MTU Power Helps Catalina Express Meet Emissions Standards

Twenty-two miles off the coast of southern California lies Catalina Island. It has been a stop for smugglers, gold miners, pirates, hunters, the Union army and missionaries, and was a popular spot for the Hollywood elite during the 1930s, ’40s and ’50s. Today, it’s a resort community that is home to 60 plant, animal and insect species that aren’t found anywhere else in the world.

Catalina Express is the leader in year-round boat transportation to the island, whisking more than a million travelers a year to the island from ports in San Pedro, Long Beach and Dana Point. Its fleet of eight fast, environmentally sensitive ferries are powered by quiet, fuel-efficient MTU engines that reduce nitrogen oxide emissions and diesel particulates.

The ferries are also intermittently repowered to meet emissions regulations set by the California Air Resources Board (CARB), which are often more demanding than in the rest of the U.S.

The MTU-powered Starship Express, a 300-passenger catamaran, was recently repowered with Tier 3 engine technology to keep pace with CARB’s ever-changing regulations. It is one of eight Catalina Express boats that make the hour-long run between Catalina Island and Long Beach, cruising at speeds up to 35 knots.

Catalina Express has kept its fleet up to date by working closely with its MTU distributor, Valley Power Systems.

The original 16V 4000 M70 engines (rated at 3,110 hp. at 2,000 rpm.) were replaced with 16V 4000 M64 engines (rated at 2,680 hp. at 1,800 rpm.).

“The original engines only used 2,600 hp. in its daily operation. With the new engines, the M64, Catalina Express achieves the horsepower they need with improved time between overhauls and overall lifecycle costs,” said Jeff Sisco, technical support specialist, Valley Power Systems.

“To prepare for this repower, we had to run testing with different passenger counts to make sure the Starship could meet its required speed with the new engine. While the new engine lost three or four knots, as compared to the original engine’s speed, the Starship can still meet its schedule,” said Sisco.

Schedule-Saving Technology

Repowering the existing vessels with continuous rated, lower horsepower engines versus the higher horsepower, intermittent rated engines allows the captain to run the engine point at full throttle continuously without any adverse effect to the engine—continuous rated engines are designed specifically for this. This is especially useful when a ferry is behind schedule and needs to make up for lost time to avoid delays. Catalina Express’s maintenance department has also noticed improvements in the engines’ extended maintenance schedule—and decreased maintenance costs—due to the new engine’s built-in oil filter. “We save quite a bit of money,” said Tony Ross, vice president vessel engineering, Catalina Express.