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Maritime Propulsion

Ferry Power: A Smooth and Quiet Ride

Posted to Propulsion (by on February 6, 2017

Volvo Penta powers Elizabeth River Ferry

Volvo Penta Engines Power Quiet, Reliable Rides for Elizabeth River Ferry Passengers 

When two new Elizabeth River passenger ferries enter service in early 2017, passengers will not likely give thought to the engines powering the vessel, but they will appreciate the outcome – a smooth and quiet ride. And the ferry operator, Hampton Roads Transit, will appreciate the reliability, fuel economy and easy maneuverability provided by the propulsion plant from Volvo Penta.

HRT specified twin Volvo Penta 13-liter 400 hp diesel engines to power its new River Ferry IV and V to provide daily, round-trip connections between the waterfronts of Norfolk and Portsmouth in Hampton Roads harbor at the foot of the  Chesapeake Bay. The two 78-ft. aluminum-hull 150-passenger pedestrian ferries were designed by BMT Group and are being constructed at Armstrong Marine’s shipyard in Swansboro, N.C. River Ferry IV is poised for delivery by the end of 2016, while River Ferry V will launch in the first half of 2017. 

“Volvo Penta engines are known for their low noise production and pure performance,” said Tracy Gable, contract administrator at Armstrong Marine. “These engines will provide a quick, reliable and easily maneuverable ferry ride back and forth across the river.” The D13 engines are EPA Tier 3 compliant and are IMO NOx Tier II certified. They also meet the U.S. Coast Guard requirements for decibel levels in marine commercial engines.

HRT repowered one of its existing vessels, Elizabeth River Ferry III, with the same propulsion package in 2014, and was very satisfied with the results – in the form of improved fuel economy, reduced emissions and high performance.

“Our decision to standardize on the Volvo Penta D13s for the new boats was largely based on our complete satisfaction with the repowering experience,” said Mark Stemple, project manager at HRT. “Through the course of the repower and subsequent operation of the boat, we were impressed by the engines’ performance and reliability, as well as the high level of customer support from the Volvo Penta team. After we put the repowered boat back into the water, the Volvo Penta engineering team worked hard to tweak the RPM-to-fuel consumption ratio, giving us even better fuel efficiency without sacrificing boat speed.”

“The D13s are real workhorses for a wide range of commercial marine applications,” said Jim Reed, engines sales manager for Superior Diesel, Inc., Volvo Penta’s Power Center supplying and supporting the Elizabeth River Ferry projects. “These engines are extremely popular for both newbuilds and repowers, due to their power performance, fuel efficiency, competitive pricing and low maintenance costs.”

Powering the new ferries is a point of home-town pride with Volvo Penta of the Americas, which has its headquarters in Chesapeake, Va., just a 20-minute drive from the Norfolk/Portsmouth ferry terminals. From its facility on Volvo Parkway in Chesapeake’s Greenbrier business corridor, the company supplies and supports engines for leisure boats and commercial vessels, as well as industrial applications. The engines are sold by 3,500 dealers in more than 130 countries. 

“We take seriously our reputation for customer satisfaction in dealing with all of our customers, but it is a particularly rewarding when we’re working with local businesses here at home,” said Marcia Kull, Volvo Penta’s vice president of marine sales for North America. “Our engines keep the ferries running smoothly, efficiently and on time, enabling passengers to have a pleasant onboard experience and enjoy the trip across the scenic river panorama and the busy waterfront.”

“As we grow our commercial marine business we are seeing more repeat customers like HRT who keep coming back to us because of their experience with our engines and our extraordinary engineering and customer service teams,” said Kull.

Popular with the region’s visitors, HRT’s river ferries, with their trademark paddle-wheel (for show only, not propulsion) at the stern, operate every 30 minutes, with 15-minute service during summer peak times. During the summer months, they also provide runs to Norfolk’s Harbor Park stadium for baseball games.

(As published in the January 2017 edition of Marine News)

Tags: Volvo Penta power Propulsion ferry shipbuilding