VESSEL REVIEW | Amherst Islander II – Hybrid electric Ro-Pax debuts on Lake Ontario

Photo: Amherst Island Ferry

Damen Shipyards Galati in Romania has handed over a new double-ended Ro-Pax ferry ordered by the Ministry of Transportation Ontario in Canada for operation by local transport company Amherst Island Ferry.

Damen said the recently delivered Amherst Islander II and a larger 99-metre ferry will be the first passenger/car ferries in North America with the ability to operate on fully electric mode, an attribute that the builder expects will reduce the amount of emissions by the equivalent of seven million kilograms of CO2 each year. The new ferries will operate exclusively on Lake Ontario between Amherst and Wolfe Island.

The new ferry has an LOA of 72 metres, a beam of 20 metres, a gross tonnage of 1,230, and capacity for 300 passengers and 42 cars. The vessel is designed to be capable of fully electric operation but is also equipped with twin diesel generators to allow hybrid or full diesel propulsion for maximum redundancy or for sailings at a top speed of 12 knots. Electrical power will remain the primary means of propulsion, and Damen said it is working with the Ontario provincial government to install shore charging facilities for use by the new ferries.

Photo: Amherst Island Ferry

An innovative, fully automatic integrated shore charging and mooring system developed by Wabtec Stemmann comes equipped with motion compensation to ensure a stable connection between the ferry and the shore even as charging of the batteries is carried out in rough waters. The system delivers six MW of power to allow charging to be completed in as little as ten minutes, which is in line with Damen’s goal of designing and building a ferry that combined the attributes of low maintenance requirements and reduced operating costs. Charging can be safely conducted even during embarkation and disembarkation.

Due to the harsh winters in its area of operation, Amherst Islander II also features an ice class 1B hull and ice class 1A azimuth thrusters. These allow the ferry to be fully operational even as outside air temperatures drop to minus 25 degrees Celsius.

Amherst Islander II was delivered to Ontario in the third quarter of 2021. The crews that will operate the new ferry are undergoing training and familiarisation, which will last up until the end of the year. Upon commencing operational sailings in early 2022, the vessel will initially sail on hybrid mode wherein the diesel generators will be used to supply electricity to the propulsion motors. Fully electric sailings will be the norm following the completion of shore charging facilities at both points on its route.

Photo: Amherst Island Ferry

Click here for the other news, features and reviews comprising this month’s Passenger Vessel Week.

Amherst Islander II
Type of vessel:Ro-Pax ferry
Owner:Ministry of Transportation Ontario, Canada
Operator:Amherst Island Ferry, Canada
Designer:Damen Shipyards Group, Netherlands
Builder:Damen Shipyards Galati, Romania
Length overall:72 metres
Beam:20 metres
Gross tonnage:1,230
Capacity:42 cars
Maximum speed:12 knots
Other electronics:Wabtec Stemmann integrated shore charging and mooring system
Type of fuel:Diesel

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