Maine boatyard signs deal with Norwegian builder

Front Street Shipyard in Belfast, Maine, is partnering with Brødrene Aa in Hyen, Norway, to market, sell and build carbon-fiber ferries.
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Front Street Shipyard in Belfast, Maine, is partnering with Brødrene Aa in Hyen, Norway, to market, sell and build carbon-fiber ferries throughout the United States under the new company name Arcadia Alliance.

Working in conjunction with the Maine Composites Alliance and Martin Grimnes, a Norwegian composites expert who lives in Maine, Arcadia Alliance is marketing its ferries to state and federal agencies that are seeking to replace aging, inefficient passenger vessels.

Brødrene Aa currently designs and builds carbon-fiber passenger vessels in its 86,000-square-foot Norwegian facility along a fjord.

The company has built 50 carbon-fiber ferries to date. Unlike U.S. ferries built of aluminum or fiberglass, Brødrene Aa's carbon-fiber ferries are lightweight and consume less fuel, releasing fewer emissions into the air, Front Street Shipyard said.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, American ferries carry nearly 103 million passengers and about 37 million vehicles a year.

"Given the significance of ferry transport to travelers in coastal regions, coupled with concerns about gas consumption and emissions, efficiency of our country's ferries is critical," Front Street Shipyard president JB Turner said in a statement. "Brødrene Aa has a progressive design to reduce consumption and emissions, and they have an exceptionally efficient construction method we can apply to the U.S. ferry market at Front Street Shipyard."

Brødrene Aa is a 60-year-old company that introduced the world's first carbon-fiber passenger vessel more than a decade ago. Representatives from Front Street Shipyard met with officers from Brødrene Aa in Hyen earlier this summer.

"Given Front Street Shipyard's modern facility and boatbuilding capabilities, we believe their team can deliver the same high-quality vessels in the United States that we produce in Norway," said Leif Riksheim, chairman of the board at Brødrene Aa.

Although the new partnership is in its early stages, Arcadia Alliance has launched a temporary website while the organizations work together to develop the ferry designs for U.S. waters.

The Arcadia Alliance sales team will begin marketing the boats in earnest later this year, with hopes that Front Street Shipyard will be able to begin construction on the first fast ferry in 2016.

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