VESSEL REVIEW | Swiftsure – Whale-watching catamaran for Puget Sound coastal tour operator

Photo: Hanke

Puget Sound Express (PSE), a family-owned tour operator in Washington State, has taken delivery of a new high-speed, whale-watching catamaran vessel built by a local shipyard.

Named Swiftsure, the boat has a length of 77 feet (23.4 metres), a beam of 30 feet (9.1 metres), a draught of only three feet (0.91 metres), and capacity for 150 passengers. Design work was provided by New Zealand-based naval architecture firm Teknicraft Design. The newbuild is the second Teknicraft-designed aluminium vessel to be delivered to PSE after the slightly smaller 2018-built Saratoga.

The USCG Subchapter T-certified catamaran has the standard Teknicraft combined hull shape that consists of two asymmetrical semi-planing hulls and an adjustable aluminium midship hydrofoil plus two aluminium aft foils. This allows the boat to achieve top speeds of over 40 knots. When coupled with finely-tuned, wave-piercing bows, the design also enables the vessel to travel through calm and rough water at full cruising speed while keeping underwater noise to a minimum.

The advanced hull shape was custom-designed using digital modeling and CFD analysis. The hull design is complemented by Teknicraft’s signature integration of a wave piercer positioned between the catamaran sponsons to break up wave action and ensure reduced drag while enhancing passenger comfort. The design also offers passengers greater comfort and a smoother ride as the hull provides a cushioned effect when encountering waves.

Photo: Hanke

Swiftsure was designed to achieve low fuel consumption at high speeds, making it ideal for heavy use associated with daily whale watch tours originating out of Edmonds. The vessel also utilises Hamilton Jet Drive control systems with four HJ364 waterjets complete with the Hamilton MECS control system. Teknicraft designer Nic De Waal said that the control system ensured an almost negligible difference in performance between a light laden vessel and a fully laden vessel during the catamaran’s sea trials.

Driving the waterjets are four Scania D16 083 engines that each produce 800 hp (596 kW) at 2,300 rpm. The engines are fitted with waterlift mufflers, carbon fibre shafts to save weight, and features that enhance soundproofing.

The main passenger cabin has seven HDTV screens and a sound system with speakers to enable audio/video presentations to be conducted during excursions. Benches are fitted on the aft upper deck to accommodate passengers during trips in clear weather.

The vessel’s interior is finished with recyclable Ayres aluminium honeycomb wall panels and recyclable Dampa aluminium ceiling tiles with acoustic insulation that spans the main cabin and the interior cabin on the second deck. Other amenities include ADA-friendly accommodation spaces, Beurteaux seats, three toilets, and an extended galley complete with a full-service bar. There are also seven HDTV screens and a sound system with speakers inside and out.

Type of vessel: Sightseeing vessel
Classification: USCG Subchapter T
Flag: USA
Owner: Puget Sound Express, USA
Designer: Teknicraft Design, New Zealand
Hull construction material: Aluminium
Superstructure construction material: Aluminium
Deck construction material: Aluminium
Length overall: 77 feet (23.4 metres)
Beam: 30 feet (9.1 metres)
Draught: 3.0 feet (0.91 metres)
Main engines: 4 x Scania D16 083, each 800 hp (596 kW) at 2,300 rpm
Propulsion: 4 x HamiltonJet HJ364 waterjets
Steering system: HamiltonJet
Maximum speed: 40 knots
Seating: Beurteaux
Interior fitout/furnishings: Ayres wall panels; Dampa ceiling tiles
Accommodation: Toilets; galley
Passengers: 150
Operational area: Puget Sound, Washington, USA

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