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Route and reliability shape Sydney fast ferry

My Fast Ferry’s chief executive explains why route optimisation and reliability were crucial concerns for the latest ferry to join its fleet

Being optimised for its route, fuel economy and reliability all shaped the design and build of My Fast Ferry’s latest vessel Ocean Adventurer.

The 33-m vessel represents a time of great expansion for My Fast Ferry. Launched as Manly Fast Ferries in 2008, it was purchased by the New South Wales Road Motorists Association (NRMA) earlier this year. NRMA rebranded Manly Fast Ferries as My Fast Ferries.

Both companies are keen on expansion. Co-founder of My Fast Ferry Richard Ford said “They are very much aligned with how we have grown and operate and would like to expand and build on the transport network in the city, state and country and improve mobility to other local communities. We are working together to continue improving and expanding the services in the state and beyond.”

My Fast Ferry started with just two fast ferries transporting passengers between Sydney Harbour and Manly. Fast forward to 2018 and it has expanded services between Manly and Darling Harbour and Sydney Harbour and Manly and now has a fleet of 10 fast ferries.

My Fast Ferry added three vessels in 2012, and after winning a government tender for a new service, it launched a tender for four new vessels in 2016. One2three won the contract to design them and Incat shipyard in Tasmania, Australia scooped the contract to build them. Two were 24 m and the remaining two 33 m. It was decided to build Ocean Adventurer after the contract for these vessels was placed. Delivered in June this year by Incat, the vessel is identical to the previously delivered 33-m vessels.

Mr Ford – who has stayed on in his role as chief executive after the acquisition by NRMA – told Passenger Ship Technology “We needed an extra ferry because the market has grown substantially.” In 2008, the ferry operator had around 2,000 passengers a day, growing to 12,500-13,000 a day between Circular Quay to Manley in addition to other services.

Explaining why Incat was chosen to build the ferries he said it is because of they are the “best” in aluminium ferry construction. He singled out the fact that the shipyard was able to deliver all four ferries within the space of a year.

Fuel economy

Explaining why One2three was chosen to design the ferries, Mr Ford said “Working with One2three is very much about designing vessels optimised for specific routes, which makes them more economically sustainable. We have found very good fuel efficiencies from their designs.”

He said that when the company started in 2008 it replaced a service operated by the government and found that compared to the previous service it was burning 30% less fuel.

The catamaran hull and superstructure of Ocean Adventurer is constructed from marine grade aluminium.

Passenger access is via two double gangways at the main passenger level. Both main and upper decks include indoor and outdoor seating. Toilets, kiosk and bike racks are located on the main passenger deck. Internal stairs provide access from the main deck to the upper deck, which includes passenger areas and the wheelhouse.

The main engines consist of two MAN D2862 LE463 diesel engines rated to 1,029 BkW at 2,100 rpm, with two twin disc Quickshift MGX6620 gearboxes deployed. Two fixed-pitch five-bladed propellers are in use.

The electrical system is composed of 240/415 v AC supplied by two diesel generators, Cat C4.4, one located in each hull.

Passenger comfort was important and to this end, Incat said a ride control system has been installed consisting of a pair of active Humphree interceptors fitted at the vessel’s transom, and controlled by an electronic control package. Split system air conditioning has been installed for the bridge and passenger area.

Incat chief executive Robert Clifford told Passenger Ship Technology there had been significant increases in efficiency of the main engines in the latest five vessels Incat had built for My Fast Ferry as the latest engine types had been used, which included electronic fuel control.

“They are very practical on that route, and are virtually taking over from large, older-style ferries”

He added “They are designed for Sydney Harbour, and we kept them as light as possible.

“They are very practical on that route, and are virtually taking over from large, older-style ferries.” This is because they are so frequent and more efficient. “They can do so much more in the same amount of time.”

Mr Ford said a major consideration was being able to load and unload quickly.

He expanded “We had to design to Sydney wharf infrastructure to have minimum load and unload times. We looked at how to load and unload 400 passengers as quickly as possible with the infrastructure, as it is no good travelling very fast if takes five to 10 minutes to unload.”

Therefore, two doors with four gateways were each located on the wharf so that the ferry can load and unload very quickly around the infrastructure. “This means that we are quicker without having to travel faster and it keeps horsepower down and therefore the weight of the engines down. Weight equals fuel,” Mr Ford said.

Another important factor was to make sure the vessel was as reliable as possible. To this end, the vessel was designed so that an engine with a problem could be replaced within a day.

Mr Ford explained “We can fix an engine on the vessel if it is something minor. But if there is a major issue that might take more than a day it is quicker for us to take the engine out and put a replacement engine in while we do maintenance so that the vessel can keep going.”

Therefore, engineroom access and connections and gearboxes were made to ensure it is as “easy and quick as possible to get engines out”.

This is the same across the fleet, which has been standardised as much as possible. Mr Ford added “Our fleet is standardised to keep the spares register to a minimum.”

He added “We use locally made and sourced parts – this is important because if things break we did not want exotic or unique things that we could not replace. We very much use standard equipment that can be replaced easily.”

Mr Ford highlighted the quality of the build overall. “The ferry is in operation for 16 hours a day. There are multiple wharf stoppings every 20 minutes, so we want the boat to last a long time.”

General particulars

Builder: Incat Tasmania Pty

Designer: One2three Naval Architects

Class society: DNV GL

Flag: Australian

Code: NSCV Class 1C and 1D

Speed: 24.9 knots

Length (overall) 34.14 m

Beam (overall): 9.00 m

Draft (hull): 1.36 m

Passengers: 396

Crew: 4

Fuel: 2 x 2,500 litres

Fresh water: 1,000 litres

Sullage: 2,780 litres

Original report: Passenger Ship Technology

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