Alabama’s historic Gee’s Bend Ferry was re-launched in April 2019 after conversion from geared-diesel to 100% battery-electric, making it the first zero-emission, electric-powered passenger/car ferry in the United States. The 15-vehicle/132-passenger ferry vessel is now back in service on the Alabama river between Camden and Boykin (Gee’s Bend).
In early 2016, under contract from HMS Ferries, Glosten completed a feasibility study for converting the historic Gee’s Bend ferry to 100% battery-electric. The results of the study showed significant savings in operating costs. 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.
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, AL. Marine Interface, Inc. of East Northport, NY integrated the new electric propulsion system with support from American Traction Systems (power conversion) and Spear Power Systems (batteries). Cochran Marine was responsible for shipboard and shore side charging stations. The vessel finally re-entered service in April 2019.
Setting the Stage
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 boarders. The conversion of the Gees Bend demonstrates 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.
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