The Ranger IV Student Design Contest in Partnership with the Grand Portage Band of Chippewa

Ranger III at Windigo dock
The Ranger III has provided the park passenger and freight service for sixty years.


February 2018 Contest Update

Isle Royale National Park and the Grand Portage Band have closed out the student competition for Ranger III/IV options. No winner was declared due to low participation and late submittals. The Grand Portage band will supply a small honorarium for the most thorough submittal.

Contest Overview

The Grand Portage Band of Chippewa in partnership with the National Park Service (NPS) invites students to help develop a concept design for a new ship to service Isle Royale National Park, located in Lake Superior. The NPS is starting the process of looking at future options for passenger and freight transportation. A new vessel, if determined as the preferred option, could replace the current passenger/cargo vessel, the M/V Ranger III, which sails from Houghton, Michigan to Isle Royale and then returns. Options to be considered will include a potential re-configuration of the M/V Ranger III for continued use. This contest is a creative way to get students and the community involved in thinking about their parks. The contest in no way determines the future decision on transportation for Isle Royale.

Competition Requirements, Entry, Selection Criteria, Awards, Additional Materials, Preliminary Owner's Requirements

Eligibility: Individual, group, or class entries are allowed. Students may be undergraduate or graduate level. Prizes won would be made to a single individual or entity. No person may submit more than one entry.

Main Passenger Lounge of the Ranger III, showing central staircase and seating port, center, and starboard.
Any new ferry design should consider how to make passengers comfortable.


Competition Requirements


Registration can be done at the time of project submission. To register, email Jeff Henquinet, the Grand Portage Band Representative, the following information:

  • Names of all individuals involved, expected year of graduation, and contact information.
  • Faculty sponsors, if applicable.
  • Name of university
  • Payment recipient and mailing address

Design Options

Entries can be based on one of three options:

  1. Redesign using the current hull configuration of the M/V Ranger III (a U.S. registered steel hull passenger ship of 648 gross tonnage, 165’ overall length, 35’ beam, and 15’ depth)
  2. Create a layout using a common hull style
  3. Create a unique design

Final Entries

Final entries must include:

  1. General arrangement plans
  2. Profile
  3. Construction costs must be a consideration. A reasonable upper limit on the acquisition cost should be established. The high end currently appears to be in the $20-25 million range, a more cost effective solution is being sought.
  4. Annual operating and maintenance estimate

Entry Submission

Final entries must be submitted via email to Jeff Henquinet, the Grand Portage Band Representative. Entries must be submitted by midnight, Eastern Time, on January 15, 2018. If there is a problem submitting large files, please send a link to an online file sharing service.

The final submission upload must contain the following:

  • Completed registration (see above) including all team members and faculty sponsors
  • A design essay or abstract
  • Drawings as a high resolution PDF or JPEG file

Winning projects will be required to submit high-resolution original files/images for use in competition publications and exhibit materials. By uploading your files, you agree that NPS has the rights to use your winning submission, images and materials in a summary publication, online and in promotional and exhibition resources. The Grand Portage Band and the NPS will attribute authorship of the winning design to you, your team, faculty and affiliation. Additionally, you hereby warrant that the submission is original and that you are the author(s) of the submission.

Submission Deadline: January 15, 2018

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Ranger III ferry loading private boat onto bow deck with crane.
Any vessel must meet the needs of the park, which includes transportation of all types of freight.


Selection Criteria

  • Meeting vessel’s mission as described in the Preliminary Owner’s Requirements
  • Environmental friendliness, e.g. efficiency, chemical requirements, etc
  • Visitor Comfort
  • Construction and annual operating costs
  • Compliance with USCG standards


The following prizes may be awarded by the Grand Portage Band:

  • First prize: $1500
  • Second prize: $1000
  • Third prize: $500.

Recognition of work in a maritime trade magazine article will be developed after the contest is over. The judges reserve the right not to award any prizes and to reject any or all submissions.

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Additional Materials

The following materials are available on request. Participants shall ensure that all documents and other information provided are to be treated as confidential and maintained in a manner that protects their confidentiality.

  • Isle Royale National Park Transportation Study (2015) by Volpe Center
  • Ranger III drawings (pdfs of drawings circa 1958)
Ranger III ferry entering the north entry of the Keweenaw Waterway next to the lighthouse.
Will there be a Ranger IV? How might it look coming into the Keweenaw Waterway north entry?


Last updated: February 7, 2018

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