NORWALK, Conn. – The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk has contracted with a Mamaroneck, N.Y.-based shipbuilder to construct a $2.6 million vessel to replace the center’s aging educational boat.
The 65-foot hybrid catamaran, which has not yet been named, will be built by Robert E. Derecktor Inc. and will serve as a “floating classroom” for the aquarium.
“We believe that the boat will run most – if not all – of our typical 2.5-hour study cruises on electric power,” said aquarium President Jennifer Herring in a statement. The boat will be powered by a hybrid diesel-electric propulsion system that will reduce diesel fuel consumption by an estimated 75 percent. “By running on clean quiet power with practically no emissions, we will be practicing what we preach.”
The boat is expected to be in service by the spring of 2014, and it will allow the aquarium to double its current capacity to offer marine-science classes on the water.
“We expect to be able to double the number of school children who can experience our programming out on Long Island Sound, to some 10,000 a year,” said Herring.
The new boat, which will be compliant with American With Disabilities Act guidelines, will replace the aquarium’s 33-year-old, 40-foot trawler.
Fundraising and planning for the new research vessel is being led by a special committee of naval architects, marine engineers and aquarium staff members led by Per Heidenreich, founder of Norwalk-based Heidmar Inc., a leading commercial tanker operator.
Major contributors toward the new boat include: George and Carol Bauer of Wilton; The TK Foundation of Nassau, Bahamas; and the Per and Astrid Heidenreich Family Foundation of Greenwich.
Other local shipping experts on the committee are: Robert Kunkel, president of Alternative Marine Technologies; Peter Drakos, a leading maritime lawyer; and Blaine Collins, director of external affairs at the international maritime classification society and international risk management firm, Det Norske Veritas.
“This vessel’s requirements match our fundamental competencies: high-quality custom aluminum construction with complex machinery installations,” said Paul Derecktor, president of Robert E. Derecktor Inc. “She will be another in a long line of outstanding technical achievements for the shipyard.”
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