BY D’ARCY PATRICK EGAN
The Kelleys Island Ferry Boat Line will add the M/V Carmen Lee to its fleet on May 1, a double-ended 168-footer that will smoothly carry a larger number of passengers, trucks and automobiles between Marblehead and Kelleys Island.
The ferry line began construction of the M/V Carmen Lee in the fall of 2018, and it will be added it to the fleet this spring. It will be their newest ferry and will be much larger than its sister ship, the 140-foot Shirley Irene.
Designed by TAI Engineers LLC and built by Thoma-Sea Marine Constructors LLC of Houma, La., the new ferry is a partnership between the Lorain Port Authority and Kelleys Island Ferry Boat Line. The new ferry is designed to excel on lakes, bays and sounds.
“The new ferry is based on the design of what was our largest boat, the Shirley Irene,” said Capt. Edward Ehrbar. “It will be the largest ferry in our fleet of five boats, and will move more traffic quicker this summer.
“We’re really happy to finally have the Carmen Lee here,” said Capt. Ehrbar, who will be one of the captains at the helm this spring.
The Carmen Lee is 168- by 45-feet. Its main deck is high-strength AH36 steel to withstand tire loadings from up to 36 cars or equipment trucks in four lanes. It is powered by four 470-BHP Caterpillar C18 engines, each driving Schottel SRP 150FP Zdrives using Twin Disc HPTO hydraulic clutches.
“That means the Carmen Lee will provide precision maneuvering on a challenging Lake Erie, despite the harsh weather we sometimes experience,” said Capt. Ehrbar.
TAI Engineers was selected to design the Carmen Lee to provide naval architecture and marine engineering services, as well as a competitive procurement of a shipyard to build the vessel.
“TAI Engineers and S&B Infrastructure are proud to utilize our marine engineering expertise to help improve transportation, mobility and accessibility for the Lorain Port Authority and Kelleys Island Ferry Boat Line,” said Danny Rios, President of S&B Infrastructure. “TAI’s marine capabilities, especially in passenger and automobile ferries, nicely complement S&B’s transportation and highway design capabilities.”