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Fort Morgan

190ft x 30ft x 7ft 60 Cars and 400 Passengers

Fort Morgan

Currently operated by Hornblower Marine for the state of Alabama, the FORT MORGAN received a refit in early 2008. The original steerable drives were long since replaced with conventional straight shafts which were later augmented with Schottel SPJ units. The SPJ units have now been replaced and the vessel has been repowered with Mitsubishi main engines. This photo was taken as the refit was nearing completion, but before the final coat of paint.

The 160’ X 46 ferry, M/V FORT MORGAN, has been delivered to Mobile Bay Ferry, Mobile, Alabama. Although she is a double—ended ferry, the means of propulsion is quite different from the standard forward shaft/aft shaft arrangement. FORT MORGAN is driven by a pair of 360 degree steerable propeller units located on the forward-starboard corner and aft-port corner of the vessel. The vessel will begin service across the mouth of Mobile Bay, from Fort Morgan to Dauphin Island, shortly.

This unusual steering propulsion arrangement is the innovation of entrepreneur Ed Von Bergen, President of the Mobile Bay Ferry. In order to bring his unusual idea into reality, Mr. Von Bergen called upon the firm of DeJong & Lebet, Inc., Naval Architects, Jacksonville, Florida. DeJong & Lebet, Inc. is known for their successful design ability in unusual passenger vessel projects (1000 passenger barge/prop. unit MAJESTIC, 57’ Gondola VENEZIA, 400 passenger sternwheeler STARLITE PRINCESS, 121’ schooner CLIPPER CITY).

The vessel was built by Conrad Industries, Morgan City, Louisiana, in four months.

Principal characteristics of FORT MORGAN are as follows:

Length: Overall 194’
                On Deck 160’
                Hull 140’
Beam: Hull 30’
              Overall 46’
Depth: 7’
Draft: (Loaded) 3—6"
Gross Tonnage: Less Than 100
Fuel Capacity: 7400 Gallons
Ballast Capacity: 50 Long Tons
Payload :    143 Long Tons

FORT MORGAN is certificated by the United States Coast Guard under Subchapter I. She is certified to carry various combinations as far as passengers, cars, trucks, and buses. In general, the vessel’s capacity is sixty (60) cars and four hundred (400) passengers, or four (4) tractor-trailers. Her stability letter authorizes operation on partially protected waters. Since the weight of these loads varies over a wide range, FORT MORGAN is equipped with a ballast system in order to maintain optimum operating draft.

The steerable propulsion units are manufactured by Aquamaster in Rauma, Finland. They were furnished by Marine Engineering, Inc. out of New Orleans, Louisiana. Each propulsion unit is driven by a Cummins NTA-855 radiator—cooled industrial power unit developing 380 HP @ 1800 RPM. furnished by Cummins-Alabama. Each Aquamaster Unit is fitted with a 42" 4—bladed propeller inside a Kort Nozzle, and has a built— in 3:1 reduction ratio.

The engine and upper propulsion unit is mounted entirely above the Main Deck on large overhangs. This elirninates the need for hull penetrations, engine cooling piping, or any below decks access, except for periodic inspections. Basically, the propulsion system is a pair of large diesel-powered "outboard motors", with the added advantage of 360 degree rotation. Obviously, the maneuverability of such a vessel is incredible, allowing movement in any direction, which is a great feature for the frequent docking of the ferry in tight quarters.

The Aquamaster propulsion system is a pretty attractive alternative, when you consider the added advantages of elimination of shafting, rudder and separate steering system, and separate engine controls, and all the bearings, hull penetrations and stuffing boxes that go along with them. The steerable propellers are furnished complete with steering controls, engine controls electrical panels, etc., and require only one outside electrical power source.

Additional design features of the propulsion units include the ability to raise the units above the hull bottom for protection in shallow water operations, and the ability to tilt the lower units up to allow inspection of the submerged equipment. The units also feature several back-up systems to operate the units in the event of main system failure.

FORT MORGAN has several notable features engineered into the design by DeJong & Lebet, Inc., including a highly shaped bow and stern for maximum speed and hull recesses at the propellers for maximum maneuverability.

The design also features forward and aft bow ramps for loading and unloading. for the bow ramps were furnished by Gulf Coast Air and Hydraulics, Mobile.

Major Suppliers for the FORT MORGAN project included:

  • Naval Architects:   DeJong & Lebet, Inc. Jacksonville, Florida

  • Builder:   Conrad Industries  Morgan City, Louisiana

  • Steerable Propellers:   Aquamaster    Rauma, Finland

  • Diesel Engines:   Cummi ns—Al abama

  • Bilge Pumps:    MP Flomax

  • Fire Pump:    Oberdorfer

  • Hydraulics:   Gulf Coast Air & Hydraulics  Mobile, Alabama

  • Muffler:    Nel son

  • Radar:    Furuno

  • Loud Hailer:     Apelco

  • Paint:   Glidden

  • Miscellaneous Lifesaving and Supplies:    Mobile Ship Chandlery

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