Derecktor Shipyards won the contract for the construction of the first two passenger /vehicle high-speed ferries for the State of Alaska's Marine Highway System. The NGA design presented by Derecktor competed in a bid race that lasted several months and ended with the notice of intent to award going to Derecktor Shipyards. This project, funded by the Federal Government
, allows the State of Alaska to link Sitka to Juneau with fast modern boats, capable of a one-day round trip. The Alaska Marine
Highway System has been operating year-round since 1963, with regularly scheduled passenger and vehicle service to 32 communities in Alaska. It carries more than 300,000 passengers every year.
The new boats are designed by Nigel Gee and Associates (NGA) Ltd. of Southampton, England to be safe, high-speed Ro/Ro passenger ferries that minimize costs and can interface with existing AMHS docks and pier side facilities. The vessels are designed to carry 250 passengers on the main deck and 35 large vehicles, of the type mostly used in Alaska, on the cargo deck at a continuous-rating service speed of 35 knots and with great comfort up to sea state 6.
Powered by four diesel engines and four water jets, these 239.5 ft. catamarans use a geosym of the Nigel Gee hull form employed in the 134.5 ft. M/V Flying Cloud, which has been shown to provide the highest transport efficiency of any high-speed ferry of this size. A complete set of tank tests has been carried out, showing very low wake wash characteristics. Classed with DNV Maltese Cross 1A1 HSLC, R3 and with full USCG compliance to SOLAS/HSC Code Cat. B, these aluminum vessels will be the first passenger and vehicle high-speed ferries to be built in the U.S.
Gavin Higgins, General Manager of Derecktor Shipyards said
, "We are very excited to be the first to build this class of boat in the United States and the project fits well with our past experience and our current company growth. Together with Nigel Gee, we did a tremendous amount of work to study and refine this new vessel design in detail and we are pleased that all our work has paid off. Now we are ready to put it all in practice and start construction at our new facility in Bridgeport, Connecticut." Gary Smith, project manager for the Alaska Marine Highways added, "We are also very excited about this contract. These new ferries are a crucial part of an overall transportation improvement plan now underway in Alaska. They will help to reduce State operating costs and provide a whole new level of convenience for Alaskans and tourists. We look forward to working with Nigel Gee and Derecktor."