Derecktor Shipyards held a plate cutting ceremony at its Bridgeport Connecticut facility
for the first piece of plate cut for the highspeed ferry M/V Chenega. George Capacci, General Manager of State of Alaska’s
Department of Transportation & Public Facilities, kicked off construction with the push of
a button, starting the computer-controlled machinery, cutting the first plate for the hull of
the ferry. This ceremony marked the start of the construction of the second of two 235-
foot high-speed ferries for the Alaska Marine Highway System.
Also attending the ceremony representing the City of Cordova, homeport for the M/V
Chenega, were City Councilman Gary Graham and Kate Tesar. Attending on behalf of
the State of Connecticut were representatives for Senator Christopher Dodd and for
Congressman Christopher Shays, members from the Connecticut State Legislature, the
Connecticut Department of Transportation
, the Connecticut Department of Economic
and Community Development, the Connecticut Development Authority, and the
Bridgeport Port Authority.
The M/V Chenega will sail in the Prince William Sound area of south-central Alaska,
connecting the ports of Cordova, Valdez, and Whittier. The first vessel, M/V
Fairweather, is scheduled to enter service between Juneau and Sitka at the beginning of
2004 with the M/V Chenega expected to enter service one year later. Passengers on
these vessels will enjoy sweeping views of Alaska’s beautiful natural coastline while
riding in comfort, due to modern and fully equipped heated and air-conditioned cabins
with airline-style seating, an available snack bar, and minimal ship motions.
With the high operating speeds achievable by these vessels, travel time between ports
will be significantly shorter than what is possible with conventional ferries. Alaska
transportation officials expect that with the opening of these new routes, and with
dramatically reduced travel times, the demand from tourists, local residents and
commercial venues will increase, thus improving the quality of life for the residents of
these communities. This project is considered a milestone in the history of US
shipbuilding since these will be the first vessels of their kind ever built in this country.
Derecktor Shipyards teamed up with renowned high speed vessel naval architecture firm
of Nigel Gee & Associates, of Southampton, England, and will use one of NGA’s original
designs, developed expressly for the Alaska project
. The new boats are designed to be
safe, high-speed RO/RO passenger ferries that minimize costs and can interface with
existing AMHS docks and pier side facilities.
Each of the vessels is 235 feet (72 meters) long, carries 250 passengers and 35 cars (or
a combination of cars, trucks, and RVs), and travels at speeds up to 36 knots (41 miles
per hour) safely and comfortably through sea conditions of up to 10-foot waves. The
vessels employ a catamaran (twin-hull) design of lightweight aluminum construction.
They are powered by four MTU medium-speed diesel engines, each driving a Kamewa
Classed with DNV _ 1A1 HSLC, R3 and with full USCG compliance to SOLAS/HSC
Code Cat. B, these aluminum vessels will take advantage of Derecktor’s experience and
high level of craftsmanship in the field of highly-stressed aluminum construction.