New Zealand’s first fully electric commuter ferry completes inaugural roundtrip

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Having joined the East by West fleet in December 2021, the fully electric, carbon-fiber commuter ferry Ika Rere (Mãori for flying fish), featuring a Thordon seawater lubricated propeller shaft setup supplied by Henley Engineering of Auckland, New Zealand, has successfully completed its first roundtrip.

“Ika Rere runs like a Tesla Model S! It’s fast, efficient, smooth and quiet,” commented Mark Power, managing director, Henley Engineering. “It is a truly inspiring vessel. We hope to be involved in more projects like this.”

The Ika Rere’s driveshafts aft of twin 325kW battery-powered electric motors were designed and supplied by the Henley Group. The supply scope for the electric ferry consisted of Thordon SXL seawater lubricated propeller shaft bearings installed in Easiflow GRP stern tubes, shaft seals with Thordon XL oil/grease-free guide bushes, shaft lines and propeller, couplings, mounts, thrust bearings and brakes.

Measuring 19m-long, the ferry has the capacity to carry up to 135 passengers and is the first vessel to be delivered by the Wellington Electric Boat Building Company (WEBBCo). The project was a joint venture between the ferry operator and boatbuilder Fraser Foote.

“The ferry is very quiet at 19kts and silent at 10kts. It is faster and uses less energy than we anticipated,” said Fraser Foote, managing director, WEBBCo. “Ika Rere is a hugely successful project for us. We are the first in the southern hemisphere to have taken a vessel of this kind off the drawing board and onto the water.”

“We are thrilled to help drive the electric ship and other alternative means of propulsion forward,” explained Tony Hamilton, technical director, Thordon Bearings.

“The pioneering work into self-lubricating polymer materials we started in the 1970s has resulted in the portfolio of environmentally safe products we see today. We were ahead of the game then and we’re still ahead of the game now. All our products are designed to reduce the maritime industry’s impact on the environment.”

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After spending the past six years working as a mechanic for various motorsport and high-end performance car companies, Callum recently joined UKi Media & Events as an assistant editor. In this role he will use his vast practical knowledge and passion for automotive to produce informative news pieces for multiple vehicle-related sectors.

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