The Nation’s First All-Electric Vehicle Ferry

  • Clients:
    HMS Ferries Inc
  • Completion Date:
    April 2019
  • Key Collaborators:
    Master Marine
    Marine Interface, Inc
    American Traction Systems
    Spear Power Systems
    Cochran Marine
  • Project Type:
    Vessel Design & Modification, Passenger Vessels
  • Service Categories:
    Marine Engineering
    Marine Electrical & Controls Engineering
  • Vessel Overview:
    15-vehicle, 132-passenger ferry in service on the Alabama River
  • Challenge:
    Reduce ferry emissions and operating costs through an all-electric conversion.

A HISTORIC VESSEL.

The Gee’s Bend ferry operates on the Alabama River between Camden and Boykin, Alabama. Breakdowns of its diesel engines were impacting service reliability, and in early 2016 under contract from HMS Ferries, Glosten completed a feasibility study for converting the ferry to 100% battery-electric propulsion. The results of the study showed a significant savings in operating costs and significant reduction in emissions. HMS, which operates the vessel under contract to Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT), received approval from ALDOT to pursue a federal grant to make the project a reality. Glosten and HMS assisted ALDOT in their successful bid for the EPA grant, which was awarded mid-2016.

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USCG-CERTIFIED 100% BATTERY-ELECTRIC.

In January 2017, Glosten was contracted by HMS to develop the detailed engineering package, provide construction support, and act as USCG liaison. The conversion project was awarded to Master Marine shipyard in Bayou La Batre, Alabama. Marine Interface, Inc of East Northport, New York integrated the new electric propulsion system with support from American Traction Systems and Spear Power Systems. Cochran Marine was responsible for shipboard and shoreside charging stations. The vessel re-entered service in April 2019.

For the residents of Alabama, the electrification of the Gee’s Bend means lower operating costs, reduced noise, and reduced emissions and pollution. As a first-of-its-kind vessel in North America, the Gee’s Bend Ferry also carries impact beyond the State borders. The conversion of the Gee’s Bend demonstrated how battery technology can be successfully implemented as a means of propulsion, paving the way for further adoption of this technology across the marine industry.

As a first-of-its-kind vessel in North America, the Gee’s Bend Ferry will have impact far beyond the State boarders. Successfully achieving United States Coast Guard approval of the vessel helps open this technology across the maritime industry.

– Tim Aguirre, HMS Ferries Alabama