The Maritime Aquarium at Nowalk christened a special new boat, called the Spirit of the Sound, today in a groundbreaking ceremony.
The catamaran, which the aquarium said in a press release is 63 feet and has an all-aluminum body, will be the first research vessel in the country to have a hybrid-electric propulsion system. Not only will this allow the boat to run silently, but it will also reduce fuel consumption by an estimated 75 percent.
The previous vessel, Oceana, that the aquarium had for public programming held just 29 participants and ran on diesel fuel--the Spirit of the Sound holds 60. So this will be a huge boon for the half-boat, half-classroom programs offered to the public, and will allow more school trips to take advantage of the resource.
The catamaran was designed by Australian Incat Crowther, and it was built in Mamaroneck at the Robert E. Derecktor shipyard, with Alternative Marine Technologies (Amtech) managing construction, according to the Maritime Aquarium. The state-of-the-art propulsion system was created by BAE Systems, Corvus Energy and Northern Lights Hybrid Marine. It cost $2.7 million.
The aquarium's public programming will start using the boat in the middle of December, and the first programs planned to be offered are the seal spotting cruises, which cost $22.95 per person, or $17.95 for aquarium members. For more information you can visit the aquarium's website here.