The future works with the past at Derecktor Shipyards in Bridgeport Harbor, as new state-of-the-art High Speed Ferries are built alongside the restoration of old tug boats and Long Island Sound Mississippi Queens...


- Slide Show -


INTERVIEW WITH ANN STRYCHALSKI

What brought Derecktor to Bridgeport? How did it come about that ferries destined to Alaska are built clear across the continent? Wouldn't it have been easier to set up a yard in Portland, Oregon? What made Bridgeport so attractive?

What brought Derecktorís to Bridgeport was the size of the site and the unimpeded accessibility to the Sound. The site in Mamaroneck allows construction up to 150ft. While its location was a plus, the building site had its limitation, so an additional site was sought which could provide the space to build bigger boats.

Alaska put out a competitive Requests for Proposals in 2000. A number of yards bid competitively on the construction of the ferries. Derecktor Shipyard was the under bidder and therefore won the contract. While it might have been easier in terms of getting the ferries to Alaska to have a yard in Portland, it would not have been that easy to find the skilled workers to build the ferries. When the yard was opened, skilled workers from the Mamaroneck yard were brought up to start production. With time, additional employees were added to the workforce from the local population.

What made Bridgeport so attractive was its relative proximity to the Mamaroneck yard plus the excellent access to the Sound.

These ferries are like a giant jet ski, aren't they? Please explain how they work without a propeller.

The ferries have waterjets. So I donít give you an erroneous information, I went right to the internet to get the information from Hamilton Jet, a manufacturer of waterjets. You can also go to the site to find out the advantages of waterjets.

Whose engines and jets are you using?

We are not using Mercedes engines. The engines for the Alaska ferries are from MTU, a German company, which is affiliated with Detroit Diesel. The waterjets are by Kamewa, which is a division of Rolls-Royce Marine. MTU engines were used because they have an excellent reputation.

Tell me more about all the environmental systems on board. The way paints are no longer used on the hull. The way all fluids are redeemed and never introduced into the water. Give us a run down on what makes your ferries so environmentally friendly.

This next question would be more for Mark to answer. I can only tell you that by not using paint on the hull, there was less weight to the hull and less maintenance in terms of upkeep of the hull. The vinyl that was used lasts something like 10 years while paint doesnít, but I couldnít tell you how long the paint is expected to last.

Who had the wonderful idea to leave all-terrain bicycles all over the yard for people to pick up and drop off, to get from one end of the yard to the other? How did that go over with the employees? Are they enjoying the exercise?

Gavin Higgins started with the bicycles I believe. We later got the golf carts and vehicles just for yard use, but prior to that one could use a bicycle or walk, and the bicycle was much faster. The fad picked up and soon a lot of employees had brought in bicycles to ride back and forth. And I am sure that everyone is enjoying the exercise plus the save in time.

Foxwoods Casino resorts ventured into the high speed ferry business a few years ago, but sadly closed their Connecticut shipyard after only 3 years. How are you succeeding where they failed? And will we see the Mohegan Sun high speed ferry become reality?

It seems to me that the Pequot River Shipyards went bankrupt, but I canít remember the circumstances. Perhaps it was a case of opening a shipyard without a backlog of workers to which I made reference earlier, but this would only be a guess. Derecktor Shipyards has been in business since 1947. It has built over 200 boats, both for private and commercial use. Everyone heard about DSY when it built the 12m Stars & Stripes for Dennis Connors who won back the Americaís Cup in 1987. It has also built boats for the USCG, Army Corps of Engineers, and the NYC police department. So when DSY opened the yard in Bridgeport, it brought not only a skilled workforce, but experience and a worldwide reputation. When DSY built Patricia Olivia II for the operator Buquebus, at 54kt, it was the fastest passenger only ferry in the world and made the cover of Fast Ferry International. As to whether the Mohegan Sun ferry becomes a reality, I think you will have to talk to Mohegan Sun about that.

You've offered GE Energy space on your yard to erect a windmill. Have you heard from the company yet?

I know nothing about this, but I think it is a great idea. I told my brother once that I would love to put a windmill on the top of the building where I lived. He said he didnít think it would fly with the neighbors.

I know I didnít answer all your question, but I did the best that I could. You will have to bug Mark for the rest of the answers.

Thanks for your time.


Con
tact:


Ann Strychalski
Derecktor Shipyards
837 Seaview Avenue
Bridgeport, CT 06607-1607
(203) 336-0108, ext. 177
(203) 362-1464
anns (at) derecktor.com


    Thanks to Mark S. Donahue at Derecktor for our visit. (April 12th, 2005)