The World’s First Hydrogen-Hybrid Coastal-Class Research Vessel

  • Client:
    Scripps Institution of Oceanography
  • Key Collaborator:
    Siemens Energy
  • Project Type:
    Vessel Design & Modification, Research Vessels
  • Service Categories:
    Marine Engineering
    Naval Architecture
  • Vessel Overview:
    164-foot (50-meter) hydrogen-hybrid coastal-class research vessel
  • Challenge:
    Design a first-of-its-kind research vessel with a hydrogen-fuel-cell power generation system.


UC San Diego’s R/V Robert Gordon Sproul has faithfully served Scripps Institution of Oceanography in their mission to understand and protect the marine ecosystems along the California coast for over forty years. Now that the Sproul is nearing the end of its service life, Scripps has hired Glosten to provide the preliminary, contract, and detail design for a new multidisciplinary research vessel that will replace the aging ship.

The coastal-class research vessel, presently known as the CCRV, will be equipped with acoustic Doppler current profilers, seafloor mapping systems, midwater fishery imaging systems, biological and geological sampling systems, and support for airborne drone operations. Using these tools, students and scientists will be able to study issues vital to the state of California in state-of-the-art, on-board laboratories.

Scripps also envisioned a vessel that would be capable of carbon-free operations and run on hydrogen power—the latter of which is yet to be achieved with an R/V. Luckily, Glosten has a history of successfully applying our naval architecture and marine engineering know-how to never-been-done-before projects with extraordinary results.

Main Deck


Scripps’ R/V-in-the-making will feature a unique hydrogen-fuel-cell propulsion system powered by liquid hydrogen and fuel cells. To develop the design, Glosten teamed up with electrical integrator Siemens Energy and green energy technology leaders Ballard Power Systems and Chart Industries, who are providing the fuel cells and cryogenic tank/fuel gas system where the liquid hydrogen will be bunkered and conditioned.

The system will work in tandem with a clean-running diesel-electric power plant which will provide supplementary power for longer missions, though the ship will rely entirely on hydrogen for 75% of its operations. With this one-of-a-kind hydrogen-hybrid power generation system, the CCRV will uphold the values of Scripps and comply with California Air Resource Board regulations, minimizing the environmental impact on the Pacific Coast and setting a global standard for innovation.