NYC's Brooklyn Cruise Terminal shore power design is not fully used

   February 11, 2023 ,   Cruise Industry

In December 2022, Mayor Eric Adams announced MSC's forthcoming year-round homeporting from BCT-Brooklyn Cruise Terminal. The ships, according to the mayor, would bring thousands of tourist dollars to NYC (New York City).

But the large liners also bring toxic diesel exhaust to the community.

Over the course of a single day, a berthed/docked diesel-powered cruise vessel can emit ~34,409 long-haul trucks idling for that same time, the analysis said. 

Red Hook's BCT is the only cruise port on the east coast with a solution: shore power. By plugging into the electric grid of the city, liners docked there could be able to keep running without burning diesel. 

However, because of the shore power design of the terminal and the lack of a regulatory mechanism to compel adoption, the system has not been fully used since the 2016 installation. Last year, just about a third of the vessels visiting the port plugged in, the EDC revealed. The rest continued to burn fuel.

That will certainly be the case when MSC Meraviglia, one of the world's largest passenger ships, first launches from Red Hook this April. The liner will not be able to plug in because of where the connector is located, leading it to spew pollution into the air of Red Hook.

In April 2021, when Mayor Adams was Brooklyn Borough President, he pledged funds in order to buy the equipment necessary to fix the shore power system of the terminal, so more vessels could use it. However, that has not happened yet, though the spokesperson for the Economic Development Corporation (which administers the BCT), Jeff Holmes, said that ordering was in the works, with installation due by the end of the year.

BCT’s US$21 million shore power system was expected to eliminate roughly the same amount of carbon dioxide as getting ~300 cars off the road per year, according to a 2011 press release from Bloomberg, as well as 95 tons of nitrous oxide/6.5 tons of particulate matter. But there is no regulatory mechanism that compels liners to plug into the system.

At BCT, the sockets of the shore power crane align with the electrical sockets on Cunard's Queen Mary 2 and some of the smaller ships run by Princess, all of which have already docked in Red Hook. However, other ships don't align, as is the case for Meraviglia.

In order to allow more vessels to plug into the system, EDC plans to make US$1 million worth of upgrades over the next year as part of a US$30 million capital investment. That US$1 million includes the US$750,000 Adams committed back in 2021 to pay for a “cable positioning device” to facilitate vessels’ connections. 

According to a spokesperson for EDC, the agency was in the process of ordering the equipment and planned to install it by the end of 2023.