Australian-made ferries to be deployed in Parramatta River in NSW

Image credit: Incat Crowther

The NSW government has tapped Richardson Devine Marine Shipbuilders for the construction of seven new Parramatta Class ferries. 

Designed by Incat Crowthers, the new Australian-made ferries are intended as an upgrade on the 10 overseas-made River Class vessels that entered service in October 2021. 

The new ferries will not include upper deck seating, which has been deemed too dangerous when passing under Camellia Railway Bridge and Gasworks Bridge. They are also designed to be future-proofed, leaving room for future conversion to electric propulsion as battery, charging, and engine technologies improve. 

Ferry engines are typically replaced after five years of service, providing a number of opportunities to make the upgrades during the 25 to 30-year work life of the Parramatta Class ferries. 

These new vessels will replace seven Cairns-built RiverCat ferries, which are now slated for retirement after 30 years in service. The RiverCat vessels were the first passenger ferries to chart a course all the way to Parramatta Wharf in 1993. 

“The RiverCats have served the Parramatta River faithfully for over 30 years, these new ferries will have the same 200-person capacity, while using 40% less diesel,” said NSW Transport Minister Jo Haylen. 

“It’s exciting to be supporting Australian manufacturing, with ferries that are ready for a net-zero future.”

Construction of the new vessels is part of the NSW government’s commitment to boost local manufacturing and create jobs in the state. 

“This commitment will produce Aussie-made NSW-designed ferries equipped with modern propulsion technology to ferry passengers well into the future,” said NSW Premier Chris Minns. “I’m looking forward to the day I can announce a brand new NSW-built ferry. It won’t be easy, and it will take time, but we are determined to do it.”

“We thank the NSW Government, Transport for NSW and Sydney Ferries for choosing to work with us to deliver all 7 new Parramatta River ferries,” a Richardson Devine Marine spokesperson said. “We’re excited to start building the new vessels for the people of NSW and can’t wait to see them on the beautiful Parramatta River.”

Construction of the seven new ferries is slated to begin in July.