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Thursday, August 19, 2021 

Builder All American Marine (AAM) and owner Switch Maritime have launched 'Sea Change', a 70ft, 75-passenger zero-emissions, hydrogen fuel cell-powered, electric-drive ferry that will operate in the California Bay Area.

Sea Change will be the first hydrogen fuel cell vessel in the US, contributing to the industry’s transition to a sustainable future. The ferry was developed and constructed to demonstrate a pathway to commercialisation of zero-emission hydrogen fuel cell marine technologies. While undergoing operational trials, the builder and owner are collaborating with the US Coast Guard on permitting hydrogen fuel systems for maritime vessels. Additionally, the completed ferry will be used to exhibit the viability of this zero-carbon ship propulsion technology for the commercial and regulatory communities.

The project is funded by private capital from Switch, an impact investment platform building the first fleet of exclusively zero-carbon maritime vessels to accelerate the decarbonisation and energy transition of the US maritime sector.

“By working closely with the US Coast Guard, with innovative technology partners, and with best-in-class shipyards such as All American Marine, we can make the transition to decarbonised shipping a reality today. We don’t have to wait,” said Pace Ralli, Co-Founder and CEO of Switch.

SWITCH’s mission-driven platform seeks to work with existing ferry owners and operators around the country to help facilitate their adoption of zero-carbon vessels to replace aging diesel-powered vessels, leveraging experience from the technologies used in the build of this first ferry.

“Hydrogen-fuel cell technology will prove to be a robust alternative to conventional powertrain technologies,” said Ron Wille, AAM President and COO. “AAM is continuing our tradition of building vessels on the leading edge of technology using advanced propulsion methods, which is why we are so proud to have to completed construction on such a revolutionary vessel.”

The vessel is equipped with a hydrogen fuel cell power package provided by Zero Emissions Industries (formerly Golden Gate Zero Emission Marine), comprising 360kW of Cummins fuel cells and Hexagon hydrogen storage tanks with a capacity of 246kg. This system is integrated with 100kWh of lithium-ion battery provided by XALT and two 300kW electric propulsion units provided by BAE Systems. The vessel design originates from Incat Crowther, and the construction supervision and management was led by Hornblower Group.

This project has received support including a US$ 3m grant from the California Air Resources Board (CARB). The project received the first loan guarantee under BAAQMD’s Climate Tech Finance programme, which seeks to reduce greenhouse gases by accelerating emerging climate technologies.

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