The 70-ft / 21-m long aluminum catamaran is believed to become the first commercial maritime ship in the United States powered entirely by hydrogen fuel cells. The vessel is a key part of an ambitious plan by the San Francisco Bay Ferry to replace a large number of its diesel-powered boats with zero-emission watercraft by 2035.
The new Sea Change catamaran can transport up to 75 travelers at a top speed of 15 knots, the California Air Resources Board revealed, which provided a US$3-million grant to help fund the new project. The ship will have enough hydrogen storage capacity for a couple of days of normal operation.
Fuel cells operate like batteries and use chemical energy/hydrogen to produce electricity quietly with minimal moving parts. Hydrogen fuel cells emit only water, addressing a need to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the environment.
Crews will commence training and outfitting Sea Change for passenger use in the coming weeks. After the boat is tested and inspected by the USCG, it will begin taking travelers later this year.
San Francisco Bay Ferry operates 16 ships to cities including Vallejo, Oakland, and Richmond.
Angel Island-Tiburon Ferry, which thousands of visitors annually from Tiburon to the island's state park, recently announced it would convert to an electric-propulsion ship next year.