The Red and White Fleet, a San Francisco ferry company that has been operating on San Francisco Bay for over 126 years, announced today that it has added the 600-passenger hybrid ferry Enhydra to its fleet.

The Enhydraa tribute to the California sea otter, is the first aluminum hulled, lithium-ion battery plug-in hybrid vessel built in the U.S. under Coast Guard Subchapter K rules, Red and White said. It was was designed by Nic de Wall of Teknicraft Design, Auckland, New Zealand.

The 128'x30' Enhydra will provide amazing views of the Bay and San Francisco skyline from each of its three decks. The second level offers a full wrap-around viewing platform with access to the large bow foredeck. The top deck is fully open and offers plenty of comfortable seating, an unbeatable vantage point for viewing air and firework shows. The Enhydra is specifically designed for silent running harbor tours of San Francisco Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge.

"The Enhydra is another step in transforming our entire fleet to zero pollutions, for the benefit of future generations anywhere in the world," Thomas C. Escher, president of Red and White Fleet, said in a statement.

Red and White partnered with BAE Systems, which is supplying its HybriGen propulsion  system that includes large lithium-ion battery packs (160 kW), generators, control system, and AC electric traction motors. The system will be supplemented by a Cummins Tier 3 diesel engine running on 100% biofuel, further reducing emissions with a 30%-80% lower carbon intensity than fossil fuels.

The generator is mounted to the variable speed Cummins QSL9 410-hp 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.

With this configuration, torque is immediately available for the propeller, and the speed can be precisely controlled, according to All American officials.

“The Enhydra will not only be more sustainable in fuel consumption, but it will also lessen impact on local marine life,” AAM and Red and White said in a joint statement. “When powering the vessel, the electric motors are noticeably quieter, resulting in less noise and vibration, and a significantly reduced environmental footprint overall.”

"The Enhydra is going to change the way people experience San Francisco bay with its sleek aesthetics and quiet hybrid drive, and we see it not only as the first step in moving our fleet to zero emission but also leading our industry to a cleaner future," Joe Burgard, vice president at Red and White, said.

The Enhydra was launched on Aug. 13 at All American Marine in Bellingham, Wash., arrived in San Francisco on Sept. 5, and opens to the public today. The Enhydra is the latest development in Red and White Fleet's commitment to operate a zero emission fleet of vessels by 2025.

Founded in 1892, family-owned Red and White Fleet is the original San Francisco Bay sightseeing and tourism cruise company. Over the years, millions of passengers have enjoyed a journey aboard Red and White's Golden Gate Bay Cruise, where tours pass San Francisco's biggest landmarks, including under the Golden Gate Bridge and around Alcatraz.

David Krapf has been editor of WorkBoat, the nation’s leading trade magazine for the inland and coastal waterways industry, since 1999. He is responsible for overseeing the editorial direction of the publication. Krapf has been in the publishing industry since 1987, beginning as a reporter and editor with daily and weekly newspapers in the Houston area. He also was the editor of a transportation industry daily in New Orleans before joining WorkBoat as a contributing editor in 1992. He has been covering the transportation industry since 1989, and has a degree in business administration from the State University of New York at Oswego, and also studied journalism at the University of Houston.