THE FIRST vessel in the new fleet of Parramatta Class river ferries has entered service in Sydney, and will primarily operate along the busy Parramatta to Circular Quay route.

The Frances Bodkin is the first of seven in the new fleet to be enter service, with the remaining six expected to follow over the next 18 months, replacing seven older RiverCat type ferries which will be retired.

The Parramatta Class vessels were designed by Australian marine engineering company Incat Crowther, and are currently being built by Tasmanian-based ship builder Richardson Devine Marine.

Each ferry has a 200-commuter capacity and has been “future-proofed” for conversion to electric propulsion.

The Parramatta Class vessels are said to use 40% less diesel than their RiverCat predecessors and are expected to have a working life of 25 to 30 years.

The NSW government has previously said the ferries will be a significant improvement on the previous ferries which they say did not fit under certain bridges, contained asbestos and were a potential fire risk.

 “This is the first of a fleet of new ferries which will give passengers more reliable services, more comfortable seating, more accessibility and upgraded safety systems,” NSW Premier Chris Minns said when Frances Bodkin first arrived in Sydney in March.

“The people of Parramatta and all those who travel on the Parramatta Rivier will finally have access to brand new safe and reliable ferries that they always deserved,” he said.

Incat Crowther CEO Brett Crowther said the company has been working closely with Transport for NSW, Transdev and RDM.

“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,” he said.

“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.”

Each ferry will be named after Australians who have made significant achievements in science, environment and innovation, with the Indigenous botanist Frances Bodkin being honoured as the first ferry’s namesake.