Shipbuilding companies work around the clock to meet 2017 ferry service deadline
City officials are pushing to have the $325 million citywide ferry service, helmed by Hornblower and managed by the city’s Economic Development Corporation, up and running a few months before next November, when Mayor Bill de Blasio stands for re-election. As 6sqft reported in September, two bayou-based shipbuilding companies, Horizon Shipbuilding in Bayou La Batre, Ala. and the awesomely-named Metal Shark in Franklin, La., are racing to complete the 19 new boats scheduled to hit the water this summer. The ferry service will be the most extensive passenger ferry service of its kind in any U.S. city.
The two shipyards, located about 225 miles apart in the bayous of Louisiana and Alabama, have employed dozens of workers to construct the new high-profile boats, the New York Times reports. “We know it’s a big deal,” said Fritz Deegen, a machinist foreman at Horizon Shipbuilding. “I like the challenge of building these boats in 11 months.” The first ferry, Hornblower One, is already fully formed, its superstructure complete. The company is expects it to be ready for the water in February.
Terry MacRae, chief executive of Hornblower, says he’s confident that enough boats would be complete in time for the ferry service to launch right on schedule with the 13 boats needed for the initial routes. According to Mr. Macrae, “We had no reason to doubt that this could be done.”
Metal Shark, the Louisiana boatbuilder, is building four more ferries to like those built by Horizon; they’ll all appear identical with the exception of three with deeper, wider hulls designed to handle the choppy waters between the Rockaways and Wall Street. The company specializes in building boats for government agencies–workers just finished a set of 18 patrol boats for the Vietnam Coast Guard. Facilities with distance between them were chosen in case of seasonal hurricanes; it would be less likely both would sustain major damage.
Rendering courtesy of Citywide Ferry.
The vessels that will comprise the first citywide ferry system boast the latest in 21st century maritime technology; the 85-foot-long, fuel-efficient boats with heated decks and wifi, each with a capacity for 150 passengers, are expected to arrive in New York Harbor in early 2017 with final assembly to take place at the Brooklyn Navy Yard.
As 6sqft previously reported, Citywide Ferry Service will carry a projected 4.6 million passenger trips per year over six routes, stopping at 21 landings throughout the city and providing new transportation to growing and underserved communities. The East River Ferry will be integrated into the new service, which will bring bring down the cost of a ferry ride to $2.75–the price of a subway swipe.
Phase one of Citywide Ferry Service, which will include the Astoria, South Brooklyn and Rockaway routes, is scheduled to launch in summer of 2017, with the Soundview and Lower East Side routes to be up and running by 2018. Expansions for Coney Island and Stapleton on Staten Island are in planning stages. The city is investing $55 million in infrastructure upgrades and $30 million in operating support per year over a period of six years.
Photos: Edwin Mackey / Hornblower.