist attractions throughout the city.
City officials visited Lake Assault facilities on December 6 and 7 for preproduction meetings. At that time, a ceremony was held where John Jacks, interim director for the City of San Antonio, hit the “go” button on a plasma cutting machine to signify the beginning of production.
“We are honored to be selected by the City of San Antonio to build this brand-new fleet of river barge vessels that will play a vital role in supporting the city’s unique identity and amazing recreational assets,” said Chad DuMars, Lake Assault Boats vice president of operations. “This was truly a team effort that brought to bear the resources, support and expertise of our entire organization, including those of Lake Assault, Fraser Shipyard and our parent company, Capstan Corporation.”
Lake Assault said it was selected from a field of four competitors to build the fleet.
The 43 identical river barges are 27-feet long and nine-feet wide. Each can be configured and modified in a range of floor plans to support touring, dining, commuting, entertaining and other applications. For example, curved bench seating at the bow and stern, and moveable seating and table configurations, give more options to passengers, and allow easy wheelchair access. The modular deck design allows for different layouts of tables, chairs and even corner booths. The flat deck and integral fold-down ramps enable easy entrance and exit. Programmable LED lighting creates a stunning visual display, and will identify each type of craft (e.g., yellow for taxi, red for touring, and blue for dinner cruises).
“The reconfigurable nature of these boats make them truly unique, accommodating everything from dinner boat cruises to water taxi services
, and everyone, from commuters and morning yoga enthusiasts,” DuMars said.
The boats are designed with care for the environment and sustainability as a top priority, according to the builder. Each features a Torqeedo 10kW outboard electric motor, with power supplied by 16 lithium batteries. Recharging the batteries is an automatic process that only requires the operator to plug the boat in to shore power.
The first river barge prototype will be delivered to San Antonio in early February, and full-scale production will begin in March 2107 after a period of on-water testing and final evaluation. Large scale deliveries will commence in mid-September with 19 craft transported on a caravan of 10 semi-trucks. The remaining 23 vessels will be delivered in mid-November.
All 43 boats will be delivered and placed into service in late 2017, in time for the city’s 2018 tricentennial celebrations.