The Taistealaí-class Mainline Ferry is a small vessel developed and build by Silverport Dockyards Limited to act as a Roll-on/Roll-off Ferry on short-range routes, carrying both passengers and their vehicles to and from places to other places.
Equipped for overnight stays, the Taistealaí-class Mainline Ferry is not exactly a cruise liner, but it still offers some amenities to make the trip a little bit more comfortable.
The term taistealaí means traveller.
The Taistealaí-class Mainline Ferry is a classical monohull design with a double hull and strengthened frames, which allow the vessels of this class to operate in ice-riddled waters, even break light ice sheets, but should not be used as icebreakers. The vessel is 130.7 metres long, has a beam of 26 metres, the superstructure spanning the whole beam of the vessel, and a draught of 7.2 metres, displacing 7,800 long tons unloaded, capable of loading 135 automobiles of an average length of 6 metres and 500 passengers in 104 staterooms and on two tent areas. The vessel is equipped with a GPS Uplink and a small navigation radar.
If the need should arise, the Taistealaí-class Mainline Ferry can be used as a disaster relief vessel, acting as a seaborne hospital and supply ship. To that end, the tent areas can be transformed to helicopter landing pads for light transport helicopter and the ramps leading into the inside of the Main Deck can be extended to the surface itself in order to take aboard people from lifeboats or other small vessels.
Of the seven decks of the vessel, five are accessible to passengers, with the lower two being off limits as these contain the inner workings of the vessel, from the engine rooms to other machinery to storage rooms and the small medical bay onboard. The other five are the Main Deck, the Upper Deck, the Cabin Deck, the Boat Deck and the Bridge Deck:
The Main Deck serves as the main vehicle stowage, one vehicle deck running the entire length of the vessel with a car elevator and three smaller elevators leading upwards.
The Upper Deck contains half of the staterooms, namely the four-berth rooms, and the berthing for the crew, as well as office space close to the bow, more then enough for all office-related needs the Taistealaí-class Mainline Ferry may encounter. In the middle, above the keel, there is a second, smaller vehicle storage, accessible by the elevator.
The aft-half of the Cabin Deck is taken up by the two-berth staterooms, as well as the Lower Tent Area, an open area dedicated to those travellers, who were unwilling or unable to pay for a stateroom and instead camped out in the open. The bow-half of that deck has a small movie lounge and a larger observation lounge, which offers a beautiful view of the surrounding waters.
The Boat Deck has a second, larger observation lounge, which is separated into four different secotrs, a children's lounge with play area, a writing lounge and a silent lounge, as well as a forward lounge overlooking the bow. Both a snack bar and the Dining Room are on this deck as well, the kitchen being between them. Close to the elevator, a room with large washing machines allows for cleaning own clothing if it is so desired.
Above that is the Bridge Deck, containing the vessel's bridge at the bow and a few technical facilities, including the radio room, a solarium and a second open tent area.
The Taistealaí-class Mainline Ferry is optimized for Roll-on/Roll-off Operations, with three ramps leading onto the Main Deck, one on port, one on starboard and one aft.
The Taistealaí-class Mainline Ferry comes with a number of amenities for both crew and passengers, none of which have anything to do with the staterooms' comfort. Of the 101 staterooms, 45 have four berths, 56 two berths and three are accessible for wheelchairs, all of them having a small stall with shower and toilet, barely large enough for a fully grown man to turn around in. The cabins include one or two bunk beds, a cabinet and a window, which can be opened.
Besides the lounges, the large amenities include a small cinema, a snack bar and a larger Dining Room, which is either a real restaurant or a cafeteria style dining room with nothing keeping an operator to furnish one of the observation lounges with tables as dining areas, we recommend the one on the Boat Deck for that purpose. Several WLAN Access Points are scattered over the vessel, allowing for passengers to access the internet by the way of a satellite uplink, the same also connecting the vessel to the telephone network, radio and television, the uplink physically separated from the ship's computers. For those, who like to surf onboard, the Taistealaí-class Mainline Ferry is equipped with an OEN, an Onboard Entertainment Network, allowing for chatting, network multiplayer games and many other things, the system itself being a distant cousin of the Artio Battlescape Network used on most of SDY's military vessels.
For passengers preferring to stay outdoors, two tent areas allow for a safe and stable outdoors camping platform on the sea with two pairs of shower stalls and toilets set aside for the campers.
The Taistealaí-class Mainline Ferry is powered by two diesel generators, each providing 3,500 kW of power. This power is used to operate all the systems onboard, including the engines, in a system known as Integrated Electric Propulsion, IEP for short, which reduces the need for gearboxes to nothingness, making maintenance cheaper and easier to all involved. The generators are related to the generators used onboard the Cineál-class Yacht and are, like them, build and installed with reduced noise pollution in mind, resting them on shock absorbers.
Propulsion is provided by two mixed flow waterjet engines, highly efficient both in output and power consumption, accelerating the vessel to up to 18 knots. Due to their nature as waterjets, the engines are protected from ice and debris, with an additional heater inside the engine making acting against iced over engines possible without someone diving into them. Manoeuvrability is increased by these engines being mixed-flow, which allows for reversing the thrust on one or both waterjets to help with turning or even reversing into the dock – without needing tugboats.
The Taistealaí-class Mainline Ferry is a relatively old design, from the late 60s, which had been developed by one of the predecessors of SDY, the Ríchathaoir Shipyard Company, which saw in these vessels a chance to shake off the Yard Crisis , which troubled so many of Silverport's yards – it didn't really help, the company went bankrupt in 1969, as the international market saw no need for the Taistealaí-class Mainline Ferry, and the production rights went back to the engineering office responsible for it, the Caillte Maritime Solutions Engineering Office of Wembury. With Fynn Caillte of the Tribe of Cork, the son of the engineer responsible for the Taistealaí-class Mainline Ferry and husband of SDY's founder's daughter, today's CEO Nora Cathlong of the Tribe of Cork, the plans went into the possession of SDY as part of his inheritance in 1993. Back then, no one saw the need to offer or build such a vessel and the blueprints went into storage.
In late 2016, in correlation with an unofficial request by a customer, SDY began to look for old plans for ferries including vehicle ferries, stumbling across the Taistealaí-class Mainline Ferry – in the words of Yard 15's forelady, funnily enough Fynn Caillte's daughter: “With a few upgrades here and there that punt could finally go to sea!”
Until early 2017, SDY used a small part of Yard 15's resources to update the Taistealaí-class Mainline Ferry, bringing to old design into today's form, especially working on the engine and propulsion and the electronic systems. As the Selkie have little use for car ferries, only a handful are operated by the Selkie, two of which will be Taistealaí-class Mainline Ferries in the future, both planned to replace two old ferries trafficking to and from the Northern Islands.
In June 2017, the Taistealaí-class Mainline Ferry became one of the very few vessels of SDY's production, for which the Domestic Production Rights, or DPRs for short, were offered to any customer.