By Rob Varnon, Connecticut Post, Bridgeport
Derecktor Shipyards will launch the 600-passenger ferry New York Hornblower Hybrid in April, bringing the world’s first hydrogen-powered hybrid ferry to New York City.
The multimillion-dollar vessel was commissioned by Hornblower Cruises and Events, the California parent company of New York-based Statue Cruises, which operates tourist boats to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. The company did not reveal the exact value of the contract. The project calls for the vessel to use wind turbines, solar power, hydrogen and diesel.
This is part of Hornblower’s larger corporate strategy to reduce the emissions of its fleet of vessels.
“By combining hydrogen, solar and wind power, Hornblower will minimize its environmental impact as we transport guests to popular national landmarks,” Hornblower Chief Executive Officer Terry MacRae said, in a press release. “Our goal is to reduce emissions to the greatest extent possible with the a goal in the future to eliminate them entirely during a cruising day.”
This is not the first hybrid Hornblower commissioned. In 2008 it launched the Hornblower Hybrid in San Francisco, which did not include hydrogen fuel cells.
Gavin Higgins, Derecktor’s vice president of business development called this a breakthrough project for the Bridgeport shipyard and the U.S. maritime industry.
“This boat will produce minimal carbon emission and sip, rather than guzzle, diesel fuel. Along the way it will help make New York harbor a cleaner, safer and more pleasant place,” he said in a prepared statement. “As a local shipyard we are extremely pleased to have this project.”
Tegan Firth, a spokeswoman for Hornblower, said the New York Hornblower will serve as a bridge to the next generation of hydrogen, zero emission vessels. She said the captain of the Hornblower will have the option of running the vessel using the various fuels.
She said this project, which is a conversion of an existing boat, puts Derecktor on the ground floor of this kind of work and could help it land future conversion projects. The company is familiar with Derecktor, and the Bridgeport yard has been doing maintenance work for Hornblower already.
“It’s a great shipyard,” Firth said. “They love this project… They’re forward thinkers like we are and they looked at this as a great opportunity.”
She said the vessel’s old guts have already been taken out, and now the work to install the new engines and propulsion system will start. The Hornblower will also feature a sun deck, two interior decks, including one with glass walls to allow viewing of the attractions.
The project is expected to keep at least 60 Derecktor workers busy at a time and will require four Hornblower associates to make Bridgeport their temporary home during construction.
Hornblower plans to post updates on the project as it unfolds on a special blog people can access by visiting www.respectourplanet.com and clicking on Hybrid Blog.
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