SHIP REVIEW | Swiftsure – Whale Watching Catamaran for Puget Sound Coastal Tour Operator

Puget Sound Express (PSE), a Washington State family tour operator, has taken delivery of a new high-speed whale-watching catamaran built by a local shipyard.

Appointed Swiftsure, the boat has a length of 77 feet (23.4 meters), a width of 30 feet (9.1 meters), a draft of just three feet (0.91 meters) and a capacity of 150 passengers. The design work was provided by New Zealand-based naval architecture firm Teknicraft Design. The new build is the second aluminum vessel designed by Teknicraft to be delivered to PSE after the slightly smaller one built in 2018 Saratoga.

The USCG-certified Subchapter T catamaran has the standard Teknicraft combination hull form which consists of two asymmetrical semi-planing hulls and an adjustable aluminum center hydrofoil plus two aluminum stern foils. This allows the boat to reach top speeds of over 40 knots. When coupled with finely tuned, wave-piercing bows, the design also allows the vessel to travel through calm and choppy waters at full cruising speed while minimizing underwater noise.

The advanced hull shape was custom designed using digital modeling and CFD analysis. The hull design is complemented by Teknicraft’s signature integration of a wave breaker positioned between the catamaran’s sponsons to break up wave action and provide reduced drag while improving passenger comfort. The design also provides passengers with greater comfort and a smoother ride as the hull provides a cushioned effect when encountering waves.

Photo: Hanke

Swiftsure has been designed to achieve low fuel consumption at high speeds, making it ideal for heavy duty use associated with daily whale watching excursions from Edmonds. The vessel also uses Hamilton Jet Drive control systems with four HJ364 waterjets complete with the Hamilton MECS control system. Teknicraft designer Nic De Waal said the control system ensured an almost negligible difference in performance between a light vessel and a fully loaded vessel during sea trials of the catamaran.

The water jets are driven by four Scania D16 083 engines which each produce 800 hp (596 kW) at 2,300 rpm. The motors are equipped with hydraulic mufflers, carbon fiber shafts to save weight and features that improve sound deadening.

The main passenger cabin has seven HDTV screens and an audio system with speakers to enable audio/video presentations during excursions. Benches are provided on the rear upper deck to accommodate passengers during journeys in clear weather.

The interior of the vessel is finished with recyclable Ayres aluminum honeycomb wall panels and recyclable Dampa aluminum ceiling tiles with sound insulation that span the master cabin and the inner cabin on the second deck. Other amenities include ADA-friendly accommodation spaces, Beurteaux seating, three restrooms, and an expansive kitchen with a full-service bar. There are also seven HDTV screens and an audio system with speakers inside and out.

Vessel type: tourist ship
Classification: USCG Subchapter T
Owner: Puget Sound Express, United States
Designate: Teknicraft Design, New Zealand
Hull construction material: Aluminum
Superstructure construction material: Aluminum
Bridge construction material: Aluminum
Total length: 77 feet (23.4 meters)
Shine: 30 feet (9.1 meters)
Disorganized: 3.0 feet (0.91 meters)
Main engines: 4 x Scania D16 083, each 800 hp (596 kW) at 2,300 rpm
Propulsion: 4 HamiltonJet HJ364 water jets
Steering system: HamiltonJet
Maximum speed: 40 knots
Seats: Beurteaux
Interior fittings/furnishings: Ayres wall panels; Dampa ceiling tiles
Lodging: Bathroom; Difficult situation
Passengers: 150
Operational area: Puget Sound, Washington, USA