The first zero-emission, all-electric passenger/vehicle ferry in the U.S. marked its first anniversary this spring after a conversion that cleared a few hurdles. Alabama’s Gee’s Bend Ferry completed its annual COI, “and that was very successful. The vessel has worked as envisioned and is doing it safely,” said Tim Aguirre, general manager, HMS Ferries Inc., which operates the ferry for the Alabama Department of Transportation. “We knew there would be challenges with it.” Among them was the rural location, which meant the electrical infrastructure had to be improved. “If you’re going to have a speedy charge, they have to have a more robust infrastructure,” he said. The 95’x42’x5’, 15-vehicle/132-passenger ferry makes five round trips daily across the Alabama River between Gee’s Bend and Camden. While charging stations are on both sides of the river, the boat was designed so it could charge on just one side. “We have more margin than we could have hoped for,” Aguirre said. Charging takes 20-25 minutes on one side or 10-15 minutes on both sides. Another challenge was the Coast Guard’s lack of regulations for lithium-ion battery-powered Subchapter T vessels. “We brought the Coast Guard in right at the beginning,” Aguirre said. Naval […]


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