One of the best known ferry routes in the USA, if not the world, the Staten Island run, is due to have three new ferries following the awarding of a contract to Florida based Eastern Shipbuilding.
The instantly recognisable bright orange Staten Island passenger ferries carry 70,000 people a day between St George and Whitehall Street, with sweeping views of the Statue of Liberty, Brooklyn, Governor’s Island and the Manhattan skyline. The free boarding at the conveniently located terminal near Wall Street makes the short route a major tourist attraction.
The new Ollis Class ferries will be double ended, 320 feet long and 70 feet wide. Like the Barberi class ferries, the largest vessels on the Staten Island crossing, they will be built with twin Voith Schneider cycloidal drives. The maneuverability of the Voith Schneider system provides a high degree of control during docking.
The value of the contract comes to about $100 million per ferry, and the first will be delivered in 2019. The first vessel in the class will be named in honor of Staten Islander Staff Sgt. Michael H. Ollis, who was killed in Afghanistan saving the life of a Polish soldier from a suicide bomber in 2013.
The ferries will be built alongside the Coast Guard’s new Offshore Patrol Cutters (OPCs) at Eastern’s yard. The Coast Guard order gave the Florida shipbuilder the contract for the lead ship in the class and options for eight more, worth up to $2.4 billion in total. If Eastern ends up building all 25 in the OPC series, the contract value will exceed $10 billion – the Coast Guard’s largest acquisition ever. The OPC award alone is expected to create more than 2,000 direct jobs in Northwest Florida.