New Wyre Ferry Brings Year Round Service

View from starboard.
View from starboard.
The standard main engine.
The standard main engine.
Passenger cabin looking forward.
Passenger cabin looking forward.
Industry Database

Since the development of Fleetwood, from around 1830, a ferry has operated across the River Wyre to Knott End on Sea. The early ferries were powered by oar or sail. In 1892 an agreement with the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway resulted in new jetties being constructed on both sides of the river and since that time the service has continued, first with steam powered vessels and more recently diesel launches.

During the 1990s, despite numerous operators, passenger numbers decreased and it was reduced to a summer only service and then completely suspended in 2001. Following from this an agreement was reached between Lancashire County Council and Wyre Borough Council for a new ferry to be constructed that would provide a year round service.

The ferry will be part of the Lancashire Coastal Cycle Path and integrated into the local bus and tram services, with facilities at Fleetwood being upgraded to allow it to operate over a greater tidal range. The operation and maintenance contract has been awarded to Wyre Marine Services to run the ferry service for the next 10 years.

A design and supervision of construction contract was awarded to Salisbury based naval architect Ian Darley and the build contract to Mustang Marine, in Pembroke Dock, for the 'as yet' unnamed twin screw, fully enclosed, water jet powered displacement vessel. The name is being chosen by a competition involving local school children.

The design brief was for a small highly manoeuvrable, robust, sea worthy but shallow draught craft providing good weather protection for both passengers and crew. The result is a fully enclosed steel ferry of 10.85m LOA with a maximum beam 4.5m and a full load draught 0.87m. It will operate at a speed of 7 knots and have an MCA Class V(C) passenger certificate for 35 persons.

To maximise the effect of the waterjets, a single chine hull form with a shallow dead rise was chosen. This configuration allows safe operation over and around the sand banks at the river entrance. The keel plate is 10mm, bottom plating is 8mm, side plating, bulkheads and decks are 5mm. The water jets are beneath an overhanging counter for protection which is important when turning in the confines of the Fleetwood terminus. Two strakes of heavy rubber 'D' fender protect the hull. Although not mandatory for a vessel of this class, the hull is subdivided into five watertight compartments to ensure the ferry complies with the one compartment damage survivability regulations.

Paint coatings both internally and externally are applied, generally by airless spray, in accordance with a specification prepared especially for the vessel by Jotun Paints. Cathodic protection is by stud fixed zinc anodes from M G Duff International with particular care being taken to protect the aluminium alloy water jets and to ensure that they are totally isolated from the steel hull.

The full width deck house is constructed in 5mm plate and has large Houdini Marine double glazed, clamp in pattern aluminium alloy framed windows throughout. Bulwark cappings, guard rails, mooring posts, mast and other external fittings are all stainless steel for ease of maintenance. The weathertight counterbalanced sliding boarding door and steel watertight engine compartment door is from Point Engineering. Seatite aluminium alloy flush hatches provide access to the peaks and other lower deck compartments.

Boarding is on the port side only from an amidships boarding deck. The wheelhouse is offset to port, accessible from the main cabin and giving the helmsman an excellent view of passenger movements. Berthing arrangements at both jetties are such that the ferry can easily be operated by a crew of two. To cater for the large rise and fall of tide and the boarding platforms at Fleetwood, a hinged stainless steel telescopic ramp is installed.

Operated by electric winches and hydraulic rams, it gives the ferry a safe boarding range from sea level to 1.5m above.

Both the ramp and boarding door have a clear width of 1m to allow comfortable access for wheelchairs, baby buggies and bicycles.

A comprehensive and high quality fitout was the prime requirement of the owners.

The operating contract is for 10 years and with this in mind the machinery and water jet package supplied by Volvo Penta includes a maintenance contract of the same duration. Main engines comprise a pair of model D5AT turbocharged marine diesels each developing 95kW (129bhp) at 2,300rpm and fitted with a ZF model ZF220PL reverse reduction gearbox with a reduction ratio of 1:1 and powering a Kamewa model FF270 270mm diameter single stage axial flow water jet.

Because of the shallow water operations the engines are cooled using Duramax keel coolers, supplied by European Marine & Machinery Agencies (EMMA), recessed into the side plating port and starboard. Kobelt engine controls, also provided by EMMA, are of push pull type and the steering gear is hand hydraulic from Kamewa.

The engine compartment is amidships and is well insulated to A30 standards using mineral wool, providing both fire protection and sound reduction.

Noise reduction is further enhanced by twin Isophon stainless steel silencers on each dry engine exhaust.

The water jets are in a water tight space to the rear of the engine compartment and are coupled to the engines with 40mm diameter rigid stainless steel shafts and Aquadrive units supported on roller bearings.

For maintenance of the jets while afloat, access traps are fitted in the bottom of the aft peak.

In the bow thruster compartment, forward of the engine compartment, is a 250mm diameter, 9.5kW hydraulic bow thruster from Vetus Den Ouden who also supplied the hydraulic anchor windlass, starboard main engine mounted pump, reservoir and controls for all hydraulic equipment. Other machinery includes a Cleghorn Waring model CM50FE bronze centrifugal pump belt driven through an electro magnetic clutch from the port main engine for jetty wash down and fire duties. Cabin heating is provided by an Eberspacher model D8LC diesel fired hot air heater mounted in the bow thruster compartment and engine compartment ventilation is provided by two 315mm diameter centrifugal fans from Elta Fans.

Passenger spaces are fully insulated using mineral wool, linings are Grenamat non-combustible boards supplied by Duncan Reeds Limited, the aluminium suspended ceiling system is from Dampa and the studded rubber sole covering from Acorn Rubber. Extensive use has been made of stainless steel for grab rails, seat frames and other fittings within the cabin to give passenger friendly, easily cleaned surfaces. There is seating for all passengers on melamine faced seating around the perimeter of the cabin.

Also provided are wheelchair restraining plates and bicycle support frames. Lighting of the cabin and other spaces, a 250W searchlight, 500W boarding lights and navigation lamps are by Sondia Lighting.

The primary electrical supply is 24V DC from two banks of sealed pattern batteries in the engine compartment. A 220/1/50 AC shore supply system includes a switch mode, 25 amp charger.

Three Hepworth/Wynn straight line wipers are installed on the wheelhouse. The horn is Marco and the electronic outfit, including compass, echo sounder, log, radar and VHF are from Raymarine.

By putting this versatile ferry into operation both Lancashire and Wyre councils are hoping that many more passengers, including shoppers, tourists and commuters, will be attracted to the much improved service.

MJ Information No: 20919

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