Coast Guard issues COI for first hydrogen ferry in U.S.

(SAN FRANCISCO) — SWITCH Maritime, a leading developer of zero-emission maritime vessels, has received a U.S. Coast Guard certificate of inspection (COI) for its flagship hydrogen ferry, Sea Change.

The ceremony took place Friday afternoon on the bow of the vessel, along with several members of the Coast Guard and other project stakeholders.

“This COI represents the culmination of years of close collaboration with the U.S. Coast Guard and a significant milestone for the maritime industry, demonstrating the viability of carbon-neutral vessels. We are immensely grateful for the support from the U.S. Coast Guard and all our partners along the path to completion,” said Pace Ralli, CEO of SWITCH. “This is not the finish line, but just a starting point from which to build many more.”

SWITCH Maritime photo

With the COI, the vessel is now able to commence commercial operation for zero-emission public ferry service. Sea Change uses hydrogen fuel cells to power all-electric motors for transit distances up to 300 nautical miles and speeds up to 15 knots. The rapidly-evolving technology provides similar operational capabilities and ranges to diesel-powered vessels, and eliminates the need for shoreside charging infrastructure required by battery-only vessels.

Following a formal launch event in June, Sea Change will be operated in a six-month pilot service by the San Francisco Bay Area Water Emergency Transportation Authority (WETA), thanks to a public-private sponsorship that include United; the Golden State Warriors; California Air Resources Board; Golden Gate Bridge, Highway, and Transportation District; and Blue & Gold Fleet.

After the initial demonstration period, SWITCH will put the vessel into a more permanent ferry route. Alongside Sea Change, SWITCH is actively advancing new designs for larger and faster ferries for San Francisco Bay, and other major ferry markets in the U.S. and internationally.

SWITCH aims to accelerate the adoption of net-zero vessels by bearing the regulatory and construction risks for the operators, and offering existing operators the ability to lease the new vessels after completion – a form of the “hardware as a service” model increasingly being utilized to accelerate the energy transition of hard to abate industrial sectors. The SWITCH solutions are flexible and tailored for vessel operators needing to comply with emissions regulations, providing a streamlined path to achieving a carbon-neutral fleet over time.

About the Sea Change project

Built and launched at All American Marine shipyard in Bellingham, Wash., Sea Change is a 75-passenger catamaran ferry featuring an integrated hydrogen power system from Zero Emission Industries, with 360 kW of fuel cells from Cummins and 600 kW of electric motor propulsion from BAE Systems.

The project is also partially funded by a $3 million grant from the California Air Resources Board, administered by the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, that comes from the California Climate Investments initiative, a California statewide program that puts billions of cap-and-trade dollars to work reducing greenhouse gas emissions, strengthening the economy, and improving public health and the environment – particularly in disadvantaged communities.

– SWITCH Maritime

By Professional Mariner Staff