First hydrogen vessel to receive U.S. Coast Guard approval

Switch Maritime hydrogen-fueled ferry approved for commercial operation

Switch Maritime Sea Change hydrogen-fueled ferry The Sea Change is a 75-passenger catamaran ferry featuring an integrated hydrogen power system from Zero Emission Industries. (Photo: Switch Maritime)

Switch Maritime, a developer of zero-emission maritime vessels, was presented with the signed Certificate of Inspection (COI) from the U.S. Coast for its flagship hydrogen ferry, the Sea Change, to commence commercial operation for zero-emission public ferry service. It is the first hydrogen-fueled vessel in the U.S. to receive the U.S. Coast Guard approval for commercial operation.

Built and launched at All American Marine shipyard in Bellingham, Wash., the Sea Change is a 75-passenger catamaran ferry featuring an integrated hydrogen power system from Zero Emission Industries, incorporating 360 kW of fuel cells from Cummins and 600 kW of electric motor propulsion from BAE Systems. The vessel uses hydrogen fuel cells to power all-electric motors for transit distances up to 300 nautical miles and speeds up to 15 knots.

“This COI represents the culmination of years of close collaboration with the U.S. Coast Guard and a significant milestone for the maritime industry, demonstrating the viability of carbon-neutral vessels. We are immensely grateful for the support from the U.S. Coast Guard and all our partners along the path to completion,” said Pace Ralli, CEO of Switch. “This is not the finish line, but just a starting point from which to build many more.”

Following a formal launch event in June, the Sea Change will be operated in a six-month pilot service by the San Francisco Bay Area Water Emergency Transportation Authority (WETA). After the initial demonstration period, Switch will put the vessel into a more permanent ferry route.

Alongside the Sea Change, Switch is actively advancing new designs for larger and faster ferries for San Francisco Bay and other major ferry markets in the US and internationally. The company said it aims to accelerate the adoption of net-zero vessels by bearing the regulatory and construction risks for the operators and offering existing operators the ability to lease the new vessels after completion.


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