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New Double-ended Ferry Launched for Lake Erie

Maritime Activity Reports, Inc.

December 9, 2021

Carmen Lee is expected to enter service on Lake Erie in 2022 (Photo: TAI Engineers)

Carmen Lee is expected to enter service on Lake Erie in 2022 (Photo: TAI Engineers)

A new 168-foot double-ended passenger, truck and automobile ferry has been launched for service on Lake Erie.

Designed by TAI Engineers, LLC and built in Houma, La. by Thoma-Sea Marine Constructors, LLC (TMC), the new ferry Carmen Lee is expected to enter service in early 2022 for a partnership between the Lorain Port Authority (LPA) and Kelleys Island Ferry Boat Line in Ohio. It can hold 149 passengers and 36 trucks and automobiles, providing service between Marblehead, Ohio and Kelleys Island, Ohio.

Similar to an existing Kelleys Island Ferry Boat Line ferry Shirley Irene already serving the route, the 168- by 45-foot Carmen Lee is specifically designed to operate on lakes, bays and sounds. The main deck is high-strength AH 36 steel to withstand tire loadings from up to 36 cars or equipment trucks in four lanes. The quad azimuthing drive ferry is equipped with four Caterpillar C18 propulsion engines 470 BHP at 1,800 RM, each driving Schottel SRP 150FP Z-drives using Twin Disc HPTO hydraulic clutches. This allows precision maneuvering in challenging Lake Erie approaches during harsh weather and provides propulsion redundancy, TAI said. The vessel has two Onan 40 kW marine gensets.

Carmen Lee has been built to conform (but not certified) to American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) standards and is inspected by the U.S. Coast Guard. It has a steel hull and deckhouse design and is compliant with USCG 46 CFR Subchapter T regulations.

TAI noted it was selected in a competitive procurement by LPA in conjunction with the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) to provide naval architecture and marine engineering services for the design and specification of this ferry. TAI also provided professional support for the competitive procurement of a shipyard to build the  vessel.

“TAI Engineers and S&B Infrastructure are proud to utilize our marine engineering expertise to help improve transportation, mobility and accessibility for the Lorain Port Authority and Kelleys Island Ferry Boat Line,” said Danny Rios, President of S&B Infrastructure. “TAI’s marine capabilities, especially in passenger and automobile ferries, nicely complement S&B’s transportation and highway design capabilities.”

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