Following the launch of the 17.8m passenger catamaran Rathlin Express at Arklow Marine Services in July this year, its sister ship, Lady Iona is currently undergoing conversion.
Following the launch of the 17.8m passenger catamaran Rathlin Express at Arklow Marine Services in July this year, its sister ship, Lady Iona, also designed by Marine Design International (MDI) is currently undergoing conversion on behalf of Gordon Grant Marine at Mooney Boats in Donegal.
Conversion works on Lady Iona are nearing completion.
Originally built in Ireland to EC Class B passenger ship rules, it is being converted under survey of Bureau Veritas to EC Class B standard and brought under the UK flag with a reduced Class C certificate for the more sheltered waters of Loch Linnhe on the Scottish West Coast.
The Rathlin Express was built under UK Flag as an EC Class B for more exposed operation to Rathlin Island off the Irish North Coast. The European Passenger Ship Rules were developed to help vessels operate with equal safety standards throughout Europe and allow vessels to be traded internationally without requiring significant changes to meet national standards. The exercise of building sister ships and altering flag has been a useful insight into the variations in standards which will hopefully be incorporated into the revised EC passenger ship rules alongside probabilistic stability requirements.
Originally designed as an eco-tour vessel, the aluminium catamaran was built from a profiled MDI kit. This allowed the yard to build complex hull shapes and internal structure without a loftsman, and for the design to be replicated to close tolerances and without deviation from tight classification structure rules.
Lady Iona will now be used to transfer up to 86 workers at 20knots to Glensanda Quarry in the Firth of Lorne. The quarry"s owner, Aggregate Industries, is committed to improving working conditions, including the commute to the remote location. Comfortable year-round operation in this area required sheltered accommodation for all on board, so the deckhouse is being extended to seat 86. Upper deck seating and the passenger stairway have been removed to increase space on the main deck. By contrast, the Rathlin Express, predominantly designed for the tourist industry, carries 97 passengers over both decks with a smaller deckhouse and open seating areas giving extensive open space for viewing the wildlife and approach to Rathlin.
The hull form is an easily driven symmetrical body with a wide counter aft for lift and an MDI designed foil system. The foils, fitted on both vessels, help provide a smoother ride than usually experienced onboard lighter faster catamarans in open sea which are inherently susceptible to slamming of the cross deck and uncomfortable pitching.
It is well known that catamarans offer many benefits such as high deck area and low resistance alongside the equally well discussed drawbacks of comfort in heavy weather. The development work done in two vessels within the same demanding regulatory framework has led to significant problem solving so that these two vessels will perform beyond expectations and the catamaran configuration offers a simple solution to the redundancy requirements of modern passenger ships.
Lady Iona will enter service shortly.