The NSW Government has announced the first of seven new Parramatta Class ferries, which have been designed by leading digital shipbuilder Incat Crowther, is now in service in Sydney. The fleet of cutting-edge new ferries, which will service the busy Parramatta River commuter route, are being constructed in Tasmania, Australia by Richardson Devine Marine.

A second vessel has begun sea trials and three more are already under construction, with the full fleet expected to enter passenger service over the next 18 months.

Incat Crowther worked closely with Transport for NSW and operator Transdev on the digital design of the new commuter ferries, including utilising augmented reality headset technology to enable stakeholders to engage with the digital model of the ship throughout the process.

While aesthetically similar to the previous River Class vessels, the new Parramatta Class vessels are fully air-conditioned with no upper deck seating and feature floor to ceiling views, providing commuters with a smooth and enjoyable ride. The vessels have a 200-person capacity, and will predominantly run on the busy Parramatta to Circular Quay route. They have been future-proofed for conversion to electric propulsion when network infrastructure is ready. The innovative, future-focused design means the new ferries are expected to have a 25-30 year working life.

CEO of Incat Crowther Brett Crowther said the digital shipbuilder’s innovative approach and expertise in city networks have been central the project: “Incat Crowther is an expert in designing solutions for city networks and has a proven track record of partnering with governments to deliver tailored passenger ferries for mass transit systems across the globe.”

“We design safe, efficient and future-focused passenger ferries that are tailored to the needs of passengers, governments and their operators. This includes thirty-eight vessels for New York City Ferry, twelve for Italian operator Liberty Lines as well as bespoke passenger ferries for operators throughout Asia, North America, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Australia and New Zealand,” said Mr Crowther.

“Our digital ship has been the heart of this project for Transport for NSW and Transdev, allowing us to keep a multitude of stakeholders closely involved, and creating trust and confidence before construction commenced. We’re also pleased to be working closely again with Richardson Devine Marine. This has included one of our naval architects being stationed on site, providing assurance and construction oversight support throughout the process, and spearheading the use of augmented reality technology which allows stakeholders to engage with the digital model of the ship.”

“We are thrilled with the results and are proud to see the first vessel in this innovative fleet of next generation ferries in Sydney ready for service,” said Mr Crowther.

The seven new vessels in the fleet have all been named in honour of Australians who have made significant achievements in science, environment and innovation. The first vessel, Frances Bodkin, is named after a D’harawal Elder who has dedicated her life to cataloguing plants native to western Sydney.