The ferry, named Francisco after Pope Francis, will link the pontiff’s native city of Buenos Aires in Argentina with Montevideo, Uruguay, 140 miles away across the River Plate estuary.
Speed is not the ship’s only distinction. The Francisco is the world’s first high-speed ferry that uses liquefied natural gas (LNG) as primary fuel. (It uses marine-grade oil only to start the engines, and as backup fuel.) An Incat announcement says that the ship is the “fastest, environmentally cleanest, and most efficient high-speed ferry in the world.”
LNG will power two GE aeroderivative gas turbines from the company’s ecomagination portfolio that have modified Boeing 747 aircraft engines at their core. Each of the turbines, which produce a combined 59,000 horse power, will turn a gearbox with a 7-to-1 reduction that drives an impeller generating a waterjet. “We had to redesign the fuel manifold and the fuel delivery system,” says Ivan Bach, program manager with GE Power and Water. “But we have of a lot of experience in the marine environment. We’ve accumulated millions of hours powering ships, oil and gas rigs, and other equipment.”