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Funding backs low-emissions hydrofoil ferry

Funding backs low-emissions hydrofoil ferry
The US Department of Transportation's Federal Transit Administration (FTA) will provide US$373,000 to back the design of a high-speed, hydrofoil passenger ferry powered by battery-electric, low-emissions technology

Based on a carbon-fibre hull, the hydrofoil ferry will use battery technology to reduce fuel consumption and CO2 emissions, while transporting passengers between urban centres, suburban and rural communities.

The hydrofoil ferry design was one of 25 projects selected to receive a total of US$14M in funding through the federal government’s Accelerating Innovative Mobility initiative.

Award recipient Kitsap Transit is part of a public-private partnership team is being led by Washington Maritime Blue to advance the innovative fast foil ferry design and the business case for sustainable operations.

Besides the FTA funding, the project is also being supported by US$100,000 from the Ports of Bellingham, Skagit County, and Anacortes.

An additional US$139,000 of in-kind contributions are committed by key project partners. “Our three local ports see this innovation as an opportunity to spur economic recovery in the boatbuilding world, a critically important industry in our region,” said Port Skagit executive director Patsy Martin.

“There are strong maritime industry clusters in each of our districts that could benefit from the design and construction of these vessels in our communities, resulting in a direct economic impact.”

“This formal joint innovation programme supports multiple communities, our sensitive marine ecosystem, decarbonisation efforts, job creation and an entire maritime and advanced manufacturing supply chain,” said Washington Maritime Blue founder and board chair Joshua Berger.

Mr Berger, who also serves as Governor Jay Inslee’s maritime sector lead, added, “This is the value of an organised innovation cluster that can bring partners together and leverage multiple funding and financing mechanisms to advance our shared vision.”

Besides Washington Maritime Blue, others in the JIP are naval architectural firm Glosten and designer Bieker Boats, class society DNV GL and the Port of Anacortes, Port of Bellingham and Port of Skagit, Kitsap Transit, Tacoma Power, Skagit County and the Economic Development Alliance of Skagit County.

The project will deliver the design for a zero-emissions, high-speed passenger ferry for operation in the Puget Sound. It will also deliver a business model, which will include studies of route viability, shoreside infrastructure requirements, permitting and regulatory requirements, and economic and environmental impacts.

Called the Foil Ferry, the new catamaran vessel will have an overall length of 30.3 m, beam of 6.8 m, with a non-foiling draught of 3.3 m and foiling draught of 1.6 m. With 1,030 kW of installed power, the carbon-fibre hull vessel will have a cruising speed of 35 knots, with a capacity of 150 passengers and crew.

Designers of the ferry are Bieker Boats and Glosten, which will develop options for fully electric propulsion or diesel-electric propulsion for extended range.

The diesel-electric option could be two to three times more fuel efficient than conventional fast ferries. Carrying about 3.8M passengers annually, Kitsap Transit has experience operating three hydrofoil-assisted fast ferries – Rich Passage 1, Reliance and Lady Swift – that run on conventional diesel fuel.

Each of the 118-passenger ferries utilises a hydrofoil that helps raise much of the vessel’s hull above the waterline, enabling high-speed, low-wake performance on the Bremerton-Seattle route.

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