Pacific Maritime Magazine - Marine Business for the Operations Sector

By Karen Rainbolt
Managing Editor, FOGHORN Magazine 

Hybrid Ferry Enhydra


November 1, 2018

Enhydra is the largest lithium-ion battery electric hybrid-powered vessel in North America built under the US Coast Guard's Subchapter K certification. Photo courtesy of All American Marine.

Red and White Fleet of San Francisco has launched its new vessel, Enhydra, the most recent member of its fleet. This is the largest lithium-ion battery electric hybrid-powered vessel in North America built under the U.S. Coast Guard's Subchapter K certification.

Built by Bellingham, Washington-based All American Marine, which partnered with PVA Associate member BAE Systems to design and integrate the complete electric hybrid system, Enhydra is a three-deck, 128-foot aluminum monohull vessel with capacity to carry up to 600 passengers on Harbor tours of San Francisco Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge.

In the initial development stage, the Red and White Fleet team pursued construction designs for steel monohulls for the new vessel, but All American Marine demonstrated considerable savings in building and maintenance costs with an aluminum design, while ensuring delivery of a robust hull structure.

Founded in 1892 and one of the oldest businesses operating in the San Francisco Bay area, historic Red and White Fleet is committed to environmental sustainability and community education. The operator is an active participant in the PVA Green WATERS program that encourages vessel operators to utilize best green business practices to protect and preserve our fragile marine environment. The Enhydra will not only be more sustainable in fuel consumption, but it will also lessen impact on local marine life. When powering the vessel, the electric motors are noticeably quieter, resulting in less noise and vibration, and a significantly reduced environmental footprint overall.

Enhydra is a pioneering collaboration. "We are proud to introduce a large-capacity hybrid technology vessel and working with such great partners such as Red and White Fleet and BAE Systems to develop and build the boat of the future," All American Marine CEO Matt Mullett said. "All American Marine is working to stay at the forefront of the decarbonization movement in the maritime industry, and the lithium-ion hybrid electric propulsion system on the Enhydra is a step in the right direction."

BAE supplied the HybriDrive propulsion system that includes a generator, propulsion power converter, house load power supply and control system. The generator is mounted to a variable speed Cummins QSL9 410 mhp diesel engine. The system offers parallel hybrid powering of the AC traction motor from either the generator, the batteries, or both. The motor is coupled to the propulsion shaft via a reduction gear for thrust and increased propeller efficiency. AMM said that with this configuration, torque is immediately available for the propeller, and the speed can be precisely controlled.

BAE Systems' HybriGen system has lower engine operating hours is more streamlined than a conventional drive, requiring fewer parts, thus resulting in savings in both fuel consumption and maintenance costs. Adding Enhydra to Red and White Fleet exhibits the company's environmental commitment while providing an acceptable return on investment.

The Enhydra's BAE HybridDrive system can use full electric battery operation at slower speeds, and the generator will automatically engage and augment the additional power demands at higher speeds. Photo courtesy of Red and White Fleet.

The hybrid system also uses battery power from two 80 kWh lithium-ion battery packs. Inherent in the Enhydra'sdesign is the ability to expand the size of the batteries to reach complete zero-emissions operation in the future as charging infrastructure advances and battery technology improves. This current battery system can meet any power demands of the Enhydra. Simultaneously, the propulsion system provides a silent, emissions-free experience for recreational cruise excursions. The BAE HybridDrive system can automatically use full electric battery operation at slower speeds and when maneuvering in and out of the Harbor with the Enhydra's two four-blade propellers. At higher speeds, the generator will automatically engage and augment the additional power demands of the traction motor.

Enhydra's innovations make Red and White Fleet's Vice President of Operations Joe Burgard hopeful for future possibilities. "We are very pleased with the team All American Marine has put together to deliver this unique vessel and are eager for our guests to experience San Francisco Bay from the silent decks of Enhydra," Burgard said. "We see the propulsion configuration on the Enhydra as phase one in our move toward the full electrification of our fleet."

Red and White Fleet is also heavily involved in the creation of Water-Go-Round, the nation's first ferry to be powered by hydrogen fuel cells, which is planned to be ready for testing in 2019.

This story originally ran in the September 2018 issue of FOGHORN.


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